Reviews written by registered user
samkan

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256 reviews in total 
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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Watchable Foreign Foray, 25 January 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

UTS is a foreign stab at an ordinary "B" movie genre using ordinary tricks of the trade, techniques, plot devices. The fact that it is Middle Eastern should not render it better or worse; e.g., it'd be condescending to admire Middle Easterners for making the same stuff so routinely cranked out or, on the other hand, fault them for making the same material. That being said, the Iran-Iraq War of the '80s creates a great backdrop for the story, as does Iran's religious taboos of the period. Excellent idea to have our heroine be an anti-establishment modern woman likewise adverse to belief in Dinji, Iranian banshees, ghosts, goblins, etc. Unfortunately as the bogeyman descends these plot devises vanish without meaning, impact, cohesion, etc. Would have loved more definition, background into Dinji, Possibly in the vehicle of another major character. The props used at the climatic scenes are super-cheesy, if forgivable. I am not being inconsistent in emphasizing that the foreign setting gives a tired genre freshness; i.e., thank God (Christian, Muslim, whatever) this wasn't a band of randy teenagers with a camcorder driving off to vacation in the woods. In short, the "newness" of setting overcomes UTS' being simply a slightly-better-than-average haunted house diversion.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unbelievably Dumb Crime Stuff, 19 January 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As much as I like Stellan Skarsgård he must have really needed a payday to agree to make this piece of junk.The white Norwegian background gives sharp contrast to the glitzy setting and props but the story is tired crime/gangster manure with the usual trimmings. About a quarter-way through the film the viewer is given strong suggestion regarding the direction the film may take, though I found myself saying, "Wait, there HAS to be more to it than this!" There is not. About the only highlight is Jan Gunnar Røise's performance and I look forward to seeing him act is a more ambitious project. The other "highlight" comes almost halfway through the film in the form of the WORST screen punch I have ever seen thrown, in this case thrown by Stellan who has fully extended and is drawing back his arm before his "victim" is anywhere near him. Don't bother with this movie.

H. (2014/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Bit Too Self-Indulgent, 9 January 2017
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I agree with the three (to date) other COMMENTERs that "H." was intriguing and suspenseful. Indeed, the foreboding score, pacing, direction and script captivate. Further the acting was top notch, particularly Robin Bartlett. But ..........

The Greek mythology references sink in in timely fashion; i.e., "Helen(s)" of Troy, a horse, an intrusion, a bust/statue, etc. But though liberal arts degreed with knowledge of Western Civilization I'm unable to make a connection of classical Helen or the Trojan Horse with the people or events in this film. There's also the "baby" parallel of "H."'s two Helens, though again I'm clueless how such may be related. Also, how am I to interpret the several descriptions of how the comet event and hysteria manifests itself; e.g., wall-staring, black-outs, uniform fetal and cloud patterns?

Still, "H." is quirky and creepy enough to surpass the usual fodder passing for sci-fi and fantasy today. My disappointments may be hypocritical as I've championed the use of vagueness and ambiguity in science fiction and the supernatural. Indeed there is wisdom in avoiding the clumsy, heavy- handed task of trying to explain, convince, etc., a viewer of what is otherwise inexplainable, nonsensical, etc. . Watch; e.g., UNDER THE SKIN, THE WAIT, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, good films that apply sid wisdom. But "H." ranks just below these examples as it makers just take the viewer way out on a limb and leaves he/she at the tip looking out. In the end, however, I'd watch something else by Rania Attieh, if only for her sheer chutzpah.

255 out of 430 people found the following review useful:
Terribly Overrated, 17 December 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not a snob out to distinguish himself from the 97% Rotten Tomato ravers. I was just really disappointed walking out of the theatre. I don't know if I've ever seen a more self indulgent domestic weepy. The film sets the viewer up with mountains of spoon-fed plot tragedy and setback and then mines every last drop of melodrama and tears out of such. Affleck's character is a flawless, blameless Everyman and behaves so heroic it becomes impossible to feel for his plight. Williams is terrific but barely on screen for ten minutes. What apparently is intended to pass as compelling real-life dialog quickly becomes mundane and boring. Likewise, our younger protagonist is a teenage lothario having far too good a time to be awarded compassion. The non- Hollywood ending comes across as pretentious, though it certainly comes as a relief.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Two Women Never to Meet, 13 November 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Imagine that you were instructed to make a film featuring two just modestly attractive women that are (and fortunately for them can financially afford to be) wholly self-possessed, narcissistic, mean-spirited and just plain vile. Worse, the two supporting actors are written as pretty much one-dimensional foils, bereft of any back-story or pretty much any focus. Surprise, this Alan Ross Perry guy comes up with an gripping -almost suspenseful- psychodrama that'll have you cringing and slack-jaw with no more than dialog. Elisabeth Moss is just sensational as is Katherine Waterston. At the end of the film you're not really rooting for, expecting or supporting any character or climax. Rather, you're simply stunned. I like being stunned.

6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Finally a Fresh Haunted House Film!, 30 October 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Friday night's my scary movie night. Most such evenings, however, I'll begin a half dozen candidates on Netflix, HBO, etc., and never get ten minutes into one before giving it the hook. Found-footage, camcorder films get an immediate ax. Sometimes the quality of the dialogue and lack of technique prove too excruciating. But went the full length with IATPTTLITH. Casting the distinguished Bob Balaban was a plus but the mood and brooding just pulled me along. Indeed, as another COMMENTER pointed out, casting the female lead as a faint-of-heart shrinking violet was a stroke of genius. Leaving both background story facts and plot points out are a bold move that ease the impossible horror film task - wrapping up the "story". Especially liked the replaying of the film's beginning at the very end - such having been totally forgotten and offering what once was benign as now chilling. Hope I get this lucky every Friday.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Effective And Affecting, 12 September 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm ashamed at not having read much of Phillip Roth's work. For that reason, I'm almost reluctant to opine about INDIGNATION without knowing Roth's personal take on the film version. I hope he liked it: I thought it was great. It is an extremely "personal" film (and, I trust, book) skillfully avoiding putting it's central character on a pedestal or (with a glaring exception) demonizing other persons or beliefs. The otherwise subtle but damning treatment of the American undercurrent of anti-semitism was marred somewhat with an extremely raw and very long tet-a-tet between our lead and the college dean. Better shorter and more shaded? The treatment of taboo sex and pressure to conform are extremely well-done. It's been 45 years since GOODBYE COLUMBUS. 'Bout time another excellent Roth film is made.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Good Job In Exhausted Genre, 12 September 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Scope limitations built-in, dozens of haunted house films get churned out. Surprise, THE DEAD ROOM, for the first 90% of it's length, does an admirable job by exercising restraint with acting, dialog, and -especially, pace. Avoiding sub-plots, character flaws, back-stories and other melodrama, this is a fun flick. One devise I always abhor is the routine belief, acceptance, etc., in "paranormal" research; i.e., in reality there is no such thing. However, TDR uses such effectively by treating such modestly. But TDR's end is a disaster. Why not end the film with a low-key statement about the effect of the event on each character? TIP: Toward the end when the engineer character sees mist coming off a wall in the back room, turn the film off, imagine the house burns down, and you'll have a better movie experience.

It Follows (2014)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Sorry, Just Another Teen "B" Flick, 1 May 2016
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My 20 year old daughter loves horror, "scary" movies and, when her boyfriend's not around, drags me along (I ALWAYS pay, boyfriend often goes Dutch). Read a ton of favorable reviews for this film, almost all stressing the following beliefs; e.g., the script is far superior to the teen slasher/supernatural genre; the acting is much more professional, the effects are better than usual, and the ending is chilling. Here's my take; the script is much stupider than genre; the acting is as if hiring chimpanzees, the effects are few and backyard produce-able, and the ending can't even rise to the level of cliché. IT FOLLOWS is not only not better than the average junk of this genre, it's actually worse. Don't waste your time.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Just a Gem!, 20 October 2015
9/10

Awesome. Can't believe I missed it when it came out, let alone missed hearing about it. As four years have gone by, there'e nothing I can add to the enthusiastic raves for PERFECT SENSE so my Comment will be little more than a strong recommendation to serious film buffs to not miss this film. Whether or not you consider yourself a film critic, this is not an "art" film. What appears to have disappointed those who canned P-S is the minimal treatment of the science fiction vehicle driving the love story core; i.e., just enough treatment to make the "epidemic" plausible enough so we can grasp the presence and impact of human emotions, resilience, desire and needs. The same can be said of UNDER THE SKIN, a more recent film which, like P-S, hit only a niche audience and was panned by the science fiction geeks looking for INDEPENDENCE DAY. Both films use science fiction merely as a vehicle though ordinary humanity is at the heart of both.


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