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shadowycat

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42 reviews in total 
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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
One of my absolutely favorite films, 16 December 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the early days of movies on cable, they used to air the same movie repeatedly over the course of a month, as if it was a film with daily showings at a movie house.

Although LOVE STREAMS barely scratched at a theatrical release, it did find its way onto cable, and I came upon it by sheer serendipity. And I was captivated, going on to watch it 10 or 12 times before its run was up. I have not seen this film since (I saw it on cable in 1984) but I remember it vividly.

I generally don't write 'spoiler' IMDb comments, but this film is destination cinema, you will watch this film because you elect to do so, and as such (and likely as a serious film buff or student of cinema) you will not mind hearing comments in advance to point out devices or moments of note.

My favorite scene is the one where Gena Rowland's character announces that she's going to Europe - on her own. That's significant because she's so utterly out of control, you fear for her.

There is a scene at the airport. It is easy to envision how this looked in the script...

/cut to THE AIRPORT. The filmmakers have no budget. There is an absolutely blank interior stage. To indicate that we're at the airport, there is a simple length of tall chain link fencing. Standing near the fence, GENA ROWLANDS is poised expectantly, waiting alone - nearly dwarfed by a comically huge and chaotic pile of luggage. She is attempting to hire a porter, but the porter does not speak any English.

PORTER Sorry Madame, I do not speak English.

GENA Just listen to the sound of my voice. You *will* understand me.

* * *

That's it. What I love about this film is that the airport scene is played exactly as it might have been played on the stage, and in context of the film, it works. There's no airport. But as you watch the scene, you are there. Stage to screen and yet again stage... and it works.

* * *

This film is about relationship, and relationships. It is stunning work and deserves to be seen.

75 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
Madagascar 2: Return of the Penguins, 30 October 2008
6/10

As with the comment ahead of mine: it's all about the penguins. They should have their own movie.

We were chanting: more penguins, more penguins. At the screening we just saw, people who loved the first Madagascar movie waited excitedly for the magic to begin... I LOVED the first one. Interesting note: I liked the first one better, but my BF thinks this one has a better and deeper plot and pointed out in particular that while in the first one Gloria (the hippo) was the butt of many fat jokes, in this one she is celebrated just for being beautiful.

The whole movie is breathtakingly beautiful. We didn't see this on IMAX but I bet the IMAX version will be a treat.

Sascha Baron Cohen's King is again the hands-down favorite, I heard a ripple of joy murmur through the theater at everything he said and did, although my personal favorites (after the Penguins) are Maurice and Mort, the King's cohorts.

BF was also teasing me mercilessly because (and I'm nearly ashamed to admit it) there's one scene that had me totally teared up! Yes, I cried. Can't spoil it - go see the movie and tell me after if you know what choked me up! The film did not hold the attention of some of the very small children at the screening we saw, because some portions of the film only involve adult storyline concerning the adult star characters (Alec Baldwin, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, and so forth) but when the little characters are on screen (the baby lion in particular is DARLING) the children present were absolutely captivated.

It's fun. It's not the greatest movie of all time, but it's very fun and children will want to watch it again and again.

Religulous (2008)
11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Rated 9 out of 10 just based on how hard we laughed..., 27 October 2008
9/10

Although as a documentary there were moments the timing was off, or I found myself wondering where they were going with this or that bit, over all I have to say we laughed throughout. Don't get me wrong, it was VERY funny. Everyone in the audience was laughing, it was funny like a night of stand-up, and rare for a documentary to be that funny.

However, I have to say it was a little uneven. I get the feeling that the longer they were at it, the less patience Bill Maher had with people... and I also got the feeling that often, they were a) just making it up as they went along and b) didn't really resolve things well. Some parts of the film were carried off much better than others, and there wasn't a sense that the filmmakers were always in control of their subjects.

On an 'it is what it is' basis, it was the funniest film of the year. It was great to laugh that hard. But, because it did present it as a documentary, documentaries have a point or tell a story, and with Bill Maher stating right at the outset that his point of view is "I don't know... " well, that's where it fell flat as a documentary... because the documentary style alludes to some sort of conclusion.

And maybe if the summation was more lofty and philosophical I would not have felt lost, but I got this sense that Bill was over it, ready for the end of the show, ready to get on to something else, and perhaps even sorry he'd opened the can of worms.

Part of what is funny is what real people said and did and were captured as being. Since I've grown up on the coasts, in the blue states, I was a little astounded to see some of the 'red state' lifestyle revealed as it was in this film.. but we've seen stuff like this before.

I was reminded of some Daily Show segments, for instance. I was also reminded of cable network programs like "The Naked Archaeologist" and "Taboo". OK.. that's it.. it was more like a TV program than a feature film. I was happy to pay for it and everyone there had a great time, but it didn't feel like a feature documentary... didn't answer a lot of questions.

I know this all sounds like I'm being terribly critical, but I'm THINKING about it. I need to stress and stress again: it was a blast, it was hilarious, and it did raise questions.. it did show aspects of religious behavior here and in other countries in a revealing light... but it was not as fully reconciled as I would have preferred. At the end of the day I felt like OK we're done now, Goodbye.

There's a lot more I would have recommended doing with the subject matter, and I do believe things could have been presented in less of an aimless style...

But despite all this criticism, OMG it was sooooo funny. The entire audience I saw with film with were totally side-splittingly cracked up. So I do recommend it, just remember: this was Bill Maher and Larry Charles, not National Geographic or 60 Minutes.

Max Payne (2008)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Law & Order: Special Video Games Unit., 19 October 2008
8/10

Game origin or not, this film stands on its own, and it's beautiful effort. The art direction is stunning. It is very noir and full of symbolism... and some complex and intense film making technique too.

Imagine a TV crime show, The Crow, and Sin City all rolled into one. As a video game movie, it's unparalleled. BF advises they've taken some liberties with the game's version of events, but it works.

It ran a little long and there were some red herrings along the way, but the overall ride is a good one.

Notes on the actors: Wahlberg may be typecast as the tortured cop, but he brings it. Mila Kunis proves she has range (Compared with her portrayal of the obnoxiously perky desk clerk in Forgetting Sarah Marshall!) and Beau Bridges was perfect. People sitting near us in the theater snorted when Ludicrous (credited as Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) appeared. Not sure if that's a good thing. As a filmmaker, I don't think I want audience snorting when an actor appears based on just who he is... just sayin' ...

He was OK though, and his performance was highlighted in my favorite scene which involved office mayhem (that is not a spoiler but it would be if I said more...)

Go see - even if you're not into the game.

Nobel Son (2007)
17 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
Funniest Film of the Year!, 26 September 2008
10/10

It's edgy, fast-paced, super hip, has a "bangin" electronica soundtrack (Oakenfold/Crystal Method etc) all the while amazingly witty and funny.

It's a great combination, being one part psychological thriller, one part comedy. Combining lighthearted romp with details of chemistry and forensics, cannibalism,and kidnapping.... plus such a great cast – great to see actress Mary Steenburgen with such a pivotal role, and Danny Devito is great as the special neighbor. Great cast. Everyone working together so swimmingly, too.

A list cast, college kids… will appeal to younger AND older viewers. Not a frat house romp. There is a tendency to assume that a combination of college and comedy means necessarily puerile, but there is nothing low-brow going on in this film. Saw a trailer first that didn't come anywhere near telling the story – that trailer made it all about sex… and the film is not about sex. It's good, that's all I can say. We laughed ourselves sick! This film is dope.

Rickman's character is deliciously flawed and OMG I've had profs like him! His family are altogether typical intelligentsia, and his son... well... you've known a guy like him too.. there's always someone like him in school.

What's great is how all the ends tie up neatly, without a cliché' reveal. And did I mention the killer soundtrack? Nothing like a perfect soundtrack to carry one through all the action.

DO NOT miss this film. It was SO good.

27 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Bottle THIS!, 12 July 2008

Bottle it and take it home with you.

Savor it again and again. This is a stunningly beautiful film. It's just about perfect. My BF didn't think he'd be interested and found himself riveted.

Besides being a great script and incredible story, it's the total package, I loved the soundtrack, the cinematography was amazing, the edit, the timing, the cast, the scenery, the vistas, and OMG some of the most wonderful romantic and captivating locations.

I don't want to spoil it, but it'd be a mistake to compare this gentle masterpiece to Sideways. Nothing at all similar. We were captivated from the first minute. It is an incredibly inspiring, uplifting tale of human achievement - overcoming great odds... and manages to make some strong statements about us, and about our culture... without becoming syrupy or pedantic.

When you get the chance, don't turn away. Enjoy.

6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
The future is NOW., 16 February 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't remember who recommended this film to me but they promised me it was astounding. I am going to mention two scenes here, and neither one is of any import toward spoilerism... so I am checking off that spoiler box but feel free to read, no real spoiler ahead.

I can easily see where it's waaay over the heads of some viewers, but I didn't find it murky, disjointed or incoherent. Instead, I found it vivid, intense, powerful, art film to the max.

I agree with the other comments praise of the breathtaking soundtrack, it's sheer genius... and I commend the film for being entirely unique and yet reminding me of some other films:

Blade Runner

Strange Days

Children of Men

Apocalypse Now

The Fifth Element

-- and here I slightly disagree with other comments, it's not the same film again as Donnie Darko - but it carries on D Darko's theme of time and fatalism. And I totally loved Donnie Darko. In fact, maybe I'm weird, maybe my taste for some reason connects with under 18 year old boys (even though I am waaay out of that demographic) but those are all top ten favorites of mine.

Southland Tales is a standout because I'm being forgiving, I'm giving it a ten even though there was a scene I would have cut - the Patriotic Singer on the airship during the climax. Too reminiscent of the DIVA in The Fifth Element -- and that awful, super-hifalutin experimental quartet sound behind her was just unbearable.

I'd love to see the original 160 minute cut, but I'd be happy to see a tighter edit too, and that singer can go. At a similar point, there was also an oddly stilted moment during the dance sequence when Mandy Moore and Sarah Michelle Gellar tangoed... which was wholly unnecessary - would be so easy to cut these sequences out and sharpen the climax. They looked unrehearsed and uncomfortable, or possibly it was ad-libbed.

Still this is a mind-blowingly good film and encouraged some amazing acting out of its astonishingly diverse cast. Brilliant screenplay - actually reminded me of the writing in the Crying Game, and amazing camera work. So well done, so unexpected. So sorry this was released at the wrong time of year and was panned by some of those classic big gun critics. Sorry they didn't get it. The future is NOW.

8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Cinema Non Pareil, 16 December 2006
10/10

OMG This is an amazing film, an absolute masterpiece. I am absolutely mind-blown. I really like intellectual science fiction and nihilistic visions of the future collapse of western society, and this one is so plausible and palpable.

Intelligent, funny, powerful, political, and quite a logical warning and rational progression from where we are today. This could happen. I don't know about the major plot point - that humans stopped reproducing, but the rest... it could happen.

The cinematography is blindingly excellent. I lost all sense of sitting in a theatre watching a movie and found myself feeling thoroughly captivated - which meant that my heart was racing and I felt like I, also, was in harm's way. It is violent, but not the usual garden variety of "There are men with guns on the screen, they are fighting." No, this is Technicolor 3-D "cinerama really makes it real" violence that is presented with such clarity that you will walk away and feel a sense of relief that the street scene you will encounter as you walk outside the theatre is once again comfortably normal.

The sound editing is also brilliant, I really like the way they would take a sound and transform it as the scenes changed. I can't be more specific without writing spoilers, but please trust me, this is a film to see in the best theatre you can afford because the sound design is a critical component to the experience of being in this story.

Excellent soundtrack too. I want it, gotta have it. Amazing gems, from King Crimson to Radiohead and all over the world and back - with an extra cool cover of the Stones' Ruby Tuesday used to great satisfaction.

Rated 10 out of 10 on the super cool movie experience scale.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Bod, James Bod, 16 November 2006
7/10

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Daniel Craig taking over the role (what was wrong with the last guy - wasshisname again? I forgot already) but after seeing the film at Sony tonight I have to say he's OK. He's certainly ripped... and he looks pretty fly in black tie.

He's a more physical and agile Bond than some of the other guys, and the script went a few steps closer to humanizing him too. There's a couple of tender scenes between Bond and Vesper Lynd where this Bond reveals a sensitive side... and I can say without qualm that this is the first time I've ever ended up feeling sorry for James. He's more impish, more sneaky, more vulnerable, and more impervious.. the guy's made of teflon and he's practically a superhero.

All that said, the film captures the exotic and glamorous nature inherent in the franchise, there's some boffo violence and superb chase scenes, and they even squeezed in a 1964 Aston Martin because at the end of the day, they know its the TRUE BondMobile (accept no substitutes!) I found the beginning and ending rough, the boyfriend thought there was about 18 minutes too much on screen. We don't want the time back, you definitely want to see this on the big screen (action movies need big screen impact) and I loved the locations - Madagascar, Venice, and Eastern Europe.

There's alcohol, gambling, fast cars, grandiose shootemup action, great Bond music, super hot women, yes it's got all the elements. It's also super trendy, I have no doubt other than that this one's gonna seem as much "of its time" 25 years from now as the original Casino Royale seems today.

We just caught the original last Sunday on cable (as "research" in preparation for this night) and while he same basic story's in play, it's not what you'd call 'a remake'. The story's there, but a lot of the time I was either cringing from the ultra-violence or thinking "whaaa?" whenever the action went over the top (there's some 'Fear Factor'-worthy stunt work in this picture!) I did find myself MST3K-ing a bit... (watch for the 'Enzyte Man') and I've been careful not to post any spoilers... but it's FUN... Way Fun.

23 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Blah Dah La La La, 15 September 2006
6/10

Synapses didn't quite connect. Lovely and stylish looks. Something missing. Left me hungry.

Pretty film. Gorgeous styling, not just evoking, but recreating a noir genre and capturing an honest, studied essence of the Los Angeles of yore. Interesting, but the film captures Los Angeles more than 'Hollywood'; but at its core, we found that there was something essentially lacking in the composition of characters we are introduced to in this flick.

After much consideration, we've determined that while de Palma fans will love this picture, we found that in the end there was no redemption. All the loose threads tie up, but there is no sympathetic character, we don't care about anyone, and there is no overwhelming humanity we were able to relate to in any single character's story.

So we left the screening thinking yeah? Right? That was it? Since we didn't read the novel, we're not sure whether the film was true to it or not, but while the iconic Black Dahlia story is an enduring Hollywood mystery, it's somewhat secondary, symbolic and iconic in terms of its position in this film's story.

One great performance: Fiona Shaw as the rich man's wife. Genius. And Hillary Swank ain't half-bad as the femme fatale. But at the end of the day we found Josh Hartnett about 5 years too young for us to completely buy his story. We felt that he just didn't bring enough maturity to the table. Scarlett J. provides her standard issue intelligent-but-somehow- flatlining-blonde aesthetic, she's stunning as usual.

The art direction and color tones of this film were the stars as far as we were concerned. This film is totally artful, but still left us hungry. Not bad, but gosh darn, coulda been better. Ya know?


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