Reviews written by registered user
John-405

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30 reviews in total 
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King Lear (1982) (TV)
13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps the best ever, 18 February 2002
10/10

Michael Hordern's masterful understanding of the part, his sandpaper voice, his shaggy but noble head made him the perfect Lear--"every *inch* a king". I first saw this production as a college freshman in 1985, and I've seen none since that has equaled it. It should be noted that Frank Middlemass who plays a more sympathetic and tender-hearted Fool is no less indispensable to the success of this production. Unforgettable.

By the way, the BBC series of the complete Shakespeare plays (produced in the late 1970s to mid-80s), which is prohibitively expensive at ca. US$3700, is frequently available in American public libraries. Everyone who is able should make a point of availing themselves of the opportunity of seeing this wonderful series at least once before they die.

Trekkies (1997)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
In life, the geeks get the last laugh, 18 December 2001

If you believe, as I do, that the geek will inherit the earth, you will find some of the implicit mockery in this film annoying. I found most of the fans to be charming people, from the 14 year old kid who designs studio-quality computer animations in his spare time to the Klingon who blows 1400 bucks on a forehead prosthetic.

A few moments were rather scary, however, such as the fellow who admits he'd like to have surgically altered spock ears but "it's too expensive". Now think about that for a moment. Okay, he made the right decision not to give himself spock ears, but the very fact that he knows it's too expensive means he actually called up a plastic surgeon and asked how much it would cost!

And then there's the seemingly nice, intelligent mother who has dubbed herself a "Spinerfem" and who keeps hundreds and hundreds of near-duplicate photos of Brent Spiner and owns a house overlooking his, on the balcony of which she periodically takes "Spiner breaks" to daydream and gaze at his backyard. Now, if I were Brent Spiner I would be a little disturbed. Hell, I'm *not* Brent Spiner and I'm a little disturbed.

My favorite, and the winner of the Don Quixote award, is Barbara Adams, the former Whitewater juror who conducts herself always as a Starfleet officer and insisted on wearing her starfleet uniform to trial, complete with phaser, communicator badge and tricorder, just as she does every day at work. Her serious-minded, innocent devotion to the world of Star Trek was utterly charming. I hope she's still doing the same.

To a milder ST fan, who hasn't been to a convention since he was 9 years old or so, this was a fascinating peek into the world of ST that still thrives (or at least did ca. 1996). Many of the characters you see on screen remind me of the friends and acquaintances I made in ST fandom when I was but a wee lad, as Scotty would say. Some things never die. I hope Trekkies keep treking, because this is surely one of the more harmless expressions of fandom. Think football fans and their sometimes violent misbehavior or rock fans and their drug abuse and then Trekkies will not seem quite so demented and sad as perhaps they did before! What a world! What a galaxy! Live long and prosper!

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
so fair and foul a movie I have not seen, 3 December 2001

An odd mixture of excellence and nearly incredible incompetence. The plot holes have been adequately covered by other reviewers. I will add that the dialog is often wooden and awkward, a problem which is only exacerbated by Eliot Gould's phoned-in performance as the reporter. Gould sounds like he's on the verge of screaming "what happened to my career???!" Well, perhaps if he hadn't turned in so many lackluster performances like he does here, he would not have fizzled out as a rising star of the 70s.

On the other hand, Sam Waterson steals the show as the wise-cracking Lt Willis. The scene where he is forced to climb a vertical cliff face is one of the most brilliant and memorable moments in any action/adventure film ever. And the stunk work and editing in the aerial chase sequences are among the best of the genre, too. Telly Savalis is surprisingly funny as a kind of crop-duster with a Don Rickles schtick. Many many good things about this film make it an entertaining, if flawed flick. I recommend you give it a chance.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wait until you mature and see it again, 15 February 2001

Most of the negative comments this film has received have apparently been from young people. I saw CK for the first time when I was 19 and hated it. I then saw it a year and a half later and loved it. What happened? Well, my tastes matured a bit, and I had the benefit of having seen it before.

Now, more than a decade later, I've seen the film on video perhaps 20 times, and three or four times on screen. (Alas, and inexplicably, CK has yet to be released to DVD!). It is, I have no doubt, the greatest American film ever made. What is good about it has nothing to do with camera, lighting, technique, or any such nonsense. It is perfect the way a piece of music can be perfect--and, as with music, it is impossible to say in words just what it is that makes it so great.

Wait a few years, my young friends, and see this movie again. Do people still mature or is that old-fashioned?

The Pledge (2001/I)
What a waste of an afternoon, 22 January 2001

An uninspired rehash of tired American tough-guy cliches: the obsessed cop who defies his superiors, the case that was apparently solved but really wasn't (and only our hero knows it), even the cop's retirement party. The scene where Nicholson makes his pledge to a victim's mother is absurd and stupid. The interrogation scene is simply bizarre--and utterly pointless. The coincidence at the end which is supposed to come across as some sort of jaw dropping irony simply made me want to yawn. All other matters of suspense were spotted a mile off. What a waste of an afternoon this was. After the mediocrity of the Crossing Guard (which is similarly themed), I have given up on Penn/Nicholson collaborations. Sean, you were making a greater impact on culture when you were beating up on paparazzi. Jack, time to retire. Give it up guys.

The Pledge (2001/I)
What a waste of an afternoon, 22 January 2001

An uninspired rehash of tired American tough-guy cliches: the obsessed cop who defies his superiors, the case that was apparently solved but really wasn't (and only our hero knows it), even the cop's retirement party. The scene where Nicholson makes his pledge to a victim's mother is absurd and stupid. The interrogation scene is simply bizarre--and utterly pointless. The coincidence at the end which is supposed to come across as some sort of jaw dropping irony simply made me want to yawn. All other matters of suspense were spotted a mile off. What a waste of an afternoon this was. After the mediocrity of the Crossing Guard (which is similarly themed), I have given up on Penn/Nicholson collaborations. Sean, you were making a greater impact on culture when you were beating up on paparazzi. Jack, time to retire. Give it up guys.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Remember when art films weren't "independent films"?, 9 January 2001

Remember when art films weren't directed by teenagers for teenagers? Remember when they didn't have anything to do with pop culture. Remember when there was actually something as an adult culture?

Neither do I. But there must be some old people out there who do.

"Independent films", a new genre that has replaced what used to be called "art films", are not worthy of their name. They're, on the whole, hip, mass-marketed screwball comedies, "chick flicks", novelty films, etc. Little other than budget separates an "independent film" from a slick, cynical Hollywood marketing effort. In fact, many independent films are slick, cynical Hollywood marketing efforts.

Seeing Judy Berlin is what it used to be like seeing art films. The very fact that nothing in it is designed to shock or surprise you will shock and surprise you. The very fact that nothing in it was test-screened for maximal emotional manipulation will maximally emotionally manipulate you. The fact that no surprising plot twists were inserted to make you want to go see it again will so surprise you that you will want to see it again.

This is not necessarily an endorsement. But I want to stress that this is a film that will not remind you of any other film. It will not be die hard on an anything. It doesn't count Gilligan's Island and My Favorite Martian among its influences, but Checkhov, Camus and Bergman--the sorts of things you've been taught to think are pretentious and stodgy. It is something new--even dare I say it, experimental. Gasp! Avant garde. It wasn't made to make the most money possible. There will be no toy tie-in available with your happy meal.

Whatever you think of this film, cherish it as a kind of throwback, a one-in-a-million, the last dodo bird yet living.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A flawed film, but worth seeing, 16 October 2000

This film badly needed a rewrite. The comments about the film's inaccuracy are well taken. But there are many things which make this worth seeing. Jeff Bridges' president, endlessly charmed by his ability to order literally anything from his overworked staff chef, is a running joke and howlingly funny. The political points are well-taken, and anyone who stood by appalled during the impeachment vote will appreciate that the republican's McCarthyite evil is portrayed for what it was and is.

The script badly needed a rewrite. The "inappropriate" comment by the FBI agent should have been cut. It was corny and stupid. Also: an ex-republican who says she's an atheist and wants every gun removed from every home? As an atheist, pro-gun-control guy, not even I bought that one! Why was she ever a republican?

The moral content of the film, however, was right on. A point well taken, if not always well said. Entertaining, however be prepared to suspend disbelief.

A change of heart, 9 August 2000

When I first saw Blood Simple, it struck me as terribly mannered and pretentious. Seeing it again in a theater, I was surprised to find that the film now seems fresh and inventive, with little to call self-conscious.

I don't know if this is due to the director's cut or whether it is because we live in different times. Considering the sorry lot of so-called art movies made today, even pretentious is refreshing.

Gladiator (2000)
Cliched epic, 7 May 2000

I liked the comment of one reviewer, who said that scenes of Elysium were like "a luxury car commercial". So true, I kept expecting a disembodied voice to say, 'try the new Chariot Romanus, id est optimus!'

Someone poured millions into this and hired a competent director, a competent, sullen actor and competent script writer, and they all made a movie which I reluctantly went to see and now wish I hadn't wasted two hours of my priceless 3 score and 10. I learn slowly, but I'm learning....


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