19 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Worthwhile, if flawed movie
31 January 2015
This is a tale of war, love and espionage. Set in the present (1992, when it was made) but focused on the past (WWII) . Melanie Griffith plays an Irish/Jewish 1st generation immigrant, with relatives still in Germany, who takes a job as a secretary for a mysterious government worker (Michael Douglas). What ensues despite it's "goofs" and "plot holes" is a good thriller, whose intensity builds as it goes, with a definite film noir, and 40's melodrama feel to it. It also has a "Hitchcock" feel to it during the last hour. If you can suspend your disbelief on the flaws and overlook Melanie Griffith's horrible acting and sing song, unemotional, child-like voice. (any other dramatic female star of the time would have been better),this is still a good movie. Not great, but good enough to watch and enjoy.
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The Family (I) (2013)
Too many wrong turns
18 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The premise of the movie, as well as the "A" list actors (Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer) provide a lot of promise, so that's why I watched. What I found was a movie with too many wrong turns from comedy to drama, to just plain ridiculous. The title, of course is a double entendre on the fact that the main characters are both a true family and part of the mafia "family", with DeNiro as a former local boss who committed numerous sins, including murder. But, we're supposed to see him as a sympathetic, likable guy, which he even provides a case for while writing his memoirs. The family finds itself in France (Normandy), in the witness protection program with Jones being DeNiro's frustrated "handler". Deniro, it seems, just can't keep his mouth shut and, as a result, the family has had to move often, most recently from the French Riviera. Of course, there's a mob boss in the states trying to find and kill them all, for DeNiro's squealing to the FBI. There are several weak subplots including Pfeiffer's trying to fit into the new neighborhood, the kids trying to fit in at school, where the son is a con man already manipulating classmates, and the daughter falls immediately in love with a substitute teacher. All fun and games until the mob catches up and comes after them. Then they band together like a bunch of trained killers to fight them off before moving off to the next town. All in all, this schizophrenic movie doesn't know if it's a comedy or a drama, and the result is that it is neither--just a bad movie.
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Red Lights (2012)
This Movie Stinks!
8 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, I thought, a movie with Robert DeNiro and Sigourney Weaver, along with a topic about a Psychic (DeNiro), and a Physicist (Weaver) trying to prove that all Pyschics are frauds, what could be better? I couldn't be more wrong. The entire plot is summarized above, along with a minor sub- plot about Weaver's character's son, and that's about it. This movie takes the thin plot and goes nowhere. You can't identify with the characters, the special effects are lame, the attempts to make it scary are pathetic, and the whole thing is a disaster! Even the final "big reveal" at the end is such a letdown (it's like the writer/director) was a fan of "The Sixth Sense), that this movie just goes nowhere. SPOILER ALERT: I really think that Weaver must have realized how bad the movie is and asked for her character to be killed off in the middle of the movie to try to save some face. DeNiro is at his worst, and the lead--played by some unknown Irish guy, is too homely and way overacts, to play a leading man. Don't waste your time. This movie stinks!
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Thoroughly disappointing
31 December 2012
You can read other reviews for the plot, if you don't know it already. I had seen stage productions of "Les Mis" several times and have a copy of the songs from the Broadway production in the eighties. I was really excited to see the movie based on my past experience (liked it very much), and the trailer. What I saw was thoroughly disappointing. They chose actors (some very miscast), rather than singers and it really showed. The "live" singing detracted because many times the actors were either so out of breath, or so emotionally wrought that they couldn't sing at all-- talking or shouting their lines instead. The biggest example of this was Russell Crowe as Javert, who neither sings nor acts. Also, the constant use of extreme close ups while they sang became very tiring, and unlike live productions, limits what the actor can do to portray the real drama of the scene. Finally, the frequent and obvious use of CGI was another detractor from what could have been a good film. All in all, I blame the director, and have told everyone I know to save their money and stay away from this disappointing movie.
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A Christmas Wish (2011 TV Movie)
A Good Family Friendly, Family Values Movie
23 November 2011
This is a very watchable movie, very typical of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, which my wife and I love to watch to get us in the holiday spirit. As is typical, we find a woman whose rodeo cowboy husband has abandoned her; leaving her broke and with three kids to care for. Things go from bad to worse as she battles a series of mishaps trying to find a new home for herself and her children. If you ever think that you've had a bad day or week, you've never gone through anything like this woman faces! The acting is, however, very good, from a variety of veterans, like Edward Hermann, Tess Harper, and others. Ultimately, as with all Hallmark movies, things are resolved in the final six minutes.

This is a very enjoyable movie, and I was especially surprised and impressed with the plot theme of showing the true meaning of Christmas, and the power of prayer, something which most modern movies avoid. It definitely is a "feel good" movie, and one which teaches strong family values. Despite the predicable, and somewhat thin plot, and several loose ends being hastily tied up at the end, it is worth the watch.
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Source Code (2011)
Inception meets Ground Hog Day
13 October 2011
I was really intrigued by the this movie after seeing the trailer. It looked like high excitement, just a bit of sci-fi, and action with a tad of romance all rolled into one. I couldn't have been more fooled.

This movie is such a disappointment. Without providing spoilers beyond what the trailer provides, the basic story line is an army helicopter pilot (Jake G.) wakes up on a train, but soon discovers he's not himself (literally), and soon after the train blows up. He then finds himself in a pod talking to another military figure who tests him and re-thrusts him back into the train scenario.

The plot unfolds slowly, as we gradually find out who Jake's character is, why he's in this situation, and why he's up against the clock to keep returning to the scene and solve the train bombing in the intermittent eight minute intervals. In this respect it's like Bill Murray's role in "Ground Hog Day". In the plot line itself, the sci-fi aspect takes us to "Inception" because the concepts presented really, really require you to suspend your disbelief and embrace this fantasy which goes from the believable to the ridiculous, by the end.

There are the traditional good guys, bad guys, and the hero on a quest to save the train (and the girl).

It is both exciting and boring at the same time, making you wish for the ending to come sooner. The only blessing is that it's a mere 93 minutes long.

In my opinion this was probably and action movie made for teenage boys, but I'm willing to bet even they would grow tired of it.

In summary. don't waste your time!
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Take it with a grain of salt and enjoy
20 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the inaccuracies, tricks, and plain lies, this is an interesting and entertaining movie to watch, especially if you're a Beatles fan and remember the controversy in the late sixties (which I do). I agree, however, with those that say this should have been labeled a "mockumentary" and did a great disservice to George Harrison and his legacy. I'm surprised they could get away with that.

Still, I found it fascinating because it taught me many new things about the conspiracy theory of that time, when we were all trying to figure out the symbolism on the albums (and in the albums) about whether Paul was really dead.

On the factual side, however, and here's where the spoiler alert applies:

1. The voice was clearly NOT George Harrison, and even the impersonation was terrible, especially the fake Liverpool accent. 2. Why would George, if he were to leave a tape, do it a manner which conveniently provides a narrative (without hesitation or mistake) to fit a 90 minute format? 3. Why send it to Highway 61 productions instead of the news media? 4. As the movie goes on, the assertions become even more ridiculous such as saying that the girl with Paul the night he died in Nov. 1966 was put into a government witness program and later lost her leg in an accident then forced "Faul" (short for Fake Paul), to marry her under her new name of Heather Mills. I found this one particularly outrageous because Heather was born in 1968, two years after the accident! 5.Surprisingly, I never saw it mentioned that the MI5 go-between, Maxwell, would have most certainly been the subject of the Beatles song, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" although it may have been in there and I may have missed that part, because I was only half watching by the end.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that if you take it with a grain of salt, and just watch for the entertainment value and the various "clues" that were indeed left at the time, it's still a fun watch. I only hope that younger viewers aren't fooled into believing the overall premise.
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Play the Game (2009)
Enjoyable Movie
31 January 2011
While very predictable, and done in a formulaic manner, (i.e. boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl), I thought this was a very enjoyable movie overall. You can read the story lines in other reviews, but I was impressed that this film tackled real life issues of generation gaps and similarities, the overall search by all humanity to love and be loved, and even the more difficult issues of senior sexual relationships, in a very forthright and truthful way. Andy Griffith was spectacular in his role as Grandpa Joe, and all actors were competent in their parts. This is a good old fashioned feel good movie. It reminded me of something my grandmother once said to me, when I was 21 and she was 83. She said, "you kids aren't doing anything that hasn't been done for ages". This movie brings that concept together beautifully! Sit back and enjoy the ride.
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Due Date (2010)
This movie is PTA on steroids!
30 November 2010
One can't help but remember Planes, Trains, and Automobiles while watching this movie, the story of an uptight architect (Downey) and a lovable loser wannabe actor (Galifanakis) forced by circumstances to make an automobile trip across country together, with the goal of making it to LA by the time Downey's character's wife gives birth on her "due date".

As much as I loved PTA some twenty odd years ago, this is like the next step -- putting PTA on steroids and escalating the comedy and stunts to a new level. I seldom laugh out loud at movies but the two leads play their characters so well, in a variety of situations, that it is laugh out loud funny throughout. It also contains some of the pathos of PTA as the characters gradually get to know each other behind their equal masks to the world.

The end is heart-warming but not sappy, and ends up tying things together in a great trip and adventure for the viewer, and leaving the viewer with a feel-good sensation when all is said and done.

I also seldom do this, as I am a cynic by nature, but I highly recommend this movie--it is a great experience!
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Hereafter (2010)
A Real Snorer
22 October 2010
Unfortunately, director Clint Eastwood, who I admire tremendously, lays an egg with "Hereafter", and produces a film that you can snore your way through.

The thin plot centers around three characters and their stories: a French female reporter who has a near death experience; A twin who loses his twin to death; and a lonely factory worker who has a unique psychic ability to communicate with the dead, but is afraid to use it.

All three stories unwind very, very slowly and then merge at the end. While this takes place the action is very limited, the questions are many, and the answers are few. All characters seem to resolve their personal dilemmas by the picture's end, but the audience is still left with an empty feeling of loss at having wasted almost two hours watching this boring charade of a movie.

Like so many movies today, including "The American" this movie is truly a disappointment, given the hype in the trailers.
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So bad, so awful that it's fun to watch!
5 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is perhaps the worst movie ever made. It makes Ed Wood's creations look like genius. Just as Elvis, Rick Nelson, and many other "sex symbols" of their day were stuck into leading man roles, so too is Joe Namath in this very forgettable Spaghetti Western.

The very thin plot takes his character, a rebel Captain who learns the war is over, but sees the brutality of the conquering Yankees and then frees a black man from the gallows who becomes his sidekick. They fall in with Jack Elam's character, who becomes p.o.'d when Joe wins a lot of money in a tedious pool shooting segment, and doesn't give Jack any jack! Jack enlists none other than the KKK to help him against Joe and his black friend (warning, the "N" word is often dropped). Add to this a corrupt sheriff played by former "Bronco Lane" Ty Hardin, and you have a weak plot, even weaker sets, night scenes clearly filmed during the day, and a most annoying soundtrack, to drive this movie into the annals of one of the all time worst movies ever made.

Having said that, there are some things that are so bad that they're good, but unfortunately this isn't one of them--it's just plain awful. However, it can still be fun to watch it you want to see Joe's really bad acting, together with his high pitched voice, and terrible acting from the many women he beds, as well as the real actors--Elam and Hardin, trying to suppress laughter during their scenes.
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Best Elvis Movie!
28 May 2010
This movie is in my top ten of all time. It is a pure romp! Even though you have the "bad guys" from the government to add some drama, and the fact that Elvis character "Toby" and his family are all government freeloaders, this is essentially just a feel good movie.

You can read the plot from the other reviews, but it is essentially about homesteaders coming to Florida with a composite "family" and trying to make their way.

This is Elvis at his best--as he was meant to be in movies--singing and romancing his way through, with a back woods innocence that Max Baer would later use as Jethro Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies".

Enjoy this film. It is a delight!
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Stolen (2009)
Very good mystery movie
11 April 2010
My wife and I found this on our pay per view channel, and from the synopsis, thought it looked worth watching. We were not disappointed. This is a very good film, in the genre of "Chinatown" and "Changeling". The story (without spoilers), is briefly as follows:

A police detective (John Hamm) has lost his only son eight years earlier, when he went to the restroom in a diner. The usual guilt and strain on his marriage ensues, as he tries to go through life with this unsolved mystery haunting him.

He is drawn into a case of another missing child, and becomes obsessed with that search, to try to find some vindication for what has happened to him. Throughout this exploration, the story is told in two stories, of him and the father of the other missing child, creating parallels, and differences in the two cases.

Eventually the dots connect and lead to a very dramatic ending. although it's a little too neatly tied up.

This is a very entertaining movie, which grabs your interest from the start, engages you with the duplicate stories throughout, and provides some twists and turns at the end, for added effect.

I really enjoyed it and am surprised that it wasn't released theatrically, as I think it is much better than the current "Ghost Writer", for example. It's a good mystery tale, and very worth watching!
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Hitchcock he ain't....don't waste your money
28 March 2010
What a colossal disappointment! I was reluctant to see this movie, as I didn't want to support a child molester (Polanski), but having seen the trailer (which looked pretty good), and reading reviews, (which compared this to a Hitchcock classic), and since nothing much else was at the theater complex, I decided to go ahead and see it.

The other attraction was the all-star acting talent, who I must say, gave great performances. Too bad the story let them down.

To be sure, the movie has all the essential elements of Hitchcock, beginning with a writer hired to "Ghostwrite" a former British Prime Minister's memoirs, after the original Ghostwriter and confidante of the PM mysteriously dies.

We've also got the Hitchcockian lonely barren house, gray colorless days, a lot of rain, a crazy old man (Eli Wallach--almost unrecognizable he's so old) to reveal a key plot point, and some thrilling chase scenes. All good, which the movie was for the first hour.

In addition, you have all the political commentary you could ask for in a typical liberal storyline: The British PM, played by Pierce Brosnan, is a thinly veiled Tony Blair, who is accused of war crimes for the treatment of terrorists in the Iraq war; The CIA's attempts to contain this; The PM not being able to leave America, even for his homeland of Britain (ala director Polanski)and the inevidable love story between the PM's wife and the writer. We of course find that Government is very bad, and the bad guys (terrorists) are mere innocent victims, while the soldiers are treated as collateral damage. Blah! (the sound of me puking).

When things finally start to come together in the storyline, and the big secret is revealed, it is so anticlimactic that you find yourself saying, "so what?", or "big deal". The "thriller" ending is a major disappointment, and with one final surprise at the very end, you're already so let down that you really don't care or relate to the character who's affected.

I had the feeling that Polanski was doing a great job with this movie, and when his legal issues came upon him, he rushed to get it done anyway that he could, to get it out. That's how it seems, from the slow, methodical, creepy build up in the first hour, to then a headlong run and rush to wrap it up in the second. Very disappointing.

I do not recommend this movie to anyone. Hitchcock was, is and always will be the master of this genre, and Polanski proves himself to be yet another pretender when it comes to this style. Don't waste your money, and you won't be disappointed.

Now, if we can just lock this sick, disgusting pedophile up where he belongs, he won't be able to do any more damage to movies either.
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Hitman (I) (2007)
Starts great, then fades
28 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I was intrigued by this movie, having seen the trailers when it first came out. At first, I thought it was a futuristic Sci-Fi movie, but other than the shaved heads with UPC bars on them, it seems to take place in the present.

The plot is essentially simple: a hit-man (Timothy Olyphant) from the organization that apparently raises children to be hit men after shaving their heads and tattooing UPCs on them, has an assignment to kill the Russian President. He supposedly makes the kill, but the Russian president turns up alive on a newscast. How can this be?

As he tries to unravel this mystery, and make sure that he completes his assignment, he is pursued by the Russians, Interpol, and then, totally inexplicably, his own family of trained assassins. Why? We don't find out anymore about that than the reason for the shaved head and bar code.

Along the way, he meets a mysterious and beautiful woman, whom he mistreats so badly that of course she falls in love with him, although he has virtually no personality.

There's plenty of action along the way. I watched this on TV from my DVR, in two segments. After the first hour, although I didn't understand it completely, I was lauding the film due to the fast pace and action sequences. After the second hour, it was like ho-hum, big deal, as the bad guys are dealt with and the ending sets up for a sequel.

I understand that this is from a "graphic novel" (what we used to call 'comic books'), and you probably have to read them to understand what's really going on.

As for me, there were more questions than answers, starting with: why wouldn't these "hitmen" grow their hair out to hide their bar code and blend in? They're pretty easy to identify otherwise. And if you're trying to lay low, and commit these crimes, don't you want to be incognito?

Anyway, I'd say this movie is slightly more good than bad, do to the pacing and action, so if you have an extra two hours of your life to give, it's worth a watch. Such a pity because I really like Timothy Olyphant as an actor, but he really belongs in series like "Deadwood" or the current "Justified" to really strut his stuff.
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Crazy Heart (2009)
The Dude Goes Country
5 March 2010
Take the Dude, Jeff Bridges character in the "Big Lebowski", arguably his best ever, subtract the constant confusion, and add a jaundiced view of life, and you have Bad Blake, a down-on-his-luck, broken, middle aged country singer, who's now playing bowling alleys, and small lounges, while he drinks and smokes too much, and shacks up with whatever woman is left at the bar that night.

While Crazy Heart is a good movie, it could have been so much better. It's a great character study in Blake, and really takes you through his tormented life, capped by now having to play as an opening act for one of his former backup band members, and at the same time trying to establish a relationship with a young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), after four failed marriages.

The music and musicians were excellent--I just there was more of it, like T-Bone Burnette did in "Brother, Where art Thou". But other than a few complete songs, we get mostly bits and pieces of the songs, and the creative process. What isn't so good is the lengthy dialogue, much of which is overdone, and too many romantic pointless romantic scenes, which are hardly believable given the age difference of the primary actors. (I mean really, do you think a girl like her would ever go for a guy like him?).

It would have been better if there were more music, less talk, and an older woman playing opposite Bridges, who could really make us believe she is as flawed as his character.

It's a good movie, still worth the watch, but too slow, and not as musical as it should have been. I just expected more.

However, without revealing any spoilers, I can tell all you Bridges fans out there, that in the end, the Dude still abides!
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It's...not very good
2 March 2010
Unfortunately, "It's complicated" really isn't, being the story of a love triangle (sort of) between a divorced couple (Baldwin and Streep),who still feel some sparks, and the "complications" with a new beau (Martin), that the woman has met. It's an old, hackneyed plot, done one more time. Although I really like all the lead actors, it's really a waste of talent for Meryl Streep and Steve Martin, but Alec Baldwin does carry the day, and steal the show. It is he, not Streep who deserves attention for his role. Without him and good support from John Krasinski, it's really a nothing movie.

I really wanted to like this movie, but it reminded me a a 60's comedy ala Rock Hudson and Doris Day, only with 50 somethings in the role. There are some chuckles, but not many laughs, and it seems dated and too slow. Also, even though I'm in my 50s, the thought and sight of fifty somethings necking and having sex is just downright disgusting!

This might be a good movie to watch on pay per view, or via other rental, but I wouldn't waste the money on the price of a theater ticket.
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Superbad (2007)
Super Funny !
24 February 2010
Although this is a teen movie, and yet another teen "gross out" movie, I'm in my 50s and enjoyed it very much. However, I will add a warning to that: my wife and I first rented the video, and couldn't watch it because it was too graphic and gross, but I ended up seeing the "sanitized" version on TV which I liked very much. It all goes to prove that you really don't need the extremes to be funny.

It also proved that not much has changed since I was a teenager. The story line is simple and basic: the nerdy kids who are going to be graduating from high school and going their separate ways are looking to have a booze-fest party, and get lucky with some girls in their class.

What distinguishes the movie, however, is the characters themselves, who essentially start together, then go their separate ways in the night of partying at unexpected places, and eventually linking back up in the end. Their journeys are hilarious, particularly that of "McLovin" who creates this identity on a fake ID and ends up spending this night in the company of two totally inept cops.

It ends up as a fun adventure, with a lot of laughs, nostalgia for those of us who are older, and of course, a happy ending after all the uncertainty of the boys big night out. It remains unique however, and shouldn't be compared to "American Pie" of other teen movies of this genre due to that, but if you like those, you'll like this.
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It holds up after 76 years!
23 February 2010
I finally saw this movie tonight! The only things that I knew about it were the famous Gable "no undershirt" scene and the famous Colbert "hitchhiking" scene. It didn't disappoint. It was like an archaeological look back in time to the original "ROM-COM" master movie, and it still holds up after all these years. Think about was made over 3/4 of a century ago. To put it in another perspective, if you went back an additional 76 years from when this was made, it would be Pre-Civil War! It's important to remember that this was made in the height of the Great Depression, and note the strict moral code of the time, fully incorporated into the movie. However the total sexual tension was fully exploited in the movie, and still applies today. I also appreciated the technique in the final scene, of letting the audience imagine what's happening, when the "walls of Jerico" finally go tumbling down!

Capra's directing and choice of shots and perspectives was amazing too! It really set the standard for all these genre of movies that have since followed. Very watchable, Very entertaining.

One final I watched Gable in this movie, his facial expressions and mannerisms totally made me think of Johnny Depp, who I now realize is the modern day Gable!

Watch this movie and don't think too much...just let yourself be entertained.
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