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Breakfast with Scot (2007)
Awful movie, great performance
There is a lot wrong with the whole premise but particularly the execution of this movie, although it shows some elements of a heart warming and original story. Unfortunately, the project ended up in the hands of an inadequate writer and/or director and a wooden cast.
The only redeeming factor in Breakfast with Scot is the wonderful performance by Noah Bernett, who plays the role of Scot. He shows a wide range of emotions and is exactly as over-the-top and camp as his character demands, without going over the top as an actor. Yes, even a camp boy can still be all boy at times.
I read a comment from someone who doubted that a boy this age would act this way. My advise: go to YouTube and look around. You will find kids Scot's age or even younger who act just like him and often even more camp. Welcome to the 21st century. Scot is the only believable character in this movie.
The Happening (2008)
Three stars for an interesting pitch - forget the movie
The basic idea behind The Happening could have been written down on a single sheet of paper and sold to a producer to turn into a good movie. Unfortunately, it ended up being worked out as a script and filmed by a writer/director who has completely lost his way. Intervention for M. Night Shyamalan, anyone?
The acting is wooden, no exceptions, and reminded me of some of the worst porn movies I have... heard about. Had I not seen Wahlberg and even Leguizamo in much better roles before, I would have written them off as serious actors on the basis of their performances in this film. I can only imagine how bad they must feel about their decision to get involved with this project.
There is no internal logic to any of the actions of the characters. Many scenes are just loose ends without any contribution to the plot development. That includes the few scares, which mainly consist of cheap tricks. Some of the horror effects made me laugh; half way into the movie I began to wonder if the surprise Shyamalan had in store for us this time, was that it was in fact a black comedy. No such luck.
Please, M. Night Shyamalan, stop writing and directing. In stead, sell your pitches to people who know how to write a script, direct actors and basically, make movies.
Death Sentence (2007)
Should be labeled a comedy
I don't mind these kind of movies when made by the likes of Rodriguez or Tarantino. They have the decency to inject some comic relief on one or more levels, so we can forgive them for being over the top, full of gratuitous violence and lacking any sense.
Unfortunately, this director seems to take himself and his movie serious. It all starts out promising enough, apart from the sentimental soundtrack that accompanies the sad scenes, but soon the whole plot falls apart. Look at the forum if you need a list of all the stupid ideas in this movie (as someone else mentioned, you do not learn how to shoot a gun by pointing it at the stuff in your shed and looking mean, but that is just one of about a thousand blunders).
My Family and Other Animals (2005)
The beauty of nature
I was amazed by the sheer beauty of the images in this made-for-TV movie. The views are breathtaking. Everything looks simply wonderful: the island, the sea, the villas ('our' family moves to a new house whenever they feel the need arise), the locals and an interesting flock of visitors, and of course the abundant wildlife on Corfu.
The story is quite funny sometimes, and at one point even moving, the acting is very good and the direction and editing are spot on. What matters is that non of it gets in the way of what this movie tries to accomplish.
My Family And Other Animals is about the beauty of nature, as seen by a boy. After watching it, you can understand why someone like him would spend his life studying that subject. This movie feels like a breath of fresh air, bringing the viewer back to the days when such a thing existed. Every boy (or girl) should be able to spend his youth this way.
Belle et Sébastien (1965)
This is not the animated series...
This is not the animated series that many readers may know, and which is still being broadcast around the world, but the original live action TV-series about little Sébastien and his dog.
I can't remember anything about the story. What I do remember is being glued to the television screen every time an episode was on, as a young kid. It is a typical French children's story in the tradition of Hector Malot's novel Sans Famile, so expect some very emotional moments.
Young Mehdi El Glaoui, who played the leading role, was/is the adopted son of co-director and writer Cécile Aubry. He also sings the title song l'Oiseau.
I look forward to watching the series again, as it appears that it was recently published on DVD.
Where did Osama Bin Laden come from, and why does he hate the American way of life? Why do the American neo-conservatists want the public to believe in a world wide conspiracy of evil, operating from vast underground complexes that look like a James Bond film set? In a world that has just witnessed the worst natural disaster in known history, why are our nightmares filled with images of bearded men and dirty bombs? This three-part documentary gives the answers. In a cool, factual manner, it goes back to the historic roots of both sides in this lukewarm war, and shows us how eerily similar they are. That is what is really scary about the war on terrorism. This series is essential viewing for everyone who wants to understand the most important conflict of our time. Which should include you.
Fresh and exciting
American TV shows have always had a tendency to be formulaic, predictable and boring. Even if the pilot for a new series was well written and directed, a few episodes later I found myself looking at the same old, tired plots that I remember from my youth. Fortunately, a new breed of shows has emerged recently. Nobody could confuse Sopranos, Six feet under and 24 for Bonanza, The six million dollar man or Ironside. But Huff really outshines them all. The story is original, very well written and beautifully acted (kudos to the casting agent). The characters are rich and complex, the dialog is razor sharp and the plots keep you guessing and waiting for the next twist. My main fear is that the quality of this show will prevent it from finding a wide enough audience. Oh well, I will enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.
'Intelligent' horror-thriller looking for gullible audience
Put Seven and The Cube in a blender and make an audience drink the dribble that comes out.
There is a clever twist near the end of Saw, but it is hard to enjoy if by then you have lost all interest. This movie wants us to believe in a madman with not only superior intelligence, but also unlimited resources and time to create a world full of electronic gadgets, props and puppets that Q would be jealous of. His opponents/victims are either incredibly stupid, or turn from rational beings into sobbing idiots at the snap of a director's fingers.
Movies like Seven stand out for a reason. It is not hard to think up stuff that shocks and upsets. A good plot twist is a little harder to invent, but anybody can do it. The real challenge is in trying to construct a plot that an audience can believe in. It is like walking a tightrope: set one foot wrong and you're dead. Saw tries to reach the other side hopping, skipping and jumping, but ends up flat on it's face.
Team America: World Police (2004)
Riefenstahl, eat your heart out
Team America: World Police has a lot going for it. The idea of using puppets is in itself ingenious, well chosen and very well executed. Much more fun than the original, both puppet-wise (Thunderbirds) and actor-wise (live action hero movies). Where it horribly fails is in it's morality. In the end, this movie is much like the Fox 'news' department in that it seems to take the views of the neoconservatives as gospel, thereby turning itself into a weapon of mass manipulation. When people in the entertainment industry turn into liberal spokespersons, most harm they can do is bore us to death. On the other hand, when people in that same industry turn into propagandists of a regime that is suspect at best, and may someday be exposed as McCarthy times a thousand, they are playing with fire. Leni Riefenstahl would have struggled to make such a reactionary endorsement for her favorite 'war president' of that era. Satire should be independent and critical of regimes, not endorse the worst forms of conservatism and bigotry they represent. The uneasy feeling of hearing views expressed that are shared by the people who pull Bush's cords, spoils what could have been a great cinematic experience.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Make it into a short
Stepford Wives is a feeble attempt at a comedy-thriller. It contains some very funny moments, but not enough to carry the movie, and I can recall only one real scare in the whole movie.
What I do remember is the look on Nicole Kidman's face at the end of the opening sequence, when her old life is starting to fall apart. It is a long, drawn-out close-up that deserves to be made into a short.
At the moment, Nicole is an actress in a class of her own, as this scene shows. Unfortunately, it is not enough reason to go watch the movie, unless you are in a silly mood and have the right company. The rest of you will have to wait for that scene to be made into a short.