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Springsteen & I (2013)
"Color Me Obsessed" did it a thousand times better!
I went into this thinking that "Color Me Obsessed, a film about the Replacements" which is made up completely of fan interviews, and includes not one lick of music, was brilliant. A great way to show what how a band can impact someone's life. I don't even like the Replacements. But I love Bruce. And I love documentaries.
You obviously need a good director to pull something like this off. Such was not the case here. It was just, after a while, boring. There could have been more of a story. More structure. Instead, as someone else pointed out, it really was random clips.
Expected so much more.
The Cheshire Murders (2013)
Horribly made documentary
Living one town away from Cheshire, I was actually looking forward to watching this film. Discovering a new perspective on a horrible crime that rocked our area. Instead I got a badly shot (really, how many tops of buildings and rain puddles do we need to see?), lethargically paced, incomplete snooze-fest.
There are no actual new interviews with Dr. Petit, the lone survivor of this horrible home invasion. No cops speak. (This despite the dropped hint that they waited much to long to enter the house. That the filmmakers could not get one city or state cop on camera to discuss this is just lazy filmmaking.) Prosecutor? Nope. One of the jurors? Not a chance. Okay, then what about the Komisarjevsky and Hayes, on death row? What would they have to say? Would they be remorseful? No idea, they're not interviewed.
Instead we mostly follow the parents and sister of Jennifer Hawke-Petit around. And while they are very nice people, and I feel such sympathy for their tragedy, they are not captivating subjects.
About the only worthwhile interview in the entire film was that of Hayes defense attorney Thomas Ullmann. He was captivating, sincere and informative. The complete opposite was Komisarjevsky's attorney Walter Bansley III. He sort of made you want to take a shower after listening to him speak. He was wonderfully clueless of Dr. Petit's pain. Perhaps if the filmmakers had interviewed just these two men and let them each tell one side of the story from two very different perspectives, THAT would have been a film worth watching. But the film we were given was not. (A little shocked that HBO would air such a mess. But then the ratings were guaranteed.) As for structure, there is none. The film meanders all over the place, from the night of, to puddles, to court, to lingering shots of the tops of buildings in New Haven. Most filmmakers know there's a three act structure in story-telling for a reason. And if you break it you better have a damn good reason. Shoddy filmmaking is not one of them. This is filmmaking 101 at its worst.
The information compiled in The Cheshire Murders would perhaps make a fine 30 minute short. But as a 2-hour film is was unforgivably boring. A Dateline special on NBC would have been better made.
One Nation Under Dog (2012)
One day someone will make a great dog documentary. This ain't it.
I give it a 5 because it's a subject so close to my heart, but this film is a mess. One short sequence after another, and just as you begin to feel something for the animals/people involved, they cut to the next segment. Nothing is allowed to develop. And when your best piece of footage was shot by a high school kid, well, that pretty much says it all.
I so wanted to like this, but ended up walking away angry, not at the truly horrible facts presented in the film, but because the subject deserves SO much more, SO much better. And while I was never a huge fan of the film Shelter Dogs, that is the Citizen Kane of dog films compare to this.
In the mean time, here's the same info without having to sit though a mundane 75 minutes: support local shelters (not national animal organizations where your dollars go to large salaries), understand that ALL puppies in pet stores are from puppy mills, and ALWAYS adopt from shelters, and ALWAYS have your pet spayed or neutered. (I personally think we should have a law, everyone has the choice, your pet gets spayed or neutered, or you get spayed or neutered. It would be a much better world.)
This Wretched Life (2010)
This Wretched Movie
I really don't know what movie these other 12 reviewers were watching (or, as I might guess, they're friends of the filmmaker), but This Wretched Life is, and I'm sorry to take the easy way out, a wretched movie.
The acting is embarrassing. The story is all over the place, and makes little sense. The editing is like a textbook example of what not to do. Every special effect cliché seems to be thrown in for no effect. It's...just...bad. Like...really bad. Not even funny bad.
I'm sorry, I wanted to like it because it was a labor of love. But you gave me nothing to like.
In the Company of Men (1997)
(Human) life at its most basic level
I could write a litany of observations, meanings, and impressions of LaBute's screen writing and directorial debut product, "In the Company of Men" (ICM). I had seen the film a few years after it came out and, to be honest with everyone, because of my habit to gloss over a lot of things in years gone by, I really only extracted from the film what it superficially displayed: hardened corporate men doing cruel things. However, very recently I re-visited this film while it was making a glorific return via cable TV and am now more cognizant of the incredibly diverse layers of "psycho-dynamic dissection" one could perform on the characters, especially the main ones, of this film. Since then, I have written intently on various ICM message boards, trying to sort and clarify the incredible amount of controversy and confusion this film sometimes elicits. One thing is for sure: even though this film has been billed in various circles as being a comedy, nothing can be further from the truth. This piece is one of the purest dramatic character studies set on film - truly a masterpiece.
Many people can easily be turned off, even repulsed, by the "frat-like" shenanigans the two lead male characters attempt to pull off in the film. However, if you can get past this most superficial perception of the film, you will find, in a stepwise fashion, progressively deeper insights of how human behavior is successively governed by innate human needs and emotions. Many themes and messages should be easily conjured by the viewer of ICM including, to name a few, corruption of power, psychological control and manipulation, and the accountability and culpability of human behavior. People could debate ad nauseum who the most evil character of the film was - and interestingly, in a very uncharacteristic-of-a-film way, all would be right. The main characters presented in ICM are certainly flawed in various ways and certainly some have lost any semblance of a "societally acceptable" moral compass. LaBute goes to great lengths to make no bones about this; in fact, perhaps the only criticism I have of this film is that at points some the acting is a tad "over-the-top" but, in retrospect, I see now why this was necessary. I hope that people that get to watch this film (and, in my humble opinion, I believe every adult should watch this film, no matter what station in life they're at) will ultimately use this dynamic presentation to discern, at the most basic levels, what the human interactions portrayed in this film are all about.
Biological needs and drives - preservation of the body by food and shelter facilitated by work and preservation of the individual genome facilitated by sexual relationships - are, in fact, the most powerful life forces on this planet (in front of the psycho-dynamic and socio-dynamic forces). Societally, we see intensely cruel and evil actions being perpetrated in this film which I'm sure most non-sociopathic people would agree are just that. However, let us not forget that at the most basic levels, humans are biological creatures that, on an individual basis priority, fervently work on self-preservation - whatever it takes. Sometimes, as portrayed in this film, this really involves extending beyond the bounds of what society would deem as morally and ethically acceptable. I guess this is probably what has laid the foundation in creating that very memorable, and, I believe in the particular instance of this film, very appropriate saying: "All's fair in love and war".
A Few Good Men (1992)
While I have seen and heard many comments about "A Few Good Men" extolling its virtues while some point to its negative attributes (which, by far, IMHO, are in the vast minority), the message this flick tries to deliver, at its most banal level, is truly one for the ages. Without going into any fine or even course details about the film - suffice it to say that it deals with a search for the absolute truth in a courtroom murder trial - the film to me triumphs in one very simple way: how corruption through power can always be quite successfully exposed and dealt with by the judicious application of human intellect and logic. I propose that it be required viewing for all power-hungry humans, especially in a "pecking-order" environment, like those pursuing a military, medical, or business career. In fact, I believe to be most effective, the number of times an individual is required to watch it should increase in a directly proportionate manner with that individual's promotion level and rate.
...And the truth will set you free!... but first, it'll tick you off!!!