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Additionally, I'm rather proud to say that my first ever visit to the movie theatre was for a viewing of Return of the Jedi at age three. The audience cheered at the appearance of Darth Vader.
Few television programs catch my interest. I watch TV mainly for factual information--news, sports, weather, documentaries, Jeopardy! I also watch South Park when I can. Otherwise I don't even have cable.
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Hollywood Southern sounds rather unconvincing and, quite frankly, annoying.
I've lived in Southeast US-Appalachia-Mid Atlantic for 40 years. No white folks down here talk like the ones in this film. They're called "actors" (a few A-listers in this cast) and they were terrible at being Southern.
Obviously director William H. Macy did not grow up down South. He very easily could have consulted, say, Lucas Black, Michael Rooker, Billy Bob Thornton, Matthew Mahogany, Danny MacBride, Robert Patrick for help in the Southeastern dialect department.
A few other flaws, like the unrealistically fast-paced AA meetings and the stoner physician, also played a part in the total failure of this here picture. But nothing was as blatantly fake as the accents from the start.
The story was good. But from the very beginning of the movie when the main character began narrating, the faux twang was a dealbreaker for me. I finished it, nevertheless. As I lectured myself on the chunk of my life that I wasted viewing Krystal, I decided to vent my anger right here, right nizz-ow. Honestly it was Rosario Dawson that enticed my curiosity, which is rather ironic because basically that's what the movie is about; a kid falls for a gorgeous woman, again.
A straight-to-video movie that somehow ended up on the big screen.
I felt like I was watching a movie made for Lifetime--Television for Women or one of the crime networks. The performers were not very well coached and quite emotionless, except for the jury's reaction to a photo of a dead baby (which I anticipate all twelve actors and actresses to at least receive an Oscar nomination for this short but powerful scene). The dialogue was choppy. Most of the verbal exchanges must have had only been done in one take.
However, I understand that the producers of this work were not aiming to clean house at the Academy Awards this winter. The story was compelling with some rather disturbing details of this doctor's misfit practice. Sure, there was creative room for some graphic medical imagery, yet this was not made as a horror flick or crime thriller with the intent to shock viewers.
Don't expect a blockbuster. Try not to fall asleep.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
A promising start that escalates into absurdity.
Here is a story that begins to portray real-life scenarios and creates a deep history with the main couple, but gradually declines into an unrealistic ending.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 immediately calls upon the audience to connect with the central character, Bradley Thomas (played by Vince Vaughn), as he experiences significant losses early in the plot, at which time we also learn of his almost superhuman strength. Fast forward 1.5 years and Thomas & family are well-to-do. But reality begins to blur when a careless business deal turns into disaster during a shootout with the cops. It's also in this scene where the incompetence of law enforcement is exposed which allows Thomas to carry out his very unrealistic string of brutality until the very end.
I became detached during the scene in which Thomas makes his first assault against a prison guard. This point in the timeline confirmed that the rest of the film was just another piece of Hollywood garbage showing the morbidly demented creativity of movie producers in glamorizing bloody (and rather crunchy) savagery. Besides there's no way that law enforcement would allow one prisoner to carry on with violence for as long as Thomas did.
Additionally, I was quite unconvinced with the lack of emotion in Vaughn's character. It seems like he didn't mind being in prison considering he would be missing the first years of his yet-to-be daughter's life. Vince Vaughn is much better suited, and more appreciated, for comical roles. Sure, he's a big fellow, but this does not make him an ideal candidate for the tough and menacing parts.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 is entertainment for fans of gratuitous violence, but concludes in a very disconnected reality.
An unrealistic epic disaster sci-fi action thriller!
Rampage is one of those pictures in which the viewer has to surrender all reasoning and think creatively before making a commitment to watching it. This whopper of a motion picture contains ample fodder for the desperate moviegoer including far-fetched plot details, fast paced action sequences, multiple setting sites, just deserts, destruction & explosions, juvenile humor, guns, and just enough swearing and blood to garner a PG-13 rating.
Adding to the ridiculousness is the appropriately cast Dwayne Johnson. (Why doesn't anyone call him "The Rock" anymore? He's not grown up enough to go by his legal name.) Once again The Rock saves the day, and the world, from complete ruin as not only his physique, but also his character's military experience enables him to: survive being knocked around, operate various military vehicles and weaponry, kick in security doors, break out of plastic handcuffs at just the right moment, escape from a crashing plane while securing parachutes on two other escapees, completely ignore the close range gunshot to his abdomen, crash land a helicopter, and keep his composure while exchanging juvenile insults in the other guy's face.
I did not see any previews for this piece of work, but saw it simply for nostalgic purposes. Rampage conjured memories of the '80s when we'd take family trips to the mall in Pensacola or Mobile and Dad would give me and my two older brothers each a dollar to blow in the arcade lined with upright and seated video game consoles including Double Dragon, Punch Out, Spy Hunter, Excitebike, Dig Dug, Ikari Warriors, Operation Wolf and Rampage. Thanks to the producers for an indirect homage to those long extinct venues by including a shot of the destruction of a Dave & Buster's locale.
Much like the coin operated video games of yore, Rampage is one of those pictures that movie producers use to lure shallow consumers for an easy and overpriced buck. Have fun!
A Quiet Place (2018)
Delivers quick thrills, but lacks in depth and logic.
Having seen just one theatrical preview for A Quiet Place, I did not take a vested interest in seeing the full-length version. Due to constraints in my day's itenerary, and at a runtime under 90 minutes (excluding closing credits), this was the only movie I could pencil in. My entertainment quota was filled with the rather impressive dosage of mounting intensity and nerve wracking close calls combined with the proficient stage presence of husband-wife duo John Krasinski & Emily Blunt.
All credibility that this title merits ends at the commendations found in the previous sentence. Any slightly intelligent viewer should pick up on several inconsistencies and unanswered questions by the film's end. The first of two prevalent issues that I noticed addresses the creatures' existence as there is no explanation of their origin and purpose. Sure, the idea of a blind monster with hypersensitive hearing was novelty, but the reasoning behind their hostility is in question as it is evident that they do not kill for food considering the discovery of a fresh, almost intact corpse in one scene. Also, I am puzzled as to why the protagonists waited for so long to kill off the creatures if doing so was as simple as drawing them in close enough to blast them in the head. These and other inconsistencies were enough to garner a 5 out of 10 rating.
A Quiet Place could have been a much better place. Perhaps another 20 minutes could have been sufficient to fill the holes in this dramatic disappointment. You'll find monstrous tension there, but you'll also find many other unresolved questions.
Not even Sam Rockwell's stellar performance could save this one.
After spending almost thirty years in the Hollywood circuit, Sam Rockwell finally won his first Academy Award in acting at the 90th installment. Reaching that pinnacle had to begin somewhere. This pathetic piece of cinematic rubbish known as "Clownhouse" served as Rockwell's first stepping stone on his way to an Oscar win. Granted, I have not seen all of Rockwell's performances. But I have seen enough to know that he's an ideal candidate for the role of a cocky alpha bully, revealed here in his earliest cinematic effort.
However, despite Rockwell's competence, Clownhouse is a sad failure. Everyone else onscreen seemed like they were at a casting audition which led me to think that the producers must have chosen the performers on a first-come, first-cast basis. Director Victor Salva failed in coaching the performers to be more natural, less robotic and overall complementary to the film's best actor. The music was well composed, but needed to be performed by an arrangement of instruments and not on a synthesizer. Also, I was let down by the clowns themselves as the idea of coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns, was built up so much. Furthermore, the jump scenes were not surprising. The violence content was rather mild and lacked much blood for a horror title. I guess that the R-rating was awarded for the generous amount of profanity, spewed mostly from Rockwell's mouth. Otherwise this would have garnered a PG-13 or softer rating.
This could have been a much better production and would undoubtedly do good as a remake. As stated above, Sam Rockwell was a solid character in this particular selection which is the only reason I recommend sitting through it.
Letdown. Much better war-related fiction exists.
As an Afghanistan & Iraq veteran, I'm not fond of movies that use Hollywood actors to recreate what they will likely never experience firsthand. Contrarily, having voluntarily watched this picture makes me, I guess, the bigger sucker. Nevertheless, here's my critique for this title with as little spoilers as possible:
The acting falls short of convincing, especially in Garrett Hedlund's robotic demeanor, which, ironically, belittles his portrayal of a supposedly steadfast squad-leader entrusted with keeping the integrity of his unit intact, both in and out of combat. Hedlund could have made this role as a headstrong "tough guy" more believable, much like his performance as Captain Hook in Pan. The men to whom Hedlund's character answer (virtually all fresh faces in the motion picture circuit) can all, and inevitably will, use more camera-time to build their performing skills, particularly Joe Alwyn as the titular character. Their antics remind me of Marine behavior--rambunctious & juvenile. Granted they all pretended to be infantry men, the most basic of all Army occupations which employs mostly simpleminded fellows. However, I have known these stereotypical buffoons to be rather down-to-Earth, everyday men, some with a vast knowledge of many things beyond that of my own.
Steve Martin's work was also disappointing. I could not distinguish his character's poorly-spoken stage dialect, which contained a tinge of Southern twang upon first appearing, but later seemed to fade into neutral American English. Besides, Martin is better suited and much more appreciated for his comedic roles. Ditto for Chris Tucker although his character wasn't as prominent as Martin's.
Adding to the aesthetic displeasure were NFL icons Richard Sherman and J.J. Watt, who apparently found time in their busy schedules to hastily exchange a few lines with Alwyn's character. We all know Watt dropped out of college to play football, not to become a movie star. And I expected better material from Sherman with a degree from Stanford in communication. Additionally, the story could have done without an appearance by Destiny's Child if the actual band members did not commit to making an on screen appearance.
Regarding the content, the story touched on many issues related to war, including brotherhood, politics, spirituality, the value of human life, and the characters' difficulties in adjusting to home and family. Character development was deep and calls on the viewer to make some degree of investment in each respective role.
Overall, this selection seems like it was ill-prepared in various areas of production. I'm sure that the novel on which this film is based is a much more impressive piece of work. I wasn't even planning on watching this one, but I couldn't fit Hacksaw Ridge into my schedule earlier this week. In my humble opinion, Saving Private Ryan tops all movies based on fictitious stories from historical wars.
Dirty Grandpa (2016)
Full of witless, overused eighth-grade pubic humor, Dirty Grandpa was not what I expected it to be.
Similarly and much more earlier was Johnny Knoxville and friends' Bad Grandpa which featured the same toilet humor, yet with creative practicality. Having watched the aforementioned piece, I was rather bored seeing another movie portraying a recently-widowed grandfather pursuing fulfillment of his newly revived sexuality on a haphazard road trip with his ill-fated grandson. Furthermore, Dirty Grandpa was only able to beckon the first audible chuckle from this viewer after 52 minutes of routine cinematic shenanigans with the second one occurring at 1:21.
Also, Zac Efron continues to solidify his on-screen legacy as a foul-mouthed Ken doll college carouser who inevitably winds up shirtless, at best, for the camera. Additionally, this was a blow to Robert De Niro. Sure, he's a living legend, but that credibility does not merit him with invincibility to criticism.
This selection was not a complete bust, however. Props to the producers for featuring music from Handsome Boy Modeling School. But unfortunately good music does little to redeem the quality of horrendous cinematics.
Finally, a gem from a failing genre.
Authenticity provides for a very realistic and satisfying product as is the case with Robert Eggers' inaugural cinematic effort The VVitch: A New England Folktale. Details of northern Colonial life, including Olde English dialect, clothing, buildings, and an overall sense of a primitive lifestyle, compounded with a score featuring a low-tech ensemble, validates Eggers' passion for accuracy and puts the viewer at ease with the realness of the content. Oblivious to the audience, Eggers describes in the special features material how the scent of manure on-set created a more natural atmosphere for the cast. For inspiration and legitimacy, Eggers drew from numerous accounts of historical records, college professors, and local mythology which left no room for scrutiny from subject matter experts.
Set in early 17th century New England, a family of ex-communicated Puritans with 5 young children departs the confines of their once- beloved community to pursue a better life in the name of God. However, an ominous vibe permeates the prospects of their prosperity almost immediately upon departure from civilization. Gradually the family's integrity crumbles as each member develops a suspicion of the other, not to mention Thomasin, the film's central character, whose apparent budding sexuality has made her a natural outcast.
Finally, deprived of suitable living conditions, Thomasin remains the surviving member and desolately gives in to her desires for a life of carnal pleasure at the proposal of the Devil himself. This was quite possibly the most chilling part of the movie--hearing the voice of Lucifer offscreen, in the form of the family billy goat, beckoning the hapless mortal toward salacious comfort.
A consistency of gore and violence was unnecessary for this masterpiece. Classy, clever, creative--this title fits perfectly into the genre that has too many times been a blight on the industry.
Movie 43 (2013)
I cannot believe the number of credible performers that took part in creating this heap of rubbish.
The producers that make movie trailers, or as we more appropriately call them nowadays "previews", almost unanimously score an A plus in drawing audiences in to fill theater seats. However, previews typically reveal too much plot and the viewers' expectations are seldom met once they consume the final product in it's entirety. As stated above, the previews for this title that featured many of our most beloved Hollywood icons grabbed my attention immediately. I was led to believe that this would be a fun-loving laugh-a-thon with clever jokes and convincing gags. Before too long, it was apparent that this was a multi-segmented movie with a different crew behind each sketch and by the end of the second segment, I was already let down. Regardless, I decided not to leave mid-feature for I paid good money at the box office for premium seating.
I endured the remainder of the movie having only bellowed a chuckle or two. I was actually surprised to realize that the majority of the comical content, portrayed by a plethora of well-respected performers, was eighth-grade, toilet bowl humor which I only found amusing during my adolescent years.
One positive note is that my popcorn and Coke were tasty and satisfying, so my experience wasn't a complete waste. Watch it if you'd like. I've given you fair warning.
The Green Inferno (2013)
Satisfying for fans of Eli Roth or the gore genre, but lacks any morality. It's only entertainment, people!
It's human nature to admire that which terrifies us. I subjected myself to this gore-fest last night. Critics of Steinbeck's The Red Pony vent their disgust with both the book's content and the author. Similarly, with The Green Inferno, I could rant about the tastelessness of the content or how someone so demented could produce such filth, but I was drawn to this material and voluntarily consumed it.
The story was rather simple and the performances were less than stellar. But, like with porn, I presume that anyone wishing to view this particular title doesn't do so to experience Academy-level talent. With that in mind, I was quite impressed with the carnage and visual effects; lifelike, convincing and fairly creative. Roth once again manages to shatter the shocking meter. I was so compelled that after viewing it once through that I replayed a scene that was perhaps the most disturbing part of the movie because I knew I'd probably never sit through the entirety of this one ever again.
If you're expecting gratuitous sex and nudity you'll be disappointed. I was surprised that with the number of young, attractive females we didn't see much skin, unlike Hostel or Cabin Fever.
Regarding the plot, I was disappointed with the survivor's defense of of her captors. I couldn't believe that she was willing to describe them with such dignity just to protect a few trees. Dumb!
Overall, I saw exactly what I expected to see which is the only reason I rented it. I'm looking forward to sitting through a single viewing of Roth's next craftily unpleasant picture because they all are worth seeing only once. Soak it all in the first time and enjoy!