Reviews written by registered user
elwinter

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27 reviews in total 
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Charming, quirky small film, 5 August 2004
7/10

Recommended for those who like thoughtful, surprising film fare. To this viewer, it is somewhat reminiscent of Local Hero. Not recommended for adrenalin junkies or those who thrive on sophomoric humor. I gave it a 7, though might change my vote to 8 over time. (I've never given a 10, and very few 9's.)

At the time of this writing, there are 21 votes in the rating. Unweighted average is 8.1, weighted average is 2.9. Two votes are "1", one each for 5 and 6, all others are 7 or over. Three votes by males 18-29 average 1.2, presumably weighted or it would be mathematically impossible (1+1+5)/3 = 2 1/3. I've often wondered about the secret algorithms for weighted averages. By this film, it seems apparent that 2 males 18-29 carry more weight than all other demographics combined (19 votes). Sigh.

Frida (2002)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Biopic of art icon/Mexican icon, 28 June 2003
8/10

We can all be grateful that this picture ended up being a Salma Hayek project, rather than a Jennifer Lopez vehicle. I am sure it is the better for this. Julie Taymor was also a brilliant choice as director. A worthwhile telling of this extraordinary and talented woman's life.

An interesting observation: In the USA, Mexico is typically viewed as a country which people want to leave, wanting to come here instead. The depicted cosmopolitan world of Mexico City -- Kahlo's father was a German Jew, Tina Modotti was Italian, Trotsky was of course Russian, and even Hayek's father is a Lebanese immigrant -- is something different and refreshing.

15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Coming-of-age sans treacle, 28 June 2003
9/10

This is one of the best depictions of female adolescence, and the intensity of female "best friend"ships I've seen. Good attention to detail. Doesn't pull its punches on sex, drugs & rock'n'roll - neither glamourizing nor moralizing. It might take courage for parents to let their teenagers see it, but it's delusional to think kids don't know about these things. Good to see it handled intelligently.

Limbo (1999)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
John Sayles does NOT hit a home run, 29 April 2003
4/10

Other reviewers have described the content of this film in extensive detail, so I will not repeat. In this film, the ending, or rather lack thereof, is not an asset. For comparison, consider another one of Sayles' films, "City of Hope". This has an indeterminate ending which is absolutely brilliant. In general, I'm a loyal Sayles fan. No matter the flaws in his work, he tackles important issues and themes. This one just is not up to his usual standards, IMHO.

Excalibur (1981)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Credible, 29 April 2003
6/10

I know this movie is supposed to be serious drama. And much discussion of that has been covered in previous comments.

But I love it best for its campiness. The image I carry with me is when someone accepts a mission from the king. "OK, I'll do it." The character promptly leaps over a railing, lands on his horse, and gallops off to his mission. What's not to love?

The Last Witness (1999) (TV)
8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A mildly entertaining thriller, 29 April 2003
6/10

Other reviewers have described the content of this film, so I won't repeat. Instead, I'll hold forth on a pet peeve about movies. Which is - the liberties taken with bird content in movies. To wit: The film is named "Caracara", but the bird used in the film is a Harris's Hawk. There are nine species of Caracara in the world. They're all found in Central and South America. One of the nine occurs far enough north to be found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Did they think that none of the 70 million birdwatchers in the US (according to the "National Survey on Recreation and the Environment" conducted periodically by the US Forest Service, most recently released in 2002) would notice?

One of the other comments on this film included: "Hence the title, referring to the species of Peregrine falcon she keeps as a pet". First, a Peregrine Falcon is a species itself; there are not species thereof. Second, although the Caracaras are members of the Falcon family, the bird used in this film is not a Falcon of any kind - Caracara, Peregrine or otherwise.

This is a low budget film, but this is not an expensive item to research. I suppose they liked the name "Caracara", which is rather more exotic than "Harris's Hawk". So, when it turned out that no Caracara could be found to appear in the film, they simply substituted something else, and kept the cool name. And they figured it didn't matter if they got it "right", because the audience wouldn't notice. Considering the comment quoted above, perhaps they are right. But, considering the kind of obsessive attention to detail found in many other aspects of filmmaking, it is baffling why so many films consistently goof up bird-related content. (The sound people are especially culpable in this regard.)

32 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Documentary, w/o latter day interpretation, 28 April 2003
9/10

I saw The Atomic Cafe in a theater when it was first released. Someone exclaimed derogatorily as they walked out on it. But I thought it was brilliant. Sort of a sub-genre of documentary, this one had no commentary, narrative or explanations for the material presented. No retroactive interviews with those who were there. It relied 100% on archival materials.

A few years back, I visited the Trinity Site (here in New Mexico) on the 50th anniversary of the first test of the bomb. Quite a few of those who were somehow involved back then and still living turned up for the event. So I did get to hear some hindsight comments. Definitely different than what was being said back then, and such commentary could have really changed the picture.

This is a rare approach, and therefore thought provoking. One can argue that the choice of material, editing and music track impose some interpretation, and there may be something to that. Although it's unlikely that one could turn the story into something really different unless latter-day, hindsight interviews were added to provide a different spin.

Being a "Baby Boomer", I was born during the times depicted in the movie, and have some early memories of them. For those who were alive in that time, it's fascinating to see how it tweaks your memory. I, for one, didn't think deep thoughts about the "duck and cover" drills at school - it was just another thing that got us out of our seats, like fire drills and recess. But it does tweak memory, to bring back things not thought of for many years. Interesting to consider how one's own memory is incomplete, wanders, can be influenced, etc. (Now, re-read Orwell's 1984.)

Brilliant, and disturbing. Interesting to consider in light of current events (spring 2003).

Not for the unthoughtful, 27 April 2003
9/10

Having read through 60+ comments already online about this film, I won't bother to add to that verbiage. Instead, I'll describe the experience of first seeing it, which is still vivid in my memory.

Koyaanisqatsi was shown at Radio City Music Hall when it was released, as part of the New York Film Festival. Once it was over, the sold out house made its way out onto the streets of midtown Manhattan, during busy evening traffic for the theater district. The audience had been transfixed by the film sufficiently that it had temporarily forgotten how to "behave" as pedestrians. Scores of people wandered off the sidewalks and into the streets, such that it snarled up traffic. Perhaps they were considering the intensity of city life as ephemera or illusion. And so, a cacophony of taxi horns filled the air, and the drivers rolled down their windows to curse and yell, trying to bring the crowd back to "reality". Which everyone was busy considering in unconventional ways. Memorable juxtaposition.

Inexplicably, in the midst of it all, was a man from Bolivia with a llama. For some modest fee, you could have yourself photographed with the furry Andean ruminant. Completely cryptic, but somehow appropriate, and as sensible as anything else around and about at the time.

Koyaanisqatsi was (and is) beautiful and thoughtful. About ways of life that can endure, and those which carry the seeds of their own destruction. Told in a non-narrative, non-verbal way.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
DVD w/commentary is best, 27 April 2003
8/10

The director is from India, and brings his knowledge of being subject to the British empire to the DVD commentary. Well worth checking out. As a Victorian period piece, the Kate Hudson character was a little too much of a zany free spirit to be convincing. Today, when the issue of world empire is very much on the table, this film's content is well worth considering.

Outbreak (1995)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant, but also deeply flawed, 26 April 2003
7/10

Mostly very good, with a couple of caveats. The Dustin Hoffman-Rene Russo romance aspect was a little forced, but OK. Excellent exposition on "emerging diseases", including the opening credit sequence which shows the various bio-safety levels. Too bad the ending wasn't so strong: You don't find the carrier animal, and then have enough antibodies to save a couple thousand already sick people THE NEXT DAY. One can only imagine what kind of committee came up with this nonsense, but they obviously have little regard for being grounded in something related to reality.

Ah well.


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