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It's okay... nothing special
27 February 2005
Like any nature-log you might see on Animal Planet. But bigger.

The photography is stunning, but somehow I left the theater thinking that they could have made a much more exciting film. Despite the killing scenes, it overall had a serene feel.

And what was up with the balloon people and the tribesmen? Quite tangential and not really belonging with the animal stuff. There wasn't even really much of a connection. At not least one that we saw depicted.

I think films like this are a waste of the IMAX medium. I would never knock natural beauty, but why do you need IMAX for that? For REALLY BIG natural beauty? No, the wonderful thing about IMAX is the ability to make you feel like you're there. So SCARE me! Put my heart in my mouth! To see the medium utilized to the fullest, see "NASCAR 3-D."
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Lynch makes a family film
15 January 2005
David Lynch is, simply put, the greatest film director ever to put body and soul together.

He started off with the weird and disturbing, yet very artistic, "Eraserhead," which I won't even try to describe, went on to direct the incredibly stupendous, "Blue Velvet," which, in my jumble opinion, is the greatest feature film ever made, anytime, anywhere. It's a crime film, but to even say that, lowers it to the realm of stuff like "Pulp Fiction" (which was great in its own right, but it was no Blue Velvet). Don't watch any of these with your kids, though.

It's true though, that David Lynch directed a horribly bad adaptation of "Dune." You could show this one to your kids, (if you don't mind boring them to death.) The problem with "Dune" wasn't really Lynch, though. It was the script and the fact that Lynch was way too faithful to it.

He also directed the critically acclaimed (but nonetheless box-office failure) "The Elephant Man." A damnyankee good film. But don't see it with your kids.

And OF COURSE, he directed (AT THE SAME TIME!) the greatest TV series ever made, "TWIN PEAKS!" AND the Wizard of Oz spoof movie, "Wild at Heart" with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. But don't watch either one with your kids.

Which (finally) leads me to my point. One David Lynch movie which you MUST see with your kids is THE STRAIGHT STORY. (A Walt Disney film, by the way.) David Lynch goes straight. Which is the first of the several thousand explanations of the title of the movie.

"The Straight Story" is, first and foremost, the story of a man -- Alvin Straight. A good man. An old man. A man, who some ten or twelve years prior, had some harsh words with his brother of about the same (advanced) age, a man (Alvin I'm still talking about) who scoffs at his doctor's advice to stop smoking and to eat right. Both brothers are now in ill health. In fact, brother Lyle has just suffered a stroke.

Alvin receives the bad news about Lyle's stroke, and despite Alvin's and Lyle's harsh falling-out of several years ago, and at least partially because of both their frailty and mortality, now must see him. (I mean, hey, wouldn't you?) He kisses his daughter (played by the ever-incomparable Sissy Spacek) goodbye and since he is a diabetic and his eyesight is failing and he can't drive a car anymore, gets on his LAWNMOWER and commences to drive three hundred miles at just about five miles an hour to see his poor, old, sick, estranged brother.

The rest (and the most) of the movie is his incredible and so, so moving journey to see brother Lyle.

I won't tell you everything that happens, but watch out for the (dear) deer lady, she's IT! And I won't tell you about the ending, except to say it's just what it needs to be. It's not overdone or underdone. It is just what it needs to be.

But Lynch, he is such a devil. He can't help but include, in his first and only Disney movie, subtle references to his other (way more grown-up) movies, particularly "Blue Velvet," (like the water hose flailing around, unmanned.) But see both and you'll know what I mean.

I saw the first week it came to my city. The theater was PACKED. Mainly, I think, because of Richard Farnsworth, who played Alvin Straight. He got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this movie.

He was a big star back in the forties and fifties. A lot of old people came out to see him in what was his swan song. I never saw so many wheelchairs in a movie theater. But the front three rows in the theater were all kids, there to see the next Disney movie. A mix like that I never saw before. (And of course, Lynch fans like myself.)

Finally.... David Lynch makes a movie that is not only an artistic success, but is actually popular.
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Dogma (1999)
I laughed till I cried (really)
15 January 2005
I always thought the phrase, "I laughed until I cried," was just an oxymoron. Until it happened to me. I watched Dogma: the funniest movie I have ever seen. The movie seemed designed specifically for my warped sense of humor. It was an incredible mesh of the high-brow and the low-brow.

It had one character who was extremely foul-mouthed, and kept making up hilarious obscene phrases. It also had a lot of perceptive, biting (and very funny) theological and social commentary.

For me, it was sort of like being tickled hard in the ribs for about an hour. When I reached the breath-taking climax of the film, the resolution was such a shock and was so unexpectedly emotional and I was so sore from all the laughing, I actually burst into tears. Now, dammit I am a grown man. I never do that. Not even for anything real, much less a movie. But it happened.
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NBC News Overnight (1982– )
Hard-hitting, in-depth news show
21 December 2003
If only we had a news show like this today! NBC Overnight circled the globe with footage of what was going on at every hot spot. It went on at length about what all was REALLY going on there. Even for its time, it was amazing that they were allowed to be that honest. I can't imagine a major network showing us those sorts of things today. Perhaps WE CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!

Cost me some credits in college. I'd stay up way too late watching the blasted thing. I couldn't turn away.
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Modern retelling of the story
28 June 2003
It was set in modern-times. (They had cars.) But still with ancient Roman brutality. This gave it a sort of post-apocalyptic feel. The characters did not speak, only the narrator did. Short and simple, reasonably well done. Good for schoolkids.
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Get a Life (1990–1992)
I agree!
11 May 2003
Wow! As much as this show is only for a certain type of warped sense of humor (like mine!) I can't not notice that every single reviewer of this semi-controversial show (so far) has sung praises. And all deserved! I so agree! I only wish they'd put a few more on DVD.
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She-Devil (1989)
Her Name
23 November 2002
So cool that Rosanne's name in the movie was RUTH! Do you know what that means --- the common noun "ruth"?

I thought this movie was really funny. Not a great, mind you. Not a classic. I am not lamenting the fact that it got no Oscars. But I am deploring its abysmally low rating on imdb. I just don't get it.
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Spice World (1997)
Good clean fun
30 September 2001
People hate this film because it is fluffy and because it features a bubble-gum band. I am not really a fan (my kids are) but I think that musically The Spice Girls are as okay as any other bubble-gum band. However, what could have been really a stupid boring movie, actually WASN'T. It was really quite tight (proving that fluff can be tight). It was cute, funny, fast-moving and had several worthy gags.

Rather reminded me of "Stop Making Sense" (which of course featured a MUCH greater band).
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28 September 2001
I was a senatorial intern in the 70's. (Fortunately never seduced.)

But this film accurately depicted the City of the Time.

Watch for the two or three second bit that depicts the "auto-pen."

When I was an intern, I was interviewed by my small-hometown-newspaper, and instructed by my supervisor that I could discuss anything, I could even disagree with the Senator, but I WAS NOT TO MENTION THE AUTO-PEN!!!

The auto-pen was a device that manipulated an actual felt-tip pen to produce a signature replica to make it appear that the Senator had actually signed a letter.
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Sha Na Na (1977– )
10 February 2001
A bunch of never-weres from the fifties dug back up to make a boring, poorly-written show in the seventies. The leader had a dog's name. They were obviously on a sound stage. They were nowhere near as funny as they thought they were. Its dumbness was only comparable to the "Brady Bunch Hour." It was very adolescent. I tried to avoid it, but my little brothers had to have it on sometimes.
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This was Gene Wilder's movie.
3 February 2001
Like the great Jack Nicholson lent a bit of his soul to that hack Stephen King in the "Shining," the wondrous Gene Wilder made a relatively stupid book a damn fine film. As a child, I read most of Dahl's fare and found most of it pretty lame (PARTICULARLY his really stupid sequel to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," what was it called, "The Great Glass Elevator," or something like that?) The only thing he ever wrote that even remotely creeped me out was "The Magic Finger." He should have written that and only that and then gotten a day job.

One of the big laughable things about "Willie Wonka" is the Dickensian thing. When not at home Charlie appears to live in the prosperous 1960's USA. But at home, he appears to live the life of Oliver Twist. His ma took in laundry and stirred it in a large cauldron. They hurt for every penny, ate cabbage soup. Where was DFACS? Did they not get food stamps?

And Jack Albertson's character should have been really ashamed of himself. He hadn't been out of bed for twenty years? Once up and about, he seemed quite robust to me.

The only thing that makes this movie worth a damn is Gene Wilder. He is a dark master.


The ending was different also. In the book, Charlie did no wrong. In the movie, he stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks. In the book, Willie Wonka (who had no dark side) suddenly noticed that Charlie was the only one left and declared him the winner. In the movie, he had to pass the final test. (Making the movie superior.)

In the movie, the Oompa-Loopmas were orange. In the book they were black. (Making the book racist, but not the movie.)

The movie improved upon the book. Roald Dahl was a hack. But at least he had the sense to marry Patricia Neal.

As a child, I had a crush on Julie Dawn Cole.
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Magic (1978)
1 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I can't understand the low rating this film receives. Certainly, it could have been a little tighter, but this outstanding early performance by one of today's eminent actors surely deserves better. And Ann-Margret added quite a bit herself. And Burgess Meredith was as good as ever.

A better, mess-with-your-head, psychological thriller there never was. (POSSIBLE SPOILER) Right up till the end, I was left wondering whether Fats was a supernatural being (like Chucky) who had a soul of his own.

Don't miss this one. And for goodness sake, give it a good vote!
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Cheesy Fluff
14 January 2001
This movie really disgusted me. But let me explain....

It is not that I don't believe in sentimentality. I am a HUGE Frank Capra fan. And I can't watch "Field of Dreams" (which I know isn't Capra) without tears in my eyes at many points in the movie.

So that isn't it. It's just that "E.T." is so phony, so synthetic, so made-up, so ENGINEERED to try to make me feel something, that I have to resent it.

I'll just never understand Spielberg. For so long, I had nothing but contempt for him. Till Schindler's List. (Does anyone (other than Nazis) not like Schindler's List?)

And then, too, he made Saturday-morning worth getting up for. (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain). I finally (and grudgingly) had to admit that the man is a genius. But he is a genius who has done some bad work. And E.T. was some of his worst work.
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Sneakers (1992)
A Silly Film
9 January 2001
I almost didn't write this because I didn't want to dignify this silly, stupid contrived movie by commenting. I hope they paid those (usually) great people a whole lot of money to be in this turkey.

But I won't ramble on, let me use one scene as an example. Mary McDonnell and Robert Redford are trying to fool Ben Kingsley and nearly get away with it. They convince him that they are where they are, when they are there, because they are on a date. Then she says, "Last time I go out on a computer date."

A light bulb goes off in villain Kingsley's brain. He stops them, menacingly, saying, "No computer would have EVER fixed up the two of you!" And they are unmasked.


As we all know, a computer will do any darn thing you tell it to. A computer dating program is only as intelligent as the dummy writing it. If the computer dating company were on the cheap, it could have actually used a randomizer. And that the story actually TURNED on this?

As the professor said in "Frosty," "Silly, silly, silly!"
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Parasite (1982)
Best 3-D ever!
30 December 2000
This film took the 3-D effect to new heights. It REALLY looks 3-D. And the movie was quite all right, in and of itself. Desolate and futuristic, a little like Mad Max, but certainly not THAT good. I predicted great things for Demi Moore, after this film, but not because of her acting.
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Don't forget the music!
26 December 2000
Basil Poledouris rules! I would rank him second only to Angelo Badalamenti, as soundtrack-makers go. (And John Williams can bite my butt, by the way!)

I am almost sorry to be recommending such a soundtrack to you, twenty years after the fact. I mean it isn't like you can really buy the record anymore. (at least without a big tracking-it-down kind of thing.)

But if you rent the movie, listen!
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Only a Parent Knows
25 December 2000
As I am a daddy, this movie was hard for me to watch.

Shoot! The event was hard to hear about when it happened and I wasn't even a daddy then.

There are many views of this event and many levels on which to examine it. Some of the possibly valid ways would sound mean. (For example if I wanted to, (which I don't!) I COULD say poor children die every day, and I don't know about it and don't suffer for it, the way I did for Jessica McClure, because they die in a common, rather than an unusual way, and they are further away, than she was, and don't get the expedient media attention that Jessica got. But I am not (at least not yet) that cynical.

But the thing that made this movie was the SOUND of the little two-year old girl hooting and hollering up the hole, from twenty feet below. And the look on her dad's face. (There, but for the grace of God, might I be.) I don't know how I could ever endure such a thing. But all one can do is endure it.
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Land of the Lost (1974–1977)
Good writing (at first), always low-budget production
1 December 2000
This show is like the pop-band Abba: 1) cheesy, 2) I like it, but I am a little ashamed to like it. Or are those the same thing? (Remember when they made that wagon? And put the really big berry in it?)

It had the great sci-fi writers of the age writing an episode apiece. Yet the producers apparently couldn't afford to film the darn thing. It had a very tapey, sound-stagey feel. Yet behind all that, one could detect the lovingkindness of great mind(s) at work.

Thus was the curse of Saturday morning (at least until Spielberg hit the scene). It was the stepchild of TV networks back then, enamored of "Love Boat" and such.

I do think it is time Holly made some sort of cult comeback.
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Larry (1974 TV Movie)
Great Story
9 September 2000
Uplifting story of a man, who was abandoned by his mother to a mental institution, as a retard. He had assumed the speech patterns and mannerisms of the institutional retarded people that surrounded him. Only by heroic effort and luck did he communicate his intelligence to a professional who was paying attention and who cared. Thus begins his rehabilitation. Superb early performances by Tyne Daly and Fredric Forrest.
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The Oddball Couple (1975– )
Above average
4 September 2000
Above average Saturday morning fare. Spoofed "The Odd Couple," popular sitcom of the time, based on the Neil Simon play and subsequent movie. Oddball Couple was on ABC during the "Funshine Saturday" phase, when they put more into Saturday morning than usual. Was pleasantly interrupted, on occasion, by Multiplication Rock.
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Above average
4 September 2000
Above average Saturday morning fare. Part of ABC's "Funshine Saturday." Had a simian named Snubby, in addition to the usual cast. They organized a democracy on the island. Snubby got half a vote. Was similar stories to the old Gilligan, but dumber. Still better than most Saturday morning shows of the time.
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Cindy (1978 TV Movie)
Where did this gem go?
2 September 2000
This is the best production of Cinderella ever. I can't figure out why it has never been (as far as I can tell) rerun. It features an all-black cast, in a modern setting, with a Cinderella (Cindy) who wants to marry not a prince, but a military man.

In this version, Cinderella's father pretends to have a fancy job at a hotel, but is, in actuality, the men's room attendant.

Cinderella's mom follows him to work one day and angrily confronts him, "You ain't nothing but a lyin, cheatin MEN'S ROOM ATTENDANT!" leading into one of the best numbers I have ever seen in a musical. The men at the hotel rush to Dad's defense in a song, "The Best Damn Men's Room Attendant In the History of the Palace Hotel." At one point, a line of about twenty men file out of one bathroom stall playing brass instruments!

Where did this gem go????
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Run Lola Run (1998)
The less you know, the better
1 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
This review does not contain any spoilers, but some of the others do. I strongly recommend this film to anyone who likes original, fast-paced, thought-provoking, but easily watchable art films.

However, the less you know the better. I would suggest that if you are even reading this, you probably must be the kind of person who would like "Run Lola Run" (as it is called in these here United States). So go rent it now.

(I will tell you there is an episode of the X-Files which shamelessly stole the plot of this film.)

But if you haven't seen the film yet, DON'T READ ON! The other reviews here tell too much!!!!! GO IN FRESH!!!!!
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Hated It!
30 August 2000
There was a big radio station promotion in the early eighties for this movie. They distributed 3-D glasses at fast food restaurants that were supposed to allow 3-D viewing on television.

However, the 3-D effect was not any good. It just looked fuzzy, not 3-D. Further, the movie was the PITS! Everyone I knew started to watch the movie (due to all the hype) and everyone I knew took off their 3-D glasses about twenty minutes into the movie, and everyone I knew gave up on the whole thing before the conclusion. There was a lot of bitching around the coffee machine the next day.
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Sleepy Hollow (1999)
In this One Respect, It Went Too Far
27 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING! This may contain spoilers.

In one of Jason's Friday the Thirteenth movies, after slashing his usual myriad of teens, Jason takes a wrong turn into a living room full of small children in their footie pajamas. He looks around, nervous and confused, and makes a hasty exit. He couldn't have been allowed to kill small children in a slasher like that. (In higher art, it could be debatable.)

But "Sleepy Hollow" was no higher art. It was a slasher with pretensions. It stole the title and main characters' names from THE great American classic, forever besmirching such names, and no doubt causing Mr. Irving to spin.

And yet this cut-em-up did not have even the common courtesy, as Jason did, to turn away when presented with a small child.
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