Reviews written by registered user
peterkowalski

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44 reviews in total 
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The Visit (2015/I)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Not for everyone., 25 November 2015
8/10

Some people has dubbed "The Visit" as the grand return of M. Night Shyamalan - it's hard to even review a title of his without dipping into his less than fortunate release history of the past recent years - but the truth is, The Visit is not his return, nor it is his finest hour. It is, however, a surprisingly entertaining mix of creepy, funny, and insightful. And it's not for everyone. But if you're smart enough to keep your eyes opened, you will get the joke.

The story here is Becca and Tyler's - aged 12 and 8, respectively - who are on their way to meet their grandparents, whom they've never met due to a big fight her mother had with her parents before the kids were born. The cookie-cutter grandparents - named here as Nana and Pop-Pop - are just as you'd expect - typical American, warm and a bit quirky. Oh yes, the big thing is that Becca is making a documentary of the whole trip, something she hopes will be, as she calls it, an elixir to mend the broken relationship between her mother and her parents.

Almost right off the bat, things get real weird. Tyler - a typical 8-year-old womanizer with the self esteem of Kanye West (and rapping skills not far off him) may provide the comical relief in the movie and be the source of all good jokes, but he's also the first one who smells a rat. Becca, on the other hand, a mature, educated and patient little lady, is more prone to write off all weirdness happening to their grandparents as sad acts of getting old. Her mother shares her theory during one of the Skype sessions.

But the weird things get more and more frequent and more and more undeniable. As soon as the kids find an explanation for one thing, two other pop up, and by the end of the trip, the kids are ready to go home, which is, as you would probably guess, where everything gets from bad to worse.

Shyamalan is smart about things. He mixes all kinds of clichés and inspirations from all kinds of places - there's a nod to Psycho, to Halloween, Paranormal Activity, and Becca's found-footage-first-person-view-filming style is an obvious reference to the Blair Witch Project. The grandparents' names are also a nod to classic-American family, and as we go along, you become more aware of those references, but they do not feel forced nor overused. Maybe because they really aren't - Shyamalan uses them with great restriction, and smartly shifts the mood from scary to funny to nostalgic to creepy again. It's all organic and natural, mature and fluid.

The trick is - no expectations. If you live with the notion "The Visit" is just another "The Village" or "Sixth Sense" yes - you will be greatly disappointed. And you really shouldn't be: "The Visit" is a tasty piece of cinema, by all means not a return of the director, but a more distinct and mature direction.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Is it a plane? Is it a social experiment? How cares, 25 November 2015
1/10

One could find elaborate words to describe how awful that episode was, but since the makes didn't put any effort in it, one shouldn't either. The episode was undeniably, painfully and idiotically unfunny, boring and uninspiring - and racist on top of everything. If there was any grander meaning behind it all -apart from China buying out USA, yes, I think we all got that- I missed it. I understand how sorrow and bitter it was supposed to be, but it wasn't enough to be a political commentary and nothing else was there to make it a comedy. It didn't make me think, it didn't make me laugh, it didn't make me feel anything. Which is about the worst thing someone else's creation can do to you.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Fork you, propaganda., 24 November 2015
1/10

Unless you are completely blind and deaf to the news of the world, you should already know that the world is turning obese at alarming rates and fast food is bad for you. You should also know about the dangers of consuming processed sugar and saturated fats. Those well-known facts are the only valid point the movie makes - unfortunately, it's a point made solely to develop its own bias propaganda. I would say vegan propaganda, but even the filmmakers smartly avoid using the term - you won't hear it even once; instead, it's all about "plant based diet".

The movie starts off with the director, the main protagonist and the voice behind it all, Lee Fulkerson going all super-size-me on you getting his blood checked. You may already suspect that the results won't be pretty, but if you dared to have a naive hope, he's fast to straighten you out, informing us that he's just consumed two red bulls on his way over (surely not something that would alter the results). Which are devastating, of course, so Fulkerson decides to go on a veg, sorry, all plant diet, warmly advocated by his two MD friends, coincidentally a married couple. Over the course of the movie, we will meet several other protagonists of all ages and backgrounds (also ethnic) with their own share of various health issues, who will, all thanks to nothing other than all-plant diet, not only feel much better at the end of the test period, but will have all of their problems gone (including cancer - apparently you can beat breast cancer eating fruits, veggies and whole grain now).

As the movie goes on, the filmmakers are feeling less and less shameful about sending you on a one-way guilt trip pulling out statistics from left and right, misinterpreting the data they are using to support their theories, and making blunt medical errors as well as absolutely ridiculous conclusions (the one I particularly enjoyed was the one trying to prove a relation between second world war and a number of cancer-related deaths in Norway; all because the very first thing Hitler did when invading the country was taking all the cows away, hence the drop in death rate - and hence the immediate rise of deaths by cancer the minute the war ended). If you're not feeling particularly guilty over eating meet and killing little baby goats by the two thirds of the movie, the filmmakers kindly remind you that, well, to actually support the food used to feed the food we eat, one must cut out an Amazonian forest. Yes, you are correct, you filthy meat-eater - you are directly responsible for the death of rain forests. And as we go along and the setting changes from rain forest in Amazonia to China to Canada to Texas, where the strong and mighty firefighter delivers a highly suspicious story how they are all so competitive and one time they decided to get a blood work to see which one has the highest cholesterol level - and because one guy was practically dead from all the grease inside, they all started to eat vegetables. If your little-boy's mind, you know, the one who always wanted to be a firefighter so you ate so much meat to grow big and strong is still not very convinced firefighters can grow big and strong on veggies alone, picture a firefighter going up a pole singing how real men only eat veggies. Or just play the movie, because the exact scene is shown. The ridiculousness does not stop for a second, as you hear some of the most idiotic sentences ever uttered - "poor people are poor" or "even some Chinese agree with Americans".

All is well packaged, though - for example, when FDA representative is defending eating meat, an image of meat being grilled is shown (which, as we also know, is not the healthiest way of preparing meat, and no words of grilling meat are being spoken). In fact, all images of meat in various forms are paired with a dramatic, unpleasant music, whereas all images of vegetarians, veggies alone and fruits are always paired with soft guitar, or piano. That alone, in addition to the oversimplifying statistics and other data, is enough to give the movie a 1 star rating. But the movie does more damage than that - it doesn't stop for a second to trickle the most important side of the issues it is presenting. It mentions the poor are poor - but does not add they choose junk food not because they don't know health risks involved, but it's because they do not have the money to acquire healthy food, which is more expensive. And then one of the heroines of the movie says - "I've had no education". That, in my opinion, is the real beginning to ending world's health problems, not simply telling people to switch from burgers to spinach. Education. Information. Not brainwashing.

Sharkwater (2006)
A great -and important- idea buried under Stewart's deeper-than-the-ocean ego, 22 September 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First things first: the movie is important and we all should be glad it has been made. Not only it is regarded as the fire starter to the save the sharks movement, but its consequences made such practices as shark fining illegal. That's a big feat. Unfortunately, that's not everything the award- winning documentary has to offer.

Sharkwater talk about many issues - shark fining included - for roughly about 60% of its length. The remaining time the viewer spends on listening to Rod's lectures on... himself. He never really stops talking about himself, creating a huge hero of himself, as if the sharks were just an excuse to make a autobiography. Sadly, that leads to actual important subjects being omitted or simply presented in a very scarce way, without the chance to develop. Production wise, the movie is an annoying disaster: plaintive soundtrack over the deep sea images, the douche bag-y voice of Stewart explaining he loves sharks, and the loopholes that make no sense (like his friends advising him not to comeback to Costa Rica, but omitting to tell him there is a whole movement in progress there, which, in the end, facilitates him the semi-safe comeback?). As the list goes on, the movie is less and less about sharks, and more and more a documentary mess.

In the end, Sharkwater does a great service in raising the awareness which resulted in saving a lot of actual sharks. Such a shame it's only a glimpse of what could have been, if the focus had been shifted on the subject needing it the most. Sharks.

Noah (2014)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Ah no., 26 July 2014
4/10

From the director of truly outstanding, brave movies - Requiem for a dream, Pi or the Black Swan, all of them being groundbreaking in one way or another, all of them being a brilliant psychological study of a human psyche, here comes a story of a hero. The Biblical story of a man whose faith saved his life - and the lives of several other species. One of the greatest stories ever told/written/imagined (pick one accordingly to your own faith). It is also a story of a once genius director selling out his own beliefs for no other reason than to make money.

Alright, let's start with the good: Noah, according to Aronofsky, is not a nice bearded gentleman; he's a dark creature willing to forsake his own daughter in order to please the God, to which he has devoted his life. And in Noah we see a glimpse of the good, old Aronofsky. And the visual effects are also nice, which should not come as a surprise given the movie's massive budget. And that's about it.

What's bad, is everything else. Bad, bad, overplayed acting. The Hollywood ending. The idea of the Stone Creatures, without which, apparently, the Arc would not have been built. The list could go on forever; the simple truth is that Noah is less of an Arc, more as Titanic. It's the movie you should skip this summer.

Imagine (2012/II)
14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Something magical, 10 December 2013
8/10

Somewhere in the beautiful, sunny Portugal is a house where the visionless learn how to cope with their disability, guided by a man who has mastered the art of living without using your eyes. For you, as a viewer, it's an interesting venture into the world unknown to you, if only a testimony to what you are taking for granted on a daily basis, and therefore, missing.

Jakimowski has a vision, one he stays to throughout the entire movie, without making it seem stale or boring. There's magic here, and a lesson to be learned. It's a movie with a mission, and whatever that mission could be, it's accomplished; it compels you to listen and open your eyes.

Set in the world of the blind, Imagine is the movie the world of the sighted needs to see.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A misunderstanding, 10 December 2013
1/10

Directed by 47-yeard-old Zack Snyder, Man of Steel is like a 10-year-olds visualization of what a superhero movie would be. It's loud, show-off-y, and packed with special effects; it also lacks sense, story, or anything engaging for more than two minutes. Where the plot isn't flat and paper thin, it's ridiculously predictable; where it isn't predictable - it just doesn't make any sense because of the various inconsistencies (example: the first time the aliens are landing on Earth, TV stations are broadcasting this news along with "amateur footage", featuring a major close-up of the ship. Yet when Clark goes out to see it, you can see the ship is very far away, only visible to human eye as nothing more than a slightly bigger shooting star. Only using his supervision is he able to get the magnification... shown a minute ago on the TV screen). As far as acting goes, Adams', Cavill's and Lane's performances are up to part, but even they cannot save the movie from destruction. But it's the story (or the lack of one) is Man of Steel's biggest issue - it feels rushed, carelessly fabricated on your way to work. If you top it off with annoying product placement (thank you, Nokia and Nikon, I'll stay away from your products) - you have a complete and utter disaster on your hands; one that, I feel, not even the Superman could salvage the Earth from.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Watch as Project Runway spin-off gets devoured by sponsoring, 6 December 2013
2/10

The original Project Runway is a classic. After 12 seasons, I can honestly say it hasn't lost its touch and never lost the quality. Heidi, Tim and Nina are absolutely fantastic, and they have been, always.

All Stars, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Stiff judges I can never agree with, boring challenges and the worst of the worst - so many product placements it's like the show is a walking commercial. If you had any doubts, the very last episode cleared them out. It's not even the very core of the challenge that was the problem - contestants were to design a dress for Marge Simpson, which, on some level, was a fresh and brave idea - but how both companies carried that out. The working rooms were all completely swimming with The Simpsons' decorations, silhouettes and stands, Marge's portraits were everywhere (on walls, on the desks) and if you had any doubts just WHO is sponsoring the show - "gifts" were given to the designers, God-awful Simpsons sneakers. "Thank you, Marge", you could hear designers saying, barely able to cover their disgust. Alright. We got it. The Simpsons team is sponsoring. Enough.

I'm not completely against product placement, but the companies must understand it's a very delicate matter. It can't be done by throwing everything you have in storage onto the walls.

Just as I was making my peace with The Simpsons' over-sponsoring, I heard, right in the middle of sewing, someone said... "Who wants some Resource water?"

And I gave up. Me and the show must part ways. I'm sure there are hundreds of people who don't really care - they will eat everything up, everything they see on the screen, they will take in and gladly have their brains washed. Not me.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly disappointing, 31 January 2013
5/10

Put together a bunch of great, internationally renowned actors, a beautiful, almost magical location, and one of the most talented director of our times. What do you get? A whole lot of nothing.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona remains to this day one of Allen's lesser efforts. The movie virtually stands for nothing, nothing meaningful, that is. There is no story, no motto, no grander meaning apart from screwing irresponsibly on your summer vacation. I'm amazed how shallow and uninteresting the characters were written, even the scene they star on, the beautiful, one-of-a- kind city of Barcelona is showed lackluster and boring. There's nothing intelligent, nothing to re- live again and again, nothing to think of. It's like the movie never existed. It's huge disappointment from such master as Allen.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
This title has nothing to do with the original Wonka., 25 December 2012
5/10

On paper, "Willy Wonka" is a perfect title to remake by Burton, and the very first minutes do account for it - Burton takes his creepy spin on the little, snowed in town of Charlie along its habitants. The whole idea goes south as soon as the new Willy Wonka appears: the awkward and highly inappropriate for the role Johnny Depp. Firstly, he's too young, thus unreliable. Secondly, his character seems to be completely rewritten, resulting in a completely different person. Depp is eccentric, but in a very different way, lacking sophistication and confidence. He's carrying cue cards, as if there was somebody else running the factory for him; every question asked by his guests shakes his doubtful confidence. Depp is a magnificent actor, but he fails to deliver the magic the Gene Wilder was so full of, and which he showed in such carefree way... Which proves to show that maybe, just maybe "Willy Wonka" is a title not to be touched nor remade, not even by Hollywood's grand masters.


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