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The Affair (2014– )
Complex and disturbing and alluringly thought provoking.
30 October 2014
Setting: Picturesque, folksy, idyllic, New England seaside tourist/fishing village town. Plot: Male (Dominic West) novel writing work/summer vacation with wife and children, meets and gets drawn into the life of married local woman (Ruth Wilson).

Appreciate the complexity, undisclosed undercurrents, the conflicted psychology of the main characters, all the while, aware of the cloaked elephant in the room.

Story told similar to True Detective's style with the detective's interviews of the affairees shown remembrances, somehow relating to whatever is going to happen. One half is his side, the other half, hers.

Lots of sideways glimpses of character and intentions, challenging what you thought you understood.
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Roulette (2012)
1/10
Unwatchable
20 November 2013
"Hey! My friends and me made a movie, wanna see it?" If you are in the mood for a film school submission made with lunch money with acting/directing/editing that never lets you forget you are watching an attempt at making a movie then, this is for you.

Lots of lessons on what not to do. On the other hand, as far as film school shorts I have seen, it is pretty good. The writing was good and there were scenes that were done very well.

I was rooting for it to bring me under its spell but gave up after 16 torturous minutes, concluding that it was simply unwatchable.

Why all the stellar reviews? Could they be self serving or did I completely miss the point?
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Sanitarium (2013)
6/10
Camera behind the eyes of madness
30 June 2013
I am jotting down a review because nobody else has.

Three stories of the mentally ill: 1. Artist begins taking orders from the dolls he exhibits. 2. Eight year old boy, cruel father, concerned teacher and hallucinatory monster come into conflict. 3. Professor convinced of the Mayan apocalypse prophesies, builds bomb shelter to save his family.

I like psychological movies and this had the mix of elements I dig. A late night psychological mystery/thriller with a mad eye view of events. If you want to take a ride through insanity where you can't be sure what you are seeing is objective reality or hallucinations, this should suit you. Not art house or anything, more like an old HBO Tales from the Crypt. The last story with Lou Diamond Phillips was my favorite and will stay with me.

Giving it a 6 out of 10.
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3/10
So bad I had to give up. (very rare)
10 June 2013
I sit through everything so I was surprised that I found this film too awful to subject myself to any longer. A horror flick is supposed to make you feel icky and bad, so I stick them out but this film was an exercise in existentially molesting my inner child. The main character ha d no redeeming values and if it were a horror movie, I could have taken solace in imagining how he was going to die. It felt like it was meant to be made into a tediously bad pixar film but the decided to use actors and make it all look pixarish with the same kind of 2d overacting.

To be fair I did not like A Christmas story either, just can't handle the saccharine glorification of a fairytale childhood, still I do get why people liked that. This, film is utterly unredeeming and dull and pointless to boot.
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5/10
Little girl, "I see the tooth fairy".
17 January 2013
Sophia's (Harriet MacMasters-Green) daughter does not say this but you get the idea. Wanted to get into it but ended up hoping it would not disappoint me too much with the ending.

On the bright side, it is definitely not Hollywood but on the dark side, it has a hackneyed plot with lose strings and mediocre acting. This is a mother and daughter story. I admired the mother's beauty but felt distanced by her acting. The daughter, bless her heart, is not eye catching or endearing. The story kept me guessing and always swayed away from horror formula stuff but felt a bit like a bunch of horror movies tossed into a blender, resulting in a herky jerky plot, full of distractions and leaving you guessing at lose strings. Still the ending I did not expect since I not at all confident I know how it ended, felt it would have been better if it ended at the last scream.

Maybe the acting was the result of bad directing. In any case, I would not recommend it unless you are in the mood for a thriller/mystery/horror with an artsy Italian flavor that is not hung up on making too much sense.

5 for being unconventional but too chopped up.
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4/10
Studying the theology of stripped tumbleweeds.
8 November 2012
On the bright side, mostly grand vistas with generally pleasant and relaxing scenery.

You can guess from the title and that it is a Western that takes place in Utah the basics of the plot line. The spoiler is, joke on me, that there is next to nothing to spoil.

"Watch out now, Skeeter don't take kindly to you digging up and taking his ma's clothes.", if only, but no, the dialog is as memorable as that passable flapjack.

The theological question the film revolves around is: Does stealing the clothes from buried corpses force them to attend the Judgement as a nudist? It is a true story, an extremely underwhelming true story that the writer threw some spice on but the direction and acting left me feeling like I had been studying tumbleweeds.

Wait for it and wait for it some more, this can't be all there is can it? Yes, that's all there is, it's over, that was it. Wait I must have missed something profound, I refuse to believe someone made a movie about... nothing.

If you come up with something, please share.

All in all, that heavens I was not born then and there in that mind numbing wasteland.
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U Mugs (2012)
Had me guessing. Unlike anything I'd seen.
21 April 2012
It was a mystery to me and had me trying to figure out what the intention was, which took me over half of the film to get somewhat of a handle.

All the talk of low budget had me wondering if this was the "documentary"/horror, where the clumsiness is actually intended and artful or if it is actually what it seemed to be presenting itself unedited footage with a couple gag like twists tossed in.

All in all I have nothing to compare it to, so no way to evaluate it. It was a lot like watching a friend's art/video project and was fun trying to guess what the story line was.
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Drive (I) (2011)
7/10
Digging everything about it except the soundtrack which is abominable.
7 October 2011
Love how the mystery and suspense subtlety build up but the mood is shredded every time it degenerates into a music video with the worst '80's ballads that had the decency not to be written in the '80's. I can't remember really liking a film only to get continually whip lashed out of it by inserted songs. Well, speaking of the 80's, there was the overrated "9 1/2 Weeks" with that song "You can leave your hat on" by who cares, suffocate me in cheese wiz. I can only conclude that this music is the result of inbred nepotism. It's so bad I had to stop watching just to write this review. OK, going back and hoping the music director was fired at the point I paused.

Can't vote yet but if it goes where it feels it is, might be a 7 or 8, if the music doesn't make me indifferent.
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5/10
Kurosawa or Jackie Chan? Jackie Chan if you want to enjoy it.
15 September 2011
It's a martial arts movie with impressive special effects but the plot and dialog of a cartoon, which is just fine so long as you remember this is a Jackie Chan movie and suspend your disbelief. You will be invited to believe this film has depth but that's just window dressing played up by convincing actors. I felt like I was watching a grammar school production of King Lear since the directing kept on insisting it be taken seriously.

Relax it's just a flick so eat your popcorn and have fun. I had to give it a 5 because of its inability to decide what kind of movie it wanted to be, a Kurosawa or a Jackie Chan with high production values.
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Skeleton Lake (2012)
7/10
Hunter vs. killers inde crime/action/thriller that kept me guessing.
28 August 2011
I believe this is the first positive review I've been motivated to write. I am doing so because there are no other reviews and this low budget flick deserves attention. I'd say it's a clever predator vs. the well-armed and ruthless protagonists, rather than the serial killer vs. the kids camping in the woods kind of movie and it does that well, so if you like that kind of thing, you'll dig it. I'm personally more into brain candy but this was an enjoyable ride.

I'm not a big fan of this kind of premise but this has good writing so it's different with writing, directing, acting, camera work and not the usual number and quality of suspension of disbelief moments that have me bitching at the screen. The beginning drew me in and since the story kept me guessing while I tried to figure out the characters. I surprised myself when I realized I was actually into it.

I see Neil MacKay directed and wrote with Sean McAulay and IMDb has this as Neil's first film, so bravo! I expect this is going to get attention and you'll get money to spend on your next project and hopefully my high expectations for you will prove justified.

Not greatly challenging rolls for the actors but they did good jobs and I saw a promising spark in a few of them. I have criticisms about realism but they are spoilers and gee, this isn't a biography or a documentary, ha. Also, it had a bit of humor to it, which is always a welcome relief for me, after relentless brutality. Gosh, I went on too long. Loved the cigar lighting scene, you'll know which one I mean, had me grinning.

Gosh, that was a lot of praise, hmm, now I feel I deserve a share of that, what was it? 3.2 Million, from the bank heist. Oh well, I got on a roll so I'll count it as a good deed.
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The Tenant (2010)
2/10
Don't believe the rating, this is unwatchable, I tried and failed.
5 August 2011
The only reason I'm writing a review is because I'm ticked off an hour of my life was conned out of me.

The premise and the IMDb rating got me interested enough to check it out. I stuck with it for one hour until I realized that is was an hour I will never get back and damned if I would poison my memories of all the great or decent horror movies I saw, with a movie that should have opted to be campy and maybe saved itself.

I have to agree with other reviewers that the 10/10 reviews it has were obviously from vested interests.

At the top of the what is so awful about this I would have to place the blame on 1. The directing: Ric La Monte(the ceaseless melodrama burned me out and made me not care) 2. The writing: also Ric La Monte (Started out with my kind of premise but it soon became clear the writer knew next to nothing about medicine, suspense, mystery or building empathy for characters. 3. The acting (Justin Smith played the only character that I wanted to give a damn about but, lets just say when he took a break from the film the only ones left I could care for were 4 deaf mutes, many of whom signed like they were competing to see who could make the worst shadow puppet.

Unless you enjoy watching painfully bad slashers with lousy effects while on so much mind altering substance(s) that you will not remember that you watched it, do yourself a favor and pass.
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3/10
Sterile and lacking in soul.
7 July 2010
I have not seen any of the other Airbender stuff so I had few preconceptions of what the movie might be.

With that said, I was curious why the critics panned The Last Airbender so harshly so I watched it. I've been mulling it over and the main thing, is that all the characters felt like were kept at arms length from me. Many of the actors only got only a few moments to make me care about them and some had me frustrated I could not get more of them. Princess Yue -Seychelle Gabriel, stood out as someone I wanted to know more about. Uncle Iroh - Shaun Toub, also had me wanting more. I feel the actors had their characters humanity subverted for the plot. So my empathy for them was as if it was a History Channel show covering battle tactics. The plot, special effects and fighting were the focus but feeling so unengaged by the characters, who cares? Say one takes the view that it was a martial arts/fantasy and so it's all about the fighting and 2d characters without development keep the story from slacking. Still, you have a hero that you project yourself on and I'm not about to blame a 13 y.o. for not making me give a damn about him, I would have to blame the director for that. Oh yeah, that asperger's kid is doing some magic again, guess I should be impressed.

The lack of soul in the flick reminds me of the later Lucas Star Wars films, like The Phantom Menace, all FX, tricks and craft and no soul.

That a fantasy, should feel so sterile is a change from sickly sweet cuteness of others, but hardly refreshing.

I feel bad for Shyamalan, I was rooting for him. It seems to me that being crowned the next Spielberg was the worst thing that could have happened to him. I believe he's got talent but needs to see a therapist and get his crap together and realize he is not his persona and make a movie for the movie's sake, in the same spirit that had me happily lose myself in the Sixth Sense. Spirit and Soul, these are not things that can be added by CGI or a 3D conversion.
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A Secret Handshake (2007 Video)
2/10
Irony is your black turtleneck.
4 May 2007
This movie feels like it was a senior art school project conceived and executed on too much acid. If it had been 15 minutes long I might have appreciated it as amusing but thankfully it went on long enough to exhibit every possible limitation of writing, acting and directing ability that this team could share. With a bit more effort at emotion on the "actors" parts, that is if they weren't just friends of the director, it could have claimed to be camp. I guess I watched the whole thing, while asking myself why many times, because I couldn't give up hope that there was some point to my torture only to be rewarded with an ending just a couple steps up from it was just a dream, on the triteometer. And what's up with both the director and writer having the same first name: Harsha? Is that Hindi for, 'Don't make a movie with a someone who's also named Harsha'?
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