Reviews written by registered user
|23 reviews in total|
Waging a Living looks at the lives of several people who feel that it
is difficult for themselves to get ahead or pay the bills even though
they have full-time employment. A waitress, security guard, CNA and an
elder care activity leader face the challenges of rising costs of
living, raising dependent children, social services regulations and
just plain life.
The documentary's strongest asset is that instead of the snapshots usually seen on the nightly news, these people are followed for several years so we can see the steady stream of immediate problems along with the slower solutions such as education, unionization and patient persistence.
Watching the movie filled me with a combination of gratitude for my own circumstances and insecurity from knowing that I am not too far away from living paycheck to paycheck myself.
My only concern about the film is that it is imbalanced by focusing on the external causes of their conditions but does not point out as much what choices these people made in the past to place themselves in these positions. For instance, we are not told why one person lost his job, or why disability claims were not taken earlier, or why they have so many children and so on. Then again, perhaps the filmmakers thought that "blaming the victim" was unwarranted.
Lastly, two of the four people are members of the same union, even though they live on different coasts, and are both shown as active union members. I wonder how these people came to be chosen for the documentary, and if their union somehow was involved in the making of the film.
The Ice Harvest's violence, strippers and angry humor goes far afield
from Ramis's usual comedic territory. John Cusack does his best to
provide a sympathetic center in a movie trying to find the funny side
of the lack of honor among thieves.
I saw the movie with a festival audience in Charlottesville and the theater was full of laughter, but it was just not to my taste. Billy Bob Thornton's matter of fact rueful cruelty had its moments, but I grew weary of Oliver Platt's rude drunkenness quickly, and slapstick gags will only carry me so far.
A History of Violence's commentary on how we react to criminals and killing will never become dated as long as Hollywood continues to produce movies like these.
Just another TCM time-passer. June Allyson brings her usual earnest
charm to a movie that just didn't have much to it. The essential
weakness is that the screenplay cannot make up its mind whether it
wants to be a "look at all those crazy animals" comedy or a political
"the honest man will win" film. When the movie finally makes its
decision at the end, it just made me wonder why it spent all that time
on the other thread. I've also been fairly suspicious of movies that
have more than one credited director. Maybe that played a role here
The high point for me was the performance of Cecil Kellaway as the father. TCM and IMDb make a great combination for learning about the wonderful character actors of Hollywood history.
After Midnight (9 out of 10)
Give me the Italian love of cinema and love of love over the French any day of the week, well, maybe 6 out of 7.
Here we have a movie about movies shot on digital video with a genre plot and some postmodern reflexivism thrown in. In the hands of a certain French New Wave director whose name I refuse to type, who in fact has used all of these devices himself, these tactics would be used at times to alienate, to smirk, to nudge-nudge-wink-wink, and to create narrative distance or irony. Ferrario uses them for all their worth, but with a consistently joyful embrace of both his characters and his audience. It's as if all 95 minutes of Band of Outsiders were running through the Louvre and dancing the Madison.
Any movie that keeps a smile fixed on my face from start to finish deserves a superior mark, even if it doesn't have the depth or reach of other movies I rank as highly.
I learned things I didn't know, saw that beliefs I had were false, and
gained a greater understanding of the facts I already had at hand. All of
this was done with an engaging and original visual style, with yet another
fine Philip Glass score. Robert McNamara is a riveting intellect and
personality, and shows that being one of the best and the brightest does not
make a person immune to a tidal wave of history, which can drown anyone when
it comes, and comes hard.
It is unfortunate that so many filmed documentaries do little more than project a television-style news program onto a big screen. Even lovers of Fahrenheit 9/11 have to admit that it brings little to the table cinematically. The Fog of War has cinematic style and historical substance.
10 out of 10
I had neither the mind, stomach, nor spiritual
inclination to witness its conclusion.
This was an unmitigated grotesque.
A step beyond Bliss and City of Lost Children, which at least had hopes of arresting one's attention and sympathy, because Songs From the Second Floor barely nods at narrative. I see these three as sharing a need to affront the viewer without giving nearly enough recompense. At least medical research subjects are paid for their pain. These movies form a "comedy" club I do not wish to be a member of.
Apparently Roy Andersson was influenced by a poet named Caesar Vallejo. Well, I might read a poem or two like this before putting the book down, maybe even pick it up again later to read a little more, but I am not going to read for 98 minutes without a break.
Only the second movie I have ever walked out on in the theater.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A much different movie from Suzuki's frenzied free-jazz yakuza flicks. Here he conforms more closely with traditional storytelling, though not without a few "reality breaks." The beautiful b&w cinematography is a far cry from the grittiness of Branded to Kill or the gleeful colors of Tokyo Drifter. Also, there is a great deal of sentiment here, and a more direct treatment of Japanese honor themes.
The Suzuki touch is still there though. Plenty of violence and sexual tension. There is a playful special effect "tearing up" the bad-guy adjutant early on, and some jarring wish-fulfillment/fantasy sequences. I was most impressed by the camera placements and movements, especially in the third act. The heroine's mad dash through the war zone at the hour point could stand side-by-side with any director's battle scene proudly. I seriously doubt that Arthur Penn saw this movie before Bonnie and Clyde, but when you see the farewell shots of the two protagonists, you have to wonder....
8 out of 10
"It feels as though we're going to hit a beach."
The second great armed forces landing in the 40's: Home.
If 1946 was not like this, then it might as well have been, for once all of the WWII Vets pass away, movies like these will define the moment for all times.
A sailor is reunited with (literally) the girl next door, except that he has no hands to hold her. An airman finds that whirlwind airbase romances do not necessarily hold up to peacetime challenges. An army sergeant returns to an even better job than he left, but has more complicated battles to fight.
Seven Oscars were well deserved. A subtly solid cast, including Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Hoagy Carmichael and my new favorite actress, Teresa Wright. William Wyler and Gregg Toland save their tricks for the key scenes.
10 out of 10.
Duel in the Sun (2 out of 10)
Sickening and pathetic Selznick bombast, worthy only of a Mystery Western Theater 3000 treatment, only I was too offended by its racism and misogyny to laugh. Brutal and profoundly misguided.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kana-Bi `Fireworks' (Kitano) 7 out of 10
In sumo wrestling the combatant's measured and stately rituals contrast with the fierce suddenness of the matches, which often last but a few seconds. Takeshi Kitano's fights are brutal and decisive a chopstick to the eye or a gunshot on the pick-up beat of the measure and it's over. Most movie fights are like boxing matches, with jabs and counterpunches and snappy dialogue between rounds. Do not look for extended martial arts set pieces here. `Fireworks' has bursts of action, but Kitano is more concerned with taking his time to show the different responses to adversity by the two main characters.
Like Mike Hodges's Get Carter (not, for heaven's sake, the Stallone remake) the beginning of the movie purposefully is hard to follow. The viewer is thrown into the plot without standard exposition or background. Add in some unadvertised-as-such flashbacks and it took a while for this viewer to get `orient-ed.' But once I did, I was given time to appreciate the comfortable silences between Nishi and his wife, Horibe's paintings of flower-animals, and Jo Hisaishi's sensitive score. When Miyuki's wood block puzzle pieces are properly assembled, we know Kitano is giving us the clue that the end of the line is near. Nishi's final moments have the wistful fatalism common in Japanese culture and cinema, so I rightly was punished for predicting a different ending. Serves me right.
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