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8 reviews in total 
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Billy Jack (1971)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A cult film with attitude, 21 March 2012

Before the smug heroics of Steven Segal's characters there was Billy Jack, the original self proclaimed savior with an attitude. If you like to see self-righteous jerks stylishly beating up even bigger jerks then this is your movie. Each fight scene is setup explicitly for Jack to do an affected restraint merely as a taunt before dispensing his own brand of justice. The spoiled, morally depraved Bernard seems to exist only for the purpose of angering the audience and thus justifying his punishments at the hands and feet of Jack.

Ostensibly about taking a stand against a corrupt authority and abusive bigots 'Billy Jack' is mostly a guilty pleasure for pacifists who feel they've been pushed around long enough. Jack's own claims of trying to be less violent seem hollow as he relishes every punishment he dishes out. He functions as the darker id or alter ego of the peace-love generation.

If not taken nearly as seriously as it wants to be 'Billy Jack' can be enjoyed for it's low budget earnestness, in spite of its somewhat conflicted messages.

Duel (1971) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Road rage on steroids, 12 January 2011

Driving is a paradox. The automobile offers isolation from other people yet we are required to interact with them on some level and in a cooperative manner. Seated within these personal cocoons our cars make us feel safe, comfortable, and in control. Or so we thought. There are still those other annoying drivers. Our precious me-time is in constant jeopardy from the insensitivity of others and their failure to heed to our right to the road, darn it!

Duel takes this simmering paranoia and elevates it to an out-of-control nightmare. It is the road rage equivalent of a one-sided cage match with a much larger, masked opponent. Options are limited to running for your life, with no easy escape in sight.

The menace in this case takes the form of a semi tanker truck. The truck and its driver seem to exist as one entity. Together they form a faceless, relentless, single-minded being that can't be reasoned with. I can't help but think that this movie influenced others like the Halloween or Terminator series.

Duel was a great vehicle (no pun intended) for a young director to express his developing skills. Shooting from the perspective mostly of the protagonist we hear his thought narrations as he slides from frustration to terror. This taps into experiences that every driver can relate to. We've all been tailgated, passed aggressively, etc. The fear comes from not knowing if it will go beyond just bad behavior.

Like Jaws which made people nervous about swimming in the ocean you might never look at a road trip quite the same again.

"30 Rock" (2006)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Fast and smart, 25 April 2010

If you like something right from the get-go there's the possibility that you may lose interest just as fast. 30 Rock took a bit of time to gain momentum and acquire an audience, but the payoff is worth the patience. It's a fast and smart comedy that appears to be in for a good run.

With Fey's writing and Baldwin's iconic, just-above-whisper delivery the pace is brisk with a distinctive cadence. The quips and comebacks remind me of a modern vaudeville routine or Algonquin round table conversation. Blink and you might miss a subtle jab that can induce a belly laugh.

In short, it's great fun. It fits well into NBC's Thursday night lineup, a must-watch program block that has been mostly unbroken since Cheers was in prime time. Take note, we may be watching a future classic in the making.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Come for the experience, leave the analysis for later, 18 March 2010

There is already enough written about Mulholland Drive to make my overall explanation on the film unnecessary. In general you will find many valid and insightful analysis and deconstructions in IMDb and other websites devoted to interpretations of this film. These will get any novice factually prepared for the MD experience.

What I would emphasize is that the movie is best appreciated on first viewing by simply letting go and following along. Lynch is an artist who attempts to create a cinematic experience rather than a step by step whodunit. Those who try to figure everything out immediately will only rack their brains and miss out on the full emotional impact.

You can trust Lynch, even though he himself may not always understand why he did what he did (he has admitted not knowing what every image he has in his head means). His skill lies in understanding the visual and emotional impact of an image, and having a real purpose for the effect intended. He is an expressionist who composes sights and sounds mostly to evoke emotions rather than to simply advance a narrative.

He is also a minimalist who doesn't pack in a bunch of disparate or extraneous images. His scenes are measured and purposeful, and build to climaxes with simple, skilled film making rather than with bloated, overdone special effects.

Having lingering questions about MD are a given. Any movie that could be understood immediately and completely after watching would grow old quickly. MD is a movie that will confound in a good way, and haunt you long after it's over.

Rocky (1976)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Rocky's world - a character study, 14 May 2009

Watching Rocky I was reminded of what a former marine friend said to me once. During basic training exercises a drill instructor would tell him to do as many reps as he absolutely, possibly could do – and then do one more. It was a simple way to get across that achievement is mostly determined by mental resolve rather than physical condition.

A more well-known phrase best sums it up: a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.

Rocky is about the personnel struggle inside to find that potential. Like any great movie, the character and setting are very specific, but anyone can relate to the message. With a down-and-out, aimless attitude, Rocky is an everyman searching for something better. He gets it by being selected for a title fight, but it is up to him to make the best of it. In this way the movie is part American dream, part Horatio Alger.

What works in the movie is the world of Rocky and Stallone's portrayal. He basically becomes Rocky, and fits right into the gritty back neighborhoods of Philadelphia. The other characters of this environment seem to be just surviving themselves. It's no wonder in the beginning Rocky feels resolved to a deterministic fate; he is surrounded by underachievers locked in their own world of perpetually blaming others for their lack of success.

But Rocky stands out, as something greater stirs within him. It takes a lucky break, an opportunistic veteran trainer, and a new love to give him something to believe in, and to jump start his "eye of the tiger" - but that's another movie.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
modestly satisfying, 14 February 2009

All in all, a modestly satisfying movie. But at times ST VI treads very close to the line of mediocrity. The issue is that it tries to do two things at once: be a serious drama while serving as a send-off of the original crew. That doesn't have to be a difficult task and generally it does work, but barely for me.

The problem is that it takes the campy fun too far. Mixed within serious drama it looked too contrived and sometimes only to be cute; the struggling with Klingon translations scene being the most wince-inducing. It goes back to ST IV, an entertaining movie that became a borderline screwball comedy almost because it knew it couldn't avoid self parody. The movies seemed to run out of compelling reasons to exist other than to just bring back the old crew. And that's a pretty flimsy excuse for a series that was so compelling.

But Trek fans would have none of this nay saying. We were going to get ST films even if we could not suspend disbelief that retiree-age star fleet officers could be on the front line battling Klingons.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the creepiest 50's B-movies you'll see, 4 February 2009

A thoroughly creepy 50s treat. Combining the paranoia over nuclear power and a scientist overstepping his limitations, "Fiend" is part camp horror and part psychological thriller. It unleashes the unknown and malevolent in true shock form.

The tone and pace are set right at the beginning with a mysterious murder and builds through a methodical series of events. Not showing the creatures in the first half is classic good horror, and reminds one of more high-end films like Jaws or Alien.

When you do finally see the creatures you almost wished they stayed invisible. They are a truly surreal and nightmarish image, complete with an unnerving crunching/heartbeat sound.

As for the special effects, yes, almost every sci-fi and horror film from the 50s has dated FX by today's standards. Personally I found the stop-motion animation only heightened the creepiness. It wouldn't have worked as well if done with CGI.

It's worth a viewing with friends for both a chuckle and a scare. You'll go to bed hoping that sound in the other room is only someone eating chips (crunch-crunch-crunch…).

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The best of Elaine, 8 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my favorite episode; they only did this format once and managed to hit a home run.

The regulars are all in their usual fine form here, but it is Elaine who has some of the best comic moments and lines. With the exception of Kramer's parallel FDR feud, she seems to drive the frenetic pace of every scene.

Her discovery of the Nina affair, her failure to keep it concealed from George, more drunken confessions in India - they are all high comic points for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. For an actor who I started out thinking was just filler to round out the male cast, I've come to appreciate as a comedic equal. Her character held her own well against the scene stealing George and Kramer.