42 Reviews
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Panic Room (2002)
Solid Entertainment, through and through
2 October 2017
I love Fincher.

All of the films I've seen of his clearly show his love of cinema. Shots that straight through a key lock to the other side and then swooping back again. A lot of motion. Captivating motion. The house and the safe are also characters in this movie, which I really appreciate.

His cinematography makes it clear as to why he's such a wildly celebrated filmmaker. It draws you in. You move through the space, into the space and out of the space while at the same time experiencing a very intense and white-knuckle story that glues you to the edge of your seat. Several times I found myself literally with my back arched and knees locked, feeling the tension. That's what I love about him as a filmmaker. He's visceral. He's able to translate the emotional ups and downs of the characters and the situation in a cinematographic way. He tells a story that captivates, and you experience the telling of the story in rich detail.

I'm giving this film an eight. Why, you ask? Well, originally it was going to be a nine, but I found myself distracted by Dwight Yoakam's acting. If you see the film, you'll see what I mean. His character didn't seem fleshed out and his acting was over-exaggerated. One moment he's calm cool tough guy psychopath and the next he's acting hysterical. I didn't feel he was true to the character. It was an interesting swing to see these both sides of the character, but I felt he could have dialed it back a bit.

Forrest Whittaker is fantastic at portraying a guy who's gone bad who also has a good heart. There's a gravity to his performance that I really like. He's clearly the most likable villain. At the same time, he wants his piece of the pie.

Jarod Leto was solid. I loved his mannerisms. He has a real command of his character's body language, which I really liked. Leto in general has a bright energy on the screen. Has a lot of meltdowns.

The mother and child connection was surprisingly caring and believable. You feel the love these two characters feel for one another, and it's a strong element of the story as a whole.

Foster was fantastic. Utterly believable. There is not a second where you don't feel the intensity inside of this person who wants to save herself and her child. She's sympathetic. She does this wild-eyed thing when she's under pressure that I really like.

Steward was great. I really have not much to say other than, there are a lot of cringy teenage performances that I've seen (The kids in the Visit, anyone?) but Stewart did a really solid job in this movie.

I loved this film. I have no complaints about the ending or whatever. I thought it was a top-notch, underrated Thriller. Fincher's a very intelligent, thoughtful filmmaker. I wanna watch another one right now, actually...
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Yoga Hosers (2016)
Crappiest Movie I've Never Seen
21 June 2017
I didn't watch Yoga Hosers, but why would I? Millenial kids (who are already a disgusting, narcissistic, phone-obsessed, apathetic generation), Kevin Smith (who lost whatever potential he had years ago, and (blech) it's set in Canada. Perfect recipe for disaster.

Not to mention, the trailer is cringy as heck and the acting is atrocious.

Avoid this movie at all costs. I would love to say I lost 88 minutes of my life, but I didn't even put myself through the agony of watching this steaming pile of doggy excrement. AVOID AVOID AVOID!!!
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I Didn't Even Watch It And I Hate It!!!
22 February 2017
Yeah. Bad bad bad. I saw a review of this movie by ralphthemoviemaker on youtube and WOW does it ever stink! He showed some scenes from the movie and they are painfully unfunny. Seth isn't magnetic or charismatic in the least. None of the dialogue seemed to have any spark and definitely zero humour. The cinematography isn't terrible, but other than that, it's a complete waste of time. It's way too long, too dull, too unfunny and the best advice I can give to you is to STEER CLEAR from this stinky mess!

Pity, because I love Family Guy and find a lot of Ted to be quite funny.
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Coach Carter (2005)
1000 Pushups!
26 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is the story of a coach who bucks the system to ensure that the players on his basketball team not only become a stellar team, but attain a good education to boot. It's another one of those paint-by-number sports movies with a tough-as-nails coach and a rebellious team that he has to whip into shape. The film puts the spotlight on an education system that places more emphasis on producing winning players than producing winning students with lots of opportunities in life.

It's not a bad movie, but it's not a great movie. It's predictable. You know the ending from the start of the movie. That's not a terrible thing, considering that in movies like this, often it's the journey that counts more than the end product. It's a movie full of life lessons and messages about teamwork, fulfilling your personal destiny and ambitiously pursuing goals without being complacent. The film has a good moral backbone.

There are more than enough syrupy, cringe-inducing moments to choke a horse. The movie relies heavily on sentiment and cliché to drive its point home. Every movie has the potential of really being a piece of art, but when a film relies on overused tropes, it satisfies the audience without challenging them. Therefore, the movie never feels like it's doing something new.

The movie is filmed well. It looks great. It's crisp and full lof fluid camera movements.. From the lighting to the sets, the movie is made well.

The training Carter puts his team through is rough. You feel the pain of the team when they constantly have to endure suicide runs and pushups, but you also see the benefits of really striving to be your best. You see the benefits of practice, repetition and training. The sports scenes are well-choreographed and filmed. The characters are mostly likable. The contrast between Coach Carter and the principal is a strong element of the movie (she cares less about the kids' educations and more about having a winning team). At one point, the principal says something to the effect of "Playing on this team could be the best time of their lives". At this point, it hits you that these kids really don't have a chance to become anything with a school system that sees them as simply members of a winning team as opposed to young people full of potential.

This is what sets Coach Carter apart from other sports movies. The Coach has a goal that is bigger and nobler than simply having a winning team. He cares about the kids and their futures.

The scenes with Samuel Jackson are strong, for the most part. He's a good actor; convincing, solid and a force to be reckoned with. However, a number of the other younger actors aren't good enough to carry a scene, which leaves the movie feeling patchy. A lot of the dialogue feels recycled and trite. For example, there is a scene with a needy basketball player trying to convince his "pregnant" girlfriend to work things out with him. The dialogue feels like it's lifted straight from a soap opera. It doesn't ring true.

It's an okay movie. It's not amazing. It's not a great piece of art. It's capable filmmaking, decent acting and a worthwhile, if predictable story. It offers food for thought about the state of education in America today and Jackson's performance makes it worth watching. I'd give it a 6/10.
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Elf (2003)
Saccharine and Sickly Sweet but Well Done
25 December 2015
I feel torn. On one hand, this was an extremely well-done movie. Very entertaining. Funny. Cute. Captured all of the elements one might require in a Christmas movie.

On the other hand, I felt it was a little too cloying and saccharine. There were some very entertaining moments and good scenes, but it's obvious this movie was made for the whole family (which is fine) and, in the end, it didn't feel like a great movie. It felt like a good movie. You have to be ready to stomach the shmaltz, mind you (and there is a lot).

I'm torn between rating it 6 or 7. Why? Because on one hand, the shmaltzy elements alienated me a bit from the film but on the other hand, the movie has heart and is essentially a feel-good Christmas movie with all the fixins. And, I don't want to come across like a Scrooge.

It was well-filmed. Zooey looked beautiful. It was funny in a broad sort of way. James Caan isn't as badass or mean as you originally think, and in the end, he seems rather likable.

My complaint is that the movie could have more edge. Maybe it's because I spent the last few days watching really good thrillers, but I felt like this movie could have had a darker dark side. For me, it would have enriched the experience.

As it stands now, it's sweet, fun, harmless and stands alone as a rather storybook Christmas fairytale that can appeal to a huge demographic. But heed this warning: There are a large share of Christmas songs, and several shmaltzy moments.

Add this to your Christmas movie list. It's worth it. It ain't the best, but it's a well put together little tale with enough funny moments to make the experience worthwhile.

And a heckuva lot of Christmas spirit. Cheesy and cloying at times, but still... it's there. Enjoy it.
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The Guest (I) (2014)
Stylish, Sexy, Scintillating and Sometimes Scary
24 December 2015
The Guest is a gripping, stylish thriller with enough scares and surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat. It was a little paint-by-numbers in terms of the overall story, which might explain its rating, but I found that it kept me entranced, curious and entertained.

I don't want to give away too much, but the basic premise is that an old army buddy of a soldier who died in action returns to his dead comrade's home. At first, he seems to be a sexy, soft-spoken, helpful, charming and likable new addition to their family, but when people start to die in unusual circumstances, questions about this stranger emerge. Along with the questions comes a heavy dose of suspicion and the drama unfolds.

The cinematography is gorgeous. The soundtrack is very Eighties (ala. Drive). The acting is top notch (especially Dan Stevens and newcomer Maika Monroe - who was also fantastic in "It Follows").

Some of the fight scenes are slightly cartoonish, but you get the feeling that the director is infusing these scenes with intentional campiness. The shots are slightly sped up in these scenes and the choreography is reminiscent of Guy Ritchie.

The movie is intense. My one complaint is that the plot isn't terribly original, but it still manages to be both gripping and wildly entertaining. There is also something a bit tongue-in-cheek about a lot of the movie. There is a comedic underpinning to many of the scenes and dialogue. The baddie oozes so much charm (as with many psychopaths) that it's fascinating to watch him transform.

Not a "great" movie, but a very good movie with a lot of style and a wonderful, synthy, Eighties-style soundtrack. In my books, It's definitely worth a look.

I gave it 8/10
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18 March 2014
As many of the reviews have said, this movie had so much potential that was all squandered. It could have been "comic gold" if the concept were in the right hands, but sadly this was not the case. The movie was too long. The beginning was fast-paced and humorous, but in Act 2 it became slow, tedious and predictable. The end is also completely and totally predictable.

This is all quite unfortunate because the premise is great. The "mind-reading" scenes were too few. This was supposed to be the core idea of the movie. Therefore, we shouldn't just have a small smattering of "mind-reading scenes". This should have been a stronger element. If this movie was made by Woody Allen or Wes Anderson, something truly great and hilarious might have been produced, but this turned out to be a big, sappy, gooey mess.

Gibson shows us he can dance. That was a plus. The movie also looked good and had a few decent editing sequences (the scene where he gets electrocuted, for example). However, it does feel (by the end) rather superficial and empty. It could have been an intriguing dissection of gender and gender differences, but it ends up presenting men and women in black and white terms.

There were a few nice scenes. The movie wasn't all bad (which is why I gave it five instead of one). The scene where Mel breaks down while watching a woman being emotional on TV, for example... or dancing like Fred Astaire. It was also nice to see the toddler from Growing Pains all grown up (and actually acting quite well!).

Overall, I would have to suggest avoiding this one. It's exhausting. If they cut out half an hour, cut down on the subplots, made the film much funnier and if it wasn't so predictable and "Hollywoody" this could have been something special.

Oh well.
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I Laughed Once... Maybe Twice
9 November 2013
To be completely honest, I'm surprised by the high rating of this movie. I would have assumed it would be more around the 5.9 area... not 6.9... but I digress.

I love comedy. When a comedy is done well, I'm a happy, happy camper. However, this movie just wasn't funny. I felt like they were trying really hard to make me (and everyone else) laugh, but it just didn't work.

I personally think that if Colin Farrell had way more screen time, the movie would have been much funnier. His comb-over, his twitches, his absurd mannerisms made him hands- down the funniest element of this movie, yet he only appears in two or three scenes.

Kevin Spacey plays a carbon copy of Buddy Ackerman. The writers practically lifted his lines from Swimming With Sharks. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not. I do think, however, that SWS was a much funnier and fascinating movie.

Charlie Day was hilarious in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia but in this movie his screechy voice renders him almost unbearable to watch. His dilemma regarding his boss is also a tad unrealistic. His boss is the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston (who was very sexy in this movie) and her constant heavy flirtation with Dale is unbelievable to say the least, as is his disgust with her. I understand the character as not wanting to cheat on his wife, but I think that if a woman who is ten times as beautiful as his wife is constantly flirting with him, that he would suffer some sort of inner dilemma regarding the situation. We're all human. Yet in this movie, he seems utterly unphased by her advances.

My other issue with the film is it's constant expletives. I've never been one to shy away from swearing. I'm not a prude. However, this film is littered with F-words and it just feels like the writers put them in with the thought that they would generate humour. They don't. They just make the characters look vulgar, tasteless and dumb.

There is one line in the movie I laughed hard at. The rest inspired a few smirks and chuckles, but it was hardly a laugh-fest. Jennifer Aniston is ridiculously cute and Colin Farrell is hilarious. The three leads weren't funny, in my opinion. One character shoves a toothbrush up his butt. Wow... so funny.

I watched The Odd Couple last week and I was astonished by how much I liked it. The movie was clever, frantic, full of very tight dialogue and visual humour. However, watching Horrible Bosses made me feel a bit sad about the state of comedy these days. Very few "Comedy" movies that are released these days inspire more than a giggle out of me. It would be nice to see a return to intelligent humour. Enough of this crude, potty-mouth, Adam Sandler-esque humour. Is this movie a reflection of the "dumbing-down" of America? Hope not.
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Waitress (2007)
cheesy and horrible
26 February 2008
I love adrienne shelley as an actress (trust) but this film was a cheesy, pointless flick. The comedy was really really awful, the story was predictable and the ending was telegraphed from miles away. It was so saccharine sweet it made me sick to my stomach. I was really hoping for more, considering her early collaboration with Hartley, but it was pretty junky. Every scene was obvious and trite. I can't believe how many people rated it highly here... it's stunning. Shocking.

Really sucks that she died and all, but I won't give this a good rating just because she kicked the bucket.

The cinematography was great, though. Too bad the story was blaaand.
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Saved! (2004)
a big fat sick joke
23 January 2008
i thought maybe... just maybe, the movie would actually have some degree of anti-Christian sentiments in it. i thought maybe there would be some element of *omigosh* actual questioning the existence of a Christian god, but no... the ending reinforced all of the sickening, judeo-Christian beliefs that support the entire infrastructure of the states; the government, schools everything...

and even a few minutes into the movie, watching all the cutesy faces and jokiness and everything, i realized that this movie would be anti-extremism, ie. anti-gay bashing within the church, anti-zealotry, but in the end, it was a (christian) god positive load of absolute bunk... the ending was absolute cheese, the movie itself doesn't provoke the tiniest ounce of thought...

it was a big joke... and it made me angry and frustrated that not a single filmmaker ... mainstream filmmaker in the states has the guts to assert any sort of atheistic beliefs, out of fear of offending... and this movie just did the opposite: it supported ignorance... sure, not extreme, homophobic, closed minded ignorance, but ignorance nonetheless...

like the scene where the chick searches through other religions, for thirty seconds of the film's timespan, putting a crystal on her throat, and "realizing" other religions have nothing to offer...

why, stipe, why? you are an intelligent songwriter but this song has killed a lot of respect i ever had for you...
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Garden State (2004)
don't bother
9 August 2005
I am getting tired of faux-indie films. Films that pretend to be 'hip' and 'indie' but are, in fact, following Hollywood formula and wearing their hipness like a badge. Garden State is a perfect example of this tendency. The characters are all overtly emotional, dry characters who are just trying to understand how to fit into this cruel world. They all have unsubstantial, forgettable conversations about family and friendship and the past and growing up. And while I appreciate films that have plenty of dialogue, like some of Woody Allen's flicks, the dialogue really needs to be strong, powerful and hard-hitting. This film feels soft and tired and forgettable.

Natalie Portman's character seems to be created to be the quintessential 'quirky, alternative girl', kind of like the kids who litter films like 'Empire Records', except more self-consciously 'quirky'. She is quirkier than a three dollar bill, does things that are unpredictable and cries for no reason. It is hard to see why Braff's character falls for her at all, and there seems to be zero chemistry.

It all feels so contrived, and the movie itself plummets deeper and deeper into this false, smug, faux-indie, supposedly earnest dialogue and forced sentiment until the final, over-the-top, very very familiar father and son talk scene, which really takes the cake. It caps off this messy, wanna-be-alternative flick with such forced, banal sentiments...

Not to mention there is no real conflict and the characters are all so sweet with each other and just a bunch of oppressed twentysomethings trying to get along and understand life. It is very very familiar and was done much much better with Reality Bites. Although RB also felt, at times, a little over the top, it seemed much more sincere and had some brilliant dialogue and brilliant scenes... it also had the romantic 'subplot' which serves the 'love conquers all' theme, but at least the film as a whole was much more believable and well-written.
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i will never look at a hammer in the same way again
23 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
'The Voice Inside' is disturbing although not as horrific as I had been led to believe. It follows the adventures of a nameless average joe as he is tortured by a 'voice' that torments him endlessly.

I liked the concept; somebody tormented by a voice and driven to such lengths that he basically mutilates himself, and as the violence gets more and more horrific, as does the humour, in a Peter Jackson 'Bad Taste' sort of way, but I felt that certain things could have been accentuated to exaggerate and enhance this original concept. Small parts of the film, like some of the slowed down sequences, felt unnecessary and slowed the film down, and I also felt the film could have been pushed even more. I know that seems hard to state, considering the amount of grotesque, self-mutilating behaviour that occurs, but something really over the top would have really brought the shock and the self-deprecating humour out even more... such as after the anal sequence, if the intestines fell out or something equally as ludicrous. Either that, or if the anal scene was longer or contained more gruesome close ups or what have you. I also think that when our hero mutilates his face, it would have been nice had he really gone far and if his face was really quite mashed up... I think that would have enhanced the humorous aspect of the movie, as well as the horror. THat being said, the disgust and horror still emerges.

The film, in its very concept, is cartoony, and the self-mutilating bludgeoning was very comical. The film and the credits are low-fi and simply done. The camera-work works for what it is, and there is a nice shot when our hero is riding the hammer and he looks up with a look of absolute terror on his face. It really enhances the absurdity and terror of the moment.

For me, the most fascinating quality about the film was the idea that the horror is created by the victim, who is both victim and terrorizer. It's also interesting how a hammer, a typically 'male' tool, is used in the film.. especially since a hammer seems the archetypal heterosexual male instrument. the filmmaker seems to be making a statement about masculinity and it's role in horror films...

The film seems to be poking fun at the 'inner voice' that's heard in umpteen horrors and thrillers. I found myself wondering about the character... who is he? where is he coming from? what are the pills? and i wonder if the film would have been stronger had these questions been answered. I cannot say. But I found myself wondering what led him to self mutilation and sodomy and wonder if it would have added an extra layer to the film, had we seen the transformation. Otherwise, it's horrific and disturbing, but inexplicable.

It's not perfect, and could have been tighter and elements could have been enhanced to bring out the horror and comedy even moreso, but that being said, the film was well done, well edited and manages to shock. The puking and writhing scene at the toilet is classic.
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Hotel Rwanda (2004)
why the praise?
20 March 2005
I'm surprised at the amount of praise this movie receives; through the Oscars, on this website. Only 23 negative responses, and most of the comments are around six. Well, I'm going to have to lower the number, people. I'm stickin this puppy at around four. Why? I'll tell you.

Granted, the story is "moving", but it feels very well worn and very familiar and like a million other movies of its ilk, but a different territory. None of the people I saw it with (seven others) enjoyed it and the general synopsis was that a documentary would have been sufficient to convey the power of the story; the story of Rwanda, that is. There are some very good performances, especially Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte, but the problem is that the movie is ultimately a feel good drama that churns along a very familiar path. It's another "hero" story, which is fine (the hero tries to save a whole bunch of his people by keeping them in his hotel; ultimately making big sacrifices at the expense of his own potential survival), but not when so much of it is cheapened by oversentimentality, emotional manipulation and characters that have very little depth. I didn't find his wife to have much depth. She is the poor suffering wife. That's it. We see them in various intimate scenarios while this genocide is ravaging the country, and for some reason we are meant to care. I just couldn't. It seemed like cheap romantic scenes thrown in to force us to feel. I couldn't. If anything, they slowed down the film. The story really felt like "Rwanda 101" a way to give us a sanitized version of what happened in 1994 in a simple way, full of overwrought dramatics. It's also yet another movie that has non-English speaking people speaking English with each other for two hours. For me, that automatically cheapens the story because you can basically see the minds at work behind that one: let's make a movie that is palatable for the American public, instead of having their original languages spoken. What's wrong with subtitles? Some of my favourite movies have subtitles. I realize many people don't want to read subtitles, but considering 90 percent of the movies made outside of North America, which already have trouble getting exposure, have subtitles, I think it is out of respect that people initiate themselves into the subtitle world because I can honestly say that subtitles have not ruined my appreciation for a single movie. Also, if we are to experience the true, authentic nature of the world of these characters, isn't their language incredibly important?
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Sideways (2004)
above mediocre
27 February 2005
This was a pleasantly diverting film that doesn't seem worth all of the accolades it has received. It's well-done, entertaining, has some heartwarming observations about life, but it lies far from being amazing. I expected more, to be honest, given all the hooplah. However, it felt a bit worn, as though I'd seen many of the elements in various other buddy movies, road trip movies, and middle-aged crisis movies.

People complain that it wasn't funny enough. I don't think it was supposed to be. It had some nice moments; some memorable moments, and I immensely enjoyed watching Drew Hayden Church. Paul Giametti played the sort of shmuck we've seen him play for his whole career, but he was excellent nonetheless.

I did have problems with the lies and deceptions in the movie. Sure Drew's character was reprehensible and morally bankrupt in some ways, but neither character is the voice of reason when it comes to the lies and deceipt they both engage in (faking a car accident so Drew's wife doesn't find out about his cheating and lies).

I was never bored with the movie; there was always something to keep me hooked, and the depth to which Paul G's character goes into the wine is quite funny, having worked at St*rf*cks (ecch) and having had to learn the subtle differences between the various coffees.

Some nice moments, some funny moments, some semi-enlightening moments, but it was far from being a masterpiece. It's an enjoyable little film but nothing that really sticks out.
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woody allen is a hot stud
26 February 2005
The costumes and set design were flawless. The comedy was pure Woodman, no more, no less. It's another "light" offering from the woodster, which got nasty reviews when it came out, but it's enjoyable and fun.

Hypnosis, jewel thievery... elements of some Mickey Spillane novel. And everyone seems to dwell on the fact that Woody Allen always ends up romantically entangled with young broads in his movies. My reaction to that is, so what!?!? If I was a world-famous director pushing seventy, I wouldn't exactly be against the idea of kissing a younger, blond actress on screen. In a way, his point is that you don't need to be a hot young stud to attract babes. It's what's inside that counts. I mean, movies are based on illusion anyway. What does it matter? Nobody's being hurt and nobody's being exploited.

It's not as funny as some of his earlier comedies, and it's not as deep or philosophical as Crimes and Misdemeaners, Hannah and her Sisters, Interiors, but it's fun, kinda zany and worth the two hours (or is it shorter?). Woody Allen constantly surprises me with his energy and pizazz for a man in his golden years.

And I was really impressed with the colours in this film, and the softness of the image. It's like candy.
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could have been better
25 February 2005
I saw this film when it came out and I remembered enjoying it more. I just watched it again last night and I have to be honest; I was a bit let down. The acting (esp. Nicholas Cage) was top notch, the story sad and tragic, but other elements just brought the whole thing down a notch.

For one thing, I didn't find myself very moved by the whole experience. It's a moving, tragic tale, and the night before I shed a few tears during Elephant Man, but not with LLV. And I have to attribute part of it to the music. I learned that Mike Figgis composed the film himself, but for me, it was just too jazzy and bluesy to really work for the film and the story. Elements of that genre would've worked, but I just found myself annoyed by the music again and again, and instead of emotionally connecting with the characters, I felt distant; detached.

The little blurry bits and the slow motion bits seemed too artificial; too forced. Too self-consciously "arsty", and, for me, really detracted from the story. If the story was a little more "sober" (get it?) in the way it was told, I may have been drawn in more.

But it's a story of alcoholism and self-destruction, ultimately, and my one question would be why the film didn't choose to go more into Cage's reasons for killing himself with alcohol. It's never satisfactorily explained.

Nevertheless, despite the jittery camera and cheesy music, the story is poignant, terribly sad and surprisingly low key, and Cage has some great lines, especially in the first half of so.
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Adam & Paul (2004)
heroin in Ireland
21 February 2005
One of the best films at the Berlinale Film Festival. Gritty, disturbing with doses of black humour thrown in. The characters are likable and the film never dives into emotional manipulation. It's social realism at it's finest, creatively shot and brilliantly acted. Poignant and unforgettable.

The dynamics between the two characters are fascinating. Childhood friends, thrown together since age fourteen, living on the streets, without hope, full of despair, Adam constantly berates and yells at Paul but there is above all, a deep, lasting bond between them. They are despicable characters in so many ways, but there is such tragedy in their eyes and so much despair in their bones, and you end up feeling for them, and a certain innate understanding and empathy. They're outcasts with zero future. They're the "pathetic" people we walk past and ignore every day, and, in the film, they mesmerize.

Somebody said to me it's like Trainspotting without the humour. I'd say it's like Trainspotting, but without the over the top camera tricks, visualizations and the like. There is more social reality and despair, ala Mike Leigh. There is humour, but on a more subtle level.

It sticks with you.
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Hitch (I) (2005)
German people seem to like it
21 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched this film in Berlin and people howled with delight through much of it. At times like that I just have to say, who am I to argue with mainstream taste? Well, it's like this: I am most often into more offbeat comedies, black comedies, dramas, thrillers and loads of art house and "foreign flicks", so I don't normally gravitate to things like this. But I was there, in the audience... so there we go.

Yes, Smith was charming. The female lead, however, was annoying and unappealing. She had this big smile pasted on her face for much of the movie, from the very beginning, and her acting just didn't cut it. She was too damn smug to be believable. I disliked her from the moment I saw her mug on screen, but perhaps it's just me.

There were admittedly some very nice comic moments with a deft touch, and the large dude (Kevin something?) was very funny and sympathetic, and the scene with the date and the gay friend etc. was very nicely done. So I'll give points for moments like that. But for the movie to digress into this mushy mess with Smith jumping atop her car declaring his love for her... OK, I like a handful of romantic comedies; when harry met sally etc., but this is just too much. This is overdone, predictable, and embarrassing. Too often the film falls into this hyper-conscious drivel masquerading as drama. Perhaps that is meant to lure in the uncritical masses of film goers, and in that case, it works, but not for the more discretionary film goer, such as myself.

I'm a fan of comedy, and I can cope with romantic comedy at times, but to me there is never an excuse to be predictable and over the top.

So, yes, the movie is charming at times, very funny at times and I wasn't bored, but don't expect to be wowed over by it's overt, manipulative sentimentality. Rich yuppies and their love problems, with various predictable scenes thrown in for good measure. It's guy meets girl, guy loses girl, guy wins girl kind of thing with doses of very funny humour.... yawn... heh heh... yawn... ha ha... yawn.
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rentable yarn
3 February 2005
Fun and humorous. I laughed a great deal. The first while was a bit bland, but the comedy really emerged in the latter half, especially with the addition of Hoffman and streisand (sporting quite the plastic surgery, talk about smooth, doll-like, plasticity skin... wow).

This kind of comedy is situational. It takes situations and explores the comic possibilities inherent in it. It pushes situations to the limit. In that sense, it takes you on a roller-coaster ride that is highly entertaining, albeit imperfect. owen Wilson's cameo was unforgettable as the inter-faith preacher. Hoffman was a little over the top, but it worked. Some of the "sincere, touching" moments didn't seem to fit in this movie, and streisand was annoying, with her plasticity face bouncing around and her new agey attitude (ample cleavage shots served as a not so unpleasant distraction, but you have to wonder about the naturalness of those assets). Some really classic moments, like the statues with giant members and the books about having a happy vagina.

But overall it has a sort of "been there, seen that" feel, but not enough to detract from the enjoyment of it. It just has loads in common with other movies of the same ilk, from Meatballs to Naked Gun. People caught in awkward situations, with a healthy dose of potty humour thrown in for good measure.

I was amused. It's nice to see DeNiro in fine form. Ben Stiller was hilarious and the bit about his "fifteen year old son" who acts exactly like him and looks damn similar really cracked me up as well. Blythe Danner is just gorgeous and classy.

This is one of those movies with lots of physical comedy and classic moments that stick with you, much like the type of humour from the old screwball comedies from days of yore such as Bringing Up Baby. It's well done and a nice, ripping yarn. Like I stated, it's not perfect and far from classic, but it's a satisfying sequel to the original, which, in all honesty, is more consistently funny. You may want to rent it, though, as opposed to running out to the nearest cinema.
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plato and woody
3 February 2005
I didn't see this one for years because of the reviews, but it is my goal to see every Woody Allen film ever made, at some point in my life and I watched it.

And I enjoyed it, surprisingly, despite the reviews. It's well-done, well-filmed and the story is really nice and has strong dramatic elements, and an underlying tragic tone. It's light, sure, but there's still a heaviness to it. It's no Crimes and Misdemeaners, but it's still a fairly strong work, and funny to boot.

I won't join the throngs of people claiming allen's a write off. I think he's done some of the most important films of the last century and his breadth is astounding, as well as his range. This film fits into his "lighter" works, with, yes, a sort of sense of morality underlying the humour, or at least a perspective that forces you to question things like class systems, the downfalls to moving up the social ladder, the illusory nature of wealth and the wealthy. If questions the very nature of happiness, I would dare say.

It makes me think of Plato's myth of the cave, with people watching shadows on the wall of the cave and one who is awakened by going outside and realizing there is much more out there, and the shadows are all just illusions. However, are these characters the people in the cave, or the enlightened ones? Perhaps the wealthy, greedy ones such as Hugh Grant's character are also stuck in the cave, allured by the illusions of wealth, art and the like. What is truth? What is the nature of truth? Small Time Crooks, despite it's modest story, dares to question these things and entertain at the same time, which every great film should aspire to do. Honest inquiry into the nature of things and entertainment all lumped together. That's art.

But despite the philosophical underpinnings of the film, it's just really funny and even when it turns more serious and dramatic, it doesn't lose the ball. It still holds you in its grip. I thought it was pretty damned good.
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American Girl (2002)
craporama (possible spoilers, but it doesn't matter anyway)
31 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The only reason I gave this movie a two was because it had nice lighting. The actors were all well-lit, and they all looked fairly nice. Except the dad, who looked pretty rough. Oh, and the colours were nice; some interesting compositions in the frame (to take us away from the blasé story, of course) This was a movie that went nowhere. If you loved Election, Blue Car and American Beauty; if you love film-making and want to see films that have scripts that are finely hued and well-thought out; if you like a certain degree of artistry present in a film, or even if you just like to watch a dang good flick, avoid this at all costs.

It's a film that goes nowhere and fulfills nothing. We rented it because of what was written on the back, but it was deceitful. It's not a black comedy because three funny moments do not a funny black movie make. Lifting the "kid constantly trying to off herself" concept straight from Harold and Maude is nothing short of thievery. Oh, no, wait, it's cleverly done because she tries to use a plastic fork... that's right. Even the half-hearted attempt to tackle a somewhat taboo subject (which might really take it into "black" comedy territory, or at least "black" something) like incest is thwarted by this throwaway line about the character's "dead" father, obviously saying that this father isn't her blood father anyway, so, phew, it's not so bad. And, like everything else in this movie, that subplot died a thin death with no resolution.

So not only was this film lame, but spineless, too. It was too scared to tackle a real, disturbing issue with a certain degree of resonance, in preference of the "disney world" subtext.

One of my problems with this film was that it just didn't seem well thought out. The dialogue felt sloppy and obvious. The characters were cardboard characters; the slutty daughter, the suicidal daughter, the pot smoking mom, the dad who just doesn't give a sh*t and never did... the mom writing postcards to the daughter, signing them "love dad", so she'd at least feel like he loved her; It had some interesting ideas buried way beneath the melodrama and weak storyline. It's too bad it was treated with such a heavy hand.
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Happy Hour (2003)
no hangovers with this fine drama
8 January 2005
i never pick out movies i know nothing about but this time i did... and I dug it. Sure it felt like a made for TV movie. Sure the filming was rather bland, predictable... but the writing was really good! Not perfect, but fun and entertaining, and the acting was very good. Stoltz was surprisingly low-key.. I guess he always is, but in this one he was super low-key. I was touched.

Story did have overtones of many other alkie movies I've seen, which at first put me off, but it was still set apart by the genuine feel of the story.

Overall, it was a humble little movie. Smallish production values. But sweet and sincere...

But when they were drunk, they really didn't seem that drunk... except once or twice... and the DTs are always hard to watch (remember Nicholas cage in leaving las Vegas?)
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Stardom (2000)
superficial study of a superficial world
5 January 2005
I was very surprised by this movie. I knew nothing about it except for Monsieur Arcand, and his oeuvre, so, needless to say, I was surprised at this "effort".

In an movie with nods to "Waiting for Guffman" (and movies of that ilk, which I love) but without the humour. The characterizations where over-the-top and annoying, the characters were mostly (including the lead, who was indeed gorgeous) cardboard, two-dimensional characters; completely unsympathetic and without any redeeming qualities whatsoever. So much of this movie felt so cliché, and I realize Arcand was probably going for a sort of over-the-top spoof of the fashion world, lampooning everyone involved in the business and that whole universe, wrought with superficiality and glossiness, but his strokes were too broad; the characters too transparent. Not to mention that we've seen it all before. Think of Altman's Ready To Wear. It just seems like an easy target. If you're not going to say anything new or enlightening about a subject, why say anything at all? For a movie to succeed, at the heart of it there needs to beat a soul, and this movie seemed to have none, whatsoever. Even a movie with a broad, exaggerated form of humour needs to have, deep in its core, a heart that beats real blood; something the audience can identify with and understand.

This is a surprising turn for Arcand, who has made a career making movies that are so full of human truths and insights. I found myself longing for "Le Declin de L'Empire Americain" or "Jesus de Montreal", in which the characters were authentic and sympathetic, and the stories fascinating.

Spoofs are fine. Broad comedies are fine. But as movies such as "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" will attest to; you need to care about the characters on screen, even if things they do are ridiculous.

Just because the universe of fashion reeks of superficiality, doesn't mean a movie spoofing it should be just as if not more superficial than the world it's attacking.
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Schlock (1973)
12 December 2004
I suppose I was a little hard on this film. It entertains, indeed, but it's filled with holes and inconsistencies. I suppose if you ignore the aforementioned "holes and inconsistencies" you could get a kick out of this.

Childish, ridiculous, at times funny... Goofy, filled with rotten acting (and rotten bananas), bad camera-work, bad colours...

It's actually kind of nice to see a pretty well established director's first film and realize it's a total B flick.

I like the king kong reference. And the 2001. And the Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau would be proud... either that or roll over in his grave)
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sophia should have won an Oscar
28 October 2004
awful awful awful slow and dull and lacking everything that made the first two great. the ending just seemed a pale hark back to the powerful ending to the first one, the acting was very very transparent, including pacino and keaton. Sophia, well, her acting at least made me laugh, which was the smallest ounce of enjoyment i got out of this film. Truly disappointed with this movie.

Music was great, some of the cinematography was mildly interesting if not dull, conventional and uninspired. And the story, overall, was way too soapy. The number of times characters say "I will always love you" is ridiculous.

But the first two were great. I'd say the second was the best. It's a real pity.
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