Reviews written by registered user

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9053 reviews in total 
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a dull muddle, 28 May 2017

The Abstergo Foundation fakes Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender)'s execution and recruits him. CEO Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard) run the program. They send him into the mind of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha in 1492 Spain. Aguilar and Maria are part of Assassin's Creed trying to rescue prince Ahmed from Templar Grand Master Tomas de Torquemada. They want the Apple from Sultan Muhammad XII which is the key to enslaving humanity. Ellen Kaye (Charlotte Rampling) is a leader of present day Templars who is calling for an end to funding Rikkin's program.

The story telling is a muddle with some questionable logic. The other problem is that the modern day bunker location is dull with plenty of dull expositions. The action scenes especially the ones in the past are pretty interesting. For some reason, it is intercut with Callum in the Animus. It attempts to be cool but it muddles the action sequences instead. It's better to do the action straight. The past holds an intriguing look and the movie needs to stay there. It simply gets tiresome and even the action scenes stop being compelling.

Anesthesia (2015)
good acting, 28 May 2017

Professor Walter Zarrow (Sam Waterston) and another man are attacked on the streets of New York. Sam (Corey Stoll) comes to his side as he lies dying. Walter was bringing his weekly flowers to his wife Marcia (Glenn Close). His son Adam (Tim Blake Nelson) is dealing with his wife Jill (Jessica Hecht)'s cancer scare. Their kids Hal (Ben Konigsberg) and Ella (Hannah Marks) are dealing with sex issues while smoking weed on the roof. Walter's student Sophie (Kristen Stewart) is struggling with self-harm. Jeffrey (Michael Kenneth Williams) is desperate to force Joe (K. Todd Freeman) into drug treatment. Sarah (Gretchen Mol) is a soccer mom struggling with buried anger. These characters weave a tapestry of interconnected lives.

The cast is top level. They deliver fine individual scenes. There is a compelling drive to uncover the connection between the characters. The connections aren't as poignant as it needs to be. The extended mugging section should come a little earlier so that the characters have more space to deal with the consequences. There is plenty of good acting. The plot is interesting although not the most compelling.

fun premise, 28 May 2017

Herman Brooks (William Ragsdale) is a lowly fact checker at a publishing house. He works under the encyclopedic Mr. Paul Bracken (Jason Bernard) along with selfish bitch Heddy Newman (Jane Sibbett) and awkward virgin Louise Fitzer (Yeardley Smith). His best friend is sleazy writer Jay Nichols (Hank Azaria). The show goes inside Herman's head with conflicting psyche; Sensitivity (Molly Hagan), Lust (Ken Hudson Campbell), Anxiety (Rick Lawless), and Intellect (Peter Mackenzie).

The premise of inside Herman's head has some good fun. On the other hand, the basic sitcom premise lacks needed romantic possibilities for Herman. I definitely don't want Herman with Louise. Heddy is such a bitch that any relationship is doomed from the start. It's not love-hate. It's just hate-hate. The show tries to put them together a couple times but in general, the coupling is horrible. The odd thing is that there is a perfect partner in the pilot. Connie is sleazy Jay's girlfriend when she falls for Herman. I really like the pilot and the show misses that character. Jay is such an annoying jerk that it actually detracts from my love of Herman. I don't see the friendship in them. The unique premise has some fun but ultimately, the chemistry in the sitcom isn't that good. Jennifer Aniston has a minor role as Herman's little sister.

Paterson (2016)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
waiting, 27 May 2017

It's one week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver). He's a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. He lives with his wife Laura and their dog Marvin. She dreams of starting a cupcake business. Paterson observes his riders and writes poetry in his notebook. He spends his spare time at Doc's bar.

This is a Jim Jarmusch film through and through. It's silly to talk about plot since there is barely one. Adam Driver is putting together an interesting resume. There is so much behind the facade. He is not asked to do any big acting but he still delivers little moments. The cutest is Paterson forced to use a kiddie cell phone from a little girl after the bus breaks down. Mostly, the film leaves me waiting for something bigger to happen. Nothing ever does but the ride does provide interesting moments.

ambitious story, 27 May 2017

It's late 19th century. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) had returned to London and reclaimed his title John Clayton III, the fifth Earl of Greystoke. He is married to Jane (Margot Robbie) but they are still recovering from a recent lost. The Congo has been claimed by Belgium King Leopold II but it is driving his country to bankruptcy. His representative Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) agrees to a deal with Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou). In exchange for diamonds, Rom promises to bring him Tarzan for revenge. King Leopold requests Tarzan for promoting the Congo. He is reluctant but American envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) needs him in his investigation of possible enslaving exploitation of the Congolese.

It's an ambitious effort to bring a sequel to the Tarzan story. Tarzan may be a well-known story but one would expect it to be redone with the reboot. Instead, we're jumping right into a sequel and it's a little jarring. Tarzan and Jane come off the cover of a romance novel. SLJ is trying to inject limited comedy while the rest has no interest in it. There are some big action scenes but the sad tone and plodding pace saps most of the tension. They are probably better off playing it safe and going back to Tarzan's more well-known source material.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
ups and downs, 27 May 2017

Gen. Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt) is no non-sense soldier. He lives a Spartan life often away from his family. He and his team such as the always shouting Greg Pulver (Anthony Michael Hall) are called in to cleanup the Afganistan quagmire. He is told to push the needle and not request for more troops. Instead, he is driven to win and sees his way where everyone else has failed. He uses any means to get his way while not getting his meeting with Obama. He finds President Karzai (Ben Kingsley), an isolated corrupt leader. Media consultant Matt Little (Topher Grace) suggests getting him an article in Rolling Stones.

This dark comedy is too real to be funny. If Strangelove actually happened, the absurd movie would be less fun. One is always reminded that real people died here and there because the character of McMahon is based on a real person. While there are interesting bits, the general sense of this movie is one of tired resignation.

I don't know if it's the Rolling Stones reporter but I'm reminded of Almost Famous. In that movie, the reporter is the protagonist and he's the eyes with which the audience sees the story. The rock star is a subject who is slowly revealed. In this movie, we are given only the narration of reporter Sean Cullen for the most part. He shows up for a limited role later in the movie. McMahon is the protagonist and we're stuck with him for good and for ill.

Of all the characters, the most compelling is the 'confused' Marine Cpl. Billy Cole. His first scene with McMahon is devastating. His face is haunting. What he says resonates more than any other character. In the end, he is a minor character. His other scene is another compelling sequence as his squad goes into a hostile town. Again he is more compelling than anyone else and it is emotionally draining. This movie could have been great but McMahon can't be the protagonist. He is an absurd side character like Karzai in this movie.

patriotism and pacifism, 27 May 2017

It's 1916. Alvin York (Gary Cooper) lives in the poverty stricken Tennessee hills. He often gets into drunken fights to the dismay of Pastor Rosier Pile and his mother. He falls in love with Gracie Williams. He stops drinking and works to buy a farm. He wins a backwoods shooting contest to get the last of the money but the landowner reneges on the deal. He gets drunk and looks to get revenge. A lightning strike destroys his gun. He has a religious conversion and vows to never kill. His change improves his outlook. When America joins WWI, York is conscripted as a conscientious objector. His commanders are taken with his shooting skills and York faces a struggle with his values. On the frontlines, he and his men capture a German position. When they come under fire, York's religious conviction is tested by the realities of war. He and his seven surviving men take 132 Germans prisoner.

This was a highly successful patriotic film released five months before Pearl Harbor. It became a great recruiting tool for the war. I was expecting a war movie but this starts off a little slow. Gary Cooper is a great every man. He has an innate goodness. His religious conversion is compelling. He really fits the role well. One can imagine the idealism really affecting the audience at the time. It's not a simple flag waving propaganda. It's a real portrait of a man struggling with his convictions.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
solid network sitcom, 26 May 2017

Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman) is the new substitute history teacher for the IHP (Individual Honors Program) in New York City's Fillmore High. He has faced the toughest kids but he has never had kids like these. Principal Dr. Samuels expects him to do nothing to screw up his winning academic team but he befriends them like regular kids. Bernadette Meara is the sympathetic assistant principal. Arvid Engen and Dennis Blunden (Dan Schneider) are nerdy best friends. Alan Pinkard is the preppy conservative. Eric Mardian is the biker with brains forced into the class by his mother. He likes the poetry-loving Simone Foster. Darlene Merriman (Robin Givens) is the spoiled rich girl. Maria Borges is grades obsessed and grounds herself for getting a B. Janice Lazarotto is the ten year old. Sarah Nevins is a nice girl and Jawaharlal Choudhury is from India. When their regular history teacher Mr. Thomas retires, Mr. Moore becomes their permanent teacher. T.J. Jones is a sassy remedial student who works her way into the class.

I watched this middling network teacher/student sitcom back in the day. It follows the tradition of Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) but these are nerds. There are more kids which does limit their individual stories. They are big character tropes who are built up over time. I did like Khrystyne Haje with her wild red hair and big heart. She presents a romantic possibility which this show never truly exploited. This show could have gone more soapy but only Eric and Simone really walk that path. It's not that type of teen soapy show. There is a large cast turnover in season four and by season five, Billy Connolly takes over from the departing Howard Hesseman. The show never took off or fall off in the ratings. This show is limited by high school and stalls after the standard four year run. There is a short-lived spin off with Billy Connolly but it goes nowhere. It's also noteworthy that Dan Schneider would become a highly successful teen show producer. The cast is a likable group and this is a solid 80's network show.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
high adventure, 26 May 2017

Count Andre Dakkar (Lionel Barrymore) considers himself a scientist and rules his island as a benevolent leader. He creates submarines to search for a suspected underwater civilization. His daughter Sonia falls in love with engineer Nicolai Roget. Despotic ruler Baron Falon disapproves of the mixing of the classes. With revolution brewing in the Kingdom of Hetvia, Falon seizes the island and hopes to use the research submarine vessels as weapons. The Count and Sonia face torture. Nicolai returns with the first submarine to rescue them. Under attack, they are forced deeper and deeper until they discover the sea people.

The Jazz Singer was released two years earlier. This is still mostly silent with a few scenes with sound. It's also an early colored film but I didn't see that print. The TCM showing looks black and white. It is loosely adapted from Jules Verne. It faced a long production as film technology started to change. The story is high adventure. There are miniatures, creatures, and midget sea people. It is the fun of simple thrills.

some weird creations, 25 May 2017

Francois Delambre (Vincent Price) recounts the events to his nephew Philippe Delambre. Despite the warning, Philippe continues his father's matter teleportation experiment. He hires Alan Hines to be his assistant. His girlfriend is Cecile Bonnard. Her mother is the mansion's housekeeper. He threatens to sell the family company and Francois relents to support his experiment. Alan Hinds is actually a British corporate spy named Ronald Holmes.

The original is a B-movie classic from the previous year. This sequel is downgraded to black and white. There is no upgrade other than some weird hybrids being created. Some of them are good weird B-movie creations. There is some camp value but it is undeniably lower grade. The giant fly head is creepy, silly, and grotesque. Vincent Price does return. It isn't that thrilling but it does have some fun.

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