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Hit and Run (2021)
5 stars just because
I gave it 5 stars because I didn't really care how to rate it. Yes, some scenes were dark, sound not so good. Personally I love Lior. My main issue is with the editing. It is made for a society of today. This rapid editing, which comes from music videos only deals only in highlights; for ultra short attention spans. A movement is not followed through. So there isn't much context, atmosphere. A good scene and narration lives in the details, and ambiance, the bit players. Also, if violence is written into a plot line or a scene, then it has to be followed through. It is cowardly to pretend to film a scene of a fight, and then not depict something that looks like a fight. I am not advocating violence; this is a film review. It ties in with audiences not given enough credit to think for themselves; where subtlety is not allowed, and we are hit over the head with chunky scenes and very little narrative.
Animal Kingdom: Red Handed (2021)
Was this a video?
I kept waiting for Tom Petty to start the song. This series used to have dialogue, and real human connections, and drama. Had there not been previous seasons that established a certain momentum, this Episode would have been laughable. 4 guys moodily staring, getting into jeeps, and getting out of jeeps. The shoot-out went on and on, and honestly - I could not tell a flipping thing of what was happening. Assumed it was the cousins, and knew that no matter what, Nik Stahl was going to stay alive.
It actually took me a while to realize that plot 2 was flashbacks. Fashion-wise, and over all ambiance was contemporary. A good idea to dig into Pope as a kid, but wasted.
And one item: if you're going to write cigarettes into story, then at least have the actors smoke them.
Never should have been cancelled
As good as HBO's programming instinct is, or once was, they still did not support this show throughout it's long storyline arch. I am not sure how the decisions are made because these high quality shows invariably will find their audience. Very high production values; great casting. But much like Netflix's O/A the writer and producers had a long range vision, a tale that needed 4-5 seasons, and it looks like the money dried up. I'm glad to see much support here in the reviews. Would have been great to see them navigate the next decade; WWII. So much of the show's atmosphere was rooted in the depression and the dust and desolation; the early car models. The cast was very good. Jonesy, Samson are superb. Toby Huss as Stumpy is always excellent. I thought the actress playing his wife, and especially Carla Gallo his daughter deserve an extra mention.
StartUp: Bleeding Edge (2017)
Not it's not you...
My title is in response to smartypantsz review title. I loved Season 1. First time in ages I binge watched something ( probably since 'Messiah'). But so far S 2 is dragging on; nothing has really happened, except for misery, and tears. This is like something done by Germans, LOl; who are always heavy handed to the point of being morbid. Yes, Touie is torn up. But for the sake of drama series, the point has been well made, and explored. Of course these matters aren't over and dealt with quickly in real life. But this is a Netflix series. You got to keep people interested. This series has been exceptionally well cast. Ronald and Izzy are engaging characters. I like the close-ups of Izzy where we see acne; makes her 10 times more gorgeous. The little smarmy hateful FBI agent is also well cast. At first I just could not take him serious when he's talking about 'Cafesito', and "Salud' and banging women up against the shower stall. I'm like "Bilbo, I never knew ya". But he has transcended. I'm going to keep on watching. Waiting for big Ron P to show, I guess.
The Woman in the Window (2021)
Obviously with a major nod to Hitchcock, or Orson Welles. Which isn't a bad thing. Except like all newer films, there is this need to drill it into the viewer - constantly, at top volume, from first minute on. There is no pacing, no patience, no subtlety. Because what all these ingredients would assume is some intelligence by the viewer. But all that is gone today; in music, art, movies. I actually kept watching for a good bit but had to turn the sound off. That soundtrack was the most idiotic, over produced, heavy handed track I have ever heard. Literally within the first 7 minutes we already have the score at deafening levels, invoking a big finale face-off. This happens again and again; to where it loses any weight or emphasis, and becomes only an annoyance. She is opening the door! The faucet drips! And the orchestra hits. The plot is full of holes. Gary Oldman's character starts screaming from his first scene on LOL. The onyl reason I did not give this one star is because Oldman, Adams, Mackie, J Moore, JJ Leigh are some of the best actors working; don't know how they got stuck in this crap fest.
Terrible waste of time
Other reviewers have already stated that the film has zero heart, zero character development, absolutely ludicrous dialogue, and a plot that barely teeters on a story line. I think a 60's Bond film has action sequences more believable than this film. So much of this comes from millennium film making; too cautious to offend any demography, age etc. The violence scenes have become outright laughable. I am not trying to condone violence., But in that case do not make a movie that requires a lot of it. These 'tough' Russian mob enforcers are politely tapped on the nose, or it is implied that something vague just happened around the throat area, and voila you have 2 unconscious bodies. Which are then safely deposited in comfortable air mattress. The scene of them "sailing' was so plainly edited w/ green screen, and stock sailing footage. The big airplane fire; the Indian pilot was stepping idly off a ladder; while this supposed machine of infernal doom was careening into the vault. I understand the longevity now of standards like 'Die Hard' or Tom Cruise flics. the reason these movies are exciting because you are sitting on the edge of your seat. I easily was able to hold my breath as long as they did in the vault. It made me think of a scene in 'Lost' when a character drowns, and it is excruciating
"Tenet' is a yawner on all fronts. I want to say again, that I am not saying "we need better violence'. But if you choose to make a movie that revolves around action sequences, multiple fight scenes, blood - you can't be afraid to show it.
The Nice Guys (2016)
The film is so un-funny, I had to stop watching. It can not decide what style to follow. We have the buddy cops, we have the wisecracking young blond daughter (homage to all of Eastwood's early films?/ homage to Taxi Driver?/ Paper Moon?); worst of all we have Ryan trying some type of double take shtick at one point.
The plot is a total mess. Characters are undeveloped.
I do not understand why this movie needed to be set in 70's. It was a very shallow depiction of 70's. No one would be playing Pong at home on a screen. The sharp young black executive female aide in a killer suit did not exist in 70's. I think maybe the 70's were used as an excuse to weave low, cheap humor of graphic sex in there involving minors. And to pass it off as "well that's how it was in the 70's".
Sympathy for the lead actress
The show started off really promising. But man - 8 episodes of this? I am not an adrenaline action junkie. I don't require it. But this could have easily been a decent 90 min film. The score is atmospheric and gorgeous. IMO essential to the feel of the show. There was just too much of staring into something, and then 2 minutes on: we're still staring. Some characters, or plotlines were not developed to the point of being distracting. Jamie was so weak, that it felt nonsensical. Why did we need Katie be in bed w/ Forest? Why did Lyndon character have to be a girl playing a boy? And look about 11 years old?
Questions about the basic premise, philosophical, existential, fatalistic, hopeful are at the root of the show (and at the core of most of this director's work). They are not for this review. But I thought they were the best part, the reason for the series. It is narrow minded to try and paint disagreements with a premise, as a loophole in plot. Mainly I'd like to show support for the main actress. I thought she played the role, as it seemed to be written. It is a cold show, in a cold environment. This is a weakness in the show: that the big decisions are all based on passionate love; yet no one is able to show it, voice it.
Season 1 set the bar pretty high, and I hoped that it wouldn't be like many other series with promise. If any thing it only get better. @, and 3 are very good. Louis Anderson almost takes over the show. The supporting cast is phenomenal; characters who look like actual people. Not some airbrushed doll. There are plenty of fell-good moments, yet this is not a show with major story arcs, or resolves. Much happens, yet not much - it's like real life. I did get the impression that Seasons 1-3 might have been filmed in one long spurt. In Season 4 everyone looks a bit different.
With serious misgivings though
I gave it 9 stars only because I like the premise and the writing in it. The acting is so bad, that I can barely watch it. Dan Stevens and Aubrey are okay, but the blond girlfriend, the memory guy - it is the most wooden acting. They literally have a hard time just standing there they are so inept. Still it s good story telling. And once the guy from Concords comes in it gets radically crazier. By episode 4 I thought the writing gets even better. This could be a very good show. But the acting again is just so terrible. These memory flashbacks , and the guy Ptolomany looks like he is watching a different show on a side screen; he is so detached and not engaged .The blond girl should be in a TV sitcom about girls shaking their heads. They're both probably nice people, but this show is above them. Imagine True Detective season 1 with second rate TV actors.
Great action, but
..IMO the real star was Vanessa Kirby. That is a sexy woman. She stole her scenes. Not sure why they had some of those big names in there. Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett looked comical to me. And that brings me to today's Tom Cruise. I understand he is one of world's biggest stars; but at some point he's got to stop trying to look like a boy. In his last films, several of them, he looks odd. esp. next to stud Cavill. You got Pegg and Rhames who do fine. He needs to sync up with them. But who can argue with millions and millions of dollars in gross revenue? They did great. Incredible! action sequences. If Cavill, and some of other actors had stunt doubles, I could not tell. We all know Tom does his own work. Good film. And I have to see more shows with V Kirby
I have to agree with a review from chicagopoetry. Some of the actors in this film Sarsgaard, Franco, Stone, Sevigny are top notch actors who can go deep, and IMO were barely tapped for this film. Cannavale , constantly over acting; from the school of thought that loud means good; Azaria and Seyfried are TV or light comedy actors. Decent, but not of top calibre. Ultimately it is probably the screen play and direction that watered down this potentially powerful tale. The 70's look is heavy handed and fails. "Boogie Nights" was able to pull it off effortlessly. In the 70's not everyone ran around in a leisure suit, and drove huge gas guzzlers with the top down. The film does not deliver emotionally. I have read 'Ordeal'. Her story is about herself, and her ambivalence and confusion about her values, and what she was actually doing. And more than anything it is about the abuse from Traynor; for years. The scenes that are supposed to hit hard are barely realized. Maybe there was not enough clout in the money dept to battle ratings; and probably someone knew that these actors could not go that far. IMO it is painfully obvious that this film was made with every PC catch call in mind; which defeats the very notion of the story. It is about abuse, sex for sale, humiliation, lies, sleaze. You simply can not tell this w/o getting in the mud yourself. Check 'Wonderland' for a better movie about that world.
I like Fosse's material; he has the same thread running through them all. But I also think this film is way over-rated. The songs, and lyrics are okay. Not brilliant or especially clever. Richard Gere got some choice numbers, and he seemed to be having a great time. I see where Rene Z gets a lot of flak, for doing what she does. I thought she was fantastic. In the dance numbers she has a natural elegance and body language that came off beautiful. The weak point IMO is Caterina ZJ. I don't know the back story, but it feels like she lobbied for that role, and vowed to be the best dancer that money can buy. She works so hard at it. But that is how it comes off: like work, and a work-out. I feel like she was trying to hammer some sexuality into her step. And while Q Latifah has a much smaller role I did not get much from her portrayal. And she is usually tops. So - Rene, Gere, Taye Diggs, John C Reilly ( who is always great), good. Caterina, and the Queen, and the score, not so good.
Touching Evil: Scalping: Part 2 (1998)
Season 1 was okay. I like the female lead cop a lot. The script is...alright. But season 2. You mean to tell me that the police have zeroed in on a serial killer. They are on him. And they can not get cars over there. They have one bungling idiot following who stands and watches as the killer over powers a victim. They are actively wrestling 5 ft from him. Yet he hides behind a tree to wait...for what exactly. Our hero arrives and the killer point blank slices the woman's throat, then jumps down a 6 foot drop, and jumps on top of the cop with a knife. All along the cop has had his gun trained om him. This has got to be the most inept police force ever. And they are the elite LOL>
Five Fingers (2006)
I love this type of movie: of two wills battling each other in one room. And more and more of the truth slowly emerges. The 7 stars are for the plot and for Laurence Fishburne, who once again proves to be one of the more intense actors around. Co,m meany, although in a small role is forceful and believable. But what pretty much ruined the film for me is Ryan Phillipe. I know this is just me, but I don't like him as an actor much at all/ Lord knows how he keeps landing these fairly big roles. It seems he wanted to do some "acting". He over emotes in most scenes, and that accent.Memories of Kevin Costner in 'Robin Hood'. I kept having to laugh. It was the most ridiculous potpourri of garbled nonsense. And had zero to do with a Dutch accent. To anyone who has seen the film: why even bother with the accent? It had nothing to do with the plot.
But I do think one gets used to it. I think he sort of forgot about thr accent after a while LOL. Decent flic; carried by Fishburne.
The Paperboy (2012)
I saw this film, I guess by accident. Just kind of flipping channels. I got caught up in the strong acting portrayals. Nicole Kidman is fantastic, not the usual ice queen. Matthew as always is great. Zac and Macy too, but who blew me away was John Cusack. I literally did not recognize him. I'm not much of a fan, because he always seems to play the same role. That is why IMO he was outstanding here. Mind you - it is not a likable roe; a maniac. But one often sees an actor who has been to clammed up trying to break free from that mold, and maybe take on a mentally challenged role, or disabled, or a crime lord. So often these performances fail. JC did well here.
The Last Dance (2020)
Very well done
Excellent documentary. I want to make clear that I am giving 10 stars to the film maker; not to Jordan. yes, Jordan is the GOAT; no doubt. But this is about more than that, and if anything this series underscores that. As a human being he does come of as petty, vindictive, w/o much empathy. So when he does praise someone, or his relationship with someone it rings hollow because usually this means it is about someone who deferred to him. I will never forget watching his HOF induction, and how surprised, and taken aback I was at his speech.
I liked how the episodes were set up - Pippen , Rodman, Jackson basically get their own segments. The film makers go pretty deep. Relationships are explored, grudges are explained. I do wish that Scottie could have got even more time. IMO there is a big mystery in him. As a human beings, he and Rodman are more fascinating than MJ. Great series.
A Simple Plan (1998)
Wanted to like it
There's a good many movies out there now, where all I can see is "acting". Maybe this was when BBT was still staking his claim as actor. But I'm over it. And Bridget Fonda was so bad it was almost laughable. There was zero chemistry in their marriage and relationship.I thought all secondary characters did a much better job. Paxton was good. The screenplay seemed okay, and production too - there was just something lacking in the depth of character development; subtleties. You don't just go from a woman with morals, expecting a baby, to a conniving, plotting witch. Yes, the tale is about how money will corrupt even the most decent folk; but these changes are more insidious; and will sneak up on you. It seems to me that a different director could have done this better.
Ya no estoy aqui (2019)
Loved this film. It is one of the first films in Netflix endless array of disposable clips. The actors are wonderful, naturals. It is mainly about their culture, their dance, and cut in flare ups of hard violence. You can see the Aztec influence in their dancing, in their look. Great film.
Space Force (2020)
It has nothing to d with "the Office" syndrome. To be honest - I didn't really think about the connection. It was the weak plotting and story lines. and this is not the type show that relies on sketch after sketch. this wants to be a story. But what kind? Why is his wife in prison? We are watching some hoaky episodes about him trying to connect with his daughter; then we get the clever political jabs; then we are seeing physical humor, people falling down; is it a buddy show? I thought there is a huge gaping divide between two classes of actors and acting. You have Carrel, Malkovich, and F Tony (cant recall his real name), and everyone else that was Hollywood 101 at best. every mannerism, lame '20 jokes. I will say: episode 2 was hilarious. I am not exagerating when I say I was on the floor laughing.
I'm just not sure what I really feel from this film. It is a great idea; and the train of thought, and side issues it brings up are very fascinating. I finally decided to view the film as an exercise. A long drawn out 'what if' scenario. The big obvious question is "would the Beatles songs stand up again? Was it just a matter of the times and fashion? Was it the four guys?" And the clear reply is 'No'. Those songs are so universal, so exuberant and timeless, that the genius shines through in all settings, on every level. If anything it showed up today's age; how vapid the pop machine has become. And to what denominator the machine appeals. The only Beatles song that comes up short IMO is "All you need is Love". I was imagining someone coming up with that song today, and how it would be used, and pushed, and I could easily feel how much I would hate the song. The Beatles did everything right. It was genius. The film does try to show what we expect now. There is little to no subtlety allowed in music anymore. People have to, or want to, be hit over the head with any message or sentiment. otherwise it doesn't count. So "USSR" is done Ramones style; John's real meaning of "Help" gets exagerated to the point of the singer screaming in a deranged manner. whereas Lennon knew that singing "Help" or "I'm a Loser" straight was powerful enough. The whole extended cameo of Ed Sheeran was ....confusing. I guess it made sense plot-wise. Someone needed to 'discover' him. And it also underscored this idea of the masses needing to be told. The room does not erupt in applause until Ed gives the OK, the first clap. Personally I don't think too much of his music, and he is IMO very unlikable, but it has to commended that he offered himself up to be 'sacrificed'. Someone needed to lose out to the Beatles songs. And someone needed to come up with the idiotic line "Hey Dude" LOL. Once again it is just so amazing to realize how those songs are in a completely different league. Untouchable. For reviewers who say "interesting concept; should have been developed more", I have to wonder how that could be done. Because I initially thought the same thing. But then I ask myself how exactly? Don't know how many stars to put here. As love story, and supporting cast, production values etc go, it is all run of the mill, very average. From a musician's POV it is fascinating, and also insanely annoying. Watching those cutesy recording sessions with those idiotic grins,and those rubber gloves was a chore. But re a storyline, or any kind of drama I think the two people who "know" - that whole angle could have been done with more flair. And then the 'confession' is kind of a joke. Yes, the audiences love a story of redemption; especially if there is love involved, but it all plays out in under 2 minutes LOL. I mean Milli Vanilli are still pariahs today LOL.
House of Cards (2013)
One thing I noticed
I won't review seasons or episodes. Everyone knows the show. It's pretty good. I just wanted to note a curiosity: why is it on these shows where there is a couple at the center, that the writers seem to have a hard time making the wife likable? This occurs in 'Breaking'Bad', 'Ozarks', and here in 'House of Cards'. They are both corrupt for various reasons, and to differing degrees. Yet the man, no matter how evil and twisted his shenanigans and crimes, still manages to come out of it fairly unscathed, and as some kind of anti-hero.
The Interview (1998)
The longer the film went on, the more it took me back to the old time film noir style. Even the slight over-the top acting. Loved the premise, the duel between the two principals. Also liked the cop's sidekick a lot. he had some of the film's best lines. This movie reminded me very much of one of my favorite dark horse flics called "Deceiver". A similar scenario taking place in the South of US.
I see that Weaving is getting a lot of praise here, but IMO he was the weaker part of the film.The cop was fantastic. His eyes alone.. But Weaving was just a bit too hot and cold, black and white. IMO there was not all that much subtlety in his depictions. Also, the side story of the commissioner and the cop was a bit vague. That is why it is 8 stars. Still, very much recommended.
Dead to Me (2019)
I just could not stay w/ it
Season 2 Epi 4. And I had to stop. Season 1 was pretty good. But Season 2 - do they ever stop crying? And saying "I'm sorry"? Maybe it was intended as a 'thing', but it got old real fast. And while Season 1 actually presented a fairly realistic, and intelligent premise; some real mind twists on relationship, conscience, grief, guilt; Season 2 is just plain silly. "Weekend at Bernie"? They cant deal with the body. Cop shows up, kid walks in, rats and exterminator, power goes out; finally they get rid of it, and we don't even see it. Then the identical twin brother walks in - are you joking LOL? I like Linda actress; actually I like Cristina too. Season 2 was lousy.
Norm Macdonald Has a Show (2018)
It does take a minute to get the timing, and the concept, and which 'Norm' we're seeing. I have always been a huge NMcD fan. I thought his News on SNL was by miles the funniest. What that show tries to put out these days is embarrassingly unfunny. I watched the D Spade segment first. The two have history, and both are very quick and slide in and out. Spade has always been this smarmy character, and I was still trying to figure out what Norm was going for. Saw Letterman, Drew, Billy Joe and IMO the best show: Michael Keaton. Norm is way out there where Andy Kaufman was. I noticed that he is like a chess player: he is about 3 moves ahead. When a guest is answering his question, he already knows and has processed the answer, asked the next question in his mind, processed THAT answer too, and is working on #3.