Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Many subtexts; many lessons; any learned?
A lot of time has passed since this story was written and performed. Even more cultural time has passed regarding the "meaning" of the flag, military service, parental performance and many other things. "Relevance" is also a passing question.
SPOILER ALERT HERE
Two things that have not been mentioned in previous reviews need to be highlighted. While Brandon DeWIlde's stomping the flag would normally have no defense, the subtext of his previous "mentor" needs mentioning - because there's an open though unspoken question about his mentor's, well, "manliness". You all know what I mean by that. He was "sensitive". He "loved music". He "played the violin beautifully". See where we're going with this? So what meaning do you think Brandon's later breaking his violin after playing "America the Beautiful" really has? Obvious, no? Or his telling his father he wants to be a soldier. Hey, fight that good fight, Brandon.
The other thing is that Brandon's character is bullwhipped in the episode. By his father, the commanding officer. Think that out.
It is a good episode of a great series. But some of the writers were smarter than their customers, or a lot of viewers, or both.
The Forbidden Dance (1990)
A Period Piece..Not Always In A Good Way
OK, there was this dance craze (the Lambada) and somebody had to get a movie into the theater with a Lambada theme. Got that? Well, there was a competition, and of the two movies, this one got there firstest with the leastest.
SPOILER ALERTS HERE
Pluses: Laura Herring is luminously beautiful and can Lambada like nobody's business..
There are appearances from action/adventure bad guys like Richard Lynch and Sid Haig, though not with great effect.
Kid Creole and The Coconuts appear, and Cory Daye appear and perform the song's signature song, better than the "hit" version.
Minuses: Virtually everything else in the movie. But if you want to bookend movies like "You Can't Stop The Music" or Breakin' 2 - Electric Boogaloo", this is a good movie for that. OK, it's also a style guide for 1980's clothing. take it for that.
The Core (2003)
Better Than The Ratings Here
I'm never sure what people want from movies. Even more so, I'm not sure what they want from science fiction movies. Maybe they don't understand that its science FICTION, meaning that it doesn't need to make scientific sense. It's fiction, people. Fiction.
That was for the people who didn't bother reading the plot synopsis. The movie has a great cast, some innovative casting (Academy Award winner, anyone?) and it established Aaron Eckhart as a real star of sci-fi. Having Stanley Tucci in the film was also good, as was Bruce Greenwood, who adds to any movie he's in.
The contention of the movie is a good science fiction one and was handled very well. The story line was good as well, as were the special effects, which are crucial in a modern movie of this type. I really liked it (here it comes..) ON A MOVIE SCREEN. If you're reviewing this film on the basis of having seen it on a device or on TV, you really haven't seen it, any more than saying you've seen a postage stamp of the Mona Lisa and can thus critique the work. I really wish IMDB would make reviewers state how they watched the movie in their reviews, because like many films, this one was good in the proper format - on a screen. I can't judge how it'd be on a 4 inch screen or on TV.
The Waste of a Good Budget
Spoiler alerts here..
This is another one of the genre of "dumb scientist" movies. These movies thrive on breaking protocols of safety and scientific practice, logic and just basic good sense. I think one of the first was the original The Thing where a "scientist", in order to keep the offspring of a murderous creature alive, drains his -- and other"scientists" blood to keep them alive.
This movie is one of those. Bumbling, emotion-driven stupid people make repeated bad decisions and pay a heavy price for it. All avoidable. Lets just say that Ridley Scott rebooted this genre with Prometheus and let it go at that.
Except that there's probably enough budget here to make a half-dozen thinking, worthwhile indie films, and that's the real shame.
Black Lightning (2018)
We Need Vision Here
Spoiler alerts here...
I am sick and tired of American media portraying the black experience here as solely infested with pimps, power-abusing polticos,thugs and no-accounts. This show at least presents a favorable view of black lesbians, which is rarer than not having Samuel L. Jackson play the part of the black guy. He doesn't here. Yet.
This show almost regales in the "urbanness" of its false reality. As a black man, I found it insulting. FYI, the "urban" black experience is NOT the common one for your black fellow citizens, and this is a bad take on even the fantasy of that fake reality.
It just reminds me of MANTIS where an excellent pilot was turned into How The Black Superhero Helps The White Guy. A shame. There's room for a black superhero on TV. The actors here are talented. They have been given NO support from the writers.
That said, and having watched the series for a few more episodes, I think the creators have something special here.Lightning isn't trying to be Mantis. He's a very different guy, more troubled and nuanced. And maybe, in a time when Roseanne Barr is being celebrated for "being a representative of a forgotten American group", maybe Black Lightning is doing the same thing.
Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
The Other Spike Lee Comes To Work...
Spike Lee is erratic. We all know, or should, know that. He will in his best films throw in a "What?" moment that trips up everything you've seen up to then. Or he will, in his many films/projects where all you can say IS "What?" throw in a moment that shows there's a real talent there. The problem is, you never can tell which will be which - so I think it's the old story of which one came to work that day.
The story told here is a good one, but the first scene loop is critically important. The problem in modern audiences is that many boobs are just putting away their smartphones after sending that all-important last text, so the context of the whole movie may be lost on them.
This is a story about what were called Negro Troops in Italy during WW2. They weren't allowed in combat in the early part of the war since we all knew (?) that Negroes were unsuitable for combat because (insert here period racist belief of your choice). In the later stages when guys like my Uncle George were sent there - under white officers in command, of course, since (insert other period racist belief) but we needed the troops, so....the early battle scenes are realistic and grim. But the story unfolds about an item that becomes important and even crucial.
Performances are very good all around, with little "I knew that would happen" to contend with. While the "history" portion of the story may not be linear, the many small items of human conduct ring true then, and sometimes now. I especially liked the way the interaction between the Italian civilians and the Negro Troops was handled - not the stereotypical stuff, and Spike did some good work here, as he did with the attitudes of the Troops towards the war, America's treatment of them, and a few other things,
As for the films' length, I didn't think it long at all. The story was strong enough to sustain it through all and I wasn't clock-watching during it.
I thought the ending seemed compressed, which made me wonder if there's an even longer "Director's Cut" out there somewhere. Also, for the attention-deprived, a lot of this RAI co-production is in Italian with subtitles, so it will require "reading" of "words".
As another reviewer said "I didn't know it was a Spike Lee film", and unfortunately that's praise. I didn't know it either. It was a good movie.
Memories Within Miss Aggie (1974)
Quality relic From Another Age
I want to say a few things about this film without the fear of triggering anyone. Nah, I don't mean that. This is about a movie out time. First off, this adult - yes, an X rated movie - was not only shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but was offered as a vehicle for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Director. Take a few seconds on that. The film is a biographical study of Aggie, who recounts parts of what she represents as her sexual history but later proves to be, well, other than that. It is a skillfully made film that today would be an "indie" judged by its budget but punches higher than that. Full disclosure, it was also the first X rated movie I reviewed, and I liked it. It will be difficult to find today; perhaps in another future when Gerard Damiano has a renaissance, someone will find and re-offer this film. But please note that it was made in a time and place when adult directors and actors fully believed that they and Hollywood would exist together or at least in parallel and that actors and actresses would as well be able to go from one to the other. Sounds naive now, but it was heartfelt then...
Hitler's Children (1943)
This Movie Is Not "Propaganda"
People here, most of whom never actually confronted Nazism, its secondary movements or effects nor grew up with WW2 being a recent occurrence, seem very quick in their ignorance to label this film "propaganda". It is not. "Propaganda" is when you string together not- usually-true items and popular talk to make people think something which may not be true IS actually true.
There is no single actual fact in any major theme in this film that is untrue, that did not in fact happen more than once and that was designed to make Americans think anything that was not true. In fact, Mr. Dmytrk went easy on the Nazis, if anything. I am sure the studios and the War Department wouldn't have allowed that...yet they should have.
SPOILER ALERT HERE
There is dramatization here, of course, especially the ending. But there were no films made about Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen during wartime, sadly, either. If anyone can show proof that there is untruth in any major part of this film, let her or him please state those untruths.
This film opens a book on the Hitler Youth that never should have been closed and should be told and told again by free people to defend against what that movement created. And please note and remember: the German-American Bund was still active in America when this film was made...
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Accurate. Scary. Realistic. Sad.
The few here who have ever had to experience live fire on the level shown in this movie will know this: this movie is the closest thing to a real firefight most people will see, and bear in mind it is sanitized. The real thing is even worse, even scarier, even louder...and again, even worse.
This is a rough, intense movie. Probably right on the edge of what is in any way commercial. I am actually surprised any studio released this film, it's that hard-core.
Spoiler alert here..
Somalia is a fourth-world country with mores more akin to perhaps the 5th or 6th Century. Do not expect to leave the theater or your other viewing location with much sympathy for them, and they aren't looking for it from you. And I speak with experience.
A hell of a movie, and I mean that in every sense of the word. And look up the term "fire discipline".
Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000)
An Unconventional Film About Unconventional Women
I usually don't read other reviews before I write my own, but this time I did: bad mistake. So this is more of a protest/review than a regular one.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT First, the "5.8 out of 10" rating. Good God people, really? Here you have a half-dozen of Hollywood's best actresses doing work THEY formed, researched, polished and performed. I personally feel it is Ms. Hannah, Ms. Oh, Ms. Bauer van Straten and Ms. Tilly's very best work. The story follows a group of exotic dancers through their epically but not abnormally complicated lives. Some of the complications may not be to the liking of softer viewers, but they are treated realistically. But it is the performances of the cast, including great character actor Elias Koteas and Robert Wisdom, who plays the manager, that make this film a classic in its own right.
It is really easy to fob this film off as just a movie about strippers. It is so much more many-layered than that. It's sad to read that so few people seem to "get" this film, but I guess their lives were much more protected and distanced from "people like these" (as one reviewer called them) than some of us. Because my personal experience showed me many women just like these - they just never got a movie that showed them truthfully before.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
A Hallmark Film About Adolescence
I'm not going to get into a lot of long-winded junk about James Dean, who here established a new genre of young American outliers. I also am not going to try to get people who have only seen this movie on a TV screen to understand that they have actually never seen this movie.
When I saw this movie I was a kid who had moved around a lot, had gone to schools where I didn't know the kids or the lore, where nobody was around to show me the ropes or make friends. The fact that I was much younger than Jim didn't affect me - this movie reached me in a way II had never before experienced.
It is the single most emotional film about teenagers or adolescents made in its era and it was more than a decade before anyone truly did a better job. And anyone who wants to throw this off on a pity-ticket because Dean died is a fool - it was just that much more effective BECAUSE he had died. But then again, maybe you've only seen a DVD on your TV, so....you won't get it. A lot of adolescents, teenagers and adults did. And still do.
Landmark - Genre Creating - First Of Its Kind
Most Americans have to this day never seen this movie. When you say "Godzilla movie" they'll go off on some tangent about "guy in a rubber suit" (as if in 1954 there was a better way) "cheesy special effects" (even though this movie established the state of the art) and something about Raymond Burr's wooden performance. Had the releasing company only had faith that American audiences would watch a monster movie with subtitles (or had bothered to do a dubbed version) the history of science-fiction monster movies would be vastly different, because this is a good movie on most levels and an excellent, genre- establishing one on others. And by the way, like any good movie, it can only be properly appreciated on a MOVIE SCREEN and not on your TV/device et al. After all, can you properly appreciate an Edward Turner painting from a postcard s-zed picture of it?
The pacing, cinematography and stories (there are at least three) are all top quality. And as an historical note, this movie was being made at the same studio at the same time as The Seven Samurai - and even has a cast crossover. Kudos also to the late Haruo Nakajima, the "suitmation" actor who brought Gojira to life.
I saw the original release as a kid in 1956 and many times afterwards. Then in the 1980's I saw this version at The Public Theater in NY and I was shocked at how much better a film it was. Then I saw it at The Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles in the 90's. As I was leaving, another viewer said to me "If this version had been released instead of the Raymond Burr version...". I just said "Yeah."
Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966)
Not As Bad As It Sounds, Really...
There are no real spoiler alerts necessary here since the title pretty much summarizes the movie.
For western fans and fans of classic Hollywood cowboy-movie actors and actresses though, this inexpensive little film is a goldmine. As a for instance, it was Olive Carey's last film. Her son, Harry Carey Jr. is in it as well, along with Virginia Christine, Bing Russell, Roy Barcroft, Marjorie Bennet and stars John Carradine and Chuck Couurtney, one of Hollywood's best stunt men. Courtney gets to really show off his cowboy chops doing both a Pony Express mount AND a running jump into the saddle using a hitching post as a step.
As for the movie, it's no worse that the other "Dracula in America" movie starring Lon Chaney Jr. But as a "hey, isn't that...?" movie, it's a treat. Just don't go looking for the 1931 Dracula which has not been and probably never will be equaled.
The Deuce (2017)
Not Even Unrealstic Enough To Be Fake
This review will include what could be construed as SPOILERS
If this is truly what HBO thinks will replace a multi-layered, convoluted action and sex-filled soap opera like Game of Thrones they are sorely mistaken.
I can understand the "enthusiasm" of people about "recreating the era", but since unlike them I actually DID hang out in Times Square (and we called 42nd St. "Forty-deuce" not "the deuce"), this show completely misses the mark whether you count "authenticity" (got you on that one, millennials), set and setting, character types, or anything else, and that goes as far as the cars used in the show foreground and background, the clothing and hairstyles.
Maybe the problem is that most of the geography of the area is so different now it can't be presented properly. Maybe it's that the guy they trumpet as their adviser on the happenings then BS'ed them. Maybe it's that HBO is afraid to show the real thing even if they know it. But let me say, for those of us who were there, WE HAD A LOT OF FUN. You don't see anybody enjoying themselves here; even the johns are in a joyless pursuit. Not the case. We had a ball at Peepland, The Show World, The Melody and a bunch of other places. A lot of fun. I know the "popular" view would have you believe everything was sleazy, grim, filthy, dangerous, chancy...et al. Not true again. I have to say, I'm terribly disappointed. There is a story to be told here, an exciting one. Based on the first episodes, that story won't be told. A shame.
Laramie: Handful of Fire (1961)
Good Episode of a Great Series
This review contains spoilers. Unfortunately, they are necessary.
I am only reviewing this episode because I read another review "defending" the character, if that term can be used, of the George MacReady/Barrington role. A role portraying the leader of the Wounded Knee Massacre cannot be "defended". The episode properly shows a psychotic martinet who murdered women and children even after direct orders NOT to attack were delivered by the character played by John Smith. Smith's portrayal was in no way "over the top", but was bravely trying to first prevent a massacre and then to bring the catalyst for that massacre to justice.
It is also shown that the MacReady/Barrington character was doing his best to start and continue a war between Chato's tribe and the Cavalry that was without factual cause simply to kill Indians. In the episode, even his own daughter thought he was in the wrong, as did the politicians quoted in the story.
SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE
This episode of Laramie, and others, were truly trying to redress the "only good Indian is a dead Indian" dicta that Hollywood followed for so sadly long a period, and it did that well. Any other analysis is not based on either the history or facts on which the episode was based.
Bai wan ju e (2012)
Horrifically Bad - And Not In A Good Way
Even by the admittedly slack standards of The Chiller Channel, infamous for some of the worst, low-budget, terribly-acted, cartoonish-CGI movies, this one is bad. Tao Guo and Barbie Hsu aren't, on the form shown here, qualified to act in a local theater version of Andy Warhol's "Empire" (it showed the Empire State Building solo for 24 hours). How this movie got 4.2 stars out of 10 is a story meriting a movie in itself. Given a choice, do anything else but watch this movie.
Private Eye (1987)
Stylish Film Noir Series - That Failed
There haven't been many attempts at making a film noir TV show in recent history, and I mean in the last 30 years. The Mike Hammer series with Stacy Keach was an attempt but went thin on the noir aspects. This series didn't. Moody, jazz-themed with the right style and tempo, it was a genuine shot at TV noir...which obviously wasn't what the network was willing to sell, and they didn't.
If you can find a way, see it. There will likely as not never be another one like it, since no one under 50 will be willing to say they have seen a film noir, much less one on TV.
Cancelled, Dropped...What A Mistake!
Two very, very good TV shows emerged in the same year: Surface and Invasion. Both had excellent casts. Both had real and in some cases new ideas. Both had creative room to grow.
And both were cancelled.
A real shame, as the shows that DIDN'T get canceled weren't nearly as creative, as personally involving or as, well, "addictive" as these shows were, and the veracity of this is in the rating given to each one of them on IMDb.
What a shame. There was the spark of really involving and mentally transporting TV here, and it was extinguished. Too bad for all of us.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Not The Film You'd Think
I saw this film at a drive-in, and it was the second film in the double feature I had gone to see. For the culturally deprived, drive-ins still show two features. Anyway, this film was a revelation. At first I had expected that the working-class characters would fall into their designated stereotypes and we'd chug along to an easily-expected finish.
Not so much.
Actually, the characters were nicely filled out, there were stereotypes but not the ones I expected, and the movie had some rather nice convolutions to it and contrary to some other reviewers I found the late-arriving Hillary Swank to be a really interesting addition to the cast - and a possible bell-weather to a sequel. Just sayin'. There was comedy, drama, some real-world concerns and a lot more. Go see it. The cast and script alone will make it worth your while.
Boy Band (2017)
Hard To Watch Desperate Attempt To Reproduce Boy Band Relevance
First of all, let it be known I liked boy bands. I am a big fan of New Edition, New Kids On The Block and some others. That said, this misfire is a truly bad idea masked as a serious TV show, as long as you consider The Voice a serious TV show. The young men on this show know all the fake sincere looks, all the tired 80's-era moves, all the over-singing tropes.....virtually every cliché involved with boy bands. What they have none of is the actual TALENT needed to separate themselves from karaoke singers into real singers. Simply wanting to be famous only works on the internet. It doesn't work elsewhere. Also, I can only take about five minutes of Rita Ora and/or her implants. Sorry about that.
The Stewardesses (1969)
Spotty Movie - Fantastic 3D!
The 5-out-of-10 rating is strictly for the technical quality of the 3D in the film, the naturalness (and nakedness) of the actresses and the contemporary nature of the "plot".
SPOILER ALERT HERE
Well,there's no real"plot" at all. There are a number of stories, told almost Love-American Style style but much more adult, and with casual full nudity from most of the actresses and nearly as much from the actors. Gay themes; relationship/fidelity themes; humorous drug themes. And done with 1970's-style nudity, proudly unshaven. Bushy, even. One high spot in the showing I attended was the hallmark of any good movie: a couple left in a huff about 20 minutes into the film. Full marks there.
But the pinnacle is (as of 7/17) the quality of the prismatic 3D. I have seen 3D movies since the 1950's and this film has some of the very best I have ever seen. There are some depth shots here that are almost unsurpassed at any budget level, and this was a low budget. But that said, this time "all the money was on the screen" is a truism. The technical level (on a movie screen, mind you) was mindblowing.
SPOILER ALERT HERE
Well, not really needed but this isn't a full "adult" (i.e. no penetration) film. There was an alternative version done with X inserts but this isn't it, evidenced by the copy I saw at my local Alamo Drafthouse. But if you want to see what CAN be done with the old technology of 3D, see this on a screen. It's impressive technically - just not as a movie.
Unless you have a 3D TV and a recent Blu-Ray copy of this film or you are lucky enough to actually catch a theater showing of The Stewardesses I can't recommend it. With either of those (and preferably on a screen) it's a must-see.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Why, Ridley? Why?
I really liked Legend. I really liked Alien. I really liked The Martian.I really liked Black Hawk Down, probably the best movie on 3rd World conflict since The Battle of Algiers. This movie, however, I did not like. At all. I was stung by Prometheus, which was horribly bad, but I still wanted to believe in someone who could deliver The Martian so short a time ago. I guess you've got to gamble on which Ridley Scott shows up, because that guy took a vacation here. I don't need any spoiler alerts:I will say something I have never said before instead. Don't bother to see this film if you liked Alien or if you respect Ridley Scott. It's terrible. Not well acted; not well written; it telegraphs virtually every plot "turn"well ahead of time. It's Prometheus all over again, but if anything worse. What a shame.
The Lost City of Z (2016)
A Real Adventure Movie - A Modern Rarity
I don't bother with "spoiler alerts", so if you want those seek a safe space elsewhere.
This was a beautiful movie, a love story, a parental story and one that tells many stories - some not with a sledgehammer but with a small velvet glove.
The actual story is well-told. There are some "modern" touches that are significant, even though some think they are inappropriate. They aren't. They're contextual. I purposely did not read up on the real story so I could more fully enjoy it, and I did. The family story is powerful, and more than believable so seldom is its like seen in movies like this.
It was 2.5 hours long and in no way felt like that. It was good. It was beautiful. It told a great story. Go see it, please, ON A SCREEN not on some cigarette pack-sized screen. And please note, I did not write in a spoiler, even though IMDb threatens you if you do. Thank you for reading to the end.
An Alternative Space History Tale of the Cold War
I had a hard time tracking this movie down: it didn't get a theater release in the New York area as far as I know. I finally saw it on cable. It's hard to sell to most people a movie that has only one actor on-screen for probably 75% of the movie. That said, Edmund Kingsley does a yeoman job of keeping it interesting. I don't want to get into spoilers here: I will as I always advise that viewers actually WATCH THE MOVIE since there are nuances and mentions that require you to think that may otherwise be missed.the p There is also a running joke regarding the phrase "cutting edge British technology" which is risible to anyone who has experienced British cars and motorcycles of the period. The technology referenced in the movie is all appropriate and mostly correct, and the story is a good one with real-world roots. I like space movies and I liked this one. But if you're looking for a Michael Bay feature, go elsewhere.
An Unlikely Love Story
I don't usually read other reviews here before I write my own; this time I did and I was disturbed by the tone of many of the negative reviews. A bridge beyond just different tastes, methinks, and into that world where a review says more about the reviewer that the subject.
No spoiler alerts necessary here. Okay, one small one, next para.
This is in my opinion the most unlikely love story in modern film history, staged in a part of American society where many would like to think "love" doesn't exist. Having been there, unlike the majority of reviewers here, I can assert it most certainly does. The depth of feeling that the portrayals of the main character present through three actor changes was fantastic, even (spoiler alert) when the director shows the post-jail version of his character yard-bulked out - which he would need to be to survive, though apparently many reviewers didn't "get" that - the essential character stayed the same.
Liberty City in Miami is not the usual place one would expect a love story to reside in movie world and most of the characters here would as well not be those from whom understanding nor progression would emerge. But that does happen. If you're looking for "South Central II", look elsewhere.If you want to see a movie that shows love can emerge and reside in the most unlikely places, this is your movie.