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Superb in every way
I actually had this film (the NC-17 131-min. version) for nearly 10 years before watching it. Was I ever surprised! I saw the low rating, read reviews, and sort of expected something, well, sleazy. NC-17 or not this is now 2015. Some people must really be uptight. Elizabeth Berkley did an amazing performance. A very talented and accomplished dancer, she was tough, real tough, and who else could have done the part like her? Other performances were excellent as well. The story? Not bad at all. Well paced, and not what I would call predictable. Kept my attention. Glitzy but it is Las Vegas after all. Many in the cast were obviously professional dancers Las Vegas style. Dancing doesn't get any better than this. Sexuality? Welcome to the real world for those who don't live in a box. Ignore the negative chatter and enjoy the show.
Frame of Mind (2009)
an apple too big to bite into
Rather surprised by the downside comments I read in these reviews, but then I think one's evaluation has a lot to do with whatever credibility one may have towards the idea of conspiracy in the JFK assassination. After all, if the Warren Report was a gross cover-up, what does that say about a lot of things? Americans are very resistant to the notion that the system they live in may be one of lies, corruption, and cover-up at the highest level. Popping a huge bubble can have serious consequences. If you think little of talk of conspiracy, whether the JFK assassination or other notable events, you may do well to spare yourself this film, which is likely to appear a b-level production, confusing with mediocre acting, or downright terrible. If on the other hand you lie on the other end of the spectrum as I do (note I state other end), I suggest you see it and by all means avoid reading any synopsis in advance. You will enjoy it more without spoilers. So being biased towards conspiracy I found the film very entertaining, credible, and well-casted. Well written and I could not guess how it turned out.
Julia X (2011)
made good sense to me
I saw the film so unlike the other reviewers (11) so far that I feel I should write a review of my own. No sense? Bad continuity? Funny? Stupid? B movie? Trash? Watch it without thinking? Don't take it seriously? No, I saw it very differently. For a while I was thinking why am I wasting time watching this. Lots of blood. Seemed like senseless violence for a time, but I hung in there. After a while it made good sense. Being alert to detail helps. Enough work went into this film that I would not call it a B movie. Acting was quite good. Think of what wife-beating and sexual abuse by a father can do to children. There is anger. Think of disgusting male sexual behavior and what this can do to women. That this can result in aberrant behavior as well as wasted life is how the film makes sense. A commentary on modern society. What happens to people. Abused people do do things many of us would not. There is room for serious thought here. Not pleasant, not funny, not stupid, and not trashy. I would much rather people think seriously of these things. I cannot say I enjoyed the film, but I found it thought provoking. Oh, and one more thing. Plenty of opportunity to throw in gratuitous nudity. They did not, and that also means something.
an honest portrayal
This is a documentary about the ayahuasca experience at Blue Morpho, a center for ayahuasca near the city of Iquitos in Peru. It contains actual footage of people under ayahuasca (which they undergo in nearly complete darkness so the camera uses night vision) to give you a good of idea of what it is like. For those thinking of taking ayahuasca, the content of this documentary is a good "know before you go". It is not something one should take without supervision or at some place providing inadequate support. This point is clear from the footage in this documentary. For some people it can be an absolutely horrid experience, while others report it as the best thing that has ever happened to them. It has transformed (hence the title Metamorphosis) in a very positive way some people with emotional issues for whom traditional approaches have not helped. The documentary shows actual preparation of ayahuasca at the center. It has footage of the founder, Hamilton Souther, and of a professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, who among things speak of the nature of the imagery as being grounded in reality where the term hallucinogenic may be inappropriate. The idea is that, while the visions may be totally unlike anything ever seen in real life, they may have a connection with a reality beyond what we commonly perceive. There also is footage of people talking about their experience with ayahuasca, some of whom you also see undergoing it. Note that in just an hour and a half a documentary on ayahuasca cannot be expected to be very comprehensive. This documentary focuses on the more dramatic effects as I think it should. What is not covered is how the experience varies considerably. For some the effects may be profound but with relatively little imagery, and some may experience extreme imagery but virtually nothing else. Some may feel transformed to a greater or lesser degree, while others not at all. Little is mentioned about the influence of diet, which can be of considerable importance. Also I do not recall mention of aftereffects or a connection with energy levels in the body during and after the experience. There was no mention of how ayahuasca is counterindicated for some people. I learned of and saw this documentary today less than a month after a 9-day retreat at a center some distance from Blue Morpho under conditions similar to those at Blue Morpho. Though for me there was no "metamorphosis" and it was without dramatic effect, it was indeed a powerful experience where I got it with "both barrels". Considering my experience, this documentary is a good introduction regarding what to expect from the ayahuasca experience.
Twentynine Palms (2003)
Slow moving and not for those seeking an escape from drab reality (partial spoiler)
Somewhere here someone mentions that you should see this film knowing hardly anything in advance. I agree. Better no idea, but how can you know you should see this film to begin with? Not a film for a lot of people. So I shall constrain my review so not to spoil it. I do not see any allegory as some apparently have. It tells a simple story. A man and a women stay in a motel in 29 Palms, California, and take drives out in the desert. They are lovers. They speak in both English and French. They make out and have their spats. Much of the film is slow moving. We get a heavy dose of drab reality as life is for so many of us, and what eventually later happens is another heavy dose of reality of something which does happen to a few of us. A film of nothing really beautiful. Drab, petty, slow, and then something happens. In a sense there is a certain meaninglessness throughout the film, but isn't life like that? Not a film for those depressed seeking something with which to feel good. Now there is matter-of-fact graphic nudity, which is the nudity most of us are familiar with more from life than from film. One thing it did for me is that I have resolved to have certain something with me when I go driving out in lonely stretches of desert. Definitely an art-house film, not for most of us, and not for sheer entertainment. More a film for those in a life of escapism who can use a heavy dose of reality.
Call Her Savage (1932)
I must have had this film at least three years before I finally watched it. Films of the 1930s seem so dated, and I read where Clara Bow was the "It" girl more than anything. However, this film for me was not dated as others have been, and it gave me a nice glimpse of the early 1930s. And as for Clara Bow, I saw her as a very talented dramatic actress. So talented that it is sad her life later went downhill. A very good story and very worthwhile film. I won't drag out my review repeating what others have written, but I suggest to skip any spoiler. Better to see it without knowing what happens. Watch it and you'll be glad you did.
Unbelievably awful monster film
I tend to avoid writing a highly negative review about a film people rave over. Why rain on peoples' parade? If people like it, if they enjoy it, if they find the film exciting and creative, then to that extent for those people the film is successful. And if people enjoy it, that's fine, but if I think the film is terrible and say so (and of course give some reasons) this may save some people a few bucks and utter boredom some evening. So what was so terrible? You have a few people trapped on a space ship with a horde of flesh-eating mindless monsters. And that is basically it. Oh, there is something a crew member must do to save the ship, so a story of sorts along with cliché after cliché of fighting monsters over and again last moment this and last moment that ad nauseam. Really. Just that. The film is very Hollywoodish from beginning to end (if that means anything). So well okay it's a matter of taste. The female lead of sorts was kind of nice so I thought to add a star, and I suppose I hung in their thinking well maybe some skin at least to reward my perseverance, but no not even that. For me a monstrous film.
Il mercenario (1968)
Was it ever a letdown, it was that bad
Going into this film I did have expectations. After all it was directed by Sergio Corbucci (director of the original Django), music by Ennio Morricone (who hasn't heard of him?), and has an all-star cast with Franco Nero (original Django and a lot more), Jack Palance, Tony Musanti, and even Giovanna Ralli. So there is the amoral and self-serving Pollack Sergei (Franco), the immoral bad guy Curly (Palance), idealist revolutionary Paco (Musanti), and revolutionary idealist female Columba (Ralli). And look at all these raving reviews here. Hey, and even nudity. So what can go wrong? Well I did stick it out (sigh) but the story is really downright ridiculous where I was utterly bored stiff. So much so that I thought to write its first really negative review (as of this writing) to balance things out and warn those who have tired of ridiculous westerns. It is 102 minutes of your life, and there is a whole slew of westerns that I think are much more worthy of these 102 minutes. But on the other hand you might like a ridiculous story where the impossible keeps happening over and over and over. So it's just my take, it's just my opinion. Oh, and if you are looking forward to the nudity, no it's not the luscious Giovanna Ralli, it's a full-nude of **Jack Palance** (from the rear). And well a brief look at a Mexican hooker's (?) fanny.
Very nicely done - quite moving, sentimental
As of this writing I see two other reviews here, both well written, so I will avoid repeating things but add a few words. Mona, Anna, and Ruth serve in different capacities and yet stay in touch. There are also men in their lives. Since the film follows each one, it can be very helpful to make mental note of who is who or even jot down their names, identifying characteristics, and service capacity so you can keep them straight. The sentimentality is not for everyone. A film with serious content. At times I would press the pause button and think a bit about the way war affects lives of so many people. And remember the sacrifices made by them.
Ostrov sokrovishch (1938)
gem of a film, a treasure, though you may need a "map" to find it
This film is a unique adaptation of Treasure Island as one might expect knowing that it is Russian and filmed in 1937. The basic Treasure Island story is intact. The Benbow Inn and young Hawkins, Billy Bones, the black spot, Doctor Livesey, the Hispaniola outfitted by Squire Trelawney, the voyage to Treasure Island, and the fight for the treasure. Many of the pirates familiar to us are there as well, including John Silver, Israel Hands, and George Merry. I won't spoil anything but I should mention some differences. The Benbow Inn is on the coast of Ireland, young Hawkins is Jenny Hawkins who goes on board as cabin boy "Jim", Doctor Livesey is an Irish rebel fighting for Irish independence from the English, Squire Trelawney as a rich landowner is a money-grubbing bad guy, and the Hispaniola sails out of Dublin. The purpose of the voyage is to help fund the Irish rebellion of the 1790s. I have seen over a dozen Treasure Island dramatizations and found this one particularly unique, entertaining, nicely filmed, and well performed, though very dated and in the style of films in the 1930s. Part musical with 4 songs, you see pirates singing and dancing. English subtitles do exist.