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J. Edgar (2011)
Hoover the Priss
Okay, what's up with this movie? Is it meant to make Hoover look like such a prissy self-promoting wuss? I thought Eastwood dug him. The arrest sequences are devastating: Hoover responds to criticism of his legitimacy to run a federal agency by making a flurry of arrests but all when accompanied by a dozen agents, and he's always the last one through the door, but then stepping forward to take credit.
This thing is hard to watch. And the make-up is comically bad. But Leo's in there pitching, looking like EG Marshall and acting like an inept femme.
This movie actually manages to make Judi Dench look bad! Judi Dench!
I didn't even recognize Naomi Watts. She is so subsumed by the Helen Gandy character that Watts is unrecognizable. Unfortunately Helen Gandy is a vacuous toady and I'd rather hear from Naomi Watts.
The Winklevi dude is great. Such homo gleam. Hoover's barely repressed homo urges are given front stage -- I get it, Arnie Hammer has a smile that twinkles.
Such an ugly portrait of Hoover, this movie. I mean, it may well be accurate, it might not, but I'm surprised Eastwood painted him as such a worm.
Really, this movie makes J. Edgar Hoover into the emotional equivalent of an insecure 12-year old girl.
I've seen probably 15,000 movies in my life, and I've never seen anything quite as fully realized as Hesher.
That's not necessarily to say it's great (though it is). It just succeeds completely at its intent.
Think Donnie Darko meets Jackass meets Kramer vs. Kramer, and I know how weird that sounds. It's reckless and antisocial and esoteric and yet somehow it distills into a completely honest and unpretentious social satire that feels more documentary than parody.
It would be hard to watch if it weren't so real.
Huge props to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie and Natalie Portman, but most of all to Devin Brochu, the 11-year-old moral center of this wasteland that we undeniably recognize as truthful while politely pretending it's a surreal dark comedy.
I love this movie. I've never seen writer-director Spencer Susser's work before but I'm eager to see more of it.
Face Down (1997)
I'm stunned by how good this so-called TV flick is.
The cast is top-notch: Joe Mantegna, always a favorite, mostly -- though not exclusively -- because of his Mamet work, as a disgraced NYPD detective working as a private dick; Kelli Maroney, one of the two sisters from the wacky zombie classic Night of the Comet, grown up and sexy as hell as the schizoid blonde bombshell, but still with the same crazy energy; Peter Riegert as the NYPD detective with a longstanding grudge for the Mantegna character, a former partner; rocker Adam Ant as the smarmy behind-the-scenes puppet master -- they all come together in a beautifully paced, complex noir that never takes a predictable turn.
Thom Eberhardt's direction is solid throughout: the camera work is shockingly good for a TV film (considering the profanity and nudity, that description seems odd) and the actors deliver admirably. There are no false notes, no ridiculous plot holes -- just confused, conniving, ambitious people trying to either stay afloat or get ahead.
The locations is where this movie scrimps. They're mostly backlot sets pretending to be NYC, and they look cheap and fake, but that's no one's fault. It's a low budget film. This same script, even with this fairly no-name cast, could easily be in the same league as Body Heat or Basic Instinct -- the only difference is the budget.
A Man Apart (2003)
The Vin Diesel movie that makes all other Vin Diesel movies possible
There are a lot of people reviewing this film that have no clue about the Vin Diesel oeuvre. This movie rocks. F. Gary Gray's best film, by far. It is straightforward, it is hard, it is cruel, there are no caricatures here.
The supporting cast of Larenz Tate, Timothy Olyphant, Emilio Rivera, Jeff Kober, and a bunch of people you would never want to run into in a dark alley, is key to the gritty realism of this film. People comparing it to XXX or the Fast and Furious chain must have fallen asleep during this film because they are miles apart. This is where you find out how hard Vin Diesel can be. Where you get to see him without pity or remorse. If not for A Man Apart, the glimpses of power you see in Pitch Black and XXX and Knockaround Guys never blossom into their full Vin-ness.
This is a powerful character portrait of a broken and bitter cop, intermingled with a stud action film. If you've never seen it, shame on you.
Such an overwhelming disappointment
I'm glad that Spike Lee has apparently outgrown his need for polemics. Inside Man was a wonderful mature film that focused on character and motivation far beyond the Afro-centric purview of earlier Spike films. And while Clockers is perfectly serviceable for anyone coming to the story without having read the novel, I submit that Spike's attempt to refocus Richard Price's 1992 masterpiece as a singular black story, with a bone-throwing portrayal of white Detective Rocco Klein within an indictment of white police tactics, short-changes the audience of the profound respect, balance and humanity that made Price's novel so unforgettable.
It is truly one of the five best novels I have ever read, while Spike managed to produce one of 1000 best movies I have ever seen.
Read the book. It will stun, shock, amaze and delight you.
The movie, on the other hand, might just keep you from falling asleep.
Not nearly as bad as the reviews here
Windtalkers actually has some terrific moments, and I know it's against IMDb rules to reference other reviews, but the vitriol for this film is entirely out of bounds. It's not great, it's not horrible, it has some spectacular battle sequences, but the need for these apparent film neophytes to call this the "worst film ever made" just makes me chuckle.
It has a wonderful cast -- Nic Cage, Adam Beach, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Slater, Brian Van Holt, Noah Emmerich, Peter Stormare, Jason Isaacs, etc. -- and the themes of the film are genuine and occasionally thought-provoking. I have to wonder about how many war films these reviewers who put this film into some kind of exaggerated context have ever seen. Wait, make that how many films, period.
This is a movie that ultimately fails at its mission to detail the story of Navajo radiomen in WWII, but it is still easy to watch, with many fine moments. If you're not paying for it, and you enjoy graphic war films, give it a shot.
holy cow this is awful
I watched this stunningly empty piece of vanity celluloid from Josh Radnor, one of the How I Met Your Mother guys. I guess he had so much money on his hands that he thought he might as well follow his ambition to be a filmmaker. I can only hope he got it out of his system.
I keep imagining Radnor watching Garden State, thinking, "I can do that!"
No, apparently you can't.
Y'know, I chuckle when people on IMDb use superlatives to describe every pedestrian film that comes down the pike, but this is one time it may indeed be appropriate. Happythankyoumoreplease may be the worst movie I've ever seen. It is scary bad. It is offensively bad. It is a lot of young beautiful people trying to act as though their lives have meaning and import, but not one of them has experienced a genuine challenge yet in life. Neither as characters, nor, judging from the insufferable pettiness of the performances, as actual human beings. I don't wish evil or hardship to befall them, except to say, it would make them far more believable and substantive as artists.
I'm just sorry Pablo Schreiber and Kate Mara got mixed up in this mess.
Yonkers Joe (2008)
I watch about 30 movies a week. And this is the one movie in the last year that I have felt compelled to rave about.
Yonkers Joe is expert in every way. From the procedural con-man story to the heartfelt family tale. There is not a wrong note in the entire script.
I generally hate films that use developmentally impaired characters -- they are usually a storytelling shortcut to the pulling of heartstrings. In this film, I expected only that the need to pay for an expensive group home for his son would be the incentive for Chazz Palminteri to take an extraordinary risk. But writer-director Robert Celestino proved me wrong. Way wrong.
A very satisfying film on all levels, with great performances, smart economical dialog, clever plot maneuvers, and not a saccharin moment in the entire flick.
not as pretentious as Brick but more self-assured
I see lots of recommendations for Brick here as an alternative but I disagree completely. The ambitions of the makers of Assassination of a High School President are so much smaller -- and thus more easily reached -- than those behind Brick that I find the comparison hollow.
Brick takes itself so seriously, and even though I liked it, I couldn't bear watching it the second time, and I will never subject myself to that pleasure again. I wonder how I will feel about watching this film again but I know I'm open to the idea right now and I imagine I will find many more inside jokes than I noticed the first time around.
When erstwhile hero and obvious patsy Bobby Funke tears the Freddy Bismarck page out of the yearbook with a cough, I thought about the same moment in Chinatown. Obviously so did the filmmakers, judging from the closing line of this film. Not to mention the scene of Paul Moore being dragged in a towel through the hallway yelling "I'm a patsy" -- just like Oswald! That's one problem with the narration -- it's clearly from the perspective of someone older than Funke. But once you give in to that conceit, you can enjoy the ride. And even though the denouement is telegraphed way before Funke reveals it I still enjoyed the position Funke finds himself in, as a catalyst for the plot and a lightning rod for bringing together the various cliques endemic to every high school, and every high school film.
Good performances, too, where no one is trying to be Marlon Brando on a high school stage. I find that refreshing.
Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
Monsters vs. Aliens is a diverting 94 minutes, with lots of celebrity voice talent -- Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, etc. -- but ultimately it's no more involving than a three-minute Bullwinkle cartoon.
And, actually, only about half as funny.
This film is great for kids. Unfortunately, unlike Bullwinkle -- and Bugs Bunny, for that matter - - it doesn't really offer the double-edged adult commentary that makes some cartoons so memorably subversive.
I hear the 3D makes the experience more involving. Well, something better, because on the home screen, Monsters vs. Aliens is only a winner for the kids.