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avenuesf

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34 reviews in total 
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12 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Wow, great movie!, 2 November 2014
9/10

This is a whopper of a horror film. The performances by Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman as the mother and son were so authentic I was pulled way into the plot within the first 10-15 minutes. Watching Davis' gradual descent into madness (or was it?) was very reminiscent of Polanski's "Repulsion," however I felt this film was much more effective. "The Babadook" goes into some taboo territories that I've never seen explored in a movie before, and at times it almost becomes unbearable to watch. There is an atmosphere of uneasiness throughout most of its running time. I really hope this gets a formal U.S. release, it's one of the most original as well as one of the creepiest films I've ever seen. Reading Jennifer Kent's filmography, it looks as though she hasn't done a lot of directing; hopefully after the success of this we'll see more of her work.

Strange but entertaining little film, 14 September 2014
7/10

I was pretty sure I'd seen all the "controversial" films produced in the 60's and 70's that really tested the MPAA's rating system, but this one I'd never heard of until now. It's a curious, low-budget effort about wife-swapping that received an X-rating upon its release. It has some clever, snappy dialog that at times almost takes us into a poor-man's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," territory, and the acting is actually pretty decent (most notably by Norman Alden, who you'll probably recognize as a well-known character actor). The plot revolves around a naive couple who join a group of wife-swappers one evening. The wife is initially shocked upon learning of the club's proclivities, but after realizing this is an attempt by her husband to cozy up to the wealthier members of the group in order to elevate their financial status, the story begins to take other turns. This was released the same year as the similarly-themed "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," but ATLC takes the action farther. I can imagine all the T&A as well as the idea of wife-swapping was probably pretty eye-opening in 1969, but today it's pretty much just a curiosity.

There are some bizarre aspects to the film, however, that made it stand out for me. Every 15 minutes the film takes us to a poorly-staged "commercial" in which each performer advertises a household or grooming product; then the film continues as though we were watching a television show. I was unable to figure out just what the director was actually trying to say by doing this, and the effect is a little jarring to the film's continuity. It also tries to take a very liberal standpoint re: its topic, but then while the couples are indulging in their sport each male suddenly has a (overly long) black-and-white fantasy ranging from chasing/being chased by lingerie-clad women, trying to pull their own headstone out of the ground, or a menacing doppelganger watching his performance from outside the bedroom window... and at this point the film seems to take on a more moral and puritanical stance. I was able to find one more review to ATLC online, and learned that the film was reportedly helmed by a "swinger" himself. It's unclear just what his moral stance on the lifestyle was as the film seems to swing back and forth.

I would recommend this to anyone as kind of a time capsule of the 60's-70's sexual revolution, and I can't say I ever got bored by it. For a low-budget film of that period I thought it actually displayed some good performances and a well-written script. I can't recommend the commercials or the black-and-white fantasy scenes, however.

19 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Shite, 6 May 2014
3/10

This is yet another choppy "found footage" mess shot on video, and it's bad. It's a direct steal of the story of Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre in 2001, nothing more, nothing less. The most disappointing aspect of the film was learning that Eli Roth actually produced this wreck. I don't know what he was thinking, but this is a very far cry from "Cabin Fever" or "Hostel." I will say that I was very impressed by Gene Jones' performance, and his interpretation of "Father" rose way above the rest of this material. The guy can act. There's not much left to say about "The Sacrament," as once you've seen it you'll forget it. If you want a better watch, check out the PBS documentary "Jonestown." You might as well sit through the real thing rather than watch a ripoff with the exact same plot. It's also a lot more disturbing because it was real.

9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Dreadful is right, 18 March 2014
1/10

I love independent horror and I own a number of Rob Zombie's films, but this audaciously inept piece of crap was an incredible waste of two hours of my life. Whoever wrote the script to this rambling, confused mess should have ended up as one of the movie's victims. Now that video has become affordable for anyone, there are so many incredibly bad straight-to-DVD films to have to wade through to find anything worth watching; this is yet another one of those to skip. The most frustrating thing I encountered while viewing this - along with the rambling, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plots - was the atrocious audio. This is another film that was mixed to continually drown out the dialog in favor of the film's music and sound effects. Half of the feature was unintelligible. Eliza Swenson, who plays Penny Dreadful, the "hostess" of the film's banal two features, is a good actress. She's way too good to be wasting her time on drivel like this. Horrible. The massive amount of straight-to-video productions are churned out as quickly as possible, show very little talent, and will do anything they can to pull in another buck. IMDb user's reviews on these films are full of "outstanding" reviews that were written by the directors' friends and family.

"Looking" (2014)
5 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Nothing new, 8 February 2014
2/10

As a gay man living in San Francisco, I've watched three episodes of "Looking" and for the life of me couldn't find one interesting or attractive character or see anything particularly original in any of them. "Looking" is, I suppose, "The L Word" for gay men, and it's exactly what you would expect it to be and no more. It's no surprise that there are a large number of gay men living in San Francisco, but we certainly don't all subscribe to the trendy, sexually obsessed Castro district and many of us find it dull and kind of embarrassing. We're everywhere in the city, just like straight people, living regular lives (wow!). Once again we're presented with the tragedy of a gay character hitting forty (oh my God!), as well as the usual gay stereotypes - being hit on in the steam room at the gym, cruising bars, and bitching with each other about who they want to screw next. It's old hat, guys. The most realized character I could find was the quick cameo by Scott Bakula in the third episode, and I'd like to see more of life through his eyes in other shows. It would have been a lot more interesting if this were set in SOMA, where most of the gay men are pretty much just Joe Schmoes who don't have all this petty drama. But then, I guess that wouldn't have been titillating enough for the public. I'll be interested to see if this show survives more than one or two seasons; I found it mostly boring and very predictable.

Bad (1977)
One of my favorite films, ruined on DVD, 17 September 2013
8/10

"Bad" was one of the most offensive, hilarious and brilliantly written films I saw in the 70's. Carroll Baker puts forth an incredibly bland, sarcastic performance as a housewife with a clan of hit women on the side (hey, a woman's gotta pay the bills). My only misgiving about the film was Perry King never made a very good Joe Dallesandro, and I got the feeling while I was watching it Warhol and Johnson were doing everything they could to replicate him. The saddest thing about this film is that after waiting for years for it to show up on DVD, it's finally been presented in such poor, dismal quality that it's almost not worth watching. Why would a company called CheezyFlicks release this, and release it in such poor shape? This needs a better release, as well as a remaster, so it can really be appreciated. What they've done to this classic film is a real shame.

56 out of 86 people found the following review useful:
Could I have my two hours back, please?, 2 August 2013
2/10

I've been waiting to see this film for some time, and was finally just able to see it on VOD. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment, especially considering Paul Schrader directed it. The combination of he and Bret Easton Ellis is not a good one. The film is yet another saga of bored Hollywood individuals looking for meaning in life - pretty much the common theme of BEE's novels - and indulging in sex, mind games and jealousy while attempting to hold on to their flailing, angst-filled existences. Mr. Schrader drives the point home further by occasionally interspersing shots of dilapidated, closed movie theaters to show us how the "old Hollywood" has decayed. "The Canyons" attempts very hard to shock, but unfortunately, we've seen it all before, as Hollywood has been making these caricatures of itself since the 70's and 80's. Lindsay Lohan is surprisingly effective in her role most of the time, and carries a lot of the film. James Deen, who I was not familiar with as I'm not that into porn, also does a believable job (and illustrates WHY he's had a career in porn during his full frontal shot). There's also a refreshing twist during a four-way sex scene. But I was left wondering at the end of the film - and it ends very awkwardly - what was the point, and how could anyone invest much empathy in these characters? I understand "The Canyons" opens today in Los Angeles and New York, as well as being simultaneously offered on television and Itunes via pay-per-view. I would be very surprised if this gets any further than those two major cities; it's just not engrossing or original enough to draw in much of an audience.

Passion (2012)
78 out of 114 people found the following review useful:
All style, no passion, 17 June 2013
2/10

Hard to believe Brian dePalma has sunk this low. The film is boring, dreadfully scripted, and looks like a long perfume commercial. Real people just don't dress and look like this; DePalma seemed to be heading toward this stylized, air-brushed look when he made "Dressed to Kill," and it's gotten progressively worse with each film, except "The Untouchables." "Passion's" script starts out to be about two female executives vying for the same account, and then goes off in five different directions. He toys with gratuitous lesbianism in some segments, which might have been bold and sexy in the 70's and 80's, but now just comes off looking dated and embarrassing. The film's 100 minutes could easily have been pared down to 20 and it would have been more interesting and less ponderous. A real disappointment.

15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Where is the audience for this great film?, 31 May 2013
9/10

I've never been a fan of Alan Cumming, but this film has turned me around. He gives a great performance in this, and it's confounding to me why this never got a broader release. Yes, there are some flaws in the way the 70's are portrayed, and some of the characterizations are a little trite; but I thought overall the film was poignant and made its statement very effectively. Like other reviewers have mentioned, the ending was not at all what I thought it would be and took me by surprise. What stays with me after seeing the film are the brief clips of Cummings singing, in particular, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," in which he almost sounded like someone wounded. I will be buying this DVD, as I really feel like the film wasn't given much of a chance at the box office to gain the wider audience it deserved.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable film, Streisand carries it, 21 April 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like another reviewer here, I'm also perplexed why people have given this such negative reviews. As a kid my parents took me with them to see "Funny Girl" and even at that young age I was impressed by Barbra Streisand; however, as her career progressed I became less enamored of her and found most of her performances to be mechanical and pretty narcissistic. When she directed herself, camera angles always seemed to be engineered to show only one side of her face, and she really didn't seem to be able to concentrate fully enough to be able to do any serious acting (as an example, her crying scene in "The Way We Were" always embarrassed me, it seemed so forced and artificial).

"The Guilt Trip" is a small, enjoyable comedy that wasn't meant to be side-splittingly funny. The refreshing thing, though, is that Sreisand carries the film, and she's relaxed, confident, totally unself-conscious, and a very good actress. There's a quick shot at the end of the film where she looks as though she's about to become tearful, and it seemed totally authentic and I actually found myself choking up for a second. Somehow the last few years seem to have made her into a very different person, and her the character she created came across to me as a very likable individual. Sure, parts of the script reminded me of a t.v. sitcom, but they weren't excruciatingly bad (I'd like to have seen more of an explanation as to why the mother became so disappointed upon learning why her son had arranged the final trip to San Francisco; it didn't make total sense to me.) I'm disappointed this film didn't last longer than it did when it was released; it deserved a better run.


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