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bxc85

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10 reviews in total 
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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Ironic humour, good acting, and an engaging story..., 24 January 2005
5/10

All of the above seem to be in the movie, according to many who've watched it. I found none of them, and after much research on what it is that people like about this film, I'm borderline depressed. People have said that either you love it or hate it, and if you hate it it just wasn't meant for you. That's a kind of reverse snobbery that has no place in film fandom, yet it thrives well. I'm not a movie snob by any stretch (I see no contradiction in loving both Star Wars and Breathless) but this movie is like the Idaho countryside where it was shot: empty, flat, but with its own kind of not-worth-90-minutes-of-screentime beauty. The lack of sex and swearing is something to neither gripe about nor commend. There's still violence in it, so I wonder if it's more acceptable in the minds of the movie's fans than the other two.

I know that irony died when Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize, but that doesn't mean the definition of the word has changed. The only irony is that people found irony in this movie, which is a sad statement about its target viewership. There are possibly 2 or 3 funny moments in the whole picture, and the only one that is slightly ironic is when Napoleon busts a movie (lanky cracker suddenly becomes a break-dancing machine... ha ha, ha ha; actually I didn't find this sequence amusing at all, I was more surprised and delighted that Jon Heder could dance better than he could act).

Tied in intimately with the irony of the film is its sense of humour. Seeing that there is nothing much to speak of in this department, I can gloss over it by saying that it would take an actor of enormous caliber to make a line like "Do the chickens have large talons" funny (though many still do). Oh, and saying "Gosh" is not funny in and of itself.

Speaking of acting, the only characters who are played with any kind of authenticity and skill are Debbie and Uncle Rico. They are the only ones who have managed to slip past the director's radar, and they infuse their characters with humanity and truth. They obviously didn't believe in director Jared Hess' maxim that being slack-jawed and showing total vacancy in your eyes is what acting is all about. Even Diedrich Bader, one of Hollywood's best scene-chewers, was barely funny in his brief role. Napoleon and his brother are played by two who can obviously act; that doesn't mean their acting is good in this film. Apparently, all Jon Heder needs to do to be funny is stand there with his teeth on display, his eyes half hidden, and say something utterly banal. Maybe it's the director's sorry attempt at establishing a style. Perhaps that's the only point of the movie: banal lifelessness is funny, because that's all you're going to get in this emerging generation. If that's true, and people are buying it, that's sad. Then next step will be a comedy in which nothing happens at all.

I've read a lot of amusing "pro" commentary on this film; one of the movie's supporters even went so far as to say that people who don't like the movie are "too smart". Oooh... burn on me and all the other intelligent people who only find humour in things that are actually funny! One especially vapid reviewer (who's obviously never made a film) said that it proves all you need to make a movie are some quirky characters. It reminds me of a few years ago when The Tao of Steve became popular; people were saying all you need to make a movie is a great script. No, what you need is for a marginal film with one halfway decent idea to be picked up by a major studio whose marketing whizzes can turn said film into something that people can be convinced they like. Twenty years on, when nobody remembers the film, all that will be left is the money.

Some of the biggest laughs I've gotten are from reviewers who compare Napoleon Dynamite to other films. One of them compared this movie to Easy Rider. OK, they're both plot less and have a little to say about its time and place, I can grant that. But Easy Rider was entertaining and actually said something insightful about its generation; it didn't slyly denigrate the people who it was aimed at, as this picture does. Others still have compared this to Monty Python, which is such a dumb comparison that I need not comment further. The final insult was people comparing this to the excellent The Big Lebowski. I obviously wasn't watching the same movie as them. Comparing the two is simply ridiculous!

I've already written way too much, and I'm sure the people who love this movie have either stopped reading a while ago (possibly distracted when I wrote the word "Gosh!", causing violent paroxysms of laughter making them incapable of reading) or think I like the sound of my own voice (rather the sight of my own words). They're quite wrong. I just can't find enough time in my life to deconstruct why I didn't enjoy this movie very much. It just has so little going for it, but I seem to be fighting a tide of mindless praise.

Honestly, the only things this movie seems to have going for it are the production design and cinematography. It certainly doesn't deserve any kudos for the acting or the direction, and Perdo and LaShawnda are one-note ethnic stereotypes. But then again, this movie is a one-note joke full of one-note jokes. That must be how the filmmakers see life, and I guess therefore that that's the message of the film. How insightful. *crickets heard in background*

2 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly terrible even for an educational film, 15 September 2004
1/10

This is a bad adaptation of a rather interesting short story. The acting is worse than in a porn video, the cinematography is almost non-existent, and even though the script remains faithful to the story, the atrocious production values completely destroy any impact this film may have had.

I was forced to watch this in English class, and my liking of the teacher diminished significantly after realizing what poor taste she had in subjecting us to this torture.

Drop any class showing this film; it is not worth your time, and you will feel ripped off even if you watch it for free.

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
What were they thinking???, 27 July 2003

Why anyone would want to be associated with this terrible dreck is beyond me. Aside from a dire need of cash on the part of the actors, the need for a mid-season replacement on the part of studio executives, or a "The Producers"-like plot to make a show so bereft of genuine brains or humour in a bizzare bit of financial scheming, this filth is inexcusable. It was even shot on film, to add insult to injury. Make crapanade when life hands you crap, indeed. Well this is certainly proof of the maxim spouted by the pathetic Archie Bunker clone played by Quaid. When the pilot script plopped brown splatter and all out of the honeybucket into the desperate suits' well-manicured hands, those Harvard Business school graduates proved yet again that a cookie-cutter MBA is about as useful as a screen door on one's love sac. All the above-the-line personnel should be ashamed of themselves.

19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Non ce male! (That means you'll like it), 6 June 2003
8/10

As an east end, English speaking Montrealer not of Italian origin but always among Italians, this film struck a chord with me. It's about a perpetual outsider named Angelo, played by Luke Kirby (his acting skill is phenomenal; casting directors, take note, his face is so expressive that words fail in attempting to describe it, a real cinema actor). This hilarious film is about Angelo's trials and tribulations, striving to find his voice as a writer while the worlds around him, both old and new, are more earthbound and mundane. His parents (portrayed by Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno) rise above stereotypes and seem quite believable (believe me, I know). The gay issue, which meant that the screening I attended in St. Leo was mainly young women whose boyfriends couldn't be dragged to a movie about "salsicce-eaters," was dealt with a tact and humility that is rare in even supposedly pro-gay films and TV shows. Angelo is a man who likes men, but so what? He feels pain, he loves, and he yearns; he's not some camp stereotype, nor is he some quirky sidekick with no personal problems. His sister Anna (also well played by Claudia Ferri) could have a whole movie to herself, with her constant battles with the parents' leaving her a valium-popping mental car wreck. Then there is Nino, Angelo's boyfriend. He struggles with his identity too (gay cop isn't exactly as popular a job as systems analyst), and is in some respects more complex a character than Angelo. However, he is not the focus of the movie.

Though the trailers make this look like a vain attempt to make a Canadian/Italian answer to the visually much duller My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is not the case. Playwright Steve Gallucio collaborated on the screen version with director Emile Gaudrealt, ensuring faithfulness to the excellent original while ensuring that the film has a definite cinematic flair. The colours are are as vivid as the characterisations, the only drawback in the latter being that there are not too many Italians in the principle cast. Mary Walsh, though quite funny and recognizable to the 2 or 3 Canadians who actually watch the CBC, is definitely not Sicilian.

That being said, the movie has far fewer limitations than strengths. It has funny moments, and it has daringly dark moments. I don't want to give away too much, as I want as many people to see this as possible. My only real complaint is that the parents' house in St. Leo didn't have a statue of the Virgin Mary out front. All in all, please watch this film.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly Decent, 8 May 2003
7/10

I watched the entire series of Project Greenlight in one sitting (had to rent it on DVD, we don't have HBO yet in my ice country); had I not watched the show, I would not have given Stolen Summer more than a cursory glance. Though I enjoyed Greenlight more than the movie, I enjoyed Stolen Summer for its sincerity and some of the performances. Plus, seeing what I'll have to go through in the future made me appreciate Pete Jones' situation, thus making me ease up on the film. Despite that, the film has its sloppy moments: the two boys are not exactly RADA grads, the editing could be much better (though the same could be said about 99% of every film made since the mid 1930s) and some of the camera work is unnecessarily shaky (I enjoy handheld shots, but only in moderation and when they fit the context of the scene). But the performances by Aidan Quinn and especially Kevin Pollak are pretty damn good. Yes, there is melodrama, but it works; furthermore, it actually deals with big questions like death, god, and existence, high concept terms you wouldn't find in a high concept picture. So watch Stolen Summer, but please watch it after Greenlight.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
It made me think, it made me open my eyes blablablabla, 25 March 2003
6/10

I have a hard time deciding if i liked this movie or not. I did enjoy it, but I also disliked most of it. Yes, this documentary makes interesting light of the problems facing the US today. Yes, Moore's narrow and manipulative style prods the audience into asking questions that deserve to be examined. And yes, he does have a right to spew his diatribes (it's in the Bill of Rights). However, the incoherence of his logic (not surprisingly) eclipsed the film for me. The cover of his book "Stupid White Men" says it all, with the demagogue Moore smiling smugly, not realizing how ironic the cover's statement is.

Keeping in mind his simplistic world view, I'll adress the "for" and "opposed" camps in terms he'd understand. The bleeding heart liberals who eat out of his palms and the cigar-chewing opressive capitalists who despise him are equally guilty of falling for his trap: they're paying ($$$) attention to him. Altruism accounts for perhaps 10% of his motives; after all, filmmaking is the most expensive artform in the world, though the word art should not be attached to this heavy-handed mess. The goal of this movie was to make a return on investment, and it did that handily. In that sense at least, the movie was a success.

Can someone please tell me the causal link between the CIA-sponsored assasination of the president of Chile and the destruction of the Twin Towers by well-fed middle class immigrants living comfortably in the Western world? Oh, and showing my country as this clean, non-violent contrast to our neighbour Republic gives new definition to the term "manipulative bullplop." And using Beethoven's Ninth... I know one is not allowed to make threats to another's person, so I'll stop it there.

Moore's "my-target's-walking-away-while-I-wistfully-call-out-questions- to-him" schtick got old after "Roger and Me." But many people swallow it whole. For them, I say buy the DVD; he probably gets 10% of the gross, which comes in handy for anyone who lives in a mansion. For those down the middle and have brains, watch it and make your own opinion, if you can stomach tedium and the constant mangling of facts. And for those right of centre that think he's a commie, keep in mind that no pinko eats better food or dresses down more convincingly.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
"It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!", 24 July 2002
7/10

So over-the-top and genuinely entertaining that, had you taken out Charlton Heston's hammy acting and the overblown zoom-ins, it would have fallen flat and lost its cult appeal. The script is quite decent, and gently beats the audience's collective head into thinking about issues like race and class, religion and science.

Without dwelling on Nova, the movie is good to look at: the ape make-up looks good even by today's standards; the dizzying crash sequence at the beginning is alright, and the presence of various artifacts from contemporary Earth (including a certain New York landmark made famous in numerous parodies from Spaceballs to The Simpsons) heightening the impact of the story's message.

Though also released in 1968 and featuring hibernation in space travel, anthropomorphic apes, high-speed traveling shots of a desolate wasteland, numerous zooms, and an American astronaut seemingly traveling to a far and distant place only to find himself back home and substantially changed, this movie is nowhere near the accomplishment of cinematic genius Stanley Kubrick's (insert oft-used superlative here) 2001: A Space Odyssey. The similarities with "Apes" and what I consider to be a perfect work of art are there; my opinion is just that, but I would suggest that if you've only seen "Apes," please watch 2001. And to those "art-film" lovers who only watch "serious" pictures, get your pretentious selves off your high horse and give Planet of the Apes a viddy.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Could have been great... but sure ain't., 7 July 2002
4/10

With some competent character actors (Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty) and comic book mogul Stan Lee doling out the cash as executive producer, this picture could have been a decent, entertaining romp. Instead, the cheap production values and lazy direction lead the mediocre cast along a familiar path of dumb heroes, brooding villains, and the freedom yada yada yada...

Only a few comic books have been transferred to the big screen with any measure of success; this is probably due to the fact that there is no formula for it (well, besides the filmmakers doing the best they can with the material). Part of the problem here may be the underlying fact that Captain America is strong due to a performance-enhancing drug a tad bit stronger than androsterone.

I'll admit, I enjoyed this when I was a child; then again, I used to be entertained by Home Improvement and the Police Academy films as well. If you want to watch a comic book movie that's worth it (and has been criminally underseen), watch Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy. Watch this only if you're a Captain America completist.

For lovers of intelligence, wit, subtlety and originality..., 7 January 2001
5/10

A warning: stay light years away from any location showing this piece of cinematic trash. Sure, it's not aiming for originality, realistic (or at least believable) character development or intelligent insight; however, for the amount of money one has to pay for the wonderful privilege of viewing this waste of celluloid, the viewer does not need to add "insult to one's intelligence" to the already huge pile of grievances that can be shoveled onto this festering canker sore of a movie. Not that anyone attached to the film cares: they've already made their money off the poor unwitting persons who were dragged to see it by now-former friends. I object most strongly to this movie because it "teaches," in its mad dash for saps' cash, that being cute and showing your navel is all that's needed to be happy and successful in this world; that and a man, of course.

Strangely enough, the movie does have several redeeming qualities, besides the fact that it ends and its dialogue is easy to mock. Maria Bello and John Goodman do quite well at pulling what little good they can find out of their material. As for Jersey's singing subplot, the fact that Piper Perabo's singing voice is dubbed in by LeAnn Rimes, who herself then appears in the diegesis, is just the last insult on the aforementioned pile. It almost seems as though the record deal for this picture was so lucrative that it actually affected the plot line.

Of all the warm memories I will have about this film, the heckling will stand out most; the saddest part of it was thinking about all the money and material that was wasted to make this picture. That, and seeing the great Bud Cort being relegated to a throwaway bit part.

So go ahead; throw your money, not to mention your brain and your egalitarian sensibilities, away. Watch Coyote Ugly; make Jerry Bruckheimer that much richer. He needs it; you and charities don't.

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Beautifully Directed, Flawlessly Acted Family Ensemble Piece, 30 August 2000
8/10

I had the pleasure of attending a premiere screening of this wonderful film at the Montreal International Film Festival with the director, Hyatt Bass, and actor Harris Yulin (Rick, the main character's father) in attendance. The film is primarily about the tension caused by the return home of Letty, a strong-willed, free spirited artist (played by Karen Silas), which upsets the carefully balanced facade of happiness put up by her family. From her sister Kay (Heidi Swedberg), a former singer stifled by maternal guilt and marital constraints, who eventually brims over with jealousy towards Letty's artistic and personal accomplishments, to her mother, who longs for something greater than "a trip down the coast", Letty's impact is palpable.

Michael Barrett's cinematography plays a crucial role in "75 Degrees in July." The film is resplendent with gorgeous Texan scenery to the point where it actually plays a supporting character: the shadows and the colours are absolutely stunning, and truly give one the sensation of being immersed in the sweltering beauty of a Texan ranch. My sole qualm with the film is the overuse of fading from scene to scene, but I'm just a nitpicky little bugger :-)

All in all, "75 Degrees in July" is a stunning debut for Hyatt Bass, and the entire cast and crew should be commended for their efforts.