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Cake, A Misnomer. Something Substantive Here, Not Confection
These film makers deftly held their cards close, not laying 'em all out there like so many less intelligently crafted films do. As anyone will tell you who's suffered a catastrophic loss that also resulted in their own bodily injury, it's almost impossible to distinguish between actual physical pain and emotional pain. When chronic, like in Claire's case, the two are intertwined, become one, and feed one another. Claire clearly displays the physical and emotional scars of her painful tragedy. Jennifer Aniston, stretching her acting legs so-to-speak, reveals a new dimension to her skills while displaying enormous courage. Her performance is supported by a solid cast. The film brilliantly reveals the back-story to her present struggles with subtlety, empathy, and even humor. Well done and well worth the time.
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
Looks old, feels new
Great premise and situational comedy which feels a lot fresher than it looks. Should have been made in color but the fact that it was done in black in white does help add to the drabness of the principal players lives and town. The part of Orville went to Ray Walston when Peter Sellers suffered a heart attack and had to be replaced. One reviewer here wrote critically of Walston and Novak referring to them as the "bus and truck co." cast and imagines what a film it would have been had Sellers and Marilyn Monroe been cast. Perhaps I misread him but Monroe was never considered for Novak's character, Polly The Pistol. She was to have played Felicia Farr's part, Zelda. He also imagines Jack Lemmon in the part of Orville and although Lemmon is on my very short list of the best actors ever, at the time this film was made, he was too handsome and charismatic and would have been a distraction. I believe Monroe would have pulled the film off it's balance as well whereas Felicia Farr was absolutely perfect. Kim Novak's performance was one of her best and proves that had she been given or had taken the right opportunities she could have had a whole new career in comedy. Ray Walston and Cliff Osmond were brilliantly believable as hapless scheming buddies-n-crime. So if this film needs a "re-work", for me, it wouldn't be tinkering with any of the casting. It would be in making it look as modern as it feels. Believing in the film enough to have sprung for a budget including color film would have helped a lot. It is a comedy gem which deals with the convoluted situation that its main characters create in a not too often seen adult approach and reaction.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Compliments For Ole Coens
From the praise and ratings this movie has received here and to the Oscar recognition that it received, I must have missed something. Something extremely essential. What it is I can't imagine. Yes, the acting was good as was the cinematography. The element of suspense was there also. But that's about where it ends for me. Praising anything else like the story or direction would be like sucking up to the Coen brothers past successes. "Money and success cover up a lot of stink", I believe Elizabeth Taylor once said. That might explain why this movie has been overly lauded. The world is full of real threats. The world of thieves and drug dealers is harsh and real. Sometimes those worlds collide with our own. That's a story that could be told through a set of fictionalized circumstances in a manner far more worthwhile than it was here. However, this film is nothing more than a self-indulgent presentation of an over-the-top blood-thirst fantasy. It's a pity that so many of us need for our fears to be presented to us much the way that we might face them through a "scary" roller-coaster or a walk through a frightful haunted house in October....as nothing more than a lark and nothing to give more serious contemplation to.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Great performances in a dud.
Member: mrblimp expressed my feelings concerning this movie brilliantly. As irritating as the filming style was at times, I do think it helped drag me (most of the time unwillingly though) into the intimacy of that family's drama. I felt the film's theme of diversity like a bludgeon to the head and overall extremely pretentious. I found myself combing the scenes for "the" obligatory gay couple and for possible midgets...the only two groups unrepresented here. The three principle actress'es performances were astounding in spite of the disjointed script and/or editing...especially that of Rosemarie DeWitt's which was superbly nuanced. Bill Irwin's was annoyingly interesting for his frenzied portrayal of the father. So much so, I felt he should be drug-tested and sent to rehab right along with his daughter. Debra Winger, always the gem was set in a piece of jewelry not befitting her. No real sane person ever really "enjoys" other peoples weddings, I mean when you realize the divorce rate and obligation to "gift". So all the celebrating with it's "interesting" characters and music was lost on me as mostly boring for my detachment to it, due in large part to the film's overly contrived feeling. Again, the film and camera style made me feel as if I were spying in on a tense period in these character's lives so I held on to see if I ever developed an interest in any of them. Sadly I can't say that I did.
Knocked Up (2007)
Reaches a new low in "entertainment"
Let me state from the onset that I don't fit the demographics that this movie surely was aimed at. It saddens and shocks me that so many "twenty-somethings" rated this film highly and actually found something in it to enjoy. That hints at only one thing to me: the decline in our expectation and discernment of quality entertainment. To my credit and happiness, I waited till the movie was released on DVD before wasting my money on it. Even though I found more to enjoy and less to be annoyed with in Apetow's "The 40 Year Old Virgin", something just told me that this movie "experience" wasn't going to be the same. And, oh boy was I right! This movie was lamely written, poorly cast and, ineptly directed. It was juvenile, low-brow (at it's worst and devalued), uninspired and, overly stereotypical. By the time the tasteless and unthoughtful joke at Stephen Hawking's expense reeled by the screen I had already given up hope but with that, I was most definitely DONE. Within 30 minutes of the film, I was already successfully predicting the next scene's dialog and the ending of the film. So, besides all of the other adjectives I've used to describe this film, I can also add: predictable!
An assault on the senses
OK, so going into it, I wasn't naive. I knew it was going to be vulgar and course but I hoped it would provide some humor in the low-brow sense. In those respects, it delivered and can not be rated a failure or even a disappointment. What did denigrate the entire movie for me was the Rap performance during the ending credits. That was an unwarranted and certainly unwanted assault on my senses! It spurred a discussion with the clerks at my local video store upon my return of the DVD. I wanted, and in fact needed to know, what young people thought of the "song's" message and content. What I discovered was truly disturbing. One said that he felt that most twenty-somethings probably thought it was just "funny" and the other one said that he felt that he and his generation were "desensitized" to "stuff like that"! Either possibility extremely saddens me! The message of that rap performance, and I'm sure of many more as yet unheard by me, is something not to find "funny" nor to make fun of...and, I personally think that it's a cop-out to say that you're "desensitized" to it. If you have a mind and a sense of dignity for yourself and others around you, I would think that you would have nothing but outrage for it. The rap "artist" Andy Milonakis will surely, by his disrespect and unhappiness for himself and the rest of us, push us all toward the second dark ages where censorship will halt any creativity whatsoever. Milonakis and those like him and all that hail him as a talent are men to feel sadness and pity for. I will give him this much however, it does continue to push the age old question of what is art and what isn't.
The Book of Daniel (2006)
Ridiculous attempt at trying to be profound and/or shocking
I can't speak for how it might have offended anyone's religious sensibilities because I'm far from being an expert nor the least bit religious myself. However, I believe that this pilot-episode was a ridiculously heavy-handed and unsophisticated example of "shock-media". There wasn't a sympathetic character among the cast except for maybe the priest's gay son, Christian and, Daniel's mother who's living with Alzheimer's disease...an issue I felt was exploited more for low-brow humor than was dealt with any sensitivity. What a "loser" of a person, let alone a priest, is Daniel(?)to have raised a family such as that. A wife who escapes inside her glass of wine or a martini; an adopted son, Adam who is a mean-spirited "crap-starter"; a daughter, Grace who is a self-absorbed opportunist and a son; Christian, who doesn't feel free to be who and what he is because of his own family's repressed hostility and homophobia. I also felt it was an insulting and even racist cliché to present the family maid as a pilfering, deceptive pot smoker. And what was up with Ellen Burstyn's character, Dr. Congreve, chastising Daniel's lenient sermon on giving into temptation, huh(?), when towards the end of the show we discover her adulterous affair with his father. I accept the suggestion that this is perhaps exactly Kenny's point, to show the hypocrisy of all these characters. But they certainly don't lend themselves to being the least bit interesting enough to watch and hope for their redemption, in whatever means it's accomplished. A family member, who enjoyed Six Feet Under, taped the episode for me and told me that if I loved SFU I would embrace this as well. Well they couldn't have been more wrong and I couldn't have been more disappointed. In fact to make the comparison even angers me a little. After having watched "The Book of Daniel", I felt as if I had been bludgeoned over the head with Kenny's idea of "thought provoking" entertainment which was totally devoid of any subtlety whatsoever.
I just heard that this show has been canceled. Although I personally won't shed a tear over it, I hope it was because of it's low entertainment value rather than pressure from the religious right. That's a far scarier thing to have to deal with than grabbing the remote and having to click to another program more suited to your own tastes, don't you agree?