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42 reviews in total 
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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful, fascinating, presents civil rights issues, 27 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What I learn from this movie is that much of the most prominent pop and rock music that I have heard in recent years owes its sound to a fairly small group of black women who have never been credited, who earn substantially less than the white men who hire them, and who live in obscurity, just as this movie lives in obscurity.

There are some male and white singers in this group, but they are mostly black women, who learned to sing in church and who typically improvise the harmonies they sing.

The most musically moving moment was when Lisa, who I think they said has been the lead female vocalist in the Rolling Stones since 1989, improvised some harmony with four copies of herself singing. It was the most beautiful, ethereal sound that I can imagine. I wish they would do an album, or at least a single, just of that.

They had some big name performers, like Stevie Wonder, Sting, and Mick Jagger, speaking and praising these women -- still you can be sure that the women weren't making anything like the money that those performers are making.

They bring up the point of personality and its influence in the roles that people play in music. They say that some people prefer to sing harmony, while others prefer to be soloists. I would say of all these women that, perhaps, they lack a certain X-factor in how they present themselves, but they have lovely personalities -- definitely the kind of person who you would want to bring home with you.

I am reminded of the words of Marian Wright Edelman. "There is no end to the good we can accomplish if we let someone else take the credit." Still I wish these women got more credit

Oblivion (2013/I)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Fun, clever, not too deep, 23 April 2013

This was a fun movie, with a bit of cleverness in the plot

Now, if you did not previously know that Tom Cruise loves airplanes and motorcycles, this movie would surely tell you that. A very large part of the movie is devoted to filming Tom on aircraft and motorcycles.

Andrea Riseborough achieves the odd effect of looking as if she is CG when she is real. I was absolutely persuaded that she was CG at one point, but now I don't think so.

Tom also prefers younger women. You see that in this movie. The love interests are much younger than he.

I think there is a danger when the performer has this much control over a movie for the thing to be too narrowly focused on what he personally enjoys.

Nevertheless, it was a fun, peppy movie -- a lot of action, good photography, good special effects, all that stuff we expect from a contemporary Hollywood movie. It's not Shakespeare or anything, but that's not what it's for, not to be intellectual or overly thoughtful, just a diversion.

I saw it in 2D. I'm not sure 3D was available, but that would be a good idea, given the number of scenes of aircraft going through complex spaces at high speed.

13 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Totally awesome, 7 April 2013

I loved this movie.

The acting was superb.

The action was enthralling.

I loved the closeups of the older actors' faces focusing in on all their characteristic wrinkles and blotches. Their faces have such character!

Little Jackie Evancho did extremely well also. She was actually the one who got me to see this movie, because I am a fan of hers and I saw some interviews of her discussing it. Ironically, given that she (age 12) was my reason for going, I ended up most loving the fact that older actors were showcased and that, given their enormous experience, they were brilliant. As an older person myself, I like seeing movies were older people are featured.

The young reporter was perhaps a bit less convincing than the seasoned actors, and that was partly due to the plot.

I found very weird that this movie was rated R. Apparently there was one scene, which I did not even notice, where the "f" word was used several times, resulting in the "R". Otherwise there was no nudity and no significant violence -- just suspenseful chase scenes

This Is It (2009)
loved it!, 8 March 2010

I bought the DVD. I just keep watching it over and over. I love the music. I love the dancing. I find MJ riveting. I never was a fan of his before he died, but now I'm hooked.

This was the concert that was going to redefine what the word "concert" means. The special effects planned, the costumes and the various dance performances are nothing short of astounding. The music is hypnotic, perfect.

The eccentric, first truly multimedia composer, greatest fine arts genius since Mozart -- at work, surrounded by the world's greatest dancers. What a privilege to be able to see this! How frustrating that the concert never took place! I still cry frequently over the loss of this wonder of our times.

I hope we can all get together to make his song, "Heal the World," the official international anthem of the United Nations. The world might actually be healed if we could unite behind a single song.

Farinelli (1994)
beautiful and frustrating, 15 November 2009

This was a fascinating story. I find myself very drawn to the kinky drama of the castrato singer -- and longing to hear what his voice really sounded like. I've been listening to recordings of Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria recorded by women and boys nowadays and frustrated that everyone who sings it sounds strained and harsh -- wondering what Farinelli, the greatest singer in opera history, would have sounded like singing it.

Unfortunately, I don't think the voice or the body in this movie were accurate.

A castrato singer would have the lightness of a boy's voice. Sometimes the synthesized voice in this movie captured that, but generally it was too heavy. I sort of imagine a castrato soprano sounding more like Michael Jackson in "Little Susie," only probably higher.

Also, this actor had a prominent Adam's apple, heavy bony structure around the eyes and jaw, and rippling muscles all over his body. A castrato, a person who had lacked testosterone since childhood, would lack all these things. He would have an angelic face, with childlike eyes -- more like the boy actor used for Farinelli before castration. The castrato would also have few visible muscles -- and certainly no visible Adam's apple. He might have enjoyed sex, but would have been unlikely to be so aggressive as this character was. Also, the idea that castrati could not achieve climax, as indicated in this movie was likely wrong. Moreover, not having gone through puberty, the castrato would likely have had a more gentle, childlike personality than this character, also endearing him to women.

Women reportedly fainted when listening to the castrati sing. No one would have really fainted for the character in this movie. He just did not have the kind of eyes or the kind of voice to make a woman faint. It's as if the people who did the movie just were clueless.

At the high point of the castrati, they were castrating 4,000 boys a year in Italy, supposedly. Presumably they were drawn to all that barbarism because the voices were really extraordinary, not merely high but of a quality to be drug-like in their beauty.

I hope someone will try again -- and do better on the casting and synthesized singing this time. I want to be drawn into the vocal experience that was so amazing that they would castrate little boys to achieve it.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
disturbing, 1 October 2007

I actually did not see this movie, but heard about it from several sources after my kids saw it in, of all places, a retreat sponsored by my religious group.

I would caution others that there are scenes of despicable depravity and horrifying despair in this movie. This movie may be about children, but is not *for* children.

I really question the rating here. Disturbing material is shown in an abstracted or dream sequence fashion. This apparently results in the PG-13 rating. This standard makes no sense at all. My kids have a good imagination. They know perfectly well what was abstracted out. My 17 year old son, who could not stand to sit through the whole movie, and wishes he had never seen any of it, insists that R or NC-17 would be a more appropriate rating.

Both of my kids (ages 14 and 17) shut themselves up for hours in the bathroom playing with computer games after seeing this movie to try to numb their minds from being upset.

I don't want to mention the specific upsetting scenes, because I don't want to be accused of putting in a spoiler, but some of them are openly referred to in the discussion.

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
people who make themselves miserable, 8 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Acting: great photography: great sex scenes: great believability of story: pretty good overall: very sad

However, why was this movie so sad? Was it so sad because these men couldn't cohabit publicly in a committed relationship? I don't think so. If they had been able to have the ranch that Jack dreamed of, it wouldn't have been all cuddling and swimming naked in mountain streams. They would have had to work hard and would have started bickering over personal habits, chores, and bills, just like the all the rest of us do with significantly others; and eventually they probably would have broken up, just like all the rest of us do.

What was sad was that they couldn't feel happy and grateful over having the cool relationship that they did have. I walked out going, "Gee, I don't think I've ever had any relationship that was as passionate, intense, and meaningful-seeming as theirs." That's probably because I live in the real world, not in a movie. And real guys get passionate for a while, but then they get bored and distracted by something else. You only get passion like that in forbidden affairs.

All of these people, whether gay or straight, who are drowning in self-pity because somehow their relationship doesn't measure up to what they see in the movies, need to realize that movie relationships are no more real than Harry Potter is. Gay people need to realize that an awful lot of, if not most, straight people feel disappointed in their relationships and fantasize about better people or more intriguing sex acts. And those straight people also go out and have affairs and consort with prostitutes as well. This is not reserved for gay people.

Also, most real gay couples don't look like these two actors, either. When I was done watching the movie, I stood up and looked around and saw a real life gay couple. They were both pudgy and bald, with matching shirts.

So, instead of feeling grateful that he and Ennis have these great, passionate vacations together, Jack Twist tortures himself the rest of the year, because he imagines that it would be possible for him to be on vacation like that all the time. A lot of people do that.

Make gratitude lists. Count your blessings. Avoid wallowing in self-pity. Live clean. Eat healthily. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Work hard. Pray and/or meditate a lot. Then you will be happy. Having the relationship you are dreaming of is not a long term solution for finding happiness.

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A lot of racing around, 25 July 2005

I mostly wanted to see this movie because I wanted to see Katie Holmes, since I've never seen her before. She was very beautiful and pretty convincing in her role, though not enormously so. I don't think she's one of our top actresses, but she isn't terrible either.

I thought the guy who played Batman wasn't very good looking. He has this peculiar, overly narrow nose & flattish face. Why him? His acting was pretty good, though.

There was an awful lot of racing around in the movie, particularly in the bat-mobile. I found watching this a bit fatiguing.

There were some positive parts of the movie. I particularly liked the guy who played the only executive at Wayne's company who is actually loyal to him. I also liked the Ninja training scenes.

Overall it wasn't abysmal, but I don't know if it was the best way to spend a couple of hours of my time.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
loved it, 6 July 2005

I just loved this movie. It managed to be a high action movie, which nevertheless showed sophisticated character development.

The attitude of the ex-wife, as she invades her ex's apartment and criticizes everything there, is just so perfect. Being in the middle of a divorce myself I can appreciate the subtle way they tell the story behind the divorce, without any actual narrative. The way the kids react to Cruise's character also fits precisely their ages and situation. The acting is superb. We can see that Cruise & probably also Spielberg know from divorce and custody battles.

The many other actors were simply extraordinary, especially the crazed fight for the sole working car, the scenes of masses of despairing refugees and the distraught faces of extras caught by aliens. I particularly liked the way people of different races were mixed together in suffering.

As a dedicated Cruise fan, I have been complaining a great deal that Cruise insists on making guy flicks, rather than chick flicks, even though the vast majority of his most loyal fans are women. Curiously here, despite this clearly being a guy flick, i.e. LOTS of explosions, there are some distinctly chick flick aspects in the interactions of the characters. I was also glad to see Cruise acting with kids. He does well with that.

My biggest admiration for Tom relates to his kinetic genius. Therefore the scenes of him running were a treat. Tom runs so very beautifully. There was even one scene which showed that he can still do that super-fast run that he showed us in "Risky Business," when his character there was late for school -- over 20 years ago. It's amazing that Tom is still able to run like that. This man dances as much as he acts -- with every muscle in his body.

The special effects were especially well done. The CG characters were not plagued by the kind of blurry, jerky motion that one often sees.

If you dissect this movie into 2 parts, the guy flick part and the chick flick part -- you see that the guy flick part has a solid ending, but the chick flick part is a cliff hanger. I do wonder what is going to happen to Ray.

Sahara (2005)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
McConaughey is gorgeous, 21 April 2005

A guy once told me that you can tell a guy flick, because there has to be at least one explosion, which is very Freudian if you think about it. This one has MANY explosions. Moreover, except for Cruz, there are no female characters, other than extras -- definitely a guy flick.

The plot is a bit hokey, especially the science fictiony parts. That doesn't prevent it from being a fun movie, though. There are lots of great shots of McConaughey's perfectly sculptured body; and of course of Cruz's as well.

McConaughey plays a typical Hollywood action hero. He regularly overwhelms large groups of armed men alone with his bare hands, or with just one other guy. He has no trouble outfighting guys bigger than he is. Hundreds of bad guys armed with machine guns can spray bullets in his vicinity, but he won't get hurt. On the other hand, if he fires a pistol a few times, all the bad guys die. He wanders on and on in the Sahara and doesn't seem to get thirsty, etc.

One troubling thing is that all the guys McConaughey hits are black. Now the movie is quick to be politically correct. There are good and bad black guys. There are good and bad white guys. Still there is the implication that only a white guy can go save the damsel in distress, and the depiction of what Africans are like is not too uplifting.

This movie is also incredibly violent.

The theatre wasn't very full, perhaps because it was a week night. When I got out, one of few other audience members, another woman, remarked to me "Penelope Cruz could have whatever man she wanted and she sure knew what she was doing." I smiled broadly. Yes, obviously perfect looks are important to her.

I think Cruz does a very good job of acting, by the way. I find her very believable, in addition to being stunning. Can't necessarily say the same for some of the guys.

All-in-all, though, it was a fun watch, not very high brow, but fun.

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