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All reviews - DVDs (151)

gory action flick

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 2 August 2012 08:16 (A review of Apocalypto (Widescreen Edition))

this film probably would have done a lot better without mel gibson's name attached to it. and certainly would have done better had he not spewed a racist drunken rant months before its release.

attach gibson's name to it and it raises questions about what he's trying to say with it. add his racist rant and accusations that his other films might have racist meaning and you'll view the film through that prism.

i hesitated to see the film at all. any film based on pre-columbian culture is dipping into the history of speculation. it is an unfortunate "pre-history". unfortunate because their history was destroyed by christian colonialism. those are heavy weights to bear.

how did gibson fair with the subject: mixed at best.

the problem with apocalypto is that it is conventionally a standard action film. given gibson's lust for blood and gore, this is nothing unusual. yet using a backdrop of a real culture leads to questions about its accuracy. in the end you'll either like the film for its exciting drama laden violent action flick, or hate it because it misleads the uninformed to believe this is representative of an actual culture.

i both know a good amount about the culture yet expected nothing accurate of the film nor that it was representative of the peoples. i viewed the culture here simply as a backdrop. a collection of ideas to give an exotic sense to work a dramatic story out of. in the same way we could look at indiana jones as laughably inaccurate, apocalypto is not accurate but perhaps misleading in its many accurate elements.

the story follows a young man who sees his peaceful life destroyed by a new and violent tribe taking power. the new tribe seeks slaves for their constructions and for sacrifice. (both of which are at the heart of debate over accuracy) they find the young mans tribe destroy everything and take any living adult as slaves. along the way back a little diseased girl spouts a prophesy which once they arrive at the invaders city begins to come true. as the young man is about to be sacrificed, a solar eclipse blocks out the sun. his captor is told to "dispose of them", wherein they proceed to use the captures as target practice. this sets off the escape of the young man and much of the rest of the film follows his constant pursuit by this group of vicious hunters.

there is more to the story, of course. but mostly its an excuse to create a bloody violent chase scene. gibson at his best. for pure entertainment value.

if you want this to be accurate, you're barking up the wrong tree. there is no reason to believe it is. and although i would agree that this may give viewers who don't know better the wrong impression, you could also argue that it could get more people interest in what the true culture like.

the extras on the dvd is a "making of" where they go to lengths to explain the amount of detail that was put into making the film seem real. there is a surprising amount of detail lavished on the film. huge amounts of extras, massive amounts of makeup and wardrobe, cities of set pieces, weavings, paintings, sculptures. a lot of time and effort went into the film and it may be somewhat sad that it is not, after all that, an accurate account. thats not the intent, though. get over it. watch it for the drama, leave the historical to others to show us.

a good movie, entertaining and lush.


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mr drunk paints

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 1 August 2012 08:55 (A review of Pollock)

i hated this film when i first saw it. much like i hated "i shot andy warhol", the film itself is very good, but the subject is loathsome.

pollock is based on jackson pollock's life as an artist. from an unknown typical abstract painter, to a genre creating action painter, to the most famous painter of his era this film acts as a bio-drama portrait. its also a look into the work and life of lee krasner, his wife.

pollock is a struggling artist. lee krasner is shown here, pushing him to go further and promoting his work and getting it to show and sell. their relationship is central to the story as it was to his life.

pollock was one of those guys who thought that drinking helped them be creative. krasner recognized he was a train wreck when drunk and didn't get anything done. when they relocate and she's able to keep him clean, is when he flourishs. but alas, in the end he's cheating on her and getting drunk again until she finally leaves him and he spirals down to his inevitable drunken car crash end.

so what do you get from the film? sexist drunk gets famous largely from the work/support of the woman behind him. and eventually succumbs to his habits of being a sexist drunk until it kills him. along the way we get a dubious rendition of how he came to his "action painting" and his dislike of having to make the film that was actually recorded of him painting in real life.

the film did well and most people like it. it should be recommended. but i simply don't like the people/subjects in the film. pollock is crude, krasner is harsh and largely unlikeable, and other notables are peripheral or not especially redeeming.

i'm sure i'll watch the film again. i just can't like the people.


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dark and gritty...its brooklyn!

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 1 August 2012 08:41 (A review of Brooklyn's Finest)

this is a well made film. i'm surprised i guess that its not as popular as it perhaps should be.

it is a little too glossy for my taste, and there is an underlying problem with the way the police are represented here.

the plot is fairly complex because at its core its a movie about several individual cops. one works undercover selling drugs, one is days away from retiring, and another is falling apart financially while he's expecting twins. each is getting pulled into decisions which are setting them up towards making decisions which are pushing them into positions that ultimately have them making the wrong decisions.

there is my only issue with the movie. each cop here when faced with a decisions makes the wrong one, that might give the impression that cops, as a whole, are corrupt or even prone to being corrupt. and its the job itself that causes this to happen. while i don't doubt that each of these characters could very well be based on true stories, the impression here is what counts and its a bit off of reality. its not outright cop-hating though, and in fact goes to quite some length to get us to appreciate the pressures that these guys face and how bad decisions can sometimes seem like the right decisions even to those who are at their core decent people. its a complicated picture that is painted, and i feel its a minor mistake overall.

its also true that the film does feel a bit dated now. both the style of the film and some of the language will be lost on some people and will likely render the film not as effective as it had been when it was made.

watching the extras, you'll realize that this is the first movie made of the script writers work. what a wonderful way to start. its talented work.

the acting is good, filming good, story great. minor flaws don't harm it enough to not recommend watching it.


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Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 1 August 2012 08:20 (A review of Peter Beard: Scrapbooks From Africa & Beyond)

if you've ever seen the work and had questions about its purpose or meaning, this film should clarify it pretty well.

i wouldn't call this a documentary about peter beard as much as it is a advertisement for his work. never once do they attempt to question the work. he tells us several times how he went to yale, name drops those who he's been around and books that he's read, and shows himself with important people and in exotic places with "hot" models. about the only thing that makes the film partially worth while and semi-document is watching him put drawing and paint on the photographs.

along the way through this film what becomes abundantly clear is his willingness to exploit everyone and everything around him. while his nonchalant attitude with people and his ability to mingle with high society as easily as african tribes people makes him seem likable and admirable, his careless use of these people and indifference to them as individuals is disconcerting. to the extreme; in one scene he uses a woman as a tripod to photograph someone else. of course if you've seen any of his fashion oriented images you'd probably already expect that. his thoughtless combinations of images and subject is not the journalistic memoir he likes to position them as being. quite simply its self grandiose masturbation.

his work, while entertaining, is as important as any hollywood big-budget action film. i'm sure it makes him a lot of money but its worthless material.

i have to say that i wanted better of him. i first became aware of beard's work by accidentally walking into his gallery in NY. it was enticing. an abundance of work wildly collected together in a sort've 3D creative journal. each piece a refection of the whole. as a purely creative spew of imagery, i enjoyed it. but i also couldn't help but to feel like something was wrong about it all. there didn't seem to be a purpose to it. it was a bit like reading someones diary of what they thought day by day, but not being able to really understand the picture of what they were talking about. random stuff.

there is also a number of scenes here that show how he has the tribes people paint on and around the photographs. sometimes relatively small pieces with little work, sometimes a lot of work, sometimes huge pieces. nothing is said however about how these people are compensated for the work. the work itself carries his name and his name only, its sold as his work, and he gets all the glory of it. yet he talks about how the work is special because of the work that these people do to it makes it more authentic.

when you see the scenes of him photographing models with the "backdrop" of tribes people things start to get ugly. someone off camera (likely the filmmaker) actually asks him if he "feels like (he is) exploiting these people?". his response says it all; he essentially says he doesn't care.

if i wanted to like and understand what he was trying to get at with his work, this film makes it clear that there is nothing to like. i guess however i do have to admit that because the film does exactly that, it is an accurate account...a document...of him. i just don't like it, and don't appreciate his attitude.


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follow the exit

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 28 July 2012 07:08 (A review of Northfork)

some people love this movie.

to its credit it is visually distinct and beautiful. it has real moments of unusual humor. it also has a incredibly unique story.

so i should love it too right. but i don't. and here is why: this is another movie that uses confusion to create mystery. yet never relates any of the confusion to an answer or a story line for that matter.

theres an adopted boy who is dieing and is given back to a priest. theres a town, northfork, that the priest is in that is going to be flooded when a new damn is put into service. from there your guess is as good as mine. theres a group of men in black who are suppose to get the citizens to evacuate. they are down to their last holdouts. the holdouts are: a man with an ark and his 2 wives, a man nailed to his porch who may be jesus, a couple too busy having sex, and a group of eccentric weirdos who might be angels. there's the priest, the druggist, and a dinner woman who are still there as well, but apparently they aren't a problem?? the men in black offer wings to those who'll leave....are they reapers? all of these people may be in the mind of the boy who is dieing; presumably of cancer. he claims to be an angel to the maybe angels. if that is the case only the priest and the boy (and the parents who gave him back) might be real in the movie. i don't know.

i'm left with so many unanswered questions. its clear whoever made this wanted to leave the questions for viewers. perhaps they thought this would somehow make the movie seem profound. a kind've "you have to think about it a lot and theorize in order to make sense of it". except, i don't. instead of making me think, it just leaves me in want of a conclusion that makes sense. dropping metaphor after metaphor does not amount to story. spoiler: boy dies. all your questions are still questions. angels? maybe, they supposedly take him as one of theirs?. christ: probably not (since there is no story there). reapers: probably just workers who give notices and payments which are metaphorically "wings". noah: definitely not the only animals are dead...nice ark/house though. town: dead.

i honestly think the only people who'll like this are film majors and people who like to think movies are profound when they don't understand them.

some redeeming qualities, and a huge amount of potential, but not realized and not worth it.

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slowly falling down into despair

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 26 July 2012 07:43 (A review of There Will Be Blood (2 disc Special Edition) )

there will be blood is gorgeously filmed. its a good tight story. it is however very very slow and the reward is a view into one man's despair. his inability to trust anyone and the foils of greed.

you should know immediately what you're getting into with this film; the first 15 maybe 20 minutes are without dialog...one man digging, building, sweating, etc. until he finally uncovers a little reward for his excavating/mining. he takes that bit of money and the knowledge he gained figuring out how to dig effectively and puts it back into his venture. ultimately establishing himself as an "oilman".
much of the movie evolves around his dealings with property owners. he buys up lands where he knows oil is, offering his knowledge to the townsfolk, to make them all wealthy for their land.
of course, to set up a plot for a movie you need some drama, and that comes in multiple parts here. which is somewhat nice, but also leaves the film overly long in order to reel in all the stories. one part is about the danger and the men who help him getting hurt and dieing. an early accident leaves him with a baby to take care of. he raises the baby, and the son becomes his ticket into the hearts of the townsfolk. another part of the story is hard to establish; where the man is not actually successful as it may seem and other 'big business' men try to buy him out and/or circumvent him. and then the main part of the story, or so you're lead to believe by the box description, is about a religious "prophet" who he has a running in with. this story takes up much of the movie, however there are long patches of the movie where it would seemingly have been abandoned as a storyline, until it pops up again.

its ambitious as a story, ambitious as a film, and ultimately has been meet with high regard. while i'll agree there is much to like about the film, it also seems to be unfocused occasionally, overly long, and the moral story ending leaves one full of pity and disgust rather than feeling enlightened or inspired. ok, i'll admit there is place for this in movie making, i just felt at the end like i was let down. you have to invest a lot into these characters over the length of the film, and then they simply fall and fall into a pit of greed, suspicion, violence, hatred, and despair. i can't really enjoy that.


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a unique man

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 26 July 2012 07:25 (A review of The World's Fastest Indian)

not a vehicle enthusiast, nor a sports enthusiast i couldn't image this movie would be something i'd like. i knew it had good reviews and it had been suggested that you didn't have to be either of those to enjoy it. its true. the film isn't about either, rather its about a man. a man who has a dream and goes about accomplishing it despite his humble means.

anthony hopkins, as the historical bruno munro, does his usual great acting to accomplish a likable quirky character whom is easy to relate with. its a light hearted film with enough adventure to keep your interest throughout.


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really why?

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 22 July 2012 10:55 (A review of Inglorious Bastards)

its not a bad movie, its not a good movie, its definitely not a necessary movie.

quentin taratino is not my favorite moviemaker, but i do typically like his movies. he's a cheesy film nerd lustful style revisionist. for the most part taratino movies are purposefully gory, "naughty", over the top stylized, and full of film buff masturbation. and yeah he is good at it. most of the time his films are just raunchy fun.

thats is of course what he is up to here as well. except he has decided to take on more loaded material; namely hitler and the holocaust. when i heard about this movie my mind says "really, why?", i picked it up from goodwill on a whim (tells you how long this movie has been out before i actually got around to seeing it). a number of times i was looking for a movie to watch and would pick it up, read the box, and my mind is still asking "really, why?" its just so questionable for taratino to be slopping around on this subject. i couldn't imagine that he'd do anything good with it.

finally, some months later, i put the movie in and sat down to watch it, not really knowing what to expect. did he do a serious film? it certainly didn't sound like it from the box. even the title "inglorious bastards" suggests its a comedy.

the verdict: at least my verdict: its a typical taratino stylized exploitation film. its not at first noticable. brad pitt provides the first hints of it with his purposefully bad acting. he does it surprisingly good...which is of course bad (you see what i mean right....its good because its bad, its bad so its good. its bad acting which we're suppose to respect as being good...fuck it). he's not the only one in the movie with, way over the top bad acting, but he's by far the most grating.

plot: there are 2 actually that come somewhat together but only by coincidence and never actually aware of each other. one which starts the film about a jewish family which is caught and slaughtered by "the jew hunter" except he lets a young girl go. she later becomes a cinema owner. the second is pitts military unit who is sent in to provide extra cruel exploits to create fear in the minds of germans. he does this by creating a 'persona' on nicknames, etc, and by taking scalps and carving swastikas in the forehead of the very few he lets go to tell the story. all this comes together at the cinema where the top heads of german propaganda and hitler himself are screening their newest film. the jewish girl passing as Italian plans her revenge by burning down the cinema with them in it, and pitt's men are planning an operation to blow up the cinema with them in it. they are unaware of each others plans. of course there are other 'events' etc. but that is the main plot of it.

of course taratino has to use historical people to make this work. goebbels and hitler, etc, as well as a number of similar to actual people, and then wildly unlikely characters. all combine to act out this WII fantasy revenge film. I'm still, after watching this, left with the uneasy feeling of "really, why?" what was i suppose to take from that film? i know, i know; its just a bunch of silly exploitation nonsense. yet this is a subject where it seems, more than unnecessary, but downright disrespectful of the gravity of the subject. even if i buy into the idea of this being, like any other subject, material for creative story making, there still isn't much to gain from this film. like most of taratino's films, its pointless. but making this one somewhat exceptional there is clearly political issues and there are clearly more 'touchy' subjects which are being avoided. (although he does love to throw in this 'take that' moment of a loving relationship between the cinema woman and a black man). its like taratino wants to push buttons but also knows he has to hold back. it leaves the film with a sort've sigh. if you're gonna do it, do it. as it is this is taratino at his meekest. so again: "really, why?"

of course it could be said that there are a lot worse movies coming out on a weekly basis...so its not especially bad for a movie either. and its watchable enough to at some point probably see again....or at least i wouldn't not watch it again.


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Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 22 July 2012 09:53 (A review of Paul)

i was surprised by this movie; which i don't say often enough about movies. its not a perfect movie by any means, but it does what it needs to do...entertains.

paul is about an alien who crashed landed on earth, was captured, and years later he's escaped and has a chance to make it home. graeme and clive are two sort've stereotypical comic book nerds from england that have come to america for comicon and afterwards embark on a road trip to see a couple "ufo" related sights. they have a number of run-ins with locals throughout the movie. an early run-in leads to them being chased, however it turns out the vehicle chasing them was not who they thought and instead, after it crashes, they meet paul and become accomplices to his escape.

and lets be honest, none of that sounds the least be probable towards being a good movie. the headline above the title on the box says "from the makers of superbad"....thats a good thing? so my expectations were a overly crude, pointlessly absurd piece of comedy trash with little shelf life. and thats were i was totally wrong. sure theres a crude element but its no were near "overly", sure its pointless but pointless in the way any road trip movie by it nature is. as far as being an absurd piece of comedy trash: its not. it has comedy, but surprisingly not as much as you'd expect. in fact its somewhat understated. then it delves much deeper into more emotional aspects like the relationship of the two guys. its just surprising. nothing is really heavy about it just unusually honest, or matter of fact, in some ways.

as note: i did watch the "unrated" version rather than the theatrical so all comments relate to that.

also interesting: on the dvd is some 'bloopers' which are fair and some 'making of'. the making of i watched after the movie. and as they were talking about the creation of paul in CG, it occurred to me that i had not really thought much about it during the film. thats a testament to a job well done. paul is an unusually emotive character and combined with the live acting its surprising that theres nothing especially wow-ing or over the top graphic that makes you care at all about how it was done. he simply is as an actor in the movie. now there are certain things like his disappearing/invisible tricks that are obviously CG and there are some things about the eyes and the mouth that give it away, again though that is in retrospect, not while enjoying the movie. in part its because they didn't try to convince you, didn't try to fake you out, and in part because the effects are faking you out to a degree and are convincing. all i can say is i find it quite respectable.

as a movie its good, not great. but it grew on me and i didn't expect it. i was surprised by the movie itself and the story. for that i give this movie high ratings.


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failed superhero movie

Posted : 6 years ago on 15 July 2012 06:35 (A review of Special)

damn. i wanted this to be good. there is a lot good about it, but its destroyed by a pointless ending.

story: bored man takes part in a drug study. he thinks the drug is giving him superpowers. he may in fact just be going mad. subplot: the drug makers want to cover up the his case, by making him go away one way or another. tiny subplot that should've been explored: a love interest who doesn't speak because she has a heavy speech impediment.

so what went wrong: its an interesting enough idea. man takes drug and may or may not obtain superpowers. he gets himself into situations that may put him in jeopardy of self harm or arrest. and there may be an attempt to cover up the effects of the drug either good effects or bad. the conspiracies make him even more confused. however, the filmmakers show this maybe/maybe not superpowers by giving us conflicting views of him with powers and him without. its fairly easy to see assume he doesn't since its only him that seems to notice them especially when hes trying to show them to someone else. however, when performing "acts" he seems to have them and effect those around him. that may also be in his view only. although several instances are impossible to explain unless he did in fact have some sort've super power. those scenes are likely put there purposely to confuse the viewer. and there in lies the problem; the entire movie we are left trying to figure out what is going on and then in the end....nothing. he has no superpowers, and the drug company guys try to kill him but he won't die...despite being brutally hurt...and they just give up....what? what is that suppose to mean? he says "you can't make me stop." what? stop what? stop getting himself hurt, stop hurting other people in his disillusion state, stop refusing to get help, stop not trusting everything and everyone? what?

despite anything good the film had going for it, there are no answers to anything here. was that intentional or did someone actually think this was a good idea. i've read a lot of good reviews for this movie and i have to honestly say i think they are faked. then again there are some sound critics who have called it good (maltin is quoted on the box....of course the box also calls it 'laugh out loud funny' which it most certainly is not)

just can't recommend it despite some great potential.

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