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Asking an ex-JW to review this film . . .
. . . is like asking Mary Todd Lincoln to review "Our American Cousin." This film received lots of 8s, 9s, and 10s from viewers, most of whom are ex-JWs with an axe to grind. As former JW away from the sect for over 40 years, I was amazed to see how things have remained unchanged, according to the film. The attitudes and platitudes are still the same. No quarter asked or given; my-way-or-the-highway resolve of the committee, even among sympathetic members. This film begs the question: just how much stony heartlessness is one sinner obliged to endure on the path to redemption? The standard JW response is "Read Job." Christianity never promised a rose garden in this world. As for me, I couldn't hack it. Too weak. I thought the film well-acted and portrayed a religion I knew all too well from the inside. The pacing was leisurely but appropriate for the story. It did not feel slow. I kept waiting for something horrendous to happen which would cause the faithful to feel justified in their religion but the horrors originated from within the faithful, just like real life. I rated the film a 7 simply because the sound was, in my opinion, kind of muddy which made understanding the Brit accent difficult at times.
The Lighthouse (2019)
I kept waiting for something to happen.
Well acted, well photographed, well structured piece of craftsmanship. But nothing happened. I would have enjoyed listening to salty sea yarns for two hours (they were the best part of the movie) but the story was much ado about nothing. How long does it really take a man to go mad? Longer.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
I like convoluted and challenging films. I always have. But when a movie is manufactured to self-aggrandize the makers' ability to play 'stump the audience' it leaves me cold. rather like listening to a youth expound on philosophy. Without a doubt, the movie was well acted and filmed gorgeously. If I have created it, and I was 20 years old, I'd be proud of it and rightly so. The desire on the part of the directors to confound the viewers indicates to me the directors lack of wisdom and creative maturity. I'm glad I watched it but won't watch it again nor recommend it.
The King (2019)
A fine film but not a history lesson.
I rated this movie a 9 because it was a good movie: well shot, well acted, suspenseful, and so on. If it had been a history lesson, I would have rated it a 3 or 4.
The Last Airbender (2010)
Three types of viewers hate this movie.
It seems to me from my reading viewers' comments on The Last Airbender that those that hate this movie fall into three basic types: those that can't stand it that this movie isn't a duplicate of the cartoon on which the film is based; those that hate M. Night Shyamalan and wish to see him fail; and those that are "me too" types that have heard and read bad reviews of this movie and want to jump on the bandwagon, not wishing to be left behind or (shudder) appear to have an original thought. As for me, The Last Airbender is neither the best nor the worst of Shyamalan's work. I appreciate his creativity. Often, his films open to disparagement but later go on to find their audience. The Village and Signs are two examples. I don't care there are people that don't like those movies. Clearly, Airbender was meant to have two sequels which I doubt will materialize. Too bad.
If you liked The Last Airbender you know why you do. If you don't like it, maybe you know why. Maybe you don't.
NOT the worst movie ever . . .
. . . but certainly in the top two. As a movie aficionado and frustrated film maker, I long for the talent that would allow me to shoot just one minute of film good enough to be considered art. I'm sure Graydon Clark has a similar aspiration for himself. Just as I do not rate movies with a 10 (there is no such thing as a perfect film) I also am loath to rate a movie with a 1, which is also a measure of perfection but at the wrong end of the spectrum. Stargames brushes awfulness perfection but doesn't quite make it. It is chock full of truly atrocious moments, from inexplicable actions to the creepiest clown I have seen anywhere. Ever. While this movie is one of the worst ever, it yielded a RiffTrax gem. It is truly a RiffTrax masterpiece and that alone justifies the existence of this turkey.
The Steel Collar Man (1985)
The Mandella Effect is in effect
I remember viewing this movie. I was very young then and did not have the impeccable good taste that I have now. Back then, this movie was cute, even funny in parts. But now that I'm old and my memory doesn't always jibe with the facts, I have a different recollection as to who starred in this movie. I could have SWORN Dave Thomas played the lead. Following the success of SCTV he was a recognizable and hot property. I recall in his role as the android, his mugging for the camera. It was funny. The other scene I though was funny was when assassin Chuck Conners was selecting a weapon to use to "kill" the android. He picked up the rifle he had used in The Rifleman, considered it for a moment, and decided against it. Were there two versions of this movie? Why is my vivid memory of it so different from the IMDB account of it? It's Mandella, I tell you.
Mr. Nobody (2009)
Listen. Nemo Nobody had become unstuck in time.
I've seen the title of this film on so many "Best of . . ." lists I had to give it watch as soon as I ran across it. I was a bit dubious when during the opening credits it kept going on and on about how the film was a pan-European production. Was I facing two hours of subtitles? Fortunately, no. It was King's English throughout. I've never seen so many beautiful big-eyed human beings together in one place. The story was good, the filming was intriguing, dare I say surrealistic? No, I won't because the point of the film is that all choices in life are the correct ones. No matter what reality we experience, if reality it is, it is the correct reality and we, every nan jack of us, are playing our part in the right way at the right time. Even so, it doesn't mean our time on stage will be fun. there is love and the heartbreak caused by same; the is life; there is disappointment; there is tragedy and madness and death. The film contained contained the themes that make life worth living unless the life is TOO good; then it's just a bore. I want my. last words to be, "Today is the happiest day of my life!" I hope I remember it at the right time and don't take too long to say it AND that there is some there to hear it. Is an uttered wisdom wise if there is no one to hear it?
I recommend Mr. Nobody even though I gave it a C+, six stars, because after two or three hours into the film I was ready for it to wrap things up but realized it was only half done.
This film is Billy Pilgrim meets Forrest Gump but that's not a bad thing as long as the director kept showing me interesting things and messing with my head. He got out of the groove an hour or so into the film but I was rooting for him to find it again and he did.
Nemo Nobody had a far better adolescence than I did. Good for him. The girls liked him and his terror of them was manageable, barely an inconvenience. I recommend Mr. Nobody to anyone with a bright mind willing to endure a bit of confusion to answer the question: What will happen next and is it really happening?
Project Almanac (2015)
I love the genre. I hated this movie.
I love movies. I really love science fictions. I especially love time travel science fiction. I do not include movies like Superman, Somewhere in Time, or Planet of the Apes in time travel science fiction. They're . . .something else. I like movies like Predestination, Primer, The Time Machine, et al. I am willing to suspend my sense of disbelief to enjoy such movies. I can live with paradoxes. But I hate it when a movies does stupid things because its maker assumes the audience is ignorant, stupid or both. Project Almanac does that. A lot. The story is told in the form of a video diary but the method became boring and super unrealistic in short order. The time travel device was built by high school students. Fine. Many scientific breakthroughs have been made by the young. Project Almanac went to great lengths to reinforce the idea that the protagonists were young but devoted little time to display their genius. The long boring scenes of youthful exuberance should have been left on the editing room floor but the movie would have been short, very short. Project Almanac insulted my intelligence like many slaps in the face with a cold, wet, fish. Watch this film at your own peril but work a crossword puzzle or read a book while you do so. Don't waste the time you invest in Project Almanac.
It's getting too PC
There may be a better television program but I don't know what it is. The Walking Dead is the only program for which I regularly set aside a hour to watch. BUT enough of the politically correct crap already. The maximum number of same sex relationships and mixed marriages peaked out many episodes ago. Too many and it seems contrived. I don't really mind having a gun-slinging 11-year-old girl as the alpha male but the introduction of individuals with handicaps which would have ensured their being converted to zombie chow in a real survival situation strains my ability to suspend disbelief. Survival depends on an individual's ability to meet the demands of the emergency plus successfully compete against others for resources. A deaf or blind or unintelligent person would be the rarest of endangered species a dozen years into an end-of-the-world scenario. Please don't let PC pandering override good sense story telling.
May be too weird for those not Terry Gilliam fans
I had this movie on my DVR since forever because the title was catchy. I didn't know who directed it. I didn't know who starred in it. Had I known it was a Terry Gilliam film I would have watched it sooner. I didn't know what to expect when I finally started to watch it. It was revealed to me it was directed by Terry Gilliam. Then is that Christopher Plummer? YES! Is that Heath Ledger? ! Is that Johnny Depp? YES! To me every scene contained an Easter egg. However this type of film is not for everyone. Gilliam is known for his strange films but Doctor Parnassus is Gilliam times two raised to the power of odd. I won't divulge the plot because it is difficult to discern. Instead, I'll list the Terry Gilliam films I've seen in order of my preference and you can decide if our tastes jibe and, if so, how you might enjoy Doctor Parnassus.
1. Twelve Monkeys
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
7. The Fisher King
8. Time Bandits
9. Baron Munchausen
10. The Brothers Grimm
Screen One: Hostile Waters (1997)
Engrossing because it really happened (mostly)
Does this review contain spoilers? I don't believe so but I'll say yes, it does, just to be safe.
As a former submariner, I like to watch movies about submarines. I'm professionally interested. They don't have to be technically correct; merely well-made and entertaining. Some of my favorite submarine movies are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; The Hunt for Red October; Grey Lady Down; and Crimson Tide. They all have their flaws. They all have their merits. After I read the book about K-219, I learned there was a movie about which I just had to see and did.
I'll start off with the pros and cons of the film, as I saw them, beginning with the cons: 1. The American Naval officers. For the sake of exposition, the American sub captain was asking and receiving information from his engineer. On a real boat, the CO and Engineer would discuss engineering details as peers. The captain of a nuke sub is captain because he was once a division officer, then an engineer, and then an XO. 2. The reactions of the American skipper to the developing situation. If a submarine captain were to observe an enemy ship open its missile hatches (either visually or with sonar) suspecting a missile launch and firing a torpedo would not be his first inclination. The movie captain already knew the Russian sub was on fire. The Russian crew was busy fighting a fire, not preparing to launch missiles. Any reasonable observer would deduce that. 3. The technical inaccuracy of the weapons and reactors. The Russians foolishly used liquid fueled missiles in their subs. Very bad idea. While the missile fuel can and will burn, the high explosives of the warhead are unlikely to detonate. Burn, maybe, but detonation is highly unlikely unless triggered with a primary explosive. The submarine and other ships in the area nor any land masses were in danger of a nuclear detonation. Ever. 4. The general trigger happiness of the Americans. Provoking an international incident by firing on an enemy ship was the last thing either side wanted during the Cold War.
Pros: 1. The acting was good, especially Rutger Hauer. I was well into the movie before I realized the Russian captain was he. He looked and acted unlike any other role I've seen him play. Well done. And well done, Max Von Sydow. The Martin Sheen character was too edgy for an Ameican submarine captain. 2. The interior views of the boats. While I never seen the interior of a Russian submarine nor the control center of a Los Angeles class fast attack submarine, I assume the control centers of fast attack submarines and boomers are similar.
Other comments, neither good nor bad. Wouldn't the Russian submarine captain order speed changes with an annunciator which would pass along the order to a throttleman, just like every other ship ever made? And what brain donor designed a nuclear reactor system that wouldn't fail safe? And place the manual shutdown inside the reactor compartment? I realize that's the way it was in the book, but I found their design exceedingly flawed.
In the end, I give this film a 7 of 10 and a recommendation. I found it enjoyable and interesting although I think submarine initiates may be jarred by its inaccuracies.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Not the crew of the Enterprise.
I believe I could have given Alien: Covenant a couple more stars if the decisions made by the crew of the Covenant weren't so offputtingly bad. Persons in command make decisions best for the ship and its mission, not for altruism or charity. A REAL ship's captain would have abandoned the exploration team, with regret, and continued on the mission. And why was the captain endangering himself and the mission by going ashore? The away team should have consisted of three or four of the most expendable member of the ship's company. There would have been much more drama watching the person in charge making hard decisions and trying to solve problems rather than provide the Aliens an all-you-can-eat buffet. These space farers were not professional at all and could take a lesson from Capt. Picard.
This House Has People in It (2016)
A tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
I'll forgo a synopsis of 'This House Has People In It" because one can find and read it elsewhere.
At first I thought the idea of using only security video footage to tell a story was a novel and interesting one but when the point of view changed such that it was impossible for the security camera to have captured it, the effect was jarring and annoying. That was my first gripe.
My second was the response of the couple when they realized the unconscious girl had a problem. Who would not call 911 immediately? But they didn't and their odd behavior failed to suspend my disbelief.
Then there was the peppering of viewer YouTube videos explaining THHPII. Most of the videos were longer than the original, some much longer. If a story needs to be explained then perhaps the story wasn't told well. I understand vague references are clever. I delight in esoterica but inside jokes and obscura do not a good story make.
This House Has People In It spent too much time trying to show how smart it was. The final result was not as bad as, say, Plan Nine From Outer Space, but it wasn't nearly as much fun either. But it was mercifully shorter.
The Walking Dead: Wrath (2018)
Almost entirely but not quite satisfying
I don't understand why the reviews are dominated by the 1/10 iconoclasts and the 10/10 sycophants. Neither group can write a review I'd trust. I notice the IMDb ratings tend to support the sycophants, however.
I gave the season finale an eight because it was the conclusion (praise be!) of all out war. I didn't give it a nine because it failed to provide closure. I'll be terribly disappointed if I ever see Negan again. I want him gone. Out of the picture. I don't want him hanging over this series like a sword of Damocles. I thought the introduction of the new subplot was rather ham-handed and could have been introduced more slowly and with better grace in the first few episodes of season nine.
I didn't give this episode a lower episode a lower score because I liked the clever way Eugene found redemption. Everybody knew Oceanside would help Hilltop eventually but I wondered how helpful they could be armed only with pointy sticks. Now I know.
Nobody died that I didn't want to die.
For eight seasons the survivors of the zombie apocalypse have been living off the corpse of collapsed society, eating their canned goods and burning their remaining gasoline. I would really like to see a period of relative peace in which the survivors apply their ingenuity to improved their standard of living and make the world better for generations to come. I keep wondering when the instinct to propagate is going to kick in.
To the iconoclasts out there I suggest you save yourself a lot of grief and anxiety and stop watching the show, but if you do and feel compelled to write a review, do us all a favor and offer something a little more substantial than "the show stinks and I hate everyone in it."
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
If the original was a 10 . . .
. . . Blade Runner 2049 is a 6. Maybe 6.5 or 7. First of all, the mission of any sequel is to be as good or better than the original. Most fail, just as BR2049 failed to accomplish it's task. Without going into spoiling detail, let me just say that it was directed by one trying trying to be Ridley Scott. The score was written and performed by one (or twain) trying to be Vangelis. There is sincere flattery in their impersonation but it's not the Real Deal. The original Blade Runner was paced. You can't let a movie pace itself 2-3/4 hours without its seeming to drag. I watched this film because it was a Blade Runner sequel and they promised us Harrison Ford, which we got. Did I like BR2049? It was okay. Would I see it again? Probably, but not soon and NOT in a theater. And I'll probably buy a copy when it ends up in the Wal-Mart discount bin. I'll even throw in a guarded recommendation to those wondering if it's worth the admission. But if you love, love, loved the original Blade Runner you may be more reserved in your praise of this sequel. It is not the 10 star masterpiece some are making it out to be but neither is it the 1 star dog that others say it is.
Quest of the Delta Knights (1993)
This film was born to be MST3K fodder
A movie maker knows if one of his movies is lame before it's ever finished. His ear isn't so dull he can't recognize lame dialog. If he didn't have the eyes to recognize poor staging he wouldn't be in the business in the first place. The director of this dog knew it was a train wreck from the beginning. He HAD to. But that's okay. It was just a matter of turning out this abortion, earn a couple of shekels and get on with the next project. For the director, it was a minor investment. For the lesser actors, it was exposure. For the big names, it was a lark. As a fan of Robert Heinlein, I recognized Delta Knights as a direct lift from Heinlein's 'Citizen of the Galaxy'. Some may call it an homage. Some may call it larceny. But I think it was just another stepping stone for David Warner on his way to 'Titanic'. This movie wasn't THAT terrible and it provided the crew of MST3K an opportunity to make a superior episode. I doubt if I'd watch Delta Knights without the riffing, though.