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All reviews - DVDs (151)

an overly extended intro

Posted : 5 years, 4 months ago on 6 April 2012 03:19 (A review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Bella's wedding dress edition)

can i give this a "0"
awful awful movie.
when the title pops up you'll see it call this "part 1", which should immediately tell you that there is going to be scenes that are left in to fill time in order to cash in on a two part movie. however, nothing prepares you for 90% of the movie being filler. yeah, i said it because its true. for 90% of the movie there is no plot, there is nearly nothing happening, and we're treated to lame cinema work and the usual, for this series, bad acting...although this time with a strangely super digital filtered look but soap opera editing and drama. just think any "marriage special" from any soap opera ever...and you have it in a more grand but less substantial form here.

i was banging my head on a table. "is this going anywhere?" well, eventually in the last 15 or so minutes it turns into a movie with, like, a plot and stuff. no its not a good story...but if you endured it that long its at least something.

ah, the cherry on top of this one is this: i watched this with subtitles on, as i often do, and while the most profound moments(theoretically) of this overly long wedding diary are happening, during the wedding itself, the lyrics being sung go like this: "Have I found you Flightless bird, grounded, bleeding or lost you, American mouth. Big pill looming. Now I'm a fat house cat Nursing my sore blunt tongue. Watching the warm poison rats curl through the wide fence cracks Pissing on magazine photos" wtf? why? i don't even care about this movie and still thats just freakin' tasteless.

as jacob says when the writers can't explain something "whatever". carry on. time to fill still. oh yeah a bit of sex and baby drama. zzzz.

oh i can't f'n' wait till part 2!!! yea!!!! no i'm being honest...i want to see if they can pull off something worse than this.

dreadful. boring. trite. waste. skip it.
(1/10) yeah, give it a 1 for the last 15 minutes.

ps. it might seem strange that i have the wedding dress edition of this. hell i didn't want the movie at all let alone a wedding portrait on fabric one assume to hang somewhere...i didn't buy it, it was bought for me...the wedding dress edition was simply cheaper than all the other version when it was bought.








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action death cars...little else

Posted : 5 years, 4 months ago on 2 April 2012 02:02 (A review of Death Race (Unrated Edition))

the opening sequence of this movie is so bad i nearly turned it off. high budget slop. it all starts with a driving action scene. explosions, machine guns, fire, cars speeding, crashes, all cut into a collage of partial seconds so disorienting that you'd be hard pressed to get any idea of whats going on. ultimately you learn its the end of a race and this is the do or die moment and obviously this is sci-fi because the cars are equiped with machine guns, smoke, oil slicking, napalm, etc. as well the main character we see here, frankenstien, drives with a rather menacing mask on and a beautiful girl sits by his side as a navigator. he dies but only after the girl ejects.
my problem with the first scene is not that its a bad set up to the story but the filmmakers think that a thousand cuts in a minute sequence will amp up the excitement. it doesn't. it simply has us sitting there saying to ourselves "what the hell is going on in this choppy mess" thankfully the film abandons this technique quickly and in further race scenes is a little less prone to extreme quick cuts. not that the later race scenes are good, they are only good at moments.

story: based on the original from the 70's and worked on again by roger corman, this film has little in common with the original. but lets be honest, the original wasn't much of a story either. you could argue that the script of both of these could have simply read "cars race, drivers try to kill each other....add girls." and you simply use the rest as filler around that. that being said there is somewhat of an interesting plot here although its not developed but rather used as a stand in for creating a good guy bad guy drama.
the plot centers around a driver, ames, who had won in the past (presumably not in the same context of racing). the death races are set up by a prison warden with the goal being that if you can survive and win 5 races you get a pardon. after frankenstein dies, ames suddenly finds himself set up for murdering his wife, and no surprise in the prison were the death races take place. he is asked to continue to race as frankenstein because these races are a kind of pay for view cash crop for the wardon. the race is different now. its a three part or time race (for no apparent reason). and takes part on the island that the prison is located on. its a sort've track set up through building obstacles. and more distinctly there are "power buttons" manhole cover like pads which the cars have to pass over when lit to activate different things mostly on the car; guns, defense, and a ground barrier with spikes that comes out of the ground. this is clearly a set up for a tie in game...but even so is rather limited even for game play. there is also a huge vehicle that is "introduced this race" in the second round and for what seems like to simplify the action by killing almost all the racers but the main two.
oh so anyway it becomes a vengeance thing...and of course he succeeds...duh. a few subplotish moments...nevermind.

what the movie is really about is racing, guns, and a handful of large breasted women for some sex to the equation (honestly even for how blatant this is...and believe me its blatant...they don't do it well or enough to even matter. its half-assed like everything else).

the truth be told, this is a half-assed movie. a half-assed plot, half-assed directing, half-assed action, half-assed everything...the acting is surprisingly fairly decent what there is of it. it doesn't really pretend to be anything else. and you know what...fine...its a cheap thrill and i enjoyed it. not a classic but mindless entertainment.

(6/10)


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deadly worms

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 25 February 2012 08:15 (A review of Squirm)

i've wanted to watch this film for a long time. when i was a kid this movie was played on tv once. i'm sure it was a saturday or late night but i can't recall for certain. i do remember that it freaked me out enough that i couldn't sit through it. it has remained the only movie that i did not finish because it creeped me out too much.

of course as an adult, now, its a whole different experience. i can hardly conjure enough to imagine what scared me about this.

its a fairly slow simple gross out of deadly worms that bite. literally they crawl into people's skin and eat them from the inside. billions or trillions of these vicious suckers pour out of the ground, fill rooms, etc. its kinda cool that they manage to pull off the effects they did in this film. although i can't figure out why they keep using obviously different kinds of worms for different scenes.

i also didn't recall the heavy southern drawl that all the characters have. its unusual too. distinct in a way i can't figure out. as if they are either from an area that is not usual to hear, or they are trained actors that pull it off but not exactly.

the story goes, a huge storm knocks down the main power lines in a small town. this drives the worms out of the ground and seems to "super charge" them into killer beasts. they can't stay in the sun though so they only attack in the dark (night). a subplot of out of town "city folk" boyfriend and a sheriff, some worm farmers, and of course the girl and her family. none of which is significant but just moves the story forward.

its not a perfect film by any means. by today's standard its quite slow. the plot is simple, the acting adequate. its a good saturday night horror. cool by me, i'd watch it again.

(7/10)


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radical

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 25 February 2012 07:57 (A review of Alice Neel)

who the heck is alice?!!!

wow. i have to say that...well first of all i love neel's work. secondly, i thought i knew something of who she was and from this film, i've found quite different from what i had thought.

she's nearly crazy. looney. wild and unruly. you'd expect this from van gogh maybe, but alice seems so much more in tune with people.

to be sure, this film seems to show the truth very well. i imagine a lot of filmmakers would've painted a much more flattering picture. in that way the film is as she was, bold and direct.

its not kind to her. in fact, it makes me like the person a bit less. but this doesn't diminish what she accomplished as a painter. it simply shows that her personally life was wrought with problems and yet somehow she persevered and ultimately claimed the fame she deserved as a painter.

i guess in that regard, it has a happy ending. by the time you get to the end though, you've gone through a whirlwind of regret, neglect, turmoil, poverty, near failure (or maybe actual failure), and all kinds of mess. maybe though its this life that informs what she becomes as a painter. maybe thats why she rejected the growing market of art and moved to a rough neighbor hood to find more "truth".

what ever the case, the film is engaging, the person is important (a free thinking radical feminist without the bondage of doctrine), and the work is phenomenal. a great film well worth seeing.

(8/10)

also worth watching the extras on the dvd. nice additions to the film.


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push pull a little

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 25 February 2012 07:46 (A review of Hans Hofmann: Artist/Teacher, Teacher/Artist)

if you're not familiar with hofmann's work you may find this video to be a good introduction. ultimately, thats all it is; an introduction. being 50 minutes long i'd expect more out of it.

although having some biographical moments in it, this is not a documentary in that sense. at least i hope it wasn't intended that way because if it was it missed. what the film in fact suggests that it intends to be is a document of the teaching methods of hofmann. yet it falls short there as well. so it neither captures successfully the history of the artist nor the method of his teaching. what then is left? the film is primarily an homage to hofmann's teaching through the interviews of his students and more aptly interviews with students of his students. thats right, a good portion of this is made up of second and third generation removed from the man himself. there is a significant amount of 1st generation interviews and there is nothing especially wrong with the others. unfortunately, despite efforts that are made to explain how hofmann taught, you won't learn anything about it nor much from it. somehow every interviewee filmed here simply can't explain it either than to say the man was great at it. an homage, but not educational nor informative. there is truly little substance here and its really disappointing.

maybe my expectations were too high. i don't think so. maybe i knew already most of what is given here as his teachings. i knew a bit but come on there is certainly more to it. i could say the one thing i did learn from the film: the film is narrated robert deniro who's parents met in a class taught by hofmann and they had asked him to be robert's godfather (although they never actually say if he was...)

i love art videos. i love the filmings of hofmann. i appreciate what is in this film about hofmann and his teaching methods. i simply think this could've been so much better.

(6/10)


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a chimp raised as human and then...

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 22 February 2012 08:03 (A review of Project Nim)

i saw this first at a film festival as a guest of bob ingersoll (the "hero" of the story). he introduced us to james marsh (the director) and simon chinn (the producer). so lets say my critique could be influenced. that said, this is going to be a documentary that'll garner good reviews in general and likely go on to win awards. james has already won an oscar for his previous documentary "man on wire" (which i still haven't seen), so he's no hack. his choice of this story, as he related it during an interview after the showing, was because the story is so rich. its truly a compelling story and all he had to do really was get it down on film. he accomplished that well.

nim's story is that he was taken at birth to be part of an experiment. the experiment was to raise him as a human, teach him language (sign language), and ....well....see where that goes. if that sound's very 70's hippy-ish experimental science...it was. its clear early on that herbert terrace, the man behind the project, did not have sound practice in experimenting. what becomes clearly is the failure to consider the ethical implications of his experiment. what i took from it, was that he seemed to dream up this project, implement it with almost no regard to how it would be done nor who would be involved in performing any task related to it. he only seemed interested in that data that came out of it. even that seems questionable, since the "mom" chosen to raise nim as hers didn't initially keep much of any data nor as the film points out do a whole lot towards teaching nim language. later people begin to develop the experiment into a project. each of these girls involved in raising nim seem to be choosen by herbert's sexual interests.

later as nim grows he becomes increasingly hard to control. people start getting hurt, sometimes badly. the experiment is abruptly halted and nim is sent back to the facility where he was born. this is were bob first gets involved with nim. his relationship with nim was personal; they were clearly friends. financial problems lead to the chimps including nim to be sold for scientific experiments. this in turn leads bob to become a champion for chimp and primate rights. he works to this day in supporting the understanding and ethical treatment of these creatures, as well as being involved in rescue of ones that have been mistreated.

nim's story gets more and more sad. it should be said that this is not a happy film. there are wonderful moments of joy, but there is a tragic story being told here as well. its a warning and a call to arms. all of which is created in a very level headed, complex, varied, and emotional story. i watch a lot of documentaries and this is well situated at the top with fine documentaries. its well done.

bob, being the advocate he is, i imagine convinced james to put a short extra documentary on the dvd called "bob's journey" which is primarily his small effort towards understanding and support of these animals. he made his plea at the festival as well, and its great to see his message getting out to a larger audience.

(for you bob: if anyone is reading this...bob works at mindy's memory primate sanctuary. check them out, give them some support. its a truly honorable endeavor. mindysmem.org )

simply good.
(10/10)



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arthouse bland confusion

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 18 February 2012 08:35 (A review of Edvard Munch)

this is dreadful.
i had to force myself to sit through the whole thing.
i have no idea why this film gets good reviews. no idea whatsoever.

on the surface its a documentary heavily supported by a movie. that is to say it spends much of its time giving factual information and is linear in its narration but is largely a period piece movie about the artist's life.

it should work. the actors are good. the dialog believable. the subject interesting. but then the filming is suspect often devolving into poorly focused and horrible quality interspersed with perfectly fine work. i can't imagine this was intentional and definitely comes across as amateurish. the acting can be a bit of a bore. the story hangs on an affair the artist had and seemingly implies this event was the basis for most of his work (historically the affair was brief and while it may have some meaning to the artist its doubtful that it was this overbearing). throughout 95% of the movie you'd get the impression that munch made nothing more than a handful of paintings and then blew out a massive ton towards the end of his life. you'd also get the impression that no one ever liked his work and somehow he managed to keep making more without seemingly ever selling one. also you'd get the impression that with every single painting he did was a marvelous and stunning breakthrough for him and the world of art (trust me neither is true). and strangely he seems to still be young, you might guess in his 40's at the end of his life (i believe he died somewhere in his 80's or so). even with these complaints its still not getting to what truly ruins this film.

where this film is unforgivably bad: the narration is stunningly dull and is used heavily throughout the film. the narrator in his most clinical boring tone tells munch's story, reads some of his writing, spouts off facts related to the date, and could as far as i know have been reading out of an outdated phone book...who freakin knows...i mostly wanted him to shut up. and as if that wasn't a buzz kill, the editor decided to throw all the film strips in the air and place them however the fuck they landed over the recorded sound of the movie (which as i said was more linear in approach). seriously, i thought something was wrong with my copy; as if somehow the data on the dvd of the film track got chopped up and rearranged over the intact sound track. it jumps all over the place and continually refers back to early scenes for effect i suppose. many times the dialog doesn't seem to relate to whats being shown. many times you're not sure why they're are flashing back. many times you're not sure who is saying what. also there is a strange amalgam of documentary and movie here that is difficult. the actors are at times seemingly interviewed, while at other times its a standard movie. the camera work does the same; loose in the moment documenting at times and at other times standard cinema movie making.

i was simply left with the impression that someone was trying to create something very artistic but it just fell apart and what we're left with is some great parts that were incredibly poorly put together. i would love to take the footage here (and the sound) and rework it into a movie. there is great stuff here, its just almost impossible to watch through in this form.

sorry. i tried, i wanted this to be a good movie, but i struggled to sit through it and in the end i didn't enjoy the experience whatsoever. avoid this.

(2/10)


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friendships, booze, money, and sex

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 17 February 2012 07:43 (A review of Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition))

this is a very good movie and its easy to call it a classic. its a well built story that develops its characters into complex emotional beings. it should be said though, that it is slow. almost excruciatingly slow. it takes nearly 4 hours to get through this and little of that is action. as well, the entire story is told in retrospect from an older man about how he got to the situation he's not confronting; which is he's been hired presumably to kill someone despite having been "away" for 30 years.

in short the story is about a group of young boys who together develop into a criminal underground of the prohibition era ny. their close friendships carry over while one is jailed for 10 years for stabbing to death a man who killed one of them. once out and part of the gang again divisions begin to develop between them. ultimately leading to the ending which is repetitively brief and somewhat difficult to understand.

sure it doesn't hold up to the godfather, but its a beautifully shot and well made movie. its worth watching with out a doubt.

certain issues i have with it that mar it. it is too long and too slow. yet a scene were the main character rapes a friend is way too long and detailed. there is a hint of sexual desire in the dwelling on this scene which in my view is simply repulsive. its easily the worst scene of the movie...not for its effect (which i'll give it was shocking and develops the mess this man has created for himself) but for the lingering voyeurism of the extended graphic scene. also the end of the film...after nearly 4 hours....was confusing. not to give it away but i didn't find it convincing the guy wanted to be killed firstly...and secondly why was the trash truck outside a party at a mansion, how did it know to start before the guy came outside, and why didn't they show him actually die and instead rely on a slight-of-hand "maybe he did, maybe he didn't". frankly it was a major let down for a movie that you have to invest a lot into to get to that point.

all in all a definite "see it". i'd watch it again, but it can't be a favorite.

(8/10)


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what once was sort of...

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 13 February 2012 02:45 (A review of Bonnie and Clyde)

i suspect when this movie was released it was more shocking than it is now. sexual and violent but also a relatively loose camera that seems almost mock documentary. i do know that people considered that the film glorified their lives and i'd agree with that to an extent. in fact, it doesn't so much glorify their lives but show what they did as careless and rather unintelligent self gratification. for a film that begins by using seemingly factual notes on a still frame, this is far from realistic.

in fact, it only takes a moment of two of research to realize how off the story is. of course, if all you do is watch the movie, you'll undoubtedly find much to be suspect here. firstly, as soon as clyde shows up trying to steal bonnie's mom's car, this turns into a fornicating romp in which bonnie ups the ante by egging clyde on to perform robbery. this in turn is all it takes to set off the rest of their antics. shallow at best.

clyde is the worst here, simply trying to steal when ever he could to get whatever he needed. which at some point leads him to commit murder because a police man is holding onto their car...apparently enough to make clyde nonchalantly point his gun directly and not threaten but just shoot...oops...oh well..damn.....now we're wanted for murder...guess we'll have to steal more. its not a very well scripted movie.

clyde's brother and his brother's wife join the 'gang' when while meeting up clyde is ambushed by cops and they all shoot their way out of the trap. except his brother's wife who seems to spend the entire film screaming and/or being annoying.

about the only truly interesting character in the movie is the young driver...who it turns out is not a real character at all. he's several people rolled into one to simplify the stories. which is another issue the film has; it flies through all the story as if its a couple days. trying to build momentum by shear force rather than effectively developing depth to the characters. in the end i didn't care that they were shot dead. by that point i didn't believe the story and hadn't developed any attachment to the people. even the drive, who potentially is the most complicated and conflicted person is left almost jokingly watching his heroes (bonnie mostly, but clyde too) drive off to what he knows is going to be their deaths.

ok so i was disappointed by this movie, and perhaps i had too high of expectations for it. in truth its a good watchable movie. its dated. its fictionalized rather loosely on legend rather than fact and only hints that this may not be a glamorous life they bumble through. for a entertaining nonsense old school run foul of the law shoot 'em up, its pretty decent.

(6/10)


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fair'ly tale

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 5 February 2012 06:13 (A review of Happily N'Ever After [US Import])

watching this made me realize how much we expect fair tales to look like disney films now. this film both deviates from that and swallows some of it as well.

it doesn't really look like a disney film and sense people involved with shrek made this you won't be surprised that it has that sort've quality to it. eg a bit rough around the edges but this simply means its not completely glossed over as a disney film would be. if this was disney everything would reek of over thought, over produced, refined, researched, targeted, screened and re-edited, with not a hint of dust anywhere. thats all good and fine, nothing agaisnt disney's approach, but its actually nice to see something less watered down and synthetic shined. that what this film is. not perfect, but thoroughly watchable.

story: its cinderella with a twist. here she lusts over the prince, who is a schmuck. then there is his personal caretaker/"dishwasher" who is in love with cinderella. throw an unusual OZ character in the mix; a wizard who is in charge of watching over the fairy tales and keeping balance of good and evil in them. the wizard leaves it to his two assistants who are strange little creatures. they screw some thing up and worse cinderella's step-mom ends up in taking control over the wizard's magical scales and wand. she uses it to invite evil into town (ala trolls that look like domino's noids only fatter). cinderella searches for the prince to help the town...he's out searching for the girl who fits the slipper...and the dishwasher helps....and you'll know exactly where this is going. the only true surprise to the story is the rumpelstiltskin character...but its not important to the story.

i enjoyed this. its not perfect, its perdictable, but honestly i hope for more like it. (8/10)



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