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Confirmation (2016 TV Movie)
Justice Is Blind (Is That Good Or Bad?)
28 April 2016
The movie itself is a credible by-the-numbers presentation of the firestorm that was the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings from the early 1990's. Where the made for t.v. movie really shines is in its character portrayals.

Anita Hill is shown as a martyr; Clarence Thomas is portrayed as a creep, but not a criminal; Senator Biden is played as a well meaning boob; Senator Simpson comes off as out of touch; Senator Dansforth seems loyal to a fault; and the presidential administration looks to not care if the charges leveled against their nominee are true or not.

While not exactly covering any new ground, the film at least appears to give a fig leaf to not choosing a side (though it leans in favor of Anita Hill). It's not a hatchet job, which is something actually worthy of praise these days.

All in all, it's a solid film, and doesn't try too hard to create its own narrative. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours on a weekend.
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A Spiritual Sibling to 'You Can't Take It With You'.
2 August 2015
Like the Capra film, this one is all about the maxim of, "Work to Live, don't Live to Work".

In today's parlance, the Tuttles would be considered 'white trash'. Working only enough to get by, 'mooching' off of their friends, wasting their money on fun and games. In truth, they live the sort of life that everyone secretly wishes that they themselves could live. Fortunately for them (and the film), instead of envying them, others around them love them for it.

While their home may be run down, and their credit is no good, the Tuttles themselves are rock solid people who have their values straight. Family, Fun, and Fishing. That's about as fundamental as it gets.

The plot is thin, but that's OK. It's the characters that carry this movie.

Frankly, it's the sort of film one doesn't see anymore. What with the breakdown of the family unit, and the now foreign idea of large family's living under a single roof, the setup alone may be one that modern audiences no longer understand. It very much perpetuates the matriarchal/patriarchal social dynamic that one used to find in the U.S.A. While the setting may be in the far flung south pacific, no doubt that Midwestern families back when this movie premiered could see certain of themselves in the Tuttles.

It's an ode to a slower (and richer) pace of life that too many people in our 'go-go-go' world have lost touch with these days.

So, get a little money, get a little gasoline, do a little fishing, and then have a party with your friends. Life is all about the living of it.
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It Screams For Myrna Loy.
2 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Rogers and Powell. Two great tastes that don't taste great together. While each in their own right is a good actor/actress, together they lack the chemistry that Powell and Loy have. And it's clear that this film was wanting that chemistry.

This movie is straight 'Thin Man-lite'. Right down to the witty byplay that the two leads have. And while it's acceptable, one can not help but think at how much better every line and scene would have been with Loy in the role rather than Rogers.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the plot is that we, the audience, never see the character around which the entire story revolves. The mysterious 'Alice' is never actually shown, everything that happens with her is off screen. That's a rarity to say the least.

One other note would be Powell's character's bathroom. That thing is spacious! That's the sort of bathroom anybody would be proud to have in their home/apartment.

It's a decent plot, with decent acting, and one could easily see it having to be tweaked in only the most minor of ways to become another one of the 'Thin Man' films. It's worth watching, if only to mentally picture each scene with Loy in it instead of Rogers.
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Paint By The Numbers Fun.
19 July 2015
In truth, this telling of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is a prosaic 'paint-by-the-numbers' telling. It hits its plot points without unnecessary clutter, and it follows a standard issue narrative thread. And in truth, that's not a bad thing.

Far too often movie adaptations of comicbook/cartoon properties are just bad. Too many changes are made for the sake of change, the property itself isn't treated with any respect, etc. This being the case, an instance where an adaptation is simply 'average' is actually something to be glad of. I'll take an average 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' over a bad 'Catwoman' any day.

While the turtles as characters lack anything other than the most overt of character traits, they are at least the right character traits.

April's characterization (if not her look) seems to be acceptable. The 'hungry' reporter who wants to do more than just 'human interest' stories.

What's more, the cameraman/sidekick to April's character actually adds something to the film with his presence. In fact, one might say that he's the most well rounded character in the film.

The plot itself is nothing that we haven't seen before. But that's OK.

Really, the only aspects that don't seem to jibe are the addition of certain characters to the origin story of the turtles, and the troubling crush that one character has on April.

The bottom line is that this film could have been worse. And while that may seem like damning it with faint praise, it is at least praise.
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Pumpkin (2002)
When 'separate but equal' worlds collide.
15 May 2004
Webster's New World Dictionary defines the word ‘retarded' as: 'slow or delayed in development, esp mentally.'

The movie's setup is certainly different from the typical ‘boy meets girl' formula. We've all seen the ‘nerd gets girl' bit. Well, this time it's taken to the ‘next level' if you will. The plot revolves around a stereotypical ‘prom queen' type of sorority girl falling in love with a mentally (and physically) handicapped boy, and how everything she once held dear falls apart because of it.

This is the sort of project that Christina Ricci has made a career out of doing. Namely, dark comedies. She plays against type insofar as she's considered a rather ‘edgy' actress, yet her role in this flick is that of the ‘popular girl'. A role in which is has obvious fun lampooning.

The subject matter would make one think that this would be a conventional straight drama, but it isn't, which is perhaps what elevates it above what could be typical tearjerker schlock. The film never takes itself too seriously, there's always a bit of ‘winking' involved. Take for instance when Ricci's character tries to kill herself by overdosing on Night Quill and Pepto-Bismol-only to succeed in making herself sick to her stomach.

However, while satirical, it does make good points on how the general public view and think about the mentally handicapped. How beneath the platitudes and seeming self sacrifice, most people still view them as ‘unequal' to the rest of us-people to whom mouth service is given, but true acceptance of is never a genuine consideration.

The way everyone turns on Ricci's character (her friends, her boyfriend, her parents) when it's made clear her feelings for her ‘special friend'-it's very poignant and very real (if not also very farcical). And one supposes that it's because of that blatant bias of others that make her make out scenes with said ‘special friend' so satisfying. She not only accepts him, but accepts him as a woman accepts a man. One has to admit, there's something oddly esoteric about seeing her have an implied sex scene with a ‘retard'. It sort of warms the cockles of one's heart.

‘Off beat' is the best way to quantify this film. It toes the line between full-blown farce and full on drama. Satirical yet genuine. And this is coming from a guy that usually avoids these types of flicks like the Bubonic Plague!
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The Difference Between 'Low Budget' and 'No Budget'.
17 April 2004
Low-grade production values and only slightly better acting bring down an otherwise generic plot.

The bottom line: a 'magical' princess leads a group of women warriors and peasants against her evil brother who seeks to take the kingdom's throne after the death of their father.

As far as 'Fantasy' flicks go, there are three levels of production values. On the high end one has `The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. Below that one has `Conan the Destroyer'. And below *that* one has this movie. The production values here make `Xena: Warrior Princess' look like `Lord of the Rings'! They're horrible. The props look as though they came from the trunk of the local community theater. The weapons are especially laughable (and who know that one could be stabbed with a sword and not bleed!).

And the acting, well, the best thing that can be said about the acting is that the thespians involved took the dialogue seriously (though I can't imagine the humiliation one must feel to have been a part of the making of this travesty). If I were to have worked on this film I don't think that I could have ever looked anyone straight in the face again.

And to make matters worse, the movie tries to 'cater' to a certain demographic with gratuitous nudity. Even the sight of two bare-chested ladies fighting in mud is not enough to recommend this flick-that's just how poorly done it was. One has seen soft-core porn with better production values!

And for nominally being a 'fantasy' film, no actual 'magic' is ever really seen.

Everything about this movie is so poorly done one can't help but wonder *how* it ever got made. A film student and two chimps could have produced something better!

There is a difference between low budget and *no* budget! Avoid this film if you can, though viewing it won't do one any long term harm. It's just bad. Not 'laughably bad', just bad. I don't think even `Mystery Science Theater' could make this one look good!
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X2 (2003)
Less Character, More Movie.
31 January 2004
While there is more movie here than in the first one, there is much less of the characters involved. Instead of "X2: X-Men United", they should have titled this "The Story of Wolverine". Whereas the last movie was an ensemble piece, in this movie everyone takes a backseat to Logan. This is especially glaring in the cases of Rogue, Professor X, and Magneto. In the last movie they (along with Wolvie) were the main characters, the main focal points of the plot. In this movie everyone outside of Logan is reduced to set dressing. One gets the idea that if the actors weren't contractually obligated to return for the sequel that they wouldn't have (because the script gives them nothing to do).

In addition to that, certain plot lines are suddenly dropped while others are begun and go no further.

But don't get me wrong; this isn't a bad movie by any means. For instance, the fight scenes are better this time around, and the general story isn't bad at all, it's just that the overall feel of everything is different here.

The story is bigger than last time (the whole world is at stake), but the time devoted to characterization is smaller (Cyclops is MIA for 3/4 of the film).

It's a different balance this time around. In the first flick the story was small, the characterization was in the forefront, and the number of characters utilized was many. This time around the story is big, the characterization is in the background, and the number of characters utilized is few.

Perhaps they should spin Wolverine off into his own film series.
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