Reviews written by registered user
tom_oldani

5 reviews in total 
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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The Making of "10 Items or Less", 25 October 2007
2/10

While watching this movie, I came up with a script for a movie, called "The Making of 10 Items or Less":

Producer: I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, we can get Morgan Freeman!

Writer: That's great! But what's the bad news?

Producer: We can only afford to hire him for one day. I guess we'll have to get someone else.

Writer: So we hire him for one day. A movie is an hour and a half long. A work day is eight hours long. I fail to see a problem.

Producer: But... he'll have to spend time getting into character.

Writer: So we have him play a character who is essentially himself.

Producer: But he'll still need to understand his motivation and all that. You're not saying we have him play a big-name actor that's doing a low-budget movie, are you?

Writer: Why not?

Producer: That's ridiculous! But fine, at least we'll have Morgan Freeman in our movie. And I guess we have to set the movie in Los Angeles too.

Writer: Of course.

Producer: This script is a load of crap. We'd better make money on this. Just in case, have Morgan Freeman's character plug Wal-Mart or Target or one of those stores, so at least someone will want to sell the DVDs.

Writer: Sure thing!

Producer: Wait a second... what's this about a tiny bodega with a "ten items or less" express lane?

Writer: Oh, I guess that is pretty weird. But we can't change the title now!

I doubt my script actually bears much resemblance to reality, but then neither did "10 Items or Less". This is a case of good acting, but bad writing, and I hate to see it happen. When watching an independent movie, you expect it to try to convey some sort of message. I think they might have been trying for the tired old "don't let anything hold you back" message that has been done to death in much better films. In any case, with "10 Items or Less", the only message I got was "Look! Look at Morgan Freeman!"

Gattaca (1997)
13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Gattaca tries to label itself as an intellectual film but can't stand up to scrutiny, 11 May 2005
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gattaca was not average by any means. I feel I must rate it a five though, not for being mediocre, but for being excellent in some areas and utter tripe in others. The premise of this movie is an interesting one: that genetic engineering will produce a ruling class of post-human elitists. However, this film is simply too unbelievable to effectively make any sort of point.

Vincent, played by Ethan Hawke, is a child conceived naturally during a time where that sort of conception is considered passé. Unfortunately for him, all the good jobs require a genetic screening to weed out less-than-perfect candidates, and his dream of becoming an astronaut is made extraordinarily difficult due to his bad genes. In fact, he actually has to hire Jude Law, who has really good genes, to allow him to take blood and tissue samples so he can pretend to have good genes too.

Throughout this movie there are many, many times where the plot was simply too unbelievable to allow me to enjoy this movie. First of all, the sheer number of DNA tests that people in this movie were subjected to was simply over the top. Employees of the center where Vincent worked had to have their fingers pricked constantly. For an agency that's looking to attract the best and the brightest, I can't think of a better way to drive them away. I give blood to the Red Cross every four months, and that finger prick they make everyone endure still drives me crazy. Many nurses have told me that it's the same with just about everyone. In the end, this all turns out to be rather useless for their purposes, as Vincent gets around the DNA tests and the infernal finger-pricking with latex pouches of Jude Law's blood glued onto his fingertips.

Of course that's just a detail, but nevertheless it's a detail that stood out to me. More important is the fact that Vincent doesn't show any signs of being a genetic cripple, save for his thick glasses. Judging by the list of his disorders they rattled off at the beginning, he is not, as you might suspect, a retarded obese midget, but reasonably good-looking, extremely motivated, and very intelligent. One of the points this movie seems to be trying to make is that your genes don't really affect who you are, but clearly they do.

There are some more ridiculous scenes. Vincent claims that despite the genetically determined prediction that he would die young due to coronary problems, his "heart is a thousand beats overdue." Just for kicks I figured out how long it'd take for a heart to beat one thousand times, and it's about 15 minutes. If that were all, I wouldn't be so optimistic. Then there were the spaceships, manned by a staff with impeccably gelled hair wearing suits and ties. Then there was the assumption that Jude Law's character was a failure, despite winning only a silver medal in the Olympics. Considering the sheer number of genetically perfect athletes, I'd say second place is pretty good. Then there were the showers that cleaned themselves with flamethrowers, yet had no safety features to prevent the inevitable.

I could keep listing things, like the way all the DNA tests seemed to be designed so that a determined person could barely beat them, but that would be pointless. It all serves to show that despite this film being an obvious work of science fiction, the science was usually obscured by art and marketability. That's not to say Gattaca isn't worth seeing; it certainly is. It was done very artistically, and there are many things to be appreciated here including the excellent performances by the cast.

Most people agree that there are two types of science fiction: that set in its own universe and that set in ours. Gattaca was clearly meant to be in the latter group. However, a science fiction story set in our universe must abide by the same laws as we do, which is something that this movie did not do. If this were its only fault, I would have rated this film higher, but alas, it was not.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Insight into the Arab Point of View of the Iraq War, 18 April 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All too often in today's world, truth is forced to take a back seat to partisanship. To a combatant who has taken up arms in the fight of left-vs.-right and red-vs.-blue, it doesn't make much difference what's true or not. If the other side said it, it's not true, or at the very best it's either a distortion of the truth or part of some insidious scheme to appear legitimate. Truth has been reduced to a weapon in this fight, used to pick apart every statement of the opposing team, and misconstrue it to mean something that wasn't intended at all. All this partisan bickering has led to real truth going largely unnoticed, often to grievous consequences.

"Control Room" is all about the quest for truth, in this case as it pertains to the Arab news network Al-Jazeera, which is often portrayed by American politicians and news outlets as being fiercely anti-western. In truth, this reputation surrounds them mostly because they report on things that the American government would rather people not see. They've shown the US military bringing people in from elsewhere to stage pro-coalition events, interviews with Iraqis that vehemently hate the coalition, and video footage of civilian victims of American bombings. The American military even bombed an Al-Jazeera base because of this, killing a reporter, because they were defying a ban on media coverage of the war.

Although many Arab extremists hate the US without question, this film goes to great lengths to show that these are not the people Al-Jazeera caters to. What really stood out to me was a scene in which one of the reporters arranged a video interview with a correspondent in Washington. The American man was very critical of his country's government and insisted that the war was only about oil, and that the US was only trying to exploit Iraqis. As soon as the interview ended, the reporter immediately berated the man who had arranged it, insisting that this American knew nothing of his government and he had no concept of the truth of the matter.

This film is an earnest look into the minds of all involved in the Iraqi War. It paints a much broader picture than any news segment covering this subject ever could. One of their disputes with the coalition occurred on account of the Al-Jazeera coverage of Iraqi civilians that were killed and seriously injured by various US bombings. The American military has been very critical of the news network for showing this footage, claiming that it is slanted and biased against Americans. But this is about something greater than partisan bias, this is about portraying the truth.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fans of the cartoon series, don't expect much, 22 September 2002

I saw this movie with my little brother, since both of us loved the cartoon series. Now granted, it does have its good points. The special effects were great, and staying along the lines of the original theme music was definitely a good idea. The bad parts of this movie almost all came from the fact that the movie bore very little resemblance to the cartoon. For one thing, Matthew Broderick is not a bad actor, but this just wasn't a good part for him. I mean, he didn't even try to do the voice right! The bumbling, incompetent, extremely self-confident Inspector Gadget from the cartoon was way more funny. Dr. Claw was a disappointment too. How can he not be, when they replace a scary, mysterious person with a sniveling little wimp? Penny and Brain and the Mad Agents being missing in action wasn't a good idea either. They made for the entire plot of the cartoon. There was too much romance and confusing plot development and not enough humor. The worst part of this movie though? The Gadgetmobile, hands down. With a personality at least as obnoxious as those of Jar-Jar Binks and Scrappy-Doo, I still can't see what the writers were thinking when they came up with that. Take away Gadget's voice and personality, Dr. Claw's voice and personality, the antics of Penny and Brain, and the antics of the Mad Agents, and there goes all the humor that really made that series what it was. If they do remake this movie or make a sequel, I sincerely hope that they think more of the fans of the cartoon. To me, this movie seemed like it was written by people who absolutely hated the cartoon and thought they could improve it. Well they didn't.

A decent, somewhat insightful movie, 15 April 2002

This movie was an interesting look at what the afterlife might hold, and the first half of the movie was really great. After that, though, it started to get a little bit phony, but still remained interesting. This is a movie that you will not leave from thinking that it was a waste of time, though, as long as you can keep an open mind and as long as you enjoy watching a wide variety of genres of movies.