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16 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dark But Redeeming, 12 February 2012

This is a typical A. Edward Sutherland film -- as usual he is committed to darkness without any let up, the film is "difficult" and this is all framed with a quietly grandiose, spiritual cinematography. The beach, the ocean, the wind in the palms suddenly seem like the setting for a transcendent, ancient myth of human perseverance. The movie seems like it centers on the denial of pleasure but Sutherland shows so much discipline, integrity and seriousness, that "Burmuda" actually comes across as celebration. The story is too beautiful to be thought of as just an ordeal, but it is intense enough and never quits on its main theme so that when it's over, you feel something like awe but also relief. That probably sounds like a reason to avoid the movie, but really it's the opposite. It's more like there's only so much truth about the human condition that humans can take. Especially noteworthy is the quiet, watchful portrayal by Zena Marshall of a woman who is central to the drama unfolding around her and yet is also somehow outside and removed from it in the larger scheme of her life.

Disturbia (2007)
6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Still waiting for any reason not to eject the DVD, 11 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am now 45 minutes into a tangled, pointless mess of sheer tedium called "Disturbia." The first scene establishes a Great Relationship between a son and his Great Dad. Then an accident occurs, dad's killed. The son's school work and attitude goes downhill, he punches a teacher, and ends up sentenced to house arrest wearing an ankle bracelet. Most of this was needless set-up to get us to the point where the kid is stuck in his house with nothing to do but spy on the neighbors, and the whole premise could have been accomplished in five minutes.

Okay, then we get way too much time spent establishing that he's bored around the house. We meet the requisite comic-relief buddy, a token Asian-American slacker. Then there's the vixenish, seductive, beer-commerical-model of a teenage girl who moves in next door. But...the precociously sexual thing only lasts a little bit until she and the boy meet, and now she's more like a regular high school girl.

The supposedly funny parts aren't funny, the scary parts aren't scary, the tension isn't tense, the girl's character is all over the map, the male lead is channeling John Cusack bigtime. Now we're at 59 minutes, and I'm out of here. I recommend the Simpsons episode where Bart breaks his leg and thinks he sees Flanders murder Maude. Much better show than this dreck.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good Grief, This Movie Actually Requires a Review?, 4 July 2007

Of course it's a ten, probably the only ten I'll ever give. It's the Wiszard of Oz, for God's sake. I like the reviews that contain spoiler alerts, you know, in case you've never seen the movie and don't want anybody telling you the ending. To the Wizard of Oz.

But, it's a big world. I did the filter thing for "Hated It" and sure enough, plenty of entries. I checked out some of the other reviews from folks listed under "Hated It" and I notice the same reviewers also hated motherhood and curing cancer.

I guess I should give a hint of the plot, for the thousands of folks reading these reviews trying to decide if they should rent the Wizard of Oz because, uh, they've never seen it and don't know anything about this obscure, little-known film. Once in a blue moon it does show up on television, maybe every twenty years or so, late at night on backwater UHF channels with numbers in the 50s or 60s. Someday--we can only dream--it might come out on DVD.

Heat (1995)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Nothing Special, 6 May 2007

I accidentally set up an interesting juxtaposition with this film: the day after watching "Heat" I watched "Notes on a Scandal" (Cate Blanchett, Judith Densch). "Scandal" was twice as riveting and tense as "Heat", and this while being centered on two women schoolteachers and no guns. (I'm perfectly into cop movies, but it seems worth noting).

Al Pacino mostly acted like an impressionist doing Al Pacino. Robert De Niro was much more subtle; he gets the higher grade here. Supposedly this film is a little deeper than others like it because we get to know the domestic lives of the characters. Well, not really. By the end of the film we have no idea what the attraction is between Val Kilmer's and Ashley Judd's characters or what her loyalty is to him. Given some hints of Al Pacino's character's backstory, I can't imagine why his current wife, to the extent we know her, married him. At any rate, it's the usual cliché of the detective too obsessed with his work to be present for his family. Old.

Nearly every scene involving De Niro and his gang is worth watching. Nearly every scene with Pacino in that over-the-top mode of his is irritating and standard-issue for a 1970s gritty urban cop movie (except that this happens to be filmed in 1995). That includes the usual suspects, no pun intended, who people the gritty urban detective squad. So, figure 90 minutes not bad, 90 minutes irksome.

"Shindig!" (1964)
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A somewhat forgotten part of the Sixties, 8 March 2007

I don't know what to rate this show--it was on when I was age 9-12, but I watched it regularly. This was Beatlemania time, of course, and I and all my friends were constantly glued to the radio, often a little Japanese transistor job. I remember that they had pretty good acts on Shindig, good Top 40 stuff (it was *all* Top 40 in those days), bands and singers that were hot. And, for no reason that I can remember, I always thought Shindig was better than Hullabaloo, its main competition (aside from the Sullivan show, of course). I have a vague memory that Hullabaloo wasn't quite as "hip" as Shindig, or at the least didn't have as good a line-up week for week.

Dogma (1999)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
This movie's about as deep as a pie tin, 17 February 2007

One of the dullest supposed "comedies" ever produced. Apparently it is supposed to be a witty satire and fails miserably on this point. Openly takes itself way too seriously as a deep, thought-provoking film, but the supposedly profound ideas are so sophomoric they remind me of what we thought passed for "wow, man, that's heavy" back in the tenth grade. "New" questions that actually go back to at least the 1960s include whether Jesus was black and gender issues in the Bible in general.

Threadbare, worn-out, easy targets of this movie include the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church (wow, that's a new one) and the tax-exempt status of churches as a whole. Foul language (which is fine in the right context) and juvenile snide commentary masquerade as wit. An excellent movie for people who don't read.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Guest's funniest yet, and surprisingly moving in places, 5 January 2007

An 8 is very good, I'm stingy with 9 and 10, which I've awarded maybe twice.

Christopher Guest has established a signature device in the three films Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind. He has his characters espousing ridiculous beliefs, philosophies, and observations with deadpan innocent earnestness; or sharing anecdotes from their lives that would make us cringe if we were actually face to face with them, but which they imagine to be moving or illuminating. The whole point is that we are most definitely laughing at them, not with them.

I think Guest has done his best yet with this favorite motif in A Mighty Wind. I'm very hard to please with comedy, and I think the vast majority of them fail. I laughed out loud any number of times here.

A surprising added element is a mildly serious and rather moving backstory involving the legendary (fictional) folk duo, Mitch and Mickey. This dramatic thread only enriches the film and in no way detracts from the comedy. It's very well handled; Guest brings this element into the movie in just the right measure. It is not contrived, false, and jarring as is true for so many comedies nowadays that also try to move us at some point.

This brings me to the most pleasing surprise of this film, and surprised I was, almost dumbfounded, and that would be the performance of Eugene Levy as Mitch. Please know I am not a gusher, I'm not somebody who is constantly writing in these reviews how "amazing!" everybody and their brother was in some movie. But honest-to-God, I found myself wondering, did Levy's part here get any notice from the Academy? Seriously, I can hardly believe I'm writing this, but I've seen actors get nominated for supporting roles in drama whose acting turns were not as impressive as Eugene Levy playing Mitch Cohen in A Mighty Wind. I kept waiting for him to screw up, to turn into a comedian playing a silly part, to ham it up I suppose you could say, and it never happened. His character was unique, original, subtle, and surprisingly complex for what little information we were given, and he never diverted from it, he never broke the spell. Kudos to Eugene Levy of all people for a really fine acting turn.

On the lighter side...and last comment...Fred Willard, outstanding. This is almost certainly politically incorrect, but I can think of no other comedian who is as advanced in age as he is who is precisely as funny in a movie, and elsewhere, as any younger actor around. His turn here as the schlocky, cheesy talent agent is one of the best things I've ever seen him do. I defy any younger comedian to best Willard at what he's turned in for A Mighty Wind.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Very disappointing, easy populist ending, 29 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The positives...Well, of course Meryl Streep was excellent as always. Even when you can fit her character loosely into a stock type, in this case the Boss from Hell, she manages to add something that's all her own. But Meryl's a given, so we'll move on.

One good thing a movie can always latch onto is when it gives you a behind-the-scenes look at a world that most people don't really know much about but for which a lot of us have stereotypes or preconceived notions. In this case, the world of high power fashion. This kind of thing especially works if it's a world that most of us probably view negatively and I'm guessing most people reading this probably think New York-Paris-Rome high fashion is silly, wasteful, pointless, and even insidious. (and not without reason).

But the ending here...utterly predictable and very disappointing. I guess we're supposed to cheer that our heroine came to her senses and refound her soul and set back on her course to do Good Honest Work among Good Honest Regular Folks. Very safe, very bankable ending. I had been extremely impressed up until the last reel that this was becoming a film about making hard choices and *especially* about letting life unfold for you, despite your best planning, what might be your true authentic calling (or true self) even though it was politically incorrect according to your old peer group, and even though you resisted it and it put you out of your comfort zone at first.

I enjoyed seeing Andy go through her changes at Runway, and to me her old friends looked more and more childish as Andy continued to grow. (Naturally one of those friends was a Sincere Artist.) Of course, clearly we were supposed to be sympathetic with them -- they were the "old gang" that Andy, in her "blindness," was gradually losing touch with.

Instead of a fresh take on real character growth, a fresh take on a life's-journey sort of picture, we got the lowbrow, comforting failure ending: Oh it's okay, Andy, you can always come back to us, your real family. We's just simple folks, but we's sincere. This is the sort of ending that caters to people with sour grapes resentment toward, well, successful people.

Question: Why did the director et al. go to such great lengths to surprise us with the recognizably human feelings and frailties of the Runway gang only to then make it supposedly a good thing when Andy "escapes" them?

Absolute worst line I've heard in a movie for some time: The idiot boyfriend (I think his name was Dharma Bum, can't remember) at the end, in the restaurant. Andy says something like, gee, I left behind my original dream for...and the boyfriend finishes her sentence by saying "Shirts. Pants. Purses. Belts." Or something to that effect. In other words, Andy sold here soul for Mere Material Possessions. Thus sayeth Guru Baba Rum Raisin. (And this dude, by the way, had just announced that he has a job as a major chef in a high-powered Boston restaurant -- gee, no career ambition there, eh?).

Actually a fine film except for the final ten minutes.

6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
I can take it or leave it, 16 December 2006

Finally got around after all these years to checking out the fabled "Once Upon a Time in the West." Mostly I found it mannered and dated. It was clear that Sergio Leone now thought of himself as a sort of Fellini of westerns.

I think he must have created this whole project with the sole purpose of providing material for film history courses in universities. Every sight, sound and character has a flashing neon sign reading "Symbolism" complete with pointing arrow in case you're missing it. It is mostly baffling, and I don't have the patience or respect for movies that you supposedly have to work hard at to unravel like I used to have when I was eager to prove to everybody how intellectual I was. In the end, once you get to the bottom line statement of such films, I can usually think of about half a dozen slightly more mainstream "Hollywood" films that say the same thing more effectively, engagingly, and forcefully. There's nothing new under the sun--there isn't anything new to be said about man's virtues, vices, struggles and triumphs. It's all there in Shakespeare, so to speak.

In sum, this movie is completely self-conscious about how profound and deep it supposedly is, and that's why I say its mannered. It's a real dinosaur from the late 60s, and truly stuck there.

That said, there are some standout scenes in between all the showing off. The famous opening train depot sequence does indeed deserve its reputation. The final revelations between Henry Fonda's character and Clint, I mean Charles Bronson's character were supremely handled, I must say. That was a great scene, beginning to end.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Movie Lives up to Title, 25 June 2006

I haven't seen this film since it was in the theater, so my recollections may not be precise, but I remember the gist. The main character is a man, and the plot revolves around the fact that he has three wives. Blanche Sweet is compelling as one of the wives. This is a shorter film than usual. The director's decision to film in black and white and without sound enhances the tension created by the story's central focus, namely that a man has three wives. At first things seem to go well for the man--who has three wives--until the other wives discover each other. The director does an admirable job in resolving this conflict in a way that explores the critical social themes inherent in the fact that a man has three wives.

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