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Hugh Sullivan

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12 reviews in total 
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Asfalto (2000)
It's not about the action, 1 September 2014

Yes, it has moments of violence, but that's more a reflection of the 3 main characters lack of impulse control. The violence is more of an expression of their emotions. It's really a story about the 3-some. Many have praised Najwa Nimri's performance as Lucia, but I think they're missing the point. The heart of the piece is Chino. Gustavo Salmerón really steals the show with his sense of desperation and betrayal. It's hard to see what Lucia's motivations were, other than making a quick buck. I would have given it a higher rating if they had made the coming together of the 3-some were more realistic. Lucia says, "Things just happen." I don't think there's an actress alive who could make that line work. The relationship between the brothers was crucial to making this film work, but the mother-daughter thing seemed more like a plot device. Juan Diego Botto does a good job, but he doesn't have much to do.

Nihilism, 20 July 2014

I enjoyed the film, but it also annoyed me. That's not necessarily bad.

Just to clear some things up, the main character is not a young man. He does not look like a young man. He did not act like a young man. He acted like a wise predator.

He's not giving anything away in his demeanor, which helps in his line of business, but it also acts as a bit of a prison. He treats his women badly, and they seem like little more than toys for him to play with. He wants to be a mystery. He has lost the ability to connect.

It was as if he just wanted to maintain his emotionless facade all the time. When he does show emotion it doesn't necessarily make you empathize with him. This results in a kind of nihilism which can also make it difficult to connect with the film.

With really great actors, they can find ways to show a bit of vulnerability which you can latch on to. I don't think that's what the director/actor was interested in. In that respect I think he was successful, but maybe the nihilism isn't my thing.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Authenticity?, 20 January 2014

They say that this show lacks authenticity.

They say that it should not really have women actors, because the source material has very few women. They say that the 1995 version is better. They are wrong and misguided. This period in Chinese history (220–280 AD) is rich in material, and the series is based on Luo Guanzhong's 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'. It's NOT the authoritative historical record. That is Chen Shou's 'Records of the Three Kingdoms'. So we're not dealing with history, really. We're dealing with a very popular account of that time. The complainers are just married to the first version they saw. Not to actual history.

What is so interesting about this is that it's about military and political strategy. The Han dynasty had a crisis in leadership and the warring factions do battle. The clever ones survive. Everyone uses some form of strategy to get what they want. It's very much 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu and 'The Prince' by Machiavelli.

"Alice" (2009)
4 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Which one was the cowardly lion?, 13 December 2009

The minute I started watching it, I knew it was from those guys who did Tin man. For some reason the creators can't seem to get Oz out of their heads. It's about a young woman who travels to a magical land to overthrow a wicked woman. On the way she meets the Scarecrow (Mad Hatter), the Tin Man (White Knight). They're off the see the Wizard of OZ (Catepillar). Even Toto makes an appearance as Dinah the Cheshire Cat. At the end she realizes she doesn't have to look for Dad anymore. Everything she needs is at home.

So who was the cowardly lion? Was the White Knight supposed to be both because he was cowardly?

22 out of 150 people found the following review useful:
Imagine, 29 September 2008

Imagine there was a show out there that sucked. Rhymes with Psych. It has a good premise, but it sucked. The lead actor was channeling Tom Cruise, and wasn't much of the sharing type. Would you mind if some other show with better actors took the premise and actually did something with it? Of course not.

OK, Simon Baker is not doing all that much sharing right now, but he's trying to show that he, the character, is also selfish. And just a bit of an egomaniac.

If the show starts to go the way of 'The Closer', with its insistence on having Kyra in every single possible scene, then you may feel free to stop watching it. I do still watch and enjoy 'The Closer', but it has more to do with the rest of the amazing cast. They do so much with so little screen time.

Edit - 3 months later

OK. I don't watch the show anymore because the show is just about him, and how clever and wonderful and whimsical he is. The writers don't even bother dealing with plot anymore. He isn't in every scene, but somehow you can picture him somewhere off screen strolling among the daisies, and always being the smartest one in the room.

I do like character based shows, but even Monk wore thin after a few seasons. Monk has such a successful formula that they seem afraid of having any character development.

I thought 'The Mentalist' could have been a good show. Whoever created the show is probably a big fan of Derren Brown. I have seen at least 4 or 5 of his routines on the show. What a shame.

The Mist (2007)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Changing the ending, 31 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Most of the time Stephen King doesn't seem to know how to end his books. It's as if he writes and writes and then gets tired of it. I think the novellas and short stories often make better movies. I was surprised how well the book ended, and so I was disappointed with the movie. I am not a purist. I prefer the movie of The Shining by Kubrick to the book, and they are very different animals.

The nice thing about the ending in the book is that things were open-ended. There's a balance between the stupidity of the people (the ignorant and the willful ignorant) and the stupidity of our government scientists who have created the mess in the first place.

What the screenwriters did was to show the government fighting back and winning the war on terror. Who is punished in the end? Those stupid people who weren't patient for the government to save us. Subtext, anyone?

The Idiots (1998)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Challenging, 5 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think I would have had a much different view on this film if I hadn't seen Borat. Borat uses the same type of humour, but in his case the people aren't in on the joke. That's a kind of humour that I laugh at, but it makes me very uncomfortable.

It was the juxtaposition between knowing that this is a movie, and that Borat used real people that didn't make this as uncomfortable about it. What really makes it uncomfortable is the fact that I have spassed myself.

I don't have much of a defense of my behaviour other than I didn't plan to do it. I was bored, sitting with a hospital administrator and so I started rocking in my chair. This was misinterpreted, and I went along with it. It was a bit of a thrill ride, because I didn't know where it was going.

I was scared witless and laughing at the scene at the bar with the bikers. I saw him getting beat up or worse, and I felt bad for what I had done. Not bad enough to say that I would never do it again. Because I approached is as an experiment, and it was very interesting to see how people treat you.

I think that if you make the decision to go down that road you have to accept the consequences. Getting beat up. Having people slap you. I think what Borat pointed out is that we have some fairly condescending notion about people from other countries.

Some of the reviewers were happy when Karen returned to her home, spassed and then got slapped in the face. I thought it was the perfect conclusion to the film. It's easy to spass when there isn't much to risk.

I think it was important to know the various reasons that the people had for what they were doing. So when Karen thanks everyone, she doesn't thank Stoffer, because she knew that his motives were suspect. He has a bit of the Borat cruelty in him.

So she picks the kindest of the group to go with her. So she can see what a miserable place she left. And she can watch the self-destruction. Because Karen wants to make a statement about the group and what they did, and that it meant something to her.

As far as the nudity is concerned, I saw the uncut version, and of course it's much ado about nothing. The nudity is not sexy. These people are taking their ideas to their logical conclusion. The whole idea behind being a spass is that you don't understand convention.

Convention tells Karen she has to stay in that creepy house with all those people and their expectations. I think we'd all like to be free from that type of oppression. People grieve in different ways, and it didn't look like there was much understanding.

Ultimately, I didn't like Borat, but I really did like this film. I think the filmmaker took on some challenging themes, and did an excellent job with them. Much credit has to go to the excellent acting job of all involved.

12 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
CGI ruined this movie, 1 January 2008

I was very excited to see this movie. I had high expectations due to the talent that was allocated for this film. Unfortunately some bad decision making went into the process when they decided to use CGI for the baddies. CGI can be used quite effectively, as it was used to transform NYC. However, the use of CGI for moving objects has not yet reached the maturity level where they become realistic. So what you have is blurs that streak across the screen meant to approximate motion. In the end it was quite disappointing. If they had just spent the money on actors and good makeup. 28 weeks later did a much better job overall. Sigh.

21 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Male Fantasy, 12 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a load of crap. This thing is so unimaginative you have to start with the premise that it was probably based on real experiences, but tweaked to fulfill the writer's fantasy.

The beginning is all real. The girl breaks up with him, and goes off and dates other guys. He wants to make her seem spectacular to boost his self image so the other guys have to be movie stars, and she is not only a model, but an actress as well.

In real life he's angry and raging at her, and calling her every name in the book. In the movie he sits like a hurt flower with a sensitive tear going down his face. He is the perfect man. How could she? He goes off to take care of his grandmother, and there's an attractive mother daughter across the street. This is believable. You can see how he probably got invited over for dinner once in real life, and had a couple of chats outside walking the dog.

But in the movie, these are not just chats. These are amazing discussions which change their lives forever. They talk of his love for his ex, and how he wrote letters. But not just letters. These were the most amazing love letters ever written. They talk of a passion beyond belief.

I don't believe that the guy in real life was 26. He was probably 46, which makes him even creepier. He probably wants to date the high school daughter, but the Mom and Dad would have sniffed him out immediately and not let him around her.

The end of the story in reality is that he probably put his grandmother in a nursing home, and left. But that's not a very good ending to a story. He needs to jazz it up.

He decides to make himself 20 years younger and attractive, and he's got to figure out a way to make the high schooler fall in love with him. So he decides that the mother would want her daughter to ask him out. He realized that even a 26 year old man would still be a little creepy, so he has the daughter be reluctant.

She is only reluctant because she has not realized how amazing he is. He is the solver of problems. He takes a punch and does not fight back. But he is much wiser than she, and he will find her true love.

In the bathroom.

Because when you're looking for the age-appropriate young man to win the fair maiden's heart, you always start in the bathroom. With a guy who's stinking up the place. That's how love works.

And you have to kiss the Mom, because that will make her feel attractive, because her husband is cheating on her. He is Superman with a giant heart. And the high schooler does fall in love with him, because he's dreamy. And she has to kiss him, because he's too pure of intention.

In the end he has solved all the problems. He found the boy for the girl. He gave the mom reason to live. He brought the mom and daughter together. And lucky for him, the grandma conveniently dies. All tied up in a nice wrapper.

So now our 46 year old loser boy is back in LA, and he spins the story with him as the savior of these women. He sits in a diner saying, "How do I end this stupid thing?" The waitress brings the check, and he has an amazing creative thought.

I'll end it with the hero in a diner. Instead of the chain smoking crone I have here, I'll make her a very attractive waitress. She will read my amazing story of how amazing I am, and pure of heart, and we will roll credits.

Real life is no substitute for the male fantasy.

Elephant (2003)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dishonest film, 29 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

** Contains Spoilers *** I hesitated giving this movie a 1 out of 10, because I felt like there was some thought put into it. Unfortunately, it was mostly a very dishonest, exploitative movie.

Watching the beginning of the film, I really enjoyed the fact that he used actors who were the right age, and the atmosphere was captured very accurately. Then he started with the tracking shots. Up and down the hallways, back and forth. He's setting up a hypnotic maze for his killers to stroll down.

My wife didn't know what the movie was about at all, but she had to reach for the Netflix summary to keep going. He repeats scenes over and over. He moves back and forth in time, but with no real rhyme or reason. Then he starts to throw in a little homosexuality. 'Can you tell just by looking at someone?' So deep you needed a shovel. He even decides to have the killers kiss in the shower.

So many difficult scenes to sit through, but you knew what was coming. He decides to introduce the killers. Just when you thought it was going to be interesting he throws in he Beethoven and Hitler scene. I was thinking Clockwork Orange.

The problem is that he wants it both ways. He's determined to be semi-documentary and non-exploitative and sensitive, and yet he pushes all the buttons. The movie turns into the very exploitation he was trying to avoid. A video game rampage of gratuitous violence. You knew he had to find the pretty couple at the end.

I blame the French. The French are always laughing at us, giving our crappy films awards, because they think we're stupid. They think they're so superior! How else do you account for the Golden Palm? When they give an award to an American film, it's something like this or the equally dreadful Wild at Heart. But when they award their own films, it's usually something good. These crappy films just confirm their stereotypes about life in America. Makes me mad!

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