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::SPOILERS:: Best and Worst of Times for Moffat
It was rubbish writing. Moffat broke the cardinal rule of writing with too much narrating. It wouldn't be Moffat without a big red button in the form of a big, shiny crack in the sky. Clara *remembers* seeing the Silents next time she sees them, which isn't how it works. Stolen plot line ("Handles" the Cyberman head...an asinine idea...is a direct lift of Tom Hanks and his volleyball "companion", Wilson in "Castaway"). The "Old man" makeup on Smith was awful. And Moffat had to come up with an even bigger regeneration than ever before. Took out a few thousand daleks at this go. ..And started the Time War, the whole reason he aged to prevent, yet no explanation or worries, just turns young again and piddles about the TARDIS. And now we have Tash (possibly meant to be River) the half Dalek mucking about somewhere in the TARDIS. He gave Smith as maudlin a farewell as Tennant had. (Possibly Moffat's farewell speech as show runner). Rubbish writing. And yet he had me crying several times. And waiting until August for the the next Doctor's real debut.
The thing is, even Moffat's rubbish is gold for the rest of us. It's not easy to have us (as most of us, male and female, did) both laugh and weep...repeatedly...in under an hour. Being a Whovian is like having a brilliant but lazy child. It's all the more frustrating because you know what *might* have been. It seems inconceivable that the gem of "The Night of the Doctor" and this rubbish came from a mind between the same set of ears.
This whole movie can be summed up in one phrase: "The playa got played."
I've seen the gamut in these reviews from raves to rants. And the truth is, ironically, the same point as the movie: You make your own reality. Like the example I've used so often from Antoine de St Exupery, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) "Did the sheep eat the rose? Did you create holes in the box?"
The elements are all present to make this a wonderful movie of your OWN interpretation. But if you wait for someone else to put the glitter and paint together you'll be disappointed. On the surface we have a mess of provocative ideas, many conflicting, but you can still add your own interpretation that takes the film as given, cheap sophistry with shoot 'em up action scenes, and turns it into something special like the old board game with so many alternate endings.
Here's my choice of how I chose to put the glitte , paint and paper together...You are involved in industrial espionage and involved with corporations trading and hiding secrets. In the process you learn of the ultimate trade secret: how to literally steal ideas from others, and how to implant ideas of your own in their heads. You begin to dabble in it yourself but your pride gets the best of you. As you convince yourself of your proficiency you unwittingly run into the most terrible secret of one of your clients. You are a beginner and they are the experts and you unlocked: The fatal flaw...Doubting all reality. Now your mind is in free fall. You no longer know what is real or a dream or if there is any ultimate reality anymore. The stability of your family which you thought would always ground you is gone. You shared the terrible secret with your wife and she killed herself...or did you? Now all you can do is continue forward, trying to find out what's real and to forget the terrible knowledge that nothing may be. You got infected by the process you were trying to infect others with: Doubt And it's all set to the dreamy tune your subconscious soothed you with "Non, Je ne regrette riens"...I regret nothing...But you do. The playa got played.
The Client (1994)
I was hooked from the start when, because of the great writing, acting and directing, I felt concerned about the characters even though I knew they really weren't in danger because they were the crux of the movie. And that pleasant surprise continued right to the end of the film with its clever writing that had me alternately enthralled or chuckling (appropriately) at plot twists.
Another pleasant surprise was that it had a PG-13 rating. Aside from the rough language many teens actually use, there was no unnecessary gore, sex or violence. Ironic given the Mafia plot line. You get the point & feeling without the unnecessary graphic element most other directors would go for.
I suspected it would be a great movie with Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon in it & I wasn't disappointed. The one deduction was for some obvious plot holes.
The shattering information that the lead died as a teenager in real life of a heroin overdose just makes it more of a tragedy that his talent is gone. But he did himself proud with this, his debut.
The Case for Christ (2007)
Inbreeding in Investigation
I'm a Baptist minister & a Christian but I was turned off by this "documentary" because it exclusively uses Christians as the critics. That's like asking a drunk if someone should stop drinking. It makes the whole thing just silly. Not to mention that the whole reason the "investigation" was started was because his wife was a Christian. So he had a vested interest in supporting the Christian beliefs.
I became a Christian as a result of hearing Erich Von Daniken's book "God is an Astraonaut" I said "I can make a million bucks writing a graphic novel about all those Bible studies really being visits by aliens!" But I had to read the Bible so I got one that was supposed to be pluralistic and said outloud to any aliens, gods or whatever, "I want to know the Truth, whomever & whatever that is!" Before I finished reading it through the first time I met and fell in love with Jesus Christ. The rest is history. :0) But what convinced me was statements in the Bible itself like there being 500 eyewitnesses at the time these things were written who never contradicted it.
If you're a Christian this might feel like an inspiring documentary. But if you're not a Christian read the Bible for yourself notas told to you by Christians. Ask GOD to show Himself to you as you do & be prepared!
Dear John (2010)
Dear GOD this is awful!
Somehow I thought that this would be something along the lines of Hemingway set in the modern era with the war being a major plot element & psychological influence. But the plot is as thin as a used tissue & about as useful. It is beyond my comprehension that this thing which seems like it was written by a prepubescent girl for an English class essay...complete with horses & dialog to match...was funded & actually became a #1 movie. I can only imagine that investors were counting on the war element to draw crowds and, sadly, their deception worked.
Every cheap, implausible, laughably foolish romantic element from beginning to end was used in this maudlin mess & all the many plot holes filled with sugar & spice & no charm, grace, style or writing ability at all.
Save your money & two hours of your life & just buy a can of sweet corn. It's the same thing. And if you're a man & the woman in your life wants you to sit through this dreck, take her shopping instead. This is more painful.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
An Offbeat Heart
Themfirst few moments throw you. He directing, the sound track, the dialogue, it's all offbeat and out of sync, off kilter. But if you stick through those disorienting moments you'll recognize a heartbeat and the crazy rhythm of love.
Even the sound track suddenly stops being strange as you accept Sandler's character and step into his world. That's when you'll recognize the genius of his performance and of the writing and directing.
True film buffs will recognize Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin in all their pathos reborn in violent, heartbreaking yet still endearing reincarnation in Sandler.
At once a love story and bitter commentary on the isolation of society and its treatment of the different and the lonely, like Borgnine's Marty of years ago.
See it and have your heart broken and faith in love restored. Warning: Some violence. Strong offensive language
So THAT'S Where They Saw It!
Have you seen the Sopranos? Then you have seen this movie. That's all it is, poorly rewritten episodes of The Soprano complete with a hit-man who goes to a Therapist talking about getting out of "The Family Business" and hitting on women along the way.
All that's missing are: good writing, good acting, drama, violence, sex or anything that makes you think this isn't a rip-off of the Sopranos.
And once you know that it was a "made for HBO in 2001" special...and remember The Sopranos was on HBO you realize this was an attempt to hold the Sopranos market. On the cheap.
They fail miserably. Save yourselves. Don't see this. I'd say the writers should be "whacked", but that would be too good for them and too reminiscent of...Well, the Sopranos.
This is an excellent movie for parents to enjoy with their children While it has a cute, imaginative story for the kids, and even a romance for tweens, it also has stunning graphics that (despite what another reviewer said) outshine anything Pixar has done This movie has "throw away" scenes that would be the main feature of other films, of special note being the aquarium of water in the beginning, contrasting fluidity of water, translucency of glass and water but distinct from each other, moving with realistic physics And, as a "cherry on top", the dialogue is witty and laugh out loud funny (And don't pay attention to reviewers who saw porn that is only in their minds where there was none )
The only negative notes I saw was a moment of mourning, which might momentarily upset very young children, and a gag were they use the monkey translator to have the father speak to the son, which I took to be disrespectful of parents
Other than those two brief moments (which can be explained by parents) it is an outstanding movie that will entertain anyone of any age
Deadly Impact (2010)
From before the title even appears you're given a mini-movie that let's you know from the start this is no formula flick. please don't let those talking about plot holes etc discourage you from seeing this. It's fun, it's full of surprising twists and it doesn't have an overwhelming amount of super-sicko stuff that make you wonder what kind of pervs the writers must be.
Yes you must suspend your belief at times but no more than in most movies of this type, and this one is much less predictable than most. I actually applauded at the ending because there's no way you can see it coming. Think of a Bruce Willis movie, only with the Bruce Willis part being played by Satan as the bad guy in the film. There is plenty of action and the only really predictable part is the survival of the lead and a steamy roll around on the floor with the love interest.
I highly recommend you ignore the negative reviews and watch. it's one of the few movies I've seen lately that has the mature subject matter of a plot that doesn't make you ashamed to have seen it.
surprisingly suspenseful, unpredictable and a satisfying conclusion without too much gore or sicko stuff (not even that much cursing except a spattering of F's and MF's here and there, noticeably lighter than most films). . Not much more than that you can ask of a thriller
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
So Good It Will Make You Angry
This film is so good it will make you angry. At the way Leonardo DiCaprio was robbed of an Oscar (it went instead to Tommy Lee Jones that year for the Fugitive...unforgivable "Good Ole Boy politics, obviously). It will make you angry over the injustices of life, and at the parents who make themselves the victim rather than the advocates their children need them to be. But it will also make you feel good that life can be a triumph over tragedy rather than just succumbing to it.
A must see for DiCaprio who does an incredible job as a handicapped teen, full of life & love but never cloying or pitiful. But Johnny Depp also does an outstanding job as a young man on the verge of life and at the same time terrified of it.
And when all is said & done, "What's eating Gilbert Grape" is a hunger for life & love for himself & those he loves. This film makes you think both are available to all, if we're willing to taste them, the bitter & the sweet.
Die Hard as a Black Man
This is a "Die Hard" movie with Eddie Murphy in the role of Bruce Willis. That sounds like a joke and that's the problem. Is it an action movie? Comedy? Comedy about an action movie? It keeps veering from one to another like one of the cars in the car chases.
Eddie Murphy is a lot of things but no Bruce Willis. And the movie is always on the brink of being a parody rather than a straight action movie. There are screaming, helpless females (this is a 90's movie...those types of women aren't seen in movies these days), car chases & crashes, only very few intentional laughs. It's an anachronism but not a bad way to pass the time.
It's Die Hard with a Black man. And it's A' ight...
Mr. Vincent (1997)
Confusing but Compelling
I haven't seen this in any other reviews but I don't think anyone really understood this movie. It is much deeper and more convoluted than folks seem to understand, along the line of the Butterfly Effect and 12 Monkeys.
From the beginning we are told that Lisa is a girl from the past ...years past. He wrote a song for her, they have a relationship and he goes crazy for love of her. Suddenly, at the end of the movie, there's a 17-year-old girl student named LISA trying to seduce him. (It's not clear if they had sex but he rejects her). He then explains the girl wanted a relationship with him but just couldn't understand. The song (the story of their violent love affair) is not true.
"Did the sheep eat the rose?" to quote Saint Exupery in Le Petit Prince. Did he have sex with the girl/student? We don't know. But he fantasized what a relationship with her would have been & wrote it in a song. She fell in love with him for it but, in the end, Mr Vincent's Opus, if you will, is a fantasy in a song. A compelling, haunting fantasy, song and film.
There are no coincidences...Only lousy writers
Let's be blunt. There are three good things about this movie, and I gave them 1 point each: 1) the acting. 2) Strange as it sounds, some very (intentionally) funny lines 3) It is a piecemeal of much better movies on the same subjects which you briefly relive until sadly reminded this is not one of them.
1) The acting in this movie from Gibson down to the little girl is so good that it confirms the old saying that good actors can work with the worst material. It is one of those films we (cough) macho men hate because it makes you cry. Rather, the actors make you cry when they do. The little girl will break your heart several times.
2) The writers should have stuck to comedy. From wearing foil hats to other silliness there are quite a few light touches in the first half of the film that almost make it worth watching. Almost.
3) Unfortunately 99% of the film is not "horror", "sci if" or anything other than an unintentionally funny mess. It is a poorly connected ripoff of better films from the Exorcist to Close Encounters to War of the Worlds. Not an "homage" as some would pretend but a lousy reflection like seeing a beautiful painting reflected in a full toilet.
If you can see it for free or cheap, fine. But don't pay money unless you intend to laugh at a trashy mass of plot holes & ripoff of better works. And that's no coincidence.
Stolen Summer (2002)
This is a beautiful film. Wonderfully acted, well scripted, but takes a choice so terrible in its attempt to answer age-old questions quickly that I must recommend others not see it. Like a lovely wedding where the limo suddenly bursts into flames with the newlyweds inside, a promising movie finally goes terribly wrong. And its answer to struggling with huge faith issues is the cowardice of sugared sacrilege and blasphemy.
Having grown up Catholic from a large family and loving Judaism I was enthralled by this film and laughed and cried my way on cue. They even captured the way nuns terrified Catholic schoolboys. Only they used yardsticks on us Italians, not rulers as in this film.
And I personally went through the faith struggles the film touches upon. Although it only paints caricatures of Catholicism and doesn't really mention much of Judaism at all, it does mention the main issue of those two faiths (and Islam though that's never mentioned). How good is good enough? How much & what kind of action is necessary by us to get into Heaven? Sadly, the obvious (Protestant) answer, that we need do nothing other than believe Jesus already did all that was necessary, was skipped, suddenly & horribly. Instead we're given the quick (and deadly) "comfort" of Universalism: Call GOD what you want, if you're good, you get into Heaven (totally trashing the whole question of HOW good) & that "JESUS is just a symbol" (sacrilege & blasphemy). "A god by any other name, even a friend you like, smells as sweet" as it were. Heartbreaking heresy coming from a child to make it more palatable. And nodded to by adults & supposed spiritual leaders.
Just as spiritual leaders are portrayed as sweet but senseless, the father shown to be sweet but clueless, GOD the Father is shown to be pointless as innocuous as whatzisname, His Son.
In the end, what could have been a beautiful poem becomes a dirty joke, a beautiful blasphemy that no one should see. And it's sad. The thing that's stolen in the Stolen Summer is your trust. And you're left cheated & betrayed with a cop-out ending by the fall.
THX 1138 (1971)
The Future...of George Lucas
This film was probably meaningful for its time. But today the coldness and what was then avant garde is hard to distill from all of the similar stuff since. On that level it's quite boring.
But on another level, what the film shows about Lucas, and the foreshadowing of so many themes he will use in Star Wars, the film becomes fascinating. In fact I soon found the only real interest becoming a sort of game of finding such hints of his psyche & future uses of themes. A few follow: Future setting, figures in all white (Storm troopers) & all black, hooded figures (Darth Vader, sandpeople & others, Buddhist monks), use of long, electronic wands for punishment (light sabres, jousting weapons), buzzing of these weapons (light sabres), masks (Darth Vader, C3PO, 'droids), holographic figures (Leia's first appearance "Obi Wan. I need you." projection out of R2D2, and others), male is happy until coaxed into rebellion by female (Adam & Eve, Possibly Luke & Leia), figures in a booth manipulating THX's movements (GOD controlling humanity, movie directing, Jedi manipulation), minimizing, subtle mocking of Christianity (counselor in booth, choice of Buddhism, the Force), control center (control center on DeathStar), credits used as currency, religious chanting (Buddhism, Christianity), bald, Black leader in robes (Doku), officer cycles make the sounds of TIE fighters, standing on barren surface facing a huge sun (Luke on Tattoiine)
See what I mean? See how many of these or others you can find. It's more fun than the plot.
Fine but Fatally Flawed
This is a fine film. Even an important one for anyone having to deal with discrimination of any kind. The acting is compelling, as is the music. But as fine as it is, there is a fatal flaw, and as important as it is, it becomes distracting because of the increasing improbabilities.
The first 10 minutes sets up how literally hygienically controlled down to the cellular level every human being's life is in the future. Then, when you are prepared and intrigued to see this premise explained, sloppy scripting prevails and the rest of the movie is seeing trucks driven through yawning plot holes to the point...literally...of distraction. You soon stop caring because it's obvious the plot is going to ignore itself to get to the expected conclusion. What could have been powerful becomes a series of "Why" rather than the "Wow" the first few minutes promised.
So why do I give it such a high (8 out of 10) score with this "fatal" flaw? Because I was born with multiple birth defects (cough, cough) years ago. My parents were told I wouldn't live but I did. And a lot of things that shouldn't & couldn't have happened did. It turns out fatal flaws don't stop you from enjoying life if you have the will to live. And the improbable isn't impossible after all. This film, for all its plot holes, gives that message and it's one worth spreading because it's true. I know because I've lived it.
Blade Runner (1982)
A Cut Above
I'd never seen this film before seeing the "final cut" on Netflix and must admit I know now what all the fuss was about. I could have lived without some of the gratuitous sex and violence and (- 1 star) but all in all it was excellent. I'm especially glad I got to see the version that was closest to Ridley Scott's vision.
Time seems to fold back on itself, knowing it was made in the 80's then revised so many years later & looking at it having seen special effects & innovations that couldn't have been imagined then but seeing a darkness in mood & dress that reflected in the 80s as well.
Best of all, it had a message that didn't come across as saccharine or fatalistic but leaves you simply glad of life & the wonder of it for what it is and for however long it lasts
a classic with good cause in every sense.
10 Rillington Place (1971)
Terrifying Because It's True
If I hadn't read that this was a true story I never would have believed it. In fact, it comes across like Sweeney Todd or Little Shop of Horrors at times (which is why I left off one star), like a "back" comedy. Yet that is the most terrifying thing, that circumstances could be so twisted, that souls could be so dark, that people could be so foolish that it would make you laugh, if it didn't make you scream.
Certainly not for the easily troubled, but worth watching in its quiet horror for the very strong acting by everyone, especially Attenborough & Hurt. And great writing with several shocking surprises.
You find yourself moved, emotionally and intellectually as you may find yourself questioning some of your beliefs in the justice system, your fellow humans & even GOD Himself. And you can't ask much more of a film than to make you think...as you shudder.
The Devil's Own (1997)
Brad's own...No Harrison's...No Brad's...
Certs used to have a commercial where they said "It's a breath mint! No it's a candy mint! Certs is two! Two! Two mints in one!" And that's what you get here, two movies for the price of one with two leading men who each deserved a script of their own.
The best and worst parts of the movie happen within the first 10 minutes. You're immediately & emotionally drawn in. But suddenly there are unrealistic shootouts that make the stars seem like superheroes instead of flesh and blood. This dual plot/dual treatment with dueling stars who sometimes seem tempted not to pull punches when hitting each other all detract from the film.
But in the end, hodge-podge though it is, Ford & Pitt (or is that Pitt & Ford?) succeed in making it an entertaining movie...all of them!
Tears of the Sun (2003)
Die Hard in Africa
I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. Bruce willis is basically McCain of Die Hard fame as a SEAL in Africa. More impossible & improbable escapes & miraculous survival of mortal wounds that would have killed of anyone else...and several of his comrades die of lesser wounds. But somehow it is okay if you're a Willis/Die Hard fan. Maybe it's because I've been playing Call of Duty on the Wii but that helped make the implausible firefights more fun to watch
I saw this on Netflix so I don't know if what I saw was the Director's cut with 20 more minutes but before reading that I was already going to say it's about 20 minutes TOO long, especially at the end. The last battle gets dragged out way too far making it anticlimactic & you just want the happy ending payoff already.
But other than the longishness it was entertaining & McCain...I mean Willis...I mean the movie comes out okay in the end & is well worth watching.
Me and the Colonel (1958)
It's hard to understand how war and humor can go together. But the whole premise of this film is that human beings can manage to laugh in even the bitterest experiences. In fact, it's sometimes the irony of life that brings laughter through the tears as sarcasm.
Sweet sarcasm is the core of this movie and Danny Kaye is the only one who could deliver it with such pathos and perfection. Amid hatred and discrimination, stupidity and war there is cleverness and cutting truth delivered through irony.
Outstanding writing and casting make this a gem. The only flaw in the diamond is that it gets slow sometimes and can feel like a late 50's movie masquerading in a 40's war movie coat.
Making the movie in color would have been too jarring to the concept of an "old" war movie. But it is also noticed in it's absence.
This is a great movie in a dull package but sharp minds will watch and heed its pointed humor and laugh through their tears.
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
Corny, Cliché...Comfprting, Classy & Compelling
Maybe it's because I'm so close to the subject matter of being a "Last Chance Harvey" myself. But I disagree strongly with the low ratings this movie has received. Corny, Cliché, yes. But the acting by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson is so compelling you really don't care.
The plot could have been written by a junior high school student. No surprises at all. But for some reason, like a Mac computer, "it just works.".
In fact, it works so well that you'll find yourself drawn in in spite of yourself.
This is the movie version of a comforting cup of hot cocoa and a blanket. Ytite, but timeless and heartwarming, a combination, like Hoffman & Thompson, who can't help but make you want more.
Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
A BB Shot in the Eye
Two words: Busby Berkeley (BB). If you know anything about movies or dancing (or even direction) you've heard the name and this movie (& others like it) is the reason why. BB's genius is that he "got it.". He understood that film was capable of so much more than being a newsreel or just capturing what you can see on a stage. It's more than an amusement but can be used to actually stimulate surrealistic thought.
What Picasso did with color BB did with a palette of black, white & gray. Not only stimulating and simulating surreal dreams, but giving them an uneasy feeling, keeping the dark, sharp edge on the lust others only sought to elicit but never examine. As if to say "Images direct thought & these are the thoughts you're leaning towards...Is this the way for you?", Rod Serling's "sign post up ahead" years out of time.
There is (strangely) humor, some rather awful singing, and some other fluff around the Berkeley numbers. But they serve only as a frame.
BB's work hits you in the eye & travels to your brain as it has for millions to mimic & mock since then. And it alone makes this movie worth watching.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
This is one of the worst wastes of money & resources I've seen. From make-up that was no better...and in some cases worse...than 1968's version to destruction of a creative plot line in the original, to screaming, jumping violence that makes it inappropriate for seeing as a bonding experience with children, to the blatant & sophomoric political commentary against opposing political & religious views (clever & subtle in the '68 original) this thing is a hairy, stinky mess.
The only reason I "stuck with it" through to the end was thinking there had to be some redeeming value. Rrmembering the shocking ending of the original I'd hoped something similar would happen here. But they mucked up even that. Why I expected more from people with so little creativity that they got paid for mimicking (like chimps?) the wardrobe design of '68, too, instead of doing something new.
If you go to the zoo you may see primates throw their poop at you. This movie is why.
Donnie Brasco (1997)
They had me at Hello (Lefty)
The plot is a familiar one (for which I pulled one star) but that's kind of silly considering it's based on a true story. Besides, anything with Al Pacino is a "must see" (thus the subject reference). The twists & turns of the plot together with the outstanding acting od Pacino & Depp...both of whom amaze me, make this a great movie of suspense, pathos and drama. (And one obligatory sex scene and gore scene, unfortunately...again part of that 1-star deduction of predictability. Yes, stereotypes of Italian mobsters abound but...even as an Italian, would I miss it? "Fuggedaboudit!" And you shouldn't miss it either (but definitely beware of the language & the gory scene...the "sex" scene is a lot of grunting on the stairs but no nudity, etc that I noticed).