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62 reviews in total 
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The East (2013)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Small role for Patricia Clarkson, and she blasts it out of the park, 26 November 2014

Patricia Clarkson has a role so small in this film, but like a tiny piece of Uranium has a massive impact.

Here she is the head of the main character's company, a firm that supplies intelligence for corporations, infiltrating underground groups that act out against companies.

In the course of this film, there is a sequence in which our heroine is present when a "monkey wrench" (called a jam) of sorts is about to happen and a large number of people are about to be badly treated. She then calls Clarkson with concerns about the event about to take place mere minutes (like nearly seconds), Clarkson has a response that is the essence of corporate evil.

In this one, brief line, Clarkson nails Corporate Swine Person as well as if not better than Gary Cole in Office Space or Paul Reiser in Aliens.

Overall the film is well made, well directed and has Ellen Page in it. (Anything with Ellen Page is worth watching at least once IMHO.) A good gripping thriller, well made and with an edge. 9/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant, and dark., 12 August 2014

This film starts dark as the children's TV star Rainbow Randolph is shown taking a bribe to allow a child special status on his show in a sting operation... or rather, dark before that, with the emphasis on the sales of his likeness and candy style "breakfast foods"... or maybe just in the innuendos of the song he sings at the beginning... or dark when we watch a figure being beaten to death at the very opening.

All of the above: less than 5 minutes of screen time. This dark as the grave comedy just keeps getting darker and darker.

WARNING: With the loss of one of the stars by his own hand, this may be too dark for the fans of Mr. Williams. I thought I could take it. I was wrong. Too soon for me, but I will go back again.

It is, however, as brilliant a piece of dark comedy ever made, and with his untimely loss, maybe some that ignored it then will find it now. Brutal, unflinching and bordering on bitter (but never sweet), this is a grand film for all involved. Read the cast names... yes, this one somehow got away from us.

Maleficent (2014)
3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Maleficent is Magnificent, 31 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dark, menacing and possessed of a twisted sense of humor, this film is a visual treat. In fact, the imagery is so intense that the story can be missed. Light streams from a distance, fingers of wispy mist.

The story is being casually dismissed by some, but I would point out that it is a fairy tale, a kids movie for adults. Jung would have a field day with the layers on layers of meaning... or just turn off the brain and let the eye candy blow out the walls.

It is worth the extra $ for 3-D. The effects are consistently interesting, and only rarely is there the cheap COMING RIGHT AT YOU effect that was old and worn when it was used in the 50's.

Jolie, not my favorite actress, caught me so totally off guard that I (yep) forgot it was her. Kudos, and it would actually be a good thing to hear "And the Oscar goes to..."

This is the second film from Disney that raises the notion of what is meant by "true love," and I for one endorse this. As in Frozen, an enchantment has to be broken by true love, but it is not a romantic love, but a love for another that, in Frozen, calls for a sacrifice and in Maleficent a love that is rooted in a mother/child relationship. One could say that Maleficent is the Evil Stepmother that comes to regret her actions that were formed at an early age and is thus redeemed.

Oh, and again, Bad Man Falls To Death. Well, y'know: Disney. They do that.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
As good as it gets, 24 February 2013

While most of Gilliam's work is known for their over-the-top wild madness, which is a good thing, this is his most restrained, most subdued and possibly the single finest film of his career. Throughout there is a sense that life is going on while he just happened to be nearby with a camera, somehow even magically catching the tormented vision of a Red Knight chasing a hapless soul through Central Park.

The performances are stunning. Possibly the greatest moment in Williams' career, a chance to "be crazy" but in the sense of someone barely capable of functioning. Ruehl controls her reality, which is small and confined, but it is hers, every inch of it. Plummer, always fascinating, here is heart breaking. Jeter's role is small but perfect in every possible way. Najimy is on screen for about a heartbeat, but is totally memorable.

Then, of course, there is: Jeff Bridges as Jack Lucas. Bridges is obvious now, The Dude, Rooster Cogburn, his Crazy Heart beating loud. It is here, though, that the man that has done so much, and from a short line of great actors (father Lloyd and brother Beau as also great) that has given so much, he really deserved the attention that he is only now getting.

14 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Sad, sad, sad, 27 October 2012

In the extras of the original, the director was shown giving the make up crew their mission. When given the choice between gruesome and disturbing, always go with disturbing.

This film fails more often that it bothered to attempt to succeed. Oh, yes, there are moments that are worthy of the attention of any horror fan. Those moments are few, and far between.

There are whole sections of set design that are hidden behind what appears to be dirty plastic wrap. The 3D effect, that can be used to erase the "fourth wall" is used at one point to actually CREATE a "fourth wall," blood splatter hitting what appears to be a glass wall about ten feet in front of the viewer.

The actors did what they could, which wasn't much, as the story here is garbled.

Final note: I want my money back, I want that time back. Feh!

Nashville (1975)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Top of the line, 14 June 2012

If Stephen Sondheim were to be approached to turn this into a musical, he would be quite right to shrug it off as he already did Sunday In The Park With George.

Bits and pieces, coming together into one massive quilt depicting a brief moment of human existence in the United States. Very much a document of its time, the film is as we were, scattered, splintered, a herd of cats wandering across the land, and all hearing the siren call and responding.

But to which siren do we respond? Fame and fortune in the music industry, power in politics? The call to faith? Sex and pleasure? It is all here, all at once, all at the same time.

This film is possessed of the zeitgeist, and there is a sense that the fourth wall keeping us from it is slowly melting. The opening sequence, sounding like a K-Tel commercial, reminds us we are in a commercial venture, a performance of an artificial reality but, by the end, that artifice is shattered repeatedly, an assassin's bullet hitting bone and ricocheting around and around.

Having seen much of his work prior to this film, it is here, without any flinching or concern of response, that I stand firm. From here, Nashville, the term Altmanesque is fully realized. Not only does the rest of the body of his own work pale in comparison, but this is his true above-the-rest master work, his magnum opus. (Short Cuts is a brilliant reminder to himself, and us, that he had the capacity to do it more than once. Thank God the plane didn't go down after Nashville! The generation my generation bred needed their own, and they got it.) Much has been written about the use of overlapping dialog, and it is interesting to me that one hears it used to brilliant effect in Citizen Kane (possibly the single finest moment of radio drama: if you ever get the chance, ignore the visuals and just listen to Citizen Kane. A most enlightening experience). What is missed in this damnation by the faintest of praise is that the dialog overlaps the way the individual stories do, and often at the moment in which they must to propel this mad, mad, mad, mad world towards its most brilliant conclusion.

Altman had a dual career: both hit and miss. The sheer momentum of this film, its unswerving gaze, its slow steady build makes it a massive hit, making it possibly the true Important Film of his career. It is Altman's Casablanca, one watches again and gains more from every viewing, it is a living entity, growing and evolving with every frame. It is Altman's Lawrence Of Arabia and Malcolm X, sweeping in majesty and grandeur and telling the greater tale in the focus of the faces of the average man. It is Altman's It's A Wonderful Life, presenting itself without flinching (everyone seems to forget that the standard Christmas chestnut deals with a man contemplating suicide). It is Altman's Intolerance, only watchable and pleasurable. It is Altman's Metropolis, important, powerful and a crowning achievement of the medium of film.

Short Cuts (1993)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
aka Nashville 1993, 14 June 2012

Altman, as many have written, had a career that is pretty much evenly divided between hit and miss. While I have always enjoyed his films, to be totally honest and fair, not all of his work qualifies to the magnificent high standard of being Altmanesque.

Altman loved jazz, and the best of his best work move like a brilliant jazz performance. To move along with his groove, to truly become part of the experience requires a certain presence of mind. Like the greatest jazz artists, there are those who enter into deep debates over which work is best: is Kind Of Blue better than Bitches Brew? More important? In the end, it does come down to taste and preference, and this would be my second favorite Altman film after the sheer perfection of Nashville. The films are like watching someone make a quilt, "bit by bit, putting it together" (as Sondheim said), with no one particular thread being more important than another, just a simple, glorious collection of threads pulling together to form one majestic piece.

The perception that his films are "scattered" or "confusing" or "dull" because of that missing story line is, sadly, understandable: we are being fed a constant stream of Single Story at every turn, being easier to market and exploit. Altman, at his best, had no need of a single narrative line and on those occasions in which there is no semblance whatsoever of a single story arc AND he is moving at his best, he creates films quite unlike any other by any one.

Both this and Nashville are invitations, seductive in their own way: there is no fourth wall in these works, while we watch them, it is as if they are watching us.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
I had ridiculously high expectations for this..., 15 October 2011

...And Zack Snyder delivered the goods over and over and over the top. He is now (having not seen the Owls film) IMHO in a small collection of directors as Masters Of The OTT: Terry Gilliam, Baz Lehrman, Ken Russell... and now, Zack Snyder.

This film has been sniffed at and derided by the critics, a collective shrug of Meh... and it is wholly undeserved.

This is Zack Snyder's The Matrix Inception at Moulin Rouge, as stylish a musical as anything else out there, but filtered through the creative mind that has lived the era of MTv meaning music videos that were short musicals and sometimes (all of my favorites, anyway) short musical avant garde films.

Wild, rollicking, slipping into and out of eras and aeons, seriously cool soundtrack, it is eye candy for people with functioning brains.

Machete (2010)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Worthy of attention, wildly out of control: Rodriguez strikes again, 26 August 2011

Robert Rodriguez seems hellbent on creating films as if he was Robert Rodriguez... you know, the guy that made both From Dusk Til Dawn and The Faculty. Fortunately, he is more than up to the challenge with Machete.

The term OTT applies here, but that is quickly becoming his hallmark, and Thank God for that! While others are making retreads of stale bread, RR is returning to his preferred film genre (70's Grindhouse Cheese) and bringing to the screen something other directors fail to comprehend... this is entertainment, dammit, and laying down the limited supply of cash one has to sit in the dark for a couple of hours means you'd better bring the goods.

There are weaknesses, to be sure. Any of those are IMHO removed by the impressive display of macho in the lead: Danny Trejo IS the ultimate tough guy, and Machete Cortez is now firmly ensconced in my mind in the pantheon of Tough Men from Hollywood alongside Dirty Harry.

Some critics have written that Senor Trejo is the weakest link in this film. I would not merely disagree, but I sneer at the dogs who think this. Senor Trejo in this film is like Lee Marvin or Clint Eastwood or Humphrey Bogart... his face is a sculpture of human flesh, the weight of a man's life showing his soul. Amazing. Just ... amazing.

Without him, this film would probably be a 6 to me. Because of him, it is a 9.

Now: how can we get him a script that really lets him show off???

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A disaster in need of repair, 28 April 2010

I am a major fan of Thomas Harris, and have read all of his novels several times, with the exception of Hannibal Rising. Once was enough. I have all of the films based on his novels with the exception of this one. I saw it at the theater, and like the reading of the novel, once was enough.

There is much to say that would be of interest, preventing it (barely) from being listed as "awful." I have nothing against the visual impact of the cinematography, an art form that is long neglected. The film is mostly dark, and even the daylight sequences seem to have an absence of light.

The editing and pace of the film moves right along. The actors are all fine and well. What went wrong? ***** SPOILERS ***** *The storyline is an abortion. Harris was commissioned to write another Lecter story with the intent of it becoming a film, and no one told him that to drag the boyhood of a monster forward so we, as an audience, would come to understand the monster came from a sad, tormented boy.


Who cares? Having read the other novels where we encounter this true Monster, I was impressed how much his story was told in bits and pieces, not unlike the story of Nero Wolfe series. Why give us everything all at once, when it so much more fun to be able to glean the story from brief anecdotes? Lecter's sister was mentioned in earlier novels, as well as some of his past. Those brief glimpses made the character more interesting, giving him a sense of mystery. By releasing this mess, there was no mystery. Even the clever use of the mask... sigh... are you kidding?? What I feel SHOULD have been done was to continue forward from the previous novel, ignoring the mangled end of the film Hannibal. Leave our Monster to be a Monster, but show him more for what he truly is, and once we see that, we can see how this mess could have been made interesting...

He is a Moriarty without a Holmes. If we are to go back into his previous life, then tell the tale of how he was captured in the first place... wouldn't that have been an interesting story?

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