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northwatuppa

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14 reviews in total 
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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
viewer alert: crazy making camera work, otherwise good creature feature, 26 April 2008
5/10

I am writing this review specifically to alert viewers who might not yet be aware of the camera work in this film. If you know about that and don't care, you needn't read what I have to say.

First, camera work aside, it is a fresh, engaging, well-done creature feature. I can find no fault with the script, the directing, the f/x, or anything like that. I kind of enjoyed that part of it.

BUT this film takes shaky cam to a new, nauseating level--to an insane level. The film is photographed ENTIRELY, BEGINNING TO END, as if it were shot using a hand held, consumer quality, video camera by someone who has never, or hardly ever, used a video camera before and who is, once the creature shows up, running and jumping for his life most of the time. The camera *almost* never stops moving and a lot of that time it is moving *wildly*. Once things get moving in the film, you almost never see more than a split second of still footage at a stretch.

And it isn't just that. They keep in all of the weird, random, accidental junk shots--pants legs, shoes, blank walls, stair steps, railings, etc., etc., etc., that most people would edit out of their home movies.

They might as well have suspended the camera from a slinky and bounced it off the floor and walls of the set. Let's just say I spent a lot of time wishing the kid with the camera would get killed so the picture would stop jumping around. It about made me seasick, literally.

Now, if you really don't mind that, if you really aren't expecting an actual movie with actual cinematography and professional-style camera work, where you can kind of see what is happening and absorb the acting and the characters and the f/x and kind of zone out and enjoy the mayhem and the weirdness ... if that isn't what you are looking for, then this film's for you. However, if crazy-super-jumpy camera work ins't your cup of tea, then take a pass on this one.

Premonition (2007/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Much Better than IMDb Rating Suggests, 29 July 2007
7/10

This is a well-scripted, well-acted, attractively photographed film. It is tense, suspenseful and baffling. The characters are three dimensional and the plot carries the viewer along. It holds the viewer's strict attention and keeps you guessing until the last scene.

The plot/concept: a married woman begins having terrifying premonitions about the death of her husband (that much is in the previews) and begins a process of self-discovery that leads her to realize things about her marriage. The situation puts the woman at serious risk, also.

I cannot help but think this film is the victim of the notorious IMDb bias in favor of big budget action films, fantasy blockbusters and gross comedies.

This is a pretty decent film of its type. I might have ended it differently, but the ending is good enough.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A surprisingly bad movie, a big disappointment, 28 December 2006
5/10

This movie doesn't hang together. The talent, the money, the experience, the story ... they are all there. But they don't combine to produce an interesting movie. In fact, they produce a dry and tedious one.

You never really get to know the characters, let alone care about them. The movie as a whole has no single, driving motive force. The scenes seem kind of tacked together. The characters just kind of do things and talk about them. But there is no emotional coherence to their actions.

There really doesn't seem any reason why one action or one scene flows from another. It is often hard to tell why things happen.

Certain key scenes, in my opinion, were simply incomprehensible. You don't know why they occurred when they did. You don't know what happened in them, not really. And the movie as a whole is so uninteresting, so uninvolving that you don't really care enough to figure it out.

There is no ambiance. Strange, since film noir is all about atmospherics and Hollywood in the forties is drenched in ambiance. You'd think they'd at least get the atmospherics right. Nope.

After awhile, you just sit there tallying up De Palma's allusions to other films, including his own. There are lots of them.

This is a badly anemic film. Almost all of what makes a film move and breathe and cast a spell over an audience is absent from it.

A true bummer of a film experience.

Art Linson produced it, which makes it an even greater disappointment. Linson and De Palma teamed up to create The Untouchables, one of De Palma's greatest films and one of my all time favorites.

I really like De Palma, even when he's sort of over the top in a bad way. This wasn't even one of his good bad films. It is just bad. I hope he gets his groove back soon.

I suppose people will watch it because it is such a big name film, but they'd probably be better off renting something else.

18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
If Like Action Thrillers, You'll love this, 2 October 2006
7/10

First let's get a couple of things straight. This movie is dark, unsweetened European chocolate for the mind, pure and simple. It makes about as much sense as a Jerry Bruckheimer film. Or maybe the average John Woo movie. Which is to say, it only makes sense as entertainment--the purest form of escapist entertainment. Now that we have that out in the open ....

This lengthy film is handsomely mounted and well-executed. High production values in evidence throughout. It is well-written and well-acted. It is visually attractive and atmospheric. It is absorbing and there is not a dull moment in it.

The plot is a mix of serial killer movie, extreme political thriller, crazed Nazi doctor movie, secret "anti-terrorist" police movie, medical science fiction and old cop/young cop partner movie. But they mix all this stuff up together quite enjoyably. Like Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott and John Woo films, it really shouldn't work, but it really does.

Reno is great as a dangerous, rather brutal and grizzled rogue cop gotten out of "retirement" by an obsessed young cop to solve a series of grisly murders. The actor playing the young cop acquits himself well. The cast of villains and victims is convincing and compelling. The dialogue is good quality and there are twists and turns aplenty. Keeps you guessing until the last scene.

We are taken on a wild and dark and violent ride through the grim underworld of human traffickers in the Turkish slums of Paris (at least I think it was Paris).

Anyway, whoever made this movie really set out to entertain an audience. I think they succeeded admirably.

Turn on the movie, turn off your mind and enjoy yourself.

Pulse (2001)
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Starts out well, limps to a long drawn out conclusion, 1 October 2006
5/10

This film starts out well, doing all the right stuff. It had me going for awhile.

But it get's slower, and slower, and slower--not to mention murkier. It is one of those films that would have worked fine as a 90 minute movie--even with some flaws.

But , anyway, this film goes on for about two hours, long after the viewer's interest has begun to wander and you've started scratching your head, wondering exactly what is happening.

Toward the end it kind of degenerates into overly long scenes of people running around in blasted, derelict industrial buildings breathing very hard into their microphones and shouting uninspired, predictable dialogue.

Some things just aren't very dramatic. Longish scenes of people poking around in pretty much abandoned industrial settings looking for stuff and breathing hard into their microphones isn't dramatic.

By the end, we are working our way through a checklist of horror movie clichés in excruciatingly slow motion. Ancient horror movie clichés have to be executed with a certain cleverness, a certain panache, and perhaps a little inventive camera work/cutting. Some snappy dialogue, some attitude. Or maybe you just have to get them out of the way fast. That's not what happens in this film.

The premise is rather interesting, but some of the exposition kind of conflicts with the stated premise--unless the stated premise was a red-herring. It's hard to tell from what they give you on screen and the film didn't motivate me to try to figure it out.

So, nice idea, good start ... really, really slow, pretty much unimaginative ending.

Maybe if they had had a bigger special effects budget ...

8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A Bigger Waste of Time, 5 June 2006
3/10

I wanted to like this movie but I ended up fast forwarding through a lot of it.

Hockney's paintings have always fascinated me. The quality of space and light and the combination of isolation and transcendence that fills the mysterious spaces in his paintings remind of Hopper--you know, the guy who painted that famous picture of the customers in the all-night diner--The Nighthawks.

When the camera is panning Hockney's fascinating and enigmatic canvases, the film works, because his canvases are so good. In those few moments when Hockney discusses his life or his work, the film works. I especially liked the brief scene where a gallery owner (Kasmin) is trying to convince Hockney to paint faster. It is reminiscent of that scene in Amadeus when the emperor (I think) complains to Mozart that there are "too many notes" in his music.

The film also works when it shows Hockney at work.

But that's about it. These moments, while they linger in the mind, only make up a small part of the film.

The rest of it *seems* to be about Hockney's breakup with his lover. However, there is virtually no exposition. Let me repeat. There is virtually no exposition. The director appears to suppose, wrongly so, that the audience will somehow already know or easily intuit the issues that separated Hockney and Schlessinger(?). Or maybe he assumes that they are just too obvious and commonly understood to bear repetition.

As for the lover, you *see* a great deal of him, but he mostly pouts and sulks and prances about. The film does not reveal whatever it was that drew Hockney to him or held them together or what drove them apart.

You hear virtually nothing about what these men were to each other, why they loved each other, why their relationship failed----nothing.

The problem, of course, is that the film and the bulk of the screen time is supposedly devoted to the failure of Hockney's relationship.

Nor do other people in the film have anything of an insightful or even informative nature to say about the relationship or anything else for that matter. They seem like a surprisingly bored and boring bunch of people.

One of the issues 'dealt with' in the film is whether or not Hockney will leave London for the US and not return. If this film accurately portrays Hockney's life in London, then it is blindingly obvious why he would want to leave London.

Oh, and there's a lot of walking around and, I think, some completely gratuitous frontal nudity, and some pretty boys splashing around naked in a pool. But what's the big deal about that? That sort of footage is widely available.

And the blooming' film goes on for two hours.

So I think this film richly deserves its very low rating. Watch something else.

The Grudge (2004)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
inedible cinematic food, 5 February 2005
3/10

Once in awhile, you encounter a meal that lacks virtually all of the qualities that make a meal worth eating. The food has no texture, no taste, no nutritional substance and it is visually unappealing. It isn't repugnant, it is just lacking in all the qualities that make food pleasurable. And, although it is not overtly offensive, it is just a chore to eat it .

The Grudge is like that.

There is no intriguing narrative arc. The characters are not developed to the point where you might start caring about any of them. There is no real emotional involvement. And, well, there is nothing like a pleasing or edifying resolution. There isn't really a hero that you can cheer for. Or anything in the way of grim humor.

There aren't even really any intriguing attempts at murky metaphysical explanations of the kind horror fans enjoy, or not much of a one, anyway.

Visually, it is plain vanilla. And so on and so forth. Pretty much a waste.

3 Women (1977)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Mesmerizing and haunting, lingers in the mind, 4 June 2004
10/10

I cannot tell you exactly why I have loved this film from the moment I

first saw it. I just did. I waited in vain, for a couple of decades, for it to come out on video and quietly rejoiced when it came out on

DVD.

On second viewing, I realized that it casts a spell that transcends

casting, the script, storyline the visuals. I think, personally, that its

haunting quality is born of some peculiar alchemy, born of all its

elements, the combition of casting, script and visuals. Not that

many of its individual elements are not captivating. I especially

liked Ms. Duvall. Sissy Spacek is incredibly beautiful. The art work

is spell-binding.

In the end, I think, its message remains ineffable. Is it a feminist

parable? Is it about the triumph of the human spirit? Is it about the

redemptive power of simple human decency? Is it about the

importance and power of character to transcend and transform?

Is it about the depth and complexity of all human souls, even the

souls of the untutored and unprivileged?

I could go on. That is probably what makes this film so haunting.

It is about so many things. But there is something just plain

haunting about it.

And it is rare that a film is as enchanting as you recall it being,

especially after almost 30 years. Only very special films are. This

one is.

Beefcake (1998)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Illuminates an enduring facet of the erotic, 25 April 2004
8/10

I did not expect this film to be as good as it was. It transcended

the dishy, titillating cliches and avoided all the usual cheap shots

at all the usual suspects.

It also avoided the dry, overly objective and ultimately unsatisfying

approach to such subject matter. It is not afraid of its subject, nor

is it judgmental, nor does it pander. I takes its subject head on,

without flinching.

This film does what a good documentary, or reconstruction,

should do. It allows us, the viewers, to contemplate its subject, an

enigmatic and deeply alluring aspect of human nature, at length,

and come away feeling we know something important that we

might never have known about the erotic if we hadn't seen it.

It says, as all good films about sex always say, that beauty fades,

passion dies, spells break, illusions end, the substance, if there is

any, eludes our grasp, but the mystery and fascination, as far as

we are concerned, are eternal.

It reveals the erotic, and the homoerotic facet of the erotic, for what

they are, virtually indomitable forces of nature. And it reveals the

struggles and the fate of many of those who encounter such forces

most directly.

There are a couple of scenes in this film that capture the

homoerotic in its almost pure elemental form. The filmmakers

include, toward the end, a clip of a naked young man performing a

homoerotic dance. The sequence goes beyond titillation and

prurience and even eroticism to revelation. Or perhaps I should

say, this sequence is both erotic and revelatory.

One comes away informed and humbled, I think, and, not least,

with respect and compassion for the subjects of the film.

Demonlover (2002)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
To be or not to be a genre film, 28 March 2004

If European film makers want to make an American genre film--a

thriller, an action movie, a shoot-em up, a horror movie,

whatever--they should just make one, not some pretentious hybrid

of art film and genre film.

Demonlover is one of many failed 'serious' films that, to me, seem

born of European cinema's love/hate relationship with American

cinema. European film makers, like Wim Wenders and this guy,

and many others, seem to want to coopt the mass appeal and

imaginative power of big US genre films in the name of overly

subtle, overly intellectual, inbred and, ultimately, tedious critiques

of 'modern life.' It seems to me that I've rented far too many of

them in recent years.

The result are mediocre pictures like this one that lack BOTH the

clarity, wit, charm and spirit--the pure entertainment value--of the

best genre films AND the depth, authenticity and resonance of the

best European art films, or serious films--like those of the great

20th century European filmmakers, like Fellini or Rossellini or

Renoir or any one of a dozen or more great European directors

that we could all name. The outcome, instead, are cynical,

pretentious and disappointing films that are neither entertaining

nor edifying.

You can't work in a genre unless you love and respect and

understand the genre and its audience. Kurosawa, Louis Malle,

Carol Reed--many foreign directors have participated in,

contributed to and influenced the modern genre film. But their

work grew out of love, respect and understanding. This film

doesn't.

Interviews with the cast and director reveal an uninvolved,

self-involved director who seems to have left his actors on their

own in front of the camera. Chloe Sevigny came across as quite

annoyed with Assayas and his crew.

Ultimately, demonlover, like many similar films, is a boring

downer. Assayas should have written a book and published it

with some minor academic press that specializes in tedious,

pretentious academic exercises. It's based more on a bad theory

about movies than a good idea for a movie.

I really wanted to like this movie. In the end, I agreed with all it's

critics.

If you'd like to see a good "foreign" film, rent Son of the Shark.


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