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What Remains (2013)
A complaint about the ending (may be spoiler, may not be)
This review is ABOUT the ending, but it doesn't reveal the ending.
I just sat through the 4-part "What Remains," about the various characters in a small apartment house, and a retired detective's obsession with finding out what happened to an overweight girl whose body was found in the attic and whose disappearance had gone unnoticed for two years. I found it easily held my interest until the end, when it decided to have multiple endings. I'm always disappointed with British mysteries when they do that. I expect them to be mature enough to play out their mystery and denouement and say "that's it," but too often shows like this will lose faith in the resolution of the story, and think they have to throw in a twist or two or three at the end to give a shock to the sheeple. It just seems very immature and destroys any credibility the story had. Like the end of FATAL ATTRACTION, when the murderous woman is drowned in the bathtub, but that's not enough, so they have her jump out of the water ready to kill and the wife shoots her, because she suddenly has a gun and knows how to use it. It's a cheap gimmick you'd expect to find in crappy horror films, not a fine British drama. MAYDAY, from earlier this year, was another decent drama that twisted and was ultimately a complete cheat at the end.
I would have rated this program an 8 or better if not for the ending.
The Town (2012)
Good atmosphere and characters but ultimately ruined by implausible plot
This is one of those stories that as it goes along, more and more is revealed until it gets to the point of being ridiculous. It has good characters, a good atmosphere, and I enjoyed everything about it but that core aspect of the plot, with twists and turns that make it so ridiculous that it leaves a bad feeling when you've finished watching it, like you've been cheated. It starts off with deaths so mysterious that you share how devastated the son is in being unable to comprehend or cope with it, then it is answered in a somewhat plausible though unsatisfactory manner, then that's up-ended by a twist, then THAT'S up-ended by another twist and then it's over.
Boys' Ranch (1946)
I want to rush to the defense of Butch Jenkins, railed at by another reviewer who found his performance to be "wooden." Perhaps he wasn't paying attention, but "wooden" was what his character was supposed to be. He played a boy who had been raised by an old grandfather with very little understanding of childhood, leaving Jenkins' character an emotionally distant little adult, with very little experience or understanding of child-like pleasures. I caught this movie about a month ago and Jenkins was the best thing about this movie. It was nice to see Skip Homier in another youthful role after "Tomorrow the World," though I wasn't terribly impressed with his performance. A major plot devices was rather simplistic and contrived: A rich man will give the land for the ranch if it does well, but after one of the lamest thefts in movie history, he may reconsider and the whole future of the ranch is threatened.
This comedy is a tragedy
It's nice to see the three great characters actresses, but they are given very little to work with. Marjorie Main's is the only developed character, and she seems miscast in it. Fine production values, to be sure, but this film is a mess from beginning to end. The script desperately needed many more re-writes, as you can't tell who's supposed to be in love with whom. People that you think are supposed to be good do cruel things, and then you're supposed to turn around and find them good again. Terribly tragic events are used as contrived plot devices, and passed over by the characters with little more than an "oh, too bad" by the characters. Then to compound the tragedy of this comedy is the back story: Susan Peters, so young and beautiful in this film married Richard Quine who played her love interest. She was paralyzed in a gun accident a few years later, and after trying to recover her career by working in a wheelchair, she fell into depression and decline and died. She had divorced Quine. He had a successful but largely forgotten career as a director, until he also fell into depression and committed suicide.
Jet Boy (2001)
A Flawed Wonder
I gave this a 9 out of 10, which is extraordinary for what, in many ways, is a pretty bad film. Sometimes a movie can touch you, like this one does, even though you know it has some terribly bad aspects like cardboard-cutout characters and unbelievable plot turns. In a movie that often has the complexity and production values of an ABC Afternoon Special, there is the stirring performance of Branden Nadon as Nathan, a young male prostitute, latching onto a drifter he wants to be his ... father figure? lover? both? There are many unanswered questions here, opportunities missed, time spent on uninteresting plot lines. But instead of walking away in disgust, Nadon's performance and character just leaves you hungry for more, and wishing scenes had been expanded. There's a scene where Nathan tells a gay teen who has just kissed him, "I just want to be a good kid," and it so excruciating and sweet and sad you wish the scene had gone on forever. When Nathan accompanies the drifter to the drifter's home town, none of the people he encounters there know how worldly he is, or how wounded he is, and how he longs to belong to someone. It's a poignant performance you won't easily forget.
A low-budget gem from the 70's
I first saw this on TV when I was a teenager, a few years after it was made, and it made quite an impression on me. Now, 30 years later I was able to finally see it again on an old VHS tape, and it still impresses. It would be easy to dismiss it because of it's low budget, bland music, and occasional pretensions, but it nevertheless tells a classic story: a humorless, frustrated divorcée finds a fresh romance with a young man who is so outgoing he borders on being obnoxious. He's very different from her former husband, but may be just what she needs. But her precocious son starts to act out against this intrusion on his relationship with his mother. He despises everything about the new boyfriend that his mother finds so refreshing -- with tragic results. This film represents one of those rare instances when a low-budget actually enhances a film, and makes it more authentic and believable. Contrary to some of the other reviews here, it is not a "Bad Seed" kind of movie. A sex scene in the movie, involving the boy and his sitter, would probably result in criminal charges today. Scott Jacoby was an extraordinary young actor. BAXTER! is another film of his I haven't seen in 30+ years. I would love to see it as well.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Very Pleasant Experience
Yes, it is a "chick flick," and yes, it is a glorified travelogue, and we've seen other glorified travelogues, the but fact remains that this a nice pleasant experience in the movie theatre. A vacation for those that can't afford to go to Italy. There's not much plot but I was never bored, and I had a nice time, and enjoyed the characters. If movies were measured by how much they transported you away from you present life, this would get a high rating.
I'm Afraid it IS that Bad
The IMDB plot summary erroneously makes it sound like it is Noah Taylor's movie, when Fairuza Balk is the central character. It is unbelievable how such a cast of established actors could have been in such an amateurish, pointless, non-movie. Balk breaks up with Boyfriend Taylor, sleeps with the Devil (I guess - played by Dempsey), and accidentally kills Taylor -- who follows her about for the rest of the movie as a ghost. May be the worst movie I have ever seen.
Respectable unloved-teen movie - but falsely advertised
This is another respectable entry into the genre of the unhappy and unloved teenager, going after a boy who turns out to be no prize, and trying to fit in with her fellow classmates, but how does it find its audience when the title misleads you into thinking its a sex-and-drugs movie, and the video cover misleads you into thinking it's has Melanie Griffith it when she only makes two passing appearances? -- one is her coming out of doorway. Hard to come to the film in the right frame of mind after all the deceptions.
The Town Went Wild (1944)
Poor attempt to emulate Preston Sturges
Low-Grade attempt to make a movie in the Preston Sturges vein. It has some Sturges elements: risque subject matter (incestuous engagement), over-the-top angry fathers, small-town politicians, and a fair amount of shouting, -- it even has Sturges regular Jimmy Conlin, but it has none of the Sturges dialogue, speed, or timing.