Reviews written by registered user
|171 reviews in total|
I understand why some people object to this movie's equating the plight
of illegal immigrants and exploited factory workers with the Shoah (the
The Jewish people are at this moment at greater risk than they have been since the Germans exterminated them in Europe during World War II. They are surrounded by hordes of brutal, ruthless monsters no less dedicated to their destruction than the Germans were 70 years ago.
But it's worse now, because they are effectively all alone against a force thousands of times larger than they are (billions against a few million), with NOBODY on their side, not even their former official "Protectors", the British.
During the Shoah, most civilized countries supported the Jews' right to exist (in theory, at least); but now the whole world prefers the Palestinians, whose declared aim is the total destruction of Israel. Israel's only remaining friends - the Americans - currently seem more interested in courting Israel's enemies than in insuring Israel's survival.
Anybody who says the nation Israel is not the same as the Jewish people is either criminally deluded or a liar. Israel's enemies hate it because it's Jewish. Period. If they could wipe out the Jews all over the world they'd do it gleefully, but Israel is a much more convenient target, an isolated, vulnerable surrogate for the whole.
In the light of this alarming situation, to compare France's arresting illegal immigrants to Germany's systematically murdering Jewish children is appalling. Nevertheless... I was bowled over by this movie.
It is a deceptively powerful movie - deceptive because it seems to amble so slowly and randomly toward its conclusion; powerful because it makes old news new and vitally important. Instead of cheapening the Shoah, for me it made that horror realer than I thought possible after a long lifetime of learning about it.
I DON'T think the current plight of illegal immigrants (or Palestinians, who are a particularly rapacious sort of illegal immigrant) is anything like the Jews' plight during the war, but this movie doesn't force me to accept that absurdity. It makes what was done to the Jews real, and it strengthens my commitment to Israel's survival rather than diluting it.
I expected this movie to be either a sensational, supermarket-tabloid,
scandal-spewing freak show; or a cruel, cynical put-down - like an
extended Saturday Night Live skit with her as the guest host, an
unwitting stooge playing herself for ridicule. It's neither.
I'm surprised and delighted to find that - far from being either sentimental or campy, or sensational, OR abusive - this movie treats Tammy Faye with the seriousness and respect she deserves. It approaches her as a person worth getting to know, and it proceeds to let us get to know her.
It's a fascinating movie about a fascinating, one-of-a-kind human being. Underneath the (tattooed-on) makeup and behind the notoriety, she was - all along - a sweet, gentle, loving, extravagantly generous woman, eager to share God's love and (even more important) her OWN love with the whole wide messed-up world.
She embraced gays - with AIDS when AIDS was still new and terrifying, when all her "Christian" peers were preaching that we deserved what we got. She was never afraid of looking like a fool or of confronting her own and other people's flaws; and she never wallowed in resentment or self-pity - after her whole world imploded she got up and she got out and she DID.
I thank the producers of this movie for showing her exactly as she was. The Christians who despise gays are no more hypocritical and evil than the secular people who despise Tammy Faye because she's different.
She fits no stereotype, any more than I fit any stereotype of what a gay man should be. Even at the height of her success she was an outsider at heart, a misfit, an oddball. Just like me. But unlike me she was an open-hearted, inclusive, insanely compassionate and loving person. I admire her greatly, and I love her a lot.
Like Vision (the previous movie by Margarethe von Trotta starring
Barbara Sukowa) this is a fantastic movie with a serious flaw. But in
both cases, the flaws have nothing to do with Sukowa, whom I had never
heard of before Vision but who I now see is one of the world's greatest
actors. She is perfect in both roles, in both movies. Since she
dominates both movies, she is so good that she earns the movies eight
stars from me despite the serious flaws.
The flaw in this movie is that many of the supporting roles are filled by terrible actors, and they're so bad that they can't be ignored - when they're on screen they completely derail the movie, and it doesn't recover until Sukowa returns and they leave. The very worst of those incompetent performances are by actors (Megan Gay, Harvey Friedman and Janet McTeer) who have been thoroughly competent in other movies, so the problem must be with von Trotta's direction of them.
The fact that all three characters are Americans (only one of the actors - Friedman - is) probably isn't a coincidence. Von Trotta evidently doesn't have much sense of how Americans tick, or even talk, so she doesn't quite know how to create credible American characters in a movie. Germans - of any era - she does great; Americans: no.
A secondary but related flaw is that she should have hired an American production designer. I understand why she filmed all the New York interior scenes (which means practically the whole movie) in Germany, but, unfortunately, they all LOOK like German interiors, not at all like real New York interiors, even in the early 1960s.
Although I'm very glad she made this movie, if she plans to continue filming American stories she really needs to get help from people who know how to create a believable America and believable Americans on film. She's a great director, but she needs help if she intends to keep making movies about America.
Monster Pies is the story of two average, slightly nerdy guys in high
school who fall in love and experience practically everything guys have
experienced in gay movies since The Boys in the Band - in other words:
too much. Too much for THIS movie, anyway. Robert Altman could have
juggled this much melodrama, but this is a small movie that staggers
under an unnecessarily heavy load.
It's as if Lee Galea, the movie's writer-director-producer-executive producer-editor-etc, had a long list of things he felt compelled to include in his one shot at a feature-length gay movie, and most of them just get shoehorned into the story in places where they don't fit. The result is a painfully clumsy movie, in which the viewer gets slung around from one trauma to the next, with no sense of continuity or understanding of why all this stuff is happening. It's arbitrary, it's tiring, and it makes it very hard to care about these kids, since they live in some slightly skewed universe in which nothing makes sense.
So... why did I give this wreck of a movie five stars? Because of the two kids. Five or six times in the course of this disaster there is such sweet, strong, simple and pure affection between them that it makes all the other crap worth suffering through.
It's like gentle magic. You're wrestling with this movie, trying to enjoy it but finding that an impossible feat, and then Will and Mike look at each other, and say something so tender and so lovely that you can't help loving them.
Only when the two guys are alone together is this movie worth watching, and not always even then. Those few magical scenes last a total of maybe fifteen minutes, and they're scattered through the movie almost at random, like diamonds in a landfill. They make Monster Pies well worth watching, but it's rough going in between.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautiful Mystery is a strange, funny but somewhat frustrating movie.
It's an absurd but muted early-1980s sex comedy based on the true story
of the very successful and highly regarded Japanese poet, novelist and
playwright Yukio Mishima (he had been nominated for the Nobel three
times by his early 40s, barely missed winning it in 1968), whose story
is so bizarre it would be unbelievable as fiction.
He was a right-wing fanatic (the most likely reason he didn't win the Nobel) and a closeted homosexual, who formed a small paramilitary unit that was supported by the army, possibly because he was so widely respected.
His secret goal was to overthrow Japan's democratic government and restore absolute power to the emperor who had led them into WWII. In 1970 he and three of his followers entered the army headquarters building in Tokyo; he went out onto a balcony (there are photographs of him there) and declared his coup to restore the empire.
When the soldiers he had hoped would rally round him laughed at him instead, he and his top aide committed ritual suicide on the spot by disembowelment (hara-kiri) followed by decapitation (photos there too, if you want to see them). He had been rehearsing his suicide for a long time beforehand, which apparently was usual among the Samurai class he admired. (Don't get your knickers in a twist if I've erred in any details - that's the essence of his story, which is enough to put this movie in context.)
It's easy to see how such a story could lend itself to comedy as easily as tragedy. This little 56-minute, zero-budget movie covers a good deal of it, but primarily as an unlikely framework for soft porn. His and his followers' sexual activity in the movie is even more manic than their politics.
The movie changes his name, reduces the size of his band from around 90 to only 10 men (enhancing the farcical aspect of his coup, as if it needed enhancing), covers only the last week or so before the coup (but not the coup itself) and doesn't mention his literary renown in the erratic English subtitles.
It focuses about equally on the political and sexual ambitions of the band's leader (played by a Japanese actor who looks uncannily like James Franco) and on the sexual escapades (and budding romance) of a young recruit and the slightly older man assigned as his mentor. (The movie's abundant sex isn't by any means limited to those two, but theirs is the most erotic and gets the most screen time.)
Since I'm not familiar with Japanese humor, I'm not absolutely sure this movie was meant to be funny, but it is. The frustration I mentioned up top is caused by the total absence of uncovered pen!ses in an otherwise VERY graphic soft-porn movie.
But despite its extremely low budget, its bizarre, tragicomic story and its rampant but puritanically fig-leafed sexual activity, the movie has a surprisingly innocent, naive and gentle touch that makes it much easier to watch than it could have been in harsher hands. I'd grown quite fond of it by the end.
There is nothing on the US DVD (released by Water Bearer Films) but the movie itself, which looks and sounds like a fairly good transfer from video tape.
Although I admire the intention of this movie, its execution is ruined
for me by its very annoying stars and a director who indulges their
Evidently there are people in addition to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon who think they're adorable, but I don't. Their pretentious banter drives me up the wall, and even when apart each man is irritating, not cute. I forced myself to get past the extremely stupid opening scene, when they dig at each other while being made up for their roles in the Shandy movie, but their personalities dominate this movie to such an extent that I had to quit watching after a while.
I made the mistake a year or two ago of renting a movie in which the same two actors play themselves traveling around contemporary England together for some reason that I don't remember and don't want to remember. I don't even want to remember that movie's title. Unfortunately for me, I also didn't remember their names, so I didn't realize until I got the DVD that this movie stars the same two very annoying actors. I'll remember their names this time and avoid any other movies they're in.
This movie is okay - more good than bad - but it has a couple of huge
First, the attraction between Eli (Dan Bucatinsky) and Tom (Richard Ruccolo) is completely unbelievable. There's obviously no real chemistry between the two actors (since Ruccolo is straight), and they're not talented enough to conjure it up out of acting skill alone. Since that relationship is the heart of the movie, its total lack of believable passion is a very serious flaw.
Better casting of either (especially Tom) or both roles could have solved it. (Ruccolo looks too much like Renée Zellweger to be sexy anyway, and his shaved chest is a big turn-off.)
Second, when Tom, the self-proclaimed martini expert, makes one for Eli, he uses vodka. Now, I know there are idiots in the world who actually do make a drink with vodka which they call a martini, but that doesn't make it a martini. A martini is made with gin, not vodka. Using vodka to make a "martini" is like using Crisco to make "butter" cookies: you can call the result butter cookies, but that doesn't make them butter cookies.
What this movie has going for it are a mostly entertaining and intelligent screenplay (only occasionally irritating and stupid - like the Gone with the Wind bit on the first date, and a few similar times when an only marginally entertaining joke is dragged out way too long; Tom blowing vermouth fumes into the "martini" is another clunker); a dynamite comic performance by snarky Adam Goldberg just being snarky Adam Goldberg; a solid performance by Sasha Alexander as the female glue that holds the three male flakes together; and a good enough performance by Bucatinsky to make Eli believable as a person if not as a lover - but even that is more Ruccolo's fault than his. Brief cameos by Doris Roberts and Lisa Kudrow are bonus treats.
There are some extremely stupid people in the world, and it looks like
every one of them has reviewed this movie.
Joyce McKinney is not a nut, she is not crazy, and she did absolutely nothing wrong in trying to liberate the man she loved from a dehumanizing cult that had (and still has) him in its clutches. Her mistake was in thinking he was worth saving, but love often isn't rational.
She is a very colorful person, but that's good, not bad. The world needs more colorful people and a LOT fewer mindless clones (they're the ones who think she's crazy).
The life she led in LA before the incident in England had absolutely nothing to do with that incident, and she had done nothing illegal in LA either. But the slimy British gutter press smelled blood, and they went tearing into her for all the blood they could spill.
They're disgusting. That they are STILL gloating over their assassination of her character 35 years later - one of the slimiest even having the gall to call HER a vampire, while smiling the creepiest vampire smile I ever saw - is testament to their total depravity.
I greatly admire McKinney for having survived what they did to her with most of her charm and sense of humor intact. She's a survivor, and she hasn't faded away among the millions of Stepford Wives like a good little girl. She's still her colorful, charming, open, vulnerable and feisty self after all she's been through, and I greatly admire her for it. SHE gets seven stars.
I would give Errol Morris one star for showing the British press scum as the gutless, amoral, grinning creeps they are - but he gladly plants himself with them in the "Joyce is barking mad" camp (it sells tickets and wins awards), so he gets nothing from me but the contempt he and all those "press" sharks deserve.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An extraordinarily stupid, annoying and offensive movie, showcasing all
the worst possibilities in both movie-making and gay life.
Awful, totally unbelievable characters, story and dialog. Clumsy, irritating direction. Terrible, wooden, stilted acting by actors who are better in other movies (the surest sign of an idiot director). Gushing waves of phony sentimentality, schmaltzy romance, absolutely moronic comedy; and - worst of all, which is saying A LOT - the unconscionable nurturing of the sick gay fantasy that the straight guy you have a crush on will turn out to be gay and love you forever.
That he gives himself permission to dump the GAY man who really loves him, so he can ride off into the sunset with the STRAIGHT jerk - whose midlife insecurity has him thinking he's better off being gay for as long as he has to to get what he wants, crying his crocodile tears when it looks like he won't win - makes it even worse, which hardly seems possible.
What a disgusting, stinking load of crap! I HATE THIS MOVIE!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was loving this movie until about halfway through, when Assita told
Igor that the sheep she'd bought wasn't to provide milk for her baby
but for "the Festival of Sacrifice". That's when I hit STOP and ditched
I'm supposed to sympathize with this "young widow" (as the synopsis describes her), when she bought a sweet, gentle creature just so she can kill it to satisfy some demonic bloodthirsty "god", or whatever? I assume that's what the chicken is for, too. Why did those people even bother sneaking into Belgium if they intended to bring their barbaric customs with them? Why didn't they just stay in Africa?
Since the movie hinges on Igor's sympathy for her, there's no point in my waiting around to see if they actually show the slaughter, because I already couldn't care less what happens to that woman. I liked some of the Dardennes' later movies a lot, but if I'd seen this one first I never would have bothered with the others.
I know every single person who reads this review will mark it "Not useful", with a warm surge of righteous artistic indignation (and even more righteous anti-American indignation when they see where I'm writing from) as they click the No button.
Good for you. You're a great champion of free artistic expression and the rights of the world's downtrodden masses - as long as the views being expressed agree with yours and the downtrodden masses are human beings and not innocent defenseless animals. Your world loves you, but I don't have to.
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