Reviews written by registered user
juliankennedy23

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263 reviews in total 
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Brüno (2009)
Bruno... Not a gay old time., 18 November 2009
4/10

Bruno: 4 out of 10: I have to admit I am more than a bit disappointed here. Bruno has its share of laugh out loud moments but it simply does not have those great memorable scenes that made Borat such a treat.

One cannot help comparing Bruno to Borat since in many ways they are the same story. Borat worked because the character was, at least on a movie logic level, believable. He was played as an innocent whom one could root for; even if he had some terrible values upon reflection. He was a lovable character.

While Borat has an innocent air about him and a charismatic travelling companion, Bruno is as characterized a horrible human being from the get go with a milquetoast traveling companion.

Bruno is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion host that is so horrible, one simply feels nothing but sympathy for Sacha Baron Cohen’s victims. When you start feeling sorry for Ron Paul and Anti-homosexual Christian deprogrammers the movie has clearly gone of the rails.

Cohen tries to infuse Bruno with countless shots of male gentalia to embarrass (one supposes) his audience, Alas none if it is as cringe inducing as the naked wresting from the first movie (Come to think of it, nothing on earth is as cringe inducing as that scene) and nothing in Bruno comes anywhere close to being that funny.

While there are certainly scattered laughs throughout the film, Bruno is more in the style of an old Mondo Cane movie than a comedy. It is more about making the audience and his victims uncomfortable than provoking any mirth or insight.

When I watched Borat, I would tell myself if I met the character on the street I would be polite to him as well. While watching Bruno I was shocked no one punched him in the face.

Teeth (2007/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Teeth... entering triumphantly leaving diminished, 18 November 2009
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Teeth: 5 out of 10: This is the second vagina dentata film I have seen; it is unfortunately the lesser effort. This despite tremendous guerilla marketing campaign that could make one think this is the first cinematic foray into such a taboo subject let alone the greatest horror film since “Sliced: The Baker of Bread”.

The film spends its first half an hour on a lightweight parody of the Teen Chastity movement complete with the wearing of red rings to show that they are pledged virgins. In a creepy post release twist, the chastity group is called Promise and uses something that resembles the Obama presidential red O as its symbol. I am not sure this is what the Obama campaign had in mind.

After a half an hour of jabs at the religious right and nuclear power, (Cooling towers are ominously and unscientifically billowing black smoke behind our protagonist’s house.) The film segues into the feminist revenge film we all paid good money for.

Needless to say, hormones being what they are, the dentata enabled virgin (Jess Weixler) finds herself getting hot and heavy with her born again virgin boyfriend (Hale Appleman). When he takes her no to mean yes and attempts to date rape her... well her teeth go to work and Appleman finds himself short one manhood.

Do remember that film when the guy loves the girl and she betrays him so he cuts her vagina with a broken beer bottle, killing her, and the audience cheers him on? No? I don’t either. Because they never made that film... and if they did, audiences would burn down the theater. Welcome to the double standard. And don’t get me wrong, I approve of this particular double standard in theory, but the misandry of this film is overwhelming. Add in some unsubtle homosexual subtext (and gratuitous male nudity both membered and dismembered) and one gets the idea that the film is against heterosexual intercourse in general. This ironically gives it the same moral compass as the Chastity Group it mocks. This is simply forced chastity from the other side.

The problem is poor direction by Mitchell Lichtenstein. His tone is all over the place and sloppy. If he wants his protagonist to seek out lovers then kill them for imagined slights (as she does later in the film) shouldn’t the film reflect this change from victim to predator? Director Lichtenstein also wastes a tremendous performance by John Hensley as Weixler’s older, evil brother. Hensley creates a character of true banal evil. A stupid selfish bad guy that feels like a very real person. His scenes are the best in the film, yet the climatic denouement is simply more of the same and honestly does not feel true to the character. (This would have been a perfect time for the film to put in a twist such as incestuous anal sex.) The films performances are overall quite good with Jess Weixler and Hensley as the standouts. The film is also extremely graphic with various male gentalia being sliced and gaping bloody wounds in the crotch area. (Not for nothing but would not a male member lose its erection if severed?) Unfortunately, Teeth, much like that recent killer baby flick Grace, ends where it should have begun. If you want to see a Vagina Dentata film done right, take a gander at Angst (Or Penetration Angst, as it is known overseas.). Fiona Horsey brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the art of dismembering men that an American virgin just cannot compete with.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Gonzo The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson...Buy the ticket, take the ride., 17 November 2009
6/10

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson: 6 out of 10: Is Hunter S Thompson any more relevant to modern journalism than Joe Namath is to modern football? After all, both were men of their times. In addition, both faded badly by the mid-seventies. Thompson's early work is excellent (a copy of "The Proud Highway" sits on my bookshelf) and reached its pinnacle with Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

A mere three years later Rolling Stone publisher Jenn Warner had become so fed up with Thompson he basically tried to have him killed.

As Gonzo.org puts it "Then, early one evening in March 1975, Hunter was watching a nightmarish film of the evacuation of Da Nang on the evening news. The phone rang, and Hunter picked it up. It was Wenner, saying, "How would you like to go to Vietnam?" Hunter could not resist. The collapse of the American empire was a happening tailor-made for his talents. Within days, he was heading out over the Pacific. He arrived in Saigon hours after Thieu's palace had been bombed and staffed by his own Air Force. For a man who lived with the conviction that the world was going to end next Monday, this was an especially ominous portent. Thompson had the sense of "walking into a death camp." This was it. He would never get out alive. As it turned out, the fate that was in store for him was even worse. Thompson discovered that, even as he was on his way to Vietnam, Wenner had taken him off retainer - in effect, fired him - and with the retainer went his staff benefits, including health and life insurance." Also leaving him no way out of Vietnam... a one-way ticket if you will.

Dude that is cold...

And that is the very nature of the problem with this documentary. Why is not this story mentioned? Who knows? It certainly was a turning point in Thompsons life (He apparently became more withdrawn and paranoid afterwards... understandably so) Gonzo is a pollyanna look at Thompson. The abuse of his first marriage gets a glancing look and all the interviewees (Including Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan and Jenn Werner) seem hesitant to speak ill of the dead.

The fact that in a few short years Thompson turned from a well-respected writer into a Muppet and Doonesbury cartoon is not covered well. The fact is mentioned but the reasons are glossed over. It is as if the film is worried that by mentioning his failures it will reduce his significance.

Yet, I would argue that Thompson's effect on Journalism is larger than he gets credit for. Reporters nowadays often ignore facts, concentrating instead on how events make them feel. Anderson Cooper crying during the Hurricane Katrina coverage threatened to become a bigger story than the storm itself. (He was not helped when fellow Mensa candidate Wolf Blitzer said "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals…many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black") The documentary never really focuses on this aspect either. Gonzo seems to fear pulling back any of the masks its subject wears presumably scared of what it might find. Gonzo would have been better served concentrating on one period of time and focusing its energies.

That said, for those unfamiliar with Hunter S Thompson outside of his Muppet form this is a good start. Moreover, if it gets people to read his early work so much the better.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Mission... If you choose to accept it... watch this movie., 17 November 2009
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Mission: 9 out of 10: Films about faith often fail. They tend to be preachy dry affairs starring Kirk Cameron as a man who is addicted to online porn, until he finds God and smashes the evil computer with a baseball bat because apparently he has joined the Taliban or something. Most “Christain” films are designed simply reinforce the prejudices of a limited choir.

Critically acclaimed “serious” films are also often fairly dry affairs, interested more in being “good “ rather than being entertaining. They tend to beat a visual and narrative dead horse rather than entertain for the sake of entertaining.

The Mission is a critically acclaimed movie about faith... and I loved it.

I had avoided the film for twenty years as if it was an “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”. It turns out to be a dynamic, action packed affair, starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and a very young Liam Neelson.

It is a movie about faith. In fact, it is one of the most moving and effect movies about the purpose of faith and redemption I have ever seen. It is also about the historical pact between Spain and Portugal (Treaty of Madrid) and the war on both the natives of the jungle and the powerful Jesuits who protect them.

The movie is told in flashback with a Papal emissary (the excellent Ray McAnally) telling the tale and his tragic role in shaping it. The visuals are often simply amazing and the score by Ennio Morricone is considered one of the best of all time. Some critics felt the war scenes at the end muddled but I feel this reflects on the nature of battle and at the very least, this viewer had no trouble following it.

One side note the film contains a lot of nudity including some rather shocking child nudity. Since the film is rated PG, one must assume the ratings board used the National Geographic rules in their assessment.

There I go praising the film no doubt scaring off viewers that are afraid it will be “good.” It is, but it is also entertaining with great action, visuals and top notch actors.

Gilbert Gottfried: Dirty Jokes... Truly Tasteless Joke Book The Movie., 16 November 2009
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gilbert Gottfried: Dirty Jokes: 4 out of 10: Notice the “concert film” is called Dirty Jokes not funny jokes. I also put concert film in quotes because this is the most disinterested collection of Yuppies I have ever seen. The audience often groans or at the very least sits in an impatient silence during Gottfried’s performance.

Not that Gottfried does not give them reason to squirm. His jokes are dirty... that was a given, but quite often they simply are not all that funny. Part of the problem is many of these moldy chestnuts are probably older than Gottfried himself. It is as if he was giving an X-rated Jack Benny routine.

The culmination of this collection of tasteless one-liners is yet another rendition of the Aristocrats joke. If you missed that dead horse-beating documentary The Aristocrats, the joke is a ten-minute collection of the most scatological collection of images followed by a shaggy joke punch line. The joke (like most shaggy dog humor) only works if you are not expecting it. Here it falls horribly flat with an audience that is clearly bored.

If you want to see the funniest version of the joke fast forward towards the end the The Aristocrats and their is a hilarious (and historical) version told in front of a squirming Hugh Hefner a few weeks after 9/11. The brilliant comedian who pulled of this unlikely triumph?... Gilbert Gottfried.

Laserblast (1978)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Laserblast... Looks like Trent Reznor ran out of gas, 15 November 2009
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Laserblast: 2 out of 10: Anytime a film calls attention to its fourth wall by negatively reflecting on its competition, that film usually sucks. It was true when President Morgan Freeman referenced Armageddon in that turkey Deep Impact. It is true in Laserblast.

In Laserblast our protagonist blows away a Star Wars billboard. Apparently, the filmmakers felt that Star Wars was competition. Honestly, Laserblast is so out of Star Wars league it never even occurred to me that films were even in the same genre, let alone competition.

Laserblast is about two claymation aliens that leave behind a weapon set which consists of an over-sized tube that goes on ones arm and a cheesy necklace that turns one Emo over time.

Our “hero” is a man with troubles. His mother leaves for vacations in Puerto Vallarta abandoning him. (Cause there is nothing a teenager hates more than when the Parental Units leave town for a week.) He also has a hot blond girlfriend (the late great Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith) and a (relatively) bitchin van. So why is our hero angry? Is it because he appears in this movie? Nope. It turns out our “hero” is tormented by bullies. There are the local pot smoking cops that hassle him with speeding tickets (because they are jealous of his bitchin van natch) and there is Eddie Deezen.

Now there have been plenty of famous Hollywood bullies from Nelons Muntz of The Simpsons to Biff Tannen of Back to the Future. You remember Eddie Deezen from Grease where he played geek Eugene Felnic you may find him a strange choice to torment our “hero”. He is.

Look, if Eddie Deezen is picking on you, clearly you have problems even an arm laser tube thingy is not going to solve.

In the film’s defense things do blow up occasionally, Roddy McDowell shows up for a minute and the claymation alien turtles have a certain charm. Overall however this is one really bad film.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 8 Episode 6: 8 out of 10: This was the last Comedy Central episode and they clearly pulled out all stops for the segments. Mike Nelson in drag as Voyager’s Captain Janeway is a particular highlight. The riffing is decent if slightly disappointing considering the sheer volume of stupid on the screen. The writers also assumed that “are you ready for some football gag” (one of Laserblasts characters resembled Hank Williams Jr.) would never get old... those writers were sadly mistaken.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Laserblast... Looks like Trent Reznor ran out of gas, 15 November 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Laserblast: 2 out of 10: Anytime a film calls attention to its fourth wall by negatively reflecting on its competition, that film usually sucks. It was true when President Morgan Freeman referenced Armageddon in that turkey Deep Impact. It is true in Laserblast.

In Laserblast our protagonist blows away a Star Wars billboard. Apparently, the filmmakers felt that Star Wars was competition. Honestly, Laserblast is so out of Star Wars league it never even occurred to me that films were even in the same genre, let alone competition.

Laserblast is about two claymation aliens that leave behind a weapon set which consists of an over-sized tube that goes on ones arm and a cheesy necklace that turns one Emo over time.

Our “hero” is a man with troubles. His mother leaves for vacations in Puerto Vallarta abandoning him. (Cause there is nothing a teenager hates more than when the Parental Units leave town for a week.) He also has a hot blond girlfriend (the late great Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith) and a (relatively) bitchin van. So why is our hero angry? Is it because he appears in this movie? Nope. It turns out our “hero” is tormented by bullies. There are the local pot smoking cops that hassle him with speeding tickets (because they are jealous of his bitchin van natch) and there is Eddie Deezen.

Now there have been plenty of famous Hollywood bullies from Nelons Muntz of The Simpsons to Biff Tannen of Back to the Future. You remember Eddie Deezen from Grease where he played geek Eugene Felnic you may find him a strange choice to torment our “hero”. He is.

Look, if Eddie Deezen is picking on you, clearly you have problems even an arm laser tube thingy is not going to solve.

In the film’s defense things do blow up occasionally, Roddy McDowell shows up for a minute and the claymation alien turtles have a certain charm. Overall however this is one really bad film.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 8 Episode 6: 8 out of 10: This was the last Comedy Central episode and they clearly pulled out all stops for the segments. Mike Nelson in drag as Voyager’s Captain Janeway is a particular highlight. The riffing is decent if slightly disappointing considering the sheer volume of stupid on the screen. The writers also assumed that “are you ready for some football gag” (one of Laserblasts characters resembled Hank Williams Jr.) would never get old... those writers were sadly mistaken.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra... Thinking is Half the Battle., 11 November 2009
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra: 7 out of 10: I think I may have liked this movie less had I not recently sat through the two and a half hour opus that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. GI Joe is like Transformers with a coherent plot and a half an hour of stupid removed. (Notice I said half an hour not all.) First, let us get the ugly out of the way. GI Joe is no longer “A Real American Hero” instead it is a group of foreigners led by Dennis Quaid and answerable to well nobody as far as I can tell. While I understand the change from a cowardly international marketing point of view, it really is a sad state of affairs. However, since all the real heroes turn out to be Americans after all and the bad guys are mostly foreigners from despot countries like Scotland and Japan, it is less jarring of a change than one would suppose.

If you can get past the fact the GI Joe Corps is a secret international army (no doubt enforcing the upcoming one world order), has weapons more advanced than the US troops and yet is still inexplicably called GI JOE. (I had assumed at some point Dennis Quaid would declare it is a lame acronym such as Global Initiative something something Expedition alas to his credit he does not.) You still have to deal with some of the casting choices.

While I am not overly familiar with the GI Joe mythos, I did see a major flaw on the Joe side. Channing Tatum simply does not look or act like Duke. Now Duke is the main character and everyman of the Joes. If you are familiar with the Duke Nukem video game, think that guy with less one-liners and titty bar visits. Channing simply does not have the charisma or presence to pull of the character and the script does not give him much help.

The other character the script torpedoes is The Baroness. She is the bad girl of the GI Joe universe and is played brilliantly by Sienna Miller (It really helps to hire great actors for these roles sometimes). The storyline unfortunately softens the Baroness to the point that by the end Duke is carrying her out of the exploding bad guys headquarters in his arms. (The bad guys lose. I hope that is not a spoiler in a movie called G.I. Joe) The other main characters are well represented. Marlon Wayans plays the black comic relief in the form of Ripcord (Dukes buddy). Normally I am aghast at the ethnic comic relief but Wayans pulls it off with aplomb. Rachel Nichols might seem a strange choice to play a smart woman, but she certainly looks the part and the whole Scarlett is an intellectual meme has clearly been toned down. She and Wayans have a romance that while safe for the kids may make adults in the audience dislocate their ciliary muscle.

Rounding out the cast is a bunch of foreigners, Dennis Quaid, Jonathan Pryce as the President and an uncredited Brendan Fraser.

The movie has a video game feel and I mean that in the most complementary way. The weapons are out of a Sci-fi shooter. The Joes wear suits cribbed directly from the video game Crackdown (Complete with the same powers); the very well shot action sequence in Paris will be quite familiar to any old school players of Twisted Metal 2.

The finale is right out of any Roger Moore James Bond film. This is old school fun action, well shot, with a plot a seven year old could follow. There is some back-story and attempts at depth, but needless to say it is perfectly safe to turn your brain off for a few hours and enjoy the show.

The plot is as follows. Bad guys steal evil weapon (Nanobite missiles). Good Guys get weapons back. Bad guys invade good guys headquarters killing cute blond and stealing missiles, Bad guys use missiles on unimportant foreign city (Paris) to show they mean business. Good Guys have their badges take away and are ordered to report to base. Good guys go to bad guys base instead. Good guys destroy bad guys underwater Arctic base by blowing up the icecap causing the underwater base to be crushed by the falling ice... hold on... falling ice???? Yes, apparently in the GI Joe universe the concept that ice floats is just another unproven liberal egghead theory like evolution or the female orgasm. I guess that is what happens when you have a redheaded bimbo play your science officer. (Moreover, do not get me started on the chasing ballistic missiles with an airplane part.) The stupid is strong in this one... but so is the fun.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Ghost Town Renegades... Give the Past a Slip, 10 November 2009
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ghost Town Renegades: 5 out of 10: Though I am familiar with the name Lash La Rue (King of the Bullwhip), this is my first encounter with cowboy’s body of work. According to critics, this is one of La Rue’s strongest pictures... Oh dear...

First let us get the obvious out of the way... did men of the fifties really let their kids dress up as Lash La Rue complete with bullwhip? Now I admit Lash, dressed all in black and sounding more Bogart than Bacall, is certainly no gay blade. In addition, he clearly knows his way around a horse as well as his trademark bullwhip. But still Lash La Rue??? {IMDB has his last name as La Rue (two words) while Ghost Town Renegades credits and other sources have his last name LaRue (one word).} Ghost Town Renegades has some decent if low-key action and the plot, while out of an old Scooby-Doo episode, is somewhat logical and easy to follow. (Up until Lash pretends to double-cross someone forgetting to let his allies in on the gag for no other reason than to add fifteen minutes to the film, one might suspect this kind of merry mix-up from a Three’s Company episode.) As for the supporting cast... well female lead Jennifer Holt is ridiculously good looking. She does not really do much but hey why look an eye-candy gift horse in the mouth. (Especially in a film filled with real horses.) Speaking of ridiculous... Lash has a wizened old sidekick “Fuzzy” played by toothless veteran actor Al St. John. Now St John is the nephew of Fatty Arbuckle and played the character Fuzzy in more than 80 Westerns. Therefore, needless to say, it was a popular character. Ghost Town Renegades is considered one of St. John’s strongest performances. Oh Dear...

Maybe it is I but the comedy of Fuzzy has not seemed to travel the decades intact. Jokes a five-year old on Soma could come up with combined with pratfalls a five-year old on Ritalin might perform. I guess his target audience (five year olds and surprisingly enough per Wikipedia Germans) found his schtick a nice break from the men in leather and the whipping.

Really seriously Lash La Rue???

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
From Beyond... Pineal Envy, 8 November 2009
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From Beyond: 6 out of 10: All the ingredients are here for a kick ass movie. First of You have Stuart Gordon director of the superlative Re-Animator and Dagon. In addition From Beyond is also a HP Lovecraft adaptation.

Moreover, there is the cast... Jeffrey Combs is a Lovecraft movie staple and a fine actor. Scream Queen Barbara Crampton famous for the greatest receiving head scene in cinematic history (Re-Animator again and the head in question was decapitated and alive) and is tied with Michelle Johnson as the quintessential blonde sex symbol of the eighties.

Heck the movie even has Dawn of the Dead hero the always-watchable Ken Foree.

There is nudity, bondage, brain eating, slime and silly monsters.

It simply does not gel as a movie.

Pacing and the script seem to be the enemy of the good here. For a movie with so many gladdening elements, it can be a true slog. From Beyond seems to drag just when the getting is well getting good.

The monsters are neither terribly scary nor funny they are just slimy puppets of various sizes. There is no sense of fun in the film and it certainly does not get one involved enough to care about the characters fates.

Barbara Crampton spends too much time in large over-sized glasses and a tight bun in her hair and buy the time she lets her hair down (and her bondage gear on) Jeffery Combs is bald, naked and making guttural sounds.

As for the story... well I have seen the film twice and I have still no real idea what is going on. (Something to do with monsters from another dimension and the pineal gland) From Beyond is certainly worth a watch for fans of Gordon, Lovecraft or Crampton but I cannot help feel that this was a colossal missed opportunity.


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