28 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Much better than it had to be.....
24 September 2017
OK, so I'm not that much into these kinds of nudie short films, but I ran into this one on YouTube, and I have to say I was impressed.

It's short at only about 5 minutes and silent, but it is fairly well crafted for what it was intended to be. Not sure how this thing was put together, but it looks like someone really liked and respected early horror films. In this little five minutes you see respect paid to James Whale and Tod Browning.

June Palmer is fetching, of course, and Stuart Samuels has the perfect look for the "vampire".

I rated this an eight only because it is so much better than it had to be for a nudie short, and the best one I've run across so far.
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Joy (I) (2015)
Spectacularly bad....
3 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry, but what did I just watch? Some Spoilers ahead.

I was truly looking forward to this film and now I'm not sure why.

There first rule of film making is that the audience should be entertained. This was not entertaining to me in any way.

The biggest failure was the script, which seemed more like a rough draft. Clumsy and looking for a few more edits and a polish. Russell seems intent on showing the audience meaningless shots and drawing them out while passing over important points like they were nothing. The best example is when Joy literally goes from bankrupt to on top of the world after a five minute meeting with a man we've never met. She divulges secret information that we didn't see her collect and scares the poor guy into giving up everything. At this point in the film, we barely remember the importance of anything she discusses. But I really didn't care at that point because I, and apparently Russell as well, wanted to just get it over with.

Sorry, but what does it say about film making today when this is nominated for a Golden Globe?
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Boyhood (I) (2014)
Not sure I understand....
23 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This film, so far, is the most disappointing of the Oscar nominated films in my opinion. I'm now convinced that people are simply hung up on the gimmick of this thing being filmed over 12 years.

So what?

You still have to make a film that is interesting, has compelling characters, and has some substance and plot to it. Overall, films need to provide entertainment. This film had none of those. My life would have been more interesting than this one. Even though we experience 12 years in the lives of the central characters, I still felt like I barely knew them. Maybe that was the point. To me this felt like a reality show with some pretty boring people. Yes, his mother made bad choices in husbands. There was some drama in husband #2 with the drinking and abuse. But 15 minutes of drama does not make a nearly 3 hour film relevant.

I'm not sure I understand the hype over this film.
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Fay Wray Channels Mae West
28 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Finally caught this one on TCM as part of my unhealthy quest to see every Fay Wray film possible. Not a bad little story, but nothing spectacular. Very cool to see Neil Hamilton in his early days, and Gary Cooper and Frances Fuller were equally interesting. Fay is not really on screen much which was disappointing, but then she steals the show at the end by channeling Mae West. What a treat this was! The direction was fine with some really cool moving camera work in the opening scene. This seemed to be a trend in the early 1930's to have a really cool moving camera shot to open the film, but then fade into standard static setups thereafter. Overall worth a look for the performances of Cooper and Fay Wray or if you just want to see what Batman's Commissioner Gordon looked like in his younger days. Otherwise, it's pretty routine.
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Painful....just what we need another song?
13 June 2014
I'm a big fan of 1930's films, but this one I just didn't get. First the good things: Carole Lombard The bad things: Everything else I should have known better. The comedy and music of the 1930's usually doesn't translate well to my tastes, and this film was packed full. Too much of Bing singing, too much Burns and Allen, and definitely not enough of Carole Lombard, who was much better than this light, fluffy little romp of a film. I'm on a quest to see some good Carole Lombard films and I was off to a good start with "My Man Godfrey" and "No Man of Her Own" , but this one has set me back a bit.
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Nebraska (2013)
Poignant, thoughtful, and lovingly made....
10 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Psychologists say that humans need three things for happiness. Something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. At this point in his life, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is searching for all three, and we are invited along on the journey in the wonderfully made Nebraska (2013).

Things don't get easier as you get older, and Woody latches on to an obvious marketing ploy in the belief that he has won a million dollars. It shows some of Woody's confusion and borderline dementia, but it also shows Woody's need to find some kind of meaning to his life in his waning years. Along on this journey ise his son David (Will Forte), and he discovers a side of his father that he had never seen. They are joined by a quirky group of friends and family that round out the film.

I loved Nebraska. The story is populated by multiple themes of longing, searching, and family. And the age old truth that you can never truly go home. It reminds us that people that are old now weren't always old. They had lives that were full and meaningful. They lived and worked, fought and loved, and filled their lives with meaning. And in Nebraska we hear older people talk like real people, not the caricatures that populate many films. From the greedy "friends" and family members to the crass rantings of Woody's wife Kate (June Squibb) these are real people with real feelings.

Nebraska will probably not win the Best Picture award for 2013, but it is certainly my favorite film of the year.
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Philomena (2013)
Well made, touching film.....
9 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Philomena (2013) is a touching film about loss, search, and fulfillment. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan both give great performances, and it is one of the best films of the year.

Based on a true story (always a dangerous thing), Philomena tells the story of a mother searching for a son she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager. Her journey starts in Ireland, goes through America, and then returns to her exact starting place. And though we end up where we began it is all about the journey, and the lessons along the way. The script is tight and the direction excellent.

There are two main issues I have with the film overall. The first of these seems to be a common theme in the 2013 crop of Best Picture Nominees. There is simply too much black and white in the story. The nuns and the Catholic Church come off as supremely evil through most of the story. At the end, I just wanted to hear Sister Hildegarde give a compassionate answer instead of spouting religious zealotry. It would have instantly made the film more real, complex, ambiguous, and thought provoking.

My second issue is that there were some pacing issues in the story, IMHO. Some important story points were incredibly rushed (finding Philomena's son took a 30 second Google search and a few phone calls). While I strongly believe in efficient storytelling, Philomena could have afforded to takes its time a bit more.

Overall, though, highly recommended viewing. It probably won't win Best Picture, but in a weak 2013 crop of nominees, it should be talked about more.
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Well done, overlong, Scorsese epic
3 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Another review of an Oscar Nominated Film, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD:

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is a Martin Scorsese film. With that you've said a lot. First, you know it will be a serious well made film. Unfortunately, you also know that you've seen this style before. This is a great film. It is compelling, interesting, and hard to look away from. At the same time, it seems very familiar in its style, like a dream you've had before. Not that you didn't like the dream, but it does seem somehow familiar. The "great" film inside of The Wolf of Wall Street, however, is hidden inside a three hour long "good" movie. There are great things about the film, but it seems like we're riding a wave of Scorsese stream of consciousness here that is not to be stopped. About an hour of trimming would have given us the GREAT film we were looking for. I know that some important episodes would have been left on the cutting room floor, but this is about entertainment. And the entertainment value of the film would have been enhanced by the cuts. I like the film, but I didn't, in fact, love it. I will say that it has about the funniest 15 minutes in any film this side of Monty Python when a drug induced episode calls for some slapstick humor that had me rolling in stitches and hoping it would end before I exploded. Funny as can be and worth the price of admission.

Highly recommended, and one of the best films of the year. HOWEVER, I consider it a weak year in the best picture category.
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Great performances highlight a good film....
31 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The accolades heaped upon Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are well deserved, and this film is definitely one of the best I've seen in 2014. However, it is what I consider a weak year in the Best Picture category.

There are times when this film feels gritty and real enough to come off the screen, but there are also times the film comes across as a Lifetime television melodrama. The story tended to lose me when the "big bad drug companies" and the "evil FDA" were shown to practically dance on the graves of AIDs victims while lining their pockets and protecting their positions in the war to find a treatment. Just a little bit of humanity in the doctors and FDA officials would have gone a long way and added a bit of complexity to the story that was painted as all too black and white. It is harder to believe people do purely evil things knowingly, than to believe people simply do the wrongs things with the best of intentions.

That being said, there is plenty good to find here. The story is crisp and efficient, and the characters are all well rounded, believable, and compelling.

Recommended as one of the top three films of the year, IMHO.
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What was the point again?
26 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
While not the most overrated film of the year (that belongs to Her), Inside Llewyn Davis tells a story that doesn't seem worth telling. The film follows Llewyn Davis through a week in his life in the NYC folk scene of the early 1960's.

The film looks amazing. The recreation of the time period is incredible, the camera work extraordinary, and the direction is splendid. If there was just a story here somewhere we would all be happy. There are interesting scenes, and a laugh or two inside this bleak environment, but mostly we watch Llewyn go through his miserable paces. He crashes with whatever friend he hasn't ticked off lately. He loses one cat, then kills another. He finds out that he has a child, but finds no strength to actually go find it. He takes a meaningless trip to Chicago with an out of place John Goodman. Nothing happens so he comes back to NYC. And the film ends up exactly where it started - LITERALLY - by showing us the first scene of the film again.

Sorry, but not my cup of tea.
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