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Just great
11 December 2017
Baruchel is somewhat nerdy airport employee who happens to help drop-dead gorgeous Eve in distress, after much support from his gang of airport friends he asks her out. He expects the hammer to fall at any time. In one of the great lines of romantic comedy moviedom, his friend says of a prior relationship "I was a 6, maybe a 7, but she was a hard ten .... I just couldn't beat the spread". The same is expected by Baruchel and the question becomes can he live with the fact that his girlfriend is much better looking (and successful) as him? Eve is great, Baruchel is great, his little ensemble of friends play well, including an old girlfriend reinterested in him given his success with Eve. There are the usual embarrassing scenes that are in every movie of this sort but I found this more intelligent and several steps above most of the entries in the American Pie/Porky's genre. Recommended as a light romantic comedy.
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The Verdict (1982)
Hung Jury
9 December 2017
So there are parts of this movie that are as good as it gets in a legal drama (which I usually as a lawyer avoid). Newman is scraping by as an attorney after being disciplined and losing a position with a major firm in some jury misconduct incident (it has always been unclear to me whether he took a dive for his firm or was somewhat involved). Along comes a major malpractice claim against a local Catholic hospital that has left the victim in a coma. Newman, with the help of mentor Jack Warden (great as always) take the case on, and find they have run into a buzz saw from the church, their large and prestigious law firm (led by the despicable James Mason), and biased judge, among some of the many obstacles. The story plays out well, my complaints are: 1) it's sort of a unpleasant scenario to be watched by a practicing attorney, 2) some of the judge's rulings are just goofy even if he's favoring the hospital, 3) one of the big firm's shenanigans defies credibility, and 4) Paul's closing argument sucks. So enjoy the good parts and sort of ignore the problem areas.
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Westworld (1973)
Be careful what you wish for
10 October 2017
In this film written and directed by Michael Crichton, Benjamin and Brolin find themselves traveling to a futuristic resort where all your dreams can come true. The three available worlds, Medieval World, Roman World, and West World, all come with robots acting out their roles among the guests. One is never absolutely sure who is what, but that changes when the robots begin to misbehave. The first half of this movie is as good as light drama gets out there, with Brolin the shameless cowboy and Benjamin the neurotic trying to come to terms with his new unlimited environment. Yul Brynner shows up and picks fights with the boys, but they just blow him away Wild West style. Then things start going a little haywire. As I said, the first part is great when the boys are taking full advantage of their liberties, as things go south the movie remains watchable but somewhat less enjoyable. Worth it all for the first half.
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Dunkirk (2017)
Great action sequences
27 July 2017
Sometimes historical stories are best described by telling the tale from the perspective of a few individuals instead of trying to give the big picture. The Longest Day and any Michener work is an example. I think that approach works, with some slight reservations, in this one. The focus is on Rylance as the stoic (as it were) small boat captain pitching in; a couple of ordinary soldiers trying just to get out of the trap; and a Hurricane pilot protecting the retreat with developing petrol issues. As you might expect, some of their paths criss cross, which in some ways makes this a little pat, like some Spielberg concoction. It also seemed a little played out and long on time although it wasn't. But the cinematography and the action, particularly the fighter action, is just stupendous and trumps those concerns. Worth a look.
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The Best Yet
23 July 2017
So Toby Maguire did a nice job but always looked a little too old for the title character. And there were other problems with the early Spiderman, too much slow romantic entanglement and unentanglements, plus derivative plots. E.g., Spiderman III has some great fight scenes a lot of dreary moments and a plot derivative even from its own earlier movies. I didn't like the second Spiderman, skipped II on that. This Spiderman feels quite right, the movie gets extra juice having Tony Stark involved but that's somewhat of a mixed blessing, I might have liked to see a little less Stark in the plot. Michael Keaton has always been a favorite for me, the best movie Batman, and he plays a finely textured villain in this one. Enjoyable movie, they could have cut 10-15 minutes running time without losing anything.
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Wonder Woman (2017)
16 July 2017
So DC finally got it right, very much a Marvel-type production, actually one or two up on some recent Marvel works. Gal Gadot is one of the most strikingly beautiful actresses ever, when she's giving that head tilted down look to Pine in the hotel it's lights out. Maybe in part because of that (but only in part) she has chunks of what is known as screen presence, and she has it real big time. I wouldn't have guessed they would pick the end days of WWI for Wonder Woman's solo premier but it was all done right. Good pacing to the movie, maybe had 10 minutes more than they needed and a few of the things that happened didn't entirely make sense, but as an up close intro movie to the brunette Amazon she and it were a knockout.
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Troy (2004)
21 May 2017
As far a I recall, having read the Iliad twice in the past, this is a faithful rendition of the basic story, and it rocks and never lets up from beginning to end. Casting is great, Kruger is breathtaking as Helen (and Byrne equally captivating), Bloom is spot on as pretty boy Paris with some vestige of courage, Pitt and particularly Bana are rock solid as the key antagonists. This is a great story and the movie gives it all of the spectacle it deserves, it's a shame they never ran with Bean as Odysseus in the obvious follow up movie. Greek historical buff and all, it took me literally a decade to watch any portion of this and until this year to watch it from beginning to end. I figured it was just Hollywood trash but I was wrong. Just a great historical movie.
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Whiplash (2014)
So how much is too much?
19 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I put on a spoiler alert even though I'm not telling you how things go. There is no doubting the intensity of this film and the mano a mano between Teller and Simmons (who is flipping great). It raises the celluloid question of how much motivation for a student is too much? Simmons and Teller certainly explore the limits, as each gives up everything else in the grind towards perfection. I almost gave up several times myself because the intensity was more than I wanted to watch, but I did come back in the end. And it was a good thing I did because the ending literally makes the movie. Dare I say, the end is the only finale they could rightfully have. So hang in there because it's worth the trip.
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Tattletale Corpse (2016 Video)
A second chance for last words
18 February 2017
Van Scott plays coroner who comes into possession of secret government formula that gives recent corpses another few minutes of life. Into his simple mind comes several money-making scenarios and off we go. The production values are how should we say it helped by blue screen and other footage, nonetheless the basic concept of the movie and the plot twists are quite engaging. Fran Rafferty steals the show as the television evangelist who comes to a profitable arrangement with the coroner and his lovely scheming wife, played by Noel. This is fascinating stuff and with better production values could go somewhere.
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The Devil in the Details
10 February 2017
First I want to say nice movie. But with Biblical movies I am often upset when they deviate from the Bible, I mean what's the point? Why not just use the Bible story? To a lesser extent I feel the same way here. I felt right from the get go that this story about three really smart black women working for NASA in the days of the segregated South was being overplayed Hollywood-style. If you're going to show me discrimination, show me discrimination to these persons like it really happened, not the way it presents most effectively in a Hollywood production with an anti-discrimination agenda. The way this played was so obvious and almost cartoon style that I felt suspicious about the whole deal even where much of the story was absolutely true. So take out the manufactured racial and sexual misinformation because I'd like the real scoop on these wonderful, talented and courageous folks.

As I understand it, Katherine Johnson was accepted as a peer by the other persons she worked with - so please tell me THAT story (which to me is much more interesting than the movie contrivances)? Show Katherine being a true educational and workplace genius accepted by her white male co-workers when outside the KKK has meetings and blacks are directed to the back of the bus. All you do by distorting the facts for the subjects of this movie is to give the detractors something to work with. I would have preferred, and appreciated more, a straight movie about what these women achieved along the lines of Race, which didn't seem contrived in the least. For me, dishonestly presenting the details (on which the movie focuses way too much) just denigrates the amazing true story.
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