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    21 years


The Con

Poor Excuse for a Documentary
This is over-produced, and under-informative. There is no depth to the content. There is too much B-roll. The script for Whoopi is pretty lame - like Dad-joke stuff.

Still with real documentaries from real producers and directors.

The Sinner

Seasons 1 & 2 Are Good
I enjoyed the first two seasons considerably. The plot lines were compelling, and the acting and technical aspects of the show were well done.

Then came season three.

The writing is a hackneyed litany of cliches. The pacing was too slow, and the manipulative and predicable writing left me thinking, "Is this over yet!" with three episodes to go.

Trust Me

The First Season Was Good...
... but when Jodie Whitaker left the show, the plot completely changed and was not nearly as compelling. Unfortunately, the plot didn't come to a full resolution. It is a shame. It was a very interesting.

Pieces of a Woman

Lots of Good Film Making Here
I enjoyed the story. It is well told and well acted. It would have received a higher score from me, but the editing kept it from being a great film. There was a lot of B-roll, unnecessary scenes, and scenes that went on too long. At over two hours, there wasn't enough content to maintain an interesting pace. A re-edit to put it at 100 minutes would make for a better work of art.

That said, I recommend it.

Sylvie's Love

No Trope Left Behind
This movie was nicely filmed, albeit with a couple of editing problems. The acting was superb. There was some chemistry between the two leads, and the tenderness made it on to the screen.

Unfortunately, the plot showed absolutely no originality. Every single cliched plot point to manipulate a response out of the audience was used. The characters had obvious solutions to their issues, but failed to see the obvious because of... who knows... melodrama I guess.

It got to be hard to watch.

Nothing Without You

Weak Plot and Marginal Acting
This really is not a watchable movie. The acting is sufficiently subpar to distract from the plot. That could be a good thing, given the plot doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Making a good film is difficult. This was a nice try.

Miss Stevens

Unexpected Original Plot with Wonderful Acting
There is so much that must come together to create a special movie. The acting, the plot, direction, editing and that intangible something extra.

This movie scores high on all of those. The plot is not formulaic. It doesn't always take the viewer where they expect to go. I appreciate that so much. While it is fundamentally a character study of Miss Stevens, there is a multi-layered plot that intertwines many, smaller, but all deep, and enjoyable subplots.

Timothee Chalamet once again proves why he is one of the best actors of his generation. He is extraordinary. Lily Rabe is wonderful in this as well. I've always enjoyed her work, typically as a supporting actor, but seeing her in a lead performance reinforces my belief that she is underrated. She is a great actor.

Some elements of the plot may be uncomfortable, but that's what makes for good art.

I highly recommend this movie.

A Wilderness of Error

I Used to Respect Errol Morris
I discovered Errol Morris, as many people did. from his documentary "The Thin Blue Line." His documentary "The Fog of War" is one of my favorite documentaries. I rated it a 10. I am stingy with 10s.

I had hoped that this would be a compelling documentary as were the others. This was pathetic. I mean pathetic.

Technically, the reenactments were low-quality, cheesy, ID Channel murder porn quality. The direction was awful.

As for the substance of the narrative, it was worse. Morris did a good job of laying out the prosecutor's case. Then he hung his hat on a witness with zero credibility, and never took the time to address the key points in the prosecution's narrative. It is beneath Morris. I got the feeling that he committed to the series and realized that his "innocent" guy was guilty as hell and he had to stick to the narrative while not believing it himself.

The result is a disaster of a documentary, and a stain on Morris's professional reputation.


Misses Being a Great Movie...
... but it certainly is a good one. It takes a lot to make a very good movie. This has most of those attributes. The acting is superb by all, but Sterling K. Brown and Lucas Hedges are outstanding.

The story by Trey Edward Schults, who also directed, is a great blend of multiple compelling storylines, with a common theme of the ripple of consequences of actions.

This movie is an editing failure. I suspect the director fell in love with his own movie. This is a 135 minute movie that should have been a 100 minute movie. There are a lot of scenes that go on too long. There are unnecessary B-roll shots that should have been eliminated.

In all, I recommend the movie. A re-edit could make this good film a truly great one.

Twenty Bucks

Not Forumlaic
I liked this movie. It's not spectacular in any significant way, but it is technically solid in all aspects. The acting, direction, cinematography, and writing are all quite good.

I think what made this a better-than-average movie is that I could not predict where it was going. I like the vignette structure of movies (the exemplar being "Short Cuts"). This structure usually means that it is unpredictable - exactly what I like in a movie.

Well done.

The Assistant

Pathetically Boring
I like Julia Garner as an actor, so I figured that it would be a decent movie in spite of the mixed reviews.

I was wrong.

This was the most incredibly boring movie I have seen in years. Think how boring someone else's home movies might be, and then assume they are movies about work, instead of vacations and home life.

Assume that the film maker doesn't understand how to edit a scene, and you have this movie. It is a complete waste of time, and a waste of Ms. Garner's talent.

The First Monday in May

A Failure of All That Make for Good Documentaries
There were lots of editorial points-of-view that would have been worthy of an interesting documentary. Some of the dresses were fantastic. Even when I did not care for the style, I was impressed at the craftsmanship that went into them. I would have liked to hear more about the history and construction.

Although I know little about her, Anna Wintour strikes me as someone whose life might be interesting to learn more about. We got a glimpse of that, but that would have been worthy of a documentary of its own.

The Met Gala is an interesting social gathering. I had heard of it through mentions from people like Stephen Colbert, but knew little about it. It was that reasons that I watched this. We got some of that, too, but not in the way that was interesting in the least.

What resulted is an epic failure of direction and having an editorial point-of-view. Much of the content that did make it into the documentary was not relevant - or its relevancy made unclear due to the poor story-telling.

It bounced from topic to topic, missing context, and failing ultimately in telling any story.


A Planetary Distance from Reality
I like Hillary Swank and Josh Charles, and they do their job well in this series. Unfortunately, the writing is ridiculous. This is a failed, cliche, melodramatic presentation that does a disservice to the professionals in the space program.

Lenox Hill

Very Interesting, but an Editing Failure
There are some good story lines in this documentary. it is well-directed and doesn't fall into the trap of other medical documentaries of only focusing on the success stories.

The were well-developed stories on the care-givers that were easy to follow. The stories on the patients were more fragmented, and the editing created problems for me to follow all of those. A couple patient stories were well-told.

It was worth the time, but it could have been better.

Ad Astra

Contrived and Manipulative. A Failure of a Movie
What a disappointment in almost every aspect. The visuals are very good. That's it for the good parts.

The plot is hopelessly contrived. The father/son relationship is absurd. The movie fails on physics. The relative age of the actors is wrong during certain storylines. They have to send Brad Pitt to Mars to send a transmission. They never heard of a recording? There's greenbar paper in the background of one scene. Seriously? Who would put something that bulky and heavy on a spacecraft. Ever heard of a tablet computer?

The list of technical failures is endless. The plot is dumb. The direction makes ever Brad Pitt look like a mediocre actor.

Awful, awful, awful.

Framing John DeLorean

Flawed Telling of a Great Story
This is an interesting story, but I have no idea why there was a need for re-enactments. Interviews with the principals were sufficient to tell the story. Putting "behind the scenes" clips within the re-enactments was an absolute failure of production.

Fortunately, there is enough of the story to make the documentary worthwhile, but this should have been a lot better.

No One Saw a Thing

Pushing a Point-of-View
There is a place for opinion documentaries, but this seems to try and take the approach of an unbiased documentary. Given that premise, it was a poor documentary.

The premise is that the vigilante murder of the town bully set the stage for the deterioration of the town and other violence. The premise doesn't hold up, and about half of the interviews with the townspeople have very little credibility.

The documentary should be about half the length and more focused on the central story of the vigilante murder.

China Moon

Channeling "Body Heat" But Botches the Ending
This is definitely an homage to the noir films of the 1940s, thus has more melodrama than I typically like in movies. I like the 1981 movie "Body Heat." and there is a similarity in both plot and direction.

Both of the lead actors Madeleine Stowe and Ed Harris do a good job of bringing the story to the screen.

The weakness in the movie is ultimately the plot. It is okay, until the movie reaches its conclusion, as it gets less and less likely, ultimately pegging the BS meter.

My advice is to skip this one and watch, or rewatch "Body Heat."

Spinning Out

Chock Full of Archetypes
There is nothing or compelling about the story or the characters. I had some hope that this would break some new ground in mental health issues. I also like stories that have strong female leads, as there is an opportunity to tell a point-of-view that has been historically underserved.

It didn't take long for my hopes to crash on the rocks of cliche. There is no archetype unturned in this utterly unoriginal treatment of characters.

The Movies That Made Us

Campy and Annoying
I am a cinemophile and enjoy histories of cinema and their reflection of the times in which they were made. I expected this to be similar to the CNN series of discussions on movies per decade. That is, a documentary-style narrative that takes the subject matter seriously, but has fun remembering the good cinema of the past. There seemed to be an added bonus, in this series, of getting into more detail than the CNN series. It looked like a perfect fit for me.

Not even close.

This was a campy narrative with an incredibly annoying announcer reading cheesy dialog over horrendous in-your-face editing.

They managed to create a lot of noise and not a lot of information.

The Laundromat

Asides Spoil a Decent Plot Idea
The plot premise is excellent. A story about global money-laundering by oligarchs is a compelling story. Add some very good actors, and you should have a good movie, but alas it is not.

The actors break the fourth wall, and the asides are exceptionally annoying and distracting. The movie can't find its flow because of the erratic direction, poor script and whatever the heck Gary Oldman was doing.


Good Acting Can't Save a Bad Plot
This is a lot good about this movie. The direction, cinematography and acting are all well done. Unfortunately, the plot is so absurd that the movie just kept losing me more and more as it progressed.

The plot got the law wrong. The plot got business interactions wrong.

What a waste of talent.

Book Club

Disasterously Corny
I know these actors can act. I have seen them - well, some of them - turn in good performances in past movies. With the campy soundtrack and the listless direction, this movie comes across as a dumping ground for washed up actors.

The script is limp, corny and predictable. I couldn't make it until the end.

Sophie Gold, the Diary of a Gold Digger

After School Special for Adults
The plot idea is a good premise. There are a lot of pressures on aspiring actresses, and this is a cautionary tale on one of the choices that can make it easier. Unfortunately, the implementation was flawed. Seriously flawed.

The acting from the leads were ok, but broke down in some scenes. The acting from the secondary players was consistently weak. The direction was film student quality. There are too many voice-overs, instead of telling the story though actual acting.

This isn't the worst movie I have seen. I did make it through the end.


Shark - Meet Arthur Fonzarelli
I watched the first episode, but couldn't get past the absurdity of the plot points. They were full of the worst tropes. We have super-villans. We have psychologically super-human FBI agents. The writing is lazy garbage. It has all of the realism of a Mavel Comics movie.

The acting was ok, but over-done at points.

I didn't get the sense that this was worth any more time.

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