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Gordon Jump's single best episode
Not one of Andy's best episodes, but truly Gordon Jump's best episode. His seen with the owner of Red Wiggler's, Ralph Manza (of Banacek fame)is phenomenal. Jump's subtleties are wonderful and his steady but warm leadership is captured well in this performance, surpassed only by the episode of Jennifer's having been photographed in the nude. In the final scene, Jump's standoff with the head of CURB is amazing. Truly Jump's best episode. A joy to watch him. He really found his groove in this one. Also noteworthy is Richard Paul's portrayal of a Jerry Falwell like character. While today, this subject seems kind of pointless, it was a cutting edge episode with excellent acting.
Devil's Knot (2013)
a decent summary of the defense's case
I have seen a lot of people trash this film, and if you are looking for something on the level of Angelina Jolie's "Changeling", you will be disappointed. If though, you are tolerant of a low budget but effective dramatization of a very tangled, disturbing, and tragic story about 3 young boys losing their lives to murder and 3 young men losing their lives to a group of detectives and justice system blinded by emotion, you will appreciate this film. Reece is fantastic as the mom of one of the victims. She is the big name in the film, though you will recognize several actors who are not quite up to her level of star power. I am a bit of a junkie on this case, and I was not disappointed. I think it does a fair job of presenting the defense's perspective. Granted, if you think they are guilty, and there are many who do, then you will be angered by its presentation. Nonetheless, I was very pleased with it.
The New WKRP in Cincinnati (1991)
A great show that deserved more respect
I am a huge fan of the original WKRP - I have watched every episode probably twenty or thirty times, if not more. The reality is though, in comparing the New WKRP to the original, there is a tendency to angelize the former and demonize the latter. This is unfair. The reality is, there were as many problems in the original as the New WKRP. While Jan Smithers was beautiful, she was not an overwhelming personality on the show. The same is true for Gary Sandy. He paled in comparison to the others on the show. Of course, Loni Anderson, In many ways, the New WKRP made up for some of the failures of the original, in that most of the cast were, overall, much better. Returning were Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders and Frank Bonner (Carlson, Nessman, and Tarlek) for every episode, and they pick up right where they left off. Howard Hesseman also made several regular appearances (and all were excellent), as did Mama Carlson (Carol Bruce)who seemed to have aged very well.
Three bright and shining characters that add to the new cast were Marla Rubinoff who played Nancy the receptionist. She was as hilarious as she was beautiful (she left TV and went on to become a counselor and therapist). French Stewart, later of 3rd Rock From the Sun fame, was quite entertaining as the morning DJ Razor D, and of course, let us not forget the gorgeous Tawney Kitaen. She was a much better actress in her early days than her later career would evidence. She had great timing and filled the screen with her presence. We must not forget Mykelti Williamson either, who would later go on to play Bubba in Forrest Gump. He brought a lot of energy and great timing to the role of the station manager.
Overall, I have found the episodes to be of excellent quality, and with a stronger cast (overall), I think the writing is better. I hope that one day, these will be available on regular DVD, but for now, they can only be purchased from people who have the VHS tapes (on ioffer.com). Enjoy, I know I have!
A decent series of documentaries, though a bit dry
The reality is, Ken Burns and his magnificence have spoiled us when it comes to broad, sweeping documentaries on topics as wide ranging and diverse as "the Great Indian Wars". Burns is in a league of his own, and it is unfair to everyone else who attempts to do documentaries on any subject that he is so good and so well known. After all, everything pales in comparison. His western documentary is, of course, greatly superior to this collection, but the advantage this collection has is that it is focused almost exclusively on the tragic history of the native American, US Military conflicts. Sure, it is dry. It would have benefited from some music other than Indian drumming. It is a good primer though on the conflicts that comprised a 50-60 year period of American history and it wets the thirst for those who so desire to, study in more depth the subject at hand. All in all, a very good documentary set for a low price.
dude! i hate the word Dude! But Dude - it's not too bad a movie.
Not a terrible film for its low budget - one reviewer online wrote about the humorous dialog as a way to endure the problems of its being low budget. I don't have a problem with films being low budget. what I do hate is the continuous use of the word Dude. If you took that word out, the opening 30 minutes would have a total of about 3 minutes of dialog. Otherwise, the silliness of the movie is somewhat endearing. Being from NC myself, I enjoyed seeing local areas on screen and hearing the "local dialog" of the hunter.
The most redemptive aspect of the movie is the final 15 minutes of the movie. The dialog is hilarious. I enjoyed the Indiana Jones reference about halfway through, as well as the Bigfoot hunter parody in the last 12 minutes. It was very witty. In addition, the conversation the two main characters have about adapting to his new handicapped status is hilarious. This last few minutes redeems the whole of the movie.
Paranormal Asylum (2013)
Amateurish across the board
While Paranormal Asylum benefits from a wonderful concept, that of searching for the true story of Typhoid Mary, it suffers from three major problems.
1 - a ridiculous back story of the film maker trying to get out from under his girlfriend's family.
2 - filming quality that, while the coloring is lovely, it looks either like a college graduation film or a commercial for local TV.
3 - terrible acting. Across the board, terrible acting. No one in this film was even Disney level quality. While good looking and in great shape, while they had nice hair even, the range of their dramatic skills covered the gamut from a to b.
On the positive side - when the film sticks to the found footage genre (which I love!) it is above average. Unfortunately, it only uses found footage techniques for about 15-20 minutes total. This is unfortunate, because the tricks used in those scenes are excellent.
Ultimately, I was left dissatisfied with the movie, knowing that it could have been so much more which is a shame, because I enjoy most found footage movies. I give it a 3 for the few minutes of found footage techniques and the twists employed therein.
La comtesse noire (1973)
terrible - furry frequency w/ no plot
Years ago on "Bob and Tom," a morning radio show, i heard a comedian say, 'You know the other day, i watched a really boring porn. Did you know those things have credits?" In a way, that is how i feel about this film. The women are attractive, yes (if you like the really furry type). i am not necessarily opposed to the natural look, but sometimes, too much of a good thing can begin to become tiresome. This is a film of excessive closeups, no plot, soft focus camera-work, actors who's heads are cut off by the camera in various shots, and enough boobs and sex scenes to satisfy most any viewer of adult films. for myself, once was enough - not sure i will watch anymore Jesus Franco films, as i have a feeling, when you have seen one, you have seen them all.
Not a bad film, just don't expect too much
Watched this on Netflix the other day - Those who compare them it to Friday the 13th are dead on - killer is mad because people killed h is mom and so he is now getting revenge.
but some other comparisons might be made - first, this film definitely has elements of Texas Chainsaw Massacre - in that the killer is deformed and is putting on masks of human skin.
i would also add that it seems to parallel every one of the "kids out in the woods" films.
Overall though, not a bad film - both the lead actress and actor are really good - and it is always nice to see Treat Williams - one of my favorite actors ever since "Deep Rising".
Sugar & Spice (2001)
one of the great films - laugh out loud
I hate to say it, this is one of my guilty pleasure films. Truly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Excellent cast. Great pacing. Wonderful dialog! I have seen this film numerous times, and every time I watch it, I laugh. With such great lines like "Don't be a whore and a murderer" and "So what are you anorexic or bulimic? Just skinny. Don't make me hate you." Hilarious. Mena Suvari is awesome, as is Marley Shelton. Both are great. Of course, the cast as a whole is very well matched. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoyed the wit of Juno, though it is not as forced as Juno was at times (not to say that Juno wasn't a great film, it was).
Also, keep an eye out for the hilarious opening scene with the mascot and the old principal. Enjoy. It's an under appreciated classic.
The Second Arrival (1998)
not nearly as bad as everyone says -
I am evidently in the minority here, but this film is not nearly as bad as everyone says. For myself, the worst part of both films was the incredibly bad global warming science, but other than that, the second movie did a really good job of fleshing out the ideas from the first.
I liked the idea that after Zane Ziminski (Charlie Sheen from the first movie) dies, he planned ahead well enough to send packages to five people who will potentially keep up the investigation into the alien invasion. I thought this was a really strong plot point, and it was nicely intertwined throughout the film.
The obligatory love interest, Jane Sibbett is a beautiful woman, not a terrible actress, but has a squeaky voice. Patrick Muldoon is not bad in the lead, just kind of one dimensional.
To be honest, if you are expecting Godfather II levels of quality for a sequel, you are expecting way too much. In reality though, the first movie was not that good. Charlie Sheen's enthusiasm and quirkiness carried the film, but there are several slow scenes that drag it down for me. I did not find the same to be true for the sequel. I felt it kept its pace really well. As sequels go, it is not terrible, nor is it great. It is a solid film that has its share of flaws, but to say it is terrible in comparison to the first one is not really fare, because this makes it sound like the first one was a masterpiece. it was not. rather, the the first one was a solid b+ film and the second arrival is a solid b- film.
Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (2006)
Satan has to be somewhat disappointed
One of the reviews on here stated that watching this film was like watching an extended bad music video. In many ways, this is true.
All I can say is that if I were Satan, i would banish the director to a lifetime of sermons and hotel stays with Ted Haggard (the evangelical pastor who got in trouble for meth and gay trysts). I can handle gore, if there is a story or purpose. I am a normal heterosexual guy, so i enjoy my fair share of nudity in a film, and will tolerate a bad film in many instances if the female lead is attractive.
While the lead in this film (Lavey) is attractive, there is nothing redemptive in this exercise of high schoolish direction to make the 70 minutes worth while. Gratuitous nudity, sure. A plot - maybe somewhere in the back of the LSD laden mind that directed and produced it. A purpose? Not at all.
Satan, to paraphrase Sam Kinison i believe, needs to pay less attention to writing songs for top 40 radio and get back to reigning in some of these directors wasting celluloid in his name. Please allow me to introduce myself, hope you stay away from this tripe.
Thomas Jefferson (1997)
by the way - did you know he owned slaves?
Any movie that features George Will in the first 10 minutes is worth watching, in my opinion. Will, like Jefferson, is a great, multifaceted thinker. Oh, by the way, did you know Jefferson owned slaves. This is, like all of Ken Burn's films, a wonderful collection of diary readings, oil paintings, heart felt music, warm narration, and thought provoking. Oh, by the way, did you know Jefferson owned slaves. As a huge fan of our nation's first and greatest thinker, I was very hopeful about this film, especially when I saw that Ken Burns produced it. However, the modern political correctness constantly invoked when it comes to the issue of slavery is incredibly distracting. There were almost 25 references to Jefferson's owning slaves in the first 28 minutes. Oh, by the way, did you know Jefferson owned slaves. As long as you can tolerate the repeated onslaught of political correctness (not that this is unexpected from PBS), you will be interested in this documentary.
My criticism of course, is the ridiculous interpretation of the past through modern sensibilities. The cost of this however, is a minimal study of America's most enigmatic and great thinker. Oh, by the way, did you know Jefferson owned slaves.
The Blues Greats (2004)
very good collection of performances from the mid to late 60s
Very good film. Don't look for any high quality production values. In fact, at times, even though the movie is from the 1960's European blues tours, the film has the appearance of one of those hokey 1930s and 40s musicals. A couple of times, i expected Abbott and Costello to show up with the Andrews sisters.
Nonetheless, the music is great. This was a wonderful series of concerts that revitalized the careers of many American Blues artists (it is a famous series of tours across Europe mentioned at the very end of the movie Cadillac Records). For myself, the highlights were Matt Guitar Murphy (who was immortalized as a fry cook in The Blues Brothers). Always, Muddy was great and Amos Milburn was new to me, and quite a treat. Enjoy!
The Passover Plot (1976)
Much ado about nothing
I finally found a copy of this movie, and eagerly anticipated my first viewing. i love conspiracy type novels and theories. I was intrigued by the casting of Zalman King as Jesus, especially since he now does all of the Red Shoe Diaries films. Thankfully, he is better behind the camera than in front of it.
This film contains what seems like hours of endless staring. One would think that Sergio Leone directed it as there was so much endless staring.
The only two parts of the film that redeem it from complete mediocrity were Harry Andrews as John the Baptist - he was excellent and Donald Pleasance as Pontius Pilate. Pleasance is one of those actors that I love, though can't really define why. I just do. I used to think, based on Halloween, that he overacted most of his roles because all of the characters I had seen him play up to that point, required overacting. Unfortunately, I now realize that was par for the course for him. Nevertheless, I love him.
I am wandering here, because there is not much in the film worthwhile. It is a plodding tedious movie. I loved Da Vinci Code. I loved Last Temptation of Christ, and I loved Passion of the Christ. I don't care what the take on Jesus is, i just enjoy a good film. This was not it.
If you are an insomniac, this is the film for you.
The Slaughter (2006)
has moments of brilliance and mediocrity
Don't plan on Citizen Kane. It really is a blend of Shaun of Dead and Evil Dead. The advantage is - it has awesome nudity - if that's your thing. From about 10 minutes in to 50, its pretty bad, but the opening and the final are great. well worth a viewing. If you're not expecting a lot of quality throughout - you will not be disappointed. Like i said, the last 15-20 minutes are really funny though. There's a great debate about the old school zombies versus new zombies that i thought was very Scream like and funny. Also a wonderful dialogue about 1:20 between the brother and sister that is reminiscent Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
This is one of those movies that you are always told "you have to watch". Woodstock was an event that has become iconic for what was supposed to have been the best of the 60's generation (though to be honest, i think the 60's generation is best summed up in the final scenes of the movie when the clean up crews are at work picking up after all of the spoiled white kids who left their crap laying all over for others to get).
Nonetheless, this is a much more enjoyable film than other 60's standards, like Easy Rider (the most boring film I have ever seen) and Dr Strangelove (way over rated).
As a piece of history, this movie is phenomenal. It is well edited, well paced, and thoroughly generous in its efforts to capture the work and efforts required to put such an event together (the building of the sets, medical care, feeding the masses (where's a messiah when you need one, right?) and the cleaning of the portajohns. I truly enjoyed all of the scenes with the organizers, and had to laugh at some of the reporter's questions.
Musically, it is a hodgepodge, very hit and miss. This is why i give it a 7 out of 10. I can't understand the musical choices, though possibly, the passage of time has made our "favorites" decision for us rather than our being there. Who knows? Anyway - here's a selection of my favorites - Richie Havens was incredible. Santana was phenomenal. Joe Cocker was great (though his back up singer (the guy) left a lot to be desired). Joe McDonald was great and funny - had the audience eating out of his hand. Arlo was great.
Sly was boring. the producer chose a terrible song from Joplin and it is a shame, as she is one of my favorites. Sha Na Na - have no idea why? Wish the Dead had been included, but from their perspective, they always say it was a terrible performance (though Jerry is featured in the beginning). John Sebastian (why did he bother?).
I'm sure I am leaving some things out - but let me just say - Scorsese did a fantastic job editing the many many hours of footage together. One of his greatest achievements. what i will say though is that i agree with Ebert's review - when he pointed out that the music at Monterrey was better (it was 2 years earlier).
Nonetheless - it is a movie truly worth watching - and i would say that the director's edition is enjoyable - can't say whether the short version is better than the long version - but i can say I enjoyed the directors cut.
Cop Out (2010)
very pleasant surprise
It's a parody! Relax everybody. Why anybody reviews this film as anything but a really nice "homage" to the buddy cop films of the 80s and 90s is beyond me. There are so many effective tributes to the great buddy films of the past that I lost count - and I enjoyed them all. From the "1,2,3" of lethal weapon to the shooting debates of Running Scared to the closing music of Beverly Hills Cop, this was a great script which lovingly pays tribute to some wonderful films that were big hits.
Was it absurd at times? yes (others have noted Tracy Morgan's bathroom soliloquy, so I won't go any further on that note). Was it over the top at times? Yes, but not as bad as any of the teens take a wrong turn on the highway films out there today. Was it funny? At times, hilarious.
Tracy Morgan has a bright future, and it was nice to see Willis in a supportive role that was not a step down. Their chemistry was excellent, and to be honest, I would love to see a sequel. Finally, this is the first Kevin Smith film I have liked since Clerks (of which, even that was tedious). Maybe it is because he aimed for a more commercial vein here (ok, i admit that i like some commercial stuff and not all of the artsy tree hugging anti American crap that is out there), but whatever the cause of his sudden leap forward, in my opinion it was a good step in the right direction. I was never really bored, the cinema photography was great, the stunts interesting, and the script, smartly done. Very good direction Mr. Smith - keep up the good work!
so much better than "Pelts"
Foet is very true to the original short story by F. Paul Wilson, one of my all time favorite authors. The short story was named Pelts, i believe, and this adaptation for the screen is faithful. Pelts on the other hand was not faithful at all, was annoying to watch and really without much in it to recommend (other than some good gratuitous nudity). Foet though is a great mini-film, a really nice introduction to Wilson's writings, which are thought provoking and entertaining all at the same time. In the end, both the film and the story remind us how quick we all are to sell out our souls for temporary pleasures. Also, look for Wilson in the restaurant scene (sitting behind the actress who holds the forbidden fruit!).
Lower Learning (2008)
great satire - but not high brow comedy
OK, it is not "dead poets society" or "good will hunting". It is in reality much more like "police academy" for schools. That being said, don't expect high brow humor and you will be pleased. I went in with low expectations because it is a Jason Biggs film, and i was thoroughly pleased. The supporting cast his hilarious! They make the film. Eva Longoria Parker is great, as is Monica Potter. The cast is wonderful as burned out teachers, and the kids are great in their roles both as victims and as accessories. Another special standout in the film is the principle, Rob Corddry. He is hilarious as the sleazy con artist. It is worth your time, just don't expect high brow comedy.
great religious biography
Disclaimers first - I am a United Methodist minister and so I am biased by my love for Wesley as our denomination's founder. Nonetheless, I am also a movie fanatic and so when I had a chance to see a nearly complete version of this film back in October, I was very excited, but also somewhat apprehensive.
My distaste of religious films has always been great ever since i saw A thief in the Night back in the 1980s and Left Behind in more recent years. Wesley however, has broken that chain of crap for me.
It was a very well done movie. It was beautifully filmed and the acting is excellent (with the exception of a few small potatoes supporting actors). The actors who play John and Charles have a great chemistry together, and John and Sophey Hopkey's scenes together are wonderful as well. The director did a great job portraying their sexual chemistry, while remaining true to Wesley's own diaries and journals. He does not embellish the story so far as i can tell, and keeps the action moving along well until the last 20 minutes or so.
It is after Wesley's return to England and his "conversion" that the movie drags. Until that point, the movie moves fluidly. Back in England though, it stumbles under its own desire to be historically accurate and give the whole story. There are just a few too many scenes of Wesley's preaching "successes" and his organizational meetings.
The film succeeds on many levels - accurately portraying Wesley's willingness to talk with persons of all backgrounds in order to learn from their faith journeys, it accurately portrays Wesley's ocd and his struggles with adapting to his setting, and finally, it accurately portrays his struggles with the powers that be in the Church of England. Where it falters is trying to tell too much of Wesley's story in the first year after his conversion. The director would have been better served by focusing on John's first exposure to slavery and his lifelong opposition to the practice.
Finally, and for many viewers, the most important part is this: the film does not hesitate in proclaiming the Christian gospel. It is true to Wesley's passion to save souls and it offers a moving portrait of his love for God and the church. Well worth your time.
Tommy Boy (1995)
A film that captured Farley at his best
There were very few truly classic Chris Farley movies. He died before being able to develop fully into a great comedic actor. The movies we have though, give us a glimpse of what could have been. Tommy Boy was the best of Farley's cinematic efforts. His pacing was great, his innocence and excitement are overwhelming and infectious throughout the film. The dialogue between Farley and Spade is so well delivered, that one can listen to it over and over ("and thank you sir for choosing me").
The scenes that i think capture Farley's genius (and Spade's perfection in delivery) are the sales scenes (especially when Farley sets the man's models on fire. His escape into his imagination is wonderful, and it is something that leaves me breathless every time (as i am laughing so hard). Also, don't forget the wonderful line, "And that's when the whores come". Wait for it. Wait for it. its worth it.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
the hype was correct - for once
The hype for the summer 2009 films was never really accurate until now - i thought District 9 sucked and I was disappointed in Halloween 2 and Final Destination 4. Paranormal Activity though did not disappoint. Katie is hot. Micah did a really good job as the naive character who makes things worse (hint - i know exactly where we are and I kicked the map into the stream (a la Blair Witch)) and the friends were good in the "hint hint" don't get a Ouija board. Furthermore, the guest psychic was excellent in what little of the film he was in.
Numerous kudos however go to the director - excellent use of sound, lighting, pacing, and special effects. I have not really been nervous in a horror movie since i watched "Evil Dead". I was nervous several times in Paranormal Activity. I highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates great film art - for $11,000 - this film is a masterpiece. I finally think Halloween (the original) has met its low budget sleeper hit match (totally!). God bless these guys - art has been created - and it scared the hell out of me! Great job.
The Final Destination (2009)
not bad, but they could have stopped at 3
I gave this film a 4 simply because of the 3d effects, the gorgeous Krista Allen, and the opening kill scene with the redneck burning a cross. Overall, this is a mediocre film because the story is very uninteresting the 4th time around and the acting is very lame. it had become increasingly bad over time, but this one seemed very amateurish at times. Ultimately, as I said earlier, with the exception of Krista Allen's beauty (and actually a decent acting turn as well), there isn't much to the acting over all (admittedly, to say that she is the best is kind of lame, i know). mykelti williamson has great scenes dialogue wise, but a weak presence on the screen. the first survivor death scene, is hilarious in so many ways - don't want to give too much away, but the use of "why cant we be friends" was genius. that the movie makes fun of itself, by pointing out that people go to races to watch the crashes and that we are watching it for crashes, is cute, but not really enough to carry the movie.
overall, it is a worthy addition to the series - decent replay value, but when all is said and done, we could have been just fine without it.
Halloween II (2009)
kind of disappointed
OK, this is not John Carpenter, and I did not expect it to be. I love the mythology of Halloween, and have liked all the films for what they were. I even liked Season of the Witch.
I liked Rob Zombie's first film. I thought it was a nice tribute, and it added some dimension to the Myer's character. It was gory, in comparison to the first 8 or 9, but it was different enough to enjoy.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about this one. I have been looking forward to it for some time, and I have to say that for the most part, i was disappointed.
Actually, the acting was pretty good. I really can't complain about any of the actors. My complaint is with Zombie. I really wanted to like this film, but the choppy, rapid cut cinematography was so over the top that it was painful to watch at times. Furthermore, the gore was excessively ridiculous.
Regarding the acting, I was not impressed with the new kid they got to play Michael Jr. I know the other one is grown up, but they could have just had him in masks since they had him masks for most of the first movie. it would have saved the viewer from going "that's a different kid from the first film" all the way through.
I did like the white horse bit. Thought it was clever, and Sheri Moon is gorgeous throughout. Some have trashed the ending, but I have to say that I thought it was a nice tribute to Psycho.
The camera work and the excessive gore though, prevent me from being overwhelmed by the film, and that being said, I am kind of disappointed. I really wanted to like it more than I did. Here's hoping Zombie veers clear from this franchise in the future. Bring back the old series!
The best horror movie I've seen since Scream
The summary says it all. I was on the edge of my seat from moment one to moment last. I love Esther! She was the coolest bad girl I have seen in years. With the cold steel nerve of a mafia hit-man to the cuteness of "little miss sunshine", she was a great "bad guy". The movie was well done, the sound was excellent, and the music very powerful. Normally, I hate kid actors, but on every level, this movie was extremely well cast. Of course, the "twist" is fantastic, but that is not really the heart of the movie. As others have written, this movie is about character, and each character is well developed. The dynamics between them are real and the problems hey suffer are genuine. The kill scenes are very well done, and the girl who plays "Esther" is the best actress I have seen in years. Definitely not for kids though.