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Lions for Lambs (2007)
A Film that Reknews my Faith in What American Could Be...
This is an important film that will be remembered for years to come, but in my opinion, just like All the President's Men, this film won't be a classic because its entire body is woven into the modern political and social stadium. What makes this film unusual, at least in today's film-making world, is that practically the entire film is made up of various characters sitting in rooms having one on one conversations with another character. I imagine that this film was pretty easy to shoot. I think most of the prep work was spent on rehearsal time in order to get the great performances that this film offers. Considering that this film is written by the same guy who wrote The Kingdom, I'm surprised its so good. The difference between the two films is larger than the gap between President Bush and reality. Online (particularly IMDb) it's evident that this is a controversial film. People keep commenting on how much they hate this film because of its agenda and I directly quote, "Hollywood just does not get it. I don't want to go see a movie that is just a covert attempt to brainwash people. That is this movie's real plot (agenda)." This film is not covert in its views, it's blatant, but I never felt brainwashed or under the influence of propaganda. Allow me to go on and share with you the rest of this persons comment on Lions for Lambs. "Moreover, this movie is like so many other Hollywood movie that are not about providing entertainment. They want to deliver a politically-oriented message and they want to me pay to hear their message. I did the smart thing; I walked out as soon as it became evident that this was another agenda flick. I hear too much political pablum on TV, and I can't take it there either anymore. It's ridiculous what Hollywood has become. No wonder movie attendance has been down. down, down for so many years. Going to the movies often turns out like a visit to the dentist, no fun at all." It's sad that in a world with so many problems to comment on that an audience would rather get that from the TV set and would walk out on a film with actual substance. TV news has no substance and its terrible that its swaying people away from source of actual information (this film isn't a documentary so it can't really be called "actual information", yet its based in it more so than TV news). I can't relate to you how upsetting it is that Americans have become such ostriches with their heads in the sand. People need to stimulate their brains and get behind the real issues that our country is facing, and it's films like this that try to inspire in us some sort of revolutionary outrage with the abominable way our country has been acting. The excerpt above isn't the only post to spew hatred for this film. Almost just as many people who love this film hate it. "Who likes celebrities telling us how to think politically?" "The worst movie ever made!" "Shame on anyone who pays to see this trash." "Support this liberal propaganda and the stupidity of their cause and you're doing no better then supporting the terrorists themselves
I know no true American will add to its box office and reward the blatant and blind stupidity of its creators." The last quote is obviously from a republican Bush voter who considers them self a true American ("true American means Republican right?) and didn't contribute to this films box office. So somebody who didn't even give this film a chance is clearly a credible source to listen to. In my opinion the person who wrote that isn't a true American, because America was founded on the principles idealized in this film (and I'm not talking about Tom Cruise's character's views). Towards the end of Lions for Lambs Redford's character says it best, "the problem isn't with the people who started this. The problem is with us who sit by and do nothing." I couldn't agree more, but I also have to add that the problem is also with the people who write the negative reviews that I've show you above. Personally, I love the fact that Hollywood isn't just trying to entertain me, but is actually trying to make a difference (at least here. Not really when they green-lighted Jackass: The movie
but that wasn't Redford). This film comments not only about the Iraq war, but I think even more so on American blindness. Lions for Lambs shows characters who go about their lives and don't want to know what's going on in the world at large. It shows our horrible complaisancy. Just look at Lions for Lambs place in the weekend box office this week: fourth. American's would rather see Jerry Seinfeld flying as an animated bee, Denzel Washington as he imports heroine into the United States, and the reject brother of Santa Clause! People hate Lions for Lambs because of the preconceived ideas they hold while walking into the theater. I praise this film. I prefer the online comment that goes, "See this pro American, Anti Government and Anti Media Film". Everyone should watch it and everyone should be open about it. People label this as propaganda, but that's only because a different propaganda has already penetrated and brainwashed them into the opposite beliefs. How far away from propaganda can you get than this film tag line, "If you don't STAND for something, than you might FALL for anything." Our country is falling apart, "Rome is Burning" as Redford would put it (or rather screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan). I'm glad someone will take a break from making another Spiderman 3 and take their position for social change seriously.
Michael Clayton (2007)
The Most Overrated Film of The Year
This film reminds me of Network and also of a John Grisham adaptation. I guess it's hard to think of anybody other than John Grisham when your dealing with a serious conspiracy story based around lawyers, but if only Michael Clayton were a John Grisham book then perhaps it might have worked. The story behind this film and its ending is quite good, it's only that the majority of this film bores the heck out of you! This is Tony Gilroy's directing debut (he was the screenwriter on the Bourne films) and his screenplay for it is not his most impressive work. With such producers attached to this project as Clooney (he also stars as the lead role), Sydney Pollack (who also plays a supporting role), Anthony Minghella (director of Cold Mountain, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley), and Steven Soderbergh (director of the Ocean's films and Traffic) I would expect maybe something at least worth watching. The best part about this film is the supporting performance by Tom Wilkinson. Otherwise this film might leave you with a good feeling because of its ending, which would be good if it was supported by the rest of the film, but if this film bores me- and I'm not easily bored by movies- then I can't image much of modern A.D.D. audience being able to watch this film. It certainly doesn't deserve any of the Oscars it was nominated for.
Meet the Spartans (2008)
An All Time Low for Comedy
I work at a movie theater, so the only reason I went to see this movie was because it was free and I thought that it just might be the kind of movie that's so bad me and my friends could entertain ourselves by making fun of it. However, Meet the Spartans left us completely dumbfounded and speechless. It's beyond bad! There was nothing you could say that could make of this movie, it does it all by itself and it doesn't even allow you to laugh while you watch it going down in flames. I considered its predecessor, Epic Movie, to be among one of the worst movies ever made. I didn't think it could possibly get worse, but it did. It's like watching 300 all over again expect with ridiculous pop culture references that aren't even funny. The guys who made this movie obviously don't understand comedy in the slightest bit. I hope that this is the last one of these ridiculous comedies that gets to occupy a theater over another film that might actually be worth something. This film is a waste of money for starters, but even if you don't have to pay, it's just a waste of time.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky's back and he's never needed steroids more.
After seeing this film I'm eagerly awaiting the next rocky film. You know, the one where he's eighty-two, using a walker, has completely lost his hair, needs a diaper, and is still somehow in good enough shape to kick some young whipper-snapper's butt! Now being a film buff, I surprisingly have never seen a previous Rocky film, so I can't comment on it's relation to the other films. All I know is that Sylvester Stalone is no screenwriter, no director, barely an actor, and that he must really like boxing. I found the behind the scenes story of the first Rocky film very interesting. Stalone couldn't sell his script because no one wanted him to act in this film. Some people even offered to buy his script on the basis that he not star in the film. However the Italian Stallion didn't give up in the boxing ring of Hollywood and eventually got his film made. And then he made a sequel
and then another sequel
and then another sequel
and on and on until we got what this film is here. Rocky CXXIV!!! Watching this film I couldn't get over the absurdity of the dialog spoken by every character and the meaningless scenes that filled most of the film. In fact the audience is completely bored and the film doesn't even get to the plot until the third reel (each reel is twenty minutes)! In my opinion this film is the biggest laughing stock of the year. It's not that the editing and/or cinematography is bad, but the most important elements of a film- the acting, directing, writing- all are so terrible and that's what the average movie-goer is looking for a good story. Just like the lead character in the film asks, "why can't I fight again", I'm sure Stalone asked, "why can't I make another Rocky movie"? And the answer to both questions is the same, "Rocky is too old to believe in!" It's to the point of pathetic and isn't the slightest bit heartwarming. This is not the true story of what a has been boxer goes through.
Who ever gave this film an Oscar is unforgivable!!!!
This movie would not be half as atrocious as it was if it hadn't won 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, and Best Editing. Simply put, this movie is unforgivably bad. It had no umph behind its story, a retard behind the typewriter, and one of the least talented actors of all time manning the helm. The content of the film could've been powerfully put together as a means to expose the horrors of the true old west, as opposed to the many western before who glorified it. But the way Unforgiven is woven together leaves no room for the audience to admit the tragedy of the situations happening on screen or even be entertained and caught up in the magic of a western. Instead the audience is horrified by the tastelessness of the dialog, sexual references and violence. This film has no purpose. It's not entertaining, exciting, compelling, tragic, or even believable. I'm sure something like this did actually happen in the old west, but to tell you the truth, I believe more in the story told in the previous movie I critiqued. The cinematography (which was nominated for an Academy Award, but thankfully didn't win) was a complete atrocity! I believe I saw one good shot in the entire two hours that I suffered through this film. If you're famous and you want to make a movie, I have no problem with that. But when industry praises a film unjustly, while putting brilliant work down or at least putting it in the background, the cruelty of this world surfaces. Such brilliant work as Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men was not even allowed one win, even though it was nominated in 3 of the categories that Unforgiven won (including Gene Hackman winning against Jack Nicholson). Even worse is that Robert Redford's greatest film, A River Runs Through It, wasn't even in the running. I'm remembering back to one of my previous revues of director Clint Eastwood's Bronco Billy (another flop in my book) when I say that again this film isn't dramatic enough to work. I would have given this movie a quarter point higher in my rating if it wasn't held up as something so great, but no more sympathy from me. Clint Eastwood, you do a better job in the cheesy Spaghetti Westerns from Sergio Leone; they at least can entertain.
Extreme Pointless Violence proves that Mel Gibson has lost it!
Being not only a fan of Mel Gibson's directing, but also of his tremendous talent for acting, I feel completely validated in saying that with his most recent film, Apocalypto, he's let me down. In my opinion, Gibson has lost it. Both Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ were films of historical significance about events that were historically significant, but they never felt inappropriate or too much. Apocalypto is too much! Although it's about a historically significant time period and is probably a very accurate portrayal of the Mayan culture, the level of violence in this film is shocking. It's similar to the brutality of The Passion of the Christ, but without reason and any redeemable factors. The entire film made me cringe and wonder "does an audience really need to see this?" The intensity of this film is great and it's paced perfectly without any lulls, but when I go to see a movie I'd prefer not to be forced to look away from the screen to save my stomach. I find it interesting that a film this violent, done in the context of history, is acceptable, when really it is just like Hostel. Violence can be portrayed very shockingly without seeming like too much. Take for instance Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. In the shower scene the audience gets an impression of the violence without seeing a single knife blade entering the body of Marion Crane (that scene also give the impression of nudity without it really being there). In Apocalypto on the other hand, we see heads rolling down steps, decapitated bodies falling, hearts being cut out, Mayans being skewered in every way imaginable, throats being slit, head wounds squirting blood, etc. There isn't a single act of violence in this film that is tastefully shown and it's only considered a respectable film because it's by a seasoned director in the context of historical accuracy. At least you have to hand it too the special effects department. I really thought people were being tortured.
The Nativity Story (2006)
Why do biblical films have to be so bad?
It's pretty obvious what this film is. Many "Christian" films have been made by being independently funded, but have lacked the production value that's present in many successful Hollywood films. With the recent success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, somebody figured out that there is a market for films based on religious material straight out of the bible. I can just see it now, hundreds of pastors telling their flocks to go support the Christian presence in Hollywood. What they fail to see is that The Nativity Story is simply an attempt to exploit an untapped market. Catherine Hardwicke, director of The Nativity Story doesn't quite seem like the type to have made such a film. Her first film in 2003 was the tale of a promiscuous thirteen year old girl diving deeper and deeper into a dark world laden with drugs and sex, Thirteen. So as for appreciating this film on a level where you can realize that someone's moral/spiritual conviction is being projected before your eyes, is completely out of the question unless an improbable transformation has occurred inside the soul of Hardwicke. However, many great films aren't based in a director or producers moral conviction, so The Nativity Story still has a chance. The only problem is that as a film it isn't any good. I'm sorry to be blunt, but I feel I must. The screenplay is awful especially when you realize the source, Mike Rich, screenwriter of Finding Forrester, The Rookie, and Radio (all fairly descent screenplays and his best work being the great Gus Van Sant film Finding Forrester!). The acting is dull! It seems like the portrayal of bible characters in most films consist of some of the worst character development ever, not because they aren't good material, but because most writers portray them as seeming very fake and in a way that the audience can't relate to them. Keisha Castle Hughes, the young actress from Whale Rider who was cast in The Nativity Story as the virgin Mary (even though now her pregnancy at the age of 16 has shown everyone that her personal life is very different from that of the virgin Mary) gives one of the worst performances I've ever seen. The only redeemable elements in The Nativity Story are the supplementary details. The production design of The Nativity Story is very good with details, but you must consider that director Catherine Hardwicke was first a production designer (credited for such films as Tombstone, Three Kings, Vanilla Sky, and the classic I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!... ahem) before making her directorial debut with Thirteen. The other element of The Nativity Story worth mentioning is its score. No doubt Christians and believers in Jesus will praise this film. I'll end with this statement so my readers don't construe me as being an atheist because of my opinion of a film: "I feel the distinct need to separate Jesus from lousy entertainment." Which should be more powerful, a film about Bobby Kennedy or a film about Jesus Christ?" It's not the historical figure that makes this film bad, it's who made it. I wish someone would use this material to its fullest capacity and make a great film about Jesus, not just about his birth, not just about his death, but about him. Watching a film about a great historical figure shouldn't be torture!
This Bullitt is a dud.
For being such a famous film and an Oscar winner for Best Editing, this film has serious pacing and continuity problems. Bullitt is the film that contains one of the most famous car chase scenes in cinema history. It's obvious that the car chase scene was very revolutionary at the time, but when you consider what's been made since, Bullitt isn't even worth mentioning. However bad some of the editing in this film may be, some of it is still quite good, but in my opinion not continuous enough to be considered Oscar worthy. Bullitt is an action film. Action means fast-paced excitement. Bullitt is boring. The entire film drags along with long pauses in between the dialog and very monotone acting that seems like a bad version of an M. Night Shyamalan film without any of the rewarding moments. The twists in the story are very straight forward, but they are somehow written very confusingly. In my opinion there is no "Bullitt" in this gun. Nothing has fired off that's worth remembering.
The Fountain (2006)
I'm still trying to figure out what this film was about. All I know is that I should waste my time.
I recently saw this film at a preview screening at Warner Bros. Studios. I don't know how a film like this can get made. Although I've heard it called by someone, "the best film I've ever seen", I couldn't disagree more. I believe it to be one of the worst films, not only of the year, but also of all time. The story of this film is so mutled, baffling, and incoherent that only a true fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Zardoz could appreciate it. Every scene is totally random and out of context with no structure. We see a man in the jungle, a doctor operating on monkeys, and a monk floating around space in a snow-globe (which I later found out by reading a quote from the director was suppose to be an astronaut 600 years from now (I couldn't understand that after watching the entire film)). Many films, like The Fountain, try to trick the audience into believing that they hold some kind of intellectual insight, when in reality they are a series of random and uninsightful images based around a loose concept. No one can understand The Fountain. It's beyond comprehension. The screenplay for this film is simply atrocious. The characters appear randomly without context and have no development whatsoever. Although the running time of this film isn't very long, it seems like an eternity that I'll never get back. Director Aronofsky has made some of the worst films I've ever seen and he still somehow finds a way to outdo himself with ever new attempt. Don't get dooped into believe that this film holds some deeper meaning. It you did, you'd spend an eternity trying to find that meaning and would never be able to. This fountain only a mere puddle that will soon evaporate away.
American Dreamz (2006)
The best modern political statement possible!!!! Modern Dr. Strangelove
This is a film that I always wanted to see in theaters, but unfortunately, it came & went rather quickly becoming a big box office flop. But one thing that this film proves is, that the box office is no measuring spoon for a great film. American Dreamz is perhaps the best kept secret of the year. It's the perfect satire for the modern condition of the world, and it's extremely entertaining to boot. This film is simply a mirror into the human and world affairs of today. If it seems a little ridiculous then maybe it should. The all-star cast, written, produced, and directed by Paul Weitz (In Good Company, About A Boy, and his notorious American Pie) is definitely his best, most ambitious, and most clever film. From a show-tune loving Islamic terrorist, to the very "Simon" like talent competition judge (portrayed by Hugh Grant), American Dreamz is truly the Dr. Strangelove of our time. It has the boldness and audacity to make powerful statements through its use of sarcasm and satire. The direct assault on our modern world couldn't have been as poignantly portrayed. Dennis Quaid's Bush-like portrayal of the presidency, Mandy Moore's modern drama queen that we've all come in contact with amidst the halls of our high school, Willem DaFoe's direct likeness to Dick Cheney, the young war hero wounded in the Iraq war, every element of this film is perfect for today. I can only dream that America is smart enough to get the message of American Dreamz.