Reviews written by registered user
|16 reviews in total|
I'm a longtime Woody Allen fan, though it's been a spotty relationship.
I didn't go see it at a theater despite the generally positive reviews.
It's appearance at a local Redbox was enough to trigger a need to view
It is a respectful work with all the principle actors doing a fine job, especially the searing performance of Blanchett as a woman on the edge. Blanchett's character, Jasmine, is a New York socialite, or at least she was before upscale lifestyle came crashing to a halt, that is now forced to move in with her sister living in a modest San Francisco neighborhood. Though they are sisters, both have had much differing paths and see life through very different lenses. Her sister tries to help Jasmine get on her feet, without bringing up the past indignations, while she manages a job, a boyfriend, and two kids. Jasmine has basic issues dealing with coping in a world without seven-figure indulgences. As she attempts to fit herself into the new reality, we see flashbacks that weave her relationship with her sister and other members of the family in context with her new path.
Woody's films are always about relationships and this one has some of the most complicated and contested relationships than the last two or three features combined. It almost feels like these were spread a little thin, but it doesn't bog down the feature because the focus is on Jasmine and the path of destruction she imparts. It is painful to watch Jasmine who has few positive personal characteristics that are suited for her new world. The many flashbacks, which take up a good third of the movie, shows how she isn't able to move on from a person used to being provided the best of everything. Most the reviewers compare this movie to "A Streetcar Named Desire" and I'll have to take their word for it because I never read or saw it. Maybe that was a blessing.
The dialog rich movie is nearly extinct, but Woody keeps the flame burning for the fans of Ingmar Bergman and Fellini films. This one doesn't have the crispness of some previous works, especially the recent Midnight In Paris that I really adored, but who are we to complain when movie producers give us product where dialog is an afterthought. You may not come away fully fulfilled, but it will make you think about what truly makes a rich life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The popularity of the movie and seemingly high regard by critics have
me wondering why I did not enjoy this movie to the extent I had
anticipated. There are so many strange elements, character non
sequiturs and inappropriate dialogs that take away from what is a good
story and fine set of actors.
Here is the short list of issues I have. The music would have been perfect for "Blazing Saddles". The hokey lettering for times and places (especially the elongated "Mississippi"). Some of the scenes purported to be in the deep South obviously came from dry rocky areas of California. The overuse of the sudden zoom shot (like the early scene with DiCaprio). The stupid hooded mask scene before they raid Dr. Schultz' wagon. What it does to the film is to make it look disjointed and out of context a good portion of the time. Plus, plot contrivances appear to make the story end properly. I can't buy the whole Django escape from the crew taking him to the mine.
This film is long, and by that I mean long in a way that is not good. I kept wondering when it was going to end. The movie is by no means a good follow up to "Inglorious Basterds" which was a fine film. The gratuitous violence and gore isn't what hurts the film as much as how the tone is mangled at various points along the way. If you like films, you'll probably want to see it. But don't be surprised if at the end it doesn't satisfy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first mistake is to think this is a comedy.
Mike Birbiglia plays comedian Matt Pandabiglio (boy, he disguised that well, didn't he??) who is still struggling with material, delivery, gigs, and, by the way, his long-time girl friend Abby, played by Lauren Ambrose. It is clear by those around him, they are the ideal couple that will get married and have a family. If fact, they are wondering what is taking so long. So we get to see Matt do a few minutes on stage while working his regular bar-tending job, but obviously he is a work in progress.
But Matt has another problem that is troubling to Abby and his parents - he is experiencing sleepwalking with such intensity, he starts acting out his dreams with whatever is around him. Much of this has to do with his evolving comedic life and the long term live-in situation with his girlfriend.
I watched this movie with the same expectation of others that I'm sure thought it was going to be exclusively a comedy. There are some of Mike's classic comedy routines with his terrific understated sense of humor, but it really is window dressing for how his relationship, sort of stuck in neutral, begins to affect them both after so many years of no commitment. Just like life, there are some good times, bad times, and all of those times in between. I'm trying to remember the last good relationship movie I saw that so cleanly portrayed the love of two people that were really not made for each other and didn't know it until so many years had passed.
I am stuck wondering how much of this is autobiographical and how much was fiction. There are some definite parallels between Mike B.'s actual life and Matt P. in the movie. All I can say is, if it wasn't all biographical, then Mike did a fabulous job of making a complete and honest storyline that has people asking questions of their own behavior and relationships. Give the people in the film credit for doing a wonderful job of acting. My had is off to Birbiglia for piecing together a terrific movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Once in a while, a well-crafted movie comes along but it fails
miserably to resonate to the viewer. This is a good example of it.
I found many reasons to not like the film. This movie clearly has too much space; the film pacing is sometimes excruciatingly slow. The subject matter, how one aging married person cares for his fast declining spouse, is squeamishly dark and bitter. There are some symbolic messages left to your imagination. And the final scene left a foul taste that poisoned the whole experience. In our small art picture theater, the final cut produced a collective gasp of displeasure.
Looking at the face of it, however, it is clearly a well-made film on a difficult subject. The acting is superb and there is no doubt this film was artfully constructed. But, the viewer deserves to know this movie is not a touchy-feely type of experience despite the title and picture of a smiling elderly woman. It is very difficult to see the beauty behind the grisly realities.
Good movie productions do not always lead to enjoyable experiences. You have been warned.
Moneyball examines a deeper premise than how the 2002 Oakland A's
managed to form a contending baseball team with a small payroll. While
there is a lot of baseball in the story, it is not the whole story.
Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland A's (still is) during a time when it appeared baseball was ruled by large payrolls. Right away, you are shown how the Oakland team loses three big talents to the more well-healed baseball teams (Yankees, Red Soxs) and now they need to find players to stand a chance to compete but at one of the lowest payroll levels in Major League Baseball. Billy discovers Grant (Jonah Hill) who uses a different, more calculated approach to evaluating talent than the old tried and true method of subjective evaluation by long-time scouts.
The story is crisp, the movie cleanly presented, and well-acted by the two principle actors. Aaron Sorkin's writing fingerprints are all over it. It is fine movie making.
But the story isn't just about baseball, it is about how objective tools are used to decide how the talent is acquired and used. We are seeing more and more of this in our daily lives. If you work for an employer, there is a strong probability that how your efforts are graded are done using a scale that is cold, hard, and unmoving. What was once a series of perceptions and opinions by your boss are now hard straight facts. It is because the humans that manage other humans have a series of preconceived notions of how well you do your job. Humans are fallible, so our evaluations are flawed too.
I once created a computer program to play the board game Monopoly with me. I figured that I should be able to beat it more than it beats me because I wouldn't be able to construct a rich set of logic rules that would beat my cognitive abilities. After playing against it many times, I was surprised to find that it could beat me six out of ten games. Reason? I was subject to making decisions based on gut feel instead of cold hard logic and I made faulty decisions. The computer didn't, so it won more times than not.
Moneyball is the same thing. A roomful of scouts deciding on which players they should go after is flawed and will ignore those that deserve consideration while accepting those that don't. This is expanding to our workplaces as well and we will be accepted or rejected based on firm data than someone's opinion. As a teacher in a high school, that is exactly what testing has done for schools. It is probably coming soon to a workplace near you.
It didn't help I was expecting this to be a comedy (thanks, Redbox for
that wayward clue), but I didn't even make it to the end.
This one can't be blamed on the acting; as a whole, they did the best with what they had to work with. It was the story and storytelling that failed.
The Girl-Who-Made-It (Theron) comes home to small town Minnesota and tries to make it with her high school beau (Wilson) though he is married, adores his wife and child, enjoys his simple life and has no big wants or desires. And that is the big problem for this movie - you must believe her attempts at baiting her old boyfriend away from his happy life isn't met with some kind of discussion point. The ex-boyfriend and his wife seem to not even notice or comment on her come-ons, instigations, and manipulations as she tries to change her past.
The whole tone of the movie is depressing. There is an awful amount of drinking, even for the well-adjusted. Why are these people so miserable? If you have a couple of mindless hours to kill and you've seen everything else out there, it may be worth seeing just for the performances. Theron is powerful as the depressed returnee, Wilson is quite capable, and I like Oswalt (friend) and Reaser (wife). But, you might as well have a lot of beer ready so you can drink along with them into a mindless stupor.
I love this type of genre where the story, plot, and acting is valued
greater than action. If you've read the book or seen the TV
mini-series, you'll probably like this at about an 8 level. If you
haven't been exposed to the story, it will be a confusing and boring
Like the TV series, the emphasis is on limited dialog, plain locations and spaces, and acting space. Some would call it dry, but there is power in the silence as the characters share meaningful looks and furtive glances. If the TV series dialog was measured, the movie dialog was more rationed. I think there were a solid five minutes George Smiley (played by Oldman) said a word after his first screen exposure.
The general plot is not that hard to follow, but this is a story based in subtleties. Nuances are difficult to interpret if you don't know where the story is going. Suffice it to say, everything you see is important and sometimes you don't realize the importance until later. Following the high level agents takes attentiveness not usually needed in a wide-release film.
Still, I like the style and substance of the movie, even if it is difficult to catch all the meanings of each plot step. Several people nearby me mentioned that while they liked the movie, they were confused about certain events. One told her spouse they needed to pick a simpler movie to watch next time it hurt their brain.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I mean that as a compliment. This is an outstanding story about an
accomplished woman and how a few thoughtful people were able to help
her through the difficulties faced by autistic people. If you are
worried about watching another movie about a person overcoming great
barriers, don't be for this one. It is magical how the writers,
directors, and actors, especially the spot-on performance of Claire
Danes, were able to keep the story true without overwrought dramatics
and sugary sweet sentimentality. It is a joy to watch.
Temple Grandin, born with autistic behavior, has difficulty in learning academically and socially except for her mother and a few teachers that recognized how different her world is. Her life is documented from early years to later academic and personal growth, but it is not presented chronologically. Since the central topic of the story includes her relationship with cows, the story begins at her first exposure to cows at her relations ranch.
It is best not to know in advance how Temple becomes enamored by cows and her following success with them, but let us just say it does involve how cows are slaughtered for human consumption. If this bothers you or if you do not agree that meat processing is okay, then this movie is not going to be for you no matter what. One reviewer listed below was revolted by how the movie seems to, at least in his eyes, glamorize or justify beef processing. It is just part of Temple Grandin's story, not some kind of beef producers attempt to quell those that believe meat consumption is wrong.
Likewise, if you have had the challenge of raising autistic children, Temple Grandin's story may seem to trivialize those challenges. My understanding of autism (and it is incomplete at best) has been that autism has some common characteristics, but they manifest in many different ways.
There is no doubt this is one of the most beautiful human interest movies made. As a high school teacher, I showed my engineering class this movie over two days for two reasons. First, she shows a remarkable talent of analyzing problems and develop solutions. Second, and this was the main reason, the story of "being different, not less" is an important one of tolerance. One of my students was a highly functional autistic girl that was viewed as strange by fellow students on a regular basis. This brought the point home in how important it is to recognize we are all not the same and that is okay. By the way, the students were engaged through the whole movie (it's easy to tell; they didn't try to sneak phone texts during the movie and didn't fall asleep).
Savor this one. They just don't come along very frequently
I can't add much to the story line others have posted regarding the
journey of a paraplegic marine to the world of Pandora, but I would
like to add to some of the commentary.
Nobody is going to watch this movie for the story and acting, both of which were decent, but not ground-breaking. But the visual mastery of James Cameron's work is just so beyond the current level that cinema has been able to produce, it will benchmark a new era achievement much like Star Wars did over 30 years ago. Because you are seeing a story unfold with the full force of state of the art CGI, it makes the story and characters come alive with faultless realism. Creating a race of humanoids such as the Na'vi with amazing consistency, and yet individualistically, it captures the mind, heart, and soul of the viewer as they are enveloped in this strange new world.
I saw this at an IMAX theater in 3D and if there was one complaint, I think the 3D system incorporated lacked a little bit of clarity that viewing without glasses would have provided. Is the 3D effect benefits outweigh the detraction in less clarity? This is something worth investigating. I am certainly willing to see the movie again in 2D just because the experience is worth repeating. It is also clear that when the DVD version comes out around May or so if they stick to the release schedule typical of these movies, I'll buy one on the first day and play it on my home theater.
Mesmerizing film on the Frost/Nixon interviews that electrified the
public after several torturous years with Watergate news articles,
hearings, and eventual first resignation of an American president. This
movie is a documentary style work involving how the interviews came
about and the people involved on the two teams; Frost and his producer,
researchers, and girlfriend on one side with Nixon, his staff, and
family on the other. It succeeds brilliantly in staying away from
mimicry of the two personalities that would otherwise be impossible to
convincingly duplicate with impersonation. The viewer is soon pulled
away from the sense that actors Sheen (playing Frost) and Langella
(playing Nixon) are not the people portrayed, but are intensely
The film starts with a small amount of actual footage running up to the Nixon resignation and then starts to blend in the produced film sequences. The look of the film color is intentionally off-color to give it a mid-70's period film quality (overly bright and warm with some haze). Frost finds out that getting air time (re: financing) for an unpopular ex-president interview is not fruitful. But he boldly continues to stretch for that bit of fame that will take him back in the TV mainstream. Remember, this was a time that TV executives were abhorrent to the notion of paying for interviews. On the other side, Nixon was looking for a way to make a buck, so a good sized check for doing interviews by a lightweight entertainment interviewer was an attractive proposition.
The acting and dialog steal the show. Comparing favorably with "Milk", this film bubbles with timely dialog between the two lead actors. Of course, they had to be spot on in order to make it convincing and emotionally satisfying. The only part of the film I question is one of the moments leading up to the all-important Watergate interview session between Nixon and Frost when Frost is in his hotel suite. I don't want to give this pivotal moment away except that I found out later that this didn't happen. It is a riveting piece of film, but the fact that it was a fictionalized segment hurts the credibility of the film and I feel as if I was managed by the film makers. I think anyone going to see a movie based on fact should have the option of knowing if they can take the information at face value. For instance, almost all movie goers know "The Da Vinci Code" isn't a credible source of religious teachings, but it is still a fun movie to see as long as one doesn't use it as a basis for fact. Here, it appears almost all of the events are pretty accurate except for this one moment. For this, and this alone, I can only give it an 8 out of 10 versus a 10/10 it would otherwise deserve.
"Frost/Nixon" deserves viewing for those who lived the Watergate era and those who didn't. The performances and production are a tremendous plus and the story is particularly pertinent as we are now faced with another questionable presidency for the past eight years showing how a president can choose to impart his will beyond his constitutional powers for the things he believes is right. History repeats itself again.
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