Reviews written by registered user
|22 reviews in total|
While it's good to see a female-driven comedy written by women (though produced and directed by men), it would be nice if the movie had some actual humor in it. Most of the characters are consistently petty, shallow, dishonest, selfish, and have rather ridiculous motivations for nearly everything they do. The pace is slow, the jokes fall flat, and the dramatic conflicts are oversimplified to the point of making the characters look incredibly stupid for not easily avoiding them. It is beyond my understanding how someone might consider any part of this movie to be a realistic or recognizable representation of "real" women, or of anyone.
What a complete and utter mess. Yes, there are interesting characters.
Yes, there are good performances. Yes, there are scenes which are
compelling in and of themselves. To make the movie equally good and
interesting and compelling requires some type of thematic element, a
storyline, that will tie everything together. There is none here.
There are scenes with characters behaving in precisely the opposite manner of their previous scene. There are moments and concepts that have nothing to do with anything yet keep popping up and going nowhere. There are ancillary characters who come and go without doing anything or adding to the scenes they show up in. Lousy storytelling.
If the trivia is accurate, and there are enough alternate takes to create ten vastly different movies out of all the footage...how awful must the alternative possibilities be if this is the best one they could come up with? Congratulations, though, on having so many well-known actresses naked in the same movie. That's quite an achievement.
This movie has received nothing but the most positive, glowing reviews
through all the major news outlets. It came highly recommended to me by
more than one fellow film student. I'm a big fan of the Coen brothers
when they're on their game (Fargo, The Big Lebowski); not so much when
they're off (Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers). Sometimes they're
brilliant, and sometimes they're simply doing something different. Who
knows what that might be; it's whatever they feel like at the time.
This film shows both sides. Unfortunately, the brilliance takes place
in the first 3/4 of the movie, while the entire third act is so close
to pointless that it completely ruins the experience.
So let's talk about the bulk of the movie first: it's incredible to watch, and especially to hear. The use of sound is really, truly wonderful. What you hear, how you hear it, and many times, what you don't hear...it all brings you right into the story, and they make it seem effortless. The performances are solid all around, with the notable exception of Javier Bardem - he is absolutely terrifying. Part of it is what the Coens have him say and do, but much of it comes from his eyes, his voice, his facial expression or lack thereof...his body language. It's quite amazing to see, and very unnerving.
The story is typically Coen-esquire; regular guy Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds two million dollars and a bunch of dead guys out in the middle of nowhere. He takes the money, but goes back later with a gallon of water to see if he can't help one of the guys who wasn't quite dead. I give the writing credit here for having Moss tell his wife that he's going out to do something "dumber than hell, but I'm doin' it anyway." That gets the script off the hook for the rest of the plot hinging on a character's bad decision. He admits it's a bad idea, so for the story's sake, it works. Naturally, the bad guys find him and come after him, and he's got to be smart enough to stay alive.
At the point in the story when it seems as though a number of these various characters, good and bad, will come together in the form of some type of confrontation...well, nothing else really happens. I can't go into detail without giving away everything that actually does happen, but...the Coens dropped the ball. They just stop telling the story here. What happens to this character? Where is another character at this point? What about that plot point? All dropped. None of these questions are answered. We are left to guess or assume at the outcome of events. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I'm being told a story, I like to actually be told the story. I don't want to guess or assume. I can, but what's the point? It's their story; they should tell it. If I want to tell a story, I will, but that's my own screenplay. I'm watching their movie; I expect them to show me what happens. And they don't.
Some people have argued that it works because it defies convention. Yes, it defies convention; the Coens tend to do that. No, it doesn't work, not simply because it's different. It has to be different and good, not different and wrong. There's nothing wrong with leading an audience to believe events will resolve in a particular manner, then turn it around and do it in a surprising way. But you still have to resolve the story you created, and they don't do that here. It doesn't have to be a "happy" ending. It can be anti-climactic. You don't have to end the movie with a big explosion; you can end the movie with a tired old man describing his dream of his father. Subvert expectations; play the downside. I'm all for that. But don't fail to continue the story. Don't leave too many things open to assumption. Tell the story. Show me what happens.
What's so crazy about this is how well they were telling the story, up to the point at which they stopped. It was so good, and so compelling, and so powerful...then it stops. I don't want to say what is happening at the point at which it stops, because I don't want to ruin anything, but I will say this...there is a brief conversation, between a major character and one not seen before, that appears to be meaningless and out of place, and before any meaning of this conversation becomes apparent, the screen fades to black, and I believe that's the first time there's a fade out. After that...well, be prepared not to have any more questions answered from that point on.
The sad thing is, during that scene, and its fade out, I thought to myself: "Gee, this seems rather pointless, but it's a Coen brothers film, so there's probably some meaning in it that will become clear later." But it never did. Not much after that was made clear at all. And I'm a big believer in filmmakers making things clear to the audience. They shouldn't spell everything out, but they should make things clear. There's a difference. At the end of Citizen Kane, showing the sled in the fire...that's making it clear. If a guy had seen the sled and told another person "Rosebud, that's what he said when he died, I guess he wished he'd had a simple happy life instead of the way he grew up and lived..." That's spelling it out. And nobody wants that. No Country For Old Men could have been truly great, had they only finished the story they began.
I believe there's an inherent inequality in a movie about the movies,
about making a movie, not getting a theatrical release. I remember
seeing ads for The Last Shot on TV, I remember hearing of a limited
release for about a week, and I remember its sudden disappearance from
any form of media. It eventually came out on DVD, and that's the end of
the story. Which is too bad, because if this movie deserves anything,
it's a movie audience.
Is it a great film? No...but it's funny. Is it filled with insight into the creative process, the miasmic crossroads of art and commerce? No...but it has a sense of truth and experience. Is there any reason a theater full of people would not be glad they had paid to see this movie? None that I can see. A cruel irony of this is the opening credits, which are mainly played against a background of items and events in an actual movie theater. Though I should correct myself and say opening titles; as one character points out, credits are at the end, titles at the beginning. It's a movie-savvy group of people, y'understand.
Even if you're not a big fan of Alec Baldwin or Matthew Broderick, it's worth seeing for the supporting cast. Joan Cusack, Toni Collette, and Tony Shalhoub each steal the few short scenes they're in. And for anyone who is a screenwriter (like me!), wants to be a screenwriter, or thinks they know what it means to be a screenwriter...the quick montage of Baldwin's character hearing pitches on the street from everyone he sees is so brilliant and funny and true, it's a lesson in humility we could all use from time to time.
I think the story is hampered by the idea that Baldwin's character, FBI man-undercover-as-Hollywood producer, would choose a script set in the desert of Arizona (even titled Arizona) when he needs to shoot in Rhode Island so he can set up the local mob boss there. Seems a little pointless, but, this appears to be one of the based-on-actual-events aspects of the story that really happened. The real FBI man did find a script, written for the desert, and convinced the filmmakers to shoot in New England, even though he knew, and they didn't, they'd never shoot a frame. And I can't help thinking, about Broderick's character or the real guys with the script...way to sell out! And I just don't completely buy it as a story element. Not that I don't believe people sell out; they sure as hell do, but with all the scripts out there, seems like he could have found one that fit the location. Sometimes what's true is too stupid to actually work in a movie.
Speaking of a script, Jeff Nathanson, who has done some decent work in the past, most notably for Steven Spielberg, probably could have rewritten this a bit more, but does a very good job as a first time director. It's really a shame the movie was never released properly and couldn't turn a profit. That's got to be heartbreaking, at least for a little while. But in the end, he has a good movie and a quality DVD. If you want to sit down and for an hour and half and enjoy what you see, give it a look. It isn't perfect, but what is? As long as a movie is fun to sit through, instead of a chore, I'd call it a great success.
I found this listing while looking through the films of sound designer
Randy Thom, and, reading in a comment that it was available for viewing
on AtomFilms, I went and checked it out. The sound is great, is in fact
the best thing about the short. The music overdoes it a bit, but in a
short with no dialogue, I kind of expect that, and so was able to
ignore it most of the time, at least when there was some action taking
place for which sounds were created. When there's little action, and
therefore little sound, the music takes over, and it's a bit much.
It's not a bad story, though a bit predictable, and the camera work does a great job of telling the story visually and putting a viewer inside the world of the character. But the look of the animation is terrible. I mean, it just looks terrible. This is not the result of a poor monitor or slow connection; I have neither. It's clearly the intent of the director to give it this degraded feel. While I am able to appreciate a picture not quite as sharp and crisp as a big animation studio like Pixar can create, it doesn't have to look like poorly processed film just for the sake of not having the most fabulous clarity. I think a better look could have been created if they hadn't put so much effort into degrading the image.
Still, it's worth a look for any film/animation student, and it's free at AtomFilms.com, so check it out.
In the fifties, I hadn't been born yet, so I have no idea what they
were really like. But I have seen a lot of movies made during the
fifties, or set in the fifties but made since. Hollywoodland is a very
studied impression of all those movies. The music, the tone, the
attitude...the movie plays like it might if the real people involved
had made a movie about themselves in the style of the movies made about
the fifties. Odd, I know, but that's how it comes across. I'm not
saying it's bad; I'm only saying it doesn't give me a new way of
looking at it.
Hollywoodland's biggest strengths are the performances, all top notch, and the story structure, which hops back and forth from George Reeves' Superman years to Adrian Brody's detective Louie Simo as he investigates Reeves' death. It may sound like a gimmick, but it isn't. Without this rearranged narrative, we'd have a pair of hour-long movies, both supremely dull. Shuffle them together, and they compliment each other. They tell the same story, at the same time, but different sides of it. On one side we see Ben Affleck as Reeves, and the difficulties of what turned out to be his last few years, and in the Brody half, we see what everyone felt and thought about Reeves; at least, what they claim to have felt. This structure is a new way of looking at a more or less biographical story, and for that I admire the film.
In the way of performance, Brody is solid as always, Robin Tunney is exceptional, Diane Lane steals the show, and Affleck does exactly what he needs to, which, oddly enough, turns out to be more than simply adequate and indeed a genuinely good performance. Let me explain: George Reeves always thought he was a better actor than he was ever allowed to be. He was poised for stardom but never made it, because he became Superman first. Back in those days, in the studio system, actors were typecast in a way thankfully unheard of in the present. Once the Superman show was a hit, Reeves never had a chance to be anything else. It wasn't just a general opinion; it was supported by the studio. They didn't want him to do anything else, because they didn't believe anyone would take him seriously in any other role. And they were basically right.
Even his friends, his agent, his biggest supporters, didn't see much else happening for him as an actor. And the truth of the matter is, he may not have been good enough to do anything else. So, watching Ben Affleck's performance, you see Reeves' personal charm, his ease in front of the camera, but Affleck brings out even more: the sense that Reeves was no superstar, and no leading man, and that everybody knew it except him. I've heard some people say Affleck is bland in this movie - that's the point. Reeves was a bland actor. Try playing someone who isn't as good as he thinks he is; it ain't easy.
The weakness in the movie is the part of Simo's life that's not connected to the Reeves investigation. His separation from his wife, his tentative relationship with their son...I've seen it all before, and it's not that strong here. I know it's generally considered important to show the growth of a main character, but...it wasn't necessary. It could have been touched on without delving into it, and that wouldn't have sacrificed any of the story. Its very existence in the film brings about the movie's end in a very simple, empty way, and left me feeling like they could have covered more ground with fewer scenes.
I liked the movie, it kept me interested in the circumstances of Reeves' death without being falsely mysterious, and all the actors show what they're made of without going over the top, something they could easily have done. The film as a whole does a good job of not going too far and turning something decent into something dumb. It fails to be excellent, but if you like movies with strong acting, compelling story, and no explosions, I'd certainly recommend it.
Putting aside any religious reference and only looking at the movie,
nothing had anything to do with anything. Langdon is supposedly an
expert on religious symbols, but that hardly comes into play. He spends
most of the movie following other character's leads and looking
sedated. I like Tom Hanks but what was he doing? Didn't seem like he
was acting as much as simply being on camera.
We've got a psychopathic masochistic killer albino monk. That's three adjectives too many for one character. It doesn't give him depth; it gives him too many scenes without plot relevance. There are flashes of flashbacks for him and for others that only serve to show parts of the characters the rest of the story couldn't figure out how to get across.
They're chased on suspicion of murder without evidence. They have intimate knowledge of every obscure religious reference they happen to need. Despite making it incredibly easy to find or entrap them, they always get away. There are clues that could mean anything but always happen to mean exactly what they think it does, except when they guess wrong the first time and realize it later. It's just dumb storytelling. They also never eat or change their clothes or use the bathroom, but one can't fault the movie too much for that. A lot of movies are the same way.
Then there's the supposed religious aspect to the story. That made less sense than anything else. How anyone would find this blasphemous instead of ludicrous is beyond me. The controversy seems to be about the idea Christ was not what the church claimed. I think they would find it much more offensive that the church, as depicted in the movie, has spent centuries killing anyone who tries to disprove that divinity. Because what sense would that make? The church doesn't want anyone to know their belief is a lie? Why? So they'll keep donating to the church? And if you don't we'll kill you? That's the stupidest thing I've heard this week!
I could understand a religious organization's objection to any attempt to sway the beliefs of its followers. However, if the attempt is to show proof, of which said organization is aware, that those beliefs are false...I don't get it. We know we're wrong but we'll kill anyone who tries to prove it? That doesn't make any sense. If there was actually proof they were wrong, they'd find another way to claim they were right, and deny the credibility of the evidence. They wouldn't spend two millennia killing everyone who came in contact with the proof.
And as for the proof, within the logic of the movie, there really isn't any. There's a lot of information and conjecture and assumption, but no proof. Even if they prove the one thing they're trying to, that still doesn't discount the initial religious claims. It just tells a different story.
I can't be more specific without giving things away, but there's no point. A lot of little moments in the trailer tell you all sorts of things you're not supposed to have figured out. And whenever someone or something turned out not to be what they or it appeared, it was fairly obvious, but it still didn't matter because even though I knew who was supposed to be good or bad, I couldn't tell why. I had no idea why anyone was doing anything they did or had others do for them. Totally unmotivated. Some things are explained in a throw-away manner, but that's simplistic motivation, not explanatory. "I did this because of this." It's a reason but it's not defined.
A stupid movie with nothing of interest or any moment of solid entertainment. One guy in the theater snored through most of Ian McKellen's big scene with The Last Supper, which was actually pretty dull and wholly uninformative, not to mention meaningless. No I wasn't the guy snoring. I do snore occasionally, but I don't sleep through movies.
DaVinci hardly has anything to do with this movie. It's called his code but there was almost nothing shown of his works that came from him with the purpose of mystery or hidden truth. Slightly more was done by someone else in reference to his work, but only as a point of reference. I can say that, without giving anything away, somebody leaves something for someone else behind one of his paintings, and writes in blood on the floor and the window in front of the Mona Lisa. Just a location. DaVinci himself did almost nothing to contribute to the mystery. It has nothing to do with him. If you want a fun movie about the intricate mystery of DaVinci's work and inventions, go rent Hudson Hawk. It's a lot more entertaining. It's even more realistic, and if you've seen Hudson Hawk...it ain't realistic. But it is funny.
The only truly enjoyable part of the movie was that Audrey Tautou always looked cute. I don't mean to sound like a dumb guy in saying that, but seriously...I didn't like the photography, the music annoyed me, none of the actors looked all that thrilled to be there...even she didn't seem interested in the story. But she still looked cute. For whatever that's worth.
The financial success of the movie, however ridiculous that is, probably means we'll see another Dan Brown adaptation within a couple years. Having read a pair of his paperbacks before DaVinci first hit the shelves, I can honestly say I am not looking forward the promotion of another crapfest.
In some ways, this movie is the best of the three starring and produced
by Tom Cruise. In other ways, it's not. It depends on one's point of
view, and those do tend to vary. There are things that I personally
enjoyed about all three. Some things in the first two I hated. I hated
nothing in this one, so that would make it my favorite of the three.
Here's what works: the story here is by far the most compelling of the three. The first one had Ethan Hunt's team killed off in the opening sequence, and the rest of IMF in danger of discovery. So what; I didn't know them, and I don't care. I honestly don't remember what the second one was about, but there were bad people who had to be stopped, and only Ethan Hunt could stop them.
Now, the danger is more compelling. His life is being invaded by his work. Bad guys kidnap his wife and protégé. Everything he does is to protect something personal to him. It's much more accessible, and it brings you into the story. Some people might think it's less interesting because they prefer to see Tom Cruise save the world at large from destruction and chaos. I see that as kind of a vague concept, and I've seen enough of it for a while. I'd rather feel what he's fighting for instead of just watching it.
The stunts are fun, the action never falters, and the movie rarely slows down to take a break. This is what I expect of the franchise, of an early summer movie, and it delivered.
There are a number of little things along the way that are kind of silly, in the sense that characters who should know better do something easily avoidable, but these failures never impact the big picture and are easily dismissed. For example, Ethan jumps from a building and parachutes to the ground with a stolen item, yet it didn't occur to him to secure this item somehow and he drops it, then has to chase it through speeding traffic. It's dumb that he didn't secure it, but he picks it up and gets away. It's a little thing that shouldn't have happened because it's out of character, but it doesn't make a big difference so I'm not terribly bothered by it. If someone's pet monkey had picked it up and Ethan had to chase the monkey...well, thankfully that's a different movie.
Another drawback is that director JJ Abrams is not an experienced filmmaker. He's worked a lot in television but the big screen is a bit different. Basically, he can't touch John Woo's visual style, and his storytelling pace feels perfectly tailored to commercial breaks. Again, this doesn't have a big impact on the movie. It's fun to watch. It's an easy thrill. It's worth paying for and sitting through.
If you liked anything about the other two you'll like this one. If you enjoy sitting down to be entertained, go see it. If you want to spend a couple hours not taking anything seriously, it's perfect for you. It's not breaking any new ground, but it doesn't have to. Eight stars of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a movie with a central mystery, things are not supposed to add up at
first. There's confusion, unanswered questions, and we're not sure whom
to trust. As the movie progresses, more things become clear, and we're
supposed to feel a sense of satisfaction. The Sentinel does this upside
down, and I don't think it was intentional, because it makes the movie
less and less interesting as it goes on.
There are no spoilers in this review. Any specific information I provide is in the first third of the movie. That being said, I really liked the first third of the movie. Here's the rundown: Michael Douglas is Pete Garrison, a veteran Secret Service agent. Kiefer Sutherland is Pete's former partner David Breckenridge, who believes Pete had an affair with Mrs. B, which we quickly learn isn't true but David still believes it is. Eva Longoria is Jill Marin, David's rookie recruit who learned from Pete at the academy. Kim Basinger is the first lady, and she IS having an affair with Pete, which some mysterious person is using to blackmail him. Pete fails a lie detector and shows up in the middle of another investigation due to the affair and blackmail, which was only used to frame him for the assassination plot. So everyone thinks he's working for a drug cartel and plotting to kill the president, then he goes on the run to find who's framing him.
I really enjoyed everything up to this point. It puts Pete in a tight spot, and he can't get out of trouble for one thing without putting himself in jeopardy for something else. The relationships between the characters are clear, they're motivated, they make sense, and I can feel the tension building. Once he goes on the run, the strength of the connection between characters wasn't held up. People make assumptions, they act without thinking, they do stupid things to get themselves caught or killed put in danger. I found myself waiting for them to reach the point of having something concrete on which to act so we could get back to a story direction that makes sense.
As the movie went on and more truths were revealed, more and more things happen that make progressively less sense. No one seems to act in a way consistent with their character, good or bad. People forget to do things, or don't think of things any fool would consider, but these are supposed to be trained professionals, and they stumble around making dumb mistakes and assumptions. Their actions serve the plot and not much else. Any moment where some real emotional tension could be achieved is generally filled with people simply shooting at each other. The movie starts with a lot of promise, reaches its peak early and runs downhill the rest of the way.
The performances are good but not great, entertaining but not exciting. Some people may bring up similarities to Kiefer Sutherland's role here and in 24, but there really are none. Honestly, he doesn't have much to do here. Eva Longoria does a good job looking knowledgeable and inexperienced, but there isn't much for her to do either. Overall the movie is competent without being compelling. It's worth watching, but not worth remembering. 7 out of 10.
It's 2:30 am, I'm lying in bed, and I can't sleep. Flipping through
channels, I see a company logo indicating a movie is about to start.
Whenever this happens, I am mentally and physically unable to change
the channel until I know what the movie is. Seeing that it stars
Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman, I know immediately it is
Krippendorf's Tribe, which I remember being advertised but never saw.
Not having anything else to do, I keep watching.
That was my first mistake.
The second thing I did wrong was to continue watching past the first commercial break, and on to the end credits. I was completely fascinated by how utterly terrible this movie is. I don't think I've ever seen a movie this awful with so many recognizable, decent actors taking part. Dreyfuss, Elfman, Lily Tomlin, David Ogden Stiers, Stephen Root, Natasha Lyonne, Siobhan Fallon, Elaine Stritch, Tom Poston, Susan Ruttan...all names I know, all actors I've seen before, never in anything this ridiculous and pointless.
During the opening credits, we see Professor Krippendorf and his family in New Guinea, hanging out with a local tribe. Next we see the Professor on his couch two years later watching his video of this trip. It is soon revealed his wife has died, and apparently he has been on this couch ever since, because Jenna Elfman shows up at his door to remind him he has a presentation that night about the lost tribe of New Guinea. She's supposed to be his former student, now fellow professor of anthropology, but she spends the entirety of the movie acting as agent between Krippendorf and a cable network. Sounds like the writer really paid a lot of attention to this character.
So he sits at McDonalds with his unruly children and tries to write a speech for his presentation, but comes up with nothing. When he arrives at the lecture hall, hundreds of people wait for his groundbreaking research to be revealed. Of course, he doesn't have any research. Whatever this lost tribe is, he never found it. So it's still lost. But I'm asking myself, what lost tribe? I just saw the video footage of him with a tribe in New Guinea! Is that not them? If not, who are they? Why are all these people at the lecture hall expecting something of him? If he didn't find anything, why don't they already know that? Where did they get their expectations? Why can't he just say "I didn't find that tribe, and my wife died, and I've been kind of depressed"? Why didn't he tell them that when he got home from New Guinea?
Other stupid questions: Why did he buy a big screen TV with the grant money? Why didn't he use the grant money to pay his mortgage and his bills instead of allowing his home to near foreclosure? Why is he so close to losing his house if he's still on staff at the university? If he has an office and friends there, why don't they have any idea what's been going on with him professionally for the last two years?
I realize a supposedly screwball comedy requires there to be a great deception during the first act, which must then be supported through the third act until all is revealed. That's fine, but as far as the story being told, there is no reason for them to expect anything, so there is no reason to lie. It's my understanding he'd have this presentation to tell them what he found. If he didn't find anything, why can't he say so? Why do they expect something amazing? Who told them something amazing had happened? And why is this business of a "lost tribe" being brought up as if I knew what they were talking about? Is that why he went to New Guinea? To find a lost tribe? Why has this exposition not been supplied to me? All I know is, the movie opened with him talking to members of a tribe, and now he's saying he lost the lost tribe. That makes no sense. None of the first part of the movie makes any sense.
That's only the beginning. The rest of movie is filled with jokes that are either totally inappropriate or just plain fall flat. Jokes about circumcision? Is this the funniest thing they could think of? One of his kids puts on some kind of show and tell about a native girl's first menstruation. Why? The only good thing about this scene is the one-line role of a young Mila Kunis as his classmate playing the native girl. He's even unwrapping a bloody cloth in the next scene. I just don't see the point, or the humor.
Nothing in this movie is funny. Everything plays like a bad old sitcom at best. Three minor positive notes: One - the aforementioned Mila Kunis, who has a spectacular voice, though as I said she only has one line, but it was nice to see her. Two - Jenna Elfman's butt. In her underwear. Not exactly a reason to see a movie, but if you are watching the movie, it's there in a pair of brief scenes; yes that pun was intended. Three - cinematographer Dean Cundey, always a pro with the pretty pictures. Why he chose to work on this movie, I'm sure I'll never know. I hope they paid him handsomely.
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