Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Seemed as though a LOT was taken from The Walking Dead. Not saying that anything was directly lifted from the TV Series - maybe there are just so many plot devices you can muster for a zombie thriller - but still, I've seen it all before. But having said that, it was darned scary - much more so than The Walking Dead. I lost my fear of those walkers somewhere in season 1 because you see so much of them. Here, they (the zombies) are used much more judiciously, therefore - to much greater effect. The interpersonal dramas were good. The creepiness factor was good. The bleakness of the outback, all the sets, the actors, it was all good. Just the ending seemed to me to not work well, and the way the characters changed at the end. Other than that, engaging throughout.
The African Queen (1951)
Succeeds on Star Power Alone
If there is ANYBODY who has yet to see The African Queen (and I mean for the very first time) then be forewarned there are spoilers below:
Although I remember being thrilled by this when I first saw it (as it doubtless thrilled movie goers who saw it on the big screen in the early 1950's), when I turn a critical eye towards the movie today, its flaws are obvious. If the movie succeeds at all, it does so on sheer star power alone - and star power it has. Who can resist the great Hepburn and the great Bogey? Certainly not I - I was entertained and to an extent charmed by the grace and the magnitude of these bona-fide screen legends. But in the final analysis, it is the very magnitude of these superstars that does the movie in. Where there could have be a real sense of peril and doom - with a few exceptions it felt like a walk in the park. The only exception, I would say, was the leeching scene. When Bogy returns to the parasite infested water, the look on his face made me shudder in my shoes. But other than that, they treated the journey much like a jaunt to the corner store. Laughing at the hippos (incredibly dangerous to humans in real life), blithely ignoring the crocs, the lions, the chimpanzees - this was kind of a travelogue - I never once felt that they were in any danger from predators. The river itself with the whitewater scenes did provide a little excitement, but it was quickly over. Then Bogey just whips up a campfire and repairs the damaged propeller and shaft. When at first he stated that it would be impossible to do so, he should have stuck to his guns. It would have been. A straightened shaft and a neatly welded prop blade was a ridiculous outcome. The way they suddenly embraced and became love birds was equally inane. The way they calmly accepted the German captain's death sentence was just over the top. The whole plan was a joke, and Bogey knew it from the start. The movie would have been far more tense and convincing had he stuck to his guns and they somehow had to navigate out of trouble but with a much more realistic narrative. Many classic movies from the past display the same tendency to rely on its star power and neglect the true facts of life, ignoring the reality that one-in-a-million strokes of luck actually only happen one-in-a-million times. The Louisa striking the "torpedo" on the sunken Queen, and Hepburn and Bogey (who had lost everything) swimming off in laughter was the final straw. The art of cinema has benefited greatly by the fantastic directors and screenwriters who came after. Movies were still in their infancy in 1951, and it shows. If it were done today the same way, the movie would by laughed off the screen and out of the theaters in a week.
Possible minor spoilers below
When I first saw the coming attractions, I vowed I would NOT be seeing this. Then it got such high praise, and I normally DO like Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, love Scarlett Johansson, and I decided that the plot sounded interesting enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, it did not work for me at all. This was a one dimensional idea that they tried to make into a 2 hour movie that took itself much too seriously. I get that we're all on the verge of relating more to our iThings than our actual relationships. That's the one dimension. Most every person in the movie is absorbed with their pocket computers, just like most everyone is today, except to an even more neurotic degree. The natural extension of this neurosis is that we could fall in love with these things to the extent that we exclude actual human beings from our lives. I get this. But I hated the movie. The first 20 minutes was intriguing. The booting up of the system, the first conversation - I even admit I thought it would be cool to have an OS1 myself. Then, just like that, the creepiness factor overcame the intrigue and I started squirming and the most inviting thing I could see in the theater was the EXIT signs to the left and right of the screen. I did not take the exit - I watched the movie through - but for at least the last 1 and 1/2 hours, I was simultaneously creeped out, disgusted, bored, and repulsed. The movie had nowhere to go. Maybe that was the point. It had nowhere to go, just like our relationships with our devices have nowhere to go. I get the point but demonstrating it to me in this way was torture. WHY did he wear the nearly identical clothing throughout? And this clothing looked shabby and worn in close ups - what was the wardrobe designer thinking? Where was the spirit of Edith Head? Theodore seemed fairly well-to-do. He couldn't ever change his shirt and pants? HOW could he afford a swanky looking apartment, while working in what looked like a cog-n-the-machine type of no-influence job? Sure he was creative, but this type of a job does not earn the big bucks. True I don't know the society, but you did see row upon row of similar grunts doing the same thing as he. This would be a low pay, low reward type of crappy job. Then we have Samantha, who, after the initial exhilarating (I admit) introduction to human society (sterile as it was) became just a prop in the movie and nothing more. Sure there were a few surprises along the way, but not enough to sustain the movie. As I said, it might have been a 20 minute vignette or Saturday Night Live skit. Except there was not enough humor even for that witless show. A foul mouthed holographic image in a video game did little to liven things up. What about the potential liabilities and repercussions of publishing supposedly personal, hand written (by others) love letters? Didn't Skip, or Chris, or whatever their blasted names were, have any comment upon maybe finding out their lovers did NOT write these letters, seeing them published in a book by Theodore? Not a word about this - one of the few things that COULD have provided a little interest, conflict, and resolution. But nothing. Did the writers actually not understand this? Too complex a thought for them? (My wife pointed this out and I was proud of her) I got sick and tired of seeing Phoenix'z nerdy face in almost every scene, was revolted by the prostitute pretending to be Samantha (although Samantha denied she was a prostitute but let's call a spade a spade), was totally repulsed and embarrassed (for the movie makers that is) by the sex with Samantha scene - was praying they would touch cheeks and leave it at that - which it looked like they were about to when the screen went blank but no, they had to heap on the stinky schmaltz by continuing the verbal coitus - what a repulsive pile of steaming excrement this movie is. HOW could the little girl and the friends at the picnic hear Samantha, when Theodore always had to wear that earpiece? They did not have any earpieces, but suddenly Samantha's voice rang out. The hooker needed it though. They even blew the opportunity to have the real Scarlett Johansson play the hooker, which would have provided at least a touch of irony to this idiotic and childish nightmare of a movie, but no, they found an actress who almost looked like Scarlett instead, although Scarlett herself was right there for them. WTF????? Insipid and bland, while being creepy and repulsive. The worst possible combination of normally mutually exclusive elements. Amy Adams' performance was passable, and Scarlett Johansson has a nice voice. I liked the first 20 minutes - the scene at the beach and in the arcade as Samantha was indoctrinated into the nightmarish world of human society grown OS dependent. That is all I can find to say about this otherwise tortuous rip-off of a movie. My wife, with whom I saw it, felt exactly the same way about it. Another good thing is that with every passing, gruesomely excruciating moment, I loved my real flesh-and-blood wife more and more. And yes, this maybe was the point, but it was supposed to be a movie, not a marital therapy session. Sorry to those that loved it, and I realize a lot of folks did love it. But my wife and I are certainly not among them. Saved the day and my mood by buying a great looking black wool fedora after the movie ended - so this trashy movie would up costing me $107. $22 for the movie tickets and $85 for the hat.
One of the VERY BEST of its genre
I put this on, expecting your typical schlocky disaster movie, which I enjoy even though they are usually worthless. Usually, you follow your core group of main characters - who are mostly untouched by the disaster - as you watch hordes of nameless, faceless mobs die, while clumsy CGI special effects blast them, or burn them, or hurl them to kingdom come. Tsk tsk, what a shame - there go another hundred or so unlucky boobs. I think I'll get up and get a snack - might as well leave it running - I won't miss anything. This wonderful movie is nothing like that. This movie has an exceptional cast, whom you follow through the HELL that they are experiencing, in a very realistic portrayal. I cared about these characters. They have personalities that grow on you. They console each other. They try to protect each other - against the absolutely terrifying scenario that they are trying to survive. Some reviewers complained that it was slow going until the earthquake. I guess they must have short attention spans, and if nobody is dying at the moment they loose interest. You hear about earthquakes in other parts of the world (other than where I live, at least, in NYC) and you hear 10,000 died, 100,000 died or 250,000 died, but you just can't imagine what it could be like to see such a thing happening. If you want to be immersed in the sheer terrifying horror of such an event, prepare yourself and then watch Aftershock. An unqualified 9 stars. One of my very favorites of this genre.
Wake in Fright (1971)
A harrowing, brutal, superb nightmare of a film
The movie is superb. I, like many others, grimaced at the kangaroo slaughter. I despise the needless killing of animals - especially "higher" animals, and these kangaroos have the light of consciousness in their eyes. But they were not killed for the movie, according to the info that the producers provided. This hunt was going to happen, movie or not, and without it, the movie would have been less revolting, but much less powerful. Now that I got the kangaroo killing over with, I can only state, that I was riveted to the screen, glued to the narrative, overwhelmed by the brilliance of all the performances, and blown away by the overall effect. Good Lord, what a masterpiece! Here is a movie that explores, in depth, the downward spiral of a character that we (or I, at least) immediately liked. Every line was delivered not by the actors, but by the characters they portrayed. Totally engulfing, to the point that I still feel the dust in my nostrils. Once again, a movie made with a fraction of the resources that the big Hollywood studios have at their disposal, and yet, with 10 times the power. 10 stars!
The Butler (2013)
I'll start by stating that I'm a 62 year old white male. I did not grow up in the South - but I did live for a year in Louisiana in the early 70's. I lived through every news event that was portrayed in the movie - that is, I saw and read about them in the actual news when these things happened. Many posters on the boards say that the movie is inaccurate. Then they go on to say things like: His name was changed, he didn't have 2 sons, he didn't look anything like Forest Whitaker, Nixon was miscast, etc. True, the details of The Butler's family life have been dramatized. That is called movie making. The movie was historically accurate in every important way. I don't say that every single detail was true, nor am I saying the portrayal of these historical events was 100% exactly as portrayed. But it is far more accurate (and important) than your average popcorn POS that pervades the theaters these days. I want to state that I have rarely, if ever, been as emotionally affected by any movie. It is brilliant, provocative, artistic, and has a social purpose. Like it or not, persons of African descent have been victimized, downtrodden, brutalized, persecuted, tortured, lynched, raped, and murdered - and only because of their skin color. HOORAY to Lee Daniels for making this movie! Hooray to Forest for being a sensitive, intelligent, highly gifted actor. Hooray to Oprah, whose performance is beyond stellar. Hooray to anyone involved with this movie. Not to say that ALL movies have to take you to the places that this movie does. I guess there is a place for Pacific Rim and Wolverine. So if you think that movies have no business delving into our racist and brutal history, then see one of those movies. But to say that this movie is irrelevant or inaccurate - well, as I said I lived through it all. It is not. What it is, is an exceptional, mature movie for those that want a little more than monsters (the fictional kind). My wife and I went through a whole packet of tissues - we were blubbering like fools. BRAVO!!!!! 9 (rather than 10) stars only because the 10 star reviews are often discounted as over- the-top hero worship. But if Ironman, The Avengers, etc are 10 stars (and I liked those), this movie rates 100 stars - because it is 10X better, more important, more relevant, and more thought provoking.
The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
Should be sleeping with the fishes
This is a horrible movie. The plot is so fantastic and absurd, that talking dolphins is one of the more plausible aspects of it. I normally like George C. Scott - but not even he could save this turkey. The movie can't decide if it is an environmental morality play, a cloak-and-dagger thriller, or a farce. If had gone all out with farce, it may have succeeded, but it takes itself far too seriously. The "bad guys" are so wooden, the Sorvino character morphs around from one kind of character to another - just like that with no explanation, a ridiculous killing thrown in for no apparent reason, with extra effort to make it even more improbable. Some of the moments that the other reviewers liked, for me fell flat. Example - GCS's caressing of the dolphin in the tank creeped me out and seemed to suggest sexuality. I almost cried out - UNHAND THAT YOUNG LADY - uh, I mean dolphin. The whole idea that a dolphin could be a witness to a crime (thus causing the criminal to undertake ludicrous measures) is so flat out idiotic, I don't know what is any more far fetched. Do yourself a favor and watch one of the really bad movies from the last decade or so, if you want to watch something really idiotic. At least the hair styles and lapels won't add to the hilarity.
Black Swarm (2007)
I really love the grade B stuff (and nothing beats the 50's and early '60s in that genre), but I found absolutely nothing of value or interest in Black Swarm. This one is grade F. I missed the last 20 minutes, because as it was building to the climax, I realized that it didn't have one. So many inconsistencies, irrational behavior of the characters, and pure stupidity that I can't even sum up just how horrible this straight to cable bomb really is. Let's start with the fact that dead bodies wake up and go missing from the morgue, and nobody seems to notice, including a scientist that had been shortly before, examining the body. Oh, it had plenty of clichés, such as the acute hearing and sense of smell of the old blind lady. WOW - that was some basement in that mobile home! Come on. There WAS a moral, though: Don't accept peaches from weird looking people who blow into dog whistles.