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Great work by Kimberly Elise
There are some really good things here, but some not-so-good also. It is a story of pain, suffering, and madness. The supernatural aspects were hard to understand. Oprah Winfrey's acting was as good as Danny Glover's, while he is a professional actor and she is not. This makes me think that acting is really not that hard. (Even though I know that I couldn't do it) Thandie Newton must be acknowledged for playing a very difficult part. I might not have liked the approach, but I am sure that she delivered what Demme asked for. The real acting jewel was Kimberly Elise, and the film is worth watching for her performance alone.
Friends & Lovers (1999)
There are some good things and bad things in this movie. The worst is probably Stephen Baldwin, the least talented of the Baldwin brothers, and that's a low bar indeed. Robert Downey Jr. was also insufferable, and I'm not even criticizing the accent. George Newbern was decent, as was Claudia Schiffer, a non-actress. Impressive were the performances of Alison Eastwood and Suzanne Cryer. There are worse ways to spend 1 3/4 hours.
Book Club (2018)
A sweet, group romantic comedy
A sweet, group romantic comedy, with an all-star cast. The cast are all Very accomplished actors and actresses, and it shows. Like all rom-coms, some aspects are formulaic, but hey, what do you expect? I was particularly impressed with Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen. Not a movie I would buy, but worth a look on cable, or a Netflix rental.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
A thoroughly decent drama with an all-star cast
A thoroughly decent drama with an all-star cast. While none of the male characters were fleshed out, that simply wasn't the focus of the movie, and I understand that in the source play, none of them ever appeared on-stage. The women were all very strong, if sometimes foolish, and the acting was first-rate. Nice photography of Natchitoches.
The Meg (2018)
Nothing really redeeming here
Nothing really redeeming here. It is a semi science-fiction/monster movie. I didn't know of Jason Statham, and he didn't show me anything. Bingbing Li and Ruby Rose were as good as the material allowed. The megaladon was scary enough, but I guess the next time someone tries to make a shark movie, they'll have to top this and make it 120 feet long. It's really not worth your time.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Constance Wu was terrific
Constance Wu was terrific. Michelle Yeoh was very good also. Otherwise, we have a fairly formulaic romantic comedy, and there's nothing wrong with that. The film does subtly show that the characters that are fabulously wealthy aren't necessarily any happier than middle class folks. Nice photography and direction.
North by Northwest (1959)
A wonderful suspense-filled spy caper
Among Hitchcock's best, which is saying a lot. I was long under the belief that this was a black-and-white movie, but I realize now that I thought that because I first saw it on television in the Sixties, before my family had a color TV. Cary Grant largely plays Cary Grant, which was fine for this film. Eva Marie Saint and James Mason were highly sophisticated in their evil...or not. A wonderful suspense-filled spy caper.
Imaginative, visually striking, but boring
I'm not sure what the target demographic was for this film, but apparently it isn't me. It seems rather too dark for children, though I suppose older children would maybe enjoy it. It is imaginative, and visually striking, but honestly, I was bored by it.
Demolition Man (1993)
Stallone is an average actor at best
Stallone is an average actor at best, and usually somewhat annoying. That holds true here. The fighting scenes are somewhat cartoonish, deliberately so, I think. The fish-out-of-water aspect was mildly amusing. The only real appeal was the earnest and beautiful Sandra Bullock. Can't really recommend this film to anyone.
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Stale Allen humor
Have to say that this one is better-plotted than most Woody Allen films. Allen and Diane Keaton reprise, if not the characters, then their personas from Annie Hall. Everyone acted well, but often the characters talked over one another, making some of the dialog hard to follow. In the Seventies, Allen's wry commentary was different and fresh, and funny, but still doing the exact same thing has become stale and only a little amusing. Cannot recommend.
Flesh and Bone (1993)
Has flaws, but enjoyable nonetheless
In spite of some flaws, I liked this movie pretty well. Yes, some of the plot turns were highly predictable, but I don't spend my time with a movie trying to predict what's going to happen. I just enjoy it (hopefully). Dennis Quaid was Ok here. I've never cared for him that much, but he is playing a taciturn character, and people always criticize that as bad acting. I disagree. Meg Ryan looked adorable, as always, and played her complicated role very well. I say check it out.
Pretty good, as a psychosexual drama
I thought it was pretty good, as a psychosexual drama. It took a respectful tone to the Orthodox Jewish community, even as it completely rebelled against its strictures. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams performed very well in the two leads, and most of the rest of the cast rang true, especially Alessandro Nivola.
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Engrossing and entertaining
A Howard Hawks/Cary Grant collaboration with which I was unfamiliar. I found it engrossing and entertaining. For its time, the aircraft special effects were very good. Grant's character was largely unlikeable, a bit of a departure for him. I wasn't very familiar with Jean Arthur, but she looked great, and came off very well. I might not have recognized the young Rita Hayworth. It had a good story, and told it well.
Red Sparrow (2018)
Pretty good film
A lot of commenters are trashing this movie for no obvious reason. I thought it was pretty good. Jennifer Lawrence was quite good, whether she completely mastered a Russian accent or not. Good work as well by Charlotte Rampling, Joely Richardson, and Mary-Louise Parker. Lawrence's character, Dominika, was passionate, but highly controlled, and came off quite stoic. This makes sense for someone who could rise to a high level in world-class ballet.
Checks all the boxes for a "historical" epic
I saw this film in the '90's, and really didn't remember liking it all that much. But viewing it again the other day, I found it quite enjoyable. It checks all the boxes for a "historical" epic. Yes, the MANY historical inaccuracies are a concern, since so many simple folk consider these sort of movies their education in history. But putting that aside, it is well worth watching for its entertainment value. Special kudos to Sophie Marceau and especially Catherine McCormack on their performances and their beauty.
Fist Fight (2017)
Jillian Bell was the best part of this movie
A thoroughly middling comedy. Production values, direction, photography are all fine. I don't know if better writing might have made it funnier or not. Although her part was a bit small, Jillian Bell stole the show when she was onscreen with her deadpan delivery of very sexually charged lines. THAT was funny.
A truly dark film
A truly dark film. The main character, Johnny, is a seemingly well-educated, yet thoroughly despicable, misogynistic to the point of rape, character who is unsuited for modern life, basically a criminal who would never stoop to honest work. He is contrasted with an upper class character who is even more hateful, and even more cruel to women. There are some very good performances in this movie, but no one is at all likeable. I'm sure that this was the point, but it makes the film more like medicine than entertainment. I don't know whether I would recommend this movie or not.
Campy rather than just simply bad
Well, this film is what it is. Some of the criticism is a bit overwrought. Yes, the plot is odd, and the production values are low. I would describe it as campy rather than just simply bad. The filmmakers cannot be oblivious to what they are putting on the screen. In the sword fighting scenes, the actors don't really even try to make it look real. Lana Clarkson looked so beautiful here, and that is sort of the point, not the medieval plot and staging. I had forgotten that Miss Clarkson was the actress murdered by Phil Spector. So sad.
Fire on the Amazon (1993)
The reviews for this movie are bad, and they are right. Sandra Bullock was OK, and she looked nice, but she could not salvage this clunker. Craig Sheffer played a very unlikeable character very badly. He was extremely annoying. He plays a part which combines the quintessential "ugly American" with the pushy journalist. Amazingly, he seems to have had a long acting career. Don't bother with this one.
Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)
This film checks off all the boxes of old cine noir, the narration, the grittiness, the flawed point-of-view character (couldn't call him a hero), the femme fatale. Maybe it tries a little too hard. This film was apparently not very successful, even with an A-list cast. Lena Olin was very good, as were the other two main actresses. (Juliette Lewis and Annabella Sciorra). Overall, pretty good, not great. By the way, isn't it interesting that the characters in movies can always find places in New York City that are utterly deserted, even in the middle of the day?
Altered States (1980)
Harder for me to get into than it was in 1980
Viewed this one again recently. While I still liked it, it didn't seem as awesome now. Maybe I've outgrown the mysticism, and definitely outgrown experimenting with psychoactive drugs. While I can still suspend disbelief, and enjoy science fiction, I was unable to immerse myself in it. Still the film had excellent performances by William Hurt and Blair Brown. Some of the trippy sequences seemed to be an homage to 2001. I'd say it's still worth seeing.
Coup de torchon (1981)
Pretty good for often impenetrable French cinema
A pretty good film, somewhat distant. I wouldn't have recognized Isabelle Huppert if I hadn't known that she would be in the film. Many of the previous comments were incisive and erudite. I don't have much to add, so check those out if you are so inclined.
Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935)
Not Fields' best
This is not the Great Man's best work. Part of the issue may be the style of comedy in the day, but the various situations are dragged out much too long. It had me checking the time in the middle of the film. However there is a lot to like here, if you have the patience for it.
Still pretty good
Many comedies age poorly, but I thought that this one has held up pretty well. Lots of special effects (which have also held up pretty well) but the comedy does not get lost in them. Murray does his absurd deadpan, Ramis his low-key deadpan, and Ackroyd his high-energy weirdness. Sigourney Weaver proves that she has comedic chops. Still pretty good, not great.
Fifty Shades Freed (2018)
I've seen worse
Wrapping up the Fifty Shades trilogy. It was OK, I guess. Jamie Dornan reprises his role as the priapic perverted billionaire. In my review of the first film, I wrote that he "Plays his role with all of the feeling and emotion of a terminator." In this one he attempted emotional range. But it was still quite wooden. The good part of the film was Dakota Johnson. Wile she certainly looks awesome in her birthday suit, she has the screen presence and charisma of a movie star. Even when they made her kind of mousy. (More in the first film than this one.) May be her bloodlines. If you watched the first two, you might as well watch this one.