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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Cold and detached, 8 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I never saw the previous film nor read the book so I went into this series not knowing much about it, and being totally ignorant to it all. What I finally figured out about the Girlfriend Experience is that it was just that, a young woman pushing herself off as giving men that GF experience while trying to find out who she was and wrestling with her self with loving it beyond her advertised GF experience and conflicted by it.

The main character, who goes by as many different names as she would like them to be out of body personas, will come across as a cold, mechanical, bland; and that is the beauty of this. It is played to this type of perfection by Riley Keough. I expected the complete opposite type of acting from the subject matter, but this is so raw, so "everyday", that you have to take notice, and she is doing it very well with quiet enthusiasm - if you were to embrace such a thing - she has in this role.

Christine is an Ivy league trained smart woman, who does...this. Why? She does knows why. We're trying to understand why, and she is trying to understand and do at the same time; it is the psychological and moral battle she is going through which is producing a cold exterior as a calculating call girl emerges.

For those seeking a titillating romp through the woods type of thing, this is not what this is. This is cold. It can be unemotional. This is a 'nothing' is happening when 'everything' is happening around this character. She is trying to sell herself as a GF Experience when it is clear (at least to me) she's a paid call girl. That 'GF Experience' is all she has to justify to herself that she's be "above" that. Until reality hits.

The character cannot shut out the real world around her. And the real world around her is unflinching, judgmental, torrent and easily brands her as the thing she feels she is not. But she is. We are watching her struggle footing between both worlds as she is clearly drawn to one. She's comfortable with it, it pleasures her and she uses that as a reason to separate the two. The production is gray, sterile - not warm at all -- so you are to feel her and her world and her turmoil. The camera angles are deliberately designed not to excite because although the character says she likes this and you would assume to see her liking this, it's still mechanical, boring, lifeless. Just as she is.

This is also showing us how society doesn't buy into her GF Experience ideal. So, the character needs to retaliate by trying to use her ivy league brain against her obvious pleasures. Who knows if it will work or if it will just put a blanket over it while the character learns maybe there isn't a difference between her GF Experience and calling it as it is perceived.

This little series is done really well based on those items mentioned above. For those wanting more on the super-sexy side, this isn't the program for you. It is a program with a character trying to be what she wants and what society makes of it all. You leave this with the conclusion that her life is her own and whatever she decides to do, it is what she has to answer to whether it satisfies her pleasures or not. She is learning that it is not her own closed little world to manipulate, to live in without preconceptions and judgments by her clients, the social internet, by her peers -- and by us, the viewer.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Silent Movie was enjoyable, 21 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this film in the 80s during a Z Channel Mel Brooks 'retrospective', and I found it had neat and funny parts, and was a very enjoyable film to watch. I'm wiring this review now because I read so many who absolutely hated and canned this film. I disagree.

Mel Brook's 'Silent Movie' was innovative in the time it was released, 1976, and it had a lot of 1975/1976 geared humor specifically for that audience. Even though there were some actors I didn't know that added to the jokes of this film of that time, it didn't matter, I still found it enjoyable. As the years went on and I found out more about them and it made more sense about watching film.

This was a silent film released in a time where silent films were far from being considered to be financed or released by any studio. This was also the time of the studios realizing films could be "summer blockbusters", and Mel Brook's Silent Movie, DID out-perform to have a great opening weekend an a top summer box office run for 1976. Jaws opened to a $7M weekend just a year before($69.7 in its summer run) and 'Silent Movie' opened to a #1 opening weekend in 1976 with about $3.8M at the box office ($36M in its summer run). The very next weekend, 'The Omen' opened and unseated it with a $5.8M opening weekend ($60M in its summer run, I guess beating evil-horror in the 70s was hard!). Looking at any of these numbers today would be a laugh as we are conditioned to see those numbers during a summer release as a "flop". Back then, these were the blockbusters.

Silent Movie is a film-within-a-film. Silent Movie tells the tale of a down and out director, Mel Funn, looking to score a big movie with big stars (of that time) to revitalize his career. He sets out on a trek with his studio support system (Dom Deluise and Marty Feldman. However a competing studio realizes that if he does this and gets the stars to do it, the film may be a 'blockbuster' so they go all out to stop him.

This is a premise for many films, and is something I'm sure studios, directors and producers face when pitching films to be made. I find this type of premise was done better and funnier years later with Steve Martin's "Bowfinger"; but again Mel Brooks presented a "silent" film which relies on sight gags, double entendre names and titles, facial and body expressions--and years latter I figured out, if the actors didn't talk, they wouldn't have to pay them as much! If so, that made the film funnier to me as these were huge stars of that time, and them not speaking must have been quite a challenge. I can imagine those that turned him down because they couldn't speak.

Much may not connect so easily with audiences of today, or a year or two ago as it did for those in 1975/1976, and if they were expecting something like Mel Brook's more brilliant fare like "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein" or "The Producers", it's not. It stands on its own as something fun, something different. Just a nice piece of slapstick that hits a great deal of the time, but for me, I like watching this and looking back on those days of the 70s and think about those days when silent movies were the thing too.

It was ahead of its time, 28 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't remember the theater release of this film, however I saw this film first, as well as films like Personal Best, Spetters, the 4th Man and many others on the Los Angeles "Z" Channel. That too was way ahead of its time in showing films that were made to be seen no matter what country they were from or what the subject matter was. And even being a teen to young adult at the time these films were shown, I wasn't sure I could process 100% then what I was looking at, but I was sure I was being exposed to something that was happening, that was important to know.

When I saw the film on Cable TV, it resembled a TV movie to me more than a feature film. I think that was deliberate as the film's female lead was a rising TV executive. Upon reflection, I'm sure her perspective of the recollections of this relationship played out to her like a TV drama. Here she was married to a Doctor, thinking she had everything going great like a good marriage, good communication, getting upwardly mobile as a young couple in the 80s, a great career and now ready for a baby; the days went on day after day -- as she had dreamt her life to be. Except her husband was struggling with all of this with coming to terms with his own sexual identity.

He was secretly going out, cruising gay bars and streets taking himself up to the point of contact, but then running away seemingly at the last minute until he meets a promiscuous, unapologetic gay writer that he falls deeply for. That's when his marriage and his new gay relationship makes him come to terms with each. He needs to come to terms with both, what he really wants and be truthful with who he is.

This theme was not shown in American Cinema in this manner for a major studio with major USA distribution. Today, we can look and question things we know now. But I do want to add something about the 80s AIDS crisis as one of those things. I'm going to assume this film was conceived around 1980/1981 before it's 1982 release and there wasn't that much mass information known about AIDS to the masses. However, there was some information known in the gay community by then as a mysterious spread of a cancer affecting gay men. It seemed like the film really wanted to mention this, but skirted the chance.

What struck me curious in the film, the gay promiscuous writer went to the doctor to "get checked out". His concern was due to a "growth" on his face. Why would he be so medically concerned? He knew he was running through nightly anonymous sexual partners, and he seemed to be "over-regularly" getting checked out at clinics "just to be safe". Sure, there were the known STD's of that time, but he pointed out a "spot" in his neck area; not problems in his groin. I believe that the film seem to consciously dodge that issue. Maybe because another issue the film dodged was not brought up, and that was the health danger to the wife by what her husband was doing -- and whom with. That would have taken the film into more serious territory than the more soapish-melodrama it turned out to be. By the time I first saw this film in 1983, there was more information about AIDS, but I felt an opportunity was there in the film (and probably nixed for final cut?) back then.

And that's the point. This is filmed in a TV-'soapish-melodrama' manner, and for the early 1980s which was featuring TV soap-opera dramas with controversial subjects like 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' as way to work, not just for the commercial audiences to accept, but all audiences to accept the tale(unlike the grittier movie 'Cruising' which was released by a major studio, just a year or two before showing a more seedy side of the homosexual community). And yes--scare heterosexual women with Cinderella complexes to death about wondering do they really know who they are 'making love' But by no means should it ever be dismissed as it was way ahead of its time with the adult subject-matter. This was happening. And this triangular relationship recalled from each had experiences that woke up/changed/became truth for many. I just saw the film recently on M!,Movies! Channel and thought -- even with the way the story was told, it needed to be...told.

30 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
Bold and a Must See, 30 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

HBO Documentaries are coming out of the gate swinging in 2015 and this one is no different. Doing a documentary on Scientology by just letting people who were a part of this, talk and present clippings and facts and even make clarifications of claims, for the viewer to draw their own conclusions -- well, this documentary hits it out of the ballpark. And I can personally attest that there are "two" different Scientologists. I had two different experiences with Scientology, three years apart.

The first scared me half to death, when the church was on Hollywood Blvd. One of their people came up to me as I was checking out the stars on Hollywood Blvd. and asked me to take a "Personality Test". I thought it must've been a touristy thing and so I did. I thought knowing this would also be good for jobs (little did I know it was NOT that kind of personality test!) I scored very high and this blonde haired guy came out and said I "needed" to be a member. He was in my face telling me I had to pay $300 immediately. I said I didn't have that on my, that I had to go get on the bus to go to the bank and get it. I was so scared of the place and him I just wanted to get out. He said he'd get on the bus with me, go to the bank with me and stay with me till I got the $300. He said he had to because as soon as I would pay it, my life would be so much better within the Church and it would help me let 'everything go' and reach the highest level. I convinced him that I had several stops and I would be back. He finally let me out, watched me get on the bus on Hollywood Blvd. I NEVER went back, I was shaking on the bus - I really thought I was going to get violated and end up on the 6 o'clock news. I was so scared of those folks.

The second time was VERY different. It was sorta a trick. A friend invited me to the "Celebrity Center" in "Hollywood Hills" for a theatrical play. I thought what the heck. When I got there, it was the Church of Scientology! I was ready to run until I met so many celebrities and musicians that evening who seemed...sane. A million times different than the guy on Hollywood Blvd. I actually told them about that. They apologized. They gave me a free book, Dianetics, asked me to read it and if I was interested, come back and they'd talk to me further- and was sure I'd be an asset (not member) of the church. I never came back, never read or kept the book, but I couldn't believe how different this was.

One person, two different introductions, two 'different' Scientologies in Hollywood. My thoughts of the Church of Scientology was duel. This is what these folks believed and obviously many are treated differently than others. The documentary really goes deeper into this than even I thought I was was certain about. Never did I get that "church" feeling about the place, or "religion" and the documentary shows me, and the viewers, why. It's "money" for the top, drones for the bottom, brainwash as much and as deep for those with a lot to give to...them. Lot's of figurative "Kool-Aid" drinkers, and some who were so devoted that if offered, they'd blindly follow. Which makes Scientology more cult-like than anything else. And yes, this documentary answers many of questions about that too.

Whatever one thinks, this is a compelling documentary for those who know, those who don't, and those who are still trying to figure out what this is. After this documentary, you'll know.

The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)
19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
What passion looks like, and what bureaucracy did to stop it., 26 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Make no mistake, what this film is about, is a human being's one man crusade of passion -- Ned Weeks passion. What you'll see throughout this film, is those who care more for politics and bureaucracy than hard, gut-wrenching, passion. What do you do when you know what you're saying is right, and those around you know its right too..but just want you to 'calm it down' to be heard. Ned Weeks friends were dying all around him, even those he didn't know were dying, and he wanted those in power to take action -- the people in his own circle -- but they felt the way he was projecting "the message" was diminishing their strides for acceptance and freedom to "the group". What to do? Ryan Murphy directs a film version of an off-Broadway play of the mid 80s from Larry Kramer who knows of what he speaks (and a Broadway Tony winning revival a few years ago), as he also helped/founded many AIDS groups. His main character Ned seemed to be a voice in a time where this type of voice was not listed to, given a platform, even shunned against to try to bring attention to what was happening to gay men at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. When nobody in your group listens to your valid points to stop death as well as the local, State or Federal government -- imagine the hell you'll face! That's the hell Ned faced.

For me, if the film was more directed on Ned's strong arm advocacy, I might've scored it higher because that was the important point I took away from the film. Mark Ruffalo did fine, but I think he would have been better if he had more of the 'advocacy' to work with. It upset me to see Ned Weeks battle against those he was trying to help. I didn't see him as an egotistical, self-centered, know it all as they claimed, but as someone who was pushy, loud and told the truth to gay men when the truth was hard to take; and he had no problem getting into the face of those who cold spread that message as he felt, it would save lives. Even the one that eventually hit home.

I appreciate Director Murphy's unflinching realness associated with behaviors at that time, from the clandescent gay sexual encounters to the monogamous ones, all under the beginnings of a real impending health crisis. There are a few stories of men who were treated like dirt as the disease consumed them in life and death, and it is heart wrenching to watch that's to Murphy's direction. And by the way, this is not fiction, and you re-live what many did back then. Julia Roberts as Emma was to show the very, very few people in the medical profession who 'tried' at that time only to get ignored (shunned, treated ignorantly, etc.) as well, and she was quite New York 80s in her portrayal which made her performance quite believable.

It's hard not to compare this to the other films about the early days of AIDS, but this is a different tale, and should be seen as such. Some may not because the advocacy focus get's played down at points when it should have been the hard focus. It's an advocacy and bureaucracy tale, and there is where the film falters as it does skew a bit away from that at times. To focus on Ned Weeks struggle really comes when he goes head to head with what he thought was his compatriots, comes in the latter part of the film. New York bureaucracy and politics was hell, even moreso than Washington at that time, but even worse than that, is the in-fighting. Joe Mantello as Micky really sums this up very, very well and is one of the best performances here. Dennis O'Hare brought a chill to my spine as an "Ed Kotch" representative, a small but pivotal part for this story -- and I bring this up because I wanted more seen of this too to drive this story home.

Matt Bonner takes on the part of Ned's lover Felix who becomes infected with AIDS, and goes through one of the most heartbreaking metamorphoses seen in film as the disease progresses. The thing is, after all the other films one may expect this type of part, but it is Director Murphy along with Bonner that makes this one go the distance as it doesn't flinch from every gory detail. There is nothing romantic about this, it is a disease shown that just doesn't affect his life, but the life of those around him -- like any other terminal illness. Again where the film breakdown is in this ending, which I think was more "contemporary" (2014) than taking the hard line of Ned and his 'beating himself up' for not being more of an advocate to 'save' his lover.

Let me also add that Jim Parson's role as Tommy is another great performance as someone caught in the middle. There is a line Tommy says at a funeral that just brings me to tears, and if it doesn't touch anyone out there, then maybe...they don't have a normal heart. I hope everyone gives this a look because it's not over, and we have much to learn from the past.

RoboCop (2014)
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
The 1980s RoboCop was more bleak and devious, this suffers from too much PC, 9 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I believe this goes into the pile of "not so bad, but could have been great" remakes. Much of this could have been settled in the editing room for me, story second, as the story was there - why move so fr from it? There was too much PC and government, not enough deviousness and big business.

The main problem I had is with the addition of the 'family' story line, as it is an "always used" device in films to "get the women" interested in a film, which tells me this production thinks little of women and their advancement even 26 years later. In the 80s version, I loved seeing women fight right along side of men (Murphy's partner in the 80s version vs. Murphy's partner in this one), equal to men, not dragging their children around sobbing about their husbands, etc. That was a downer for me.

They could have ditched the sappy family line story, and they should have left in the heartbreaking one where his wife and family didn't know, that this took so long that the family was gone when Murphy started recalling his human side. More importantly, that began to show the human side was "still" there for Murphy. Murphy had NO idea what they did to him, did not authorize it, and that made the story even more sad and horrific.

Another storyline in the 80s version that I thought should have stayed, the New Detroit police department was not liking a "Robocop" and had to "warm up" to the idea. They never really did, but the animosity towards this 'machine against the human' police force was an underlying current that helped drive the film back then. RoboCop was a cop and they were cops in a violent society and they knew they were all there for the common good. The problem was not with the police department and never should have been.

This one 'threw in' the family of Murphy and the force knowing and that dragged down all the better updated elements of this film which happened to be in the update of politics vs. humanity. The film was much kinder to the greed and money aspect of why there was a RoboCop. In the 80s version the mash-up of big business-corporation (employees vs board of directors)-money-reed-street hustlers all becoming one is not very apparent in this version. The 80s version mash-up of all of this was the villain(s). This one was all over the place trying to make a villain (A weak attempt with Washington politics, RoboCop technology makers, police department) but never connecting it like the 80s one did.

The 80s RoboCop really focused on greed, senseless violence and had one heck of an ideal of a bleak future of gangs and street gang leaders working with Corporate business America in "New Detroit". RoboCop was no longer in question, but a need.

This, while a good effort in technology and CGI, (and the warehouse scene looking just like a FPS video game) was more milquetoast -- like the studio was "scared" for this to be even more bleak and violent, put women as equals, and underhanded as the original. The elements of change were there, and it should have been presented.

Nebraska (2013)
A movie that's a story, 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nebraska is a story that was wonderfully done and made me wonder -- with all the shoot up, bang up, blow up, young-naked Hollywood films making so much box office, how this ever got done. Alexander Payne is how it did, he directed a wonderful story. It's not for everyone, and I think that some people who watch it now and disliked it, will see it 30 years from now may not dislike it so much as they may see it in a different perspective.

The easiest thing to 'get' about Nebraska was that it is about an older man Woody, played wonderfully by Bruce Dern, who believes he's won a million dollars through a mail marketing program. He's headstrong as he wants to claim his prize and nothing will stop him from doing so, but there may be more going on there such as a degenerative order like Alzheimers or Dementia. His son, played by Will Forte, knows what this program is about, but cannot convince his dad it is not what it seems. So the two sets off on a road trip to claim the prize.

What we get is a road trip mixed with all sorts of people, some quirky, some jealous, and for me, some a few overblown (the cousins, for example) but it did not ruin the film for me. They all worked as some folks that reminded me of real people. The multi-layers come in when it gets out that Woody may be a million dollar winner. Some people are happy about it, some people want to take advantage. While we know the mail marketing company may have taken advantage, people can too especially where any hint of money is concerned. So besides going through Woody's ordeal, the film also goes through his family's, the town, his so-called acquaintances and a father-son bond that by the end of the film becomes heartwarming.

This is filmed in black and white, but a very sharp black and white which I think enhances the film. The supporting performances by Stacy Keach (as Ed Pegram) and June Squibb (as Kate Grant) were stand out as well. It's not a film for everyone, but for those who just want to see a story being told that will make you think after it's over, Nebraska is for you too.

Clear History (2013) (TV)
5 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Clear History, 17 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Make no mistake, this is a Larry David film with Larry David being Larry David. The thing about Larry is, it would be hard pressed for him to act into any other character, and that is a great deal of his charm.

Here, he takes on the role of a marketing genius who was hired for his expertise in making a product a part of the consumer idiom. Nathan is apparently excellent at doing just that. However, he gets hired by a boss, played by Jon Hamm, who is very obnoxious and egotistical and names the product, an automobile, after his son, Howard. Nathan's marketing instincts tell him that is a bomb of a name for the automobile, which will make the marketing of it very hard to consumers, and he tells his boss so. His boss takes it personally, so Nathan does what he feels is best, quit. Even though he owns a percentage in the stake of the company, he gives it all up.

Suffice to say, the car actually becomes a success to consumers regardless of the marketing used/needed, and Nathan is branded 'the stupidest person' in the world for giving up his stake which would have made him extremely rich. Years later, Nathan has moved to a small, quiet "island", changes his name and gets a menial job to live the rest of his life out to try to forget his biggest mistake, but his ex-boss and his wife moves to the island and proceeds to build a 'McMansion' Nathan is hell-bent on revenge and precedes to exact it.

Now, that sounds like an entertaining premise, and it is. However for me, the execution at points became uneven and really over worked. Larry brings his humor and pathos to the character of Nathan, but unlike other characters Larry has developed, I didn't want to root for Nathan. I became uninterested and this got grading as it went along.

Also the sub-sub-sub plot of Larry finding out about the goings on of a girlfriend he had ions ago, and her association with the band Chicago could have been excluded. It was over wrought, over used and unneeded. I do appreciate hearing Chicago's music, but not as part of this film as it didn't seem to "flow" to enhance the story in any way as soundtracks can/do. It just seemed like a bunch of their wonderful materials placed in a film haphazardly. Didn't do them justice at all.

Clear History was a 50/50 for me as I like watching Larry David because only he can bring a perspective to a character that you can 'get' every now and then, even if his character makes stupid decisions or makes stupid moves. Larry's characters have an interesting way of overcoming shortcomings. It fell short in Clear History, but surely didn't have to. Larry is also good at producing ensemble pieces that revolve around his character's bad decisions, etc. Here, he had a small ensemble piece, but drifted away, trying to add material not really needed.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Sparking memories of childhood..., 18 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pacific Rim is meant to pay homage to those who grew up around the time of "the other" ToHo films and ToHo type films entering the market like what Del Toro saw while growing up. It's been decades since these movies got the big screen treatment, and this is a nice re-entry piece decades later that I hope gives the green-light to others as well.

What's the story? Well, the story is simpler than most, but this is not a film presented to complicate your mind. It's easy to get, the characters are easy to understand. You'll get the feeling that the filmmakers are give homage to those 'kaiju' films before it, the plot, humorous scientists, those who want to make a buck off of tragedy and monsters. The 'kaiju' were all that one expects them to be: huge, menacing, loud and armed with a few surprises. And so are the man piloted robots.

The robots aren't Power Rangers or even Transformers. These Robots, called Jaegers in this film, do not transform into anything. They cannot hide or blend into the scenery. The Jaegers in this film don't throw karate kicks. The Jaegers do not give any moral messages or speeches. They too are big and loud, piloted by humans and are just battle equipment. They are "fighting machines" against the kaiju coming up from the pacific rim.

This is one of those rare films were it doesn't posses your typical movie tack-ons to lure one in (i.e., a star name, a love story, teens, etc.), and that may be one of the film's major downfalls. Audiences may be so used to this so that when its missing, they may think the film is a failure. Not necessarily. It's monsters vs. robots. The only thing I would have liked to have seen are more of the international robots & pilots and their stories, as some were mentioned but had too little screen time for my tastes.

Pacific Rim is what the old 'popcorn' movie is all about. It's monsters-from-the-deep matinée genre. It is fun, nice action fight scenes with nods to the models and scales of those old 60s films, and man within robots to save the Earth from getting taken over.

Battleship (2012)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
It is a movie, though., 13 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As soon as I saw this, I read some reviews and I wonder if folks really watched this film. And the ones who did, I wonder how old they are because if you haven't seen Independence Day, Armageddon, Transformers (I, II, II, this point) and Real Steel, then I can understand the kudos. Ye,s the special effects catch your eye. And yes, you can see similarities to the Battleship game in this film. To me, that was the best part about it. But to pay $15+++ to see it, isn't worth it unless you are really bored.

The acting isn't all that great for a "pre-summer blockbuster". This is a January 5th movie at best and that is being too kind. I don't have anything good to say about any of the actors performances really so I'll just move on. Except this: Why in the heck did the filmmakers feel they had to throw in the stereotypical blonde actress with the ever bouncing chest-line that doesn't do a darn thing type in this? And the ending alien-human fight was just too ridiculous for words (and you wont be too surprised with the looks of the aliens, let me tell you. Very cheaply done). The filmmakers should be ashamed of themselves. The music isn't all that great either. It sounds like it too has been pieced together from several movies. And that screeching-transformers sound to make it more exciting, just got very annoying to me about 47 minutes in.

Sadly, I can see the razzies in this film's future.

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