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30 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great Coen Musical, 12 December 2013

I saw a preview of Inside Llewyn Davis last night. The press got the best seats reserved and members of the local folk station, which is playing several cuts from the soundtrack, got the rest. It was a logical move to fill the seats with people who should like the movie and fans of folk from the 60s through today should like the movie. The many songs are nearly all full length and performed by proper musicians (and Justin Timberlake.) Oscar Isaac is actually an actor now, but began as a musician and plays a struggling musician in 1961 New York City. I can't say if he's a good actor or well cast, but he is a great performer. Despite my dig at Timberlake, mostly due to his perfectly appropriate branding, he performed well also. His fans are unlikely to enjoy his performance, he plays folk songs in the style of Peter, Paul and Mary. That's not the only surreal aspect to the movie since it is fully Joel and Ethan Coen. This one is very dark, far more like No Country for Old Men than O Brother Where Art Thou despite the music, and funny if you like their humor (I do.) The Coen-style conversation is covered by Carey Mulligan and John Goodman with many other characters providing one-liners and other humorous moments, proper actors all. Music fans and Coen fans will all enjoy parts of the film, and soundtrack fans and Coen fans will love the final result. Hope it comes to a theater near you.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Hoping for action? Bit of a disappointment., 27 March 2012

I read the Hunger Games for a book group and thought it was a good teen novel, light entertainment for adults and mediocre dystopian literature. I was intrigued by the arena and the future technology employed in the fight to the death, though (I was a fan of The Running Man back in the 80s as well.) So I made the comment the story would work well as an action movie. I was told it was going to be a movie, and now it is.

Alas, as a teen novel it had to be made PG-13 and to keep that rating the children-killing-children aspect had to be toned down. It was handled by jerky, out-of-focus shots of the actual murders, with clear visuals of either the dead bodies or of the splash of blood or sometimes just an eerie scream. Intense for younger children, appropriate for the target audience, somewhat dull for my bloody taste. I went on a bargain evening though, so for $7 I'm actually satisfied.

It's not a cheesy Twilight-like teen romance. The main subject (beyond the story of the central character, Katniss) seems to be the carefully planned violence and tribute "storylines" of the "reality" broadcasts. It not-so-subtly parallels our own viewing habits and personally I enjoyed the irony. A love story does play a small role, about equal to that of the emotional toll on the children being forced to kill-or-be-killed. Worth a viewing if you have any interest.

38 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
Meets Moderate Expectations, 28 January 2012

The current score of this movie is 4 and unless you are a devoted fan of the books that's harsh. If you are in love with the twenty or so books you must have known less than two hours worth of movie will never compare, ever. I sympathize, beloved books are difficult to put on film, but this was actually rather amusing. On par with most romantic comedies and even better than some. It's not actually a romantic comedy though, an outlandish-girly-action-mystery-comedy is a more accurate description. The previews are representative of the film.

I will say the PG-13 rating was forced, mostly in the "language" category. Cable TV after 10 pm has more bite. An R rating with a few swearing felons would have been a bit more realistic, especially since the sexual situations are more than a 13-year-old should be watching and the storyline definitely adult. The writers must have sacrificed 10 swears for 3 bras and a shower curtain or something equally un-creative.

The comedy was there, sexual and self-deprecating and physical as advertised. On opening weekend (with the $6 groupon) the theater was full and the audience was seated throughout and laughing regularly.

Eavesdropping, the book fans were a little disappointed but mostly because they know so much more about the characters at this point. They wanted more Lula and Grandma and quirky little side scenes they remembered from the novel. Katherine Heigl was not loved as Stephanie Plum, but not hated enough to curse. Expectations were met.

I will agree it wasn't worth $11.25, but a lot of movies aren't. As a matinée or a DVD, go for it.

True Grit (2010)
3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A Coen Brothers film, and not even the best, 26 December 2010

I did enjoy True Grit. I do love a western of any kind though, and the Coen Brothers under most circumstances. I do not believe this has wide appeal. While I think the actors all did their jobs properly, per the script and director, the whole cast came off like residents of an assisted living facility. Not mentally impaired enough to be institutionalized, but not mentally proficient enough to live and work independently. The young Mattie was the exception, and quite a scene stealer (though do note everyone else came off retarded so that wasn't hard.) To compare, the Fargo cast was a little simple, a little odd, but you knew there was appropriate intelligence behind humorous exterior. Here you don't feel that. My sister actually turned to ask why they were talking like idiots, and I had no answer. Rooster was hard-drinking and tough, and sometimes came off as clever and knowledgeable about his chosen profession, but sometimes was just too weird. Matt Damon actually came off like a certain comedian's (unfavorable) impression of him. As a talkative Texas Ranger, proud and a little out of his depth, he could have been presented more intelligently. The murderer Tom Chaney was most appropriately stupid, and a little crazy, but amongst the cast didn't stand out as such because everyone was so strange. The enjoyment comes from this oddness, because the story is very basic, probably straight from the original film and novel (neither of which I had access to before watching this version.) I would recommend those interested rent the movie, which is what I would do if I could turn back time. Those put off by the Coen Brothers normally, but perhaps attracted by the positive reviews or talented cast, avoid this altogether.

The Fighter (2010/I)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Great Movie, 18 December 2010

This was far more than the inspirational sports movie whose category it may fall under, though in that respect it satisfies as well. It was darker and funnier and deeper than the previews indicated. Both the sport and family fights of boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund are dramatized here, along with a striking representation of working class Lowell. This is where much of the humor came in, at least for the Worcester, MA audience. The Eklund/Ward family are a bit of a caricature, chain smoking and full of attitude and profanity, but so very close to the truth we all saw a relative, friend, neighbor, ourselves. The close knit neighborhood communities are also shown. Pick your MA city and the movie could have been filmed there. It could translate to other locales, but if not the story itself is still great. Every major character was portrayed excellently. I was surprised by Wahlberg's gravity (and fantastic physique, if you're interested) and Adams' grittiness. I was also reminded of Bale's talent, there was a clip in the credit of the real Eklund and Bale was spot-on. Action, drama, humor and redemption come together for one of the best movies of the year.

Inception (2010)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Spectacular Film, Mediocre Ending, 24 July 2010

For 2 hours, 14 minutes and 50 seconds this was an incredible movie. A perfect 10. There were flawless effects, creative and beautiful. A complex story that was still comprehensible, it begged to be watched again and again. Good acting for fun and interesting characters. Drama, humor, action, everything you could want from a movie. Usual Suspects crossed with Gattaca crossed with James Bond... just great.

So why the vote of 8?

A weak, indecisive, pathetic, lousy, pick-your-derogatory-adjective 10 second ending. I am not alone in my opinion, the majority of the audience scoffed, jeered or sighed in disgust at the final scene. A proper ending was possible. Two endings as a matter of fact. I had one preference, some may have chosen the other option, but too not choose... it's the worse offence. My preferred ending would have garnered this film a 10, the other ending a 9, the lack of ending brought it all the way down to an 8 and I'll certainly never purchase this on DVD. So disappointing.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Unrealized potential, 2 July 2010

I saw this movie with expectations of a generic romantic comedy. Those expectations were met, if the whole was more romance and less comedy than is standard. Those interested in the previews will be satisfied with the movie. I was less satisfied because there were so many intriguing ideas and quirky characters and intelligent lines that showed a glimpse of what this movie could have been, but clearly was not. The concept of the Secretaries of Juliet answering women's letters has such potential, not just as a plain romantic comedy but as a more stimulating film. Just the back story of how the society formed and how those particular women got involved would be interesting. Hopefully someone will be inspired, literary adaptations always being popular. Even just as a romantic comedy the search for a lost love 50 years later could have been more exciting when the Italian background, a sassy granny, a practical Englishman and a romantic writer are taken into account. This movie fell flat I believe because of the direction. The actors seemed to be floundering, like the final cut was from the first or second take. With a little practice and advice they could have expressed realistic emotion, but they didn't seem to get the chance. The plot and dialogue could have used some fleshing out as well, to build character and suspense. That seemed to be an editing issue more than a writing issue, conversations cut short and scenes quickly switching, so again the director's fault. Plain bad movies are never as annoying as mediocre movies that could have been good with just a little more effort.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Silly Bit of Action Fun, 29 May 2010

I saw this as part of a double feature, had no expectations going in. It is probably the most exciting and stunning film a 12-year-old boy has ever seen, for an adult it's silly and fun and utterly unrealistic.

I enjoyed it.

Here's my issue/warning: I thought it was the Middle Eastern twin bother of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (I had to go look it up, neither movie is that memorable). For reasons I don't quite understand people HATED that movie. This movie has all the same characteristics: lots of special effects fighting, special effects landscapes, impossible anatomical movements, ridiculous evil characters, PG romance, PG family tensions, no sense of history or travel, creative fighting tools and techniques, a silly sense of self, light comedy, respectable but smaller-name actors. I actually thought it was going to have the same writers and director, but no. Prince has a slightly bigger budget which led to bigger fake landscapes, but that's about it. If you hated the King movie I can't imagine you'll like this, but the reverse is also true, if you enjoyed this you really should like the King movie.

Robin Hood (2010)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fun Action, Bit of Story, Touch of Robin Hood, 29 May 2010

I was a fan of Gladiator and wanted to see Russell Crowe as an action-leader-of-men again. I was hoping they wouldn't destroy the character of Robin Hood the way Sherlock Holmes was recently destroyed, but Robin Hood is a more flexible archetype rather than a straight character so I plunged in (drive-in double feature, can't beat it).

It was a successful movie, a traditional version of Robin Hood, reasonable English history, though not accurate, if you are particular. I imagine Gladiator was similar but am less familiar with Roman history. There was more focus on Robin Hood's early brushes with injustice and political intrigue than his later traditional thieving activities. I was most appreciative of the inclusion of the side characters. Alan a'Dale (Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea, FANTASTIC surprise), Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck were present, though not major characters. What would have been their screen-time was split with Prince/King John, his family and advisors, along with some other noble figures. "Maid" Marian was very well designed (I was wondering how it would work with her being older) and Cate Blanchett made full use of her little time.

Not a non-stop action fest like I expected, very much on par with Gladiator (if less interesting overall) and worth a viewing.

Gamer (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great action fun, taken a little too far., 16 May 2010

A more current version of The Running Man, which includes today's better computer effects but also our utter, degenerate vulgarity and shocking apathy. There were insidious violent aspects to this far beyond the blood and gore. The "Society", a reality-game within the movie, revels in all the worst traits of humanity, and blatantly displays them. An adult could separate, or at least recognize, the psychological dark moments. I would never recommend even a young adult, let alone teen, watch this. Sadly, I'm sure it's targeted for just that audience. Beyond all that was just an action romp. Alone it would have been a great action romp, from cast to effects, but with those disgusting moments of depravity I just couldn't enjoy the movie.

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