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5780 reviews in total 
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fine coming-of-age indie, 29 August 2015

Justin Cobb is a painfully shy teen who still sucks his thumb. His father (Vincent D'Onofrio) tries to bully him out of his habit. His mother (Tilda Swinton) is obsessed with a Hollywood star (Benjamin Bratt). He's in love with environmentalist Rebecca (Kelli Garner) who is a fellow debater with Mr. Geary (Vince Vaughn). His dentist Dr. Perry Lyman (Keanu Reeves) uses hypnosis to stop him from sucking his thumb. He confronts Lyman to reverse the process. He's arrested and diagnosed with ADHD. He's given drugs which changes him even more. He becomes a hyper focused successful debater. Rebecca doesn't like the new Justin and becomes a pothead.

It's a fine coming-of-age indie with some terrific actors in the adult roles. The lead Lou Taylor Pucci is competent but not spectacular. His romance with Kelli Garner has some possibilities but it doesn't go far enough. There is a possible affair with the mother but it pulls back that punch too. There are a lot of possible drama but each one lands a bit short. It keeps the movie moving lightly and gives us a happy ending.

Le divorce (2003)
clash of cold-hearted elitist cultures, 29 August 2015

Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson) is visiting her sister Roxeanne de Persand (Naomi Watts) in Paris. Roxeanne's husband Charles-Henri is leaving his pregnant wife for another woman. Poet Olivia Pace (Glenn Close) hires Isabel to assist her on her tour. Isabel has a very French affair with the married Yves. A family painting given to Roxeanne is discovered to be more valuable than first thought. Charles-Henri insists on a divorce and splitting everything including the painting. Tellman (Matthew Modine) is the husband of Charles-Henri's mistress.

Nobody cares. The only rooting interest is Roxeanne because she actually shows a beating heart. Charles-Henri is played with such a robotic unfeeling manner that it's questionable how they ever got married. Even Roxeanne as a character is destroyed after her suicide attempt. She does a 180 and turns into her family where she's sipping wine and discussing alimony with them over lunch. There is no passion in this thing that survives. This is a stereotype of two elitist cultures.

The French are callous cold-hearted about love. There is no passion. Love is transactional. The Americans are almost as cold-hearted about love. They care more about the money. They care more about the painting than the marriage. Tellman is the only person with consistent passion and he's a madman. None of it makes for compelling drama. It's a movie about cold people that leaves me cold.

There is a light comedic tone throughout the movie but there is no comedy to be had. It is an infuriating movie. It could have survived as a drama only about Roxeanne's divorce. I rather not spend any time watching the very boring affair with Isabel.

fun B-movie splatter horror, 28 August 2015

Ash J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) takes his girlfriend Linda to a secluded cabin in the woods. He find a tape recorder. He plays professor Knowby's recitation of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead). Linda is possessed and Ash has to decapitate her. He finds the bridge taken out. Linda's head and body, which he buried, comes back to attack him. Ash has to cut Linda up with a chainsaw. His hand turns bad after Linda's bite. Meanwhile, Knowby's daughter Annie and others try to bring the Necronomicon to the cabin.

Sam Raimi has a bit more money and he continues his Evil Dead story. It's as bloody as ever. There is some fun with the blood splattering B-movie. Bring some protection. There are some funny bits especially with the hand. The other actors are limited. It would have been interesting to see an one-man play with Bruce Campbell from start to finish.

good job with the singing, 28 August 2015

Psychologist Steffi Dandridge (Goldie Hawn) and lawyer Bob Dandridge (Alan Alda) head a liberal upper class Manhattan family. The extended family includes Steffi's ex Joe Berlin (Woody Allen), their daughter Djuna Berlin (Natasha Lyonne), Skylar (Drew Barrymore), Lane (Gaby Hoffmann), Laura (Natalie Portman), grandpa with dementia and the black sheep Republican son Scott (Lukas Haas). Holden Spence (Edward Norton) is in love with Skylar. Von (Julia Roberts) is one of Steffi's patients. Charles Ferry (Tim Roth) is an ex-con.

This is a Woody Allen musical. The music is easy listening and everybody does a good job singing. Some are surprisingly good but the songs aren't terribly challenging. The overwhelming family can be hard to take. I would have preferred some trimming of the family tree. It would have been better to concentrate on one relationship. The effect is a bit scatter shot.

breath taking special effects, 28 August 2015

On a stormy night, a mysterious bandaged stranger comes in to an inn in Iping, Sussex. He takes a room and does experiments behind closed doors. The innkeeper tries to throw him out but he's attacked by an invisible force. The police come but he takes off his bandage and disappears. He is Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) who accidentally discovered invisibility. His fiancée Flora Cranley (Gloria Stuart) and his employer Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers) who is also Flora's father are both concerned. Griffin coerces his assistant Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan) in joining his mad plan to dominate the town.

The special effects are breath-taking especially considering the era it's made. They are almost seamless when the invisible man takes off his bandages. On the only hand, the story is only functional. It's not that scary as a horror. The town folks are too broadly low-brow. The cops are too stupid. Some of it reminds me of Keystone Cops which is a bad thing when the movie is trying to heighten the tension. This should be a lot scarier.

lost me when he tried to cheat on Clara, 28 August 2015

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a rather unimpressive psychiatrist with a perfectly functional life along with girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). His patient Anjali starts asking if his life is authentic and if he's happy. Clara is almost brought to tears when he asks her if she's happy. He decides to travel the world asking people what makes them happy.

It's a goofy way to approach the subject. I'm willing to follow Simon Pegg for a little while. The movie loses me when he tries to cheat on Clara. It makes him a pig. Then he doesn't figure out that the girl is a hooker until she hits it over his head with it. It makes him an idiot. He is way too stupid to live. Simon Pegg is acting in a comedy but nobody else is. The movie almost works sometimes but it's either too silly or too serious.

One great segment, 28 August 2015

This is a series of vignettes recreating three of the classic Twilight Zone episode and one original work. The prologue has Albert Brooks driving Dan Aykroyd in the middle of the night. I'm not happy with Dan Aykroyd. He's too comedic and sets the wrong tone. The character needs somebody darker to play him.

First is "Time Out", the only original segment, directed by John Landis. Bill Connor is a racist drinking at a bar with his work friends. He leaves and finds himself as a Jew in Nazi occupied France, then as a black man in the KKK American south and as a Vietnamese man against American soldiers. This is my least favorite and also the cause of the tragic accident on set. The switching between time periods is too random and feels like somebody's idea of the worst kind of greatest hits. If the movie stayed with the Nazis, this segment could have worked much better.

The second segment is "Kick the Can" directed by Steven Spielberg. Mr. Bloom has just moved into Sunnyvale Retirement Home. He invites the residents to play kick the can in the middle of the night and the old folks turn back into the child self. This is a perfectly fine segment but it struck me recently that this is a magical Negro story.

The third segment is "It's a Good Life" directed by Joe Dante. Helen Foley befriends little Anthony who is getting bullied. She drives him home to find his family in terror of his impossible powers. This is by far my favorite of this movie. Kathleen Quinlan is brilliant. She has a motherly way about her despite the outlandish situation.

The fourth segment is "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" directed by George Miller. It allows John Lithgow to go nuts but I don't know if anybody could top William Shatner.

So there is one great segment, two middling ones and one poor one. Add on the prologue, this is a functional but not spectacular effort. The tragedy makes this a dubious enterprise. The fact that the only original segment ranks the lowest makes me wonder if they should have picked another classic episode.

Turistas (2006)
good first half, 28 August 2015

Alex (Josh Duhamel), his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) and her friend Amy (Beau Garrett) are traveling in Brazil. Their bus goes off the road stranding everybody. They and Englishmen Finn (Desmond Askew) and Liam (Max Brown), and Australian Pru (Melissa George) who speaks fluent Portuguese decide to go to the beach and find two more tourists at the bar. They are drugged and robbed. The two other tourists are kidnapped and killed during an attempted escape. The six new friends get help from Kiko who takes them to an isolated cabin. They are taken prisoner by Dr. Zamora who intends to harvest the rich gringos' organs for the poor of Rio de Janeiro.

The first half is pretty good. I would have simplified it by making all characters friends. It would make them more emotionally connected to each other. It would also make the final three less obvious. The first half has the tension of traveling in a foreign land. The chaos in the village is pretty good. The organ harvesting is so idiotic. The three girls are more likely to be sex trafficked and everybody is worth more for ransom anyways. It's a silly made up fear that makes little sense. The final chase in the water is too chaotic and hard to decipher. This is no great horror but it's got some B-movie goodness.

real fan service, 28 August 2015

In 35,000 BC northern Texas, two men enter an ice cave to find shelter. They battle a mysterious creature. A black substance oozes from the creature and infects one of the men. In the present day, a boy falls into the cave and is infected by the black ooze. Firefighters climb in and are also attacked. One week later, the FBI is checking on a bomb threat in Dallas. Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) go to the building across the street on a hunch. They find the bomb and barely escape. The pair is made the scapegoats. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) tells Fox that FEMA has a secret isolation ward in the building. The boy and the firefighters are found in the rubble presumed to be killed by the blast.

Mulder and Scully's banter is back almost immediately. Everything that is beloved about the show is present in this movie. They are the outsiders. There is a conspiracy. There is something creepy. This is what true fans of the show love. For non-fans, this can be a bit of a climb to understand everything.

intentional cheese?, 28 August 2015

Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) is a child psychologist desperate to get test subjects for his father's research. He has multiple personality disorder. He kidnaps his wife's friend and her two kids. His wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) suspects Carter who is studying their daughter Amy. Her old flame Jack Dante (Steven Bauer) pursues her after the death of his wife who was Jenny's patient at the hospital. Their kiss supposedly led to her death.

This is written and directed by the great Brian de Palma. There is a deliberate cheesiness about this movie that threw me off right away. The multiple personality disorder is cheese of the highest order. The rest of the movie is also very cheesy. Jenny and Jack's affair is full-on cheese whiz with slow motion kissing that caused his wife's death. It's the dream reveals. There are so many 'Dressed to Kill' references that this may as well be a sequel. It never stops which leads me to question if all of it is intentional. I decided that he didn't intentionally set out to make a bad movie.

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