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John Adams (2008)
Review of Episode 1
I had great hopes for this series, but based on the first episode, I won't continue to watch. The acting was fine, but the direction was quite poor. It's shot documentary-style, which is fine in and of itself, but the camera is either right up in someone's face or hiding behind something as if it's afraid of being seen. I thought the style truly hampered the effectiveness of the story, rather than making it more immediate and compelling (as I would imagine it was intended to do). It seemed like John and Abigail were struggling to ignore the camera crew in their 18th century home. It got frustrating after a while, and ultimately I found it hard to even finish the debut episode.
Crimes of Passion (1984)
Wild! Pure Ken Russell
First, just make sure you see the UNRATED version of this film. The theatrical version isn't the same movie, there's just way too much cut out of it (and I'm not referring to sex scenes).
If you're a fan of Ken Russell, Kathleen Turner, or Anthony Perkins this is a must see. Turner, Perkins and Anne Potts all give remarkable performances. The film is plenty weird... if you're familiar with Russell's work you'll know what I mean, but well worth the viewing. I'll be thinking about it for a long, long time. I won't bore you with plot details, you can look at the summaries section for that, but I thought the movie was fun, shocking, frightening, sexy, intelligent, stupid, trippy, deep, sleazy, happy, and sad all at the same time. In other words, highly recommended!
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
I find the praise that MILLION DOLLAR BABY has received from critics baffling. I did not feel that the film connected on an emotional level, and that it was more like watching stock characters in action. Hillary Swank is very good, but her character moves from amateur boxer to championship contender while showing practically nothing in between. Clint failed to impress me with his performance (and I am a Clint fan), and Morgan Freeman continues to be highly overrated. The second half drags considerably, and I felt the whole third act to be very manipulative. I know I'm in the minority, but I felt a dissenting opinion should be voiced.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Incredibly Funny & Highly Intelligent
"Bubba Ho-Tep" is a smart, funny, and affecting movie that is about much more than it would seem from the plot summary. The film is about getting old, what can be taken from you, what can't, and the value of it all. Bruce Campbell is perfect as a bitter and regretful Elvis who has to learn to fight again, and Ossie Davis is great and very funny as JFK. The movie is incredibly well scripted, directed, and acted and is engaging from beginning to end. See this movie and tell your friends!
Aliens are humans with bad haircuts...
Maureen O'Sullivan and Ione Skye are surprised to find benevolent aliens hiding in their house from an interstellar assassin in this weird little film. It's not especially good or bad, but fun in that unintentionally trippy, MST3K kind of way. If you see it in the sale bin for less than three bucks, it's worth the buy. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays the most annoying alien in the group.
Reign of Fire (2002)
Entertaining Summer Movie
'Reign of Fire' was neither great nor bad, but it was entertaining. The film has a very 'Road Warrior'-esque feel, with dragons ruling the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Christian Bale is convincing as the leader of the survivors, and Matthew McConaughey hams it up shamelessly as General Van Zan. He walks around flexing the entire film, and appears to be enjoying the opportunity to overact so wildly. There are certainly plot holes (where do they get fuel, batteries, etc.), but the conflict of man against dragon keeps the viewer interested.
Watching this film was like sitting through the longest student film in history. William Forsythe was great, as always, but the film as a whole seemed like constant transitions and no story. I realize it is a character piece, but fewer shots of L.A. traffic and Juliet sitting around by herself would probably help the film along a little bit. I can't resist mentioning that the title character is such a jerk to all those around him that no wonder he gets treated like garbage in return.