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A Lot to Say About Love... Love lost and true love, 24 July 2015

Interesting movie (adapted from the book by Jack Engelhard) with a lot to say about love... Love lost and true love.

Did this movie go over the heads of those who gave it a poor rating?

Indecent Proposal is not about sleeping with someone for money as other reviewers have stated. It is about a man who missed the opportunity to be with his first love, and a happily married couple who lose sight of their values and vows.

When John Gage (Redford) first sets eyes on Diana (Moore) at a Casino pocketing chocolates, he's smitten. We assume he's eyeing her because he's a dirty, middle-aged rich man. It isn't until later in the movie - during one of the many touching scenes - that we learn Gage isn't going after Diana because he can. He actually is experiencing love at first sight. Unfortunately, cupid has sent him a happily married woman.

Despite that Diana's married, Gage makes his proposal: One million dollars to spend the night with him. Gage's proposal is an interesting one because it tells a lot about David (Harrelson) and Diana. And it is their decision to accept Gage's proposal that causes their marriage to slowly sour and eventually implode while Gage sits back and patiently waits for Diana.

There are a number of touching moments in Indecent Proposal. One is when Gage tells Diana about the girl he fell in love with during a fleeting moment on a train.

Toward the end of the movie Gage and Diana are in his car. Gage goes into this discourse about other women. It is the most touching scene in the movie because it reveals the kind of person Gage is - someone who realizes what true love is.

Redford plays Gage brilliantly. He was made for the part. Gage is patient and expressive without saying a word. Just a smile or a playful look and you know what he is thinking and feeling. Harrelson plays the loving, then anguished husband well enough. Moore is miscast against both Redford and Harrelson.

Despite this flaw, Indecent Proposal is worth watching because we step into the world of a happily married couple who assured themselves they would survive an unorthodox way to solve their problems. We also step into the world of a man looking for true love.

One last thought: Adaptations are usually a bitch for most writers. I did not read Engelhard's novel. So, I do not know what was added or subtracted to the screenplay. Either way, I found the story nicely paced, well-told, and with no loose ends. Bravo Amy Holden Jones!

Gone Girl (2014)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unsophisticated, ending a big let down, 4 July 2015

A woman tries to frame her cheating husband for her disappearance and murder.

There are a number of serious issues that makes Gone Girl a mediocre story:

The police look like idiots. Their investigative process is nothing like what happens in the real world. The story lacks suspense. The ending is a huge let down.

It is unfortunate the author of Gone Girl was given the job as screenwriter. Perhaps if a seasoned screenwriter had been given the adaptation job, Gone Girl would have been a clever and sophisticated movie instead of what it is: mediocre.

Don't waste your time with Gone Girl. Skip it for a the tautly suspenseful Tell No One.

"Houdini" (2014)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Terrible, annoying mess, 6 February 2015

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was a famous Hungarian-American escapologist- somebody who escapes from seemingly impossible combinations of locks, chains, and boxes.

Houdini (Lionsgate) is a TV movie I watched for thirty-five minutes. Then I ejected it from my device and returned it to my local library.

I suppose one cannot blame the writer entirely on this epic failure. The DP should also be scrutinized.

This mess of a TV movie was clearly not a collaboration. Houdini appears to be several people's "ideas" who all wanted included in this film to satisfy their own individual needs and not the audiences.

That being said, Lionsgate's Houdini is a terrible movie with terrible visuals and a story no one cares about. It is a movie suitable for a teenage video-gamer who hated studying history while in school, and was nursed on CSI and bad CGI.

Poor Mr. Brody! So talented. Poor Mr. Houdini. This TV movie will surely make people forget him.

Here's the bad: 1. The voice over. It is painfully annoying. Writers learn that voice overs should be kept to a minimum. Preferably, not used at all. Why? The actors and the visuals should tell the story.

2.The writing. There is very little compelling dialogue or action to help tell Houdini's unique story.

3. The visuals. The ones in this movie overpower the acting. The DP annoys the viewer with unnecessary slow motion, unnecessary closeups, and other unnecessary camera movements. Therefore, we do not experience - or are awed by - Houdini's physical feats, or Brody's interpretations of those feats. For example, we are shown one of those typical, typical, typical CSI shots of the inside of a lock being picked. Really? That's all you got?

4. The costumes and makeup. The costumes are clownish. The makeup overdone and not accurate. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show.

5. The music. Annoying and not appropriate for this story. Also, music is supposed to dwell in the background of the story and help set the tone.

6. The feel and tone. There is none. The turn-of-the-century is not a difficult time in history to authentically capture.

Lionsgate's Houdini regurgitates way too many concepts and ideas already seen on TV and in movies that, basically, did nothing for those shows/movies, too.

Again, a teenage video-gamer would probably enjoy Houdini since teenagers also regurgitate the same old same old while glued to their violent video games creating nothing new or noteworthy in their lives while sucking on the visual stimulation teat rather than the mentally stimulating teat.

I doubt the screenwriter of Houdini studied adaptation. I know writers who have studied adaptation and could have done the book justice. In the business of entertainment, your d**k would appear bigger if you just tucked it back inside your pants, took a step back, and hired the right person to do the job. When you don't, well, you get Houdini (Lionsgate). You also get a super-inflated ego until the bad reviews start coming in.

Gravity (2013)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dumbest movie ever made, 12 June 2014

A weak, whiny, female astronaut (Sandra Bullock) survives preposterous events in low Earth orbit - approximately 220 miles (354 km) above earth - after the International Space Station is destroyed. Her colleague, played by George Clooney, disappears mid-story.

This has got to be the dumbest movie ever made. There is SO much information available on the Internet and at local libraries to study space, view actual footage of the ISS and it's astronauts as they go about their daily business, and info/video as to how those astronauts work outside the ISS. Because there is so much information available, why should we suspend our disbelief and watch unrealistic crap? We should not. When we do, writers and directors like Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron, and Warner Brothers get away with dumbing their audiences down.

In addition, there are very few good roles for women in Hollywood because Hollywood is notorious for keeping women writer / directors off the set. Why then would Sandra Bullock even consider the role of a weak, whiny astronaut? Ms. Bullock should be ashamed of herself.

The CGI? Forget it. It isn't that great. If you want to see spectacular low earth orbit shots of space and the earth, view the real thing taken by our astronauts. There are "artistic" shots of Ms. Bullock's reflection in several windows, and her slowly turning around like an arthritic circus performer. (The shot looks fake.) The DP stays on these shots too long making them tedious, then boring. Also, these shots exist only to counterbalance Ms. Bullock's incessant talking to herself.

The script? It needed a polish. For example, while outside the ISS, George Clooney's character asks Bullock's character if she has a family. One would think that after spending several months with Bullock's character aboard the ISS, he would already know if she had a family or not.

Gravity is a big waste time. Skip it and watch Alien if you like to suspend your disbelief, like strong female characters, and enjoy cinematography that intensifies the story and its characters.

Elysium (2013/I)
6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
If You Want Great Science Fiction, This Is Not It, 23 April 2014

Elysium is about bringing the Hispanic people left behind on earth - who live below the poverty level - to Elysium, a gigantic-looking steering wheel in space that houses rich white people. If you think that's a trite plot, I agree. Why are all the people left on earth Hispanic? Take it up with the writer, Neill Blomkamp, who also directed Elysium.

That being said, if you watch the special features on the DVD, you can't help but notice that the writer/director spent way too much time wanting to create the special effects and very little on creating a fresh story, creating an exciting plot, and creating a character we want to root for.

Most annoying about Elysium is bad guy Kruger, played by South Africa native, Sharlto Copley. 1. What ever accent he was using, it was overdone. So much so that most of his dialogue cannot be understood. 2. His teeth are way too white for a bad guy made to look dark and sinister. Come on, Mr. Director, he's your hero's nemesis, not a spokes model for Crest Whitestrips 3D. Did I say the writer/director spent way too much time on special effects?

If you want great science fiction, Elysium is not it.

"Mad Men" (2007)
8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Started out mildly promising... Quickly turned into a joke, 26 January 2014

A NYC advertising agency mixes business with pleasure (over and over and over and over again) while focusing in and out of main character Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) sexual and psychotic escapades.

If you grew up in the 1960s, you won't find Mad Men different or original. If you worked for an ad agency during that time period, you'll recall that people did not behave unprofessionally. If they did, they would have received a pink slip. That being said, Mad Men started out mildly promising, but quickly turned into a joke.

The problem with Mad Men is: too many writers; writers who don't know how to tell a story; writers who don't want to tell a story; and writers who don't know how to write believable dialogue and action for women and children. In addition, the writers dumb viewers down by teaching them that a series of snippet scenes are acceptable. Well, they're not.

Mad Men is like an awkward comedian telling crappy one-liners. Crappy one-liners become monotonous and stale. And that - unfortunately - is exactly what Mad Men becomes after season one. By Season Six, the scenes and dialogue are way too imbecilic to sit through. But don't let that stop you 1960s neophytes from singing its praises.

Aging Rock Star Sheds His Skin, 29 December 2013

Retired aging rock star, Cheyenne, leaves his boring life for one hell of a diversion: tracking down the Nazi guard that persecuted his recently deceased father. As a result of his quest Cheyenne metamorphoses from a melancholy child-like moppet to a self-assured man.

Cheyenne (Sean Penn) has kicked heroin and no longer gigs. Without his heroin Cheyenne is like a child: quiet; sensitive; speaks his mind; is thoughtful of other's feelings; is quickly apologetic. Yet, like a sage Buddha he always chooses his words wisely. Even more interesting, Cheyenne moves like an old, stiff man, but looks like his former self all decked out in red lipstick, white-powdered face makeup, heavy black eyeliner, and Johnny Thunders' mane of hair.

With not much to do except shop at the local supermarket, play handball with his wife of 30 years in their empty swimming pool, play the stock market, and meddle in a young Goth girl's life, Cheyenne announces that he is depressed. His friend corrects him by telling him that he isn't depressed, he is bored and needs a diversion. And so begins Cheyenne's quest not only to find his father's nemesis, but to find himself.

This Must Be the Place is a cerebral movie that puts the audience in the rafters like interns in a teaching hospital looking down on a patient being healed. So, if you prefer entertainment over enlightenment and transformation, then this is not the movie for you.

Pros: Sean Penn as Cheyenne. How Cheyenne handled the Nazi Guard. All the unexpected scenes.

Con: Would have liked to have seen a little backstory on Cheyenne's early years.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Tedious and Stale, 13 October 2013

Police, Adjective is about Cristi, a cop, whose conscience interferes with his police work. He does not want to arrest a pot-smoking teenager he has been tailing - who may or may not be dealing - because the drug laws will soon be revised.

Good golly, Miss Molly, if every cop's conscience dictated his/her actions - not to follow police procedures and the oath he/she took - there would be chaos in every town and city throughout the world. Despite that cops all over the world take an oath to uphold the law, writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu thought he had a story to tell anyway.

How does Porumboiu tell his story? With too many unnecessary, long, drawn out scenes. It's as if Porumboiu did not consider what he was focusing upon in his scenes to help him determine what the length of those scenes should be. And, so, what could have been told in two minutes with a clock on the wall, is told in six minutes. We get it, Mr. Porumboiu! Really, we do!

The final scene in the movie is between Cristi and his superior, Anghelache, who puts a dictionary in Cristi's hands and makes him look up several definitions. The scene goes on way too long. It's like looking into a grade school classroom, except the student is a cop. Ouch! Anghelache's point is lost because he spends too much time making Cristi look up too many words. Words one would have though a grown man would know the definitions of already. On top of that, a cop has to be reminded that the law is the law?

The only thing I appreciated about Police, Adjective is the simplistic camera shots.

If Porumboiu had shown us that the kid's mother was an invalid and living in squalor - and why the cop all of a sudden has a conscience - then I would say conscience vs. police oath might be a good story. But he didn't, and so his story and his too many lengthy scenes makes Police, Adjective a wee bit too tedious and stale to enjoy, or believe.

Magic (1978)
Anthony Hopkins' best performance., 24 August 2013

A successful ventriloquist - dependent upon his dummy's advice and whims - can't go to the next level of fame - TV - until he's checked out by a doctor. Instead of following his agent's advice to see a doctor, the ventriloquist heads for a remote Catskills lodge in hopes that the girl he held a torch for in high school, is still available. When the agent comes a calling at the lodge, he tells the ventriloquist he can forgo seeing a doctor only if he can sit for 5 minutes without making his dummy talk.

Anthony Hopkins is brilliant as Corky, the insecure, vulnerable ventriloquist who suffers from excruciating headaches and uncontrollable bouts of transferring his thoughts and feelings into his dummy's mouth. Because of Hopkins' emotional performance, we actually believe Fats (the wooden imp with the big head) is controlling Corky's every move - good and bad.

Ann-Margret is warm, tender, and touching as Corky's high school sweetheart, Peggy Ann Snow. Her belief in Corky - and her love for the adorable Fats - is poignant. At the same time, you want to shout at the screen and say, "What the hell are you doing? The guy is nuts!!!"

Burgess Meredith is Ben Greene, Corky's cigar-smoking agent who hounds Corky about seeing a doctor. And Ed Lauter plays Duke, Peggy Ann's jealous husband who gets caught between Corky's and Peggy Ann's rekindled love for one another.

Corky and Fats have many heavy conversations with one another. The best being one of the last:

"It was never me. Always us." - Corky

"Schmuck. Us was you." - Fats

"What?" - Corky

"It was you all the time." - Fats

I saw Magic in NYC when it first came out in 1978. That being said, the movie is better viewed on the big screen for a number of reasons. The most important- so you can better notice and experience the dummy's different faces/expressions during certain crucial scenes. And because psychological thrillers are just more affective on large screens. However, don't pass this film over just because you can't sit in a Ziegfeld-sized theatre.

Back in '78, I so enjoyed this movie that I was presented with a huge Magic poster. I hung it in my stairwell forcing people who came and went to cast their eyes upon Corky's creepy, controlling dummy - the wooden imp with the big head - Fats.

Snatch. (2000)
11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
To quote Mr. Ritchie "Boring and unwatchable.", 9 February 2013

I bet screenwriters and directors who have studied their craft wouldn't be caught dead in a men's room with Guy Ritchie.

How wonderful for Mr. Ritchie to get his foot in the door because his daddy knew someone in the business. That doesn't mean Mr. Ritchie is talented, folks. It just means he has connections. Which brings me to SNATCH. SNATCH'S target audience is adolescent boys because this is an adolescent movie. So, if you are not an adolescent boy, don't waste your time and electricity watching this movie despite the talented actors who signed on to collect monies to pay their bills.

That being said, IMDb's Guy Ritchie biographer quotes Ritchie as saying, "He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and unwatchable." Really? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?

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