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2423 reviews in total 
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31 (2016)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Not bad, 20 October 2016

I kind of liked this, although it's definitely a guilty pleasure, at best. It's basically a grindhouse Running Man. A group of carnies are kidnapped and forced into a twisted game of survival against several murderous clowns. There are tons of things one could complain about, from the unnecessarily shaky camera to the constant flashing lights to the uninspired soundtracking to the God awful dialogue (why say anything else when you can just say "fuck" over and over again?), but it's a pretty straightforward splatterfest, and it's fun for what it is. Of course, Sheri Moon Zombie stars as one of the five carnies. Malcolm McDowell plays one three faux-aristocratic kidnappers (they are supposedly watching the proceedings but I have to wonder how, since there don't seem to be any cameras involved). The murderers are the best part of the movie. It's hard for me to dislike a movie with a Hispanic Hitler dwarf clown who wears a stuffed bunny head. I also really liked Richard Brake as the ultimate villain, Doom-Head. He's a much better take on the Joker than Jared Leto was earlier in the year. It's a movie most will hate, but I found it worthwhile.

The plot is largely a repeat of the first film, but, for whatever reason, I felt it was superior, 21 September 2016

While many of the plot points of this first sequel to Outlaw Gangster VIP are almost exactly the same as the original, this one is a much stronger film. That may sound a bit odd, but I think the direction and script are stronger, and maybe just because I felt I knew the protagonist I was more involved in his story at this point. Whatever the reason, I'd rank this one high amongst the many yakuza movies I've seen. The film picks up a few months after the first, with Tetsuya Watari, having healed his wounds, traveling north to find Chieko Matsubara and Yumeko, the wife of his gangster friend. In pretty much the same way (defending a defenseless woman), he gets drawn back into the yakuza world. This one features very strong performances throughout, and recognizable actors include Hideaki Nitani (whom you'll recognize from several Arrow titles), Kunie Tanaka and Meiko Kaji (who performs a flamenco dance number!). Izumi Ashikawa plays the woman Watari saves at the beginning of the film. He meets her again as a prostitute in Yokohama. She has a couple of really touching scenes opposite Tanaka, who plays the crippled brother of a gangster Watari killed in the first film. She's excellent.

Good, if somewhat clichéd, yakuza flick, 21 September 2016

A yakuza movie series recently released on video by Arrow (God bless 'em), five movies starring Tokyo Drifter's Tetsuya Watari. Other familiar Nikkatsu faces appear, too, including Watari's love interest from Tokyo Drifter, Chieko Matsubara (she of the perpetually sad face). The story here begins more or less like many other yakuza pictures, with Watari being released from prison. He finds his former gang has languished without him and the rival gang, whom he went to prison fighting, has grown more powerful. Immediately, he gets himself into big trouble when he defends Matsubara, a virginal youth new to Tokyo, from a gaggle of handsy yakuza. As the film moves on, it distinguishes itself with several fantastic set pieces, including some really violent yakuza brawls, and one of the best murder sequences I've ever seen, with one of Watari's best friends being clandestinely dispatched while waiting for the train. The film kind of ends in the middle of the story, but the studio knew it was going to make a series of these films immediately - this was one of five films, and the first of four of them that was released in 1968 alone! Definitely worth checking out.

Very poor script, 4 September 2016

Lousy modern romcom with one of the messiest screenplays of the year. There's way too much going on and way too little pay-off. The film seems to go on forever. Worst of all, it's just never funny. Dakota Johnson stars as a young woman who decides to "take a break" from her boyfriend. After a very short time, she wants to get back together but, too late, he's moved on. Now she's single in New York City and has no idea how to handle it. She befriends party animal Rebel Wilson, who has no problem with single life. Also, Johnson's older sister, Leslie Mann, is a baby-crazy single obstetrician who decides to go the sperm donor route. Also there's Alison Brie, who is also single and going a little nuts about it. What does she have to do with Johnson and her crew? Nearly nothing! I hate to say this about Alison Brie, but what is she even doing in this movie? They could have cut 20 minutes off their runtime if they just dropped that whole subplot, even if it would mean the film lacking Brie and, eventually, when he shows up, Jason Mantzoukas (who always makes every movie he's in slightly better). There are also men in the picture (Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Jake Lacy, etc.), obviously, and, to the film's credit, they mostly stand out as characters and not as blank states for the women to project upon. But, like the female characters, none of them are very likable. Wilson is about the only person in the film who gets any laughs at all, and the film is uninsightful about the subject at hand. One of the year's worst.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Interesting but not satisfying at all, 4 September 2016

A movie that was released in theaters this weekend. You never heard of it? Hell, I see like four movies a week at the theater nowadays and hadn't heard a peep about it. This is kind of why I went to see it. It's an odd duck that's actually fairly original and has an intriguing mystery at its center. All in all, though, it's not very good. It has some howlingly bad dialogue and some laughable twists. Its biggest problem, though, is that the central character is the least likable movie kid since the one from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And at least that kid had autism as an excuse. This kid (Aiden Longworth) has Little Prick Syndrome, which can only be cured by a punch to the face. Or a shove off the cliff, which is how the story begins. An "accident prone" kid, this is his ninth big accident in his nine years on Earth. This one leaves him in a coma, having come back from the other side while being prepared for an autopsy. His mother (Sarah Gadon) sits by his side and his father (Aaron Paul), the presumed shover, is on the run. The boy's doctor (Jamie Dornan) forms a close bond with the mother as he tries to figure out what happened, and how to get Louis out of the coma. Oliver Platt plays the kid's psychologist and Barbara Hershey his paternal grandmother. I was never bored, I will say that, but I was also supremely unsatisfied. Gadon and Paul are both good. Dornan is boring. Platt was best-in-show.

Tremendous, with a wonderful lead performance, 4 September 2016

Kind of a smaller version of La Dolce Vita with a female lead, this slice of 1960s Roman life is great in its own right. Stefania Sandrelli (probably best remembered as the woman who shared a sexy dance with Dominque Sanda in The Conformist) plays an aspiring actress and model who spends her nights partying her ass off and her mornings alone. The plot is pretty simple and pretty predictable, but director Pietrangeli shoots the film in a very experiential style - it feels like you're partying alongside Sandrelli, and it's just a really wonderful experience. Sandrelli herself is outstanding. It's a character that could come off as a cliché, but she plays her so knowingly and passionately. It's very, very easy to fall in love. The film is stuffed full of wonderful '60s pop songs (the only ones I recognized were by Millie Small, a Jamaican ska artist best known for her hit "My Boy Lollipop"), tremendous clothes and hairdos, and that crisp 1960s black and white. A must-see for anyone who loves the Italian films of this era.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Very charming and intelligent, 3 September 2016

Once you get over the weirdness of the fact that you're watching a movie about Barack and Michelle Obama's first date, this is an utterly charming and smart movie. I'm not sure how much of this is based on fact and how much of it is imagined (I assume most of the biographical details were fished out of Obama's autobiographies), but it imagines the two in their late 20s in Chicago in 1989. She doesn't want it to be a date, but he clearly does, so they do the dance. The film characterizes both Barack and Michelle beautifully - it's easy to momentarily forget who these people will become and just see them as complex human beings. The film is also one of the best about race in America - it doesn't shy away from those issues at all, and has a lot of intelligent discourse on the subject (it's quite disappointing that the writer/director is a white man, but thankfully he is a smart, sensitive white man). Saving the best for last, man, do the two leads, Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers, knock it out of the park. Sawyers nails not only the way the future President speaks, but also his fantastic charisma. Sumpter may not quite come off as a perfect copy of Michelle, but she builds the character beautifully. Definitely one of the year's best films.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not worth watching, 3 September 2016

I don't know much about Jean-Pierre Gorin besides that he collaborated with Jean-Luc Godard in the '70s in the Dziga Vertov Group. I think I've seen a film or two from that era, but it's been forever. This documentary is post-that, a while, apparently, after Gorin had moved to the United States (which I'm assuming broke Godard's heart!). This is kind of reminiscent of the documentaries people like Errol Morris or Werner Herzog would make. The subject here is train/model train enthusiasts. I've heard it said that "buffs" are only interesting to others who may be interested in their particular interests. I don't think that's really true at all myself. I love watching people who are truly excited about things. Most of the time I am, anyways. These people, though? They are truly boring. They seem like perfectly nice people, but Gorin is unable to get them to seem even remotely interesting. The film seems to have come about from a dare by his friend Manny Farber, a famous film critic himself. A chunk of the film is devoted to Farber and his art - he had moved on to being a visual artist by this point in his life. Gorin makes himself the center of attention a lot of the time, too. All this seems like a ploy to mix things up and give the doc some life, but it doesn't work. All in all, it's too small and unassuming to be an awful film, but it's pretty dull.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I don't get the hate. Sure, Batman & Robin is terrible, but this one's pretty good, 22 August 2016

I've always remembered this much maligned third installment of the Batman movie series as being pretty okay, and, on my first viewing since the theater (where I saw it twice - more out of circumstance than desire), I thought my initial reaction was right. I think it just gets a lot of residual hatred from Schumacher's Batman & Robin, which was really awful, mostly because of Schwarzenegger. It does depend on how much tolerance you have for '90s Jim Carrey, because if your tolerance level is low, I can understand why you'd hate this one, too. I think, visually, this movie is about as good as Batman Returns. I like the fact that it's actually colorful, instead of just black and blue like the previous two installments. There's a lot of green from The Riddler, of course, but there are a lot of reds and purples, too, and it's just very pretty. The production design and costuming are great throughout. If there's a big problem with this one it's Val Kilmer. I don't like Keaton all that much as Batman, to be honest, but he made a great Bruce Wayne. Kilmer is pretty boring as both. And the less said about Chris O'Donnell's Robin, the better (I had honestly thought he didn't even appear until the fourth movie). I personally like Carrey's depiction of The Riddler, and I also find Tommy Lee Jones a lot of fun as two face. It's all very campy, but in a lot of ways I prefer that to the grim darkness of the first two films. After all, my favorite Batman movie is still the '66 one, and this film really hearkens back to the '60s Batman series.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Gross and dumb, 22 August 2016

I don't think I've seen this all the way through since it was in theaters when I was 13. I don't remember liking it much then, but I've long been thinking of re-watching it. It's developed a cult because of its excessive weirdness. It is that excessive weirdness that keeps it watchable. That, the awesome production design, Danny Elfman's score, and Christopher Walken. Without those elements, though, honestly, I don't know that this is all that much better than Batman & Robin (I'm not about to re-watch that one, but I did pick up Batman Forever on Blu Ray very cheap along with this - probably both will be a waste of money). If nothing else, it certainly plants a lot of the seeds that would grow into the monstrosity that was B&R. The script here is just awful, first and foremost. It's all just a mess, with all kinds of nutty crap thrown on the screen for little to no reason. It's terribly grotesque. Penguin isn't a rich man in a tuxedo, he's a mutant, and Catwoman is a zombie. It has a really dirty sexual streak. It gets really gross watching Danny DeVito perv all over everyone. It's chock full of terrible one-liners that sound awful even coming out of Michelle Pfeiffer. Batman is more or less forgotten for most of the film. Even when it's being aggressively weird, it's mostly boring. Walken really livens up the film whenever he appears - his murder of Selina Kyle is by far the highlight of the film. It's a shame he disappears for a long stretch in the second half. The first Burton Batman holds up pretty well. This one, not so much.

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