Reviews written by registered user
The Gryphon

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54 reviews in total 
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6 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Biased and Unfair Documentary, 15 February 2015

I guess I'm a purist. Being 56 years old and a lifelong cinephile, with a penchant for documentaries, I bemoan the fact that many documentarians of late have lost their ability to be unbiased observers. Nothing was more disturbing in this movie than the scene in which David hands director Kate Logan a note to be passed to his friends outside the Dominican Republic. Once a documentary becomes biased it loses all moral ground.

In 1992, in the comedy/drama movie called "Man Bites Dog" about a film crew following a "heartless killer" as he commits his crimes, the film crew eventually begins to knowingly aid and abet the killer. This was a parody of a documentary and laughable. "Kidnapped for Christ" is not a parody and scares the hell out of me.

Despite the subject matter of the film, the documentarian should strive to be "documenting" the matter, not participating in it in any way, shape or form. She should try to be as unbiased as possible instead of trying to shape public opinion. Kate Logan insults the viewer by telling us we're stupid by editing the film in a way that we don't have to think for ourselves. She is showing us her point of view and calling it a documentary. There is, of course, a bit at the end where two of the principals in the film come down for and against the Christian school. More of this would have made the movie better. But in other scenes, you can tell how one-sided the production is, such as the scene in which the youths are taken on an outing to Pico and play in the muddy grass there. Logan focuses on Tai, a young lady who doesn't like the mud and doesn't want to play in it. It is a scene where the central focus is Tai complaining about the outing and how much she hates it there. Strangely enough, Tai seems to be the only one complaining and sometimes she can't be heard due to the laughter and squeals of delight coming from the 99% of the kids who are enjoying the day. Why not interview someone who is part of that merriment for balance?

Some of the "evidence" against the school is merely anecdotal at best, such as when director Logan overhears loud yelling outside her room on the campus and states that it came from one of the people in control who was yelling at his charge. We have to take her word for it as nothing is shown as evidence. When she points the camera out the window all seems calm with the two people involved. A wiser documentarian would have left this part out of the movie as it's clearly hearsay and can't be proved.

I'm not saying that abuses did not happen at the school, even the people in charge agree that some have occurred. What I am saying is that the director of this film slanted it in such a way that it's impossible to determine what really happened at the school. It seems that Kate Logan was graciously granted permission to film on-site, which usually indicates that the people in charge had little to hide. She may have realized, once there, that a film without conflict won't sell in the United States. She seems to have tried to manufacture discontent with the available footage she possessed. For despite the ominous overtones of the film, we see no abuse happening, only hearsay. Kids have to make their beds and fold their clothes properly. Kids have to exercise when told to. Kids are told to obey authority. There is talk of "swats." This is somehow considered child abuse. We don't see any such "beatings" so we have to take the word of Logan, who has already showed us that this is a film she has slanted to force her views on the viewer. Did we think she would honestly show us more cinematic fairness after she tips her hand that she's one sided in the note exchanging scene with David?

This is an evil movie. It does not appear to be about evil, but it is evil in the way it is edited and slanted, apparently for the sake of being a daring filmmaker exposing the she sees it. It is a vanity project that insults the viewer.

The real title should be "Kate Bites Dog."

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Great action scenes and mind games to boot, 14 August 2010

Kinda slow and stodgy at the start-up, where character development is needed, and there is some action involving a bank robbery by 4 people wearing ex-presidents mask, but overall, despite the surfing theme, it's a pretty good movie...even if you don't surf. Keanu Reeves is the young hotshot FBI agent fresh from Quantico, resented by most old timers who have long since given up on actually solving a crime - realizing the paperwork is the scariest thing about their jobs, not the criminals. Gary Busey plays a character saddled with the young FBI agent, and who is really aggravated by the pup's aggressive first, but then, like all good buddy movies, they form a bond. Keanu goes undercover by getting a lead that the string of bank robberies has something to do with surfing, so he learns to surf in a really short montage. From there, there's one fantastic foot chase when the FBI agent sees one of the "ex-presidents" still wearing his mask, fresh from a bank robbery nearby. The foot chase is worth the price of admission by itself. It's really that good. Good Steadicam work, too. Next comes a strange bond the FBI agent forms with the leader of a surfing tribe of 4, with everyone in on every little secret the other person has and yet no one can reveal their hand next. Then comes the parachute scenes. One of them tops the foot chase scene as the FBI agent jumps out of a perfectly good plane with nothing but a hope and a prayer (and a handgun) continuing his chase of the head of the ex-presidents. Reeves, Busey and Patrick Swayze are excellent in their roles. Oscar Winner Kathryn Bigelow directed this winner and her then husband, James Cameron produced it. Watch it just for the scene where the dog is thrown on someone if for nothing else.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Ugly Americans, 26 December 2009

I am 51 years old and can remember the times Bob Hope took his traveling comedy show to Vietnam. His comedy was clean and sometimes a bit biting, but he never lacked in class. Even though we were opposite on the political spectrum I thought he was a wonderful comedian and I was proud that he risked his life to give the troops a nice sized portion of laughs that were in short supply in the American and allied military troops during that dark time in our history.

It was with such intent that I wanted to enjoy this movie, "Patriot Act." My, how times have changed! The jokes seemed overwhelmingly mean-spirited, one of them comparing the size of the audience to Rosie O'Donnell's private parts. Now is there really any need to go there. As the camera panned over the crowd as that joke fell fairly flat, you could see the puzzled looks on some of the soldier's faces. It seemed to me as if every joke had a political slant to it, as if they were saying "Republicans good. Democrats bad." They didn't need to resort to that. Surely democrats and republicans all have sons and daughters fighting in the war. It's not all black and white, right or wrong. I just don't think it should have been classless entertainment. Every other word out of the comedians mouths seemed to be the "F-bomb." That just lacks imagination. And Drew Carey, a comedian I normally enjoy, was cutting down the Iraqi women, their style of dress, the Iraqi food, their lifestyle. These are the people we are supposed to be helping, Drew, and insulting them is not getting us anywhere. We can't win their hearts and minds by making them the butt end of the jokes. Quit presenting yourselves as the ugly Americans and learn some class, a la Bob Hope.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
What it Means to Be Human, 17 November 2009

Having read and enjoyed the first three "Conversations with God" books, I was fully prepared to enjoy the movie as well. Although I gave it a 5 star perfect rating, I am fully prepared to accept the fact that many people will not have the same love for the film as I do. It is somewhat slow paced and there isn't much action in the movie. It deals mainly with the background details of Neale Donald Walsch, who after suffering from a broken neck after a car accident, soon loses his job as well as his home and becomes a homeless person scavenging for food and recyclables while living in a tent in a park. Things keep going badly for the soon to be published author as he finds a job only to have the business go bankrupt soon after. He is awakened one night by a voice in his head asking him if he had had enough yet. The voice sounds just like his voice and he is chagrined to learn the voice is coming from his head. He is even more shocked to find the voice is saying that it is God that Walsch is hearing. He grabs a nearby notepad and begins transcribing what he is hearing. This becomes the book, "Conversations with God," which is initially rejected by the publishing firm he contacts. The movie is a sincere, devout movie that I predict will totally upset traditional, mainstream churches and temples. Walsch's "God" is a modern God who is neither vengeful or angry, who seeks to teach Walsch about love and compassion rather than obeying rules and dishing out punishments. God speaks in such a way to sound reasonable, humorous, and more like a good friend than a strict father figure. If you liked the books, you'll love this adaptation as well. If you are not interested in matters of the spirit you might want to ignore this film. Well acted, directed and edited. A must-see for anyone interested in matters of the soul and what it means to be human.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pretty Standard Stuff but Not Bad, 5 September 2009

A young boy with an inventor for a father and a sick but loving mother finds life's answers in the unusual shenanigans of his two odd uncles, played by Michael Richards and Maury Chaykin. The uncles are hoarders and one is extremely paranoid. Though it's not really a coming-of-age story, the boy does expand his horizons through the unusual insights of his two uncles, one of whom collects, among everything else, balls "because they carry the sound of children playing" within them. It's a fairly interesting movie but nothing groundbreaking. Director Diane Keaton does about as well as anyone can with the material at hand. The two odd uncles provide a unique look at life to a confused young boy's eyes. John Turturro as the father is pretty unusual when we meet him as well but he loses his quirkiness once his wife, Andie MacDowell, comes down with an illness from which there is no hope of escape. The boy, now given a sense of self and purpose from his uncles, now has to rescue his father from giving up on life. The movie sways from comedy to pathos but is worth a viewing.

Edmond (2005)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
They Shouldn't have moved the meeting back to 1:15!, 5 September 2009

"Edmond" is one hell of a thrill ride. It starts off simple enough with Edmond in his corporate business suit learning that a meeting has been pushed back to 1:15, which causes him grief for no known reason. On his way home, he passes a tarot card reader and happens to notice the address for the shop is #115. Seeing it as some sort of sign, Edmond agrees to have his fortune told...and he finds out it's not so good. At home, Edmond seems out of place and tells his wife he's going out. She asks him to bring her back a pack of cigarettes and he informs her that he's not coming back. She's confused and Edmond calmly explains that he doesn't love her anymore and he wants to leave and never return. Edmond leaves and then meets a man in an upscale bar, played by Joe Mantegna, who Edmond learns is a somewhat rational racist, which triggers something in Edmond. The man convinces Edmond that Edmnond needs to get laid. Edmond agrees and goes out to a place the racist man recommended and there he gets into haggling about the cost of having sex with a stranger and is distressed that there are so many hidden charges and that he can't pay for it all with his credit card. Edmond leaves and heads out onto the street where he sees a game of three-card-monte in progress. A guy in the crowd tells Edmond how the trick is done and how it can be beat. Edmond takes the bait and joins in the game, only to have his money tricked away from him. Edmond wants to see the cards they are using and this doesn't sit well with the card sharps. Things happen to Edmond all through this night of hell and nothing seems to make sense. He haggles about the cost of everything and feels like he has no power until he comes across a wicked looking knife in a pawn shop that he purchases. Feeling empowered, Edmond no longer feels like a victim but a victor. Edmond finds a racist streak in him that comes out in a confrontation with a pimp and things get pretty rough from this point on. Edmond's destiny is sealed and he declares at one point that "people kill simply because there are too many people in the world." Something is seriously wrong with this once mild-mannered businessman who wonders why the entire world has gone crazy except for him. They should have never moved that meeting back to 1:15, man!

P2 (2007)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Go into the Parking Garage..., 5 September 2009

Very well scripted thriller about a woman alone in an underground parking lot with all the exits closed and who is being stalked by an extremely lonely and misguided security guard who just wants to be her friend, even if it kills her. Most movies of this sort seem to have logical plot holes that you could drive a truck through, but not this one. The woman being stalked consistently does the right things to escape but seems to be realistically foiled in each of her attempts. My only complaint is that there are two many crazed security guard movies available for viewing these days. Just once Id like to see one get to be the hero of a film.

Teeth (2007/I)
Not a Remake of Jaws!, 5 September 2009

An odd duck of a movie about a young woman who finds out that she has teeth in her private parts. Does any more need to be said about this? I expected the film to take on more of an exploitation angle, such as the type of films released by Troma corporation, but no, this film is treated as if it were a Lifetime movie. The woman in question is not a monster, nor is she a victim, shes just someone who is aghast at the power her feminine parts have to sever the sexual appendage of any male who makes her angry. The only question I have after watching the movie is wondering whether our young lass has to brush the teeth hidden inside her most private of chambers.

Join Us (2007)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Raises some interesting questions, 5 September 2009

At what point does the spanking of a child become a beating? At what point does a community church become a cult? Those two questions are at the center of "Join Us" wherein disgruntled members of a small church in South Carolina leave the church and wish to file charges against their former pastor. The ex-members apparently stood by while the pastor beat their children while they watched, as the beatings were backed up by verses in the Bible. The pastor even recounts the Old Testament law wherein it was permissible to stone a rebellious child to death if necessary. The pastor and his ultra-faithful wife defend all the charges against them with the wife stressing that what they did may seem "cultish" to outsiders, everything was done with the best intentions. The ex-members go to a cult deprogramming center, said to be the only one in the USA, and are encouraged to ask questions and to think for themselves once again, instead of hanging onto the pastor's every controlling word. In an attempt to entrap the pastor into admitting child abuse one of the ex-members of the church goes to see him and his wife while wearing a hidden camera and microphone. Somehow the wiley pastor never cops to the charges while being recorded. His wife is heard in a recorded phone conversation stating that the pastor has stage one Alzheimer's disease and later states that the ex-members should leave him alone because of his "sick mind." Later, in a separate conversation, we hear the pastor declare that there have been some allegations about him having Alzheimer's and then adds that those who say that are "liars!" The look on the woman's face who heard his own wife state that he has Alzeimer's Disease is priceless.

It's an interesting movie about how easily some minds can be controlled and how some churches could be considered cults but it's definitely not totally convincing, but it does raise some interesting questions.

Disturbing but effective, 22 August 2009

Effective character story about a convicted child molester being released from prison after 12 years of incarceration. His parole officer keeps extra tight watch on the ex-con, especially upon learning that the only housing available to the former-molester is right across the street from an elementary school. Kevin Bacon plays a man who wants to be free from his past but at the same time still feels urges he's not quite comfortable with around children. As Bacon sits in his room watching the schoolyard across the street he notices the actions of another pedophile and feels confused about what his proper actions should be. Should he alert the police? Should he take part in the crime? Or should he go down there and beat the molester to a bloody pulp. Slow paced but effective movie about the true evil that lurks around our children on a daily basis.

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