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All reviews - Movies (58) - DVDs (72)

Wishmaster review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 12:10 (A review of Wishmaster)

Im not being ironic when I say I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Wishmaster is essentially a retelling of the great early 1900's story The Monkeys Paw (as popularily spoofed by The Simpsons) mixed with some genie imagery, and it is nothing if not a refreshingly ambitious horror movie. The movie itself is so convinced by its own awesomeness that it actually becomes somewhat awesome. It's as though the filmmakers decided for themselves that the evil Djinn is in fact the coolest thing to ever come alive on screen and so they take multiple chances that the audience will love it just as much as they do. And I've gotta say, it nearly worked. The Djinn, in his early stages, is very inspired by the Emperor of Star Wars, and is so cheeky, corny, and poetically diabolical that he becomes a real joy to watch. His efforts to fool people into making a wish (which thereby lends him more power) are so forced and clumsy that it actually becomes charming in a cheesy, wow, you guys are really trying kind of way. The performances in this film are usually passable or, sometimes, better and the story works if you just let it be what it is without too many critical demands. It's the rare film that lets you tear it apart mercilessly, while secretly knowing all the while that there is some real fun being had. It's almost inexplicable how this movie is any good at all, but maybe the director wished it to be good, and so it came to be.


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The Godfather review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 12:06 (A review of The Godfather)

I finally watched it. If you were to ask what took me so long, I would do little more than offer a meek smile in hope of forgiveness and then hang my head in shame. Sensing that your hostile judgement has given way to pity, I'd lift my head, look at you straight, and declare that, yes, The Godfather is every bit the masterpiece that you say it is, that so many before you have claimed it to be. And I would be speaking the truth. The Godfather is a nearly flawless film. It combines substance and style with such mastery and care, it is of no wonder that it has become such a revered example of the possibilities inherent to film as an artform and as a form of storytelling. Running nearly three hours, the viewing experience never drags as we are completely absorbed in a world so different, and so similiar to our own. Like any great artwork, the creators (writers, directors, actors, and myriad others) seem to have devoted all their love and energy to the subject at hand (the movie itself) without any worry about the audience that comes later. The belief the film-makers have in what they're doing, in its importance and in its worth is almost palpable. The result is a product that truly speaks, that truly engages, that almost seems to have a life of its own. And, really, what stronger compliment can be paid to a film?


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Trees Lounge review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 12:03 (A review of Trees Lounge)

This is a movie I've been meaning to see for ten years or so but just never got around to. Similarily, most of the characters in this film have been meaning to do something with their life, but they too just never got around to doing it. Some of these stories can work well on screen, but through much of the movie Trees Lounge stumbles around as aimlessly as the local drunks that frequent the bar of the same name. Strong performances by an ecclectic cast backed by convincing writing keep this film from exhausting all the audiences interest and sympathy. And I suppose that's a good thing because, while the first hour doesn't do much to warrant strong feelings one way or the other, the final 25 minutes do break out and speak in a voice that finally feels confident and important in its message. This is not to say this film is essential viewing. We've seen this story before and we've seen it done better. But credit Buscemi for lending a sense of quiet reverence and humility in the way he approaches his character and the stories and non-stories he lives. There's a sort of sad charm to this film that works in its favor, but in the end I just didn't like it as much as I wanted to.


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The Uninvited review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 12:02 (A review of The Uninvited)

The Uninvited is yet another American re-make of a very good Asian horror film, in this case the moody, beautiful Korean film "A Tale of Two Sisters". Most of these fail miserably (if not at the box-office, then often with critics) for an array of reasons, but the Uninvited manages to side-step the most offensive ones. For one thing, the film-makers here can't be accused of laziness. They seem to have actually taken some care and consideration in adapting this story. Vision is another problem that seems to plague other re-makes, whereas the Uninvited has a clear and confident enough vision from the outset so as to aid the film in aesthetic ways (set-design, makeup, visual style etc.) as well as in regard to story-telling. Here we have many classic film motifs and suspense elements at play: the evil step-mother figure, teen-age angst/rebellion vs. suggestions of actual psychosis, distorted vs. reliable memory, to name a few, and the movie handles all of them relatively well, mostly by steering close enough to tried and true methods, but also veering off onto its own way with instances of success. The performances could definately stand improvement, and while the script doesn't always do the actors much in the way of favors, it's not entirely to blame. Luckily some generally good dream/hallucination sequences show up just often enough to divert our attention from the less favorable aspects of the movie and we are treated to a few suprisingly decent creep-out moments and moments of nifty camera work and photography. Not great, probably doesn't even warrant a second viewing, but exceeded my expectations.


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Bad Lieutenant review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 12:00 (A review of Bad Lieutenant)

Bad Lieutenant is essentially a character study of the darkest kind. Our subject is a white, male New York City police officer. He lives in a nice, outter city home, has a wife and grade-school aged children. This is not an overly-priviledged life, but it is obviously a comfortable one, the kind that generally require certain advantages to end up living. And yet this man is so bad. Shockingly, almost soulessly a bad person. We are not told why, and while this could be considered a weakness of the film, it actually makes it more haunting and thought-provoking. Harvey Keitel delivers a career performance, and his is a long and proficient career filled with strong performances. There is a palpable self-loathing behind his indecency, and a chilling self-awareness of just how abhorrent he has become...and yet he can not turn his life around. He is too far entrenched in his world of addiction and pain, one always promoting the other like a snake eating its own tail. Eventually he is faced with ideas of redemption, when he observes that a nun has the capacity to forgive the two men who raped her. If this despicable act is met with forgiveness, perhaps he too can be redeemed. Keitel's performance is powerful and tragic in its manical struggle with anger, self-hate, and sorrow. I thought this was a very good film, but I can't say I enjoyed watching much of it. It gets my recommendation, albeit a cautious one.


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The Ghost and the Darkness review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 11:58 (A review of The Ghost and the Darkness)

Pop Quiz: The Ghost and the Darkness is to lions as *blank* is to sharks. Is the answer: A.) Jaws B.) A Sharks Tale C.) Open Water OR D.) Jaws: The Revenge ?

If you answered D, youre right!!! Because The Ghost and the Darkness is one of the most sh*t-tastic major-studio release films to ever be made and it is about man-eating lions. Val Kilmer plays Dudley Do-Right on safari except with a worse haircut and an awful British accent and Michael Douglas is terribly mis-cast (they may as well have pulled names out of a hat) as a renegade, tough-guy, arm-chair philosopher, back-woods, grade A, as in a**hole, bullshi**er. The film flirts with the idea of legitimately portraying various and sometimes clashing cultures of native-African tribesmen, Kenyan towns-people, and imported Indian railway workers (both hindu and muslim) but then ultimately settles into bland, thoughtless treatments perhaps slightly less offensive than your average South Park portrayal. But of course this all takes a back seat to the most uninspired of showdowns in recent memory between Man and Nature, capped off by a dull, lazy resolution that insults (more than this review ever could) the good-natured tenacity that carried us viewers all the way to the steamy, stinking end of this sh*t-bucket of a movie.


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Rebecca review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 11:55 (A review of Rebecca)

Though the only Hitchcock film to win a best picture Award, Rebecca remains over-looked by contemporary audiences, never to reach classic, essential Hitch status. Honestly, I'm not surprised. In its entire 130 minutes there is not a single, truly memorable scene. And great scenes are how we call movies back to mind. Sure we may vaguely remember liking a film or not liking a film, but ultimately time measures its movies in Mount Rushmores, bell towers, grey-hound track binoculars, and scissor-stabbings. That said, in the case of Rebecca, the whole is better than the sum of its parts. While I was never truly wowwed by any one or two sequences, I was acutely aware throughout the film that a true master was at the helm. Style-wise this is probably one Hitchcock's strongest efforts from start to finish. It is photographed beautifully and brilliantly; I paused the film twice just to admire perfectly framed, executed, or otherwise spectacular shots. The editing is superb as well, in its use of fades, double-exposures, etc. But in regards to substance, Rebecca never achieves greatness. Most notable is Fontaine's performance. She excells in a demanding role made even more challenging in the fact that the story leaves even the most basic questions about her character unanswered: Why are we to believe she is SO devotedly in love with this man again? Meanwhile, Olivier is good, but would be merely adequate without Fontaine. And for all the promise of an enchanting, classic victorian-era gothic story, Rebecca meanders about a bit too much in the telling.


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Genesis review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 11:52 (A review of Genesis)

Genesis is a beautiful and poetic short-film that deserves to be seen, despite the atrocity that was Aftermath. (Same director, often available together with Genesis in DVD form.) Whereas Aftermath merely poses as Art, Genesis is worthy of the title. This is a noble, macabre cinematic effort with a mind and soul. Genesis is one part House of Wax, one part love story, one part spiritual contemplation and one part commentary on the very nature of art and the relationship between creator and creation. All together it truly engages without speaking a word. The absence of dialogue works well here, and in fact after only a few minutes we realize that it would actually be an intrusion. Genesis is somewhat experimental, I suppose, but it never feels that way, so deftly does the director tell his story though expert camera-language and music. If you are looking for something different, something soulful, something fantastical and disturbing, Genesis does all of this in thirty short minutes.


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Youngblood review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 11:50 (A review of Youngblood)

Youngblood manages to give both hockey and 80's movies a bad name. There is a reason this movie has been largely forgotten while Slapshot enjoys cult status among hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike. Youngblood just doesn't do much of anything well, on or off the ice. The only possible exception to this is the strory line between the two brothers. One's a former prospect who suffered a dream ending injury and has all the reason to be bitter, but isn't. The other, Rob Lowe, has pro-level skill, but lacks the grit to ever make it to the big show. It's not bring you to tears inspirational, but at least this relationship plays out in satisfactory enough way. The romance between Youngblood and the coach's daughter is throw-away filler, and the actual hockey aspects are far from impressive, effectively making a an incredible, beautiful game appear baffoonish and boring. I had hoped that Patrick Swayze as the aging veteran, still dreaming of someday playing the garden would lend this film a bit of grace and respectability, but sadly his is an uninspired, stock character that never makes a large enough impact on the film. And please, please don't even get me started on the hockey stick/light-saber fight near the end. If you want good, cheesy 80's romance/comedy/drama watch something, anything with John Cusack. If you want a great hockey flick that showcases the brilliance of the game watch Miracle. (in fact, everyone should watch Miracle) Really, there just isn't any reason to recommend this film to anyone.


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2001: A Space Odyssey review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 2 October 2010 11:49 (A review of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

Before you crucify me I wish to clarify that my modest 6-star rating simply means I didn't personally enjoy this film to any great extent. It doesn't mean I don't recognize 2001 as an important film, or as a work of visionary genius. I'll emphatically admit that it is both of those things. It only means that while watching it I couldn't get over feeling that Kubrick is a pretentious a**hole enough to ever truly enjoy this movie. Which is fine. I can be a dick too, and I've never made any AFI lists. But c'mon dude! Stop reminding us every chance you get that you're making a "Great Film" and just make a great film. Ah well. The guy is a genius. He successfully, and nearly inextricably, married some of the greatest classical compositions ever recorded to HIS sci-fi opus, to HIS semi-profound excercise in cinematic, arm-chair philosophy. And managed to charm and intrigue enough critics, film-students, and civilians in the process to permanently cannonize 2001: A Space Odyssey as a benchmark in cinema history. Whatever. I can live with that. Just don't punch me in the face for not liking it. But please do feel free to bludgeon me with whatever blunt object is at hand if you ever catch me trying to impress someone by claiming to like 2001 more than Alien.

Cheers everyone. Enjoy the movie.


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