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Among Thieves (2009)
A very sorry excuse for political suspense fim
Simply sub-professional on every level. No one here gives anything resembling a professional performance, the script, direction and special effects are even worse, and no other other aspect of the video is up to the level of production of even something like "The Room", nor is this waste of time even as unintentionally campily strange. One of those amateur films that looks a bit like a more slapdash than usual porn film, with no sex and even less polish. Never before have supposed European and Arab cities looked so much like scruffier streets in L.A. or perhaps Cleveland or Toronto.
Television listings services and even the poster art editors at IMDb have been known to confuse this film with the no-budget 2001 feature of the same title with Karen Sillas...at least that one had a professional actor or two on hand.
La strage dei vampiri (1964)
AMC in the US cablecast a 10-minute abridgment of this film in 2018
Under THE SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES title, in 2018 the AMC cable channel offered a ten-minute or so abridgment of this film, reminiscent of the 8mm film reels sold in the 1960s and '70s in US department stores and five&dimes, for pre-Hallowe'en viewing. One was able to note how attractive the women of the cast were, and get the sense of what the story was, and not much more...but I haven't seen too many other examples of a feature-length film trimmed down to filler-length for telecast in recent decades. One wonders if that actually was the sound-version edit of the Castle Films release ca. 1970.
The Last Mimzy (2007)
Mostly game, if excessively "spiritual", attempt at filming the story.
What it's like: If you took the story ("Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by "Lewis Padgett"--Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore), and gave it to latter-day hippies (such as script-repurposer Bruce Joel Rubin) to make as one of the sharper episodes of the revived THE OUTER LIMITS (it's slightly wittier and better-done than the "Sandkings" pilot). Less rancid and dumb than the typical Spielberg-gang outing, slightly less sanitized (for your protection) than the common Disney production (even if Michael Clarke Duncan's role is straight out of LILO AND STITCH), this film will annoy Kuttner/Moore purists.
What's good about it: the actors are pretty deft, for the most part, including the kid sibs. Kathryn Hahn (of CROSSING JORDAN) and Rainn Wilson (of THE OFFICE and SIX FEET UNDER) are just about the go-to couple for the kind of reasonably latter-day hippies they portray here, and Timothy Hutton and Joely Richardson do well by their increasingly-freaked parent roles. Nice early touch on how the first toy appears differently to our kid protags and to their mother. Some visuals not too shabby, if unspectacular.
What's not so good: the product-placement goes from blatant to, at a key point, annoyingly unbelievable; the framing device, particularly at the end. The changed nature and reason for the transport of the toy package.
What it would be paired with at the Kailua Drive-In or Holiday Theaters for double-features corresponding to those of my youth: DEJA VU or other more innocuous skiffy; probably not with 300.
Another reason it's clearly not directed by Joe Dante: No one's watching THE TWONKY at any point.
Pear ta ma 'on maf (2004)
To be offered nationally on television by PBS in May, 2006.
THE LAND HAS EYES will be offered in May 2006 (a few stations might jump the gun and run it in late April) as soft-fed item on PBS...it doesn't have a set place in the prime-time schedule, and thus even more than other PBS programming, stations have their own choice as to when to run it...so look for it particularly in the Saturday primetime hours, where American Public Television's syndicated film packages often run on stations, or call your station, of course, both to ask when they'll run it and to encourage them to consider it, if you wish. I suspect this maneuver might unnecessary at KHET Honolulu or KGTF Agana (Guam), but as we move away from the Pacific, there might or might not be a greater tendency to not worry too much about running such a film...as good as it might be (I haven't seen it).
Con el corazón en la mano (1988)
FCC in US decrees this film actionable.
I haven't seen this film, but today it was announced that one of the Spanish-language broadcast services in the US was going to be fined by the Federal Communications Commission for running it in 2004, a film about, as one listing puts it in Spanish, "the strange relation a woman has with the man who violated her." Sounds kind of unfortunate, from some perspectives, perhaps, but one wonders if it is truly not something reasonable adults should be allowed to see on US television...but the same Commission session decided that such things as episodes of WITHOUT A TRACE and the PBS documentary series THE BLUES were also actionable. To say nothing of the SuperBowl halftime show featuring Janet Jackson, and another football game broadcast where a player mimed mooning the audience (mimed, mind you).
This was meant to be a parody of disaster films.
I think that that was obvious from the beginning, and while it was a pity it was broadcast around the time of Katrina, it's production was started well before the disaster that was to befall New Orleans: the utterly inept FEMA and other response to the broken levies overshadowing even the actual storm damage. As Gina Gershon put it in her interview on THE LATE LATE SHOW, you can tell the film is fictional because, in her role as the head of FEMA, she actually does her job. I'm not sure why so many of the other commentators here couldn't see that this was not meant to be taken as a serious film, as opposed to a not-quite-camp goof, but they do seem to be damning it for not being THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN...when, as at least one other reviewer has hinted, one could well be glad it wasn't a theatrical release of the inept, meant-to-be-serious, more or less, variety of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW or the dread remake of HURRICANE a few years back. And KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA, among so many others, before that...
"Nightfall" is not by any means Isaac Asimov's best short story, but he did suggest he'd never read one better by a writer not yet twenty by the time he wrote it. (I have read better short stories written by teens, but not too many.) But this film is a remarkable thing, with a cast doused in oil (they are literally all greasy, for no obvious reason) and striving for Art in the most inept manner possible; David Birney's patented, smug non-performance is the closest thing to competence in that regard. The script bears only the faintest resemblance to Asimov's plot, and the film just might've been shot in the remaining standing sets of THE LAST TEMPTATION OF Christ (which might explain the oiliness of the cast--all might've been wearing cheap sunscreen that the makeup crew had no idea how to conceal). In striving for Art, it inspires nausea, or at least it did in my companion when we saw it in its very brief theatrical run (it was released by Cineplex Odeon, who were mostly a theater chain), and so we walked out, since I had absolutely no reason to linger, either. At least the other oiliest movie I've ever seen, Mira Nair's KAMA SUTRA, had the slightest of rationales for such an unctuous experience...and was ever so slightly better as a film. I am very amused that another no-budget, apparently awful film of "Nightfall" has been perpetrated since this one.
Dead Like Me... Again (2005)
Typical of its sort, with much mutual backslapping.
And, sadly, not much depth in its description of the often excellent series, aside from a few pointed comments, mostly by Mandy Pantinkin, about some of the upgrades in complexity the show underwent in its second and probably final season. At least less time was spent in this slight doc than in the series itself in trying to convince us of the physical beauty of Ellen Muth, a rather odd drumbeat to have run through the two seasons (particularly considering how many better-looking actresses were involved with the series, including Jasmine Guy and Cynthia Stevenson). But it's nice to get a sense of how the cast and one (1) behind-the-camera representative felt about working on this fine series.
Seishun zankoku monogatari (1960)
Misanthropic, and dull
I got very little from this film, other than it furthered my impression of Oshima as a misanthrope with very little of substance to offer about the human condition he has so little feeling for, nor the people he apparently reviles. It is, indeed, a Cruel Story, as one iteration of the English title would have it, but it doesn't even have the cheap thrills offered by Oshima's best-known film in the US, usually referred to here as IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, but does share a remarkably ugly cinematographic color scheme (this might be a function of the prints and transfers I've seen, but both films in my viewing have been heavily into a reddish wash), fitting well with the remarkably ugly spirit with which both were offered. Not too impressed with the performances, either.
The Last Man on Planet Earth (1999)
Not meant to be taken seriously, and not bad as a goof.
Tamlyn Tomita shows just enough good-sportswomanship in giving a decent performance in this variation of sorts on such sf predecessors as Philip Wylie's novel THE DISAPPEARANCE and Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE and the film based on it, along with much older pulp sf dealing with gender roles and hugger-mugger melodrama. I believe this was the first film shown as such on the US television network UPN (as opposed to a series pilot, such as the STAR TREK: VOYAGER pilot that inaugurated the network), and if only most made-for-TV movies were half as amusing (or if Tomita's eventual UPN series THE BURNING ZONE had been). Not quite up to the role-reversal episode of the ELLEN series, but it'll do.
American Playhouse (1981)
Long-running, important video/film series on PBS.
This occasional series (the HALLMARK HALL OF FAME of PBS, it would appear up to about six or seven times a season over most of its run) was an anthology of original dramatic films and videotaped presentations, many of the films co-productions which might get an art-house run before (or after) appearing as an AP episode (such as SMOOTH TALK and TESTAMENT); others were meant for video presentation, such as the TALES OF THE CITY miniseries or (my favorite) the one-man show THE END OF A SENTENCE, starring Edward Herrmann. AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE head Lindsay Law moved on to Fox Searchlight as the series was winding down, presenting as its last "official" offering a cinema-verite miniseries in the 2000-2001 season.
Resident Evil (2002)
a dull disappointment, even for a videogame film
Despite good-enough performances from Jovovich, Rodriguez, and the rest of the cast, there is little more good to be said for this film, aside from some handsomely unhandsome zombies. Did we need a cross between CUBE and Romero's zombie trilogy with an even more ridiculous version of ALIEN's anticorporate slant (when anticorporatism becomes as ridiculous as this, it certainly undercuts real anticorporatism)? Nonsensical doubletalk, an idiot-plot from the beginning, and not even much in the way of interesting violence. So, go to see Milla J be fetching and Michelle R be sardonic, but you can probably do that with some other films which might also entertain you.
decent scabrous comedy
Much of this was very funny; if the basic arc of the story is familiar, it's meant to be. Pare proves that, aside from being absolutely gorgeous in the coltish way that she all but defines, that she has the ability to balance the cartoonish and the mimetic dimensions of an occasionally tricky role. Supporting cast impressive, as well.
Once and Again (1999)
A superior series, which one hopes won't be cancelled.
This is one of the most intelligent, and the most mature, series being produced for US television, and that it can maintain such a truthful yet witty tone without slipping over into cloying cuteness nor wallowing in soap.
Currently in its third season, ABC has placed it in a death spot, against a popular and not-bad LAW AND ORDER spinoff and CBS's durable filler 48 HOURS on late Friday nights. Catch it while you can, as apparently Lifetime cable channel, which had been running it, has dumped it.
Each of the Herskowitz and Zwick shows has been better than the last, and ONCE AND AGAIN (following, in reverse chronological order, the extremely good RELATIVITY, the good MY SO-CALLED LIFE, and the occasionally interesting THIRTYSOMETHING) is the first to get a second season for a while...