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5 reviews in total 
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11 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Sensitive, finely tuned road movie about gamblers with a whale of a lead performance., 17 September 2015

Movies like these simply don't come around too often. MISSISSIPPI GRIND follows in a long tradition of great gambling movies such as Altman's California SPLIT and Toback's THE GAMBLER, but easily stands up next to them as one of the finest examples of the genre. Ben Mendelsohn is at a career best level in this movie, approaching Pacino-in-the-70s heights at times. If you have followed his work since his breakout role in ANIMAL KINGDOM, his performance here will feel like a culmination of one hell of a run in the 2010's. Mendelsohn plays Gerry, a great poker player but a terrible gambler. His inability to know when to walk away from the table has put him deep into debt with some very unsavory characters, and even if he had the money to pay them back, he might just gamble it away anyways. This is the kind of self-destructive guy we're following here. He meets Curtis (Ryan Reynolds, the good version we also saw in ADVENTURELAND), a younger, seemingly more put together gambling enthusiast who clearly has issues of his own, and they form an unlikely but surprisingly endearing bond. Curtis agrees to stake Gerry a few grand and drive him down the Mississippi River, hitting a bunch of riverboat games on their way to a high stakes poker game in New Orleans. So the film also becomes a road movie, and a fantastic addition to that canon as well. The movie turns simply on watching these characters play out their fates, and the directing team of Boden & Fleck (who also made the great HALF NELSON and SUGAR) capture their lives with sensitivity and a good eye for emotions lurking just beneath the surface. We don't quite know what compels Curtis to help Gerry, nor do we know what compels Gerry to make some of the decisions he makes once they hit the road, but the filmmakers aren't interested in explaining flawed humanity to us. They are primarily interested in emotional truth, and boy do they find it in this story. Highly recommended for those who prefer finely tuned character dramas.

"Glee" (2009)
181 out of 265 people found the following review useful:
Fake, Forced "Happy" Show, 9 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This show bothers me. And I can't fully articulate why I does in a concise way, but I guess I'll just throw out a bunch of very specific things that I can't stand in order to try and build the bigger picture: The first problem this show has is the heavily Auto Tuned sound of its "singers". I understand that several of the actors and actresses on this show are well trained and very talented in their own right, but the creators never let you know that. They take EVERY SINGLE VOCAL sung by anyone on this show and strip all nuance, dynamic and wavering pitch from it. These are computers we are listening to. Nobody sings "perfectly" but due to the unfortunate practice of "fixing" vocals in all modern music, this show makes possibly talented people sound like any hack singer who actually needs the pitch correction, and by doing so makes all performers on the show indistinguishable from one another (an odd decision considering how much this show would seem to promote individuality).

Another thing I take issue with is the facile, broad, borderline offensive way they approach the "issues" these characters have. In a recent episode, the kid in the wheelchair gets told about a procedure that could possibly fix his spine and allow him to pursue his ultimate dream of dancing. After a few scenes the show seems to suggest that he did the procedure and they have him leap out of his chair and do an elaborate dance number in the middle of a shopping mall. Obviously, the bait and switch comes, and that was merely a dream sequence. I guess that scene was supposed to feel cathartic, but I came away from it feeling deeply offended at the nonchalance the writers and creators have when dealing with this character's very real situation. There are many other examples of this approach (the one girl's pregnancy, the other girl's search for her mother). I'd like to note that I do know the names of these characters, but the writing of the show generally does not allow any person on screen a life beyond his or her basic archetype, so naming them almost seems beside the point.

The thing I have the biggest problem with is the tone this show takes. I have no problem with the notion of a show with a sunny attitude towards life and all its problems and complexity. The issue I take is when a show grazes over the "problems and complexity" part and jumps straight to the sunny attitude. If this show didn't present people that would appear to have real life problems; if it didn't pretend to address serious issues in an attempt to create the facade of depth; if it was merely a show about young kids with big dreams singing in the school's glee club, I could get behind it and appreciate its positive outlook. The creators made a conscious decision to address things like teenage pregnancy, sexual identity and other real life concerns, only to fail to actually address any of them with any thoughtfulness or care. Thus, the show's happy tone feels like it hasn't been earned and ultimately comes out feeling forced and delusional. In order to "smile though your heart is aching", you have to understand the ache.

Glee doesn't.

65 out of 113 people found the following review useful:
First Great Film Of 2009, 18 March 2009

This may be my first review of a movie for IMDb. Can't remember if it is or it isn't but the point is I don't normally feel compelled to write about movies on this website. I had the pleasure of seeing this movie in advance at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles this February. I had not yet seen Rian Johnson's previous film Brick, so going in I had no biased opinion about the director or any expectations about what I was going to see. Basically what I saw was a movie that had a great story to tell. And it knew it, so it acted accordingly. I don't think going into detail about the events in the movie will do anyone any good, so I'll stick to a vague approach here. The movie has a similar vibe to Wes Anderson's work, but only in a purely superficial sense. The plot is of the "caper" mold and concerns two sibling con men and their virtually mute sidekick on a quest to trick rich people out of a lot of money. The actors are all first rate. Adrien Brody is essentially the lead, but Mark Ruffalo and Rinko Kikuchi round out the main group of characters. That is, until we meet the real star of this movie. Rachel Weisz has always been great in everything I've seen her in, but she commands the screen in this movie like I've never seen before. I'd put her on an early shortlist for Best Supporting Actress at next year's Oscars. Ultimately this movie made such a strong impression on me because of how well her character worked for me and the strong chemistry she had with Adrien Brody. I strongly recommend you avoid details about this movie in order to get swept up by this wonderful story, like I did. This is a must-see.

1 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
One of the best films of the decade, 9 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are a lot of morons on this website. And there's quite a few dim bulbs who say they started an account just so they can take the average rating down a peg or two. Really?

Certainly someone with an appreciation for real cinema and art will find much to appreciate here. This movie is very misunderstood by the negative reviewers here (aforementioned morons). I hear a lot of them compare it to a shooter video game and they all invariably bitch about things not being "explained" (in other words, spelled out). This movie's intention is not to give you some conventional action/sci-fi experience where everything is packaged in a clichéd manner and wrapped up in shiny paper with a red ribbon. It's purpose is to try to elevate these genres to a more artful place. The disconnect these people feel is when they try in vain to fit this into the narrow view they have of genre pictures. Cuaron is concerned with the little details. The big "explanation" that so many of you ask for is entirely irrelevant.

The Human Project does not need to be revealed, they are mysterious even to the protagonists. They represent hope and progress and that's all that's important.

The reason humans are infertile is also irrelevant, because we as thinking human beings can figure out a number of reasons why this could be a reality in the future. This theme is the jumping off point for the larger theme at play in this movie. People in modern society are walking a tightrope of civility if you ask me. A large part of the world is practically barbaric and the rest of us would need very little excuse to follow suit. I think extinction qualifies as a pretty big excuse.

I only posted these comments for those of you who are reading these "reviews" before seeing this film. This movie is not for everyone, because frankly not everyone has taste. Ouch.

3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
What a movie, 30 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a masterpiece. The way people view it entirely depends on whether or not they can stick with it through to the end. The end is crazy, and Daniel Day-Lewis does maybe the best acting I've ever seen during this portion. People put too much weight on the confrontation at the end, because they're trying to find some greater meaning to all of it. But there is great truth in what takes place. At the end of the day, guys like Daniel Plainview (greedy bastards) always suck the life out of people weaker and less aggressive than them, just because they can. And DDL has already given us plenty of buildup to see how this guy got to be so insane and sociopathic. I never thought Eli Sunday was some kind of mirror image of Plainview. When I read that in other reviews I grimace at the screen. Eli is (or should I say was) as Daniel said, "a sniveling ass", and Daniel is "the Third Revelation". This Eli kid acted like he had everything under control the entire time. He thought he was a step ahead or smart or something. And Daniel Plainview just wanted so badly to completely eviscerate this kid. Plainview is too cocky to let any dumb kid try and appear cocky within a 100 mile radius of him and not throw down. He hates any competition (although it is what ultimately drives him, he is never an amiable participant), most of all having to compete with someone so frustratingly below his level. So for this kid to pop up again in his life at the point where he really has hit his hard-drinking, psychotic rock bottom, what could have possibly happened that doesn't at the end of this movie?

All in all, Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor on screen today, hands down. The kid who plays H.W. is a real find, and Paul Dano does a great job of playing a pussy trying to be a man. And the score, cinematography, art direction, and direction in general are flawless. Best movie of the 00's.