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The '60s (1999)
Good, if uneven and thinly spread
Originally posed Aug. 1999
Great music, great cast, great acting but the story could use some work. Like a lot of people, I thought the black family was seriously overlooked. If the movie was really about two families, why weren't the Taylors given equal screen time with the Herlihys? The tagline should have read: How the '60s affected one family and their acquaintances, since the Taylors did have a brief encounter with middle Herlihy son Michael (Josh Hamilton).
While the story touches on issues that concerned blacks, such as the right to vote, police brutality, segregation and the Black Panther Party, the Rev. Taylor (Charles Dutton, in a fine performance) and his son Emmett (Leonard Roberts) are still given very small screen time in comparison with the white characters. After Dutton's character is killed during the Watts riot, Roberts shoulders the black side of this portrait practically on his own (except for David Allan Grier, in an even tinier role), and does so with incredible skill and stealth. Kimberly Scott, who portray's Roberts' mother and Dutton's wife, gives a lovely performance, but it's all too brief. Short shrifts aside, I was very pleased with most of the Herlihy's part of the story, though I thought most of the clichéd, boring story concerning the sister who got pregnant and ran away could have been done away with, and that time given to the Taylors.
I was impressed with Jerry O'Connell's performance as the oldest Herlihy son, Brian, who goes to the Vietnam war as an innocent trying to make dad proud of him, and who comes home stripped of that innocence. The movie also focuses on middle son Michael's involvement with the anti-war movement, and his relationships with two activists he meets at a New York student teach in, passionate Sarah Weinstock (Jordana Brewster) and vehement Kenny Klein (Jeremy Sisto). Although the love-triangle part could have been excluded, the three characters bring to life the wonder-bread freedom fighters that existed and actually suffered, and the distrust of (anyone over 30) that generation possessed quite effectively. The Herlihys also get a taste of Woodstock, and if the rest of the movie fails to impress, the Woodstock scenes will at least give you a taste of what it was like to be there. I wasn't too happy with the ending. They should have included notes on what happened to these people after the decade ended. But aside from my disappointment about the ending and the black family's screen time, it was an above average miniseries, which I will give a B+.
Playing It Cool (2014)
Quite A Revelation!!!
CAUTION: PROBABLE SPOILERS!!!
I expected to enjoy Chris Evans as I am a fan since around 2010 or so, but with a title like Playing It Cool, I figured I was in for a very fluffy comedy, perhaps like the mediocre Nanny Diaries, or the sexy and funny What's Your Number?
But this film, while it gave me a laugh or two in several moments, was more poignant than silly, more deep than fluffy. I am not even certain Evans' character has a "name" in the film, but the voice- over narration keep you close to his existence. He is extremely human, thus extremely flawed. But you're given such a fleshed-out, fully realised character that you understand why he is fiercely protective of what's left of his heart. He has a circle of friends, a writer who believes fully in the miracle of love (a brilliant Topher Grace), a performance artist whose feminist gore is quite jarring (Aubrey Plaza), a married but obviously bitter (and I'm afraid annoying and quickly tiresome) guy pushing 50 (Luke Wilson), a guy who lives in his van (Martin Starr), his loving Granddad (a warm and potty mouthed performance by the great Philip Baker Hall), and his enthusiastic agent (Anthony Mackie) who has gotten him a gig writing a romcom involving multiple personalities. Our nameless protag argues that he'd rather write action movies, but the agent promises that if "Me" comes through with the RomCom, he'll have the action movie job shortly afterward.
"Me" meets "Her" (Michelle Monaghan, and I'm unsure whether a name is mentioned for her either. And suddenly, this film is overflowing with tons of cleverness and imaginative visuals. That's what really makes it a strong movie for me. All the storytelling visual styles. Of course this dreamy, perfect woman is engaged to "Stuffy" (Ioan Gruffudd), the clichéd boring, snobby fiancé. Sometimes the story works in this arc, sometimes not. We're not given much of a look at "Stuffy", but I guess we're meant to route for "Me." It's not even "Her" story. It's "Me's" story, entirely from his POV. I loved how Evans submerged himself into each short story role, especially the Korean transsexual lovers' story. I also love that this movie is so LGBTQ friendly. It's very poignant in some places. I kept waiting for Evans to cry after the hits just kept on coming for the character. Even though I saw no tears, I could see the pain. He never disappoints as a true actor. The film is a very realistic look at the reality of love. Many times you will fall in love with someone who doesn't feel the same attraction you do. Mallory is in love with "Me"; "Me is in love with "Her"; "Her" believes she's in love with "Stuffy", but is also confused; She says he's the most "stable" thing in her life. Scott is in love with a guy who doesn't seem to get the hint for a long time; Lyle hooks up with a hot older woman Beverly D'Angelo) in his van, and is that the extent of his "love" life?; Samson is married but again, seems jaded, bitter and believes love is a crock; Granddad says, "Go after the woman you love, even if she says she doesn't love you." I would say this is bad advice because No means No. But "Her" does respond favourably to "Me's" kiss, and later out and out cheats on "Stuffy" with "Me." So it's not nonconsentual.
It's flawed, but it's also surprisingly clever and fun to watch!
Fail-idae is more like it :(
I'm unable to comprehend the fact that the majority of viewers of this film give nothing less than perhaps a 6-8 out of 10. I finally watched it. I am a cat lover. I'll get that fact out of the way right now. I am also pushing middle age (46 this October), so by no means am I a kid, alright?
I thought this was a crock of excrement. And it really didn't have to be. It could have been SO many things. THE PLAGUE DOGS? THAT is a compassionate statement against the evils of humans using, enslaving, exploiting, torturing and murdering animals.
They wanted to make a movie about cats and have it be realistic with some disturbing content? It could have been a historical account of the evolution of cats, from their glory in ancient Egypt to their persecution during the ages of superstition to present day.
I'm not opposed to "adult animated" flicks. I rode my first dragon at the age of 12 when I watched WATERSHIP DOWN and THE SECRET OF NIMH for the first times. And both of those movies fascinate me to this day. I just re-watched the bunnies the other day and they still hold up. John Hurt rocks!
I am not a prude. I write erotica, and as a matter of fact, I found the kitty style scene LOL funny, especially when they both...um...finish...and yell out, "Aw yeah!" Besides, what do you SEE? No boobies or man-bits, right? The sex was so much less offensive to me than the other content. I found it hilarious that some reviewers have praised the gore and violent images but said the mating scene went "a bit too far."
Not even some of the gruesome imagery or nightmarish visions that Francis had were so horrid that they bothered me. At least not the nightmares. We'll go further on that in a moment.
OK so what's my problem? My problems are multiple with this film:
First and most obvious, is that unless Francis suddenly changed his name to Freddy Kreuger, there's no way he could EVISCERATE Pascal/Claud, with ONE swipe of his claws. It is ABSOLUTELY LUDICROUS that a cat's guts will spill out everywhere, and that you can see his rib cage, AND THAT HE IS STILL TALKING!
I love and respect cats, and I find them clever, personable, even trainable in some cases, but a cat "learning" to type on a computer by watching a human? A cat keeping a DATABASE of all the cats in the neighbourhood? JUST HOW MUCH DOES THIS "FILM NOIR" THINK IT CAN INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE? I wish I was allowed to cuss on IMDb because I have a few choice words. It is an understatement to say that this movie is an inconsistent spazz. It can't decide what to do with itself. It wants to be a murder mystery, a horror, a eugenics sci- fi...WHAT?! A super-intelligent cat who made a premeditated decision to kill a human, then constructs a plan to "breed out" all inferior cats, and take cats back to their "roots"? Give me a break!
As if we didn't have enough crazy to contend with, a completely different character is a cat "preacher" who leads some cult of cats who worship some deceased legend. These felines gather in honour of their diety and yell out, "Hallelujah!" and some of them commit suicide by throwing themselves into some electrical shock device...And I thought the Jonestown and Heaven's Gate people were nuts.
Yet a couple more characters are supposed cats depicted in idiotic fashion. One of them, Kong (how original) looks more like a mutant bulldog, his lower jaw hanging way past his upper. And pray tell, are the "neutered" cats INTENTIONALLY drawn to look like inbred, cross- eyed psychos? What is this film trying to say to everyone? That spaying/neutering is "immoral"? Believe you me, I've had psychos TELL me that! I poop you not!
I had no problem with the plot. New cat moves into neighborhood, meets a gruff neighbor cat named Bluebeard. Francis appoints himself the neighborhood "Sherlock" and interviews different cats, has some horrific visions, learns about Darwinism, meets a seductive but odd looking cat who tells him that her kind are a breed both "old and new".
Intriguing stuff, honestly, but the execution of this story is FAIL. It's like 2 films I like (WATERSHIP DOWN and NIMH) got together and this mutant child came out. This movie was trying so hard to be "dark, twisted, gory, adult," etc. It was so transparent how "cool and edgy" the film was trying to be, using a few cuss words and clumsy dark humour.
I'm not an idiot. I know when there is a sincere use of gore to tell a story and when gore is being used purely for shock value. And why a gruesome decapitation of the sweetest, most likable character in the movie???
Cats might be clever and independent and retain some feral qualities even in their lives with humans, but cats don't type, don't read, don't spell, and don't concoct elaborate plans to conquer or destroy humans, they don't go around "murdering" because someone "knows too much".
Megan Is Missing (2011)
I give it a 6 because it just seems like it's bordering on an exploitation flick. Not nearly as bad as some of Larry Clark's stuff, but instead of really good acting from frightened parents, we get bland, almost constipated facial expressions. Don't these parents give a crap? For reals?
As for the 2 main characters, at first, they are your typical little spoilt brats. It almost seemed like THIRTEEN, with the popular, slutty, troubled one and the virginal, unpopular, introspective one. I don't mind that a lot of ichatting was used. It's one of the most popular ways that teens communicate these days, and movies are a visual medium. I was irritated when the girls began to chat with "Josh", who claims that his brother, then his dog, broke his webcam. I wanted to scream at these kids, if you can't see him, turn the camera off! You don't see Josh's face thruought the entire movie, but he is an internet predator, and these girls are unfortunately just lonely, insecure and naive enough to stumble into his trap.
I have a particular hatred for shock value gore, and the horrifying fetish photos of Megan posted on some porn site were really upsetting to me, and unnecessary. We know the girl was victimized by a sexual predator/sadist. Is it necessary to strip her of every last shred of her dignity by including a simulated photo in a movie? That's why I was so angry at the publicised photos of the victims of serial killer Robert Berdella. When you show the public every last screaming moment of a victim's life, it just seems so demeaning to me. But maybe that's the point. Maybe these kinds of things are meant to make me so angry that I want to put every serial killer on the planet into a rocket and aim it at Jupiter.
It's a disturbing film. Very unpleasant. Not sure if I think it's exploitation or not, but I won't be watching it again.
Amber's Story (2006)
Still waiting for Justice for Amber
I'm not here to nitpick about accents. Elizabeth Rohm gives a wonderful, emotional performance of a brokenhearted, angry mother. All of the actors are great, but Rohm is the one who has to carry the film, and she does so successfully. The second half of the film, which intercuts from future to past, displays how the "Amber Alert" system operates today. It was a very creepy person this working mom chose to watch her daughter. It was riveting, very horrifying at times, and of course, a fitting tribute to a little girl who was stolen from her family by an amoral coward.
I hope the coward is caught one day. If he did it to one child, he's done it to another.
Jesus' Son (1999)
A long strange trip
This is a strange film, a combination of goofy, sad comedy and profound tragedy, but it is a very pleasant film nonetheless. FH (Billy Crudup) is a drug (mainly pills) addict who seems to have a life devoid of any direction or purpose, and yet he has odd abilities and premonitions, along with an "everything will be okay no matter what happens" attitude. He hitches a ride with a family, all the while knowing a car accident will kill most of them. He rescues the infant member of the family, and it strangely coincides with the fact that his girlfriend Michelle (Samantha Morton) had an abortion around that same time. FH lives through the horrible suicide of Michelle somehow, and begins to try to get away from drugs and have a life that makes sense. There are bizarre scenes involving baby bunnies, being able to put a hand through a glass window as if one were a ghost instead of flesh and blood, and an ensemble of characters whose lives FH touches in one way or another, played by Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter, and Dennis Hopper. There is no solid "plot" as it were. It's just a tour through a lost, lonely soul looking for a place in the world where he belongs.
A very different kind of film, with a cryptic story and main character, but it feels like a refreshment compared to many movies being made today.
Itty Bitty Titty Committee (2007)
Great in the beginning, a bit "been there, done that" towards the end.
I once tried to submit my review a couple of weeks ago, but somehow there was some glitch about "gender" being one of the prohibited words. So I will try once more.
I mostly enjoyed this engaging story about a small sect of feminists and lesbians who call themselves the C(i)A. In fact, that really would have made a better title for the film, which was more about the whole of feminism and equality than women altering their bodies to appease some societal standard. Ana (Melonie Diaz) is a young lesbian trying to get over a recent breakup. She works in a cosmetic surgery clinic. She doesn't really love her job, but she's undecided about what to do with her life, so she just goes with it. One night, she hears someone spray-painting her building with feminist slogans and tries to call 911, but when the beautiful and enigmatic Sadie (Nicole Vicius) struts up to her, Ana falls in love again, and is quickly swept up into the C(i)A's political demonstrations and takes their message into her heart.
But maybe a little too much. There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, and there is certainly nothing wrong with being a feminist, but when Ana begins acting bitchy towards her older sister, who is getting married, talking about how marriage is a stupid and useless institution, she is being ugly and inappropriate, hurtful and disrespectful. Remember, Ana, many people still believe in marriage and want it in their lives, even lesbians and feminists. I presume Ana has taken the influence of Shulamith (Carly Pope), the no-nonsense leader of the C(i)A who often takes angry, confrontational stances on things, but where Shulamith is mostly controlled and constructive, Ana is just being bratty. In fact, Ana, being the main protag, is kind of unlikeable in many ways. She has an annoying habit of putting "Ahhh" on the ends of many sentences/names/words, i.e. "Sadie-ahh! Please-ahh!" It's just an annoying habit, like nails on a blackboard. The other thing that made me mad was how she used Lauren Mollica's character, Aggie, during a fight with Sadie. Sadie was less annoying than Ana, but her constant battle with "obligation" vs. ending a relationship with an older feminist (Melanie Mayron) that is no longer viable is irritating too. The supporting cast is mainly what makes this film fun and engaging. I am in lust with Daniela Sea, who plays Calvin, and I love the character Meat (in spite of her being named after a balding guy playing a high school jock in the Porky's movies!), played by Deak Evgenikos. Good cameos/small roles include Melanie Lynskey, Jenny Shimuzu, Leslie Grossman, and Guinevere Turner.
The ending seemed way too contrived. Attacking the white phallus in Washington? Didn't seem plausible at all. It would have been so much more fun and realistic if a cool pirate or indie TV station had caught the girls in one of their milder stunts and interviewed them on TV. The could have all sat, smiling, their faces on screens all over the country, saying, "You may not like what we have to say, but we're saying it anyway." A good effort for the most part.
Stage Beauty (2004)
If you love you some beautiful period drama, this is a great choice!
Ned Kynaston is the most beautiful "woman" of the London stage. This is the kind of role that I've always admired Billy Crudup for. He plays an actor in a time period (1600s) when only men were allowed to act on stage, even if the character portrayed is female. Kynaston is an actor so dedicated to his work that he has taught himself the graces of mime and can alter his masculine voice to sound like the most elegant and refined woman in the world. In his private life, he has a lover in the Duke of Buckingham (Ben Chaplin) who insists Kynaston don his wig when they "make a beast with 2 backs" in bed on the stage. On the sly, Kynaston's dressing assistant, Maria (Claire Danes) has been watching Kynaston's acting career and wishing she herself could not only be legally allowed to perform, but could do it with the same natural grace as Kynaston. She practices his mime, steals his beautiful frocks and wigs, and begins performing the very same role of Desdemona from Othello in a small nightspot in town. Things begin to go awry when it is discovered that Maria is acting illegally, but the King (Rupert Everett) is so moved by Maria's acting that he decides to reverse the ban on females acting on the stage. Kynaston, both jealous and angry that she has been stealing his thunder, screams in rage at Maria in front of the King's mistress, and suddenly is a disgraced man out of work. He gets beaten up by what I believe are 17th century bigots (I might be mistaken though.) After he recovers from his injuries, he tries to audition for a "male" role, but is unable to shake the habit of moving and speaking in feminine mannerisms. He flees in tears, and ends up being looked after in a boarding house by Maria. I really loved the "almost" love scene and the discussion that lead up to it.
That's all I'll say for now. The movie never stops being entertaining, nor interesting to look upon, with its lavish costumes and production design. There is a scary moment towards the end that almost made me throw my laptop on the floor because I'd thought the movie was ruined, but luckily, I loved the film from beginning to end. Bravo!
Waking the Dead (2000)
Unbearably wrenching...I don't think I could watch it again.
This movie had me in tears just about every 2 minutes at least. While a young man maps out his ambitions for the future, he meets a woman who sees the world with eyes that are similar to his, but a bit more outspoken. They fall in love, and would be the perfect couple if not for their conflicting political views and family traditions. While Fielding (a beautiful Kleenex-box devouring performance by Billy Crudup) works for the Coast Guard and then thru law school, Sarah (an equally wonderful Jennifer Connelly) is an independent Peace-Corps worker of sorts, working for the Catholic church in different and dangerous situations that take her far from home into hotbeds of political strife.
Fielding's life is shattered when Sarah and 2 Chilean diplomats are killed in a car bomb in 1973. For the next decade, he tries to move on without her, and presses on until he becomes a candidate for public office. Suddenly, he begins to...hallucinate? Dream? Have visions? of the woman he loved. He begins to believe he is losing his mind, and it affects his campaign.
The one thing that confuses me and kind of pees me off is when Sarah suddenly seems to reappear for real, first via phone call and second, with a surprise visit. She apologizes for hurting him, and if what she's saying is true, she really did nearly kill him by faking her death. Did she fake her death because of the Chilean Resistance? Or did she want out of the relationship because though they love each other, their beliefs and politics don't match. Fielding wakes up the morning after this cryptic 'visit' and wonders if even this was a reverie. But somehow, the fact that he never has visions or hallucinations of weird phone calls ever again, says to me, Sarah had been alive all these years and had faked her death for one reason or another. I really should watch this again to get a better clarity on exactly what her motives were, but I cried so much that I don't think I can go through this again. The one consolation is that Fielding won the election and began to help make a difference in people's lives. Sarah influenced him in a major way, but I was so sad to see that they couldn't have a life together working side by side.
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
As a standalone, fun & surprising, as a part of the ALIEN legacy, kind of silly!!!
PLEASE, BE SMART. IF YOU WANT TO SEE THIS FILM AND DON'T WANT SPOILERS, DON'T READ THIS REVIEW!!!!!!!!!
ALIEN: scifi, drama, horror, with a first-rate cast and very spare dry comic relief. ALIENS: scifi,action, horror, with a VERY likable cast, and some fitting comic hysteria from Bill Paxton. ALIEN 3: scifi, drama, horror, a very gifted first time director, and again, very spare comedy, almost no comedy at all, and acting wise, surprising for all of its other disappointments.
ALIEN: RESURRECTION...hmmmm...as a standalone movie, this is kind of a treat as a scifi, horror, camp-comedy. Some pluses: Like ALIENS, it has a lot of action and gunplay, and like ALIENS, it has human villains and hordes of vicious aliens. And I LOVE John Frizzell's score. Completely awesome, evoking horror and suspense. The only score I like better is Jerry Goldsmith's from ALIEN. The cast is pretty good, though I thought a few characters were pointless.
As a member of the ALIEN franchise...perhaps not so much. Minuses: I hated Michael Wincott's sleazy and uninteresting Elgyn and was happy to see him offed early. Kim Flowers' Hillard was pointless as well. Ron Perlman's Johner was insufferable in his character and dialogue: "So Ripley, I heard you, like, ran into these things before...So, like, what did you do?" Winona Ryder. As with Ash, there is a big "reveal" scene with Call. But she absolutely has no place in this kind of film. Why would an android complain about being "disgusting"? Just no.
Pluses: I liked Dominique Pinon's Vriess most of the time. I liked Gary Dourdan's Christie, but he was one character whose death was not only too damn early in the film, but totally ridiculous. Was it a suicide to save Vriess' life? Or did an alien grab him once he hit the water and take him under and kill him? Hitting the water from a ladder is not instant death, but the way Vriess was wailing, "Don't do it, Christie!" you would swear it was!
More pluses: Brad Douriff played the 2nd most evil scientist I have ever seen in history. J. E. Freeman narrowly exceeds him. This movie is a great scifi illustration of pure instinct vs. pure evil, and Wren is one evil bird. I have always seen the alien xenomorphs as instinctual creatures, not evil ones. Like lions, tigers and bears, they will kill you, but it's not because they are evil, it's because that is what they are hardwired to do, by God, by nature, by evolution, or whatever. Douriff, Freeman and their cronies? Evil as hell. The unholy glee with which these people watch the facehuggers attacking a crew up KIDNAPPED men is very sickening. So, see below...
Big minus: It was bad enough to realize the scientists are evil, no doubt seeking to build an alien army that would strike fear in the hearts of anyone opposing some fascist government somewhere. For this same reason, it was hard to really empathize with any of the pirate crew. The humans are the more evil of the villains.
Big plus: The aliens are only animals...at least until now. Sigourney Weaver delivers again, though I'm not sure why anyone felt this film had to be made. Maybe because ALIEN 3 was so dark and ultimately depressing.
And most certainly, it's preposterous to think the evil scientists could clone an ALIEN queen, as well as a Ripley, but she is great fun nevertheless. Anyway, this ain't the Ripley who died. In their evil experiment, the scientists created a Ripley who has lots and lots of alien DNA in her. In short, she is an alien who is physically a lot more strong, and mentally, a lot less kind-hearted, than her deceased human ancestor. She has just enough of the real Ripley in her to almost remember Newt, but otherwise, she grins instead of frowning when the evil scientists horribly overestimate their ability to "tame" and to "train" the aliens, and horribly underestimate the aliens' endless capacity for ingenuity. Because these aliens are also descendants of a human being, Ripley, they are "smarter," and not above killing one of their own and using it as a means of escaping their cells. Of course, the alien in ALIEN and the aliens in ALIENS were descended from humans as well.
Ripley 8 is like the aliens, half innocent predatory animal, half intelligent and kind of evil human. She only begins to realize how awful those scientists are when she meets her seven "sisters" in the medical lab, how they heartlessly keep one clone alive with tubes and machines. Ripley 8 only begins to become our hero yet again when she decides she must not let her "children" live to destroy everyone on pitiful earth, which looks like it's been thru a few nuclear holocausts lately.
I see I am really Over-analyzing this movie. It's great to see the evil Wren get his ultimate reward from one of his victims. It's also great to see the other evil scientists end up in cocoons, but wait! The Queen that they created along with Ripley 8, the OTHER mama to the fearsome xenomorphs evolves from having an insect reproductive system to a human one! No more egg-laying!!! What?! Yes, Queenie now has a uterus!!! She's having another baby!!! What a busy Mom!!! And the only thing freakier than the Newborn itself is Douriff's delirious and hilarious verbal cooing, "Beautiful, beautiful little baby!!!" That newborn is the stuff of night and daymares, be warned!!! Strangely enough, many, including myself, feel a little sad (as well as VERY repulsed) by the newborn's death sequence.
4 out of 10 .
Megatons of FUN
LOTS OF SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS FILM, DON'T READ THE REVIEW!!!
This is many peoples' fave of the ALIEN franchise, and with good reason. It has a deepening of Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) character (if you watch the version with lots of restored footage), more info about the girl Newt (Carrie Henn) and how she came to be orphaned and a lone survivor of a colony of over 100 people called Hadley's Hope, and lots of great characters. The prequel to this film had a pretty small cast and felt claustrophobic at times, but ALIENS seems to move more briskly, even though it's set on the same planet.
Boy, Weland-Yutani must be the epitome of evil, greedy, petty corporations. Nearly 6 decades after Ripley and Jonesy went into stasis after destroying the first Alien, this bunch of bureaucratic turds are STILL mad that she blew up the Nostromo. The oh-so-generous jerks decline to press criminal charges against her, but they revoke her license so that she has to start her life over again working at a crappy new job. Barely back on earth for a few weeks or so, she gets a knock on her door from one Carter J. Burke (Paul Reiser, before MAD ABOUT YOU) and an inexperienced Lt. Gorman (William Hope), who leads a corps of Marines. They practically beg Ripley to accompany them to the planet LV426 because suddenly the terraforming colony overseen by Weland-Yutani Corp. has not been heard from in a while and nobody can raise them. Suddenly, Ripley's account of the fearsome, acidic xenomorph seems to be a likely factor.
Among the many memorable characters are Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn, who is loved worldwide for his portrayal of this and his character in THE TERMINATOR), a low key, levelheaded marine who has to take over once Sarg Apone is killed, the obnoxious and hysterically funny Prvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton, another all time favorite of mine for 30+ years), Prvt. Vasquez (played by another Cameron/Bigelow regular, Jenette Goldstein, a wonderful chameleon of an actress), and the benevolent android Bishop (Lance Henriksen, yet another Cameron legend) who is nothing like the devious Ash of the prequel.
Needless to say, the entire colony, save Newt, has been destroyed. As I learned in the sequels, these aliens use humans not only as hosts with which to reproduce, they kill and use them for food as well. In the very first battle, most of the marines are slain, or worse, kidnapped and made into hosts for the facehugger parasites that hatch from eggs, leaving a handful of survivors. Their mission a bust, they attempt to leave the planet and make plans to "nuke the site from orbit" to ensure the annihilation of this hostile species. Suddenly Mr. Burke is very vocal about his opposition to these plans, and it's not long before he is revealed to be yet another corporate pig with greedy plans to get rich. He is the true villain here, and worse than Ash, because Ash was an android programmed to do what he was told.
Many harrowing but action packed battles later, many of our survivors are no more, and we finally meet "the bitch." Enough said. I had very high hopes about the ending...but I was in for an unpleasant surprise in the next installment of the franchise. Perhaps my 2nd favorite Cameron film. 10 stars.
Good on many levels, but not the best of the ALIEN films.
WARNING: DEFINITE SPOILERS.
ALIEN 3 is a great example of how too much meddling ruins a promising movie. This movie went thru so many re-writes and director changes it's a wonder it ever got made at all. 20th Century Fox meddled until their meddlers got sore. I can't believe someone thought a wooden planet full of monks was plausible. Luckily, this was changed into a max security prison filled with "YY" men, rapists, pedophiles, sociopaths, serial killers, you name it. Ripley and the survivors from ALIENS are in hypersleep when a fire breaks out aboard the Sulaco, and the escape lifeboat is jettisoned and crash lands on Fiorina 161, the prison planet.
One of the problems I had with this film is the fact that since everyone's head is shaved, and almost everyone is British, I had trouble differentiating one character from another. There weren't enough closeups, so many of them simply looked too "alike" for me to get to know characters. Yet everyone did a marvelous job acting, and characters such as Warden Andrews (Brian Glover), Golic (Paul McGann), and Mr. Aaron (Ralph Brown), AKA "85" were amusing as they tried to deal with Ripley's presence in their orderly world. Charles S. Dutton gives a great performance as Dillon, the "leader" of these prisoners, who are trying to live lives of order, atonement, and godliness after committing such heinous crimes.
The other problem I had is: how did 2 eggs get aboard the escape pod? How??? Did Queen Bitch lay them before her last attempt to kill Ripley, Newt and Bishop??? If you've seen the film, you know what happened with egg #1, but in the theatrical version, victim #2 is a dog, and in the "Assembly Edition," an ox.
Weaver of course is still as commanding as ever, and got an Oscar nom for this portrayal of Ripley. Not because she shaved her head either, but because she gave us even more layers. For the very reasons I was angry about the beginning of the film (the deaths of Hicks and Newt), we got to see a Ripley who has lost so much. She had developed a very deep relationship with Newt, which would have balmed the pain of losing her own daughter (outliving her due to 57 years of hypersleep drifting in space), and she had had an undeniable chemistry and friendship with Hicks as well.
She's lost everyone now, and she's not even afforded more than a few hours of closeness with Clemens (Charles Dance) the prison's chief medical officer.
I enjoyed the "Assembly Edition" so much more than the original cut. There was a much better look at the individual characters. Even though the ox was a clumsier animal than a Rottweiler to use as the unlikely host to a chestbuster, it was interesting to me. Having an alien more "doglike" than humanoid was very interesting as a twist. I also liked the addition of Junior (Holt McCallany, an actor I've liked since seeing him on CSI Miami) attempting to redeem himself after that horrible scene of Ripley nearly being raped. Another standout is Danny Webb as Morse, who after being hateful to Ripley for bringing lots of problems, one in particular, with her when she crashed, ends up a hero.
Again, not my favorite, but as long as the "Assembly Ed.) exists, it has its merits, and once you get used to the disappointing beginning, it's quite a good story with great acting.
Suddenly became tied with "The Thing" as my fave sci-fi/horror!
As a younger kid, it was ALIENS rather than ALIEN, and though I still love Cameron's ALIENS and its balls to the wall constant action and acid-shed, I have very recently come to love the subtle power that is the first ALIEN. I must first say that much of this adoration comes from the beautifully sinister score by Mr. Goldsmith, and, as I very recently learned, a piece from "Romance" by Howard Hanson. This became Ripley's theme of defeating the Alien at the end of the film. But I also love Sigourney Weaver, who will always be Ripley. If they dare to remake this film, I won't go see it. We need to learn to quit "needing" to remake everything and accept the classics as they are, products of their time. I am sick to death of CGI.
This film is a real classic, directed by the innovative Ridley Scott, and its cast includes Tom Skerrit as the temperamental and not-so- sensible Capt. Dallas, John Hurt as the tragic Kane, Veronica Cartwright as yes, the weepy but understandably terrified Lambert, Harry Dean Stanton as Brett, a mechanic of few words, Ian Holm as Ash, the science officer, the incomparable Yaphet Kotto as Parker, who was somewhat of a comic relief for a while here, and then went on to an amazing dramatic career, and last but not least, Jonesy (I'm a cat lover, OK?)
The story is simple...a space "towtruck" called the Nostromo is "lured" by a signal to a small planet to investigate. They wouldn't bother. They are only a commercial civilian vessel after all, but their employers have ordered them to investigate via "Mother" their ship's computer. You know the rest, or if you don't, you need to watch this peerless film. Then follow it up with ALIENS. After, you could check out the impeccably acted but disappointing ALIEN 3 (mainly due to the fact that they killed off Michael Biehn! Rackin Frackin critters at 20th Century Fox!!!), and if you have an hour or so to waste, ALIEN: RESURRECTION.
Peaky Blinders (2013)
I'll just get my buzzkill out of the way before praising this series...I am a feminist at heart and I get annoyed when the women seem only to serve as love interests and naked yum yum time for the males who dominate the stories. The only woman I've truly been able to admire is Polly (Helen McCrory) but even she seemed to be lost in generic maternal yawnishness for most of series 2. It was only during that moment we all wanted to come, the "Don't @!#% with the Peaky Blinders" incident in the s2 finale, that I said, "Well...there she is...good to5 have her back." Polly is nothing less than a badass b@#$t, the true leader of the Peaky Blinders, the one who makes the final decisions. Please, no more mama crap?!!
I've never been able to latch onto Grace (Annabelle Wallis) because from the start, she presented as a "half-hearted" operative, assigned to infiltrate the gang. She seemed wimpy, and of course, fell too easily in love. What were her motives for becoming a spy in the first place, aside from that sketchy IRA bit I mean? She was even more disappointing in S2. I may change my mind...is she the one person who makes Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) think about other people? Is it she who makes him think about how grabbing up all the goodies you can during your limited days on this miserable ball of mud isn't necessarily the key to contentment? If she is indeed this special of a person, I will like her more in the future. In the meantime, May could have been a really great flipside to Grace, but she's just another love interest. Nothing really special happening with her.
Crime, gangster and mobster stories are not my thing. I think these kinds of men are the dregs of society who will wipe their shoes on anyone in their path to get the things they think they want. Tommy, Arthur (a highly amusing Paul Anderson), John and the other Blinders are damaged men. They came home from brutalities we can only imagine. Their life experiences have left them...disallusioned to say the very least. Now they want what they can take. They hate the law because they feel they served their country and something is owed to them. I get it. But using people, lying to people, stomping all over people on your way to the top? We all know that on their deathbeds they will be no happier, no more fulfilled than they are now. It never ceases to amaze me. People just don't stop. Each side has to have the last word. It is war, and war is hell.
Sounds like I hate this show? Not at all. My ability to cheer on Polly while knowing she's a ruthless bitch is what entertainment is all about. Sure they're the dregs of society. Sure they're loathsome, but they are, like it or not, our protags. I find it so much easier to love and identify with Polly and Tommy than with Sam Neill's scumbubble of an agent to the Crown. He's supposed to be the good guy, but he's really slimy. Kudos, Mr. Neill!!! Actors who love their craft can be so good in a role you end up hating their guts.
No I can't say I find it perfection, but it' a great series, riveting in all its repugnance, very beautifully acted and written. It just needs stronger females aside from the formidable Polly.
All Relative (2014)
Not your average romcom
This is a new film, and my review might be BRIMMING with CRUCIAL SPOILERS, so proceed at your own wish.
Wow...just got done watching this one on OnDemand and let me just clarify that there is no prejudice in me when I say this film goes far deeper than any recent romcom I've seen. The trailer is sweet and shows the film's comic side, but I'm so happy that when I saw the film in its entirety, it presented its very dramatic side. There's no slapstick or farce here. These are real people, real problems, and real behaviours that result in real conflicts.
The one thing that nagged me is that someone should have really pointed out to Grace (Sara Paxton) that the event that lead to all of the conflict and misunderstanding took place only hours after she met Harry (Jonathan Sadowski). She and Harry were not committed to anything solid. Though I never doubted that she genuinely liked Harry, it is pretty evident early on that Harry really, really REALLY likes Grace, and her admission that she had another party of interest hit him kind of hard. In genuine distress and loneliness, he does hook up with Maren (Connie Nielsen) the beautiful sexy older woman, but let's remember, he was single. Let's also remember he was still recovering from a broken engagement, in which he was cheated on no less.
There was never a moment in this weekend where Harry was sure Grace would become someone he could have a relationship with. He didn't cheat on anybody, and even Maren was talking nothing but casual sex and fun while they were spending time together. She lied by omission when he asked her if she was divorced.
Suddenly, once something real with Grace presented itself, Maren's casual attitude evaporated and she became all to commonly bitter and scorned. I felt that in the course of this film, Harry was unfairly and repeatedly punished,tortured and manipulated by Maren. In his words, he did nothing wrong. She had motives. Though Nielsen does an amazing job, it is very hard at times to like Maren and not see her as a passive-aggressive, vengeful bitch. If her husband Phil (David Aaron Baker) hurt her so (and of course he did...I never doubted for a minute that Maren is a very sad and hurt person) why not divorce him? Why not sit his ass down and tell him, "You do that to me again, and I'm out of here...no questions asked."
Instead, she is either testing whether she's still got "it" by sleeping with a lonely guy...or she's plain just punishing Phil from afar. If that wasn't enough to get my back up at her, she deals a harsh blow at both Harry and Grace by sending Grace a breakup text in Harry's name...because she wasn't going to let him tell Grace the truth, so that he could deal with the consequences, good or bad. She was selfish, and I discerned a desire to continue "punishing" both Harry for deciding to be with someone else, and Phil for an affair he had sometime back. It is only after everyone confesses to each other their sins as it were, that I began to believe Maren really wanted to atone for her own destructive deeds, and that she and Phil could somehow find the happiness they once knew.
Maren and Harry indeed DID NOTHING WRONG when they slept together. She had no idea Harry would end up dating her daughter. Harry had no idea Maren was Grace's mother, or that Maren was still married. I just found it sadly amazing that Harry spent most of the film punishing himself for something he shouldn't have been punishing himself for. I was very frustrated because that crucial tidbit, "Your mom and I slept together BEFORE we really had anything going on," seemed omitted. Grace was wounded, and it's hard for me to tell if she was just shocked at the fact that it's that small of a world, or if she truly thought Harry and Maren hooked up AFTER Grace and Harry began to date officially. If he had been established as Grace's boyfriend before meeting Maren, yes, I would agree with her smacking Harry in the face and shutting him out, but otherwise no.
Sorry this is so long...thought provoking movies do this to me...I love the movie, but it made me think about things...it really made me examine its characters, and even if my review sounds like I hated the film, the opposite is true. I love character studies most of all. It is a credit to JC Khoury's writing and direction, as well as the amazing cast bringing these four complicated all too humans to life. This is the first romcom in a long time that made me cry more than laugh, but I like it.
The Big Bang Theory (2007)
Root for the underdog!
WARNING: PROBABLY A LOT OF SPOILERS, ESPECIALLY ABOUT SEASON 7 !!!
I only got into this show on account of my Mom, uncle and brother, who kept saying, "This is such a funny show! Watch it!" It took them from '07 to '10 to get me to pay a little attention to it.
At first it seemed like the producers/writers/crew were trying to say to me, "Look how UNcool these geeks and nerds are around this gorgeous blonde babe." And that made me mad. Why another show making fun of smart people who aren't so good-looking or smooth, and who aren't so skilled at going to boring bars/clubs to pick up women or dressing in haute couture?
As I watched over the next few years, I began to realize I was wrong...either that or the writers' plan backfired. Who was cool? It certainly wasn't Penny (whose last name has never been divulged). Don't get me wrong. I love the character and Kaley Cuoco has done a wonderful job with the evolutionary process. She began as a bright eyed ingenue with perfect, bobbed blond hair. An angel of sorts. It's been great fun to watch her grow more and more cynical and troubled as the years pass and her career stays stale and dormant. By and by, you notice she has a bit of an issue with turning to alcohol whenever things go wrong or a major snafu occurs. In spite of her big plan, and as the years pass, she is still waitressing or barkeeping at the Cheesecake Factory, and to date has only done a Prep H commercial, The Diary of Anne Frank over a noisy bowling alley, and worst of all, 2 cheezy sci-fi schlocks about genetically molested killer apes.
No wonder she depends on (more than she will admit) and loves (she'll never say it aloud) her faithful entourage of science loving dorks: Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), an experimental laser physicist who has been head over heels for Penny since day one; Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) the scarily genius, yet oddly childlike theoretical physicist whose quirks and neuroses force everyone around him to watch their every move carefully so as not to offend/traumatize him; the painfully lonely and shy Rajesh Koothrapalli (Kunal Nayyar), a celebrated astrophysicist whose inability to relate to women in a sober state has him almost as close to alcoholism as Penny; Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), the tiny, over-confident, color-coordinated aerospace engineer whose lack of a PhD makes him the butt of Sheldon's jokes; Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) the fierce, petite microbiologist with the chipmunk voice; Neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik, brilliant!) the woman "chosen by science" to be Sheldon's mate, the frumpily dressed, limp- haired ultra-nerd who slowly becomes more and more delightful as she ingrains herself to the group; and Stuart Bloom (Kevin Sussman), the half-dead from depression owner of everyone's favorite comic book store.
Together, these "losers" daily navigate that big thing called life. Penny realizes she is most certainly not the "cool" one, and it is a great thing to hear a character who has had more sex than John Holmes say, "Sex is not what makes you grown up" to the virginal (not by choice) Amy. All of these people are extremely lovable. You may not understand all the physics jargon, but you understand they're human beings like you, and you root for them. For all their gifts, they are still confused and troubled and even broken. Leonard's mother (Christine Baranski) is a nightmare of a cold fish and has definitely left an imprint on her son; Howard's Dad disappeared when he was eleven and you'll get a look at the impact that made in an episode from season 7; Raj, again, is painfully lonely, the opposite of a person like myself who prefers solitude. He's had romance after romance fail on him. I was really hoping things would work with the weird little Lucy girl. Perhaps in the smart, somewhat kinky Emily, he will finally find happiness. Sheldon's Grandfather and father died when he was very young. In a very recent episode, a childhood idol of Sheldon's passes on, and it seems to trigger a sea change in him. As yet, he and Amy are still virgins. Leonard and Penny have finally decided to marry. So much change for a person who doesn't do well with even minor change. Sheldon finds himself at a crossroads by the finale of season 7.
Waiting for season 8.....
Young & Hungry (2014)
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS...YOU WERE WARNED!!!!
Emily Osment is a revelation and a delight as one of the newest faces of prime time comedy, taking on the role of Gabi Diamond, a Po-arse aspiring chef who applies to be the household cook for a self made dot- com millionaire named Josh Kaminski (one of my male harem members, Jonathan Sadowski), a naive and sweet-natured genius who believes he's found his soul mate in West Coast Socialite Caroline Huntington (Mallory Jensen). Against the protests of his longtime publicist and right hand helper Elliot Park (the one and only Rex Lee, who I'm so happy to see since they canned one of the other delightful comedies of recent years, SUBURGATORY), Josh "sort of" hires Gabi after she makes him an gooey- gooey lopsided grilled cheese, and then asks Gabi to please make him a fail safe proposal dinner so that he can make Caroline his wife.
Oh what food porn awaits! And this is AFTER Caroline abruptly tells Josh via phone that she wants to break it off for a while, that things are moving too fast. Translation: I'm a selfish gal...and I've met a guy...and I feel like having a 14 hour ff-a-thon rather than honor my previous plans to have dinner with you. Oblivious to the fact that she has torn Josh's heart out, Caroline makes merry with her temp fling while Gabi agonizes not only about the heartsick Josh, but about the possibility that since the proposal dinner is a bust, so is her job.Both Gabi and Josh live in that most beautiful of all cities, San Francisco, but Gabi lives on the less glitzy side.
Using her telepathic abilities to know what food will comfort Josh, she begins feeding him the sexiest mashed potatoes of all time...Sweet Jesus!!! Frankly, I can't blame either of them for what happens next. It would never have occurred if Caroline hadn't been the biggest flake since the Kellogg's Rooster. Josh was crying and Gabi was upset too. Suffice it to say, that a few too many delicious glasses of cham-pag-NE changed the course of the boss/chef relationship forever. Oh me, the curious perv has so many questions...what did they say to each other? Did they cry some more? Did they both confide that they were lonely and felt empty inside because they felt like people didn't love them for who they really are? My, my, my...this is what they mean by "less is more!"
Next day, Ms. Selfish appears at Josh's door, claiming she was wrong, that her psychologist tells her it's all about how her growing up a spoiled brat has made her crave conflict and challenges. From this moment on, you can see that Caroline treats Josh like an accessory rather than a human being. Would she have fallen for him, the sweetest tech nerd in Creation, if he didn't have the money he has? What draws him to her, and vice versa? The pilot was my favorite episode, followed by the episode guest starring Ashley Tisdale, and now, the fifth episode, in which Gabi attempts to jump start her dating life with a hot little number who lives a few floors down from Josh.
I love each and every character in the show. Yolanda: "I ain't clean-in' up after no horse!" and of course Gabi's roommate Sophia, who works at some bank or law firm. I splattered my screen with lemonade during this: "Yo, Gabi I need pizza...worked up an appetite...Babe...still waiting' on that pizza!"
Oh, and the FOOD! The hog within you will love the food as much as the hyena will love the laughs...those mashed taters, Chinese duck and catfish, salted caramel creme brulee, Scandanavian princess cakes, and holy moly...sriracha jalapeño poppers and Oreo-gasms (what they should be called, right?!)
Something new and wonderful to add to my fave of all time shows: That 70s Show, Big Bang, Suburgatory, Chasing Life and The Fosters. Please let YOUNG & HUNGRY stay with us for a long long time!!!!!!! It's a keeper!
My God this was awful!
Just horrible. Denzel has always been a "hit and miss" kinda guy IMO. I admire his acting ability, but this movie is just absurdly bad. I am not a prude, but gratuitous nudity in a movie never sits well with me. I usually enjoy Zemekis' movies too, but this is a festering turd of a disaster of a disaster flick. Denzel plays Whip, an airline pilot who does every drug on the street and guzzles the juice as well. Before the first five minutes, you lose all ability to sympathize or like the guy. And what's with the F word every other word? AGAIN, I AM NOT A PRUDE, but dialogue is destroyed by the overuse of profanity. This was why I didn't like PULP FICTION either.
The only remotely entertaining and riveting scenes are of course the malfunction of the stabilizer and the ensuing crash scene. After this, the movie descends further into caca and chaos, not sure which direction or genre to adopt...spiritual odyssey??? Comedy??? Mystery??? No...just a damn mess!
If you want something better, skip this atrocity and just watch the episode CUTTING CORNERS/FATAL ERROR of AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION, which I am told FLIGHT was inspired by.
No Happy Endings
Thanks to an episode of AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION, I was aware of this harrowing true story. I am not fluent in German, and the YouTube subtitles leave a lot to be desired, but I got the gist of the movie. I do not know why the names of key persons were changed, but the movie is well acted and wrenching, a story of shattered families and two shattered fathers, and the tragedy of trying to "pass the buck" in order to save face with the media. The saddest part is near the end, when it seems as though one of the 2 principal characters is just beginning to pick up the pieces of his life.
I had no problem with the inclusion of a kindly fireman/rescue-recovery person who befriends one of the devastated main characters. I am not sure if this character is fact based or not. But the ending with his son learning to fly in a small private plane seems a big hokey.
Mostly a great movie though.
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Gets a 3 for visuals and period costumery, but this movie is a bore!
I don't get it. Maybe because I never read the Ellroy novel on which this is based. All I know is, I expected a movie about the short life (excuse pun) of Betty Short (Mia Kirshner who is one of my fave actresses ever) and her grisley death in Hollywood. All we get is a boring overlong bloated mess about 2 troubled cops. Boring dialogue, even more boring boxing match, and you don't even see anything of the title character until 25 mins. into the film. In short, (again with the pun) the life of Betty Short is hardly given more than a few scenes, reducing her to not much more than victim, and the emphasis on the "seedy" side of Hollywood is predictably provided with disturbing glee by director DePalma. The 4 main principal characters were completely UNinteresting, and the acting is pretty wooden overall. Sorry to say that other than Kirshner's scenes, along with some cool musical stuff by k.d. lang, this movie was as lackluster as a butterknife left in the dirt. Blech!
That '80s Show (2002)
I'm sorry, this has nothing to lure you in and keep you watching.
I tried on at least 3 occasions to watch this series. I really thought and hoped it would delight me at least half as much as THAT 70s SHOW did. But this show failed before the first scene was over. Where the 70s Show instantly showed you delightful characters with amazing personality and chemistry, the 80s Show was so busy trying to convince you that you were now in the candy colored, superficial, electronic, wealth-obsessed Reagan era that all you were given was boring mannequins, not people. THAT 70s SHOW wasn't "self aware" of the era it was set in. They were just people, living their lives in their orange, brown, gold and olive green living room. It seemed that THAT 80s SHOW tried too hard to get that 80s "vibe" flowing during the crucial "bonding time" when we could have known the people that populated it. We had the oddly bland "Dad" trying to fit in with a bad 80s hairdo, a wacky sister who spent way too long dancing to a Pat Benetar video on MTV, a boring bisexual who unrealistically dresses in those brightly colored asymmetric outfits as though she wants to live in a nightclub 24/7, an extremely boring and uninteresting girl who sports an extreme mohawk but has absolutely no punk charisma, the yuppie "best friend", and of course the central protagonist male, who is nowhere near as interesting as Eric Forman was.
The first episode is a bizarre bore...Yuppie best friend wants to listen to self help cassettes, then the 2 guys decide to sing along with the Talking Heads. "Hey! Do you realize this show is set in the 80s yet?" Bisexual chick tries to hit on daffy sister. Mohawk girl clashes with Main Protag for unknown reasons. No chemistry. Nobody is connecting. Nothing is happening. I've heard that subsequent episodes are better, but I actually watched 3, and I still felt nothing. So disappointed. For a better 80s vibe, just watch the Season 4 opener to THAT 70s SHOW, where Eric accompanies an angel to see how his life would have turned out had he never kissed Donna after that Todd Rundgren concert.
That '70s Show (1998)
A wonderful, sweet show that fizzled near the end
When the show first began with seasons 1 thru 3, it was an amazingly effective mixture of innocence and decadence. The characters were discovering themselves and we were discovering them simultaneously. The innocence was amazing to behold. Many of them were sexually active, yet so unknowing of the much more difficult and complex terrain of falling in love and committing to one another.
Each character brought something unique to the table. Certain shows are really successful because instead of one character in the center of attention while everyone else is sort of "reactionary", each character, whether adult or teen, commands attention. Two of my favorite characters are Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), the caring but overly authoritarian father and the nervous-natured, peacemaking mother of Eric Forman (Topher Grace), a sweet, slightly built boy who is falling in love with longtime neighbor and friend Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), a tall, athletic, beautiful redhead who loves and appreciates Eric as much as he does her, especially his understanding of her embarrassment about her parents, two sexually adventurous sometimes- swingers, the hilarious Bob (Don Stark), and the dizzy but very loving Midge (Tanya Roberts).
As Eric and Donna shyly tiptoe into a romantic association, they spend much of their time in Eric's basement hanging out, watching TV (and frequently indulging in smoking weed) with their childhood friends Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson) an intelligent but rebellious boy who habitually wears sunglasses indoors and often discusses conspiracy theories; Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a beautiful petite brunette who is self-centered and bitchy and starts out as an unwanted "Yoko" in the group; Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Jackie's boyfriend, who is just as beautiful as she is, but much less snobby, and unfortunately, a little light in the brain; and Fez aka F.E.S. (the Foreign Exchange Student)whose birth name and country of origin remain unknown (I'm currently watching season 8 and I'm not sure if these 2 items will ever be divulged :). It is a delight whenever Red Forman calls the boy "Sabu" or "Haji". Like Archie Bunker, Red Forman is a bit on the close-minded side, but he is still very lovable :D
This show was at its finest during the first 4-5 seasons, with genuinely funny and nostalgic story lines and storytelling styles. Around seasons 5-7 it began to lose steam. Eric Forman goes thru a transformation from a nervous wreck living in fear of the wrath of Red to a lazy and unfunny smart-mouth. In truth, Eric always had a "porky" mouth, but it was in a hilarious way in the early days. Red's "foot in your ass" liners became more and more infrequent. Kitty went through a disappointing change from a delightful basketcase with that unforgettable giggle to a rather mean, judgmental woman, drinking more and more and calling Donna a whore after Eric ends their longtime relationship and Donna begins dating Randy (the character meant to replace both Eric and Kelso after Grace and Kutcher left in season 8). No offense to the actor who plays Randy, but with Grace and Kutcher gone, there is just nothing much to be fired up about, and Randy is just annoying. His delivery of the lines seems more like those actual cheesy, unfunny 70s shows.
I didn't hate ALL of the story lines from the later seasons: Hyde's discovery that he is biracial; Hyde's competetive half sister Angie, Kelso fathering a baby, Fez and Kelso trying to share an apartment, and Hyde's drunken marriage to a Las Vegas stripper were all pretty decent. Still, without Eric's centering presence and Kelso's hilarious goofiness, it's just tolerable. I also greatly missed the hilarity that Lisa Robin Kelly (RIP) brought to this mix as the promiscuous and devilishly funny Laurie Forman.
If they are doing a reunion show or movie, it will be interesting to see what has transpired in the early 80s :D
Worthy member of good 9/11 themed films
Spent the 12th anniversary of 9/11 watching or rewatching movies whose theme centers around it.
Let me first start by saying that this movie is a bit long. It drags just a bit in some places. But other than that, it's a wonderful story about "the worst day" in USA history. Up until Sept. 11, 2001, the worst day most Americans could recall was the day of the assassination of JFK. The whole nation grieved over this single death. Nearly 40 years passed before a day came when thousands were killed and maimed and scarred for life by an act of pure evil.
I also want to say that Thomas Horn is a very good young actor and I am not sure where the "hate" for his character is coming from. I didn't find the boy annoying or bratty in the least. Oskar is a child of above average intelligence and very fragile mental health after the trauma he suffered in losing his father (Tom Hanks). I thought Horn's performance was amazing!
I was unclear about the significance of falling. Obviously the father was still inside Trade Center 2 when it collapsed before Oskar's eyes on live television, but we see several sequences of his father "falling," first at the very beginning, and then in the middle, and represented within Oskar's log book of his recognizance mission to learn about the key his dad left behind.
Sandra Bullock, Jeffrey Wright, Max Von Sydow and Viola Davis give wonderful supporting roles.
A very beautiful and compelling portrait of lives forever changed by a tragic day.
World Trade Center (2006)
A great and reverent Oliver Stone movie
Stone is known for political button pushing, but in WORLD TRADE CENTER, starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as two NY port authority policemen who are literally buried alive beneath the wreckage of the WTC collapses, the director tells the story without any digressions. It's simply the true life story of John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, as well as the story of a horrible day that assaulted America and then brought us together.
When the Twin Towers are hit by the hijacked planes, the brave men and women of the FDNY and the NYPD, along with the PA police, risk their lives to try to save thousands of innocent lives. When Trade Center 2 (the south tower) collapses, McLoughlin, Jimeno, and a fellow PA named Pezzulo (Jay Hernandez) survive, but soon they are buried by tons more debris when Tower One falls. While they struggle to stay conscious through the excruciating pain of their injuries, their loved ones back home anxiously await word from them.
Jimeno was buried about 15 hours, McLoughlin about 22. Most of the movie is centered on them as they talk to each other and keep each other alive. It is quite dark on screen for a lot of the film and that kind of affects how much I enjoyed it, even though it's probably realistically presented. They were practically entombed.
Luckily, you get to know the wives of these 2 men: Allison Jimeno (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is pregnant with their second child. Donna McLoughlin (Maria Bello) is wondering if she'll ever get a chance to try to be close to her husband the way they once were.
The film also showcases Michael Shannon as a dedicated Marine who decides to go to New York and help in the rescue operation that saved the lives of the 2 PA policemen.
I like this film because it has no political subtext. It is what it is. A story of the real heroes of 9/11.
Remember Me (2010)
How death impacts 2 NY families...
This is the first film I've seen Robert Pattinson in that I've really enjoyed. Sure he's a lovely creature and a good actor too, but not only am I not on board with the Twilight craze, I'm just not all that familiar with his work (though I went ahead and watched Little Ashes right after this one and really liked it).
Pattinson plays Tyler, a twenty-something kid in NYC whose older brother committed suicide a few years before. It is not explained why the brother killed himself, but his death has profoundly impacted Tyler's life. The surviving brother keeps a journal and uses it to communicate his grief.
Emilie de Ravin, who I know best as a very mean schoolgirl in a TV remake of "Carrie", is very sweet and effective as Ally, a girl who is in one of Tyler's classes. Ten years prior, her mother was murdered during a mugging at the subway station, and Ally has not been able to ride a subway since.
When Ally's troubled policeman father (good to see Chris Cooper back in action!) arrests Tyler and his best friend Aidan during a street brawl, it provides an opportunity for Tyler, who seems to have been admiring Ally from afar, to get to know the girl. Most of the film is dedicated to how their relationship changes both of them for the better. Ally's father has a violent temper, and has obviously not recovered emotionally from losing his wife to such violence, and Tyler's father (Pierce Brosnan is great here) is emotionally distant and busy working on Wall Street. Tyler's young sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins, a very good child actor), a prodigious artist, yearns for the father's attention. The relationship between Tyler and Caroline is very touching. I loved the scene where Tyler gets some revenge against a mean classmate who traumatizes Caroline.
The ending to this movie was shocking and very depressing. I didn't hate the ending itself, but it makes the movie into a downer overall. Not something you want to watch for a good laugh or to lift your mood. It makes for a great fictional story of a day of tragedy in US history and treats the day with respect. It also lends a wonderful humanity to a group of people we still mourn for even though most of us never met or knew them.
I'm not sure if this film is based on a novel. Either way, it is a wonderful, sincere romantic drama.