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District 9 (2009)
I do not give out ratings of 0 lightly, but here it is - the first film I have rated for a long time which has absolutely no merit.
Inane, trivial, inconsistent, just noise, no story, no dialog, scientifically unsound. How many more do you need? Turn the volume down and you might as well have a blank screen. Turn the volume up and if you are at all sensitive to gratuitous noise to attract people's attention then you will hate it.
How anyone can write a movie about aliens which just sit around for 20 years because they are no capable of doing otherwise is beyond me. Plus, any alien species smart enough to get hear will certainly be smart enough to avoid hand-to-hand combat
Don't waste your time. There are so many more movies out there which are worth at least a 1 out of 10.
La Bohème (1986)
Fiamma Izzo d'Amico is the star
Pavarotti is excellent, as expected (although the vision of a 300 pound, 50-year old man playing Rodolfo stretches the imagination), but the star of this opera is a young Fiamma Izzo d'Amico. It is hard for me to imagine such a fine performance from a 22-year old. The supporting cast is good but I have seen better and the sets are acceptable. It is the combination of Puccini's music and the voices of the two leads who make this such a wonderful experience.
As commented by another, this production was done in China and it is odd to see Chinese extras on the stage: there were not too many Chinese children in Paris in the 1980s. The audience clearly was not as conversant with European opera as we in the west are as shown by its mistimed applause but that was not really a distraction.
If you are not an opera buff then this is a good place to start. La Boheme is one of the most popular operas of all time and an excellent introduction. However, in that case concentrate on the music and voices - the subtitles will only make you laugh: most opera librettos lose a lot in translation.
I got the DVD from the library in the expectation of getting a good idea of how things go on in the background at a major opera production. I have to say, I was very disappointed. The subject had so much potential. The sets in a Wagnerian production must, of necessity, be elaborate and impressive and the story behind their creation and use could have been an excellent educational experience. Instead, what we get it a hodgepodge of clips of people moving around big items of scenery, vaguely help together with a commentary which failed to hold my attention. I found myself listening primarily to the background clips of music from operas. I was impressed by the sheer enormity of the effort required to put on such a production - that did come across fairly well and next time I am at the opera I am sure I will remember that part if this video - but was left feeling somewhat cheated by the lack of detailed commentary and explanation.
I, Robot (2004)
Asimov must be turning in his grave...
... or more likely, he rose from the dead and moved to another planet! This is an awful movie, bearing no resemblance to the ideas conjured up by Isaac Asimov. Granted, Will Smith is the world's worst actor and so I should not expected anything in the first place. I learned to love science fiction through wonderful stories created by one of the best SF authors of all time and I guess I was misled by the title.
If you have any love for Asimovian fiction, any respect for faithful adaptations, or any revulsion at Hollywood's gross exaggerations in this type of move, then PLEASE, do yourself a favor and avoid movie as if it were the plague - your feel better for it.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Why does a movie have to use such foul language?
I only recall one movie which had as much foul language as this: " Planes, Trains and Automobiles". I walked out of both after about twenty minutes. (I am sure there are others but I try to avoid them.) It is a sad reflection on today's society that writers and producers think that it is not possible to yet a laugh without lacing the dialog with obscenities in place of conjunctions. Maybe there was a story to this movie because others seem to like it. But if there was then I completely missed it. I think Jeff Bridges and John Goodman are good actors and this is one reason I checked out this movie but this one did nothing to enhance my opinion of them.
Be warned: unless you are immune to the type of language which is all to prevalent in movies these days, give this one a miss.
I first heard the radio broadcasts of HHGG before the book was published. I then read the book and saw the TV series. All wonderful! So it was with a certain amount of curiosity that I watched this movie. Truth is that my teenage son wanted to see it (he only read the books) and talked me into watching it with him.
Well, what a mistake. This is NOT what Douglas Adams created. Gone is the subtleties of the original version. Gone are the wonderful graphics of the TV show. Gone is Simon Jones, to be replaced by some insipid version of Arthur whose name I cannot even remember. Gone is ..... Well, you get the idea. The movies doesn't even include all the important things from the book. It gives the impression that is it more interested in created a Hollywood ripoff for the mass market.
If you have seen or read and enjoyed any earlier version, forget this one.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Worst movie I've seen all year
I am writing this as the movie is playing, because I have to do something to relieve the boredom. I promised my teenage son I would watch it with him on New Year's Ever and so I am stuck. It has to be the worst movie I have seen all year. No dialog of more than a few cliché-type phrases, but lots of flashes and bangs. Absolutely none of the aura of the infamous Orson Welles' presentation is maintained. The acting is so dry and stereotyped it took me a long time to even realize who the lead was. I have to admit that I have never read the H. G. Wells novel (although I have read several others of his) but I cannot believe this is what he had in mind. Nothing but a lame excuse for some high-tech gimmickry combined with unrealistic scenarios.
If you have a choice try an different movie; any movie. You will be rewarded for your choice.
Another fine performance
Yet another excellent performance from Brenda Blethyn, who seems to excel in playing this type of character. But the limelight in this case has to be shared with Rosemary Harris, playing the mother-in-law, who has some excellent lines and delivers them well. Both turn in top quality performances. Many good, well known British actors in the supporting cast also add to the overall effect, including Kevin Whately, who devotees of the British TV show Inspector Morse will know as Sgt. Lewis. Here he is much and does a good job of playing the errant husband. It was an interest contrast to watching him just the previous evening in the first ever Morse, made 17 years earlier.
The plot is simple: what happens when a middle-aged husband leaves his wife for a younger woman. But the result is not exactly predictable, or perhaps to be more exact where Brenda Blethyn movies are concerned, it is predictable that things will not turn out exactly as they would in a more stereotypical tale. No spoilers given. If you enjoyed other of her movies you are certain to enjoy this one.
Islam: Empire of Faith (2000)
Very well done but to limited in scope
This documentary is an excellent introduction to those aspect of Islam which is covers. Unfortunately it is far too limited in scope but I understand why this is. With a fixed amount available for production costs the choice was either coverage in depth of a small part of the whole or a diluted coverage of a wider range of topics.
It covers, at about 50 minutes each, three aspects of the religion: Mohammed and the origins, the culture and the first Christian crusade, and the Ottoman empire. Each is given excellent coverage but it is very much a secular description rather than a religious one. For those people who have little knowledge of Islam except for exposure to the western propaganda and the news of Islamic terrorist (a minute minority of the whole) this is an eye-opening documentary. Everyone should know about the rich cultural heritage which kept alive intellectual pursuits during the dark ages of western Europe. The sections on the Ottoman empire and the fall of Constantinople is well covered and provided some information I was not familiar with.
The photography is also excellent, showing some of the wonderful architectural achievements of the early Muslims. I was not clear how much of the footage was of real life situations being recorded, how much was scripted for the production, or how much (if any) was extracted from other footage, but the blend results in a well-balance, instructive video.
Highly recommended for everyone, especially those whose exposure to Islam is only that which is portrayed by the USA media.
The Ring (2002)
This movie was highly recommended and the comments here seemed to indication it was worth watching. But what a waste of time! First, it was filmed entirely in a green tint which made it very distracting and hard to watch. Second, there was very little horror: just a few gruesome scenes designed to titillate your imagination. Third, the acting was mediocre at best. The premise is, of course, complete nonsense: a good horror story should have at least a semblance of credibility. I don't believe in giving plots away in case you decide to watch it, but I recommend having another movie in reserve in case you decide this is not worth seeing to the end. I give it a 3 instead of a 1 only because there are probably some people who enjoy it, but no one in my family is included in that list.
Touching Evil (1997)
PBS has had much better
This is probably the worst of all those shown on the PBS Mystery series. On a different channel it might be acceptable but this show is definitely R-rated and not what I have come to expect on public TV. The show is well acted but the story lines are weak and there are lots of loopholes. I watched two of the three stories in the series and did not bother with the third. Compared to Prime Suspect this just does not make the grade. Compared to Frost it just does not leave you feeling good. The branch of the police it claims to represent (Organized and Serial Crimes unit) apparently does not exist and I would have to believe that is it because it is not needed: Britain many not be as peaceful as it was a generation ago but the murder rate and vicious crime rate is still way below the States. Do not let any children under the age of 16 watch this series.
The Rage in Placid Lake (2003)
Don't waste your time on this. Absolutely one of the worst movies ever. I got it from the local library under the misapprehension that it would a respectable movie. I didn't (couldn't) finish it , but that part of it which I did see was nothing more than a string of obscenities, nudity and sex with puerile humor thrown in to try to connect it all together. This movies did not appear to have a single redeeming feature. The cover said it was a "Film Movement" movie, which apparently is new, arts-type movies which are normally not shown in cinemas. If this is typical of the series then I know why. In future I will stay well away from them.
Alleyn Mysteries (1990)
Don't both - just read the books
I read a lot of this Ngaio Marsh series and enjoyed them thoroughly. Although not as good as the P. D. James Dalgliesh stories they are a very enjoyable read. So, after I found out that they were coming available on DVD I got the first one as soon as I could, in anticipation of a movie as good as the Adam Dagliesh movies with Roy Marsden. Unfortunately nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick Malahyde is grossly miscast, showing nothing of the character from the book. The one I saw was so slow and badly done that I almost fell asleep - my wife did. There was almost no interplay of characters. Troy was hardly mentioned as an artist and inspector Fox just didn't feel right either. I'm not even going to bother with the rest of the series.
A Touch of Frost (1992)
One of the best ever
Undoubtedly one of the best ever in this genre; story lines are superb and the characters are realistic. Frost's difficulty relating to people is the key to many of the story lines and his relationship with Shirley Fisher sums up much of what is wrong with today's society. These stories can be viewed on many levels, but an empathy for the characters and the situations adds a whole lot to the enjoyment of the series. Jack Frost himself is a sad character, one for whom one feels considerably. David Jason is excellent as the main character - so different from any other series he has started in. It is almost impossible to believe that he was starring in this series at the same time as "The Darling Buds of May". Definitely a "must watch", even for those who do not normally enjoy police dramas.