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Crude and vulgar
Filthy, filthy dirty. Crude, vulgar and disgustingly unfunny. An insult to the viewer. What the hell was she thinking? Now that she's made a truckload of money from Trainwreck (which was delightfully inventive and charmingly funny) Schumer has taken a nosedive into the sewer and produced a special that needs to be flushed down the toilet. Every kind of bodily and sexual function is thrown haphazardly at the audience with no rhyme or reason except to prove that women can be foulmouthed skanks. The only thing Schumer misses out on is having a bowel movement onstage. I watched about fifteen minutes of this filth and switched it off. I used to like her as a comedian but if this is the best she can come up with then I'm outta here.
Awful, awful, awful!
It all starts with the script -- and this one stinks. Seemingly inspired by the true story of H.H. Holmes, the Torture Doctor of Chicago, who murdered anything up to 200 people, most of them in his mansion/castle full of blind corridors, rooms that could only be opened from the outside, equipped with secret gas lines, and a basement used for dissection, Havenhurst bears many similarities. The movie opens with a great hook but alas, after that it's all downhill. A dopey story that is annoying more than scary, there are good actors in this movie with nothing to do but react to manufactured scares lifted from so many other (better) movies. A great musical soundtrack that is wasted on this inane story. The viewer wants so much to become immersed in the story but the only reaction is how soon does this godawful thing end? The one rave review which this movie gets on IMDb would appear to have been written by someone connected with the production who also knows of a bridge in Brooklyn that is for sale. With so many low budget horror movies being released, there are far better choices than this flick to spend one's money on.
What were Hopkins and Kingsley thinking?
When I saw Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingley's names attached to this movie I thought how bad could it be? Well, it's bad. Really bad. Dumb as a brick. Great chase sequences on the autobahns but a story that is as lame as they come. Girl needs kidney operation so boyfriend hijacks truck full of drugs and gangsters come after him. Endless escapes that happen SOOOO conveniently to keep the story going. Couldn't the producers have sprung for an extra couple of writers to punch up the story and make it less predictable? Were Hopkins and Kingsley so desperate for a paycheck that they were willing to stoop to acting in this trash? Your heart bleeds for them. When I saw the movie cost twenty one million to make I was astounded as I figured well below ten. The distribution company that picked up this movie when the first distributor went bankrupt should pray to God that they don't join the first company in the bankruptcy courts. Don't hold your breath for any solid figures at the box office. And who are the fools likening this to the Fast and the Furious franchise? Not even close!
Eye in the Sky (2015)
I really wanted to see this movie after all the accolades it was given by critics. Just goes to show what a bunch of dimwits they can be when confronted by a cast of good actors saddled with a naff script. A quality production of a totally unconvincing story with a dodgy premise. When a handful of Islamic terrorists, including a radicalized British woman, gather together in a house in a village in Kenya, both British and American military are prepared to take them captive but change their plan to a kill mission on observing two of them being fitted with suicide vests. The pilot of a drone to be used to take them out decides to abort the mission when a small girl is seen selling bread outside the house. Instead of somebody shooting this moron through the head and following through with the mission an interminable series of dumb as a brick arguments takes place between the military brass and their respective British and American governments as to whether the killing of a small girl (selling endless loaves of bread that are replaced as soon as they disappear) is justified when eighty or more civilians might be killed by the suicide bombers. A couple of nifty twists fails to justify what comes across as a totally unconvincing story based on a low ranking pilot's refusal to obey orders. When this halfwit is applauded for his actions at the end of the movie it comes across as merely laughable -- at the very least he should either have been court-martialled for disobeying orders or (preferably) be put up against a wall and shot. And what kind of soldier lapses into tears when finally following through with an order? What a bunch of hand-wringing wimps inhabit this sorry story. The sledgehammer message (is one innocent death justified to save eighty) comes across as absurd in this day and age of widespread terrorism in the world. Good actors can't save this godawful tale. And what a shame that this should be the wonderful Alan Rickman's last. What a huge disappointment.
Ricki and the Flash (2015)
If you're feeling suicidal, then this is the movie for you.
If your entire family has been killed in a plane crash and you want to get in the mood to attend their funerals then this is the movie for you. Written by Diablo Cody, who won the Oscar for the utterly pretentious screenplay Juno, this is a grim as death movie about a middle aged woman who deserted her family for a failed career as a singer. Now penniless, Ricki (Streep) returns to visit her family because her daughter is getting divorced. Said daughter has attempted suicide because it's Meryl's fault for everything the dysfunctional family has endured since Meryl deserted them to follow her dream. Meryl's eldest son is getting married and she isn't invited to the wedding because her son hates her. Her younger son is furious at Meryl because she continues to have hopes that he will get married even though he is gay, not bisexual as she suspected. Her ex-husband, now remarried, a boring as hell character played by the talented but luckless Kevin Kline (who should have done ANYTHING but take on this role) just wishes she would shove off and die.) What is impossible to understand is why the whole family doesn't band together, bludgeon Meryl to death with baseball bats and bury her body out in the wild someplace. The endless, endless hatred and vitriolic abuse (and blame and blame and blame) that envelop Meryl from every angle is delivered in a wholly predictable and uninspired manner that with just a slight push could have made a hysterically funny episode for the old Carol Burnett show. Misplaced attempts to lighten the grim mood of the movie are played well by Meryl but seem totally out of place and simply don't work. There are a lot of good actors in this movie but their talents are wasted in a lifeless script by Diablo Cody, who seems to have scraped her ideas and characters from the under-boot of every sitcom currently on TV. EVERYTHING is predictable. The manufactured feel-good ending of the movie is dire, to say the least. As mentioned at the beginning of this critique, this is a movie to put you in the mood for attending a mass funeral. Do yourself a favor and give it a miss.
The People's Couch (2013)
Dumb as a brick
Having seen the first five seasons of Gogglebox, the original British version of The People's Couch, that is outrageously smart and witty, I was interested in watching the American version. So how can I put this tastefully? The People's Couch is like comparing an inflatable woman with a beautiful, real life flesh and blood one. A Godawful imitation of the real thing. What a pitiful, abysmal disaster. Where the British version tapes ordinary people in ordinary homes, all with delightful and variegated personalities, brimming with acidic humor, The People's Couch tapes airbrushed, impeccably made-up, tastefully garbed viewers that come across as witless clones from The Stepford Wives. Don't any of these people interact with other members of the human race? The producers of this show have obviously taken the British format in their selection of viewers (i.e. a handful of black characters, a trio of gays, a couchful of old people, a couple of families etc) but what they obviously failed to do at the very outset was interview them to see if they were actually INTERESTING and SMART. Most of the viewers come across as incredibly dumb and plasticized versions of real people. Why on earth didn't the producers interview a cross-section of the American public, people with street-smarts, instead of simply grabbing a fistful of "types", selected by age and racial make-up, with no consideration for whether they have personalities suited to TV. The two gay guys in the British version are hysterically funny in their down to earth bitchiness, whereas the American trio, exquisitely made up and clothed in the latest fashion, come across as empty-headed narcissists who merely pose in front of the camera with no opinion on anything. The trio of black viewers equally have nothing to offer, unlike the two black women in the British version who are a fantastically glorious delight in their honest and outlandish reactions and opinions. The three old women in the American version, substituting for the elderly married couple in the British version, are the only ones that have anything to offer in the way of entertainment. So many reality shows are condemned for setting up situations for the camera and The People's Couch is no exception. The HUGE problem with the American version of Gogglebox is that it is so incredibly artificial. Nothing appears to be natural and the "performers" are as dull as ditchwater. If the producers want the American version to continue then they need to get their act together and choose armchair viewers who can give unvarnished opinions on the state of American programming and actually have personalities suited to TV. To those who have never seen the original Gogglebox, look for it on the Internet and you will discover a glittering diamond instead of this pitiful zirconia.
The Leisure Class (2015)
Somebody has defecated on Project Greenlight...
-- and his name is Jason Mann. Paraphrasing a line that has no purpose at all in the witless screenplay, one has to wonder why, why, why the execs at Project Greenlight caved in all the way to this petulant, whining, no talent (alleged) writer/director. THREE MILLION DOLLARS and this is what they ended up with? One's heart bleeds for Effie Brown, who expressed reservations all the way down the line and was double crossed and vilified for acting like a concerned producer. Let's get this out of the way and address the color situation. Effie wanted a person of color (albeit Asian, half of a male/female duo) to be the chosen one/two and was overruled on the basis of color being in the casting of the movie, not the choice of director -- and it ended up with a black chauffeur as the only person of color in the entire movie (which Effie overruled as condescending.) And to all those dicks who said he didn't get paid, believe me, he got paid. So would a male/female combo have been any less professional and WASN'T IT ABOUT EFFING TIME a woman was included on the roster of Project Runway directors???
Every movie begins with the screenplay and this one sucked bigtime. Right from the start Jason Mann expressed virtually no interest in making this movie, which immediately surfaced with his submitting his own script in place of the one he was hired to direct. And turning around at the awards ceremony and demanding the writer be fired and the movie be made on film, which would add a hundred grand to the budget? Wasn't three million enough??? Endless, endless arguments on the importance of film over digital when the movie just needed to get moving! And Peter Farrelly, as one of the mentors, dropping out two or three episodes in? Was he sighting the iceberg looming on the horizon ahead of the Titanic? Did he recognize that he was dealing with an obsessive no-talent who wasn't worth the time and effort?
But getting down to the movie itself... From the very first scene, which flounders all over the place and has misplaced camera positions, the script gives no solid intent on the way the story is going to unfold. Everything but the kitchen sink is tossed into the mix and the characters seem to be stick figures with no flesh and blood. Given their due, the actors all seemed to be talented but the material they were handed was god-awful. The characters were simply empty vessels without form or substance. Was anybody convinced that they really existed? How on earth could HBO have handed over three million dollars to commit this thing to film (not digital -- oh, shut up, Jason!) The story, what there is of it, blunders on with scenes that serve no purpose or make sense -- what was all the twittering between the two brothers that was improvised -- and looked it? Did Jason expect the British accents to make it funny? I'm a Brit and I didn't find the scenes funny at all, merely silly. Not offensive, just plain silly. And the clumsy segue into the swimming pool scene, that was dumb as a brick, and the car crash that Jason wanted to rival the Hindenberg disaster on a limited budget -- and, and, and..! No wit, no humor, no indication of talent behind the camera.
One could go on and on about the deficiencies of this movie, directed by someone who should never, ever be allowed to direct anything else (on film or digital!) but the saddest, saddest conclusion of all is that this entire three million dollar debacle may most likely endanger the possibility of Project Greenlight ever surfacing again and giving other, more talented, young directors the opportunity to gain a foothold in the business.
Summing all of this up, Effie was right and she deserves a medal for all the crap she put up with in the making of this movie. All the negativity she has received for trying to steer The Leisure Class to a successful conclusion is totally undeserved. She did the job of producer in aces and was bludgeoned into the ground for it. If HBO pulls the plug on future Project Greenlight productions then it wouldn't come as a surprise and the blame for it should be placed right where it belongs. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and what Jason Mann cooked up was totally indigestible. Let's hope he hasn't screwed it up for everyone else.
Forever Female (1953)
Sooner or later all actors appear in a dud
With a trio of hugely talented actors (Rogers, Holden and Douglas) and a script written by the Epstein Brothers (who wrote Casablanca) this viewer was expecting a delightful comedy. Alas, alas, alas, this is a clunker of monumental proportions with an AWFUL script (adapted from a play by J.M. Barrie -- who wrote Peter Pan) and painfully sluggish direction by Irving Rapper (who directed four of Better Davis' better movies). The script has the appearance of being thrown together beside a Hollywood swimming pool over a weekend with the minimum of thought or imagination. The characters' actions and motives are horribly unconvincing and do such a huge disservice to the three actors in the main roles. The ingenue role, played by Pat Crowley, who at the end of the movie is proudly proclaimed as a future Paramount star (ever heard of her, outside of television?) is endlessly irritating. Watching her act, this viewer couldn't help but think how much better the young Debbie Reynolds would have been in the role. Luckily for her, she was an MGM star and missed being saddled with this awful dreck. With undertones of All About Eve, a younger actress coveting a role played by an older actress, the story is leaden and dull in the extreme. Aside from consigning this one to the vaults and slamming the door shut FOREVER, one is left with such a feeling of sadness for so much dazzling talent so badly wasted.
Kill Me Three Times (2014)
Quirky black comedy with unexpected twists
Loved, loved, loved this movie! With all the garbage being churned out by American production companies, pushing name actors to the forefront and delivering nothing but third rate entertainment, Kill Me Three Times was a delightful charmer. So many reviewers have compared this to a Tarantino rip-off. Maybe these reviewers need to expand their horizons and start accepting some movies as pure entertainment, which is what this is. With a definite lean towards comedy, this film is such a p*ss taker it constantly tweaks the funny bone, even in the most violent of moments. Strange to relate, while everyone else was referring to Tarantino, who seems to be the obligatory name plucked out of the hat, nobody referred to the Coen Brothers -- whose Blood Simple drifted into this viewer's consciousness at one or two gory moments. Time for the majority to pull their boots out from the mud and remove their Tarantino horse-blinders. Of course the Coen Brothers pre-date Tarantino so I suppose their movies must be considered passe by the new breed. But getting back to the movie in hand -- is is a great movie? No. Is it an entertaining charmer? YES! Is it ten times better than most of the garbage being churned out by Hollywood today? Hell, yes. Would I recommend it to friends? Yes. Will I watch it again? Absolutely. I'm flattered that my taste is different to everyone else's and I'll trust my own judgment rather than following that of the majority of posters who have a predilection for whatever junk Hollywood churns out, no matter how rotten it is. I loved this movie.
Could have been a whole lot better
Good acting in a tired and predictable story. Great performance from Aiden Quinn, invited to a Gothic manor to investigate supposed ghosts lurking within. A hokey attempt to sex-up the story with an incestuous triangle between Kate Beckinsale and her two brothers. The story, set in the 1920's, has all the appearance of the wholesome, lackluster British family movies made in the 1950's. You almost expect Heidi to come tripping over the lush green hills. Recommended as one of the spookier movies around, the performances are all good, by actors who know their craft, but the movie is directed like a Hallmark Hall of Fame love story, devoid of any tension and wholly derivative in its execution. A complete lack of pacing that leads to a conclusion you can see coming a mile away. Tired and predictable are the words that apply. A shame as the actors could have done so much more with a more innovative director. A waste of good talent looking for direction.