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12 reviews in total 
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The Ape (1940)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Doesn't make a lot of sense, but kind of okay. *spoiler*, 27 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This isn't quite the groaner one would expect from a low budget, mad scientist/killer ape movie. It's more dull than anything else, although Karloff is better than he has to be and Crash Corrigan looks pretty scary in the ape suit. He doesn't look much like an ape, mind you, just scary in a "man in an ape suit" kind of way. By the way, even if he somehow managed to skin the ape, dispose of its carcass and craft a lifelike suit out of its hide, how exactly would a frail old gent like the doctor be capable of mauling two younger, stronger armed men to death in a matter of seconds? I know, I know, willing suspension, etc.

Interesting note: This is one of the first credits for Gene O'Donnell (Danny the skeptical boyfriend), and one of his final credits is as an extra in the original "Planet of the Apes". At least he ended on some better ape suits...

"Scorch" (1992)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
I may have seen worse shows, but I can't think of any., 10 December 2003

My God, this was a dreadful show. For some reason, I watched two of the three episodes that aired and was mortified by each. I was 13 at the time and a fan of ALF, so I looked forward to what looked to be a show with a similar premise. Instead I got a blatant, albeit toothless, rip-off. That damn dragon was the most irksome TV puppet since Elmo, and the writers used the same jokes over and over. I recall an exchange along these lines:

Scorch: "Well, I could stay here with you." Dad: "Stay here with us?" Scorch: "Thanks, that's so kind of you!"

Later that episode they pulled the exact same gag with "Sleep in my bed?" and in the second episode I believe it was "Go to work with me?" Pretty funny stuff, huh? Not to beat a dead dragon, but this was the worst prime time television program I have ever watched.

Secretary (2002)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Best female lead performance of the year., 25 May 2003

So what is it with the Academy and truly brave performances by women? For at least three years running, they've callously failed to even nominate the year's most mesmerizing, wrenching and courageous turns by lesser-known actresses in favor of showy swagger from big name bombshells. Julia Roberts was brassy and less grating than usual in Erin Brockovich, but to place her above Bjork's jaw-dropping vulnerability in Dancer in the Dark is inexcusable; likewise Halle Berry's histrionics as compared to Naomi Watts' soul-baring, nuanced anchoring of Mulholland Dr. And now Maggie Gyllenhall's fragile portrait of self-reclamation is overshadowed by forty minutes of Nicole Kidman pouting behind a phony nose? I lost faith in the Academy long ago, but this is inexcusable. Gyllenhall is very near perfect in this part, capturing a character living under a constant threat from herself and her unorthodox journey to, if not happiness, self-acceptance. If we don't really get to know the character beyond her neuroses, it's only because she doesn't seem to know or care much more than that about herself. The film itself has its flaws, but a fantastic effort by Ms. Gyllenhall is more than reason enough to cherish it.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Not too far removed from Rambo, philosophically speaking..., 13 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Couple o' spoilers

Sigh... At the time of this writing, y'all have seen fit to bestow upon Boondock Saints a coveted 7.7 rating and any number of rave reviews. How does this happen? Who sees this convoluted, simple minded exercise in right wing propaganda and actually buys into its half-assed morality lecture? Setting aside the moronic dialogue, hopelessly stereotyped casting and would-be John Woo action sequences, this is just a ridiculously dumbed-down portrait of vigilantism. Remember all that hubbub when Rambo came out about the U.S. soldiers "not being allowed to win" in Vietnam? Here the theory is that restrictive ideas like due process and fair trials are keeping our police from winning the war on crime. I disagree with that viewpoint, but I would accept a film that presented it in an intelligent, illuminating manner. Films like Taxi Driver, Falling Down and, lord help me, even Original Gangstas have tackled the subject with much more insight into the workings of the vigilante mind and better arguments for such action. I detested Straw Dogs for its philosophy of preemptive aggression over pacifism, but I still respect it for the vivid and meaningful argument it put forth. Boondock Saints simply says "These are good guys. These are bad guys. If the good guys kill the bad guys, we will have no more bad guys," then uses that simple notion as a frame on which to drape a whole lot of boring shooting and cursing. If only the real world were that black and white. The director makes a weak effort to ground his work in reality with the pro and con interviews at the tail end, but the film's sympathies are never in question. Oh, and was Willem Dafoe's surprise drag appearance supposed to make me laugh? Because to me it played like sheer desperation brought on by a total lack of original ideas. Can't wait for the sequel. Sigh...

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
But where's the heart?, 5 August 2002

Sam Mendes would probably make a great used car salesman. He puts such a glossy sheen on his product that it's easy to overlook the fact that there's nothing under the hood. Not until the drive home do you start to notice there's something awfully wrong. American Beauty repeatedly told us that it was a film about finding beauty in the little details, but just saying it doesn't make it so. Likewise, Road to Perdition hits us again and again with the complexities of fatherhood and the unbreakable bond between father and son, even when one or the other is a nogoodnik. Yet I can not identify one moment in the film where I felt that any of love and devotion heaped on the father figures was deserved, let alone genuine. And to present that old saw of the kid acting as a father to his dad as if it's something clever? Give us a little credit. That said, the packaging is indeed almost enough to distract us from the shallowness of the whole endeavour. Mendes makes some truly inventive directorial decisions, just as he did in American Beauty but with a distinctively different style. Hall's cinematography is exquisite, especially his mastery of the uniquely bleak landscape of rural Illinois. The acting holds up pretty well, but the best performances are not from Newman and Hanks as might be expected, but from Daniel Craig and Stanley Tucci. These two take more or less stock characters (hot-headed heir apparent and tough but benevolent mob boss) and invest them with something a little special. Plus, it's always great to see Dylan Baker doing anything. Jude Law's character, however, is made so quirky and creepy that he could only exist inside a movie. Overall, it's a generally watchable film with with nothing in its soul but misguided good intentions.

P.S. Why would an actress of Jennifer Jason Leigh's caliber and profile take a role with ten minutes of screen time where she has nothing to do but alternately smile and frown at her sons?

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Don't forget to Clark the door!, 2 November 2001

The summer of '94 saw three replacement shows - "The Boys," "The Building," and "The Good Life" - that beat the hell out of the majority of network sanctioned tripe. Of the three, "The Good Life was easily the best. When Drew Carey hit it big, I hoped it might spark some interest in this forgotten gem, like say a run on a certain cable comedy channel. Alas, "The Good Life" remains buried in the annals of TV history, with only Drew's show and Shay Astar's role on "3rd Rock" as pale reminders of what once was. I fondly recall the episode in which those two discovered a mutual love of the Grateful Dead. Drew's tie-dye was a sight to behold. And "Don't forget to Clark the door!" - that should have gone down as one of TV history's classic lines.

10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A complete masterpiece., 8 October 2001

I can't think of many things that make me laugh harder than that piece of cake Phil gets in the lunch line. I just can't watch this too many times. It remains funny every time I see it. Words can't explain my rapture at Captain Carl's hand-washing dance. The day Phil Hartman died, I wandered about the dorms mournfully intoning "A sailor travels to many lands/Any place he please/And he always remembers to wash his hands/So's he don't gets no diseases." God bless you, Mr. Herman, wherever you are!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
There are moments, but they're not enough., 20 April 2001

I'll say one thing for Herman, USA: it will probably always play well to Minnesota audiences. I can't imagine that there's another place in the world where a reference to the fast life of Bemidji or a line like "I knew there was something wrong with Iowa guys" would bring down the house. I actually quite enjoyed the first hour or so. Basically, a bunch of lonely country boys take out a personals ad and find their town beset with willing female suitors (is suitors a gender-specific word?). It ain't progressive, to be sure, but it's sorta charming in its own right. Pity that the filmmakers felt the need to tack on a contrived subplot about a conniving golddigger and her violent husband. Overall it's just too cloying for its own good, but you've got to give some props to a film with the guts to give a guy with Kevin Chamberlin's build a nude love scene. I will always applaud the depiction of people who don't meet the usual standards of beauty as sexual, caring human beings, but that's not enough to redeem Herman, USA. To paraphrase Jello Biafra, it's nostalgia for an age that never existed.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Honestly, this is unforgivable., 19 February 2001

First the good: Pay it Forward ends with Jane Siberry's beautiful "Calling All Angels." Then, the bad: I will never again be able to listen to "Calling All Angels" without thinking of this lamentable tripe. 21% of IMDb user have rated this a 10? What's the matter with you people? I stand by my 2 rating, and I think cinematic history will bear that out. Hopefully, this will soon be dismissed as an unfortunate dip in Kevin Spacey's acting career and a catalyst for the merciful end of Helen Hunt's. Contrived, maudlin, and fairly racist to boot (note that the only minorities here are a jive-talking black prisoner and a couple of young Latino gangsters). Mimi Edwards seems intent on inheiriting Joel Schumacher's crown as the least subtle, most exploitive director in Hollywood.

Straw Dogs (1971)
5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Almost unbearable in its sexism., 21 May 2000

Susan George first enters the film carrying a nasty-looking device identified as a "man-trap," and that offensive little metaphor sets the tone for the entire film. While the rest of the story is watchable enough, Peckinpah's brutal treatment of Amy is almost unforgivable. All that she asks throughout the film is that her husband might give her a little attention, and the director punishes her mercilessly for daring to invade David's shell of masculinity. He only seems to notice her long enough to scold her like a child and have sex with her before bed. It is insulting enough to suggest that she would enjoy being raped in her own home (no apparently sometimes means yes in the filmmakers' minds), but to then punish her enjoyment with forcible sodomy is unthinkably repellent. The entire rape sequence, shot in lovingly graphic detail, suggests the attitude of "the bitch deserved it." Blaming a woman for being raped is beyond disgusting. Granted, her attackers eventually pay with their lives, but they are punished for violating David's home and property, a category that apparently includes Amy. David's cold-hearted rebuke of the woman in whose repeated victimization and humiliation he has been an instrumental part and his final smirk celebrate not only his reclaimed masculinity, but also his escape from the female "man-trap." Christ, these people even try to offer an apology for child molesters! Henry is lured into the alley by a sluttish adolescent who attempts to seduce him, her death at his hands is portrayed as entirely innocent, and David spends the finale defending him! I have always enjoyed Peckinpah before, and "The Wild Bunch" is in my top ten, but "Straw Dogs" is one of the vilest films I have ever seen, a celebration of misogyny masquerading as an important study of manhood.

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