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Get Shorty (2017– )
Great Cast, Great Casting
14 August 2018
I think it's useful to compare Get Shorty with another current series, Animal Kingdom. All of the things wrong with Animal Kingdom (AK) they get right on Get Shorty (GS). The first problem with AK is casting. The cast is a nightmare of extremely bad choices whereas GS gets everyone just right.

What truly sets GS apart from most of the bad stuff on TV is that they get all of the peripheral characters right, as well as the protagonists. Every single character in the show is fun to watch, from Miles's sidekick, Lulu, to Amara's half-witted and nihilistically violent nephew, Yago.

Almost every character is a scene stealer. Ray Romano almost walks away with the whole series, except he has a lot of competition.

I think that the story line in each of these two series is about the same quality, the thing that separates AK and GS (besides the casting) is the humor thrown in at necessary intervals in GS. I like every single character on the show, even the ones I hate.

Take Amara's accountant as an example. He is on screen for a couple of minutes, tops, yet he establishing a very solid presence. This comes down to great casting, good acting, and decent writing.
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Animal Kingdom (2016– )
All the Potential to Be an Excellent Series...but
10 August 2018
...Central casting committed some major errors. More on that later.

A lot of people on IMDb moan that the show is nothing like the Australian film upon which it is based. I didn't care much for that film. I also think the series has more in common with Point Break.

I think the casting sank it from the start. The two long-hair surfer brothers, Craig and Deran, just weren't tough enough to pull off their roles. They needed guys that can play hardcore criminals and these two are WAY too soft for the role. The way they portray them as such sissies affects the rest of the storyline. Who would be afraid of these doofuses?

Baz and Pope are both about right and the young kid isn't bad. At least he isn't a liability.

The little teenage girlfriend was simply atrocious, both as an actress as well as her appearance. She is just too dumpy for this role. This is one instance when they needed a super-hot seductress for the role. I wanted her to get killed off or go away from her first appearance. Of course, she is a Hollywood legacy and only got into the business because of her family. Ugh.

Ellen Barkin was also a terrible choice. Too much facial surgery may have messed up her acting chops, but I never remembered her as being good at it. Just the ways she walks bugs me.

I think the series also suffers from a lack of good characters outside of the family. The cops are all idiots and there isn't a strong character among any of them.

So much unused potential.
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Trattoria (I) (2012)
Nice Little Film about Family and Food
10 August 2018
There are no surprises in this, everything pretty much goes by the boilerplate structure of a film of this nature. Still, it was pleasant and a couple of the actors stood out, the two young protagonist in particular.

Imagine how many little films like this you could make with the budget from some piece of garbage like Dead-drool 2. Forget that, just the marketing budget for that ultra-violent sociopathic abomination would be enough to keep an army of small film makers in business for a few years.
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Snow Beast (2011)
A Frozen Masterpiece
8 August 2018
The greatest directors are more than artists; they're also wildly creative free thinkers who push our understanding of the possibilities of art to change our perceptions of ourselves. Snow Beast comes along at just the right moment to help us come to grips with gender politics in a winter environment.

Is this the greatest film of all time? Let the public be the judge of that. Without a doubt its 1:28 runtime will leave you staring at the screen at the end making you think, really think about the way we perceive snowmen and the rapidly changing world of LGBT politics. Snow pole? Snow hole? You can't change the weather so you'd better change your consciousness.

This lesser known Orson Welles classic is probably the greatest snowman movie in the history of cinema. Like its predecessor Citizen Kane, we begin at the end where the Snow Beast is watching his grandchildren play in his garden as he reflects on his life of randomly killing humans just for fun, because he never really acquired a taste for the creatures, and they gave him diarrhea.

Welles plays the part of the Beast perfectly and surpasses every other performance in his film repertoire. As a director he breaks all of the rules of Hollywood.

I only pray that Hollywood will heap praise upon the special effects in this classic like the good people of Bromide, Oklahoma, where the snowman outfit won third place in the Halloween costume competition at Dell's Tavern.

I think that's probably enough, possibly too much.
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Better Call Saul (2015– )
Glacial Pacing and Long, Very Drawn Out Episodes Ruin BCS
7 August 2018
This could have been a very good series. Instead it is like a house guest who doesn't know when it's time to go home. Three seasons in and the material could have been covered in six episodes. They are just dragging this thing out forever. Just because you have a TV series with ten episodes of 44 minutes (or whatever it is) doesn't mean you can just show someone walking for a minute. Tell a story. Tell stories. Literally, every scene is too long. How could someone write this? Stop wasting our time.

If you examine this series you would have to agree that they drag almost every scene along to absurd lengths. Do they realize that you don't actually have to show someone on camera walking across a street, for example? You can just show the person taking a step in that direction and then cut. In the next cut you can show them on the other side. Basic film making.

This is a problem with many series and feature films. They have no idea of how much time they need to tell their particular story. I can't count how many feature films I have seen recently that go well beyond the standard 90 minutes, and for no real reason. Netflix cranks out lots of bad movies that go two hours that could be trimmed to 45 minutes, easily. This show is one of the worst (best?) examples of feet dragging. It's excruciating to watch.

Just watch the first scene in the first episode of Season 4. It clocks in at a bit over eight minutes. It tells us very, very little. Eight minutes is an eternity. Most comedy series clock in at 22 minutes for an entire episode so thus scene would have been more than a third of a show. This is only one example and I could list dozens and dozens of this same wasting of time.

I wish that I knew exactly how much screen time was spent agonizing over Hector Salamanca's heart pills. Jesus, talk about extreme over-kill.
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Like Father (I) (2018)
Funniest Cruise Movie Since Titanic!
3 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie idea obviously penned on a cocktail napkin at 2 a.m. Someone who wasn't drunk and coked out should have blown their nose on it and thrown it in the trash thus saving the world from Like Father.

If you go by what you see in movies, Americans have either one of two jobs: lawyer or advertising executive (I guess that I should put serial killer on that list, but since they don't get paid they are just amateurs, volunteers). For some reason Hollywood finds that these are the only acceptable jobs for characters in film, as if selling crap or suing people is so glamorous and exciting.

A girl left at the altar. Does that ever happen? Has it ever happened? Because it seems to happen a lot in highly unoriginal and formulaic rom-coms (a misnomer as rom-coms are rarely, if ever, romantic or comedic). So right out of the starting gate this movie is at one star, add in an estranged father and it dips below one star. How low can it go?

If she didn't want to get ditched at the altar she shouldn't have agreed to marry a complete douche. They try to paint him as sort of the victim because of her workaholic nature, but with all consideration for the cinematic value of it all, wouldn't his conversation on the altar been more appropriate a few weeks back...and in private? If I had been one of the guests at the wedding I would have killed him with my bare hands for completely ruining my day--not that a day at a wedding isn't ruined already.

And let me guess. After spending time with each other, high-powered daughter and dead-beat dad both learn a little something about each other and themselves? Am I right? Now I need to puke for at least ten minutes because I'm highly allergic to boilerplate movie plot lines.

It's billed as a comedy which is odd because there's nothing at all funny in this thing. Since it's on a cruise ship you could call that a horror movie, at least in my book. I'd rather spend my vacation in a Guatemalan prison; at least I'd meet a better class of people.

So they meet the people sharing their table on the ship. Where is a serial killer when you really need one? A smart-alecky gay couple (talk about stereotyping), old rich creeps, and a ginormous black man (they're are always funny, right?). Let the high jinx begin!

Should come with a viewer warning: Gruesome karaoke scene ahead. Ugh. Why? There is nothing entertaining about karaoke in real life so putting a karaoke scene in a movie is like serving Spaghetti O's in a restaurant. And isn't winning the karaoke contest a little like coming in first in the Special Olympics? Sorry, distasteful but true.

Sorry, I can't stand it anymore. I'm jumping overboard.
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Bounce (2000)
TSTF - Too Stupid To Finish
3 August 2018
First of all, Ben Affleck's character didn't kill the girl's husband, he didn't shoot the plane out of the sky or force the douche bag to take his ticket. So why is he all broken up over it? They don't even touch on that in the movie. He got super lucky, that's all. Woohoo!

This is yet further evidence to back up my contention that all bad acting in movies is the director's fault. Always. If you don't like something, then shoot it again until you get what you want-or cut it out. In Bounce, actors simply can't win when faced with a scene direction like "you just learn that your husband is part of a smoking hole in the ground in Kansas. Now get out there and act!"

Maudlin doesn't even begin to convey how awful some of these scenes are, at least for me, both Paltrow's grief and Affleck's pain. They are hard to watch. I'm sure even their proud parents can't watch these scenes without wincing.

And then there is the story itself, which is mind-numbingly stupid and precipitated on the most bizarre coincidence: the guy who gave away his ticket in the unlucky death flight, just happens to work at the company which handles the crashed airline's PR. What if the wife of the dead guy had been a fat, ugly cow? How would his guilt have played out in that un-cinematic scenario?
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Young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all Hell!
2 August 2018
Tecumseh Sherman would have given this series 10 stars, I'm sure. Highly entertaining and informative, it tells of the ill-fated Iraq War which any sane person today would say was a total disgrace. Wright definitely sided with the enlisted grunts and portrayed the officers as mostly morons or psychos or both. The series was quite a bit more political than the book.

I thought that the football game in the last episode was a brilliant bit of story telling. I also think that the game of football contributes to the violent nature of America.

Generation Kill is one of the best series I've ever seen, perhaps THE best. The casting was so spot on that it couldn't have been improved upon. The dialogue at every step of the narrative was filled with humor, insight into the military culture, and tells the viewer a lot about what it is like to be at war.
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Extinction (2018)
It Stinks Some (The Truth in Advertising Title)
28 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
If you think my title is puerile and witless, you won't after watching this monstrously bad alien invasion movie which will surely make the list of the year's worst films.

Have you ever gone to the cinema and had a crying baby sitting next to you? That sound is built into this movie just in case you miss that now that you watch Netflix at home.

Point at which movie became too stupid to continue (but I did for the sake of this review): 29:00.

Why: hyper-advanced aliens that have probably traveled thousands of light years and are destroying our planet with relative ease are going to be thwarted because he puts furniture in front of his door.

Did people get paid to write and direct this mess or was it made by summer interns? Either way, it's a lousy film not worthy of an adult's time.
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Siberia (2018)
For People Who Can't Decide Between a Bad Love Story or Worse Action Movie
17 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
If you're looking for a film that makes a bit of sense, steer clear of Siberia. The only good news is that Keanu Reeves's acting wasn't the worst thing about Siberia. The story was so incredibly thin that if it were ice, one of those diamonds from the movie would have broken through.

I could just see the movie bleeding out right before my very eyes when at 40 minutes there really wasn´t anything approaching a story, just some lame thing about green diamonds that may or may not be fake. "I hope he doesn't have a micrometer," our hero states. Because what person buy tens of millions of dollars in diamonds would bother with equipment to very their purchase? This plot hole equivalent of not having cell phone coverage at a crucial moment, or finding an air duct in the back you can crawl through to escape (if this makes any sense, and it does to me).

The final shootout was completely absurd on every level, most of all that it wasn't even necessary.

And if the Russian woman doesn't want to perform oral sex on a gangster, she shouldn't show up uninvited to a party she has no business attending. This was such an incredibly stupid story line.

I absolutely hated this movie.
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How It Ends (2018)
Alternative Title: Hicks Fighting Over Gas
13 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, why does this clock in at 1:52? That's just too long for a standard thriller, and this is especially true for a movie with such a lousy story.

There is nothing good in this movie. Nothing at all.

Why would the convict in the cop car be so determined to track down one car?

Just getting there takes WAY too much film time.

Ricki Whatever was such a terrible character played by a worse actor.

Has anyone involved in making this movie ever seen a movie before?
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Traffik (2018)
Bad Spelling and Many More Flaws
12 July 2018
It's traffic, not traffik. After that everything in the movie is completely stupid and an insult to the intelligence of any remotely intelligent adult. The casting was terrible. The bikers looked like third grade teachers trying to look butch. There is nothing good or interesting about this film, so stay clear.

By the way, there is no possible way to write a spoiler for this mess because the trailer gives you the entire movie.
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The Bank Job (2008)
Not a Bit of Character Development...and Boring
8 July 2018
First of all, when a movie says that it is "based on a true story" that means absolutely nothing. So why do so many reviews put so much stock in that? I can't believe so many reviewers thought this was such a clever heist movie.

I hope that no one involved in this project pulled a muscle in their brain coming up with the title "The Bank Job."

Instead of a walkie-talkie they may as well have communicated with their lookout with bullhorns. Worst radio security ever.

They have to take a nap in the middle of the job? In any event, there was no reason to bring this up in the film. And then they swill champagne a bit later?

FYI: If you garrote someone there's no need to put a plastic bag over their head.
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Q & A (1990)
Classic Cop Drama
5 July 2018
Sidney Lumet is something of a maker of modern classics, he's the guy other directors imitate to the point of plagiarism. Elements in other films that are considered clichés are originals in his work.

Q&A looks and feels old school from the very first scenes. The sets inside the police precinct are especially realistic, although I've never been in a New York police station. All of the actors look the part even more. Timothy Hutton was definitely the weakest link in the acting chain, but you can't blame Lumet for that. Hutton was hot back then. Nolte was at his best, and his best was pretty good.
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Layer Cake (2004)
Loaded with Great Characters
24 June 2018
Just about everyone in this movie could walk out of it and have a decent movie built solely around them. With that said, I think there were a few too many characters. I know this is the whole point of the "layer cake" but I would have preferred that there be about one less guy at the top. Constantly trading up to bigger bosses deflected the focus from the peril. On moment a guy is the big cheese and the next he isn't. The dreaded Serbs aren't all they are cracked up to be, which was a real shame. Still, there are few films as slick as Layer Cake.
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A Quiet Place (2018)
One Side of a Rush Album Would've Killed Them All
22 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A film has two elements: the visuals and the dialogue. When you take away one entire element you had better have a better reason for denying viewers this crucial half of movies than monsters who don't like noise. This was interminable and it only lasted an hour and a half. It could have been a decent half hour Twilight Zone episode, instead it was a huge bore. instead of watching "A Quiet Place" I would have preferred listening to the classic easy listening song "A Summer Place" for an hour and a half.

And then we learn that you can blow these very unoriginal looking creatures away with a 12 gauge blast? What were they waiting for? And these noise-haters somehow defeated the armies of the world?

Creatures who hunt by their hearing alone don't like loud noises? it takes these morons this long to understand that? They don't deserve to survive. Meanwhile, Jimmy Paige is playing his guitar in his backyard at full volume and doesn't understand why he isn't bothered by these pests.

I can't believe so many people liked this movie.
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Made Me Laugh Out Loud a Couple Times and That's Hard to Do
13 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I love family dramas. In General. This had about four things too many going on which is a common disease in this kind of film but there was also some great laughs.

He finds a couple of joints in his father's sport coat. Dad was a stoner? No, it was probably medicinal. It always is."

Classic. I remember in high school finding joints of the best Thai weed when I tried on my older brother's sport coat at his house in Hawaii. Classic.

I was so rooting for a miscarriage. I honestly thing the world would be a better place if there were a lot more of those and a lot fewer accidental pregnancies, but I guess that I'm just a romantic at heart.
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Blackhat (2015)
Suspense, Romance, International Intrigue, Fast Typing: So Why So Boring?
13 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
So Michael Mann spent $70,000,000 on this incoherent mess, and it's 2:13 minutes of a straight-to-DVD mess. I think in the movie business they call that 20 pounds of manure in a 10 pound bag. There are lots of beautiful shots of China and Malaysia-too bad he wasn't making a National Geographic special.

First of all, the romance was so cliché and forced. Sex scenes in movies are so 1980. There is rarely anything even approaching chemistry so why bother? If you want to make a romance, then make a romance, but don't make an action thriller with a romance because it won't be either. The woman has zero likability in my opinion, zero screen presence.

Now let's just have a completely random and unnecessary fight scene because we haven't had any action in two minutes. No fight can make up for the tedium of watching someone typing on a keyboard.

It just gets worse and worse, dragging on with shots of the girl walking (then sitting and pouting), everyone converging on one location (he can hack into an NSA computer but he can't remove an ankle bracelet?), and then we screech to a halt for a lovers' quarrel.

...then we're back with a sorta stupid shootout but I had stopped caring a long time ago.
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The Way (I) (2010)
Martin Sheen Walking in Spain for 2 Hours: Sounds Good to Me
12 May 2018
After his son dies in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident on his first day on the fabled Camino de Santiago (the police code for this is "died in a storm" wink, wink), ex-president Martin Sheen goes to France to recover the remains of his ignominiously fallen offspring. Sheen decides that walking the Camino might be a good place to pick up women, so off he goes.

Predictable at every step yet I loved the movie for its beautiful depiction of the Spanish countryside and all things Spanish. I'm sure the movie has motivated hundreds of viewers to make the trek. ¡Bravo!
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Anon (I) (2018)
Very Forgettable and Not Nearly as Clever as They Tried to Be
5 May 2018
I've just never been a huge fan of movies build around a concept. Imagine Groundhog Day if it weren't a comedy and that's just about what we have here. The film looks great in its high-fashion dystopian understatement, but scenery and photography also aren't enough to make a movie. By the time the story played out it made little sense and I cared even less. In a few days I won't be able to remember much about this film.
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As Bad As It Gets
24 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, any film that has a scene in which someone screams, "Nnnnnoooooooo!" automatically rates 1 star and has to work its way up from the cliché outhouse pit.

Another cliché is opening scenes in which the characters are showed as the perfectly happy familial unit-something that can just be taken for granted and never makes good screen time.

Another cliché common in action movie hogwash is the completely over-the-top and bombastic soundtrack.

Flashbacks of the trauma scene? We got'em here! I guess that subtlety isn't a valued commodity in this sort of film.

All of this corn came before the do-do hits the F-A-N.

Second of all, any film with Morgan Freeman rates a 10. He could raise a German scat porn video to respectability. He enters in the first act so now the film is at 5. Where will it go from here?

Huge amount of blood and gore, that's where. A conservative body count in the initial attack: 500 to 1,000. Cartoonish, very, very cartoonish.

And then it gets, really, really stupid.

In the initial shoot-out at the White House, why wouldn't the hero bend over and pick up a better weapon from one of the dozens of people he killed? How many clips does he take to work with him at his office? Do the film makers think we can't count?

Agents keep pouring out of the front of the White House in the midst of 50. cal fire? What are they? Kamikazes?
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Gritty Action Movie with Hardy Boys Caper
12 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this film is a total rip-off of Heat to the degree that they must have paid royalties to that earlier and much better movie. It also borrows from The Usual Suspects. Another movie written by someone who obviously does nothing but watch movies. Try reading a few books.

If your slick and sophisticated heist crime drama requires a plot device in which someone opens an air vent and crawls to safety in an insanely secure federal bank, or you wager that you can get out of a first degree murder and armed robbery conviction because the cops leave you hand-cuffed and un-escorted in their vehicle, then you need to go back to the drawing board and think a little harder. No amount of gun battles can sweep a stupid story under the rug.

A twist ending but not enough of a twist to save this botched job.
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Killing Eve (2018– )
Off to a Bad Start
9 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Instead of giving us an action scene we start off with a woman staring down a child in an ice cream parlor. Why not show us the first hit? Then cut to a woman screaming at the top of her lungs. Annoying.

If she's such a hotshot assassin then why didn't she kill the girl when she killed the Russian? And that's a great description the police have to go on: small breasted. That really narrows it down. So she's going to kill a drug-addicted shaky witness while in police custody. Why? There is no reason to take the risk. Lazy writing.

The killer is just too glib about her work to give the scenes any tension. Reminds me of Tom Cruise in MI where he's supposedly in some sort of life-threatening situation and he has a huge smile on his face, like when he was free-soloing a rock face and almost falls. If they showed the people being a bit terrified it would give the scene some tension. Instead, we get one more example of how fun violence can be. A man she doesn't even know is begging for his life and she kills him with a big smile on her face.
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Would-Be Noir Thriller Never Gets Off the Ground
7 April 2018
You could read the novella (much better than the movie) in less time it takes to watch this clunky, utterly pretentious film.

Tick, tick, tick. I kept waiting for something to happen as the beginning of the film rolled past me like a horrifyingly boring catechism class. There is literally about six minutes of action in the entire film, the rest is tedious nonsense. Would it have killed the director to throw us a bone somewhere before the movie is one third of the way over? Flashbacks to nowhere, taking care of the old and feeble-minded, and lots of slowness, very slow. Someone needs to learn about pacing.

When we finally get to the heart of the matter--and it takes forever and doesn't last long--the camera is third rate and the action is fuzzy because the director is trying to make some sort of art film from ultra-violence which is a little like playing classical music with a kazoo.

Just because an actor is fat, hairy, and mumbles doesn't mean he's putting in a stellar performance: just because the viewer has no freaking idea of what is going on doesn't mean the director is doing something admirable. It's not that we're too stupid to understand what you're trying to say; it's that we don't care. Once again, a director seems to have forgotten that films are supposed to be entertainment. Should appeal to folks who think that if a film makes no sense it must be deep.
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Old School Political Thriller
5 April 2018
A true classic from my youth, both the book and the movie. Watching the movie again in 2018, it holds up well but it's hard not to imagine a bit of modern film technique touch-ups here and there.

I only have a couple of criticisms of this fine film that I enjoyed thoroughly each time I have seen it. It's just corny to see a movie about Germany yet hear barely a word of German, and even worse, have everyone speaking English with phony German accents. It would have added tremendously to the verisimilitude of the movie had some of the speeches been spoken in German. I think that filmmakers underestimate the intelligence of viewer when they do this, either that or they know the audience well enough to understand that most slobs don't want to listen to a foreign language.

The music is pretty awful throughout the film. It's like the borrowed most of the music from a porn flick.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the story and it's one that towers above most of the rubbish of most films of this genre. Today it's all about how many people you can kill inside of idiot plots that all seem basically the same.
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