Reviews written by registered user
|285 reviews in total|
"Black Girl" ("Borom Sarret") (French/African, 1966): Read any book about film, and this one is cited as a GREAT work. Well folks, the King Has No Clothes. A brain-damaged college freshman could've done better. Here's what the STORY tried to be: an African woman is hired as a child caretaker in Africa, and later follows the French family to France to continue working for them. She doesn't like it. She complains a lot, thinks of herself as a slave, and eventually does something drastic. I'm telling you this isn't just a yawn... it is story full of plot holes, no character depth, no situational empathy (although I suspect viewers were EXPECTED to have strong feelings and side with the "poor girl"), continuity problems, and a motivational mess. That's not all. The movie has TERRIBLE camera work, crappy lighting, editing equal to a monkey with scissors, scoring that makes no sense and has no subtlety, acting that just plain stinks, location shots that are perhaps the worst I've ever seen I'm simply ASTOUNDED at the kudos given this terrible mess of a lousy film. I can only surmise that in this case the "King has no clothes" Syndrome was the 1960's politically correct social agenda in the Euro/American sphere for recognizing black/white equal rights - which caused it to be held high for its (possible) intentions when in reality it deserved to be tossed in the garbage can as a failed attempt.
"Blast'em" (1992): This is a vanity documentary which means the people who wanted to be documented had a documentary made about them. Pathetic, right? Well, NOT if you're them and you're THAT convinced you're deserving of more attention than anyone ever seems to give you and your "art". This is about some of the awful people who stalk stars and other faux news-worthy characters in Here Today / Gone Tomorrowland. Paparazzi. If YOU had a film made about you and your daily exploits but it showcased your whining, foul mouth, unprofessional and illegal behaviors, sneaky tricks, and self-centered self-righteousness, would YOU want it released to the public? I doubt it. But THAT is how ironically deluded and desperate these people were. They're long gone now, I'm sure. (I don't even have the urge to remember their names or Google them to see who rightfully died at the hands of a fed-up person who'd been violated once too many.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, I HATE "vanity films". You know what they are - films made merely to promote this product or that person(s). Second, if you want to get on my bad side, try to validate and romanticize graffiti applied to others' private property. Third, I taught a long time, and it's been almost as long since I had to listen to so many self-righteous, self-impressed, self-centered, uneducated, immature idiots who want to believe their emotions validate their lack of intelligence. Their art efforts were shallow, and, of course, self-aggrandized (you can first spot these types by the time they spend practicing their signature instead of their art), and, are equally admired by a small peer audience of uneducated culture-babies who grew up on placebo intellectualism and Trix cereal. In an especially pathetic move to create associations, they include film maker Harmony Korine as though he is "one of them". (After all, it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know!) You'll love/hate their classically dimwitted, ironic rebellious insistence to be heroic "individuals" by their group pride in ALL skateboarding, looking alike, making like things, reveling in their refusal to become adults, and speaking with the same lack of language skills and education. You'll want to choke the "LIKE" and "YOU KNOW" right out of them. SPOILER ALERT: Oh, and just in case that doesn't bring you over, one of them dies and the others are given the chance to cash in on THAT emotion too complete with romantic music sprayed on the surface of their fallen comrade. I nearly puked. What a bunch of jerk-offs who can't keep their spray cans in their pants.
"Rocky Marciano" (1999): Can the true life story of a boxer be full of lessons for us all? Yes. Forget that shmucky stuff like "Rocky", "Rocky II", "III", "IV" Sixteen, Twenty seven, Son of Rocky... ad nauseum. This is the modest, gritty, not-pretty, non-romanticized story of an underdog from Day One, who, by sheer determination and little else, rose to the top, and remains the ONLY undefeated Heavy Weight box in history. To do this, you must be something special, even if you ARE modest, have doubts, get pounded around, conned, taken for granted, and trade off family time to earn a living. It's OUR story, if you look beyond the ring. Jon Favreau stars, along with Penelope Miller, Judd Hirsch, a sleazy character by Tony Lo Bianco, and a wonderful character by George C. Scott. This is not the only boxing movie by far, but it is one of the Top Five. ("Raging Bull", "On the Waterfront", "Ali", and "The Boxer" would have to be the others.)
"Shane" (1952): This is a classic Hollywood "Western", but it is one of the very best. I'll admit to not liking the lurid hues of Technicolor film, nor am I big on sweeping orchestral scores, but this story has heart and morals. Alan Ladd (the stoic stranger), Jean Arthur (the dedicated wife), Van Heflin (the dedicated farmer), Brandon De Wilde (the untalented boy who plays their son), Jack Palance (the hired killer), Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan, and others star or fill in the story. Settlers starting farms are being harassed by one group of ranchers, and the problems escalate. By pure chance, a stranger wanders across their turf battle a stranger with history who, we learn, is ready to try a new life. He likes these people, and wants to stay. All the moral dilemmas are in place, the battles of wills and patience begin, and the boiling point will be found. Coming out of WWII, this film's message of "you can only be pushed so far, your patience can only last so long, and bullies must then be handled" would've rung true and positive for that audience as it should to this day.
"Citizen Cohn" (1992): James Woods plays intense characters. This may be his best. Roy Cohn (Woods) was the pit bull dog of a lawyer for Senator Joe McCarthy during the Commie Hunts of the 1950's and beyond. We follow Cohn's life his self-righteous, contradictory, opportunistic, sleazy life from childhood to death bed. Structured in flashbacks and flashforwards, we see his twisted points of view along with his victims and lackies. This is one of the best character studies ever made. It's disgusting, and true. Also starring Joe Don Baker, Joseph Bologna, Ed Flanders, Frederick Forrest, Lee Grant, and others. If you like Woods' job in this one (and you will), see "Another Day in Paradise" or the classic "The Onion Field".
"Gonzo The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" (2007): This is a two hour documentary on writer Hunter Thompson, told through old film footage, and the memories of people who knew, and love-hated him. Was he talented, was his writing all that unique, was he undeservedly made into an icon? Look, those were heady times for all, and breaking rules was not only the joy but the expectation. I knew plenty of creative people who spit at anything that wasn't within their sphere that week. The air was full of pretension, self-righteousness, and huge self-indulgence. Thompson was simply a Poster Boy for the many. SOMEONE had to do it. SOMEONE had to mingle with the Upper Crud of that time, and the Upper Crud got a buzz from taking a Walk on the Wild Side with someone who didn't give a damn, held power, and could entertain them with a devil-may-care attitude they could only fantasize owning and enjoying. Fact is, the Poster Boys, besides being creative at times, were obnoxious, selfish, showy, mean spirited, dangerous, irritating, and NOT someone you'd want as a neighbor or near your kids at any time. They were novelty acts, and no doubt felt the pressure to perform like a merry monkey on acid. All that said, this film is a GOOD documentary of someone you will NOT like, and you will question the judgment of those who did.
"Waiting for Guffman" (1996): THE FINEST assemblage of straight-faced comedians in all of history, create one of THE funniest movies EVER. "Waiting for Guffman" is about humans with more than enough faith...AND self-delusions. Christopher Guest is the driving force, both in front of and behind the camera, and along with Eugene Levy, portray a small town's population creating a small play about their small history, which is a VERY BIG deal to them. Guest's consistent theme (throughout his films) is about humans who don't have enough insight or talent to spot the lack of it within themselves. There is an incredible blind faith, tenderness and embarrassing, misguided drive within these people. And yet, within their little world, they support the dreams for one another, and move through their lives with solid delusion. "This is Spinal Tap", "Best in Show", and "A Mighty Wind" are other great examples. Guest also has the sense to call back his actors for further projects. This is brilliant work.
"Nanking" (documentary, 2007): When we think of Evil and War, we think first of the Nazis, Germany, and Jews. Though this is simplistic, we at least have these household terms as points of reference. We HATE everything around the names Nazi, Swastika, and Hitler. What our history has failed to do is discuss the Japanese at and before that same era with their attacks upon China, and, how they were no less brutal than the Nazis. Ill even go further than that and say their blood lust was more brutal, random, passionate, and less calculating than the Nazis. WHY we, as Americans, have allowed our history to be written so clearly and sharply about the Germans, yet so vaguely and softly about the Japanese, is a question I suspect has embarrassing answers. See this documentary. It wont answer all your questions, but it will initiate them.
"Winter Passing" (2005): This is a quiet, subtle film full of interesting people and complex emotions buried within private lives. Slowly the story weaves together, as the main characters find themselves connecting to others. Starring Ed Harris (great), Zoeey Dechanel (a growing favorite of mine), Will Ferrell (in an understated, odd role), Amelia Warner (as the "glue" of the group), and Amy Madigan (as the "catalyst"). This is my first viewing. Upon further viewings, it could end up in my top category. "Winter Passing" belongs somewhere in a grouping that would also include "Avalon" and "Unstrung Heroes". It is gentle, sad, quiet, painful, quirky, almost funny for split seconds, mysterious, loving, fragile, and forgiving.
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