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Well done though really, really bloody and violent., 18 April 2014

The summary of this film listed on IMDb sure says a lot more about the plot than you'll see when you watch "Little Favour"--a lot more. All this back story is absent in the short and so it's not exactly what you might expect.

As to the story, it's very, very simple. Two men meet (one is Benedict Cumberbatch) and the other asks Wallace to do him a little favor--watch his kid. The kid is a girl who appears to be about 11 years-old. Soon after the pair arrive at his place, however, a ninja(?) and some other baddies invade the apartment. After putting up a good fight, Wallace is taken prisoner and horribly beaten. Then, surprising things happen--but I really cannot say more.

The film is a pretty bloody mess--and folks may squirm at seeing all the blood. I didn't enjoy all the killing and gore, though the story was extremely well produced and directed. Patrick Viktor Monroe is a relative newcomer and did a nice job--though I do wonder HOW he got Cumberbatch for the film, as this actor's career has been super-mega hot lately and a new filmmaker could never afford someone of his stature. Worth seeing but very, very dark and gruesome.

Worth seeing just to watch Clive Russell act!, 17 April 2014

The Fighter's Ballad is a very unusual film from a very unusual director, Tony Ukpo. Aside from some opening shots showing a few parishioners, the entire film cast consists of two actors—Clive Russell and Peter Caldwell. Because of this, the movie hinges on their performances, the writing and the ability of the director to bring it all together. Well, let's say I was very impressed—especially since the director has only a few credits to his name so far and the film was written by Caldwell! What an amazing trio.

I'll be blunt. The familiar character actor Clive Russell does not look like what you'd expect a priest to look like, although he was simply magnificent playing Father John in The Fighter's Ballad. It's so good that his performance is reason enough to see this film. The film begins with the Father going about his rounds and then closing up the church because it's time to go home. However, a very strange, annoying and angry young man (Caldwell) comes into the sanctuary and begins talking. Much of what he initially says makes little sense—though it's obvious that he's volatile and confused. While many of us might run to get help because this man is behaving THAT strangely, the priest is a very patient man. And, when the young man is nasty and hateful, the priest continues to talk to him to determine why he is here and how he can help. But the stranger is a fighter in that he will not willingly talk about his problems—he's angry—angry at people but especially angry at God. How effectively can the priest handle this anger? And, what's all this about? To find out, see this film.

This is not the sort of film most people would fancy. This isn't meant as criticism but is more an observation about the style of the movie. There are no explosions, the action all takes place in one small area and the film is a bit vague in places. However, it really is a quality production all around and just goes to show you how good a film you can make on a small budget if the people associated with the film are talented. Additionally, the music and lighting are absolutely superb and look too good for such a project! It's really one of the strangest and most daring films I have seen. And, considering I have over 16,000 reviews to my credit so far on IMDb, that's saying quite a bit. Film students would benefit from seeing this film to learn how to hone their skills and people who love good acting should also give it a look.

By the way, if the folks who made The Fighter's Ballad end up reading this, you might want to consider staging this as a play—it is very gripping and would make a dandy show. It's just a thought…

Paris 60 (2012)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A treat for cinema nuts but not a film that most others would enjoy., 17 April 2014

Paris 60 is a very strange film. It certainly doesn't seem to have much in the way of commercial appeal and I cannot imagine most viewers even watching the film in the first place. However, despite being a film with limited appeal, it sure speaks volumes about the writer and director, Tony Ukpo. It's obvious that he's seen a lot of French films from the 1960s and the film is an obvious homage to the New Wave pictures by the likes of Godard and particularly Resnais. So, to fully appreciate Ukpo's film, you need to be familiar with these other films. Heck, even most French people today probably aren't that familiar with these films!

Paris 60 is like a documentary about the making of a film merged with the New Wave style. The film is mostly in black & white, the font used for the titles looks right from the 1960s, the camera focusing on irrelevant objects as people talk, the dancing woman during the credits, the way some of the characters talk and act like they would in such a picture and the film does not appear conventional in any way…just like a New Wave film! The self-exploration is pure Resnais as is the Japanese- American lady who talks of the evils of nuclear war and Hiroshima (much like in Resnais' film Hiroshima Mon Amour). Again and again and again I found myself saying 'wow…he's really got the style down in this movie'. Additionally, while similar to a New Wave film, it was interesting that the character of the director looked a lot like Ukpo—and even used his middle name, Sebastian. And, Sebastian began talking as if it was Ukpo himself revealing himself to the audience. It's all very strange, somewhat surreal and a nice homage to the genre.

To me, the most interesting thing, however, isn't the style but the fact that the film cost about $170 in US dollars! The film looks so polished and so interesting…and was made for almost nothing. Heck, I've seen much larger budgeted films that looked more cheaply made. So, instead of filming in Paris, it was made in London. And, instead of big-name actors and sets, it was done in a very natural setting. I thought it was lovely—and I am sure that other insane film nuts like me will also enjoy it. But, the film is talky, strange and not at all what the average person would watch. I just hope the right people see this and give Mr. Ukpo giant piles of cash so we can see what he can do with it.

By the way, if I sound positive about this film, wait until you read my review of his film "The Fighter's Ballad"—now that is something special indeed.

I agree with the other review, it does have a limited audience. But it is well made and moderately interesting for the non-paintballers., 17 April 2014

Soldiers of Paint is a rather strange documentary. Apparently, each year the world's largest paintball tournament is held in Oklahoma—and it's supposed to be a re-enactment of the Battle of Normandy (D-Day)! With about 4000 participants, it's not as big as the actual battle…but it sure is big! Now I should point out that I have never played paintball nor am I particularly interested in the game. I know it's become rather popular and I am sure the players would love this film. As for everyone else….I dunno—it's certainly not for everyone.

The logistics for this competition are huge and so the film begins months before the actual re-enactment. Several people across the US are visited by the film crew—and some of the more committed participants are building home-made tanks and bazookas! That's devotion and dedication for you! Additionally, the leaders of each team (the Germans and the Allied) are interviewed. It thought the strangest thing is how into this some folks get. Apparently, one year, one of the folks working with the 'Germans' planning the battle strategy was actually a spy for the Allies!! Weird…and rather funny.

The rest of the film, not surprisingly, is a highlights film about the competition—a competition that is broken up into various missions. Additionally, helpful screens with pop-ups occur periodically to explain what is happening—such as how scoring is done as well as what the missions are for each portion. In many ways, this is like a how-to video and is perfect for anyone looking to get into paintball or go so far as to travel there for the competition.

So did I love the film? No…nor would I expect to considering that I'd rather fish or scuba dive than play paintball! But it was extremely well constructed and looked better than you'd expect for such a film. It is NOT a movie made up of home video clips and noisy interviews—these folks (Michael DeChant, Doug Gritzmacher) are professional filmmakers. And, if you love the sport or are curious, then it's certainly a good bet for you. As for everyone else, it's a hard call. I've recommended it to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law because their son is really into paintball and I am sure they'd like to see what happens in such a tournament. My nephew probably appreciates the recommendation because he hopes to go there one day—and maybe this film will push his parents to say yes! My only reservation is that many paintballers (such as my nephew) are pretty young and some of the harsh language is bound to upset parents watching it along with their teens. However, I should point out that MOST of the 'participaints' in the film are adults—and many are even older than me (if that's possible!).

By the way, my favorite part was one of the organizers telling everyone that this should be like a vacation…not a job! In other words, have fun but it's NOT the actual Battle of Normandy! I also liked seeing the chubby bowler dancing after he got a strike—so it looks like there is hope for me to learn to dance as well, as he looked about my age and weight!

Not enjoyable., 17 April 2014

This was a thoroughly disgusting and pointless film and I am not sure how folks could watch and praise it. The movie is filled with disgusting and wretchedness. Were these sentiments strong enough to hopefully keep you from seeing this film---I sure hope so! My thorough disgust for the film isn't because it shows the lowest elements of Brazilian society-- after all, I was quick to praise films like CITY OF GOD and CENTRAL STATION--and these films were violent and scary. However, their portrayals of the violence and cheapness of life in the lowest social strata were meant to be eye-opening and document the horrors--not provide a voyeuristic chamber of horrors meant only to turn our stomachs. I won't even begin to describe all the viscerally vile images from MANGO YELLOW--partly because they make me ill just thinking about it and partly because I could only take the movie to a certain point, then I made myself get up and turn it off! It truly seems to try to alienate much of its audience.

If you want a similar experience, go to a slaughterhouse (it's already in the film) or stare at feces (it's also in the film and is apparently eaten by one of the scum in the film). Yuck.

It's hard to imagine this one was nominated for the Oscar., 17 April 2014

This film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short. It's a rather strange choice, as the film is much more an odd avant garde sort of thing than a film you'd think would get nominated for such a prestigious award. Perhaps it was just a very, very, very slow year.

The film consists of tons and tons and tons of black & white photos that are flashed on the screen--accompanied by music (often martial music) and dialog from a variety of sources. It all seems amazingly random-- and sometimes the pictures and narration seem to have little to do with each other.

The bottom line is that this film has practically no commercial appeal whatsoever. Folks sitting in coffee houses in the early 1960s might have enjoyed it, but I just cannot see it having appeal to 99.9% of the viewers today. Tedious and difficult to enjoy--even for an art film.

pretty good considering its humble origins., 17 April 2014

Two 19th century women by chance meet each other in a café. One does all the talking and prattles on and on in an apparent attempt to "one up" her rival. During this very long monologue, the other lady says absolutely nothing but conveys some messages through her facial expressions. In the end, you are left wondering what really occurred as well as the back story.

This is a production created by a Kentucky community college. Considering its humble origins, the film is far better than you'd expect--showing very good camera work as well as decent acting. The problem is that the one act play itself just didn't do much for me--particularly as the resolution was a bit too vague and unsatisfying. I wanted to see the REST of the story! Still, it's worth a look and good luck to these folks.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Too nasty for my taste., 17 April 2014

I'll admit it—I am a rather old fashioned guy. I don't particularly want to see movies that are filled with nudity, violence, vomiting and crudeness. This sometimes is an issue, as many films these days have all the above and then some…and I review films! Such is the case when I watched the oddly titled Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe—a film thoroughly soaked in nastiness. Some might enjoy the film because it is very stylish and exciting, though I was very turned off because it glamorizes the thug lifestyle (at least until the end of the film). Nudity, cursing, sex, drug abuse, stealing—it's all in this film from start to finish. My feeling is that life is too short to watch depressing films like this.

The film is set in Miami and concerns a small group of young 'business associates' who live life on the edge—with hot girls and all the best that money will buy. It's all thanks to money they earn by stealing cars and selling drugs. In fact, there really isn't a whole lot of plot during most of the movie—just guys like Vlad and Raul earning money through any sleazy means necessary. It's just one scene after another of the characters having sex, doing or selling drugs and breaking the law. As a result, it was not only very crude but also became rather boring…at least until the end which I must admit that I did appreciate quite a bit. Another problem is that in addition to having little in the way of plot, it's impossible to care about any of the characters— they're all low-lifes and have little in the way of character development. This makes this movie a very, very hard film for me to enjoy and when tragedy strikes them, I felt myself thinking that this wasn't such a bad thing!

While I watched the film I was prepared to give it an absolutely scathing review. And, although I was definitely repulsed by the film, at least it did end very well and was well made. You see that although these folks live fast, have no morals values and are jerks, at least there IS a price to pay for all this. Had the film simply ended with these jerks being happy jerks, it would have really turned me off and I would have given it a D-. Fortunately, the end IS hard-hitting and well done. But, even with a nice moral lesson at the end, I found that enduring the nastiness that came before all this just too much to bear. Not a terrible film and the production values are very slick and well done (especially the music and editing), but it's the sort of film I hope to not see again. Think twice about seeing Eenie Meenie Miney Moe— and don't even think about watching it with your mother or small kids! However, if you have a punk teen of your own, perhaps it will be an interesting, if very crude, film to watch together.

11 A.M. (2013)
You might want to get some DIFFERENT people to run this project!, 16 April 2014

11 A.M. is a Korean sci-fi film that in many ways is a film about human nature, and I appreciate that. In fact, I think the best sci-fi is something that can have meaning that can be applied to us here and now. However, I will admit that the film is confusing at time…but still well worth seeing.

The premise of the film is that a South Korean scientist and his team want to build a time machine and are assisted by the Russians to bring this dream to life. Although it's taken years, the team is finally ready to test the system in their underwater lab. It will be a seemingly small test—to hop one day ahead and stay there only 15 minutes. However, this seemingly simple test turns out to be disastrous—though how disastrous and why you won't realize until late in the film.

When the pair of explorers are transported to their station a day later, they are shocked to find the place in ruins—there are fires everywhere and it appears as if they are all about to die. However, since they only have 15 minutes, knowing exactly HOW to stop it and WHY it's occurring does not seem possible. And, in their rush to get back to the day before, one is accidentally left behind. But, this person left behind is able to come back…though a bit later in the film. However, this late arriving lady behaves strangely—as if she's trying to destroy the project. She even unleashes a computer virus into the system. What gives and why is she doing this? What did she learn on the future base? Or, is she just plain nuts?

The film asks the fundamental question whether or not we can change the future. Well, this isn't an easy thing to answer when you see the film. The film is father fatalistic—but perhaps the problem isn't our ability to change the future but our limitations because we humans are pretty stupid and in trying to change things, we might end up making it all come true! Many more questions will undoubtedly arise as you watch the film—and it really can make your brain hurt a bit with all the possibilities.

I would say this is a very good film—perhaps not a great one, but one that will make you think. Additionally, the movie has incredibly nice production values. The titles, music (with the exception of the Carole King song "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" which seemed to be a bit overplayed and started to make me twitch!) and sets are all top-notch and there isn't a lot of fault about the movie except that there are so many conundrums presented by time travel…and it all does get a bit confusing to try to sort out in your mind. Still, it's worth seeing and is proof that the South Koreans can make some excellent films…but we non-Koreans just need to be willing to give them a try and get over our apprehension about having to read subtitles…just get over it!

Whitewash (2013/I)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's a film with very limited appeal, 16 April 2014

Whitewash is the first full-length film from Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais. Because he is not that experienced with writing and directing, I feel I should be gentle with this review, as I do not want to discourage Emanuel—he shows some definite promise with this film. Whitewash has many qualities that show he's on the right track with his career and he should definitely keep working at improving his craft. The problem, however, is that the movie has very, very, very limited appeal and I cannot see it being a commercial success.

The film stars the familiar actor, Thomas Hayden Church and it was quite the coup getting him for this project. You'll probably know him from such TV shows as Ned and Stacy and Wings but he also has been in quite a few films—including the critically acclaimed Sideways.

The story is set in Canada and most everyone, other than Church's character, speaks French. It begins with him driving his snow plow down the road during a bad storm and running over a guy who is standing in the road! Inexplicably, instead of contacting the police, since it appears to be just an accident, he buries the body in the wilderness. Soon after this, he wrecks his plow and is stuck—and it might just be because he's drunk…though you really aren't sure. Why he doesn't just go for help is difficult to fathom initially and slowly during the course of the film you realize that there's more to the story.

This film is told through a very familiar method in recent years—telling the story out of sequence. It seems like the story was chopped up and pieces of the beginning middle and end are all mixed together. I have liked this style in some films, though I must say that perhaps this style is a bit overused and it makes the film a bit confusing. This is not the only reason that I think that the film is for a very select audience. I say this also because Church is pretty much THE star of the film and he is in all the scenes in the film. Much of the time, he's all alone and talks to himself while hiding out in the woods—and this sort of film is certainly not one to appeal to anyone wanting action or traditional story telling. Additionally, he's not a particularly sympathetic character in the film—further lessening the film's appeal. Now none of this is to say it's a bad film—it isn't. It is unique and may appeal to some people who feel like they've seen it all and want something different. As for me, I respect the project—but I also didn't particularly enjoy it nor could I see myself recommending it to friends. Instead, I say let's see what else Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais can do in the future, as his directing style seems solid—I just think the story was one that doesn't have widespread appeal.

A very curious film, that's for sure and I can easily say that I've never seen anything like it. Considering that I've written over 16,000 reviews (mostly on IMDb), this is saying a lot.

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