Reviews

6,074 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Point Break (1991)
8/10
robbing safari
28 January 2021
Kathryn Bigelow's "Point Break" is, for lack of a better description, all about going to the extreme. The obvious point is the surfing (leading into the era of extreme sports), but Keanu Reeves's FBI agent gets into it while going undercover, much to the chagrin of his superior.

Basically, this movie is a true representation of what people aimed for in the '90s: a hardcore carefree lifestyle. Obviously there are some high-action sequences - namely the raid and the chase - but the surfing is the main thing. And boy does the movie make it look fun! I doubt that I'll ever go surfing, but damned if these guys aren't into it. In the meantime, I recommend the movie. I have no interest in the remake.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Mom (2013– )
9/10
Chuck Lorre, you've done it again
27 January 2021
Having created a new type of show with "The Big Bang Theory", Chuck Lorre has also given us "Mom". It's refreshing to see a show that looks at people having to do what they can in desperate situations (and in particular, one with a mainly female cast). Anna Faris, Allison Janney, and their co-stars give it their all. Definitely watch it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
John le Carré, RIP
26 January 2021
John le Carré died recently, so I decided to watch the movie adaptation of his "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", having missed it when it got released. I haven't read the book, but now I'd like to. The movie makes clear that intelligence and espionage are gritty fields. Despite there being protagonists and antagonists, no one's really a good guy; there are shady things going on everywhere.

It's one movie that really grips you and leaves you shaken. I recommend it to everyone. In addition to Gary Oldman (in an Academy Award-nominated performance), it stars John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy and Toby Jones. To put that another way, it stars Winston Churchill, Adam Sutler, George VI, Dr. Sivana, Bane and Truman Capote.

In conclusion - to riff on the Rolling Stones song that incorporates the nursery rhyme from which the novel got its title - dandelions don't tell no lies.

PS: Right before the US invaded Iraq, le Carré wrote an article titled "The United States of America has gone mad". He may have only been known as an author, but he clearly had a political consciousness.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
there are politicians who interpret this as a how-to manual
24 January 2021
Margaret Atwood's novel came to people's attention a few years ago with the release of a Hulu miniseries based on it. I've seen the miniseries but not read the book. I decided to check out the first adaptation of her portrayal of a theocratic future United States turning fertile women into sex slaves.

Volker Schlöndorff's version of "The Handmaid's Tale" depicts Gilead's ruling class as more jovial than does the miniseries; this makes their evil deeds more insidious. If you've seen the miniseries - which has apparently extended past what the novel depicts - then you'll know what to expect here, as Offred (Natasha Richardson) gets raped by the Commander (Robert Duvall) while Serena (Faye Dunaway) lies behind her to experience the supposed pleasure. There's no shortage of "praise be" and "blessed be the fruit", while LGBT people get persecuted for "gender treason". Obviously the action is more condensed due to the time constraint; scary stuff nonetheless.

If the movie seems flat, well...it's no flatter than the miniseries. I've seen far worse. I hope to eventually read the book. In addition to the aforementioned cast members, there's also Elizabeth McGovern, Aidan Quinn, Blanche Baker (Carroll Baker's daughter), Victoria Tennant (Steve Martin's ex who co-starred with him in "All of Me" and "L.A. Story") and Muse Watson (the killer in "I Know What You Did Last Summer").
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
a celebrity president ignored a pandemic (and this was before the coronavirus)
23 January 2021
In 1981, a strange illness began affecting large numbers of gay men. Eventually, it got called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS for short. By the end of the decade, it was affecting millions of people worldwide. And in the US, the celebrity president refused to acknowledge it (just like the recently departed celebrity president refused to acknowledge COVID until it reached crisis levels).

Norman René's Academy Award-nominated "Longtime Companion" looks at how the virus affects a group of friends in the New York area. Some scenes are tough to watch, as the characters grow desperate. Since I didn't come of age during that time, I missed the severity of it, but this movie gives a sense of that. I recommend it.

Assistant props manager Kelly Reichardt became a movie director in her own right, directing "Wendy and Lucy", "Meek's Cutoff" and "Certain Women".
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Crossroads (1986)
8/10
you've got the devil in your heart, and I wouldn't want it any other way
22 January 2021
Every blues fan has to know about Robert Johnson, and the urban legend that he went to the crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil for skills. Well, we have here a story loosely based on that. Walter Hill's "Crossroads" is about a man who may or may not have known Johnson, and a student who's into the blues. They're about to have an adventure like no other. Definitely.

"All music is the blues." - George Carlin
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Boy (I) (2010)
10/10
in 1984, Little Brother was watching you
20 January 2021
New Zealand's Taika Waititi is now a prominent name in cinema thanks to his irreverent "Jojo Rabbit". I decided to check out this movie of his from a decade ago. "Boy" is just a great movie. The protagonist is a Maori boy in 1984 Waihau Bay. His idols are his absentee father (played by Waititi) and Michael Jackson. Following an unexpected event, Boy has to become the head of the household.

The movie reminded me of "Jojo Rabbit" in the focus on the boy, with his father gone and how the boy has a surrogate hero (in the latter movie, Hitler is the boy's imaginary friend). Of course, here we have the Maori culture incorporated into the story: the language, the dances, and so on. The movie affirms Waititi as one of our era's greatest directors. I hope that he continues to make these sorts of movies.

Tino tirohia tenei kiriata! (I Google-translated that, so I don't know if it's right)
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Agee (1980)
9/10
Agee-ing gracefully
18 January 2021
Well, it appears that I'm the first person reviewing Ross Spears's Academy Award-nominated "Agee". This documentary focuses on writer and critic James Agee. It mostly features interviews with people who knew Agee, as well as reenactments of scenes from Agee's life and readings of his works. I've never read any of his works, but have seen some of the movies to which he contributed. The point is - and the documentary makes this clear - that James Agee was an indispensable member of the literary scene in the '30s, '40s and '50s. Whether writing about poverty, the body politic, cinema, or something else, Agee always had something to say. Anyone who wants to consider themself well-read should read at least one of Agee's works. In the meantime, do watch this documentary.

PS: Agee also wrote a review in The Nation of the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Rhapsody Rabbit", which features Bugs as a concert pianist.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
August Wilson reminds us of the blues
17 January 2021
Over the course of his career, August Wilson wrote a series of plays looking at the experiences of African-Americans in the twentieth century. A few years ago, Denzel Washington directed and starred in a big-screen adaptation of Wilson's "Fences", about an African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh. Now, Washington produces a Netflix adaptation of Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", about a recording session in 1920s Chicago. All sorts of intense things are going to arise.

This movie has partly made news as the final appearance of Chadwick Boseman, who succumbed to colon cancer a few months ago. Even beyond that, the movie has all sorts of great stuff: the music, the acting, and the setting. Boseman puts on a fine performance, as does Viola Davis as the titular character, and the rest of the cast. This is one outstanding production. Definitely see it.

Wilson-kanda forever!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
it ages like fine wine
16 January 2021
A few years ago, a movie called "Going in Style" got released, starring Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman as senior citizens who decide to pull off a heist. I soon learned that it was a remake of a 1979 movie. I've finally seen the original. Great one! George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney play the typical elderly men ignored by society at large. No wonder they decide to commit a robbery. It's not over-the-top humor in the sense of "Airplane!" or "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" but still funny enough for its brief runtime. As the previous reviewer noted, you gotta love the scene where Art Carney dances to the street music.

I guess that if it got gender-swapped nowadays, it could star Barbara Eden, Faye Dunaway and Alfre Woodard.

Martin Brest went on to direct 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop" and 1992's "Scent of a Woman", and more infamously 2003's "Gigli".
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Friz Freleng adapts Rip Van Winkle
15 January 2021
"Why Do I Dream Those Dreams" was one of Friz Freleng's early directorial efforts. In keeping with the original policy at Leon Schlesinger Productions - which released its cartoons through Warner Bros - every cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series featured a performance of the title song (the series' name was based on Disney's Silly Symphonies), while the Looney Tunes featured the studio's main stars; at the time it was a humanoid named Buddy.

Here we have an adaptation of Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle". It mostly follows the original story, with the henpecked Van Winkle heading to the forest and having a shocking experience. Previously the only version that I'd seen is Will Vinton's loose adaptation.

I understand that from the start, Freleng's major themes were show biz and matching music with action. I guess that with this short he was trying to find his way. The very next year he released the perceptive "I Haven't Got a Hat", best known as the very first appearance of Porky Pig (slightly chubbier than the Porky whom we now know). I suppose that this cartoon works as a before-they-were-famous outlet.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
there's no escape from what's in the environs
14 January 2021
"A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich" is a look at a boy in South Central LA and the lure of heroin. Although it might seem like a kids' movie, there's some gritty stuff here. Not just the drug usage, but also the reaction from the adults in the boy's life. It just goes to show that life in the ghetto doesn't let you escape the rough things; conditions only worsened in successive years.

In addition to the fine performances from Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield (who later appeared in "The Terminator"), newcomer Larry B. Scott does well in his role (he later played one of the nerds in "Revenge of the Nerds").
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Cairo Time (2009)
10/10
when I say that I've liked Patricia Clarkson in every one of her roles, you believe me
13 January 2021
Sometimes I see a movie a decade or more after it got released and feel embarrassed that I waited so long to see it. Ruba Nadda's "Cairo Time" is an example. Patricia Clarkson's presence in the movie should've given me an incentive to see it years ago; seriously, she's one actress who can do no wrong (not that I've seen, anyway). Here she plays a woman who starts up a relationship with a man while spending a few days in Egypt's capital.

The movie got made not long before Arab Spring, so I wonder how Cairo has changed since then (especially after al-Sisi took over). In the meantime, I recommend this movie, both as a look at Egypt and as a look at relationships. It's got some fine surprises in store. I'll be very eager to see Nadda's next movie, as well as Clarkson's next one.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
have a drink of this
12 January 2021
In a role far removed from Penny on "The Big Bang Theory", Kaley Cuoco plays an alcoholic flight attendant whose life gets upended. All manner of shocks come about following her one-night stand in Bangkok. It's one of the cleverest and most mind-bending shows that I've seen. Last year may have been a real dumpster fire, but it brought us some great miniseries (Hollywood, The Queen's Gambit, etc). Definitely see this one.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Suspiria (1977)
10/10
children's stuff meets terror
11 January 2021
If you know any of Dario Argento's movies, then you should have an idea of what "Suspiria" entails. However, unlike most of the giallo genre, Argento's focus on a dance academy that isn't what it seems incorporates elements of fairy tales. With color schemes based on Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves", and door handles higher than usual, there's a real feeling of children's stuff here. Mind you, there ARE quite a few shocking scenes. Those, plus the eerie soundtrack and cinematography, affirm this as a must-see masterpiece of Euro-horror. That Argento thought to cast Jessica Harper after seeing her in Brian DePalma's "Phantom of the Paradise" is another credit to DePalma's movie.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
nature is simply there
9 January 2021
Watching "The End of the Game" - I saw it on YouTube - my interpretation is that nature is simply there. It doesn't exist in relation to us; if anything, we exist in relation to it. Robin Lehman's Academy Award-winning documentary contains no dialogue or scenes of people, just plants and animals in the African wilderness. But scenes towards the end hint at human encroachment.

While plenty of people see the feature films that win Oscars, few see the documentaries. A pity since they address important topics. Free time during the coronavirus has given me opportunities to see some of these lesser-known productions. I recommend it if you get the chance.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Hester Street (1975)
10/10
Joan Micklin Silver, RIP
8 January 2021
Joan Micklin Silver died last week, so I decided to watch her directorial debut. "Hester Street" is based on Abraham Cahan's "Yekl", about Jewish immigrants in 1890s New York. The studios were convinced that audiences wouldn't be interested in a movie featuring a lot of Yiddish. Well, the movie is a fine piece of work. Both a look at the traditions and the hardships that the immigrants faced upon arriving in the US, it's very much a movie that tests your attention span; the polar opposite of a Michael Bay movie.

Steven Keats plays the lead role. His character has lived in New York for a few years until he can make enough money to bring his wife over. In that time, he's made efforts to assimilate into US society. His wife doesn't feel so comfortable doing so. The only other recognizable cast members are Carol Kane (known for plenty of roles, most recently as the landlady on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), Doris Roberts (of "Everybody Loves Raymond") and Lin Shaye (the sunburned neighbor in "There's Something About Mary" and the retiring flight attendant in "Snakes on a Plane").

All in all, it's an outstanding film. Anyone interested in the history of the Jews in the United States would do well to watch it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Radioactive (2019)
5/10
so it sounds as though this isn't accurate
6 January 2021
On its own, Marjane Satrapi's "Radioactive" is a fascinating look at nuclear physics, with Rosamund Pike playing Marie Curie. However, Geraldine McGinty of Cornell University noted that it was based on a book that played fast and loose with Curie's life, effectively making it useless as a historical reference. I guess that it still works if you want to learn about the uses of radiation.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
W. (I) (2008)
5/10
there is no other way
5 January 2021
I didn't manage to see Oliver Stone's "W." when it first got released. Adam McKay's "Vice" (about Dick Cheney) rekindled my interest in Stone's movie, and I finally got around to seeing it.

Knowing that this is from the man behind "Salvador", "Born on the Fourth of July" and "JFK", one would expect this movie to be an anti-Bush screed. In reality it's nothing of the sort. Apparently, Stone intended it as more of a Greek tragedy: the Bushes were a well known political family, and George W. ruined the name. Overall, the movie takes more of a neutral approach to Dubya, alternating between scenes of his administration planning the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and scenes of his earlier years (his frat boy days, his conversion to Christianity, and his gubernatorial run).

In the end, it's an interesting movie, but not up to the standards of Stone's movies from the '80s and '90s. The cast includes Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Toby Jones and Bruce McGill (aka Thanos, Effie Trinket, Babe's owner, Alice not living here anymore, Mr. Holland, Alan Shepard, Truman Capote and D-Day).

OT, but this marks the second time that Cromwell played the patriarch of a dynastic family (he also played Philip Mountbatten in "The Queen").
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Harry Potter meets the Manchurian Candidate
4 January 2021
"99 and 44/100% Dead!" is usually known as one of John Frankenheimer's lesser movies, but it's entertaining enough for its short run. This typical gangster spoof casts Richard Harris as a hitman hired by his uncle due to a challenge by a rival gangster. I moved to Seattle last year, so it was neat to see some of the places where I've been (namely Gasworks Park). They don't say where it takes place, but most of it does appear to be the Emerald City.

Yeah, it was pretty much what I expected: lots of gunfire, hot babes, and cool fight scenes. Frankenheimer later admitted that he didn't really know what kind of movie he was making. I guess that after "The Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Seven Days in May", he felt like he was getting held to high standards. As far as I'm concerned, this movie is all about just being funny, and it is. Good enough.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Death to 2020 (2020 TV Special)
10/10
Good riddance to ya, ya crummy year!
3 January 2021
Undeniably, the year 2020 was an absolute dumpster fire. So it was inevitable that they were going to make a movie about it. "Death to 2020" is a mockumentary featuring pseudo-interviews with people describing that sh**show of a year. Hugh Grant's stodgy professor was particularly funny.

So, as much of a freak show as that year was, this movie is sure to make it enjoyable. Check it out.
14 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Offence (1973)
8/10
Sean Connery, RIP
2 January 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Sean Connery died last year, so I decided to watch one of his lesser known movies. Sidney Lumet's 1973 thriller "The Offence" casts the man known as James Bond as cop who goes too far in an interrogation. Issues of police violence became a big deal last year following George Floyd's murder by a cop. This movie makes law enforcement look like one ugly career field. One gets the feeling that there's no such thing as a good cop when one sees what Connery's character does to the suspect.

It's not any sort of masterpiece - especially in the year when Lumet also released "Serpico" - but damned if Connery doesn't put on an incredible performance as the beleaguered protagonist, with fine support from Trevor Howard, Vivien Merchant and Ian Bannen. I recommend it, but just be aware that the interrogation scenes are among the most brutal ever shown onscreen. Probably nothing compared to what they're like in real life.

Connery died, and then Alex Trebek - both of whom got depicted on "Saturday Night Live"'s spoofs of "Celebrity Jeopardy!" - died a little over a week later. Imagine that.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
for the first time, we have a Coen spinoff
1 January 2021
You may recall that John Turturro appeared in "The Big Lebowski" as a Puerto Rican sex offender who liked to bowl. Well, that character now has his own movie. "The Jesus Rolls" depicts Jesus Quintana as a devil-may-care type. It's not a great movie, but still funny, with appearances by a number of people.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
it's not often that a character makes you tense up without getting aggressive
31 December 2020
I knew nothing about "Butterflies Are Free" when I started watching it, which made it even more of a treat. For starters, it was interesting to see Goldie Hawn play a role that isn't a ditz. True, she's a sweet-talker with a fine figure, but clearly competent. The movie actually surprised me in what it revealed about Edward Albert's character.

But despite these, Eileen Heckart's Oscar-winning performance as the mom is the one that really deserves the praise. Without getting hostile or threatening anyone, that character made me feel as if I was walking on eggshells. Heckart might not be the most well known actress, but man that woman could play a role.

The movie is based on a play by Leonard Gershe, and it feels like a play. I understand that the original play takes place in New York, but the movie transfers it to San Francisco, giving us a look at the city - or a few blocks of it - in the days immediately after the hippie era. What a time to be alive!

Anyway, it's not a great movie, but I recommend it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Cartel Land (2015)
10/10
the only way to "win" the so-called War on Drugs is to decriminalize drugs
30 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Matthew Heineman's Academy Award-nominated "Cartel Land" is one of the most harrowing documentaries that you'll ever see. It focuses mainly on a community in Michoacán that formed a vigilante group to fight the drug gangs, since the corrupt government was no good at protecting them from the gangs. The other focus is a vigilante group in Arizona that sets out to stop the cartels from entering the US. It took some real guts to get this on screen (to say nothing of the danger that they likely faced in filming it).

It just goes to show that the so-called War on Drugs is a failure at best. Not only is Mexico nearly a failed state, but the mass arrests for drug possession in the United States have devastated entire communities. Meanwhile, Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2000, and drug usage fell there.

The point is that there's no way to win such a war, least of all for the people in rural Mexico. They bear the brunt of the brutality, whether from cartels or from their own government. We must end this war.

In an update since the documentary's release, José Mireles died of COVID last month.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed