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Roadie (2011)
10/10
Real People Who Love Music With Some Very Real Problems
7 January 2012
Jimmy was a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult all his adult life who has - painfully and wrongfully according to him - been fired by the band and left by them somewhere in the wilds of Michigan. With nowhere else to go, he makes his way back home to Queens where he has not been since his father's death many, many years before. He has barely spoken with his mother in the interim and now he overstates his role with the band to her - manager, writer, producer, etc. He tries to collect himself to deal with this massive setback, but he is not making the situation any better with angry calls to the band's actual manager.

I think that roadie is one of the coolest jobs in the world next to rock star and Jimmy does as well. I, too, would have major problems dealing with his rude awakening after so many years and the loss of his livelihood and dream.

Out for some butter for his Mom's famous tuna melts, Jimmy runs into a high school classmate who is and was quite a butt-head who is now married to Jimmy's first love, Nikki. Jimmy and Nikki wind up back in his boyhood room which is untouched by time and looks like a "rock and roll museum" according to Nikki.

Out of his vinyl record collection, Nikki pulls out Ratcity In Blue by, local 70s favorites, the Good Rats and they listen to a couple of tracks. This brings back memories of seeing the band every Saturday night with their friend Steph - who passed away unbeknownst to Jimmy.

This movie is about real people, with lots of issues, who love music and are dealing with some very real problems. If you enjoy music, have been on the road with a band or thought about doing so (one of my life's regrets is turning down an offer to be a roadie) you will really like this movie.

Full disclosure - I also own this "original" album with the cool pizza sleeve art, am a huge Good Rats fan and may have seen Steph, Nikki and Jimmy at one of those Saturday night shows back in the day. My heartfelt thanks go to Gerald and Michael Cuesta for a wonderful film and soundtrack including these New York music legends and a great version of Jackson Browne's Stay by Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows. Did they misspell "Peppi" Marchello in the closing thanks to him?
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6/10
Would Be A 10 If Shots Were Not "Photoshopped"
21 April 2010
A bunch of this footage is "amazing" - I would have preferred if the filmmakers had stuck to the true to nature stuff and not taken the "cast" to the Statue of Liberty, Paris, etc.

This is an amazing "story" of the journeys, hazards and adventures of some beautiful creatures. There are a few quite shocking moments - but they are explainable to young viewers.

What kind of "documentary" edits shots to make them more interesting? For me, this is the film's major flaw and is downright unconscionable. Cut out 20 minutes or so of this tomfoolery and fakery and this would be a "10" – easy!
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True Romance (1993)
4/10
What A Cast! Too Bad The Movie Disappoints
28 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Pennsylvania, Tom Sizemore and James Gandolfini are all in this film! I almost missed Val Kilmer's Mentor (aka Elvis), just like I missed a lot about this movie.

Get married to a call girl who was on the job 4 days after one night with her? Then, not be able to breathe the same air as her pimp and kill him? Get a suitcase of the pimp's cocaine and run with it? What was Christian Slater's Clarence thinking? He should have just kept working at the comic store and lived happily ever after with Patricia Arquette's Alabama (interesting name for someone who "is not Florida white trash"). But, then we would not get to see all these fine actors breeze in and out of scenes directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino.

This film feels like Beverly Hills Cop meets Pulp Fiction – sorry that I cannot recommend it as I expected more from all this talent.
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Pedro (2008)
2/10
I Expected More Than A Movie Of The Week
24 May 2009
Pedro Zamora broke new ground as an HIV positive AIDS activist on national television on MTV's The Real World. This film, unfortunately, does not break much new ground – we get to know more about Pedro and his leaving Cuba and him dealing with AIDS and his treatments, but it leaves me wanting more. This is more of a Movie Of The Week than a film that celebrates Pedro's life and achievements.

I am a big fan of The Real World and Pedro's season had more drama in it than this movie. The whole Puck arc on The Real World (and even the Rachel and Pedro one) had much more tension and emotion than this film does. It has been 15 years since Pedro passed away, couldn't we have gotten a better script given all the time that it could have been worked on? This film's message is still relevant today, but our relative enlightenment on homosexuality, STDs, sex education and safe sex makes the subject not as taboo as it was 15 years ago.

For me, Alex Loynaz' portrayal of Pedro does not capture the strong life force and intensity that Pedro did have. I did appreciate the cameo that Judd, Pam and their kids had – I wish that all the cast members had participated with their comments in a documentary style instead of the actors who portrayed them.
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3/10
What Ties These Three Stories Together?
22 May 2009
Not much, it is way too subtle for me to understand what these 3 women's lives and stories have in common. This is one of those films where you appreciate the magnitude of your problems compared to the characters' as theirs are 100 times worse than yours. I might have appreciated this film more if it had focused on one of the women and only told her story.

Why does Kyra Sedgwick's Delia stay with a man who despises her and have 3 kids with him? How about Parker Posey's Great going from also ran editor to superstar – is it really that easy? Why is Fairuza Balk's Paula out in a club and interested in the Norwegian dude? Each one of these could have used more backstory.

Ron Leibman's Avram Herskowitz is an obvious ripoff of Alan Dershowitz.

Rebecca Miller directed and wrote the film based on her book. This movie looks like it was shot on tape in an eternally smoky haze – was that the only way to "soften" these characters?
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Summer Lovers (1982)
8/10
When Is The Next Flight To Greece?
20 May 2009
This film is an excellent promo tool for tourism in the Greek Isles. Who wouldn't want to spend a summer on a beautiful island with important archaeological artifacts to explore during the day and discos to party in at night? There are quite a number of beautiful people in the film and many of them are half dressed or naked while sunning or swimming.

I am not a huge fan of Peter Gallagher, but his character Michael Pappas pulls off every guy's dream of getting his girlfriend to approve of him fooling around with another woman. Daryl Hannah is his American girlfriend Cathy who is looking to grow, become more open and sexually move away from her "nice girl" persona in Santorini. Valérie Quennessen is the lovely other woman Lina who eventually moves in with Michael and Cathy at their villa just across the way from hers. The sunsets and vistas are killer at both villas.

The director, Randal Kleiser also directed "The Blue Lagoon" – which is another beautiful film that can also be appreciated without sound. This film is not deep, but it is great to look at and good, light entertainment.
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Alien (1979)
10/10
The Alien Is The Baddest Movie Villain Ever!
20 May 2009
If only the crew listened to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and followed quarantine protocol, they may have avoided all this fuss. Ian Holm's science officer Ash was the one who let the away team onboard – what's his problem? The answer is quite an unexpected twist.

The Alien is, unfortunately for the crew, a hungry killing machine whose "blood" is a highly corrosive acid. The Alien's "coming out" is one of the classic movie scenes of all time.

Ridley Scott does a great job directing the crew of the Nostromo which is really a tugboat taking a load of mineral ore from the outer reaches of space back to Earth. The Nostromo looks very much like a set from Kubrick's 2001.

A not so subtle subtext of this film is corporate greed. The crew is very concerned about getting their "share" and what to do to get a full instead of a half-share. Ash's motivation was greed as well.
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The Break-Up (2006)
4/10
Nobody Does Vince Vaughn Like Vince Vaughn
13 May 2009
Does Vince need a script or is this the way he is in real life? Of course, Jennifer Aniston is cute and easy on the eyes and in this film she is the girlfriend with a job at a foo foo art gallery in Chicago.

Vince's Gary Grobowski is a 100% Polish tour guide who has way too many ball games to go to and watch and video games to play to get involved with someone like Jennifer's Brooke. What do they have in common? Not much, except somehow they fell in love. What do they see in each other? I am not sure.

There are some funny scenes (a few with Vince and Jon Favreau, these guys have some chemistry) and cute moments – but, where's the beef? Who cares if Gary and Brooke live happily ever after? Not me.
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4/10
Who Would You Rather Work For Buddy Ackerman Or Ari Gold?
10 May 2009
Why is Guy working for Buddy? Probably because Ari was not around in 1995. Why does Dawn want to be with Guy? For access to Buddy. Why does she stay with Guy? I am not sure.

There are bunch of things about this movie that I am not sure about. But, Kevin Spacey is an excellent, verbal tsunami as Buddy Ackerman – and totally believable because he is a great actor.

Frank Whaley's Guy is certainly out of his element working for Buddy – he wants to write and make meaningful movies, not be a gofer that is verbally abused for getting Equal instead of Sweet & Low.

Michelle Forbes' Dawn, who also wants to make meaningful movies, seems way out of Guy's league.

The ending leaves a lot to be desired.
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High Fidelity (2000)
10/10
One Of My Top 5 Movies Of All Time
10 May 2009
Great music, a John Cusack you want to hang out with and some very funny and touching scenes boost this film into my Top 5. Stephen Frears directs from Nick Hornby's book which provides a fascinating look at music and love in the Windy City (even though the book was not set in Chicago, it works).

John Cusack is great and his sister Joan has her obligatory role, but Jack Black's Barry steals every scene he is in. One of my favorite scenes of all time (in my Top 5!) is the confrontation in the record store with Tim Robbins' Ian / Ray – it is hilarious! High Fidelity should be in your Top 5 list as well – it is a must see!
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Star Trek (2009)
10/10
J.J. Abrams Hits It Out Of The Park!
10 May 2009
Paramount execs must be hung over because they drank way too much champagne in celebration of the return of the Star Trek franchise. J.J. Abrams does a masterful job of crafting a watchable, fun film that respectfully pays homage to the previous Trek movies and TV shows. When is the next one going to be released? Will both the odd and even numbered movies in this run be excellent? I hope so! It was like a reunion to see these characters again and we got to know their backstories as well.

The good guys, bad guys, sets and effects were all fantastic – welcome back Star Trek!
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In the Cut (2003)
3/10
Mark Ruffalo's Performance Cannot Save This Film
10 May 2009
This film is shot wonderfully, has some real good music and features a fine performance from Mark Ruffalo. But, it is way too weird – the unrated version is way out there for a mainstream film.

Meg Ryan, trying to break out of her nice girl image, is Frannie who cries throughout half the movie. She is a teacher who wants to sleep with a student, but does not seem to sleep with anyone until Ruffalo's Detective Malloy asks her questions about a gruesome murder.

Frannie suspects Malloy, but Kevin Bacon's John Graham is a weird freak who she should also suspect.

I am not sure what Jane Campion was trying to accomplish here, but it quite a tangled, sexual web that she weaves. Also, the flashbacks to Frannie's father ice skating do not make any sense to me.
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8/10
Wonderful Dialog Between Some Troubled Folks
10 May 2009
Peter Gallagher is yuppie, junior law partner John Mullany with a huge office, a cold wife and a sizzling affair with her sister. Andie MacDowell is Ann Bishop Mullany who has lost interest in sex, being touched and grapples with huge issues like "what are we going to do with all the garbage" in therapy. Laura San Giacomo is Cynthia – Ann's bartender, nymphomaniac sister – who is OK with touching John.

Things are put into motion when John's frat brother Graham (James Spader) comes back to town. Ann does not want him staying in her house, but she warms up to him and helps him find an apartment and becomes his friend. Graham is full of many secrets and one of them is that he likes to videotape women talking about sex – this is how he gets gratification.

Ann and Cynthia become subjects for his collection and the worlds of the women and the men change forever.

Steven Soderbergh wrote and directed this film and he gets wonderful performances from Spader and MacDowell.
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The Thing (1982)
2/10
How Is This In The IMDb Top 250?
10 May 2009
This could easily have been a Star Trek episode and have been wrapped up in half the time. If only they had a universal translator or spoke Norwegian! The Thing may have been state of the art in 1982, but it just looks cheap in the 21st century where we are used to awesome CGI effects.

I cannot believe that these men are "researchers" – they seem more guys you would find in a police station, both the cops and the criminals. So, you can get high at the research station? And roller skate around it? Not very professional, indeed.

Kurt Russell channels Escape from New York's Snake Plissken for John Carpenter who directed both films. How does Kurt's R.J. MacReady, who is the station's helicopter pilot, know everything and always have the right answer? MacReady wears the worst hat ever worn in the movies.

Don't bother with this unbelievable farce.
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4/10
Needs More Backstory
4 May 2009
I only knew the name Michael Collins before watching this film and now I know of his exploits, but I could have used some more backstory instead of "700 years of struggle." Like why Liam Neeson's Collins and Aidan Quinn's Harry Boland are such great friends and why Alan Rickman's Eamon de Valera fear the both of them working together on the Irish Republican cause. So, my Irish history is rusty and this movie helps fill in some gaps, but I think more of the history of these folks struggle should have been shown.

Julia Roberts' Kitty Kiernan is character who needed further development or she should have hit the cutting room floor. Why is she involved in the cause? Who does she love Michael or Harry? Is she a country lass or a city woman? Why is she in the film again? To me, it seemed like the actors were not as immersed in their roles as they should have been.
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7/10
Jack Can Act!
3 May 2009
Is Bobby Eroica Dupea a complicated person with a bunch of issues? Yes, is he one of the most important characters in American films? I do not think so, but Jack Nicholson's performance IS one of the best in American film.

Bobby can boil over and explode at any minute (and does a few times). He has many issues, he: does not treat his girlfriend well; likes to have some drinks and the fun associated with that; and does not have a good relationship with his father.

Most of the characters in this film are eccentric and I found some of their interactions forced. Meeting Palm and Terry on the road did not add much except too much talk of filth and the infamous "chicken salad" scene in the restaurant. Jack's brooding, transcendent performance overcomes all of this.
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7/10
Who Is The Biggest Faker?
3 May 2009
This movie is about lies and half-truths, but it does not start out that way.

The film revolves around Natalie Press' Mona and her interactions with her born again brother Phil (Paddy Considine) and the suspended boarding school, rich girl Tamsin (Emily Blunt). Phil finds the Lord in prison and turns the pub that his deceased Mum ran (and where he and Mona live upstairs) into a place for prayer meetings and services. Tamsin and Mona have a chance encounter on a country lane and wind up spending the summer together and falling madly in love – teenage crush style. Things unravel at the end with all three showing their true colors.

The film is beautifully shot by Ryszard Lenczewski in West Yorkshire and Lancashire, England. And the director, Pawel Pawlikowski, has a deft touch and moves the characters and story gently forward.
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Into the Wild (2007)
6/10
A Different Kind Of American Dream
24 April 2009
Chris McCandless graduates Emory University in Atlanta with grades good enough to "get into Harvard Law" and his parents are jazzed and want to buy him a new car. Chris is not jazzed though about his parents version of the American Dream and its materialism and making a good impression on the neighbors. Chris is real intelligent and thoughtful and does not want to live in the work-a-day world and save for retirement – he wants to LIVE. So, he donates his law school money to charity and hits the road.

For such a smart guy who did well in college for himself and learned about things that interested him, he does make a couple of dumb mistakes – like not reading road signs or important books.

This film is wonderfully filmed, especially the slow motion water scenes, and written and directed by Sean Penn who puts his all into this film like he does with his acting roles. Emile Hirsch is very strong in the role of Chris and has to change his body and look as Chris lives off the land – more famine than feast.

Chris meets some cool, interesting people along the way – but, some of these encounters seem forced like the Danes along the Colorado River. Chris also learns some deep, dark family secrets – but, are they enough to make him seek his new kind of American Dream, alone in the wilderness like our forefathers?
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10/10
A Tour De Force
24 April 2009
Wow, totally not what I expected! We are all different and Lars is no exception – he does hold a steady job and drive a car, but he keeps to himself. I would think that if: my mother died when she had me; I was raised by a father with a broken heart; and I had an older brother who could not wait to get out of town then I would probably be in much worse shape than Lars.

This movie is really about small town America, the community, neighbors and folks from church have watched over Lars to make sure he was alright. When his older brother and pregnant wife move back to town, they take over the house and Lars lives in the garage. Lars' sister-in-law wants him to be a part of their family and have breakfast and dinner with them. Lars would rather be alone. How would you react when you are confronted with a sister-in-law who you think might have similar pregnancy complications and possibly lose her life in childbirth? Lars seeks out a relationship with Bianca who is wheelchair bound and the daughter of Brazilian and Danish missionaries.

Bianca becomes an integral part of the town – getting her hair done with the girls at the beauty parlor, going to church, getting treatments from the doctor, reading to the sick kids at the hospital, etc. These time commitments cause tensions with Lars and cause him to grow and face some hard facts.

A touching, warm, story about how a different person ultimately grows up and begins to live.
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2/10
The Raid May Have Been Great, But The Movie Isn't
24 April 2009
The raid to save POW survivors of the Bataan Death March took place over 5 days in January 1945 after US troops landed in the Philippines. This movie seems 5 days long as well – the plot inches along and there are so many characters that we hardly get to know any of them.

Why is the US POW senior officer so obsessed with the wife of his former commanding officer? I am not sure as this is not explained well. Why is the Colonel whose men have to raid the POW camp misunderstood and what are the "methods to his madness?" Again, not sure. Let's fool the Japanese by sending a single plane to buzz the camp while our troops are sneaking through open ground around the camp in daylight – you've got to be kidding!

The only interesting aspects to this story were the actions of the Filipino resistance (who knew there was one?) and the fact that only 2 raiders lost their lives on this attack – I thought was a Hollywood thing, but it is a fact.

Do not bother with this overacted, slow, boring movie.
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3/10
This Film Is Not Complete
19 April 2009
There is something missing with this film - it is not complete. There is only a glimpse into a few days of these character's lives. Amy Adams is great, but Alan Arkin is turning into a caricature actor - this is NOT Little Miss Sunshine. The film's setting is New Mexico and is beautifully filmed. Amy Adams' Rose is "strong and a winner" as she tells herself each morning from a Post-It on her bathroom mirror. Then why is she stuck in a going nowhere affair with her married, ex-jock high school boyfriend? Emily Blunt's Norah also has issues - she cannot keep a waitress job at a "restaurant" that is really a lunch counter which does not need a waitress. There are tragic family issues beyond the Dad's business schemes that do not work out. And the crime scene cleanup business does not work out the character's or the family's issues. There are some cute scenes and some touching scenes; but this film leaves many, many questions unanswered.
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