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|27 reviews in total|
I don't think this is the worst film ever, but there are two things that make it virtually unwatchable: 1. The acting is atrocious. Every character seems to have gone to the Soap Opera Shake Your Head Back and Forth a Little to Add Gravitas to Your Performance School of Acting. 2. The pacing is horrific. Horrific. Scenes that should have been edited out are left to continue for minute upon painful minute, while the poor actors shake their heads a little back and forth to add gravitas to their lives. It coulda been a better film. I get that there were budget constraints, but when you have only a few places to shoot, you have to add something visually in the way of at least one (just one, seriously) quick cut or odd angle or something. As an example of how long and dull the scenes are, take the scene where the interviewer is told by his girlfriend/boss that he has to jump ahead in the interview. He becomes enraged and throws around all kinds of unbelievable emotions while the camera crew just tune him out, and then minutes later it ends with him being flirtatious and cute. Yikes. I recommend watching this, but be warned, the long long speeches might knock you out. I had to do laundry and I pondered whether or not to pause the movie when I stepped out to the laundry room.
It's a mixed bag. As the show started, I was not enjoying the preciousness of the children as they preciously acted precious. The treehouse-girl's simpering voice was a little too much for me. I did not like the lead actors much, either. It seemed horribly cast, and the backstory of the child's deafness and the father's death were too much. Everyone in the first episode was trying too damned hard. At the baseball game, for instance, all of the parents emoted and acted and acted/emoted heavily through the scene. In terms of direction, the director seems to have kept pushing the actors to give more and more and more. "Dial it UP A BILLION NOTCHES" seems to have been the director's most frequent command during shooting, judging by the grimaces and head- wagging and bug-eyed shock of all the actors. Then at some point I realized I was watching Milo Ventimiglia and I relaxed a little. Then I recognized Dee Wallace playing the main character's mother or grandmother or nanny (that could have been explained a little better), and I relaxed further. And I started enjoying the show a little more. Ventimiglia brought some acting skill that broke the ridiculousness of the first episode's tone. I made it through the next two episodes, binge-watching it and enjoying things more and more. It's a mixed bag, I say. The story should be compelling and fascinating, and at times it is kind of interesting. But...something is missing. I don't know what. I'm going to watch the show as it unfolds, but I wonder if the director and producer were trying to squeeze too much intensity out of the actors in those early scenes.
The Christine character is the most repulsive and loathsome beast I've seen in a long while in a film. She is entitled, narcissistic, rude, icy, smug, and her every word to anyone is replete with insults and demeaning little flourishes. To her blind brother she says "Now you're deaf as well as blind" when he forgets something, and when he has a vision and takes a few steps she scolds him mercilessly "Why are you always wandering off? You know you only get lost." She has not a single kind word for him. He would be better off ditching her and finding a human being to take care of him! Sadly, that's not going to happen, not in this film. I like the Venetian scenery, and the hair and clothes are what you want from a 70s giallo/horror mishmash. I like this film, and I like it all the more for how much I hate Christine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film, coming out of nowhere, really astonished me. For starters, the Samuel Beckett staging immediately makes you expect surreal and strange things. But the filmmaker takes the surrealism into really dark and unpleasant realms. Monty is a loud-talking narcissist, and Bertin is so self-absorbed that he's even less human or likable. Bertin's true feelings for Monty are clearly problematic, and the film plays a terrible game with the audience as it seemingly drags us to the edge of incestuous carryings-on, on screen no less. Goddard's body is used to great effect in the filming. After watching it, I found myself trying to think of a film that exploits the male body in the same relentless way. Monty's body carries the film, to whatever extent the film works (for some viewers, it won't work, clearly); Monty's endless flexing and preenign and posing draw the viewer's attention relentlessly, and there is a compulsive and uncontrolled nature to the camera work here. Many people are put off by the homoeroticism and intense homophobia of the film, but I think it's important to see Monty's strange rants about homosexuality as a pitiful and broken man battling against his own sexual hungers. Some viewers come away with a sense that Monty has taken advantage of a gay man who hires him as a hustler, but that interpretation is open to debate. The man pays for rough trade to verbally belittle him, and Monty does physically subdue and verbally degrade the man. What happens when the cameras leave, before Monty leaves the man's house? Note that he arrives early in the afternoon and leaves late at night -- Monty seems to have been playing his role for many hours, a fact that many Puritanical viewers seem to miss. The ending is horrific, of course, and I wish that some of the Lilith material had been excised from the script. There are many things that could have been done better, but when the main actor and the producer/writer/director pass away, you end up with not only an inability to refilm scenes but an inability to take the director's vision from his mind and to the screen. For these flaws, I take off a few points, but for its incandescent sensuality and stunning atmosphere, I give it an 8.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film was great at first. You've got your handsome buff tatuado
stud on the one hand, and the Rex Reed blended with Liza Minelli guy on
the other hand (not that there's anything wrong with that), and they go
on and on about this and that, about love, sex, strangers, hooking up.
It's all going on swimmingly, until it enters into the ten-hour abyss
of nothingness that is the middle of this film.
And then the end. "Viewers who have been paying attention will not be surprised" say some, but after watching a movie in which both actors make "significant" expressions left and right, I must admit I let some of those clues go. Instead, I felt myself wondering how many movies are going to wrap up with a simple "homosexuals = freakish murderers just cuz" meme. Yes, the Liza Minelli mixed with Red Reed guy is a psycho bitch! Just like Amy in Gone Girl, but without the parents-being- authors backstory!
Yes, the ending ruined it for me. To think, that I watched these actors swap spit for this long, just for this ending. It's like the horror films that titillate with sexuality and then immediately follow it with a moral-palette-cleansing burst of death for the evil sex-having miscreants. Viewers walk away saying, "Goodness, thank God I would never have sex or hook up with someone!" and even the sadistic torture- porn glee of the filmmaker suddenly has an aura of godliness and saintliness, as he can tell himself "I brought the audience to orgasm with a hammer to the skull slaying, but I never exploited their prurient interest" and still respect himself.
Okay, maybe that sounds like hyperbole. But this tale of Nomi and her
exploits in the city of sin is one of my personal favorites. The story
is insane, the characters are monsters, and the millions of dollars
spent on sets and costumes push this insane monstrous spectacle into a
unique realm of film: the glittering nightmare. In some ways, this film
is almost a horror film, and if its final twenty minutes had been spent
in an orgiastic spree-killing, I think no one would have been
surprised. The texture of the story is brutal, foul, and nasty -- but
somehow Nomi always manages to be innocent, beguiling, sweet and
As for specifics: Gina Gershon will never have a character as great as her character in this film. The whole lesbian-lite thing that she played with in the 90s comes to a head in this film, and although (spoiler? I think not) she and Nomi do not have full-on sex in this film, they come about as close to "f***ing each other without f***ing each other" as possible.
Vegas is portrayed as a stripmall with tourists. The hotels are reduced to a front door with bellhops, an auditorium with strippers pretending to be dancers, and one or two suites with a view of other hotels and casinos. The city's inhabitants live in ramshackle run-down tenements, and you'll see alleys more often than real streets in this film's dark take on the town.
Nomi herself is a cypher. She is, to put it charitably, batshit insane and fragile to the point of being a danger to herself. She stages meltdowns at the smallest inconveniences, pulls a switchblade when threatened, beats people like a thug, and her simulated sex acts are so obscene that it makes the real sex scenes seem lame in comparison. Nomi is also innocent, loving, loyal, funloving, and beautiful. There is something about her body (and you'll see her body, I hope this isn't a spoiler) that no other young actress has ever really done.
I think that's one of the historical points of this film: The actress Elizabeth Berkeley had just come out of many years as a teenybopper sweetheart, so seeing her take so joyfully to this hooker/lesbian romp was very unexpected. Her career was to have been destroyed by this film, we were told twenty years ago -- told wrongly. Berkeley took this role and set it on fire, and her portrayal of Nomi is one of the best things ever filmed.
Other performances to watch: Glenn Plummer is great in this film. Kyle McGoughlin is so sleazy you'll want to leap into the screen and slap him in the face, except that you'll end up with cocaine and suspect sexual fluids on your hands. Robert Davi is sexy and slinky and works a line between abusive sexist and huggable teddy bear. Gina Ravera is the friend you wish you'd make on your first day in Las Vegas.
All in all, I can't recommend this film highly enough. Of course, I'm giving it an 8 instead of a 10 because it has a few flaws.
I caught this on Youtube last night. I am a devotee of giallo and 70s
horror and 60s/70s stylish detective/mystery films. The cast in
particular intrigued me: Peter Lawford, Stefanie Powers, EG Marshall,
Harry Morgan. The film itself is about a serial murderer in NYC, and
there are scenes of public demonstrations as the entire city bunkers
down to avoid being slain by the Hydra, who mysteriously strangles
people based upon their age.
Stylistically, this is the pinnacle of 70s coolness. There are all of the decor elements (lamps with huge shades, shag carpeting, everyone with luxurious hair, groovy overcoats) and 1970 NYC is filmed beautifully, with its parks and sidewalks and traffic creating a very iconic backdrop for the acting.
The acting. Stefanie Powers can give a line reading like almost no one else. She really is in command of every dimension of the craft of acting, from microexpressions to posture to movement to speaking. She drops her voice down and uses a hushed girl-next-door tone when she speaks alone with Peter Lawford, and it's unbelievably warm and compelling. I found myself wishing that there were more scenes with her.
Lawford plays an annoying narcissistic juvenile of sixty whose only interests are substance abuse and promiscuity, and although I raised my eyebrow and was repulsed at first, I was won over quite soon. Harry Morgan is funny, and EG Marshall is a pompous and cold psychiatrist who makes me think of every TV psychiatrist I've ever seen.
The story is fun. They reveal the killer far earlier than I expected, and the rest of the film is a cat-and-mouse caper. There is one scene on the World Trade Center roof that suddenly becomes a Hitchcock-styled surrealist fantasy. NYC was beautiful in 1971, and the film uses the city for maximum effect.
I recommend this movie for fans of stylish and hip comedic murder mystery films.
Great film, great story, great setting and cast.
Ellen Burstyn, though, deserves a few words. She gives line readings like no other actress, or perhaps like other actresses: Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, or many of the early film greats. Burstyn puts a strong American twang into her pronunciation, and she makes acting decisions that surprise and breath life into many scenes that would otherwise be flat.
How much of this is direction? How much is her own artistry? Hard to say.
Burstyn's career took place through the 60s and into the 80s, a time when film was moving out of the studios and into the world. The gritty film world of the 70s had little room for grace and beauty and finesse, but Burstyn brings a beautiful glamorous charm to her roles.
As Edna, she truly inhabits that character and turns in a mindblowingly good performance. I recommend this film to anyone who is fond of supernatural films, 70s film, 70s horror, or quirky stories.
I wanted to like this film, but...
* I realized really quickly that it was one of those films where people would rub dirt on their face and wear poorly fitted clothing in order to "act poor" and come across like rural people * the boy torturing his alcoholic father with psycho mindgames seemed counterproductive and tantamount to inviting a smackdown * the murder scene was needlessly horrific and psychotic * when a 15-yr old boy comes to your house, you don't dress him up in tight hooker pants and a shirt unbuttoned to his waist (unless you're planning something) * the soundtrack was lacking * Nicolas Cage was great and acted the bejeezus out of this paltry script, but even someone who can look dignified with a flaming skull for a head can't look dignified trying to sort out the issues in this storyline * the women were hard to tell apart, and the sex scenes were really out of place, although if anyone asks me "Where can I see naked hillbillies in contemporary film?" I'll now know where to send them * the characters lacked the true distinguishing mark of the rural underclass (which is a cellphone with a $150/mo. plan -- but the story was written in 1991 so I'll give them a pass on that) * If a character has to explain several times that "restraint is the key to my survival" in order to create a character, something's wrong with the dramatization * the feud was never explained * a "rube cleansing his gunshot wound with booze" scene is not a heartfelt and accurate portrayal of rural America, but an insulting joke * this whole project smacked of "poorsploitation" * I felt horrible knowing that the sleazebag actor was not an actor but may have been portraying himself -- and then he died in real life! * the pacing was atrocious
Other than that, it was an okay film, and I would recommend that people watch it. But don't go in, as I did, thinking that "Cage has turned in a performance that will atone for the ocean of schlock he has participated in in the past ten years," as the reviews led me to believe. No, it's an okay albeit debasing portrayal of the worst of the worst in the poorest of the poor in the least human pockets of uncivilized wilderness. It's needlessly cruel and hateful and pointless.
I saw this movie last night and liked it. It's beautifully shot, and
the panoramic "wild west" landscape and costumes and sets are
beautifully western. The story arc was interesting, if a bit
predictable, but the whole setting and story is really just a line on
which MacFarlane hangs a bunch of jokes. He is a comedian with a "here
and now" sensibility, and all of his works seem to be interesting/funny
in the specific scene but perhaps a little poorly done in terms of the
arc of the whole story.
Charlize Theron was great. She turned in a solid and strong performance, as a tough-but-battered woman with a raunchy sense of humor and a very loving and protective heart. Others have noted that MacFarlane's performance doesn't quite hold up to hers, but there were moments when his uncanny big Irish mug and delivery were perfect.
I was not expecting to find an innocent love story about people making the most of their lives and their situations. I was not expecting many of the things in the film, but enjoyed it all. 8 out of 10 because I'm knocking the film for its slender story arc. Another producer or some studio bigwigs could perhaps have retooled the script to make it more dramatic or rapid -- but then they might have killed off the good things in the script, too. All in all, I recommend.
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