Reviews written by registered user
mike-seaman

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11 reviews in total 
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Big Words (2013)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An endearing if uneven effort., 15 April 2014
6/10

"Big Words" is writer-director Neil Drumming's feature debut. It follows five people wandering through NYC on election night in 2008, all attempting to understand their pasts in order to make peace with the present. The film is built around three former members of an early 90s hip-hip group, that seemed to have some underground credibility, but never released a full length album.

The film is purely dialog, with the actors carrying the film. Drumming opts for a fairly intimate cinematography, with closes up dominating the running time. His direction was hit and miss, at times the camera work aided in creating a sense of intimacy, as the characters work through their lives. At other times, Drumming's staging feels amateurish and contrived, fearful of movement.

The parts of the movie that drew me in the most revolved around John or Big Words (played Dorian Missick) and Annie (Yaya Alafia) who I think gave the most engaging performances. Additionally, Drumming's best work is inside Annie's small apartment, the film felt the most at ease during these sequences. I found myself increasingly disinterested in Terry or DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans), a character I struggled to related with.

While some issues raised are more specific to the African-American community (and probably somewhat specific to NYC), the film deals at its core with universal human themes, of lost youthful dreams and how awkward, confusing, difficult, and even scarring the transition into traditional adulthood is.

A good film to sit and reflect with.

An interesting and fun experiment, 26 February 2013
6/10

Explaining Schizopolis seems counterintuitive. The movie is a mixture of autobiographical self- examination and self-deprecation. At the same time the film seems to be tackling some larger cultural themes and postmodern concepts of language and communication.

In the end, I think the movie is a fun assortment of ideas being exercised together in a rather harmless fashion. Schizopolis never seems to take itself seriously, the movie is made on a small-budget, with a purposefully contained cast, self-aware and referential humor, taking stabs at life, narratives, movies, culture, and humanity while never entirely aiming at any single target (except perhaps the filmmaker himself). I recommend this movie not because it is a fully realized concept (because it isn't) or because it is a hidden gem that must be discovered (because it isn't) but it is refreshing to see an experimental film created playfully, aware of its self-indulgence and entirely at ease with it.

Hysteria (2011)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A fun if episodic romance, 10 February 2013
6/10

Hysteria is a fun film, creatively retelling the invention of personal vibrators for women (with plenty of historical liberties). The movie is filled with somewhat cleverly played word games and endless innuendos. Tanya Wexler's film does aim to present anything in a true-to-life manner. The director does take aim at some of the issues facing the development of medicine and women's rights, but plays much off it for laughs or rather simple dramatic tension. Wexler's story telling is light and fun, though it also seems rushed, spending little time on developing characters, motives, or even the plot. One disappointment was Rupert Everett who feels as if he slept walked through his performance. The best trait of the film is that it is selfaware, never attempting to sell itself as anything more than what it is, playing gleefully along with its audience.

In the end, Hysteria was an enjoyable movie for an evening looking for a lighthearted affair.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fun with Ferrell & Reilly, 22 August 2011
7/10

Step Brothers is exactly what it wants to be and that is an over the top, fun, modern day screwball romp. Not every joke works or will hit each audience members' funny bones. But the hits out number the misses and when the jokes land, some of them create deep belly laughs.

Reilly and Ferrell, as seen in their previous manifestations, have a delightful comedic chemistry and are a joy to watch play off of each other. Adam McKay directs with precise timing (directors of comedies are often overlooked, but McKay's success has shown he is doing more than just pointing the camera at the actors). "Step Brothers" further pushes the sarcastic absurdest humor genre and transcends much of its contemporaries, because the Ferrell, Reilly, and McKay team actually craft intelligent humor. It may not appear that way at first glance, as much of it is ridiculous and crude, but there are real life parodies occurring. That's why people laugh, that is why their work together has been successful. This isn't dumb humor. It certainly isn't subtle, but intelligence does not necessarily require subtlety.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What a title, 25 April 2009
3/10

An absolutely horrible movie, but I really like the title.

The acting in The Black Hole is sub-par, very choppy, lines delivered flat and lifeless, much like the script that the actors had to use. The direction is comical with close ups on the expressionless eyes of a poorly designed robot character (who is surrounded but other boring robots that are motionless and do relatively nothing, much like the film itself). The music and gunfights are clearly Star Wars rip offs while the climax is something not even Stanley Kubrick could enjoy.

The only positives to The Black Hole were some of the set designs. Otherwise The Black Hole is a waste of time.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Disappointing Final Act, 22 April 2009
5/10

A Praire Home Campanion, Robert Altman's last film, was one of his weakest. The film moves nowhere and does so slowly. It also attempts a sort of time dualism, the modern world is passing outside while the 1930s are moving on inside the radio world. It simply doesn't entirely work. Virginia Madsen's character as the Angel of Death is a failed experiment at metaphor and symbolism, creating nothing more than a largely useless character.

The two most disappointing performances are Kevin Kline as Guy Noir, a character that is cardboard and his gags are largely lacking. The other is Lily Tomlin who seems to be sleepwalking through the film.

The only characters I found even remotely interesting and amusing where performed by Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly, a pairing that played very well off of each other.

Overall A Prairie Home Campanion is basically a fictional documentary about largely uninteresting people, telling uninteresting stories.

A Solid Court Room Drama, 21 April 2009
7/10

Rob Reiner's most thought provoking film is A Few Good Men and probably Tom Cruise's best film as a leading man. Not to mention being one of the better films, if not the best, Demi Moore has been a part of. It also showcases one of Jack Nicholson's most powerful and memorable roles, which is remarkable given his legendary career.

A Few Good Men that begins with blame of two Marine grunts for the accidental murder of a fellow Marine. They claim they were ordered to, others call that nonsense and the hunt for the truth is on.

A Few Good Men focuses largely upon Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Kevin Pollak as they are wrapped up in seeking the greater evil behind the events. All the while the individual responsibility of the two Marine grunts within an arena where individuality is purposefully limited, is largely ignored until the very end. Unforantely it is handled a little sloppy and is the one misstep by Reiner.

It is a shame that the film couldn't manage to deal with both concepts, the hunt for those above while examining the guilt or innocence of those below them. Nevertheless the film is a well made court room drama that has far more going for it, than against it.

I think one very intelligent move made by Reiner, is he builds a sexual tension between Cruise & Moore but he refuses to allow it to overcome the film and turn the movie into a prime-time soap opera.

300 (2006)
Simply Avg, 20 April 2009
5/10

There is not much to say about Synder's 300. It is an avg action flick, a bit of a return to the 1980's, early 90's action films. Not in style of course, Tango & Cash lacked any of the cool special effects or men in speedos.

But the film is filled with non-stop action that is largely repetitive and when people aren't being slaughtered, there are plenty of witty retorts to go around.

300 starts off as an interesting story but about 1/3rd of the way through Synder decides to abandon an actual story and simply become an all action movie, Braveheart without a brain.

This is not entirely his fault as he putting Frank Miller's graphic novel vision to film and not really his own. As a translator (as is seen in his far superior work The Watchmen) he is very capable. Creating the essence of Miller's 300 onto moving film. And like the graphic novel, the movie is all show and little substance, with little to no concern for actual history (but that is true of even the most serious historical films).

An avg popcorn flick.

Eraserhead (1977)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Interesting if nothing else, 20 April 2009
6/10

Eraserhead is a student film or basically that from what I understand. It is very apparent, as it is filled with the normal slightly creaky acting seen in most student films and the ever present pretensions.

It takes place in an industrial wasteland moving from surrealism that is somewhat translatable and then into incoherent symbolism for the viewer. Some viewers will find this annoying, others might want to keep view just to see what oddity will occur next.

Everyone in the film really seems to capture the essence of their characters with their movements and facial expressions. The lack of dialog is actually a strength.

Jack Nance gives a solid performance, he is the embodiment of a man who is consumed with fear, resentment, and the sense of being trapped. As he moves and walks around his nightmarish world he seems only mildly surprised by the dark images and occurrences around him. He seems to be too defeated to care or perhaps he feels he is unable to escape.

Like Jack Nance's character, Eraserhead moves slowly, in fact, that's a bit of an understatement, at some points in the movie time barely seems to move at all.

Eraserhead is an interesting movie, which has to be said for about any David Lynch. Eraserhead certainly has its flaws but I think it succeeds on the level Lynch was aiming for.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Man in the White Suit, 20 April 2009
10/10

This is simply another comment in the long line of praise for 12 Angry Men, one of the greatest films of the 1950s and one of the greatest films ever made.

It was part of a remarkable year in films, with Bridge on the River Kwai and Witness for the Prosecution.

Sideny Lumet managed to piece together a perfect cast that gave not a single poor performance. The characters acting out the tensions of class and race that would soon explode in the streets in the late 50s and 60's, in a tiny jurors room. The passion and the rage feels like it is leaping off the screen, while the 12 men are trapped in the room until each demon is confronted.

12 Angry Men is a movie about humanity, all bottled up, ready to explode. It carries around our weight, and shows how all of our experiences, all of our past never leaves us, and how truly difficult, if not impossible it is to be freed from it.


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