Reviews written by registered user
jacklmauro

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103 reviews in total 
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The Boss (2016)
Terminated, 23 January 2017
4/10

This gets a 4 only because the first 45 minutes deliver, at least a little. Yes, there's lots of crudeness. Still, McCarthy is so, so watchable (she has perfected the sideways, barely heard moment). McCarthy is also able - remarkably - to still make explosions of profanity funny. Unfortunately, and before midpoint, this goes completely off the rails, and aside from the way too trite story element of emotional denial and epiphany. You keep wanting someone to give McCarthy something decent to work with. The earlier, admittedly very broad farce simply degenerates into stupid and unfunny cartoonishness, and it's just too bad. You can almost feel the actors' wondering of how and why any comic promise was allowed to be destroyed. Melissa and we deserve better.

Case 39 (2009)
Kids. Always Trouble., 9 January 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seeing this on TV a few times now (thank you, SyFy channel) has disturbed me. That is, for the first time, I'm extremely impressed by Zellweger. I am drawn to any flick in which the monster is a kid, mainly because such scenarios so invert norms and amplify a horror film. But what really gives this movie weight is RZ's performance (while the demon girl is quite good as well). It is exactly right, particularly when she spots the little witch who should be burning in the house. Another actress would have overplayed the moment, but Zellweger understands how her character has had to confront the unearthly with this beast before. I would add that the scene between Cooper and the girl is also strong, as he just barely conveys the character's sudden awareness of what he is actually facing. All in all, a nice little scare film, and a brava to Renee.

Been Here Before. A Lot., 11 December 2016
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I do like James Wan. I really did enjoy the first 'Insidious,' if the second was a bit too much 'The Shining' for me. This film, however...well, it's supposed to be a prequel but that's pretty meaningless, all things considered. Ironically, this bad movie can stand on its own. There's just too much of an implication that seeing Elyse again will generate fear and tension, when nothing beyond another greedy demon (somehow asthmatic, to boot) is presented as the real draw. WE HAVE BEEN HERE MANY TIMES. Most of the performances are appealing, but they just can't give weight to what is an empty, by-the- numbers horror flick.

Push (2009)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gladly Pushed, 11 December 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I stumbled onto this movie last night and - strange to relate! - I didn't do my usual surfing afterward. No, this is not a brilliant film. Yes, there are scenes where you really don't quite know what's going on, given the range of psychic abilities in play and their ways of shifting/warping reality. Yet there's more here than the standard bad guy vs. good guys mutant fest. The direction pretty much keeps you going, just as the performances are neatly restrained. Maybe one day Evans will get a meaty, upscale dramatic role. I hope so. Meanwhile, he's honest and authentic as Nick. As for Dakota Fanning - hot damn. This is 2009 but the young lady clearly has gained from her child star days, and she moves through her scenes with wonderful assurance. It's actually difficult to not focus on her. OK, the ending sort of indicates a sequel (and the final scene reminded me a bit of Amy Irving in 'The Fury'), but it still ties up enough plot lines to be satisfactory. All in all, a distinctly watchable thriller.

The Forest (2016/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Mostly Gump, 19 April 2016
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What's most sad about this film is how it begins in such a promising way; it takes off running, as it were, as twin Jess is off to Japan to find her missing sister. There are a few shocker moments along the way, giving you the mandatory jolt, once the forest becomes the scene. Unfortunately, too much is either unexplained or hard to accept. As in: the bizarre visitors' center across from the legendary suicide forest, in which the charming attendant doesn't bat an eye before leading Jess to a basement full of corpses. Or the character of Aiden, never ever clarified as good or sleazy guy, given the unreliability of Jess' perceptions. Or how and why the sister survived for about 5 days in these woods, when everyone entering them has no problem in getting out, or why she herself was not victimized by the unpleasant spirits. I will say that the ending delivered a tad and fulfilled the warning of how the forest 'tricks' the unhappy into suicide. Still. It's a largely unrewarding and badly paced film, and I add that it's unusual to see so many Asian actors giving truly bad performances, as happens here.

14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Why, Caesar?, 11 February 2016
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you're like me at all, you'll still be waiting for the film to begin when the closing credits role. On the plus side, you have an awful lot of stars who seem to be having fun. You have a glossy production and some elegantly slangy, period dialogue. What you don't have is pace of any kind, nor momentum, nor any honest idea of what the point is beyond lampooning/paying homage to old Hollywood. The themes, apart from Brolin's character as conflicted by a job offer, are hopelessly obtuse. Is it about communist writers seeking a new society? Swell, but this ignores the reality that many communist-affiliated screenwriters both earned high salaries and had no intention of destroying the system. OK, set that aside. There still remains muddle in a big way, as in lengthy recreations of period movie scenes that do not move the story whatsoever, nor go anywhere else, and defy era. What year is this? The adverts claim it's the 1950s but this is wholly irrational. In what year were Esther Williams-style swimming movies made along with singing cowboy films? MOST egregiously: in no Hollywood musical in which sailors sing and dance about a lack of women does the choreography involve them dry-humping one another. Not that I've seen, anyway. I also wonder in what universe Tatum deserves stardom, just as it is highly bizarre that a communist movie star would, in the midst of his career, leave for Moscow in a submarine. Ehrenbeich is, I admit, truly wonderful as the singing cowboy, but this alone cannot save a self-indulgent mess of a film. Coens, really, now.

ATM (2012/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Just Use Plastic, 23 January 2016
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As about a million folks here have made clear, this film really takes the suspension-of-disbelief bit a tad into the next galaxy. Fortunately I only watched it while playing a word game. Which was much more thrilling than ATM. Director. Writer. You are obligated to plausibly account for why 3 people in bitter cold would park a hefty distance away from the ATM, and why the same 3 do not consider running away at any point, which they could easily do. There is ONE unarmed psycho out there (who, by the way, telepathically knows that his 3 imminent victims happen to not have their cell phones on them, which is extremely unlikely but which allows him to murder the comically sacrificial security guard in front of them). I'm actually fine with no explanation of the psycho's motives, although his residence choice (a storage locker) is questionable. Everything else, however, is just plain beyond ridiculous, even down to the police completely ignoring the survivor's desperate attempt to point out the killer, and there were a lot of police. This could have been a good thriller. All it needed was writing that obeyed the most basic laws of physics and probability.

Worth Dozens of Viewings, 1 November 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I know this film backwards and, like 'The Heiress,' it's testimony to the greatness sometimes achieved in yesterday's Hollywood. The screenplay is faithful to Hellman, and the opening-up scenes have no forced feeling. However - and as melodramatically wonderful as the story is - it's mostly about Davis. Her Regina is exquisitely perfect, with a lifetime of bitterness as subtext always. The climax in which she sits as her husband dies is breathtaking, time after time; she becomes a fixated, horrified and horrifying, porcelain doll. But do NOT fail to appreciate the beauty of Patricia Collinge's Birdie. In fact, keep your eye on her as the vile Hubbards scheme and she occupies a background corner. I honestly can't think of a supporting performance as brilliant, with the possible exception of Hopkins in 'Heiress.'

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
What Made Hollywood Great, 27 October 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Beautifully crafted films like this. Director Wyler moves a stunning cast through an authentic translation of the James novella and play and, remarkably, it doesn't even feel like a "filmed play." The screenplay is deft and true to each character, but it is the acting that really triumphs here. Richardson's doctor is maybe his best film performance; his disdain for Catherine is balanced by his responsibility as a parent, and you get very well how he fails to perceive his own cruelty. Clift delivers the right degree of subtle scheming in Morris, De Havilland maybe overplays just a bit but is still extraordinary (especially as her voice deepens when her rage is expressed), and Hopkins, not in a lead role, is the perfect Aunt Penniman in every way. This is a treasure, pure and simple, and no one who values movies at all can afford to neglect it.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Was the Second Half Better?, 21 October 2015
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here we go again. Somehow, prurient, graphic violence and sex are seen by way too many as juicy suspense, and I could honestly deal with only 45 minutes of this glossy mess. The little 'story' I noted was inane. Two foreign girls encounter a ghoul sewed up inside the mattress, and STAY in the hotel? I've been broke, but never that broke. Far worse, though, is the grotesque indulging in sadism. I seriously want to know: who believes that watching a man get anally raped by a ghoul (for quite a while, too) is good horror/suspense? Who admires an extended orgy scene culminating in bloody murder? I give 2 points only for LG's costumes. The rest of this twisted, unskilled, adolescent fetishist fantasy deserves absolutely nothing.


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