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The Babadook (2014)
Best of 2014
This is a truly innovative little piece. When you look at the $40k budget and minimalistic approach, it is a wonder it turned out more beautiful and more frightening than horrors with much bigger budgets. These are the movies that will last, well into the future. Will certainly be remembered. This film ought to be taught to big Hollywood, not just aspiring independents.
The cast were phenomenal, the set/art was great. I didn't miss the budget one bit. The writing was terrific. The pace, timing, subtlety were all impeccable.
In summary, I enjoyed the film. Check it out.
Tried Too Hard
Tried too hard in almost every way, from the overacting, to the "scare" sequences which I found somewhat lacking. But was it bad?
Not really. It was actually watchable and did have suspense. So thats good. Nothing wrong there, its just that it never really paid off satisfactorily, as the "scares" themselves were foreseeable right before the moment. They also missed moments for a real build up of tension and dread between the characters in the house. It made it all a bit unrealistic. So, I never bought that this was a real family at any time. Big miss there.
I could say other things, but you get the point. The movie is okay, not a gem.
I can not wholly recommend this, unless you are a horror buff who watches everything that comes out. It is just tolerable enough to get through to the few moments of genuine fright and suspense.
In "Blair Witch" you had capable, natural seeming actors. Aside from the goofball with the camera, there was a lot of amateur hour going on with the acting. Overacting, to be specific. Having naturally delivered dialog is KEY to success in these movies. I cringed a lot during this movie.
Not trying to be a jerk, it was at least "okay", which is better than a lot of crap being released right now.
I guess I give a 5/10. 5 for the monster and general concept.
The Graduate (1967)
Coming of Age Done Masterfully
I am glad they let the film breathe, showing Ben in transitional, but critical, moments. The film just sort of envelops you, even when nothing is happening. The soundtrack was a perfect way to place you in the sentimental "drift zone" with Ben. It is then that you come to really connect with his melancholy. Who hasn't been on the edge of the unknown, sort of shut in by fear or ambivalence? And the ending! Kind of says it all, doesn't it?
A fine, fine performance by Dustin Hoffman, even if he was ten years Ben's senior at the time. One of the few films in history that lives up to its gargantuan hype.
Check it out if you're a film buff.
The Wire (2002)
As Close as it Gets
You want to get close to the streets? This is it, and what a true American tragedy it plays out to be. The drama is scintillating, without being sensational. These are real people, in real life, with real struggles, played beautifully by an incredibly talented Dominic West and crew.
True politics, true characters, real struggles, genuine, small triumphs,and a lot of poetic moments that are incidental and not self aware. Gotta love that.
Impeccable. Everything I always wished from a crime drama. Check it out.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Lots of Grey, Open Questions
Ben Affleck did a fantastic job directing this. There were a few sequences where Ben is trying to figure it out, but stylistically he keeps it even, dark, on the grit and focused. Excellent job.
Casey Affleck's performance wasn't really award-worthy, but he did surprise me. He was solid. Ed Harris was great, per usual, as was Morgan and the rest. Really, the performances, there weren't any standouts, aside from maybe the missing girls mother, who was terrific in her character.
The story is one that will leave a lot of questions open in your heart. There are so many gray-areas on the question of morality, after one watches a fine movie like this, where a child is involved it gets treacherous finding your true feelings. Feelings become splintered.
This was a terrific film, I recommend it.
This film will give you an experience remembered, as it is surely one of the most cinematically enveloping, visually, to come about in a long time. I must confess my awe of this movie, as I don't believe I moved a notch, the duration through.
When it was all said and done, however, even in that haze, I recall feeling as if it were all a bit contrived, sentimental, and by the numbers. You can balk at that, but do not let the robust visuals and "experience" factor take you away from my point. You boil away the visuals and you have a markedly less interesting story.
Having said all that, this film was obviously well worth it, on the basis that it will bring minions of children and young adults joy, the world over. It is an impacting film that lingers, visually, in the memory. At my age, however, I can easily see through it...so, I guess that's the trade off every time you make a cross-marketed film.
I didn't really enjoy this film, save for the high I felt after I left the theater.
The Best of Adult Cable
This is one of the few shows on cable that I actually respect, for its original, nothing done by the numbers, approach to the writing. There are plenty of thrills with great cinematography throughout. The visuals are artfully done and surreal. This is a must for those who don't mind the guilty pleasures of vigilantism. Lucky for us, this isn't the grade-school kind (see Stallone & co), but rather has full-bodied, multi-dimensional logic rooted in the character development for Dexter Morgan.
True, as the seasons progress, it will, as it always does, get a bit harder to find this series credible. No matter, though, with a great cast, along with its fine production and writing department, you will still find it to be highly entertaining, if a bit less poetic.
This show is by no means "great" or sweeping in its view. It isn't groundbreaking or original. But, where there are cons, there are pros.
Pros: Solid writing, twisty plots, good suspense, solid character builds, and it has a knack for being funny and entertaining. I have never seen an episode that wasn't decent. That say's something about quality.
Cons: Sometimes the plots can be derivative or questionable, never really gets edgy, characters, though well drawn, never get out of place. Can at times be a bit mundane.
But, overall, I am sorry I put this show off for four years. It is usually entertaining.
This show isn't overtly groundbreaking or original, in my opinion. Just another show about some branch of forensics, and government employees trying to crack the most implausible case in the stretch of a day. Or, is it that easy to dismiss? Kind of. There are selling points.
Pros: Great character builds, good, twisty writing, if sometimes derivative, genuinely funny moments, great character juxtapositions, challenging, but not overtly, content.
Cons: Show is sometimes too sweeping for its time span, making some of the cases highly questionable or implausible to solve, can feel like it is slapped together because of this, and there goes some quality, invariably. Also, the tech-talk gets a bit out of hand at times. More than it needs to be.
Still, I recommend it.
Michael Clayton (2007)
No Childish, Hollywood Frills here!
My rating is an 8.5, Really.
This movie is one that, while overtly character drawn at times, is sufficiently exciting, nonetheless. It does take its time, but is rewarding if you have less sensationalist sensibilities. It is important to remember that some of the most rewarding (and horrific) stories in real life, take time to become cohesive.
I thoroughly watched this looking for flaws and found few. Most, if not all, of the acting was incredible, the direction thorough and sweeping, and the cinematography unsettling and haunting.
I recommend this film if you are into good movies.
Great Debut, Bill
Probably a 6.5, but you'll remember it nonetheless. This film was a solid debut of actor/director Bill Paxton.
A few cinematic crimes were perpetrated during the making of this film: 1) Where this film leads you, suspense wise, is quite obvious, to say the least; 2) They say the acting of this film is great, but I find it to be quite mediocre. In fact, I know it is mediocre. I sat through an hour and a half of it; 3) It takes on a "demons are real" tone, to make up for the fact that the film is going to get a bit unbelievable towards the middle. This film relied on old biblical mythology to do its work.
Visually and pathologically this film works, however, as the set-designers and director (the underrated Bill Paxton) work hand-in-hand to make it up with atmosphere and a creepy Gothic feel. It is vusually stunning for its budget.
Bill Paxton delivers a decent performance, but not up to his best. That is understandable, as he was also the director. Even so, it is what it is. The kids were kids, obviously, overacting all the way. More so with the younger sibling (I forget his name). They were fun.
If it weren't for the obviousness of the story, it would have been close to an 8.
Good job, Bill.
If you went into watching this movie thinking it was going to be an exacting adaptation of the great novel, well, you apparently haven't learned your lesson. Because this is almost never the case, especially movies from this era.
I will judge it for what it is: a B-horror starring an early Corey Haim, still in his prime. There is plenty to like about the film, including some of the gore and terror sequences. Corey Haim's acting is still spot on and sharp (on of his last), and the movie does flow very well. It is an easy film to digest. There are frights aplenty, if you are prone to it. If you are a critical horror fan, you'll find the gore to be well-done, and the film amusing - so long as you don't judge it by the standards of the book.
Having said all that, there are some down sides to it: Some highly inane, and poorly written dialog at times. Also, the film itself, could stand to be spruced up. They could've also tightened up some of the editing.
As far as B-horror fare goes, I recommend it.
El Cortez (2006)
Could Have Been Worse
Better than 70% of Diamond's work over the past 10 years. The story is plenty nifty, but is lost in a sea averageness. The pacing of this movie I found to be horrendous. The plot twists were slightly contrived and, while not bad, a little tedious. I could have done without that BS ending, as well. Was not satisfying.
I think Lou gave a good performance, as did the young blond. In fact, the cast, along with the seedy lighting and atmosphere of the film, were its only real saving graces. Some of the dialog was rather solid, as well. Wish the script would have been up to snuff.
But since I am a Diamond fan from back in the day, I will take it easy on the film. It is a tolerable film, and could have been worse. I hope Lou keeps striving to choose better roles.
If it's free, check it out.
Striking Range (2006)
Indie or Not, Worst Dialog of All Time
This is, without a doubt, one of Lou's worst film. "Red Water" was better than this. Just horrendous. Even Lou's acting was bad...and it is usually decent.
I love Lou like the next guy, but I could not tolerate more than 40 minutes of this film - and that was the most tedious experience I have ever felt while dealing with a shoot 'em up flick. Ever.
I can not in good faith recommend this film to anyone. I am sorry if the director reads this, or anyone involved with the project, but this movie was just bad.
The worst, most inane, dialog of all time. Shifty and lame script that is all over the place. Bad acting, as well.
Not a pleasant experience.
The Longshots (2008)
An Average Film That Could've Been Worse
This is a sentimental feel-good family flick that may not shines above some in its genre, but is kinda fun, nonetheless. This does not come packed with all the bells and whistles, but succeeds in its honesty. No offense to Fred Durst's direction, but I thought this film was going to be worse than what it turned out to be. I was slightly, not a lot mind you, surprised.
It is not the greatest movie I have seen, but I was able to sit through it without getting an attitude; not just for the sake of my kid sister.
For what it is, and the viewer market it is aiming at, I think it is fine for the kids.
5/10. Recommended for the children.
Bob Saget: That Ain't Right (2007)
More Losers Just Wanting To Rag On Bob...
...because that was how it was for years. He was the butt of a lot of jokes after he took on America's Funniest Home Videos. His complete "world's greatest dad" persona, Full House, all of the sketchy and lame jokes he told. I got it. Some of you did not, however.
If you all missed the point that he was creating, quite brilliantly, I might add, a cult of Danny Tanner on purpose, I feel for ya. Every time this guy told one of his lame jokes, or would have to smile like a paralyzed idiot for the camera, I could see him laughing inside, as if he were thinking, "you f**king losers!" And when he'd have to pretend that cats attempting to flush toilets was the most hilarious thing he'd ever witnessed, I could have sworn he was thinking: "Run that clip of the toddler falling off the trampoline again."
Come on, people, lighten up. He had to deal with that crap for years. So, yes, I quite enjoyed seeing him lash out a bit and being ridiculous. I am sure he needed it. And for what it is worth, it wasn't that bad. He's no pro at stand-up, but he did a pretty solid job. It was funnier than not. And that is more than I can say for a Dane Cook.
I enjoyed it. I recommend it.
Three Stars - Not a Critique!!!
Supreme cheese. If you were expecting a nice follow up of some sort, do not waste your time. This is like "Freddy Vs Jason" without a studio backing it. No budget to speak of, they are clearly just throwing the dolls in the air during the action sequences!
Pros: Cheesy in a good way; Feldman is supremely idiotic and, well, funny (see: that ridiculous voice); the daughter can not keep from laughing during certain shots; the script was decent, if not original.
Cons: They throw the dolls in the air...not so much a con, really.
This is a very funny movie, I thought. Not good, not decent. Just grade-A cheese.
Check it out if that is your thing.
Blown Away (1993)
5/ 5.5. Here is why...
This is actually, if you are a particular about acting like I am, the second best acting job of Haim's career. He is mostly believable and can carry a long scene by himself, unlike Feldman (whom I am not dissing on!). It may be different now, but this was near Haim's pinnacle of acting. Pay attention, you'll be rewarded.
So, that was a treat, knowing he at least made it into his 20's, before he started overacting and being silly.
People rate this a bit lower than it deserves, I think. Probably based on the sex, etc. Sure, I agree, this is an exploitation on Basic Instinct's popularity at the time, but it was a suitable and not a particularly bad knock-off. I look at it as a young-adult romance thriller with taboo nudity...Just keep in mind, these kids were well into their early 20's, not some baby's. So, it is perfectly natural to feel attracted to them...it's not license to drive, folks! Nicole and The Corey's have always looked younger than they were.
So, if you like tense thrillers with unsettling moments, or just want to see Haim and Nicole naked, this is a solid B-Flick.
Check it out.
An Honest Review
Of this entire film, there is but one solitary moment, of one scene, that was mildly amusing and entertaining: The Dream/Shower sequence. That was brave of little man Feldman...very brave. It was especially funny when he could not keep the sweat from his eye's. Just a funny moment. Just picturing him in this sort of Billy Zane shower scene was rather entertaining and semi-classic.
The fun ends there, however, as Feldman takes his acting skills to an all-time low. There is not one sequence of this film where you can honestly say to yourself, yeah, he has even a morsel of talent. Oh, it is slap-stick all right, but it ain't vintage! Because it is one thing to over-act your part (see: Hot Shots) for comedy, but you still have to manage good jokes and consistent acting (see: Feldman's character dialect).
Also, one thing that irked me a bit, was the way they were pitching this movie as having a prominent roll for Haim. It was interesting, but he wasn't in this but for two mild scenes with scant dialog. Not that he is great or anything, but he may have improved things just slightly...would not have made things worse.
Bad script, bad jokes, bad acting, bad everything. Lots of nudity, though. Nothing wrong with that.
I can not recommend this on that one scene alone, but if you are a die-hard Feldman fan, you may like it.
The Lost Boys (1987)
A Supreme Fantasy-Horror, With Forgivable Flaws...
This set off the careers of much fine talent, no need to recite them here. I will just say this: Joel Shumacher can take anything and turn it into a force. I say this because Lost Boys was intended as a children's fantasy flick. If you pay attention, this film could have gone very badly on some of the writing alone. Not that it was badly written, it's just, even by 80's standards, very clichéd in spots. And with the wrong talent, this would have been so-so at best. On to the talent:
Haim turns in a fantastic performance. He just pops with personality and really shines in his role as the pseudo-cool outcast...too bad this is one of his last greats. Get this if you want him in A-form.
Feldman, ever the over-actor, is still believable (and unforgettable) because of the age of his character. We're all pretentious as kids, you know. That's why child actors don't always grow up to be fine actors. People lose favor with their imaginations.
If you want to see the Corey's shine, this is the film.
Jason Patric is great in this film. Great, great, performer he turned out to be. He almost rejected this roll because he thought it was going to be an exploitation film about kids. So, even at 18, this dude had his sh**t together.
Sutherland is magnetic, in possibly his best roll ever. Disagree if you want, but he owned this film with authority and has never fully duplicated or come close. Even so, I like him. He was awesome in Freeway.
The entire of "tribe" of vamps had a seedy, brooding, vibe.
Dianne Weist was INCREDIBLE as the paternal, on her own, starting over, single mother. She just pops with sincerity. I have seen her in many rolls and this is one of her better moments, though she has had many.
Grampa is freakin' awesome. Enough said.
Jamie Gertz turns in a terrific performance that bests that movie she did with Ralph Machio. No, seriously, that girl is hot.
Joel is very good at atmosphere and vibe. And that is what this movie succeeds at most, aside form the great performances.
Falling Down (1993)
Sometimes, People Just Snap...
The other day at my girlfriends work, there was a shooting. No one died, but her supervisor was shot at and nearly killed before the gunman took his life. Disgruntled employee, cut-backs, who knows? I googled this phenomena and thousands of cases came up. This stuff happens every day -- sometimes from seemingly normal people with benign pasts. Not always able to profile these people, folks! While for the majority it is a slow and brooding build, there are a lot that up and decide they've had enough...
This movie highlights this phenomena, sequencing in almost perfect pitch, the decline of the human psyche in a rapid period of time. If this stuff did not happen, there wouldn't be fist fights in traffic, which I have witnessed on occasion. This is what makes this movie such an instant classic, aside from the awesome direction: There are no other movies quite like it, oddly enough.
Joel always chooses unique material.
Pros: Acting, pacing, sequencing (not the same as pacing), vision (see: director), universal story-line, interesting subject matter, film captures the tension in a bottle.
Cons: You end up rooting (at least I did) for the guy where you probably shouldn't. But, hey, that is life.
We've all been down.
Dream a Little Dream (1989)
Random and Eclectic; Incoherent...
Still...it is an interesting film. Like a hodge-podge of teen-movie clutter that is highly stylized to look classy and meaningful. Yet, it is not...this movie doesn't necessarily succeed, though it makes for solid head-scratching material. Even so, I liked it on some level.
Pros: The Corey's try something different (slightly); very atmospheric, if nothing else; a nice, if a bit loud, soundtrack.
Cons: Everything else. That includes who ever edited this thing. Also includes Feldman's botched efforts to play dual rolls convincingly.
Check it out if you want to see the Corey's while they were still in C+ condition.
I have seen plenty worse, trust me.
Fever Lake (1997)
Don't Blame Haim!
You knew what you were getting into when you saw the cover, right? No? Caught it on late-night? I'm sorry to hear that...
We can not blame the actors here. No, this is sloppy, horrific, editing and direction. The director it would seem had a hard time coaxing the best from his actors, who, while not overtly talented, could've been motivated and bumped to do better. Sloppy direction combined with useless editing (some of the worst I've seen), wrecked this movie from attaining B-flick status. Still...
This is good for laughs (see the getting pulled over sequence) no doubt about it. From the goofy Indian (played by a white dude), to that mildly retarded wolf, over to the wretched make-up. The script is dreadful...and that's a good thing if you're looking for fun.
I have, believe it or not, seen worse. Just look at any of Feldman's work circa '95.
I don't know...rent it if you are a Haim or Slater fan, or just into awful productions.
Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)
This would have been rated at about two stars had it not been for the well-done gore and closely mimicked atmospherics of the original (see: opening sequence). The pros end there, however, for atmospherics turn to direct copying - and often.
What a crap sandwich this movie was. This movie copied the original in its entirety at times. The complete lack of originality, conspiring with sub-par acting and weak direction, is enough to make you wanna find a Warner Brother and slap him hard in the face. Why make this film? Why let Corey Feldman over-act his part to the point of silliness? Pretentious, silly, utterly retarded. Why, God?
The production team had it easy, however: Hire a Sutherland (who was rather decent), enlist The Corey's, sign a few would-be teen throbs to carry the leading rolls, spend the plethora of cash on hand at WB, post-pro, etc - and your golden.
Great. Money is the mover, is it not? Okay, lets get real. This movie could've been two things: 1) An inspired original (see: decent director, and, most importantly - a solid writer); 2) A funny as can be, cult-like and indulgent pick up with some of the originals like Feldman/Haim/a sutherland, etc. They would've had bigger roles, obviously, with the story centering around something in their characters' lives. That would've been fine, too, so long as it had original writing. But it was not so...they cheated, and even botched the cheat!
You can not give Corey Feldman the EXACT lines he was using in the original. That was a large error on the part of the lazy-ass writers who scripted this.
When they set out to make this, they tried going for a hodge-podge of viewer markets. Wrong move. You sequel a classic, you automatically have your viewership. It is far more important that you treat it respectfully. The old quality versus quantity line.
Since I believe that mostly every one who participated in this movie is probably talented in their own right, I can only blame Warner Bros.