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johnjohnson68510

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30 reviews in total 
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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
The Last Nail in the Coffin, 20 April 2012
3/10

**** A Slight Amount of SPOILERS****** I hate to say this about a show that has brought me so much for so many years, but this episode was the worst I'd ever seen, a real disaster, and as we've been watching this patient sputter on life support, I think this episode will be the one that finished it off. This is the Jumping the Shark episode. The humor in this show has always relied upon exposing uncomfortable situations and joking about it, but there has always been a realistic tone to the situation. I don't want to go into it, but this episode revolved around Nellie humiliating Andy, culminating in a conference room meeting to talk about his sexual impotence with Erin. The writers, the directors and producers, and perhaps even the actors themselves, have lost all discipline. Utterly slack, sadly out of focus. For the first time ever I was embarrassed for the show as a whole. Really uncomfortable. I will miss this show. I've seen every episode. And I'll probably keep watching until they lay it in the ground.

Lunopolis (2009) (V)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Better Quality than a Fan Fiction, 5 January 2012
4/10

After about 40 minutes of waiting for the plot to kick in, I finally gave up and started fast forwarding. I'm always interested in newcomers and outsiders, and while they made a lot of good choices and did some decent work, I couldn't suspend my disbelief for more than about a minute at a time. The acting was pretty decent, (one guy even did a Bruce Willis imitation -- it had never occurred to me that was even possible) but there was too much going on in the story and I couldn't connect to the characters. A lunar civilization conspiracy, an odd religion, time travel, green crystals, the Mayan calendar. On and on. Turns out Elvis, Ben Franklin and Plato were time travelers, to name a few. I kept getting bounced out of the narrative on stuff like that. I just couldn't get into it. Showed promise, though. The initial shots of exploring the swamp were pretty vivid. I encourage them to keep working at film. I think a script doctor could have solved 80% of the problems up front.

1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Sloppy with an ax to grind., 28 December 2011
3/10

I'm a long time Terry Jones fan, but a couple of minutes into this and I realized it wasn't a documentary so much as it was a hatchet job against Christianity. And I was really surprised he did such a sloppy job of it. For example, he said the book of Genesis was written around 600 B.C., that Judaism originally had a female goddess, and he says over and over in different ways that the world was a happy place full of freewheeling sex until those mean old Christians showed up and invented shame and guilt.

There's some interesting material on Egyptian fertility rituals, and if you've never seen the sexual artifacts of ancient Greece and Rome, you might find that interesting. Terry is absolutely gleeful about a Roman garden sculpture of Pan having sex with a goat, and he states, without any evidence, that such a thing was normal in Rome and perfectly acceptable, which I don't believe. And he goes on at length about how the age of consent was raised in America from nine or ten up to sixteen and then eighteen. He is so scornful and mocking of this change of the age of consent, I wondered if he was sympathetic with NAMBLO (an organization that wants to legalize pedophilia) and perhaps a bit wistful towards the good old days.

Anyway, his points are good about the busy body control freaks who try to regulate every aspect of life, including sex, but mostly he's just shooting his mouth off in this poorly researched, agenda-driven show.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of my favorites at the time, 7 February 2011
10/10

I saw this over 30 years ago, and only once, but it has stayed with me all these years. I was in college, and I ranked this Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the actor Edmund Kean up there among my favorite performances at the time, with Derek Jacobi's I, Claudius, Richard Chamberlain's The Lady's Not for Burning, and Jeremy Irons in Love for Lydia.

I think IMDb has the poster wrong, I don't think Chekhov had anything to do with this. As I recall, it was based on a play by Jean Paul Sartre. I remember Alistair Cooke introducing it, asking why Sartre would write a play about an Elizabethan actor, and then answering that Sartre believed one's identity was formed as one chose one's actions, and so in a sense we are all actors, creating our characters as we go along.

This was also the first performance I noticed Anthony Hopkins. He was wonderful. I remember one scene where he crawled under a table, kicking in frustration at the people around him not getting it, the 'it' being his struggle to find authenticity. My favorite bit was when he was on a stage, breaking from script and extemporizing — actor as man as actor, without essence. He said, "I don't exist. I'm not real." and drew out the word 'real' while pinching his thumb and fingers in front of his face, bringing them past his eyes like, oh, say, he was pulling ribbon. I believe his audience was scandalized by the deviation from script, except for one of the nobility, who applauded with enthusiasm. And we at home cheered, especially since at that age we were struggling to come up with our own actions and identities, struggling with the same arbitrariness and lack of foundation.

Well, no telling how memory has changed things. But I think that's basically right, and I apologize for any errors. At the time I write this IMDb has no reviews of it, so I'm trying to help promote this great performance. I can tell you this, with assurance, that Hopkins was full of flair, beautifully dynamic, and complex in ways I found intriguing. I really loved this show at the time and expect I would if I saw it again. Surely somebody has a copy somewhere.

interesting for the family but otherwise not too, 2 December 2009
4/10

I got this short movie under the premise "anything by Liv Ullmann," but I don't think this piece will serve as more than a footnote in her career, if that. The piece is based on a remarkable fact: Over forty years after his mother dies, a German-Jewish boy gets a farewell letter from her she wrote just before she went to the concentration camp. It is a lovely, heartfelt letter, but besides the late delivery, this is a routine piece of detritus washed up from that great horror of the last century.

Liv reads the letter, in English, and then Martin Sheen narrates the tale. At thirty minutes, this show has a lot of padding, including long bits of the grandchildren's reaction, their careers (doctor and lawyer) and the material success of the boy cum doctor who received the letter. In fact, with all the extraneous family bragging, I wondered if this was a commissioned piece by the family.

I love Liv's voice, her work, her being, and for some funny reason this piece is available through Netflix. One wonders why, when there are so many major works of hers that are not. Since I suppose it will be the letter-writing lady's family that reads this, I want to be clear: Because I find the movie inferior, (really, it's a boring little home movie), I do not for one moment want to appear to diminish the magnitude of the tragedy, nor the evil which made it, nor the suffering of those who died in or survived it. That this piece is a small marker for the cause of good, I value it that much.

Cutlass (2007)
30 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
16 happy minutes. Youtube link included., 17 November 2009
8/10

What a happy little film! The daughter wants a guitar, the mom says no. Then she remembers when she was a teenage girl and wanted a shiny red Oldsmobile Cutlass. She thinks of how her Dad reacted, how well he handled it for her.

Kurt Russell plays her dad, and when he first comes on the camera he has a throw away line I could bronze his sideburns for: "I think I've lost my edge." I laughed out loud. I don't know why I like Kurt so much; I don't think he could play Hamlet if you begged him, but he is a great Everyman, and he smooths through this little gem surrounded by all around fine performances.

If you have a sense of family ties, I think you will enjoy this movie. It was kind of the nudge for me to get my girls a dog, for which they have been "begging" me for a couple of years. They _need_ a dog. Life imitates art, or at least is influenced by it.

Currently this movie is on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyluTTt9avA It will cost you sixteen minutes, and there a lot worse ways you could spend that time.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
I felt engaged in the dialog, 3 June 2009

I really like the concept of this film: take philosophy off the page and put it back in the mouth of philosophers. Although each thinker only gets ten minutes, it is a great summary of their work. Visually it is interesting, as the director puts each philosopher in a different setting: walking in a park, rowing a boat, riding in the back of a cab, etc. (I don't understand the other reviewer who didn't like the cinematography.) Zizek, of course, was filmed amidst mounds of modern garbage.

When you have to read these guys in school, you are treated the way I suppose a young Talmudic student is, who has to accept the great thought or go to hell.* But listening to them here, seeing their personality, their vulnerability and their quirks, it stimulated me greatly, and made me feel I could enter the conversation.

This movie helps democratize philosophy, and I think there will be a lot more: digital cameras are so abundant and my guess is philosophers are like poets, they work for cheap. Thanks for reading.

*(you can, in school, of course, challenge the ideas, but it is much much much easier to go along with the program.)

21 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Better than I expected & I don't believe in ID, 29 October 2008

This movie was much better than I expected. Before I watched this movie, I had second thoughts about getting it. I was afraid it would be Christians ranting against evolution. Frankly, the intellectual disgrace of so many Christians on this matter is shameful.

However, the movie was very well done (and very entertaining). It was not a defense of intelligent design itself. The point of the movie was that intelligent, rational people can believe in intelligent design – but if they do they are driven out of Academia.

I don't agree with intelligent design. The case for it is made on some of the large gaps in evolution theory. The movie does a great job showing the astonishing complexity of a single cell, and raises the question how did the first cell come about? A huge question, but I believe that when all the dust settles that there will be plausible, rational explanations for how these things tied together and became cells. I don't think we need to interject miracle to explain them.

At the same time, I don't think we have to mandate that all science must be dysteleological – my spell check rejects that word, but it means the view that there is no point to the universe. There's nothing scientific about that view, it is a dogma. If science is built on all these rational, orderly bits of the universe, why do we insist that when all these bits and theories are put together, that the whole thing must be irrational and pointless? Why must we insist, in the universities, that personhood is a completely alien force in an otherwise dead and stupid (though elegant) universe?

I suppose some people won't understand the points I'm making, but let me just say, that for academicians who ban religious thought, and for the creationists who will completely butcher the points made in this fine documentary – a plague on both your houses.

The point of this movie is about people asking questions, and not being censored for asking them. What's wrong with that?

Self-satisfied as a samba (+ a note Crowe's Music Videos), 8 June 2008
6/10

Pleasant movie. Self-satisfied as a samba, not quite smug. Ridley Scott and the novelist live in Provence, and we don't, but they don't hold that against us. In fact, at the end, they invite us to come pick their grapes and frolic. Crowe was perhaps too aggressively interested in sleeping around to make this a chick flick. None of the jokes were actually funny, but they were all pleasant, and I liked the movie.

The DVD's special features include three music videos by Russell Crowe. I watched all three. One of them, Weight of a Man, has him wearing a matador suit and charging us/the camera like we're a bull, or a cow, and he's got libidinal designs on us. It is listless and generic, a miscalculation almost to the scale of Shatner's Transformed Man. I would guess Crowe was hoping to snag one like Richard Harris did with MacArthur Park, but as he stalked the camera I found myself thinking "Just act, you maggot." Nothing personal.

Surprisingly, the third song, Testify, actually finds some magic. If he could deliver songs of that quality for a whole set, I'd happily pay a cover charge, hoist a glass, and it'd be money well spent.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Did you like it, but felt something missing?, 18 May 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this movie very much. For the first 45 minutes I was completely on board every moment of the movie. After it ended, I walked out more or less satisfied, pretty much glad I had just spent fifty bucks taking my wife and numerous children to see it.

However, there was something about it that I couldn't put my finger on which seemed a little off, a little too light.

I wondered if it was just that vaguely disappointed feeling I sometimes have when all the mystery of a beginning is cleared up. But I don't think that was it; a lot of movies I walk out feeling better than I did with this one.

Why wasn't I completely satisfied? What kept this film from greatness? Forgive me for being picky about something this good. This movie had many tremendous elements. I don't want to take away from its remarkable achievements, from the performances, to the effects, to the pacing of the stunts, to the cinematography – all outstanding, well done work.

I think the problem the writers had was, in part, how to present a deus ex machina ending again, in the second installment, without descending into hoakiness. They had Aslan announce, twice, mystically, that for some reason he couldn't just pounce in and clear things up because "Things can't happen the same way twice." We can just accept that, I guess, but it doesn't seem like enough.

Here's the point, why I'm writing this: There are important subtleties of the spiritual life that either escaped the writers, or that they were unwilling to risk exploring in a venture with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.

They touch on these issues, briefly, to drive the plot on: For example, Lucy reminds them before their first battle that they had only won against the White Witch because Aslan fought for them. Peter fights anyway, without waiting for Aslan, and has a terrible defeat.

So for the next battle, they send Lucy to fetch Aslan. But very little happens in their hearts, and this is where things needed to happen.

Aslan's rescue, as it stands, seems arbitrary. If they had come to him, instead of like they were borrowing a big hammer, but with the understanding they needed to serve him, not try to use him, then I think the movie would have achieved much more. It would have been more about the internal struggle, over their pride and hubris, over the temptations of the White Witch, etc. The Fellowship of the Ring went deep into the internal struggles of each of its main characters, and for me that's a big reason it was a great film. In this movie, I never had the sense that Peter and the others had learned their lesson. They seemed almost unaware there was a lesson to learn. Aslan is kind of like the Ring they get to use, with a little coaxing from Lucy, and that's that.

It reminds me now, Sunday morning, before church, after seeing the movie last night, of a story of the Israelites. I forget under which king or judge this happened, but the Israelites were afraid of an upcoming fight with the Philistines, and so they fetched the Ark of the Covenant. Like it was a tool. A great cheering went up among them when it arrived, but they lost the battle badly, and lost the Ark for a while. It took them some time to figure out they had a lesson.


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