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My favorite animated movie as a child
10 March 2015
That said, this movie is too dark and scary for young children ( I suppose that is why it is rated PG). The themes are very mature and I found myself explaining a lot of plot details to the kids. My children were required to read (or have read to them) The Rats Of Nimh, so we cheated and watched the movie. There is quite a departure from the book FYI. The kids love it but are confused by the ending. There were also elements that were confusing as well as elements that were so scary they left the room. Some unanswered questions remained. Did the rats get exterminated? I suppose we will check out the sequel. Mrs Brisby has been my hero since I was 9 years old and I am happy to share her braveness with my kids.
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Foxcatcher (2014)
Missed the mark
4 December 2014
I was really looking forward to this movie so it was very disappointing that it really didn't accomplish what I felt it should have (inflated expectations? Maybe so!).

The story is fascinating and dramatic. The acting was strong; the cast was excellent. Great cinematography.

My problem was this movie just fell short of portraying much depth in the relationships. Had it done this, the emotion towards one another, the disappointment and the tension would have all been much easier to understand. The viewer was expected to assume a lot of the love, anger, and ultimately resentment the characters felt towards one another without really exploring and showing the viewer WHY the characters really felt this towards one another.

Solid acting, but both Carrell and Tatum show that they are not acting powerhouses. Ruffalo was solid as always. He has a real screen presence. Shone above the other 2 actors IMO.

An excellent movie about a mentor/protégé that captured all the emotions and tension very well this year was Whiplash. Whiplash had a very similar love, hate, and ultimately fall from grace between the mentor and protégé. This movie fell far short of accomplishing what that one did. Plus this was a true story! Very disappointed.
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Like a huge helping of cheese
20 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
that was delicious to the last bite.

Yes, the movie is extremely clichéd and polished. The characters are one dimensional. The scenery is impossibly cutesie.

That said, I think this kind of movie is good to watch once in a while. Nothing really bad happens to anyone. Everything turns out OK. The actors are extremely cute; the two young leads are impossibly adorable.

Normally I love documentaries and gritty character driven pictures. But I did not mind this sweet cookie of a movie. I was honestly entertained and I'd recommend this movie to anyone.

Soundtrack unfortunately is over the top and annoying even for this sugary obvious film.
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24 April 2014
I knew from reading and research that the criminal justice system was deeply flawed on many levels. This movie beautifully and powerfully illustrates all that is wrong with our system. Men are incorrectly identified by witnesses; even after being excluded as the perpetrator by DNA wrongfully convicted individuals sit in jail as part of a show of force by the DA. Once released, some still have criminal records and find it difficult to get jobs. Some have difficulty acclimating to life outside of a cage. They have no skills. They have no money. They are broken. They are angry, and you will be too after watching this. Wilton Dedge's broken spirit will stick with you. Fortunately, he received 2 million dollars for 22 years in prison.
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On Death Row (2012– )
A deeply flawed but thought provoking series
22 March 2014
I watched this series on Netflix which showed 4 episodes. Every episode featured on Netflix was complex, thought provoking, and well done. I later learned there were 3 more episodes which I watched on youtube.

It is an interesting series that is not easy to watch. Herzog shows the viewer that these monsters who have committed horrific crimes are still human beings. Some actually show some insight into their choices and how it resulted in their current fate. Most do not, and this can be frustrating. Several proclaim their innocence.

The great strengths of this series are (1) Herzog's ability to let each interviewee to speak without being guided or biased, (2) the balanced presentation of crime, victim and inmate and (3) an unsympathetic view of execution.

I will admit I am conflicted regarding capital punishment. I believe many of these vicious animals deserve to die. But I acknowledge it is a flawed system that is racially and financially biased.
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Terrible...yet still kind of charming
1 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is so cliché, melodramatic, and cheesy. The characters are so terribly one dimensional. Also, they are not at all steeped in reality. Joe Fox is supposed to be some cutthroat businessman, yet you never see even an inkling of that in Hanks' performance. Meg Ryan is over the top cutesy to the point of inducing nausea. This is a business savvy New Yorker? She seems to barely have the wherewithal to tie her shoes let alone own a store. The supporting characters are weak and completely waste the talents of Parker Posey, Greg Kinnear and Steve Zahn (all awesome actors). Even Dave Chapelle sucked, but to be fair he had nothing to work with and had no real character at all. What a waste!

Perhaps it is the on screen charisma of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks that made me watch this inanity to the end.

It's bizarre to me that Meg Ryan was nominated for a Golden Globe for this. Her acting strength lies in When a Man Loves and Woman.

Anyway, this movie makes for a decent rainy Sunday. I wouldn't pay $$ to stream or rent this. But if it's free - go for it.
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Girls (2012–2017)
Started out interesting, then sucked balls
22 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I started watching the first season after reading how horrible this show was on other websites; I guess you could call it a morbid curiosity. I was pleasantly surprised and watched the entire first season. The show was quirky and I liked how Lena Dunham dared the audience to deal with her nude body that didn't fit conventional Hollywood norms.

Then came the second season which was total garbage. The characters were gross and the writing was unbelievably bad. Tina Fey wrote a terrific show for 7 seasons; Lena Dunham couldn't even make it for 2. Not a witty line in a whole season. How is that possible? Anyway, I look forward to this show ending. I gave it a shot but it just crashed and burned.
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THIS is what a movie should be
15 January 2014
Movie based on a true story, incredibly hot and talented actors and actresses playing the leads, great screenplay, great acting and incredibly awesome directing. This is what a movie should be. Scorsese delivers a phenomenally directed film with incredible acting. This movie was over 3 hours long and I wasn't ready for the movie to end. I usually check my watch during long movies...but I didn't during this one.

Seriously, Leo needs to win the Oscar. It may not be this year but it needs to be soon. The guy is incredible. I also very much liked Margot Robbie. WOW. What a performance. Anyway, see this numerous times. i will surely go see it again. Highly entertaining.
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Highly entertaining though not perfect
2 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Pros: Tremendous acting, wonderfully directed scenes, great music, awesome costumes. In particular, Christian Bale and Amy Adams give superlative performances. J Law's scene in the restaurant where she says she doesn't like change was some amazing acting. Renner was solid. I really liked the fact that this film didn't have nonstop action and rather focused on character development. Every character in this movie was interesting and very well developed.

Cons: Dragged a bit at over 2 hours, payoff in the end was weak. The improvised dialogue was bad at times. Plot kind of convoluted.

I won't see it again but I really did enjoy seeing it once. I liked this film MUCH better than Silver Lining's Playbook.
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28 Days (2000)
Could have been better
3 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie on a lazy Saturday morning. I like Sandra Bullock, and the subject matter sounded interesting. I thought maybe I'd see Sandra in a meaty dramatic role - an alcoholic hits rock bottom and rebuilds her life.

Instead what I saw was worse than a Lifetime movie of the week about alcoholism and rehab. The potentially powerful storyline just lacked scenes or dialogue that carried any gravity. It seemed as though the beginning of the movie where Sandra's Gwen was a thoughtless, disgusting alcoholic with no consideration for others was supposed to be some kind of slapstick humor. Oh look, what a goofball! She stole a car, drove drunk, and crashed into a house. Whoopsie!

Rehab was a mish mash of clichéd characters and stereotypical behavior. A couple of things I did appreciate during the rehab scenes were (1) Sandra's performance regarding the physical withdrawal from substances, (2) the scenes when Sandra flashes back to her childhood and her mother's alcoholism, and (3) the touching, well acted scene between Gwen and her sister Lily at rehab. Other than that, the other patients at rehab were caricatures of typical addicts and were so silly it was offensive at times.

Sandra gives a nice performance. Steve Buscemi is always great and he gives some gravity to his brief role. Other than that, it's not that good and I can't recommend it.
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A powerful film
3 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I've always appreciated this film for its honest look at how insidious alcoholism is and how it devastates those around the addict. I watched it again on a lazy Saturday afternoon and, despite its flaws, its an excellent film and a great look at how alcoholism is a family disease.

Meg Ryan's Alice is an alcoholic in a comfortable though unhealthy marriage with Andy Garcia's Michael, an enabler and rescuer. Alice hits rock bottom and heads off to detox. The family struggles while she is away, but still struggles when Alice gets back and fights to stay clean and sober. This is one of the greatest strengths of the film. Becoming sober is not the hard part. Staying sober is. Learning to live life sober is incredibly challenging.

Meg Ryan gives a masterful performance in this. However, on re-viewing, I really appreciated the nuances of Andy Garcia's performance. Michael clearly finds meaning in helping and fixing all the problems around him. However, when Alice is sober and he finds he doesn't need to rescue her anymore, he is lost, angry, disappointed, and hurt. His speech at the Al Anon meeting when he admits that he feels pain seeing his wife doing so well without his help is powerful.

The child actresses are great, particularly Tina Majorino. I wish they would have delved a bit more into how mom's alcoholism affected the kids. Also, Michael's speech at the very end is cringeworthy, sugarcoating what is otherwise an honest and very real portrayal of addiction and recovery.
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Maybe I am missing something?
10 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I really wanted to LOVE this movie, as I rarely get out to watch movies so I am very selective about the ones I will go watch. I love both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and the reviews have been so overwhelmingly positive I was sure I couldn't lose!

To me, this film is a typical clichéd rom com with some mental illness and character twists thrown in. Boy meets girl, boy and girl pretend to just be friends for a while, boy and girl get thrown into a situation where they have intense prolonged contact, boy and girl fall in love and end up together. YAWN. THIS is what is getting so much hype?

I found Bradley Cooper to be magnetic and intense. Great work. I have enjoyed him since his small role in Wedding Crashers and thought he was just superb in Limitless. He is the best part of this movie. The guy is super talented!

I really was not that impressed with the other performances despite the fact I thought I should be. To be fair, no one stunk it up or ruined the movie. But I thought anyone could have played the other roles. I like Jennifer Lawrence but I didn't think she was that great in this. I thought the parents were played well but again, I didn't think De Niro was that special in this.

I'm not really sure I'd recommend this. I'd probably either wait for DVD or even cable. It's OK.
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Thinner (1996)
8 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The novel Thinner is one of my all time favorites by Stephen King. This movie is awful in every way. It stays faithful to the book in terms of the story, but it is completely trashed by a ghastly cast and horrible direction. The acting is beyond bad. Robert John Burke is a clown. The wife and daughter (no names) are plastic and completely fake. The only famous face is Joe Mantegna, but by the time he appeared in the movie I had lost interest.

The makeup work is laughable. The fat suit and fat face are so poorly applied that I thought I could see the makeup lines on Burke's face. He never looks thin enough for you to believe that his life and health are in danger which is what created a lot of tension in the book.

I think I can honestly say this is the worst Stephen King adaptation I have seen. There is not one redeeming quality about it. If you enjoyed the book, stay away. If you hated the book, stay away. Just stay away from it. There will be a much better B movie on a different channel that you can waste your lazy weekend on.
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The Best Around
3 November 2012
No, this movie is NOT the best around, but I dare anyone who grew up with this movie to not watch it when it comes on TV. The Karate Kid is about as formulaic as a movie can get, but it works well and even after seeing the final fight scene about 30+ times in the past I find myself on the edge of my seat every time it's on. I also weep.

The reason this movie works so well is terrific acting and the tender relationship between Daniel and Mr Miyagi. The dialogue is also excellent with lots of iconic quotes peppered throughout. This is one of the absolute classic films from the 80s and endures today. BANSAI!!!!
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27 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this after watching Argo as I became interested in Affleck's work as a director. This movie is pretty well done, so I give Affleck kudos for good direction. Obviously Ryan is amazing. Much of the acting is very good. I was not very impressed with Casey Affleck or Michele Monaghan who basically play the two leads. There are stronger actors out there than these two that could have conveyed much more heart to two complicated characters.

The "meh" in my title largely stems from such an implausible plot!! We have a little blond girl whose abduction is major local news for weeks. We are to expect that she has a chance to live in anonymity with an older couple without anyone noticing that suddenly they have a child and she looks an awful lot like that girl from the news? Sorry, I cannot suspend my disbelief to that extent. I understand that was true to the novel, but it was a bit hard for me to swallow.

The ending is great. I know people are really mixed on it, but I just thought it was so powerful. I probably would recommend this film. It's entertaining and well acted.
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Argo (2012)
WOW - exceeded my expectations
22 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
My husband and I saw this to kill some time on a recent vacation. I did not know what it was about beforehand (yes, I live under a rock).

The premise of the movie comes together quite quickly thanks to an informative prologue and an excellent screenplay. Basically, during the Iran hostage crisis of the late 70s 6 members of the American embassy in Iran escape and take refuge in the Canadian embassy. To get them out of Iran a crafty CIA agent devises a plan so absurd it may actually have a chance of working. To succeed in his plan the CIA agent (played by Affleck) needs the cooperation of a Hollywood makeup artist and producer.

The movie is based on actual historical events. It has the grainy look of a 70s movie. You feel like you are transported back in time while watching this movie. The acting is superb with the exception (and I really hate to say this!!) of Affleck. Sorry, Ben Affleck is not a good actor! His directing is incredible, and I loved Argo. I just wish he had cast someone else in the lead.

Argo is a taut thriller. Even when you know what the outcome will be you will be thrilled by the events along the way. The tension in palpable. This is a tremendous movie that you must see at least once. I do hope Affleck gets an Oscar for best director. It would be very well deserved.
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The Switch (I) (2010)
I wanted to hate it, but I couldn't
5 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The premise of this movie was well known to me, and honestly, I found it quite disturbing. What kind of major douchebag couldn't confess his love to his "best" friend and instead sabotages her plan to conceive via artificial insemination? And then the same douchebag lives with his lie for years and years on end?

The male lead character is so loathsome. What a douchebag. The female lead is boring. The sperm donor character is wasted.

However, Jennifer Aniston was actually very pleasant in this movie. It was so nice to see her acting like an adult and not a screechy, pathetic bag of neuroses like she usually does. I liked her restrained performance. Jason Bateman just has such a great on-screen charisma even when playing a douchebag. He is so nice to look at.

The chemistry between Bateman's character and Sebastian was so wonderful. These scenes made this movie an enjoyable experience. I can't quite recommend this movie, but if it's on it wouldn't be a complete waste of your time to watch it.
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Magic Mike (2012)
Pretty disappointing
28 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The dialogue was terrible. I wondered if there was a script at all. The acting was beyond awful. Why is Channing Tatum such hot stuff? This movie does not give any insight into his meteoric rise. The love interest is beyond horrible. She's probably the worst actress I've ever seen. I didn't really catch much of a plot.

OK, now the good parts. The strip scenes - YUM! Pure beefcake. The Channing Tatum strip scenes were pretty cool (I wasn't sure if it was him or a double but whomever it was really dances well). The best part of the movie is Matthew McConaghuey. His body is ripped and he is dripping with charisma. Yes, he basically plays himself in every movie he's in. But damn, he is an interesting character to play! I loved him, and he lights up the screen in every scene he's in.

Otherwise this movie was a HUGE disappointment. I hope to never see it again.
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Worst movie I have ever seen
29 February 2012
It is hard to put into words how much I absolutely deplore this movie. I went into it hoping to learn a bit about Jesus, the man and the story of his betrayal, punishment and execution. Instead what I saw was a horrifically violent unwatchable piece of sh*t. There were brief periods of beautifully done cinematography followed by what felt like HOURS of nausea inducing graphic violence. WHY? Why did the violence have to be so over-the-top and so excruciatingly long? All that I can conclude is that Mel Gibson is a mentally depraved individual who wanted to make a snuff film starring one of the most famous men in the world.

Do not watch this God awful piece of crap. It is without redemption. It is horrifically violent and will likely make you sick.
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I could not finish this movie
15 January 2012
Being a working mom and constantly evaluating my own choices, I thought this movie would speak to me. It was referred to me by another working mom. Though there was some truth to this movie, overall it was really unwatchable! It was way too clichéd and heavy handed. Sarah Jessica Parker needs a fork stuck in her - she's done. I enjoyed her as Carrie Bradshaw; her continuing to be Carrie in every movie is tedious. The script was so bad, however, that I doubt any lead actress could have salvaged this mess.

Had the movie been WAY less condescending, it might have made some great commentary. The supporting players are not bad. But the mother in law and token judgmental stay at home mom are just way too over the top to be effective. Also, the amount of work Parker's character juggles is unrealistic. I also found the notion that the working dad contributes nearly nothing to the home absurd. How offensive! This movie could have been interesting; instead, it sucks.
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The Artist (I) (2011)
I loved this movie
11 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences I've had in a long time. I was pretty reticent about seeing a movie with no dialogue, but I was delighted and astonished by how wonderful this movie was with only one or two lines of dialogue in the whole film. The acting is terrific, and the leads (complete unknowns to me) had a wonderful chemistry. The dog is adorable and quite the little actor (I guess there were actually 3 of them).

The Artist is a charming film that I cannot recommend enough. Go see this movie. It's original and well made. They are requiring 10 lines of text so here's the 10th one!
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Bridesmaids (I) (2011)
What a horrible movie
15 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Just rented this on iTunes, and I'm sorry I didn't try to stream it for free. I think Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph are talented actresses and they were both annoying in this. Maya Rudolph was given nothing to work with really and Kristin's character was just a really annoying loser. I didn't care about any of them. This movie could have been something great and instead it was disjointed, annoying, silly, pedestrian and a complete waste of my time and money.

The few things I did like were the mom character (pretty complex, interesting character well played), Jon Hamm (YUM, and nice to see him playing a dickhead), and the roommates who were over-the-top but provided some real comedy.

Overall, avoid this movie. It sucks.
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The Pianist (2002)
21 February 2011
My husband and I decided to watch this on netflix one night as we had heard it was good. Neither of us had any expectations and figured if it won a couple of Oscars it must be decent. I had no idea it was an absolute masterpiece.

This may be one of the best movies I have seen to date. Days after I saw this movie I cannot stop visualizing the images and feeling the emotions conveyed in the film. The cinematography is breathtaking. The beauty of pre-devastation Warsaw is sharply contrasted with the bleakness of the ghetto, and it would be understatement to say how haunting the visuals of Warsaw after the bombings were.

The acting here is tremendous. Brody (who I had really not seen in anything else significant prior to this) carries the entire movie on his wan shoulders. He conveys so much with pain, anguish, hope, and loss with just his eyes. It is quite the actor who causes the viewer to feel the pain he is experiencing as a character. This was an extremely well deserved acting Oscar.

This movie is extremely depressing considering the subject matter but it is told and portrayed with grace and power by Polanski. So many scenes are powerful and haunting. To me, in many ways this is a perfect movie. Yes, I know this review is filled with hyperbole, but I simply cannot remember the last time I was so moved and impressed by a film as I was with the Pianist. See it at least once.
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Audition (1999)
Very creepy and shocking
8 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
To be fair, I had heard and read quite a bit about this film before I saw it. Still, I was amused, astounded, shocked and frightened by it. The first half of the film is quite pleasant and humorous as our protagonist goes on the search for a new wife. The audition scenes are hilarious and reminiscent of over the top American Idol early rounds. From there, the film becomes suspenseful, mysterious, dark and finally, sickening.

The movie is beautifully shot and the acting is strong. The violence to me was neither too gory nor over the top to me. It's like the violence in any Tarantino film. Perhaps when it came out it was a pretty novel concept. Anyway, I highly recommend this film and guarantee you will be entertained.
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Avatar (2009)
Gorgeous movie with the worst story EVER
25 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I give this 3 stars because I loved looking at this movie. There were moments during the movie where my jaw dropped and I couldn't believe what I was looking at. This movie was an absolute visual stunner.

Otherwise, I was offended by how low brow the "plot" and dialogue was. UNOBTANIUM? Really? That's the best James Cameron could come up with? And I merely scratch the lameness surface with that little "plot" point. Every other line in the movie made me cringe. I couldn't help but think if a capable writer had contributed to this film it could have been an all time classic. Instead it will be remembered as the movie that could have been.
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