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The Test of Love (1999)
Hard to get into at first, but it just kept getting better and better!
What a lovely movie!!!!!!!!! I can't understand why this film has not been shown before and no one even bothered to list the credits more fully for this film. The young actress that played the little girl was awesome -- totally believable. In the beginning there was quite a bit of overacting I thought, and you have to live through a lot of anger in the first half of the film, but things develop in a very realistic way -- and the film even has something not too many films have: an inspiring lesson and ending.
I'm really glad I watched this film. I wonder why although it was released in 1999 it has apparently not been shown much of anywhere until 6 years later. Hmmm...
I didn't care much for some of the lead actors in the film at the beginning, but they definitely grew on me -- as did the film. It's a film that has really beautiful transitions and meaning. Wonderful script.
I simply did NOT enjoy this movie!
It's too bad, because there are good actors, good cinematography, etc., but the content of the film too often was full of the macabre. Spare me movies like this!!!!!!!!!! If you enjoy watching things like the atrocities of mental asylums in the Middle Ages maybe you will like it, I don't know. I can't find any redeeming virtue of this film enough to recommend it to anyone for any reason. It's one of the few films I feel I would have had a happier life had I never seen it at all.
When I read reviews, before watching it, that it was sick and perverted, I assumed such reviews were written by prudes. But no. They were simply stating the facts. Ugh.
Loved this Film...!!!!!!!!!! (may be too liberal sexually for some folks)
I saw this on TV last night (I think it was the Lifetime Channel). Wow, what a TREAT...! It's got a good solid script, good actors and is truly funny. Paula P. was perfect for her part, which was very central to the story. I actually used to know someone in real life that was like her character in this film only he was a man (and incredibly handsome). I fell in love and or like with most of the film's characters, and am a big fan of Paula's -- but the coolest thing was that this was not like a hundred other movies I have already seen. It truly has its own originality.
Good cinematography, great directing, great acting, great script -- what more can we ask for?! The only thing that really bugs me about this film is that obviously the Big Boys in Hollywood in charge of the money flow decided not to market and promote this film. Too bad. Their loss! I'm going to have to look up who wrote the screenplay because I'd like to see whatever else s/he has done!!
Refreshingly Different and Unpredictable
I never really liked James Spader much before seeing this film. He is finally coming into his own. (I think that, like Christopher Walken, he has gotten much better with age!) Molly Gyllenhaal is fantastic and her eyes, both in expression and in beauty, rival the Great Garbo in my opinion. The acting was superb.
Now about the film itself: it is refreshingly different. I can see how viewers without any acceptance or understanding of "kink" could be put off by this film, but really although the film is sexy and erotic (well, at least to kinky viewers) I felt that the story was even more so about the people. It delved into the psychology of Spader and Gyllenhaal's characters in an intimate, sometimes shocking and tender way.
The script was good, except toward the end where I thought it was a bit weak as it lost, in my mind, a lot of believability (without spoiling things, I'll just say the part with lots of people on watch outside the house, etc.). Actually most of the last 15 to 20 minutes of the film, I felt, did not live up to the mesmerizing quality of the rest of the film. My guess is that it was a "need" for a more "Hollywood formula" ending, leaving me with the feeling like having a wonderful and exotic meal with a too-sweet dessert lacking in flavor. All that said, this is a film I know I will enjoy watching again and again -- and just push stop and rewind at the point when the end suddenly goes downhill. I give it a 9. My guess is that the author or screenwriter's original ending would have warranted a 10.
Best of all, I have two favorite new actors now -- both Spader and Gyllenhaal, and especially anything they do post-2000 (as long as they don't go for the Hollywood face lifts, in which case I'll drop them off my list just as I have the ending of this flick).
Éloge de l'amour (2001)
It's all about the words, which are not all that
I couldn't make it through the whole thing. It just wasn't worth my time. Maybe one-fourth of the dialogue would have been worth listening to (or reading -- since I don't understand French) if the pseudo-profundity and pseudo-wittiness of the other three-fourths of the film were deleted. Then it could be made into a short maybe 13 or 15 min long and then it might be all right.
I don't know why this movie even pretends to utilize actors. Actors are used as narrators of the script and little more. I could swear a whole 20-30 minutes of the film went by showing actors from behind while they talked and from across the street while they walked or sitting in low lighting close up but so that you could not see the expressions on their faces nor their eyes. There was little or no interaction between the actors on the screen except the most superficial for the most part.
Some of the lines were as profound (or lame, depending on your viewpoint) as those in Forest "Life is like a box of chocolates" Gump. Other pseudo-profundities were simply sad or dumb or poetic (depending again on your viewpoint), but singularly uninspiring.
Visually this film is INCREDIBLY boring, especially with the lack of actors. In fact some minutes of this film showed simply a black screen with the white subtitles and French audio. Altogether sophomoric. Don't waste your time.
If you like GOOD movies that are stimulating and profound just from listening to conversation while enjoying good actors, check out RICHARD LINKLATER's "Before Sunset" -- or make a double feature of it and watch "Before Sunrise" first. At least these films are interesting and enjoyable, which is much more than I can say about IN PRAISE OF LOVE (Éloge de l'amour). I give this film 2 out of 10 stars. Not quite offensive enough to rate 1 for "awful" (such as "The Devils" with Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave). If you still want to watch it, go ahead. But don't say I didn't warn you!!!
The Devils (1971)
This tops my list as one of the worst I ever saw
The acting was probably good and the cinematography, etcetera were great. But the story was so dark and so upsetting to me that when I saw it (when it first came out) I literally left the theater running down the street crying hysterically.
Because if this movie for many years afterwards I would refuse to go to any movie that had any violence or cruelty in it, because it left me feeling so terrible. Only when I finally saw PULP FICTION in the '90s was the spell broken, to where I can venture out to movies with violence again -- for one reason, and that is because Tarantino knew how to put the much-needed humor into a film with so much violence (which I can't say for RESERVOIR DOGS -- didn't like that one either).
At the time I saw this flick Oliver Reed was on of my favorite actors, but even he could not save this film for me. It was a miserable experience watching this film and I would never recommend it to anyone.
The Riverman (2004)
Only if you have a lot of interest in serial killers
First I must say that Cary Elwes did a very convincing portrayal of Ted Bundy. I thought he looked a lot like him and did a good acting job.
This movie is for those who want to go deeply into the killer's mind and perhaps discover new things about Bundy and his childhood. (For instance in one part he tells the detective that as a child his mother threatened to send him to stay with his grandfather if he wasn't good and that he would try to be good but she would send him there anyway; then his grandfather would lock him in a closet). It also caused me to think about how much more useful it would be to keep people like him alive to analyze, study and try to understand what triggered his heinous psychology.
This is a dark movie and not entertaining; not something I would watch for entertainment or fun in any sense. It was more like watching reenactments and felt sometimes more like watching a documentary than a movie.
The film also goes into the psychology somewhat of a serial killer known as "The Green River Killer."
I think of this as more of an educational film. Women for instance could watch it with an eye to learn tricks Bundy and the Green River Killer used to catch their prey (both seemed to like the trick of pretending to be disabled and in need of help for example). The film also highlights what it is like for those who interviewed Bundy hoping he could help them get into the mind of another killer they were trying to apprehend -- how dark and freaky it is. All around, as is its subject, the movie it pretty grisly. Definitely not a "date movie," haha.
Some people are fascinated with learning more about serial killers and for those people this is probably a film they would like to see; but for most of us, I think we would rather be spared all the grisly details.
Good acting all around and good cinematography, etc.; slow moving, graphic photos of murdered women I would rather not have seen. I personally would not recommend this movie to anyone other than those I mentioned above -- who like to study this sort of thing and are always hungry for more details. Lots of creepiness here!
And please, mothers, fathers and others: don't lock the kid(s) up in the closet!! I gave this a 5 rating.
Indelible -- a movie I shall never forget, and pleased not to
I just went recently to the Austin Premiere of this flick (which is actually the second showing -- I guess the first premiere must have been in LA).
I expected to see an "okay" film, but what I got to see was really something special! I don't know if I ever saw John G. Reilly as a lead character before (if you don't know his name, you will recognize him from many movies you have seen), and he was awesome! One of those guys who is so ugly that he is adorable. (How many guys can pull that one off?!) But what makes him adorable is not his looks; rather, his acting and flawless timing. This movie had me cracking up so many times from when Reilly delivered his lines straight-faced, playing Richard Gaddis, the "I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass-about-anybody-but-myself swindler" whose only redeeming virtue was his choice to do all his dirty dealings without any violence involved 99% of the time. I swear it made me embarrassed sometimes how loudly I found myself laughing in public when he delivered some of those priceless lines. I wish I could remember a funny one verbatim, but can't, so won't spoil it my misquoting. One funny line that didn't make me laugh out loud but I still remember as a great line was when asked by Diego Luna's character Rodrigo, "What's your sister like?" he responds with, "What's my sister like? She likes to give me s**t."
What is Gaddis' sister like? Indeed. What a cool lady! So sexy, fascinating and unique. She has a walk that, as a woman myself, I'd give a million dollars to learn to imitate. I have to say she beat Mae West or any other screen star. I had not seen Maggie Gyllenhaal (Valeria Gaddis) in films before (sorry, I missed a lot of films in the past some years) but hear she has been around for a while. Now this is one sensual and mysterious mature woman who plays Gaddis' smart-as-a-whip sister who is very, very tired of her brother's B.S. (She is the Concierge at a very classy high-dollar hotel.)
What can I say about Diego Luna? He had me at hello. Oh, to be young and in love. I can feel that way easily watching this very pretty and very excellent actor. I had not seen him before though he may have been well known to everyone but me. (Like I said, I haven't gotten out much, but I do consume hundreds of movies a year, I swear!) One line I remember where I really loved Diego's delivery was when Gaddis is telling someone they are conning that Rodrigo is Spanish. Rodrigo corrects him, "Mexican." The Moment was all there. What a jewel!
And there are many, many jewels in this film. It is fast-moving, and if you like to think and figure out puzzles you will be a pig in mud; if you are like me, not so quick to figure it all out, it may take several viewings to catch on to every ruse, but that's so much of the fun of this movie -- and this movie is, indeed, FUN...!
The first-time director, Gregory Jacobs, did a very fine job in my opinion. I personally would have enjoyed for the movie to go at a slower pace, but that's only because I'm a bit slow myself. (smile)
The directing and acting were excellent, and I felt the chemistry was perfect for the story. This is a film I will enjoy seeing again and again. Great story, good acting -- and with actors that are so fun to look at. All three of the main characters (Reilly, Luna and Gyllenhaal) have faces one never gets tired of looking at.
I'm giving it 9 stars only because it was too fast-paced to allow me to relax while enjoying this deeply enjoyable film. Highly recommended unless you are someone who just HAS to see gratuitous sex and violence in order to enjoy a film. For that you have to go elsewhere.
Before Sunset (2004)
A Caring and Thinking Wo/man's Movie - Good to the Last Drop
Before I went to see Before Sunrise at its June 26, 2004 Austin Premiere last night I read the reviews written here at imdb.com to get an idea of what to expect. However none of the reviews prepared me for the excellence of this movie.
As you probably already know, the entire movie is basically of one conversation between two people who (at least seemed to) fall in love nine years previously but had not seen one another again until this day having relied on one date for another rendezvous in Venice -- and having failed to exchange phone numbers, addresses, etc.
First of all, the acting was nothing less than excellent, lacking self-consciousness and "over the top" theatricality. Much credit for this I'm sure goes to Rick Linklater, the Director, who told us last night after the screening that it was very important to him that it not "get dramatic." Ah...a fine director, is like fine wine, no? Bravisimo!
By the way, I also learned at the Q&A last night -- which was with Richard Linklater and the two stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy -- and was fascinated to learn that ALL THREE OF THEM wrote this script. To me, that helps to explain how the script could have come out so profoundly well -- full of meaningful insights, questions that are asked by hearts with a bottom line of love and warmth.
What I am going to say next is something I have said before about BOOKS, but never about MOVIES -- not for the same reason. That is, I want to see this movie again -- and again -- and again so that I won't miss a line. There is so much to think about and care about among the topics discussed -- about love and life and the world we live in. Some of the things expressed were so interesting to me that I found my own mind running off with a thread of thought for a few moments after hearing what was said. It was just so stimulating. But then I would have to force myself to drop the thought in order to put my attention back to what they were saying lest I miss out on yet another pearl of humor, enjoyment, wisdom, riddle or profundity. I tried hard, but for me hearing ALL of it in one showing could just not be done. I will have to seen the movie again and again until I feel satisfied I have eeked the "last drop." And NO, I am not implying that the ending is a letdown; in my opinion it is a delightful ending and I hope-hope-hope that in another 7-8 years these collaborators will get together to write us another script. I want them to wait that long before writing it though, so that they can bring ever more wisdom and maturity to each sequel.
Thank you, Rick; thank you, Julie; thank you, Ethan! How REFRESHING and NEEDED it is in our world today to have MEANINGFUL entertainment where the bottom line is where it should be -- for and about thinking and caring human beings. And by the way, Julie and Ethan have noticeably aged; Julie is (indeed) thinner and more mature, a fascinating natural beauty with that sexy French accent; Ethan's resemblance to Tom Cruise startles me. Yet there is another dimension to Ethan and I hope I don't make anyone angry to say I also prefer his acting over the former's. I very, very, very rarely pay full retail price for my own VHS or DVD of a film. I can't wait to buy this one and I look forward to watching it again with happy anticipation.
Perfect Romance (2004)
A very enjoyable movie!
I enjoyed all the actors in this film, and also enjoyed the storyline, which was not as predictable as some romance movies are. There were a number of surprises, and I really enjoyed how the surprises and the choices made by the characters in the film were down-to-earth and made a lot of sense. (Unlike so many romance movies where things are such a stretch.) There were some new faces in this film (new to me), and I enjoyed them all. Lori Heuring brings something very interesting to the screen, as does Quinlan. Oh yeah, there were a few moments not very realistic -- like when Heuring fixes a waffle for the man her mom found for her on the Internet and not knowing how to cook she made the waffle totally black. I thought it was a bit of a stretch both that they served it to him anyway and that he then took a bite of it. But that was one of the only times I didn't believe what I saw. I also enjoyed the numerous relationships in the film, and the mother-daughter relationship was I thought very refreshing, especially in that it was based on more love and mutual respect than I normally see in mother-daughter relationships in film. It would make a great "date movie" too by the way.