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You have to go with the film until the film flips, 27 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Very dry dead pan comedy has a deeply moving sting in it's tale.

The plot of the film has a sad sack samurai trying to make a prince laugh. He has 30 days and 30 attempts to do it or else he will have to commit suicide. What looks like a one note film flips in the final minutes to be revealed to be about something else entirely The whys and wherefores are of what is going on is not what you think at the start.

Like the directors earlier film SYMBOL (and his other films as well) this film requires that the audience member be patient and wait for the whole film to unfold. If you get bored or give up the pay off will be lost. The fact that the directors films are not easy to explain I think keeps people away.

On the other hand if you are willing to work with the film and wait for the pay off I think you'll be greatly rewarded. I was moved to tears.

A truly great film.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Not what it should be, 25 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This examination of Nazi produced films that are still banned in Germany and elsewhere is a mixed bag. While it does highlight the films considered too dangerous to show, the film also operates in a vacuum failing to connect the films to the current real world or to each other.

Looking at the 40 films still banned, down from an original 300 titles, the film talks about the films and their popularity with out really explaining what the films are or giving them context. Saying that the film THE GREAT LOVE had more people see it in Germany than AVATAR is all well and good but considering there was no TV, internet or many of today's entertainment choices is misleading, especially since more people went to the theater in the 30's and 40's than they do now.

The film also doesn't really explain what any of the films are about. What is UNCLE KRUGER and what makes it so dangerous especially considering that Hollywood was going to produce a version of it? Thats a problem that pretty much every film discussed faces- what the heck are the films and why are they dangerous? (yes things like JUDE SUSS are put into context but the rest aren't.

Largely this is a lot of people talking about films which we know very little about. While the discussion of the potential danger of films (in general) is extremely well handled and gives you much food for thought. The discussions are spot on and worth seeing.

The problem is since we are never given the specifics we're kind of adrift in deciding if the films really pose any sort of threat. Personally I've seen some of the films discussed over the years and outside of JUDE SUSS, ETERNAL JEW and a few others, I'm left scratching my head about why they pose a danger. Why are these films still banned? We're not told nor are we given excerpts to decide for ourselves.

For me FORBIDDEN FILMS is a missed opportunity. It's an debate about a subject where the person who wants to engage us makes some very valid points in their favor, but at the same time refuses to give us enough information for us to actually carry on a dialog with them.

Ballet 422 (2014)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
If you like dance you'll love this other wise you'll be disappointed, 26 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A look at the creation of a new dance (number 422) for the New York City Ballet by choreographer and dancer Jonathan Peck. We watch as Peck goes from commission through creation to performance.

How much you like the nuts and bolts of dance will determine how much you like the film. Personally I'm not a ballet fan so much of the creation segments bored me. I had no idea what they were talking about and watching some things over and over again wore on me.

At the same time seeing the completed piece was magical as was the kicker of seeing how Peck had to create the dance while at the same time maintaining his training as a dancer for the Ballet- his piece premieres as part of an evening of dance and he then had to race to get into costume to dance.

I know many dance fans who saw this, like I did at Tribeca, who loved it. I know just as many people like me who liked bits.

Worth a shot for the dance fans out there, all others its up to you.

Pirates (2014)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Looks great but its stupid as a stick, 25 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When the seal of the newly forming Korea is swallowed by a whale the race is one to find the whale and get the seal back. This sets in motion various factions of pirates, bandits and officials in a mad dash to get the seal and win favor.

Great looking film has some great fights, some killer set pieces but not a hell of a lot of logic. Its a weird macho soap opera (with a pirate queen as one of the leads) where everyone ends up screwed over by everyone early on and then brought into conflict later on. Its sound and fury signifying nothing.

To be honest I lost interest 40 minutes in and went off to hang my laundry while the Bluray played on without me. WHen I came back I had missed almost nothing and just settled in for the final hour of constant motion.

Its not a bad film but it never fully grabbed me. I probably would have liked it more had I seen it in a theater. Worth a look if you're undemanding.

52 out of 71 people found the following review useful:
A disappointing film, 6 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Noah Baumbach's film concerning a documentary filmmaker and his wife who have lost their friends to the baby track is disappointing. The couple, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, meet up with a younger couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, re-spark their lives but questions creep in about what the younger couple is really after, and what is the right path in life.

To be honest the film is enjoyable on its own terms. It has laughs and is occasionally strangely moving.

The problem with the film is that the terms of the film are kind of messed up. The film has a big subtext concerning honesty in documentary films and a quest by Stiller's character to uncover what the Adam Driver character is doing- the problem is the film subverts it and throws it aside in the final minutes. The collapse begins when the Charles Grodin character, a respected documentary filmmaker makes a speech about integrity and then two minutes later says that everything he had just said (and said pretty much in the film up to that point) doesn't matter. Its a wtf moment that had myself and more than a few people in the audience at The New York Film Festival scratching our heads. The film's the collapse is kind of complete at the end of the film which is a kind of out of left field turn for the Watts and Stiller character. The ending kind of throws numerous plot lines aside and is a feel good moment that feels contrived.

When the film ended I was left confused. What was Baumbach going for?

After the NYFF screening someone in the audience asked Baumbach the questions I wanted to. He said that all that mattered was the final bit of the film. That was what he was going for and everything he was doing was for that. He also added that we shouldn't have paid any attention to the integrity/making a documentary stuff since he only put it in so that the Stiller character had something to do. We weren't suppose to have paid attention to that since that isn't what the film was about.


Without that the film really isn't about anything. Without it the film doesn't have a reason to be seen.

Truthfully I don't hate the film, I hate its construction. The film has moments and characters but its as morally bankrupt as the Adam Driver character.

A disappointing film

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Very good but this should have been a short film, 2 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tim Jenison works out how it was possible for Vermeer to paint what amounts to photo realistic paintings with a great deal of ease. He then builds a full scale room that matches one in a Vermeer painting in order to further prove it.

I'm mixed on this film. While I think Tim pretty much proves Vermeer could have used this method to paint the film, I'm still pondering why the film runs 80 minutes especially after 15 he's proved his point.

Yes I completely understand that seeing Tim paint the copy is the point but taking it that far raises more questions than are healthy such as how Tim learned to paint and mix colors and how it would be possible for a regular guy to just do it.

Don't get me wrong but at a certain point I just wanted to know why this film was longer than say a half an hour.

Worth a look but its little more than a Discovery Channel documentary.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Its nice but not deep, 2 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This look at critic Roger Ebert is a nice film. It is not deep or very much beyond a friendly look at the man and his work.

Forgive me for taking a less than glowing position on the film but I would have liked something more than what amounts to a warm and fuzzy remembrance of the man. The bad things in his life are sped over and we dwell in the places where Roger was a king. That's all well and good for an in memoriam piece or cinematic eulogy, which is what this amounts to, but it doesn't make for a wholly compelling documentary and somewhere the group hug of the film wore thin.

While I completely understand that this was put together as Roger was dying and completed after his passing by friends and family I would have liked a little bit more meat, especially from director Steve James.

To be completely honest I don't know where this film will stand in say five or ten years down the line when Ebert will be less fresh in people's minds. WIll this film be remembered or will it just be a footnote as a film about a guy who used to review movies?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Probably my favorite film of all time, 26 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Don't ask how many times I've seen this film-the answer isn't healthy...

Jacob Krupnick's dance film is pure joy. Set to Girl Talk's All Day album the film is simply three people dancing across the New York City interacting with people on the street.There kind of is a story- one girl wants to get the world to dance while two guys try to have her fall in love with them through dance.

Shot on the sly the film is was done via guerrilla filmmaking. Krupnick and his dancers just showed up at a location and shot. The interactions with the non dancers in the film are real (Anne Marsen really is being tossed from Yankee Stadium and the subtitled question about why she was dancing just happened). Some times they used music to dance to some times they just danced. Krupnick then edited it all together using the available for free mash up album (in reality one one hour and fifteen minute long mix) as his soundtrack.

The result is a film that is pure joy on film. There is no pain and suffering, only a call to dance. This is one of the most perfect marriages of film and music I've seen. Trust me I've watched the film with out sound and I've listened to the album without the image and both are not as good.Together they make a perfect whole where the lyrics fall away and we just have the sound and the cadence causing out heroine and her suitors to dance.

Because of problems owing to copyrights with the music the film is not in regular release but can be seen at the Girl Walk All Day website or at its frequent screenings at various events.

However you see it just see it. For get the idea of a plot,forget your troubles and just dance

As I said my favorite film of all time.

(The info on the making of the film came from an interview I did with the director)

Special ID (2013)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
You know its not good when the star says bad things about it, 11 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Weak action film is far from Donnie Yen's best.The plot has Yen as a deep cover cop battling a crime lord.

I interviewed Donnie Yen when this film played at the New York Chinese Film Festival in November 2013 and before I could say anything about the film, or anything t all, Yen began talking about how disappointed he was in the film. He went on to talk about how the film was put together the wrong way and was doomed never to work. He seemed to be distancing himself from the film, which was strange since no one at the festival had seen it yet. You know a film can't be really good if its star bad mouths it.

Actually the film is't horrible. The plot is a mess but the action mostly works and sometimes that's enough. In the present case it's almost enough, certainly the film would be worth seeing streaming or as a loaner, anything so long as you're not paying much to see it.

Donnie's done mostly better and he's done worse.

Moebius (2013)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
You'll either love this hate it or stare in utter disbelief, 2 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you want safe go elsewhere. Anything approaching a normal film American family drama go elsewhere. If you want anything that isn't offensive go elsewhere.

The easiest and least exploitative way to explain the plot is to say a couple is having martial difficulties which explodes and ends up crippling the son. Where the film goes from there is the film.

(Spoilers follow)

Actually where the film goes from there involves castration,rape,incest, masochism ,violence, murder, and riffs on the legendary films PERCY and PERCY's PROGRESS. There are more twists and turns than any sane mind would make.

Oh and did I mention there is no dialog in the entire film?

How is it?

I have no idea. Horrifying? Silly? Strange? I was staring at the screen in disbelief even while I was laughing at the proceedings. Its a whacked out mix of things that kind of almost works and kind of almost doesn't. Its a bold attempt at doing something.

I don't think its successful- but it is interesting in a kind of road accident sort of a way.

Should you see it?

If you like the real off beat and don't mind disturbing things give it ago. On the other hand if you're sensitive or easily offended stay away.

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