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Lost in Space (2018)
Written by video game players
Level 1: You are stuck in ice, and air is running out. How do you get by this level ? < bleep >< bloop >... I played more engaged and sophisticated games on my C-64 in the 80s.
Parker Posie is a GREAT actor. But, holy crap, give her a script... Better direction... better editing... And sure, I will suspend disbelief like any audience member, but please do some BASIC reality checks like how ice freezes etc...That same sloppiness is everywhere :(
There Will Be Blood (2007)
very over rated
Perhaps I went in with high expectations, but I was quite disappointed. The long opening sequence designed to show the hard, hard determination of Daniel Plainview was just OK and at times rather self indulgent (where is the editor??). I am sorry but it wasn't visually that great. Yes, the setting is spectacular... But you have to do more than just show up and turn the camera on. And please don't tell me it was "understated" or meant to be done that way. It was just really average. There is nothing wrong with long sequences
. One of my favorite scenes of all time is the opening from The Sacrifice (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091670/) so I am happy to be patient if there is some sort of artistic payoff. But sadly, not enough of one. The film is two and a half hours long, yet I never get a sense of the where the characters come from
. The basics. Whats their motivation ? What drives them ? I am happy to connect the dots or fill in the details, but a film maker has to give you *some* structure on which to let your imagination work. Otherwise, I can just stay home and engage in wonton speculation. Is Eli supposed to be the mirror image of Daniel ? Or just a pale wannabe ? Sure. What about the son ? I was hoping more would be done there or at least focus on the tensions between father and son.. But not really. The ending ? That was just inadequate and in bad taste
. And I have to mention the sound. At one point I started to giggle when this incredible overbearing Shostikovitch like tempo set to Daniel and his faux brother
.. surveying the land. Yes, that's right. Imagine the Star Trek fight music set to guys staking and surveying the land
. Huh ? Michael Clayton and No Country For Old Men were far better movies.
Fast Food Nation (2006)
not as bad as some people said
John Sayles he is not, but this sure was starting to feel like a John Sayles movie. I must say I went in with low expectations since a lot of the critics I tend to agree with trashed this film, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was a bit labored around the edgesthe Greg Kinner character didn't quite pull it off in my mind. But overall it worked and I thought it got a lot better in the last half.
Where as some people complained that the characters were too many, and too little on screen, I think it really worked. The best was Bruce Willis. He is only in for 5min, but he totally pulled it off as a credible "bad guy" And what a great bad guy he was. Not the evil, "oh if they only figure out my evil master plan" type, but the embodiment of the neo-con hero If you are stupid enough not to see through the whole "all American beef patty" myth, then you deserve to "eat a bit of sh*t with your food" and that's OK, because "we will cook it so you don't know" If you are smart enough to see through the myth, then "you understand how the big nasty world works, and that's the way it is." He knows what the world is right now, and he is more than OK with it, he loves it and works hard to keep it that way And even with the brief appearance, he hits enough points and alludes to enough touchstones, that you know exactly who he isHe is what Krys Kristopherson talks about, the almost "sci fi like system" we allow ourselves to be penned intoand like the cows the college activist kids try to free, perhaps we too like the GM feed a bit too much to "escape our lot" even when the door is open to us. And this is where the film is a bit rough in the writingthe Ethan Hawke character is there to show us you can stand up to "the system", and even if you fail, its OKbetter to try and fail and have no regrets. Yes, I agree with it all but he came across a bit too much as the writer/director's soliloquy
In many ways, the film could be called "choice" as all the characters are confronted with choice. In the case of the migrant workers, their choice of course is the most starkabject poverty and misery in Mexico or less abject poverty and misery in America. Greg Kinner discovers the truth, and decides money and comfort are more important. Although Amber and her new found friends fail in their attempt to change things, they refuse to accept the choices they are given and consequently, there is hope for the future.
Dark City (1998)
People liked this ? Really ?
I never heard of it when it came out and after seeing it on a "geek must see list" I gave it a try. Must see ? really ? I would say I am a sci-fi fan so my standards can be forgiving in the genre. But this film ? It was serious cheese. When I saw the "child" Stranger, all I could think of was the midget that hangs around with Kid Rock. Lame. Everything about the film was just so amateurish. If it was trying to be Tim Burton'esquire in its appearance, it failed miserably. Kiefer Sutherland is an OK actor but he seemed like such an embarrassing caricature here and leads were like living dead. My wife and I were so bored with it that we ended up fast forwarding through the big "climax fight scene"
BORING! I cant believe this made someones top 10 list. Dark City ? More like Dull city
A hidden gem!
This show came to Canada via PBS in the mid 90s and I really, really loved it then. Even 10 yrs later watching the various news networks, I cant help but think of the cynical manipulation that goes on in the name of ratings and the various "show ponies" we all see on TV as depicted in various Frontline episodes. The scripts are tightly written and the actors all have impeccable comic timing and none of it is encumbered by an idiotic laugh track. There is a lot of funny material here really well executed and we don't need to be told when to laugh and what to laugh at. I don't understand why this show never took off in North America as its truly a gem! I was really excited to see the DVDs available, even though they are PAL format. I figured I would rip them to my computer and then watch the converted files. I took a chance and ordered it from ABC
6 to 8 weeks later, I had all 3 seasons. Even better it worked on my NTSC DVD player. I suspect any player bought in the past 2 yrs that does xvid/divx will play them. Great stuff! 10 yrs later the episodes all hold up really well! You don't need to know anything about Australian politics to get the humor as it will all be familiar to western audiences. My wife and I had a 10 day Frontline fest and are still chuckling weeks later after watching all 39 episodes
Well worth seeing if anything for a couple of powerful scenes
First off I am a big fan of Robert Baer. I have read all of his books and enjoy listening to his commentary whenever he gets called on to be a talking head on the news networks. So I was quite excited to find this doc on the torrents. Not the best documentary in the world, but certainly well worth seeing. It's a bit rough around the edges for sure, but I think with a few more docs under his belt he will hopefully develop his skill more. If anything, its worth seeing just for the scenes in Iran where standing on a side stage, prone to an audience of thousands, the cleric in the mosque is calling for the death to America. Holy crap! That's guts to stand there with literally thousands of people chanting for the death of you and your country.
yeah, its complicated but thats part of the point
I had somewhat high expectations going into this movie and I was for the most part not disappointed. Yes, there were a couple of rough edges (the "corruption keeps us warm at night" speech) but for the most part a very engrossing film. I think to really appreciate it, you need to understand a bit of what life is like in other parts of the world. For example the horrible treatment of migrant workers-- its funny how many Gulf nations on one hand lament the plight of the Palestinians, yet treat them and many South Asians (the laborers who become suicide bombers in the movie) like slave labor. If you understand that context as well as how oil money has a tremendous influence on politics (Robert Baer's book gives a fascinating and unique perspectives on this) I think you will really love this movie. If you don't watch the news and are not up on middle east politics, you might find it confusing as the subtleties will be lost on you.
But what about as a film itself? Context aside I think the Gaghan did a pretty good job with the medium and the overall production of a very ambitious 2hr film. In many ways, I think this would have been a better 6hr mini series (much like the original Traffik -http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096716/) but he does do a good job with the big screen. There is certainly enough material for it and would have given him more of a chance to flesh out the fascinating back stories that he just so much wanted to tell-- in some cases too much so. The story of the dead child for example perhaps I would have cut in order to focus more on the principle characters. Despite these minor issues, a very engrossing film, I will for sure rent to watch again when it comes out on DVD-- hopefully with another hour of material that was cut from the theatrical release.
War of the Worlds (2005)
good start, but it seemed the movie went on auto-pilot half way through
It might be because I had such high expectations and hopes for this film. I generally like a broad range of movies from art-house to pure Hollywood escapism / adventure. I went in with a fairly open mind, and at first it was really excellent! The build up with just hints of what was going on was engrossing. I like the perspective of the average personin the dark, afraid, not knowing at all whats going onEurope obliterated, Europe OK etc. Even cinemagraphically, Spielberg flerts with grainy / out of focus camera shots, or views of what the people see in their car mirrors, instead of spelling it all out. Also, not too much heavy handed foreshadowingthe "Dad, I got a sliver
. But its OK, as my body will just push it out on its own" metaphor early on in the movie I thought was just enough of a nod and a wink to the audience.
But after that, it seemed to go on auto-pilot to "lets please everyone in the audience island." As a demographic who no longer gets excited about "oooh, will the hero die half way through the film", I just don't get into scenes like that anymore. I think I was 7 or 8, when I figured out that Cptn Kirk was not going to die in each episode. Then again, if you are 7 or 8, this is definitely for you! Especially being a Spielberg film, you just know none of the principle good characters will get killed (especially the chilled!), no matter how grim it looks. So on its own, it just isn't a great suspense vehicle, as there needs to be more e.g advance the plot in an interesting way, add another dimension to the character by revealing who they are through testing and dangerous conditions. The movie at times tried to show this, but it seems it just could not decide how much time and effort doing it. Should it be the purely amazing F/X film ? maybe a little. Should it be a study on how people respond at the end of the world (e.g. Last Night, or the new BattleStar Galactica ?) Yeah, some of that too. The problem is, that many littles does not add up to a lot. And that Tim Robbins scene ? WTF ? That's a minus sadly. He is a great actor, but this was a poorly written part.
Pluses ? The alien tripods. Although nothing new (flinging cars, huge explosions, bridges falling like wooden blocks), its well done.
The ending ? No where near as bad as AI. But then again, that's a hard one to top /bottom out on. Still, when the scene switches to the outskirts of Boston, I had this sense that there was an editing error. I never read the book, but it does seem like a tough nut to sell from a climax perspectivehow do you properly build up to an ending where tiny germs off camera kill the aliens, without making it look like the "Deus ex machina" that frankly, the ending is. The 50's B movie version of it kind of pulled it off in a cheesy self aware way, and I figured he would use Morgan Freeman's great voice to do the same. But alas, it didn't really work.
I saw 6 out of 10 and my partner says 5
One of the best
There is a definite 70s feel to this production of a book that does an amazing job of spanning the most fascinating period of American history -- 1945-1970. I first saw this film in 1986 as a late teen at the height of Regan America, the cold war, nuclear detente. Billy Pilgram was the beginning of that world that I was just starting to pay attention to. The movie had a really profound effect on me at the time. Reading the book afterwards and getting into his other books, didn't detract at all from my assessment of the movie adaptation. Even seeing it now many years later doesn't detract from an amazingly solid film. The transitions as Billy gets unstuck in time are some of my favorite movie images. Also beautiful is the music which totally turned me on to Glenn Gould.
In Good Company (2004)
Decent film a little over produced
Bottom line, good. Not great, or "best picture of the year" but a good film with some excellent acting by all involved, especially Topher Grace. My one criticism might be the overbearing music and musical video interludes"Here is the music to show that he is sad"
"Here is the music to show that he is Lost". Didn't work. Don't get me wrong, Barry Levinson in "Homicide Life on the Street", I thought always did a good job at using music to convey emotion when words do not suffice. But Paul Weitz is no Barry Levinson. Perhaps a few more jobs under his belt and it wont be so awkward. But then again, it could have been some studio stooge sent to "retail it up" and not really his fault.
Quaid I thought did a good job at conveying his character's awkwardness with having a boss half his age and none of his experience (There are some great lines scattered throughout that I wont spoil here). Add in that he is at that age where he is too young to retire and too old to start again you get a setting that is all too familiarly frightening to many of us. In a business world where buzz words, gimmicks and youth obsession are too often substituted for experience and wisdom, Weitz successfully created an appropriate emblematic figure in Carter Duryea. Almost "Soviet" in his unquestioned beliefs, he goes through a mostly believable transformation that ends appropriately, and not as Hollywood sap.
For Hollywood, this is a very good film. For the world of film in general, just good.
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Why hasn't this woman written more films ?!?!?!
If you like 'mocumentaries' this is one of the funniest around. The writing is excellent and just as important, the timing of the jokes really work. In one of the early scenes at the trailer park, the documentary makers are filming the mom and her friend (done hilariously by Allison Janney) and when they notice the cameras, she says, 'Are we on Cops again ?'
To me it passes an important test when I can watch this film a numbers of times and still laugh at the girl talking about her 'lucky bolt' and the creepy rival talking about solving world hunger with her mom's apple pie. It really is chock full of hilarious lines that are still quite funny after watching the film a few times over the years.
If you liked movies like Best in Show, you will like this a lot. I cant believe this guy hasn't got money to do more projects! Really great comic directing. Compared to some of the telegraphed boring pap that gets made, this is so well done. Similarly, I was disappointed to not find more things written by Lona Williams. Its superb!
Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
I didn't have too many expectations for this film. My partner pitched it to me as a comedy, and I hadn't seen the trailer in a while so I went into thinking that's all it would be. Instead, it really was a sublimely sophisticated film.
I had the good fortune to see East Berlin first in July 1989 (there was *ZERO* hint that the wall would be down in 4 months) and then in February 1990. It was an amazing before and after, and I thought this film captured this very well. As a visitor to the East for several months that year, this film really brought back to me the East European Quiet Revolution when everything really did change.
The characters going through that change are of course an allegory for the changes all around them- '40 years gone! They sold us up river!' says an old man who represents those who 'lost' in the reunification contrasted to those who won-the youth. Similarly, the contrast of personal re-unification (the children and their father) vs that of the east and west is a wonderfully treated theme through the film . And of course lies. Lies to comfort us, lies to deal with other lies. A very, very touching film.
Important to see
You know, the nukes are still all there. There might a few less in total numbers, but that's only because they have improved the delivery times and power packed in the latest generation of warheads. Whether by accident (there have been a few close calls) or by political changes to make all out war likely again, this truly was the most dangerous period in human history.
'Winnable' nuclear war ? Holy crap, what would you win ? Watch this low budget movie and decide. It was put together with the technical assistance of scientists such as Carl Sagan (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0755981/) who calculated some of the after effects of an all out exchange.
I am not want for exaggeration, but I find this movie to be truly the most disturbing film ever made and should be mandatory viewing for everyone of voting age. Watch this and than watch the Fog of War (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317910/).
Especially relevant is the part on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I, Robot (2004)
I Robot, I bored!
When I saw Denzil Washington being evasive as to why he turned down the lead role, I now know why. This script STUNK! It was so cliché ridden, implausible and self contradictory. It really felt like the team of shaved monkeys who cranked out the script didn't even bother to go 2 levels deep into the `Microsoft movie script wizard'
Talk about formula. At times it was difficult to tell the differences between the robots and the humans as everything was in auto pilot.
Summary of movie: `Only hero sees robots as bad' `Rest of world sees robots as good' `Hero convinces rest of world. Fabulous chase scene and big fight ensues.' `End of movie'
In between the big complex plot above are:
cliché gentle granny who cooks good food and tempers hot headed hero.
Hero who saves kitty cat from certain destruction by evil gi-normous demolition robot. (Soon as you see the cat is there really any doubt it will be saved? Oh Puh-lease! So why bother) Young street punk who is taken under wing by hero and is told not to cuss' by hero and who says to oppressive robots during robot confrontation, `we have civil our liberties.' (Oh yeah, that's what I would expect to hear at a street gang fight) cops now drive luxury Audis, but everyone else still sort of poor. So society must be so different as citizens will no longer complain about taxes being too high and feel it appropriate that police drive in awesome luxury. `Get me police backup' now automatically means 30 cops with machine guns, full riot gear and helicopters and giant `net gun' evil cardboard CEO complete with no lips.
Moral Questions ? That's a good question.
"I, Robot", I wasted my time and money
Pitch Black (2000)
Not great, but not a bad rental.
There was nothing particularly brilliant nor bad about this movie. I borrowed the DVD from a friend and watched it late one Saturday night and found it entertaining. There was a cool visual feel that sucked me in right away and the script and direction actually did a very good job at creating an eerie alien world. It reminded me of the world that Riddley Scott created in the first Aliens. You don't know very much about the world, but you know enough to let your imagination fill in the oh so creepy AND curious details. Its rare these days that a movie actually assumes you have some imagination and even rarer that it tries to engage it! Case in point, some characters don't speak English. Instead of giving them bad accents or putting up subtitles, the director intentionally keeps you in the dark. You don't really need to know that `ensign green #1' says to `ensign green #2', `I am scared.' `Yes, me too.'
Instead, the director relies on the actors to *emote* that, and again, your mind fills in the details-far more effective.
I am not really a big fan of Diesel, and knew nothing about the supporting cast. But they could actually act! Even the minor characters played their `ensign green' roles well. You know that all the characters will not make it and many will die in a morally `appropriate manner' and I get annoyed at films that try to kid us about this little fact. The film generally does a good job not trying to play this silly game.
Overall the film is more horror than Sci-Fi but it did a good job of creating tension and is worth a rental. If you can, watch it on DVD as there is a good visual texture to it that.
I was somewhat disappointed with this film. This is a hugely important part of human history that has somewhat disappeared in our present time. Although politicians today (2004) like to spit out superlatives about ¡°the most dangerous times¡± and ¡°the world has changed¡±¡¦ Oh Please¡¦. Although unimaginable-- an entire city being destroyed by a terrorist atomic bomb, we MUST try and contemplate thousands of cities being hit by multi megaton bombs. Sorry folks, that is a far greater danger. This doc did little to really set that tone and remind us of those extremely dangerous times. Fog of War did a far better job of that. Still, its worth seeing and I will give his other docs a try
Super Size Me (2004)
Good, solid doc.
I must say I did not expect too much from this doc. It would be easy to make it into some David Blaine type "BigMac and Circus spectacle", but it actually turned out to be a good documentary first with a clever premise, rather than a clever premise with a documentary thrown around it as filler.
Spurlock did a solid job of making his point which is much more than just "dont try this at home kids, even though you do it at home all the time." No, it went further than that talking about how the cards are essentially stacked against us. Not only do you have a mighty marketing machine "branding us" and conditioning us as kids to come eat bad food, there is a whole industry using every opportunity to convince us through giant lobby groups, massive advertising campaigns and countless product tie-ins, that its fun, its great, its a part of our lives and its always the real thing.
See it in the theaters if you can, or for sure rent it on DVD when it comes out. It was worth it.
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
I must say, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Perhaps because I went in with zero expectations thinking it would really suck. But the acting was good for TV and it did a good job at sucking me in right from the opening scene where the outpost gets blown up. If anything, it did a good job at building tension.
The "six chick" was actually the biggest surprise. I figured for sure this would be some 'silicon' enhanced bimbo that would be competing with a plank of wood for acting and characterization. But I was actually fascinated by the character and the issues raise by her and have high hopes for more interesting characterizations.
The other big surprise was that this didnt overly suffer from the million self created contradictions that so many SCI-FI series usually do. My favorite is the "lets send down little ships to blow up a planet one building at a time" syndrome.... Luckily there was actually not too much of that here. They quickly dealt with electronic warfare in a plausible way, and they used Nukes/missiles to destroy the planets.
Dont expect "My dinner with the Cylons" on IFC, but if you want some better than average SCI-FI entertainment (and yes I know that phrase sets the bar pretty low to begin with), I think many will enjoy this.
A very underrated film
I really liked this movie from an artistic and subject perspective.
It was superbly shot with very effective use of lighting and sets that were both bold and ubiquitous at the same time. I missed this when it came out in the theaters and only saw it on video. Yet I was sucked in visually throughout the film and if it came to my local rep theater I would certainly go see it on a larger screen. You know casting and acting are excellent when afterwards, you could not imagine anyone else playing the roles.
As it being SCI-FI or not, its certainly on the border. Although the genetic engineering in the film is beyond what we can do now, you know its an all too believable extrapolation from the social mores of today. Genetic discrimination? You bet. There is all sorts of legal medical discrimination throughout our society-- just look at the insurance industry... There are already a battery of psych and drug tests done at job interview time, why not gene tests.
I think this film should be included in anyone's cannon of important films-- both in its treatment of an issue we are just on the cusp of and simply as an extremely solid film artistically.