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No One Saw a Thing

Well made but maddening...
I haven't written reviews on IMDb in awhile but was prompted to after watching this fascinating series. I watched all episodes in one sitting. Extremely well made. However, I take some issues with the obvious point the creators are trying to make.

The producers are bending over backwards to humanize Ken Rex McElroy by repeatedly showing archival footage of his wife stating that she "had no idea" why the townspeople were so "hateful" towards her family. They also follow up by recent interviews with McElroy's children and a grandson, all of whom seem stunned and hurt by the man's execution.

At no time do any of the interviewers point out the hellish insanity that McElroy put these people through. He shot two men who were not threatening him. This does not seem to bother his kids one bit. They go on and on in interviews about how badly they were treated and they seem to relish the filmmakers' not-so-subtle implication that the misfortunes the town suffered subsequently was a result of the bad "karma" they earned.

Ok. Right...

While I can appreciate the attempt to show both sides of the story I am completely floored by the refusal of McElroy's progeny to face up to the fact that HE was the problem. Had he not harassed, bullied and ATTEMPTED MURDER - then laughed about it repeatedly - the vigilante slaying would not have happened.

Google "Ken Rex McElroy" for more info on this story. It's more heinous than what this mini series offers.


Not a good waste of time...
I really wanted to like this film. I loved the director's earlier "Night Tides" movie which I saw at a special screening in the '90s somewhere in Hollywood. Many critics have praised this film and I heard it was a minor hit when it came out so I was looking forward to it.

That said, this is not an easy movie to like. I think part of the problem lies in the forced attempt at creating the '50s setting. In larger budgeted films where you can use a studio back lot or hire tons of top-notch art directors, set dressers, expensive costumers, etc., that type of recreation can work (although sometimes it does do not) but in this case it seemed like they were trying to too hard to set it in the '50s -- it seemed off. My wife walked by while I was watching it, didn't know anything about this movie and said, "it looks like a '70s movie." Why would she say this? Something about it is off, the haircuts seem a little bit too shaggy and some of the costumes aren't quite right. It was a coup to get all the period cars though, gotta give credit where credit is due.

Anyway, getting to the story. This is also kinda weird. We're supposed to believe that a nightclub singer whose beloved boyfriend was killed by his mobster friends right in front of her eyes would hire the same mobsters to help her run a drive-in after they are paroled from prison? And she's even sleeping with one of them? I don't think so. Had a hard time buying that. Piper Laurie as said singer is also shown in flashbacks from 17 years ago and instead of getting a different actress (one who might be 30 pounds lighter) they simply change her hair do. I'm not buying it.

The acting is hit and miss. Piper is one-note shrill. Stuart Whitman as her retired mobster boyfriend is pretty good. The guy playing the parapsychologist (or whatever he was - somehow he doubled as the prison doctor, from what the dialogue inferred) seemed like something out of another movie entirely. The best acting goes to the weirdo possessed daughter who gets to be in the movie's few effective scenes when she babbles in a man's voice. Maybe if the film included more of these "Exorcist"-inspired scenes it would have worked better.

The laughable ending with Piper fighting a plastic skeleton in the water is mind-numbingly awful. Even worse is the "Laura" rip-off end song which is just bad.


Assassinate this movie!
First off, I'm a huge Bronson fan, have been since the late '70s. I watched every film he made on the big screen since "Love and Bullets", which ironically was the beginning of his end as a big name, Hollywood-blockbuster star.

I kept hoping that things would turn around for him, that he would make a really good film in the '80s, but that never happened. And I don't know what he was thinking when he signed with cheapjack studio Cannon and hack director J. Lee Thompson for most of his latter films.

"Assasination" gave me some hopes when I saw that Peter Hunt was directing instead of Thompson but those hopes were quickly dashed. First off, the film looks incredibly cheap, like it was made for about 3 mil, minus Bronson's inflated salary (I heard he insisted on 5 mil per picture which is probably more than the rest of the budget for all his Cannon films). The White House scenes were filmed on the VA grounds in West LA - I was taking the bus when they were shooting. Nice job on recreating the white house but did no one think about getting the Palm trees out of the shots? Guess not.

Secondly, the supporting cast is really bad. Ireland was dying of cancer and despite this she's not bad but the horrible Asian woman playing Bronson's sidekick was typical of Cannon's talent at the time --non-existent. I would be real curious to learn how she got this role. I can't imagine a worse actress for the part, plus she's a good 40 years younger than Bronson! The story is not that bad and it's something that bigger and better-budgeted studios did later (Eastwood's "In the Line of Fire" and Costner's "Bodyguard" film) but the way it's staged here is really sad. I'm wondering if they could not afford to do more than one or two takes per shot. None of it is believable in the slightest. If Secret Service men really behaved like the keystone cops in this movie we'd have presidents rotating out of office (and out of life) every few months...

Last Seen at Angkor

Really, really, really bad...
Where does one begin? I had an interest in the subject matter (SE Asia - not prostitution!) because of a month-long trip I spent in Cambodia, Thailand and other parts of the area, including a few days in Siem Reap, where some of the action supposedly takes place. I say "supposedly" because while there was some quick footage of the temples it seemed to mainly consist of one still shot (might have even been a photograph, not sure) of Angkor Wat. The rest of the film seemed to be shot in the alleyways of some SE Asian country - you couldn't be sure. There was one quick scene shot on the bank of some river I had walked on in Siem Reap but it wasn't a very good angle. Then it hit me - I'm betting this whole film was shot guerilla style without permits! That would explain why you never (except for perhaps one brief scene that looked like it may have been shot surreptitiously) see the characters actually walking in front of the temples - there weren't any real good scenes that might have benefited from the exotic beauty of this area.

But then what do you expect from this film that liberally rips off parts of "Memento" and any number of other films? For the record, it is ostensibly about a loser American grade school teacher who we see gazing at a young girl soccer player in the opening scene while he's in the classroom. This will make sense by the end of the film though you probably won't really care at that point. Through flashbacks we see that his wife mysteriously disappeared after he proposed to her in Siem Reap -- 4 years ago. Then it cuts to him in Thailand or some other SE Asian country (not sure) where he meets up with some private eye dude who says his office is in Singapore (I guess all Asians speak the same language - NOT) but somehow "knows" the right people to contact in Cambodia. How he knows the Khmer language as well as Thai is never answered. No doubt a multi-talented linguist. The film follows these two guys as they sleep in dingy, ugly hotels (guess the filmmakers couldn't afford more than $5.00 a night - you can live like kings for $25.00). None of this makes a lot of sense and at one point the lead character even asks his guide why they have to stay in such a sh*thole. The guide never gives a convincing answer. Both actors are pretty bad. The video quality is not very good. And none of the locations except for some extremely brief bits shot in Siem Reap are that interesting. Literally 90% of it is shot either in crappy hotel rooms or in nondescript alleys. I kid you not.

If you really want to see a good film on Angkor Wat or Cambodia in general there are a number of documentaries you can rent. Or watch the first "Tomb Raider" with Angelina Jolie. But please, please skip this movie. The surprise "twist" at the end is not so much intriguing as it is nauseating unless you are the type of tourist who is into the sort of activity that will give you a hefty jail sentence in most countries in the world, particularly Cambodia.


Criminally underrated film
This is an excellent movie that had zero promotion when it came out in the early 90s. I saw a small flyer for it at some punk/art shop and based on that alone went to see it. I loved it and dragged back my brother to see it 2 days later. Guess what -- it had already stopped playing!

This is a film that is so L.A.-specific -- I have seen the art-student creepy types at many a gallery opening. All the actors do an excellent job particularly the extremely weird MK Harris as the artist (hardly need to mention Brad Dourif who is always good). It is a true crime that this is not available on DVD with director's commentary. Kurt Voss also made "Sugar Town" -- another very good L.A.-specific film -- but I think this is his best.

If you have a multi-region DVD player you can get a copy from the UK -- otherwise try to track down Kurt Voss in L.A.!

Update (10-1-10) -- it's available -NEW- in Region 2 DVD for under $5.00 on Amazon U.S.! Just ordered my copy. With all-region DVD players costing less than 100 there is no reason not to get this film. Also- MK's artwork is done by amazing LA artist Bill Barminski - before he became semi-famous. Music by the Pixies right before they hit it big.

Rocket Science

Completely Mediocre
I haven't bothered to read all of the other comments but I'm sure it must have been stated before -- this is a completely mediocre comedy that is simply yet another attempt by Hollywood to ride on the coattails of much better films like "Rushmore" and "Napoleon Dynamite." Whereas those films had one or two quirky characters, the hack director of this film decided to up the ante and make ALL but one or two characters "quirky." Was this an attempt to quadruple the laughs? If so, he failed miserably.

I was thinking about a great teenage comedy film from the late '70s/early'80s - "My Bodyguard" which carried a similar theme of a young, loser kid trying to find his place in the world. That film not only appeared a million times more real but it also limited the "quirky" quotient to one character -- Ruth Gordon.

C'mon Hollywood, stop cannibalizing yourself. Let's see something new...

UPDATE, 5/2/2020: I was looking over my past reviews and stumbled upon this. I have ZERO RECOLLECTION of this film. That's how forgettable it is. I looked through the trailer twice. Honestly I can't recall one thing about this movie. Even terrible films usually leave some kind of hideous memory -- like the smell of burnt toast that won't go away. Not this one.

It Runs in the Family

Really bad. Why anyone thinks this is a good film let alone funny is a true mystery. I like comedies as much as the next man and I LOVED "A Christmas Story." The fact that it has the same director and was based on the same writer's memoirs has me completely puzzled as to why this film is such a complete failure on every level. Charles Grodin is woefully miscast as the father for starters. For another it does not seem to have the same pacing -- it just doesn't flow well. Everything seems tired and forced. The joy of life that permeated the first film is completely absent here -- you just want the movie to end. I wouldn't even recommend this movie for curiosity-seekers who enjoyed "A Christmas Story." It's that bad. 1/10.

Young Warriors

Not just a bad movie, a truly wretched piece of garbage
There are good-bad movies and bad-bad-movies and enjoyably bad movies...this isn't one of them. This is a movie that doesn't realize just how bad it is.

I saw this at a screening on November 14, 2006 at the New Beverly Theater in Los Angeles as part of the "Grindhouse Cinema" this theater puts on every month. Hopefully presenters Eric Caiden & co. will think twice before letting writer/director Lawrenece Foldes anywhere near them again. What a con man. The guy got up to speak before the film -- you would think he was Orson Welles talking about "Touch of Evil" or some other lost classic. Hardly. Nice of him to take up 20 minutes of the audiences' time with his incoherent rambling.

"Young Warriors" has been described as a cross between "Animal House" and "Death Wish" but if you are expecting something along the lines of imitations like "Revenge of the Nerds" or "The Exterminator" you will be in for one sad disappointment. The script makes zero sense. The direction is so poor the actors looked embarrassed and what can you say when the best thing about the movie is watching a car blow up?

Poor Richard "shaft" Roundtree. In this movie he plays another character with the first name of "John" but that's about the only similarity his character here has to the aforementioned classic. I hope this film allowed him to pay the rent for another month. Other actors who look like they wished they could be anywhere else included Ernest Borgnine and Linda Day George.

This is a complete waste of time. Even the audience did not seem that into it (except for the one spazz-boy sitting in the back who yelled "whoa" every five minutes and his girlfriend who giggled with the fervor of a lobotomized talking Barbie every time he opened his mouth).

For real films about vigilantes, I would suggest the following:

Death Wish I, II, III, Exterminator I, Vigilante Force, Ms. 45, Rolling Thunder, the No-Mercy Man (the latter two being a pair of films presented at this theater a couple of years ago -- probably the same budget as "Young Warriors" but both were a million times better!)

Sleep Always

Amazing job all around
Films about obsessive men hung up on elusive women have been made before (look at 80% of the Lifetime channel's programming) but "Sleep Always" is something else altogether. The lead character in this film has little going on in his life until he runs into a good-looking homeless woman (the best looking homeless woman I've ever seen!) but fortunately the film's writing and acting work well towards creating a non-clichéd story, one that stays with you long after the film ends.

This film was shot on Super-8 reversal stock (7240 for those who care) -- and it's amazing that the images look as good as they do. I was impressed by how well it was shot despite these limitations. Rather than detract, the super-8 format lends to the unsettling tone...this is creepy stuff bordering on Lynchian-territory. If you are in the mood for something offbeat and non-Hollywood I would highly recommend this film.

The lead actress was excellent -- I can see her going places. The actor, not as good, but not embarrassing either.

Mean Johnny Barrows
(1975) bad...(as in not good)...on a $4.99 budget...
Fred Williamson is a charismatic actor but he shouldn't be allowed behind the camera for the simple reason that he has no clue as how to direct a film. I had heard that his earlier films were better than the direct-to-vid films he slapped together in the '80s but this film, made just as the blaxploitation craze was winding down, is beyond belief.

I'd like to think that he had a crew of 5 people: 2 for sound, one high school student to do the lighting, an A.D., and himself...oh yeah, I guess he'd need a cameraman. Well maybe one of the actors handled that when they weren't needed in front of the camera. That might explain a lot. This is, technically, a truly horrible film: the sound, lighting, camera are all beyond amateur.

What really takes the cake is the inclusion of good actors like Roddy McDowell, Elliot Gould (as one reviewer noted below -- this is the best scene and it makes no sense but is welcome anyway) and Stuart Whitman. Were these actors behind in their car payments? If you want good blaxploitation and you like Williamson, check out "Bucktown" or "Black Caesar" or any of the early '70s films he starred in before he thought he knew how to direct. This is an embarrassment to all the cast and crew (except for Gould who is hilarious!).

I'd love to hear from a crew member who worked on this dreck. I'm sure it was a nightmare.

Land of the Dead

Sorry fanboys, it's not that good...
Nobody wanted this film to be good more than I. Last year when the script was posted online I read it in one sitting from start to finish. Totally fascinated. I thought it was a brilliant exercise in class warfare, race, the human condition, etc. In other words, more than the mindless Italian zombie movie, and more than anything Romero did before. It contained some of the elements that he retrieved from the original "Day of the Dead" script (that he wasn't able to film back then when his budget was cut by 2/3 or so)...

Anyway, so I came to this movie with high expectations based on the phenomenal reviews by both media and the fanboys...maybe I shouldn't have read so much for this has to be the most disappointing movie of the year! First, if you come into this looking for gore, you are going to be disappointed. I believe there is more cannibalism and blood in last year's "Dawn" remake...weird that no one mentions that. But worse than that is the script. I get the feeling Romero had to cut a big bit down (what else is new, George?) from the script I read online because most of the character development was completely gone. Only "Cholo" (nice name) had any kind of motivation and even that could have been explained a lot better. Sure, he represents the working class that wants to move up in society but they could have done more with it...the scene where he gets blown off by Hopper looks like it was rushed. There was zero subtlety...not that well done. Simon Baker's character fared worse. We get the feeling that he and the Robert Joy guy had a bit of a history working together --that's it for his back story. A bit about his dead sister, nothing more. Sorry, it's hard to care about characters we don't know anything about. Contrast this with the scene in the "Dawn" remake where you actually had people sitting around talking about their stories, where they came from, etc. Like night and day, no pun intended.

As for the "Fiddler's Green" refuge for the rich-- I was looking forward to seeing something out of Ballard's "High Rise" the way it was described in the press but Romero hardly even showed it or explained anything about it. Who were the people who lived there? How did Hopper decide who gets to live there and who stays in the city streets? where did the city people live? Could we see their housing situation? Too many questions, not enough answers. If a point was trying to be made about classism -- and it could have been a damn good one -- it sure wasn't made in this movie.

The Haunting

What was Lili Taylor thinking????
This is not only Lili Taylor's worst film but it is also one of the worst films ever made.

What were these intelligent actors like Taylor and Owen Wilson and Catherine Zeta-Jones thinking when they accepted this crap? Were they really getting that much money to do this? How sad. It's not even good in a "so-bad-it's-funny" sorta way. When Taylor says towards the end, "it's all about the family" I thought I was going to vomit.

This isn't worth commenting on any further -- if you still want to watch it after reading all the negative comments written, be my guest. Absolute garbage.

Le notti erotiche dei morti viventi

Incoherent Mess...not even enjoyable as trash cinema goes...
Well this is a real mess of a film. It's worthy of watching at a drive-in, where you don't have to pay much attention to the plot because you are too busy ... doing other things. Watch it on DVD, however, like I did, and you'll be in for a real miserable time.

Others have described the plot so I won't comment on that. The script is pure garbage. It makes little sense. I'm convinced the director fused two entirely different movies together, one a bad porn, one an even worse horror film. The fusing together of two different movies, like in "Dr. Butcher, M.D." can be a good thing, but in this case, it just doesn't work. Camera-work, direction, acting all run the gamut of bad to awful. Watch Fulci's "Zombi 2" and any other Laura Gemser movie instead of this dreck.

American Wedding

Annoying and stupid
If you watch the Unrated DVD of "American Wedding" check out the "writer's commentary." I just assumed this was a new writer who was brought in after the guys who did "American Pie I & II" got tired of this. Not so -- incredibly, the same guy wrote all three!

This is a tired movie -- it should be entitled "The Stifler Compromise" because, really, it's all about the writer's obvious love for the Stifler character who grows old and weary after 5 minutes. He's kind of like the funny friend you remember from junior high who never grew up. Do you really want to see 90 minutes of Stifler jerking around like an idiot, screeching potty mouth language and trying desperately to be funny? For some reason Ebert gave this a good review and I can't figure that out. The scene he cited as hilarious -- Stifler on the gay disco -- was dumb and pathetic. And this is from a guy who thought the first "American Pie" was and is a classic!

Pass on this. Save the dough and watch "Napoleon Dynamite" instead!

Original Gangstas

Why is this film so disappointing?
This film does not work.

It has great potential and the theme of abandoning your roots frequently pops up -- giving potential for further plot development which most action films do not even approach. However, this all-star cast of blaxploitation veterans making their first film together rarely jells.

For instance, Fred Williamson, who produced, seems to have forgotten that there were other great actors from that era. 90% of the film is him strutting around, pontificating on how bad the neighborhood has become and why don't the cops/neighbors/politicians/whoever do something about it. He saw fit to put Jim Brown in as co-star, but Brown serves as little more than a bodyguard, punching the whey out of a few people and (in his one big solo scene) threatening a young thug. Richard ("Shaft") Roundtree and Mr. "Superfly" himself -- Ron O'Neal -- are given glorified cameos. In fact, the introductory scene with O'Neal is shown completely in long shot. Why didn't the director do a few closeups? You can hardly tell it's O'Neal. That's just sloppy direction (either that or they didn't have permits to shoot on city streets and shot this on the sly).

Other great character actors -- Robert Forster, Charles Napier, Wings Hauser -- are featured but have little to do but act like cartoon characters. Whoever wrote this film should have given thought to the reasons why the best blaxploitation epics worked.

Not a complete failure but overall a major disappointment considering this is the first and only film these stars have been in together (no chance for a reunion with O'Neal's recent passing).

** out of *****

Three Examples of Myself as Queen

Not good...
In this particular "film" Biller is a queen bee and sits around while a bunch of male bees sing silly songs. There is nothing particularly clever about these rhymes and songs. Surprisingly enough, the art-student looking actors don't look too embarrassed. If you are into looking at dorks in bee suits standing around singing silly songs while the lead actress lies on a bed of some kind, then by all means, rent this one.


The final short in this comp shows promise as Biller films outside for the first time. We see her and a friend walk into a party where some "hip", garagey kind of band is playing. They actually sound kind of good, though it looks like they are lip synching everything. Biller gets surrounded by all the men and is forced to run outside. The men, in turn, uh, grow dog masks on their face and Biller is rescued by ... get this ... a prince on a white horse. She spouts some idiotic manifesto that makes little sense (but who could care, given that her acting is completely wooden?) and she walks off on a white path that suddenly appears, leading to a castle far off. Don't know how they achieved that effect...but I'm sure it must have blown their budget of the $200.00 ...

To be avoided.

6/30/09 edit: Just saw the director's "Viva" which is actually a pretty funny film. My opinion of this mess still stands but don't let that hold you back from the sexploitation romp that is "Viva"...

Welcome to Arrow Beach

Kind of a weird mess...
Hilarious title song by Lou Rawls (can someone be a sport and let me know the name of it?) and some tasty nude scenes can't overcome a real muddled film. Sure it's explained that Harvey has a "taste for cannibalism" but where is the rationale behind it? We see a brief flashback scene of Harvey leaving a vintage-Korean war airplane along with a messed up looking crew of overacting teenagers (and Harvey doesn't look any younger than he is in the "present" day scenes -- check out the sideburns) but what exactly happened there? Perhaps the Dutch version has more footage? Also, what about the Stuart Whitman subplot? He was all hot to find out the truth but that sort of faded away. A real mess ... can't believe Harvey checked out with this as the last bit of work on his resume...

'R Xmas

Another low point for Ferrara
I don't know what has happened to director Abel Ferrara. Ever since the "Body Snatchers" remake he seems to have lost it. "King of New York" and "The Bad Lieutenant" remain two of the best films of the '90s: searing indictments of a decade gone wrong. With films like "'R Xmas" (whatever that means) and "New Rose Hotel" he seems determined to disgust and bore his former supporters. This film has NO LIFE in it. While he gets excellent performances out of his actors in all of his projects the result of this mishmash of ideas just doesn't jell. Whatever the point is -- that the new breed of drug dealer is more or less the same as any other upper middle class New Yawkuh -- gets lost in the mind numbing script and boring direction.

I saw this opening night at the 4-Plex in downtown L.A. In the lobby, while buying tickets, I was surprised and delighted to see it filled with a large, racially mixed group of men and women in their twenties and thirties. Then they started into the theater but it was the theater that was featuring "8 Mile" not "'R Xmas"! The theater showing "'R Xmas" (keep in mind, this was opening night!) had a total of 4 people watching it, myself, my wife and two others!

Way to go, Abel!



Absolute Garbage
"The Sixth Sense" was a genuine surprise that floored me, though, to be honest, it doesn't hold up so much on second viewing.

"Unbreakable" had some good moments and acting but was ultimately a disappointment.

"Signs," from the get go, was absolute crap. I kept waiting for there to be some sort of payoff -- 3/4 of the way through, I knew this was not to be. Total disappointment. Every scene had camera angles which were "telegraphed" -- that is, you know what's going to happen by the way he staged the camera. This is filmmaking for a children's Saturday morning show, not a real movie.

Other writers on this page have commented on the bad acting and ridiculous dialogue so I won't bother going into that.

I will never see another film made by this director again.

** stars (out of ten!)

Born to Lose

Ultimately a disappointment
I really wanted to like this film seeing as how it has such an excellent soundtrack (which I believe was released by Bomp! and something you should pick up if you like garage punk) by bands like Trash Can School, the Zeros, Texas Terri, etc.

As someone who has been to punk gigs in LA throughout the '90s I can't say I knew one person who was as screwed up as the lead singer. The writer/director has stated in interviews that he was trying to mold the lead character after Johnny Thunders. Thunders was one of a kind. Perhaps the film should have been set in the '70's where such a cliched story (we've all seen "Sid and Nancy") would fit better and be more realistic.

Photography and acting are pretty good but the sound in some scenes is really awful. Take the last scene of the movie: I had no idea who the old guy in the wheelchair was or what the lead character was saying and why he was taking the dude's wheelchair. Why was this scene even included?

Overall, a disappointment. It would be cool to see a realistic film about the '90's LA-garage punk scene someday. This just ain't it. 5/10


Why was this film even made?
I'm a big fan of David Mamet's two previous "con game" films -- "The Spanish Prisoner" and "House of Games" which gave me high hopes for this movie. Maybe people who watched dreck like "Happy Gilmore" or the "Planet of the Apes" remake would find this script witty or clever, to me it's "Mamet-lite." This has all been done before and in much better ways. Hackman and DeVito overact a bit, the Rockwell character is an annoying jerk who no professional would allow to live, and Pidgeon looks good but has an underwritten part. Joseph Mantegna might have been a bit more believable in his great understated way. Pass on this, I wouldn't even recommend it for video. Watch "House of Games" instead for a great con job movie. 3/10


Romero's worst since "Creepshow" or "Two Evil Eyes"
A film about a man's faceless identity can be fascinating if done well...alas, this film is not one of those...

When I first heard about this movie being made I had high hopes. When I discovered it at my local cult video store I was wary when I realized it had never been released on the big screen. But I rented it anyway, hoping for the best...after all this is a film by one of my favorite directors, the wildly uneven George Romero, maker of the fantastic "Night" and "Dawn of the Dead" movies. Director of the very good "Martin", "the Crazies" and Monkeyshines." Unfortunately, while Romero has made his share of classics he has made more than a few terrible films -- "Day of the Dead", "Two Evil Eyes", "Creepshow" and "Season of the Witch" all come to mind. I'm sure there have been a few I'm leaving out.

This film is unbelievably bad. It is a comic book come to life filled with unrealistic dialogue, terrible, over-the-top acting and impossible scenes that make little sense. Read the plot from some of the other reviews. Take the glowing praise you read with a grain of salt, however, and don't rent this. Read a book or see the original "Night of the Living Dead" instead.


Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Unfair to compare the two...give it a chance.
I stopped reading the comments others have made after realizing that most of them were written by half-rabid BWP 1 fans completely unwilling (or perhaps unable) to accept the fact that the direction of this movie may have been purposefully different from the first (hey, what a concept!) What do you people expect, more shaky footage? Direction and story were fine. Don't expect something like the first -- in fact, leave your expectations at home and you may actually enjoy this film. I'd give this baby an 8/10.

The Brandon Teena Story

Not a perfect documentary but tells a compelling story...
I just watched this on video last night, after having seeing "Boys Don't Cry" in the theaters a few weeks ago. This is the perfect companion piece for that movie which, though fictionalized in some aspects, treats the story pretty well. Where "The Brandon Teena" story suffers is in its failure to completely document Teena's pre Fall City lifestyle. We know Teena left Lincoln, Nebraska but we aren't given a more clear picture of his/her life there. For instance, while the mother is interviewed, what about the father? Was there one? Why didn't the mother drive down to Falls City right after she was raped? Why didn't she send her away from that town to a safe shelter, especially when the two perps were given their freedom? Didn't anyone think that John and Tom would try to exact revenge? These questions are never answered. One gets the feeling that Teena, aside from having a "sexual identity crisis" as she puts it, was an incredibly tortured soul, one who couldn't see the forest for the trees, as the saying goes.

This film contains fascinating subject matter which isn't given as thorough attention as it deserves.

Reindeer Games

Not a bad effort
"Reindeer Games" is about a recently released prisoner (Ben Affleck) assuming his dead best friend's identity and getting involved with the girl the friend was writing to in prison (the always-attractive Charlize Theron). Gary Sinise plays her "brother" -- an arms runner who wants to use the dead friend's talents to help hold up a casino. I could suspend the disbelief here and there and try to hold back laughing over some of the inane implausibilities (when he escaped from his hotel room for instance, why didn't he try and hide out? Why didn't he steal a car and bail once he realized who --plot spoiler--Charlize really was?) but the real problem with this film is it's lead. Affleck is an ok actor but he's not 100% believable as a con. Had they cast someone older, say a Willem Dafoe-type this film could have been a true classic.

Also, the guys who make up Sinise's gang are all excellent, veteran, character actors who hardly have anything to do but look menacing. The few lines they do have (like the one guy who gives his reasons why America should have two Christmases a year) are pretty hilarious. Yet, to give baby-boy Affleck more screen time, I have a feeling that a lot of their lines were cut. They end up as being mere props for Sinise to yell and scream at. A pity. What could have been a great film is a mere ok action flick. Also, the film's conclusion -- in keeping with Hollywood's insistence on creating happy endings -- is a true sap-fest. Couldn't you guys have done a bit better?

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