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Knives Out (2019)
What a waste of a stellar cast. The trailer shows almost all the scenes that the famous people are in together. The rest of the time you are watching a little known Cuban actress who is apparently the star of the movie. It's hard to believe that this is the same writer/director as Brick, which is one of my top 10 favorite movies. This movie doesn't have nearly as much sly humor as that movie. It's not particularly witty and it's not really a sendup of the genre, either. Not a complete waste of time, but not what I was hoping for either.
Charlie's Angels (2019)
My teenage daughter and I went to see it the movie and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It's exactly what it's promoted to be. It's not like you go to Charlie's Angels to be intellectually stimulated. It was a fun movie with great music and women kicking butt. The one stars views are lies.
Ad Astra (2019)
Such a wasted opportunity
A gorgeous, gorgeous film, which shows fascinating, thought-provoking depictions of space travel "in the near future" including commercial travel to the Moon and travel to Neptune, passing by Saturn and Jupiter. HOWEVER, the plot is decidedly earthbound, about unfinished business between a father and son. I expected a contemplative film, not a space adventure, but I thought there would be more consideration of existential issues. Not that relationships between fathers and sons are not existential, but, wow, this just seemed so pedestrian in the end. Do you really have to travel all the way to Neptune, at the expense of numerous crew members (whose sacrifice is treated far too casually) , just to get over the abandonment of your father (who is a celebrated astronaut, hardly a guy who went out for cigarettes and never came back...) Yikes, I really found myself wondering what they were thinking. But I'm glad I saw it for the beautiful filmmaking and for another wonderful performance by Brad Pitt.
Falling Inn Love (2019)
Exactly what you think it is
This is as formulaic as it comes. I would be much more forgiving if the leads had an iota of chemistry. Watching them kiss was truly painful. If you want to see almost the exact same movie with leads who actually seem to like each other, watch Something New (2006) with Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker. On the plus side, the scenery was genuinely lovely.
Gloria Bell (2018)
Not a comedy
I gave extra stars for great performances and great music, but this movie is not fun to watch. It's billed as romantic and a comedy, but it is neither. It's packed with scenes that go no where and characters who serve no purpose. Was her co-worker fired? Did that guy she met at the roulette table steal her purse? Half the time, I didn't know what the hell was going on. And it's pretty dark. This "free-spirited" woman is crushed by everything around her, including her children, her ex-husband, and the seemingly nice man she meets dancing one night. She does appear to regain her equilibrium by the end, but, to be totally frank, it's just not very entertaining to watch her be buffeted about by life. I thought I would leave feeling inspired (which I was very much hoping for), but, instead, I felt vaguely wounded and discouraged. Not worth $12.
Worth seeing but keep your expectations low
There is a lot to love about this film. The actors are very natural and very engaging. The star, Sunny Suljic, is quite a find. There are a number of very moving scenes between the characters - we all have our burdens to bear.
The skating is great, but there isn't tons of it - don't go to the movie expecting it to be Lords of Dogtown or something like that. These boys hang around, talk smack, and do a bit of skating.
I have a major and a minor complaint about the movie. The minor one is what I thought was a really gratuitous scene between an older girl and the main character, Stevie (who is supposed to be 13 years old, but he looks younger, and the actor playing him IS younger) - we don't actually see them fooling around, but he talks about it (graphically) afterward. I thought the actor (and the character) was awfully young to include that. Why not something more sweet, more appropriate? It definitely affected my feelings about the film and my willingness to recommend it to others.
The major complaint is that there's just not enough "there" there. The movie isn't even 90 minutes long. I think if you're going to ask your audience to spend $12.50 at the multiplex, you should give them something substantial. It feels like the first HALF of a great movie. Jonah Hill introduces so many relationships and characters that never really get addressed: the mom, for example, and especially the brother - what's his deal? And the tension between the two friends who are moving in different directions seems defused by a terrible car accident caused by the one character's drinking. Are we supposed to think that all is forgiven? It just felt very unfinished, very unaddressed. I felt a bit cheated and I almost felt like Jonah Hill was just lazy, or couldn't be bothered to flesh out the film and do the work to complete it. I would certainly have a hard time heartily recommending the film, though it has some powerful moments. A fine first effort, I suppose, but not quite what I was hoping.
A Perfect Getaway (2009)
I stumbled on this 2009 movie over the weekend looking for something to watch. I normally would not have chosen a movie that looks like a cheap thriller in the line of The Ruins, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is entertaining and, well, surprising. It stars Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich, as well as Timothy Olyphant, who is one of my celebrity crushes, and the main reason that I watched it at all. It was made by David Twohy, who is best known for Pitch Black and Riddick. Not sure why so many of the users here complain about the ending - it was explained adequately in my opinion, and if it was contrived, that doesn't detract from the general entertainment value of the film. It didn't change my life, but it was a fun 2 hours.
I Feel Pretty (2018)
This movie is GREAT - for the LADIES!
DON'T PAY ANY ATTENTION to the many dismissive reviews on this site. If you're a guy between the ages of 16 and 35, this movie is not targeted to you! It's for me, a "middle aged" woman. Sorry to break it to you, but some movies are made for us! And if you "never" liked Amy Schumer, you probably aren't going to like this movie because, shocker, it has Amy Schumer in it.
I laughed a lot and so did the other people in the theater with me. And the message is wonderful - that confidence helps you accomplish your goals, so stop listening to that negative voice in your head. A very entertaining film with lots of fun cameos like Lauren Hutton and Naomi Campbell.
Women's comedies are held to an impossible standard! And to people who are complaining about the "politics" of this film, get outta here. Bridesmaids, the most lauded comedy of the 21st century, had some pretty messed up "politics" and that didn't stop people from plunking down their dollars.
Just grab a sister or a friend and see this movie - you'll be glad you did!
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Yes, Italy is beautiful
I finally saw this Oscar nominee (just one week before the award show!) and I was so disappointed - it was long, slow, and not very romantic. And I don't think a director should get any credit for making Italy look beautiful! Apparently in the book, Oliver is 24, but Armie Hammer is 31, and he looks it, and his age is rather distracting because the relationship borders on inappropriate already, but those extra years make the relationship even less appealing. The men take forever to connect and it's not like you're really rooting for them. Elio is a spoiled brat who spends most of his time glowering at everyone. He even expresses his desultory attitude to Oliver in an early conversation - he clearly has no idea how privileged he is, to lounge around Italy all summer, doing whatever he wants, unaccountable to his indulgent parents. As an audience member, I wasn't very invested in his getting his supposed heart's desire. Nor did the men have much chemistry. Oliver says late in the movie, "I love the way you say things." I thought, what? How many conversations did they even have? Mostly they road bikes, and went swimming, and laid in the grass. Elio's father speech, which so many consider a highlight of the film, I found contrived - like what the writer imagined his father would say, or what he wished his father had said - about how pure his love with Oliver was. I have seen many films that I think portray that first love experience in a more compelling way for the audience (I would strongly recommend Beautiful Thing if you're a fan of this genre). I gave it 5 stars for boldness and great performances. The very best movie of the year? Um, no. I was expecting something much more charming and moving.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
I only went to this movie because my kids were excited to see it. Wow, just too dumb for words. And so retro, and not in a good way. Every female character either sits behind a computer or is there for window dressing. And such a waste of the monumental talents of Julianne Moore. It very much has the feel of the Bond movies of the past, and I don't mean that as a compliment: the men race around, magically dodging bullets, while the women wear sexy clothing and make goo-goo eyes at the big strong men. WTH? I have to rewatch Wonder Woman just to get the bad taste out of my mouth. And the laws of physics do not apply to this universe, wherever it is. I know it's escapism, but it's the worst possible kind. I really thought that we had entered a new era of action movies, with a more nuanced take on plots, character development, and relationships. This movie is a dinosaur. Bleh. I gave the movie 2 stars - one for the weird but delightful presence of Elton John (and great use of his music), and one for the weird anti anti-drug message and the mocking of a foolish, small-minded president.
Jane Got a Gun (2015)
I went into this movie with no expectations, and was pleasantly surprised. It's being called "slow," which I suppose it is, by Thor and Iron Man standards, but not in a way that bothered me - I wasn't expecting an action-packed story, because, well, I don't mind if a movie has dialog. I thought the pacing was great, and I loved the way the audience slowly finds out what happened, through flashbacks from several different points of view. I didn't mind that Jane wasn't a super hero, just a determined woman, who was strong because life demanded it of her. It felt very realistic. It's not a perfect movie, but it's worth seeing for great performances and gorgeous scenery (filmed on location in New Mexico). I think this movie will do well on video or streaming, if it finds the right audience (that is, people like me) - I'm certainly telling my friends about it.
Holiday Engagement (2011)
Could have been so much better
I just wanted a sweet holiday movie, but this one just isn't worth it. The leads are both easy on the eyes and appealing, but they have no particular chemistry. And the movie is just stuffed with ridiculous clichés and plot lines going nowhere. Several things are played, inappropriately, for laughs, including the father's legal trouble and Jason/David's religion (being Jewish). Shelley Long is fine, but I didn't even recognize her until halfway through the movie - her talents are wasted in such a subdued role. The movie had a lot of potential, but the writers couldn't be bothered. Clichés in holiday movies are expected and not unwelcome, but at least allow your characters to act like real people.
Drinking Buddies (2013)
This is why people hate independent films. I love independent films, just not one that epitomizes what (can be) wrong with them. This film could literally be 45 minutes long. The director insists on extending shots that would be much more effective if they were shorter: for example, people driving in awkward silence in a car - the camera lingers and lingers on them, as if the director thinks that the audience needs time to understand. We got it, it's awkward, there's tension. This happens repeatedly. The actors are terrific, but the story is frustrating. I don't need a Hollywood ending, but after awhile, these two people, that you're initially rooting for, are just manipulative and annoying and foolish. And Ron Livingston is heinously wasted, disappearing halfway through. What looked like it would be a charming gem turned out to be just a forgettable waste of time.
The Wedding Pact (2014)
Had potential which was not realized
This might be the worst movie I've ever seen. It comes across like someone's film school project. The idea is cute, but the script is awful, just packed with clichés and utterly predictable. The acting isn't bad, but the filmmaker gave them nothing to work with. I gave it 2 stars because I liked the use of flashbacks to catch the audience up on what happened, not just in college but in previous scenes. And the music was good. But otherwise, this is a real disappointment, and my standards are really not that high for romantic comedies - a couple of appealing leads and a smidge of cuteness, and I'm happy. This was painful to watch. And the message is simply awful. Jake is the most heinous individual imaginable - if Mitch really cared for her, how could he possibly let Elizabeth marry him? And how oblivious and stupid is Elizabeth that she can't see what kind of person Jake is? She tells Mitch she's marrying Jake because "he asked her" - what kind of lame reason is that for a modern woman about to get her social work degree? And the mom is the worst of all - she's willing to sell her lovely daughter to that repulsive man and his even worse father, just to keep her house? Get a job, you lazy cow - all she does is sit on the couch and watch TV all day. How did this movie get financed when there are a billion scripts in turnaround?
Lay the Favorite (2012)
If you can get through the excruciating first half of this movie, it's fairly entertaining. The first 45 minutes are confusing and dull as hell, and I almost turned it off (watching on DVD) because I just didn't care about the people or the events unfolding. How can you set a movie in Vegas, and have this amazing cast, and end up with such a mediocre result? It's based on a memoir that, by all accounts, is funny and extremely entertaining, but something clearly has been lost during the translation to the screen. The second half is better - it comes together, the characters become a bit more multi-dimensional, and there finally seems to be some point. But overall, this movie is a wasted opportunity and it's greatest value may be for insomniacs.
The Hunger Games (2012)
Terrific adaptation, and yet
I really enjoyed the movie - it's beautifully made, wonderfully acted, and very well adapted from the book. Jennifer Lawrence carries the movie, and does a great job. I liked the scenes that the movie added, like the Gamemakers during the game - something the book couldn't have included, because it's all from Katniss's point of view. That said, I do have a some complaints:
For an almost 2 1/2 hour film, it doesn't feel very epic. The pacing is a little off. (SPOILER ALERT) The climax, when Cato is killed, feels rather muted and not very dramatic. Because you spend the book inside Katniss's head, the fear, anxiety, and, especially, the urgency of her situation are much more powerful than they are in the movie.
In general, the relationships Katniss has with other characters, especially with Peeta and Rue, are understated compared to the book, and don't come across as strong, as complex, and as important as they are in the book
A couple of very significant things have been left out, which makes the movie less intense, less moving, and less meaningful compared to the book:
- Madge, the mayor's daughter, gives the mockingjay pin to Katniss before she leaves District 12, and insists that she wear it in the arena. We later discover that the pin is the symbol of the rebellion. In the movie, Katniss buys the pin from a junk dealer in the market, so it's significance is completely stripped away. I can understand the film needing to eliminate some characters, but this scene in the book is 1/2 a page, and very important, so it seems an odd deletion. (SPOILER ALERT) Even stranger, Cinna, who we later discover (in the second book and presumably in the second movie) is also involved in the rebellion, gives the pin to Katniss to wear on her uniform in the arena - this scene IS in the movie, but it doesn't mean the same thing.
- Katniss sings in both the book and the movie, to Prim and to Rue. It's sweet. But in the book, it's especially poignant and significant because singing is something that represents Katniss's father, with whom she was very close. He taught her to hunt and to recognize edible plants (central to her survival in the Games), and he taught her a bunch of songs which appear over and over in the books. Losing him is one of the defining moments of her life, and it greatly shaped her character. This entire relationship is eliminated from the movie - no flashbacks, virtually no references to him in dialog. Discarding this important person takes some of the heart out of the story and out of Katniss's character.
- The cave scene in the movie is well done, but it leaves out a great deal about both the history of Peeta and Katniss, and several elements of their developing relationship. Perhaps most significant is Peeta telling Katniss how he fell in love with her - in the movie, he tells her she sang the Valley Song at school. In the book, he explains that his father was in love with her mother, but her mother married a coal miner (someone below her station) because when he sang, the birds stopped to listen, and when Katniss sang the Valley Song in school, the birds stopped to listen. The scene is the book is very important and meaningful, but in the movie, it's just sort of cute, because they left out everything that was weighty and significant about Peeta's story.
- Another important aspect to the Peeta and Katniss relationship that the movie eliminates unnecessarily - when Peeta gives Katniss the bread, 1) she suspects (and the reader knows) that he burned it on purpose so he could give it to her, despite being harshly punished by his mother, and 2) she was completely at the end of her rope and starving, and his kind act saved her and the lives of her family members (her raison d'etre throughout the entire series), both by providing immediate sustenance, and, perhaps even more importantly, by giving her hope (hope - which happens to be a major theme in the series - the movie even adds a terrific scene, where President Snow explains the role of hope to Seneca Crane). The deliberation behind Peeta's action is left out of the movie completely, though it is central to the way Katniss sees Peeta and, perhaps more importantly, central to the way the reader/viewer sees Peeta - several movie reviews I've read talk about how insubstantial Peeta is, and I think it's partly because the film misrepresented this very important part of the story.
Also, they left out some great lines - when Peeta tells Haymitch "She has no idea the impression she makes." and when Katniss tells Peeta, "You're not going to die, I forbid it." I know they can't include everything, but certain lines of dialog are so memorable and so representative of a character or of a relationship, they seem almost mandatory!
Again, I thought the movie was great, and it's making oodles of money, so clearly fans like it too. But, in my opinion, it does not adequately capture what makes the books so compelling and resonant and emotionally satisfying.
I hated this movie, mostly because it could have been so much more interesting than it was. It was very stylized (a la Tarantino), which is memorable in its way, but ultimately there was so little "there" there. I thought Ryan Gosling's performance was a real tour de force - you never doubted that his character was all the many, many things that he revealed himself to be. But the intriguing relationships, between Driver and Irene, and especially between Shannon and Driver, and even between Shannon and Bernie, were introduced and then abandoned for a trite gangster plot that's been done about a thousand times before, though (minor spoiler alert) the shot of the 2 men's shadows at the end was almost worth sitting through the gruesome endless violence - this movie had more corpses littered about the stage than a Shakespearean tragedy. I was enthralled during the first half of the movie, but just irritated by the second half, and so disappointed. Is that all the filmmaker wanted to say?
The American (2010)
I didn't find this movie boring in the sense that many reviewers on this site did - I wasn't expecting a fast paced, Bourne-style, action thriller. I was expecting an intelligent character study, and instead I got a lot of gratuitous nudity and clichés galore. This is what a reviewer of the novel said about it: "Haunting, shocking, and tense, Booth's story is a charismatic blend of psychological thriller, vivid drama, searing morality tale, and profound psychological study. His writing is crisp yet lyrical, simple yet intelligent. Readers looking for thought-provoking literary fiction can't do any better than this." If Clooney and the director thought that they translated the fundamental tone and meaning of the novel to the screen, I'm here to tell them that they did not. Searing morality tale? Uh, no. Profound psychological study? Not at all. Cliché-ridden head scratcher? Why, yes. Battle scarred loner finds love and redemption only when he has sex with gorgeous hooker with a heart of gold. Bleh. Seen it, seen it, seen it. The Italian countryside is pretty though. I'm assuming that the location's proximity to GC's villa is his main motivation for making this. If you haven't seen it yet, spend your two hours on something else.
I'm a little surprised at the many one-star reviews for this film. My son (age 11) and I watched it one day when he was home sick, and we found it perfectly good entertainment. The acting was fine, the effects were decent, and there was a coherent story. That's a LOT more than I can say for other straight-to-video movies that we've watched, including 2012: Supernova and others of that ilk. Of course we noticed right away that The Rock was not involved, so perhaps we adjusted our expectations accordingly, and therefore were not as disappointed as other users on this site. Of course it's derivative of other mythologies, but that's not really a bad thing, when you're looking for an escapist 2 hours. As a side note, I enjoyed the main female character, who is pretty, but also strong and feisty - so often I almost grind my teeth down to nubs at the offensive way that women are portrayed in action movies - stupid, helpless, and clearly only there so the camera can linger on their cleavage and other, er, assets.
I knew nothing about this movie when I picked it, which I did only because it has animals, which my 7 year old daughter loves. It was a bit offbeat, but also quite fun, with great animation (much more attractive than most computer-generated movies made for kids) and surprisingly catchy songs (far better than the saccharine numbers in most straight-to-video fare). The voice cast was excellent also, including Rob Reiner, Sid Caesar, and Chaka Khan (!) Even my 11 year old son, who considers himself way above kid movies like this, got caught up watching it. We all enjoyed it. And I appreciated the message, about being true to your friends and yourself, and I liked the "around-the-world" aspect, because the animals visited several locales that my kids don't know much about. It gets harder and harder to find movies we can watch together as a family, but this one fits the bill very nicely.
The Eagle (2011)
I really enjoyed the movie Centurion, which is also a fictionalized story around the loss of the Ninth in northern Briton, and I'm a fan of both Channing Tatum and especially Jamie Bell, but ultimately this movie did not live up to its early potential. The actors give strong performances, and there are wonderful secondary characters, who mostly have too little screen time. The cinematography is quite good and they use the gorgeous locale to excellent effect. But the story is cliché and some of the dialog, especially toward the end, is cringe-worthy. I think these actors and this historical period deserve better. Also, I don't mean to insult the actors, or belittle male bonding, but there were several scenes where I thought that Marcus and Esca were going to kiss. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this becomes a cult favorite among gay men.
Made in Dagenham (2010)
This is not quite the giggle fest that the promos lead me to think it would be. It's more along the lines of "A League of Their Own" - a light touch in some places, but some poignant scenes as well. I would say the movie is almost as good as "Iron-Jawed Angels," in terms of giving a sense of what we owe the women that came before us and paved the way with their determination and their commitment to principles.
A real tour de force for Sally Hawkins as Rita, but there's not an off performance in the entire movie. Rosamund Pike is luminous as always, and Miranda Richard, though not in many scenes, reminds us yet again of just what a powerhouse she is.
The men are great too, including Bob Hoskins as Albert, who helps the women early on (his character disappears way too soon), Richard Schiff as the Ford rep from the US, and especially Daniel Mays as Rita's husband Eddie - their relationship grounds the movie in the reality of day-to-day life.
Really worth watching, I'm just sorry that the movie wasn't marketed more aggressively, so that more people would have seen it.
My Sassy Girl (2008)
Good not great
First, let me say that I didn't know this was a remake of a Korean film, so this review will not be a comparison of the two movies, it just discusses the merits of this one.
I wanted to like this movie, partly because I really like Jesse Bradford, but mostly because I really love offbeat romantic comedies, and this certainly qualifies as that. I did like this movie, but I didn't love it.
I think it gets better in the second half, especially after you find out more about Jordan's character. Before you understand her, she's just a really annoying person, and I couldn't imagine what this kind and gentle young man could possibly see in her.
I think this movie works, but it's pretty far along the continuum of offbeat. I wouldn't discourage people from seeing this, but if you've read this far, I'll make a pitch for some offbeat romances that I liked better: Maze (2000) with Rob Morrow and Laura Linney, Dedication (2007) with Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore (don't scoff, she was great in this), Elvis and Anabelle (2007) with Max Minghella and Blake Lively. Check out all 4 of these, if you like romance without the cookie-cutter Hollywood banalities.
Good but ultimately disappointing
I liked this movie a lot, for all the reasons that have been so ably stated in the many user reviews that I read - great performances, sensitive and realistic portrayal of Asperger's, etc etc. I would have given it a higher rating, but ultimately I thought the movie was frustrating and unsatisfying.
**SPOLIER ALERT** I thought the movie ended up being quite inconsistent with it's own stated philosophy: at the beginning of the movie, Beth says that she learned everything about love from Adam, and later says, quoting her father, that loving is more important that feeling loved. But the movie resolved the relationship between Beth and Adam in the exact opposite way - she decided that she did not "feel loved" by Adam enough to join him in California, and the type of love that he offered was not enough for her. I'm not saying that's inauthentic for the character or the situation, only that it's not what the movie told us it was going to be about. I don't need a "happily ever after" ending, I just want the movie to be true to it's own stated philosophy of life. I was particularly surprised that Beth chose to end her relationship with Adam, as she had been encouraged to do by her father. I felt like the audience was supposed to think the father was wrong about Adam, the same way that he was wrong about other things.
I liked the movie and I liked the relationship between Beth and Adam, and the way it developed, but I thought the ending was ridiculous. I thought it was surprising and unrealistic that Adam moves to California and gets settled without any help at all. I also thought it was unlikely that he would understand what Beth meant by writing the children's book about him. I felt like the rug got pulled out from under me, and I was left scratching my head over the message of this movie.
I think Maze, about a man with Tourette's, and Dedication, about a man with OCD, were both more interesting and more satisfying portrayals of "troubled" men falling in love with "normal" women.
One more thing, which I feel compelled to mention - why was Rose's father Jewish? The family's religion serves no purpose in the larger story (the way it does in, say, Liberty Heights), and the father's character is shown to be deeply flawed, in both business and his personal affairs. So making him Jewish, frankly, seems to just affirm a stereotype about greedy businessmen. I was a bit offended by this, and it affected the way I felt about an otherwise lovely film which addresses an important issue.
Furry Vengeance (2010)
My kids loved it
I have to admit that I thought this movie was incredibly stupid, but my kids loved it, and afterall, it was made for them, not for me. They laughed up a storm and gave it 10/10 when I asked them (my rating of 6 is an average of their score and mine!)
As other reviewers have written, you have to give the cast credit for giving it their all, even if it was in pursuit of a rather questionable goal. We watched the gag reel and Making Of video on the DVD, and they clearly had a ball making this movie. I also give them credit for shoehorning in a great message about protecting forests - it's never bad for kids to hear that.
If you're expecting a deep, meaningful movie experience, this ain't it, but if you and your kids want some cheap laughs, this is a safe bet.