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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.