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glgioia

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251 reviews in total 
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Lost Treasure, 3 September 2011

One of the most entertaining interpretations of the classic Washington Irving tale, and perhaps the most faithful, this cartoon is a classic in its own right. No Disney did not invent Ichabod Crane, apologies to the uneducated, the tale was taken from a series of sketches by Irving which colorfully illustrate life in colonial New York. Bing Crosby as the narrator is wonderful and like all vintage Disney, it somehow frightens viewers without horrifying them. Sadly its not all that easy to find, I think its presently packaged with Wind in the Willows, which likewise falls into the same category of nearly forgotten and unappreciated genius.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Skip It, 1 January 2010
1/10

Its incredible to me that the best rendition of this amazing story remains a cartoon made by Walt Disney in the 1940s, but its true. Here another clumsy attempt sputters confuses and alienates would be viewers with admirable effectiveness while successfully antagonizing those of us who have actually read the story. Irving's original work is short by any measure and making a feature length film is bound to be a challenge. One can either completely rewrite the story a la Tim Burton which is a discussion for another time, or pad the bust-line of the old girl with unintended detail. The latter is what is attempted here, and if I may say, pitifully so. Unimaginative and thoroughly modern new facets to character personalities such as religious zealotry in Crane or wanderlust in good old Bram Bones ruin the story's intent and betray a severe lack of talent by the filmmakers. By the time the tale's famous climax approached, I had completely lost interest. Its the kind of film where you expect to see a stagehand smoking in the background.

David Copperfield (1999) (TV)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Harry Potter Walk Through, 10 November 2009
9/10

A brilliant latter-day adaptation of Dickens' autobiographical masterpiece that scores rising triumphs on all fronts. As a Dickens fan, I have recently experienced some unpleasant revulsion at the latest Oliver Twist mutations both on film and on the once fine Masterpiece theater. In fact, I very nearly passed on this rendition of Copperfield due to an ever creeping jaded cynicism, not realizing that as recently as 1999, the world still spun on its axis and the preservation of art was still considered precious. Check this out, it is marvelously executed, well acted, and to those few who still care for such things, faithfully adapted!. My summary line comes as you will no doubt surmise from the cast which includes a very young Radcliffe, and not so young but terrific as always Maggie Smith, Zoe Wannamker etc. All sensational!

Carrie (1976)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Old before its time?, 19 July 2009
6/10

Stephen King's modern classic about high school bullying with a little dark supernatural sprinkled in of course.

It is over 30 years old, but it watches much older mainly because DePalma is as usual trying way too hard to homage/imitate someone else's direction style while at the same time putting way too indelible of a 70s dorkism stamp on the texture. Much about the pop culture of the 70s is rather non-nostalgic and cringing camp, and a film like this one so completely bathed in the decade's cheap cologne, very justifiably suffers. Carrie has some effective horror scenes, maybe even a couple iconic ones, but these are too often followed by wandering Film School exercises that leave you scratching your head as to the whereabouts of an editor. The background score is soap opera grade and distracting. The performances are very good and the casting of the hate-ables is spot on. PJ Soles and the chubby obnoxious guy from Miami Vice shine as the hard to look at, too cool for school loathsome antagonists. Yet as with virtually all King works, the book is more satisfying than the film for lots of reasons. You lump all of these many negatives together, and the result is a film that really can no longer be watched in its entirety and survives only for about 15 minutes of its effective and disturbing horror imagery, which Im sure you could just you-tube and spare yourself a wasted evening.

116 out of 253 people found the following review useful:
Porn Without the Action, 19 January 2009
3/10

Brilliant in that it sums up in one half hour how incredibly lost our culture is at present. These are talented gifted folks, the writing is good better than good, the acting too. The result is a show that is awful and at the same time all too watchable. Its just another original series from one of the subscription channels who honor a corporate mission statement that must read, 'people will watch anything with or related somehow to raunch and sex'.

Toni Collette whom i used to really respect, has bitten the forbidden fruit by accepting this role. Great actress, and she holds her own, but this is embarrassing. She plays a woman suffering from a multiple personality disorder who could be in a straight jacket, but instead lives as a happy housewife/mom tormenting her family with her perverse alter egos. These things are sometimes mildly funny when executed in a sketch format as farce, but not like this. Predictably, Tara is presented not as farce, but as some twisted vision of reality the series producers have created that begs our acceptance. With most other Sopranopera possibilities exhausted, little else remains but to turn mental illness into dark comedy. Sybil, the PG-13 sitcom. If this all seems unimportant to you then you will be delighted to learn the entire premise really isn't important anyway because what is the show really about? What else, vulgarity.

How many squirms, how many titillations can we still manage to strip out of a thoroughly mined audience. Oh the language we will use, and isn't it oh so 2009 having a little kid in shot having to hear and process it all. Its both wonderful and liberating that Showtime sees entertainment in a mentally ill Mom bizarrely empathizing with her high school daughter's proclivity for anal sex. I guess, they envision you as parent watching it with your own teenage child and enjoying some breakthrough 'anal sex is cool' bonding moments together?

Gimme a break, you are watching skinless porn, and hey thats cool, I just hope you realize it and I hope your kids are off playing Guitar Hero in another room talking about how warped you are.

1408 (2007)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Rod Serling with a bludgeon, 12 January 2009
6/10

John Cusack plays noted travel author Mike Enslin who earns his bread and cheese by visiting haunted places and then writing them up as the ubiquitous Top Ten Haunted .... We quickly observe however, that Enslin is somewhat of a fraud. He harbors cynicism and even though he sells these books to the public, he's more interested in feeding his own personal demon; to debunk the whole notion of a haunted anything. He's driven or haunted if you will by a quest to prove if only to himself that haunted houses and spirituality, and even religion, is all a lot of nonsense.

When he receives an anonymous post card inviting him to spend a night in a haunted NYC hotel room, room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel to be exact, Enslin of course meets his match.

From the opening frames, "1408" constructs an effective anticipatory pace- roller coaster style, and thats obviously vital in a scary film. I especially enjoyed the conversation between Cusack and the forever and needlessly angry Samuel L. Jackson. He's still that of course, but good direction here has him properly harnessed and enjoyable for a change as he does an excellent job as the obligatory "don't go in there" hotel manager. Of note to Jackson fans, in spite of the movie poster, Jackson is a supporting character at best and on film for all of 7 minutes, maybe 8.

From the effective buildup we enter at last, the haunted hotel room and the fun begins, and there the fun soon ends. Indeed the remainder of the film has us locked in the evil room with Cusack. We start slowly with some truly creepy and memorable images before eventually and all too inevitably, the full Hollywood special effects ghost treatment, floods, fire, ice, make their dreaded appearances. Some frights are really effective and for me the 15-20 minutes where the scary stuff happens sorta makes the entire film OK. But that all happens and the horror peaks and passes way too quickly. Before it ever gets really terrifying, our roller-coaster is making the slow boring return to the platform via the maudlin sub story line.

I say again however, this is a good movie - using the grading scale sadly needed in the year 2009. Its good. But in keeping pace with all modern films "1408" has way too much cowbell and the special effects orgy eventually becomes boring, no matter how much you like this sorta stuff. I liken film viewing these days to hanging onto a greased pole. I'd say it took a good hour into this before I lost interest and slid off into the kitchen for some Oreos.

Yet my biggest criticism, really my only substantive criticism is that "1408" apart from actually being watchable to the finish, fails to distinguish itself as a horror film. It breaks no new ground whatsoever, whether in terms of fright excitement, plot twist or even human drama. There's tons of unanswered questions, but not the provocative kind, more the kind that lead you to believe a lot of this wasn't well thought out. But I'll leave that up to you.

Chicago (2002)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Great Fun, 27 October 2008
9/10

A near perfect adaptation of the Broadway smash featuring an all-star cast who somehow all do their own singing and dancing.

One of the very Broadway crossovers in recent memory to actually do its job and entertain, and boy, does it ever! Chicago sucks you in at minute one and you don't really come up for air until a half hour has passed. Now thats a good movie. Musicals, theater etc are hardly my cup of tea, and Hollywood's opium dream renditions are even less in my scope of enjoyment. Why Chicago works where most of them have flopped utterly, I am not sure but would have to bet its down to direction. Chicago's song and dance segments are cut MTV style, but, Marshall seems to have almost perfected this technique to somehow capture the in-theater dramatic 'zowie' feeling that almost never makes it from stage to screen. While many argue Chicago owe its success at the Oscars to the drubbing Moulin Rouge took (quite deservedly) the year before, I happen to disagree and believe that for once the Academy actually got it right. The cast is fantastic. Sure you can nitpick about Gere being too nasally and too Gere, and maybe Zellwegger's drunken bridesmaid dancing could have used a couple more takes, but the final product even with those bizarre ingredients is one of the most enjoyable experiences to come out of Hollywood, maybe ever?

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A Sad Swan Song, 20 October 2008
3/10

Arthur Miller is arguably the greatest American playwright of the last century. The Crucible, AS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN, I had always looked upon as a modern masterpiece. It is therefore absolutely heartbreaking for me to watch this filmed variation of The Crucible that is such a complete and utter sell-out to the modern hot button Hollywood dreck. What is even more difficult to endure, is the knowledge that it is Arthur Miller himself who is responsible for peeing on his own work. There his vaunted name sits, the sole screen writing credit to a run of the mill if not worse than most, B movie adaptation. Yes, Yes, Mel Brooks has done this in reverse with The Producers and Young Frankenstein, and done it successfully. I know also that it is Mr. Miller's play and he can do with it whatever he chooses to, obviously. I just switched off this film (no I couldn't make it to the end) with a real sense of disappointment and a diminished assessment of Miller that bordered on disillusionment. I don't want to compare Arthur Miller to Mel Brooks but I think now I always will. To take the devils advocate approach, Miller wrote the original play to satirize McCarthyism; a topic in which most Americans today probably hold very little interest. So the lampoon HAD to be adapted to conform to the modern perceived injustices. Right? Well if this is true, then the original play for me and even more importantly for Arthur Miller, has minimal value as enduring art and as such, must be completely overrated if not, dismissed? Which brings me back to my disillusionment.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Tough to Figure, 15 June 2008
7/10

Show had tons of promise, and created a great texture that was a throwback to the golden television era. But...it just kinda fizzled mid-season, as if they really had no master plan for what was to be, and just ham and egged the plot line. The more they revealed the true nature of the story, the dumber it became. It went from really cool and fresh to the final life-support season of Melrose Place in 5 episodes. I can hyperbole all night here, but i think you get the picture. Disappointing. So I don't know what to make of the whole project. Watch the first 3 episodes only? I cant really say. Personally, I can credit this failed venture with if nothing else turning me on to the amazing music of Joe Strummer, who's Johnny Appleseed backs the opening montage. Now thats good stuff!!

Targets (1968)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Sunset Boulevard Meets Two Minute Warning, 7 June 2008
7/10

Sort of a forgotten thriller about a serial killer's final day in the world of sanity, and an ancient Holloywood icon's final day as an actor. In one film, Bogdanovich tackles both the fading Hollwood star lost in a modern world and the absurd violence of modern society, hoping to have each hypothesis prove the other via concurrent storytelling. In doing so, like most serious movies of this era, the film effectively communicates a tableau of an American culture with one foot still in her glorious past, and the other stepping out into the unseemly unknown future. Its pretty effective. I've always admired Bogdonovich and his attention to Americana detail which is where he and this film shine brightest. The scenes in the drive-in are almost fashioned as if he knew drive-ins would not be around much longer. Cool stuff. Karloff is quite simply great, playing well, basically himself, the old horror film star who is wise enough to see his craft is no longer relevant in brutal modern society. He illustrates this when he picks up a newspaper who's headline blares a story about a supermarket gunman killing three people. How can a man dressed in Frankenstein makeup compete with that, he questions his assistant? Queue the other storyline, a young privileged serial killer and his final losing battle with reason before he begins wasting people. The profile of the killer is at odds with what we now know of these nuts, but you can get past that. The portrayal of the gunman is chilling enough to be sure. He goes on his rampage, Karloff retires from show biz then un-retires for one last appearance, and somehow the 2 different story lines meet up of course in the final reel. The movie is good. There are obviously so many bad movies out there today, that you should watch Targets for that reason alone, but its good. Disturbing, but Bogdanovich nailed the decline of our society and for him to do so while it was happening before him, shows a modicum at least of genius.


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