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5 reviews in total 
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11 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Beautifully Hypnotic Puzzle, 8 July 2011

While I was watching The Tree of Life, I occasionally snapped out of my hypnotic trance to wonder if I was watching the most beautiful work of genius I had ever seen, or if I was watching the biggest piece of artsy lard I had ever seen. At those moments I really couldn't tell. But after I left the theater and over the course of the next few hours as the experience sunk in, I was inclined to believe the former. This movie does not follow traditional standards of what to expect in a film -- the fragmented story line, the seemingly disconnected cosmology, the subtle nuances of truth that slip by you at the moment, only to slap you in the face with their brutal honesty seconds later when you think you might "understand" them -- are all spread out before the viewer like an intense jigsaw puzzle. It was a strange sensation to suspect I was experiencing an event of fluidity and beauty as never before, while at the same time wondering why some people hadn't gotten up and walked out in disgust. The sensation didn't make sense to my logic, but it did make sense to my intuition. This is a movie, I believe, best viewed intuitively. Logic just gets in the way. I predict this is one of those movies you will either love or you will hate, depending on which part of yourself you allow to see it. Regardless, I also predict an Oscar nomination if not a win for director Terrance Malick.

UPDATE: Nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards were announced this morning. Tree of Life has been nominated for Best Picture and Terrance Malick has been nominated for Best Director. Love it or hate it, my prediction was good.

The Road (2009/I)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Haunting to some; daunting to others, 18 January 2010

The Road is not a movie I am quick to say I "enjoyed", but rather one that has "haunted" me since leaving the theater. I don't think I enjoy it. There's nothing to enjoy in this incredibly effective depiction of post-apocalyptic hopelessness, but there is much to respect. I found it beautiful despite its starkness and hopeful despite its gloom. The acting is sharp and appropriate for the story, reflecting the misery and the desperation of characters subtly veiled by a tenacious instinct to survive, like the ash that covers the gray landscape. It haunted me because I could never be sure of what I would do if put in the same circumstances as the protagonists (or the antagonists, for that matter). The difference between good and bad, brutality and compassion, loses its clarity in a dying world. And that's what I thought this movie did so wonderfully -- it made me think about my own definition of humanity.

28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
It should be called "Crappy-Go-Lucky", 16 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How can anyone dislike a movie like "Happy-Go-Lucky" without appearing to be a curmudgeon? I don't know, but I'll try. First, the main character's perpetual smiling and giggling at every question and obstacle she faces seems to be more the result of a socially inept nervousness than from having any understanding of the world. Second, the main character's approach to a problem with a bully in the class she teaches ends up appearing to have more to do with the physical attraction she has for the male social worker that comes to help than it does with the tragedy of the bully being physically abused at home. Third, the main character's run-in with a mentally ill homeless man on her way home one night seems to be more about satisfying her own superficial curiosity than it does her interest in learning anything about the human condition. And fourth, the main character's final encounter with her driving instructor seems more evident of her total lack of previous insight than it does her ability to be able to reach out to a tortured soul.

I guess what I disliked most about the movie is that these four key plot points appear to be put in the movie to try to make us believe the main character, Poppy, was not just a flighty party girl, but had some depth of spirit that we could emulate. I hope nobody emulates Poppy. Even though I think it is important to be happy in this world, it is more important to be happy for the right reasons. True happiness goes to the core of the soul. Poppy's happiness was as whimsical and deep as the clothes that she wore.

I gave it three points for some comedic charm.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
I like to call it "War of the West Side Story Gargantuas", 21 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I ranked this movie so high because it's a must-see for anyone who likes horrible movies. As Japanese monster movies go, this ones a classic. Russ Tamblyn, five years after his bold and exuberant role as "Riff", the leader of the Jets street gang in West Side Story, has been down-graded as an actor by the time he takes the role of the intense doctor in War of the Gargantuas. His total disgust at having to compromise his earlier aspirations of stardom are clearly reflected in his WOTG performance where every one of his lines seem spoken while trying to stifle projectile vomiting. My guess is that the only reason he doesn't break down in tears in front of the cameras while muttering "Why me? Why me?" is because he didn't cash his paycheck from the Toho producers before filming. For this reason alone, WOTG is an example of Mr. Tamblyn's best acting.

This is just one aspect of why this movie is a gem. I first saw the film during a late night horror show in the 70's. The Green Gargantua (the bad guy in the movie) was perhaps the ugliest thing I had ever seen and the star of many nightmares for months afterward. He looks like a giant hockey player covered in green carpet and scales and sporting a face that's a cross between an angry Frankenstein and a cosmetic surgery addict (you know the ones I mean). Green Gargantua is unstoppable as he teases the unsuspecting citizens by periodically popping out of the ocean only long enough to run across the tarmac of Tokyo International Airport and munch on the occasional lounge singer before jumping back into the safety of Tokyo Bay. Can you imagine how much of an inconvenience this must have been for the air traffic controllers? I mean, it's hard to plan for that kind of thing.

As usual, mankind gets sick of being treated like Crunch'n'Munch and eventually lures G.G. into the countryside where they are hoping to destroy him by performing the gargantuan equivalent of throwing a toaster into a bathtub and carving him up with those handy-dandy masers (those giant flashlights on trailers that shoot lightning). Man, if only the Japanese would have had that technology 20 years earlier. The outcome of WWII would have been mighty different, I tell you. Anyway, G.G. gets torn up and Brown Gargantua (the good guy in the movie)finally shows up to save him. We see Brown Gargantua once earlier in the film as a baby when we discover that Russ Tamblyn's character (along with his assistant, the beautiful Akemi) used to be kind of like his Au Pair when the little bugger was just a Springer Spaniel-sized, milkshake-drinking squirrel monkey. B.G. is much bigger than G.G. (and comparatively more handsome by Gargantua standards) and is able to talk the Japanese army into stopping their assault on G.G. by waving his hand and yelling (B.G. is much more of a diplomat than his green flesh-eating brother).

The last act of the movie has B.G. breaking his leg while saving Akemi from a fall, then giving G.G. his walking papers (a tree to the face) after discovering all his new room-mate does is lay around the forest apartment all day eating up everything in the frig (aka, hikers and boaters). G.G. tears back to Tokyo (and I don't mean that slow, cocky saunter we get from other Japanese monsters, but an all-out sprint the likes you have never seen) while a limping B.G. pursues him (I don't know if it's to talk some sense into G.G. -- "Hey, eating people is BAD" -- or what, but it's a needed plot point for a dramatic ending). B.G. catches up to G.G. in Tokyo and they duke it out to a standstill (and you can't tell me B.G. wouldn't have mopped the floor with G.G. if his leg weren't broken). Russ Tamblyn's character and Akemi do their best to keep the armed forces of Tokyo from killing B.G. in the chaos, but are unsuccessful. Obviously, the military has caught wind that Russ Tamblyn is no longer the leader of the Jets street gang and has no authority over them. The two gargantuas continue to fight through the city and into the bay where, low-and-behold, a volcano has just decided to erupt and boil the two monsters as they flail away at each other. The ending shot is of the erupting volcano and the boiling bay accompanied by very sad music. I'm sure the music is designed to keep the audience from following their instinct to say "Yea, the Green Gargantua is getting boiled!", but instead, motivate them to say "Darn, the Brown Gargantua is getting boiled!". My eyes are getting misty just thinking about it.

So, there you go. Enjoy it for what it's worth -- a testament to the importance of more enlightened Gargantua conservation laws.

166 out of 269 people found the following review useful:
A cult-classic, 31 March 2005

Though this movie seems to strike a chord with the younger crowd, there is no age limit to appreciating this film, just limits in your sense of humor. Perhaps the funniest movie I've seen in years, ND explores character profiles we never thought would make it to the movies. The characters cover a wide range of social misfits and exhibit the nuances of their behavior in a way that makes sense to them, if not to the general public. It's like a sociological case study of a primitive and exotic tribe of "Nerds". Everyone of us should be able to recognize at least one of the ND characters from somewhere in our past or somewhere in our psyches. The acting is sublime, because sometimes we forget that they ARE acting. The writing and dialogue are inventive and unexpected, and so dry it might take you a few days to start laughing. But once you do start laughing, you won't be able to stop. This movie is sure to be a cult classic for the new millennium the way Repo Man was the the 80's. And if you like this film, consider yourself luck-EEEE, because not everyone will.