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45 reviews in total 
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Life of Pi (2012)
5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
"And so it is with God", 25 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Life of Pi is an amazing allegory, that attempts to explain a very abstract concept. This will no doubt confuse many, because it touches on the heart of how we perceive our own spiritual beliefs, it challenges our ideas of religion, the things we have held onto since childhood to give us hope and inspiration. Many people will leave the theater thrilled by a story of a boy who is trapped in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger and how they formed a bond that saved them both. The film is vividly colorful, exciting and haunting, masterfully directed by Ang Lee. But, just as we think we've had a rollicking good time with a fantastical story, the last part of the film comes at us, and shakes us up. This is the crucial part of the film, and if audiences choose to ignore this, they miss the entire message of the film. As Jung said "Man must have his myths". So it is with God, so it is with Life of Pi.

Devil (2010)
27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Sorry, I just couldn't go there., 19 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was looking forward to this one, the trailers seemed to promise some tight thrills and scares. Honestly, as is the case with many films now, the trailer was better than the overall film. The story is ridiculously simple. People trapped in an elevator may or may not be terrorized by Lucifer. I suppose it would help if the concept of the Devil was somehow relevant to you personally, but I've never been able to buy it as a legitimate horror vehicle. As is the case many times with God, why Satan would take the time from what I can only assume is a very busy schedule to play out a scenario that the movie presents left me with more questions than I would like to have trying to be entertained. Many of the "set-ups" which come via narration are new to me: Suicides bring him out of hiding, he likes to have an audience, and surprise of surprises, he doesn't like to make deals. Huh. The production is fine, the acting was fine, it was the story itself that I found lacking. What could have been a good half hour on television is stretched to feature length. We know very little about anyone, so caring about anyone is difficult. Characters behave strangely from the very beginning. Even when we find out a tiny bit of information about a character it only serves to justify the story, not build a character. Overall, typical Shyamalan. Take a simple concept and stretch it, and stretch it and....

22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Quirky view of Hollywood, 29 June 2010

This film seems way ahead of it's time, made in 1965 it's one of the first to show a darker side of Tinsel Town. Natalie Wood plays a tomboy who's plucked from obscurity and becomes a teen singing star. Her character is almost immediately jaded by the experience, manipulated by a studio head and a dubious male heartthrob, played by a stunning looking Robert Redford. Ruth Gordon once again stands out as the teen stars' mother. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the smooth studio head with Roddy McDowall as his cold assistant. Katharine Bard plays Plummers' wife, and her character is fascinating. She seems to float and flow when she moves and her character sums up the film's overall feel. Distant, detached and alien yet seething with anger and disappointment.

The problem with the film is that it's very dark in tone. That is to say the slick big budget production is overshadowed by a strange menace, highlighting the fact that the studio system was basically a people factory, uncaring and cannibalistic. Audiences at the time must have been very confused, expecting a light, breezy musical. Instead it's a realistic yet stylized downer, reminiscent of Valley of the Dolls, which was yet to come. There's very little genuine romance, sentiment or humor, just a steady flow of odd scenes.

This is one of those movies that many have never heard of, it remains obscure despite it's almost epic appeal. It's certainly worth a look, but just try to nail it down to any specific category.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Hollywood, have mercy on your audience!, 16 May 2010

How in the world can ANY producer believe that trotting out this mediocre, unbelievably unoriginal offering can in any way please a movie-going public so used to the Nightmare franchise? There aren't many people around of a certain age who do not know at least the first original, brilliant Wes Craven film.

I would think that someone involved with the storyboard of this film would have come up with SOMETHING original, something clever, some sort of twist...anything. But no, they do not. This film is all over the place, trying so hard to impress that it fails miserably. Nothing about the film is suspenseful or frightening. The R rating is wasted on cliché after infuriating cliché. Are we supposed to nod knowingly, remembering the exact same scenario from another, better made film? I find this sad and cannot help but feel ripped off. Why wouldn't I just enjoy the better film? I already own it. The only difference seems to be that we get to know Freddy a little better....ooOOOOO..really? That's what you're selling us? I sincerely hope that someone in the industry is reading this, because let me tell you, times are hard. Money is tight. If this kind of sham excuse for "new" continues, the only profits Hollywood will glean are from DVD sales. Clean up your act.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Whole Lotta Nothing Going On, 30 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. Shyamalan is definitely hit or miss. When he does well, it's a good combination of well made film and a fun ride. When he doesn't, look out. Here we have a plot so ludicrous to begin with, that for a second I thought it was brilliant. Therein lies much of Shyamalan's gimmick. He's very good at convincing us that what we're looking at is somehow cerebral and meaningful, and ooooooriginal. This implied depth is more often than not, less than an inch in thickness. Here we have wind as our mortal enemy, plants in revolt. Running from nothing isn't very suspenseful or scary. There's lots of that. There are short scenes of graphic violence, followed by long scenes of nothingness. Talky relationship hooha tries to make us care. The only suspense is whether the plot is going to progress or not. Shyamalan should know how to direct his actors by now, but they all seem lost, doing their own thing whether it works or not.

Horrible script, just horrible.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The title says it all..., 11 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Eyes Wide Shut remains one of those films that when I mention it to people, I inevitably get eye rolls and OMGs. It's weirdness seems to overpower it, causing what I like to call "The Art-house Effect". Many expect a mainstream film; this if far from one. Many viewers no doubt expected a film that would titillate and shock. It does do both of these things but they take a far backseat. For all it's convolution and confusion, the story is very simple. A man travels by night across Manhattan and Long Island at Christmas. During this all-nighter he has many strange adventures and is subjected to temptations. In the light of the next day, he is shown how wrong he was about his perceptions. If this reminds you of A Christmas Carol, then congratulations because you would be right. This film could be rightly called a very adult Carol. It also suggests legends and myths where the "hero" is tested by his encounters and found to be worthy.

Kubrick was a film genius. He doesn't care if we "don't get it", he never has. Most of his films have been received as being difficult to understand, yet later they somehow achieve clarity. It's as though we catch up to him after a few years. His lighting in this is especially sublime, "pushing" the exposure a few extra stops so that ambient light, (candles, table lamps, Christmas lights) is plenty of light. This makes the goings on dark and dreamlike. Further enhancing this unreal atmosphere are supposedly outdoor street scenes, which look artificial to the extreme. Look at the streets the next time you watch this, they look pristine, impossibly perfect. My only severe criticism of this film is the casting of Cruise and Kidman. A Superceleb couple at the time of filming, IMHO they are horribly miscast. Cruise projects very little presence, I wondered why anyone bothered to interact with him to the degree they do. Kidman pretty much started her Ice Queen period here, despite a playful character, she is distant. Their looks only go so far in this. There's the feeling of rebelliousness by both of them, as though they are fighting against the rest of the film. It's a testament to Kubrick's masterful hand that the film transcends this miscasting, under another director it might have ruined it.

This film is magic. A fairy tale for grown ups. It's message is clear and echoed throughout the film by the password for entry to the party. Without trust and honesty in relationships, we are lost.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Style over substance, but what style!, 14 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The remake of the 1941 Universal classic (this time as one word) The Wolfman comes at us with a dark panache that wonderful to look at. High Victorian Gothic never looked better. It's all here, the huge manor house on the moors, a funeral procession to the crypt, London by night. From the beginning the art direction takes center stage, shadows and oil lamps, moonlit forests. I was hoping they'd include the classic poem ("Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night...") would be included, at this point it's almost a tradition. I wasn't disappointed.

The script writers take a few liberties with the story as all horror fans know it, pushing the envelope a few notches further into family dysfunction. A sliver of a love story seems added as an afterthought. Rather than enhance the plot is strains it slightly, but it still holds up due to the great performances and direction. Bloody gore is the star here, and hooray for that. Luckily we did not get a tame wolf.

All in all a fun ride. There are several action sequences that are thrilling, the film moves along at a nice pace, but first and foremost, it's a feast for the eyes.

Avatar (2009)
47 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely Incredible, 21 December 2009

There's a lot of gushing going on for this film, and rightly so. After a Summer of lackluster crap, along comes this magnificent film. For once the hype was actually deserved. I won't talk about the plot, this film is best seen with as little information as possible. I will say that I wasn't prepared for the experience, even as a jaded film-goer I was transported and yes, moved. I didn't expect the emotional impact, but Cameron is a master at pushing all the right buttons, and he does so here masterfully.

Some of the criticism lies in the "surface" quality of the plot, but again, Cameron has never made deep, cerebral films. Cameron is an entertainer, and thank God for it. This film is pure, futuristic, ahead of it's time escapism. I was absolutely floored.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
"Oh look, I have a paper cut", 6 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The juggernaut that is The Twilight Saga rolls along with it's latest entry, New Moon. Basically a study in repressed teen sexuality the story, which involved four novels could have easily been shortened, but that would have meant less money. New Moon is what I would call a "filler" film, stretching an already interminable plot out to the point that we might as well know what every character had to eat, day by day. Kristen Stewart plays Bella, a rather bleak girl who is transplanted to Forks, the town that gives new meaning to boondocks. But wait, this isn't just any Nowheresville, it's full of vampires and now, werewolves. Vampires have always represented sexuality, but Miss Meyer has decided that it's time for vampires to go to the teen scene. Didn't we cover that pretty well with a girl named Buffy? I fully expect some clever writer to next make millions off of vampires in pre-school. Sex is hidden as rage and depression, frustration and angst all under a supernatural veneer. Take away the fantasy and you have a story that would flop even on Lifetime. This is of course not the real world, so it's entirely acceptable for a young girl to have practically every male in her community want her, whatever their supernatural inclinations may be. Forget about the fact that Bella has no charm or charisma whatsoever, she smells good. But Bella is safe in her knowledge that she really, really loves Edward, a creature that is not only over 100 years old, but for all intents and purposes, dead. It helps that Edward is good looking, I seriously doubt the dynamic would work without that little detail. I kept wondering why any immortal would constantly attend high school, decade after decade. Isn't there anything else more interesting to do? Travel the world? Discover a cure? In this entry we also get Jacob, who was introduced sparsely in Twilight but has now grown into a Chippendales hunk who gives us two versions of hairstyles to choose from. He and his pack of woofy wolves do not like shirts. Conflict ensues. Bella seems bright and mature but does not exhibit any signs of either. She throws herself between Nosferatu and Werewolf, ceasing their super strength fighting with a flick of her hand. She stands among a coven of the undead (who are celebrating her birthday for God's sake) and makes the idiotic mistake of holding a finger up and announcing that it's cut and bleeding. At one point she takes every opportunity she can to risk her life, a nice little lesson for girls in the audience who have been jilted. She is either the most oblivious mortal that has ever lived or some sort of conniving vixen, hell bent on driving her menfolk insane. A large chunk of the film is Bella brooding that her corpse lover has left her. Jacob the hunky dog boy jumps in, trying to cheer her up and thus get her... It's all played out very romancey and sweet, with almost no violence. The story hinges on a precarious line between what can and cannot be. This is easily solved by Bella's decision to convert, which flies in the face of any common sense; the age old concept of laying down your life for the one you love it turned on it's head and comes across as laughable. Is there a witness protection program for new vampires? Does she love her father? Finally, toward the end of this torturous thing some pretty cool vamps show up and get all vampy like you would expect them to. I just wish that SOMEONE had said "Edward, you must grow out of this school phase, get on with your undead life and drop the downer girl. Now run along, you have hunky dogs to kill."

Pageant (2008)
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great little film, 2 November 2009

Pageant is a documentary about The Miss Gay America Pageant, apparently THE high stakes competition for female impersonators. We meet a few of the contestants and follow them on a bizarre, funny, poignant and exhilarating journey. It's fascinating to see what support they have, from a very close straight friend to parents and their partners. It obviously takes courage for these guys to do what they do and they give it their all, it's exhausting just to watch them. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Imaginative with over the top performances and costumes, subtlety has no place here. If you've never seen anything like this,check it out. Entertaining from start to finish.

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