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The Song Remains the Same (1976)
Ignore this film, they are still the greatest band ever!
There is no doubt in my mind that Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band of all time. No band had the personality, talent and body of work that these guys had. Moreover, they did not fart around doing sub-standard stuff as they grew older, they left in their prime (after the tragic death of Bonzo). However, my loyalty and love for this band is not going to make me lie about this film, this film is a mess. Moreover, most of the members of the band have acknowledged this was a bad film. The fantasy scenes are so dated and low budget that you cringe when they are on. However, the real problem is the concert footage. Robert Plant was off that night, no doubt about it, this can be seen in the first song (RocknRoll). Page is Page, he plays incredible guitar, however even he seems to take the concert more in the direction of a jazz fusion experiment. Bonham plays great, he always did. However, all in all, this film seems more than a little uninspired and a tad self indulgent. Even Peter Grant showing us a little of the monster he was rumored to be, cannot save it. If you want live Led Zeppelin, try "How the West Was Won" and other releases that came out after this.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Will Always Be a Classic
To me, this film is probably as close to perfect as any film ever was. The emotion, the story, the acting, etc. Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb squaring off. Different jurors harboring different beliefs, goals, views, etc. And even though this film was made close to fifty years ago, it is still as timely as ever. That is why I was so confused that somebody tried to shoot a re-make? Blasphemy! And by the way, that remake really sucked! Of course, after the first couple of times I saw this film, I was confused. I really though the kid did it. I still kind of think he did. Of course, that is the whole point of the film. Maybe he did do it, maybe not. The point of the story is about everybody getting a fair trial and a fair jury. Moreover, I will always remember the courage of Fonda's character, standing up to those eleven others, will very little to cling to. And how the jury ended up having to do what should have been done in the court room all along, try the case. Perhaps the main point of the film was to indict a society and criminal justice system that had lost it's way, if it ever had a way. But the lasting legacy of the film, is the fact that it just might be the greatest movie ever made.
Weird is always good, even when it is not Genius
Wes Anderson is one of my favorite film makers. I consider "Royal Tenenbaums" and "Bottle Rocket" in my top ten. He just has a unique style about the way he writes, films and mixes music into his story. He has been in the past, quite genius. With "The Life Aquatic," Anderson has made his strangest and most unique film. I mean, how do you describe a story who main storyline involves mythical jaguar sharks, cannibalistic pirates, three legged dogs and bi-sexual oceanographers? The film is very eclectic. However, whereas Anderson's other works were tied closely together under a prevalent theme and plot, "Life Aquatic" kind of floats about like a stoned jellyfish. Is that bad? No, not at all. This was an interesting trip and I will always pay to see Bill Murray. I enjoyed this almost comic book adventure. I enjoyed the David Bowie songs done in Portuguese. I enjoyed Willem Dafoe's jealous first mate character. Good film, but genius like his other works? No, not really, but who cares. Just enjoy the ride.
Quiz Show (1994)
Old Time Film Making from Mr. Redford
This film really does look like it was shot and made during the 1950s. Be it the sets, the dress, the attitudes, etc.. Moreover, this film also shows us where America start to go wrong. Right at that moment when the Beast that was television was starting to grow up. Based on the actual scandal involving the hit game show of the day 21, this film shows when producers made the decision to forsake integrity for ratings. However, what is really special about this film, are the performances, primarily from Fienes, Turturro and the real-life Charles Van Doren. They are so moving and powerful, especially Turturro. This is a classic film that asks the audience to take a hard and educated look at when TV went wrong.
The Shootist (1976)
The Duke says Goodbye.
All of the credit in the world goes to John Wayne for making this film. Here you have the biggest star in Hollywood history, making a film that symbolizes his life. You have an aging actor, whose best days were past him, portraying an aging gunfighter, whose best days were behind him. You have a character trying to fit into a world that had changed too much. Much like Wayne was trying to fit into a changing America. Lastly, you had a character, dying of cancer, trying to accomplish one last thing. Wayne, who was also dying of cancer, like the character, was trying to accomplish one last thing, a great film. To me, this film is special, because you are seeing in real life, a dying icon make his farewell. Like the character JB Books, Wayne was trying to put a brave face on his final days. He was vulnerable and uncertain about what awaited him, but he sought to accomplish one last goal. I don't care if you like Wayne or not, but how someone could not be emotionally effected by seeing this legend on screen for his last time, well, I feel sorry for you. This film is very special to me.
A White Trash Fairy Tale
This is one of the more unique films you are ever going to see. It takes place in a nightmarish world that resembles backwoods Georgia, circa 1973. The story centers around a father and his two sons, who live in what could best be described as a dump. The father is demanding, the older son a rebel and the younger son...just plain weird. Well, something evil this way comes and the two sons escape into the backwoods in search of safety. While the boys are on this journey, they meet interesting characters that help them in some way. It really does play like a white trash fairy tale. I applaud the effort put forward by this director. He wanted to make an escapist movie that resembles some classic midnight movie from the 1970s, and he does. The performances and dialog are excellent. I recommend this film for anybody seeking something different and something entertaining.
Team America: World Police (2004)
Rupert Murdoch and Fox News present...
Seriously though, I do enjoy practically everything Parker and Stone do. I like South Park and Orgazmo is a classic. However, this was a five minute skit that got stretched into an 80 minute lame gag. OK, they are puppets and they curse, I get it. It seems that the whole comedic principle at work here is that you will just laugh in amazement when you hear puppets curse and get blown away. Yeah,
you do, the first time, and even the second time, and maybe the third time. You get the point. The reality is that this film was really not very imaginative. It is "Revenge of the Nerds" time for Parker and Stone. They get to spend an hour
bashing the liberal elite of Hollywood. You know the ones, the good looking and pseudo-intellectual types that have the nerve to make political stands. Well, Trey Parker does not like their kind, they are too perfect. He does not like to take stands, but he loves to mock those that do. That is fine, but it becomes a little pointless. You know, in this crazy world of ours today, somehow I don't see
liberal Hollywood at the root of all our problems, but they make such an inviting target. And the right wing could truly claim this film as their own, if there was not 500 curse words in it and puppets performing oral sex on one another. So, I
guess Parker and Stone want to slam both sides, in a way, with a story penned by both Rush Limbaugh and Chris Rock. I guess they would tell you they are
equal opportunity offenders. Just a couple of class clowns trashing the geeks and the jocks. But, even that class jerk, who always made fun of people in class, eventually, he got old as well.
An Implausible Ending Ruins a Good Film
I like movies that center around the "con." It is like watching a complicated puzzle being put together. You pay attention to everything. Moreover, as each little event happens, you analyze the potential hidden importance of it. In
"Criminal", you follow Reilly's character as he comes up with various ways to scam people. His character is a somewhat heartless individual that stopped
having a conscience sometime ago. Still, there is something to him that gives you empathy for the character. Needing a new partner, he recruits a young
confidence man (Luna). Right after recruiting this new partner (in a somewhat random way), the two of them plot a major con. This con is elaborate and rather clever. It is the kind of con that would take months to develop and countless hours of rehearsal. Hence the problem.
This movie has the inevitable big twist at the end. The switch is that the
character played by Luna, is actually scamming Reilly's character. As I watched the first 80 minutes of this film, I really enjoyed it. However, the last two minutes killed it. Why? Because the implausible ending made the whole rest of the film insane. There is no way this elaborate scheme could have been run. After all, it was Reilly that sought out Luna, not the other way. The elaborate set of events that were set up for the big sting were all designed to take place that day. How? How could these relations have been developed? They could not have been.
Great performances, but the ending was just stupid! I know that this movie is a re-do of an Argentinian film, this does not bother me. However, if the Argentinian film had the same implausible ending as this one, it should not have been
copied at all.
MTV's "Real World" goes to the Big Screen
Well, reality TV has taken over every aspect of television, so it is a natural assumption to think it will now start to branch out. However, the idea that people will pay $10 to see what they could see for free on regular and basic cable is hard to believe. In the end though, that is what we get. This is a standard,
perform for the camera, mockumentary. We are to believe that we are
experiencing natural events transpire, but like on MTV, we are seeing people
play for the camera. Each actor/character hamming it up in some way. Be it the "fly off the handle" guy, the "too cool" guy, etc. There is no sincerity anywhere to be seen, just like in real "reality" television. Moreover, we must endure two hours of Lars, the most irritating human on earth. Look, if you are a fan of the band, you will like it. If you don't care for the band or have never hear them, what would be the point of seeing this, you can watch 'Big Brother" on CBS.
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
I am not an Austin Powers hater. The first two rank as two of the funniest films ever made. Mike Myers is a certified genius. However, this third installment is as bad of film as I have ever seen. It is a bogus sellout from the start. Cameos everywhere, but not one even slightly amusing. Michael Caine is dry. The Beyonce girl plays in a role that does not have one funny part. The Goldmember character is funny. Myers tries in his other three roles, but nothing looks planned out. The film has a rushed look and feel. Half way through I started to wonder if it was just me or was this film as funny as jock itch? I have a great sense of humor and I love silly humor as much as anybody. However, this is not silly comedy, this is poorly written crap in search of a paycheck. The skit has run its course, let it die. Time for Mike Myers to move on, Lord knows he is talented enough to come up with something new. I just wish he had come up with something new for this poor film.