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The Space Between Us (2017)
I WANTED to love this movie. But this movie needed at least two re-writes and they said no. The actors did their job but the story was weak. And it was so Ham-handed with the romantic bull. I am really angry in the sense that this will inspire Hollywood not to make scifi movies -
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
This is an homage to Octavia E. Butler
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness." Oscar Wilde While I celebrate Colm McCarthy's film and recommend everyone see it, I write this to make sure everyone recognizes the source material. This is a movie I've sort of been waiting for a long, long time. BIG Spoilers, so be warned. Just when you thought no one could do anything new regarding the Zombie Apocalypse (side note, is the popularity of Zombie stories an acknowledgement that most of us have been educated in the west, to despise our fellows?) here we have a story in which Zombie children go to school. Sennia Nanua, in an Oscar worthy performance, is the best kid in class. Always chipper, polite and even remembering everyone's' name. As the movie progressed, I got a sense of déjà vu and then it hit me. This story is an imitation of an Octavia E. Butler type story. Reminded me in particular, of Fledgling. You have a new species of humans and one of them tries to bridge the gap between the new and the old. Nearly every one of Ms. Butler's stories dealt with similar themes. I loved the story. As Colm is a guy, he did diverge from one of Ms. Butler's other common themes – we can survive sometimes, besides the "other species." What I mean is, at the end of the film, it is clear the teacher is one of the last remaining humans, but her future looks dire. Ms. Butler would have ended this on a more uplifting note.
Big Spoilers - See Movie First
Masterful. I loved this film. The best part is reading the equivocating, hesitant reviews after watching the film. This is a Rorschach test! This film holds up a mirror to us and what we see isn't pretty. Consider the facts: Fact one - from the start, David Lamb is a liar. Ross Partridge, the director/actor, makes that clear. David's wife has had enough and we don't even see her. David starts the film lying to his girlfriend about where he is. And David has been lying to everyone at work about a prohibited liaison with a subordinate. Fact two – Partridge has carefully chosen the two female leads to be similar in demeanor and appearance. Why? To pose a question – why does David prefer one to the other? Both care about him, listen to him even dote over him. And, most importantly, one is a grown woman who willingly satisfies his carnal desires. And finally, fact three – the film documents a rape. Forget the lush fields, mountains and horses and forget about the fact that he never "penetrates" her, you know in today's political parlance, "rape, rape." Tommie a neglected, perhaps abused child is by the end of the film a woman. You know, in other words, he raped her. That is why David preferred her to the adult woman – Tommie was a virgin.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Mad and Happy Too!
Quentin T. you cheating lying piece of offal. I was promised a brand new Ennio Morricone original soundtrack and didn't get it (although the man has written so many movie scores I doubt anyone beside Quentin has heard them all). I am sorry, I overstate my disappointment. The movie was good and so was the re-purposed music. I think Maestro Morricone wrote one maybe two original themes for the film, I have to watch it again, (I know that man is 87 years old!!! But his genius MAKES MOVIES). Spoilers When I saw "Django," I expected the film "The Great Silence" to be referenced but it wasn't much. When I saw "The Hateful Eight" coming I was happy because I figured it would. Instead to my surprise, musically and thematically we saw homage to John Carpenter's "The Thing." But as he does, Mr. Q puts a unique touch on his films that make them his own and this message was one of my favorites. I don't want to spell it all out, but let me say, the ending is a message for our times. Bravo Mr. Tarantino, Bravo.
Wildlike is Better than The Visit
Drama, fantasy, comedy - whatever the story genre, good ones have one thing in common. Truth. The story needs to tell the audience of something they know, something they have forgotten or something they can now imagine. Case in point, two films I've recently watched illustrate success and failure clearly. Both involve children being sent away to visit with less than careful parents. I intend to post this review at the site of both films, because the contrast is clear. Wildlike & The Visit both are stories about children being sent away to visit with relatives, mistakenly, by troubled parents. Both are stories about horror, but, where one tells us about evil, the other tells us bad puns. In Wildlike we see a young girl sent away by a defective mother who can't handle taking care of herself or her child. In this movie we walk in this child's shoes and understand the choices she makes. The evil she faces is banal, quiet and could go unnoticed. We see the past and current trauma this child has endured in the acting and writing. The truth is this is everyday evil, the kind that we won't change without understanding it. In the Visit we see a sister and brother sent away by a mother distracted by her own issues. Children know when their parent's are not competent. It affects them and causes doubt and tension. Instead of reflecting that, these siblings are snarky, self involved, smart alecks who are not cautious, vigilant or concerned. The danger these kids face is overt and direct early on, but they seem not to take it serious. Neither can the audience. The truth in a similar film of M. Night Shyamalan's, the Sixth Sense was not the horror the child faced, that only made the film compelling. The truth was about the adults learning to respect the child's view of reality. Their is no such kernel in The Visit.
The Visit (2015)
Wildlike is Better than The Visit
Drama, fantasy, comedy - whatever the story genre, good ones have one thing in common. Truth. The story needs to tell the audience of something they know, something they have forgotten or something they can now imagine. Case in point, two films I've recently watched illustrate success and failure clearly. Both involve children being sent away by less than careful parents. I intend to post this review at the site of both films, because the contrast is clear. Wildlike & The Visit both are stories about children being sent away to visit with relatives, mistakenly, by troubled parents. Both are stories about horror, but, where one tells us about evil, the other tells us bad puns. In Wildlike we see a young girl sent away by a defective mother who can't handle taking care of herself or her child. In this movie we walk in this child's shoes and understand the choices she makes. The evil she faces is banal, quiet and could go unnoticed. We see the past and current trauma this child has endured in the acting and writing. The truth is this is everyday evil, the kind that we won't change without understanding it. In the Visit we see a sister and brother sent away by a mother distracted by her own issues. Children know when their parent's are not competent. It affects them and causes doubt and tension. Instead of reflecting that, these siblings are snarky, self involved, smart alecks who are not cautious, vigilant or concerned. The danger these kids face is overt and direct early on, but they seem not to take it serious. Neither can the audience. The truth in a similar film of M. Night Shyamalan's, the Sixth Sense, was not the horror the child faced, that only made the film compelling. The truth was about the adults learning to respect the child's view of reality. there is no such kernel in The Visit.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Once Upon a Time in America was never a favorite, due to pacing primarily and the ending, in particular. I liked Henry Fonda's character better as a villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. However, I have to say, James Wood's Max character was better written, on review. This guy killed his buddies, stole their money and faked his own death. Now on seeing it again, I realize what the ending was showing. Max intended to betray Noodles (De Niro) one more time. He set Noodles up with a slow reveal, showing him the truth bit by bit, so that Noodles would be murderous and kill him before the feds locked him up or his cronies killed him. That seemed like justice and I used to think the film should have ended there. However, the scene with the garbage truck at the end shows that Max was going to "whack" Noodles posthumously. So even in death, that creep wanted to betray him again. What a hateful person. Didn't get that on previous viewings. The rape scene was also telling. Noodles never loved Deborah, he loved the idea of her. She had feelings for him and enjoyed playing hard to get with him. Instead of respecting her and attempting to connect, he tried to use brute force, first with money (at the fancy dinner) and then literally. Being in love with your idea of someone isn't the same as being in love. This was three movies in one.
Big Game (2014)
Film by Committee?
You can tell movies written in a board room. The central choice in a film like this is be realistic or play fantasy. You can't do both! Unfortunately this film tries and it loses its audience along the way. I have to say it, I wonder how much Mr. Jackson had to do with this poor choice. If I am wrong, please correct me, however, isn't his character a nerd? Not very physical? Incapable of doing a push-up? But by the end, it is he who is saving the boy, while getting in his customary, "motherfucker", line. This stole away from the heart of the film. The boy is the hero. The President is a grown man, who could have acted a man by guiding or advising the boy, not just by becoming an action hero. The start of it showed great promise and the lead bad guy was deliciously over the top. I thought it was plausible (realistic) up until the middle, then the hacks jumped in and oh well
Shot in the desolate mountains, with bears, snow and more nasty nature, but it was all a backdrop, not woven into the story.
One hit wonder
I will not steal from others but, he said it best, pretentious, long and boring. Culturally visually stunning (did I make that up), it is a good looking show. They even tried to tell character stories. Who is meant to connect to this? It isn't adult, but pornographic enough to not be for kids. Was the Matrix a one hit wonder? Examples, I need notepad to keep up- do they think this is Ulysses? I should not have to fight to understand the story. Nothing profound or adult, titillation and repetitive. The only redeeming aspect of the story was the unusual views of various culture. The named vans in Africa, the big wedding in Dubai, interesting to see, but not enough.
Ex Machina (2014)
I love movies and books about AI, because I think we may be nearly there. This movie however, does not get into what is important about the genre. We already know geek guys have sex fantasies about anime and robots. So therefore this movie should have been about the AI and how it developed and what sort of mirror it held up to humanity. Not about how hot the computer guys imagined the entity is. The film suggested that the entity became what it was because it was programmed to survive. What does that mean? Potentially based upon the ending the life form could have shut down, having fulfilled its program. Way to shallow for the subject matter.
I wasn't going to write anything about this film, until I saw a blog entry linked to Roger Ebert's Sun Times site. That reviewer posited that Whip, wouldn't have done what he did to save the passengers unless he was uninhibited – i.e. – drunk. I think that was accurate and felt so viscerally when I watched the film. This was a film about the relativity of morality. Whip saved those people and Whip is a drunk. What do YOU make of that. In real life ALL of us would rather have an effective drunk at our side, rather than a failed angel. Whip's transformation at the end was about his personal survival going forward, not about the rightness or wrongness of his past behavior. That drunk was a hero.
Generic Action Guy
James Bond's thinly veiled cover had been either that of an aristocratic playboy or business man. Using this cover he was able to interact with wealthy jet-setters as one of their own. Woman and Men alike are attracted to his charm, wit and boundless knowledge of fine living. In retrospect, many of the early films seemed more like travelogues for tourist and less like action films. This pretense accomplished a couple of objectives; it allowed blue collar types like me to see behind the veil of wealth power and privilege. And moreover, OUR AGENT, James Bond will ultimately show these aristocrats up, giving them their well-deserved comeuppance.
The world has change and become more corporatized and generic. However, human nature being what it is, we know there are still restaurants, casinos and other venues where most of us would be spotted as interlopers and summarily ejected. We still need James Bond. I think Daniel Craig capable of pulling off that sort of nuanced performance. He just hasn't been provided that sort of script. What did they get right: Daniel can wear a tailored suit well. And, Javier Bardem's mad man was appropriately distant and sinister.
This film is a disservice to Ian Fleming, who's stories expanded on F. Scott Fitzgerald's words: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
007 is a blue collar wolf disquised as a blue blood, not a Scottish prince.
Alex Cross (2012)
apples and oranges
Alex Cross - fictional sleuth known for taking readers on excursions into killer's minds. Tyler Perry - personality known for making face on camera.
This film misses the whole point of the Cross stories. The public doesn't read or see Cross stories to watch Cross emote. We want to see him solve the puzzle.
Adolescent execution, the film tells us instead of showing us. We know Alex Cross is smart because all the other characters say so. We know the first female victim was brutalized because everyone says so.
I don't know for sure but this production seems to have Perry 's fingerprints on it.
Some of the action was choreographed well. In particular the rail car footage was well done. Moreover, the child who played his daughter stood out. Fox's performance was top rate.