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The Handmaid's Tale (2017– )
10/10
A Brilliant Mirror to Modern Society
1 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
That is: a mirror to the fears lingering in the hearts and minds of its designated audience. It reflects their fears back at them, and makes them feel better about themselves. Imagine a world where fertility rates have dropped to a cataclysmically low level. At this rate, humans are facing an extinction level event. Only a few very lucky (or unlucky on this show) women in this world are not barren. But that's not the real problem here. Nope, instead of humanity ending, we are to focus on a totally ludicrous dystopian government that forces these few women to be surrogates. And, despite the fact that this is in the future, the babies are not conceived in a lab and then placed into the surrogate's womb. No, they must engage in forced intercourse to create the child. HUH? Doesn't seem very effective in light of the science we have in 2018. But nevermind that. It's because the Gilead is a woman-hating throwback government to America's Puritanical origins. Ummm. The Puritans were uptight and super judgemental, but they weren't exactly proponents of rape and extramarital affairs. And this is all happening in the future. In secular New England. With handmaids wearing costumes out of the 17th century. The message behind the message: fertility and motherhood are bad things? As fantasy, it's depressing and nakedly political. As sci-fi, it's depressing and unbelievable. For a more valid take on the idea, watch "Children of Men" instead.
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1/10
Unfunny, condescending and arrogant
17 May 2017
And those are Colbert's best qualities. I kid. I kid. I kid. But not really; it's true. See: I just made a funnier joke that Colbert has made in the past year. And my joke sucked! Colbert seems like the kind of boss who sits in his office with the door closed all day just so he can fart to his heart's content. Then, when some poor minion walks into the room and smells the stale farts, Colbert just grimaces with pride because he knows if the minion says anything about the smell, he has the power to fire them. In other words, Colbert likes the smell of his own waste (i.e. his brand of comedy) and loves to spread it to the world.
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Tron (2010)
9/10
The Next Step
24 December 2010
Tron Legacy must be seen by anyone with even a passing interest in movie magic. It is the next step. Open your eyes and ears; the mind will follow.

Open your eyes: see breathtaking visuals that aren't just there for the purpose of action. At times, they're digital paintings in motion. Crystal blue visions of the future. Art direction, digital effects and costumes converge to form an almost overpowering whole. Visually, this is the 21st century's answer to Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Open your ears: hear Daft Punk's rapturous score that blends electronic bleeps with orchestra to create a warm kiss to the 1980s- and an invitation to a sparkling future. Of mainstream films from the last five years, few boast music that is so organic and married to the story. And its not just the music. The sound design is stellar.

Now let your mind follow some rather intriguing themes that seem to hint at a cyber-spiritualism. The first Tron did this. Legacy goes even further. Big issues here that go beyond the standard plot mechanics. Some viewers may be so focused on either the visuals or the sound, that they lose focus of the whole. It is when the viewer, to quote something Kevin Flynn might say, finds his Zen between the two that he really will understand what Tron Legacy is all about.
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TRON (1982)
8/10
The Genesis of the Cinematic Digital Revolution
25 November 2006
I love Tron. I thought it was great when I was kid. And, I still think it's great. I've never understood the hate it gets from so many. I can understand some people's issues with the world outside of the computer in the film. But once Flynn is sucked inside the supercomputer, Tron is magic.

This has a lot to do with the groundbreaking look of the film: the mix of black and white film stock with neon computer generated imagery. There hasn't been anything quiet like it since, but it's influenced the look of countless movies AND video games. One would think a film with such a groundbreaking look would be critically hailed, but Tron still remains mostly ignored in cinematic circles. It's knocked down for it's story, character development, etc; I personally find the story inspiring.

The sound of Tron is almost as great as the look. Wendy Carlos' score takes electronic synthesizer music to a sublime and other-worldly high.

Cinephiles praise Fritz Lang's Metropolis for its groundbreaking look(as they should.) But, please note: they're not praising Metropolis for its story, characters or acting; it's all about the cinematic vision. Isn't Tron basically a digital age reboot of Metropolis? Metropolis ushered in the age of early sci-fi; Tron ushered in the DIGITAL age of sci-fi cinema. It's time Tron got the respect it deserves.
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8/10
Disney Animated Neorealism?
25 October 2006
Okay, so placing The Fox and the Hound into the same category as The Bicycle Thief may be a stretch, but there is something about this movie that sets it apart from all other Disney animated films. Fox, along with Bambi and Lady and the Tramp, are the only Disney animated films that portray a reality without fairy dust, animals wearing clothes or lions that have formed alliances with hyenas to overthrow an animalistic royal lineage. True- the animals do talk and occasionally sing, but for the most part, they do stay true to the nature of their existence. But, Bambi, with its characters reacting against and to nature, borders on being an animated nature documentary (if such a thing is possible.) And, Lady and the Tramp has far too cheery of a Hollywood ending to be accepted as neorealism. Which leaves Fox and the Hound: the tale of young pup Copper and fox Tod who become childhood friends and are then forced to turn on each other by the demands of society. Not exactly your standard Disney fare. And, most importantly, it has a true, realistic, bittersweet ending. It's only been attempted once by Disney and probably never again. Which is a shame because Fox and the Hound has some of the most sincere and heartbreaking moments ever brought to animation. It isn't a perfect film, but its intentions are honorable and that makes The Fox and the Hound a true animated classic.

**Note- the current 25th Anniversary DVD does not do justice to this film. It is not presented in the correct aspect ratio. The image has been cleaned to a degree, but there is too much digitization. Considering the significance of Fox and the Hound in the history of Disney animation, it deserves a two disc, widescreen DVD release.
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9/10
A Time To Celebrate Star Wars!
10 June 2005
Ignore the cynics. Forget about the nit-picky fan boys. If you LOVE Star Wars, this is your movie. It is reason to celebrate. When I say love Star Wars, I mean if you love what Star Wars is really about- The Force, tragedy, hope, the Jedi, family, revenge, redemption- then this is your movie. If you like Star Wars because you got a kick out of Han Solo's bad ass attitude, then this may not be your glass of blue milk. You're not so much a Star Wars fan, as you are a fan of Harrison Ford. But, for the rest of us, this is our movie. It's epic. It's tragic. It's thrilling. It's even terrifying at times. It's also not perfect. But, to be honest, none of the Star Wars films have been. However, as a whole, all six films create a perfect saga. It can be argued that the Star Wars series has been the most ambitious film project ever undertaken. Spanning six films and thirty years, does anything else even come close? George Lucas should be praised for his vision. He has given us a cinematic saga that will stand the test of time. Celebrate Star Wars because it's over, folks. But, in a way, Star Wars will never be over; its legacy is just beginning.
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9/10
The greatest live action family movie EVER.
26 January 2004
But, It's more than just that. Spielberg perfectly combined the magic of childhood with the magic of 70's/80's science fiction. The result: pure 80's pop poetry. Perhaps like no other film, this film completely captures what it was like to be a child in 1980's American Suburbia; I should know- being the same age as Drew Barrymore. For many, it's too sentimental (as if that was a deadly sin.) Maybe that's why ET gets no respect in the 21st century. Spielberg's other magic sci-fi masterpiece from the period(Close Encounters) receives the same lack of respect. It's also a hopeful film that is meant to awe, not scare or depress. Have we become so cynical in the last twenty years that we seriously consider movies(as good as they may be) like Trainspotting and Heat to be superior to two of Spielberg's best? I hope it hasn't come to that.
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9/10
Silent But Not Muted In Its Power.
27 December 2003
King Vidor was the greatest American director of the 1920's. The Crowd and the Big Parade are both technically advanced (for the time) and emotionally moving. But, when it comes to the 1920's film auteurs, everyone always focuses their attention on the German expressionists Murnau and Lang. Sure, they were wonderful and the images they created will never be forgotten. But, there is a lack of true emotion in their works. In contrast, Vidor's films are emotional powerhouses that focus on the characters. This is most evident in the WW1 epic Big Parade. The departure scene as John Gilbert's french love Melisande hangs on to the Army truck as it pulls away is one of the top five scenes of the silent era. And, the reunion at the end, well, you can understand why this was the biggest hit of the roaring 20's. It's even a better film than the big talkie WW1 classic All Quiet on the Western Front. That movie IS available on DVD; Big Parade is not. It should be. Perhaps if Vidor had been German, his two greatest films would now be on DVD, as almost practically every expressionist German film you can imagine is. There needs to be a greater appreciation of the silent American auteurs, esp. in America!
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6/10
Good script and Generic direction
23 August 2003
Why do so many people love this movie? Yeah, Kevin Spacey is great. The script is original and clever. But, Bryan Singer's direction is completely generic. It also feels quite sexless. By this, I don't mean the movie needed a hot and heavy sex scene. It just needed ... well ... at least one believable female character in the plot; the Suzie Amis character is dull and without any personality. If this were a military or prison movie I would understand the lack of female characters, but this is supposed to be FILM NOIR! The great film noirs of the Hollywood golden age almost always had a great femme fatale in them (Double Indemnity, Big Sleep, etc.) Having gotten that out of my system, I will say this is a good movie, but will never be great movie.
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9/10
Light years ahead of its time.
6 June 2003
To have watched a brand new, tinted print of Intolerance in 1916 must have been an amazing experience. The film is a grand artistic statement and technical breakthrough. Seeing it in 1916 would've shown you all the possibilities the motion picture experience could offer- the tight, meaningful editing, the multiple story lines set over vast periods of time, the amazing sets which really look like the real thing, etc, etc. Birth of a Nation shares many of these traits, but Intolerance pushed D.W. Griffith's artistic experimentation into the stratosphere. It's understandable why it was a commercial failure. It was just too much advancement in the film language for the general audience; it would take a couple decades for the audience to catch up. Ninety years later, it's not only a wonderful historical piece, but still a poignant and often gripping cinematic experience. Question: without Griffith, would film be what it is today?
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8/10
Stop the insanity!
29 May 2003
The bashing of Attack of the Clones in the popular media and especially on this website must stop! People are not reviewing the movie; they are maliciosly attacking it with their bias and ignorance. In case you haven't noticed- Clones is very much like a modern American, sci-fi take on a Kurosawa film- see Ran. This film is NOT Hollywood product; that's why the pacing seems awkward to some. It is the most expensive INDEPENDENT movie ever made. Their is a method to George Lucas's madness. Stop second guessing him. The so called plot holes actually are part of the grand scheme of the prequel trilogy. Stop focusing on the negatives and ripping everything to shreds. Stop obsessing over dialogue; there's more to movies that dialogue, after all the CINEMA began as a silent experience. 1 out of 10?! Anyone that really believes that is either extremely ignorant about film or a vicious hater of Star Wars now that it doesn't fit their preconceived notions of what the prequels should be. Attack of the Clones, after all is said and done, will be remembered as a great chapter in the greatest film series ever. And, anyone who says otherwise, I'll argue with you till the death.
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8/10
Great Entertainment, BUT ...
3 May 2003
Last Crusade is great entertainment and a rousing adventure, but for it to be ranked above E.T. is blasphemy. I'm sure Spielberg would testify to that. Last Crusade really tackles no new ground that the first two Indy pics didn't cover- aside from the whole Indy's father thing. Even Temple of Doom is better. Doom is a more original film because it tries new things and helped bring about the PG-13 rating. It's also more true to the Indy films inspiration- adventure movies of the 30's and 40's- like Gunga Din. Crusade feels more like a very well done reunion pic. If you seek entertainment and a very solid closing to the trilogy, then Last Crusade fits the bill. Just don't proclaim it one of Spielberg's best. It ain't even close.
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9/10
The one that started it all!
30 March 2003
Before Mermaid. Before Beauty Beast. Before Lion King. Before Toy Story. Before Shrek. There was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This is the film that started the animation revolution of the 90's. And, for good reason. It's imaginative. It's funny. It's beautifully shot. It's beautifully animated. It's perfectly directed. It's perfectly cast. It's ... perfect. This film has aged very well and DESERVES to be in the top 250. So, why isn't it? My guess: it's still receiving backlash from many who see it as a kid's cartoon- a non computer animated kid's cartoon at that. It's also a better Zemeckis film than Back to the Future, which is in the top 250. Roger Rabbit is a true original and an American classic. Let's give it the respect it deserves. 9/10
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9/10
Truman!
22 March 2003
To state it simply: The Truman Show is a modern day classic. Great Concept, great script, great direction and great performances. The movie works in two ways. First, it is an often hilarious satire of the entertainment industry. But, it's not really a satire of reality TV; when Truman came out in 1998, the only mainstream reality shows were Real World and Cops. Nicol's script actually predicted America's (and the world's) fascination with reality based programming. Second and more importantly, Truman Show is a statement about human existence. Truman represents all of us. He is the every man, the true-man. That may sound pretentious, but it works beautifully. Throw in Weir's tight direction and amazing performances by Carrey, Harris and Linney and you have one of the best films of the 90's. A must see.
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Ed Wood (1994)
10/10
I want my DVD!
22 March 2003
Burton's Ed Wood is one of the best films of the 90's. It's funny! It's touching! It's wonderful! So, uh, like, why hasn't it been released on DVD yet? Now, that Disney is finally giving Roger Rabbit the DVD treatment it deserved, maybe it will do the same for Ed Wood, Vampira and Bella. Come on, do it for Bella.
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8/10
In the great tradition of 70's filmmaking
5 March 2003
Fcae it: Whether you love it or hate it, Attack of the Clones has the heart of a 70's auteur masterpiece. You know: The Godfathers, the Chinatowns, the Apocalypse Nows. Obviously, it doesn't share their subject matter, but in principle, they are close cousins. They are all about SOMETHING. Yes; Attack of the Clones is really about something. There are deep (and some disturbing) themes that run through George Lucas' latest: forced abandonment of family for the greater good, the death of democracy, etc. Attack of the Clones is not just "some silly sci-fi cartoon." It captures more of the 70's trailblazing spirit of filmmaking than Return of the Jedi did. Even the acting in some ways is a tribute to the 70's. Doesn't Natalie Portman's acting style somewhat resemble Diane Keaton's acting style in The Godfather; come on: you KNOW what I'm talking about. Clones is not perfect, but it is very good and does not deserve the critical hatred it receives. Rasberrie for worst film of the year: that is an insult to all the talent that was invloved in the making of the film. Many of us now realize this film is great, but most will not understand this until Episode 3 is released when "the circle will be complete."

Despite some flaws, when all six films are finished, George Lucas will have given an amazing gift to the world of film and the world in general. BTW, how is it possible for someone who thinks AOTC is slow and boring can label Godfather 2 as one of their favorites; it's called film discrimiantion, an ugly thing indeed.
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7/10
Six years from now, its critics will love it!
1 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The Phantom Menace has probably received more unwarranted insults than any other film in the history of cinema. The reasons for this are complicated, but basically the only thing you need to know is that ten years from now the critics of the Phantom Menace will look very silly and very ignorant.

Any of you ever read the original reviews of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? They're good for a laugh. Variety basically called Empire a plotless retread of Star Wars. Hmm. Now, of course, it is considered a masterpiece. Some people didn't have vision then and some people have no vision now.

George Lucas has vision. He is in control of HIS Star Wars universe and he knows where he wants it to go. Trust the guy. He has big plans for Episodes 2 and 3. Sure, Phantom Menace has flaws, but it is still a very good movie. Not a classic on its own, but definatly not the dumb, effects-laden monster its critics call it. For those that have no vision, I have compiled the following list of things to consider when viewing The Phantom Menace. They're spoilers, so look out.

1. Darth Maul is not the Phantom Menace. He is NOT the central villain. That is why he has so little screen time. Darth Sidious is. Sidious is the cloaked Sith who gives Darth Maul his orders. Sidious is also Senator Palpatine, the slimy politician from the Queen's home planet.

2. Sidious is a grand puppetmaster. He manipulates both The Republic and the Trade Federation to get what he wants, which is to be elected as Grand Chancellor. The Federation, The Queen, The Jedi and the Republic are merely puppets that he moves around. The happy ending at the end isn't a happy ending at all- it's the beginning of the end.

3. Midiclorians- those little bugs inside you that communicate with the force. These things don't discredit the power of the force. Their introduction is a plot-point that will play out over the next two films. There's probably a reason why they aren't mentioned in the original trilogy. The jedi's belief in these things will help lead to their own downfall and cause the Clone Wars.

4. Anakin is supposed to be a happy go lucky child in this film. If he were portrayed as an evil child, his downfall during the next two films would mean nothing. Anakin is not born evil; he will turn to evil for reasons we will soon know.

5. All the characters, except Yoda, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine will be dead by the end of Episode three. Think about that when you cringe at Jar's Jar's antics. After you witness him die in Episode three, you'll think fondly upon his foolishness you first saw six years ago.

It's a grand story that Georgie-boy is telling and Phantom Menace is just the beginning.
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