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I'd like to know the answer to that question myself. I ask that question of myself pretty regularly. Strangely, I rarely have an answer. Once upon a time I worked for a living. I worked in the sun if I had to. I worked in an office when I could. Like most people I defined myself by what I did for a living, and for about twenty years I was a CAD Guru. Specifically, I was very good at using CAD to document architectural projects. I was so good at this process that I eventually was granted an architectural license and could call myself an architect even though I had never attended an architectural college in my life.
Dead Again (1991)
I really wanted to like this film. I don't hate it, but it really isn't that good. It was so forgettable I forgot it and mistakenly rented it a second time thinking I hadn't seen it. Not even Robin Williams (the reason I queued it up a second time) brief appearance is enough to save it from its mediocrity. It delivers what the trailer promises. If you are into these kinds of stories and haven't seen it, you won't be disappointed. Still, it could have been better. Maybe.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
One. More. Time!
I'm at a loss to explain what movie the rest of the world is seeing. Halfway through this film I turned to my wife and said "surely this is almost over?" Then it proceeded to go all the way back to the beginning in reverse.
Not certain this can even be called a movie. A movie has a theme. A plot. A story. Characterization. This has incredible car mashups that explode beautifully. An inexplicable mobile drum quartet fronted by the largest unpowered speaker array seen anywhere, and an inexplicable flame-shooting guitar player.
That's a sequence of scenes, not a movie. Every time the music came up to accentuate the drama, I laughed uncontrollably. Didn't even bother to stay for the credits. Wanted to save people we know the embarrassment of being associated in our minds with this film.
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek, 1966-2009, R.I.P.
For the record, I should have stuck to my guns. But I didn't. I caught J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (from here on out to be known as Abramstrek, for brevity's sake) a few days back. By the time it was over, I knew that the universe had changed.
Abrams said he was creating a film that was entertaining, and true to his word, it is. From the initial scenes of the massive Romulan ship appearing and spawning an alternate timeline (this is not a spoiler, this happens two minutes into the film. Spoilers ahead though, be warned) when it engages in a fierce battle with a clearly more archaic Federation vessel, to the final scenes with a triumphant Captain James T. Kirk at the helm of his (way too shiny) Enterprise, this blockbuster is most definitely entertaining.
It's just not Star Trek.
A good portion of the audience applauded at the end of the film. The group I went with all enjoyed it (ages 10, 18 and 55. Definitely the target audience) I even found myself enjoying it. But just as the re-launch of Lost in Space (the film I was most reminded of viewing this one) redefined (in a good way, in my opinion) what Lost in Space was about, Abramstrek has redefined what Star Trek is about, and something significant has been lost in translation.
It isn't a problem with the cast, they all performed admirably. It isn't a problem with the dialog, a good portion of which seemed to be lifted word for word from previous episodes and movies. I think the problem is that Star Trek has always been more than just entertainment to me (no matter how many times I repeated the mantra "it's just entertainment, don't take it seriously") and to see it "dumbed down" to the level of blockbuster entertainment (a process started several films ago) leaves me feeling a bit hollow.
I find myself at a loss now. Unlike many fans, I'm not insulted by the content of the film. I just can't grasp what it is that the vast majority of the fans and viewing public see in the film. It's first weekend returns exceeded all other Star Trek films to date, even adjusted for inflation.
I've read dozens of posts in support of the film on Trekbbs. Fans are dragging their friends out to watch it; in much the same fashion as if the average American needs to be convinced to chew bubblegum. Abramstrek is bubblegum. I don't see the point in promoting bubblegum; people will chew it anyway.
No, I don't like the film. If you really want to know why read through...
Paramount finally gets it's way and removes those pesky Vulcans that are so hard to understand and write for (logic, what's that?) by having Vulcan destroyed by an artificially generated black hole (the explanation for which would be technobabble, had they only attempted to explain it) thus insuring that the only Vulcan they will have to write parts for in the future is the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, who seems to have a lot more trouble restraining emotion in this universe.
Uhura in essence sleeps her way onto the bridge of the Enterprise by having a relationship with Mr. Spock, who is not only one of her professors, but also a superior officer. The moral issues of this arrangement are never questioned, leading me to wonder if we haven't somehow stumbled into the Mirror, Mirror universe (Sylar, is that you?) where that type of behavior is run of the mill.
James T. Kirk becomes captain of the Enterprise largely influenced by the career of his father. In this alternate timeline, the now fatherless Kirk (dad being killed in the opening sequence of the film. The com conversation between the two parents, as George Kirk is about to be killed, being one of the silliest parts of the film) still becomes captain of the Enterprise; proving the modern belief that fathers are irrelevant in the scheme of things, and can be disposed of with no ill effects for any required plot device.
Then there's the running gag of Bones McCoy infecting the recently reprimanded Kirk with a mock disease in order to smuggle him on the Enterprise. This leads to a subsequent series of injections in order to cure him of humorous side effects. Or the transwarp beaming accident that leaves the recently found Scotty floating in engine coolant until conveniently rescued by Kirk through an inexplicably placed access hatch in the coolant tube. both situations so clearly contrived as to almost be cringe-level uncomfortable for me.
I could go on, but I won't.
!End Spoiler Alert!
I can't help but wonder what Leonard Nimoy (whom I will hold blameless) saw in this film to recommend his tacit approval and his venerable image to it. Spock prime stands in sharp contrast to the new cast, carrying with him into history a mantle of respect this revisioined Star Trek will never achieve. Because unlike Star Trek and it's 42 years of history, Abramstrek is just entertainment.
With this film, Paramount can pat itself on the back for finally successfully milking this franchise the way it wanted to when the property was acquired with Desilu Productions. Like so many entertainment properties (Lost in Space, the Brady Bunch, Bewitched, the Flintstones, etc.) before it, sucked dry of nostalgia dollars, Star Trek can be safely shelved in long term storage, probably never to be heard from again.
If there is any mercy in this Mirror, Mirror universe, it won't be. Rest In Peace Star Trek. Say hi to Gene for me.
Dick; the way the 70's should be remembered.
Hands down the silliest political satire I've ever sat through. Equally lambasting everyone from Dick Nixon to Woodward & Bernstein, this is the way I want to remember the 70's.
Humor may be in the eye of the viewer, but the only way to explain the panning this film gets is judging it in context with the time it was released. Whitewater and the Clinton impeachment.
In hindsight the film becomes even funnier. At least Tricky Dick understood when he was an embarrassment to the nation, and himself; and didn't keep trying to pretend he wasn't a disgraced President.
If only 'W' had employed teenage dogwalkers. Ah, the times they are a-changing.
The Mist (2007)
Like characters in this film should have done, run! Save yourselves!
So close and yet so far. Change two simple things, and this film would work.
Tone down the zealot early in the film. Quiet grumblings should turn into wild accusations, not start out strident. The caustic nature of the characters belief pulled me out of the film almost immediately upon her appearance.
A different ending. Here's one.
Monsters attack the truck when it runs out of gas. Father chases son out of the Landcruiser intent on sparing him from the monsters. Father and son narrowly miss being run over by a tank as the military rolls into town. Credits roll right after that.
Spare us from the ambiguous ending that makes the zealot look like she's going to heaven for saving all the people in the "Food House" from being eaten, and questions the validity of fighting to the bitter end.
You can see the movie even if you didn't see the show.
Firefly moves from the little screen to the big one with minimal hiccups. Saw the pre-release in May that even was without all effects and music and it was still good. Because we watched the show, there were lots of extremely tense moments but the best part was that if someone hadn't seen the show, they'd be able to enjoy a romping space western too. The movie is consistent with it's own story line and details. There are several unexpected events that leave you reeling in your seat. The characters are what make this movie worth watching. As for myself.. well.. I'll be there opening night to see the finished product. Adam Baldwin is used heavily as a marketing tool on this film and while he is his always excellent self, his part in the movie was smaller than originally anticipated.
Sin City (2005)
Graphic Novel in Cinema format
...and for the art-house approach to cinematography, I give it 1 star. There were no other redeeming qualities to the film. Without a doubt the longest 2 hours of my life. I would have sworn it was at least 3 hours.
There is no cohesive plot to speak of. (not even the disconnected plot line of "pulp fiction", which this film has been edited to emulate; ergo the "Guest director" credit to Quentin Tarantino I'm sure) The acting is reasonably solid, and the cast was well selected; yet the film was doomed from the outset (like many before it) by it's lack of a properly crafted script. The jumps from story segment to story segment are jarring and hard to follow. Nor does the dialog seem natural; it comes out as if the actors are reading it off a page.
The symbology of introduced color does not appear to be consistent (Blue obviously means falseness or error in the film. But red means what? And why is there a Ferengi in the last segment? Was not aware this was a Star Trek film) Nor does the "graphic novel" approach to lighting and effects really lend itself to the cinema experience. This was, perhaps, the fatal flaw in approaching this film as a true "art film" experience; the lack of an internally consistent and recognizable symbology.
All and all a pretty poor film.
Lone Star State of Mind (2002)
A screwball comedy as big as Texas
"Didn't I kill you once already, boy?" ...it still cracks me up. If you're looking for reality, look somewhere else. If you are looking for some laughs while watching a group of impossible characters attempt what should be a simple task that turns out not to be simple at all; a quest that leads to getting shot, mutilated or run over by a truck (sounds horrible, don't it? It's a hoot) This is the movie for you.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
An aptly titled film that ties up the loose ends
Fresh back from the first viewing (I'm sure there will be more)
I have to say, I was psyc'd to see this, the last installment of the Matrix 'Trilogy'... ...and I was not disappointed.
I'm sure there will be many who will feel it is fashionable to pan this film with ever more clever zingers, but I am more than happy to accept this film for what it is. The concluding episode in a series of action flicks that happen to contain a message as well.
'Revolution', as the word is used in the title of the film was first used as a defense against charges of insurrection during the War for American Independence. We were engaged in a turning or tuning of the rules between those who govern, and the governed. A throwing off of an unwanted outside control in favor of self determination, not a simple rebellion. So too do these movies explore (albeit lightly) the nature of control, the meaning of reality, and the purpose of existence, within an action setting. They are not just action movies, mayhem for it's own sake.
As action movies with a message, they fulfill their 'purpose' wonderfully.
What Dreams May Come (1998)
The Most Depressing film I've ever seen. - SPOILERS
I expected more from this film. The pre-release cinematography was gorgeous but the story.. Man. The kids die, the wife dies the main character dies. Depressing, horrible stuff and she goes to hell and everything gets worse. Cuba Gooding's brief appearance is the ONLY and I repeat ONLY positive moment in the entire film. A nasty depressing ride I can skip seeing again.
Shoot or Be Shot (2002)
An Introspective Look at Indie Filmmaking
"It's an Aleatoric film."
I attended the premier in Austin, Texas. I enjoyed it immensely, especially meeting the cast members for questions afterwards. Sure the edit could use a bit of tightening, but the dialog was witty to sarcastic.
Harry Hamlin and William Shatner delivered solid performances. I have friends and family working in independent film and they completely got into this movie. Sad news folks. those people really are crazy. The real question is "what is crazy in relation to film making?" If you are making an independent feature, you are pretty close to certifiable already.
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
A modern fairy tale, and a good time.
Joe is your average disenchanted worker, who is given the proverbial chance to make a difference in the world. But is it all as it seems?
Follow Joe on his quest to take on the Volcano, and meet the interesting characters that populate this film.
This is one of my all time favorite movies, I highly recommend it.