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Wonderstruck (2017)
6/10
Good story, and terrific actors...
3 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
But, "Wonderstruck"couldn't win me over.

I don't think that this is a bad film, as others have said. I think the intent was good, it's just that there was something missing for me. I have to connect and really feel something, and come away glad that I saw the film.

While "Wonderstruck" has several largely inexperienced young actors, I was willing to go along with them, but I don't think that they were able to hold my interest for the whole film.

While I found the way the stories were connected interesting, I didn't really get the ending. I definitely liked the second half of the film more, as they were able to spend more time on each story and not cut back and forth from one period to another.

I don't know. Good cast, well made, good story, but in the end there was something missing for me. Worth a watch.
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The Laundromat (I) (2019)
6/10
Oldman and Banderas are excellent!
20 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"The Laundromat", for me was a mix between "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and Adam McKay's "The Big Short. A preachy film that tells you things you've probably known for a long time. How rich people and their lawyers are manipulating and creating the laws of the society, and how the average guy trying to scrape out a living, is really a schmuck because he is powerless to do anything. While this is not "Fake News", it can definitely be called "Old News".

Thank God there is a first rate cast to try to make sense of it all. Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas are first rate. Both are equal parts charming, easy going and smarmy. While their dialogue did not always make a lot of sense, they were engaging and humorous and, you could tell that they were enjoying every bit of their con man performance.

Meryl Streep, as usual, is excellent as the unintended victim of these two lawyers. She is the one that is left to tell the audience what all of this means in today's terms.

Interesting, but not essential to see.

6 out of 10
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4/10
What the hell was that???!!!
9 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In all of the years that I've been going to the NY Film Festival, this is absolutely the worst movie I've seen. I have no idea what it was about or what the idea or theme was. As I was leaving, half the people in the audience felt the same way.

The only reason that I gave this four out of ten, was because there was one scene that actually had interesting dialogue. One.

I can honestly say that the best part of this film was the twenty minutes that I slept thru about a third of the way thru the run of the film. The only reason that I woke up was because the man sitting next to me was snoring, and people kept shushing him.

Horrible film. Avoid it.
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Oh Mercy! (2019)
6/10
It Started Off Strong, but...
5 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
What started off as an atmospheric, almost noir type of interesting movie, turned into an overlong, ridiculous murder mystery.

It does have the benefit of having an interesting leading character, Commisaire Yakoub Daoud, played to perfection by Roschdy Zem (who reminded me a lot of Barack Obama). All of the other characters are yelling and screaming at each other, while Daoud is a calming influence.

The mystery of the murder at the heart of the film is actually kind of tedious. I truly believe it would have been more interesting if they cut 20 - 30 minutes going from one place to another, then back, then to the station, then back to the place where the murder took place, then...oh, never mind.

Too boring. 6 out of 10
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Young Ahmed (2019)
8/10
Excellent film dealing with the radicalization of the young.
5 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
When "Young Ahmed" begins, Ahmed has already been radicalized by a local Imam in Belgium. The film does not deal with what drove him to be radicalized (although as the story unfolds it becomes clear), but rather, it tries to determine if young people, once radicalized, can be conditioned and trained to release their hatred and learn that it is better to talk to those with opposing views, and that violence is not necessary.

I found the film to be very interesting in this discussion of what is going on all over Europe. I found it disturbing that after all the positive things that people had done for him, and his meeting a young woman who was interested in him, that Ahmed could not make a real connection to others. All he wants to do is kill his teacher who he says has defiled the teachings of the Quran.

While I applaud the work of the Dardenne brothers here, I think that it may have been more interesting to have had the perspective of a director such as Asghar Farhadi to make it more authentic.

An excellent film. 8 out of 10
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Mrs. Hyde (2017)
4/10
A Good Idea Gone Bad
5 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'm sure that when the idea of Mrs. Hyde was floated around, it must have seemed like a good idea. Updating an old parable about how good and evil lives inside all of us. Translating that to the role of a teacher with difficult students, again,utmost have seemed like a good idea. Getting Isabelle Huppert seemed like a great idea.

So where did they go wrong? Well, the answer is...everywhere. The movie doesn't make any sense at all, with incidents that occur, often out of the blue. And they don't make any kind of connection to the rest of the film. A jumbled, nonsensical screenplay and direction.

Ms. Huppert is good, but there is nothing in her character that is interesting, and there is not another character for her to play off of. Where she is strong and intelligent, all of the men in this film are weak and idiots.

A big mess from start to finish.
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Roma (2018)
8/10
Very Good Film! But A Masterpiece???
5 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
First off, let me say that "Roma" is a very good film. There's absolutely no way around that. It is a very good film.

I first saw this on Netflix, and all I could think was, "I would love to see this in a theatre with a large screen". Tonight I got my wish. I got to see Cuaron's film in glorious 70mm. The cinematography is that much more impressive on a large screen. The simple composition of his shots and his use of mostly master shots with little to no movement seems ordinary on even a big screen TV, but in a movie theatre, it is breathtaking. This film will easily win best cinematography and maybe best editing.

But a masterpiece? I'm not so sure. I had a hard time getting into the film until around halfway thru it. The story of an average family trying to get thru the troubles of everyday life as well as the political upheavals that were going on at the time, did not particularly hold my interest. While i found the story of the people who worked for the families more interesting, their stories, other than what is seen, are not explored.

I also do not know exactly what makes up a masterpiece, I think that's subjective, and I don't want to be pretentious about my views. But again, other than the look and camerawork of the film, I wasn't really moved all that much.

See it on a big screen if you can

8 out of 10
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8/10
Excellent Karloff Vehicle From Michael Curtiz
25 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Warner Bros. during the 1930's and 40's cornered the market on gangster and film-noir films. One of the leaders in these genres was Michael Curtiz, who would later go on to direct "The Adventures of Robin Hood", "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and of course, "Casablanca".

In a bit of a departure, Warner Bros. made "The Walking Dead" in 1936, and had Curtiz at the helm. It's a departure in that the case could be made that this is a horror film.

It stars horror king Boris Karloff, as John Ellman, who is framed for the murder of a judge. Ellman is brought back to life by Dr. Beaumont(Edmund Gwenn), who is a doctor that wants to help Karloff, and explore the possibility of heart transplants.

Karloff spends the rest of the picture tracking down and destroying those who framed him.

The rest of the supporting cast Ricardo Cortez, Marguerite Churchill, Warren Hull, and Barton MacLane are very good.

Curtiz and cinematographer Hal Mohr do a great job of giving the film a haunting, eerie feeling, perfect for Halloween. The film reminds you of the great Universal horror movies.
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The Clapper (I) (2017)
1/10
Horrible Film
21 October 2018
There is nothing funny at all in "The Clapper".

There is nothing about this movie that would ever make me recommend it or see it again.

It seems that the entire film was improvised by a group of people who are not particularly good at improvisation.

Please, don't see this movie.
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In My Room (2018)
6/10
What happened here?
1 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"In My Room" is an interesting, yet confusing post-apocalyptic film( I suppose) that ultimately left me with too many questions.

I don't want to go too much into the details of the movie, because I don't think I can describe it without revealing too much. But it involves a sense of being alone, and the freedom that can come from that. I believe that it may also deal with second chances and starting over. It also is about our relationships with others.

Nothing is explained here. Why people disappear, why the movie changes from German to English, why is someone so inept in one area but somehow gains a great deal of knowledge in other areas. There is a relationship between man and woman that in the end makes no sense.

For me, the best part of the movie was found in the silence of individual scenes. Again, I don't fully understand what the film was about, and neither did anyone that I spoke to about it, after the screening.

6 out of 10
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7/10
Commercials and Audience almost ruin this show.
4 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Never a big Andrew Lloyd Webber or "JCS" fan, but I have to admit that I liked this production more than I thought I would.

That being said, I'm glad I DVR'd the show. I watched it over the course of Monday and Tuesday, and I'm glad I did. With all of the annoying commercial breaks, long commercial breaks, there was no way I would have watched it straight thru.

In addition, someone, I guess to create atmosphere, decided to mic the audience. This was to give the impression that the crowd was having a wild time and that this was not just a show, but an experience that had to be shared. But what it did was ruin most of the moments and performances of some very talented actors.It will definitely make me think twice before watching another production.

I found all of the people involved to be very talented and excellent in their roles. Yes, John Legend was probably the weakest actor on the stage, but I give him credit for attempting to act/sing a role that is incredibly difficult.

All in all, an excellent production ruined by the greed of networks and the phoniness of the sound producers.
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8/10
Wonderful Holiday Film To Add To The Repertoire
14 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Holiday Affair" may be a lesser known holiday film, but it certainly lacks nothing in the way of likability or warmheartedness.

I viewed this for the first time, just a few days ago, and I can say that it will be one of those that I watch every Christmas season.

Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh are a perfect combination. And Wendell Corey plays the Ralph Bellamy-type role to a tee. The three of them play off of each other, and add such warmth, that I dare anyone to resist the charms of this film.

And Harry Morgan steals the film.

This will be the best film that you've never heard of, this season.
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4/10
I must have missed something
13 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
After watching this film, and then reading some of the reviews, I feel as though I must have missed something.

"The Phenix City Story" is not even a good grade B film, in my opinion. I didn't find it interesting in the least. The writing, especially the dialog, was corny and even laughable. The acting by a long list of "B" actors was the same.

Yes, there were some noir-type scenes, but I would not call this a film noir movie. Nor is is a particularly interesting gangster film. And I just found the ending of the film extremely unsatisfying.

Although this is based on a true story, and several of the people involved in the story actually appear in a 12 minute prologue, I didn't feel that it was nearly as good as some of the other reviewers felt.

This one can be avoided.
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4/10
This is a "classic"?
31 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I know that I'm not supposed to ask questions, and I know it was 1946, and Hollywood was playing with Film Noir, but there was just too much about this movie that made me want to yell "STOP ALREADY!!!"

Yes, Lana Turner is absolutely breathtaking. She's so sexy in all of those white outfits, and those beautiful eyes and lips. Very sensuous.

But do they really expect someone like her to fall for Cecil Kellaway and try to make it believable for the audience? And I'm sorry, but I just never thought that John Garfield was ever that good.

Throughout watching this film all I could think of was how it reminded me of "Double Indemnity" (which in my opinion is a much better film, in every aspect).

And the moral of the story about the postman? Ridiculous.

Don't waste your time with this one, no matter what you read about it.
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The Beguiled (2017)
6/10
Gothic and Atmospheric Film
2 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"The Beguiled" tells the tale of several women who are locked inside the remnants of a Gothic looking plantation, trying to survive the Civil War. One of the ladies (a young girl actually), discovers a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) in the woods. She takes him home and persuades the matron of the girls (Nicole Kidman) to heal the soldier and not turn him in to the Confederate army.

I won't say much more about the plot, so as not to give anything away. Let me just say, if you watched the trailer, your ideas about what was going to happen would be a lot more inventive and exciting than what actually does happen in this film.

The film, to me, certainly has the right atmosphere and look, although the setting looks more like South Carolina or Georgia, than Virginia. The acting is all first rate, especially Nicole Kidman. But there isn't enough in the script to really hold anyone's interest. At 93 minutes, I was left wondering how it was that nothing really happens.

Sophia Coppola is a talented director, and she assembles terrific casts, and gets wonderful performances out of them, but I frankly don't think that her screen writing skills are that good. I am one of the few people in this world who do not believe that "Lost in Translation" is a masterpiece. I'd like to see what she can achieve using someone else's screenplay.

6 out of 10
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4/10
This is NOT a good movie!
5 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand how so many people could say that this was not only a good movie, but an action packed thriller.

"The Accountant" is so bad on so many levels, it's difficult to understand what it is.

The story involves a leader (JK Simmons) of the Treasury Department is about to retire, he wants to find the person responsible for killing 9 members of a mafia crime family, from 20 years earlier.

The background to this story, and the reasons why he wants to find the killer, is explained during a scene that is approx. 12 minutes long and occurs 3/4 of the way thru the film. To me, anytime that long of a scene is used to explain the first hour of what you've already scene, is a clear indication that the writers are lazy in their writing.

Next, the climax of the film is so damn ridiculous, and stupid, you will want to put a bullet thru your television. It involves two brothers who haven't seen each other for 10 years.

JK Simmons and Anna Kendrick are wasted. The most moving part of Ben Affleck's performance is his hairpiece.

Save yourself the time and the money, and avoid this movie.

4 out of 10
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Jesus Camp (2006)
7/10
Spreading the word of God, or is this child abuse?
9 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Jesus Camp" is a very good documentary that had me feeling ill at ease throughout the film.

In my opinion, it shows children ages 6 - 13 being groomed to preach the word of the Lord. From an early age these children are taught that they were once sinners, they need to be saved by the Lord and they need to "lead an army" to fight to get God back in the schools and to fight abortion.

I felt uneasy because when these kids go to camp, they learn about the evil world they live in. They are taught about abortion, and to stay away from Harry Potter, because he is the devil. Thought the film kids are "moved" and cry and try to show the leaders of the camp that they are worthy of the word of God. It made me feel that these kids were being abused, and I felt sick to my stomach.

The film does a great job of showing how the Evangelical movement is growing and taking an active role in trying to take over the government.

If you think Trump is scary, catch a load of some of the people in this film that are doing God's work.
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Moonlight (I) (2016)
8/10
A touching film about the need for personal contact
25 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For me, "Moonlight" was the story of a boy, who grows to manhood, who seldom knew the tenderness of another human being.

Raised in the shadows of Miami, Chiron (also known as "Little), lives with his crack smoking mother. He is bullied by boys at his school. The only people who are kind to him is a local drug dealer and his girlfriend. When the dealer finds Chiron hiding from the bullies, he tries to get the boy to open up, and talk. This man, for all of his faults is the only one that the boy comes to trust, and talk to.

As the boy grows, his mother becomes more abusive, and the bullies are even meaner, and subject Chiron to all types of insults. But Chiron has one friend he can talk to, Kevin. Chiron can talk to Kevin, and the two boys share a rare moment of affection with each other. However, the bullies force Kevin to betray Chiron, and Chiron ultimately snaps and takes revenge on the ring leader.

In act three, Chiron is now a man, and he has tried to make a life for himself in the only way that he knows, from what he's seen (no spoiler). He still has issues with his unaffectionate mother, and he meets up with Kevin, whom he hasn't seen in a number of years.

Everything about this film is excellent. The writing rings true, the acting from all three "Chiron's) is wonderful, as well as support from Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, and Mahershala Ali.

The film dealt with themes about abuse (both physical and verbal), the need for role models, and the need for personal contact / relationships. It shows how just a little love or compassion, early in a person's development can mean so much to their life after they've grown.

8 out of 10
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8/10
Wonderful film that should win Bening an Oscar
9 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"20th Century Women" is the story of three women of different generations who help to see a teenage boy learn what it is to become a man.

The three women, (Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning)become the primary influences in the life of Bening's son (Lucas Jade Zumann). Being is nothing short of fantastic as the mother, Dorothea, a product of the '40s and '50's, who is leading a bohemian-type lifestyle, and who rents rooms to Abbie (a photographer played by Gerwig, and a mechanic ( Billy Crudup). I would look for Gerwig and Crudup to contend for Best Supporting Oscars. Zumann is refreshing as Bening's son, Jamie.

Mike Mills("Beginners") has created a setting in 1979 that is easily identifiable and relatable. There are no plot twists or surprises, just interesting characters that actually talk and listen to each other.
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6/10
Interesting, moody but unfulfilling film
8 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at the New York Film Festival. I got my ticket at the last minute, and really didn't know anything about it.

Kristin Stewart plays a medium, whose twin brother has recently died of a heart attack. She earns a living being a personal shopper for a female celebrity (it's never made clear). At the beginning of the film she returns to the house of her dead brother, hoping to get a sign from him indicating that his spirit is still on the earth. It seems that she carries the same gene as her brother, and she fears that she may die early in life, as he did.

This is just a small sample of the winding, twisted plot. I'm not sure what the message of this movie was. I think it has to do with how we deal with being alone in the world, but it's also about living the type of life we want to live, but it's also about...well, you get the idea.

Stewart is excellent in the part of Maureen. She is on screen for practically the entire film. The rest of the cast is equally good.
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8/10
Good fun and a wonderful cast
29 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I found this movie on Netflix after searching for something "good" to watch.

I have to say that this was one of the more offbeat, and enjoyable films that I've seen all year.

Based on a true story, except for the parts that aren't, "Burke and Hare" stars Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as two down and outs who are willing to do anything to make a buck. After unsuccessful tries as con men and grave robbers, they stumble into a profession that, will supply bodies to the medical schools of Scotland.

This is a black comedy that is very funny and often hilarious. Some people may feel that the subject matter is not to be made fun of. But in true British humor, nothing is sacred.

The entire cast is terrific. From Simon Pegg to Tom Wilkinson to Tim Curry and Christopher Lee. Special kudos to Ronnie Corbett who is very funny as a Captain of the guard, tracking down his foe.

On a night when you don't know what to watch. Give "Burke and Hare" a go. Highly Recommended.
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7/10
Not Quite Golden Coach
5 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"The Golden Coach" was an interesting project for Jean Renoir. According to his own biography, this film interested him on more of a design level, than on a story-telling level. He was much more interested in the "look" of the costumes, scenery, wigs and make-up. There have even been stories about how he would have sets built, then when the actors showed up in costume, he would order that the sets were the wrong colors, and needed to be re-painted. And from a technical point of view, the film is a feast for the eyes, and therefore a success.

The cast, especially Anna Magnani as Camilla, is excellent. They play the characters in a commedia dell'arte style production. Since the characters and the actors who portray them are all a little loud and full of energy, I found the "play within a play" structure to be appropriately maddening. I'm not sure what Renoir intended, but I thought that the story, while contrived, was interesting.

7 out of 10
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Little Women (1933)
7/10
Too Much Sweetener
17 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Little Women" is a good, early '30's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic tale about the March sisters and their mother as they struggle without their father/husband, who is off fighting in the Civil War.

There is certainly plenty to recommend about this film. The look of the film, costumes, sets and overall "feel" of the film is quite genuine and fine. The acting is terrific from all involved. From Katharine Hepburn to Joan Bennett, Spring Byington and Paul Lukas.

The problem is that, in my humble opinion, it is an incredibly hard film to watch, due to the extreme sweetness and, at times, corny dialog that is spoken. Now I know that being the early '30's, this is what many, during the depression era needed to make them feel warm and secure. But this is laid on way to thick. As I said, it was very hard to get thru this film. I'm glad I've seen it, but I would not watch it again.
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5/10
Alexander the mediocre
29 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Alexander the Great" is not, by any means a great film. Let's start off there. Actually, for an "historical epic", it's really pretty boring, without much going for it.

Perhaps the most moving thing about this film is Richard Burton's hair. Burton, looks to be much older than his actual 29 years of age. Fredric March wears a ridiculous looking beard, but fortunately, is killed off half way thru the picture. Claire Bloom is lovely as ever.

I don't know what Robert Rossen intended with this picture, but the fight sequences are pretty boring and the script isn't interesting enough to make it a real sweeping epic (even though it is filmed in Cinemascope).

In the end, "Alexander the Great" is a historical bore. Watch it until Fredric March dies, then turn it off.

5 out of 10
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6/10
So what did we learn?
31 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I remember seeing Bill Hicks perform on various HBO specials in the early - mid '80's. I'd seen him a couple of times on Letterman, and didn't think any more about him, until I had heard that he died at the age of 32 from pancreatic cancer.

I'll admit, I was never a big fan of his. I thought that other comedians were doing somewhat similar material, and doing it better. So I watched this "documentary" to see if I could learn what I was missing or not "getting" about Hicks.

I'm not sure I was missing anything. This documentary does a fine job of telling you about his origins, and his life and the people he knew. But it does not inform you as to what he believed drove his comedy. It also doesn't discuss the inner demons that he fought or explain why, after working so many years to build a career, he would just walk away from it, just because his act was edited.

His "rants" were not the stuff of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin. His talk of drugs was not as clever as Robin Williams or Sam Kinison. So the viewer is left still not able to understand why people love his comedy.

The film is told thru stop action animation, which is clever at first, but gets old real fast. It is hard to understand who is doing the talking, because actual live faces or names are rarely flashed on the screen.

On the whole, I'm glad I saw the film, but very disappointed with not having any greater insight to the man after having viewed it.

6 out of 10
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