markguszak

IMDb member since August 2000
    Lifetime Total
    25+
    IMDb Member
    21 years

Reviews

Platoon
(1986)

The Greatest Vietnam War Movie Ever
This film is timeless and describes the reality of the Vietnam war better than any other. This film is not hollywood and it is not surreal. It is reality. The film does try to be black and white and is not afraid to show the complexities facing fighting men in Vietnam. However, the real greatness of this film is in the gritty realism of the characters. Stone gathered a great and diverse collection of actors. Each character well developed and unique. In deed, the viewers are allowed to look at these characters and choose which one best represents them and in that, perhaps sees how they might have done in Vietnam. Charlie Sheen's character is innocence, heading for war. When he arrives in Vietnam, he must make the choice of what kind of soldier he will be. Will he emulate Sargent Barnes, a hardcore lifer that believes in killing them all and staying alive? Or will Sheen's character choose to join the souls under Sargent Elias, a compassionate veteran, who realizes that American soldiers are still human beings and should act as such. The greatness of this film, is that the choice is not cut and dry. Barnes represents the frustration of many grunts in Vietnam. The frustration of seeing many friends die and not knowing who your enemy is. The frustration of being placed in a foreign land and not knowing how to win. Many young men see Barnes as their savior, the man that will kill the enemy and keep them alive. Although Barnes is evil, one can see why men would be attracted to him. However, for many, Barnes is the worst of what war turns people into. These optimists cling to their humanity and to Elias, a Christ-like figure that attempts to keep the souls of those young soldiers pure. This film takes the viewer to Vietnam and puts them in the jungle. It shows us why we would never ever want to be there. It shows us many different and diverse characters, some we relate with, others that we abhor. It shows why Vietnam was unique and why we were not able to win there. It is not a fun film to watch, but war is never fun. Great film that comes as close to perfection as any film can. Great performance and great direction. See it!

Apocalypse Now
(1979)

Overrated!
When I hear people say that this was the best film about Vietnam ever, I have to puke, I mean laugh. This was a boring, unrealistic, slow ride to nowhere. I am aware that it is based on "Heart of Darkness", but you know what? That was a boring, pointless book as well. I know there are messages all over the movie and the expense of this film must have been incredible. And yes, Duval makes me laugh. But the bad just far outweighs the good here. This movie is a mess. From a movie I seek one of two things, interest or excitement. This had neither. Is that to say that there are no interesting or exciting scenes? No, there are, but the boring, pointless scenes just outweigh them by so much. For a realistic look at Vietnam, I would suggest "Platoon" or "Full Metal Jacket." For a far out movie that has interest, I would suggest "Easy Rider" or "A Clockwork Orange." However, if you want to be bored and see some of the silliest war scenes ever, try this one. A one word description of this film is OVERRATED!

Brother
(2000)

Oh brother, this is a horrible movie!
This is one Japanese export that would turn me into a protectionist. I have never seen a more simplistic, stupid screenplay in my life. What I resent, is the patronizing way this film is getting high marks, all because it is Japanese. Mark my words, if this film was made by an American, it would premiere on late night Cinemax. I am betting that the actor/director that wrote this film got all of his knowledge about organized crime from watching two Miami Vice episodes in the mid 1980's. I am not even going to go into how bad the acting was and it was. The film has a premise that you think might work. A disgraced Yakuza member leaving Japan to start new in America. However, his meteoric rise up the crime ladder is just comic book. Of course they try to tack on a love story, so as the film will fill out the standard formula. Some of the attempts at humor in this film were just horrible. I have never heard a more silent audience at some of the supposed humor gags. One reason you might want to go to this film, is to predict the upcoming scenes. Let me tell you, you will be one step ahead of the actors in this one, because everything is so predictable. I guess, that if I were able to shave a hundred points off of my IQ, I might have been able to enjoy this one. Avoid this piece of sushi, it is foul. * out of **** , and that is being very nice.

For Love of the Game
(1999)

I really wanted to like this film.
I tried, I tried hard. However, after flashback number 97, I started to get a little irritated. This is a film that is supposed to pull on those heart strings and it tries to pull on them in every scene. Watching this film, I could not help but be reminded of "Jerry MacGuire." The film just wants to be so sentimental, so often. It just gets tiring. The story revolves around a 40 year old pitcher, who might be pitching his very last game. He is played well by Kevin Costner. Costner's character is your classic throw-back ballplayer, he lives and breathes baseball. He is also very loyal to his Detroit Tigers. However, as his career winds down, he starts to see that there are other things in life that are important. Moreover, he starts to see that he is going to have to start making some huge decisions, soon. The problem is, we can see the decisions he has to make pretty quickly, Costner's character cannot seem to grasp the obvious around him. The flashback scenes of his developing romance just start to become tedious. Moreover, practically all of the characters in the movie are undeveloped. You really don't know anything about Costner's relationships with other people and players. However, the movie pretends that we all know the history. I hate to say it, but the movie starts to get real sappy. It is just too simplistic. The same old points that have already been made, baseball is great, we should all love baseball, why don't you love baseball? I think the film should have concentrated on the baseball angle or the love angle. However, it trys to do both and we are left with a somewhat uninspired, paint by the numbers, novel to movie. ** out of ****.

Waiting for Guffman
(1996)

One of the funniest movies ever!
This was one of the most refreshing films I have ever seen. A simple premise, gather great improv actors, give them a loose storyline, and then let them do what they do best, act funny. Any fans of SCTV and SNL (when it used to be funny) will appreciate this fine film. I was blown away, when I learned that the film had not even been scripted. The actors played it on comedic instinct. Of course, it helps when you have the talent that this film had. The story revolves around a small town in Missouri known as Blaine. Blaine is your typical one Wal Mart town. Blaine is having a huge celebration to honor their founding. Of course, their founder was on his way to the Pacific Ocean, when he announced to the group of pioneers that they were in fact there. Did I mention, Blaine is in Missouri? Of course, like their founder, the town is far from exceptional also. The local acting group is planning a play, which will celebrate the many historic events that have taken place in Blaine's past. Of course, this being a small town in Middle America, standards of performances are somewhat less than what you might see in say, New York or LA. The town turns to the great Corky St. Claire to write, star and produce the show. Corky is the super talented (legend in his own mind), somewhat odd fellow, that produces all of the town's plays. Oscar Wilde only dreamed of being as "alternative" as Corky is. Of course, Corky will need help in making this epic play work, so he turns to his trusted core of locals for acting talent. Of course, when it is discovered that a broadway agent will be appearing at the town play, well, let's just say that the importance of the performance goes way up. Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy and all of the rest of the cast are just incredible. You will laugh out loud the whole way. The movie does have real emotion, but it is a comedy, first and foremost. **** out of ****. By the way, this is the same group that did "Best in Show."

Lost Highway
(1997)

They don't get any worse than this!
Gee, I wonder why this movie did so poorly at the box office? Could it be because it totally sucked!? I mean, WOW! There was no point to this movie. I have heard people ask the question, "When is David Lynch going to get back to that level of film making like when he made "Blue Velvet?" Well, I got news for you, "Blue Velvet" was a fluke! Lynch is a sorry director! Bomb after bomb, from "Eraserhead" to "Dune". This film had no point or story line. Oh sure, Robert Blake had a creepy character, but he was in the movie for thirty seconds. There were other small sub-plots that could have been interesting, but they were not explored and therefore were of no merit. Just like in "Twin Peaks," Lynch teases you. The tease is that there is an actual story developing, but there is not one. It is simply a third year film student attempting to show people that he is unique. How anyone could give this movie a thumbs up is beyond me. I believe even Lynch would admit it was bad, well, maybe not. I believe that all of the positive reviews for this film came from the Marylin Manson fans, who skipped school to see this movie. Lynch, quit wasting our time with your music videos/movies. And by the way, that lawn mower movie was BORING!

Gettysburg
(1993)

Read the book!
I had just read Sharra's "Killer Angels" when I rented this video. I thought that I would enjoy the film, because the book was so excellent. However, I was a bit dismayed. The movie simply lacks a lot of the emotion found in the book. Moreover, the director chooses to ignore some of the more interesting storylines in favor of some of the more inane ones. In fact, the movie is somewhat contradictory to the book in some places. It does a very poor job of showing some of the anger that many of the Confederate Generals had towards Lee and Stuart. Moreover, it fails to show just how fanatic the Rebs were in there trust of Lee and how that fanaticism, led to their defeat. However, the thing I disliked most about this film was Martin Sheen as General Lee. His accent was laughable and physically was not near the specimen of the actual Lee. Sharra's book was a very open and critical look at the battle of Gettysburg, this movie was not. Not a bad movie, it just had big shoes to fill, because the book was that good.

The Pledge
(2001)

Will it ever end?
You almost have to make a pledge that you will finish this movie, and that might be one of the hardest promises you ever have to keep. This movie was boring. I am sorry Mr. Penn, I know you are an Artist and your films are so unique and all, but get to it. I kind of enjoyed "The Indian Runner" and thought "The Crossing Guard" was OK, but this film had serious problems. For one, it looks like a bad Robert Altman movie. Plenty of cameos by famous actors, but for no real reason, except name dropping. Top rank actors who play boring, meaningless roles. Moreover, I thought the storyline was simplistic. Not to spoil anything, but Nicholson's character is just not very consistent. He is sure about who the Psycho is, but he lets his little girl carry on a conversation with him while she builds a snowman. The basics of the story, are that Jack is retiring and he has little else to fall back on. The night he retires, a little girl is killed. They arrest the guy that does it, but Jack is sure that he did not do it (why? who knows? Maybe he just wants something to do). For the rest of the movie, Jack kind of looks for the real killer (if he is indeed still out there) and kind of does not look for him. My problem with the movie, is that it is so slow! It just crawls and at about the sixth hour (I might be over stating here) I just wanted it to end. The scenery was not that pretty and the images are not either. He throws in a little religion, but for no real reason. This is the kind of film, where someone that wants to be different will say "I really liked it," but I am different, and I did not! ** out of **** and that is being nice.

Sexy Beast
(2000)

A very good movie!
I liked this film a lot. I have heard a lot of comparisons to Guy Ritchie's films, but I don't think so. This is a very different style, more on drama and less on snappy lingo and comedy. In fact, I did not find this movie very funny at all. I keep hearing "dark comedy" but I don't see it. This film is more sinister than funny. When this film starts, you wonder whether it will be a heist film or not. The main characters are so content and happy living the life they are living, that returning to London and crime is out of the question. However, sometimes evil comes and it is hard to say no, By the way, evil has never been played more evil, since Dennis Hopper created Frank Booth in "Blue Velvet." This movie has characters that you do feel for and one that you hate. As I watched, I felt for the good guys and hoped that good would prevail over evil. If you want to see a drama that will involve you in the movie, this is it. If you want to see a Tarantino/Guy Madonna film, well, you might just like this as well. I still don't know where they got the title for this one! A solid 3 out of 4 stars.

Mic and the Claw
(2000)

This is the worst movie I have ever seen!
Wow! Getting through this movie was more painful than a root canal. I know that this was a rather low budget film, so perhaps we should not be that hard on it? Nah! It was horrible! This was one of the First Rites videos that Hollywood rents. The First Rites series takes Independent movies and gives them a wide release at Hollywood video, Great idea, right? For the most part, the other First Rite films have been pretty good, some have been excellent ("Fishing with Gandhi" and "Sleepy Heads"). However, I have no idea why this film was made. How could you look at this screenplay and not know it was terrible? The story revolves around two aging rock stars (neither of which is played well) who come together in the woods for a reunion album (although they have no equipment or anything else to cut a record). You know what? The plot is not worth me going into. This video has a slick cover on it that draws you near, but be warned, it has no entertainment value at all. It is not Battlefield Earth bad, at least with that movie, you could enjoy how bad it was. This film is foul. Another thing, this was listed as a comedy and there was not anything in it that was close to being funny. What is up with that?

Only the Brave
(1994)

Incredible Movie!
"Only the Brave" follows two girls as they complete a "rite of passage", Australian style. Like Romper Stomper, the movie takes place in the suburbs of Melbourne. However, where Hando and Davey fought to try to preserve their surroundings and keep them like they are, these girls see their surroundings as a wasteland, with no future whatsoever. If anything, the girls want to destroy their surroundings.

The two girls have had horrible family experiences and desperatly want some kind of security and although they seek to find it, it is not out there. They burn inside to lash out at a society that they see as cold and uncaring. However, their impression of society is somewhat distorted from the reality that is really out there.

The film is very dark and bleak. Watching the film, you might think that the girls don't have as tough of life as they think they do. I suppose that is so, however this is common for many teens, regardless of the country they live in. Moreover, the girls have turned their vision so inward, that they cannot see all that is around them. Call it a teen angst film, but you will find yourself wrapped up in the events as they play out.

Romper Stomper
(1992)

Russell Crowe at his best.
This film will stay with you for quite awhile. It tells the story of Hando (Crowe) and his best mate Davey. Both are Skinheads in the Melbourne area, 1980's. Hando and Davey's lives revolve around collecting Nazi relics and attacking Orientals that have chosen to live in Australia. The two are very tight and big believers in the cause, keep Australia free of outsiders. However, when a girl enters the picture, one will start to see that life is more than just mindless violence and the other will go mad as he sees that his small group of Skins cannot change the fate of his country. This film is not preachy and does not come across as black and white. Both Hando and Davey have positive and negative traits. Instead, the picture tries to show what motivates Skins in doing what they do. The film has some violence, but only in attempt to show how pointless violence is. In my opinion, this is Crowe's finest performance. Moreover, the actor that played Davey is brilliant as well (sadly, he died shortly after the film was finished). If you want to see an excellent historical lesson about hate and how it destroys, see Romper Stomper.

Evolution
(2001)

It starts bad and evolves into something worse!
Would Ivan Reitman please retire. Has this guy had a hit post Reagan administration? This is Ghost Busters with not as talented actors. Paint by the numbers summer comedy, with nothing special. Not even the special effects are of note. I was allowed to see this movie for free or I would really be angry. Hack director hired to make bad summer movie. The word of mouth on this one will kill it. Moreover, I see that the newspaper add for this film uses quotes from Roger Ebert, however Ebert gave it thumbs down. Wow! They are using quotes from people that hated the movie. Now that is evolutionary!

Fishing with Gandhi
(1998)

This is one of the funniest movies around!
This is laugh out loud funny. It is Sling Blade meets Dumb and Dumber, think about that for awhile. The twins in this movie are incredible and their subjects of conversation are beyond belief. Of course, this is a rather low budget film and sometimes the audio is less than perfect, which is sad, because you really want to hear all of the brilliant lines being spoken. This movie details the adventures of Dan who is returning from Oregon, where he has just attended a wedding, his mother marrying his uncle. Dan is given a ride back to California by two brothers that are, let's just say, "touched." The rest is for you to enjoy. This is not rocket science, just good fun.

3000 Miles to Graceland
(2001)

Will it ever end?
Hey, do you want to see a really bad two hour music video? Here it is! I have never seen a movie wander off as badly as this one. More than a few people were getting up and walking out on this one. I thought about it, but I figured I already paid for it, so what the heck. In retrospect, I think I should have walked out on it. The premise of the movie had potential, guys dressed up like Elvis robbing a casino during an Elvis convention. The problem is, that the robbery happens in the first 15 minutes of the movie. Who wrote this thing and how did they get Costner and Russell to do it? Incredible! This movie is a real watch checker, beware.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
(2000)

Did the Coens really make this?
It is hard to believe that the greatest filmmakers in the business were responsible for this below average film. Let me just say, that "Raising Arizona" and "The Big Lebowski" are my two all time favorite films. Heck, "Miller's Crossing" and "Blood Simple" are as well. These are two incredible filmmakers, the best! However, this film was a dud! Very blah and cookie cutter, just not your standard Coen greatness. Maybe I am being too hard, but I don't think so. In most Coen films, the greatness comes from the assortment of crazy characters, that is what is sadly missing here. John Goodman and John Turturro are both wasted! George Clooney is good, but not enough to carry the film. A lot of old Coen favorites make cameos, but they look to be tacked on and not much else. I am sure that these legendary filmmakers will get it back, but this one was sadly lacking.

Dill Scallion
(1999)

This is a funny movie!
I laughed quite a bit at this one. It was the classic "busdriver becomes big music star, breaks his foot every day, has the two biggest singles in the United States and is washed up before his first album is released" story that we are used to seeing, but with some twists. Funny movie, I don't know what those people that gave it bad marks were on.

Thursday
(1998)

A Tarantino Wannabe that looks more like Amateur Night in Dixie!
This film had some talented actors, doing some really weak stuff. I was interested in it when I saw that it had Thomas Jane, who was so great as Todd Parker in Boogie Nights. It also had Eckhart from In the Company of Men, Rourke, etc.. I figured that it would have to be pretty good, I was wrong. This film looks and feels like it was written by a high school student. The editing is weak, the story even weaker and some of the content is so absurd that I wonder if the actors were medicated while doing this film, as I am sure they sought medication after they viewed it. It was just such a shallow film, that had no reality or insight into the subject matter. It would be like Julia Roberts portraying a prostitute or something, uh... wait a minute, bad example. Just so unrealistic and yes, a Tarantino wannabe.

Gladiator
(2000)

Pretty good movie, but far from great.
I perhaps had too high of expectations for this film. I am a big Russell Crowe fan and the hype surrounding this movie was rather positive. However, whenever you see Ridley Scott's name as director, you should have reservations. I feel that Scott is right up there with Jerry Bruckenheimer in the making of MTV video movies. The stories tend to have some style and little substance. In Gladiator you get that style, but sadly, very little substance. Although Crowe was very good, that is no great feat, Crowe is always good. The problem with this movie was the real lack of supporting players. Phoenix was rather one dimensional and Oliver Reed was dead, literally. Perhaps I am being too negative, the movie is certainly entertaining and worth the rental, but it is not Spartacus, not even close. You want to see some kick butt fighting, check it out, but there are few Oscar clips here. Perhaps I should be more complimentary, it was Ridley Scott!

eXistenZ
(1999)

Is it a game? Or just a bad movie?
I tend to side with the bad movie. This movie was a creative waste of time, like all of David Cronenberg's "films." He always attempts to freak you out with strange creatures and machinery that takes on living characteristics, but in the end, you just scratch your head and say whatever! I was shocked that he was able to get some of the talented actors that he got to do this movie. Come on guys, read those scripts before you sign those contracts. If you want to be different and pretend that you liked this film, go for it. However, be advised, if someone asks you what you like about it, well, you might be in a corner. Hey David, you are not as creative as you think you are!

Phoenix
(1998)

This is a very good film!
I caught this on HBO and was totally taken with it. I don't remember it ever playing at the theater and that is a shame. As far as cops and robber movies go, this one is outstanding. The movie has a gritty and dirty sense about it. One really senses that they are involved in these sordid tales that take place in the arid Arizona wasteland that is Phoenix. Although this is a movie with no real good guys, Ray Liotta is a pretty good guy. The only problem with Liotta, is that he cannot stop gambling and this keeps him in trouble with a local shark, who might be willing to forgive a debt for a favor. Did I mention that Liotta is a cop? Of course, Liotta has interesting partners that work with him, all more dirty and corrupt than himself. Great character actors assembled for this one, but Liotta is the shining star here. His witty observations and philosophies on life serve as great filler as we wait for the next action to take place. Through out the movie we see Liotta break a number of laws, however the one thing he will not corrupt is what he holds sacred to himself, gambling. Just watching these cops attempting to dig out of the hot messes they create for themselves is worth the price of this rental. However, many more people will want to see it again, as they root for their hapless Liotta to get out of the mess he is in. Very good movie!

The Big Lebowski
(1998)

One of the greatest comedies ever!
Alright, so I am a Coen fanatic and that might make me biased. However, the Coens did make Hudsucker Proxy and I did not really like that. So, you can believe me when I say this is one of the greatest comedies ever. Right up there with Raising Arizona (that Coen brother thing again). To sum it up simply, the Dude has a rug that really ties the room together. It gets miterated upon by some guys looking for Bunny. But, Bunny is not the Dude's wife. Oh yeah, some Nihilists are also looking for Bunny. They believe in nothing. Walt is going to help Dude get his rug ( a new one) back and find several analogies to the Vietnam war to sum up what is going on. The Dude does get a rug, but it was Maude's rug, Bunny's stepdaughter, but don't call her that. Oh yeah, Maude will have Dude's baby after her assistants beat the Dude up. Even though the Dude would prefer getting together with Bunny (she was in Logjamming), but Brandt does a good job of preventing that. Oh yeah, the Nihilists cut the toe off one of their girlfriends, they pretend that it is Bunny's toe, so they can get ransom from the Big Lebowski, who is not the Dude. Donny sadly dies, the Little Lebowski urban achievers lose out on a million dollars, Dude gets the Credence back, but the car is totaled. Is this helping? Or should I stop?

Q & A
(1990)

Very Strong Performances
I liked this film, a lot. It had some uneven moments in it, mostly Sidney Lumet's daughter's attempt at acting. However, Nolte and Assante are GREAT! This is gritty and realistic movie making. One sympathizes with the somewhat idealistic assistant district attorney (Timothy Hutton) as he tries to do the right thing, with so many thing in his way. The language of the movie is raw, with many memorable quotes. However, after viewing the movie you will find yourself remembering the roles of Nolte (Frank Brennan) and Armand Assante (Bobby Texador). Nolte is a cross between John Wayne and Ted Bundy. He is the first cop through the door and the first to pull out his weapon. He gets the job done, but he also breaks the law whenever he sees fit. Hutton, like many, admire Nolte, but the more they find out about the guy, the more they see that he might be the real threat to society. Bobby Tex is the very charismatic drug dealer that honestly wants to get out of the business alive. It is rare that the character that you root for the most is a drug dealer, but this movie maybe the one exception. He is better than the murdering cop. Hutton plays the straight guy in between these two forces of nature. Hutton has personal demons and real demons standing in way of doing the right thing. Good, solid story that you will enjoy. No Hollywood ending here. This movie is RAW!

Gummo
(1997)

This film was rancid!
And I use the term "film" very loosely. What was the point? I think it might have been that there is a lot of white trash out there in the world. Well, duh!! Some of it is disturbing, so I guess that means he was doing something right. However, I could do a lot of disturbing things myself and it would not constitute art. Avoid this film unless you are so "out of it" that the deranged might just seem appealing.

Budbringeren
(1997)

This was a rather drab, slow, pointless....
movie. I had high expectations for this one and was very let down. The movie is not funny, but it was billed as a comedy. This movie is not exciting, but it was billed as an adventure. This film was not good, although some critics gave it a thumb up. I guess that if you are Scandinavian you might enjoy it, because it is a Swedish film. That is all the praise I can give it, Thank You!

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