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My So-Called Life: Betrayal (1995)
The Best of The Best
I just re-watched this episode during a marathon on Sundance Channel. This show, particularly this episode, was one of television's finest moments. I won't give anything specific away other than to say the last few minutes of this show is so beautifully written, so beautifully acted, so beautifully directed, that I am moved to tears every time I see it. Particularly strong in this episode is AJ Langer. She says so much with her face and her posture. She is a master of the instrument she was given. It's hard finding any flaw in this show; for that matter, there are no bad episodes of "MSCL." Among the great, this particular episode elevates the entire series to the stratosphere.
Kick Like a Girl (2008)
Awesomely-Amazing and Cool
I just watched this on HBO and I loved it so much. I'm a guy but grew up with three very strong-willed sisters, one of whom was - and remains - very athletic. It was no surprise to me, then, that the girls in this wonderful documentary could go up against boys and give them a run for their money. The coach of the team is documentary director, Jenny Mackenzie. She gets the most out of her players because she treats them with dignity, respect and admiration. You can tell they thrive under her leadership. Part of what is so heartwarming about the film is watching the girls on the team together. They apply bandages, both literal and spiritual, when their teammates fall. This is not about trashing boys and honoring girls; some of the boys show great admiration for the girls. Some face coming to grips with the fact that a girls' team that plays cohesively is probably going to succeed. How many wins, losses and/or ties are there against the boys. I'm not telling, 'cause you have to see it for yourself. You'll be glad you did.
The trivia section for this episode of NCIS erroneously states that the radio operators on the Titanic were the first to use the Morse code "SOS" signal after the ship struck an iceberg in 1912. (A character in the episode discusses the switch from "CQD" to "SOS.") The fact of the matter is that "SOS" was used as early as 1909. Titanic's crew were not the first, contrary to popular belief. On June 11,1909, the SS Slavonia wrecked at Flores, in the Azores, without loss of life. The passengers were taken off by the steamships PRINZESS IRENE (Norddeutscher Lloyd) and BATAVIA (Hamburg-America Line). This incident is the first documented use of an "SOS" signal.
I just saw this on cable -- I'm in great pain. It's really bad. Please. Please don't watch this movie. It will cause you nausea and diarrhea as it did me. I'd try to name a low point but there are so many. Any time someone says a line and then turns to the camera as if to say "wink wink...wasn't that funny?" the way Lance Bass does in this movie, it's a really bad sign. I don't have anything against boy bands but this is a movie and these guys really can't act. Oh, the pain is starting again. I don't think Vicodin will help this pain. Anyone who has a copy of this movie, whether you're a movie studio, cable network or you own the DVD, please burn it. I will allow that there was one redeeming quality about this movie: Hunter Tylo is a fine-looking woman. The pain went away when I looked at her, but only briefly.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Has Its Moments
We take these sorts of movies pretty seriously here in Pittsburgh, the home of George Romero and where "Night of the Living Dead" and the original "Dawn of the Dead" were shot. (The shopping mall in the original is just a couple of miles from me.) I've just seen the '04 "DOTD" and have mixed feelings though more favorable than not. My first response was that the special effects getting better over the years is a mixed blessing -- you get that whiz-bang sense from seeing torsos chainsawed, but I think it makes directors a bit lazy in creating tension and fear.
I'm reminded of "Evil Dead 2," the Sam Raimi movie made on a shoestring budget that forced its creators to look for different, less extravagant ways of scaring people. I'd recommend it over this movie unless you're strictly a blood and gore fan. (And both movies have chainsaws!) If you like blood and gore, this movie made for you.
But this movie isn't without its jump-out-of-your-seat moments and when it has them, they are pretty tasty. There are nice touches like the dry erase board chess match and the snipe-the-celebrities game.
I came out of watching glad I'd seen it but more glad I hadn't paid $10 for it in a theater.
See all of you at the (human) food court at Monroeville Mall!
Harvie Krumpet (2003)
I just stumbled on this on Sundance Channel and can't say enough good things about it. Everything I've seen of Adam Elliot's amazes me with its sweetness, its humor but always with streaks of real-life pain. This isn't stop animation for the kids, or at least for very young kids. Nonetheless, go out of your way to see this -- recommend it very, very highly. Elliot's characters first seem like little goblins. Then their existences are so gorgeously fleshed out with details and very human experiences. Every character that is introduced reminds me of people I have known once Elliot's beautiful writing (and wonderful narration by Geoffrey Rush in this case) lets you get to know them.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
No...No....No....Don't Watch This Movie
This is just a poorly made movie. Michael Bay annoys me as a director and always has. He's so enchanted with pretty pictures and rock video editing that he can't just tell a story. This man should not be allowed to direct anything more substantial than a commercial. The script of this movie is big, clumsy and - well - it fits Michael Bay movies, come to think of it. My hope was that with all the resources and (mostly) talent involved with this movie that you would have seen a contemporary tribute to the men who lost their lives, sort of a "Saving Private Ryan" for Pearl Harbor. But this is just sad. Pretty people shot by a director who likes pretty pictures in lieu of telling stories. Find another movie about this topic -- even "Tora! Tora! Tora!" would be better. This is just a waste. (I'm only giving it 2 points instead of 1 because I'm gaga for Kate Beckinsale.)
New York Doll (2005)
I could go on and on about why I liked this movie but there's one thing that is most important to impress upon people: you don't have to be a New York Dolls fan - or even a rock music fan - to enjoy this movie. I was only peripherally aware of the New York Dolls music and I was captivated by this fine piece of work.
This is not a concert movie though a performance is integral to the story. It's also not a series of rock videos. It is a simple man's extraordinary journey through life, a life that at times is ordinary and at others is far from it.
I can only encourage you to not base your willingness to view this on how you feel about its music. If you pass by because of that, you will deprive yourself of a very special movie.
Cleats of Imminent Doom (2005)
Funny, Irreverent, Sweet
I saw this on IFC's short film showcase and loved it from the moment it started. It reminds me of the TV show, "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," both in its tone and in its ability to be sweet without compromising itself. I'm a firm believer in not predisposing people who might see something by telling too much about the plot so I'll not spill any beans about that. I will only say that if you can suspend your sense of reality and take this on its own terms (something important for enjoying "Pete & Pete, by the way), you'll be richly rewarded.
By this point, I'm just stretching because I have to write one more line for this to be posted. Thank you for reading.
China Beach (1988)
This was a very special show, one of television's finest moments. It saddens me that in an era of reality TV, we no longer have shows of integrity like this one. As with "Homicide: Life on the Streets," this show had more in common with film than it did with television. That may have been both shows' undoings, because plots require attention, etc. I'm puzzled that with "China Beach's" fan base that we haven't seen this show released on DVD. Emmy-winning performances, beautiful writing, and cinematography to match -- PLEASE GIVE US "CHINA BEACH" ON DVD!!! It would be an honor to add this one to my collection, and would give those who didn't have the pleasure of seeing it when it was new the chance to enjoy it.
Three O'Clock High (1987)
A Good Time...
This is not "Citizen Kane" by any stretch but it's a lot of fun. Perhaps a tad over-directed at times by Joanou, it's still good entertainment and even manages to work the classics into the story line!
The Ref (1994)
Very Enjoyable (Except for the End)
I really enjoyed this movie -- well-written, well directed (RIP, Ted Demme) and the acting just couldn't have been better.
It was interesting to read on the "Trivia" section of this movie's listing on IMDb that the original ending was different and was reshot because a test audience didn't respond well to it.
Without giving anything away in case you've not seen it, the original ending
sounds much more satisfying than the "we can't release this without everything being tied up with a nice bow on it" ending that the movie has.
Test audiences are a lame idea and always have been....so there.
Ein Toter hing im Netz (1960)
Enjoyable, But For All the Wrong Reasons
At least as presented on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," this movie is delightfully bad.
Check out the IMDb listing for "Harald Maresch," one of the leads of this movie. His biography makes for some interesting reading.
Other interesting thing is that this movie had many, many titles, in English and otherwise. I'm guessing the retitling didn't help it get any better....
Good Film...Catch It!
Couldn't bear to not chime in about, "Clockwatchers" after the vitriolic comment that was last left. This movie isn't one that you'll remember for the ages, but it has much truth about the work experience, it knows much about human nature.
Cleverly written with good performances, it's a movie worth seeing.
The Tick (2001)
It's been announced recently that this show is being canceled and I couldn't be more disappointed. Wonderfully-clever, it's probably just too smart for network TV. But then again, many shows that are canceled seem to be -- a darn shame when good TV is so good that it doesn't stand a chance of succeeding.
Mad About Mambo (2000)
Definitely not a movie you'll remember for the ages, but a sweet, enjoyable one nonetheless. Ireland's beauty is challenged only in this movie by Keri Russell's. However, I did take a deep breath and ask myself if I liked this movie only because of those 2 things. Naah...it's sweet and enjoyable. Check this one out.
Almost Famous (2000)
Lives Up to its Reviews.....
"Almost Famous" made me miss the 1970s but that's not why it's so good. It is sharply-written and beautifully-acted. Cameron Crowe continues to be one of the most perceptive, smart, aware writers/directors of this era.
I could go on and on in my praise for "Almost Famous" but I'll spare you that. Besides, you should be getting ready by now to go see it so my being brief will assure you getting to the theater on time.
By the way -- do yourself a favor and rent Crowe's "Say Anything" or "Singles" on your way home.
One Day in September (1999)
Strong, Powerful Documentary
One of the most vivid memories of my youth was seeing Jim McKay in his yellow blazer, announcing, "They're all gone" as news broke of the deaths of the Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. I was a 10 year old who loved sports and the Olympics -- it was the first time an international news event touched and upset me.
Watching "One Day in September" brought it all back. Any documentary about this horrific event is bound to upset and stir emotions, but this is wonderful filmmaking, including some blisteringly well-done editing and use of music of the day.
It is not easy viewing but it is well-worth the time and emotion you will spend. Don't miss this.
Homicide: Life on the Street (1993)
One of TV's Finest
I watched this show for years before NBC broke my heart by cancelling it.
I can only encourage any who might not have seen it when it was first-run to catch the reruns on Court-TV. I've been rewatching it and I never cease to be amazed at the caliber of the writing, acting and direction.
The Fan (1996)
No question that Snipes and De Niro are fine actors. But the direction/cinematography in this movie gives the feeling of being a glossy rock video -- and not a very good one at that. So let's review...De Niro/Snipes are good actors...script is laughably bad...people behind the camera tried to divert attention from the script but it didn't work.
Please see other movies under the "psycho stalker" category on IMDB ("Blue Steel," "Duel," etc.). They're much better
Intriguing... sexy... sad...
"Foxfire" reminded me of the works of S.E. Hinton but with much, much more intensity, largely because it worked in fewer characters and allowed for greater development of those characters. Excellent, taut performances by the leads resonate as does the final image of the movie... don't miss this