Reviews

44 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Slasher (2016– )
6/10
Well, it's better than "Scream" and miles above "Scream Queens"...still...
6 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This Canadian-American venture had enough solid chills to get me through a binge-watch on Netflix. And some of the supporting roles feature some very good acting. However, to truly enjoy this horror series you have to put up with some seriously bad actors and script holes.

Maybe it is not just that McGrath in the lead is that bad. I think it is possible she was just directed that way, because the leads who play her husband and gay best friend have the same exact issue. None of them ever reacts to the violence that happens to them and those close to them. It's actually rather surreal. After awhile, a total lack of their ever having a connection to what has happened before, tends to make you not care at all about what happens to them next.

And killings based on the 7 deadly sins?? Yeah, that hasn't been done before.

It is really a shame, because this series actually had some chilling plot twists and turns and does have some well-shot scenes that made it worth sitting through. Some of the supporting cast is terrific, but there are just way too many unbelievable moments, totally lacking in any emotion.

"Scream Queens" and, to a lesser extent "Scream," tried to be too clever about their villains and it frankly got really tedious, really quick. I am still amazed that I put up with "Scream Queens," in retrospect. The self-parody of that series was headache-inducing.

"Slasher" sticks with some effective horror and gore, and even has an entertainingly creative last moment. I do think a flaw in the costume design (eye holes a little too big) made it easier to identify the executioner, but at least the killer's identity wasn't convoluted.

If they only had lead characters that actually were able to relate to events that were happening to them, at least as much as some of the supporting cast, maybe we'd care a little more.
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4/10
Film for straight audiences who want to feel good about watching an apparent gay-themed film
19 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My partner and I just saw this. Dental visits are less painful.

Let me get to the good first. I will keep it brief. The actors were competent. Performances were good, if not especially outstanding.

Now, getting to the header, how do I know this movie was for straight audiences? Because the big payoff is all about the son and his end-of- film endless crying jag....after which he skateboards off into the sunset with (drumroll please)...a girl! See, he's not gay, after all. Whew...what a relief for the parents.

Seriously, who cared if the son was gay or straight? Gay people certainly don't. Yet, this was the big surprise ending?

There are so many undeveloped characters and the movie is so incredibly slow. How slow? Well, even before his injury it took John Lithgow forever to eat anything. He was so glacially slow and disoriented throughout, I was beginning to think that they were going to allude to the development of Alzheimer's. But no, the character was just very slow. And boring. And again...that crying scene?! Well, the kid now has something for his acting reel.

One more thing, they introduce Lithgow's apparent serial infidelity in a closing scene. I still do not get what the point of that revelation was. Gay couples are capable of monogamy. It added nothing to this film. Nada.

Sorry, but this was possibly the most annoying end to an alleged glbt- themed flick that I have ever seen. And it's not as if it was especially wonderful up to that point, anyway.
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Flight (I) (2012)
4/10
A film with no one to root for
8 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Flight" was one of those movies that, the more you watch it, the worse it gets.

Sorry, but Denzel's character was so absurdly self-destructive, it was like watching a cartoon character. The sad part is, once you stop rooting for him (and he is so annoyingly narcissistic, how can you after the umpteenth grab for the bottle), the tension saps out of the movie quicker than the plane nosedived.

The gratuitous breast shots in the beginning were pointless (no pun intended). The relationship with the red-haired heroin addict was ultimately pointless. But he does ultimately develop a painful-to-watch artificial relationship with his son.

Sadly, there was not a single relationship in this movie that seemed anything remotely realistic. Worst was the ridiculous John Goodman caricature, and the co-pilot and his stepford wife in the hospital.

Ultimately, after the initial crash footage, there was no reason to watch. One of the worst screenplays I have seen in awhile. How Denzel got an Oscar nomination is beyond me.
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The Conjuring (2013)
6/10
Based on true files?
23 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Watching "The Conjuring" was like going to a Halloween fun house, where all the scares are delivered by people jumping out from dark places. It happened so many times in this film (with accompanying jolts from the soundtrack) that you eventually started anticipating them. Take them out of the movie and the scare factor fades like a ghost.

Look, some of the acting was excellent, especially Lili Taylor (who got a bit more of a workout than she did in "The Haunting").

What really ruined this flick for me was the 'based on the true case files of the Warrens." Hey, I am interested in paranormal investigations and would never discount them out of hand, but when Patrick Wilson, playing Ed Warren, starts to introduce the religious mumbo jumbo it was cringe-worthy. Not only was his acting entirely wooden, but his dialogue seemed to have been written by Pat Robertson. "True?" Like "The Amityville Horror?" Ask anyone from Long Island how legitimate THAT one was.

Also, hasn't anybody seen "Scream?" One should never go into dark, spooky basements alone, or stop in the middle of reciting your exorcism to see what's going to happen next. There are horror movie rules. This one just piled on the clichés. When they added an extraneous scene reminiscent of "The Birds" it passed the point of no return.

As of this writing an 8.1? Really? And I thought my '6' was generous.
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7/10
Well acted, slice of gay life movie, but a bit flawed.
14 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie at the LIGLFF Out at the Movies event last night. As it happened, I liked it better than most. I thought it was a nice mood piece, with good acting, and an involving story, for the most part. I definitely would recommend it.

There were some flaws, though. The biggest one was the time changes. For very little apparent reason, we flash though about 9 years of the main character's lives, and yet they look exactly the same from beginning to end. They have the same hairstyles and have not seemed to age at all. It just seemed non-sensical to make a big deal about the passing of years and not have it impact at all on the appearance of the actors.

Also, other issues pop up that seem to have no relevance to the movie at all in the end, like the results of an HIV test.

While I did like it, I thought it was definitely way too long. It was not as if each yearly segment had some significant action attached to it. Sometimes they didn't. The movie sometimes lurched jarringly ahead a few years, seemingly without valid reason. Since the movie's outcome was obvious in the first half hour, it played out way too long. Still, I did find the characters involving.

As for the person who commented that they had never seen a gay crack addict, this film begins in the 90's. There were gay men who did crack. And not every gay man in this movie did drugs. In fact, the movie made that point quite clear. One of the 2 main characters tried it but did not like it. There was a definite validity to some of the drug culture the movie was referring to. I think more surprising to me was that the person in the movie who was very addicted still managed to hold his high-level job, without repercussions.

One more thing, I did love the soundtrack in this film. It totally matched the movie.

This film was not especially deep, however it was a bit of a melancholic art film that was an interesting look at the decade in the lives of 2 gay men.

It is what it is, and not all that much more.
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My Best Day (2012)
8/10
Delightful sleeper
10 November 2012
This film opened the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and because of the early start, did not have near the turnout of the opening night's other 2 films.

Too bad, because this film was exceptionally good.

I, for the life of me, cannot understand the average rating of under 5 (as of this post). Were some of the principals not attractive enough? I mean, seriously, this was a quality production.

It is always a treat to find a glbt-themed film as well-written and acted as this. The pacing, acting and dialogue had such a nice, natural rhythm to it.

This was not so much a gay film as much as it was a film where a good percentage of the characters just happened to be gay. It dealt with certain gay characters that you do not get to see on film, except in caricature...such as the large-framed butch lesbian. In this movie, the actress who played her had a warmth and sweetness to her. It was refreshing.

This film captured a slice of life and presented it in an honest way that never made you feel you were watching something derivative. It was not an earth-shattering adventure, but rather, an examination of a path to self-awareness, with lessons learned along the way.

It deserves a wider audience.
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The One (II) (2011)
3/10
Most cringe-worthy movie since "Hostel"
28 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched this at a monthly gay film fest and I have to admit, I haven't turned away from the screen this much since the brutal scenes in "Hostel." I spent much of the movie watching through my spread fingers. I didn't feel too out of place, because my partner was with me and he actually thought it was worse than I did. Not quite as bad as some glbt-themed movies can be, like, say, the entire 'Eating Out' series. At least, in those cases, the films oozed so much superficiality you never expected much. This film actually has higher production values. Some of the performances are even borderline decent.

The problem is with the script and all the clichés and the fact that these characters are so creepy that they are entirely unlikable...and then the film leaves you with an ending that makes you feel you just gave up 90 minutes of your life...for what?

This one was a cross between the "Eating Out" movies and "Making Love," so we dubbed it "Making Out," which certainly sounds better than "Eating Love."

I guess I don't understand why one of the protagonists that we are supposed to sympathize with is a creepy stalker/pathological liar, who preaches true love and then just uses someone he cares nothing about to propose marriage to, simply as a revenge ploy. And the other guy is not only cheating on his bride with another man, but the scriptwriter gives wifey a back story of a woman with abandonment issues whose father walked out on her. And then....let's her get pregnant! You are kidding me, right? Torture, I tell you.

And forget that the wife is as clueless as a bag of rocks and has a clairvoyant girlfriend who can spot a gay man a mile away and then even sleep with them, because...well...it is theatre and a woman has to have sex with someone! Arrrrrggggggghhhhh.

But the really torturous scenes involved a bachelor party and scenes with mom and dad and cigars and....oh it's too painful to relive it all.

I will say this....it certainly had us talking. Just not in the way the filmmaker intended.

ps.....afterward, consider how well Jon Prescott's acting resembled a plank of wood. He captures being an inanimate object as well as just about anyone I have ever seen.
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3/10
God has lots of plot holes
4 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
What a disappointment this movie was.

It was bad enough that both blu-ray rentals we got were defective, but I could not get over the ludicrous plot.

There were just so many ridiculous things wrong with the premise of the movie. As just one example, falling in love would stop someone from wanting to be president...but God was considering wiping that person's brain clean so that they would not fall in love, yet the personality that would cause them to become president would be gone, too. There were just so many nonsensical moments that we lost count.

I will say this, if there really is an adjustment bureau it would account for how many people actually gave this film high marks. Fortunately, I am posting my '3' before they get to me.
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Scream 4 (2011)
4/10
Wanted to like this but...uggh
23 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say that just getting through the final 20 minutes of Scream 4 was pure torture.

We get that the Scream franchise is all about self-reverential humor, but the phone device was so overdone that it just became annoying. And even with a filter, there is NO WAY that voice was produced by either of the 2 killers.

But what really makes this film bad was the combination of having to watch Neve Campbell do this entire film in agony-face (she always appears to be having cramps) and, even worse, listening to her niece explain why she chose to kill. It was thoroughly unbelievable.

I won't bother rehashing that message here, but it is a sorry, cynical statement about the state of youth that Wes Craven is making. After the recent Norway slaughter it's not especially amusing.

Additionally, knowing about the real-life breakup of Cox and Arquette made their scenes especially painful to watch. Yet, they seemed to be referencing it.

Oh, one more thing. The killings are quite prolonged and violent. What it doesn't show in explicit gore, is more than made up for by extremely loud shredding and ripping sounds.

Not a great night of movie-watching.
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The Tunnel (I) (2011)
6/10
Good effort, but a couple of major flaws
8 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I respect the film-makers for putting out a well-crafted film. The acting was uniformly competent and, outside of a setup that took a little too long, was directed fairly well.

If there had been no "Blair Witch Project" and the other, similarly 'real' movies, than this would have been rated higher. But all this pseudo-reality stuff has been done before, so there is no novelty to the approach.

Add to that, the fact that the actors are all credited at the end of the movie and one of the primary intentions for this film (to make you believe it actually happened)goes out the window.

After showing at least one actual murder, that this should not have launched some sort of official investigation is just absurd. It may be implied that the government has covered this up, yet it still is highly implausible.

The biggest flaw, for me, is the storytelling device of showing the 2 survivors from the beginning. Also, when one includes the emergency call played at the start, it is very clear early on who the dying person is. Why do something that will telegraph who will live and who will die? It just saps a big chunk of suspense from the movie.

So, again, nice effort and creative marketing, but...ultimately...not something I would watch twice.
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Elimination (II) (2010)
6/10
Reviews have been too harsh...
3 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I am someone who tends to be fairly critical of badly-made, low-budget horror movies. There are certainly enough clunkers out there. Yet, I did not think "Elimination" was all that bad. In fact, at times it was very entertaining.

I was especially impressed the way director Vargas set up his shots. There were some very inventive visual elements. Then I checked his filmography and noticed his background in special effects. There is a definite sense of style and craft here.

I think what many people might have a problem with is the brazenly gratuitous nudity A couple of female characters, before meeting their demise, have their clothes absurdly pulled off, exposing their breasts, for no other reason then...well....exposing their breasts. And yet, I thought that was hilarious self-parody in itself. It was just too brazen in a relatively competent screenplay to be anything but a commentary on the gratuitous nudity one often sees in b-grade slasher pics. It was so blatant it had almost an element of 'camp' to it. The only surprising thing is that the director did not have his actors having sex with one another. To be frank, they had no time for it.

I found the film silly but occasionally fun, with a few pretty damn good performances, especially Meredith Grau as the evil Emily. The actors in this flick were uneven, but the good ones really shined.

Far better than I thought, it certainly takes the Hostel/Saw template into a new arena.
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A Change of Heart (1998 TV Movie)
6/10
A Step Up From "Making Love"
15 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Watching this film 13 years later helps to be kinder to the way subject material is portrayed.

Some parts of the movie were just a little silly...having a scene where the son can't perform with his girlfriend...an absurd court resolution that excuses gay-bashing if you just learned your dad is gay...a dad that behaves like his decision wouldn't have consequences, and the total failure of this film to address such blatant infidelity in the first place (whether it was committed by a straight or gay man or woman).

Worst of all is the Disney ending, which is totally out-of-whack when we see what had come before. It was as if the family had been sprayed with some surreal fairy dust.

Hey look, I am all for an upbeat resolution, but it wasn't especially honest.

What I did like about this film was its willingness to tackle the subject to begin with. Homophobia infuriates me, but this film was just loaded with one politically correct event after another. And yet, maybe America needs a bit of educating on gay issues, so I won't hold that against the writer.

What surprised me the most was what a good and natural actress Jean Smart was. There were quite a few nice touches she gave to her character throughout...I didn't realize she was that good.

While there were some clichés in the script, it did have a nice feel for dialogue.

A film on the same topic today would probably be presented far differently.

Then again, this was a significant improvement over "Making Love," though I respect the historical significance of the earlier film.
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Ander (2009)
8/10
Unique and well-crafted
15 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I must say that I have seen very few movies that have been paced this slowly, but in this case, it is a testament to the artistry of the director.

In a setting where the pace of life appears to be glacial and change can be a painstakingly slow process, the deliberately slow pacing of some of the scenes was just another way for this film to effectively evoke a mood. There were certain scenes where the only change for an entire minute would be a light going on, or off. Some scenes would linger with a camera a full 10 or 15 seconds after the action or dialogue had ended...just to capture a subtle mood change, or to amplify what was already there.

This is a fascinating piece of work about real people, not the porn star fantasies that populate many other glbt works. This is not to say that the 2 leads are not attractive, as another poster suggested. We all get attracted to different types and these 2 certainly found an attraction to each other.

While I thought that this movie was excellent, I would liked to have seen the romance develop in a more balanced, and less abrupt, fashion. Considering the overall way that Jose gets treated in this film, there could at least have been one truly tender moment to pave the way for how this movie eventually resolved itself.

If the movie has one flaw it was the way the 3 chapters are used to foreshadow what is to come. Once the 3rd chapter title came up there were no surprises and we knew exactly how it was going to end. While the ending made sense, and was satisfying, why the need to foreshadow it?

All in all, a very different type of glbt film that is well worth your time.
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2/10
Curiouser and Curiouser...and really BAD.
28 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
So much to hate...so little time.

To be fair...I did like something about the film...the opening credits. Somewhat stylish and well done. Who knew that it would be the high point of the movie? Also...there are also a couple of people in this movie that have acting potential. Unfortunately, even the better actors in this film probably still need to keep going to acting class before they should be allowed in a movie.

As the movie progresses the acting reaches new, lame lows. The over-acting gets really unbearable at times.

And the plot?!? This has to be some sort of a bad joke.

A girl chooses to celebrate her 21st birthday at the same location where her mother was slaughtered on her own 21st birthday. Sounds credible to me.

Right off the bat, the movie says "based on a true story." Uh huh. Sure it was. It could have been worse, I suppose...they could have filmed this 'true story' with an unsteady hand-held camera.

As for the murders, the gore is a bit silly. One man spills his guts out after a single stab. In one especially banal, non-murder scene, a girl gets her butt cheeks glued to a toilet seat, but manages to rip herself free, with the help of someone's GAY UNCLE (they only mention the character is gay 72 times).

The really scary part is the special effects person wanted to be identified in the credits. Why? Who would hire somebody so untalented? We learn who the killers are way too soon and with virtually no dramatic tension. And then the convoluted ending just seems like a parody of a horror film. I mean...gee...what could be scarier than the heroine becoming insane, eh? This is the type of flick that fast forward controls were created for.

As for the folks who gave it a 10....I hope you at least collected some decent money for being part of the production.
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Role/Play (2010)
2/10
Excruciatingly Superficial
17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen lower budget films than "Role/Play." I have seen worse scripts and worse acting. However, when it comes to superficiality and pretentiousness, this film hits a whole new level.

I caught Steve Callahan before, including his roles in "East Side Story" and "Pornography," but in "Role/Play" he was virtually unwatchable. His speech was stilted and artificial and everything felt like it was being read for film class. Not a thing out of his mouth came off as believable. His partner, Matthew Montgomery was stronger as an actor, though I often felt bad for what he had to spout in this film.

I will say that it was nice to see David Pevsner in this (though I am sure he regrets one certain scene this film-maker idiotically had him do). Pevsner deserves better. Anyone who saw him in "When Pigs Fly," off-Broadway, knows this guy has talent to spare.

The real awfulness of this movie lies in the exceptionally bad script from director Rob Wilson.

This script screams...'I am an insider,' 'I know about gay Hollywood,' 'I will expose glbt politics.' It was written by a person who seems to have spent his whole life locked in the fabulousness of a glbt community that only seems to know Chelsea, Palm Springs, The Pines and Santa Monica Boulevard. All you need to know about this film is the way that the couple that were not 2 pretty party twins were portrayed.

Oh sorry, that was supposed to reveal that the main, 'important,' characters learned a little more about love because they realized that 2 partners were able to love each other without both being physically perfect.

This film doesn't shut up, it is talky to the point of preaching. Plus, it then throws in occasional butt shots...well, just because they decided to show some nudity. Hey, you need good publicity stills to get somebody to watch this.

Sorry, but this film's central characters were so self-indulgent, stereotypical and obnoxious that why would anyone care how it ended? It was beyond obvious how it would play out. In fact, my partner and I were joking about it as the story neared its end, and we hooted with laughter when it played out as predictably as it promised to.

They don't get much shallower than this.
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Summer (2006)
2/10
The last line renders this whole short pointless
21 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As one poster wrote, while this plot is rather standard, it showed some hope to gay youth that struggle with coming out. It gives them encouragement that maybe their friends won't reject them. It is the ONLY reason this did not get 1 star from me.

Because, with the last line of dialogue, this short film crosses the line. Do not read further unless you have seen it.

The last line made this entire exercise pointless. To me it represented every bit of self-loathing I thought this short was trying to dispel.

Actually, it made me ask...what was the point of this 9 minute short? What is the reason for filming a scene that is only an excuse for expressing that the person feels so bad about who they are that they would only share it with their parent after they were dead? And then end the piece there?

A disgusting sentiment, in my opinion. And an unfair slice of emotional baggage to throw out at some youths who might be inclined to take that advice to heart.
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Dumb Dicks (1932)
2/10
Barely watchable early talkie
21 March 2011
The best thing about "Dumb Dicks" is the length. It is only 18 minutes of your life that you will never get back.

Rubin and Gribbon are so inept as the title characters, and so monumentally unfunny, that it makes you appreciate the true greats like Laurel & Hardy all the more.

The sequence where the 2 PDs pretend to be Turkish mystics is especially bad. As in 'could they be more stupid and offensive' bad. Who wrote the moronic dialogue they were spouting? About the only section that wasn't entirely excruciating was the opening sequence in the bank, partially because of the gun-play overkill, and partially due to a couple of interesting extras. It caused me to give this disaster an extra star.

Once the action leaves the bank...ugh.
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9/10
An Early FIlm That Condemns Homophobia
14 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I was fortunate to be able to watch this rare telefilm today and have to disagree with the one other poster on here. I think this film is an early instance of criticism of homophobes, not gays.

It is just 1 year after the Stonewall riots, which began a landmark shift in the way gays were treated in Western countries...a change that was glacial, yet very pronounced.

This story is remarkable in that it definitely seemed to side with the apparently gay teacher that gets the better of a homophobic teacher who he calls a sadist, to his face...and then, that teacher responds with shamed silence.

If the 'message' of this teleplay wasn't apparent with that, it certainly was shortly afterward. After learning of the fate of the harassed student, Latimer, another teacher makes clear that gay students aren't wanted there. As the sympathetic teacher starts to respond, another tells him to not even dirty his hands by responding, and they walk out together. That is hardly a message that fosters anti-gay sentiment by the filmmakers.

As for the religious scene pointed out in the other review, for me it was clear that the scene was shown to portray the hypocrisy of religious folks who would oppress others and go about the trappings of being good Christians.

This was a brave piece for its day. Sadly, for the youth who portrayed Latimer, it was a career-ender. It was his only acting role
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Performance: Absolute Hell (1991)
Season 1, Episode 1
8/10
Heavenly 'Hell'
12 March 2011
This British television movie from 1991 is a real treasure.

"Absolute Hell" offers a glimpse of a world that few people today could have imagined. A Bohemian members-only club, run by the amazing Judi Dench. The telefilm, based on the novel "The Pink Room," takes place in 1945, shortly after Germany surrendered. The setting is SoHo, one of the rare locales where gay men and women could actually feel welcomed, at that time.

What makes this movie so fascinating to watch is the great cast, especially Hugh Nighy, as an alcoholic has-been writer, being deserted by his lover of 9 years, and Betty Marsden, riveting as lesbian literary critic R.B. Monody. Her role is of a type that has rarely been portrayed on film and she is brilliant.

Because this is an ensemble piece we may not get as deep into the characters as we might have, but I think that might be part of the charm here. It is more of a window into a time that few people have seen depicted, than a specific character study.

Well worth the time to watch, if you have the opportunity.
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Gnaw (II) (2008)
5/10
What's up with the extreme reviews on this flick?
12 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
There are 2 sets of reviews for this flick. The first, obvious batch, is from those involved with making it, they give it incredible raves. Those have been rightfully called out for being bogus.

What I do not understand are those who have made this out to be one of the worst horror flicks ever. It's not even close to being that bad.

Come on, any horror fan who decides to watch this flick knows exactly what they are going to be viewing...a cinematic marriage of "Motel Hell" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." As if any of the "Saw" sequels, or "Fridays the 13th" sequels, or "Halloween" sequels (except for #3) were going to offer something original and different? So why rag on this one for being derivative? Were you expecting "Inception"? As opposed to some other low-budget flicks I have seen, this one offers some pretty good cinematography and while the characters are fairly stereotypical, the acting is actually rather serviceable.

This film does have a few very gory moments, including a tongue-removal (a la "Mark of the Devil"). But in many other scenes, the gore is mostly left off screen. I think this was partially due to budgetary constraints, but I didn't mind. I watch horror more to be scared, not to be completely nauseated.

The major flaw I found with "Gnaw" was its essential incompleteness. Without giving too much away, was the vegetarian fed 'meat' in the captivity which the film suggests, but doesn't show? Her fate? Unresolved. Perhaps, intentionally.

Also, why would someone find an elaborately painted fingernail in their dinner and not react? Shouldn't there have been a scene where the innocent victims suddenly have a realization about what they are eating, while they are eating? Not in this movie, where a cohort rushes in with a revelation that quickly overshadows the discovery.

And yes, why on earth would the 3 not attempt an escape together? Having said all that, this film did deliver its share of creepiness.

Was it as awful as some posters would have you believe?

Naw.
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Rammbock (2010)
6/10
A semi-satisfying zombie snack
10 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
At only a smidgen under an hour, it is hard to truly sink your teeth into Rammbock. However, this zombie morsel from Germany still serves up some tasty treats.

The film is obviously made on a shoe-string budget, but still manages to convey a sense of claustrophobia and dread. This is primarily due to the apartment complex setting, where neighbors around a closed-in courtyard are connected.

What makes this film a little bit different is its focus on themes of love and loss and...oddly enough...how losing the love of your life may not be so bad, if an opportunity comes along when said life is through.

Adding to zombie lore in this film is their loathing of getting their close-up. Flash cameras drive the undead away. Also, in this incarnation, popping a sedative can delay the transformation.

Considering how quickly the epidemic arises, it's amazing that authorities were able to get out that last vital bit of information before all live communications stopped. However, it is also crucial to the way this story plays out.

The acting is also a bit sedated at times...well, actually, everybody is way too placid. However, the actors certainly are competent.

As for the abrupt ending. it does end quickly, but with flashes of the possibility that a sequel may be in the works....or maybe just a transition to a feature-length film when more money gets raised!
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Saam gaang yi (2004)
6/10
Worth watching but each segment is flawed
9 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I guess the best thing that this trilogy has going for it is that each piece is somewhat open-ended, with no neat resolution for any of the parts. So, there is definitely room for interpretation and some of these images will certainly linger.

Most perplexing for me was the second selection, "Cut." Actually, I have done a search all over the web and I have found no one else mentioning the significance of a female passenger who, in a single shot, is riding with the director on his way home from the studio, only to disappear as he arrives home and never to be brought up again. I mention this because it would suggest that the entire sequence is either a dream, or hallucinatory. I keep looking back at the sequence and wondering if it is his wife...and if she is dead. It is very hard to tell. But someone is definitely there. The final scene setting is actually too contrived to be real (having the blender both at home and on the set, and the way the wife and characters are suspended, for example). I do not see how an extra would have the craft and expertise to set up the studio a la "Saw." It certainly is gruesome.

Sorry, but episode 1, "DUmplings," was just plain revolting. I had won ton soup for dinner tonight, and fortunately the won tons did not crunch. I will say this, the concept of cannibalism has never been made to look so tasty. I mean, the food preparation scenes reminded me a bit of "Eat Drink, Man, Woman," until you learn that is what is being served. That is perverse enough in its own rite.

I liked the last segment, "Box," the best and the end would have been more satisfying if the present-day scenes before it would have been more honest. While the twist was nice, nothing would lead one to believe that there was a true sister act at play all through the movie. Still, I did love the atmosphere of the piece.

Normally, I would rate this trilogy higher, as it is certainly well-made. But, as I wrote, they all seemed flawed. More like ideas-in-progress than finished pieces. Then again, maybe that was the point.
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Half a Sinner (1940)
5/10
Very pleasant for an incredibly dumb movie
3 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Because of the easygoing and likable acting of the 3 stars (Angel, King and Collier), you likely will find the 1 hour spent goes by rather quickly.

However, this movie is riddled with disbelief. Outside of 1 brief scene where Heather Angel initially sprints from the car, neither her nor John King break a sweat over the dead man they are driving around.

And, why Angel never just abandons the car in the first place (we later learn why King doesn't) is just one of the film's many idiocies.

The chase scenes are mostly interesting for their blatant use of rear projection. The cops on police choppers are hilariously unrealistic.

Yet, despite the entire lack of believability, or any sense of tension, this film was a fun little period piece. There is a good free copy on YouTube and elsewhere online.
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9/10
One of the most exquisite films about cooking and life
13 September 2010
I watched this film again recently on DVD, for the first time in years. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

First and foremost, the filming of the cooking scenes are some of the most exquisitely shot scenes you will ever see. Ang Lee in this film reveals himself to be a master chef of cinema.

The film's theme, having to do with the interaction of cooking with the unexpected ebb and flow of life and relationships, makes this a must-see film for me. I think I loved the continually surprising turning of events as much as anything and was as satisfied at the end as if I had just finished a multi-course meal, prepared, as I wrote, by a master chef. Nothing in this movie turns out as you expect it to. That is part of the film's genius.

"Eat Drink, Man Woman" is a treat on so many levels. It is a film that celebrates all the flavors of life and family.
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1/10
This is NOT the Dumas novel.
30 August 2010
This adaptation of The Count Of Monte Cristo is not watchable to anyone who has read the classic novel. I read the novel for the first time last year, after hearing a snippet of the Orson Welles old-time radio version (which was probably a bastardization in itself).

After reading the book I learned that none of the movie versions, or the serialization of it, had been true to the novel.

They ALL apparently change the ending to make it a Hollywood ending (not that the original novel doesn't have a satisfying ending on its own merits). But, when you have read the book, what they have done in the movie version is unforgivable.

I caught this one on cable this evening and, I must say, the last hour was unbearable. Dumas must be rolling in his grave. They TOTALLY rewrote the book.

I think this has been done, because it is a difficult novel to start getting into (though the reward for those who do is great). So, the reference point for most people is the film from the 30s, which also apparently was not true to the Dumas story.

It is one thing to leave out some plot elements...this is too sprawling of a novel to film. It is better to do it as a mini-series (though when that was done, they also changed the book apparently...for some bizarre reason). But this book, totally changed the ending and message of the book and thus, eliminated all the meaning of the novel.

Had I not read the book, I could have enjoyed the film on its own merits, but this is NOT the classic Dumas novel.

If you have seen this without reading the book, do yourself a favor, read it. Trust me, nothing has been given away. It will be like discovering a completely different story. The original by Dumas is caviar...this film version is powdered rotten eggs.
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