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A Good Film Nonetheless
From 1998 to the present the TNT network has made a series of well-acted films worthy of awards and praise from viewer and critic alike. Not many TV movies can make this claim. Nuremburg is one of these films.
When someone says: "Made-for-TV" movie one would expect characters that are miscast at worst misplaced and numerous mistakes such as modern cars deep in the background, a cheaply made background. But Nuremburg shatters this common stereotype. The characters are 3 dimensional and worth remembering. Alec Baldwin's performance is a commanding and selfless figure...very reassuring almost to sickening levels. Christopher Plummer and Jill Hennessey are very inoffensive supporting cast. They aren't as motionless as the scenery. The most riveting performance aside from Baldwin's is Brain Cox's portrayal of Reichmarshall Hermann Goering is spot-on and very intellectual.
The films also gets high marks not only for its moral message about justice and democracy. It gets high marks for one particular scene of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps shown in very explicit and very painful detail. You would actually feel the shock and numbness of the audience. The oral testimony of the survivors also cannot be forgotten as it too explained the Nazi oppression in details just as painful. However, the Nazi officers standing trial remain either unmoved or motionless seeing their crimes from the opposite side of the law. Unfortunately, the accused only show a sliver of their humanity in the face of their ultimate fate: prison time or an execution.
Now for the things I felt were lacking in this film, I didn't find that many. I don't hate this film but it's not on the level of the 1962 "Trial At Nuremberg". It should be a full-length silver screen modern adaptation. I didn't like the scenery that was obviously a CGI construct i.e. "the place of justice". There is a lot of emotions in this film like in the big-budget blockbuster. However, it's sanitized, too neat, and *ahem* not controversial enough. I prefer my docudramas with a little controversy albeit a safe dose. In conclusion, this is a wonderful film that is a little too clean and safe given this touchy subject. Nuremberg should be as intriguing as Conspiracy and moving as Schiendler's List. But it's one of the very few movies of 2000's that is my DVD pick and we can't have everything.
Spinning Into Butter (2007)
A Putrid Cliché and Nothing More!
I hated everything that Sarah Jessica Parker had done after 1997 (Sex in the City) included. But this isn't a rant on Sarah's performance in the movie I'm going to talk about. No. Even though her characters are often the most self-centered and patronizing on celluloid.
This is a review on the cinematic masterwork that is "Spinning Into Butter". First off; I f*^king hate this title, it's completely ridiculous...original but ridiculous! Secondly, it's another movie about racism where Blacks and Whites are at each other's throats and blah, blah, blah! What makes this movie irritating is the fact that everything is a cliché running like clockwork, just like all those airline disaster movies. Everyone is a "stereotype" We have a white dean and a white university council who are completely timid, clueless, and rich elitists, then there's the angry-ass black female student that's always shouting as if her everyone around her was deaf, and the one Latino kid that couldn't take a joke. As usual, there's rioting complete with fisticuffs at some "townhall" meeting, caused by the one racist white guy in the entire movie insulting one of the black students...*gasp* No! Shocking!(sarcasm, people) There's not much plot, here except the same ol' crap one would expect a cheaply constructed movie that has the quality of an early 90s afterschool special on Lifetime. Hell, they even dress like they're from the early 1990's!
Hold on! I haven't even got to the real reason I wince at this after saying: "What the f*^k?" and "You gotta' be kidding me!!!" The real reason is that this movie is completely backward...back-ass-ward! Why? The year in which this drama was made is 2007....six years,over half-a- decade after 9/11 and it talks about Black/White prejudice and racism. C'mon! Black/White racism? This is 21st century, post 9/11 America! What about Arab/White racism? What about Hispanic/White racism, Asian/White racism? Racism isn't just projected to Black people.
This movie acts like its 1987! Where has the director of this tripe been for the past 20 or so years? Under a rock? If this had been an Arab victim or even a Gay victim, this movie would be more authentic and with the times. Not to be shallow, but Blacks aren't the top of the list of potential hatemonger targets anymore. Don't get me wrong, Black people are still targets of hate. For example the 2008 Presidential campaign and the Tea Party controversies that continue today. But the producers, directors, and visionaries of this crap should realize that there other ways of discussing racism issues using the cinematic medium instead of using the same old plot, just like they should realize there are other victims of racism, too.
Independence Day (1996)
A Sci-Fi Classic? Hell no!!!
Independence Day is a very interesting title for an alien invasion movie. In fact the 15-mile wide ships are also an interesting concept which is the only intriguing aspect of ID4! Will Smith's Capt. Hiller adds a humorous twist, but he's unconvincing as an Air Force Captain. He's like the Fresh Prince with a rank in the service. Overall ID4(why they call it that? I don't know), it's not worthy of my calling it a "film". It's a movie and a rather clichéd one at that. Like the Michael"Ka-Boom"Bay version of Transformers 11 years after the fact, it's a bombastic disaster movie that's the mid-1990's rendition of the Posideon Adventure, Airport, and Earthquake right down to the token multi-vocational, multi-ethnic cast. Some critics and viewers see as a cinematic display of American jingoism and arrogance. I think they're right on the money with that sentiment. Why should only the USA be the only nation of people to stand up to these creatures? Why should the USA have all the answers. Why couldn't Japan, the UK, Canada, or even Australia have the answers!
Instead of original characters we're exposed to token ones that are a rehash of characters from their other movies. For example, Jeff Goldblum is clearly re-enacting his Dr. Malcolm/Jurassic Park phase. But, that's not the reason why I don't necessarily like ID4. I don't like it because all the alien ships seem to do is destroy famous landmarks such as White House and the Empire State Building. They just kill for no reason other than the thrill of killing humanity(very vague if you ask me!)It's most clichéd because its tired message of "humanity must work together in peace" Oh brother! Independence Day is nothing but "boom" bang" "BA-DOOM!" There is no thoughtfulness and intelligence just...absurdity. This example is bringing down the alien empire with a simple garden-variety computer virus! A friggin' computer virus are you shitting me?!" How the hell do these people know that the alien ships aren't immune to such electronic contamination?! These are extra-terrestrials we're talking about, here! The next example is the psychically destroying the ships with thermonuclear weapons. What? Hasn't Emmerich ever heard of EMP, nuclear fallout, and atomic shock waves?! Unbelievable.
If you are going to make a movie about aliens invading Earth, do it with thought, pizazz, and a better f&*king reason to raze the cities of the Earth other than just for the hell of it!!! Seeing million of people cram the highways at the last minute is a stupid sight in itself. Haven't we seen this before in the movie the Day After and Earthquake? Let's do something different other than a resurrection of 70's melodrama. In conclusion, Rolan Emmerich is just as bad as Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay only he brings the absurd doomsday element into his movies. People like him and his contemporaries must be stopped!
American Psycho (2000)
A Devilishly Good Time!
Very few horror films are entertaining. In fact, most horror flicks are morally flawed, disturbing, and too dark natured. It makes you hate humanity or at least question it. The characters are even worse than the things they do. They're often psychotic, half-human wild-eyed mutants that kill without the consulting of a conscience. Horror is anything evil and sadistic....not fun!
American Psycho is an exception to the rule. Here we have mild-mannered, clean-cut, and charming Patrick Bateman who has a lucrative career as an investment banker in Lower Manhattan, a million-dollar apartment high-rise, and a 6-figure bank account, and snotty, elitist attitude to boot. But, our snotty Yuppie friend has a secret....a dark secret! He happens to be a serial killer that can't be caught! How's that for terrifying! A Yuppie who's a douchebag, pompous jerk, a nerdy white guy is his own right and has a fetish to murder people.
AP is not your average horror film. There's no gore aplenty like in Friday the 13th or the Saw franchise, well there's the part where Bateman chases and eventually kills a woman with a chainsaw down a flight of steps and the bloody scenes inside Paul Allen's apartment. Most of American Psycho's horrid lure is based solely on human psychology wrapped in avant-garde surrealism of 80's Wall Street flash. It's all about craving for absolute attention and being considered a nobody even when you have everything you could ever desire at your feet. Bateman(played by Christian Bale) is both a disturbing and comedic character. Bale's performance has motion rooted in satire and mocks the upper-class lifestyle with perfection. In fact the whole cast except Willem Dafoe and Chloe Sverginy are satirical foils which are at first humorous, then irritating/annoying, then detestable.
The truth is almost every male in this movie is a self-centered asshole
that behaves more like a spoiled teenage girl in a locker room gossipping with her friends rather than executives in a boardroom. All they do is compete and talk behind each others backs. You still have the pompous jerk alpha male, the slut, the pure innocent girl, the geek, and the killer himself. With all horror films, the jerk, old bum, a few sluts, indeed get murdered, but it's done so brilliantly and with such discretion. American Psycho is enjoyable for having already obnoxious and rather stupid characters meeting there demise(except the homeless guy with the dog in the alley) that deserve to get killed. You're catching yourself cheering for Patrick Bateman whose the serial killer! Wow! A horror movie that makes you think is a wonderful experience that no one ever experimented before. It's like Sweeney Todd, only this time no one loses an eye and fun doesn't seem to stop!
My only criticism is that it could've used more of the 1980's stylistic touch, pastel-colored clothing, a Ferrari Testarossa speeding down Fifth Avenue, etc. What American Psycho should've done was focus on the mid-80's which truly defined the decade in question and evolve into the early 1990's. Because no one remembers 1988 and 1989 that much.
Where's The Conspiracy and Intrigue?
I thought whenever they would create a big-screen biography on one of our worst Presidents ever inaugurated it would be full of secrets that are on the borderline of libelous. Especially from Oliver Stone. Oh, how wrong I was...how wrong I was.
Before I explain what's wrong with film, I'll explain what's right with it. First off, we're offered a glimpse of his past....Brilliant move. It's like he is aimless and lacked skill on any front. It's like he's a reckless frat boy without direction. I know I'm not perfect, but I wanted to yell at this guy: "What the holy blue hell is wrong with you?!" and "He shouldn't be president at all. He shouldn't have a political career" I have to admit it was entertaining seeing a life evolve into the controversial figure who ran the United States into the ground for eight years...we have yet to recover from the illness. On some parts like his collapse in the woods, or his abstaining from alcohol can some what tug at your heart(if that's even remotely possible). You have to admit the casting was on dead performance. The plotting of the so-called War on Terror is humorous yet serious at the same time. Richard Dryfuss's portrayal of Cheney is spot-on and quite memorable, especially.
This film was disappointing because it didn't examine the whole story the story behind the story...like Nixon, the JFK assassination. Not only should Stone have visited Bush's past, but his defining moment and our nation's darkest hour on September 11th and how he linked it impossibly to Iraq. Where's the controversy? Where's the sordid details or intrigue that we come to expect from Oliver Stone? Maybe W isn't one of those films. Maybe it wasn't meant to be as serious as JFK and Born on the 4th of July. I can live with that. However, humor, lack-of- provocation notwithstanding, we need the a controversial Oliver Stone Biopic now, a 2000's version of JFK. If any character deserves a deeper analysis it's W.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
A near-musical that has realism, grit and charisma.
Not many musicals or movie where the musical stylings are a part of the film as the cast. Saturday Night Fever works because it shows the world of late 1970's New York City. One of the reasons why: It was done at the right time, not 10 years after, not 2 years before. 1977 was the heyday of the Disco movement...and you cannot get any better than the heart of Disco which is in New York. When someone hears the word "Disco" they often visualize happy, clean-cut people straight out of a Eight Is Enougb episode having a good time or a rabble of openly gay sex addicts. This movie shows neither.
SNF has no stereotypes to flaunt and exploit. The Moreno family is a struggling middle-class Italian family with their tensions. In fact, the main character, Tony is a womanizing, sexist, racist, profane bastard. Most mainstream movies then and now frown on this kind of character. He even rapes his rather attractive dancing partner, Stephanie! How's that for a hero?! Despite the recklessness, domestic abuse at the dinner table, and shameless use or racist slurs, there are bright point in the movie. Tony is devoted to his dancing no matter and he sees it as an art-form. By the middle of the film you want this boorish man to excel to a higher station. SNF is incomplete without the disco known as 2001 and Tony's remarkably impressive dance moves!
If only High School Musical were this impressive, serious, and intelligent, not-to-mention daring. Alas, the 2000's have no defining musical style like the 1970's did. In the end, you felt some sympathy for Tony Monero and all his faults. Saturday Night Fever is a classic that can never be duplicated no matter how hard one tries.
A Unique Concept in Familiar Territory
Normally the only unmanned car that works well in above all others is KITT from the 1980's series Knight Rider. But Christine is a very rare exception to the rule. Indeed, she doesn't talk, but she has superpowers: impervious to fire, vandalism, etc.
This movie is a unique concept because you're wondering why is this red 1958 Plymouth so....you know, evil from the assembly line onward. But that's not the only aspect that capture my interest. It's the connection this car has with the film's main character, Artie who is a rather typical geek/bullied teen. He's pushed around by jocks and gear-head punks at school, led by the merciless Buddy Ripperton(yeah, real threatening name, there?) and criticized by his elitist, cold, snotty bitch of mother, Regina. His only sense of freedom and independence is found in Christine, a '58 Plymouth Fury in which he finds in the yard of an old hermit.
The chemistry between Artie Cunningham and Christine is established as Artie himself restores the possessed classic car to her former glory, despite being scoled and harassed by everyone. After Chistine gets beaten, almost destroyed by Ripperton and his goon squad, this is where the magic happens. She(the car)shows her dark side and creates Arnie's as she repairs herself and goes on a mission of revenge and murder killing or almost killing(if you count Artie rescuing his girlfriend Leigh from Christine's unseen choking grip) that interferes their man/machine relationship. You're almost rooting for Arnie and Christine because let's face it: The mother's pissy snob, his classmates are brawny hoodlums. Personally, I could identify with this classic case of intimidation. Besides, Seeing this old-school car kick some serious ass is a rather pleasant experience.
Christine adds a devilish mystique that is makes a fantasy horror film watchable. John Carpenter did his job in making a revenge fantasy done right from the get go. Finally, where did that evil spirit that was embedded into Christine's sheet metal and frame come from? Your guess is as good as mine.
A Gem...A True Classic!
In a decade of lazily-made movie remakes crafted in the most disgusting manner, to the point of the audience rolling their eyes and giving out disgruntled sighs and comments not for the faint of heart, this is an exception. Movies now are nothing more than cash cows for rather evil studio execs producing eye-candy for the stupid and thoughtless!
In comes Sweeney Todd. I originally thought that this was another ridiculous millennial horror movie, that fails to keep interest complete with masochistic lunatics abound. But not this time. I was first greeted with a rather melodious introduction by a young sailor saying how glad he is to return home. Then Sweeney chimes in with his more cynical verse done to absolute perfection. In fact, everyone who sings that doesn't usually sing does their part to perfection. I am impressed! Very impressed! The songs enables you to feel the characters' emotions! The acting is done with amusement and whimsy, you actually sense the actors' enjoy being in character. Sweeney Todd is pure musical ecstasy and a study in human psychology/duality until the end.
Yes, the ending. It's one to be remembered. It's no longer child's play or the musical with whimsy it was at the beginning. Spoiler! Heads up! Sweeney in total ignorance kills his wife (who has gone mad because of his absence and from Judge Turpin's advances turning her into a beggar) throws her down into the cellar where men are turned into meat pies. Second, is the scene where Mrs. Lovett is tossed into the huge fiery oven and burned to a cinder and you the audience see her do so while screaming bloody murder. Nice! And the last but not least, the boy taken in by Lovett kills Todd in revenge for Mrs. Lovett. Sweeney is left bleeding to death cradling his wife in a fatal and silent reunion.
Sweeney is a wonderful film and a wonderful musical. The funny and odd thing is that its has a gross usage of the infamous CGI! Not may movies can hold up this standard. Let's hope Alice in Wonderland is another hit in the world of Gothic depiction.
An Epic to Behold in All its Glory!
The movie begins in an eerie dead quiet spaceship, then shocks you as the life support systems of the Nostromo activate themselves. You are introduced to bright florescent lighting and our crew is just waking up...you actually feel their reluctance to "rise and shine". After being exposed scenes of the usage of technology beyond our years, the Nostromo lands on an alien world...blah, blah, blah. It's all normal sci-fi formula until they come face to face in a alien incubator. Suddenly, Kane is almost assaulted by the alien parasite which was an odyssey in itself.
The most famous scene is the most chilling of all. You think Kane is in the clear as he is conversing and eating with his friends until...he vomits, spits, and groans in agonizing pain. The parasite grows and explodes in his stomach!! Now, tell me where the hell can you find an award winning film with this much gore(excluding Saving Private Ryan)? Normally, when things such as said incident happens it's usually in some poorly-directed, cheap, straight-to-DVD droll with a high-kicking pretty boy or some half-wit actress with phony D-cups in the starring role.
Anyway, the next hour or so is a deluge of twists and turns. Every time someone hears a noise, you think it's the Alien, that's growing even bigger. One by one, the eighth passenger is devouring the Nostromo's crew leaving only Lt. Ripley behind. This is where it gets intense. You are infected with her sense of impending doom with the invader in pursuit as she attempts to detonate and evacuate the ship.
Now comes the sermon: This is what science-fiction is missing...a plot with motion and emotion! Alien is not a dumb-ass, loud, stupid and stereotypical action fair like today: chock-full of CGI, plot holes, and moronic characters that are annoying and useless, and packaged with media hype! No! It's uses the right amount of special effects, plot, and suspense! Alien is a true sci-fi horror masterpiece for the ages! Let's hope the 2010's uses Alien's example.
CSI: Miami (2002)
The Unreal World of Bruckheimer !!!!
I do not hate this show. In fact I often find this show intriguing. Yeah, that's right! Intriguing! It has the mystique of the original CSI with the stylistic aura of the late, great Miami Vice! Unlike Cold Case! I wouldn't mind watching a marathon of this. CSI Miami has some pretty interesting characters, Horatio Caine, especially. But alas, this is not Miami Vice. In fact this is where CSI Miami falls short of the "winner circle" in my opinion of course. This show has none of the street cred grittiness of the 80's cop drama. Miami Vice not only displays the flashed-up culture of the South Beach social scene, but it examines the underworld in great detail. In CSI's case, we are exposed to mundane and obnoxious stereotypes from the African-American crackheads/gangbangers to the drug-pushing/child abducting White Trash venom. CSI Miami is in a shallow picture-perfect dreamworld. A dreamworld where everyone considered a normal citizen is under 50, drives a Lexus Lux-ed out SUV, lives in a subdivisions and wears a designer suit to work. And every woman is a thin gorgeous knock-out with model proportions. What cop would wear high heels to work? C'mon here!
Last but not least: That wise-ass blonde CSI cop with the Southern Accent, is the personification of the word "Bitch".