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Regular people thoughtlessly submitting to perceived authority.
The first thing anyone would ask after seeing this film is why would anyone do these things? It seems so far out into left field. But a cursory internet search reveals that these incidents did happen, almost exactly the way that they were portrayed in the movie. It was in 2004 in a McDonald's in Kentucky. The young woman in question was Louise Ogborn, 18. (She has filed lawsuits and spoken out about it on television, so there is no question of protecting her anonymity) The creep who made the phone calls was one David R. Stewart, of Panama City, Florida. As to why Miss Ogborn would continue to submit to more and more indignities (to put it mildly) I suppose it is related to false murder confessions. You think that surely no one would falsely admit to murder under any interrogation short of torture, but apparently they do. Surely at some point between the spanking and the forced bj, both Miss Ogborn and the manager's fiancé, Walter Nix, Jr. HAD to know that this was not police procedure. I cannot fathom Nix's behavior, but Louise must have felt that having endured so much humiliation, she would endure a little more in hopes that it would soon be over. In the end, Miss Ogborn settled with McDonald's for $1.1 million, Nix was sentenced to five years in prison, and Stewart was acquitted.
Unfortunately for Miss Ogborn, there appears to be some of the surveillance footage of her ordeal showing her naked floating around on the internet.
Dreama Walker, who I have only seen in comedic roles, played the Ogborn part perfectly. It was a horrendous ordeal, and it is hard to watch. But it says something (and hits pretty hard) about regular people thoughtlessly submitting to perceived authority.
Pitch Perfect (2012)
Competitive collegiate a cappella. Is this really a thing?
Competitive collegiate a cappella. Is this really a thing now, or is it made up for the movie? There were some solid performances here, from Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, and Rebel Wilson. It seems like the ads for this film were all about Miss Wilson, but she is a medium character here. The singing was first-class, but you probably have to like a cappella to truly appreciate it. The plot was exceedingly formulaic. And I suppose that if you are in your teens, or maybe twenties, then teenage angst can seem important, but it is quite boring for those of us who are older. Overall, it was kind of okay, but found myself looking at my watch several times...
American Hustle (2013)
some unrecognizable stars
I have let my movie-viewing slide a bit in the last few years, so I was not familiar with some of the actors in this film. Amy Adams, for instance. She does a great deal with this role, which is a woman who is unlovely and unlikeable. And Jeremy Renner, who is apparently a star in a lot of those comic book movies. I would have never recognized Christian Bale, or Elisabeth Rohm. Jennifer Lawrence had to dig deep for her inner white trash sleaze, and she was remarkable. I remember the scandal quite well, where the FBI bribed and arrested a number of prominent New Jersey Democrat office-holders. it was all kind of fun, as I recall.
Hasn't aged that well
I do realize how ground-breaking this film was. I was born a year before the premiere, and it was still widely talked about ten to twelve years later. Janet Liegh was yet another of Alfred Hitchcock's cold blondes. And it is hard to do a better tormented crazy than Anthony Perkins. But I am not at all sure that this film has aged well. Some of Hitchcock's iconic visual images, such as the camera looking into the shower head, and the camera following the detectives face in tight as he is falling down the stairs, are still being copied today. But there is so much "arty" direction today that it badly distracts from the films. And that sort of blows back on Psycho. Still a classic nonetheless.
Labor Day (2013)
Well, nothing with Kate Winslet in it is a waste of time. She is so beautiful, even though she is playing a depressed woman throughout this film. She is a total star. Josh Brolin was not bad in this one, and the child actor was passable. Good photography and unobtrusive direction. The premise seems a little bit off, but not utterly unbelievable, as Winslet's character is so damaged, there is really no telling what she might do. The story grinds on to its inevitable conclusion, with several foreshadowing scenes, such as the on with the neighbor, the one with the retarded boy's mother, and the one with the police officer. Overall, it is just okay, with the exception of Ms. Winslet.
The Cider House Rules (1999)
But what does it all mean?
The lovely photography and stellar acting performances cannot save this movie from the fecklessness of its plot. It's hard, in the end to say what this film is about. Michael Caine, Charlize Theron, Paul Rudd, Tobey Maguire and Delroy Lindo all turn in great performances in service of no discernible greater good.
The movie does seem to check off a lot of left-wing boxes: a sympathetic treatment of abortion, fuzzy race relations, anti-war. I don't know much about Maine in particular, but race relations in the Forties were no picnic in the North, either. The North was just as segregated as the South, but it was merely de facto, rather than de jure. Delroy Lindo's character was oddly compelling, in spite of his abhorrent conduct. Probably because he's black. If he were white, the film would have played him as a one-dimensional monster.
The acting raised its rating from me, but that's the only reason anyone should bother seeing this.
The Bare Wench Project (2000)
Not the worst soft-core parody film
Well, I have certainly seen worse soft-core parody films. The best part of this one was that they kept the nudity restricted to the girls, and we were not subjected to naked men. Sorry, ladies and gays, this movie is not for you. The plot, writing, and dialog were terrible, but this is after all a parody and I suppose that they were aiming for camp. They missed. But the girls were very pretty, aside from the badly overdone silicone jobs. Nikki Fritz and Lorissa McComas looked very nice. Oddly for me, who usually prefers brunettes, I liked the two blonde girls much more. Props to Antonia Dorian for her lovely natural-appearing boobies. And for whatever reason Julie K. Smith struck me as the prettiest of the bunch, with the least bad acting. (It's hard to critique an actress when this is the material she has to work with.) So, you can check it out as a breast fest, but it has no other redeeming qualities.
Not really enjoyable, but not really meant to be
This film is quite depressing, not that there's anything wrong with that. Not an enjoyable watch, but I'm sure it wasn't intended to be. A great acting performance by Janeane Garofalo. If my rating was only about her performance it would have been much higher. She has the dramatic chops, especially for someone who came up as a comedienne. She never was really pretty in the classical sense, but I always liked her looks. I really liked her on The Larry Sanders show. She still looks good here. Margaret Cho was fine here, and Bobcat Goldthwaite was suitably repulsive. But I would only recommend this film to fans of Miss Garofalo.
The Giving Tree (2000)
Not as bad as all that
Not nearly as bad as some people are saying. Some of the dialog was cheesy, but most of the cast did as well as could be expected with it. Molly Ringwald's part seemed the most unlikely, but I didn't think that she was terrible. Christina Applegate had fine acting chops doing terror and depression, even though she is more well-known as a comedic actress. Tiffany Salerno did a nice job, too. She did not give herself the juiciest part, even though she wrote and co-produced the film. Moon Zappa was terrific in a fairly wrenching role. However, the plot is quite depressing and none of the characters are very likable, and some of them despicable.
A Murder of Crows (1998)
Better than most of these comments make it sound
There seems to be a lot of negativity in the comments for this film. I thought it was pretty decent. Yes, voice-over narration is often a crutch, but it did not annoy me here. Cuba Gooding played it well even though his character was a little bit too good at evading the police. Tom Berenger was also just fine as a New Orleans police detective. Marianne Jean-Baptiste played all of the right notes as well. I guess I don't spend much time while watching movies trying to guess what is coming, or foretelling the ending. It seems that many people do. To each his own, I suppose. Nice scenery in both New Orleans and Key West. This never seems to have made it into theaters, but it is a nice diversion.