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blang84

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7 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Killer Mermaid: The title says it all, 8 February 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The postcard views of the Adriatic Sea, crystal clear blue water, and close-ups of hot chicks in bikinis make this watchable. Throw in some tried and true horror movie clichés, a little gore, Franco Nero, and the very concept of a mermaid who kills people, and you've got exactly the type of picture you'd want from something entitled Killer Mermaid. The title of this movie functions as it did for Snakes on a Plane, straight to the point. The acting, dialogue and subpar cinematography (too many annoying, shaky over-the-shoulder shots especially in conversational scenes) don't do the movie any favors. The girls are here because of their looks and Franco Nero's here because he's always been a bad ass. We're watching because we want to see a mermaid kill people.

Though we don't see the mermaid in all her glory until about ¾ of the way through, there's enough eye candy and suspense to keep us engaged until then. The special effects are what you'd expect from low-budget Euro trash, though director Milan Todorovic takes the less is more approach with regards to the gore and mermaid design. It would have been nice if more action had taken place under water, with the mermaid terrorizing her victims in her domain, but perhaps that will be left over for a sequel. And judging by the movie's ending, a sequel with mermaids (note the plural) might just be in the works… that is if enough people take the time to watch and enjoy this one first.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Shallow, illogical and totally FUN B-movie action, 6 February 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forget the reviews whining about the plot holes (yes, there are tons). Pay no attention to those people who genuinely believe Joon- ho Bong is making a profound statement about humanity, society, or pending environmental catastrophes. Don't waste time over-analyzing the film's ending and whether or not it matters to the rest of the story. Sit down, grab some popcorn, and enjoy this stylistic and completely original action flick set inside a train, carrying the last of the human race, traveling endlessly around the now uninhabitable frozen earth. When was the last time you saw a film with that setting?

The plot is simple enough. Our heroes are third-class citizens, confined to a lifetime of captivity in the back of the train. Their oppressors deny them freedom, information, luxuries and dignity, for seemingly no other reason besides them being residents of the tail. Several rebellions have been attempted by the tail inhabitants in the years preceding the events in the film, none successful but the characters and their surroundings bear the scars of years of injustice and violent defeat. The lighting, costumes, colors, grunginess created by Bong during the first act are critical in establishing the dark reality that our heroes have had to endure for the 17 years that the train has been operational. The actors appear unkempt, worn, and at times exhausted, and portray their characters with a believable survivalist resilience that is necessary to propel the story.

Eventually a well-choreographed and terrifically filmed action- rebellion sequence takes place, and our heroes spend the rest of the film trying to get to the front of the train, forcing their way from car to car, to seek justice and answers. This is where the film becomes the most fun as it indulges in absurdity, grandiosity, violence and shock value. Each train car is a unique environment: a greenhouse, school classroom, slaughterhouse, aquarium… Each presents a new physical and psychological challenge for our heroes, and a new perspective on the essence of the train itself. If the viewer is wondering why the classroom car is next to the prison car, or why the nightclub is nearest to the front, or why we never see any residential cars, they are missing point. The claustrophobic environment of each car serves to heighten the peril our heroes feel when confronted by the bad guys, while also substantially increasing the intensity of the action. Even the bad guys must control their excessive force to a point, lest they risk derailing the train or cutting off their escape/retreat path to safety.

One bad guy of note, actually a bad girl to be precise, is the character Mason played brilliantly by a barely recognizable Tilda Swinton. Homely and unpolished yet borderline comical, Ms. Swinton hits just the right note as a merciless, craven and utterly repellent hag. Her performance embodies the tone of the film, unsightly, amusing, capricious, but most of all FUN.

Scarface (1983)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Timeless piece of pure entertainment, 23 December 2014
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love everything about this movie: the machismo, the bad accents, the music, the characters (even the periphery ones like Nick the Pig or Hector) the clothes, the cars, the dialogue, the setting, the eye candy, the 80s, the decadence, the hot tub, the (underappreciated) cinematography, the violence, F. Murray Abraham, the beach, the montage…

After a decade of developing his own directorial vision, in the image of Hitchcock, De Palma is at the top of his game with perfect style, pacing and cinematography. Several scenes demonstrate this. First, the very opening shot after the credits. The camera focuses only on Tony seated in the center of a room being interrogated. It circles around the room in a long take, no other face is seen. From this, we are immediately engaged by Tony, his demeanor, his accent, the scar that he bears on his face. He's a bad mofo, hot-tempered, but he's determined and he damn well knows what he's doing. Then there's the buildup to the infamous chainsaw scene. A disguised single shot, absorbing the tension in the soon-to-be doomed drug deal with the Colombians in a hotel room, and then panning outside the hotel through a bathroom window, all the way across Ocean Drive and into Manny's convertible as he clumsily attempts to pick up a blonde bombshell in a bikini, then back up into the hotel bathroom through the window as the brutality begins. Next worth mentioning is the first uninterrupted shot inside the Babylon Club. Hovering over the dance floor for a moment, then following some VIPs as they roll in, and then to Frank's table. The music, the lights, the colors, the people dancing, it feels so natural. There are so many other great shots. When Tony first sees Elvira at Frank's, when he sees Gina getting pulled into the bathroom, the beach and beachside bar in paradise, the approach to Sosa's place in Bolivia. And of course the final take after the shootout at Montana's mansion, reviewing the carnage and futility of Tony's existence. All brilliantly filmed. The over- the-top synthesizer score, hits just the right tone every time, whether tense or somber.

The characters, not just Tony and Manny, even those like Alejandro Sosa and Omar Suarez are so vividly illustrated by the script and the close-up shots, memorably performed by Paul Shenar and Abraham. And can't forget Robert Loggia as the Jewish Cuban Frank Lopez or Harris Yulin as Bernstein, the unscrupulous loathsome cop who arrogantly assumes he belongs in the inner-circle of Miami's top drug lords. Finally Mark Margolis as the genuinely creepy and cold-blooded assassin, Alberto. Each adds richness to the movie and their performances compliment, even add merit, to Pacino's hyperbolic portrayal as Tony.

I get that this is not for everyone. Some will be turned off by the violence. Others will just laugh at the music and accents. But for real movie lovers, I can't see how this is anything but a supremely enjoyable film, no matter how many times it's been viewed.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Simultaneously narcissistic & self-critical, pretentious & profound, 15 June 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Woody Allen's vainly revealing, yet mostly unflattering self-portrait-film succeeds by remaining increasingly challenging, surprising and offensive throughout its 1.5 hour runtime. With a large all-star cast of A-listers entertaining in supporting roles, Allen deftly blurs the lines between his real-life self and his on-screen character, between reality and fiction, between confabulation and recollection. His charming artistic talents and disturbing character flaws are on full display with equal transparency, finished off with a touch of his trademark cynicism. Allen's concluding self- assessment is both poignant and relevant for those of us privileged enough to live in the developed world.

Not to be overlooked is the sometimes shocking black and blue comedy: a mixture of tasteless sight gags, crude language and hyperbole that culminates in a perfectly outlandish final sequence that may or may not take place outside of our universe. The original and disoriented editing reinforces the dream-like quality of the picture and also charges viewers to confront the ways in which we voluntarily distort our own perceptions of reality. It is this insight that separates Deconstructing Harry from Allen's other pictures, which are generally shallow (albeit entertaining), self-serving examinations of love, lust and the "meaning of life." Those who say that this film is mainly recycled material or that this is just an unapologetic attempt by Allen to repair his image have sadly missed the point.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A celebration of Humanity and our quest for knowledge, 7 May 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stanley Kubrick's landmark science fiction film has withstood the test of time with its spectacular visual presentation, beloved classical music, striking realism and thought-provoking (though deliberately vague) plot. Critics and film fans agree that few, if any, science fiction films that have been released before or after measure up to the sheer majesty and filmmaking brilliance of "2001".

One of the best elements of the film, perhaps often overlooked by critics, is the way in which it celebrates humanity and its exploratory aspirations as a wonderfully natural, ever-evolving, manifestation of the universe, a universe which appears devoid of any divine intervention. In the film's beginning, we observe early hominids, highly social yet primal cave-dwellers, as they gradually come to the realization that something as trifle as a bone can be used as a tool, or a weapon. This discovery, no doubt a monumental event in our evolutionary history, is marked by the presence of a black monolith, which suddenly and mysteriously appears beside their cave. The film then jumps ahead several million years and we observe technologically-advanced humans now shuttling freely through space, as they seek to learn more about an identical black monolith that has been found on the lunar surface. As the film progresses, we learn little of the origins of the monolith, except that it appears to be a product of extraterrestrial intelligence, and that it is sending a radio signal in the direction of the planet Jupiter. The next appearance of the monolith, now in orbit around Jupiter, segues in to a truly befuddling and psychedelic visual and auditory experience that culminates with the rebirth of one of the major characters, dubbed "star-child," in orbit around Earth at the film's conclusion.

There has been much speculation regarding the significance of the monolith, whether it represents something tangible or if it is merely used as a McGuffin to provide some semblance of a narrative in an otherwise plot-less movie. Attempting to overanalyze this and the film's final sequence does a disservice to the film and to the viewing experience. Instead, the film as a whole can be seen as a portrayal of the quest for discovery and the human thirst for knowledge, rather than being about the actual discoveries themselves. We observe humans at different stages of history learning, exploring, questioning and deciphering. We see numerous applications of science and reasoning along the way. That the quest spans millions of years, and with an absence of a clear resolution in the film, implies that this pursuit is forever a part of who we are. The answers to questions regarding the monolith and "star-child" are not explicitly revealed, because in this context they are not important. It is the questioning that is, and an understanding that the quest for discovery is who we are and what we do.

It is important to embrace this film because it embodies everything we are and everything we humans stand for. We are uncompromisingly curious and intelligent beings, with an emerging universal consciousness. We constantly seek answers, even if we know that they may not be what we want or what we can comprehend. As the film depicts, the quest for knowledge and discovery has taken us on a path from primitive hunter-gatherer to space faring beings, exploring places we once only dreamed of as we surge on deeper into the universe from which we originated. The final question raised by the film: how much farther can we go in the next few million years? Ultimately, that is up to us and the direction our species decides to take.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Startling, honest and raw, 12 March 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Authentic characters and raw emotions make "Blue Is the Warmest Color" as absorbing as any film in the last few years. Adèle Exarchopoulos pops off the screen with her gritty and layered portrayal of the sympathetic Adele. She breathes life into Adele's vulnerability, insecurity, and naivety as illustrated by the introverted and inhibited teen we see early on. Gradually we watch Adele grow up, though she retains her many of her teenage insecurities, as the film sweeps along several years. Kechiche confidently keeps the entire focus on her, with both the script and cinematography. That we only see things from her perspective helps us connect even more with her emotions, especially when her feelings are conflicted. Léa Seydoux, as Emma, is equally complex as Adele albeit with greater social and artistic ambitions. Emma evolves throughout the course of the movie, obvious symbolic proof when she ditches the blue hairdo about 2/3 of the way through.

The story avoids most common romantic movie clichés. Adele and Emma grow apart because their interests and dreams are not perfectly aligned, unlike the intense physical attraction they have for one another. Adele is content with their life together while Emma increasingly feels unfulfilled emotionally and intellectually. Furthermore, Adele is an outsider in Emma's social circle and eventually begins to suspect Emma may be cheating on her. But we're never sure what Emma's actually doing because Adele is never sure. This heightens the tension in their scenes together and ultimately leads to heartbreak.

Not often do we get films that are completely captivating and uncompromisingly honest. Rarely do we see the types of performances that Kechiche has been able to draw from his lead actresses. "Blue Is the Warmest Color" gets my highest recommendation.

826 out of 1653 people found the following review useful:
People are too easy to please, 9 May 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Consider: I am not a comic book reader.

Therefore my opinion probably means little to most of you. I just do not understand the love for this movie. The Avengers has every standard comic movie cliché that any movie goer has seen in the last decade. A typical, tired story arc involving a bland, evil, power-hungry, villain who seeks to make the inhabitants of earth submit to his authority. The only comic villain (or character for that matter) who has really challenged the audience in this age of comic movies was Heath Ledger's Joker. Loki, our villain, has been given nothing interesting to do.

Our heroes are then summoned to meet this threat. Instead of one hero coming to the rescue, The Avengers gives us a coalition of Marvel favorites such as Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and the only intriguing member of the bunch, Iron Man. The rest of our heroes provide little humor nor have anything captivating to say. To top it off, we get a routine showdown in the end involving our heroes against an endless barrage of CGI bad guys summoned by the villain in... guess where? Manhattan, how original.

This humble reviewers opinion is obviously not the norm. Hollywood knows just what people and the box office receipts and IMDb rating indicate just that.

If you are looking for something fresh, smart, and innovate, skip The Avengers.