smatysia

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Reviews

Elephant White
(2011)

Kung Fu with Guns and Knives
I found this somewhat entertaining, but it is a mixture of genres, and I don't think it knows what to be. A lot of fighting scenes where the bad guys pliantly attack one at a time, although to be fair, it seems they are aware of this and try to choreograph them such that this seems more natural than, say, the '70's kung fu films. Also, it features the action movie trope wherein all of the bad guys are terrible shots. Plus, it dabbles in Eastern spirituality and mysticism, while trying to make a point about sex trafficking.

Within the limits of the material, the lead actor, Djimon Hounsou, with whom I was unfamiliar, played his part very well. Kevin Bacon was fine, once you get past his voice/accent. I thought for most of the movie that he was dubbed, it was so strange. The young Thai actress, Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul was lovely and accomplished. Nice photography of Bangkok.

I'm ambivalent about whether I can recommend this one.

The Hunt
(2020)

A hate crime in cinematic form
From what little I had heard about this film, I expected it to be basically a hate crime. It was, but not in the way I expected. The filmmakers skewer both sides of the political divide in roughly equal incidences and severity, except for the basic premise. It turned out to be a semi-comedic horror/gore/action film. There were some pretty good performances, leavened by the level of the material. I am unfamiliar with Betty Gilpin, but I hope she gets some good roles in the future. I didn't recognize Hilary Swank, but she was good as well. There were some plot holes, but I can't really point them out without writing a spoiler. I gave this a much higher rating than I expected to, and my dislike of gore cinema probably cost it another star. Don't know that I can exactly recommend this movie, but it was better than I thought it would be, and was not what I expected.

Cat People
(1982)

Works pretty well as erotic horror/fantasy
It works pretty well as erotic horror/fantasy. Yes, there are some quibbles. Some of the special effects seem a little cheesy now, in the age of computer graphic effects. But, hey, it was 1982. A couple of times it was obvious that a character had jumped down and walked backward, and then the film ran in reverse to make the movements look more feline. Malcolm Mc Dowell came across as creepy and menacing, as usual. I had forgotten how beautifully doe-eyed an sylph-like Nastassja Kinski looked in this. And Annette O'Toole was great as the contrasting but lovely every-girl.

Half Magic
(2018)

Sweet and charming
I quite enjoyed this film, especially being a long-time fan of the three lead actresses, especially Angela Kinsey. Full disclosure: I'm a guy, and therefore cannot always relate to the tribulations of womanhood. Even so, I found it entertaining, poignant, sweet and charming.

Camilla
(1994)

Sweet and charming
Excellent acting by Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda in the leads. Supporting cast was also good. A couple of them flirted with the line of becoming cartoonish, but backed away in time. It had some plot issues, and was a bit slow at times, but overall, I found it sweet and charming.

Late Bloomers
(1996)

Gay liberation, in a way, but sweet and non-militant
A fairly early entry in the push for gay acceptance. It's always easier to use a lesbian story for this, as picturing male homosexuality is widely considered unappealing and offensive. Having said that, this movie was sweet and non-militant. Connie Nelson did a fine acting job, but she looks like a stereotypical middle-aged lesbian. Dee Hennigan was the opposite, playing a harried suburban mom. I thought she was lovely, even though she didn't have a typical Hollywood look. being a bit older and heavier than that. That's an observation, not a criticism. I ended up really liking this film.

Chasers
(1994)

Mildly amusing somewhat entertaining
No, I'm not saying this was a good movie. The minor characters were way too cartoonish. And it could have been billed as a remake of The Last Detail. But it was mildly amusing somewhat entertaining. Pretty good performances by Tom Berenger and Erika Eleniak. As for William McNamara, his character was annoying and unlikeable, but I'm sure it was written that way, and you can't blame that on the actor. I'd say the film was okay.

Mojave Moon
(1996)

A cast of excellent actors working with a ludicrous script
I knew nothing about this film going in. For the first third, it seems to be a regular, if predictable drama/thriller. Then it morphs into a completely unpredictable black comedy. I thought "what the hell?" but stuck with it. I ended up liking it, but you have to be able to swallow some ridiculous scenes and characters. I felt like it had a cast of excellent actors working with a ludicrous script.

Midway
(2019)

Pretty decent war movie
Overall, a pretty decent war movie. None of the actors really stood out, but I don't think they were intended to. A lot of complaints in the comments about the CGI. I thought it was fair to good. How else are you supposed to make a movie like this when the ships and planes no longer exist? You could make some mock-ups in the studio, but for the big action scenes...

10
(1979)

Wryly comedic
Dudley Moore stars as a dissatisfied 42-year-old having his "midlife crisis". He turns in a good performance, even if his character is not very likeable. The comedy is mostly of the wry variety, although there are some physically comedic vignettes. Julie Andrews is wasted in a relatively small part with a bad hairstyle. Dee Wallace was quite charming in a small part. And Bo Derek looked very good, and her acting was certainly adequate, in spite of the reviews. The ending, while a bit predictable, carried some emotional power. It's worth seeing, but no classic.

Ford v Ferrari
(2019)

Pretty good racing movie
I've never been a big fan of Matt Damon, but I have to admit, he turns in a quite good performance in this film, as does Christian Bale, who I didn't even recognize. Overall, this is a pretty good historical drama, and a pretty good auto racing flick. Worth checking out.

Professione: reporter
(1975)

Not much here
There doesn't really seem to be much here. A previous comment asked if it was a thriller or a character study. If it's a thriller, it doesn't thrill, and if it's a character study, it doesn't study. It's a European art film, and it did not do much for me. You may think that this makes me a Philistine, and I suppose you may be right. I gave it as high of a rating as I did only because of the beautiful photography, and the equal beauty of Maria Schneider.

Magic
(1978)

More of a psychological thriller than a horror movie
This is much more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie. It is not filled with gore and jump scares, which is what the horror genre has devolved into. I first saw it in the early Eighties, and am not sure if I had seen Anthony Hopkins in anything. (It was later that I saw him in The Lion in Winter, even though it was an earlier film) I recall being very impressed at the time, but the film seemed to have more or less vanished since then. Hopkins was outstanding, and Ann-Margaret was very good. Also good was Burgess Meredith, although whenever I see him, I still can't help but think of the Penguin.

The Silent Partner
(1978)

A pretty good flick overall
A pretty good flick overall. As I began watching it, I thought that the somewhat goofy-looking Elliot Gould was miscast. But later on, I realized that this was deliberate, as other characters kept on underestimating Gould's character. It was well-acted, well-directed, and well-photographed. Susannah York and Celine Lomez looked great, and hit all the right notes. Christopher Plummer was suitably menacing.

The Sentinel
(1977)

Pretty good for what it is
It's pretty good for what it is. With all of the big-name and up-and-coming actors playing supporting roles, it's too bad that Winner couldn't find better actors for the leads. I just never felt any connection with either of them. Some of the effects come off today as a little bit cheesy, but hey, they had to do them honestly, not just tack on CGI in post-production. The score impressed me, as I rarely even notice movie scores. I liked it, but I think it could have been better.

Backstreet Justice
(1994)

Unless you like Kozlowski, no reason to see this
This was a vehicle for Linda Kozlowski, and sadly, there's really no other reason to see it. Ms. Kozlowski was talented and beautiful, and I wish she had a much more extensive career, as I would have liked to have seen more of her. In this film, she was as good as the material allowed. I thought that the plot was not developed very well, and the police procedures didn't make much sense.

Terminator: Dark Fate
(2019)

Pretty good. Great action and effects.
I liked it pretty well. Linda and Arnold were what you would expect, and really good acting by Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes. People ask why bother to make this one, and they have a point. It is, in many ways, a retread of T2. The first two Terminator films are classics, ones that you must have for your collection. I haven't seen any of the ones in between, and they are all seriously panned on this site. This one was fun (in a way) with outstanding action and effects. I'd recommend renting it, or seeing it on cable rather than buying it.

Roma
(2018)

Don't really see the point
There is a lot here that is good. But at the end, I wondered what was the point? The main character, Cleo, played very well by Yalitza Aparicio, who was not a professional actress, has a lot happening to her, but in the end, she remains as enigmatic and taciturn as at the beginning. A subtext seems to be the social stratification between the Caucasian looking upper classes, and the very Indian looking lower class. In reading up on the film on this site, I see that it is an ode to the director's memories of his childhood. OK, but that's not enough. I also find the black and white presentation an annoying affectation, particularly since it is portraying a time when films were in color. Sorry, Sr. Cuaron, but it bored me.

Rebecca
(1940)

Quite good
An older film that has aged fairly well, thanks in no small part to director Alfred Hitchcock. I understand that it hews fairly closely to the book by Daphne du Maurier, but I have not read it. Outstanding acting from the leads, especially Joan Fontaine, whose character is forced to grow up quite suddenly, and Ms. Fontaine was able to emphasize this transformation through speech, expressions, and mannerisms. It may not be Hitchcock's best, but it is quite good nonetheless.

Zombieland: Double Tap
(2019)

Quirky and campy fun
I saw the first Zombieland film, and I recall liking it OK. I found this one to be quite amusing, and it got two out-loud laughs from me. Good work from the entire cast, especially Emma Stone and Zoey Deutsch. I even enjoyed Woody Harrelson, who I usually dislike. And, oh yeah, Rosario Dawson was good as well, in a small part. I can't say that this film is classic, or comedic gold, but I definitely enjoyed it. More than I thought I would.

Cape Fear
(1991)

There is a lot that is very good here
I first saw this in the '90's, probably on cable. And I have never seen the original from 1962. I remember thinking that it was pretty good, and didn't even remember that it was a Scorsese film. Upon a recent reviewing, there is a lot that is good, even very good. But a few things sort of palled. De Niro chews the scenery with gusto, and very few false notes, but I thought he went a little too hard on the accent. I know, he was supposed to have grown up as a Georgia hillbilly, but even so. Nolte was great. Jessica Lange, who was soooo beautiful, adopted a, in the current vernacular, "resting bitch face", to excellent effect. Juliette Lewis was fantastic, playing the adolescent rebel, but still with some shyness and childish charm. But what was rather off-putting was Scorsese's direction. I know, I know, Scorsese is a genius, but there were so many self-indulgent director's tricks that it distracted from the rest of the film. I prefer to focus on the actors and the plot without the director shouting "Hey!! Look at me!!" Still, it's quite worth seeing.

Twenty Bucks
(1993)

A fairly original premise
A film with a fairly original premise. It has quite a cast, even though many of them had yet to achieve their ultimate fame. The movie is a set of loosely interlocking short stories with the titular framing device. The best part was the bit with Christopher Lloyd and Steve Buscemi, but Elisabeth Shue did very well, and a shout-out to Melora Walters. Overall, though, it was just okay.

Quigley Down Under
(1990)

Best part of the movie was the lovely Laura San Giacomo
Well, this film seems appropriate to the current time. Aside from the two leads, almost every white character is irretrievably evil, and every black character is either a victim or heroic. BLM would be proud.

Nice photography of the Australian countryside. To me, the best part of the movie was the performance of the lovely Laura San Giacomo.

Days of Thunder
(1990)

As a sports film, you pretty much know the story arc
A pretty good racing movie. As a sports film, you pretty much know the story arc, and the ending, but hey, that's what genre movies do. This film, unknown to anyone at the time, depicts NASCAR's Winston Cup top series, at basically the end of an era. Thirty years on, stock car racing bears little resemblance to what is portrayed here, save for action on the track.

Cruise was Cruise. It was nice seeing Nicole Kidman back before she ruined her face. Robert Duvall absolutely stole the show. NASCAR is very colorful, and makes for excellent big-screen visuals. I liked the movie.

The Good Liar
(2019)

Helen Mirren is a complete treasure
The cast was mostly first-rate. Ian McKellan is clearly an old pro, and Helen Mirren is a complete treasure. I do so wish that I had come into this film with no knowledge about it whatsoever. But I had seen a TV ad for it, so I knew that all was not as it seemed. Sigh. Barring that, I would not have found it predictable, but then, I don't watch a movie trying to figure out the ending. I simply experience it. I found this one to be engaging and entertaining throughout. Perhaps not a classic, but I recommend it.

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