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It Might Have Been a Cult Movie!, 27 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This gently fanciful comedy is genuinely charming and funny, leisured and mellow, heartrending; it may have been set up as a vehicle, but the direction has zest and coherence, and Brando was generally very good in his '90s comedies, in his late career, masterful and mind-blowing.

It's one of the last endearing B movies made in the '80s style, prolonged in the '90s. In the '80s, these B outings offered room for leisure and fun.

'Don Juan DeMarco' is intriguing, tempered, lyrical, lively, very likable, vastly good-natured. Enjoy Depp's intelligent, thorough, tactful, subtle and artful acting. There's a side of choreography to all this.

This movie is an original Latino fantasy and reading of a myth (it does a bit of that, though), in every way superior to Rodriguez's disheartening trash that was to pour afterward.

Reading may create a lyrical disposition, seeing a movie requires it, presupposes it, needs it. You must adjust swiftly.

It was an one-off for Leven, who directed, he was 54 yrs by the time the movie got released, he went off writing a bit, even directing another movie, he has been a clinical psychologist, an interesting guy.

The Last Outlaw (1993) (TV)
Rourke's First Descent into Trash, 21 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

20 yrs. ago, this movie has been recommended to me as a cool, exciting Western, by the guy from a video store, a rental store (instead, it's trite and boring). Here, Rourke began what has become a series of villain roles ('Double Team', by Tsui Hark, 'Out in Fifty' by B. Christopher and S. Leet, 'Get Carter' by Kay, 'Picture Claire' by McDonald, 'Shergar' by Lewiston)—either thugs or sleazy gangsters. His appearance reminds of Brando's '60s follies. It's also his true first descent into trash.

By his glamor, Rourke always reminded more of Brando, than of Clift or Newman. Instead of the Leone movie, he got this valueless role as a bastard and mean officer.

And suddenly, there's his Asian, striking, outlandish, mean, undeserved look, as if he was playing an alien warlord, with his newfound burnout ugliness and pulp thug menace. From now on, there's no more about hijacking scripts, but about Rourke doing movies on his own, having it his own way, irrespective of what everyone else on the set is doing. His role here could as well fit into one of the cheap fantasy movies of the '80s, like 'The Beastmaster' by Coscarelli, or others.

Otherwise, 'The Last Outlaw' is worthless rubbish, with an annoying lead; I had already seen Dermot Mulroney in 'Bad Girls', and didn't like him.

Costner, Willis, Gibson, Gere, Hackman, Crowe, Depp did images of broadly Western types, from various epochs, in the '90s; Cruise didn't.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Disturbing, 1 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I got this on VHS as a Christmas present, when I was a high—school kid. I have seen it once. My viewing has been synchronized with events in Rourke's life.

In light of the '94 events, the beating of his wife, his plausibility as a thug was chilling and unnerving. This made the movie so disturbing.

Rourke's style also is peculiar. He is very natural, very unaffected in this part. I think this is his first leading role.

As with most of Rourke's movies, this one has an interesting cast—Linda Hamilton (not yet Sarah Connor), but also Rip Torn.

Rourke plays a mean punk; like 'Johnny …', like his admiration for Clift, this movie foretold future courses of events in the actor's own life. The movie was genuinely disturbing, as I have watched it in the mid—'90s, when Rourke's '90 psychotic decline was foaming and disrupting—the very year he was arrested for spousal abuse.

Since, Carré has published Beauty, Disrupted: A Memoir.

Otherwise, Rourke seems to get well with the girls-- Sasha Volkova, Anastassija Makarenko, others.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Tactlessness, 1 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

20 yrs. after 'Gump', Hanks still plays the heroic average guy, struggling for his right to blandness. Nonetheless, is Hanks a good actor? Yes.

With his purple mean mouth, Hanks looks unsettling, he should have played at least a version of Douglas' William 'D-Fens' Foster, the psychotic citizen. That was Schumacher's day! Here, he impersonates at length a nasty, bearded, almost morose child; verging on sulky. (Meanwhile, 'Gump' has been conveniently forgotten, and I blame the fans from back in the day, for their neglect.) Phillips, called Irish, because he's a Yankee Irish, is Gump, Doe and Ulysses into one. This is the gist of the caper.

There's not much to tell about the story (Somali fishermen turned pirates climb aboard a commercial ship, etc.) or the characters, either barely sketched or even seen, or convincingly bland, average people.

Hanks acts like a blander De Niro, and intent on playing, among a cast who doesn't (the Somali do, perhaps, but that's different). Hanks' fans, if there still are any, will be shown plenty of him.

There is humor ('Do I look like a beggar?', retorts one of the Somali pirates, when being offered only tens of thousands).

The script's virtue is conspicuously one of restraint: it abstains from glamorizing its heroic average guy. I have read an interview with Greengrass, and he knew his trade. (The interview with Ryan Lambie, Paul Greengrass interview: Captain Phillips & crime stories—'I have had a wonderful reaction, but the few that haven't liked it tend to be evenly weighted in one of those two directions. I had one guy the other day saying that it's just a propaganda for the US navy. Then I have had others saying you're way too sympathetic to the Somalis.') Politically, the movie upholds a rather right—wing take (the union guy seems a bit coward, the military are portrayed as ruthlessly determined, but they achieve their goal, and we can't feel really sorry for the Somali pirates, though they got a rough deal).

It's a very interesting movie, and Hanks did a good role, he looks almost handsome; and take a look at his car and luggage, and pretty wife. Now Greengrass says he meant it as a caper; I disbelieve it.

'Phillips' indulges in this average decency and it takes its shape, it morphs into it: not without humor, since we are shown the generic triteness of Hanks' family talks and worded feelings.

He is Ulysses. Like with Gump, the movie is named after him, after its protagonist, to give the true impression of who this John Doe is. The Irish is another Doe. Yet, the script lefts him quite uncharacterized, except for a few essentials. I complained that there's too little of Phillips, not too much.

Hanks gives his Irish a glow, an aura, against the effaced play of the rest of the cast; a glow of acting. This is all the more conspicuous, since he has no character to begin with.

And so, the movie appears to be not neutral, but affected, the style feels affected and precious, a commodity, a merchandise. It all begins with Hanks' unconvincing glow, with the ostentatious hammering of the Irish's decent, endearingly trite ways, the talk with his almost unseen in the frame wife.

We are being lectured, and in a quite conventional style; this is not the movie ease (in front of a camera, there's no ease but a movie ease, a device) from some European, or '70s American movies, but a didactic one.

So, the movie feels cold, empty and didactic, boosting of the national sentiment, perhaps. There is a certain lack of tact, even meanness in showing the absolute triteness as decency, etc., there's a lack of feel on the director's part.

The heroic average people deserved a fairer, kinder, warmer, perhaps lighter movie; their very mentioning makes the template seem turgid, basically wrong, affected.

There's something heartless and rude in the way the movie was thought out; the job wasn't for Greengrass.

The script wasn't for a _techno—thriller or a drama; it was for a chronicle. Hence, Greengrass' directing seems uninspired and clumsy.

Against the intended meaning, the purpose, the style proves poor, clueless, harsh and turgid. The notion of this movie is wrong, as Greengrass mistook a chronicle for a _techno—thriller or an epic drama.

Gravity (2013)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
More Was Needed, 22 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A _techno—thriller about the terrors of the void without boundaries, 'Gravity' was directed, written, produced and edited by Cuarón, being an author movie, a small—scale outing showcasing Sandra B..

The story is focused, though the style seems a bit bland, despite the harshness of the events.

Clooney is frankly annoying.

These said, Cuarón made a suspenseful, enthralling movie, interesting if not entirely satisfying, about survival near Earth. It was hugely pleasing (I'm overstating, surely) to see Sandra B. leading a tout story about the choice to live, about choosing to live. The story is straight, impressive, clean, averagely intelligent. And not so much the facts shown, but the template, the syntax; it begins leisurely, but the mastery shows.

'Gravity' is, in fact, a thoughtful movie, more thoughtful than it might appear. Good movie, and it doesn't have a thesis, but a position, a standpoint. At times, when required, it's scary and intense.

Clooney remains a silhouette. We aren't shown a lot of him.

There is a certain experimental attempt, a quirk, but the result is unconvincing, somewhat undersized, charmless, unsatisfying. It might turn Sandra's appeal into blandness. (It might, but it doesn't, since Cuarón isn't enough of an author to really warp the footage.) Cuarón mentions Bresson, but more was needed to enter the contest. More dare, more thought also, a finer script perhaps, besides the simply intriguing quirk. In the unity of Bresson's movies, of each of his movies, the style is made possible by the script, by its inner thoughtfulness, it's a unity; in Cuarón's hands, the stylistic attempt has to fail, being severely misunderstood, as no thorough script is provided, but a premise for a roller-coaster.

I think Cuarón misunderstood Bresson's art—if he ever really thought about it.

Remember Clooney's 'Solaris'? A similar ambition, also given as a family movie, an average cartoon.

Bresson and Tarkovsky were both mistaken by the directors as making style, when they were deepening very good scripts (and, of course, bringing unequaled skills).

Some very brave directors, people like Welles, who came from Expressionism, once imposed the notion of style over content, and this understanding has lasted, it has stamped Hollywood until today; but Bresson and Tarkovsky come from a different, even opposed, aesthetics, where style doesn't trump content, but boosts it (Iosifescu called this, 'the quiet style', he meant literature), a trend who didn't cherish style as a sovereign entity, the triumph of the form (think of Antonioni, of the mature Truffaut, or the way style dissolves, is taken over by content, even in the best of the late Fellini).

So, it is not about style and lack of style, but about style of a subtler nature. A quieter style. And so, beginning with Cuarón, we reached a cornerstone of the cinema aesthetics.

Thank you for reading, if you did.

Elysium (2013/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fast—paced gritty thriller, Damon is outstanding, 17 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Elysium' excels at most chapters—very intense, well written, masterly directed, sharply acted, etc.. This gritty thriller offers one of the most positive images of the religion in nowadays mainstream movies—a young workman boosted by the Gospel taught to him in his childhood; the women are also well portrayed—the nun, the single mother, her daughter, the old woman with the pigs.

Jodie is mostly a presence—bitchy ruthless politician, etc., on a par with Patel and Carlyle. But the script handles quite a few villains—the agent, etc..

I would also like to single out two things—Damon's very good performance, he is today the workman's image, and remember he is an well educated person, etc.—and the fact that in a few Sci Fi movies released this year, the ends are bitter, the main character has to give his life, etc., which may not sound like something very new or intriguing, but I think it nonetheless expresses well a trend. What certainly is uncommon is the positive representation of the religion, as a lived culture—the nun, the Gospel, etc..

I also liked the way the future world was imagined, the template—the droids, the vehicles, the guns, the place of the workmen, etc..

Unfortunately, there was my bladder.

While seeing 'Elysium', my bladder was exploding—because I had drank quite a few ice-tea (lemon ice-tea, perhaps).

R.I.P.D. (2013)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bridges in Boston, 23 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is actually an enjoyable movie, funny, lively and very likable, well acted (Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon—whom you are never supposed to like, Jeff Bridges as Roicephus), with moments ranging from nice to suspenseful, and from endearing to crass and goofy, and of a variable good taste, from gross to delightful—I liked a lot Mary-Louise Parker, but the whole comedy is charming and enthralling, in a funny and mild way, never bland; the design of the afterlife was cool. The humor is uneven, but the movie's charm comes from its good—natured approach and style. Robert Schwentke did a good comedy—nonexempt of crass moments, but convincing and relaxing and likable. This should be a cult movie. I hope it will become one. It is sometimes gross, and it provides kitsch—but this is beside the point, as the style and sense of leisure displayed are reliable.

Most of the movie involves the quest for the missing pieces of the staff of Jericho, the scattered fragments of an occult device that, reassembled, will be able to bring the dead back on Earth. In this movie, the dead walk among us—and its main characters are two deceased cops, one from nowadays, other from the shootouts era—Roicephus Pussifer.

The sets of the after-world are nice.

R.I.P.D. is great fun, of the good—natured kind, and it should become a cult—movie.

Bridges was the only one a bit out of tune—see the sharp beauty of the scene on the waterfront, when Roicephus sings, and Bridges lacks the subtlety required by the scene's genuine charm. His goofiness is _uni-dimensional and comes across as too self—confident and patronizing.

Bridges should of aimed at a Russell performance—a kind of Snake Plissken role …. Russell is, as a matter of fact, only a bit younger than Bridges.

James Hong is very, very good at what he does—in a bit part, though.

The only other time I have seen a Bridges vehicle in a movie theater it was in a flick also set in Boston--Blown Away. Otherwise, I didn't like him in 'Lebowski', and don't even remember him in 'King Kong' or 'K—PAX', and I don't think I ever knew he was in 'Heaven's Gate'. I must have seen him in other movies as well—but I didn't notice him. He's not very good.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Aliens From Beneath, 1 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pacific Rim is essentially a comedy, leisurely shot, and the _risibly small scale of the whole operation is striking (the entire scientific knowledge belongs to a couple of crazy scientists, and one of them utters as breaking news conclusions he should of arrived at from the beginning—the fact that the monsters are clones, as if the DNA analysis was the last thing one would do, and that, casually); the main impression being that of a good—natured humor. A very good comeback for Toro. It's lively, colorful and enthralling, brisk and charming—delightful, leisurely and over—the—top—by atmosphere and leisure, Toro gains a satisfying naturalness, in this surreal fairy tale. The trope of the alien _spoliators appears in no less than three important releases of this year—the Cruise vehicle 'Oblivion', the Superman reboot, and Toro's 'Pacific'. In all these, the aliens drain the Earth of its resources. In the last of the three movies, the Kaijus's breath is phosphorescent, as of neon.

This director, one of the names of his generation, behaves as if he knew how to shoot children's phantasms and visions, his trademark (at least some of his other movies are about kids' worlds), which is far from being the case.

And little Mori's terror actually borders on exploitation.

But there are many other things to enjoy, in this likable and satisfying outing—the very template it uses is a diversity of elements, there are many things in it.

The movies is occasionally funny, often merry, and _parodic (Pentecost's uplifting speech, wryly commented; the two crazy scientists, in a sort of steam—punk, as if in 2025 the Earth's whole knowledge about the Kaijus rested in the scatterbrains of two weird guys). But these are all elements, mere items—the style is very good, and it has ease.

Pacific Rim is very well paced—swift, fast, but leisurely, i.e., never hurried—and Toro's playfulness has charm, and doesn't tear the story; actually, the movie achieves atmosphere, and I liked the work scenes, the dirt in the rooms, etc..

The movie's quasi—villain, Hannibal, was a treat—Perlman enjoyably over—the—top. But, of course, everything is over—the—top, and Gottlieb and Newt are affectionately portrayed in this humorous template.

The only real limitation is the cast—not very good, though there's of course some intended goofiness in the performances—Idris Elba often seems to keep himself from bursting into laughter, during his assuredly macho sent—offs. But I didn't like very much Hunnam—and the fact that Kazinsky looked like his clone didn't help, either.

This director had taken a long break from directing; it's good to welcome him back. I have seen two of his other movies, I perceived them as not entirely satisfying, this is one is the best so far.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Some Good Things, Other Less So. Enjoyable Yarn, 22 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'World War Z' is a disaster movie; I didn't enjoy it very much, but partly because two bitches were chatting ceaselessly in the movie theater where I was. The plot of this movie is unrewarding—though compelling, involving, and I liked several parts—the Jerusalem episode, the flight with the Belarusian airplane, and the WHO building in Britain could have looked scary; the zombies have been given a new look, their behavior is not so much about eerie undead, as about a regression into _animality, a fall down the evolution scale—and fast, tetanus movements, and their assemblies had something entomological in nature, as if swarms of cadavers, of undead. Of course we are told nothing about the nature of the illness; but the quick death of the promising and sententious _virusologist was worth it. The plot itself felt improvised by a very young, and uninformed, person. But it's a disaster movie with beasts, and scenes and episodes are well made, and we travel from US to Korea, to Jerusalem, to Nova Scotia. Essentially a B movie script, with a handsome budget, I assume, but an unlikable cast and stupid lines. The action looks good, the movie looks clumsy and episodic, crumbled, disjointed. A good afternoon fun. Have you seen the Zekes storming Jerusalem's wall? Did you enjoy the ambiguity of Pitt's dream, or vision, on the Belarusian plane—the blonde and the hidden Zeke? And it's all a hurry, but it doesn't look hurried, they enjoy the movie—save for the actors, who seem rather uninspired, Pitt at least.

Scientists in cage, as in the British episode, had an unmistakable Lecter feel about it.

I guessed the water would harm the undead; but burning them proved efficient.

The cityscapes are interesting, and one remembers Pitt and his companions running up the stairs. I liked Pitt fighting zombies while he and his four companions are trying to leave the building and be rescued with a helicopter. So, there are good things. Some might find them enough. I would have been happier without the couple of annoying bitches already mentioned above.

The wife, played by Mireille Enos, is severely annoying. But Daniella Kertesz looks cool, and did a good role, as 'Segen', Gerry Lane's Israeli sidekick. As a matter of fact, perhaps the single likable character in the movie.

Enos, Mokoena, Gabel, Capaldi, Boeken, Favino were all competing for the most annoying and unlikable face on screen.

Favino has a nice girlfriend, Anna Farzetti.

Other than that, the script is crap—the young biologist lecturing about nature's murders, Jürgen about the tenth man, fortunately most of the time they avoid discussions.

A Mossad official, looking very Israeli, named Jürgen was a weird thing; anyway, the guy takes his time to tell you the rule of the tenth man.

After having built a wall, the Jerusalimitans fail to survey it, and the city is stormed by the Zekes. The solution defies belief by stupidity, after inoculating himself, Pitt runs to his team, and then to his family, and, not being the left box, if I remember well, there are no consequences whatsoever, so the solution is inoculating soldiers with WHO pathogens, which would kill anyone immediately, and the soldiers are supposed to fight being terminally ill, because what the zombies sense is not that one has been inoculated, but that one is gravely ill, so one has to be gravely ill, and with infectious diseases, caused by microorganisms isolated in WHO laboratories—and the writers assume that a man with a walking disability would be perceived by zombies as being terminally ill, hopelessly ill (and would still work as a military). So, in its stupidity, this solution, thought out by Pitt, is _defyingly absurd and unworkable, and no measures of prevention whatsoever are taken, no quarantine is instituted. It seems that no epidemics of typhus or meningitis or whatever they use begins.

It's true I have been studying epidemiology for six months, as a trained physician, and so I am likely to sense these goofs more keenly—but regardless, it was an abysmally stupid solution to come with.

And it's not as if they were obliged to come up with this absurdly imbecile solution.

It's a well shot and scored movie, a disaster movie intended as an epic, with good, though few, action scenes, but badly written, cast and played.

The Purge (2013/I)
13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
A Genuinely Insightful, Heart—Wrenching And Effective Drama, Well Crafted, 18 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The cabal against this movie is political. 'The Purge' flopped politically, it flopped for political reasons. A genuinely insightful _dystopian thriller, subtle and bitter, piercing and heart-wrenching, James DeMonaco's movie is clearheaded and sharply thought, convincingly realized, a tale of substitutive atonement, and also of expiation. Much is left unspoken, or suggested. There are hints—about the characters' ways of being. But the undertones—of danger, of eroticism and appeal, etc.—are extremely well managed.

And it is also a story about virtue—the husband's, who is a man of virtue. He speaks about team, about making it as a team. He shows good sense and balance, while the members of his family are unbalanced, either because of age (the kids) or other causes (the wife, 'Mary', is certainly mysterious as a character, intriguing, we see that she drinks, and later she exchanges looks with the hunted person, and the moment when she and their guest part ways has an undeniably erotic undercurrent, she gives in to him). He is betrayed and redeemed. His team fails; the team assembled around him, in his home, will not buy in the virtue he upholds. They betray him. The kids disobey him, his wife flirts with their uninvited guest. He is blamed for everything, for every _disfunction, he always gets the blame—because the security systems aren't unbreakable, because he wants to deliver the fugitive to his hunters, then because he won't, then for giving the boy a gun, etc.. The surrounding soft-heads get all the love. We understand early that most of the characters are humanly undependable, save the husband; the wife is often shown drinking (while preparing the meal, then at dinner), the boy is annoying. In current terms, they are flawed persons. But the husband is flawed also, and here is the twist of the story—because he is cleansed, redeemed, by his virtue. His death is substitutive and expiatory; it is true he kills a youngster, his daughter's lover, he kills in self—defense, and is killed in his turn, cleansed, stabbed, the others kill too, but they get away with it, because they play the game, and so their generosity is a piece of the same puzzle with the murderers and the decent neighbors, they belong to the same world, while the husband, the sales' champion, doesn't, and is killed. And so, the family saves a stranger, tears the ethics, and betrays one of theirs. They make the mistakes, and they are ceaselessly comforted, etc.. The husband, the man who believes in team and in virtue, is betrayed, stabbed, cleansed and redeemed. His team falls apart, they survive, he doesn't, and the meaning of his death isn't that of a failure, but that of redemption—also expiation and substitutive atonement, in a secular understanding.

The actress playing 'Mary', the wife, has a very striking beauty. Her character, 'Mary', is a standout by her drinking and by her beauty.

An aged Hawke does a good role, understated and satisfying, perhaps like a Dillon, or a better Nolte.

Hawke is 42 in this movie, Mrs. Headey is 39.

Perhaps it is not really a dystopia, dystopia as the conventional genre known to us, and perhaps it's not even related to the philosophy of culture; it's not a political conjecture, or a warning, it is a political statement, and indictment, which is why its critics, or many of them, disliked it, and 2022 might be anytime. This is the best of the five movies released this year that I have seen. I have found it mind—blowing. I understand that it annoyed the righteous ilk.

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