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Lincoln (2012)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Two-and-a-half hours is simply not enough!, 10 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After reading a few reviews of "Lincoln" - some of which heap unequivocal praise on the film, others which seem to come straight from the keyboards of indignant secessionists - the one major flaw of the film, I believe, has been overlooked. The main flaw with Lincoln isn't its "wordiness" (one could have the same obtuse critique of any of Shakespeare's plays put to film), or its hero-worship of a historical figure (Lincoln's portrayed more as a conduit for high ideals rather than himself superhuman) - instead its weakness comes from one of its strengths: the sheer number of fascinating characters which lack in character development.

The screen time of every character besides Lincoln (Daniel D. Lewis) and, arguably, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) are abbreviated to the point where one senses a great void in the "Lincoln" back-story. While the inability to flush out these numerous characters in a single movie's running time is understandable, I still feel slightly cheated by meeting so many appealing characters yet learning so very little about them. (Interesting to note, this is a flaw which stems from the greatness of the supporting actors performances and an otherwise excellent plot.)

In comparison to similar works about an American President and their most intimate circles, particularly the recent "The Kennedys" mini-series, "Lincoln" does not expand much on most of the characters central to its story. With "The Kennedys" series, all of the main characters are flushed out to the point that a viewer may start to think of oneself as a fly-on-the-wall in the actual Kennedy household(s). Granted, "The Kennedys" is about six hours running time and made for TV which leaves me only to wonder if such a running time is necessary to do a film like "Lincoln" complete justice. (Personally, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a very extended director's cut.)

Yet, perhaps, this void in "Lincoln"'s back-story was part of Spielberg's intent - to spark an interest in the mind of his audience, to spur them to learn more about the people surrounding the debate of the 13th Amendment, and, possibly, to get them to read "A Team of Rivals" for themselves.

If this is so, I applaud Spielberg's ingenuity and if he were to send me a copy of "A Team of Rivals", I would surely send him my "Lincoln" ticket stub.

Lolita (1962)
3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Hamfisted Psychodrama, 24 May 2012

Interestingly, most people who write about Kubrick films never seem to grasp that his films are largely about them, the audience. Lolita is no exception to this.

<< Fill-in with interesting but unnecessary points >>

Unfortunately, unless you have the common artsy-fartsy psychosis, where you view all perverseness on film, page or canvas as high art, you'll notice that Lolita is silly and boring and certainly no 20th century Oedipus Rex.

<<9 lines>>

<<10 lines>>

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Best. War. Movie. Ever. Period,, 3 March 2011

Have you ever wondered what people thought was funny during the Cold War? Well, wonder no more, you've found it!

Under the threat of nuclear annihilation, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Stanley Kubrick kept the world laughing. From B-52 bomber planes fornicating in the skies to former(?) Nazi scientists miraculously recovering from leg paralysis, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb saved the world, if not from nuclear genocide, at least from a fatal dose of pessimism.

If you understand the mechanics of the Cold War and are looking for a way to laugh at an imagined apocalypse then Dr. Strangelove is for you.

12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
As Entertaining as a Lobotomy, 16 February 2011

This film was not made for the viewing pleasure of its audiences, but rather for the sadistic pleasures of its creators. Like "Zombieland" and "Tropic Thunder", "Knight and Day" trumps its own genre by moving beyond any accepted framework that made movies of its ilk tolerable, and like a lobotomy it ends up removing some of the brains from the person on the receiving end of it.

The only reason a film like this is even considered any where near decent, is because it uses the same "tricks" used by other Hollywood-films of its type, which have been deeply ingrained into the minds of its typical audience members as being good things. These acceptable "tricks", better called manipulations, can leave even thinking people accepting to the stupefying effects of this movie's video game violence and abrupt absurdities. The usual mix of action-comedy elements, of violence and stupid, are deployed like atomic bombs in this movie; leaving the audience members either in dumbstruck awe or confused by complete inanity.


I am sure that Knight and Day, and movies like it, will be seen by future historians as the last vestiges of an entertainment industry gone awry. Don't be a victim to a failed system.

4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A Far from Perfect Getaway, 27 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes there are movies you see that you want to like. The characters are interesting, the plot line twists and turns and the good guys, who are really good, come out on top. After the initial pleasure of watching this kind of movie washes over, you start to think back on what you had just seen. Questions come to mind. Inconsistencies become apparent. You realize the "good" movie you just saw was being held together by spit, gum and your own childish desire for escapism.

A Perfect Getaway is one of these movies.

Director David Twohy's glaring failure is his decision to completely break away from the internal logic of the the film, an act inadmissible for a thinking audience. A filmmaker cannot reveal something to the audience then take it back and pretend as if it had not happened. When Cliff searches the internet for a picture of the murderers and is nearly scared stiff because it kind of looks like Nick and Gina, it cannot be taken back. When Cliff and Cydney have a frightened conversation from their tent, looking on at Nick and Gina, and want to come up with an excuse for leaving them, it cannot be taken back. When it is clearly portrayed to the audience that two people in a murder mystery are innocent, it cannot be taken back.

Twohy's decision to keep these scenes in the film and building upon this implied innocence in other scenes, ruins what would have been an otherwise good romp.

Marnie (1964)
5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Are you Freud enough?, 30 September 2010

Marnie's initial flop in the theaters and critical dismissal back in 1964 has seemed to have signaled a revisionist approach to understanding the film today. While it's apparent that many of the great Hitchcockian elements of suspense and visual storytelling are out in force in Marnie, I believe it is not sufficient grounds for elevating this film to the level of Hitchcock classic. Marnie's floundering story, overacting and, at times, surprisingly weak production left me bewildered and wondering why it has apparently been redeemed here on IMDb.

To clear things up a bit, I admit that I have not seen every Hitchcock film and nor do I plan to see them all. I am a fan of his work but certainly not a fanatic. This being said, a bad film is a bad film and whether Alfred Hitchcock or M. Night Shyamalan, they deserve to be exposed to the light of unbiased critiquing and not smuggled into greatness under a dark cloud of Hitchcock-adoring revisionism.

The first thing I would like to confront with Marnie is the same thing that made it such a critical failure in the first place. While the common cry that Marnie is a misogynistic film can be straining to the ear in the present time of feminist backlash, I believe does have merit. The male lead blackmails the female lead into marrying him for "her own good" and then later forces sex on her while away on Honeymoon. These alone should make anyone question the intentions of the filmmakers. While Mark (the male lead) apparently does later slay Marnie's psychological demons, is that sufficient to redeem him in the eyes of the audience? If that is so was Mark's rape of Marnie simply a moment of weakness for an otherwise well-meaning man? Or perhaps even more subversive, is the audience to question the idea of rape in this situation, and not view Mark's rape of Marnie as a rape due to her psychological illness and instead simply a metaphor of Mark's invasiveness into Marnie's life of crime?

This leads directly into the second part of my critique; the pseudo-psychological underpinning that holds the strands of Marnie's plot together. For an audience member to believe in the characters and their actions, there has to be a devout adherence to Freudian views. Marnie's fear of the color red, nightmares brought on by knocking, and her hatred of men replaced by a love of horses is all Freud 101. Hitchcock even seems to poke fun at these Freudian devices where, after a bout of psychological bantering from Mark, Marnie interjects with a barb apparently directed towards Mark, but probably just as equally towards the audience, "You Freud, me Jane!" I think it is quite clear, even to Hitchcock, that with a few tweaks this film could easily be a spoof on Freudian psychology. Remove this blinders of complete adherence to Freud and the film falls apart.

In the very best, I'd say this film is a piece of propaganda.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Scathing and Beautiful, 17 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(I've only sat through this film once so this is based purely on the subjectivity of my experience as a first time viewer.) This film seems to me to be clearly about the moral decay of the "respectable" people of society; intellectuals, journalists, writers, musicians, actors, nobility, etc. Although these people live a lifestyle far out of reach for most, one can see how this moral decay has filtered down to the more "common" people.

Look at the "Papa" episode. Where does Papa wish to go while visiting his son? Well, to the Cha Cha, to watch the loose ladies dance. He even attempts, it seems, to woo one of the dancers and have an affair with her, all in front of his own son!

One of the more telling lines in the movie is near the end when the cross-dressing "boy" comments on the recent "coming-out" trend in Italy, "More retire and more come out. If two retire, ten appear. By 1965, it will be total perversion. You see, it will be disgusting." This may be seen as a disservice to homosexuals, accusing them of moral depravity but I think in the context of the film homosexuality is seen as deprave because it is done by men who were formally straight. Heterosexuals turning gay and going against their nature because of the moral decay of society. (Note: The women in this scene are walking away from the camera before these lines are said.) That brings me to another point.

The moral decay of this film seems to be intertwined with male/female relations. Our protagonist is unable to be with just one woman. The glitz and glamour, the temptations and pleasures, are all too much for him to pass up and since "all is permitted", it seems, that all must be tried. The scene in the car between our protagonist and his girlfriend where he says to her that she is suffocating him with "maternal love" is telling by the fact that he has rejected this unconditional love she offers him for "love" based on momentary passions.

In the end our protagonist is damned. Damned to live this life of depravity, unable to turn away from it now that he is fully in the clutches of these pleasure principles. Even in the last moment with the face of the beautiful young girl that our protagonist earlier called "an angel" smiles out at us, the viewer, with pure, innocent beauty. Sadly, our protagonist is unable to communicate with her anymore. He has joined the mob and through his sins has painted himself into a corner. His rejection, and more largely, his segment of society's rejection of morality, and essentially, the family (the protagonist rejects marriage with his steady girlfriend; there are many affairs and mentions of divorce) has made these "thinkers and doers" a purposeless people and even with their outrageous parties and social "experiments" they wind up with a void that they can only attempt to distract themselves from.

In the end this society becomes like the bloated, dead monster that washes up on the shore in the final scence, horrible to behold but difficult to turn away from.

(Note: Rock and Roll is seen as the music of Satan in the dance sequence with the American actress; English speakers in the movie seem to be a part of this decaying world, almost seemingly ushering it in, perhaps that is why so many people seem to dislike the film; it can be seen as attacking American "culture", or more precisely, an attack on Hollywood.)