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12 Angry Men (1957)
Methaphors in Film...
To begin with, let me state for the record that I think this is the finest film of the 1950's and one of the best films of all times. Only the fact that so many other people share my opinion has prevented me from writing a glowing review on this site, as there were already so many to choose from.
However, I saw the film again last night on Turner Classic Movies (and stayed up until well after midnight to watch it, trading sleep for artistic sustenance) and I was struck be something that seemed so obvious, yet had always eluded me in past viewings. I was struck by the use of metaphor in the film. I guess that I had never seen it quite that way before as I was content to watch a simple, yet exciting play unfold. But last night was a revelation. The three metaphors that most jumped out at me are as follows: 1) The lighting. In order to simulate the growing darkness of the storm out the window, the lighting was slowly turned down through the film until it became obvious that the lights in the room would have to be turned on. When Juror-1 turns the lights on, the whole room changes. As the darkness had crept in, the room had become more and more hostile. Yet, when the light came on, most of the characters' attitudes change to more genial manor. The lights comes on after Juror-8 has made most of his points and it seems the light is the symbolic turning of the Jury.
2) The cinematography. The direct deliberately changed his lenses in the camera through the shoot to make the walls of the Jury Room seem to close in on the Jurors. This is a nice physiological trick, but it seemed to me to be more. Notice how, the closer they get to a hung jury, the closer they come to Juror's #-3, -4, and -10 simply declaring themselves hung, the closer the walls get. But in the final scene in the room, when they are all leaving, the camera lens reverts back to the proportions used at the beginning of the film. The room is big and airy again. I like the symbolism of of the room, representing the weight of the defendant's life, closing in on them.
3) (My favorite) The Rain. Prior to the storm starting, all of the Jurors have voted the way they do at the end except for #'s 3,4 & 10, all of whom are carrying "baggage" of their own. #-4 is a man possessed of intellect and sees himself as above the other's mentally. #-10 has years of racism blinding him. And #-3 has the memory of his failed relationship with his son. Then it begins raining, hard. Juror-10 has his great scene and simply self-destructs, in the process letting go of his racism, at least for the moment. Juror-4 undergoes the "eyeglasses" scene and lets go of his self-assumed intellectual superiority. And Juror-3 (Lee J. Cobb is the MAN!) launches into that most famous scene, finally letting go of his anger toward his own son. As soon as they release their own personal demons, the truth become evident to them, the rain, as it were, having washed their souls clean. No sooner is it has #-3 completed his transformation then it stops raining...and the sun begin to peak through the darkness. This is GENIUS film making! In the end, maybe that is way I love this film so much: each time I watch it, there is something new to find. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
'May' by Lucky McKee
I'll make this short and sweet. I don't get freaked out over movies. I never flinched when the killer jumps out of the closet and I never cover my eyes when the monster bursts out of the guy's chest. Blood does not scare me. Psychos do not scare me. Ghosts do not scare me. Little children crawling on glass...yeah, that got me. There is something strange and wonderful and terrible about this movie. Maybe it is the slow build to the inescapable conclusion. Or maybe the brilliant portrayal of May by Angela Bettis. Maybe it IS the blood that comes in copious amounts (once it actually starts coming) or the very dark humor of the film or the way the script has May becoming almost cooler than cool in the end. Whatever it is, this is quite simply the freakiest movie I have ever sat through. "Disturbing" does not convey the level of anxiety and excitement and, yes, lust and affection that I had for Ms. Bettis' May by the third reel. I cant' really explain it...it just IS freaky. This movie is headed to the top of two great film genres: Cult and Psycho Horrer. For the love of all that is grisly and macabre, rent this film!!!
The Incredibles (2004)
Possibly the Best Film of 2004
'Million Dollar Baby'? Fantastic. 'The Aviator'? Amazing. 'Sideways'? A triumph. But the film of the year? How about 'The Incredibles'? I know a lot of people will question the sanity of a man who says such things, but consider for a moment the merits of my case. The 'Best Picture' accolade (whenever presented, by whichever group) recognizes the highest achievements in film making and in all the individual endeavors that make up a film. On this basis, I call 'The Incredibles' the best film of the year. The animation was superb, on par or better than any FX done in any other film in 2004. The acting, especially Holly Hunter's Elasti-Girl, was amazing (and yes voice-over is still considered acting). The script was as inventive and fresh as anything since 'Pulp Fiction' stunned the nation a decade ago. And the soundtrack is one of the finest musical achievements I have ever witnessed, hearkening back to the great big, brassy sounds of the 1960's spy and action adventure films. This film pays tribute the comic book genre without playing down to the crowd and it moves with a pace that actually asks you to pay attention and stay alert, a rare thing in today's cinema.
'The Incredibles' DID win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and rightly so, but it seems to this reviewer that, despite not being eligible for the Best Picture category, 'The Incredibles' was the Best Picture period. This is truly a masterful accomplishment or artistry and I hope that many generations to come will recognize it for what it is and cherish it as I do.
The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Take it from me...
I am a white male who used to live in the Bay Area of California, in the middle of the largest population of Asians in the country. I was married to a Chinese woman and eat almost every dinner with her family. I learned the lanquage. I have traveled to China with my wife and her family. I was even "adopted" into the Community and made to be "Chinese". So you can take it from me when I say this: This is absolutely the most beautiful, heartrending, tragic and glorious film ever made about my family. I am honored to be counted among them and this film pays tribute to all that is great and not-so-great about this wonderful community. I applaud Amy Tan and I encourage all of you to see this film.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
A good film...
The Prince of Egypt is a good attempt to bring the story of the Exodus to the screen in a fresh new way. The animation is quite good and many of the songs are enjoyable, if not quite up the level we have come to expect from the Big Dogs over at Disney. But then, this is not a Disney film, so there you go. Despite some rather pedestrian dialog and a few minor plot alterations, this film succeeds well enough to get a favorable review and multiple-viewings. If you are looking for a fun film that has some real heart and some great sequences, this is your movie, despite some reviews here-in that claim the film has done great injustices to the story. In particular, the review contributed by Emma (Angelfalls916) has missed the point of this movie. As with all films, the first desired effect is to entertain. And as entertainment, this movie is great. Sure there are nit-pickers out there who will look for the flaws, but all movies have mistakes. Just ignore them and enjoy the show. But if you are going to pick out the mistakes, then at least get them right. Emma states that she didn't like the scene depicting Ramses being thrown out of the sea. OK, but it is not as though anyone can say what really happened back there, right? Many Christians believe that Ramses died in the Red Sea, yet most historians and biblical scholars believe that the Ramses of the Exodus story is, in fact, Ramses the Second, who's mummy has been touring the world for the past few years, so he couldn't have died in the Red Sea. And for that matter, it wasn't the Red Sea, either. The Hebrews crossed the Reed Sea. And what about the mistaken translation of God's name (Ehyah-Asher-Ehyeh) as "I am that I am" when a more correct translation is "I will be what I will be". No one is complaining about those mistake. And before you go and blame Disney for making the mistake that have so upset you, Emma, I would like to remind you that this is NOT a Disney picture. As a person of Jewish heritage, I am more than pleased with the result of the film-maker's efforts, despite the film's flaws. I sincerely hope that you can look at this picture and see the entertaining and well-made product and not just a few mistakes.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Well Made Film, Poor History Lesson
I have just watched Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' and I must admit that was deeply moved by the film. After hearing so many friends (almost all of whom are Christian) relate how powerful and emotionally deep the film was I was eager to see it. And upon viewing it I am impressed greatly with the already-proven talents of Mr. Gibson as a film maker. His previous Directoring and/or Producing endevours are, without exclusion, fine films. I was pleased to see so steady a hand at the wheel of so large a project as this. Emotionally, Mr. Gibson plays all the right cards at all the right moments. The few islands of calm in this violent sea are too few to comfort the viewer and the violence is too violent to ignore. Some have called the film manipulative of people's emotions and I agree, but not in a negative way. After all, aren't all films manipulating our emotions in one way or another? 'The Passion' simply does it better and longer than most. So bravo to Mr. Gibson's talents as a film maker.
Now then, having praised this film's finer attributes, and in full expectation that what comes next will net me much heated and hate-fill ire from the general viewing public, I must also comment of the failings of this film. I understand that Mr. Gibson has made a film that is in keeping with his beliefs regarding events that transpired nearly 2000-years ago and that he tried as hard as he could to remain "true" to his source material, the Catholic renditions of the Gospels of the New Testament. And in this he has succeeded. But where he (and this film) have failed is in the acertion that his source material was and is historically accurate. In making this claim, Mr. Gibson has ignored what most historians and academics believe really happened at the trial of Jesus (assuming, of course, that believes that a man named Jesus ever lived; for the record, I do). It is widely believed in historic and academic circles that the Jews had little or nothing to do with the Conviction and Crucifiction of Jesus. In support of this, one can sight the fact that the Jews had laws against using Crucifiction as a means of execution, citing that it broke the Hebrew Law (halacha) against torture.
Also, the writings one finds in the Historical Record regarding Pontius Pilot do not support the acertion that he was basically a good guy who was trying to quell a Jewish uprising by killing Jesus at the Jews request. At the time of Jesus' death, the Romans had more than enough Military Man-Power to crush any uprising that may have insued should Pilot have Pardoned Jesus, as many religious leaders say he wanted to. Also to be considered is the fact that Pilot was widely regarded within the Roman Empire as the most blood-thirsty and cruel Govenor in the whole of the Empire. Surely, a man who despised the Jews and new he could destroy them would feel no compulsion to aid them in their alleged internal bickering. If he had wanted to Pardon Jesus, history suggests that he would have. More likely, Jesus claim of being the Messiah is what got him killed. At the time, the word Messiah meant less "Spiritual Leader" as it does now and more "Millitary Leader / Revolutionary / Liberator". When Pilot heard that this Jesus fellow was calling himself the Messiah, he most likely thought of a military opponent who he needed to crushed. Which is what he did. Remember, Pilot was so Blood-Thristy that only a few short years after Jesus' death, Rome recalled him from post and reassigned him to simple duties in the capital city...because he killed over four-thousand Jews in a rage. Does this sound like the kind-hearted would-be protector of Jesus?
The story told in the Passion is one that has been re-written and changed many time over history, with each incarnation looking more favorably on the Romans and less favorably on the Jews. History supports this quite easily. But none of this found it's way into the film. Of course, how could it? How could anyone make a movie about the passion that actually acknowledged that the story we all grew up with was basically a P.R. move by the church?
Again, this is Mr. Gibson's view of the events surrounding the death of Jesus. He and other's of his faith have the right (and my support in that right) to make this film. But to claim that this is the way it happened while flying in the face of what history actually tells us is not artistic licence or good film making...it is propaganda on the worst level. This is a brilliant film, superbly made and expertly polished. But it is not what actually happened. Enjoy the film as art. And if it changes you for the better then bully for you and for Mr. Gibson. But do not sit down to watch this fine film thinking for even a moment that it is portraying Truth. Faith, perhaps, but not Truth.
Boxing Helena (1993)
A Review of the Reviews...
After reading several User Comments for this film, I felt like I just had to write a review, but not for the film, which is quite good in its own way. I agree with one of the reviewers here the states (quite correctly) that this is more a character study of a man effected by an incestuous relationship with his mother and his inability to deal with her death. All else is just representative of this issue for him. No, I felt the need to write a review of the REVIEWS posted here-in.
Now, I don't mean to get off on a rant here, but not every movie has to have Ben Afflect as it's star. Not every movie needs to look like a Hollywood production. Sometimes, "hammy" acting is used on purpose to denote a certain mood or pathos (look that word up, boys and girls). And not every movie is telling the REAL story on the surface. Now, I know that this may be a really difficult thing to accept, but sometimes a movie comes along the requires you to THINK FOR YOURSELVES instead of having every point and detail spoon fed to you. When you encounter these films, you have a choie: engage your brain and try to see what is really being said, there-be getting more from the film than you would from your standard Hollywood flick, or you can walk away without taxing you little brain. Either way is good. But if you coose the latter, than PLEASE spare us your purial reviews. If you can't sit through the whole film, then don't bother wasting your time on a review which no-one will take seriously.
See, the ending of a film is often the most important part. In 'Boxing Helena' for instance, the last 5-minutes change the entire perspective of the film and suddenly so many things become clear. But if you the person who posted a review on this webpage stating that you turned this film off after forty-minutes, you wouldn't know that...right? So why are you writing a review of a film which, in effect, you have not even seen? Come on, people; this isn't rocket science. It is art. Enter at your own risk. Or just keep walking with your mouth shut.
The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001)
Tonight on Fox News; When Reviewers Go Bad!!!
After having seen this film on Showtime the other day, I was interested in seeing what the other Users of IMDB.com had to say about it. And I have to admit, after reading all of the reviews here-in, I still don't know what they thought about the film. I know what they think of Reagan, Haige, Bush Sr, the "Hollywood Left", The "Hawkish Right", Oliver Stone, even Bill Clinton. But I don't really know anything about what people thought of the movie. This is because NOBODY FREEKIN' REVIEWED THE MOVIE! Everyone seems so intent on protecting and/or attacking one political view or another that everyone seems to have forgotten that this is a FREEKING MOVIE, People, not REAL LIFE. The events portrayed in the film are based on actual events, which means that this is NOT a documentary. If you don't like the way this film portrayed Reagan or Nancy or Haige or Cap or Bush, then here is the solution you are looking for; don't watch it. Simple, right? Likewise if you think this is a factual indictment of the Reagan Administration and/or the Republican Party, then I beg you to stop getting your news from Jon Stewart. Don't like Clinton? Then don't vote for him. Don't like the Republicans? Then don't vote for them. Frankly, I don't care. If I wanted to hear a political discussion, I would engage in one on one of the millions of political websites on the web. I am a very political person, but I can also understand the difference between a movie and real life. If you can not, then perhaps you should not be posting film reviews.
And for the record, some technical errors/goofs aside, I thought that this was a taunt, well acted, enjoyable DRAMA about a day that almost changed the course of American History. It is DEFINITELY better than the 4-plus stars that have been afforded it. Check it out; just remember that is a movie, not a historical documentary. We CAN remember that, can't we?
Psycho Beach Party (2000)
a GREAT example of satiracle film-making...
First things first: 'Psycho Beach Party' is funny, fresh, light-hearted and completely likable. It is a rare film that can walk the tight-rope between mocking a particular film genre (in this case, the "Beach Blanket" movies of the fifties and sixties) while still showing great affection for said genre. 'Psycho Beach Party' does it wonderfully. Using an obviously skewed view of these pleasant if vapid films, 'PBP' covers us in satirical humor and warmth, a tricky combination to pull off. If you have ever sat through a film in which a surf board was the star, check this one out...great fun.
Now, second: In response to Brian Bagnall's review from Canada, this film is NOT gay propoganda (just because the writer/director is gay does not make this a gay film). Gays do NOT have to have blonde hair (one of the only two agy characters has black hair...must have missed that one, huh, Brian?). The film does NOT portray the era as demeaning to women (the women in this film are some of the most empowered I have seen in a long time). And if you can not suspend your disbelief for long enough to watch our young heroine escape from a man twice her size, you probably should not be watching a film with the word "psycho", "beach", and "party" in the title. This film looks foundly back on a time that was simpler, both in the movies and reality. Anyone who gets anything other than a Genre Spoof from this was not paying attention.
Put simply, people; 'Psycho Beach Party' is Fabu!
Step Into Liquid (2003)
Surfing is the Source...
To be blunt, Dana Brown has done the Surfing world a MAJOR favour with his new documentary, "Step into Liquid". This is one of the most beautiful and compelling films I have ever seen. I have spent years surfing up and down the USA's West Coast, from Washington to So. California and even down into Baja and I was STUNNED with this film. Since moving to Texas, I have not been riding alot of waves (as you might expect), but this movie made me feel like I was home. One problem, though (and one problem only) -- I grew up in Sothern California surfing at Moonlight, Torry Pines Dell Mar, Huntington, Big Sur, etc and, Dana, let me tell you...ALL of us 'real surfers' called each other 'Dude' all the time...still do, actually. So thanks for the killer ride, Dana, and I'll see you out there...Dude!
Funny, Funny, Funny!
I have read a lot of reviews posted here about how awful this film is, how inappropriate it is, how disrespectful to Jesus, and how flattly unliked it is, especially by those who are Christian. Well, all I can say is GET OVER IT!!! This is a delightfully funny film that no more makes fun of Christianity than does "Scooby-Doo" make fun of the super-natural. This movie takes dead aim at THIS PARTICULAR GROUP of Christians and makes hay with the idea of a teen pregnancy in their midts. I was raised as a very strict, conservative Christian myself and let my tell you, this is EXACTLY the kind of people I grew up with. All of the actions taken "for your own good" and the constant indoctrination, the blatantly falsed psudo-science ("...prayer works; it has been medically proven"), all of this was what I was raised with. And perhaps that what made this movie funny; because I remember all of this happening to me. Regardless, if you are easily offended or if you faith is not strong enough to support a sense of humor, I would recommend that you stay well clear of this film. However, if you happen to think that religion in general and Christianity in particular are ripe for humor, then PLEASE SEE THIS MOVIE! Funny, Funny, Funny!
Love, Sidney (1981)
the "First" of it's kind...
OK, let's clear the air. No, this was NOT the first openly-gay character on television. But this WAS the first openly-gay LEAD character on television.
Billy Crystal was a supporting actor on 'Soap' and so was not a Lead. And while the writing was not all that great and the concept was paper-thin, this show did break new and important ground on television. Shows like 'Will & Grace' and 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' owe a lot to this program. Was the show any good? Yeah, it was decent. Was it important? Yes, unbelievably so. As Tony Randall passes away from our sight on this day, we should remember that we all owe him a debt of thanks.
Thanks, Tony; We will miss you.
The worst film by Robert Altman is still the best film of the year.
This review is written specifically for those who have not seen 'Pret-a-Porte' and are confused by the mixed reviews on this site and from the Critical Press in general. To you, I would say the following: Don't take my word for it...see it for yourself and figure out what YOU think of it. It is my opinion that the worst film from Robert Altman is still the best film of the year (with rare exceptions) and so, naturally, I would recommend this film to anyone. However, Director Altman does NOT make films for everyone. He often makes films for the 'Advanced' film-goer. His work is often dis-jointed and overlapping to an extent that it requires one to actually ay attention to the goings' on rather than to spoon-feed the answers to the audience. Couple this with his tendency to allow the plot and the character to meander, evolving slowly over the course of the film and you often get a movie that is distinctly 'un-Hollywood', which can turn some film goers off. So I would recommend that you not only sit through this film, but allow yourself to actually watch it without any preconceived ideas of how a movie is supposed to be. Then I think you will find a witty, sexy satire that is more about our own vanity and betrayal than it is about the fashion industry.
But like I said, don't take my word for it (or the words of anyone else, for that matter): If you are curious, please watch it. And make up your own mind.
The Lion King 1½ (2004)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are...In Africa?
Is it just my, or is this the funniest joke ever played? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are...In Africa? I almost died laughing, but only at the jokes IN the film, but mostly at the joke that IS the film. Not following me? Ok, try this: The Lion King (a fine film) is the Disney version of 'Hamlet', right? Ok, then Timon and Pumba are obviously the Disney version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Which makes this film HYSTERICAL! Anyone who has wated 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' will really get a kick out of this intelligent flick. Needless to say, I loved it. But not just for the jokes and songs (which were pretty good) but for the 'Inside' joke that this film IS the joke. Hats off to Disney...you were deffinitely smarter than your audience this time out. Walt would have loved it.
Too smart for some...
Writer/Director David Mamet's latest film, 'Spartan', is fast paced, taunt, suspenseful and intelligent. As with most of Mamet's work the action (and, to some extent, the plot) seem to take a back seat to the wonderful dialog with which Mr. Mamet endowes his characters. Much as Elroy Leonard has done in his novels-turned-films ('Jackie Brown', 'Out of Sight', 'Get Shorty', etc), Mamet has taken the time to create senntences and conversations that say more than what is on the surface. His dialog often speaks to the inner turmoil of a given character, as well as the turmoil of the film as a whole and also to the intelligence of the writer and (hopefully) the audience. Couple this with the truly wonderful acting of the cast and the taunt pacing of this film and 'Spartan' becomes more then a great movie, it becomes an example of the artistry possible in film.
As stated earlier, this is an intelligent and quick-witted film. So what could be wrong with it? It may be TOO intelligent and quick-witted. Judging from the responses of the theater-goers that I saw this film with and from various reviews on this site, one can make a good case for David Mamet alienating many of the film's potential patrons by making films which are, to be blunt, too smart for some in our society. Does this act against 'Spartan'? Well, yes and no. Yes, Mamet may be driving potential profits for his films down by using big words and relying on gentle and subtle acting rather than the usual "Top Gun"/Jerry Bruckheimer gun-battle-laden fair with extra explosions on the side. But the result of Mamet's decidedly "Top Shelf" form of film-making is a catalog of films that are interesting on an intellectual level, with dialog that crackles and action (where needed) that is as artistic as any ballet. Regarding Mamet's fine dialog, I over-heard one woman telling her friend that "...no one actually talks like that". To which I say, "Exactly!" We live in a world of ugly speech and mundane activities, the antithesis of which are films that are able to elevate us above the frey and indulge our intellects, perhaps actually requiring us to think in order to keep up with the story. In fact, the more of David Mamet's work one watches, the more one is left with the distinct impression that this is actually the point of a David Mamet film. Art and intelligence in film making seem to be his ultimate goals, resulting in some of the finest films the grace the silver screen in decades.
So if Joe Q. Average's complaints that Val Kilmer hit his acting peak as 'Iceman' in 'Top Gun' (1986) keeps him from purchasing a ticket to this amazing film, resulting in plenty of seating at the theater, no kids running wild through the aisles and no cell phones ringing in the middle of the picture, so much the better for those of us with enough brains to recognize a beautiful film when we see it. I'll take one David Mamet Special with Popcorn and a Soda, please; hold the explosions.
Latter Days (2003)
In Response, ...
I recently saw this film at a Gay/Lesbien film festival with a few gay friends (I am straight). I can not speak to how "tru to the gay lifestyle" it really is, but my friends really enjoyed this film and so did I. We all agreed that this was a mature and wonderful story that was told well and with just the right amounts of romance, laughter, drama and pain. Forget the sexual orientation of the main characters and just watch the film; you will see a really good love story between two completely believable characters. Bravo to director Cox for this great little film. I hope a lot of people see it and (maybe) learn to be a little more open to lifestyles other than there own.
Oh, and in response to on reviewer on this sight (Bill in Lewisville, Tx) who said that this story was not believable because it could never happen because Mormon missionaries have a calling to do their work and would not "turn" gay, all I have to do is refer you, Bill, to the interview that Director Cox gave to CNN.com on Maarch 10, 2004. Cox WAS a Mormon missionary and he WAS gay and he DID come out, much like Aaron does in the film. Couldn't happen? Try, already did.
Seriously, though, if you get a chance to see this film, please do. Those of you in Utah, please consider renting it when it come out on DVD, since it has been all but effectively banned in your beautioful state.
All That Jazz (1979)
"I hate show business...I love show show business"
Eveyday for the past twenty years, I have gotten out of bed, showered, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed off to the theater, whatever venue that may have been. Yes, I was a professional dancer who is now a professional Choreographer and Director and I am very lucky to be able to make a living doing what I love. The drama, the passion, the love of art, the sweat and blood and tears, the triumphs and failures...this is life in the theater. And this is exactly what Bob Fosse captured in this rivoting and beautiful film. Based loosely on Mr. Fosse's life, this is hardly a "True Story". Never-the-less, every word in this film is true. After many, many viewings over many, many yeas, this is still the one film that tells the straight story. Scheider is brilliant as Gideon and the supporting cast is equally good, but the lion's share of the credit goes to Mr. Fosse. Without missing a step, he manages to capture the true essence of stage life while developing the characters to such an extent that the ending, even after many viewings, is still an amazing shock.
If you have ever wondered what it was like to be in a production, forget those fake dance films ("A Chorus Line", "Center Stage") and just watch this film. Everyday, I go to the theater...and hear the ghost of Bob Fosse / Joey Gideon whispering in my ear, "It's Showtime, Folks!"
Drama as Art...
I have read alot of reviews here that expressed displeasure for this film based on the notion that this was basically "softcore porn for housewives" and had nothing new to offer it's audience. Ok, granted; this is not the most original film/script ever written, but I think that many reviews (both Professional and Ametuer alike) have missed the point of this film. Behind the obvious guise of a morality tale showing what can happen if you stray from your marital vows, there is a rather amazing piece of art to be seen. This film is not about marital infedelity, but, rather, about DRAMA. This is what we in the Theater refer to as Drama As Art, meaning that the plot is less important than the impact that the various plot points have on the characters, creating more and more and more drama as the story unfolds. As is the great ballets or stage plays ('Giselle', 'Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf', 'Swan Lake' 'A Streetcar Name Desire'), the DRAMA is the star of the production, not the actors or the plot lines.
And in this respect, 'Unfaithful' excells! Watch carfully as the world slowly turns itself upside down and rips itself to shreds around these two people based on a SINGLE MOMENT IN TIME (the first scene outside of his apartment: Should she go in? Should she go home? One choice, one mopment in time, a world of difference). Based on her choice(s), the drama begins to build to a point when, at the end of the film, the DRAMA is the star, not Geer and Lane. And Drama does a fine job holding this otherwise middle-of-the-road film above the frey.
Lost in Space (1965)
I have a GREAT idea for a show!
Hey, all you TV execs from the 60's, I have a GREAT idea for a show! First, we'll interview Gene Roddenberry and pick his brain and steal his idea for a Sci-Fi show about a group of people on a trip through otter space and every week they meet new and interesting people/planets/things and we can steal his idea for using old movie sets to keep costs low and we only need one or two perminant sets, just like Gene wants to use, to also keep production costs down...AND THEN...WE GET IRWIN ALLEN to produce the show!!! Get it? We can take a really GREAT idea and give it old "no-talent"-Allen and let him go to town with it! Plus, since we can get our show on the air before Gene does, he can't sue us! What do you think? Why, yes, I'd love a cigar...
Ok, that having been said, let's get reel (get it?). This is one of the worst TV show EVER produced, which is really inexcusable considering that it was a blatent rip-off off from Gene Roddenberry. However, this is also ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE SHOWS EVER MADE!!! You want to crash on the couch on Saturday afternoon with a bucket of popcorn and some beer and just laugh and enjoy yourself? YOU CAN'T BEAT 'LOST IN SPACE'!!! This is the one truly great Camp Sci-Fi series of the last 50-years. Star Trek was great, but it was almost TOO GOOD to be camp, where-as this is just mindless fun! Like playing with your favorite tow ray-gun from your childhood; vastly out-dated, but still a blast! The actors seemed to really enjoy being on set and no one (including the writers and producers) seemed to take to show too seriously (or even a little seriously, for that matter). Remember the 'Vegitable Revolt' Episode? Remember Guy Williams LAUGHING on camera because the FX were SOOOOOOO bad? How can you NOT love that?!
Seriously, if you have never seen 'LIS', GO GET THE DVD (out soon)!!! This is mindless, Generic, non-offensive, 60's 'Fluff'-TV at it's best!!! Enjoy!
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Company (2003)
The reality of a Dancer's life...
As a professional Dancer/Choreographer, I can tell you all, this Movie is EXACTLY what it is like in our world. Hard days of hard work, no money, no home, no security, the ever-present danger of a career-ending injury, crumby apartments, and little or no respect from the rest of American society. But, ah, the beauty of the dance! Want to be a dancer when you grow up? Wish you had been when when you were younger? Go see this film. And remember that this is real as it gets.
Angels in America (2003)
With Love to Those We Have Lost...
Tony Kushner's adaptation of his famous play to the small screen, courtesy of HBO Pictures, is, to be blunt, one the finest films I have ever seen (I am a film historian). Dealing with the lives (and impending deaths) of three gay men in New York in the 1980's, the film uses wonderfully artistic diaglog, inspirational insights, and (shockingly enough) a fair amount of laugh-out-loud humor (along with one of the finest assebled casts of all times!) to present it's messege. That messege, contrary to previous reviews posted here-in, is not that someone else was/is to blame for AIDS, but, rather, that AIDS in the 1980's was largely ignored by the straight community and the Conservative Right, including then President Reagan. The spread of the desease in this time frame was frantic and rapid, as most people, even within the gay community, had little or no knowlege of what ADIS was or how it was transmitted (remember, even in today's "enlightened" society, many people still believe falsly that you can contract AIDS through your skin). And this is the tragedy of the story. Three men, three different degrees of self-awareness regarding their own sexuality, three different lives being torn apart...one outcome. The "kiss of the Angel of Death" is upon all of them and they all know it. Facing such a thing is hard for anyone, but in the 80's in America, being gay and having AIDS meant facing it alone. And here is where the hope comes in, for none of these men, in the end, are alone. Indeed, according to Angels in America, none of us ever are. Strength and hope are there for each of us when the road turns dark. When you least expect it. When there is no strength or hope left, there is someone with you. The spiritual implications of this film aside (as you could spend HOURS and HOURS discussing said implications), the hope presented here in contrast to the horror is palpable and uplifting, if only because we WISH it were true.
Angels in America is an important film that tells the stories of not just three characters, but of MILLIONS of good men and women and childred that were and are afflicted with AIDS in a society that condemns those thosely diagnosed as Sinners, regardless of the circumstances. Having lost too many friends to AIDS myself (I stopped counting at 10), I can't help but see Angels in America as a tribute to the many friends, lovers, husbands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who died because of the lack of information or treatment when it was needed most. Ignoring the problem cost countless lives, lives retold in agonizing clearity in this beautiful film, Lives that we can not afford to forget.
If you have lost someone to AIDS, please see this healing film. If you have not known anyone who has sufferedly thusly, please see this film and be greatful that the Angel of Death has passed over your home and those of your loved ones, but also be aware: The Angel can come at any time. Remeber that all the fallen had families and friends who love them. Dennis, Hiedi, Christopher; I remember you and miss you all.
Thank you to Tony Kushner for this memorable film.
Kid Notorious (2003)
As slick and cool as Evans himself...
Let's get right to the point: This is a very funny and slick show. 'Kid Notorious' is the new program from Comedy Central (the folks that brought you 'South Park' and 'Primetime Glick'), produced and created by ultimate Hollywood insider Robert Evans. The animated series follows the adventures of Bobby "Kid Notorious" Evans as he moves and shakes deals all over Hollywood. The Kid's exploits are, of course, based (however loosely) on the actual dealings of Mr Evans, a fact which, if known in advance, should lead the viewer to be fairly amazed at how smooth the Kid (and, in real life, Mr evans) really is. The Kid lives in his posh Beverly Hills mansion with his butler, English, his cook/house keeper, Talley Mae, his furry black kitten, Puss Puss ("Puss" for short), and a never-ending stream of starlets and starlet wanna-be's. The Supporting Characters bring alot with them and are not just relagated to the one-phrase, one-setting scenario often compelled upon similar charater in Network programming ("Hailing frequancies open, Captain"). Indeed, They each seem to play a strong role in the over-all make up of the show. Talley Mae brings the "real world" into The Kid's version of reality (often with very funny tirades). English, the butler, is the perfect "mark", setting-up any number of funny moments, buth verbally and physically. And Puss, well, Puss just seems to enjoy hanging around with The Kid and generally abusing English and causing mayhem en mass.
But the star of the show is Robert Evans. In creating/producing 'Kid Notorious', Evans may have finally found the singular role for which he was born to play...Himself. As the Kid, Evans exudes a graceful and cool style which is often contrasted (diliberately, I assume) with the reality of the given moment (in the first episode, The Kid smoothly talks his way out of some trouble with the mob as if her were telling English which suit to lay out with his rich, velvet voice, all the while the glaring danger of the situation seems palpable to everyone else in the room), which beggs the question, Does the Kid really live in his own fantasy world or does he actually know exactly what is going on and is just too cool to let it get to him? I was left with the feeling that it was the latter. Always smooth ("I can say, 'Baby, you take my breath away!' in 65-langueges..."), always Funny ("...except Ducth"), 'Kid Notorious' seems to have just one week point: It is Too Cool For You, so to speak. As with most "inside" films/shows, the true brilliance of 'Kid Notorious' may only be apparent to those in The Industry or those who follow it closely (read; 'The Player'). For anyone is not familier with how Hollywood works or the political workings behind the scene of any show biz project, this show may just be another cartoon written in a languege they do not understand. But to the initiated, this is a rare piece of self-deprecating humor that also manages to do a supperb job of highlighting the talent(s) and charm of it's lead character and, there-for, by default, it's creat/producer/star. Not many people could pull off so shameless an act of self promotion while at the same time taking pot shots at their own reputation. But then, not many people have led the life that Robert Evans has led. Is he great producer? Debatable. Is he a great Star? Questionable. Is he a great Insider? Undoubtedly! And this is why this show works. Robert Evans has finally found the perfect star for the perfect role of his career. Himself playing himself. Genious.
Robert Evans IS 'Kid Notorious'.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969)
Ok, Here it is...
Ever wondered about all the little things that SEEMED to be inferred by this group's dynamics, but were too afraid to ask, Hey, what's going on here? Well I have the answers. Ready? Ok, Here it is:
Fred is gay. That is why he wears the ascot and his hair is ALWAYS perfect. He even looks like he belongs on Queer Eye for a Straight Guy, right? But he won't ADMIT he is gay, so he is drawn to Velma, whose strong, straight-forward (ok, Manish) ways make him feel secure. And where does Velma get all this strength? Well, it is due to Velma being, of course, a lesbian, which explains both her "alternative" dress and her constant need to hang around who Daphnie. And speaking of Daphnie, ever notice how she is always speaking to Fred? Obviously, she is in love with the Hunky-Hunk, not knowing that he is, of course, gay. See how the circle come around? But What About Shaggy and Scooby, you ask. Well, we know from the early shows that Shaggy is Daphnie's cousin and that Scooby-Doo is Shaggy's dog. But why would anyone keep two cowardly losers like Shaggy and Scooby around in such perilous situations? Because they were the Meal Tickets. See, you know how Shaggy always looked really stoned and was, for the most part, the only one who could hear Scooby talking? Can you say Scooby-Snacks? That's right, boys and girls; Scooby-Snax were actually Pot Brownies!!! THAT's why Shaggy always looked wasted (and sounded like it, too), THAT's why only Shaggy could (again, for the most part) understand what Scooby was saying (drug-induced hallucinations), THAT's where they got the money to travell around without jobs or responsibilities (selling pot on the road is a good source of income), and THAT's the cause of Shaggy and Scooby's cowardice...Pot-Inspired Paranoya!!!!
Well, I hope that clears up the vagueness of this (presumably) Children's Show. Believe me, if you watch the show with these points in mind, it will blow your mind! :) Enjoy!
The Nutcracker (1993)
To begin with, let me first say for the record that I understand that this film was made with the non-Ballet-going public in mind, much as 'E.R.' is made for the non-medical public. This may explain how so many people I have spoken to really loved this film. I, however, must protest. As a professional dancer for many years and, now, a choreographer and director of Ballet, I can not add my voice to the choir of approval that this film has received. Indeed, I have found the production, from front to back with rare exception, to be an ineffectual copy of a classic ballet. The Horror that is Macauly Culkin (who was obviouly cast to bring the film "star-power" rather than talent) aside, the wrongs against Ballet abound aplenty in this film. The choreography is tipical Latter Balanchine (for the un-trained; make it fast, make it sharp and remove any and all elements of Emotion, the core of dance, in favor of a technicality that will highlight the flaws of even the best dancers), the score (considered by many to be their favorite Tchaikovsky piece) is so badly edited and re-arranged that I doubt if the composer would regognize it, leading to the re-arrangement of the staging into a non-linear hodge-podge of dances that tells no deffinite story, but simply ambles through the remains of a once-great narrative and the camera work, while professional and clean, is more distracting than helpful, always cutting away at inopportune moments in favor of another vantage point. One of the wonderful things about watching ballet on tape is being able to see a variation continualy without edits, there-by showing our hero or heroine actually completing a difficult step or combonation, there-by showing off their talent. When one cuts away from a dancer after three fuete turns and then shows them from another angle doing another three fuetes, how are we, as the viewers, to know if the dancer completed all six in one attempt or did she simply do three and WE saw them twice? With the continuity cut from the dancing, much of the magic of ballet (&/or dance in general) gets lost in the mix. And then, there is the Culkin child. Now, I understand that Young Mr. Culkin is rumored to have grown into a very respectable and nice young man. And I also understand (although reports are sketchy) that he received instruction from the School of American Ballet (SAB), the accademy arm of the New York City Ballet (NYCB), for a short time. But does this really qualify him to play the Nutcracker? His obviouly lack of balletic talent or grace and the ham-handed choreography imposed on the child makes his scenes painful to watch and an embarrassment to not only Mr Culkin and the NYCB, but to the entire dancing world. Would it have not made better sense to have cast an actual dancer in the role and let the art form speak for itself rather than trying to "glam" it up with a familar face?
The one shining moment in other-wise waste of video tape is the Soldier Doll Variation performed in the first act Party Scene. Brilliant and incredible!
Needless to say, however, I was disappointed the first time I saw this film and continue to be so now, years later. If you are interested in seeing a quality production of "the Nutcracker", I would like to recomend either the classical and technically perfect Royal Ballet's version or the more visially oppulant Pacific Northwest Ballet's production, both available on video.
The Hunted (2003)
I liked this film the first time I saw it...
Living in Portland, I was very excited to see the film that had been shooting in my city for so long. When "The Hunted" opened, I was first in line. All I can say is, I liked this film better the first time I saw it...when it was called "First Blood"!
Sorry, but ex-GI can't adapt to real-life, goes nuts-o, takes out a bunch of civilians, ends up being hunted by the man who trained him, big chase scenes, lots of escapes, campy dialog and barely-there sub-plots do not a good film make. Thanks god for all the beautiful Northwest scenery or the movie would have been a complete waste. Of course, if you live in the Northwest, you don't need to go to this movie to see the nice locations...save you eight bucks and take a walk instead.