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Weekend (1967)
1/10
Hateful and unforgivable
21 October 2003
I respected Godard until I saw Week End. Now I see him for what he is-- an vile sociopath, completely incapable of feeling any compassion for either his characters or his audience.

This is the most hateful, vicious, and obnoxious film I've ever seen. Animals are slaughtered on camera, completely without context, simply for shock effect, and every female character in the film is either murdered, raped, or otherwise sexually humiliated. Aside from a few vague references to socialist rhetoric, there are no serious ideas in the film that would make these scenes worth considering. Godard only wants to hurt his audience. Along the way he flaunts his technical ability with neverending dolly shots, and congratulates his own cleverness with bad pun intertitles like "Analyse" split into "Anal yse". How very brilliant!

Avoid this film if at all possible. I don't think I'll ever forgive Godard for inflicting it upon us.
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1/10
Horrendous!
6 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
According to the "alternate versions" listing at this site, there is a heavily edited version of The Severed Arm with most of the gore scenes removed. I think this is the version I saw. Nevertheless, I doubt that any amount of gore could possibly redeem this film.

The story might have been interesting, but it falls apart under the burden of terrible acting, dialogue, music, and photography. Even giving the filmmakers the ultra-low-budget benefit of the doubt, this is just a badly made, boring movie.

Spoilers follow.

It's obvious from the first few times we see her that the daughter character is involved in the killings. But of course the heroes trust her completely and let her know all their plans and leave themselves alone with her many times. And the ending is so stupid it should never even have been scripted. The villain locks a man in a dungeon cell provided with a hunting knife, under the assumption that the prisoner will eventually amputate his own arm for food. No one would EVER do that in that situation! Even if the hero couldn't find any way to escape using the knife, he would probably just use it to kill himself instead of choosing the ridiculous option of cutting off and eating his own arm. It's not a matter of survival-- even if he succeeded in the amputation, his captors would just kill him anyway. Anybody could have written a better ending!
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Seom (2000)
I don't know what to think
19 November 2002
The Isle is a hard film to evaluate. It pulls the viewer's emotions in every different conceivable direction, from empathy to outright horror and everything in between. After it ended I wasn't sure if I was going to cry or to throw up; I didn't know if I was sad or happy or hopelessly angry. Either way, the film's images will probably haunt me for many years to come.

The film is beautifully photographed, making excellent use of the isolated fishing lake setting. All of the actors are perfect, even in scenes more painfully grotesque than anything I've seen in a film before. I simply cannot imagine the artistic process that went on during production-- how did the filmmakers raise the money to make this film, and how did they direct the actors to create such convincing performances from such outlandish material? And whose idea was it to end it like that?

I loved many things about this film, but I find it hard to recommend because of a few scenes involving really heartless animal cruelty. A fish is mutilated and partially eaten while it's still alive; a dog is yanked around by its collar and slapped; another fish is jolted with electrodes. Of course the humans in the film suffer much worse misfortunes, but the characters mostly deserve what they get, whereas the animals do not. Also, the scenes of human violence are created using makeup effects, but the animals have no such luck-- as far as I can tell, they're really slicing flesh off a live fish and eating it.

All I can really say is, see The Isle and make up your own mind about it. It will cause completely different individual reactions in every single member of the audience, and if you love it, good for you. If you hate it, I think I can understand why.
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Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)
8/10
Almost great
12 February 2002
Hmm. I'm kind of ambivalent about Jacob's Ladder. On one hand, the movie creates a great sensation of paranoia and fear, particularly in the unforgettable "hospital gurney" sequence (must-see viewing for fans of Silent Hill). Director Adrian Lyne should do another horror movie, because here he demonstrates an incredible flair for atmosphere and nightmarish imagery. Good cinematography, a haunting score, and nuanced performances by Tim Robbins and Elizabeth Pena don't hurt either.

But there's a huge subplot, relating to the government conspiracy and cover-up of what really happened to Jacob and his platoon in Vietnam, that doesn't lead anywhere. A huge portion of the movie is devoted to Jacob investigating the conspiracy, culminating in a very long conversation scene with a chemist who seems to hold the answer. This entire story thread becomes more or less meaningless at the end, when everything is explained in a way that has nothing to do with a cover-up. It's like there's an entirely different movie trying to take over. They should have jettisoned the conspiracy plot, or even made it into a completely separate movie.

Too bad, because otherwise Jacob's Ladder works really well. It could have been a really great film, one of those rare horror movies that help us define what it means to be human. As it stands, it's worth seeing once or twice.
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Manhunter (1986)
6/10
Curious but worth watching
18 October 2001
Whatever you think about this movie, you have to feel sorry for it. Its creators had no way of knowing that the subsequent Thomas Harris movies would completely recreate these characters and the world in which they live; certainly they had no idea Hannibal Lecter would become the Darth Vader-level icon he is now. What's worse, the movie's DVD packaging boldly calls it "far better than The Silence of the Lambs," thus ensuring that legions of new viewers will unfairly compare Manhunter to its better funded, more recent pseudosequels. Watch this movie by itself, not as part of a trilogy.

With that out of the way, Manhunter is a pretty decent film. Some scenes build suspense very effectively, leaving the audience with no idea of what to expect. The first on-screen appearance of the killer is quite a shocker, and the subplot in which he romances a blind woman brings a striking degree of pathos to his character. And while William Petersen occasionally overplays his part (especially when he's collecting evidence and starts yelling at the killer), his delivery in the grocery store scene where he explains himself to his son is touching and chilling at the same time.

Now the bad. The mid-'80s soundtrack is tremendously annoying and dates the film terribly; with the exception of the Iron Butterfly songs the killer plays in his van and his house, all of the music in this movie should have been replaced by a dark and insinuating orchestral score. And why would they keep people like Hannibal Lecter in white clothes in a completely white asylum? You couldn't even see him if he tried to escape! But in general the movie succeeds, and it's essential viewing for fans of Thomas Harris and Hannibal Lecter.

Hopkins vs. Cox: Hopkins is way better.
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Manhunter (1986)
6/10
Curious but worth watching
18 October 2001
Whatever you think about this movie, you have to feel sorry for it. Its creators had no way of knowing that the subsequent Thomas Harris movies would completely recreate these characters and the world in which they live; certainly they had no idea Hannibal Lecter would become the Darth Vader-level icon he is now. What's worse, the movie's DVD packaging boldly calls it "far better than The Silence of the Lambs," thus ensuring that legions of new viewers will unfairly compare Manhunter to its better funded, more recent pseudosequels. Watch this movie by itself, not as part of a trilogy.

With that out of the way, Manhunter is a pretty decent film. Some scenes build suspense very effectively, leaving the audience with no idea of what to expect. The first on-screen appearance of the killer is quite a shocker, and the subplot in which he romances a blind woman brings a striking degree of pathos to his character. While William Petersen occasionally overplays his part (especially when he's collecting evidence by himself and starts randomly yelling at the killer), his delivery in the grocery store scene where he explains himself to his son is both touching and chilling at the same time.

Now the bad. The mid-'80s soundtrack is tremendously annoying and dates the film terribly. With the exception of the Iron Butterfly songs the killer plays in his van and his house, all of the music in this movie should have been replaced by a dark and insinuating orchestral score. Also, why would they keep people like Hannibal Lecter in white clothes in a completely white asylum? You couldn't even see him if he tried to escape! But in general the movie succeeds, and it's essential viewing for fans of Thomas Harris and Hannibal Lecter.

And no matter what anybody says, Hopkins is better.
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Sôseiji (1999)
9/10
Tsukamoto's best?
5 September 2001
First things first: somebody needs to officially release this film in the United States. I see three thousand copies of Dude, Where's My Car every time I step outside, but when I want to see a beautiful and interesting film like Gemini, I have to track down a dubious bootleg on eBay. Pitiful.

The plot concerns a rich doctor suddenly thrown into a well by a man who looks exactly like him. The mysterious doppelganger takes over the doctor's identity, his household, and his wife, all the while laughing and taunting down the well at his imprisoned twin. As the mysterious lookalike gradually reveals the truth to the doctor, it becomes less and less certain which of the twins is the "hero" and which is the "villain."

Shinya Tsukamoto isn't a great director yet, but he's getting there. With Gemini he reveals a tremendous versatility, combining moments of sedate drama with hyperkinetic sequences of terror and joy. The actors are all magnificent (especially Masahiro Motoki in a complex double role), the cinematography is stunning, and the story is thoroughly intriguing and well told. It's not the best movie ever made by any means, but here and there Tsukamoto manages a few moments of real greatness, scenes where we genuinely become one with these characters and their needs. Watch the doctor, defeated and filthy at the bottom of his well, beg for a release from his suffering; watch the wife burst into tears as she remembers her past existence.

Tsukamoto knows what he's doing. He hasn't quite achieved true greatness yet, but one day he may just break through.
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Goku Midnight Eye (1989– )
8/10
Great little guilty pleasure
4 April 2001
Yoshiaki Kawajiri is so fun. You see, there are a lot of stereotypes about anime, labeling the genre as a shallow excuse to animate women being violated and blood spurting in every direction. Those stereotypes developed largely in response to the films of Yoshiaki Kawajiri. And if you can appreciate his movies for what they are, you'll have a blast watching them.

Goku: Midnight Eye is no different. It's an hour-long OVA set in a futuristic city where a sort of female peacock monster is causing police officers to kill themselves. Then it becomes sort of a dark superhero story when the lead character gets a bionic eye and a metal staff that can change to any length (he rams it through people and uses it to vault himself around like the old monk in Ninja Scroll). This is all handled in typical Kawajiri fashion, with well-designed monsters, gore, a cynical hero, frequently nude women, and a hissably evil supervillain.

If nothing else, the movie is a great little guilty pleasure, designed to make you wish you could do all the cool things that Goku does. Have fun with it, and be sure to watch it after midnight.
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Perfect Blue (1997)
Solid, well-executed anime
20 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Perfect Blue is a very strange film. It's anime, but it's set in circa-1995 modern Tokyo, with a story in which everything could be explained in terms of natural phenomena and present-day technology. Furthermore, it's a psychological thriller, a genre which probably hasn't ever been done with animation before.

But even if Japan's animators dabbled in this genre more often, Perfect Blue would still be a bizarre film. It starts off as a fairly conventional thriller about a teen pop singer who may be the target of a stalker, but then the movie goes completely insane, assaulting the viewer with rapid changes of scene, perspective, and context until we simply don't know what to believe anymore. This is done so subtly and gradually that we become completely trapped in the movie's spell, and we end up just staring at the screen in horror, helpless to stop the nightmarish events from unfolding. Rarely has any movie so effectively conveyed the lunatic terror of a character who has lost touch with reality, and once the movie is over, all you can do is just sit there and try to figure everything out. Have fun with it. It's a good head scratch.

Unfortunately, the last minute or so of the movie is much too sappy and uplifting (especially the music on the end credits), cheapening the significance of everything that has gone before. But as a whole, Perfect Blue is an incredibly haunting thriller, a scathing look at the world of showbusiness, and a very worthwhile film.
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Scream (1996)
9/10
Good, in and of itself
15 March 2001
A lot of people hate this movie, mostly because it inspired the glut of awful postmodern horror flicks we've endured over the last few years. The complaint is valid (don't get me started about Urban Legends: Final Cut), but don't let that stop you from watching and appreciating this movie for what it is.

Scream really is a good film. Sure, some of the characters are a bit annoying and some scenes just kind of slow things down, but as a whole the movie is exciting, well-written, and occasionally truly frightening. The Drew Barrymore sequence, as overly familiar as it has become, is horror filmmaking of a high order--Craven proves that even the same old cliches can be frightening if they are used with the right timing and balance. It's nearly impossible to make a good slasher film, since the genre has been so overdone; Scream pulls it off, and does it with a smile on its face.

Sure the sequels and imitators and spoofs are awful. Sure Craven and his colleagues fell back into the same old rut that this movie protested. But Scream exists on a higher level than the rest of the pack.
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Titan A.E. (2000)
5/10
Mediocre
14 March 2001
I wanted this movie to be good, I really did. If there's anything we need here in the States, it's more intelligent animation aimed at an older audience. But as much as I wanted to like this film, it's just too jumbled and derivative to amount to anything. And that's sad, because it could have been something really great.

Of course, Roger Ebert had me actually *expecting* a good film, and I watched the first few minutes with growing anticipation. But then the movie just falls apart. The mess hall scene early in the film is one of the most boring, unbearable sequences in the history of animation. It just goes on and on with drab gray backgrounds and pointless dialogue until we start yelling at the screen. Thirty minutes into Titan A.E. I already knew I would never watch it again.

But probably the worst thing about the movie is how poorly it integrates different animation styles. Hand-drawn 2-D characters simply do not mix with CGI backgrounds, or at least in this film they don't. In movies like Ghost in the Shell and The Iron Giant, the CGI animation is combined with traditonal cels so subtly that sometimes you don't even consciously notice it. Titan A.E. bashes us over the head right from the beginning with all kinds of jarring computer camera moves and CGI effects that do nothing to enhance the story and just make the hand-drawn characters look out of place. Worst of all are the Drej characters, who seem rough and unfinished--they completely lack detail and often move at less than 24 frames a second. More effort should have been spent actually blending these elements instead of just putting them on the screen together.

Titan A.E. is an okay movie for a lazy Saturday afternoon if you REALLY have nothing better to do. But it could have been much more. It could have been the movie that made Americans realize that animation can have a greater purpose, that animation is a legitimate creative option for filmmakers with great visionary ideas. But for now we have to settle for this feature-length Saturday morning cartoon.
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10/10
My favorite film
14 March 2001
I really can't think of anything to say about this movie. It's almost too good. I can never watch it without wishing we had someone like Miyazaki-sama here in the States, or that we had more of his films on DVD, or that this movie had gotten the mainstream theatrical distribution it deserved. If Disney had been smart enough to release this film subtitled, with a real advertising campaign, it could have been more successful than Crouching Tiger. There's a reason why this is the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time, and if its distributors had handled it better it could have won Best Foreign Film. Hell, it should have won Best Picture for 1997, and Jo Hisaishi ABSOLUTELY deserved the Best Original Score award.

But none of that happened. And that's why it's so hard to watch. Because Mononoke Hime is the best film of all time, and most Americans will never bother to see it.
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New Nightmare (1994)
8/10
Flawed but surprisingly good
13 March 2001
I'm amazed at what Wes Craven manages to pull off in this movie. By setting the movie in the real world, Craven manages to acknowledge the validity of all the awful Elm Street sequels, while at the same time freeing himself from their constraints. He brings back a character who was supposedly dead, without making it feel cheesy or contrived (cough cough Superman cough). And underneath all of that, he gives us an atmospheric and riveting horror film.

There are two main problems with the movie. The most damaging is its length and pacing. It goes on for a very long time without much action, and while it's great that the filmmakers try to establish a believable reality and give the characters some depth, they should have cut some of those unnecessary dialogue scenes. The other problem is that the screenplay deals with some of its ideas very clumsily--Craven has to actually write himself into the story so that he can explain everything that's going on.

But Wes Craven's New Nightmare is much better than the other sequels, and deserves a place in any horror fan's collection. There should be more horror movies like this.
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10/10
Great but FLAWED (some mild spoilers)
5 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I won't bother with any of that nonsense about how this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Everybody knows that, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, let me know so I can stamp the word IDIOT on their forehead. But the movie has a terrible, terrible flaw that needs to be addressed.

Simply put, Hitchcock should have cut that early scene where the intelligence agency members discuss what they are going to do now that Thornhill has been mistaken for Kaplan. It's an awful scene. For one thing, the scene is incredibly poorly written in comparison with the rest of the film--the characters say everything over and over again, in the simplest terms possible, as though they think we're all too stupid to figure anything out. More importantly, though, the scene completely ruins the mystery of George Kaplan way too early in the film.

Imagine if that scene were removed. Then we'd be closer to Thornhill's plight throughout the entire movie--when he sees that guy at the cornfield, we'd think that was Kaplan, just like Thornhill does. And then when the professor guy shows up at the airport, we'd all be like, "Okay, now that HAS to be Kaplan." And we'd learn the truth about Kaplan right along with Thornhill. But that dumb scene at the beginning spoils the mystery, and unfortunately that keeps us from relating with Thornhill as much as we otherwise might have.

Don't let any of this stop you from seeing the movie. It's wonderful. But while you watch it, think about what it might have been.
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Robot Monster (1953)
Come on, you have to love this...
28 February 2001
Robot Monster is one of the most lovable movies ever made. It's tremendously inspiring and comforting, especially for aspiring filmmakers like myself. Think about it--some idiot actually raised the money to make this movie, in 3D no less, and get it distributed in theaters. And it's survived through the ages and now it's a beloved cult classic. Isn't it wonderful what you can achieve if you put your mind to it, even if you have absolutely no idea what you're doing?

Aside from all the incredible mistakes and continuity errors, the movie actually succeeds in making us feel a kind of perverse sympathy for Ro-Man. The guy is one of the most accessible characters I've ever seen in a movie. Just look at him, standing there all alone in his diving helmet. Never in the entire movie does he ever succeed at anything--he's a walking mass of pure ineptitude. Don't you ever feel like that? Don't you ever feel like a big goofy idiot who never gets anything right?

There are alternate versions of the film. All I've seen is the Rhino Video 3D release, which makes things even goofier by giving Ro-Man an extra line of dialogue (spoken in a completely different voice, of course) and by blacking out a bit of objectionable cleavage. And of course, it's all in gimmicky red-and-blue 3D! It's kind of hard to watch, but I think it's really worth it for the added level of goofiness. But see this movie any way you can.

Because there's a little bit of Ro-Man in all of us.
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3/10
Oops...
27 February 2001
This movie really sucks, but the sad thing is how easily it could have been better. A terrible mistake was made at the screenplay stage, and for some reason no one caught it. As creative as the camera work in the movie is, there just isn't any way to make a good film from this script.

The problem is that all of the interesting, exciting stuff with the casino heist (e.g., the stuff that they actually show in the trailer) happens in the first thirty minutes. Sure, it's all gratuitous and excessive violence, but it's exciting in a John Woo kind of way. But then it's over, and the rest of the movie is a dead zone.

After the heist it's all boring nonsense with Kurt Russell dealing with Courteney Cox and her son, combined with pointless scenes in which a well-known character actor like Jon Lovitz shows up and says two or three lines before being murdered by Kevin Costner. I was amazed at all the familiar faces I saw in the trailer, but what's more astonishing is how briefly (and pointlessly) they all appear before being killed. Why spend the money to get Ice T if you're just going to kill him off within ten minutes?

For all the effort the filmmakers spent on the cast, cinematography and editing, you'd think someone would have realized that there is absolutely no reason to watch this movie after the first half hour. But I guess everybody makes mistakes.
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10/10
Beautiful film with one significant flaw
19 February 2001
Wings of Honneamise must have been an incredibly personal experience for the headstrong young animators who willed it into existence in the mid-eighties. How deeply they must have related with Shiro and his friends, since both the animators and the Royal Space Force are inexperienced but talented groups of people, extremely lucky to have the funding that they do, who manage to achieve something truly breathtaking. Any great animated film is a celebration of mankind's artistry, technology, and creative vision, and so is the rocket that the characters in the film finally build after so much hard work and so many lost lives. I've never been brought to tears by a movie, but this film brought me pretty close.

The film is, however, flawed. I simply cannot fathom why the girl reacts to the rape attempt the way she does. I mean, SHE APOLOGIZES for fending the guy off. Either the topic should have been dealt with more realistically or those scenes should have been left out of the movie.

But the movie is good enough to make up for it. Really, I think it's still deserving of a ten out of ten. Even great movies can make mistakes (Psycho, for example, has that worthless scene at the end where the psychiatrist over-simplifies everything). But you can make up your own mind. As usual for an anime, all positive comments are made in reference to the subtitled version only.
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Kwaidan (1964)
10/10
Underappreciated, creepy little film
14 February 2001
Kwaidan is one of the great underappreciated films: no one's heard of it, but you'll never, ever forget it once you've seen it. Parts of it may seem slow to some viewers, and most of the stories are extremely predictable, but I have to say this is one of the most beautiful, haunting movies I've ever seen.

Of all the stories I prefer "Black Hair," the first one. Though a rather pointless horseback archery scene just slows it down, it's by far the scariest and most nightmare-worthy of the stories, using sound to incredibly chilling effect. There's more terror in the last minute of this segment than in all three Scream movies put together. Trust me, if you consider yourself a serious fan of horror cinema, you have to see this.

The second story, "The Woman of the Snow," is good, though I wish it ended more like "Black Hair" (you'll see what I mean). "Hoichi the Earless," with its jaw-dropping sea battle sequence, is by far the biggest and most popular of the stories. It's also the most influential, with its main premise prominently re-used in Conan the Barbarian. The film ends with "In a Cup of Tea." This is the only story that doesn't completely telegraph its ending, and coming after three utterly predictable stories, its complexity is a bit unexpected and disorienting. Certainly it's as creepy and beautiful as the rest of the film, but I have to admit I don't really understand it.

Being a tremendous fan of elegant, understated horror movies, as well as a student of Japanese culture, I consider this film one of my all-time favorites. Granted, some viewers may be turned off by the leisurely pace and the theatrical, intentionally unrealistic sets. But this is undeniably a beautiful and chilling film, absolutely perfect to watch late at night, alone, in the dark.
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Valentine (2001)
2/10
Mostly lame slasher movie
7 February 2001
You've already seen Valentine, even if you haven't seen it. It's exactly what one would expect from a slasher movie nowadays, never deviating from the '90s horror formula for a single moment of running time. In terms of quality, it's basically worse than Scream 3 but not as awful as Urban Legend: Final Cut; i.e., it's bad, but watchable.

Some of the imagery is refreshingly effective, particularly in the maggot scene, but the movie has way too many unimportant supporting characters and too many long stretches where nothing interesting happens. It's nearly impossible to keep track of all the male characters, and they only contribute boring, pointless scenes. Watch out for the police investigator, though--the guy's such a terrible actor you'll be laughing uncontrollably whenever he shows up.

Enjoy this movie if you can. It's worth renting or watching it on HBO if you like these films, but if you dislike postmodern slasher movies in general then you should stay far away.
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Desistfilm (1954)
Jumbled but effectively creepy short film
22 January 2001
Stan Brakhage is best known for experimenting with the film medium itself--painting on film, gluing moth wings onto film, and other unusual cinematic techniques. Though he made Desist Film the old-fashioned way, with actors performing in front of a camera, it's just as inscrutable and bizarre as his other experimentations.

I don't remember everything that happens in the film, but it focuses on a group of burned out teenagers who entertain themselves in various ways (one of them practices lighting five matches at once, and another tries to build a structure out of various books). Like any good avant-garde film, the on-screen action can't really be understood as any kind of logical narrative. What matters is the feelings and moods and ideas evoked by the film, and Desist Film is a strangely unnerving, creepy movie experience. Though some of the editing is a bit too disorienting for its own good in my opinion, I don't think I'll ever forget the movie's very last shot. Even in a film where nothing makes sense, that last image is unspeakably chilling.

Highly recommended if you ever get the chance to see it (I saw it in a film class at the University of Colorado in Boulder).
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9/10
Shocking and brilliant
21 January 2001
Upon finding this film at Blockbuster Video, I noticed a helpful warning on the checkout box stating that the film should not be seen by viewers who are "easily upset."

If I made a movie powerful enough to deserve a disclaimer like that, I'd be very proud of myself. And make no mistake, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer definitely earns it, mostly with the notorious scene in which the titular murderer and his sidekick Otis sit down to watch a videotape they've made of themselves brutally killing a defenseless family. The sequence is horrifying, and chillingly real--had I seen that video footage in other circumstances I absolutely would have believed it was authentic. I've seen hundreds of horror movies, and laughed at most of them, but that scene gave me nightmares. It's one of the most heart-rending moments in the history of cinema.

At the end of the scene, Otis pushes the rewind button. Henry asks him what he's doing, and Otis replies, "I want to watch it again."

Equally terrifying is the ease of Henry's crimes. His technique is simple--he keeps moving from place to place and varies his method of killing enough that the police have no way of knowing that the crimes are being committed by the same person. And he nearly always chooses his victims at random, killing with no significant motive. Think about it--you could be murdered tomorrow for no good reason by someone you've never even met. Scary thought, isn't it?

As gruesome as the film's content may be, it makes an incredibly worthy point. Watch this film with an open mind and an open heart, and I guarantee you will come out of it with a greater appreciation for human life and a better understanding of the unfortunate nature of man.
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1/10
Have you all gone insane?
18 January 2001
Dawn of the Dead is positively one of the worst films ever made. Yes, it is. It's worse than Manos the Hands of Fate, worse than Severed Ties, worse than Battlefield Earth, worse than Igor and the Lunatics... worse than just about any movie you could name. It redefined my conception of how bad a movie could actually be.

There's nothing here. There's no horror, no poignant social satire, no scathing attack on American consumer culture. How can these characters be making some kind of a statement about American society when they're so stupid they don't even know what a shopping mall is? Look at them--they're dumb enough to steal money from a bank even though society has completely fallen apart and they can get anything they need from the mall anyway! And what kind of social commentary can you attach to that awful scene where the biker gang throws pies into the zombies' faces? Or the utterly useless racketball scene? Or the completely inappropriate Pac-Man musical score? Dawn of the Dead is NOT a socially relevant film. It's just two very long hours of garbage--ugly, poorly acted, ludicrous garbage.

I've tried to like this movie, I really have. But there's nothing worthwhile in it. It's not scary, it's not entertaining, and it's not meaningful. It's just a sad, painfully misguided waste of time. Heaven save us from George Romero and his alien brainwashing ray.
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9/10
A fragile movie experience
17 January 2001
It's difficult for me to understand, let alone explain, why I love Shinya Tsukamoto's movies so much. They really aren't much more than diseased cinematic pranks, but there's something unspeakably beautiful about them. I haven't found any other director who makes movies as repulsively absorbing as the Tetsuo films and Tokyo Fist. Seeing a Tsukamoto film for the first time is a singular experience--either you'll vomit or you'll go out and buy every Tsukamoto movie you can find. Some of you may do both.

Tetsuo is perhaps the most primal and visceral of Tsukamoto's films. He opens the movie with the grisly image of a man slicing open his own leg and inserting a metal bar into the wound, and from there the film journeys into a realm few sane people have ever glimpsed. Stop-motion photography, graphic violence, and sexual perversion combine into one of the most horrifying nightmares ever put to celluloid, and it barely ever slackens its pace with dialogue. Watching this movie is all about how much insanity you can endure, and if you can sit through the entire thing, you'll probably end up liking it. This is cinema at its most basic and personal form, and either you identify with its madness or you don't. I did.

For the maximum effect, you have to watch it late at night, in the dark, preferably all by yourself. Anything else would ruin the movie's power.
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1/10
Still the most overrated film of all time
17 January 2001
I've already written a review for Meet Me in St. Louis, and I apologize for having to repeat myself. But given the extreme obnoxiousness of this film I think I can be excused for voicing my opinion twice.

Meet Me in St. Louis tries to make its audience feel good. It tries to be optimistic and idealistic and nostalgic. You're supposed to watch it and feel better for a while. Unfortunately the film completely fails to achieve any of its goals--this supposed ideal vision of heartland America is nothing but a nauseating, racist nightmare. How can so many reviewers say they wish the real world could be more like this? Do you really wish the world was so saturated with color you could barely look at it without going blind? Do you really wish everybody was white and looked like everybody else?

All of the characters are bland and uninteresting, all of the songs are lifeless and completely incidental to the rest of the movie, and the movie's color scheme made me feel like throwing up. The plot is nothing but silly mix-ups, a completely random Halloween bonfire, and bratty girls trying to get indistinguishable men to like them. It's all formulaic drivel. I've never seen a movie as dead as this one.

There's nothing worse than a supposedly cheery movie that just makes you feel bad about yourself. I'd rather be run over by one of those St. Louis trolleys than watch this film again.
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1/10
I just can't believe it
9 January 2001
I can say without hesitation that Dude, Where's My Car is the most awful, unwatchable movie I've ever seen. Hands down.

DWMC operates at a level of stupidity rarely seen in any film. Granted, the movie's stupidity is completely intentional--it's what the filmmakers wanted. But it obviously never occurred to anyone that the stupidity should actually be *funny* in some way. Stupidity alone does not a funny movie make. It needs comic timing and balance to work, and DWMC is only interested in stupidity for stupidity's sake. There is nothing else in the entire film. It's just two hours of idiotic dialogue, unflinching sexism, and unfunny jokes that are repeated over and over again until you want to throw your soda at the screen.

Also, the events of the story are too insane and random to work into any kind of whole. Good comedies, even outlandish ones, nearly always take place in a reality with some kind of ground rules. DWMC is set in a world where anything can happen, and it only hurts the film. The screenplay tries incredibly hard to be unpredictable, throwing in more bizarre characters and situations every couple of minutes, and the film just ends up overloading our senses and boring us. Every scene is arbitrary and meaningless and out of nowhere. In a movie where anything can happen, what does it matter that anything does?

No force on Earth could coerce me into seeing this film again. I'd rather spend two hours holding a red-hot poker up my nose and eating dead spiders.
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