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Kiss Me Again (2006)
Painful to watch
This film is about a college professor married to a beautiful and loving wife who decided that he wants to try a threesome by inviting one of his students into bed. This film is very painful to watch. What could have been a funny comedy, the film decomposes into a sappy melodrama where the actors spend most of their screen time staring out the window and blubbering as tears roll down their cheeks. The director can not get the actors to convey the inner emotional struggle they are going through. With four writers and two script consultants on the payroll you would think that the script would be the best thing about the film but in fact it is the worst. The lame directing and awkward staging aren't any better. There are a lot of sex scenes in this film but the actors keep their underwear on like they were trying for a PG rating! I've seen hotter sex scenes on network TV.
The actors do their best with the situation but the casting is all wrong especially Jeremy London who totally misses the mark. The photography is good but the lighting is flat which makes the actors appear two dimensional.
All calendars in the film show 2004 and there are plenty of presidential election notices that make up the set dressing (all anti Bush of course). Seeing how this film took three years to get a DVD release is not surprising.
How does this guy keep making films?
The acting in this film is very poor. The film contains no drama it is bland from start to finish. Most movies shot on video try their best to emulate the look of film. This movie was shot on 35MM film but it look like a badly shot video. The director made a big deal on how they flew down to Rio De Janeiro to film the end of the film. But nearly all the scenes takes place in a hotel room which could have been shot anywhere. The director must have double vision, since he always frames a shot like there are extra people off to the side. All the shots leave too much room around the actors. Also the depth of focus is too wide. Most films use a shallow depth of focus so that only the actors are in focus.
The Good Thief (2003)
Director needs to get with the program.
I talked to a few people who worked on this film, so I quickly rented the DVD when it was released. This is R.T. Herwigs's first and most like last film. He seems to lack any knowledge on how to make a good film. Others have said that Herwig has taken an artistic approach in an attempt to explain why this film is so bad.
Too many canted angles the look of the film reminds me of the Joker's hideout on the old Batman TV series. Canted angles work if they help portray a characters mental state, but having every single scene shot at an angle waters down the effect.
The principal actors do an adequate job. But the supporting actors are poor in their craft. Christopher's mother is too young for the part.
Horrible DVD transfer is full of bad splices plus the poor DVD rendering is full of noise and artifacts. Its not even encoded for DVD wide screen mode which is the first anamorphic DVD I've come across. Other annoyances include: - The street people are unconvincing too clean cut. - Actors give long soliloquies on how miserable they are. - Too many people have Irish accents; hey it's the year 2004 not 1850! - Lighting is half-baked; just using a single key light with no fill. The gaffer either did a poor job or perhaps it's another artistic touch! - Melodramatic acting. Can't understand why Christopher decided to take the crime job and then later refuses to go through with it. His character was inconsistent.
Kisses and Caroms (2006)
Borrows from Clerks and Monthy Python
I was looking forward to seeing this film due to the hype I was reading on the IndieClub web site. This film on many levels disappointed me.
Bad sound: I had trouble hearing several lines and the sound bite of the doorbell always sounded the same which made it sound like an obvious add on. Poor editing: nearly all scenes lingered too long. Cutting a few seconds off the end of each clip would have really helped the pacing.
The main story line is weak - we have an introduction to the situation at the start of the film - but then the story is dropped only to return at the very end of the film. Plus the characters are always talking about things that have happened its always better to show the audience than to tell. And there is too much unfunny toilet humor in the film which seems to be used as filler. This film is modeled after the film Clerks but takes place on a billiards shop. It seems that every character entering the store is retarded. Many of the jokes are taken from the old Month Python routine where a customer comes into a bookstore and asks if they sell books. The video quality is generally good but they should have used better lighting instead of just the ambient light.
Triple Threat (2005)
This film is an empty bag of nothing
This film features the talents of an experienced Hollywood actor, Mark Vasconcellos, but the film is an empty bag of nothing. I've watched high school kids with a camcorder turn out better quality product. Some of the most glaring faults of the video are,
Amateur acting, the actresses arrear to be all over the hill strippers who got cast in the film based not on their acting ability but rather the size of their chest. This film first appears to be of the genre populated by hot models that can't act but appear naked in every other scene. This film however has zero nudity.
Zero dramatic pacing, the film is flat from scene to scene. Even the climax where the bad guy is chased down is boring. Billed as an action film but had little actions, most of the scenes were of the lead character, Dina, performing surveillance. She was not believable as a world class assassin.
The obligatory lesbian scene was a total let down where Kay West decided to seduce her tied up victim "at a later time". The script tries to be complex with several surprises but I found myself being disinterested.
The Matador (2005)
Many faults add up to a poor film
This film suffers from many faults, some of these include. Poor casting, Pierce Bronson wants to shed the 007 stigma by taking criminal parts. But alas, Bronson was the wrong choice for this role. Perhaps a more competent director could have pulled a better performance from Bronson but more on this later.
Poor editing, the film could have flowed much better if the editor was more skilled. As an example, a bottle of beer drops to the floor and it smashes, the editor choose to linger on the bottle for several seconds longer than needed. I mean the dumb bottle had nothing to do at all with the story!
Poor script, the story never fully jumps into high gear. There are numerous plot points all of which are too minor to drive the story. The characters were never developed which made them appear one dimensional.
Last and most defiantly least is poor directing. Some very good acting talent is left floundering under this director.
The photography however is very good.
Money Power Respect (2006)
Another Scar Face ripoff
I watch a lot of low budget indie films. Sometimes you see a film that despite its modest budget is able to tell a story and entertain. This film however is not one of them. The film suffers from terrible sound, bad photography and bad editing. The sound is so poor that about a third of the film is incomprehensible. Many films shot on DV can display an adequate image. This film has every scene shown with a very high noise level; even the daylight shots! On the commentary track the DP brags that the night scenes were shot without lights. Well that explains why the actors look like moving shadows. At night you at least need to back-light actors to differentiate them from the background.
A competent director can work around technical issues and concentrate on acting blocking and coverage. The director appears to have given no thought on blocking. There are several scenes, such as when Levi visits his mother and little brother, where the actors are standing in front of one another and you can't see who is even talking! The acting is poor across the board and the director has decided to place the camera in a single position for an entire scene.
Episodic story with hollow character and weak acting
Whirlygirl suffers primarily from a bad script and poor direction. The script lacks the closure of a third act; we are left hanging thinking there needed to be something more. There is a rescuer scene which I guess the director thought would be a climax but the movie has an episodic feel to it.
This film is based on a true story. Well the scriptwriter should have embellished it since true stories do not make compelling films. The lead actor Julian Morris does a decent job with the material but the rest of the cast performances are flat. In fact one of the students, who was acting like he was just waking up had a believability level of zero. Speaking of Morris, I had just watched him in Cry Wolf where he also plays a prep school student and his character seems to have walked out of that slasher movie into this one. Slasher movies can get by without any character development but a film like Whirlygirl requires it.
Hats off to DP Christo Bakalov for delivering some great images to such a hollow story.
Mr. Arkadin (1955)
Welle's vision peeks through the bad editing
I'm a big fan of Orson Welles and have recently watched the new Criterion release of Mr Arkadin the Corinth version as well as the new Confidential Report and was somewhat disappointed. I had seen Arkadin on TCM (the old Confidential Report version) a few years ago and was equally disappointed. However, I just viewed the Comprehensive Version and I now have a greater appreciation for the film. The Comprehensive Version was created by using five know versions of the film and assembled with the guidance of several experts including Peter Bogdanovich. Welles vision does shine through but the film as it stands does have weaknesses.
I feel the film is weak in the following areas.
Sound: the entire soundtrack was re-recorded during post production with Welles himself doing the voices of many of the male characters and it is a constant distraction. Modern films are also re-recorded but they add room tone to prevent the sterile sound that plagues Arkadin.
Photography: The film has generally good photography but Welles use of weird angles distracts from the story rather than enhancing it. It is almost like another filmmaker is doing a parody of Welles. The footage of the airplane shown at the start of the film is covered by dirt on the lens on within the gate of the camera.
Production Design: Welles has very busy backgrounds shown in many scenes and with the use of deep focus causes a distraction rather than enhance the story. A better choice might have been to show the background at the beginning of a scene sequence and then have the actors appear in front of a more neutral background.
Makeup: Welles makeup is over the top and again is a distraction and lacks believability. The hairpiece, the beard and wedge shape nose are all too cartoonish. Welles also wore a fake nose in Touch of Evil but it worked well due to the quality of studio makeup artists.
Editing: There was many well lit shots that appear too briefly. One example, near the start of the film, at the docks where the lead character (Guy) is lined up with two other men. They are back-lit with their faces covered with shadows; Guy then walks backward into a beam of light which then exposes his face. But due to the erratic cutting, this shot is shown for only a brief second. This could have been caused by the editor who replaced Welles during post production.
The story itself is rather weak and it is often confusing. I didn't care much for the characters nor did I find them interesting. The film's ending was flat and didn't offer much closure to the open issues. The empty airplane shown at the start of the film does not generate enough curiosity for the viewer. Welles based the story on three Harry Lime radio shows (which are included on the new Criterion release discs). Nearly all of Welles other film scripts were based on adaptations of books. Welles seems to be an excellent screenplay writer and editor but perhaps a bit weak when it comes to content creation.
Acting: the actors who played Guy (Robert Arden) and Millie (Patricia Medina) were poorly cast for their parts. Both actors, Guy in particular, overacted most of the time and would be more at home in a B movie. But after watching a clip on Welles directing Arden, it seems that Welles is encouraging him to act in such a manner.
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Robbins' "homage" to Altman
This film is another example of Tim Robbins pushing his version of reality on the movie going audience. He paints the 1930's as an era where the rich and powerful attempt to squash the downtrodden.
Orson Welles was a giant not only in his film work but also on the stage. Robbins effectively reduces Welles to an alcoholic homophobic buffoon with zero tolerance for an actor's personal needs.
I never heard of this film until reading about it on an Orson Welles web site. The audience apparently stayed away in droves. It is not surprising to learn that the film recaptured less than ten percent of its budget at the box office. The film's commercial failure it seems has ended Robbins career as a writer/director.
The film contains dozen of characters and numerous plot lines none of which generate any degree of sympathy for the audience to create an engaging story. Robbins' homage (or plagiarism) of Robert Altman's ensemble format fails badly as he tries to push his spin on historical fact. At least he posts a disclaimer, during the opening credits, that the film is mostly true. His message seems to be that those on the left are oppressed holders of the truth while those on the right are corrupt censors of artistic freedom.
Another weak spot of the film is that the musical play itself is of dubious quality in both words and music. Robbins, to his credit, shows very little of the play's weak content.
The cinematography in the film is very good as is the production design. But if Robbins ever gets the chance to write another film he should study up on screenplay structure and read Lajos Egri on character development.
The worst documentary I have ever seen.
The film W.I.S.O.R fails on many levels: The film is full of standard New York City film footage that has nothing to do with the robot. Rather than have footage of the engineers talking about the project the filmmaker shows them talking about god, baseball and American attitudes. A film about designing a robot that work in steam pipes should be full of graphics; instead only a single graphic of the robot inching along a pipe is shown over and over again.
The filmmaker tried to jazz up the film my added a robot voice that simply repeats what the engineers have previously said. The videotape of the engineers working on the project kept switching between color and black and white.
The film ends with the robot being loaded on a truck and sent somewhere leaving the viewer to decide if the thing ever worked at all.