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A real Hit for the "hit and miss" Lumet
I know what you're thinking- Sydney Lumet has made some very good films and some real turds in the last 40 years and now that he approaches his 149th birthday how can he possibly compete with the directors and story tellers of today?? Tha answer is simple he hires real talent over Hollywood hyped stars even using great casting in the smaller roles giving this film a genuine look from suburbs to urban scum. His expertise and experience of a strong script makes Lumet stand out as a still great director. This film though gritty was wonderful. While it is much seedier it none the less in my mind compares to Haggis' Crash of last year.
The Story: Two emotionally troubled brothers (each with their own financial troubles) plan to hold up a jewelry store with a toy gun- but when the bullets go off things go from bad to worse to down right gut wrenchingly uncomfortable for the brothers and their families.
This is a masterpiece- not that crap from the Cohen brothers released the same month. The performances in this film are spell binding- Hoffman and Finney can do no wrong in my eyes but I haven't enjoyed a performance from Ethan Hawke since Dead Poets Society which makes this almost spiritual in its' resurrection of Ethan Hawke the actor. by the way- I never knew Marissa Tomei had such nice breasts and frankly she was pretty good in her role as conniving yet sad wife of Phillip Seymore Hoffman. There have been only a hand full of films in the last three months worth seeing and by far this is one of the best. It gives the viewer a chance to forget about CGI effects and over the top evil geniuses for characters and returns to movie basics: Story, acting and set design/ lighting. A must see for movie fans!!
The King of Kong (2007)
a real gem- absolutely wonderful
You know how there are so few great films and even fewer great documentaries other than those that make you want to shoot yourself out of self loathing for our planet or our society??? Well here is a film that is dramatic yet fun and will have you wanting more.
I have never rated a film a "10" but this film certainly is a 10 in my opinion. It is as entertaining as the games depicted and quirky as the characters shown. I had never heard of Billy Mitchel before the previews of this film came out- in fact I never knew there was a video game champion of the nation- I never knew there were records kept and scores to beat other than the proverbial 9999999. I wish not to say anything about the characters or the barriers some characters in the film had to overcome because I fear I may give something away and this film is far too wonderful for me to spoil for anyone even if accidental.
Let it be said that one mans quest is endearing, another mans life philosophy proves him to be shallow, void and full of cowardice and yet another is merely a sick groupie for Billy Mitchell. All I can say is that the film is worth the price of admission and concession. I have never rated a film a 10 until now and that when it comes to DVD I will buy it. PLEASE PLEASE see it for yourself!
Michael Moore Hates America (2004)
Was there really a need to make this film???????????
I love a good debate so as a sort of fan of Michael Moore (I hated Bowling for Columbine) I thought I'd like to see an opposing view point. This film is not it. This film is about a guy trying to interview Michael Moore. This film travels the country talking to people about how Moore hates America but often shows America in decay. The film maker actually tends to show the polarity between the "haves" and "have nots". It does show Americans trying to keep afloat despite corporate greed and military blackmail- but so does any of Micchael Moores films.
Penn Gillette (who is an intelligent and funny guy) voices his opinion throughout the film (perhaps acting as an expert in American history and philosophy) but as an entertainer who has a great gig in Vegas (corporate owned casino) and mocks any conspiracy theory surrounding Sept.11, 2001 he both loses credibility with me and sometimes comes across as a jilted lover of Moores rather than open minded interviewee.
The film maker complains about Moore lying to get interviews but then lies to get an interview. He interviews....oh God let me stop here. This film is a waste of time. Don't waste your time would be my advice.
Project: ALF (1996)
It Bites Wind
There is no bigger fan of ALF the T.V. Series than myself- I realize Paul Fusco was a big fan having created the series however I never would have allowed this stink-filled script to destroy the laugh filled memories of the Alf Franchise.
The first couple of minutes between Alf and Beverly Archer(Harriette Byrd in past episodes) was funny but then the film isn't about Alf so much as Military abuse of authority and the love story of two young Doctors who befriend Alf while he is in captivity with the Alien Task Force. The story line is beyond awful and filled with straight line after straight line. The rest of the original cast is gone- and how many laughs did we get from Max Wrights' dead pan deliveries and exaggerated befuddlement?
There were so many alternative stories after the final T.V. episode why Fusco chose the worst possible direction is beyond me (maybe he was hanging with Jerry Stahl at the time of conceiving this project)
I say to anyone who in later years discovers the Alf television show to stay away from this movie- it is lame unfunny and a pile of steaminess. I compare it to the let down of Highlander 2- it's that very very very bad.
Fred Claus (2007)
very very enjoyable
I have seen 8 films in the last 72 hours and I can tell you now this one was worth the money.
When I first saw the one sheet with Vaughn and Giamatti together it made no difference to me who played Santa because it couldn't help but be a hit- then I saw the trailers- and the more I saw the trailers the less I wanted to see this film(despite being a Joel Silver Production). Pay no attention to the spoilers- this film was great!!
Fred Clause is blessed with a baby brother he loves but can not measure up in the eyes of his mother- Nick though saintly has his flaws too (even his wife is concerned about his eating habits) Fred is always on the shady side of a get rich quick scheme and when one of those schemes get him in jail- with no one else to call he calls Nick much to the dismay of his sister in law. Eventually the hundreds of years of sibling rivalry come to a boil and the trouble still isn't over. If the highlights you have seen of this movie leave you thinking it is a cookie cutter story about the cool brother helping out the square- think again. There are many gems amid the films unseen scenes- and anyone with a heart or funny bone will not be disappointed- this film was great.
Nothing Is Private (2007)
I hope the book was better
I saw the trailer of this film nearly a year ago and could hardly wait to see it. In the trailer it appeared to be the maladjustment of a Muslim Girl trying to live a normal American life despite narrow minded Muslim roots and upbringing...it was not!! True they throw a scene about buying feminine napkins and her fathers disapproval of tampons but it was hardly a film about growing up female and growing beyond the limitations of a Muslim upbringing.
This film also claims to be a defiant and bold look at prejudice through the eyes of several different ethnic groups... it did not live up to the hype. To simply have movie characters call out ethnic slurs at one another is not brave nor bold but simply a movie about name calling. In the "extras" section of the DVD the producer and director even admit to showing the film to Muslim groups- getting permission so to speak to be brave and defiant
This film is a sad tale of 13 year old JASIRA: A 1/2 Lebanese 1/2 American Girl continuously living amongst deviant adults and school peers. AAron Eckhart is amazingly evil in his portrayal of Travis the American neighbor with a sick lusting crush for Jasira. But in reality the film shows us a young girl either exploited or vilified by adults and classmates alike because she is attractive.
Her mother blames her for being young and seducing the mothers boyfriend. The father who earlier gave up his rights to Jasira beats her for dressing scantily or having sexual curiosities as her body is changing. She has homosexual fantasies but we never address that issue in the film because the director is too busy showing us her masturbatory skills Vs. how often she will let herself have unsatisfying sex with the black kid in school....an amazing stereotype I might add for a film that wishes to rid the world of prejudice.
Fortunately her other neighbors are just returning from a tour with the peace corps (how peace corps volunteers can afford the same neighborhood as the NASA Scientist father I have yet to understand) and how serendipitous that they just returned from the Arab World - so they can not only pick out inappropriate behavior from Eckhart they can also speak fluent Arabic so Jasiras abusive father feels shame and yet a certain safety for his daughter.
Let me stop here and suffice to say there is nothing bold brave or inventive in this film. It is pretentious, phony and self serving all the while getting the message it meant to send the world- WRONG!!
Meet the Spartans (2008)
Not Entirely Bad
Actually I saw this film (against my will) and as the trailers did not look funny (trailers show casing a movies best set ups) then logic dictates this movie will be as bad as the Comebacks- but I was able to sit through the whole thing and did not feel completely ripped off- even the credits offered some of the better laughs. Now I must agree that the creators decided to explain every premise of every punchline leading me to believe they wrote this thing with morons in mind but a couple of the bits (the different greetings for men and women Spartans) will hold up through the years. Many segments will not hold up as they used a lot of modern culture shock news for parody- like the little freak crying about Brittney (does anyone find him funny?? now let alone 10 years from now) In fact too often the film takes a bad joke and beats it into the ground as in the Stomp the yard/ You've been Served parody.
Many actors were from Mad T.V. rehashing their impersonations of celebrities and did a wonderful job in almost every scene. The problem really was the script needed a Babaloo Mandel to tighten it up. I can't say it is worth full admission but it was not the total waste of time I thought it was going to be.
Why does Bobcat still get work???
I am not so old that I can't remember laughing at Bobcat Goldthwait a couple times. But some where in all his years of drug abuse he lost his sense of humor as well as his brain cells.
From the moment this film opens you can have no sympathy nor empathy for the female lead. Neither will you find anything remotely funny after hearing the opening line. Goldthwait obviously hates himself so much that he needs to degrade in order to feel better- even if it is his own imaginary characters he degrades.
If you ever saw Shakes the Clown you know how unfunny Bobcat was 15 years ago...this movie is worse. It was not even funny by accident It is sad, pathetic and a total waste of time. May Goldthwaits' hands be rendered paralyzed so he can not write another script. Strike his tongue so he can not dictate another unfunny scene. He is sad and pathetic and needs to make room for a new talent dying to get into Hollywood
Why Did I Get Married? (2007)
Actually a very good movie
I just caught this film it is about relationships, marriage and the concept of expecting perfection vs. the reality of every day life weighing in on relationships. I laughed often and cried several times as well.
On the whole this was white cinema done with black faces but such a trend is long over due (if I have to watch one more trailer about how hard life in the hood without anyone fixxing their situation or the benefits to selling drugs and pimping I may go on a shooting spree). However, don't let this fool you-the writing was top rate and while some dialogue rehash there was a lot of very original dialogue as well. My only real complaint of the film was its sterility in many shots a lack of warmth within some home settings and among the performers as a whole.
There seemed to be little genuine commaraderie between the actors particularly in the earlier scenes. They were supposed to be friends since college but they were stiff in their reuniting with each other.
Also there is the scene were the overweight wife is forced to drive to the reunion by herself and all the women are worried for her safety yet when she enters the cabin the next day no one runs over to greet her they wait for her to come to them. Despite some of these often repeated mistakes (not just here but in other movies) this movie was very very good. I enjoyed it almost as much as The Four Seasons but unlike the Four Seasons this film follows all the characters all the way through the film- a nice touch in giving overall closure. Janet Jackson was my least favorite; portraying the celebrated novelist who lost a child but the the other performances were powerful enough to over shadowed her lack of depth. This was the first Tyler Perry film I have seen and I must say his 2 weeks at top box office is well justified here.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
This movie is wonderful. It is the story of a happy and joyous weekend with an infamous antagonist about to arrive. That Jonathan Demme had chosen to use hand held cameras is genius because it essentially puts the viewer within the celebration to share the joys and pains that can come with family. (it may also be genius because it brought this independent film under budget- but that is another story). Over all I thought this film was on the scale of "Boys In The Band" without the humor of the first 60 minutes.
Anne Hathaway is Kym: a drug fiend of some 15 years; now 9 months clean and going home to see her sister Rachel get married. Also Kym is going home to the family who still can not fully cope with the fact that Kym while in a drug induced stupor killed her younger brother.
Kyms' angst is painfully evident. Yet early into the film Kyms' behavior makes her almost unlikeable. She seems to be self forgiving, self indulging and does and says things that are so ill timed it borders between inappropriate and sociopathic. And why should she receive our pathos from the beginning? As in any family with an addict- Kym is hardly the only "victim". However, as this story unravels you will see more to the back ground than just pain, anger and rehab. Questions are raised and some answers are found but the film keeps the stark reality that nobody walks away completely cured from their troubles after one weekend.
By the way kudos to Bill Irwin who plays Paul, the family patriarch. Irwin is phenomenal in the role....frankly I liked him since his single line in "Popeye" so the fact that he is getting some real work appeals to me as he is certainly an under appreciated talent.
Throughout the film is a plethora of music - all nations and all types it seems but this is a Bohemian and musical family so personally I let it go- but it can be a bit much. Still,I suggest this film whole heartedly.