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The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
it's a dukes of hazzard movie, come on
i really enjoyed this, and having had a brother who was a huge fan of the show, i've probably seen every episode of the old series at least two or three times. it didn't feel the same, and some of the changes were a little pointless. it felt as much like a wannabe smokey and the bandit as it did a dukes story, but it was fun. scott and knoxville did what they were supposed to do. the car chases were great. daisy was hot. it works.
i'm amazed at the beating this movie is taking by some of the comments. honestly, what were you expecting? there are some dumb jokes, the acting is lame, the plot is full of holes, but seriously, it's the dukes of hazzard. take it for what it is.
i have problems with the fundamental style of this film
This film isn't without merit (it is a compelling story, it is acted wonderfully, etc) but I find one fundamental flaw....the camera work. I'm told that it was made in the realist style of filmmaking, but watching this I do not get a sense of realism in the least. Were we to actually get a glimpse into Rosetta's life...in a realistic fashion...we might actually get to see what she looks at. Instead the camera trains on her for the entire film, almost never looking away, even when she herself is looking elsewhere. How can this film claim to be an exercise in realism when the most basic element is anything but realistic? Were the audience really following Rosetta around all day in person, we would hardly keep our eyes glued to her the entire time. We would look around, we would see the world she lives in. We would see who she is talking to. We would actually see beyond the three-foot square scope of this film. I'm not asking for Hollywood set-pieces. The hand-held camera is fine, but keeping it locked on Rosetta the entire time limits the viewers ability to really experience her world the way she experiences it. At least to me, realism requires that the story be captured in a way that is as close to actually being there as possible, which requires camera work that is willing to look away from the character, at least briefly, in the moments when she is interacting with something offscreen. If the viewer cannot see what Rosetta sees, how then is the viewer supposed to experience what she experiences? This film failed in that respect. Maybe I'm just not one for the so-called realism genre, but to me this is not realism. This is voyeurism.
Knuckleface Jones (1999)
I saw this as part of a Movieside screening in Chicago a month or so ago. I'm not sure what on Earth was going through the head of Todd Rohal when he came up with this one, but from the first lines of text on screen he had my attention. It was strange but entertaining. I felt like I was watching an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete on acid. If you're a fan of oddball humor that makes you think (or does it?!) then this is definitely worth checking out. If that's not your game, it's just going to come off as nonsense.
That's my two cents. The end.
solid but flawed
Ali is a film that both succeeds and fails at the same time. Will Smith's performance was very solid, yet I never was able to shake the feeling that on screen it was Will Smith playing Muhammad Ali and not simply Muhammad Ali. Perhaps that is through no fault of his. He truly does a great impression of the fighter. The script is again decent, centering on several facets of the star's life that go beyond the sports pages. However, overall the whole project has a rather distant feel. The viewer rarely is truly captivated by what is occurring. Michael Mann's characteristic documentary-esque filming style works well in parts, but services to alienate the viewer in others. Yes, it feels as though you are almost watching a documentary in many cases, as if the viewer is a bystander to the circumstances at hand, but this is a work of drama, not a documentary. I wish someone had told Mann to stop shaking the camera and shifting to view Ali between the standard stock of blurred reporters for a few seconds and do a more typically dramatic shot. With Heat and The Insider, Mann managed to pull off this style successfully. In Ali he does not. In many cases conversations begin to rise but then only dissipate before anything really gripping has been said. Simply put, this film could have used a few more motivational speeches along the lines of a Rocky film. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as accurate, but it would have serviced a more dramatic story, at least one where the viewer really felt involved. Ali goes through two wives in the film and in neither case do they even serve to get very angry with him. Voices begin to rise and then either the woman or Ali leaves the room. The scene ends without any heavy emotion other than stern faces being shown. He's divorced a few minutes later. The fight scenes also have a lack of emotion. The film style is interesting and visually stimulating, but it could have used a few `it's over Rock!' lines here and there to punctuate things.
Mann's standard use of music again fails in many cases here. Whereas in "historical" films like Forrest Gump period music is used to punctuate a dramatic score, in Ali it is almost the sole backing track of the film. There is scarcely any musical score involved. When it is used, it often seems like it was just pieced together from leftovers to provide ambience. In a few key dramatic scenes, the pop ditties being played (although sometimes fitting lyrically) really end up being a distraction. The death of Malcolm X is a prime example. Ali's close friend has just been killed and you're just waiting for a rising orchestral number (however cliche and standard it may be, that's what you're looking for), but instead you get a period song that, at this point in the film, is beginning to sound like half a dozen others before it. In several cases Mann's musical style does work (Ali's jog through the streets of Zaire being an example, the closing number another) but the technique fails overall.
I've mostly criticized this film, which should not be the only viewpoint, because cinematically it is a fine work. There doesn't need to be another Ali film made, as this will service his legacy nicely. It has flaws, but I point out these flaws taking for granted just how good much of it is. The banter between Ali and Howard Cosell (Jon Voight, who completely disappears into this role) is classic, and work by Jaime Foxx and Mario Van Peebles (as Malcolm X) is solid as well. Michael Mann knows how to handle a film and I would rather watch a sub-par outing from him than most of what Hollywood produces any day. He's just done better. Some script work and a better musical score could have pushed this good film to greatness.
The Italian Job (2003)
it's fun. not amazing. not overly memorable. but better than bruckheimer and certainly better than something like 2 Fast 2 Furious will be. a solid, well done, not overtly annoying summer action flick.
gone in 60 seconds + oceans eleven + the score = the italian job
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
the matrix overloaded
the agent smith fight scene was laughable. it didn't look any different than a ps2 game for the most part. the dialogue doesn't improve on the first. for a series of films revolving around a character's quest to find and regain the human spirit, this movie shows a distinct lack of humanity or emotion. if they're supposed to be fighting the machines, why does the entire film operate like it was made by one? it might as well have been a sci-fi channel original. watch it. enjoy it if you don't fall asleep (as my neighbor in the theater did during the car chase). just don't expect anything ground-breaking (unless of course you are convinced that the technology used for "bullet-time" was created for the original matrix. afterall, it wasn't in Gap commercials years before....) it rehashes the same ideas from star wars, terminator, and countless other sci-fi films and just wraps them up into a nice, shiny, green, net-nerd package. admittedl y, this movie is at least a little above the average summer fare, it just doesn't live up to the overbloated hype it gets.