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Bet Raise Fold (2013)
Half of this movie is wasted following a couple of wanna-be poker celebrities and their home lives. That would be fine for a different movie, but this was supposed to be about the history of on-line poker.
There are a few tantalizing nuggets - a couple of scenes from the US senate floor, Full Tilt could not be ignored - but the rest is just a muddled collection of interviews, tournament scenes, and very little in the way of actual information.
I would have liked to have seen some hard hitting questions about the software used, the accusations and suspicions of collusion and "juiced" software that creates "action" flops and hand history reports that go beyond statistical anomaly. I would have liked to have heard more in the way of figures - profits for the on-line companies, and profits for the big winners. I would have liked to have heard stories of people who had lost everything. I would have liked to have seen interviews with the big names - Dwan, Ivey, Isildur, Matusow, etc - that win and lose huge dollars online.
Overall not a good documentary, and also not very entertaining.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
My pointless rant
So, where am I coming from? 32 years old, hate the original series, hate the first two seasons of TNG, hate all but the last season of DS9 and Voyager, hate the latest series so far. Movies - hate (puke) "The Motion Picture", search for spock, voyage home, final frontier, generations, first contact, insurrection, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. But - really enjoyed the seasons not hated above, and absolutely love Wrath of Kahn and Undiscovered Country. So, why don't I like Nemesis? I don't know. It has a good villain. It has good cinematography. Nice music and effects. No emotion chip. No Jar Jar. No frikin nexus or borg queen (tell me that wasn't the stupidest invention in the history of Star Trek - a collective, no sense of self, "we are borg", oh by the way this is mrs. joan smith borg, sorry we never mentioned her before) but I digress...
I thought at first that maybe it was because the plot lacked any originality. What with all the cloning and biological weapons it sounded like CNN. But that can't be it. Wrath was Moby Dick, and Undiscovered Country was the break up of the Soviet Union. I like all the characters, and the dialogue, and - wait a minute! I think I know what it was. Tension. There was absolutely no tension at all. Like, come on now, I know you remember it, when Enterprise is approaching Reliant in Kahn, and they can't get them to respond to their hails. Remember your heart pounding. I do. I wanted to shout "raise your damn shields!". Or when they're trying to make safe distance before genesis goes off, or when a warbird that can fire when cloaked - well you get the picture. In Nemesis, Picard jumps a dune-buggy off a cliff into a shuttle with reckless abandon, because it's only a movie and he can't get hurt. He rams his ship into another, because he knows that he and the other main characters are invincible, because he's read the script and knows they'll be ok, except data, but if you couldn't see that twist coming after the "memory download/transfer" - again, can't have any tension when everybody is wearing a parachute.
In closing, I would just like to say that the only good TNG "movie" so far was "All Good Things" because - you guessed it, it was full of tension. Was Picard going to have to sacrifice himself and / or his crew and ship to save mankind? Was someone going to die? Remember the speculation before it aired. It was great. I don't know how they could bring that tension back to TNG movies, if they ever do anymore, and I hope they do, but for Nemesis, I don't know, this is just off the cuff, but what if they had had Picard die, either in ramming the ship, or in tricking data into somehow beaming back to the Enterprise, and Picard staying to destroy the weapon himself, and then if you wanted him back in another sequel, well the fact that he was cloned once would give you a great starting point (the next movie could begin with the crew chasing rumors of another Picard clone), and the fact that he mind melded with Sarak should give you an opening to get his psyche back. Man that would have created huge anticipation for the next movie. I would have been looking forward to see how the writers could get themselves out of that one as much as I was dying to find out what would happen to Han Solo after Empire Strikes back. That was agonizing. Tension, you gotta love it.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
This is one of those movies that you read about here on the IMDB, and find that everyone pans. So you go to see it at the dollar theatre not expecting to be entertained, but just for the popcorn and pop and to smooch with your girlfriend. When you do that, you could be pleasantly surprised. This movie is fun, not fantastically funny, but entertaining. Kind of a cross between The Fifth Element and The Milagro Bean Field Wars. Visually, big screen presence reminiscent of Total Recall. Go in planning not to like it, and you will probably end up buying it on previously viewed DVD or video someday.
The Last of the Gladiators (1988)
All I knew about Evel Knevel was that he was some nut that used to jump things on his motorcycle. This documentary filled me in. The man has real intelligence, compassion, and the least amount of fear I have seen in anyone who is not a socio-path. The footage of his jumps is unbelievable and frightening, and the interviews with him are intriguing. I think almost anyone would enjoy this movie, and I think almost anyone could get to like Knevel.
**POSSIBLE SPOILER ** too long for "goofs"
Captain Archer says a few things which conflict:
1) The Enterprise can get from Earth to Neptune and back in 6 minutes. At the speed of light, that journey would take 480 minutes. Thus, at what we are told is warp 4.5 (although he may have been referring to the ships theoretical top speed of warp 5), the Enterprise can travel 80 times the speed of light.
2) With the above in mind, Archer then says that their trip to Kronos will be 4 days there, and 4 days back. At 80 times the speed of light, this would mean that Kronos is .877 light years from Earth. The nearest star to Earth, other than the Sun of course, is Proxima Cantauri, 4.2 light years away.
3) When a crew member expresses the concern that she can feel tremors as the ship accelerates, Archer tells her that things may feel funny at 30 million kilometers per second. This may be an approximation on his part, and it represents a velocity 100 times that of light. This would make the round trip to Neptune 4.8 minutes, and Kronos 1.1 light years away, still short of Proxima Centauri, or anything else for that matter.
I love science fiction, and Star Trek is definitely a favorite (I watched the debut, didn't I?), but the writers really have to stay away from dropping speed comparisons into the dialogue. Let us simply believe that warp drive will solve the problems of the great distances that have to be covered to maintain plausibility. `Voyager' dropped a speed comparison once that, when compared with an earlier episode's estimate of how long it would take to get home at maximum warp, placed them outside the Milky Way, 70,000 light years from Earth, and near nothing. Yeah, yeah, I know, get a life.
A cold view of life on the street and in the shelters. You will feel sympathy for the people being followed, and guilty that you are glad you are not them. A very well done film. If it wasn't nominated for best documentary, it should have been.
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
This movie is indicative of the trend in movie making since the release of Star Wars. Story and writing has become secondary to special effects and cinematography. This movie has a beautiful screen presence and some breathtaking special effects, but where is the story? If I wanted special effects without story, I could just stay at home and watch commercials (some of which by the way have more depth than this movie) and save $9.00. There was, once again, a real chance to tell a story here, and for the first half an hour, it looked like they were on the right path. But with the first major plot direction change, it doesn't just slip a little, it falls flat on it's face, crawls for a bit, drags itself by the nails, and dies in what has to be one of the top ten most bizarre twists in Hollywood history. You begin with the feeling that you are watching some deep, introspective, question our own existence type of film, perhaps adapted from the stage, written by the most skilled of play-writes, and leaves you with the suspicion that halfway through production, they turned the writing over to the crew at "Fast and the Furious" and said "Here are some special effects we want to use in this movie, can you write something around them? Doesn't matter if it has any relevance to the plot at all, don't care how weird it is, just help us put these pointless scenes on the screen.". If you want to see a film that actually does question our role and responsibilities as "God" - beings capable of creating sentient life -try D.A.R.Y.L. - not so many special effects, and probably not as pretty on the screen, but makes much more sense.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Hope the NSA was paying attention
Boy, will the CIA and the NSA ever be happy to learn that if you want to be an undercover agent, all you have to do is snap your fingers, and presto, you have a latex mask and magic micro-chip so you can impersonate anyone in the world. And not, like you might think, in a matter of days or weeks. No sir, meet someone new right now, reach in your jacket, and there it is, their likeness. It is so great that we have special effects like this. Now we don't need writers anymore. Actually, come to think of it, we don't even need a plot anymore. Let's just pay "actors" 25 million a picture to come on screen and stand there while a computer generated fireworks show plays in the background. Or foreground. Actually, do we still need the actors...?
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
I don't know if anyone can really define what makes a movie good. Or bad. Or great. We either like something or we don't. If there were a simple definition, then there would be a step-by-step formula to follow, and all movies would be great. Of course, they are not. But surely one commonality to all great movies is that we are able to forget that we are watching a movie at all. In Glengarry Glen Ross, we are able to do this very quickly. You are not watching some very big name actors playing pretend, reciting memorized lines from a script, taking direction from someone off screen. You are looking at and listening to road weary, flat footed, brow beaten salesmen. More than that even, you are living the life of a real-estate salesman with them. You're not in some crowded theater, staring up at a screen, your actually in that cramped little office, with a mean boss, a gnawing fear for the next dollar,and some intangible loneliness. Simple, subtle, superb, and sublime. After enjoying it once, watch it again just to see the master Jack Lemon putting on a clinic, and you'll see that Kevin Spacey was paying attention. What he learned, of course, culminating in "American Beauty". Hmmm, maybe there is a formula...