Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Final Days of Planet Earth (2006)
Liked it--although I think it focused on the wrong character
I usually wouldn't comment on a TV movie I saw a week ago, but when I looked up this title and saw all the negative comments, I thought, "Wow!I liked it--guess I'm in a very small group." This miniseries played as one four-hour (with commercials) movie on an independent TV station. I didn't expect a huge blockbuster, so I wasn't disappointed. Given the limits of television as opposed to a movie studio budget, I thought this movie had a lot more character development and pacing than I've come to expect from low-budget sci-fi movies. I think the movie would have been better served if it had focused on the character played by Campbell Scott--not only because I think Mr. Scott is a fine actor, but because I thought the astronaut's plight was more poignant and interesting. I generally like Gil Bellows' acting, but as written, the character he played was cold, charmless, and muted for so much of the film that it made it hard for me to stick with the storyline. Frankly, I stuck with it because I kept hoping the story would explain what happened to Scott's astronaut character. I can agree with a lot of the criticisms of the film--its budget made for more gab than gore; there wasn't a consistent tone; the ending needed to be more fleshed out, but as someone who watches way more sci-fi that I normally would because I'm related to a sci-fi fan, all I can say is that while the movie had problems, it had some characters I could care about, some good actors doing their best, and a few genuinely scary/creepy scenes--that's about all I expect out of a free movie on an independent channel. SPOILER: I was very moved by one of final scenes where the astronaut is reciting the 1969 Mets roster--if you've seen the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about. If the whole film could have sustained that level of acting and emotional involvement, I don't think it would be getting such poor reviews.END OF SPOILER I've seen a lot of movies with bigger stars, bigger budgets, bigger what-have-you that I didn't enjoy nearly as much so I cut this movie a lot of slack. It's a very watchable "B" movie that you can enjoy in the comfort of your living room while munching homemade popcorn. In these times, that's a pretty good thing to be.
Fish Don't Blink (2002)
Shouldn't like it, but I do!
It's funny--I can totally agree with the criticisms levelled at this film. It is derivative and some of the supporting performances are way too hammy and one-dimensional, but I'm a sucker for movies and plays set in diners. I like the idea of strangers trapped together in a self-contained environment and having to work out their lives among people they would probably only meet on the road or in a roadside café or a bus depot. I found the situation interesting and, while the characters were put through some very stereotypical paces, I was interested in what happened next. Maybe it was because it was on television at a time when I needed a break from all the Olympics coverage; maybe it's because "The Petrified Forest" is one of my favorite vintage films, but I cut this film a lot of slack--more than I probably would have if I had had to pay to go see it--and I enjoyed it and would watch it again. Do I wish some of the acting had been better? Do I wish some of the direction had been tighter? Do I wish there had been a few more surprises in the plot? Sure. That said, every film doesn't have to be a big-budget blockbuster or an exercise in searing, probing character development. Sometimes it's just fun to chillax with what in the old days would have been a B movie second feature. I thought Grieco and Thompson brought a lot to roles that weren't written to be as deep or shaded as they could have been. I thought Dee Wallace Stone and the older gentleman playing a diner customer were wasted in basically bit parts. Wil Wheaton should probably never try to play a drunk scene and the actress playing the female on the run appeared not to have as much experience as might have been necessary to help her make more of an underwritten role, but all the actors were still interesting to watch. Be sure and stay tuned for the credits--they give more information about what happened to the characters.
Enjoyed it, but wasn't as swept away by it as I felt I should have been
I was eager to see this film since I had enjoyed "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" so much. This film just wasn't in the same ballpark--pardon the allusion to baseball since the main character's overwhelming need to re-live his brief baseball glory days is a major plot point.
Don't get me wrong: Imperioli and Burstyn give the kind of fine, heartfelt, and nuanced performances that audiences know they can count on them for.Imperioli has a way of making you feel for his character even when you want to slap some sense into him. Even though it's pretty obvious where the movie will go, there are a few surprises in the plot. So, if I was very moved by the lead performances and was already interested in the story, why didn't I like it more? Well, the framing device immediately distanced me from the movie and became an annoying intrusion as it went on. I felt the movie could have easily gone on for another half hour to flesh out key plot points. SPOILER: Also, even though I'm pretty sure the ending followed the book--I haven't read it, but the author wrote the script--, it added: A)more of the aforementioned annoying framing device of a third party narration and B)ended a film on an somewhat downbeat note that cancelled out the hopeful feelings the film had just engendered. Since I found the ending so hurried, I couldn't fully process and therefore fully feel all the emotions I feel the film wanted to elicit.
I appreciated the excellent acting and fine attention to period detail. I just wish I'd liked it more.
Back Roads (1981)
Improves with repeated viewings--Did misguided ad campaign kill its chances?
Years ago, when the movie trailer ran on television, it was touted as a "wacky road comedy." SPOILER: They used this one scene where the two characters are trying to jump on a moving train and ultimately end up in a mud puddle. END OF SPOILER. Yes, that scene was funny in a slap-sticky kind of way, but it also set the audience up to expect a totally different movie. I didn't watch it at first; those two actors just didn't scream comic foils to me; eventually, it was on TV and I watched it expecting a comedy. I hated it! The grubby sadness of these characters' lives just didn't strike me as funny. Melancholy, seedy, frustrating--yes; Funny? No. Years pass. It's on TV again. I decide to watch it and forget that the ads and reviews and video stores place it in the comedy section. This time I liked the film so much better. I eventually got the DVD and have enjoyed it every time I've seen it. Don't get me wrong: It's no classic; but, if you expect a character study instead of romantic comedy, you might enjoy it more. Oh, and I'm embarrassed to confess that I even hated the theme song so much that I wondered if the singer got the job because she was related to the producer or something. Now,I realize the bittersweet lyrics and pleasant, but world-weary singing suit the movie perfectly. Again, if you're not expecting a comedy and can get modern movie themes' bombast out of your ears, it's another melancholy pleasure one can glean from this film.
Decent representation of early television dramas--Spoilers
This episode was included as one of the 50 films in the "Dark Crimes" mega pack. This is an example of early television as presented in the anthology series "Studio One." Yes, the picture quality is grainy and dark and many of the actors appear to be using their stage training for television, but rough, cutesy, hammy beginning aside--one of my favorite character actors, Robert Emhardt, really munches more than Gouda (if you watch the episode, you'll know what I mean)--it's a nifty little mystery involving a stolen letter, murder, and other chicaneries. The main couple has an easy-going charm--with some banter that's a bit risqué for the times--and the viewer is treated to some fine character actors one didn't get to see much of. If you modernized the episode a bit, it wouldn't be out of place on an episode of "Perry Mason" or "Matlock," so if you like those program and are a fan of early TV, this will be a treat. And dig the ad for the "big screen" television--at least I think it's on this episode.
Trailers misled me: waited 16 years to see it and wish I hadn't
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS: I missed this film when it came out and eagerly taped it when it recently came on television. The trailers emphasized the nostalgic feel and I vaguely remembered it being a period piece about how modern life--especially television--splintered close family ties. What I didn't expect is the movie's journey to hyper-realism. When a film starts out like it's going to be in the same vein as, say, "A Christmas Story", I didn't expect it to end up like a documentary on the indignities of old age. Imagine every report on senility and its toll on everyone and you get an idea of the end. It isn't this movie's fault that the trailers portrayed it as one thing, and it was something else. It isn't the movie's fault that I just wasn't in the mood to see what's happening in real life in homes all over this country. If the movie does have a fault, it's that the director/writer, actors, and set designers, etc., were so good at setting the tone for a gentle trip down memory lane, it was just so jarring when realism intruded at the end. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by stopping at the "hypnotized by TV" holiday dinner--with a lot less scenes of heartbreaking decline. I know that wasn't what the filmmaker wanted to do, but it would have been a film I would have enjoyed seeing more. We should be depressed by what this story says about us; I just wasn't expecting a lesson on the topic when I taped this film. That's my fault, but so many people use the terms "feel-good" and "nostalgic" to describe this film, and I didn't feel good after watching and I consider nostalgia to be something that leaves you with a happy, positive feeling about the past. For all this film's fine acting and great set design, it did not leave me with anything but regrets--maybe that was the point.
Undercuts the charm and goodwill of a talented cast
*****CONTAINS SPOILERS******* There's no way for me to discuss this movie without revealing plot points because the way the script squanders its cast and an interesting storyline is what disappoints me most.
I'd never heard of the film, but any film with Peter Falk, Tyne Daly, Timothy Hutton, etc. should be interesting, right? Well, the pity of the movie is that they DO start out with an interesting premise. They have actors who radiate intelligence and charm and, because of their past works, carry a lot of goodwill--especially with audiences who are old enough to want to watch this film because Peter Falk is in it and not because they want to see Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s early work.
Peter Falk and Tyne Daly make a charming, believable married couple.Tyne Daly's speech about some tough times early in their marriage is particularly moving. You feel for the Lauren Holly character. You wish the Timothy Hutton character would get a clue. There's a chance for a slice of life movie about a bookie who's as ethical as such a profession will allow him to be and what happens when the vultures want to muscle in--a particularly annoying plot point by the way, since Falk's character has said he's retiring in a year and we believe him.
As soon as the Freddie Prinze, Jr. character takes center stage, the movie goes wrong. It's not Prinze's fault. He's playing a cruel, stupid, violent, perverse gangster wannabe whose story arc sends the movie in a different, starker, more hopeless direction. It's as if I started out watching a movie directed by Gary Marshall and ended up with a movie directed by Quentin Tarrantino. "The Lemon Drop Kid" plus the most bleak episodes of "The Sopranos" = this movie. The cast and set-up deserved a less nihilistic ending. It's an ending calculated for maximum "bum-out." It made me sorry that I watched it until the end.
The actors are always worth watching. The script should have served them better.
American Inventor (2006)
Really makes you admire others' drive and creativity--I love it!
This show has been described as sort of a cross between "American Idol" and Thomas Edison. A lot of really intense and dedicated tinkerers explain why their invention should be "the the next big thing" to a panel of four judges--one Brit, one woman, one quintessential New York ad-man type, and one bespectacled male inventor with a penchant for harsh criticism and tacky Hawaiian shirts.
Sometimes I feel for those who poured all their time and resources into an interesting product only to have their hopes dashed by two "NO" votes; sometimes I wonder why no one who truly cared about the would-be inventor didn't just clue him/her in that their product/idea was seriously messed up. Yes, guy who invented a cape/covering so people could urinate in public, I'm talking about you! It's especially difficult to see children's ideas shot down. I really feel for the contestants who poured money that they obviously couldn't spare into an idea that only they can see the value of. I also would like more time spent on the viable contraptions and less time spent showing disappointed contestants crying, but any show that makes the point that not all Americans are just sitting mindlessly in front of their televisions or passively buying whatever products that are out there. Creativity and innovation are alive and well--and often weird!
Disappointing--especially for David Janssen fans--"SPOILERS"
I found this movie to be tedious, stereotypical, and a big disappointment. One side in the conflict was portrayed in such a cartoonish fashion that any hope that a credible account of a serious ongoing conflict was forthcoming was quickly dashed. I don't expect a low-budget 1970's movie to be a balanced documentary, but I do expect characters that are written as people; not symbols. I expect actors who are not either phoning it in or mugging. When characters are in danger or even killed, I expect to feel something besides "Oh my Lord, can this film get any more over the top?" Characters die and I feel nothing but the filmmaker's contempt for his audience. It's as if the filmmakers said: "Why bother with good dialogue, well-rounded portrayals or logical action sequences? People interested in the subject will watch anyway." I'm a big David Janssen fan, but this time he could have sent his performance by telegram. Christopher Stone gave the best performance, but the rest of the cast was either overblown or so deadpan that I wondered why they bothered to be in this film at all--bills to pay or lost a bet, perhaps?. This subject deserved a thoughtful, decently-acted movie. Keep looking--you'll find nothing like that here.
Jane Eyre (1983)
The book illuminated
*SPOILER ALERT: I wish I could discuss this without revealing specific plot points, but I can't. Sorry.*
I was looking for an IMDb review of the George C. Scott movie when I stumbled across the summary and reviews for this version. It had so many positive reviews that I decided to order it even though: (a)while truncated and rushed, I thought George C. Scott embodied the tortured nature (and physical appearance) of the book's Rochester to a T; and (b)even while looking at the DVD's cover, I was thinking "Isn't Timothy Dalton too good-looking for the role?" The latter concern was reinforced by the fact that I decided to re-read the book while the DVD was on backorder. That said, the minute I started watching this, I was captivated. At first it was disconcerting to hear 1840's dialog spoken as written--with little or no attempts at modernization--but Dalton and Clarke threw themselves into it so thoroughly, that I actually enjoyed the fact that the adapters trusted the audience to follow archaic speech. To have so much of the book up on the screen was an extra bonus. I know someone who won't watch any versions of Jane Eyre because "who wants to see a film about a man who keeps a poor crazy woman in the attic?" Frankly, if someone who hadn't read the book stumbled across the hour and a half or two hour versions, they would think that's pretty much all the story entails--Rochester's secret and its affect on everyone around him. Luckily, this version is actually about Jane Eyre's whole life.
Some people have criticized the casting. Dalton is too dashing; Clarke is too reserved. I can't argue against the first point, but he is so "in the moment" that I believe he IS Rochester. To me, Clarke's performance is on the mark. Jane Eyre is quiet, guarded. If one remembers the book, so much of the adult Jane's fieriness and passion occurs during her private struggles. Some of the criticisms baffle me. Reviewers say Clarke is too short or isn't pretty enough. The book goes on ad infinitum about how small and plain Jane is. Ms. Clarke shouldn't be tall and the filmmakers toned down her looks to make Jane's declarations of her lack of beauty credible. She can scarcely help it if Dalton is tall. Some say there is no chemistry between the leads. What?!! The scene when Jane finally comes out of her room after the wedding fiasco fairly vibrates with passion and longing and sadness and regret--and that's just the first example that comes to mind.
I do agree with some of the other criticisms. I too missed more scenes with Helen Burns and the Rivers siblings. Some of the dialog was oddly truncated. When Rochester declares, "Jane, you misjudge me. I do not hate her because she is mad," I waited for the rest of the exchange when Rochester explains how if Jane were to go mad, he would still love and care for her. It's a powerful moment in the book, and I wish it had been included. I think it was a mistake to bring a scene with Rochester into the part of the story where Jane is on her own. It might have been done for clarity's sake, but I found it jarring. I wanted the sly humor of the scene where Jane opines that Rochester's ardor will cool and he'll become gruff again, but he may "like" her again by and by. Dalton's performance is so good that the rare misstep is glaring--when Rochester weeps in the library, I saw him as an actor doing a crying scene, not as Rochester. As for the sets, if anyone has ever caught an episode of the 1960's show "Dark Shadows," one knows what to expect--very stark and sometimes rickety looking interiors. Others have commented thoroughly and succinctly about the make-up job Rochester sports at the end. Yikes! It IS bad. The conclusion is too abrupt. After all that anguish and suspense, I wanted a more rounded off ending. And, on my copy of the DVD, having credits at the beginning and end of all eleven 25-30 minute episodes gets to be a bit much. That said, I am so glad I have this film and will watch it again and again.