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7/10
Looks good, no narrative tension...
13 November 2005
Clooney has certainly shot a beautiful film - black and white, great details evoking what I imagine the 1950's television industry was like. The performances are all good. However, I can't help feeling that critics are raving about the film simply because its subject matter (McCarthyism and the way the media handled it) also speaks to us now with similar concerns that many Americans have with the Bush Administration and the way the media has/has not been handling it. I get a sense from the film and many reviewers that they wish an Edward R. Murrow and a courageous broadcaster would appear like a knight in shining armour to skewer the current administration and expose it for what it is, and that they feel this film is an artistic call to arms. I don't feel that the film's topicality is sufficient to make it a "brilliant" film that everyone should see.

I felt there was no narrative tension ... perhaps this is because we know so much about McCarthyism. Certainly there were a few scenes when I wondered if CBS would support Murrow & Friendly, but everything seemed inevitable: "the good" (Murrow) standing up against the evil (McCarthy). Yawn!
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Sleepover (2004)
6/10
About what you'd expect
10 July 2004
I thought this movie was quite enjoyable. It's a bit like a female version of Ferris Bueller, without the destructive male testosterone (the worst thing the girls can expect if caught is not to be able to go on a trip to Hawaii with the family). Even though everything is predictable (the dorky guys who save the day ... more than once, the popular girl getting her comeuppance, the "fat" girl learning to love herself, etc.) you don't seem to mind because the characters are well-developed and so, well, likable. It's not going to challenge you to use your brain much, but for a few hours of fun, this isn't bad. Will appeal especially to pre-teen and teen girls.
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6/10
I reckon I missed something, yup!
22 August 2000
I watch a lot films, particularly independent and art house movies, but I'm afraid I cannot fathom why this film is considered brilliant. Everyone walks around in a bit of a stupor, emotionally stunted and not really connecting with each other. It is slow and boring, and I never developed any emotional connection with any of the characters. I simply did not care what happened to them. Everyone gets their moment when they speechify to a (usually younger) character about life, love and the meaning of the universe. I really hate that kind of "set-speech" moment. It's like a glaring spotlight on the character, that is unnatural and annoying. Then again, I didn't like "Diner" either. The cinematography is nice, but beyond that I find the laudatory praise for this film baffling.
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5/10
Emotions as fact, not feelings
10 April 2000
I was disappointed in this movie, because I thought it had great potential: Merchant/Ivory, good cast and so on. The film suffers from dealing with too broad a sweep of time. Having to cover so many incidents in the life of one family, one gets a series of incomplete gesture drawings instead of a rich oil painting focussed on one or two subjects.

I found that the characters never engaged me emotionally. The film never really let me into their world so that I really cared about them and what happened to them. So many plot threads were left undeveloped, and most of the emotionally engaging scenes of conflict were left out of the script. As an example, as Charlotte-Anne (Leelee Sobieski) develops into a young woman, she is frustrated as the family housekeeper/nanny continues to come into her room without knocking. The first time it happens, she yells at the nanny. Later in the film, she talks to her father about what is apparently a continuing problem. But we never get the logical scene where Charlotte-Anne confronts her nanny (which could have been played so many ways, and given such shading to Sobieski's character). Then, this thread with the nanny is simply left hanging.

Emotions are stated as facts, they aren't really experienced in this film.
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Diner (1982)
5/10
Yawn!
6 March 2000
I have always wanted to see Diner, and finally tried to watch it for the first time in March 2000. I had to turn it off it was so boring, and I'm not a devotee of "smash-em-up" action films. I like good scripts, interesting characters, reflective cinematography. However, this film is very much of its time (1982). It must have been a breath of fresh air at the time, with its "slice-of-life" approach to these friends, but I've seen it all too many times to be impressed. The pacing was slow, the dialogue boring and after 30 minutes I couldn't locate a plot. I couldn't tell the difference between any of the male leads (except Paul Reiser doing an early version of Paul Buchman), and could care less what happened to them (did anything happen to them??!). If you liked Dazed and Confused or St. Elmo's Fire, you'll love Diner.
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Lone Star (1996)
9/10
See it, and then see Touch of Evil!
10 September 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed Lone Star. The story was well-constructed and presented, and kept me interested and guessing throughout. The acting is understated and exceptional. Throughout the movie, I was reminded of Orson Welles' masterpiece, "Touch of Evil", also about a border town.
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H (1990)
7/10
Intense, sometimes klunky, but memorable.
16 August 1999
It's been a few years since I have seen this film, but the images still stick with me. An intense psychological drama, the film explores the harrowing weekend when two heroin addicts attempt to kick their habit. The film is claustrophobic - the couple have boarded themselves into their basement apartment. The mood is stifling and constrained, allowing the audience to feel the intensity and desperation the characters experience.

There are occasional pretentious scenes where the male lead reads French philosophy aloud. One can't help laughing, but I don't think we're supposed to. If you can get beyond this silliness, you won't be disappointed. I found "H" much more intense and grim than "High Art".
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7/10
Not the best Coen brothers, but solid.
16 August 1999
I was surprised at the lacklustre reviews this film received. While it's not the best Coen brother's film, it's quite solid and enjoyable. I believe most people missed the point that the film is basically a live-action 1940's cartoon (think Bugs Bunny). Within 10 minutes I thought "this is like a 40's cartoon", and with that thought in mind I thoroughly enjoyed the film. And Tim Robbins is just so talented, you can't help but enjoy the film.
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7/10
Interesting, but not spectacular
9 August 1999
I thought the concept for this film was highly original and fairly well-executed. Not being a fan of horror/thriller, I was quite worried that I'd be terrified, as EVERYONE I spoke with said the movie was very, very scary (my sister would not go camping after she saw it). Well, perhaps I'm jaded because I'm in my thirties, but there was only one point in the film where I was moderately startled. I was never terrified, or even remotely disturbed. While I understand the device of having the discovered footage that the three film makers shot on their quest for the witch, it was this very device that kept me too distanced to be scared. If you're really terrified by all the weird goings on and so on, I'm sorry, no matter how dedicated a film maker you are, you don't switch on your video camera. Obviously the film could not have been made without making this assumption, but I was never convinced that there was anything that scary, because the characters always had the presence of mind to turn their cameras on. Still, it's worth seeing if you're interested in how video looks blown up to 35 mm. Just one additional note: if you are prone to motion sickness, you'd be well-advised to take some gravol or wear sea bands. My partner found it very difficult to watch, and was quite queasy at the end.
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2/10
So painful I walked out.
12 July 1999
Wow. The second film that I have walked out on in just one year. After 45 minutes of soapbox predictability: "terrorism is bad," "terrorists could be your next door neighbour" I walked out. I felt like I was watching a bad made-for-tv movie. I had not seen any trailers for this film, yet I still found the plot predictable. I understand there is a "surprise" ending, but I bet the film included all of the plot elements typical to this genre. Spare me. And the unbelievability of Faraday's character: come on. Do professors in the States really teach courses on terrorism in the lame way this guy does? ("Let's walk through the field where my wife, who just happens to be an FBI agent, got killed in a botched raid. That way I can 'learn ya something' and go through the grieving process.") I normally love Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack but they couldn't salvage this script enough to make me feel suspenseful or interested enough to stay to the bitter end. A solid 2/10.
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Besieged (1998)
6/10
Beautiful cinematography, but something missing.
17 June 1999
I thought this was an extraordinarily beautiful film. The care and complexity of the cinematography was truly breathtaking. The acting was superb as well. I couldn't help feeling, though, that the emotion at the core (Kinsky's "love" of Shandurai) was more an evocation of an older man's (Bertolucci's) fantasy world of women. I found the emotional exploitation of Shandurai unpardonable. Here is a woman who has lost everything, and then gives up her respect and dignity because her employer gets her husband out of jail (the image of her sneaking into his bed, giving herself to him like a servant was belittling). I would have found the film truly bittersweet and empowering had Kinsky sacrificed so much and gained nothing.
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High Art (1998)
6/10
Interesting, but a bit slow.
18 May 1999
This was not a terrible film, but I'm not sure it deserves all the raves it received. The acting is fine, and the story not bad, but it is very slow and languorous. I never wanted to turn it off, but it did not grip me. My favourite line: "I'm hot, isn't that serious?"
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Tango (1998)
2/10
I certainly don't want to hear or see a tango for a very long time.
13 May 1999
Tango is the second of only two movies I've ever walked out on. To my credit, I managed to stay until almost the end, as I kept hoping that something, anything, would actually happen in this film. The dancing is beautiful and emotional, but there are only so many double-hooks one can take in the span of two hours, when, literally, nothing else happens except the main character looks droopy-eyed at the camera. The director does some really cool things with mirrors, screens and silhouettes, but this is self-indulgent film making at its best. Give me a story! Give me some emotion! Give me some character development! I kept thinking that the film could use some editing -- excessively long dance sequences, and one five-minute take of musicians recording tango music, I get the point, already! -- but then it would be only twenty minutes long.
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