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    22 years


Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Reboot, Remake, Rerun, Repeat
I wanted to love this. I was really disappointed to realize that I no longer found the antics of Jay and Silent Bob funny. It is all so familiar. If you are not a Smith Superfan, nearly all the references will go right over your head. You also need to have recently screened JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, which this film mimics. Smith's goal was to satirize reboots while simultaneously being one. He misses the mark. The film also allows Jason Mewes to have a meaningful, dramatic plot. Smith, however, doesn't quite trust it, and tricks up these moments with a sappy, innocuous soundtrack that threatens to mock any mustered emotion from Mewes and Harley Quinn. I still love and admire Smith - but maybe it is time to move on.

Instant Hotel

This is a really good reality competition show marred by a confusing and flawed scoring system. The producers need to watch "Four Weddings" to see how to do it right. All the rules were not fully explained to viewers or contestants and the latter was clearly meant to encourage backstabbing. The producers obviously want "drama" but it actually becomes uncomfortable to watch at times. The first group of hoteliers were fairly civil compared to the second batch. Casting was clearly the main criteria for the show, considering the homes all have different number of bedrooms. How can one score fairly if they slept on a sofa or the floor? Shay and Mike, young rich brats, are naive. They opened their parents home to worldwide criticism. Since it was already a cult headquarters - it didn't need help in that department. The two spoiled rich kids also failed to realize that they were painting themselves as ridiculous and childish - a reputation that will follow them. This show has a lot to offer - but it needs to get its act together in the casting and scoring.

The Apartment

Flat Apartment
This reality competition show is a real mess. It feels dated and is often sexist. I think Netflix has given us season two, as the previous season's winners make a guest appearance. The show was shot in Kuala Lampur (in English) but it feels a world away by US standards. The head judge flounces around in a bold double-breasted suit clutching a walking stick (or umbrella or clipboard) trying his best to be funny in his dismissive attitude. Only co-host and mentor Jamie Durie manages to make the show semi-coherent. But one cringes when in their "design court' Durie slams his fist on the table in lieu of a gavel. Also, why are the room critiques done via video and not in the room with the contestants? The opening titles are like watching an 80's music video and include sexist imagery that makes a Coke commercial look like Masterpiece Theatre. If these are the best contestants the producers could find, someone better contact central casting. At one point, the only male team (college guys) say about a garden seat: "I could f*#k a girl on that." Why is it that the UK and US design shows find such talented contestants and Malaysia and environs yields monosyllabic dopes who do nothing but argue and complain? Skip this show and watch "House Doctor" instead.

Hamlet's Ghost

Weary, Stale, Flat & Unprofitable; Not To Be
I am a HAMLET fan. I've seen ten stage HAMLETS - even Ingmar Bergman's Swedish language version. I've seen great HAMLETS (Roger Rees & Ken Branagh) and abominable HAMLETS (Dirk Benedict). I've seen nearly every HAMLET film and related play and film made - but there was truly something rotten in the state of Denmark about HAMLET'S GHOST. The acting was wooden, the dialogue uninspired and the plot impossible to follow. I will say that for an indy B film, the technical elements were not as bad as they might have been. But what good is that when the film is so dank and dreary. I see it has won some Festival Awards and the other reviews on here are mostly positive - so chalk it up to taste. But I'd rather go swimming with Ophelia than watch this again.

Bridget Jones's Baby

Reality Blurred
This movie lives in a sitcom world akin to "Absolutely Fabulous" where reality is stretched to the limits. Here, however, they expect us to care about these characters despite the disconnect with the real world. The movie feels a bit too long - it takes nearly 30 minutes for Bridget to get impregnated with said baby and we know (because it is a comedy) that she will give birth at the end - so get the fu#k on with it. (The film also throws in the 'f' word a little too freely - as if it is shocking to hear proper English people curse in 2016. It's just dumb.) The old diary aspect of the films is paid lip service and everyone feels too old for this nonsense - including me. Not awful - but about as satisfying as a rerun of "Friends".

The Lucy Show: Lucy's Contact Lenses
Episode 10, Season 3

Contact Lenses and Wedding Rings
This is really one of the better written episodes of "The Lucy Show" combining the funniest elements of an earlier episode of "I Love Lucy" into a new context. The chemistry between Lucy and Vivian is as strong as it was in "Building a Bar-B-Q" (1957), where Lucy Ricardo is convinced she lost her wedding ring in wet cement, meaning Lucy and Ethel must dismantle the barbecue to search for it. Here, Lucy Carmichael and Vivian must destroy 15 chocolate cakes to search for a her missing contact lenses. The result is as just funny as it was in 1957. This is one of the best of the Lucy and Vivian collaborations before she left the show and Gale Gordon was forced to assume the second banana spot.

Aimer, boire et chanter

For Tomorrow We May
What struck me most about this film adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's play is how meta it turned out to be in light of director Alain Resnais' death. Certainly not intending to make his final film (he was already adapting yet another Ayckbourn play for the screen), in retrospect the 'unseen' George Riley easily stands in for the director. Here he also manages to beautifully blend his love of theater, film, and static images into a poetic whole. He also surrounds himself with his actor friends, all a good ten years older than the characters ought to be. But this only reinforces the play's timeless themes of life and death. Having his cast surround Riley's coffin with a final image of a skull with wings is haunting. Ayckbourn's presence also looms large over the film with the cast rehearsing his first London hit "Relatively Speaking." Although the title goes unmentioned, the play script is clearly visible. Could the unseen but demanding play-within-the-play director Peggy be a stand-in for Ayckbourn's late agent, Peggy Ramsay? Unlike Resnais, "Riley" was thankfully not Ayckbourn's finale ultimo. To date he has penned five more major plays bringing his total to 79. Long may he thrive and live "the life of Riley."

Much Ado About Nothing

What I Did On My Summer Vacation - By Joss Whedon
Almost nothing works in Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing." It's hard to imagine how such an intriguing idea turned into such a lackluster film. Whedon's concept to set the story in modern day just doesn't work. Everyone is dressed similarly so its nearly impossible to tell the characters apart by their station - an important factor in the Shakespeare script. The use of black and white does nothing and actually robs the smart-looking production elements of any visual interest. Even when the characters venture into the back yard the film feels claustrophobic - like rainy day play-acting by a talented group of friends. Most of all, the 1600 story just doesn't ring true in the modern age. A previously rational father cries out that her daughter should die when she is accused of infidelity to her fiancé? In 2013? Whedon's attempt at physical comedy falls flat (pardon the pun). The parallel scenes of the men convincing Benedict that Beatrice loves him - and the ladies doing the same to Beatrice is clumsy and feels forced. After the first hour you start to realize Joss Whedon and his regulars are just amusing themselves - forgetting this is more than just a Whedon home movie. The only real reason to see this film is Amy Acker, who miraculously manages to find something in Beatrice that bridges the gap between the old Globe and Hollywood.

Any Day Now

Anyway, Now...
I really wanted to like "Any Day Now" - but I was constantly distracted. Not by a noisy patron in the theater, but by the film's unfortunate flaws, which nearly sabotage what might be an otherwise quite enjoyable and enlightening movie. The film is set in the 70's where presumably everyone and everything is unattractive. Screamingly so. When the production design upstages the story, we've left the scenario for the studio. Hair was perhaps the most awful. Everyone seemed to be wigged and for a movie about a drag queen, the wigs are laughably bad. Why leading man Alan Cumming had to have distractingly long tresses is beyond me. Ditto his boyfriend who looked like a man wearing a toupee who is trying NOT to look like he's wearing a toupee. A black lawyer's Afro looked like a helmet. Apparently no one in the 70's knew what to do with wing collars, as all the shirts looked ill-fit and awkward. Okay, let us rise above the restrictions of the low budget indie. I'm sorry to say that Cumming's gutsy performance was marred by his broad Queens accent. Any attempt to remind us of "Torch Song Trilogy" is purely intentional. Why not a neutral American accent? Cumming seems miscast as a drag queen when put next to the amazingly fabulous Randy Roberts. Again, less would be more. Less hair, less accent - less. I far preferred the performance of Cummings' co-star Garret Dillahunt. To say nothing of the wonderful presence of Isaac Levya as the youth with Downs Syndrome who is the subject of this tug of war. But mostly, the script takes far too many shortcuts in character and plot development to avoid cliché and coincidence. Why, for example, does Cumming suddenly burst into an unrehearsed yet perfectly rendered song when asked to tell a bit about himself? Are we in a musical? It is all too much, too fast. There is even the cliché of the 'happiness montage' done on super 8 film. "Any Day Now"'s aims are valiant and the story is heartbreaking, but I'm afraid the script and direction weren't quite up to it's worthy subject.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

And those perks would be...???
I'm not sure. I wanted to like this film, but I felt like I'd seen it all before elsewhere and better. The narrative is a little too crowded for it's own good - and no one gets full attention, though all deserve it. Unlike some, I think the script might have benefited from being set in a specific time and place (it is, 1990's Pittsburgh - but it is never stated). Like so much of this MTV book of the month selection, it tries to be universal instead of specific - even in it's characters. Joan Cussack is billed, but her role amounts to two scenes at the VERY end of the film, so (although she's no 'star' attraction) you spend most of the time thinking "I thought Joan Cussack was in this?" But I guess this film is meant for a generation who doesn't know Joan Cussack, is texting during the credits, and doesn't know Pittsburgh, and wasn't alive in 1990.

Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking

Wishing Upon A Star
Carrie Fisher's one-woman Broadway show is a laid back treatise on life as a celebrity and a celebrity spawn. Fisher dishes on her famous parents but doesn't dig too deeply into her own battles with drugs, alcohol and celebrity. The highlight is a giant chalkboard of her famous family tree with which she tries to discern whether her daughter should date a man that may or may not be a relative. And yes, she dons the famous braids to remind us of the opportunity that allowed her to step out of her famous parents' shadow and into cultural iconography. All in all, Fisher is honest, blunt, and a bit too relaxed at times to add anything but kick-back giggles, but to ask more may be just wishful thinking.

Our Idiot Brother

Oh, Brother!
OUR IDIOT BROTHER is a connect the dots comedy that races through plot and character development as if to say - 'you get this, right?'. The fine cast is given the responsibility to breathe life into what is a essentially a rough draft script devoid of funny dialogue and situations. They sometimes succeed, but mostly not. A hirsute Paul Rudd tries desperately not to make Ned into a blithering IDIOT, but therein lies the film's main problem... the main character's blatantly naive behavior is never justified in script or performance. The guy is a native New Yorker, after all! The film's tone shoots for warm and fuzzy (like Rudd) when it should be comic and zany, on the order of DUMB & DUMBER - but dumber. Without the right tone, the whole film seems idiotic, brother.

Snow Cake

sensitive and thoughtful film about a gentle ex-con (a sturdy but evenly tempered Alan Rickman) and his encounter with a high functioning woman with autism (Sigourney Weaver) in the Canadian suburbs. A bit contrived at points, but in the hands of these two the human drama shines through the contrivances. As always, for any actor playing someone with disabilities, it is hard to know whether Weaver's character is spot-on or over-played for the sake of camera. Remains more character/actor driven than involving for the audience, but still worth a watch. This film does not try to be more than what it is, which is a slice of 'life cake'.

The Help

Hard To Find
A truly wonderful film based in the pre-civil rights South. Impeccably filmed, written and acted. Features a stellar cast playing real, well-written characters and that imbues this narrative with passion, humor and generous dollops of Southern tear-inducing drama. Part "Driving Miss Daisy", part "The Color Purple" - this is possibly the best film of the year for me. Watch for the stage's first Miss Daisy, Dana Ivy in a cameo appearance very much like her role of Miss Millie, the mayor's wife ("Would you like to be my maid?", is her signature line in "The Color Purple". Here maids are still on her mind. The film is a great joy. And despite it all, I still crave chocolate pie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Terribly Long Intermission
Loved the start of HP7II, but should have paid closer attention (or read the books) to truly appreciate the middle bit. Loved Maggie Smith stepping through the crowd to battle evil. Flanked by an all-star team of UK performers, most all of whom have at least one moment in a sea of appearances. The finale doesn't disappoint either. Didn't much care for the obligatory epilogue, but as it is from the book, Potterfiles would decry its exclusion. Shame that greed and length had to portion this film out in parts, as taken together they are remarkable; broken in two, slightly diminished in impact. Rather like taking a year long intermission at a wonderful play.

2012: Ice Age

End of the World as We Snow It
Not ICE AGE. Not 2012. Not good. The film starts out in high gear with Irwin Allen time right from the start. No exposition, no character development, no interest at all. Just glacier madness. The plot is standard issue apocalypse stuff: "Let's get the hell outta here!". The special effects feel so very computerized, down to the snowflakes. This makes the characters feel just as computer generated, and although the actors aren't horrible, the script is so non-supportive they feel like they are adrift (pun intended) waist high in...well, snow. And they are. Not worth a look, unless it is on cable, late, and you have insomnia. It may cure it.

Every Day

Every Day Better & Better
Great cast in a mostly typical domestic pot-boiler. You could probably write the plot yourself after the initial set-up, and the climax is conventionally contrived to happen all in the same night. Not quite as funny or dramatic as it might have been throughout. The son's homosexuality is realistically handled especially the dynamic between him and his dad. But Eddie Izzard's boss-man lives in a world that doesn't touch reality - even Reality TV. This plot line threatens to de-rail the whole enterprise for me What sort of TV show is this??? Hunt's best line was left on the cutting room floor "It's not porn. It's cable."

Unsolved Suburbia

You Have The Right To Avoid This Film
What is the law about citizen's arrest? Because the acting in this film (and I use the term loosely) is downright criminal. Especially from the men - and there are mostly men. While there may be some good things about UNSOLVED SUBURBIA, I couldn't see past the poor performances to find any. It is like a good chef cooking with rancid food - no good can come of it. The boys involved are not only poor actors, they are a scrawny lot who get naked at the drop of a hat. There are few women who are equally dreadful but they don't add up to much except jokes about lesbians and West Side Story. Avoid this film - it will not be a crime to miss it!


Drowning on Dry Land
I try to find one redeeming quality in every film: Here it is the sound and picture quality, which aren't too bad for an indy film. The rest of it, however - acting, directing, script, music - are just about the worst stuff I've ever seen in all my Flixing years. I'd rather sit poolside and watch bugs drown than sit through this inane drivel. I'd suffocate on the smell of chlorine than listen to the idiotic dialogue delivered by characters who run the emotional gamut from A to B. The principal 'boys' in this film aren't too hard on the eyes, but they aren't boys anymore either (which makes their idle poolside chatter even more annoying). Inexplicable appearances by random women - one with a geographically untraceable accent - are absurd. The 100 year old Carla Laemmle is shoe-horned in to the plot and forced to speak in vague gardening metaphors I think neither she nor the foreign women understood. The film's ending - including a laughable montage and an appearance by a long-awaited Pizza Boy (!) - are almost too much too bear. I'm shocked I made it that far. I kept asking "how much worse can it get?" But yet the film managed to constantly exceed my wildest nightmares of banality.

The King's Speech

Long Live The King's Speech!
Colin Firth. Need I say more? If I DO, then go see this movie and you'll agree he is one of the finest actors around. But there's no one in this film that isn't wonderful: Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, and Derek Jacobi (who practically cornered the market on stuttering himself by playing both Claudius and Alan Turing) to name but a few. The actors manage to affectionately recall their real-life counterparts without aping them. On a par with Firth is the brilliant Geoffrey Rush, and Australian playing an Australian. Despite being a 'root for the underdog' scenario, the script nicely manages to skirt cliché and be warm, witty and restrained - all at the same time. In the past, the Queens of Great Britain have gotten their fair share of screen time (Elizabeth is a mere child here), so it is refreshing and enlightening to see its Kings so wonderfully illuminated. Long Live The King's Speech!

The Tempest

ProsperoWoman: Turn off the Words
In Julie Taymor's latest endeavor characters fly around supernaturally, balance on dangerously high precipices, and sing and jive to vaguely rock underscoring. Is this "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark"? Nope - "The Tempest", Taymor's film adaptation and direction of Shakespeare's version of "Survivor: Prospero's Island". Except here Taymor's main gimmick isn't bringing cartoon characters to life (as she did so memorably in "The Lion King" on stage) - it is casting Helen Mirren as Prospero (here re-named Prospera). Pronouns are altered in Taymor's self-adapted screenplay: father become mother, sir becomes madam; but oddly master avoids becoming mistress and duke isn't swapped with duchess. Taymor parcels out the use of CGI special effects, mostly reserving their impact for Ben Wishaw's flighty and always naked Ariel. Locations are lovely and rugged at once - evoking a sort of sci-fi landscape where magic can happen. But the film's slavish linguistic adaptation (save pronouns) is also its undoing. In Shakespeare's Old Globe words painted the picture - no scenery, no costuming and few embellishments. In a film, these are in abundance, often making Shakespeare's non-stop verbalizing redundant and after a while - numbing. There are terrific performances here, but they'd be much more magical on stage. That is, provided the actors' health insurance is paid up.

The Kids Are All Right

All Right Is Alright
The kids are better than all right, they're terrific. So are their lesbian moms, played with insight and skill by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Trouble is, the film that surrounds them turns out to be less than compelling stuff despite its topicality. The sperm donor responsible for the family at hand is played by Mark Ruffalo, and although a talented fellow, his character has enough foibles to keep him emotionally distant from the viewer. The story of his introduction to this modern family goes in a couple of directions, but all feel familiar and none satisfactory. Terrific premise, but unfulfilled promise.

The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's

Aw Hell!
Third time the charm? Well, not really. This installment in the original and classic St. Trinian's films doesn't actually take place at St. Trinian's at all! The school is a pile of embers at the top of the first reel! Gone, too, is Alistair Sim (everyone's favorite Scrooge) in the drag double role as headmistress and her brother. The up side is this allows more shenanigans from the likes of Joyce Grenfell (a personal favorite) and the supporting cast. But with school girls of St. Trins only set decoration, it's just not the same. There's a remake of the original that's also spawned two sequels (Rupert Everett subs for Sim) but these are inferior goods - stick to the glorious black and white originals!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs My Patience
I loved the first 1/3 of this film. Meeting Scott and his off-beat pals thru a skewered lens set to comic book crazy. This unique visual take on the rom com is courtesy of game boy but didn't lose its sense of fun and reality: These characters are not so far off as to be unreal. Cera and company are (at core) really likable and I would have liked the whole film to stay firmly rooted in Scott's romantic ambitions. And there's enough inside humor to keep the non-game playing public amused as well. But the film's lengthy plot about conquering seven evil exes just got tiresome and frenetic. I could have done with several fewer exes and more about the core cast. Maybe a "Scott Pilgrim" TV series would solve that problem? Maybe.

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story

Boys will be Boys
There are some things that I wish I didn't know. That the famous brothers Sherman don't really get along or like each other all that much is one of those things. It's sad. And it is ironic, considering most of their music and lyrics seem a match made in Tin Pan Alley heaven. I am glad, however, that this somewhat disjointed and clumsy documentary about their lives reminds us of the many songs they have created: from the theme to the Tiki Room in the Disney theme parks to fun throw-away songs for Annette's surf movies of the 60's. Truly, their output for the better part of three decades was astounding. It is a shame that their sons couldn't have cobbled together a better, more compelling tribute to the pair. This film is cinematically lifeless and adds little understanding to their polar personalities. Try as they might "The Boys" just come off as one dimensional and rather dull. Thank goodness their tunes will speak for them for eternity instead of this well-meaning but awkward film.

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