Reviews written by registered user

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11 reviews in total 
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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Ugh, 30 August 2004

I just watched this. It was in my Netflix queue. I have no idea how it got there; I don't remember adding it. I kept watching it thinking, "Gee, I must have added this a long time ago, why did I pick it? If I keep watching, maybe I'll find out what made me pick it." Well, I've seen it now and I can't for the life of me find a single reason why I might have put it in the queue.

This may be one of the worst movies ever committed to film. The acting is terrible, and whoever wrote the script (the guy who played the geek, I guess) should be shot. The plot is thinner than gas, and nothing makes any sense, in the end. The worst thing about the movie is not even that it's bad -- I mean, you can watch a bad movie and appreciate the campiness, but this movie doesn't even have that. It's just -- there. It doesn't even have the quality of being offensive (except at the one single point in the entire script where the movie tries to go for a laugh and ends up being slightly racist -- and still totally unfunny). It's like a particularly bland, boring, pointless, stupid, badly-written and badly-acted after-school movie.

I couldn't even tell you why this movie exists. This must have been a vanity project for someone, but afterward I can't imagine that they had any trace of vanity left.

The only thing more amazing than that someone made this movie is that someone, somewhere, for some incomprehensible reason, decided there should be a DVD version. Who did they think would want to see this? I would be interested in knowing if anyone other than the original cast members and the director, and maybe the mothers of same, ever bought a copy of the DVD.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Masterpiece of American mythology, 23 April 2004

Miller's Crossing has stood as one of my favorite films since the first time I saw it. Some have complained that's it's not a "realistic" gangster film, and they're right. But this is quite intentional on the part of the filmmakers. In this film, the Coen Brothers are not concerned with gangster films as a realistic depiction of organized crime. They are interested in gangster films as a form of American mythology. They are interested in revealing what it is about gangster films that speaks to the American psyche.

In the service of this interest, the movie takes place in a world of its own. The city is no particular city; the gangs are no modelled after any real gang. The characters are dense, complex, and eroded by the world they live in. The plot twists like a snake with it's competing interests and deadly repercussions. And the dialogue is a thing of beauty. Simultaneously hard-bitten, lyrical, colorful and economical, almost every line is memorable.

I can't think of a thing about this movie that I don't think was done right. I waited forever for it to come out on DVD and got it as soon as it did. If you get the chance, take the time to check it out.

19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Not a rip-off, actually fairly good., 24 November 2003

Pretty good movie that has been pretty unfairly treated over the years. It has some flaws, but in general it stands out owing to outstanding performances and ingenious direction. It's been called a copy of "Natural Born Killers", but that comparison is both unfair and inaccurate. Unfair because the movie was completed *before* Natural Born Killers was released, and inaccurate because the characters are fundamentally different. Natural Born Killers was about two people who were by nature violent and evil, whereas this movie is about two who are by nature *not* violent.

Check out the movie yourself, and rather than listen to accusations that it's a rip-off of movies that actually came after it, give it a shot as what it is -- a better-than average entry in a long-standing film genre, the outlaw couple on the run. And where it's due the director gives nods to his influences. Note one item that struck me as an inside joke -- the addition of Peter Fonda, the star of one movie that truly *is* a predecessor of this one: Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry (1974).

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Nothing anyone says in this movie makes sense., 8 October 2003

Is this the worst movie ever made? No, it's still better than "The Lonely Lady," but it's pretty bad. The most amazing thing about it is the dialogue. It's pseudo-deep, but utterly meaningless. Character A utters an overwrought line that has nothing to do with the plot or current events in the movie. Character B responds with an overwrought line that has nothing to do with anything Character A said. The poor actors torture the lines pathetically in a hopeless attempt to make them sound as if they aren't meaningless, but really deep. I can't imagine how the actors prepared for these roles. "Okay, what's my motivation saying something that makes no sense at all either in terms of my character or the movie at this point?" You can imagine the writer twisting out yet another line of drivel, sitting back and saying, "Damn I'm good." And the director saying, "Look, I know it doesn't make any sense, but try to act like you feel it, okay? You *are* getting a paycheck for this, after all."

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An out-and-out work of art, 13 September 2003

I just got back from seeing American Splendor, and I have to say that if X2 is the most fun I've had at the movies this year, AS is undoubtedly the smartest piece filmmaking I've seen all year. Running in uncharted territory between documentary and storytelling, it manages to be a good comedy while at the same time effortlessly juggling deep thoughts about life and art. Movies that attack such difficult subjects and succeed with such grace are rare accomplishments.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Beautiful, Moving Film, 21 July 2003

I am puzzled by the low rating for this film. It stands as one of my all-time favorite films. Every aspect of it shines, writing, directing, acting, soundtrack. It's a beautiful film about a little-known piece of American history, and it shows the underpinnings of a culture most of us know only as a reference to food. In particular, the soundtrack by Beausoleil is a masterpiece of fitting the cultural music to the mood.

Cultural insights aside, the story is moving and the characters are fully realized individuals. Belizaire in particular is complex, funny, and touching -- a healer who gets by on his wits and truly cares for his people.

Don't let the low-rating here dissuade you. If you get the chance to see the movie see it, and you may find a lifelong favorite, too.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Doomed to be misunderstood, 30 May 2001

It's a sad truth that the moment you add sex of any degree of explicitness to a film, for a large number of viewers that becomes what the film is about. If you read many of the hostile complaints here about "Center of the World", you will find that to some degree they almost all center around the sex. Some found it offensive. Others thought there wasn't enough of it. Others still didn't like the way it was presented (the digital video wasn't clear, etc.).

Listen up. This movie is not about sex.

It's about loneliness, isolation, the inability to connect to others. Wayne Wang is presenting the idea that modern life has made many people unable to connect to each other even in areas as intimate as sex. Everything about the movie is intended to reflect this. He didn't shoot on digital video to save money; he did it for the look, which is somewhat pixilated, distancing, with a sort of tv-like unreality.

Is the movie perfect? No, in particular the ending seemed unsatisfying, as if at the very last Wang wasn't sure how to leave us with the point.

But it's still pretty damned good. I could see and understand every choice that was being made on the screen. Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Walker turn in fine performances as two people who want to connect to someone else and at the same time are terrified to do so and don't really know how. In the end it feels safer to keep themselves emotionally disconnected, to keep relationships on the level of internet porn or chat rooms, or in the form of a financial transaction or lap dance.

If you can't see beyond the sex in the movie, whether you're offended or titillated by it, you almost certainly won't like the film. On the other hand, if you've felt the loneliness that seems color everything in modern life a little grayer, you'll understand the point of this movie without needing people at imdb to explain it to you.

56 out of 69 people found the following review useful:
A masterpiece from the good old days, 3 January 2001

I agree with most of the people here that this movie is an overlooked gem. It always comes to mind when I think of movie classics, but most people I've known have never seen it. If it comes on TV or you get the chance to rent it, definitely give it a look.

While the movie stands alone as a great suspense and survival movie with great dialogue and a greater cast, it also has some aspects that give it deeper significance. A couple of people have commented on the "old school seat-of-the-pants flying" vs. "mathematical engineering" conflict in the movie, and this is certainly a big part of it.

Another conflict, subtler but just as important, has gone completely unmentioned here. That's the issue of the crew's mistrust of Kruger for being German. This movie is pretty important for the way it excellently touches on the tension many people still felt by the sixties on working side by side with the former enemy in the new postwar world. It's not an accident that the three main characters that have to come together to survive are American, English and German. "Flight of the Phoenix" is one movie that is timeless in its direct appeal but should be taken in context of the time in which it was produced in order to be fully appreciated.

Taking these conflicts together, the overall message is clear. In the brave new world, unless we put aside old divisions and value input from everyone, no one gets out alive.

18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Absolute zero, 10 September 2000

Immediately after renting and watching this movie several years ago, a friend and I decided that it defined the absolute zero on the movie scale. There was nothing about the movie that could have been done worse than it was. To this day we still rate movies, even very bad ones, by how much better than "The Lonely Lady" they are.

A long time ago I saw an interview with Eleanor Perry, who wrote the screenplays for, among other things, "Last Summer" and "Diary of a Mad Housewife," and she related that she had been asked to write a screenplay for the Harold Robbins' book "The Lonely Lady." She said that she sent in a treatment and it was rejected because they didn't think she understood the difficulties of a female screenwriter in Hollywood. She then said "I think they got someone else to write it." The interview was filmed before the movie was released. She died in 1981, and I bet the first thing she did on arrival in heaven was personally thank God for saving her from involvement in the result.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Powerful, haunting, and apparently misunderstood., 10 September 2000

I finally got the chance to rent this movie. I've spent a lot of time thinking about it after seeing it, and thought I would come to see what reactions some others had. The responses seem to be evenly split between "loved it, very moving" and "hated it, no plot". I belong in the first group.

BOTD is not an "enjoyable" movie. It's grim and relentless. Don't watch it for "entertainment". Watch it for a look into a tortured soul, and a reminder that not everyone has to live in a third-world country live in a combat zone.

Nicholas Cage gives an outstanding performance as an overworked, burnt-out guy on the edge of sanity. He's torn between sticking at his job in the hope of once again being a savior and the growing feeling that he is no longer able to save or help anyone. This razor divider is captured brilliantly in two recurrent themes -- his attempts to get fired because he wants out but can't bring himself to quit, and the long delays when the radio kicks in and he has to fight to bring himself to answer it one more time.

Some of the other posters seem surprised that Nicholas Cage should give a great performance, but it's really not surprising. He's always been a great actor. True, he's often gone for the bucks in things like Con-Air, but while he's been given bad scripts I don't think he's ever delivered a bad performance. I've never been offered a multi-million dollar check for anything, but I bet it's pretty hard to turn down.

It's a little disappointing to see so many people complaining about the "lack of plot". Story-telling is not the only reason to make a film. Another one, and more central to film itself, is the opportunity to show us the world as others see it. In this respect BOTD succeeds completely. I had a friend who was an ambulance driver in the city. He was never wanted to talk about the job, because he plainly found it nearly impossible to describe what it was like to people outside the experience. After seeing BOTD I think I understand a little more what he was unable to say.

Every performance in the movie rings true, and the script is excellent. The only misfire for me was that occasionally the sped-up cinematography was overused. The result was that there were a couple of points where I suddenly felt the connection to the characters snipped off by the imagery.

On the whole this is a minor quibble in an otherwise outstanding film. 9 of 10

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