Reviews written by registered user

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57 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Less Than Memorable Promo for a Forgotten Feature that may be Worth a Watch, 7 January 2009

This short is a behind the scenes, making of promo for the musical feature film "The Boy Friend" (1971). I saw it on TCM in the US where it plays occasionally.

This short was a bit educational for me for two reasons. First, even though I grew up in the 70's, I don't remember even hearing about the film "The Boy Friend". I assumed it was probably forgotten because it was lousy, but it actually has a very good IMDb user rating, so I'll have to check it out if I ever get the chance. Second, although I grew up hearing about the skinny 60's fashion model icon named Twiggy, I never knew that she became an actress, much less one that sang and danced.

As the title implies, there's lots of talking and singing and dancing in this short. Frankly, nothing that the narrator, director, production designer or Twiggy says is terribly interesting or memorable. There's lots of behind the scenes footage of dance and song rehearsals, along with clips from the feature film which is a musical set in the 1920's. Those parts are somewhat enjoyable if you like musicals.

Overall... nothing memorable in this short, but it did put me on the trail of a feature film that may be worth checking out.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Delightful Short Film, Well Written Story and Fun Claymation, 6 January 2009

I can't believe that I'm the first to comment on this excellent short film. I seen this on the Sundance Channel in the US on numerous occasions and it's always entertaining and worthy of a rewatch, especially since it only takes up 12.5 minutes of your time, less if you skip the credits.

While an elderly Norwegian man bundles up his granddaughter before sending her out into the snow, he relates the tale of his repeated attempts as a youth to join the resistance against the Nazis in WWII. Although he spins his tale in an impassive fashion, it touches a wide variety of emotions... always entertaining and interesting, often hilarious and sometimes painfully sad. It's very well written.

The animation style (mostly claymation) is delightful and clever, so this is a must see for claymation fans. My favorite elements are the huge metal "wheel" that represents the Nazi war machine and the encounter with the fish on the kitchen table.

Definitely worth a watch... and another... and another...

Dimmer (2005)
Engaging Short Film Showing a View of the Handicapped that We Never See, 6 January 2009

I've seen this short on the Sundance Channel in the US a few times. At first look, it wasn't very entertaining or memorable. The second time I saw it I realized that I had missed the point and gained a lot of respect for this film.

The US media only likes to tackle the subject of handicapped people when they are being shown as victims who need to be protected or as heroic characters who overcome and achieve while displaying admirable qualities. In this film the director gives us a new take... we see a slice of life of several blind and sight impaired teenage boys who are neither victims or heroes, they are simply aimless youth like so many others in America. There are indeed some interesting and educational bits concerned with blindness, like Mike describing how he finds his driveway by recognizing the cracks and seams in the sidewalk, and Mike teaching his pal Joey to listen for echoes when tapping the walking cane.

However, most of the film is showing us that these blind guys lead the same shiftless lives as so many other "normal" teenagers do. They hang out, curse, talk smack, ride bikes, break things in abandoned buildings, work boring menial jobs, talk about rappers, fist fights and the opposite sex, and dream of travel to exotic locations without ever doing anything to work toward that goal. And like most teenage cliques, they hang out together because they don't fit in well with others. And we are shown that their emotions are no different than ours. When Mike is dumped by his seeing girlfriend over the phone, he goes through the same emotional range that the typical guy would... anger, sadness, bitterness, sour grapes ("She was ugly anyway.") and moving on ("Hey, bitches!").

The point: the fact that someone has a handicap doesn't automatically turn them into a wonderful person with admirable qualities striving to overcome their limitations, which is what the media typically wants us to believe.

Engaging and admirable short film once you understand it.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Decent Retrospective on Christmas Films, Very Good Introduction for Newcomers, 19 December 2008

When I recorded this off Starz in December 2008, I thought it was one of their new retrospective on film specials. But the 1.33:1 ratio and a younger looking Jane Seymour quickly clued me into the fact that I was watching something from years ago.

A fairly good retrospective on Christmas films and cartoons that has its upsides. And it covers a lot more films than is currently shown on the movie connections page.


1. If you are part of a younger generation or are not familiar with some of the classic Christmas films (e.g. "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street") for other reasons, this doc is a nice introduction to those. And this includes a number of very good films which have a Christmas theme, but you wouldn't know that from their title (e.g. "Meet John Doe", "The Bishop's Wife").

2. A few of the clips are from films that your are not likely to see anywhere else (e.g. the 1898 short film "Santa Claus"), unless you really go hunting for them.

3. Host/narrator Jane Seymour does a pretty good job of staying out of the way and letting the lengthy film clips do most of the talking. And some of the tidbits that she does offer are interesting (e.g. all-time classic "It's a Wonderful Life" was a huge box office disappointment at the time).

4. It does a nice job of pointing out which now classic Christmas songs debuted in film (e.g. the song "White Christmas" came from the film "Holiday Inn").


1. Some of the contemporary Christmas films discussed are (way) less than classic (e.g. "Santa Claus: The Movie", "Jingle All the Way").

2. Although it mentions that the success of TV Christmas specials has really curtailed the making of theatrically released Christmas films, it doesn't really cover those (as the title implies, I guess). That's too bad since many of the TV Christmas specials are as classic as some of the great films.

3. This information is this doc is rather wide, but not very deep. So, it's a good introduction to Christmas films for newcomers, but doesn't have much to offer to someone who's seen most or all of the classic Christmas films, unless they just want to enjoy the clips.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Somewhat Interesting Look at the Unusual Process Used to Create a Unique Film, 13 December 2008

This behind the scenes documentary for the feature film "Shortbus" (2006) is somewhat atypical. Like most "making of" documentary shorts, it uses interviews with the director and cast, behind the scenes footage and short clips from the feature film. However, this short is more of a review and explanation of the unique development process of this unusual feature film, and since it was produced and released after the feature film, we know that it's not merely a promotional tool intended to convince viewers to buy tickets to the feature film.

Most films get their production started with getting a script approved. For the film "Shortbus", director John Cameron Mitchell simply started with the idea that he wanted to use real sex in a film that had a positive message. This concept drove the development stage of the film in an unusual direction, first finding acceptable non-porn actors who were willing to have sex on screen, and then using numerous improv workshops with those actors to develop the characters and script. Mitchell states that he was creating the process in addition to the script and the film.

The actors were initially selected from hundreds of homemade audition videos sent in for a "sex film project". Then, the 40 actors selected for callbacks were introduced to each other, watched their audition tapes together, filled out a questionnaire about what they were willing to do and with whom, and underwent a week of improv. The nine primary cast members and "sextras" were chosen and underwent STD tests, and then the focus shifted to using improv workshops to develop the story for the film.

Some of the film's obstacles and issues are also discussed, among which were the CBC's objection to the casting of Canadian radio personality Sook-Yin Lee, having two key cast members drop out of the project, trying to find condoms that are "invisible", and the occasional "premature" accident.

There's a section that discusses the heavy emotional message of the film while showing a number of clips from the feature film. And then it all wraps up with the film premiering at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. This last section is by far the weakest of the short. Other than the intertitles providing the facts, the few minutes about Cannes was mostly footage of cast and crew horsing around in their hotel rooms.

Overall... very interesting in parts, less so in other parts, a few heavy thoughts and a number of good laughs. Definitely needed some editing to tighten things up, especially the Cannes section.

Mildly Amusing but Forgettable Charles 'Chic' Sale Comedy Short, 21 November 2008

I saw this on TCM in the USA.

Chic plays a poor man who sells the pies his wife bakes for ten cent apiece. Although tired, hungry and in no mood for conflict, his wife sends him out to sell pies and to confront their one competitor about business. Chic reads a self-help pamphlet and decides to talk his competitor into a merger. The two "businessmen" sit down to discuss the merger, and from that point forward, the short is basically two running jokes. One... although the two men are merely vendors who peddle their pies out of a toy wagon and handbasket, they discuss their business as if it were a huge corporation poised to monopolize the industry by buying farms, mills and railroads. And two... Chic finds ways to eat his competitors pies without paying for them.

The comedy is virtually all verbal, and after the opening scene, it becomes a two man play as the two men sit under a tree and discuss business. I don't know when the first belch on screen occurred, but this short has a couple of belches thrown in as jokes at the end.

Chic is in good form, but this short is only mildly amusing...

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Film Promo which Focuses on the Precocious Child Actress, 4 November 2008

I saw this short on TCM where it is occasionally played, usually in conjunction with the feature film it promotes, "The Goodbye Girl" (1977).

It's a behind the scenes promotional short that focuses entirely on the 9 year old, precocious child actress Quinn Cummings. The major cast and crew members lavish praise on Quinn for knowing the script extremely well, being easy to work with, being bright and being a natural talent. For education, Quinn is shown attending the same MGM lot school where Mary McDonald taught the famous child stars of yesteryear, like Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney. For recess, Quinn is shown being allowed to roam around unused studio lots and to play with the gadgets on those sets. Two clips of scenes from the feature film which spotlight Quinn are shown.

This short is mildly entertaining, maybe because I'm such a fan of the wonderful feature film, but it does border on being an embarrassing lovefest for Quinn. Sadly, although the precocious Quinn was absolutely wonderful in the feature film, she didn't really capture that magic again and was out of acting by her mid twenties. A cruel fate suffered by many child actors.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good and Bad... Definitely a Showcase for Nikki Fritz, 21 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review is based on viewing the unrated 92 minute Japanese DVD (English with Japanese subtitles). IMDb currently indicates that this film is rated R (USA) for a 90 minute version, which I have trouble believing. I think there was a much shorter R rated version released initially, but judging from the other user comments, they probably also saw a longer unrated (or USA:TV-MA rated) version. The longer versions are definitely full-on softcore, not the R rated teaser stuff.

There's lots to like and dislike in this softcore flick. After viewing lots of MRG Entertainment's recent flicks which are often nothing but a handful of people sitting around a house spewing dialogue written merely to introduce inserted sex scenes, it was refreshing to go back and see one of their older flicks which actually made an attempt at being more like a real movie. This flick starts with a real song instead of the canned, reused instrumental music, and there are outdoor shots, location shots, shots inside moving cars, scenes with extras, and other things we don't see from MRG much anymore.

Plot: The basic plot (bored, unfulfilled housewife turns to working in a brothel) and the happy ending (lover becomes stalker, wife saved by husband/friend and realizes true love) have been done plenty of times before. However, the journey between the setup and climax is an unusual ride. The main character Zanthe (played by Nikki Fritz) displays symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. There are numerous instances where a whole scene or parts of a scene turn out to be a dream, a fantasy, or a full blown hallucination of Zanthe... complete with the "Gotcha!" transition. At one point in the film she appropriately says, "I gotta get a hold of myself!".

Writing: Again... kudos for attempt a real plot. Yet, there is some really bad and inconsistent writing here which had me rolling my eyes on several occasions. First, both the customers and employees of the brothel did things which would immediately get them kicked out of the place in real life (e.g. customer insisting on knowing the real full name of one of the girls). Second, there were numerous occasions where a character spoke dialogue which was completely inconsistent with things which had happened in previous scenes. Example: one guy states that "money is no object", which is evidenced by the fact that he visits a high class brothel every day, yet in a later scene he's spewing dialogue about getting dropped because he's poor. And one character seriously says, "Trust me, I'm a lawyer".

Acting: Overall, very good for a softcore flick. Nikki Fritz is very good as the unbalanced lead, and Burke Morgan is flat out excellent. Only Julia Kruis (who's always a weak actress) turns in a inconsistent performance. Everett Rodd is effectively very creepy in his role, and since I've never seen him before I don't know if he's great at playing creepy, or if his awkward delivery of lines just worked out to make it seem that way.

Sex scenes: There's around a dozen simulated sex scenes of varying lengths and quality, but most of them are good or at least average. Per usual, there's a little girl/girl, solo, threesome and voyeurism thrown in for variety. It's definitely a showcase for Nikki Fritz, who's in most of the scenes. I've always liked Nikki, both as an actress and a softcore performer, except for the overstretched, low quality fake tits. The other three girls get to participate in a couple of scenes each. Julia Kruis and Raquel Devine are both lovely and have better quality fakes. And rarely used softcore actress Dana Robbins is unbelievably cute, and natural. On the Japanese DVD, there is some light blurring of crotch shots, but it's otherwise full blown softcore.

Overall... this one has it's good and bad, but worth a watch... and a must see for Nikki Fritz fans.

Iota (2004)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Beautifully Made and Haunting Short Film... Definitely Worth Checking Out, 20 October 2008

I've seen this short on the Sundance Channel (USA) several times, and it's always a pleasure to watch again.

I don't want to say too much about the plot since I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it yet. The heart of the story is about the loving relationship between a single father and his twin daughters. However... there is another very interesting element to the story which is supernatural, though never quite slipping into horror or sci-fi, if taken literally. Or... if taken figuratively... but that's part of the beauty here... much is left to the imagination or one's interpretation.

The cinematography is gorgeous, the mostly non-verbal acting performances are wonderful, the story is interesting, sweet and yet haunting, and the quiet beautiful music sets the perfect mood.

Definitely check this short film out if you get the chance.

Lazy and Uncreative Pete Smith Specialty... Just Stock Footage of Acrobats, 19 October 2008

I saw this short on TCM.

It starts with stock footage shots of regular people punching time clocks and working in normal jobs while narrator Pete Smith reminds us that most people have normal, routine, unexciting jobs in offices, shops, and factories with scheduled hours. He then states that some people have very unusual ways of earning their living, and that he has "combed" the land and years for examples. This is a very interesting premise... unfortunately...

What Pete really meant to say was that he really only combed MGM's stock footage of circuses, carnivals and state fairs for the examples. We are shown footage of gymnastic acrobats, horseback acrobats, high wire artists, pole swayers, flying trapeze artists, a horse diver, and a diving stuntman. In fact, the only example that doesn't fall in the narrow category of aerial or gymnastic acrobat is the married couple who perform trick shots with horseshoes. While it's true that most people have routine jobs, the world has a very wide variety of people who make a living in very unusual and very different ways, but this short only shows us examples from one narrow group.

If you just want to see aerial and gymnastic acrobats, then you'll enjoy this short. However, in terms of fulfilling it's interesting premise, this short is very lazy and uncreative and inadequate, and it's most likely 100% stock footage shots. And none of Pete Smith's attempts at humor in this one are memorable.

I wonder if some poor kid saw this short in the 50's and said "Gee... my only two options in life are working a boring 9 to 5 job... or joining the circus".

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