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46 reviews in total 
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Gone Girl (2014)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Enormously Flawed Storyline, 18 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't hate this film as so many others have. But as pointed out by many, the plot holes are major... however, let's start with the PREMISE, which is deeply flawed.

A woman is going to fake her own death, goes to all the trouble of drawing a pint or two of blood from herself, among many other actions. BUT, her writing treasure hunt clues?? Why would anyone write treasure hunt clues -- that she knows and intends for the police to find? This is a flashing billboard saying "I'm alive"! Not only that, the police could test for her fingerprints on the paper; even at one point, the detective takes one of the envelopes from Affleck gingerly with 2 fingers, indicating the "delicacy" of potential prints. Yet the police NEVER comment upon whether the wife's prints (or anyone's prints) are on the notes. If the wife's prints are on the notes, then the wife is gone but alive somewhere. Follow the logic?

And there is no way that a man (Affleck) who wants to kill his wife, is going to write treasure hunt clues -- that then indicate his wife is alive -- yet continue to incriminate himself by WHERE they are placed. NO one would do this. Therefore, the logical deduction is that the wife is alive. And all the police have to do is test for prints on those notes -- which they never do as it's never brought up. If they did, the movie would be over 5 minutes after it started.

All the other massive plot holes seem to be covered pretty were in other reviews here.

One other thing: I also cannot buy that because the wife sees her husband on TV pleading for her to come home and that he loves her, that this is ENOUGH motivation for her to actually commit a very gruesome murder herself. This is not logical or believable on any reasonable level. Particularly when she did *nothing* to stop or fight back just 20 minutes earlier to the people who robbed her of money stash -- that was providing her with the ability to carry out this whole scheme. Asking us to believe she's been "pushed" or motivated to slashing a person's throat - - even if she is crazy -- this simply was not believable. It would have been more believable for her to knife her robbers 20 minutes earlier.

I did like a number of the actors, and much of the dialogue. Just wish it had been a better storyline overall. As talented as the director is, I am a bit surprised Fincher accepted/agreed to this script.

9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Meh, 1 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Good (or semi-good):

Strong acting. Jessica Chastain is a joy to watch here, and you will be left feeling she didn't have enough to do in this story. And you are right. She doesn't. The script/story doesn't give her this, she's just a supporting character. Too bad. Oscar Isaac is good too, but he's hampered by this story to show his range. (At least I think he's got a range.) He plays most everything in a very understated way.

The Bad:

Unsatisfying script/story. This is mostly a "talking heads" movie. Nothing wrong with that, I like those. This doesn't have to be "The Equalizer," nor should it be. But there really isn't any arc to any of the characters here. There's no emotional arc, they are precisely the same at the end, as they are at the beginning. And because the obstacles our hero faces are all handled by what amounts to "conference room negotiations," it's a bit boring. (Like when the bank loan fails to come through, he round of meetings with his competitors to get the money he needs is a snooze-fest.)

I think the problem today with a lot of writer/directors, is that they don't know how to structure and create a story that will actually deliver an experience for the viewer. Even a good "talking heads" movie -- if well written -- will have characters at the end that have gone through something, that the audience gets to experience. "A Most Violent Year" doesn't do this. And in fact, I had a feeling the title would be misleading, before even going to see this movie. (There's virtually no violence in the movie.) Not that I needed this, but... this film definitely needed something more.

Incidentally, of the 2 action sequences in the film, they both fail. The one with the driver defending himself as he's about to be hijacked: After defending himself and the cops begin arriving, he runs, leaving his oil truck. Runs? Why?? This is 1981. He was simply defending himself, and the worst that would have happened is that he gets probation for possession and firing a gun. No one was hurt/killed. And it was self-defense! This "little" story point, ends up causing other things to happen, like our hero not getting his loan from the bank. (Huh? Seriously?? I don't buy that.) Which leads to other things, and eventually to the driver committing suicide. WTF? Okay, I know people commit suicide for many, many reasons. But this has got to be one of the most ludicrous reasons, and it's simply not believable.

Additionally, the drivers are supposedly Teamsters. And one of the basic story points here is our hero's trucks (driven by Teamsters) are constantly getting hijacked. Unless there was a point in time where this actually happened regularly, it's kind of a difficult story point to swallow, because the Teamsters were notoriously linked with the Mob. And no one could regularly steal from the Mob and get away with it, and the Teamsters wouldn't permit their drivers to continuously be hijacked.

The Ugly:

Color timing. It is so muted and depressed, ostensibly to reflect and add to the depressed nature of our hero's struggles, that it's not the most "pleasing-on-the- eye" movie. I don't know why so many directors think that muting colors and making their film look somewhat dingy, is appropriate so often. It's dumb. Sure, sometimes it's appropriate, David Fincher loves to do this on some of his films. But I see it way too much nowadays, and often it just doesn't work. (Case in point: Look at all the films Scorsese has done, many that are gritty or dark. The color timing never ventures into the "ugly" territory.)

Bottom Line:

I didn't hate this movie, but it was very unsatisfying. I think with a better script, and giving Jessica Chastain more to do, and allowing Oscar Isaac to "fly" a little, it could have been a much better movie.

"Mulaney" (2014)
9 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
How is this even on the air??, 26 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like to check out as many of the new shows on each season, at least once. And I'm a trooper, baby, I watch them all the way through even if they suck. This is the FIRST time I couldn't stomach watching this new show all the way through. It is SO BAD, it boggles my mind that it would ever get past the script stage.

I apologize here to John Mulaney, but dude, you can't act. If people are telling you you're good (and I'm sure they are), they're lying to you. You need to be in acting class and learning the craft. Once you can actually act -- which is not the same as being a comedian -- then come back to TV and give it a shot.

The writing of this pilot episode is horrible, too. Unfunny, stupid jokes with lame set-ups. Even the Martin Short character was lame. And the set-up of him not showing up for his Charity but you can get your picture taken for $25 with his cardboard cutout? WTF?? Based on this pilot script, Mr. Mulaney can't write, either.

As far as the other characters/actors in the show, I don't know whether it's them, or the writing, but they don't come off good either. I would be shocked if this show wasn't canceled. Unless the pilot is an outlier and the following episodes are much better. But I won't be tuning in. Epic fail for me.

10 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
WHERE is the humor???, 14 January 2014

For a comedy show, this is possibly the most unfunny show I have ever seen. And possibly the most unfunny show Comedy Central has ever had on. I watched one episode this evening and didn't laugh ONE time. I didn't even chuckle. WTF?

Is it Kroll himself that doesn't know how to write good material? Or is it the writers? (Assuming the show has multiple writers.) I simply don't get how this can be on the air. And, I simply don't get how Comedy Central could be putting this on the air. Particularly when CC has shows like "Key & Peele" (generally an excellent show, although a few episodes have been weak) or "Tosh.0" (hilarious show).

How can any Comedy Central executive look at the Kroll show, and even think it comes close to being in the same league as "Key & Peele," "Tosh.0," "South Park," etc.? Either kill the show, or hire some good writers.

Hannah Takes a Dump, 7 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is of the so-called "genre" of films referred to as "mumblecore." Which are films made by twenty-somethings dealing with relationships. Thankfully, this appears to have been a very short-lived phenomena, not only because those filmmakers are now in their 30's but perhaps also because those films are inferior.

There are so many problems with this movie, where to begin?

1) It's obvious that this film was entirely improvised, and that is confirmed by the director in interviews he did. The problem with improvising a movie, is that MOST of the time it simply doesn't work. Not as a movie. Mike Leigh is one notable director (from England) who has done this numerous times with his movies; however, most of the time he has, it's not worked well. It did one time (with "Secrets & Lies"), but from what I read, they worked from a storyline. The director and actors here with "Hannah" clearly didn't. Consequently, there's no story arc. There's no arc to the characters, emotionally or otherwise. Nobody is any different at the end than they were at the beginning. At least if you watch paint dry, it's wet at the beginning and dry at the end -- and that's at least something.

The coterie of talent assembled here, by and large, do not have the talent to pull this off successfully. That's not really a slam against them; most people in the world cannot pull this off successfully.

2) The next biggest problem? Actors must be truly talented AT IMPROVISATION, to be able to do this engagingly beyond a couple minutes. These actors aren't. I don't mean to be unkind here, but being able to improvise is a particular skill in the acting arena, and not everyone has it. At least at the point this film was made, these actors -- all of them -- didn't have it. Duplass is a step above all the others, but even he doesn't pull it off as it could/should have been.

How do you know when an actor isn't really good at improvisation? Their performance doesn't grab you or entertain you. It's dull or mediocre. Part of this (but not all) has to do with non-specificity by the actor. Meaning, they're acting "generally" and without drawing upon "real" experiences. Every single performance in "Hannah" is general -- and that's due to the story being improvised, the scenes being improvised, and the actors doing NO homework/study on who they were, their characters or their backgrounds. Maybe it's because they're lazy. Or maybe it's because they don't understand what makes any performance a good or powerful performance. Even Greta Gerwig's emotional breakdown at the end is SO drab & boring & one-note that it simply does not captivate the viewer. Plus, it goes on forever, which detracts even further from the scene. Less is more. (That the director clearly didn't get.)

There's a reason certain actors are vaunted in our culture (or the world), like say, Meryl Streep. When you view any role she's ever done, her work is specific. So specific, it's captivating. Same with De Niro. Two actors, incidentally, who are notorious for studying and working on their roles before filming starts.

The actors in "Hannah" are neither captivating, nor even interesting. Which is mostly their fault, but also that of the director. With all the films the director has now done since this movie, I would hope he's better. He's far from exhibiting the talent of a Scorsese, Tarantino, Nolan, Aronofsky, etc., but perhaps he will in the future (or perhaps has with his later projects).

Lastly, I probably shouldn't be surprised given the nature of this film, but I was at the absolute lack of any make-up being used at all. Not even the use of "erace" or something similar to cover up some of the actors' acne. Two of the actors had issues with this, and it was quite distracting to see Gerwig in close-ups with a full-on pimple on her nose in a couple scenes. This isn't nor should be some "badge of honor" in the no-budget filmmaking world. Frankly, it's stupid. And so easily & cheaply remedied.

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The WORST MOVIE of the 21st Century..., 31 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the worst movie of the 21st Century by directors who know better. Or should know better.

We all know that great directors will have failures -- they all do, from Scorsese to Coppola to Nolan. (No doubt some of you will disagree, but Nolan's "Inception" was fatally flawed.) And here we have the Wachowskis, who have literally made one of the greatest movies of all time ("The Matrix"), wrote an absolutely brilliant film directed by another ("V for Vendetta"), and many other accomplishments. But with "Cloud Atlas," they have made one of the worst movies ever made.

Now, non-linear storytelling is fine, if it works. Nicholas Roeg infamously used this technique successfully in a number of his films back in the '70s & '80s. If you're too young to have ever seen any of his films, then you think Quentin Tarantino is the "father" of non-linear storytelling. He's not. But Tarantino uses it quite astutely with his films, and probably no one today uses it better than him. But the Wachowskis? What DRUGS were they on when they wrote this script and/or edited this film? This is the worst use of non-linear storytelling I have EVER seen in my life. Abject failure.

The whole film is a failure, for way too many reasons to list here. I can only assume that those rating it highly, or calling it a "masterpiece" are either on the same drugs as the Wachowskis, or, they were won over by the cinematography, the special effects and the music. But these elements do not by themselves make a good or great film.

The overall problems:

SCRIPT/STORY: A mess. Not coherent, full of unmotivated actions by the characters, with plot points that don't make ANY sense, etc.

CAST: The entire cast of this film is bad. Mediocre acting from pretty much everyone, even Hanks. (Although to be fair, I think it's more the bad writing/dialogue's fault than Hanks. And the fault of the directors.)

DIRECTING: Horrible. F'ing horrible.

CINEMATOGRAPHY (and Production Design): Very nice. But I don't want to spend 3 hours watching something "nice." That's not what movies are about. If I want to look at nice images, I'll go to the f**king art museum.

So you've been warned. Watch at your own risk. As to the "point" of this story, about past/present/future lives, and how we may re-incarnate and reconnect with people we've known in other lives... I just couldn't imagine a worse execution of this premise than this film. There probably never will be a worse film done around this premise.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Total Crap!!, 27 November 2013

What a shame that Tom Hanks' company, Playtone, produced this piece of drek. This is a total whitewash of the Kennedy assassination, and a bad one.

Most of the evidence that is not congruent with the Warren Commission Report is missing from examination in this so-called "documentary." When I sat down to watch this, I thought, "Huh, Tom Hanks produced it... maybe it'll be decent." I didn't and wouldn't have expected total bullsh*t. But that's what we got.

For the few valid points raised by author Mark Lane, who believed it was more than Oswald involved, there were at least 2-3 talking heads spewing opposition -- all just hot air by people like Bugliosi. No facts, no examining of evidence, just vomit coming out of those who drank the Warren Commission's koolaid decades ago. In fact, Bugliosi at one point says Jack Ruby died of natural causes in prison -- which is a flat-out LIE. (He says this -- I guess -- to dispel the notion that Ruby sacrificed his remaining years knowing he would die -- to shut Oswald up.)

Fact is (and this is historical record, anyone can look it up), Ruby had lung cancer and died 3 years after killing Oswald. Oswald wasn't on the 6th floor shooting at Kennedy, numerous witnesses placed him in the lunchroom when the shooting occurred. Oswald's own words on news cameras when paraded by them were "I didn't do it, I'm the patsy." (Psychology 101: A lone gunman/killer who kills someone famous wants the world to know they did it. Just look at all the examples in history.)

There are hundreds of things (and eyewitnesses) that should have been in the Warren Report but weren't. There are examples of things, like: A news photo was shot of the front entrance of the book depository shortly after the gunshots. Jack Ruby is in that photo, near the entrance. But the Warren Commission CROPPED Jack Ruby OUT of the photo. WTF? Hundreds of things like this were done by the Warren Whitewashers.

Heck, look at the famous photo of Oswald supposedly holding his rifle. Look closely at the shadows of that photo. If you do, you will see that the shadows on Oswald's face do NOT match the directional shadows around him. Clearly a doctored photo. (Yes, even in 1963 before Photoshop it was possible to doctor photos.)

Bottom line: Avoid this whitewashed crap program like the plague!!

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Total Crap!!, 24 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a shame that Tom Hanks' company, Playtone, produced this piece of drek. This is a total whitewash of the Kennedy assassination, and a bad one.

Most of the evidence that is not congruent with the Warren Commission Report is missing from examination in this so-called "documentary." When I sat down to watch this, I thought, "Huh, Tom Hanks produced it... maybe it'll be decent." I certainly didn't and wouldn't have expected total bullsh*t. But that's what we got.

For the few valid points raised by author Mark Lane, who believed it was more than Oswald involved, there were at least 2-3 talking heads spewing opposition -- all just hot air by people like Bugliosi. No facts, no examining of evidence, just vomit coming out of those who drank the Warren Commission's koolaid years ago. Avoid this crap program like the plague!!

Looper (2012)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Very Contrived!, 24 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As others have pointed out in reviews here, this movie is very, very contrived.

The biggest bullsh*t contrivance? Young Joe turns the gun on himself, to end the loop, save Sarah and perhaps change the future. HOWEVER, killing himself was NOT motivated. On the contrary, he's fighting for his life the entire film (after his older self outwits his younger self upon time traveling back). He repeatedly tries to kill his older self, and wants to "get right" with Abe. He's fighting the entire time to live and not be killed. Yet, now, at the end of the film, just after battling one of Abe's last men to stay alive and not be killed, he's NOW going to turn the gun on himself...???? What????

All he would have to do is just kill his older self who's 20 feet in front of him about to shoot Sarah. Kill his older self, and he SAVES Sarah and Cid. And then he can go on with his life, for the rest of his life. Simple, yeah? Any reasonable person would have made this choice.

Yet young Joe doesn't, but in fact does something unmotivated in killing himself. Makes NO sense, and destroys the movie. This last action of his is only there, I'll bet, to provide an unexpected twist. But unexpected twists must work, or the film fails.

Of course, the film was already problematic with other contrivances and story logic. But... this denouement really puts a wonderfully stupid cap on a movie that had much potential. Brilliant writing there, Mr. Johnson.

"Hostages" (2013)
32 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Horrible show, 2 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I gave this show two tries, the pilot episode and the following one. The pilot wasn't the worst pilot I've ever seen, but at the very end of it, how could the doctor (Toni Collette) legitimately, possibly think that by not going through will killing the President during surgery, this would save her & her family from being killed? WHAT possible logic could she have at that point?

She returns back home, what would have stopped the assassins/crew from just wiping them all out??

There is no reason. Not a logical one. This plot, this show is SUPER CONTRIVED. I hate things that are super contrived. Allow logic to enter your brain, and the whole house (show) collapses.

Then it gets worse in the next episode. Now the whole assassination plot must be delayed, and magically the lead assassin (Dylan McDermott) is so well prepared, that he had with him GPS devices that can be implanted in each family member, to watch/track them for the next 2 weeks (until the president perhaps goes into surgery again). REALLY? You just happened to have planned for this contingency? LOL. I call bull crap. Particularly when his crew only expected this to be a 24-hour job and it would be over. And a crew that not one of them knew they'd be involved in a plot that would kill the president?

I'm sorry, but if you take criminals who have some semblance of a brain (as some of his crew displays), and all you tell them is they're committing blackmail for 24 hours and the job is over... yet then they learn it's NOT blackmail but murder, and not just a murder but murder of the highest order -- you're telling me the WHOLE CREW is going to stick around and see this out?? NO FRICKIN' WAY.

Bottom line, the writing is so bad and so trite, that various characters' motivations make NO sense, yet we the audience are supposed to believe them, because it's written that way. Who the hell are these writers? And why has Bruckheimer sunk so low, that he's producing (or his name is on) such a crap show? That's what I'd like to know.

This show will not last long.

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