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Mother! (2017)
A F*cking Work of Cinematic Art
24 December 2017
I was blown away.

Bold, daring and cathartic, I was entranced by Jennifer Lawrence's performance. As this film is an allegory, I didn't pay much attention to realism. Such as why she didn't go crazy earlier, but overall, the script was very straightforward, almost predictable.

Still, the message is very clear. Mother Earths is savaged by mankind and a too forgiving God (who oddly refers to another deity in his own dialogue.)

Bible stories are after all symbolic tales, fairy tales and we need a modern telling of these tales to wake people up.

Well done.
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Uneven but historically important
15 July 2017
Terrific performances from veteran local and mainland actors Tashima, Ogawa, Seki and Kahele. Admittedly, it feels at times their pidgin English is sometimes compromised. "Like dat" instead of "li'dat." But this film dramatizes a historically important event, from a unique perspective, that of a Japanese American child. Though I would have liked to have seen him become more rebellious, and experience the consequences of his actions, his character arc was weakened because of this. Further, it appears that there were no consequences to his actions. I would have liked to see him put through the ringer more.

I wasn't crazy about the child actors, especially the "cutesy" JA girls, who were only there for window dressing. My own experience with child actors in Hawaii is that they can't seem to get out of their musical theater training. Ki Sakamoto is believable and improves as the film progresses, but the script was weak and felt like a foreigner's perspective.

I could nitpick on odd inconsistencies, like Kahele's character telling the family not to speak Japanese when they never do in the first place. Or the boys that don't contribute much to the story and don't even play baseball.

You can tell which kids were raised not to speak pidgin.

But overall, what Tim Savage and D.P. Shawn Hiatt can do in re-creating 1941 Hawaii without a multi-million dollar budget was very impressive.
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Rock of Ages (2012)
I loved this movie!!!
18 June 2017
Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta Jones rocks the screen on opposing sides of rock music controversy of the 1980s, making up for some weaker leads as Julianne Hough doesn't have a rock style voice and Diego Boneta, who lacks everything else.

Still, weak performances did not take me out of the movie, and it was a fun ride from beginning to end.

Unlike La La Land, there was no artistic pretension, no Oscar winning song with lyrics like "City of Stars shining ONLY JUST FOR ME????" Can you be more self-absorbed? This was your typical Hollywood fable and followed the beats precisely. It was raw, exciting and big like the 1980s.

I do agree with some critics that the treatment of women was atrocious. This film ignored female rockers all together despite using their songs.

Still, this film portrayed a male dominated industry so I give them a pass on this.

I would watch this film again and again, but that being said, I do not recommend this film for wannabe rock stars and groupies who can't stand listening to other people covering classic songs. These people should not be watching musicals let alone critiquing them. What else is a musical but a cover of every song? Hopefully, as I've read in the notes, this film can be remade by an indie company so it can adhere closer to the stage version. I never saw it but this film made me regret not doing so.

Then we will have a true Rock of Ages.
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Suntan (2016)
Somewhat flawed, but a step in the right direction
27 April 2017
This film is not a nudist film, nor will the nudist culture embrace it because of it's dark turn in the last act.

But it's exactly what a nudist film needs to be. Honest, unflinching, raw. This is an examination of what every American Nudist goes through. (to use the title of a failed film I was forced to make).

We middle-aged nudists have to come to terms with millennials calling themselves Young Naturists, who are rewriting the rules of nudist etiquette. And while they thrive, embracing the "new hedonism" which actually is pretty mild, and naturally, beautiful realized in this film, older nude beach goers like our hero Kostis feel like a relic, who no longer fit in with the younger crowd no matter how hard they try to hang on to romantic notions of love.

Kostis, a pathetic romantic fool, ends up like every unattractive romantic fool, neglecting his professional duties and spiraling downward in some misguided attempt to recapture something he never had.

And it can only end tragically. Because ultimately, romance is selfish. Romantics are self absorbed egomaniacs who are unable to see the world as it truly is. And romantic naturists are the worst offenders.

That being said, there are some weaker moments, Some scenes are repetitive and the fight choreography was awful. I was hoping it'd be even more violent, but that's my American attitude showing.

Overall, I highly recommend this film because it's the direction that any indie filmmaker interested in using nudity in their art should go. It's bold, daring and immediately relevant to our lifestyle.
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Rushmore (1998)
Tried to give this film a chance
28 December 2016
I love Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and heard such great stuff about this film.

Boy was I wrong. Jason Schwarzmann plays an unlikable, entitled douchebag and the only reason we sympathize with him is because the film tries so hard to insist upon it.

I wanted to poke my eyes out and strangle kittens every time I see him with that teacher he basically harassed and tried to emotionally manipulate. And no one calls him on this??? Sorry, but it's taken me days to get to the end of this film and I feel like I've been watching it for weeks in five minute increments. Unforgivable long tedious minutes.
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Babel (I) (2006)
All this because of some trigger happy Muslim kid?
2 June 2016
Expecting an award winning film commenting on the human condition, this film is truly a dour depressing disappointment.

I agree with other reviewers who claim this could have been three related shorts instead of a feature which felt like it was five hours long.

There were no likable, let alone relatable characters and this film only made indigenous cultures look backward, and white people arrogant shitheads.

I give it a 2 only because Brad Pitt made it a little bit palateable but he was given a bland script to work with.
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A good effort showcasing some awesome local talent
10 December 2013
I may be a bit biased, since I've worked with some of the actors in this film.

Nah, they no care what I say. And David Cunningham charged us for the lunch we 'treated' my colleagues to, but that's another story.

Suffice to say, I hated the first third of the film. Tired stereotypes of local boys bullying the poor haole guy.

And then something happened.

As soon as the jellyfish stung Roy, (not a great actor, but I stuck with it), the plot took another turn.

These local boys became real. This is where the movie should have started. Even the local girls become more interesting. The characters lived the world of this film. If only Kalani and Roy were the central characters focusing on their church life.

Kalani made up for Roy's shorcomings as an actor and was far more believable.

Props also to Daryll Bonilla, Lorenzo Callendar and Garret Sato, all friends and colleagues who cut their teeth in this production. They are the real stars of this film, and I'm sure everyone in Hawaii agrees.
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Scary Movie 4 (2006)
Where was the blood?
12 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, the sets were FANTASTIC and the parodies were dead-on, most of the time. But where was the blood when Dr. Phony, er, I mean Dr. Phil saws his leg off. That would have been hilarious having all that blood spattered on his face.

Then there should also be blood on Dr. Phil's ass-monkey Oprah when that no-talent Tom Cruise parody played "mercy" with her wrists. Debra Wilson finally gets a budget to make look like that old overbloated windbag. But she should be BLEEDING! Craig Bierko totally missed Tom Cruise's goofy grin which begged to be made fun of in the WotW opening. I mean, the real Tom was so unconvincing it was hilarious.

And what about his daughter Rachel. When that little brat got electrocuted by the tripods, was I the only one in the theater screaming, "Yes! Fry the little bitch!" Well, okay maybe I was. But once again, no blood, no makeup for bruises. Nothing. I mean, this is supposed to be cartoony, so at least show little birdies flying over her empty head.

And the mass nude scene was brilliant. But I'm a naturist.

We need more movies where old men (and women) like Leslie Nielsen bares their wrinkly buttocks. We're all going to look like that baby! T. L. Young
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Rebound (2005)
Dibs on hawk soup
21 May 2006
I was an extra in this film, and when the hawk mascot got creamed by the basketball, I turned around to the extras and said, "Dibs on hawk soup." Course I waited 'til they yelled cut.

Watching how the scene was done was a lot of fun. Mostly with doubles and close-ups, and a guy throwing feathers around.

I'm a big fan of any movie where animals get clobbered in a humorous fashion. The child actress was great and I remember the A.D. joking about the fact that maybe she should have just said, "You @$$-hole!" It would be more method.

t.l. young
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Angela (1995)
A beautiful film, working on many levels
24 May 2005
This is an amazing if bizarre film. The acting of the two little girls is superb and far surpasses those of child actors in big budget studio films.

I've read some disturbing posts accusing this film of child exploitation, particularly in the use of nudity. The nudity in this film is as innocent as a baby on a bearskin rug, but too many narrow-minded morons with internet access confuse this with pornography.

The use of nudity in this film is a bit artsy, but very natural and represents the only beauty in these girls lives. Swimming nude with their mother the only time in their lives they've experienced joy. But the religious views of Angela makes her see herself as sinful, and her sister as unclean. This film could have been improved by more nudity to show how this budding adolescent views her own body. She already has a negative view of sexuality. But it's an issue no American filmmaker would dare explore, and I don't blame them.

This is where the film becomes a near-satire of the dangers of blind faith in fear-based religions. This view of sin and uncleanliness leads Angela down a dangerous path but in her innocence, she doesn't view her actions as having negative consequences on her sister.

Without giving any spoilers, Ellie experiences true freedom at the end only by experiencing, in the director's words, "an intense emotional experience."

The only negative comment I have is I already know ahead of time how society views films of this nature. I'm surprised to see that few religious nuts who have seen this film never recognized it as a criticism of their faith. No one seems to be able to get over the sight of a naked baby to be able to do that.

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Sin City (2005)
A masterpiece
10 April 2005
Sin City is nothing less than a masterpiece. It's easy to nitpick as every critic has his or her opinion, most of them ignorant and ill-informed. But looking at this film for what it is, it's simply amazing!

True this film is violent. Stories about gangsters and underworld crime often are, but this film does NOT revel in it. It stylizes violence into a beautiful symphony of visual music. We live in a culture that celebrates violence. Let's admit it. As a writer, I certainly do. I lap it up like honey.

It's cathartic and a damn well entertaining!

Critics complaining about lack of depth or characterization do not know what they are talking about, because within this violent world, characters such as Mickey Rourke's and Bruce Willis's question their choices, their role in the world.

It's about time people realize that comic books and graphic novels are not the playground exclusively for drooling, undersexed, pimply faced fan-boys. As angry as we are, we reach out for meaning in a confused chaotic world. We tell the stories we want to tell and yes, we're offended when it's dismissed as a two- dimensional male fantasy, because too many elitist stick-up-their-butt sheep-brains do not see the world we see, and refuse to believe there is such ugliness in this world. But no matter how ugly violence is, there is beauty that can be found. And that is what I took away from this film.

This super-human world Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (with Quentin Tarantino) created represents our struggle in a "sinful" world. Here this world is stripped down to its black and white essence, beautifully realized on celluloid. This is the kind of visual storytelling filmmakers will strive to duplicate for years to come.

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Good effort, but needs more conflict
18 June 2003
I'm sure for its time it was very innovative, but no one took this subject matter seriously in the '50's. Take for instance the scene where Jamie O'Hara remarks how "delightful" it feels to watch her little daughter playing nude with other children, but balks when she sees other adults.

Nowadays the situation is reversed. With the proliferation of Girls Gone Wild, Hedonism and HBO & Playboy documentaries, mainstream audiences now see nudism as an adult hobby, and parents who involve their children are facing criminal investigations.

I expected more of the writer to make use of R.G. Armstrong. He's a very nice man. Met him at Dupar's four years ago. But such a talented actor who really should have been given more to do as the uptight old father figure.
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