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59 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
shoot them in the head, 25 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Some good eats. Some good laughs and a few gotchas.

Being asked by these characters to contemplate info-overload and the power of putting the unblinking eye on people was kinda silly. At one point there's a montage of real suffering, taken out of context and strung together in a flash to underscore the point that gobs of information isn't really the knowledge or power that CNN keeps assuring us they're delivering. A character asks in heavy tones if we are really saying anything to one another. Well... okay, no. Fine. I get it. It's been true for decades, but now it turns out that ordinary folks are as biased, trivial and myopic as the conglomerates who write history. Heavy. The problem here is that there is very urgent, very obvious information that needs to be conveyed to everyone in the Diary of the Dead world - "SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!" It seems to me that there would be thousands of YouTube howtos about taking on the lurchy pests rather than people pontificating on the information age. Shawn of the Dead for the YouTube/TMZ generation...

There a nice shot in the middle of the film where a woman has to shoot her boyfriend as soon as he goes undead. Unable to bring herself to shoot his corpse, she waits over his body until it stirs and he sits up. They're in the middle distance, in profile. She's standing a few feet back with a gun pointed at him. He sits straight up, looking up at her face. There's a pause. She executes him and he flies back down like a rag doll. From a distance, you can't really make out their faces. The zombie's absolute helplessly, childlike posture just overwhelmed me. For just a second it was like the movie stepped back from the CGI slapstick of smashing meatpuppet skulls and showed something genuinely pitiful. The movie explicitly harps on this point for the first hour – that killing another person is a soul-annihilating thing. I was a little surprised to see the point made so well and so simply.

I've seen a bunch of these hand held films - this one did make me sick, though I admit I was way too close to the screen.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Best Moore yet, 28 June 2004

Excellent work by Moore who manages to stay behind the camera most of the time and occasionally lets footage role without his often-disingenuous everyman indignation. Compared to Columbine, it's not so smug and the gotchas seem less cruel.

Bush totally deserves what this movie does to him.

I was a little impressed that Moore did treat that poor mother's grief with some dignity. When she's set upon by a smug protestor in front of the White House who is trying to appropriate the death of her son into a critique of the war, the real loss vs. someone's opinion about policy is terrible to see.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
yummy, 11 March 2004

This movie could have gone on for many more hours and I wouldn't have been bothered. The look and the sensibilities of Les Triplettes de Belleville are simply perfect to me. It's got the stately-slow comic setups of a Tati film. It has a proto-industrial look reminiscent of Jeunet and Caro films that spans from the truly monumental to the most trivial detail. Some of the characters seem like refugees from a Beckett play while others are painted in gleefully unPC broad strokes.

If you're the kind of person who revels in the plot of Brazil, plays fx segments of Blade Runner again and again, have a nearly-spent VHS of Delicatessen, love David Lynch still lifes, and have the Nightmare Before Christmas characters dancing in your head, then this movie may really suit your tastes.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
okay, I guess, but not really, ya know?, 7 October 2003

I must have seen too many John Huston classics, because PH fell way below my expectations. I was really eager to love this film. I wasn't bored (very often).

Angelica Huston is pretty interesting. There were a few scenes that featured great grotesque shots of the walking corpse and his family entourage. I really love Kathleen Turner, but the things she does in this film come down on the groan-inducing side of zany.

I'm glad I saw it (I'm a fan of Huston and Nicholson), but I probably won't bother seeing it again.

unique, 24 September 2003

I was born right around the time this film was released and I live on the peninsula, so the sight of the San Francisco Bay Area 1970 in Harold and Maude was utterly astonishing to me. For me, much of the movie is like watching a ghost story.

The whole film is something of a time capsule. The charming music, the outrageous fashion, and the Maude character seem like things that could only have happened in that time and place. If a character like Maude existed today, she'd probably be on reality TV being pelted with offal or something.

The humor of H&M is wicked and mannered. I'm not sure people take the film as the class-conscious statement it must have been at the time, since these days even the poorest people in comedies seem to be living in vast apartments and driving new cars. (That is one thing I really loved about H&M - the total absence of that weird feeling I have more and more with comedies that every last thing on the set just came off the rack, out of the wrapper and was positioned just so for a product placement. It's like watching people act in the middle of Target.)

Much of the film's message was kinda lost on me. The portrayal of a rich kid vaguely probing for something to care about seemed interesting to me chiefly in the context of the 70's counterculture rather than anything emotionally involving. The opposition between Harold's mom and Maude is between a force that wants to integrate Harold into a ridiculous society of status-obsessed dopes and a `follow your bliss' approach. That underlying story became the plot of quite a lot of disposable 80's comedies, which is probably why people are sick of it.

I just didn't get Maude, though I admit that could have something to do with the limits of my imagination and experience. (I'm a Kubrick/Lang/Sternberg fan, so it could be said that I just like art to be a little more sterile and people-free than H&M).

It's a unique film that I found quite beautiful in spots and often hilarious. I dunno if I'd recommend it to very many people though. It's a pretty rarified/accidental/cult pleasure.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
cute, 15 August 2003

Fun film. It's the first time I've seen Depp do a crowd-pleasing lead. His Jack Sparrow is pretty much standard Deppian posturing which really works for me, but I was surprised to see it as the centerpiece of a Summer blockbuster. Between Scissorhands and Fear and Loathing, he always seemed to me at least as smart as the script, but in this case he pretty much soars above it and delivers his lines with a real relish for camp.

The rest of the film was sorta okay, which is saying a lot since I generally loath the work of The House of Bruckheimer. Like a lot of other 2.5 hour braindead epics, this one could have edited down for time. It's not Bergman for heaven's sake - the characters beyond Depp's and Rush's (and theirs are all style) are almost cheap cardboard cutouts. The advantage of stock characters is supposed to be economy.

The story is excellent compared to general summer fair, especially in this summer plagued by stories ripped from comics, old TV shows, reality TV, and, in Bruckheimer's other Summer film, a bunch of cop show cliches mashed together. It's not so complex a story that 2.5 hours is necessary.

If producer Bruckheimer has a signature shot it's either 1) that much overused A-Team stunt explosion in the middle ground while a person is catapulted away from it in the fore, arms and legs kicking, or 2) special effect shots THAT NEVER END. In almost any Bruckheimer film there is an effect or stunt that makes you say `wow' and you want to see it again, like the melting heads in Raiders of the Lost Arc once did. With Bruckheimer you can count on seeing that effect over and over and over again during the course of the film until every drop of techno magic is drained.

The shot of the undead pirates walking on the ocean floor was great. It is exactly the sort of imaginative storytelling that has been lacking in many recent blockbuster films.

40 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely heartbreaking stuff., 15 August 2003

Occasionally Hearts and Minds comes over as too obvious and aggressive, as in the shockingly unflattering edits of glib, racist Americans piled one on top of another and the literal link the director draws between football and war. (Then again, I'm 31 years old and just don't know how open such racism was then, but the cuts from bigot to bigot are just brutal and perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part to assume that the director was unfair.) Also, it seems the communist NLF did no wrong that was worth putting in the film. Instead the director concentrated on eloquent nationalist sentiments. I happen to agree entirely with the assessment of the war shown in the film, but even with my sympathies it's hard not to notice that this film that concentrates so brilliantly on the suffering of real people before an evil policy focuses almost solely on the crimes of the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies. But maybe that was someone else's film to make and, at that moment in time, the director probably felt that there was enough coverage of NLF as just plain evil people. It's a small gripe about such a mammoth film. Documentary is not Truth, no retelling of an event ever is. Hearts and Minds is an unapologetically partisan film and is so much the better for being honest about it.

I'm `oriental' myself. Well, `oriental' enough that I know all those slurs and dismissive comments would have applied to my family and me. It was absolutely eerie for me to see people from Gen. Westmorland down to Americans watching parades on Main St. who had nothing but contempt for the people that to this day many swear the US was trying to save.

I'm not sure how many times I've ever seen the victim of bombing express himself outside of this film and that's sad. How many people were bombed in the last century? Millions certainly. In the US we've become so accustomed to hearing that our foreign policy requires almost annual bombings somewhere on earth. Particularly during the Clinton years, punishing through air strikes became so routine that it barely merited news coverage. These attacks may not be as indiscriminate as they used to be, but how many people in our history did that one anguished man speak for as he wept about his family and his home?

The sheer carnage on display in Hearts and Minds made the whole war film genre seem perversely sentimental to me. It's seldom helpful to hold up fiction to docu-footage, but, in this case, any number of moments from Hearts and Minds makes otherwise impressive films like Apocalypse Now! and Platoon seem like acts of bad taste.

perfect inflight film, 15 August 2003

Thank god someone finally made a film that gets a laugh out of uptight white people colliding with black pop culture. I hope this starts a trend cuz the potential for this kind of joke is limitless.

I hope Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy get together again and make an honest effort to be actually FUNNY once more before they die (Bowfinger was a nice try). They should invite Michael Palin along too.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
meh, 19 June 2003

This movie kinda killed the whole Star Wars thing for me. I remember actually being disturbed that I was bored thirty-minutes into the film. Being bored was pretty much the last thing I expected.

Aside from the ambitious animation, everything seemed diminished. The Force went from being a limitless potential that some people were in tune with to something you test for like AIDS, pregnancy or allergies. Hammy characters like Vader and Han Solo (or even Leia's inexplicable haughty phase) gave way to one of the blandest casts I've ever seen in any film not by Antonioni. The brittle American Graffiti/jet engine aesthetic of the ships in the first films is gone in favor of glossy-plastic ships that dissolve into explosions. The clumsily abrupt scenes separated by wipes were replaced by interminable sequences of clunky dialogue. I never thought that there would be a step down from Ewoks, but there's Jar Jar.

I think this film exterminated much of the devoted Star Wars fanbase in the same way that Voyager thinned the ranks of Star Trek fans. I went to see Nemesis recently and couldn't help but notice that there weren't throngs of people who had been camped out in Starfleet uniforms awaiting the opening. Ditto with Attack of the Clones - the population of costumed campers had dwindled to almost nothing. (Now they're all wearing Lord or the Rings outfits and designing Matrix fansites - Lucas pretty much lost them, which, despite what he says, has to matter to someone who built an empire on merchandising to exactly those people.) Another indication of this falling off is the degree to which the new films have failed to penetrate the wider culture. You can still quote Darth Vader and people know what you're talking about. Say `use the force, Luke' and almost anyone on earth knows what you mean. Does anyone quote the Phantom Menace? Ever? The only reference to the Phantom Menace that I think pretty much anyone could get is Jar Jar Binks, universally understood to be an unwelcome annoyance.

The choreography of the final saber duel was really wonderful (even though Darth Maul dies standing there like an idiot while Obi-wan flips over him and stabs him in a move that doesn't seem much more impressive than any of the other moves that Maul previously shrugged off.) Even so, when I think back on 1999 sci-fi fun, The Phantom Menace pretty much sucks compared to The Matrix and the video game Half-Life. Actually, now that I think about, playing Jedi Knight II is much more fun than watching PM. Also, the console flight-sim based on PM was mediocre.

NOTE: Of course it was the forth-highest grossing film in history. It's Star Wars! There are tens of millions of us that HAD to see the extension of the movies that were the most influential franchise of our childhood and changed Hollywood. If Titanic II is ever made by Cameron and the latest teen stars, it would bring in a similar (but probably not nearly as huge) tidal wave of people that had to see for themselves if the magic cotton candy of their teens could come again. Lucas could have made the Phantom Menace ten times worse than it is and it still would have had an opening weekend that set records.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
lightheaded heist, 5 June 2003

I admire some of Soderbergh's films - The Limey especially. I went into Ocean's 11 having heard that it wasn't much more than a celebrity parade dressed up with a heist plot and some nice camera work. It probably should have ended with the homage to The Right Stuff where the gang seems to evaporate in front of the Vegas fountain. Packing the expensive talent into a pointless epilogue drained most of the goodwill I had left for the film.

Some of the things I hated were - the lighting of Julia Roberts in her first scene was … bad. Why give her a mongo upper-lip shadow? Farting away the whole `Pitt is mad at Clooney for making the job personal' with a single line was … okay I guess, since I really didn't care about the subplot at that point. It's a good thing electronic components can just bounce back from an EMP.

On the other hand, the script did stay ahead of any expectations I had as far as the particulars of the heist (which was kept vague anyway - when the film was over, I couldn't say where the vault was in relation to the casino floor or the surveillance room, whereas I could draw you a map of the heists in Rififi, Asphalt Jungle, Topkapi or The Red Circle). I loved Eliot Gould. Andy Garcia was beamed in from a better movie - all of the other actors are winking at the camera and striking poses in their gloriously outlandish outfits. I love and admire long takes, but I do occasionally get a caffeine kick out of editing that looks like it was snipped from footage taken by a swarm of bees. With all the rumors around right now about remaking some of the most unique accomplishments in film history, I really appreciate the fact that Soderbergh decided to breath some life and style into what was a `meh' title.

Ocean's is like People magazine getting stuffed into a decent Bond film. Nothing wrong with that.

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