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The Day of the Jackal (1973)
On the whole a good movie with a few flaws
There are times while watching this movie that you have to suspend disbelief. I could not believe that someone as smart as the Jackal would jeopardize the most important assignment of his career to have a casual affair with a married woman and then go back to her. Another flaw is the seemingly effortless murders of the forger and Madame Montpellier. Hitcock went to great pains to demonstrate how hard it is to take a human life in his film Torn Curtain, Fred Zinneman apparently never watched that movie. Last but not least, even in the stultifying bureacracy of the Elysee Palace, I refuse to believe the French Ministers were ever that incredibly stupid.
A very interesting plot idea. But weak character development.
A very interesting plot idea. Emotionally charged, superb acting some good humour All in all a very creditable effort on what have been a very limited budget. My main criticism of the film is the character development. Celia and Martin seem unresolved and don't quite add up / ring true. For instance, Celia lives in a fairly large house, drives a BMW, spends quite a bit of money on her hobby (photography) and apparently manages to pay for all this on the meagre earnings of a housekeeper. It's much the same with Martin, he doesn't appear to have a regular job; he seems so misogynistic I can't quite visualize him working with the blind. Martin eats out quite a bit and is an avid photographer. So, do we assume Martin balances his budget by collecting a disability cheque from the Australian government? Did he inherit his house? I'm not a details freak, but I find it hard to suspend disbelief when someone lives lavishly on social assistance, or menial housework
Deliver Us from Evil (2006)
The Church is Destroying Itself From the Inside
In a terrible way, that monster Oliver O'Grady has rendered a service to the human race. He and others like him have set off deafening alarm bells. He illustrates the moral insanity of someone in a position of trust who is governed by his hormones and not his religious precepts. O'Grady has called into question not only the "infallibility" of the church hierarchy all the way to the top, but has left the seeds of profound doubt as to the power of prayer to protect the vulnerable from evil. People who attack the Catholic Church from the outside usually only succeed in stiffening the resolve of its followers to continue with renewed faith. It's the hypocrites and dogmatists within the church who inflict the mortal damage that may eventually consign it to the scrap book of history. Any religion or spiritual institution worthy of preservation must contain its own safety mechanism built within its very precepts. I recall, following a recent sex scandal in the media, a televised town hall meeting in which a conceited and arrogant Catholic lobbyist harangued the audience (mostly Catholics) with her usual spiel, "no salvation outside the church", "sexual abuse is far more prevalent outside of the church", "no place for women in the priesthood", etc, etc. When asked what was the problem the church had with women priests she smugly retorted: "according to the bible, how many women disciples did Christ have?". I felt like responding "best evidence suggests Jesus died on the cross before he was 30 and his disciples were also in their 20's, how come the median age of a new pope in recent times is 63 years?" - but I abstained from commenting. As the audience became increasingly restive and annoyed by her delivery, I became increasingly content; "keep up the good work ma'am, you're message is accelerating the church's eventual demise; a reformed Catholic Church might have struggled on for another 1000 years.
Being There (1979)
A Truly Inspired Masterpiece
The combined talents of Jerzy Kosinski and Hal Ashby have produced a rare gem of a comedy movie. The timing of this movie is uncanny; the story of a complete imbecile who rose to the highest office and less than a year after its theatrical release Ronald Regan would be in the Whitehouse! The most abundant element in the universe is not hydrogen, it is stupidity. - Frank Zappa
The acting in this movie is superb, even the supporting cast's performances are flawless. On the subject of timing, what a shame Peter Sellers went on to star in a moronic piece of garbage called the "Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu", "Being There" would have been the perfect culmination of his film career. Oh well.
Mean Streets (1973)
Revisited after a four decade absence
Mean Streets is an irritating mess of a film. I watched the first half of it forty years ago and walked out of the movie theater with irate contempt. Having been a diligent film buff for the past four decades, I recently reproached myself for my youthful impatience and let myself be seduced by the rave reviews of critics such as Roger Ebert. I rented the DVD version from a video library. This time I sat through all of it (don't ask me how I managed that) and I concluded that back in 1972 I had been way too generous in suffering those 45 minutes before exiting from the theater. The average porno movie has more of a script than this piece of mental chewing gum. The characters are unsympathetic. The acting is embarrassingly bad and the directing is worse. Is the film a legitimate time capsule of real life in Little Italy? I don't think so. If a character like Jonny Boy behaved like such an irresponsible jerk, he might have survived for a while in a hippie commune back then, but he wouldn't have survived 2 minutes on the streets of New York. What I don't get is why Scorsese let this embarrassment stay as a skeleton in his closet. With all the money his later movies made at the box office, he could easily have bought out the rights to this movie, buried it, destroyed all copies and forever after vehemently denied he ever made the film in the first place.
Patriot Games (1992)
A Fairly Good Movie Despite Its Silly beginning
A retired CIA operative takes his family on a relaxing vacation to London England and hey presto, he finds himself in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to thwart an IRA attempt to kidnap a member of the British royal family. Yeah right, a totally believable story line - NOT! The odds must be in the billions. A film like Die Hard can get away with this sort of nonsense because it is a "semi tongue-in-cheek" action movie; Patriot Games takes itself far too seriously for it to get away with such a ridiculous plot contrivance. Clear and Present Danger had a far better script because Jack Ryan was propelled into the thick of things due to his being an active field operative
Inconsistent Character Development
I found the constant bickering between Catherine and Claire to be tedious, I found neither of their characters sympathetic or likable. But the plot requires the audience to wonder whether or not Catherine is crazy. But this brings me to the character Robert. We are expected to believe that the character portrayed by Anthony Hopkins was a mentally ill man driven by his obsessions and delusions, a man who borrowed huge numbers of library books he never intended to read in order to extract a coded message in the Dewey decimals, a graphomaniac who obsessively wrote gibberish into hundreds of notebooks. Why then, when he interacts with the various players in this movie does he always come across as a laid back, mellow, mild mannered man. Am I the only one to notice the inconsistency between his demeanour and his history of mental illness. The two just don't jive. I'm surprised this was such a successful play, converting it to a movie was not an inspired idea, in my opinion.
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
A Suprizing Example of Michael Moore's Craftsmanship and a Great Documentary
I am not sure if Mike made his case that capitalism is unchristian. The Catholic church probably repudiates capitalism because it is eletist and the very word "catholic" means universal, open to verybody. Jerry Falwell and most other televangelists didn't seem to see adouble standard in their belief vs their lifestyle. And lets face it, there is enormous accumulated wealth within the Vatican. Like in so many other things ("eye for an eye" vs "turn the other cheek" etc.) the bible contradicts itself on this issue. While it's true that much of the teachings attributed to Jesus do appear to espouse socialism, there are many passages in the bible that espouse capitalism, even in the new testament! Matthew 25, Verses 14-30 for instance. See Below
(14) For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. (15) And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. (16) Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. (17) And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. (18) But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. (19) Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (21) His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (22) And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' (23) His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' (24) He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, (25) So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' (26) His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: (27) Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (28) Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. (29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
Minority Report (2002)
Nice Effects but the basic plot premise is pure B.S. Cruise Should Know Better
Reality Check! I think that responsible and intelligent film reviewers should make a clear distinction between the genres of "science fiction" and "science fantasy". The first genre occasionally produces an intelligent script based on what could theoretically be possible if human knowledge and technology continue to expand at the present rate. The second genre is a time-wasting mess of "fairy tales" (the sort of moronic drivel LRH specialized in) that could only appeal to or entertain flakes. If only our country's pathetic education system could somehow instill in the majority of students the two most basic laws of physics (the first and second laws of thermodynamics)we'd all get along a lot better. The brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, vainly tried to explain, in detail*, that the second law of thermodynamics makes it absolutely impossible to foretell the future - not even with the haziest accuracy. Even Scientologists acknowledge that cognitive thought has mass and energy; - ergo, human cognition must be subject to the laws of entropy. You can no more recall the future than you could travel to work today on gasoline or diesel fuel that have not yet been refined and would have to be derived from fossil fuels that have not yet even been been extracted from the ground!
* Vide: "Brief History of Time"
Aren't We Missing the Point?
I'm somewhat bemused by comments by viewers like Mr Donald Fagan of Baltimore. The gist of his argument seems to be that Robert Greenwald is being unfair to Wal-Mart because other "big box" stores are playing the same game. The whole point of targeting the Wal-Mart chain is the sheer scale of their operation. If the senior management team at Wal-Mart achieve their ultimate goal, pretty soon there isn't going to be any K-Mart or Sears or ....whatever. One could just as easily argue that the Alex Gibney documentary "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" was unfair to the top brass at Enron Corporation because other technology companies like "WorldCom" and "360 Networks" were run just as dishonestly! Nobody disputes that, but again you have to take the sheer scale of the operation into account. If only sleaze-bags like Michael Moore could produce documentaries as honestly and professionally as Robert Greenwald, the industry would be all the better for it in my opinion