23 Reviews
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Snatched (I) (2017)
17 February 2018
I cannot imagine the kind of person who would find this to be a bad movie. It was a laugh-a-minute from start to finish. Wonderful entertainment.
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The Mummy (2017)
I don't know why all critics hated this
17 February 2018
Or maybe just reading them made me expect the worst, so in fact I was happily surprised.
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Bored to Death (2009–2011)
Loved this series
6 February 2016
I didn't watch pay TV for several years and only came across this this MONTH and haven't been as happy watching anything this witty and goofily entertaining since Psych ended. I didn't expect much at first from the title of the show but was happily surprised. I have an inordinate fondness for detection fiction and all things NYC having gone to Columbia University myself for a humanities degree and lived on the Lower East side back in the late 1980's, the show's settings make me miss NYC very much. Am very sad the show was canceled after such a brief run. Love all the characters and lines like "I'm a non-practicing vegan." Hope to see more from all of the talented team in creating this show and am interested in reading the work of Jonathan Ames now.
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The Motel (2005)
American film from an Asian-American's perspective
7 August 2014
I found this movie at the public library. I never heard about it playing in theaters. I loved "You and Me and Everyone We Know" by Miranda July so I thought I'd give this one a try. It helped that it was about a Chinese-American family as I am Chinese American myself. There is a sensitivity in the handling of the characters' emotions that is different from 99% of movies out there, an authenticity and empathy that precise depicts the awkwardness and unspoken despair and silly sadness of everyday life. Some scenes were a little unconvincing and undeveloped or outlandish, but for the few brief moments of genuine emotion this movie captured, it was worth it. Naturally I give this a thumbs-up as I would like to see more movies from the Asian-American perspective. Usually Asian-Americans are the side this one the non-Asians are.
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Prometheus (I) (2012)
Promethean waste of money
3 June 2014
I kept trying to suspend my disbelief to enjoy this movie - I was trying to believe that waking up after two years of space travel in stasis could leave the crew so grumpy, uninterested and nonchalant. That their dialogue would be so juvenile. That their personalities could be so mediocre and unimpressive. But then...there was that scene in the medi-pod. And Shaw running around afterwards w/ NARY A WORD TO ANYONE ABOUT IT. /facepalm. I can only guess none of the scriptwriters were women. This incredibly expensive film was ruined by some basic plot failures and I lost my ability to follow the characters with any sense of belief. This was a trip down absurdity lane and quickly devolved into something the makers of Beavis and Butthead could've made more profound and entertaining. I was so disappointed after the trailer build-ups for this movie. This should've been a great movie, and it just goes to show millions of dollars can't fix it when the script or editing or direction is bad.
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John Carter (2012)
Surprisingly good movie
2 June 2014
When this came out in theaters I heard nothing but mediocre reviews. When I just watched it on video today I found it to have far more depth and character then I would've imagined coming from such a sci-fi movie. I never read the original Burroughs books, so I don't know if this came from the movie script of the original fiction. In any case, I would love to see a sequel. I thought it deserved a write up with a positive review.

The characters were well-rounded, the special effects weren't awful, there were very few scenes where I went...well, that's just absurd. It was a totally entertaining, imaginative escape/adventure/love story.
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This COULD have been a very good movie
11 June 2008
It had atmosphere, closely-observed characters, some genuine feeling and warmth - but it was spoiled by lack of editing. Too many scenes went on too long, were too close-up and seemed gratuitous - the dockyard boss ranting at Slimane - the buttocks exposed in Majid's sex scene - the little girl being potty-trained - the endless belly dance and chasing of the motorbike. The real interest lay in the Slimane's journey to start a business - his family and friend's help - his interactions with his extended family - but just where it could have crescendoed and could of given us the super-satisfying happy ending we would love to see, especially when so much investment is made into the characters- well, you'll find out. It reminded me of seeing My Beautiful Launderette the first time - whereas that movie was a success, and I could not say the same for this one, especially as the ending does not create any satisfying or meaningful conclusion.
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Boring and Wrong
11 June 2008
The life of the real Judge Bean was more interesting, at least as how it is recounted on Wikipedia, and if Wikipedia is true, then episodes of the movie go directly opposite events of the real Roy Bean's life.

The scene where Paul Newman orders the hanging of a criminal who doesn't think he has done anything wrong for killing a Chinese man? The real Bean made up that law himself as an excuse to release an Irish murderer from his crime - by saying that his law book ruled against killing human beings- not Chinamen.

The first man Bean ever killed was a Mexican "desperado," according to Wikipedia. At 41, he married an 18 year old Mexican girl and then was convicted of assaulting her in their marriage, which eventually led to a divorce after 4 children.

No, the real Judge Bean didn't sound at all like a person worth mythologizing, at least not THIS way, except as an example of misbehavior and notoriety - a far cry from this boring, lazy, star-vehicle movie with a truly reprehensible script that does a disservice to history and to our intelligence.

The only real interest this movie has is as a historical document and as an excuse to ogle the famous actors of the time - Paul Newman, Ava Gardner, a young Victoria Principal, who all play shallow, 2 dimensional characters.
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Grizzly Man (2005)
Eerie and paradoxical
6 June 2005
Frankly, I went hoping to hear first hand the grisly (no pun intended) footage of Treadwell and his girlfriend's death. It was frustrating and disappointing when Herzog took the higher moral ground of listening to it himself on earphones and making the audience watch his tearful reaction; then advising the woman, Treadwell's friend, who owned the tape, to destroy it.

I thought the documentary was good when it delved into Treadwell's upbringing and past connection with friends; and his ability to find entertainment in narrating himself among the bears. It was eerie, how many times Treadwell paradoxically contemplated the method of his own death. The fact is, Treadwell was something of an odd, irritating person...apparently bi-polar, with manic highs and sobbing, sentimental lows. In some scenes as he narrates the bears behind him he practically acts like Pee Wee Herman among the Grizzlies. It is no surprise when some of the documentary guests state their beliefs that Treadwell "got what he deserved" from risking death in his delusional bond with the bears.

I like everything, but the fact that Herzog would not allow the audience to hear the actual, final tape, or see photographs of the aftermath that are luridly described by a coroner but not shown.
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The Dying Gaul (I) (2005)
Dying Plot
22 May 2005
I just saw this at the Seattle Film Festival, Peter Saarsgard was there to answer questions. The movie is extremely watchable for the first half of the way through, is built on a fascinating premise with interesting characters (a bisexual movie producer and his wife who reside in a Lifestyles of the Rich And Famous type beachside modern mansion, a young gay writer whose lover has died of AIDS), and builds to a pitch of extreme suspense. After that, however, the plot stumbles and the film's conclusion turns on a series of unbelievable events. I thought since the movie was based on a play, the plot would be clear, but it's almost as if the movie version was forced to cut out some important sequences, as there is never quite enough information about 1) how the woman obtains all her inside information on the writer, 2) how the writer's ex-wife was related to the characters and 3) most importantly, what happens to the characters at the end of the movie.

I went into the bathroom after the movie and joined a lineup of women who were also asking each, "What exactly happened there?" --- when it's not clear it's a sign of unclear movie-making.
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Suchîmubôi (2004)
Another Good Japanese Animation Film
9 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers

A great animated thrill-ride peopled with archetypes and insanely detailed, awe-inspiring machinery and backgrounds. Steamboy is repeatedly asked, to what is the best end of science? To make people happy? To make powerful weapons that will harm one another? (or conversely to keep them safe from their enemies)? Or to entertain them? The main characters are a wild man grandfather, whose runs about most of the movie as naked as a castaway, representing an innocent but wild and raging nature figure, and believes power should be used to make people happy through entertainment; a cyborg father, who has given up on nature and harnessed the fruits of science to produce weapons to be sold cynically to capitalist bankers and salesmen, and the boy, who must watch the two battle each other for dominance, even while various other international elements fight over their inventions. As usual, Japanese cartoon films pose more complex questions than American ones, nor do they provide the same type of easy good/bad, black/white resolutions Americans are so fond of. Instead, each character is allowed to describe their opinions, and the boy, like the audience, must observe, listen to all sides, and think hard before drawing conclusions as to where his own heart lies. Following the unquestioned policies of ones family or national alliances alone is unwise. If only all people could learn to think like this.
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Trollywood (2004)
Excellent Movie
16 June 2004
I saw this at the Seattle Int'l Film Festival with the director in attendance. She was a slim blonde Englishwoman, a photographer and a friend of Nick Rhodes (of Duran Duran fame), who said that while in Los Angeles, it was the large amount of homeless people pushing "trollies" (shopping carts) that inspired her to make this documentary. She initially focused on how they obtained them and how they were used (i.e. as ways to cart their belongings, as ways to make a living recycling cans and bottles to support drug habits) and then she zooms in on several homeless who agreed to be filmed by her and let her into their lives. In the course of their movie you become moved by their plight, and in between the movie discusses statistics of homelessness, the percentage that are war veterans and mentally ill, the increasing lack of beds available to them in the city, and interviews activists with visions of how to help the homeless, former homeless people who describe how they have gotten out, and homeless who more or less feel doomed to remain as they are and why. In one scene she invites a homeless person she has gotten to know to attend a charity ball for the homeless at a luxury hotel - and amusingly, she has the camera record the shocked expressions of the tuxedoed valets as she asks them airily in her English accent to park her friend's shopping cart loaded with garbage bags of belongings in between the squads of limos arriving.

The movie is artistically shot, with plenty of great music from Lou Reed, John Cale, and Nick Rhodes, among others, which was donated as they are all socially conscious activists. Altogether an excellent movie about a depressing topic, delivered in much the way Mary Poppins delivers medicine with a spoonful of sugar. This movie reminds me of Born Into Brothels, also shown at the SIFF, which began with a female photographer who as she became more intimate with her subjects, took the opportunity to utilize the documentary form as a vehicle for enlightenment and social change.
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The Pianist (2002)
See the Pianist - Especially Now
3 June 2004
A movie about the atrocities committed during WWII could not be more timely to watch than now, at a time when George Bush is comparing the "War on Terrorism" to WWII - odd since depending on what your politics are you might think that lately the US is acting more like the Nazis in this film than the rescuing Russians, with the common people of Afghanistan, Iraq and the US, like the Pianist, being caught in between as the inadvertent, non-politicized victims of the ideological/political war between the government of fascists and fundamentalists. Roman Polanski does a tremendous job of portraying the brutality and ugliness of war, and the beauty of human individuality when mercy, kindness, and love are demonstrated in the face of it. If all the political leaders with their agendas today were forced to sit in a room and watch this together, I wonder what they would say afterwards about it. Polanski had made a movie that will haunt those who see it forever -- a cinematic revelation that wisely reminds us--"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." It makes me hope that if perhaps if more love, kindness, mercy and understanding were demonstrated in politics today, we might be able to get further toward global peace. Using words like "Axis of Evil" on our side, and the terms fanatical fundamentalists use to describe us, only fan the flames of hatred - it does not help to put them out.
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Romantic Beautiful French Film
3 June 2004
I saw this movie over ten years ago but I still remember it as a beautiful, sensitive, moving film. Emmanuelle Beart was incredibly beautiful in a cold blue eyed honey-haired way and Dan Auteuil was so handsome in that sexy laid-back French way. What I remember best about it, though, was how good the music was. The music was the best thing about it, combined with the beauty of the actors and their bittersweet romance. In fact, afterwards, I rushed out and bought the music of Ravel as performed by the Britten String Quartet for the movie. This is that kind of good movie. I highly recommend it for those who would like to see Emmannuelle Beart at her peak of beauty and to listen to the tender, yearning music of Ravel.
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Another Fabulous Film from Margaret Cho
2 June 2004
As a first generation, similarly "inappropriate" Asian American who grew up in a predominantly white city never quite feeling as "Asian" as other people seem to view me, there is no other comedian I can identify better with than Margaret Cho. Her range is fantastic - she can do hilarious impressions of everyone from asian "old school" relatives to George Bush and Condoleeza Rice, gay men to snotty 14 year olds, Japanese film samurai to Ukiyo-e pictures. I admire her tremendously - a brave, intelligent woman who manages to utilize her own closely-observed experiences of racism and sexism to educate the audience about it. An example - "Whenever I go to a dinner party, inevitably someone tells me 'Too Much Information,' and, 'Don't Go There.' -- Problem is - I live there. I bought a house there. I'll TAKE YOU THERE!'." She wisely advocates the need for constant communication and discussion to bring about the "CHO REVOLUTION."
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Good Topic, Dull Documentary
1 June 2004
If this is the same movie directed by Robert Stone and which I saw at the Seattle Int'l Film Festival today then I would have to say it was quite dull in places and in need of some editing. While it got across the interesting spectacle Patty Hearst made at the time - rich girl turned radical rebel ostensibly for the people - I would have liked to have seen more in-depth profiles of all involved prior to hearing them talk - of Patty, her parents, their relationship, the backgrounds of the other members of the party, etc. Too much of this film's information was just a dry re-telling of the news, and a dry outline of how the event affected the evolution of reporting and FBI investigative reporting. It's a fascinating and timely topic - in that today again we are faced with a conservative government and a growing rebellion against it complete with terrorist activity, only on a global instead of just domestic scale, but this documentary falls sadly short of portraying the events that unfolded in any particularly interesting or involving way. There's got to be a better documentary out there on this subject. Can anyone recommend any?
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Fascinating Documentary
28 May 2004
Although I am not ordinarily a sports fan, watching this documentary was an exhilarating and bittersweet experience. The success of the North Korean underdogs in the 8th World Cup was exciting to re-live through documentary footage. The working-class English burb they stayed in, Middlesborough, clearly adopted them for their cute underdog status, for they were well-behaved, polite and hardworking soccer players. And, at no taller than 5'5" on average, as one spectator put it, "it was like watching a bunch of jockeys playing."

It is comical that when they are bunked in a Roman Catholic monastery they are creeped out by the garish images of the crucifixion. Also impressive were the shots of 20,000+ N. Korean Citizens doing the most elaborate form of the "The Wave" known to man. The N. Koreans returned as heroes in N. Korea but still lived in a material way that would remind most Americans of poor people.

Team members say they were able to get as far as they did in the competition primarily through emphasis on teamwork and national pride, given their physical limitations against the Europeans. Certainly the most impressive achievements of human civilization have always been accomplished when people are united by some ideology or religion, bound together for a common purpose. It makes one think of the pros and cons of teamwork vs. individualism, free societies vs. communist ones. I was struck by how their atheistic communist ideology taught them to believe that each was responsible for their own destiny, and yet the movie is filled with numerous shots of the team making reverential references to their Great Leader, exactly in the manner in which a religious fundamentalist refers to God or Allah.

A very interesting movie, but it was obvious the team could not speak freely to the cameramen. Their words are laced with modesty and communist rhetoric. Strange how the most ideological and theologically governed societies are often the ones lacking the most in free speech. Unity vs. individualism the pros and cons of both soccer and politics.
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A MUST-SEE Film for Everyone
27 May 2004
When I saw this movie was 145 minutes long I feared it might be a tiresome extremist leftwing corporate-bashing film -- but happily, it was not. Instead, it was a highly entertaining, enlightening history of the corporation as it has grown from a simple legal structure originally created to protect rights of American freed slaves to something manipulated by savvy businessmen and their lawyers to do everything from limit their personal financial liability to controlling and impacting the entire lives of third world worker communities and governments, the environment, and how and what we consume. The movie makes clear its not necessarily people that are evil so much as the structure of the corporation which creates "psychopath" behavior in the interest of profit. No surprise there. What's interesting is that the movie covers a lot of fascinating ground -- the story of two Fox investigative reporters and their battle with Fox Network and Monsanto corporate lawyers who tried to stop them when they tried to report how RBTs in milk cause cancer; the struggle of Bolivians to prevent an American corporation from taxing them for the right to their own water!;the way big business takes advantage of disasters, wars and tyrant governments both here and in other countries; how pharmaceutical corporations are patenting both human gene patterns as well as and other species' genes for who knows what sinister future purpose; and much much more. They have a leading CEO of the largest carpet manufacturing business in the world talk about how he is working to reverse the damage his company has wreaked on the environment through a conscientious effort to become a sustainable company, and a review of how even if companies such as GE, Philip Morris and Weyerhauser are only paying lip service when they show concern for the environment, it is still better than no lip service at all, and in fact if the trend continues, and people increasingly become more aware of how their consumer spending choices affect corporations, they can in effect vote with their dollars to change things. Similar ground is covered in books like "Fast Food Nation" and "No Logo". I think this is a MUST SEE film for everyone, it is very educational and consciousness-raising, it does NOT demonize anyone, in fact it demonstrates subtly how demonization is ridiculous on either side (left wing or right wing), and it offers a hope for change if people will just stop to think about issues more often instead of burying their heads in the sand.
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Aptly named film
26 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I don't really deserve to comment on this film, as I walked out after half an hour. Here's why:

*************SPOILERS BELOW************

In the first half hour, I was forced to watch 1) beautiful, depressed, self-hating woman slit her wrists with razor 2) fantasy image of same woman slit her throat 3) Rocco Siffredi's tumescent penis (okay, that wasn't so bad) 4) woman's mouth drip with sperm 5) image of boy throwing squashed baby bird on ground and stamping it to mush (it looked terribly real...where's PETA?!) 6) Outrageous comparison of Rocco's concept of female bits to smushed baby bird 7) full-on shot of female child displaying herself under a bush (perhaps they were made of wax to pass obscenity laws?) 8) boring scenes of woman offering to pay gay man she is obsessed with to "watch her" 9) Rocco sticking finger up said woman, then wiping her wetness on his hair (shades of Something About Mary?) 10) ridiculous pretentious French conversation about brutality and fragility 11) extended camera closeups of said woman's bush 12) VERY CLOSE close up of Rocco sticking his hand inside her...

Okay, I thought I was going to puke at this point, and I realized by this point all I probably had to look forward to was her pulling a tampon out or menstruating on him, or something involving feces, or fisting, or something like that. If the scenes had been leavened by some sort of interesting or meaningful dialogue, or was able to make me feel some sort of sympathy for the characters, it wouldn't be bad. I used to adore French films because they portrayed people, esp. lovers, realistically...running around naked, arguing, for example. Like the films by Rohmer, and that movie Betty Blue. But in the past few years I've seen Baise Moi, Irreversible, and now this -- and it's all just going downhill...schlock shock sex is all it seems to be now....If only someone would pay ME to watch it.
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A Different Kind of Beautiful Mind
24 May 2004
I remember hearing about Henry Darger several years ago, but the article I read back then was brief and I was disturbed by images of little girls being strangled in his art. I was eager to see a documentary that would more fully explain his art. I thought the film did a very good job of providing insight to his work - how his traumatic early life led to the themes of his obsessive artwork, how the torture of the little girls probably references his own feelings of feeling tortured in his own life, clues to why he drew penises on all his little blonde girls --"the Vivians," his basic sense of himself as an "innocent," his attempt to adopt children, how he created a secret world for himself, complete with talking to himself in different voices, etc. A much more interesting look into mental illness in some ways than the movie A Beautiful Mind.
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22 May 2004
I found this to be a captivating and entertaining movie - great pains were taken to reproduce that 70's look and feel and it is totally convincing. While seemingly limited in their ambitions, the main characters are nevertheless sympathetic and there are some quirky sidekicks whose characters are fleshed out enough to be entertaining as well - everyone from the landlady, the boss, to the friend who drives. I also found myself seriously enjoying the director's X-rated version of an Ingmar Bergman film over the actual film it self. The woman doesn't have much ambition aside from being "womanly" but it is based on a true incident and hey it was the 70's in Spain.
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The Notebook (2004)
Romantic, But --
22 May 2004
I haven't read the Sparks novel, but this was clearly a fictional story -- romantic and a sentimental tearjerker (an old man to my right couldn't stop crying through much of it) complete with flights of white geese and swelling orchestra music in key moments. A great subject for consumption by the aging baby boomer population as it tries to sentimentalize aging with Alzheimers'. A great wish-fulfillment story that had the phrase, "Yeah, Right!" running banner headlines through my mind through most of the final hour of it. This is not a bad film to see if you enjoy Disney-movie style happy endings though. The cinematography, script, etc all look like a major release picture and the younger stars are quite captivating and convincing. The acting by James Garner and Gena Rowlands however left something to be desired.
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City of God (2002)
Fantastic movie!
14 March 2004
I nearly didn't see this movie because of the underrated movie reviews I read about it in the local paper and the New Yorker. This movie is superb in every aspect -- the acting, the story and the way it is told, the direction, the use of special effects, the music soundtrack, all of it. This is a movie more people should see, as its implications regarding poverty, politics, violence, drug dealing, guns, and human nature are rich and complex. There are so many different themes you could follow, so much meaning to this movie, which to top it all off, is based on a true story, it could be the basis of numerous theses, criticism and essays. This is certainly one of the most powerful, moving, fascinating and exhilarating movie I've seen in a very long time.
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