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Sleeping with the Fishes (2013)
This is just dire...
I caught this inexplicable mess on cable. This is a very silly motion picture: the dialogue is atrocious, the millennial sarcastic snark is unbearable, and the US Latino code switching would make any Spanish-speaking foreign national kick a hole in their flat screen. We are the only country in the world that puts out this kind of goofy trash.
The two female leads who play the sisters are moderately attractive but amateurish actresses. The rest of the cast are straight out of the Summer stock central casting. The sisters are supposed to be half-Jewish on their father's side, although the complete lack of humor in the film makes this unrealistic.
There's some banal themes about body image, "fat-shaming", and the main character is a widow who seems more like a whiny girlfriend whose boyfriend left her for someone better looking.
Woody Allen creating the model for this type of film 40 years ago and very rarely is anyone able to imitate it, much less come up with something new, funny or say anything interesting about the human condition.
Congratulations, I guess...
Blood Red (1989)
A mediocrity with so much potential
This is playing On-Demand and is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio for the first time on home video.
The Good: The acting talent speaks for itself: Eric and Julia Roberts, Burt Young, Giancarlo Giannini, Elias Koteas, Michael Madsen... The cinematography by Toyomichi Kurita is beautiful. Themes: Late 19th century California, the beginning of wine culture, immigrant vs. business interests, William Jennings Bryan populism vs robber baron statism. All the tools are there for a great film.
The Bad: The screenplay is the problem. It needed a page one rewrite from someone who could write dialogue, and who could write scenes to emphasize the political, religious, and economic issues of the period. The characterization is almost non existent, with only Giannini's part getting some depth. There is so much wasted talented in this film. Usually Eric Roberts is criticized for overacting, but this picture could have definitely benefited from his passion. Also the music by Carmine Coppola is so old-fashioned and silly that it borders on soap opera cues.
The first half will keep your attention. After that, it becomes boring. Bad dialogue, bad music, and pedestrian mise-en-scene kill the movie. I was actually rewriting the scenes in my head as I was watching the film.
The Slugger's Wife (1985)
Hal Ashby's Worst
On paper it sounds great: Hal Ashby directing, Neil Simon writing, Michael O'Keefe coming off of three critically acclaimed films, and Rebecca DeMornay coming off Risky Business. But in practice, the movie simply isn't watchable. Bad dialogue, bad acting, atrocious musical interludes; and this is just in the first 20 minutes. Randy Quaid and Martin Ritt appear in thankless roles. Even the baseball sequences are pedestrian. There is nothing redeemable in this production even from a cult perspective. Second-Hand Hearts and Lookin' to Get Out were not great but at least they were coherent. If you are a fan of Ashby's 70's work and are interested in his 80's stuff, I suggest you just watch 8 Million Ways to Die and the concert films.
Van Halen: Video Hits Vol. 1 (1996)
decent collection of the greatest band, where's roth?
This collection is okay but it misses many videos from both eras. I think if bands put out "greatest hits" videos, showing only half of their hit videos, it is a let down to their fans and to the casual watcher. This set only includes the 3 hit Roth Era videos from 1984. Notably missing is their MTV banned "Pretty Woman" video, the live video for "Mean Streets" and "Unchained", and any of their unforgetable appearance at the '83 US Festival. Missing from Van Hagar series is Live Without a Net videos, and "Feels So Good", "Top Of the World", and "Amsterdam". Perhaps those will be included on the second volume?