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jm10701

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277 reviews in total 
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Before (2010)
Beautifully written, directed and acted movie about grief... and maybe more, 22 September 2016
10/10

This is a very beautifully written, directed and acted movie about a carefree, well-to-do (they have a pool in the city and a house at the beach) young man in Buenos Aires named Ignacio ("Nacho"), 21 years old, who suddenly loses his parents and much younger brother (around five years old)—apparently in a road accident, although it's never specified.

He is immediately confronted not only with unbearable grief but with financial catastrophe, because his father's prosperous import/export business is being run by an associate (Carlos) who tells him the business (which Nacho apparently now owns) had been failing for a long time and can no longer support him as it had been doing. He will have to get a job for the first time in his life.

One of the challenges in watching this wonderful movie is that nothing is explained, there's no narrator telling us what happened. The movie just starts cold, with Nacho's first meeting with Carlos after the accident—although we don't even know yet why the meeting is taking place or why Nacho is such a wreck emotionally. Carlos tells him the business is failing, which Nacho doesn't believe, but he's too devastated by grief to do much about it.

The back story is filled in with occasional flashbacks to Nacho's full and happy life before the accident (hence the movie's title), and the contrast with his present distress is devastating. Nacho doesn't even look like the same person.

Besides Nacho and Carlos, the main characters (both before and after the catastrophe) are Nacho's girlfriend Ana, his very openly gay best friend Tomás, and Tomás's wonderful mother Silvia, on whom Nacho had a huge crush a few years earlier. The various ways those other characters try to help Nacho, and his painfully clumsy, erratic and self-defeating responses to their offers of help, make up most of the "after" story. It's sad, and sometimes I felt like shaking Nacho to wake him out of his grieving fog, but that's how grief is.

What makes such a sad story so wonderful to watch is the amazing skill and talent that went into making it. The screenplay and direction (both by Daniel Gimelberg) are fantastic. All of the flashbacks come at the right times and in the right ways, so they're always helpful, never distracting.

Despite the total lack of explication, the story is easy to follow because it all feels so REAL, like I'm watching real people living through the hardships instead of watching actors in a movie. I wouldn't know every detail about real people, and I don't know everything there is to know about these characters.

And those actors... Wow! Every one of them is amazing; but Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as Tomás and Verónica Llinás as his mother Silvia are especially good, never "acting", just being the characters. However, it's Nahuel Viale as Nacho who really shines and makes the movie work. He's in almost every scene, and he's always perfect. As I said, he doesn't even look like the same person before and after.

I've simplified this movie a lot, maybe too much. It's much more complex than I've made it seem. The lack of explication and even of what would be essential information in a more conventional movie (like, how did Nacho's family die? They're shown driving away for a vacation at their beach house, but we're never told what happened to them) leaves room for almost endless speculation about what is really going on.

And weird bits that seem meaningless (like switching the music cassette in the car's radio) are given so much attention that it creates a dark, almost sinister atmosphere, hinting that Nacho may be suffering more than grief, and that his life may not really have been as perfect "before" as the flashbacks make it seem. Or that Carlos may be more than just a thief (if he really even IS a thief). A lot more is happening in this movie than we will ever know.

I'm amazed that Antes didn't win awards at major film festivals around the world, that it wasn't picked up for release in the US. It's a perfect gem—sophisticated, complex, intelligent, and beautifully executed on every level. It's a shame that almost no one has seen it.

I would gladly pay almost any price for a DVD, but, as far as I can discover, none is available. However (thank God) it's available to watch for free online, at Blu-ray (1080p) resolution and with excellent optional English subtitles. The movie flows so beautifully, and the subtitles are so good, that I never felt like I was reading; it was as if I could somehow understand everything they were saying in Spanish. That's how all subtitles ought to be but almost never are.

I can't insert a direct link to the video, but if you search for "antes", "english" and "gimelberg" you'll find it.

homophobic garbage, 21 September 2016
1/10

According to this extremely offensive movie, sex between two men is always brutally clumsy and compulsive, never tender or romantic, always performed with one man fully clothed and on a desk or other piece of hard furniture, even if there's a bed in the next room. They may talk about love, but they act like they hate each other.

In this supposedly gay movie, the only graphic sex is heterosexual—and there are not one but TWO lushly sensual sex scenes between a man and a woman, both in bed—to emphasize, I suppose, how much better hetero sex is than gay sex. Men can only grope and assault each other, but men caress women.

This is shockingly offensive homophobia, it pervades every scene in this horrible movie, and I hate it with every cell in my gay male body.

By the way (as if it could get even worse), the English title ("Men in the Nude") is a lie. You won't see any more male nudity than is on the cover of the DVD. You'll see lots of female breasts, but nothing male below the waist.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
extremely obnoxious gay man can't find Mr Right, then finally finds him... so who cares?, 7 September 2016
1/10

For a movie like this to work (in which the hero is a gay man looking for Mr Right) there has to be something about the hero that makes the audience care about him. It's okay if he's ugly, fat and middle aged as long as he's also charming, or sweet, or feisty, or smart or funny. But when he's ugly, fat and middle aged AND every word he says sounds like whining, AND his only facial expression is a spoiled-baby pout—and his behavior always perfectly agrees with his voice and his expression—who cares? I sure didn't.

My overwhelming reaction was complete disbelief that such an obnoxious person would ever get even ONE date, much less an endless string of men—none of them spectacular but ALL of them more appealing than he is—who invariably want to have a serious relationship with him, but none of them are good enough for him. Evidently every gay man in San Francisco finds him irresistible, but his standards are too high. It's absurd. Exactly the same pattern repeats five or six times with different but interchangeable men, and it gets to be very annoying very, very fast.

The man he would finally end up with was obvious from almost the beginning of the movie, which made the long, moronic trek to the end even more unbearable than it would have been anyway. And several side stories—of mindless intra-office bitchiness, of an old man whose wife dies when her toaster catches fire, etc—are just as stupid and irritating as the obnoxious gay guy's quest for Mr Right. And those side stories don't even reach any conclusions; they just get dropped along the way.

This is a stupid, irritating, completely unbelievable movie about an obnoxious man and the equally obnoxious people around him.

technically beautiful and brilliant, but ruined by its relentless, mean-spirited cynicism, 5 September 2016
2/10

This movie is extraordinarily well-written, directed, acted and photographed—especially remarkable as the first feature by a 21-year-old film-school student—but it is ruined by its unrelentingly mean-spirited message.

It would be impossible to praise too highly every technical aspect of this movie, or to single out any one of the four elements I listed in the first sentence as being better than the others. Everything about it is spectacularly good, except for its heart.

As I was watching it, I marveled that the writer-director Nate Chapman did not take Hollywood by storm, did not even make another movie after this one, now almost 7 years old. (Equally remarkable is the fact that I am its first reviewer.) Technically, this movie is every bit as good as another first-timer, Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. (The Welles influence throughout this movie is unmistakable.) But by the time I reached the end I no longer wondered why Chapman's career began and ended (so far) with this one movie. I'm glad it did.

The Evangelist's brutal cynicism is unrelenting; it wastes enormous intelligence, talent and energy in what amounts to the temper tantrum of a very gifted but hate-filled child. It's like being vomited on and then bitten by a precocious but monstrously spoiled and angry—and vicious—four-year-old.

All Yours (2014)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
extremely stupid, offensive and irritating, 18 March 2016
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A scrawny, scruffy, bug-eyed, twenty-something, straight but gay-for-pay porn performer and hustler in Argentina cons a fat, lonely, middle-aged gay baker in Belgium into paying for his flight from South America to Europe, promising to fulfill the baker's every fantasy and desire. Once there, he steals from the baker, verbally abuses him, refuses to have sex with him, and chases after the baker's assistant, a seemingly well-adjusted and sensible widowed mother his own age who has a son around four years old.

SPOILERS:

An hour and a half later... after a whole bunch of stupid crap (including the revelation--after he'd had sex with both the baker and the single mother--that the hustler has had untreated AIDS for three years; and the woman's leaving her son in the care of this skanky, lying guy with AIDS while she goes to a party, right after he showed her some of the gay porn he appeared in; and an EXTREMELY offensive scene in which the scrawny hustler makes the fat baker run and exercise in a park while he ridicules him the whole time)... the baker ends up with a partner much more like himself (for which the skanky hustler with AIDS somehow gets credit, as if he's a messiah who came in order to solve everybody's problems), the single mom evidently abandons her son and chases the skanky Argentine hustler with AIDS to the skanky bar where he tends bar between tricks, and they make out like monkeys in heat. THE END.

It's been a very long time since I hated a movie as much as I hate this one.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
inexcusably, infuriatingly bad, 4 March 2016
1/10

Whether this is better than other dramatizations of the book is irrelevant. If it's bad, it's bad--and this is bad. The fact that this version covers far more of the book--including Kostya Levin's story, which I think is more interesting than Anna's--just makes its atrocities even more unbearable.

What bothered me much more than its distortions of the book's characters and deviations from its plot is its dragging THE WHOLE BOOK down to the level of a soap opera. From the very first scene with Countess Vronskaya and Anna on the train, and in every single following scene, all the way through to the end, I felt like I was watching As The Word Turns--all 13,858 episodes. It made me sick.

To me, one of Tolstoy's most astonishing achievements in this book is that it NEVER--not for one scene or one paragraph or one word--falls into melodrama. Every character is alive and real, everything they do is believable and organic. Nothing is overblown or contrived.

This production is the exact opposite. EVERYTHING is overblown, EVERYTHING feels contrived and phony and stupid. It takes a very great book and turns it into cheap melodrama. What a disgrace.

0 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Why not?, 10 August 2015
1/10

Fans of the movie need not read this review. It's not for you. In fact, it's not for anybody who has already seen Eyes Wide Shut, whether you liked it or not.

I've reviewed hundreds of movies, and this is the very first time I've written a review of a movie I haven't seen. Here's why I'm writing it anyway: There may be others out there who, like me, still have not seen Eyes Wide Shut, more than 16 years after its release. They (again, like me) may be huge movie fans, even huge fans of Kubrick's earlier movies, but for some reason this particular Kubrick movie hasn't drawn them yet.

They may feel sometimes (like me again) that they OUGHT to see it, but for some reason they just haven't. If you're in that state, hearing my reasons may help you decide to see it, or it may help you reconcile yourself to never seeing it. This review is for you and you alone.

I've read a LOT about this movie, about the circumstances under which it was made, the challenges Kubrick and others faced in making it, its unique position in the history of making and distributing movies. I've read dozens of reviews of the movie, by professional critics whom I respect enormously (and some I don't) and by amateurs like us here at Amazon, IMDb, Netflix, etc. I've seen many clips from the movie, official trailers as well as pirated clips posted online, including some that are hailed as the very best scenes in it by most fans of the movie.

The thing is, not once in all that time have I ever read or seen anything that made me want to see the movie. Not for one second did I see a clip that made me want to see more, read anything that made me want to experience it directly instead of second-hand. There just is not anything about it that appeals to me. Nothing.

Nearly every movie I see I see because a trailer, or a clip from the movie, or a comment I read somewhere stirred up something in me that wanted more. Often the full movie turns out to be disappointing or even unwatchable, but I have found a few real jewels that way. But nothing has ever caused me to want to see this one even slightly. I WANT to want to see it, but I just don't.

Since it's unlikely that anything new will be discovered in this movie now, anything that would light even a tiny spark of interest in me, I just need to accept the fact that I don't want to see Eyes Wide Shut, and I most likely never will, and that's okay.

So I'm giving this movie one star because it hasn't even succeeded in making me want to see it, which is about the biggest failure a movie can have.

Ryan O'Nan's vanity project, 27 July 2015
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brooklyn Brothers is a good example of a vanity project, which is when a marginally successful person creates something in order to showcase his or her own talents and charm.

Ryan O'Nan wrote, directed and stars as a deceptively self-deprecating loser wannabe musician named Alex, who goes on a "life-changing" road trip with an even bigger loser named Jim whose function is to be extremely wacky and give Alex lots of opportunities to look good. Alex's strait-laced, uptight older brother performs the same function from the opposite direction. A girl is thrown in to let us know that Ryan--I mean Alex--is also irresistibly sexy.

There are some funny moments and lots of hip, quirky, darkly soul-baring songs written and sung by O'Nan, plus some amazing triumphs of his incisive wisdom over other people's dullness. After 90 minutes of hip cleverness and charm laid on with a trowel, the movie ends on a surprisingly mean-spirited note, but maybe that's just how it goes in O'Nan's world.

If you're a big fan of Ryan O'Nan or of hiply quirky, navel-gazing, guitar-strumming singer-songwriters, you'll probably love this movie.

Nebraska (2013)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
irritating movie about obnoxious people, 22 July 2015
1/10

Nebraska is an unbearably annoying movie about the most obnoxious people I've seen in years.

David should have minded his own business and let Woody walk to Nebraska as he wanted to, dying in a ditch somewhere along the way. That's where he belonged. But even Ross and Kate's plan--to put Woody into an institution of some kind--would have been better than the pointless and moronic road trip to Nebraska.

I hated Woody, and I hated David even more, and I hated Kate, and Ross, and Ed and the disgusting cousins and everybody else. I HATED this movie.

Alexander Payne seems to be everybody's darling, for some reason that I cannot even begin to understand, but after suffering through this one I'll avoid his movies like the plague from now on.

Cake (2014/II)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
annoying, phony, stupidly written and directed movie, 5 July 2015
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A very annoying, phony, stupidly written and directed movie. Nobody ever says anything a real human being would say or does what a real human being would do.

Aniston is pretty good playing angry b!tch in pain, but she's completely--and I do mean completely--unbelievable as a civil-liberties lawyer and as a grieving mother. Nobility doesn't suit her at all.

The guy who plays the suicide's wimpy husband is awful, and so is the woman who plays the Mexican servant. Even Huffman and Macy are bad.

That means it's the writer's and director's faults, not the actors'. This might have been worth watching if those two had been competent, but they seem to have been working toward an Oscar for Aniston and let everything else slide into the sewer. Either that or they just don't have what it takes to make a good movie. This one is really stupid.


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