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classic inspiring episode-
Thanks to all the IMDBers who reviewed this episode, I made sure not to miss it when Encore Movie Channel began running the AH Hours every weeknight at 11. I wasn't disappointed, even though I spotted the twist very early on (actually in the opening credits- or lack thereof).The ending more than made up for twist being ruined. It's quite a brilliant episode and still packs a wallop- and it had an undeniable influence on both Tobe Hooper (if he did indeed direct Poltergeist- and more so on Brian DePalma- the whole dream sequence ending of Dressed To Kill just has to be a reworking of this. Good performances all around- and what the heck is John Kerr doing in here?
The Goodbye Girl (1977)
a personal benchmark
I suppose in a way I owe a debt of gratitude to this film-it certainly ranks on my list of "essentials" for cutting my own critical chops. The "essentials" I'm referring to are films I absolutely despised that virtually everyone I knew (and the Oscars) liked. For years the mere mention of "pan-tees-hang-ing-in-the-bathroom" could sent me into a rage. Listen, I like Neil Simon- probably more than I should-but this film is crap. The by-play between the leads that usually makes Simon funny falls flat with these two truly mismatched actors. Dreyfuss overacts shamelessly (it's his m.o. in virtually all his lead roles- like Bette Midler he's really only suitable for supporting roles) and begs the question: If John Simon could call Streisand "ugly" what do you call a guy who looks like a gerbil with whiskers? He's truly grotesque, and not just when he's playing gay Richard III (his best moment) his Oscar for this smacks of self congratulation on the part of Hollywood. Marsha Mason is mediocre also a career best. Fortunately for me, sanity prevailed and Dreyfuss sank to a level more befitting his talents (he blamed coke- I prefer to take the optimistic view that the world just came to its senses).This isn't the worst Neil Simon film- just the most overpraised. I watch what I can bear of it from time to time when I feel like patting myself on the back for trusting my judgement way back when.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Pretenders from contenders....
When I logged on to IMDb to check out some specifics about The Hurt Locker, I had no real intention of writing a review. I was shocked by how many people didn't "get" the film. I thought the film was a slam-dunk and represented Bigelow finally fulfilling the promise of "Near Dark". Admittedly, I never questioned the films accuracy (though I figured it probably wasn't accurate- few films are). To me, it's more important for the film to be good- and this one is. It's the tightest film I've seen in a long time- simple and straightforward- but with enough depth to merit repeat watchings. I just didn't expect it to be a measuring stick for film knowledge- the kind of film that exposes some peoples' lack of film instincts- much in the way Hitchcock's films did when they were first released (remember that he never won the accolades in his day that he deserved). For serious cinephiles- don't miss The Hurt Locker- you won't get another one like this for a long time.
Just a warning...
Just a warning to maybe save someone else from wasting their time. Seeing that this was on TCM and after having read a number of the reviews on IMDb I decided to give it a watch.I was intrigued by how many people referenced Argento- some even citing Suspiria. Sorry to say this one is strictly for fans of gore. Poorly directed and cheaply made with little to no style- shocking how badly shot when you consider it was made by a cinematographer- (not so shockingly, he has directed little else). Not bad for this sort- but the worst of Bava or Argento is far superior. For those who can't see that, don't be offended- be glad your easily pleased.
How do you say "cliche" in Portugese?
Didn't know anything about this film when I caught it on cable. Started out okay and then degenerated into a jumble of thriller and travelogue clichés. The real mystery for me was not "what was really going on in the film"- but rather "What is this doing on IFC?" Never could figure that one out- very average at best. The underwater chase was slightly less believable than watching martial arts heroes flying through the air to deliver kicks. Good looking cast- great looking country- just wasted- who said there was no torture? By the way, loved the comment that bemoaned the fact that , since the girl was sedated when she was being operated on, she wasn't really in pain- this is IMDb, isn't it?
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Not one word...
I have the utmost respect for Woody Allen as a filmmaker ( I probably own more than a dozen of his films) and was very excited to hear that VCB was so well received by critics. Wow, what an incredible disappointment it turned out to be. I did not believe ONE WORD of this script- not one situation- not one character. Without going into great detail I'll just say I agreed with many of the negative reviews on this site concerning where the film failed: the narration ( jaw droppingly awful, the acting ( perhaps with the exception of Cruz) and the writing ( how badly did this script need a rewrite). If the film could have been saved it would have been by the last scene- but alas, by then the ship had sunk. I'm not giving up on Woody, he's too good a writer (maybe he could write about something he knows- like getting old- it might not be marketable but it could be great). Once Woody's film persona complained about TV audiences taste level "having been systematically lowered"- unfortunately that's where his good reviews are now coming from. Oh , and Penelope Cruz being nominated for this instead of "Elegy" is an act that borders on the criminal.
Wilder and growth...
Saw this when it was released and thought it was "okay"- had a little problem with the story's European morality- but I was only a teenager at the time. Over the years I've caught the film on a couple of occasions (not always seeing all of it, after all it is a long film) and I would normally say the film had grown on me...but I have the feeling it's me that has done the growing. A real pleasure- from the performances to the locations- I find it now oddly affecting. Wilder's last best shot is an absolute must for anyone who has had to sit through Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. At his best Wilder is as good as anyone at film-making and, though Avanti is just shy of his best, it's a far sight ahead of what we call film today.
After viewing Edmond I logged onto IMDb ( as is my customary ritual) to view comments on what was a very difficult film. I logged off after reading every single comment and , I must say, I was flabbergasted. Some people liked the film, some people hated the film (par for the course) but, near as I can tell, no one really understood the film. That didn't particularly upset me because it is a tough film and sometimes people just can't agree on what a film was "about". What disappointed me was that no one bothered to figure out what the film was about. I'll give you a hint: it's not about a man's descent into madness- it's about transformation. If you don't believe me google "bible 1:15", or rewatch the tarot card scene and look up the meaning of each card (they're making it easy for you)- another clue:the characters name. For those who hated the film, I understand, but if you liked it and wrote on it I think you owe it your readers to DO THE WORK! If we get lazy about our passions, how do we live the rest of our lives? I found the film fascinating, but I'm a sucker for Mamet's work. I really need to watch it again, like pretty much everyone else.
Baby Mama (2008)
It's hard to say which is worse, this so-called comedy or the people who extole it on this site. Have our youths comic chops been so dumbed down that they really think this kind of clichéd crap is funny. It wouldn't be such a big deal if not for the fact that films like this one are produced at the expense of innovated and experimental work. I saw this while in the hospital ( so it's like seeing a film in a POW camp- you're grateful for anything you see) and it was impossible to watch. Boring, predictable and most importantly...not funny. Here's a message to young people today: If you don't laugh, it's not funny. It seems a simple thought but people today have set such a low bar for entertainment that they have lost the ability to judge- they expect nothing for their admission. Too bad we all have to live with the result. P.S. What did they do, kidnap Greg Kinner to get him in this film?
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Was amazed at Paul Anderson's "There Will Be Blood". It was a quantum leap for a director who has always had the audacity, if not the material, to be great. It really pains me to see so many negative reviews- anyone truly serious about film that doesn't "get" this film needs to go back and watch it again. Sadly, some people probably still won't get it...oh well that's what makes good taste good...not everyone has it. I found it riveting from the first frame and I don't care if it doesn't follow the Sinclair book exactly- read The Shining sometime- none of what makes the film brilliant is in the book. A great director has the right to read the book and throw it away- Anderson has shown himself worthy to do so here.