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Lost Treasure
3 September 2011
One of the most entertaining interpretations of the classic Washington Irving tale, and perhaps the most faithful, this cartoon is a classic in its own right. No Disney did not invent Ichabod Crane, apologies to the uneducated, the tale was taken from a series of sketches by Irving which colorfully illustrate life in colonial New York. Bing Crosby as the narrator is wonderful and like all vintage Disney, it somehow frightens viewers without horrifying them. Sadly its not all that easy to find, I think its presently packaged with Wind in the Willows, which likewise falls into the same category of nearly forgotten and unappreciated genius.
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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1999 TV Movie)
1/10
Skip It
1 January 2010
Its incredible to me that the best rendition of this amazing story remains a cartoon made by Walt Disney in the 1940s, but its true. Here another clumsy attempt sputters confuses and alienates would be viewers with admirable effectiveness while successfully antagonizing those of us who have actually read the story. Irving's original work is short by any measure and making a feature length film is bound to be a challenge. One can either completely rewrite the story a la Tim Burton which is a discussion for another time, or pad the bust-line of the old girl with unintended detail. The latter is what is attempted here, and if I may say, pitifully so. Unimaginative and thoroughly modern new facets to character personalities such as religious zealotry in Crane or wanderlust in good old Bram Bones ruin the story's intent and betray a severe lack of talent by the filmmakers. By the time the tale's famous climax approached, I had completely lost interest. Its the kind of film where you expect to see a stagehand smoking in the background.
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David Copperfield (1999– )
9/10
Harry Potter Walk Through
10 November 2009
A brilliant latter-day adaptation of Dickens' autobiographical masterpiece that scores rising triumphs on all fronts. As a Dickens fan, I have recently experienced some unpleasant revulsion at the latest Oliver Twist mutations both on film and on the once fine Masterpiece theater. In fact, I very nearly passed on this rendition of Copperfield due to an ever creeping jaded cynicism, not realizing that as recently as 1999, the world still spun on its axis and the preservation of art was still considered precious. Check this out, it is marvelously executed, well acted, and to those few who still care for such things, faithfully adapted!. My summary line comes as you will no doubt surmise from the cast which includes a very young Radcliffe, and not so young but terrific as always Maggie Smith, Zoe Wannamker etc. All sensational!
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Carrie (1976)
6/10
Old before its time?
19 July 2009
Stephen King's modern classic about high school bullying with a little dark supernatural sprinkled in of course.

It is over 30 years old, but it watches much older mainly because DePalma is as usual trying way too hard to homage/imitate someone else's direction style while at the same time putting way too indelible of a 70s dorkism stamp on the texture. Much about the pop culture of the 70s is rather non-nostalgic and cringing camp, and a film like this one so completely bathed in the decade's cheap cologne, very justifiably suffers. Carrie has some effective horror scenes, maybe even a couple iconic ones, but these are too often followed by wandering Film School exercises that leave you scratching your head as to the whereabouts of an editor. The background score is soap opera grade and distracting. The performances are very good and the casting of the hate-ables is spot on. PJ Soles and the chubby obnoxious guy from Miami Vice shine as the hard to look at, too cool for school loathsome antagonists. Yet as with virtually all King works, the book is more satisfying than the film for lots of reasons. You lump all of these many negatives together, and the result is a film that really can no longer be watched in its entirety and survives only for about 15 minutes of its effective and disturbing horror imagery, which Im sure you could just you-tube and spare yourself a wasted evening.
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United States of Tara (2009–2011)
3/10
Porn Without the Action
19 January 2009
Brilliant in that it sums up in one half hour how incredibly lost our culture is at present. These are talented gifted folks, the writing is good better than good, the acting too. The result is a show that is awful and at the same time all too watchable. Its just another original series from one of the subscription channels who honor a corporate mission statement that must read, 'people will watch anything with or related somehow to raunch and sex'.

Toni Collette whom i used to really respect, has bitten the forbidden fruit by accepting this role. Great actress, and she holds her own, but this is embarrassing. She plays a woman suffering from a multiple personality disorder who could be in a straight jacket, but instead lives as a happy housewife/mom tormenting her family with her perverse alter egos. These things are sometimes mildly funny when executed in a sketch format as farce, but not like this. Predictably, Tara is presented not as farce, but as some twisted vision of reality the series producers have created that begs our acceptance. With most other Sopranopera possibilities exhausted, little else remains but to turn mental illness into dark comedy. Sybil, the PG-13 sitcom. If this all seems unimportant to you then you will be delighted to learn the entire premise really isn't important anyway because what is the show really about? What else, vulgarity.

How many squirms, how many titillations can we still manage to strip out of a thoroughly mined audience. Oh the language we will use, and isn't it oh so 2009 having a little kid in shot having to hear and process it all. Its both wonderful and liberating that Showtime sees entertainment in a mentally ill Mom bizarrely empathizing with her high school daughter's proclivity for anal sex. I guess, they envision you as parent watching it with your own teenage child and enjoying some breakthrough 'anal sex is cool' bonding moments together?

Gimme a break, you are watching skinless porn, and hey thats cool, I just hope you realize it and I hope your kids are off playing Guitar Hero in another room talking about how warped you are.
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1408 (2007)
6/10
Rod Serling with a bludgeon
12 January 2009
John Cusack plays noted travel author Mike Enslin who earns his bread and cheese by visiting haunted places and then writing them up as the ubiquitous Top Ten Haunted .... We quickly observe however, that Enslin is somewhat of a fraud. He harbors cynicism and even though he sells these books to the public, he's more interested in feeding his own personal demon; to debunk the whole notion of a haunted anything. He's driven or haunted if you will by a quest to prove if only to himself that haunted houses and spirituality, and even religion, is all a lot of nonsense.

When he receives an anonymous post card inviting him to spend a night in a haunted NYC hotel room, room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel to be exact, Enslin of course meets his match.

From the opening frames, "1408" constructs an effective anticipatory pace- roller coaster style, and thats obviously vital in a scary film. I especially enjoyed the conversation between Cusack and the forever and needlessly angry Samuel L. Jackson. He's still that of course, but good direction here has him properly harnessed and enjoyable for a change as he does an excellent job as the obligatory "don't go in there" hotel manager. Of note to Jackson fans, in spite of the movie poster, Jackson is a supporting character at best and on film for all of 7 minutes, maybe 8.

From the effective buildup we enter at last, the haunted hotel room and the fun begins, and there the fun soon ends. Indeed the remainder of the film has us locked in the evil room with Cusack. We start slowly with some truly creepy and memorable images before eventually and all too inevitably, the full Hollywood special effects ghost treatment, floods, fire, ice, make their dreaded appearances. Some frights are really effective and for me the 15-20 minutes where the scary stuff happens sorta makes the entire film OK. But that all happens and the horror peaks and passes way too quickly. Before it ever gets really terrifying, our roller-coaster is making the slow boring return to the platform via the maudlin sub story line.

I say again however, this is a good movie - using the grading scale sadly needed in the year 2009. Its good. But in keeping pace with all modern films "1408" has way too much cowbell and the special effects orgy eventually becomes boring, no matter how much you like this sorta stuff. I liken film viewing these days to hanging onto a greased pole. I'd say it took a good hour into this before I lost interest and slid off into the kitchen for some Oreos.

Yet my biggest criticism, really my only substantive criticism is that "1408" apart from actually being watchable to the finish, fails to distinguish itself as a horror film. It breaks no new ground whatsoever, whether in terms of fright excitement, plot twist or even human drama. There's tons of unanswered questions, but not the provocative kind, more the kind that lead you to believe a lot of this wasn't well thought out. But I'll leave that up to you.
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Chicago (2002)
9/10
Great Fun
27 October 2008
A near perfect adaptation of the Broadway smash featuring an all-star cast who somehow all do their own singing and dancing.

One of the very Broadway crossovers in recent memory to actually do its job and entertain, and boy, does it ever! Chicago sucks you in at minute one and you don't really come up for air until a half hour has passed. Now thats a good movie. Musicals, theater etc are hardly my cup of tea, and Hollywood's opium dream renditions are even less in my scope of enjoyment. Why Chicago works where most of them have flopped utterly, I am not sure but would have to bet its down to direction. Chicago's song and dance segments are cut MTV style, but, Marshall seems to have almost perfected this technique to somehow capture the in-theater dramatic 'zowie' feeling that almost never makes it from stage to screen. While many argue Chicago owe its success at the Oscars to the drubbing Moulin Rouge took (quite deservedly) the year before, I happen to disagree and believe that for once the Academy actually got it right. The cast is fantastic. Sure you can nitpick about Gere being too nasally and too Gere, and maybe Zellwegger's drunken bridesmaid dancing could have used a couple more takes, but the final product even with those bizarre ingredients is one of the most enjoyable experiences to come out of Hollywood, maybe ever?
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The Crucible (1996)
3/10
A Sad Swan Song
20 October 2008
Arthur Miller is arguably the greatest American playwright of the last century. The Crucible, AS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN, I had always looked upon as a modern masterpiece. It is therefore absolutely heartbreaking for me to watch this filmed variation of The Crucible that is such a complete and utter sell-out to the modern hot button Hollywood dreck. What is even more difficult to endure, is the knowledge that it is Arthur Miller himself who is responsible for peeing on his own work. There his vaunted name sits, the sole screen writing credit to a run of the mill if not worse than most, B movie adaptation. Yes, Yes, Mel Brooks has done this in reverse with The Producers and Young Frankenstein, and done it successfully. I know also that it is Mr. Miller's play and he can do with it whatever he chooses to, obviously. I just switched off this film (no I couldn't make it to the end) with a real sense of disappointment and a diminished assessment of Miller that bordered on disillusionment. I don't want to compare Arthur Miller to Mel Brooks but I think now I always will. To take the devils advocate approach, Miller wrote the original play to satirize McCarthyism; a topic in which most Americans today probably hold very little interest. So the lampoon HAD to be adapted to conform to the modern perceived injustices. Right? Well if this is true, then the original play for me and even more importantly for Arthur Miller, has minimal value as enduring art and as such, must be completely overrated if not, dismissed? Which brings me back to my disillusionment.
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7/10
Tough to Figure
15 June 2008
Show had tons of promise, and created a great texture that was a throwback to the golden television era. But...it just kinda fizzled mid-season, as if they really had no master plan for what was to be, and just ham and egged the plot line. The more they revealed the true nature of the story, the dumber it became. It went from really cool and fresh to the final life-support season of Melrose Place in 5 episodes. I can hyperbole all night here, but i think you get the picture. Disappointing. So I don't know what to make of the whole project. Watch the first 3 episodes only? I cant really say. Personally, I can credit this failed venture with if nothing else turning me on to the amazing music of Joe Strummer, who's Johnny Appleseed backs the opening montage. Now thats good stuff!!
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Targets (1968)
7/10
Sunset Boulevard Meets Two Minute Warning
7 June 2008
Sort of a forgotten thriller about a serial killer's final day in the world of sanity, and an ancient Holloywood icon's final day as an actor. In one film, Bogdanovich tackles both the fading Hollwood star lost in a modern world and the absurd violence of modern society, hoping to have each hypothesis prove the other via concurrent storytelling. In doing so, like most serious movies of this era, the film effectively communicates a tableau of an American culture with one foot still in her glorious past, and the other stepping out into the unseemly unknown future. Its pretty effective. I've always admired Bogdonovich and his attention to Americana detail which is where he and this film shine brightest. The scenes in the drive-in are almost fashioned as if he knew drive-ins would not be around much longer. Cool stuff. Karloff is quite simply great, playing well, basically himself, the old horror film star who is wise enough to see his craft is no longer relevant in brutal modern society. He illustrates this when he picks up a newspaper who's headline blares a story about a supermarket gunman killing three people. How can a man dressed in Frankenstein makeup compete with that, he questions his assistant? Queue the other storyline, a young privileged serial killer and his final losing battle with reason before he begins wasting people. The profile of the killer is at odds with what we now know of these nuts, but you can get past that. The portrayal of the gunman is chilling enough to be sure. He goes on his rampage, Karloff retires from show biz then un-retires for one last appearance, and somehow the 2 different story lines meet up of course in the final reel. The movie is good. There are obviously so many bad movies out there today, that you should watch Targets for that reason alone, but its good. Disturbing, but Bogdanovich nailed the decline of our society and for him to do so while it was happening before him, shows a modicum at least of genius.
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Foyle's War (2002–2015)
9/10
Quality Television
15 January 2008
That phrase isn't always an oxymoron, just usually. A fine British drama about a seaside town policeman Foyle, who against the backdrop of early WW2, is left behind to fight plain vanilla law and order. Excellent, excellent excellent accomplishment on all fronts. Michael Kitchen does the brooding intensity bit quite well. The extreme close ups of the cool-blue eyes, and his unemotional but very sharp one-liners make for both an extremely effective and likable pro-tag. Like all good TV series, Foyle too has a marvelous supporting cast. But i think the true credit here has to go the writing for some very imaginative non-tiring stories. Like all of these modern quasi whodunits however, Foyle's War withholds from the audience some if not most of the requisite tools needed to solve the crime, no surprise there. And like all series good and bad, the general theme lacks subtlety and is too clearly repetitive. Foyle every week has a crime usually murder to solve, that is somehow entangled in the war effort, very cool idea. But, it also usually involves either the aristocracy or military or both, as the ultimate culprit. Hardly a unique phenomenon in modern entertainment, this posturing is evident in most outlets for viewers, c'est la vie I suppose. Foyle is so well done, that even I can overlook the commie claptrap and strongly recommend it to weary viewers tired of the usual rubbish we are force fed here in America. Foyle is most certainly a cut above most.
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Bob Saget: That Ain't Right (2007 TV Special)
1/10
Predictable HBO (Horrible Bad & Offensive)
14 December 2007
Can someone at HBO rent the Howard Stern movie or read his book at least, the part where he explains that even crude humor still has to contain the humor part? This "comedy" special is so not funny, that it is almost a parody of bad comedy, like a Simpsons or Family Guy insert. But more accurately, its more of the Sarah Silverman style "look ma, Im swearing on stage and people are clapping for me". It is all so inane, that your blood pressure rises and not at the "performer", but at the dimwits who program this fare and their even dimmer wit counterparts that applaud or support it, which as a subscriber sadly includes moi. The TV directory channel contains more laughs and more pound for pound return on your cable buck. I will admit that like hookers, and wine and buildings etc., bad comedians age pretty well. An old guy mincing around telling horrible jokes actually is genuinely funny. I saw Charilie Callas in Vegas a few years back and almost croaked I was laughing so hard. So give it another 30 years, and Saget will be the bomb. Until then, Masochists will want to view Saget's other monuments to banality, "Full House" as well as the appalling and toothless parody, "Farce of the Penguins."

P.S. now he's on Broadway, and don't bother, I already asked and the theater won't let you in with a crate of old tomatoes.
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4/10
Clockwork Orange Cinema
13 November 2007
In 18th century France, a young pauper with an overdeveloped sense of smell murders women etc...(No its not the prequel to Scent of a Woman, more's the pity) based on the bestseller.

I did not read this book and I realize that for many reasons, material like this is more easily digested when its served via the printed medium. So take what I say obviously with that grain of salt as a chaser. But I found this movie a big disappointment. Yes, a disappointment. Enured as I've become to viewing disturbing graphic images as entertainment, the annoyance I now feel when confronted with disturbia, such as Perfume, is akin to that annoyance a parent must feel when he or she gets yet another call from the principals office telling them their troublesome tot has again gotten himself into, well, trouble. You get to a point where the horror and shock value of what should be is replaced by the needling tedium of what inevitably always is. Perfume, again all too predictably, rears back and hooves you in the forehead before the opening credits have done unveiling themselves, with scenes of abject destitution on the streets of 18th century Paris, and with only about an hour of actual storytelling to spell you, keeps on kicking until the credits mercifully again appear, a NY to Miami flight later. One has to wonder, and to me this is the Regis question, one has to wonder who is actually sicker? Is it our uncivilized ancestors who (we like to think) lived lives of such brutality, OR we who painstakingly 'reenact' them to detail in the name of modern entertainment. Perfume becomes a movie depicting the Age of Reason as told though Age of Pornography eyes. The inept storyteller as always reveals far more about his own flawed character. As far as whats out there movie-wise, Perfume is the IPhone. Its got the writing, the director, the big name talent, and the incredible set design, you name it. Sadly it also includes the same anti-theism, feminist, anti-death penalty etc. clichéd nonsense found in the B-est of B movies clichés. Includes them in abundance. To be fair, buried beneath the muck and filth of Perfume the movie, is a story that is more than a little intriguing however frustratingly poorly told it most certainly is, but be forewarned. 'Tis the muck and filth'll follow ye out and walk away with ye after watching Perfume, an nae her plot.
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1/10
Comedy of Judgemental Error in Full Regale
2 August 2007
Bastardization of the classic Agatha Christie tale, done for reasons known only to warped TV execs somewhere in London.

DO NOT WASTE EVEN 5 MINUTES on these recent travesties that pass as Mystery! installments here in America. Better to join Netflix and rent the older saner versions, which are still quite good. All of the Geraldine McEwan Marple tales; Sittaford, Bertrams, etc., aren't simply modern adaptations done for modern viewer trolling purposes, as we get so often with Shakespeare. Nor is it the writing of fresh tales using the familiar characters as was done quite successfully with Sherlock Holmes during the second world war. I guess that requires real talent and imagination by writers that apparently the schlock Grenada television people cannot find. No, what is done here is quite different and quite frankly legally dubious in my opinion. You keep the title, keep the characters, their names at any rate, but CHANGE the story. Yes, you heard me, quite literally Change the story! So Agatha Christie who I believe is the most widely read author ever, if we can leave Harry Potter out of the conversation, Agatha Christie stories according to the producers just ain't good enough anymore to portray as they were originally written. Of course the Agatha Christie franchise is still strong enough to use and abuse and falsely lure unsuspecting viewer, but the stories apparently need rewriting lol. If only to deprive some diseased minds from knowing somebody else watched this drivel, I implore you, the would be viewer, not to. And as respect for literature and plain old honesty in broadcasting are not enough to guide television executive decision making, perhaps shunning this garbage might just bring about some much needed change.
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10/10
As Good as it Gets
28 February 2007
Satire, satire, satire...A very funny send up of the dreaded ubiquitous chat show. Actor Steve Coogan plays show business blight, Alan Partridge, a thoroughly unlikeable character who hosts an odd assortment of meaningless guests on his ridiculous chat show that is ridiculously titled, Knowing Me, Knowing You. The title of course is taken from the ABBA song of the same name, and Partridge himself mysteriously uses the A-Ha refrain from the song as his personal catch phrase. Completely idiotic but completely funny and eerily cogent. Alan Partridge the man likewise is as completely idiotic as he is pompous, condescending, moronic, cruel, vindictive and completely out of touch with reality. He also just happens to be 24 karat comic gold. In Alan Partridge, Coogan has created the perfect embodiment of an entertainment show-biz phony, cardboard jackass. An all too familiar character that sadly we as viewers now accept as normal. His pathetic C minus guest list parades one low-level pseudo-personality whacko after another. Said guests are all so excellently portrayed, that not being English, I initially was unable to tell if the people were actual Britsh celebs or not. Though Coogan is definitely top banana, the show in actuality is more troupe sketch format a la Monty Python then a solo tour de force. We see the same 4 or 5 actors switch disguises to portray each and every guest, with only a few exceptions sprinkled in now and again. They all deserve equal credit for the show's success. Knowing Me, Knowing You is the Sammy Maudlin bit from SCTV taken on as an entire show. Personally, I never got enough of Sammy Maudlin.

In terms of this type of fare, there is no American counterpart. Forget that satire itself has very little in the way of broadcast outlets, American entertainment simply does not or will not go after its own a la the Brits. That might well be because producers think American wont laugh at show business parody, but somehow cynicism makes me seriously doubt that. Even the terrific Larry Sanders show, ostensibly a similar type satire of the chat show genre, though hilarious, never once made Larry Sanders himself look professionally incompetent. To be fair, Knowing Me, Knowing You, is a fictional chat show of the type we don't really have in America, as its a hybrid of a Letterman format with a Regis daytime format. They may not have them in England either. Evening chat shows are likely in America to be very stiff, formal and almost nerve wracking as the hosts do their very best to keep celebrities ill at ease, in further glorification of the said host. I wont argue with success. So though the satire might be hard to relate to, the comedy makes that fact immaterial. I will say that if you have an aversion to British comedy in general, you will not change your opinion after watching this show. Yet the converse is definitely true. British comedy fans, this is what you live for!
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Batman (1989)
7/10
Tour De Force
27 February 2007
The only thing even remarkable about this film is Jack Nicholson. The production looks now very much outdated, so much so that I cant honestly say anymore what looks campier, it or the 1960s television show starring Adam West. But like the television show, its old-before-its time quality sorta doesn't really matter. Burtons world always has a fairytale cardboard reality to it, so you can overlook it for the most part. Its annoyingly colored in deep purple too, a la the bat costume, bat-mobile, et al. Its all done I'm sure to as closely replicate the comic book experience as possible. Its too much though, and it gets annoying. You find yourself gasping for some fresh air by the end of the film. Burton's very heavy hand and his very Burtonlike vapid storyline and dialog are all borne gladly because of one thing; Nicholson's unbelievable one man show. In fact, his performance utterly carries the film past the embalmed forgettable non-performances of the rest of the cast, with the exception of perhaps Palance. I don't want to sound harsh, i recommend this film all the way. In a strange sense all of the negatives of Batman meshed with the dark purple backdrop gloom and merely emphasized further Nicholson's brightly colored clown get-up and Richter scale ham-fest. Its movie magic as they say. Jack deserved more credit for this. It's the type of award winning acting that sadly never receives awards. Boo.
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4/10
The Nepotsim Files
15 February 2007
Stand up performer attempts to be the next Lenny Bruce and isn't.

Sarah Silverman is the bombing comic on the old Johhny Carson show, mysteriously given show business carte blanche a la the bizarro world. Is she offensive? Who can even say anymore. Pushing the boundaries of good taste in the year 2007 means a young woman can now stand on stage and tell "in depth" bathroom jokes one after another without clearing the house. Example:

Sarah: Cause now I'm at that point where I'm comfortable peeing in front of my boyfriend, and you know its kinda nice...now Im going to try it in the bathroom.

Not just A bathroom joke, but perhaps the Oldest bathroom joke in the catalog. Eyes on the prize ladies, lol. To be fair, the show isn't all 80 year old jokes and vaudeville/burleque. She has a few funny lines and even at her embarrassingly low moments, Sarah Silverman remains an engaging and attractive on-stage personality. Her overt charms notwithstanding, the question that kept running through my mind was not, How is "I hope the Jews killed Jesus, I'd do it again!! considered funny, but "Who exactly is this chick and 'Why exactly is she on my television?' Who exactly is Sarah Silverman other than a look alike for her namesake semi-successful not brother, Jonathan Silverman, and the next Mrs. Jimmy Kimmel? Is there such a dearth of female comics that this is what distills out of the machinery? I don't think so. I think Sarah only gets to do and air a bad show like this or get booed off the stage at an awards show because.... boyfriend Jimmy K has got a lot of juice! That is indisputable. Just as Sarah's nonstop passage on the Bad Comic Forgottenville express was abruptly interrupted as soon as she starting dating Mr. Kimmel is likewise not in dispute. That's Hollywood, and it ain't gonna change. Now if seeing the not particularly funny girlfriends of talented people act out in a feature length video/stand up thingamajig is your idea of a good watch, by all means, have at it, this movie is for you!! I'd personally prefer to watch someone with a little more talent. Or to take a page out of her act, Sarah Silverman successfully debunks the 'all Jewish comedians are funny' stereotype.
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Rome (2005–2007)
7/10
Au revoir aux les Seins
1 February 2007
Well finally campers!! For awhile I was beginning to believe this series was going to be just another boob fest reminiscent of the unenlightened years of yore, (seems light years ago doesn't it!!?) and that Rome would deny any eye-candy for the rest of us! Silly me, I have to learn patience! My boys at HBO never fail to come through with equal time, and Rome thankfully now is no exception. If you saw Episode 15, you already know it was worth the wait! If you didn't see it, hold on to your togas, and watch and enjoy yourself! But not too much!! Lets just hope we get more of the good stuff, and not make it simply a one week wonder! I hate when the producers get weak in the knees, but we have our little fingers crossed don't we. Oh as for the rest of the show (as if you naughties really cared!!!) I'll just say its decent. Much of the history lesson is skewed, but who cares about silly history!! This is entertainment right? If I wanted history, I would have paid more attention in high school instead of staring at Mr. XX's bleep. I better stop. Enjoy Rome, and someone thank HBO already for keeping ALL of the troops happy, again.
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Smokin' Aces (2006)
5/10
A Study in Stupidity
27 January 2007
Vegas headliner Buddy Israel goes into hiding in a Tahoe penthouse because the mob has placed a million dollar contract on him. Naturally, the world's most notorious assassins all get wind of the bounty, and race to kill him first, in the penthouse, under FBI surveillance, bullets, redneck feminist witticisms....z...z....z...z.

Up until the final Act, I would have been able to write, ...'but for all its stupidity, it was still enjoyable.' Cant do it! The last stage of this movie was a hitchhike back to town on the guano wagon after 16 hours of hoeing clay. Movies like this always turn me into an instant sociologist, maybe even anthropologist in that I keep pondering the question, 'how can I possibly be living amongst people who call this entertainment?'. There's a lot of star power to the movie, and it has some really funny moments and it is packed throughout with the right kind of dialog, Jason Bateman's scene is in fact, hilarious. Unfortunately for the filmmakers of Aces Eleven Smoked, the biggest laughs of the film come in the final 10 minutes when FBI chief Andy Garcia gives the obligatory 'revelation' 'expose the wizard,''Kaiser Cose' speech in what i think is supposed to be a Gulfcoast dialect/accent? He completely lost the audience to the point where people began giggling and talking amongst themselves, getting their coats, making dinner plans etc, by the time the credits began to roll most people were already standing. But it had lost me about 30 minutes earlier when the world's most dangerous and elusive assassin was strolling through the hotel lobby with his one distinguishing physical characteristic, chewed off fingertips, just dangling at his side for the GMan to see. Its not even worth it. This movie has a target audience, and they probably already know who they are. This film will not attract crossover viewer-ship period. Save your time.
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Extras (2005–2007)
10/10
The Humor of Mean Hitting its Stride
23 January 2007
The absolute hilarious look at show business as seen through the eyes of a couple of Waiting for Godot type scene extras. With each episode, Extras has gained momentum like a cartoon snowball.

You can call me crazy, but Ricky Gervais has merely channeled Carroll O'Connor's ghost, and made it his very own. The Gervais Merchant brand of humor likewise is more Norm Lear than anything else. We get the laughs from racial, ethnic, etc. punch-lined jokes because we are really laughing at the ignorance, insensitivity and gross stupidity of the joke teller, who is in the end, the ultimate joke. Every sacred cow topic or taboo joke in the book is conjured triumphantly on this show, and I sit and laugh I mean really laugh, right along with everyone else out there. Borat utilized the same principle. Unlike Borat however, Gervais and Merchant don't go overboard and falsely portray positive stereotypes. That lack of hypocrisy is what makes this show and The Office before it, far superior to Ali G, Borat and company. Make The Office and Extras a top priority in your viewing.
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7/10
Archie Bunker meets Latka Gravis
19 November 2006
I sit and watch this film laughing my ash off because it is so damn funny. It really is that. There are parts that are completely hilarious and qualify as some of the funniest moments I've ever had in a movie theater. But then as I head home, I stop and try and figure out why even that rarest of breeds, the entertaining new Hollywood film, leaves me wishing I hadn't enjoyed it so much. Borat, the absurd but hilarious tale of a bigoted chauvinist Kazakh immigrant's quest to marry Pamela Anderson while filming a discover-America documentary for his homeland, triumphs at the box office, and earns the raves of critics across the board. This in a society which has recently added diversity to the noble virtues of truth, justice, freedom, equality etc. But...this is now also a society where double standards of acceptability have become the norm when observing race relations. One group can at the expense of another make merry, where another group most certainly cannot. Herein lies Borat'a winning secret. For Borat perfectly demonstrates and even perfects this weird phenomenon of inequity and does it so well that at first glance, it's hypocrisy is virtually transparent. Borat's Archie Bunker like prejudices seem to be aimed at all creeds equally, and in fact, for Borat the character, it holds true. Yet, look closer and you see that this is not so for Borat the movie. The film is by no means innocent of prejudice any more than its main character is, as we see the same tired modern stereotypes lurking not particularly far beneath an 'everyone is fair game' veneer. The same groups we have become accustomed and even inured to see lampooned and actually insulted get their usual treatment in this film. While with equal predictability, other groups are elevated from misunderstood victims of prejudice straight up to goodness personified, which by this movie's standards is tantamount to beatification. Borat makes it quite clear that for whatever the reasons, racial and ethnic jokes can still be surefire laugh-getters even in todays politically airtight environment provided that said jokes are delivered by an ignoramus and also and more importantly provided that in the end, the 'right' people get the last laugh. Disagree? Why not ask Seinfeld instant has-been Mike 'Kramer' Richards, who's very own Borat impersonation and subsequent circus/apology/coup de grace public execution, was Hollywood's politically insane and all too expectedly difficult to digest contribution to the American Thanksgiving table this year. Yet the million dollar question remains; Just who exactly has the right of decision in this magnificent quandary we've built for ourselves? My guess is Kazakhstan for starters isn't afforded much chance for input.... Is Borat as funny as you are hearing? Yes and maybe more so. And that's what bothers me so much I suppose.
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Cadillac Man (1990)
4/10
Tin Men meets Dog Day Afternoon
6 August 2006
Jealous husband holds car dealership hostage while Williams burdens the viewer with his worn out Mork shtick at every turn. Yawn.

Pay channel grist. An uncommonly bad script coupled with a less than convincing Robin Williams as a slick talking, philandering Queens car salesman caught up in a hostage workplace crisis. The laughs aren't there, the message(s) or morals are just all wrong, and the film cant ever decide on whether its a comedy or drama. Pretty good cast all acting pretty badly. When a movie ages so badly so quickly, you got yourself a stinker. Not much else to be said other than maybe, avoid at all costs. Textbook mediocre movies like this are actually more tedious, and less enjoyable than the over the top bombs.
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4/10
Underwritten and Overacted
11 May 2006
The rise, fall and ultimate salvation of a former college athlete extraordinaire, turned odds picking genius and his megalomaniac mentor. Your basic C+.

Stylish but vapid effort that leaves you for the most part, unsatisfied and somewhat confused. The clichés are in abundance, and the plot alternates between good and dumb like a little kid playing with a light switch. Predictably, in the end it all falls back to earth with a resounding Holloywood ending thud. Pacino and McCon handle some cartoonish material admirably well, but their characters, like the overall story, are just completely unreal and thoroughly unlikeable. To this mix we toss in Exec. Producer Renee Russo, who gives a credible yet superfluous performance playing the faithful former junkie wife. Sigh.

Its difficult not to compare this film to Devils Advocate, as Pacino is basically handed and relives the exact same role complete with generous helpings of blasphemy-rich, meant to make you squirm F dialog. An idiotic sequence where Pacino coaches goody 2 shoes McCon on incorporating the F word into his vocabulary, ends up with the latter using it in a telephone conversation later with his mother...she was calling him about some major family crisis that believe it or not, is never fully revealed to us and is in no way resolved. Shall I talk of the Gamblers Anonymous meeting where Pacino hands out business cards looking for new customers for his 1 900 operation? The situations, arcs and overall template are near carbon copy of Devils Adv., but as you can see nowhere near as plausible, which is a laugh considering Devils Advocate deals with the supernatural. (alas no naked Charlize this time either.)

To be fair, major shortcomings and annoyances thrust aside, I grudgingly admit this movie somehow manages to entertain. I credit that more, however, to the subject matter. If you have any sort of interest in gambling, and who doesn't, there is a decided thrill in watching someone ride the roller coaster vicariously. Silly and banal though it may be, 2 For The Money still manages to scratch that gambler euphoria itch.
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6/10
Sensually Stimulating, Cerebally Deadening
8 January 2006
Like most of Burton's work, 99.98% of the energy here and Id imagine budget went straight to set design and costume, and the perfect camera-work to get it juuust right. I admit that Tim Burton has made a couple of films that I count among my favorites. When it works, its pretty damn amazing. But as we are reminded in Charlie, more often then not, it doesn't work. To be fair, I cant really knock the visual impact this film delivers. And if that alone sates your movie-going appetite, you will love Charlie. If you are like me however, and expect more for your 11 quid than 5 music videos linked by an insipid narrative with hollow characterizations, Charlie is quite likely to make you once again involuntarily utter, 'man there's a lot of bad movies out there these days.'

Tim Burton presents Charlie and the Chocolates Factory and ostensibly seeks to pull off not just a remake, but a re-telling more in line with the actual Roald Dahl's children's classic. What was wrong with the Gene Wilder film? Good question. Again visually its the bomb-digger, you cant argue with it. Plotwise, for the most part, ain't bad. So whats the problem you ask? The film doesn't play, at all!! The characters especially the main characters other than Wonka and perhaps Charlie, have about as much flesh on them as the Corpse Bride and muster zero sympathy. The film wows your senses and even delights you with the song and dance numbers, the only real achievement of the film in my estimation, but does a very poor job in storytelling. Very poor. The emotional impact that touched all of my generation, is nowhere to be found in the remake. We get this quandary a lot now with these remakes that are so technically superior to their predecessor, that you feel stupid not calling them an improvement on the original. As far as the Charlie comparison is concerned, the remake's only attribute is that it helps make the original shine even more brilliantly. Which sadly brings me to my final observation. This film has the distinction of showcasing Johhny Depp in what might be his worst characterization of his great career. Depps Wonka looks for all the world like a Technicolor incarnation of the fiend in the lost silent classic, London After Midnight. He 'acts' like the alleged fiend known as pop star Michael Jackson, and sounds exactly like Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie!!!! Put a hatchet in his hand, and you'd have the makings of a good Hammer film. Doesn't exactly work or belong here, Sheila.
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Garden State (2004)
8/10
Fresh Air Through a Dusty Theater Blew
6 January 2006
A twenty something actor with the anti-depressant induced emotional range of the family retriever, returns home for his mothers funeral. Once back, he is made to confront his buried traumas through old and new friends, and the strange power that a hometown somehow works upon the soul. "Scrubs" main man Braff pens a nice little script that turns out to be more than just a nice little movie. Plenty of angst, despair, and re fangled Woody Allensim to go around in this film, and for the most part it works extremely well. The casting is a complete home-run, yes even Portman is, well shes not a complete distraction lets say. The effective scenes rank up there with Indy's best, while some of the ineffective scenes do just a little too much damage. This ain't great, but its damn close. What is great is the soundtrack, as non-rap music every now and again emits signs of life between the death rattles.
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