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Doctor Who: Bad Wolf
Episode 12, Season 1

When the best imitate the worst...
This has to be the worst episode of the entire 50 year run of Dr. Who. Why on earth (and yes, we are still stuck on earth) would one of the best scripted shows to emerge in a century of television feel that it had something to gain by drawing inspiration from the worst dregs of the death of all that is any good in television? When the best start to deliberately imitate the worst, you have to start fearing that the human race is really going to hell under its own power, without needing Daleks to help it. This was a bad mistake, and a sad day for Dr. Who. But keep the faith... forget this rubbish and soldier on - better things do await.

The Legend of Bagger Vance

Sadly, a truly stupid, annoying movie
I really wanted to like this movie. I'm a keen golfer. More than that, a keen student of the history of golf. And I actually believe many of the things that are said about golf in this film. Unfortunately they are drowned in endless sickening violins, and Will Smith's awful, permanently smirking character. If I had to play a round of golf with a pontificating smirker like that, it would be really all I could do to get round the course without making a serious attempt to do him an injury. There are certainly other nits that could be picked - the rules of golf are not well respected in the presentation, and the movie is rather unfair to Robert Jones and Walter Hagen, who were, after all, real people. But the massively annoying Bagger Vance character and the dreadful syrupy music drowning all significant moments are what really sink the movie. The style of the cinematography somewhat matches the music, but I could have lived with that, if it were not for the other problems. Given the paucity of decent golf movies, I suppose this is worth checking out for those interested in golf and its history, but it really is a bit much to take - muting the sound, especially when Bagger is speaking, might improve it quite a bit (although you'd still have to endure the best part of an hour of that annoying smirk).

Stay Cool

Badly written pointless obsession with high school
I rented this movie with on the expectation that it might be an intelligent comedy with some good actors. Unfortunately it turned out to be badly written garbage. And what is it with this North American obsessions with high school?! If you're 15 and you're obsessed with high school that's... I guess kind of normal, especially if you're of limited mental capacity and rather self-obsessed. But if you're 40 and you're still obsessed with high school, then I'm sorry, but there's something seriously wrong with you! The point of high school is to help young people connect with their own abilities, and to help make them aware of aspects of the world beyond their immediate existence. The point of high school is NOT to serve as a paradigm for the rest of the students' lives. And, as I say, if you're well into the middle years of your life, and you still are mainly focused on self-image and relationship issues left over from high school, then you seriously need to do something about your problems. And DON'T watch this stupid movie.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

A ludicrous farrago
Exactly who is this movie supposed to appeal to? The principal character (taking up something like 70% of the screen time) is a singularly unprepossessing, permanently sulky infant. The human cast is essentially rounded out by her preoccupied parents, who are pretty much ciphers as characters. The 'threat' is a bunch of the most ridiculous monsters ever dreamed up - sort of a cross between Dobby the house-elf and a mangy rat. I was rather inclined to sympathize with the monsters - after all they're small and they're there first, so they are pretty much the underdogs in this story. But they're not really very appealing, tending to scurry around and gesticulate a lot. Basically the only people I can imagine finding this movie satisfying would be those looking for Gothic design and moody lighting, and not at all concerned about plot or character. If that's your thing, then there's a certain amount to enjoy here. Kids who can identify with the sulky protagonist might be another possible audience - but the film is R rated, and so hardly targeted at the under 10 market. I've given is two out of ten purely for visual elements - it clearly deserves zero for plot and character.


Truly awful
I was tricked into watching this movie by the cover copy on the DVD, plus the fact that it had several excellent performers in it. Well... so far as the cover copy goes ("By far the best film I have seen this year") - either the guy saw it immediately after midnight on January 1st, or... I don't want to know what he was smoking. And yeah, I know I shouldn't be so dumb as to believe DVD cover copy. So, what about the movie. It's sort of like a cross between a high school production of Our Town (complete with UNBELIEVABLY annoying voice over) and a really, really, really bad comic, all visualized by a berserk designer whose main concern seems to be how many extreme color filters he can use. What else can I say. If this description seems appealing to you, by all means go ahead... but be prepared to be endlessly yammered at and patronized, and bored senseless by ham-fisted theatrics, and don't expect anything in the way of realism or sense. Approach this one the way you would a night at a bad amateur dramatic society, with a particularly 'artsy' director... then you won't be disappointed.

All About Steve

Massively better than the critics said
This is a movie I really felt I had to write about, as it got so universally panned, and it's really pretty good. It would be such a great shame if they stopped making movies like this, because of all the yapping nay-sayers. I'm not saying that it's the best movie of the year... but I am saying that the gap between how good it is and the reviews it got is the greatest I've seen for... well, a very long while - many years. OK, so maybe I'm a bit biased, given that I'm something like the main character in some ways - I'm not cute, and certainly no one has ever called me 'kooky', but I do tend to ramble on about many subjects rather incessantly, just because.. well a lot of things interest me. And honestly, it's kind of refreshing to see a character like that treated in a movie positively, rather than as some sort of buffoon. I enjoyed this movie way more than Sandra Bullock's other recent comic vehicle 'The Proposal' - I found that rather mean spirited and cringe-making. On the other hand, this movie is, yes, perhaps a bit corny and old-fashioned in some ways. But myself I'd much rather have this 'old fashion' than the new trend to build comedy on meanness, gross-out, annoyance and others' misfortune. So, do yourself a favour - ignore the critics and the naysayers, and give this movie a chance... especially if you enjoy old-fashioned romance and comedy based on human character. And I really hope the movie makers know that some people at least really enjoyed this movie.

Star Trek

Very Disappointing
I must say I was very, very disappointed by this movie. I had read a lot of critical praise for it, and not seen much in the way of negative comment, so I expected it to be a least fairly good. Unfortunately this was not so. Frankly it seemed to me mostly a load of distasteful sensationalism, that did nothing but harm to the Star Trek vision. Of course it has plenty of fancy special effects - although they do seem to lean heavily towards a lot of flashing coloured swirls. And the acting is thoroughly professional - given the script, I don't think the actors can be faulted at all. They do excellent work with what's available to them. But the whole direction seems a complete disaster to me. Really I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised or disappointed. This is entirely consistent with Abrams' previous performance. I have to admit I've found all his previous output pretty much intolerable, with the possible exception of parts of Felicity. But I don't really have any emotional investment in, for example, Mission Impossible, so I didn't much care if he made a mess of that - other than the fact that film was just extremely unpleasant, and generally a negative contribution to the human race. I care more about this, because I really do think that Star Trek was worth saving from being reduced to this kind of nasty trash. Ah well, nothing is safe in this universe. As Spock might say, we must try to avoid emotional involvement, and rationally all we can do is try our best to encourage positive alternatives. As a final note, though, I truly am shocked that this movie didn't get much more negative response, especially from fans of the real Star Trek (fairly multifarious though that may be... but I certainly wouldn't include this unpleasant misbirth).

Yes Man

No, no, no, no
Let's not mince words - this movie is completely worthless, worse than awful, appalling. Every minute that anyone, anywhere spends watching this utter rubbish diminishes the human race. Try as I might, I cannot see anything positive likely to arise for anyone from watching this. Why was it made? Presumably to raise money, to attempt to revive Jim Carrey's career... surely not out of anything resembling artistic vision, let alone inspiration. It's not offensive or anything... just desperate, dismal, and dispiritingly rancid. You could, I'm pretty sure, find more enjoyment and enlightenment by going out onto a busy street and inviting strangers to insult you - at least you wouldn't have to pay them, and you might possibly hear something useful or amusing, which is more than you will get by paying to see this movie.

The Dark Knight

What a stupid, annoying load of rubbish
How could this movie possibly have received so much acclaim? OK, it's competently executed, both in terms of acting and production values - but then with the money spent on it, hopefully that should be taken for granted. And certainly it has some fine actors in it, and they give every impression of fully believing in their work. But what the heck is the point of it supposed to be? I'm sorry, but I just absolutely hated it. It reminds me of a local case in the press here in Toronto a while ago where some 'art student' made a movie of a cat being tortured to death. Since he actually tortured a cat to death to make it, he was charged and prosecuted, and his defence was that it was 'art'. Well... at least all the people tortured and killed in this movie presumably were only faking it and weren't actually hurt. But I still don't think it has any more claim to be worthwhile or to be art. It's obnoxious rubbish... and I strongly suggest that if you haven't seen it and are considering doing so, you think of some better use for your time (which would be pretty much anything not actually harmful to your health or anybody else's).

Von Richthofen and Brown

Better than expected
Given the very negative comments by others on IMDB about this film, I wasn't really expecting much, especially given that it was directed by Roger Corman, who, whilst he certainly has his talents, would not really be expected to helm a period piece with high production values. Actually I found this film not at all bad. Certainly its narrative plays fast and loose with historical details. But it is quite authentic in many respects - the planes themselves, and the nature of air combat depicted, are reasonably accurate (better, for example, than the planes in The Blue Max, which often look like very thinly disguised Tiger Moths). And fair chunks of the dialogue seem to be taken almost directly from the writings of actual WW1 flyers. Even the rather melodramatic plot does have roots in historical truths, and functions well enough to engage the viewer's attention throughout. I'd say it's definitely worth a look, and compares surprisingly well with the generally much better regarded The Blue Max.

Liberty Stands Still

An utterly vile, loathsome movie
This is an utterly vile, loathsome movie. I would never advocate censorship, but I do feel that those responsible for producing this movie deserve to be spat upon in the street by everyone they meet. There was a case recently in the city where I live (Toronto, Canada) where two young art students tortured a cat and made a video of the process, claiming this was a valid artistic exercise (they were prosecuted). This film, Liberty Stands Still, is in many ways equivalent to the product of those students. Oh, it's doubtless massively more technically accomplished, and I'm sure no animals were actually harmed in its production (which is a large distinction) - but the artistic sensibility behind it and the effect of the product on the audience seem to me to be very similar... the entire focus is on torturing and killing the helpless, and this is supposedly justified by vapid artistic and political pretensions. Absolutely not recommended to anyone. And if you meet the producer, writer or director, spit on them for me and tell them why.

Enemy at the Gates

Powerful war drama, but not always believable, and with horrible music
I have rather mixed feelings about this film. First the good - the central performances range from solid to excellent, and the evocation of the terrible reality of the wartime situation is powerfully and compellingly done. So, for these reasons, I'd probably recommend the movie to most people. Also it has an effective narrative drive, and the story and characters keep the viewer engaged to the end. But... there are some major problems. For me, the most significant was the score - the music is truly terrible, and does a great deal to ruin the film. If there were an option to simply turn off all the music this would improve the film immeasurably. The constant, intrusive, overbearing, syrupy, pseudo-symphonic accompaniment is utterly at odds with the visual and dramatic content. It's hard to comprehend how a director who could make so many good decisions could make such an awful one - perhaps he simply has a tin ear. There are other problems also... one's suspension of disbelief is frequently challenged. The script seems to have got carried away by a desire to tell a heroic story, and yet it consistently contains within it enough reality to persistently remind the viewer of the unlikeliness of that story. It's like a propagandist who wavers between believing his own output and dealing with the truth around him. And perhaps that post-modern wavering is intended (but I rather doubt it... on the evidence of the film itself, and on the evidence of the accompanying DVD material, which gives no hint of such deliberate sophistication). There are also more mundane problems - the technical portrayal of the performance of snipers is ludicrous (they can hit pinpoint targets, sometimes moving, hundreds of yards away, 100% of the time, sometimes whilst scanning a wide area with only a split-second revelation of the actual target). And the "Hollywood ending" is clearly totally out of place.

Riding in Cars with Boys

Funny, touching, and full of the spark of life
I put off watching this for a long while, until well after its release on video, because of the very mixed reviews it got and the perception that the content was drab and potentially preachy. Well I was wrong. This is an excellent movie, well worth the expenditure of two hours of anyone's time (well... unless maybe you've only got 24 hours to live, or something). Although the subject matter may sound dour, and certainly does deal with "kitchen sink" issues which can strangle the human spirit without even allowing it the luxury of looking heroic as it succumbs... still the film is about life, not about defeat, and the characters never lose an inner spark and humanity which makes us care about them, and like, or even love them by the time the movie finishes. It's funny and moving... and in a way which seems to have more to do with the way life is funny and moving than with movie conventions.

Me Myself I

A hidden gem. Funny, moving and true. See it.
This movie is a true hidden gem. I cannot say too strongly - see it, see it see it. The premise of the movie might seem a little strained... and perhaps also overused - it's very much the same basic idea as the Nicholas Cage vehicle "Family Man", but with a female rather than a male protagonist. But this movie really works, on so many levels. Rachel Griffiths (Brenda from Six Feet Under) gives a lovely performance as the central figure, who finds herself at the verge of mid-life confronting and changing paths with an "alternate self". The movie is very funny in parts, in a slightly exaggerated but "spot on" way rather reminiscent of Bridget Jones' Diary. But I think this film actually manages to do as much in this way as BJD, whilst going considerably further in connecting with emotional realities and the sense of choices and consequences in life. It's not astoundingly deep, I guess. But it's very funny, moving and true. And fair, as well - it never gets preachy, or comes down with a trite "moral" on one side of a complex issue. I suppose the movie's most obvious appeal would be to women of a certain age either single and (to some degree) wishing they were married or married and (to some degree) wishing they were single. But I'd have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.


Hokey, cheesy, dumb, pedestrian mini-series
Hokey music, cheesy special effects, a really dumb script, and heavy-handed, pedestrian direction, all drawn out to great lengths - is this a movie? No, clearly it's a TV mini-series, and a poor one at that. The only thing that might attract you to it is some meaningful acting talent, and that certainly is present. I was drawn into watching it by the presence of Kim Catrall and Rebecca Gayheart, both of whose work I've previously admired... but don't make the same mistake. Truly, it's not worth it. Give this one a miss.


Dour, heavy-handed, depressing, unpleasant.
I hated this movie. It's all fighting, and heavy-handed, tendentious plotting that's telegraphed way in advance, and murdering and torturing etc... depressing as hell, and made worse by being constantly accompanied by bad pseudo-Bruckner music. I really can't understand at all why anybody would want to expend their effort making a movie like this or wreck hours of their time watching it (I certainly wish I hadn't). It's technically competent, sure, and doubtless cost lots of money and shows it... but the whole exercise just seemed utterly depressing and futile to me. I hated Thelma And Louise and G.I. Jane too. I guess I've pretty much given up on Ridley Scott... although I liked his earlier films, particularly Blade Runner.

Cherry Falls

A weak script and flaccid direction make a boring and pointless movie
Well... you look at the trailer of this movie and you think "how can it fail to be at least entertaining?" After all, it has some good actors (Jay Mohr and Brittany Murphy, for example, have both generally impressed me), and it's about high-school sex and bloody murder - "American Pie with a body count" as one advertisement touted it. Unfortunately it all comes to nought. A weak, cliché-ridden script and flaccid direction make the proceedings seem thoroughly boring and pointless, and I was longing for it to be over well before the end. It has hardly any real laughs or effective chills. If you've seen the trailer you've already seen everything the movie has to offer... more in fact, since nothing in the film itself rises to the promises offered.


OK monster and heroine defeated by clumsy director and badly acted terrorist
Well, I was hoping this was going to be a nice little monster movie... something along the lines of Lake Placid or Komodo, both of which I enjoyed. No such luck. It's burdened down by a tedious "terrorist on board" plot, that places it closer to Turbulence (a movie I loathed) for much of its running time. It also doesn't help that the principle terrorist villain is played by quite the worst actor I've seen in any professional film I can currently recall - his version of passing as an elderly woman to infiltrate a US establishment makes Hulk Hogan look like Laurence Olivier, and his performance as his 'normal' terroristic self consists almost entirely of eye-popping, smirking and grimacing. With many principle scenes depending on this character the whole exercise is pretty much doomed from the word go. It also doesn't help that the director's style seems to be based on the principle "telegraph what's about to occur, then telegraph it again, in case the audience is *really* slow". The special effects are passable... they could have been quite effective given an engaging script, some good acting, and sound direction, but they're hardly enough to carry the movie on their own. Carolyn Lowery as the lone significant female in the cast is consistently good... but she and the creature and the explosions can't save this aquatic turkey.

The In Crowd

Boring and unpleasant... like slowed down daytime TV
Another waste of time. The principle characters are uniformly tedious and unattractive in every way, except possibly for the physical, and essentially nothing whatsoever except posing and gossiping happens for the first hour and ten minutes or so or the film. When finally some action does occur it takes the form of a plot of such inanity that it was hardly worth trying to stay awake for. This movie is presumably intended for all those who feel the need for a wide-screen, slowed down version of daytime TV drama. Recommended only to very patient soap-opera aficionados.

Keeping the Faith

A bad, bad, bad movie... swamped by the curse of low-grade intelligence
This is a bad, bad, bad movie. Not that it's dumb... it would be better if it were. It deals thoughtfully with weighty and significant subjects... but it's afflicted throughout with the curse of low-grade intelligence, which is much worse than stupidity. With remarkable consistency almost every line in the movie takes the semi-smart low road - it's like being stuck in a restaurant with a bunch of people who think they're clever and are determined to discuss worthwhile things, and absolutely won't shut up, and keep saying bland and obvious, halfway plausible, but ultimately pointless and useless things. Actually it's worse than that... because here there are the elements of narrative and character, and those are consistently badly done with the same persistent mediocrity. Nobody comes out of this looking good... but then it's hard for actors to shine when they're working with such poor material. In fact, though, come to think of it, Anne Bancroft does manage to come off unscathed... which is a considerable testimony to her immense talent and experience. The younger players are not so lucky, and mostly sink under the half-thoughts of the script... especially Edward Norton as the priest (and he bears most responsibility, having directed the picture as well). I'm sorry if this is cruel, but I'd really have to say that Stuart Blumberg, the writer, should look for another line of work... please... and don't write novels either - we deserve to be spared more of this. One also has to question the wisdom of Norton as director - what did he think he was doing with this? Was he aiming for deep...? If so, he failed by a long way. Was he aiming for light romantic comedy? Failed that one too. If he must direct movies, maybe he should stick to something more visceral, with minimal dialogue. Not really recommended to anyone... although I suppose a very young, somewhat thoughtful person who'd never seen a halfway intelligent movie about priests and rabbis might get something out of it.


A profoundly nasty, offensive and deeply repulsive film
This movie raises a number of pressing questions in my mind. Firstly, how has Jennifer Tilly managed to sustain a film acting career for all these years based on that ridiculous squeaky voice and the very limited range of hammy facial expressions she employs? Secondly... what on earth were the people responsible for making this offensive and deeply repulsive film thinking of? And thirdly... given that there were people perverted enough to decide to make dreck like this, shouldn't there have been someone in the system - the studio, the distributors, or somewhere - sane enough to prevent it actually getting completed and released. You really would have to search a very, very long way to turn up another movie as profoundly nasty as this... and it isn't even billed as a horror movie - which, inasmuch as it can be seen as belonging to any legitimate film genre, it certainly is. The movie wallows from beginning to end in the sickest kind of madness, violence and abuse, and has essentially no redeeming features at all. I'm not actually advocating censorship (which I don't believe in)... but I really can't see how anybody could conceivably draw anything positive from watching a film like this.

28 Days

A pretty dreadful film
This is a pretty dreadful film. I think it's meant to be a sort of preachy and "inspirational" movie about recovery from alcoholism... but since it manages to make rehab look much worse than death, its actual effective message to any alcoholics watching is "you might as well carry right on drinking and get used to it or just kill yourselves". There and again... perhaps it's just being trapped in a bad Sandra Bullock movie that's worse than death.

Natural Born Killers

An obscene testament to Oliver Stone's hubris and perversity
It's really hard to comment on this movie whilst staying within the guidelines of human decency and propriety - something the movie itself certainly doesn't do. Natural Born Killers is basically a two hour graphic testament to Oliver Stone's hubris and perversity... especially if you get the DVD version and listen to his ludicrous "commentary" about what he thinks he's doing and how he expects audiences to react - what a piece of human garbage! I certainly won't be wasting any more of my time on anything he's involved in in any way! One final thing I will say... in this film Stone himself commits the primary sin of which serial killers themselves are guilty - he completely denies the humanity of everybody involved except himself... this isn't about human beings at all... it's only about Oliver's ego - and a very nasty piece of work it is too.


Ouch! A seriously bad movie.
Ouch! New York is menaced by a plasticine monster, a terrible script, and some dreadful acting from Michael Moriarty... and has only David Carradine (of Kung Fu fame) and Richard Roundtree (the original Shaft) doing dubious tough-guy acts to defend it. This is a seriously bad movie from the early 80's... and it's hard to see why it has been dug out and issued on DVD. Nostalgia...?

Top of the Food Chain

A very funny movie that exceeds expectations in every way - see it!
This is a remarkable little movie. I didn't really expect much when I started watching it - after all it's a low-budget sci-fi spoof made in rather obscure circumstances. But it truly is excellent. It's finely written, well executed, and very, very funny - I stopped the playback of the movie numerous times just to give myself time to savour some of the great moments and laugh at them properly without missing anything else. The script is consistently sharp and intelligent... and the movie also has the other two requisites of great comedy - well-judged timing and high quality straight-men. It's sort of a spoof on old sci-fi movies such as The Thing and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers... but that's only the start... the movie just has an off-kilter insight into human craziness that's not quite like anything. Actually the film to which it bears the closest comparison is the Rocky Horror Picture Show... although it's not a musical. Still I could easily imagine audiences watching Top Of The Food Chain over and over again and reciting their favourite lines along with the characters. Unfortunately this probably won't happen... it's an obscure movie, and will probably lapse into oblivion without ever finding much of an audience - which would be a great shame... so go out of your way to see it - you won't regret it.

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