Reviews written by registered user
samkan

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234 reviews in total 
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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
F. Scott Would've Been Proud, 12 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm betting many of the COMMENTers herein as well as the Rotten-Tomato critics didn't read the book nor know much about the American Roaring '20's and/or the nature of FSF's popularity therein. It seems to me that many of those that didn't like this new film version of THE GREAT GATSBY fail to consider that maybe they don't like FSF's sentiments. point-of-view, etc., in the first place. In other words, this film may very successfully capture a book, an era and a writer that some viewers simply hold in disdain. In such case, why blame the movie?

I concede that the party scenes are over the top. The idea was to display the abandon, recklessness and greed overtaking a new class of Americans at that time. FSF was a proponent of such people. His critics, myself included, argue that he was a sycophant to such folk, displaying a puppy-dog loyalty to their whims and anxieties and mistakenly trying to distinguish their petty domestic squabbles as classical tragedy instead of the mundane human failures they actually were.

But FSF wrote so beautifully and whether or not his concerns were misplaced his passion can neither be denied nor unappreciated. He did so by writing simply yet eloquently. Above all he relied on description and evocation of mood, with -unlike Hemingway and other contemporaries- using a bare minimum of dialog. In such case he poetically and beautifully paints an era and it's longings even if he thought he was doing something else.

This new version of TGG does a fine job of doing what FSF attempted to do. Indeed, the characters say relatively little regarding their actual desires and absolutely nothing regarding their times, their excesses, etc. That the wild parties, NYC landscapes and non-major cast is done in almost-cartoon fashion seems fitting, as it isolates the main characters and their cloistered lives. F. Scot and Zelda would have loved to see this move almost as much as they'd like partying at the Oscars.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Doesn't Measure Up With Peers, 20 April 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You've gotta put low budget horror films in a box (and within that box a shoebox for the "found footage" sub genre). Once this is done true merit can be assigned to a number of such films that use ingenuity, good writing, knowledge of film making - and just plain intelligence and hard work - to make enjoyable products. Within this box THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY does not stand up well with its competition. The back story, plot, etc., i.e., the protagonist's "theory" is just plain stupid and unsatisfying but still not as far-fetched as the coincidence of chance encountering it's monster among millions of square miles of tundra. The cast are the stereotypical mutt and jeff and well intentioned heroine. The scares are at best minimal. Want the best of the box? Try ABSTENTA, GHOSTS OF THE MACHINE, PONTYPOOL, SPLINTER or THE CEREMONY.

Earthling (2010)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Begins Well, Fizzles Out, 15 April 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

EARTHLING, though obviously low budget begins with a curious patience, holding back, etc. About a half hour into the movie, I was optimistic that I would be getting a more cerebral, subtle take on the "aliens among us" genre. The sparse dialog, low key characters and mundane setting set me up for a "thinker" flick devoid of the clichés attached to the traditional "They are here!" junk. Though EARTHLING neither falls apart nor totally sells out, it does cave-in to the inevitable contrivances. It's as if the screenwriter simply got tired and needed to finish up without time for his original vision. The female lead, it should be noted, is very intriguing and manages to hold the film together to some degree. If EARTHLING had finished what it started (and had twenty minutes shaved) it could've amounted to something.

Emperor (2012)
7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Inexcusable Failure, 15 April 2013
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What went wrong with this film? Budget was generous. Tommy Lee Jones. Interesting topic. EMPEROR's glaring fault is a love subplot so totally divorced from the rest of the storyline that the cuts to romance are groan inducing. The love interests have zero chemistry and generate about as much passion as kidney dialysis. The lead male apparently matriculated in his mid- thirties then grew younger and became an Army general. All of which MIGHT have been overlooked if the pursuit of the Emperor and Japanese culprits contained some intrigue, suspense or surprise. Nope. Basic Wikipedia page with a few reenactments tossed in. With nothing but skill and talent in basic film making, dialog, characterization, etc., this could have been a fine movie. Instead it's a paint-by-numbers project.

Red Lights (2012)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Should Be Red-Flagged, 8 April 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Egads, what a stinker. The myth busters, paranormal investigators theme has become tired and should have been put to rest. Nothing like a big-budget extravaganza to send such out with a whimper. The big cast notwithstanding, RED LIGHTS begins with the "B" movie gimmick of assuming paranormal research is mainstream in the scientific community. For those who might continue to believe such, wake-up! Paranormal investigators are reality show wannabes. No university or legitimate think-tank has a nickel to waste on spoon bending or card games. Even TV coverage - excepting the RED LIGHTS networks - limits coverage of "psychics" to tongue-in-cheek smirks. This film has virtually no scares. Weaver's character is killed off prematurely and DeNiro's never takes off at all. Some scenes are downright silly; e.g., Murphy's character get's rewarded for a criminal level assault of Toby Jones (he of "I'm in every movie nowadays!" fame). Message: Out of control behavior, violence, etc. has no consequences and pays off. The ending is groan inducing. I'm annoyed at myself for finishing this flick. Truly, TRULY don't bother.

Absentia (2011)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Nice Job, 26 March 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The horror category is limited. There's almost a formula to be followed along with tried and true techniques. E.g., troubled flawed characters with darknesses and tragedy in the past calling for resolution. Suspense scenes with ominous music, sudden scares, etc. Still, such can be done well over and over again, as can inferior, "B" junk. ABSENTIA does it well. I get the feel that its makers, writers and actors are all LA aspirants and all shine as a great degree of professionalism is displayed despite modest budget, as-yet unrecognized personnel, etc. This same group should get together and using the same setting, take a stab a drama. Such is/would be more difficult to pull off but might have grand results.

Admission (2013)
Makes Waiting List, 26 March 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

ADMISSION is fun but cannot decide what it wants to be. It's daring tackling such subject matter and taking jabs at our admission value system but ADMISSION also wants to play the role of a screwball comedy. At times it almost succeeds at one before lapsing to the other. Interesting that the New York Times' A.O.Scott gave ADMISSION a suggestion of importance while most Rotten Tomatoes reviewers dismissed the film as a failed comedy (44%!), the difference between the NYT and RT being precisely my point. With about a half hour to go, this movie appears to have finally decided it is a light hearted romp with everything to end rosy, good guys smiling and baddies getting theirs, etc. Then it abruptly -not so much turns as careens- to a drama complete with sober finishing. What had been fun becomes unsatisfying. It's a shame. Tina Fey's drama abilities are not strong; e.g., screw ball laughers she nails but anything heavier she struggles. Amy Adams or Carey Mulligan would have been better fits.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Fun on a Shoestring, 2 March 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shoestring meaning GFTM's budget. Watching this movie reminds us that it is "know how", not money that results in good camera work, dialog, acting, etc. The acting, especially the three main characters, was very earnest; i.e., you can tell these guys have a desire to be professionals. The side roles, i.e., girlfriends, ghosts, etc., are also competent (with the exception of the cop). Contrast GFTN with similarly conceived and budgeted horror flicks with single shot camera work, blunt dialog and monotone delivery of lines. The thrills and suspense were enjoyable enough and not overwrought, the ending better than most. Some nice touches; e.g. meeting a deceased at the graveyard park on a sunny day. Only one small slice of unnecessary filler. When you think of it, GFTM is about as effective as a high budget effort; e.g., INSIDIOUS, MAMA, etc. Give these directors, makers, etc., some money next time!

Side Effects (2013/I)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Puts Fun Back Into Flix, 16 February 2013
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing so much heavy stuff lately I forgot what good old fashioned potboilers, suspense, intriguing twisters were like! SIDE EFFECTS is right up there with the best of them. It'll have you guessing and thinking that you are thinking outside the box but then there is another box outside of YOU. Hard to say very much more without spoiling the suspense. Casting and script are perfect. Like one of my all-time favorites, BODY HEAT, there is hardly a superfluous scene or unnecessary word. Rooney Mara is absolutely terrific, I'd buy stock in her future. Jude Law and Catherine Zeto-Jones exercise terrific restraint in roles that could easily be played too dramatically. SIDE EFFECTS is one of those few films that you immediately look forward to watching again. I gush too much, but don't miss this one.

Protektor (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful Czech Filmmaking!, 6 January 2013
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You don't have to be a big fan of foreign film to like this movie, though you might require some patience. The beauty of PROTEKOR is how well it depicts the WWII lives of semi-elite members of society in both a place, Prague, and a profession, film and entertainment, having more physical and social distance from the conflict. That is - at first. Of course the war catches up with our characters and we see what they are truly made of. Our leading characters, overly ambitious husband and wife, are vain, flawed and often reckless. But we manage to become attached to both of them and the story revolves around their hidden reserves of fortitude and, ultimately, their shining hour. There is one film devise that some may see as "artsy-foreign". But it's well used and never overly so. You should enjoy PROTEKOR.


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