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423 reviews in total 
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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Pardon me, but I have to throw up..., 21 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers *** least some sort of comment on this film to justify the rating I've given it. Other people upon seeing it will very possibly just throw up, figuratively or literally.

I've seen some rude films in my day, and this one has to rank right up there with the worst of them. Murder, torture, rape and sexual degradation, incest, necrophilia; "A Serbian Film" pretty much covers all the bases, and then some. I originally smacked a "2" on it, but after a day or two of contemplation I realized I was being unfair. In truth, it's a very well made movie in every technical aspect, convincingly acted and carefully directed and scripted, and despite being in-your-face transgressive and depraved, manages to present the most unlikely of sympathetic characters, no small task. If it didn't conclude on the lowest of notes, it might well be even more highly rated than it is here on the IMDb.

No, it's the sheer nihilism of the film that ultimately dooms it to being a curiosity, a cult film at best with a very limited following. Never mind the writer/director's reported intent to comment on his country's society, "A Serbian Film" remains an apt expression of George Orwell's dystopian warning to humanity: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever...and remember it is forever," as well as the truth of the aphorism, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," often attributed to Edmund Burke.

I won't say I regret watching "A Serbian Film," and certainly not the way I regretted wasting my time with "Martyrs," but it's assuredly not a film for everyone, even indiscriminate gorehounds or fanciers of boundary-testing. It's a harsh, brutal tale that will test your faith in humanity, pure and simple. You've been warned.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Recommended to anyone interested in American education..., 16 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...which apparently does not include a whole lot of IMDbers, "180 Days..." follows a variety of individuals throughout a year at Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan High School, an "alternative" institution for at-risk children (i.e. poverty, drugs, pregnancy, parental neglect, etc.), at the end of which its first senior class will graduate. The film follows five students, various teachers and administrators (including the school's charismatic powerhouse principal, Tanisha Williams Minor) throughout the school year as they pursue goals of self-improvement that more advantaged schools don't have to deal with quite so single-mindedly. At times heartbreaking and other times richly ennobling, "180 Days..." makes evident the various problems that confront this nation in its efforts to improve public education. One thing is certain above all: there are no easy answers.

Highly recommended, but especially to those who've deluded themselves into thinking it's all the teachers' fault, or all the students' fault, or all the administration's fault. In one way or another, it's everyone's fault.

Smiley (2012)
If you do it for the lulz..., 25 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***'re going to die of frustration because there's nothing funny about this ill-conceived mess of a film. There was a good story in there somewhere, but auteur Michael J. "Totally Sketch" Gallagher fails to extend his online video chops to encompass a full-length feature. I can only award him a classic smiley-face button with a bullet hole in its forehead for his efforts.

The premise is somewhat intriguing: a new urban legend has it that if you click your heels together together three times--er, I mean, *believe really, really hard*--and then type "I did it for the lulz" to someone else on a video-chat line, then a mysterious boogeyman named "Smiley" will materialize behind them and kill them. Woooo! And then he'll come kill you. Or something like that; things get a bit murky as the plot hits heavy turbulence and then crashes and burns in the final reel. Too bad; there was a germ of a decent thriller there somewhere, but it never had much of a chance, what with all the philosophically desperate chitchat going on in an attempt to salvage the nonsensical plot.

Or, let's put it this way: someone didn't pay very close attention in screen writing class. Blake Snyder and Syd Field would not approve of this script; both would dump it in the Ted Sturgeon file.

The acting isn't as shoddy as some wags on this site would have you believe; it's the script and direction that are at fault more than anything. The real pros, Keith "The Thing" David and Roger "The Event" Bart do tend to make the others look green, but lead Caitlin "Vanessa & Jan" Gerard isn't awful. In fact, she reminded me somewhat of Jamie Lee "Halloween" Curtis with her coltish awkwardness and penetrating scream. The rest of the ensemble, mostly YouTubers apparently, don't come off as well, but like I said, I think this is more a failure of artistic vision than anything else.

Back to the drawing board, kids.

Plenty of style, but still a disappointment..., 10 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers *** all but the most rabid of Hammer fans, "Twins of Evil" is primarily notable for featuring the Collinson sisters, Playboy magazine's first twin centerfold Playmates. Yay! Directed by a young John "The Avengers" Hough, who went on to helm a cult genre classic, "The Legend of Hell House," defected to Disney and ultimately ended his career with the horrendous "Bad Karma," this final entry in the Hammer "Carmilla" trilogy is easily the weakest of the lot. Cadging sets from "Circus of Vampires" and a spaghetti-Western score from the same guy who did much better with the two previous legs of the triptych, "Twins of Evil" doesn't even live up to its title, since only one of the perky pair is "bad," emphasized by her being the one willing to show off her perky pair a great deal more than the other, and even then not until the final act.

The simplistic storyline isn't helped by mostly uninspired dialog (with a few semi-choice exceptions), Hough's indifferent direction, and a cast that seems to know they aren't part of anything overly special. Peter "You have to ask?" Cushing is the only real stand-out, and his wife's recent death undoubtedly had much to do with his wrought appearance and terse delivery. Relative newcomer, Damien "My best years are definitely ahead of me" Thomas hams up the ostensible bad guy to the point where he's more ludicrous than scary, and even the best part of the Collinson twins' performance is the dubbing, never mind the perkies. David "Trog" Warbeck wrestles manfully with the heroic lead, but really can't overcome the script's leaden nature.

Oh, well, at least they wrapped up the "franchise." Say, isn't it about time for Hollywood to appropriate it and suck it dry with a series of remakes? Satan forbid...

Super (2010/I)
Very possibly Gunn's best script..., 8 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...which also very possibly isn't much of a recommendation, "Super" follows the exploits of Frank, a schlub (Rainn "The Office" Wilson) who isn't so super at all. In fact, he's more than a bit of a dolt, and if you think about it too hard, you realize how unlikable he really is, along with his eventual sidekick, Libby (Ellen "Juno" Page), a psychotic little nerd girl who teaches him the world of superheroes according to comic books. Nestled somewhere between the mainstream satire of "Kick- Ass" and the indie paranoid fantasies of Bob Goldthwait's "God Bless America," "Super" doesn't seem to be able to decide which way to go, tries to go both, and thus dilutes its ostensible artistic point, if indeed it had one to begin with.

That point does seem to be the deconstruction of the superhero fantasy, so seemingly ubiquitous these days. Writer/director James "Scooby-Do" Gunn wants to let us know how unrealistic that vigilante fantasy is, despite his failure to go the distance. His anti-hero is plainly a nutjob, a self-pitying narcissist who ultimately learns nothing of value, fails to grow as a character, leaving the film's audience frustrated and disappointed. Well, this one, anyway.

Frank offers us nothing to latch onto, nothing to sympathize with; we recognize immediately that he has no moral authority whatsoever. He plainly doesn't even deserve to keep the wife he supposedly loves; it's sheer possessiveness that motivates him to pursue her. Truth is, no crime has been committed for Frank to avenge; he turns out to be nothing more than a vengeful child operating outside the law, and in the end he doesn't even pay for it. Perhaps that was Gunn's intention in the first place, but somehow I doubt it. All in all, it makes for a disappointing storytelling experience.

Still, "Super" is worth a watch, if only to confront the issues raised. In some ways it's a more honest film than, say, "Kick-Ass," even if it's nowhere near as slick. At least it won't ever spawn a sequel.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This is what I now call a "Julie Brown"..., 5 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...which is to say, "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid," the comedian/singer's (not to be confused with MTV's Downtown Julie Brown) debut single. I used to refer to films of this nature as BSMs, but the reference to Ms. Brown's classic hit is just too good to resist, and "The Expendables 2" is as fine an example of the genre to start with as anyone could ask.

The boys are back in town, and more cartoonishly than ever. Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Couture, Crews, and Li (briefly) are all back from the franchise opener, along with Willis and Schwarzenegger, along with the added seasoning of Liam "The Hunger Games" Hemsworth and newcomer (to most Americans) Nan "Speed Racer' Yu, providing some welcome ass- kicking estrogen, and the fading icons Jean-Claude "Bloodsport" Van Damme and Chuck "Deus ex" Norris. They all deliver the goofy goods with gusto and galloping gallantry, almost making one overlook the absurd script, atrocious dialog and impossible physics. Shelly "Captain America: The First Avenger" Johnson's camera-work is fine and dandy, as is Simon "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" West's direction, thankfully keeping the action discernible; I look forward to their rendition of next year's "Heat" (no relation to the 1995 Michael Mann classic heist film).

No more need be said. This entry in the action hero smackdown franchise is as big and stupid as one could ask, so just dial the brain cells down to zero and enjoy. The body count is ludicrous, as is the story, but somehow it wormed its way into my submerged adolescent heart. I'll likely never bother watching it again, but have no regrets having burnt off a few hours otherwise. Yippee-ki-yay!

The only thing worse than this film..., 1 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers *** having to admit you watched it in order to write a review of it. Fortunately, home video has this thing called "fast forward," a handy little thing that cinematic presentations can't deliver, and you can bet your bottom dollar I used it liberally while viewing this dreadfully pretentious, arid bit of self-indulgent nonsense.

I get it; Vince "Buffalo '66" Gallo is an artiste. That's peachy. However, it doesn't mean he's a good one. Chloë "Kids" Sevigny is an actress who likes doing edgy, non-commercial stuff, even though she occasionally manages to get cast in mainstream films like "Zodiac." I get that, too. And Cheryl "Definitely not an actress" Tiegs is a dried- up ex-supermodel who needed something to do to stay in the public eye. I get that as well. But none of that provides any justification for "The Brown Bunny," no matter how one might think otherwise.

So, what does "The Brown Bunny" accomplish? Well, very little, actually. It cements Gallo's reputation as a narcissistic hack, destroying any commercial credibility he may have garnered as a writer or director. It confirms Sevigny's oral talents and determination to avoid becoming an A-list actor. It immortalizes the effects of encroaching old age on over-the-hill supermodels. And it undoubtedly puts a lot of foolish moviegoers to sleep before they get to the paltry sex scene that should have marked the end of a 20-minute short.

That's all she wrote, folks; I can't be bothered to further dissect this withered corpse of a movie. Plenty of other mavens here have wasted far more bandwidth than I care to appropriate to warn you away from this thing. Watch at your own risk of stultifying boredom.

Let's be honest, shall we?..., 1 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...a piece like this would sink without a trace in today's market, and even back in the 80s, "The Burning" was easily overshadowed by stronger genre films like "Happy Birthday To Me," "The Prowler," "Maniac," and a trilogy of memorable lycanthropy tales (I'll leave it to the reader to remember which ones), not to mention the numerous notable mainstream films that graced the year. My recent three-decades-plus retrospective viewing proved to me that the film is really of historical interest only; it's only real draw upon release was the gruesome makeup/fx work of Tom "You have to ask?" Savini.

Beyond that, "The Burning" somehow managed to kickstart the Weinstein/Miramax empire, along with the careers of Jason "Seinfeld" Alexander, Fisher "The Flamingo Kid" Stevens, and Holly "Don't blink or you'll miss me!" Hunter, the last one being almost as hard to believe as Gene Wilder's tyro film appearance in "Bonnie and Clyde." From little acorns, as the saying goes. Sadly, none of the female leads ever went anywhere notable, and the two who doffed their duds left the business shortly thereafter.

I know I'm waffling here, as "The Burning" is not really a bad movie, although I'm giving it an extra point for nostalgia; you could certainly do worse for Grand Guignol entertainment, but you could also do much better.

The Collection (2012/II)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Why do I review titles like this?..., 15 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...Perhaps it's because I don't have its deviant, full-of-it writer/director directly in front of me to carve up verbally or otherwise. Maybe I just enjoy the self-abuse, much as one can be drawn to crashes. In any case, I am provided the opportunity to warn fellow viewers from wasting time on yet another cinematic misfire.

Featuring the return of Josh "The Walking Dead" Stewart reprising his role in "The Collector," this time the story centers on an ill-conceived mercenary raid on the bad guy's lair after he slaughters an improbably booby-trapped dance party and kidnaps a rich man's daughter (Emma "This is my first significant role!" Fitzpatrick), while Stewart's burglar character manages to escape his clutches. The script is written with all the contrivance and illogic of a nattering tweenager, and the dialog matches (although fortunately our masked villain still remains voiceless, a wise choice--I shudder to think what sort of nonsense would have otherwise come out of his mouth). The budget was ramped up from the first film, but the box office wasn't, so hopefully we'll be spared a third film even though we're left dangling with the promise of one.

The most entertainment to be had from the DVD is watching the laughably self-congratulatory featurettes in which the various participants in this messy business labor valiantly to justify themselves. I didn't bother with the cherub-faced director's commentary, not wishing to sit through such nonsense twice. I have a low tolerance for listening to people pat themselves on the back when they ought to be slapped in the head with a wet fish instead.

Strictly geek viewing for die-hard gorehounds and the otherwise indiscriminate. The first film was stupid enough; this one just ups the ante. Yawn.

Yet another strike against the video buyer at my local library.

Life Blood (2009) (V)
Better titled "Lifeless Blood (or Blond)"..., 12 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...this wretched mess from the mind of a faux-auteur (wrote, directed, and produced---wow, no one to blame but himself!) reportedly cost a million bucks, but one can only wonder where all the money went. Up various noses, no doubt. This is trash with a capital T, kiddies, and you best believe it if you don't want to slice an utterly wasted hour- and-a-half out of your life. This baby is a fast-forward special all the way, with little to redeem it beyond bimbos in their underwear and an unexpectedly hilarious camel-toe.

Terrible acting from two vacuous models who should never be allowed near a script again in their lives, a horrendously bad script replete with turgid, pointless dialog and a plot that only a nerd on the cusp of pubescence could enjoy, pedestrian camera-work, and production values so low that you really, really have to wonder, once again, where the heck all that money went. Scout "The Runaways" Taylor-Compton narrowly avoids derailing her career with a mercifully brief cameo (and a laughably bad old-age reprise), while Charles "Cherry, Harry & Raquel" Napier puts a sad, sorry end to his lengthy B-movie career (one can only hope he never had to actually watch this pitiable thing). Patrick "Sandlot" Renna proves that being the chubby kid doesn't much lead to stardom, Justin "Little Miss Sunshine" Shilton takes a badly-directed paycheck, as do a terribly miscast Danny "Seinfeld" Woodburn and an even more egregiously-cast Angela "I shouldn't be allowed near a script, either" Lindvall. Oh, did I forget the names of the two leads? Given the quality of their performances, I'm not surprised. Look it up yourself; I was too bored by them to give them the satisfaction.

Another strike against the video buyer of my local library system, this is a movie only an Ed Wood could be proud of, and I think even Ed might raise an eyebrow or two at this nonsense.

I gave it a point for Charles Napier's sake, one for Patrick Renna's desperation, and one for the camel-toe out of left field. Definitely didn't see that one coming. If you're smart, you won't even bother looking.

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