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Lovelace (2013)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An Underrated--And Inaccurate--Gem, 18 September 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Lovelace" is an unusual movie, in that--for the first time in cinema history, I believe--a porn starlet is depicted in an almost saintly manner, while condemning the very industry that has improved ethically in leaps and bounds since the 1970s and 1980s. It is a dark film, with a lot less sex than people probably expected, and while it succeeds in many ways (in my opinion), it fails in many ways, too.

Plot: "Lovelace" focuses generally on the life of famous porn star, Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried), from approximately 1970 to 2002. Linda meets world famous scumbag/scapegoat/misogynist Chuck Traynor (Peter Skaarsgard), marries him, stars in "Deep Throat", gets abused, and becomes a world-famous women's rights advocate.

Acting: The acting by Robert Patrick, Peter Skaarsgard (forgive me if I'm not spelling his name correctly), Sharon Stone, Hank Azaria, and Juno Temple are all solid, and very competently done. Amanda Seyfried, as Linda Lovelace, has the innocence and purity of Linda Lovelace's early life down-pat, but seems to have problems with portraying the adult Lovelace. Adam Brody and Chris Noth's acting, however, wavers from good and jovial, to downright cartoonish several times during the movie. This is especially noticeable during the recreations of scenes from "Deep Throat". Seyfried's New York accent is also a bit more subtle than Linda Lovelace's was. This is especially odd, when you consider the fact that Amanda Seyfried has lived in the Upper-East side of Manhattan, New York, since she was 16.

Editing: The editing was well done, albeit, a little rough around the edges.

Sex/Nudity: While we do finally get to see all of Amanda Seyfried's breasts (in previous movies, they were only briefly or partially seen), there is far less nudity and sex in "Lovelace" than I think most people expected.

Costumes/Sets: "Lovelace" perfectly captures the feelings, styles, and design-choices of the 1970s. The '80s and '90s...not so much.

The Facts: This movie's biggest flaw, by far, is the sheer number of facts that are completely omitted--or outright ignored--from the movie. Linda Lovelace's infamous bestiality porno is completely ignored; for a movie that's all about Lovelace triumphing over a cruel system, this omission is bizarre, at best, and ludicrous, at worst. "Lovelace" also makes the mistake of assuming that every allegation made by Linda Lovelace was completely and entirely true; we, the viewers, are asked to do the same thing that our previous generations had to do: Take Linda's word for it. Linda's sister, Barbara, makes no appearance in the film, and--most notably--no footage from any trial (or from most interviews) is shown. No mention is even made of any trial. Furthermore, Lovelace alleged that every man she married was physically abusive, not just Chuck Traynor. This means that the "happy ending" in the movie--according to the real Linda Lovelace--was not so happy. Also, Chuck Traynor abused his second wife, Marilyn Chambers; no mention of this is even made (not to mention, Gloria Steinem didn't represent or help Chambers in the real world). Speaking of which, no mention of Steinem is made, either. These omissions almost single-handedly sabotaged this film.

Summary: "Lovelace"--despite previous reviews--is worth watching, if only to see stellar actors and actresses perform wonderfully (for the most part), and--at the ultimate, very least--to see Seyfried's breasts for the first time. In my opinion, it certainly didn't deserve to be put in less than 1000 theaters. However, "Lovelace" is almost successfully undermined by some cartoonish acting, ridiculous factual omissions, somewhat unrefined editing, and filmmakers who seemed to have confused Linda Lovelace for Mother Teresa. I give "Lovelace" a 7 out of 10.

Gone (2012/I)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
"Gone" Is Masterful, Brilliant, 3 March 2013
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: Jill Conway (Amanda Seyfried) hasn't had a normal, happy life, since a kidnapper threw her into a pit and mysteriously let her escape. Just as her life is beginning to take on some normalcy, her sister, Molly (Emily Wickersham), is kidnapped, forcing Jill to contend once again with the man who had forever changed her life. As if things couldn't get any worse, Molly might just be right under everyone's nose. If only the cops believed Jill...

Acting: The acting--especially by Ms. Seyfried and Jennifer Carpenter--is masterful and stellar. Even though the script isn't perfect, the cast still performs excellently. Seyfried, especially, is perfect in the role of a strong, determined woman; her strength is made manifest in her wonderful performance.

Special Effects: The special effects are pretty good. The two car-chases in the movie are expertly-made, and suspenseful. The ending, which takes place in a pit, doesn't look like it was shot on a set at all. The gun-related special effects were decent.

Cinematography: The cinematography is great; Oregon has never looked so good on film. Every scene almost seems to be cloudy, which perfectly accentuates the emotions and metaphors that are on screen, virtually from start to finish.

Music: The original score is phenomenal. 'Nuff said.

Sexuality/Nudity: Amanda Seyfried has a shower scene, and nudity is seen, in silhouette (like the women in an opening sequence to a James Bond movie). It is very tastefully done, and shows off Seyfried's amazing body. Other than that, there is no sex-, love-, or nude-scenes.

Editing: The editing is great. John Axelrad clearly earned his paycheck for this movie.

Overall: This film is perhaps one of (if not the) most underrated Amanda Seyfried movie ever made. It truly is a shame that this film was not screened in advance for film critics. It's action-packed, suspenseful, and sexy. Despite heavy interference from the studio (who made all the decisions for the director), Heitor Dhalia's direction is still masterful, and not as flawed as other film-critics have said. I give this film a 10 out of 10!

Dear John (2010/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dear John--An Honest Review, 19 May 2012
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is a rebel, who has been changed by life in the Army; Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) is a caring, compassionate woman. The two meet, and have an immediate and intense connection; however, September 11th will change their lives and loves (and the lives and loves of everyone else in the world) forever.

Acting: I think the acting is stellar! Channing is very believable and sympathetic is John; Seyfried is perfect as Savannah (when I read the book that the film is based on, I always envisioned her as Savannah)! While I think the actor playing Tim is miscast (it should have been a younger actor, in my opinion), he still wasn't too bad. Everyone did a fine job! Music: The score in this film is, by and large, one of the best scores I have ever heard. Ms. Lurie did a fantastic job, blending classical-type instruments with a sort of Southern style. It's amazing! And the non-instrumental songs used in the film (like "The Moon", for example) are also excellent! Editing: The editing is a little sloppy, but it didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the film.

Differences Between The Film and The Book: There are many differences between the novel and this movie. Tim is older in the movie than he was in the book; Tim has a lymphoma in the movie, while in the book he has melanoma; in the book, Alan is Tim's brother, not his son; John fights in Afghanistan in the movie, instead of Iraq; and so forth, and so on. While differences like these definitely changed the film, it could've been a whole lot worse. In my opinion, the book is more about emotions that build up over time, while the movie is more about spontaneous emotions. Either way, I think that these differences are endearing. And even if I'm wrong, the movie still shed light on an excellent novel! Overall: Yes, this film has flaws. The editing is okay; some characters are under-developed (.i.e.: Mr. Tyree), while others are over-developed (.i.e.: Randy); the film is long, too. But, in the end, I believe it to be a very beautiful, romantic film. I will defend this film--and the novel--'til the day that I die. I give "Dear John" a 10 out of 10!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Misguided 'Play', 21 April 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me say this: "Passion Play" is an interesting film, with a quite romantic story. However, this film is ruined by its excesses, and its inadequacies.

Plot: Lily (Megan Fox) is a girl with wings who is a sideshow at a carnival. Nate (Mickey Rourke) is an ex-junkie trumpet player who falls deeply in love with her. Happy (Bill Murray) is a gangster who wants to kill Nate. Nate delivers Lily from her physical and emotional shackles with love and grace...and then proceeds to use her as a bargaining chip with Happy. Chaos ensues.

Yet, somehow, this drab, banal plot-description is less boring than the movie itself. While I do love the premise, and the idea--after all, "Passion Play" has a strange, yet beautiful dichotomy with Fox's previous film, "Jennifer's Body"--, which is ripe for romance, its delivery is what is flawed.

Acting: Bill Murray is perhaps one of the finest comedic actors of all time...yet, in "Passion Play", he's about as funny as a tonsillectomy. He's just not believable as a gangster. I just kept expecting a groundhog to come in and spoil his plans with Lily.

As for Rourke, his acting is hit-or-miss. Sometimes, it (his performance) is genuinely sympathetic; yet his callousness in the middle of the film is completely inappropriate, given his so-called love for Lily. Nate oftentimes is portrayed like a dog that's followed someone home, hoping for love; while this, in-and-of-itself, is brilliant, Rourke seems to sometimes take things too far, making his character appear to be both strong and weak at the same time.

With Megan Fox, however, I really don't have any complaints. Her acting was spot on! After all, Lily is a very sheltered young lady, who has never experienced romance, and has never been "modified" by the ever-present hand of cultural and societal expectations. To put it simply: Lily isn't supposed to be an entertaining character. She's supposed to be a pillar of simultaneous loneliness and love in a cruel world. And, in that regard especially, Fox's acting is very appropriate, and great overall.

Special Effects: The special effects are pretty good, overall. However, I feel that, aesthetically speaking, Lily's wings should have been bigger. The special effects artists make her look like the world's sexiest and most stylish seagull.

Editing: I thought the editing was okay. There are some scenes that could have benefited from better editing, but it's still a creditable effort.

Music: I thought that the music in this film was amazing, and really quite beautiful!

Cinematography: I found the cinematography to be a fat-free, sugar-free version of a standard David Lynch-type cinematographic offering. Nonetheless, the film does look beautiful.

Overall: While this film is certainly a fix-'er-up, it could have been a heck of a lot worse. For the most part, the acting and editing are mediocre (at best); despite this, however, I think it's still worth viewing (especially if you are a Megan Fox fan, like myself): I give it a 6 out of 10!

Threads (1984) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Threads Beginning to Unravel, 24 February 2012
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: A young couple, and their families (as well as, some of the U.K.) survive a nuclear attack. This film chronicle two generations' worth of their struggles, as law and order, agriculture, communication, transportation, and other necessities to life crumble around them. This is the British answer to the film, "The Day After".

Acting: The acting is pretty good, and definitely, very believable. While this is a pedestrian complaint to many people in the world, I found that the thick accents were oftentimes inaudible. I am an American, but this film is supposed to be relevant and easily-accessible to everyone, world-wide.

Editing: The editing, unfortunately, is the worst aspect of this film. At best, it's sloppy: At worst, it's juvenile. There are many jump-cuts in this film, too, as well as literally dozens of title-cards. This movie simply isn't sure of what it wants to be: Sometimes, it's a documentary; other times, it's a character-drama; many times it's a horror film; still other times, it's a soap opera.

Also: There were over 15 minutes of footage edited from the film. This footage, while graphic and occasionally containing un-air-able profanity, dramatically improves the film. Viewers will have to look hard to find this footage, especially in the U.K..

Special Effects: The special effects are actually very realistic, and certainly chilling: Blood, gushing out of rubble; cats, suffocating. While both of those scenes were cut from the British television release of this film, they are very effective, and terrifying. Quite simply, the special effects (especially, the practical and make-up-based effects) were alarmingly good.

Sex/Nudity: While there is no nudity in the film, there is a scene towards the end of the picture, that was described as a "crude intercourse" scene in the script. However, the camera was so far away, and the actresses' and actors' acting really didn't make it clear what was going on (at first, believe it or not, I thought she was sneezing).

Overall: This film is truly one filled with terror, despair, despondency, and horror. Much like "When The Wind Blows" (released about 2 years after this film), I believe "Threads" should be shown at every high school and college on the planet. While it isn't the most entertaining or--at times--even the most engaging film, it should not be viewed as an action or horror film. It should be seen as a "docudrama". Prepare to weep! I give it an 8 out of 10.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Flying On The Wings of The Dawn, 24 February 2012
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: An elderly couple, living in rural England, survive the detonation of a nuclear weapon by stubbornly, loyally, and naively following government-issued pamphlets and publications. While they survive the initial blast, it takes its toll on the lovely married couple, with devastating results.

Acting: The acting is phenomenal! It's no wonder that the two lead voice-over actors are so well known and renowned in the U.K.! Their performances grant the appearance of being anyone's grandparents, which leads directly to the sadness of the film.

Special Effects/Animation: The mix of stop-motion animation, live-action stock-footage, and standard animation, lend a sort of "childish" cinematography to the proceedings; not that I wish to imply that the quality of the cinematography is poor. Rather, it appears to be just like any other Saturday-morning cartoon from the 1980s. This further adds to the despair and hopelessness of the characters, as radiation-poisoning takes its inevitable toll.

Overall: This film is, by and large, one of the most haunting, depressing--yet undeniably effective--"post-nuclear" fiction movies ever made. It is my belief that this film should be shown at every middle school, high school, and college on the face of this Earth, if only at least for the phenomenal animation that it contains. The sadness caused by the film (and by the knowledge that the elderly couple really never had a chance) has truly made quite an impression on me! Certainly, this "Wind" does not blow (if you get my drift): I give it a 10 out of 10!

What I Found, 17 February 2012
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: "What Alice Found" is about a high school runaway, who tries to get to Florida. Alice (Emily Grace), the runaway, encounters an elderly couple (Bill Raymond and Judith Ivey), who introduce her to the world of truck-stop prostitution. As she gets sucked into the elderly couple's world, she discovers (and we discover, as an audience) more and more about who Alice is, and what she wants out of life.

Acting: The acting is pretty good, actually. I didn't always find Ms. Grace's thick Boston accent to be believable, but that didn't really detract from the performance. Ms. Ivey was wonderful as Sandra, a Southern belle with a checkered past and bills to pay. Mr. Raymond's character (Bill), however, was not as well defined as the other two characters, but his acting was still pretty good.

My only complaint is that Alice doesn't take very long to warm up to the idea of selling herself. I think her character should've taken a little bit longer to slip into that kind of world; however, I will admit that this does lend an emotional instability and a general uncertainty to the film.

Cinematography: This film is shot in a sort of naturalistic style, that lends well to the themes of desperation and banality that come with this type of setting and story. I found, however, that--at times--things can get a little blurry. Nonetheless, the cinematography definitely suits the story.

Sex/Nudity: You'd think there would be more sex and nudity in a film about prostitution, but there's actually only three on-screen sex scenes, and one-third of them don't involve Alice and/or Sandra (the first sex scene is actually in a flash-back, and it's somewhat brief)! There is another sex scene off-screen, and a fourth that is shown very briefly (as in, only a second or two). For those who are good at math, it's also implied that Alice had sex 5 times total (considering the amount of money she earned).

I must give Ms. Grace and Ms. Ivey credit, however. Ms. Grace played her sex scenes as well as could be expected of her character; and Ms. Ivey didn't seem phased at all by the subject-matter. I was very impressed at the subtleties of their characters, as well!

Editing: This film has a decent run-time, however, it was edited in a manner that makes it feel like the film is much longer than it really is. Ordinarily, I might have a problem with this; however, the editor certainly made it feel like a long, RV-road-trip, which is the way it should be.

Overall: I had seen this film a while back, and I really didn't enjoy it (like many of the F.A.Q. contributors and reviewers on this site); but, now that I've seen it with the eyes of an adult, I can see the film for what it truly is: A somewhat twisted, sad, sexual, coming-of-age tale that should be seen, especially by teenagers who plan on running away from home. I give it an 8 out of 10!

House (1977)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Home Un-Sweet Home, 21 January 2012
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Haunted houses are common-place in cinema, both in America and Japan (among other places). This ambitious film, however, is unlike any other haunted-house film; both in good, and in bad ways.

Plot: A group of classmates decide to spend summer vacation at one of their aunts' houses when their initial plans fall through. While their vacation starts pleasantly enough, things quickly take a turn for the worse...

Acting: The acting is pretty good, actually. All of the main actresses are pretty convincing as young students. Nonetheless, they are all pretty annoying, though. Except that watermelon salesman. He always makes me laugh, although, I suspect he was intended to scare the audience instead.

Special Effects: The special effects are dreadful, random, and not really unsettling. Considering the fact that films like "Close Encounters of The Third Kind", "Star Wars", and "Suspiria" were made around the same time, the makers of "House" really had no excuse. And, yes, I know: This film wasn't intended to be a big budget blockbuster, but the scene where the girl is eaten by a piano was just pathetic, as well as the scene in which a disembodied pair of legs kicks a cat and the mattresses attacking a girl. Film-makers like Sam Raimi could have and would have made those scenes incredibly entertaining, while maintaining that weirdness.

Music: The instrumental music is phenomenal. Epic, sweeping, almost like a soap opera, while maintaining that soap opera-like intimacy: Brilliant! Even the goofier music is still pretty good.

Overall: This film is weird, indeed. But it is not scary, or disturbing. You will not have nightmares about this film, unless you're on hallucinogens or are very easily susceptible to being scared. It is almost a beginning of sorts for a new age of weirdness and capriciousness in Japanese cinema (yes, films like "Woman In The Dunes" were there first, but "House" was more widely seen). While this film is very harmless compared to the idiotic and aggressively crappy "cyberpunk" films that would come years later, that doesn't mean it isn't any less annoying. I give it a 5 out of 10, mostly due to the excellent music and the bizarre atmosphere.

You Have A Mouth, And You Will Scream!, 4 August 2011
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" is one of Harlan Ellison's best and most re-printed short-stories, and arguably one of the best short-stories ever written. However, is the game as good as the short-story? Plot: The Allied Mastercomputer (or AM, for short) loses his mind, after being given limitless creativity and sequestered to a massive underground labyrinth. In his fury, he destroys all of humanity, except 5 people. After torturing them for over a century, AM becomes bored, and decides to give them a gift they've never received before: The chance to either kill themselves, or escape. However, they must relive some of the darkest days in their lives in order to do it.

Acting: The acting is very believable, and Harlan Ellison--as the voice of AM--is perfectly over-the-top.

Game-play: It's one of those point-and-click adventure games, only with a focus on ethics (and the human condition) that many similar games lack. AM throws many puzzles at the player, and most of them are not very easy (not as hard as, say, "Myst III: Exile", but far from too easy). To my knowledge, however, there is no multi-player; unlike most games these days, this isn't a down-side to the game (or most adventure games, for that matter).

Graphics: Considering that the game was made and released in 1995 (on CD-ROM), the graphics are pretty good. I've heard of many complaints, stemming from bugs and glitches, but I've never seen any.

Music: The music is pretty good; it's definitely above average for a non-"Myst" adventure game. It's also certainly above average, considering the mature-content. Speaking of which...

The Mature-Content: Naziism is the primary aspect of one part of the single-player campaign; it's as sad and terrible as one can imagine. Human sacrifice is also depicted, although, not in a very graphic manner. Rape is implied, but--fortunately--never seen (although, I've never lost during Ellen's campaign; it could be one of the potential "bad endings"). There is also some sexual content, although--if it were on television in America--it would probably only be rated "TV-14 S"; the sexual content is also by-passable, and is something you can choose to pursue or not pursue.

Differences Between The Game And The Original Short-Story: Bennys' character's back-story is somewhat different from the short-story; AM communicates with the other characters much more often; the original ending from the short-story can only be seen if the player loses towards the end of the game; there are some other things, but none of these differences interferes with the entertainment value of the game.

Overall: "I Have No Mouth" is a very unique game for its time, in that there's no clean, "scot-free" way to win the game. Mr. Ellison always stressed when making this game that it shouldn't be about winning, but rather about losing in varying ways with varying consequences. It's all about ethics, human dignity, and perseverance. It's excellently written, wonderfully acted, and very engaging. I give it a 10 out of 10!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Gutterballs--An Honest Assessment, 15 July 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Gutterballs" is marketed as an homage to slasher-films from the 1980s. Does it do that genre justice? Well...yes and no.

The Plot: Two groups of friends/bowling-teams get into a violent argument at a bowling alley; one group consists of "good people" (and, by "good", I mean horny, oblivious, and annoying), the other group are our villains (and, by "villains", I mean...horny, oblivious, and annoying people). After the argument, Lisa (one of the "good people") is gang-raped by the members of the other bowling team, and sodomized with a bowling pin. The plans of revenge are then set in motion, when--the following night--members of both teams meet to settle a bet, and are systematically executed in increasingly gory and creative ways.

The Special Effects: They range from brutally effective to downright crude. I have to give the director, Ryan Nicholson, credit for even considering tackling some of these gory scenes with such an obviously limited budget (although, the first bathroom death-scene was just downright lazy). Some of the scenes were absolutely laughable, while others where unbelievably gruesome. Also, the vast majority of the gore happens towards the end of the movie.

The Sound Design: "Gutterballs" actually has a pretty good '80s soundtrack. The Foley artist(s) was at the top of his/her/their game, too (especially in the main villain's death-scene). I would not be surprised if the sound design used up a huge chunk of the budget; it was worth every penny.

The Set Design: The bowling alleys featured in "Gutterballs" do not look like they're from the 1980s. Enough said.

The Acting: The acting is atrocious, and an unmitigated affront to great dialogue and screen-writing. No actors or actresses seem to follow a script (if one was even written), and improvise, to no avail; many are grating, and are more obnoxious than they are evil (the pink-shirted fellow--who laughs kind of like The Joker--is a perfect example), and many more expect their breasts, genitalia, curse-words, special effects, and/or costumes to do the acting for them. Not to mention, I do not recall seeing any extras. I never thought I would say this, but extras could have saved this film (and, no, the talking "ball-waxing" machine doesn't count).

The Editing: The editing is so-so, but there are numerous scenes that didn't have to make it to the final cut. There is--quite simply--too much dialogue in this movie; too much inane, idiotic, banal, useless, unfunny dialogue.

The Sexual Content/Nudity: If you were to look up the phrase, "gratuitous sex" in the dictionary, the copyright-infringing poster for this movie would appear right beside it. If you looked up the word "gutterballs" in a thesaurus, the synonyms would be "graphic nudity", "gratuitous sex", "crappy acting", and "nowhere near as awesome as 'Maniac'". Also, there is a lot of graphic nudity, both male and female. What kind of moron wears a mini-skirt (with no panties) to a bowling alley, anyway? She knows she'll have to bend over at some point! Not that I'm complaining...

The Ending: The ending--ironically enough--didn't seem to want to end. It just dragged on...and on...and on. I won't go into too much more detail; let's just say, there were too many cooks in the kitchen.

Overall: This film is brutal in every way: Brutal violence, brutal gore, brutally-bad acting, brutally-cheap producers, brutally-absent editor(s), and brutally-inept continuity supervisor(s). While the gore is pretty good, the rape scene is nowhere near as unsettling as the other reviewers have said on this site, due primarily to exceptionally poor acting (and a lack of above average editing). In fact, virtually every flaw in "Gutterballs" can be traced to bad acting, and bad improvisation. However, I--as a gore-hound--was not as disappointed as I probably should have been. That is why I give it a 6 out of 10! Note: I have only seen the unrated-version of this film.


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