TamPalm

IMDb member since April 2006
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    13 years

Reviews

GLOW
(2017)

What in the world happened season 3? Shark jumped!
Season one brought a show with a new, fresh, intriguing concept. The story, plot, acting, nostalgia were all executed brilliantly. Season two continued the high quality though to a lesser degree. But then season three happened.

Is Hollyweird really this far gone that it can't see when its pushed its aggressive social agenda to the detriment of the overall product? Its doing so absolutely RUINED this show, just as other commenters have stated. Season three is almost entirely about homosexuality. And it goes about executing this theme in X-rated fashion. This show went from relative PG to basically po rn. "Gay" dominates the entire season, it hovers over every scene, it's the topic of almost every conversation, it's ever-present. And while the rest of the show tries to stay true to the era, somehow the social justice part is current-day, as modern-day cues like "homophobia" and rainbows are used. I guess remaining true to the era takes a back seat when there's a leftist lesson to be taught.

At any rate, the few times the social engineering is not dominant, the plot is scattered and unfocused. Even further, "GLOW" is like an afterthought even to the point it Is painted as something the characters hate and want to escape. The story for the main character in particular seems to be setting her up to move away from GLOW.

It's to the point this show could be named something else. Season three moved it so far from the original plot. It's now something else entirely. I hope season four can steer the show back but I'm not sure I'll run to watch it. In fact, after slogging through season three, I think I'm removing this show from my Watchlist. I don't know what it is anymore. It was a solid 8 for me, I've now deducted points. So very disappointed.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
(2019)

Powerful climax couldn't save overall film
This is one of those films in which you have to ignore the exorbitantly high ratings that precede the official opening of the film. Clearly a lot of insiders or self-important movie buffs inflated the rating based on the reputation of the director and maybe personal nostalgia for the era depicted in the film.. I do not think anyone could objectively deem this a "10" or perfect movie.

It was overly-long, it dragged and dragged, and its plot was thin. I dozed off at least twice. I almost walked out I was so bored and frustrated. It just wasn't going anywhere!

Then came "the scene." It was everything you'd want and expect from a Tarrentino film. It shocked you into attention, shook you awake from the long slumber that preceded it. I will concede that even though as a somewhat squeamish person, I had to look away a couple times, it was an overall satisfying and invigorating climax.

But it wasn't enough to save the overall film.

A great film has to provide more than ten minutes of compelling footage. It has to keeps the audience's attention throughout. It has to tell a story in which the audience can follow and find some type of meaning. "Once" just doesn't do that.

I was going to rate this film a 4, but I reconsidered because I do think "the scene" provides enough excitement to make the film memorable, at least short-term, and I believe that at least warrants another rating point. 5/10 is my final answer.

Alpha House
(2013)

West Wing meets Newsroom...Thumbs way up
I have now completed the second season and thought that based on the small number reviews, it would be a good idea for me to write a review to give those who haven't seen it or don't know about it, to give an idea of what to expect.

If you liked West Wing, you'll like this show. Just as witty and equally thought-provoking on current-day political culture without Aaron Sorkin's lightning speed dialogue style (thank goodness). Like West Wing, the acting is superb and there are numerous cameos of newspeople and politicians for your political/news junkie pleasures.

If you like Newsroom, you'll like this show. Newsroom was satire at its core. So is Alpha House. Both mostly pokes fun at the current day Republican Party but AH does it better. Both use characters who are Republicans to satirize the party's platform but AH is less preachy and thus more effective than Newsroom was. So far AH hasn't gotten too preachy but there is a possible vulnerability there that I hope the show manages to avoid going forward. This specifically surrounds one of the biggest subplots of the show concerning one of the characters and his inability to reconcile the conservative values he feels pressured to uphold with his sexuality. In fact this character and his family provide the bulk of not only the humor but the backdrop for the overall satirical message of the show. I will stop here to avoid giving too much of the show away.

I hope Amazon continues this show. It really is a breath of fresh air. And I think it's better that it's on a forum like Amazon versus television. I didn't think so at the time but in hindsight I concede that HBO may not have been the best venue for Newsroom. The type of audience it and shows like AH attract is quite specific. It's not a general audience type of show. I'm glad the powers that be apparently realize this. Speaking of those producers, I noticed Jonathan Alter, a regular commentator on MSNBC is executive producer of AH. This is simultaneously fascinating, impressive and alarming. It alarms me because MSNBC has become way too biased and preachy for its own good. I am hoping the kind of disingenuous proselytizing it does doesn't spill over to this show. I am hoping the setup of the show--the interaction of four Republican lawmakers--keeps it grounded and somewhat balanced. I am looking for a positive future for this show.

Check it out!

This Is the End
(2013)

My 3/10 rating is generous.
One of the worst movies I've ever seen, definitely one of the most overrated. As other commenters have stated, I am still trying to fathom the high score it has received on IMDb. It defies logic. There is nothing about this movie that is even in the vicinity of an 8. I smell something untoward going on with the rating system here.

The movie reminds of "Bruno." Almost just as crass, almost just as offensive, almost just as bad, definitely similarly overrated. I was never angrier after leaving a theater than I was when seeing Bruno about which I complained often about wanting my money back, but I was similarly upset about wasting my time on this movie. Where does one start? To start, it's not a movie. It's some kind of experiment, semi-reality based, semi-scripted. The weak plot takes a back seat to the crass, offensive, juevenile dialogue. There is so much time spent on hearing characters rant about their bodily functions you forget that they are supposed to be in the middle of the apocalypse. When the plot does take center stage, it's clear the whole movie is just as an excuse for the writer (Seth Rogen?) to show off his black book of Hollywood friends. In fact the whole experiment seems to just be an excuse for cameos from random celebrities.

Laughs were few and had I not had such high hopes for this film based on the misleadingly high reviews, I would have walked out. Save your time and your money. You haven't missed a thing.

2016: Obama's America
(2012)

Falsely Advertised and Promoted
Let's start with what is most obvious from this film--this D'souza guy is a narcissistic sociopath. He spends most of the time comparing himself to Obama, seeking to elevate his status and validate his bona fides. This documentary is one big ego stroke.

Beyond that, he is an anti-intellectual. He forms a conclusion, then offers "evidence" to prove that conclusion, not the other way around which is what true intellectuals do. Instead he is a propaganda machine who has determined by his great insight and likeness to his "brother" Obama, that Obama's mission is to take down America based on his desire to fulfill the wishes of a father he met one time. Obama's bailout--nevermind Bush's--is rooted in anti-Americanism and a desire to bring down America. Obama's deficit--nevermind any of his predecessors--is the beginning of his takedown of the colonial oppressor. Obama's Harvard professors--nevermind that they work in Ivy League institutions--were part of his "founding fathers of communism and marxism and anti-Americanism."

His calculated use of soundbites and manipulative illustrations are an affront to decency. As much as he tries to convince the audience and himself that he is a part of "we"--America--he does a darn good job of contributing to the dumbing down of the country. He is a dangerous man. He is someone out to prove something who will do anything to prove it and--through calculated steps from childhood to get to America and get to the power class--has accumulated the contacts to help him do it. I do not think it is a stretch for me to call him a potential terrorist. I think there is more than enough proof, based on what he offers as his life story, that he has been calculating from an early age to get to America and infiltrate the ranks of power to push an agenda.

The alternative explanation is that he is a real-life Clayton Bixby. He is someone who has surrounded himself with right-wing racists so much that he has become one, as he clearly thinks himself--and Whites--superior or "more" American than the "others," the "foreigners." His mission is to prove that he is good enough for what he deems the cool crowd. His insecurity with his own identity is much more apparent than the apparent identity crisis he tries to paint for Barack Obama.

I attended this movie--read: wasted my money (can I get a refund as I have never regretted spending my money more than on this trash?)--with an open mind, thinking based on the relatively high rating and reviews that this movie was "objective." It turns out those reviews were blatant lies, and I am wondering now if those commenters were not solicited by the author to flood IMDb upon the introduction of the film to the masses. Hmmmm In truth, this is a well-produced piece of trash. That's the kindest thing I can say about it.

Ted
(2012)

Bruno-esque = Waaaay Overrated!
I had a similar feeling leaving this movie that I did leaving Bruno (which I rated much lower): "what in the world is all the hype about?" This movie should have been beneath Mark Wahlberg, truly. The plot was weak, the dialogue maybe even weaker. I don't remember any laugh-out-loud funny moments (besides the realization you get every now and then while watching that you are watching an R-rated flick about a teddy bear) but I'm sure there were a few.

Like Bruno, I think there are industry forces high-rating this movie. It belongs nowhere near the 8 rating. In time, I suspect the rating system will correct itself else the integrity of the whole rating system on this site will be in question.

Think Like a Man
(2012)

More an Ode to Steve Harvey than a real Movie
Excruciatingly bad. That's my takeaway from this movie. As other critics have stated, this is just one big infomercial for Steve Harvey's book. I will go a step further and say it's a big ol' "that-a-boy" from Steve to himself. Gag me now.

The plot is non-existent. The "movie" is just an array of vignettes that sloppily intersect and form silly lessons from the "great one" (Harvey) about relationships. The characters are just there. There is no real development except the trite, predictable "I see the light now" that brings the manufactured happy endings to each vignette. The writing is HORRIBLE. The production is low-budget. The list goes on of things that make this "movie" forgettable.

However,there are small but significant peeps of light through the otherwise dark cloud that is this ode to Harvey. The all-star cast tries really hard and sometimes succeeds at making this horrible script entertaining. I will highlight Michael Ealy's character as a ray of sunshine. The combination of his looks including those piercing eyes and his acting chops make his character appealing and dreamy, despite his being mismatched with the older-looking Taraji Henson. Gabrielle Union does a decent job with her character and she and her beau have the most interesting, believable story line of the movie. The numerous cameos would be kind of cute if they didn't leave you with the impression that their inclusion is just yet another way for "the great one" to show he is "somebody" and that he "knows people." I digress as I find myself getting back to the negative even in the paragraph I had reserved to show the few positives of the movie.

Bottom line, this is an ego-driven "I love myself" fest of Steve Harvey. I am wholly disappointed in the Rainforest crew who produced it, as I thought they would have grown more in their movie-making than they have apparently. They are still putting out low-budget, poorly-constructed films. It seems the only difference is that they are getting paid more now to do so. It's a shame. They had the opportunity to make this movie a quality movie. It could have been so much more than it was.

You will not regret skipping this movie.

Good Deeds
(2012)

Surprisingly Memorable
I am not a Tyler Perry defender, but I have to call foul on the 3.1 rating. Those who reviewed the movie average about a 6 or 7, so I'm led to believe many who have voted on this movie did not in fact see the movie. Considering the assault Perry receives from critics--myself included at times--it would not be hard to believe some would undermine the rating system here and seek to sabotage anything with the name "Perry" in front of it. Moving on...

I will go out on a limb and say this is Perry's highest quality effort to date. It's the first movie I remember seeing of his that did not run with the trite good-guy/bad-guy story line. This movie had more depth than any of his previous. There were no bad guys. Every character was troubled and coping and...human. Many I think missed the real theme of this movie. It has absolutely nothing to do with a man coming to save a woman. It is about having the courage to follow your own path. It is a universal theme, one that hits home for virtually everyone. Sure there may be better movies out there who execute this theme, but this movie does it competently in my opinion, and by Tyler Perry's standards, it is more than competent. It is dare I say, actually "good?"

I liked the acting. Once I got past Thandie's always-strange accent and the little girl's initially poor acting performance, and Brian White's sometimes over-acting, the movie caught its groove and all of the actors delivered. Newton played a particularly touching role. I have to admit her ability to cry on a dime regarding the loss of her child, made me tear up a bit. To say that I was shocked to find myself actually tearing up from a Tyler Perry movie is the understatement of the day. Perry and Gabrielle Union also delivered. Both portrayed their complex characters well and competently showcased the true ambivalence that often accompanies a relationship, especially one that occurs when the couple is past their twenties and have to grapple with all the life expectations that entails. This brings me to the next highlight--the script.

It seems like Perry actually took his time--or at least more time than he usually does, say on the horrible movies like "Madea Goes to Jail" or the like--on this script. There was more character development, more growth, more nuance, and unpredictability. There were plot holes, sure, but in general, you didn't feel short-changed as a viewer, like the writer was just trying to rush something through to meet a deadline so that he could ultimately get your money--ahem--"Why did I get Married 2" looking at you!

Finally, I liked the pace of the movie. Some may think it was slow, I think it was mature...a mature movie about mature matters. I liked this for a change, especially in comparison to the low-IQ slapstick I had previously associated with Tyler Perry. And let me leave this little tidbit: If you, like me, happen to currently be in a similar place in life as these characters--about to make big life decisions but fear you are not making the right ones--you will doubly appreciate the meditative pace. You will appreciate the more introspective tone than is found in Perry's other movies.

The movie is not perfect, but I will give it a relatively high rating simply to combat the unfairly low rating it has as of this writing. We should applaud growth when we see it. "See it" being the operative phrase. See the movie before low-rating it. Have some integrity folks.

Tower Heist
(2011)

More an Action movie than a Comedy, but Watchable
This was not what I expected. It puts you in the mind of "Other Guys" in that it makes a socio-political statement, but "Other Guys" is much funnier. Most of the jokes in "Tower Heist" fall way flat, but the overall plot is suspenseful enough to keep your attention.

The cast is adequate, but falls short is significant areas. First, the movie is billed with Eddie Murphy as the lead. Not the case. Ben Stiller is the clear star of the film. Stiller is okay, but Murphy comes off as someone trying to hard. His overacting and trying to force jokes is somewhat pathetic. He gets a few zingers, but only a few. I think the audience expected much more from him, especially given the previews. As for the rest of the cast, okay. It's odd seeing Ferris Bueller play such a gray and depressed and pathetic character. Gaborrey Siddibey is not a great actress. The fake accent was horrid. And yes, I will say it, her size, particularly her arms, is distracting. They even threw in the predictable stuff-your-face-with-cake scene which couldn't be more contrived if they tried. Blah The highlight though is the ending. It was a satisfying ending. The suspense paid off. So at least you leave the theater with a smile on your face, even though you had to sit through a mediocre film to get there.

See this film when you are just trying to kill time one day. Not a must-see, but somewhat enjoyable.

A Gifted Man
(2011)

Solid, but could use some tweaking
I like this show and DVR it every week. I think Patrick Wilson is a fine actor (physically and talent-wise) and his supporting cast, save his ex-wife is a good fit as well. The show is decent, non-offensive, family friendly, etc. For that reason alone, it's a keeper, and it's a shame CBS put it on Friday night, something networks do with programming they don't really believe in. Perhaps, if it does get the ax, Hallmark or the Family Channel will pick it up. I think it would b a good fit for stations like that.

While it's a solid show I will continue to support, the show could use some tweaking. Most notably, the character of the ex-wife really ads nothing positive to the show. It's an annoying character and the storyline of the doc engaging the ex-wife for some supposed significant reason is not fleshed through well. It's really difficult to figure out how that part adds anything to the show, as the show could stand on its own, without that component.

But check it out. I would hate for this show to be canceled as it is one of only a few positive family-friendly shows out there right now.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
(2000)

Seinfield is not in the same league
This used to be my favorite show. I still love it, even though its seasons on HBO are sporadic at best. I understand that people will automatically compare this show to Seinfield because of the inherent links, but as someone who never "got" Seinfield, I think those comparisons are off. Curb is genius. Pure genius. At its core it is a social experiment we get to witness and with which most of us can identify. It is a misanthrope's dream show, but the writing and natural flow of the show makes it such quality material that even the most gregarious among us will fall in love with it.

Bottom line, given the lack of watchable sitcoms over the past few years, it is enjoyable to just watch a quality sitcom. It's a joy to be a viewer a know you are in the hands of someone who knows what he is doing and who won't dumb down his humor or insult your intelligence. For that fact alone, this is a show for the ages.

The only thing I will point out as a negative is the addition of the Black character. I do not like the stereotypes through which he is presented. There is a tinge of racism there, and I thought Larry David was kind-of above that. I would suggest David write that character off, and thus restore my respect for him. I know he is above that kind of base humor.

8.5/10

Hawthorne
(2009)

I TRIED to like it...really I did!
I have steadily tried to watch this show. It seems like something people like me--those who like "Men of a Certain Age" and such--should like. But it's nowhere near that caliber of show. The writing is horrid and the acting leaves a lot to be desired.

I have come to terms with the idea that Pinkett-Smith is just not that strong an actress to carry this kind of show. She was at her best as the sassy around-the-way chick in her films. That was not too much a stretch for her and it worked well for her. Nurse Hawthorne? Not so much. I liked the flirting back and forth between her character and the doctor in the first season, but now they've thrown Marc Anthony in the mix and it's just a jumbled mess. The one saving grace the picture had--the chemistry between Hawthorne and the doc--is now gone. And the daughter--MAJOR casting mistake! Her look is wrong, the script given to her character is wrong, and her acting is just not good! Also, I see now they've thrown in Derek Luke. A decent actor who seems to be falling victim of the horrible script like the rest of the cast. Finally, you have the nurse friend who was previously in the background who's now been thrust up front. Huh? Just the whole plot of this show is going from bad to worse.

Stick a fork in it. Either do a complete overhaul TNT, or just let this one go.

3 out of 10 is all I can muster.

Franklin & Bash
(2011)

I Like It
At first, I didn't want to tune into this show. I had chalked it up to just yet another soon-to-fail court show of Mark Paul's aka Zach Morris. But seeing as how it was hyped sooo much, I broke down and gave it a try...It's been on my DVR ever since.

While the bravado of the two lawyers is a bit over-the-top and you'll find yourself wanting the show to be more like "Law and Order" in which the lawyers don't magically win EVERY case, you eventually come to terms with the rules of the show and it doesn't bother you too much. This is because the witty writing, appealing characters, and solid acting outweigh the show's weak points. At its core you come to accept that this is not a drama, it's a comedy centered around the law, not the other way around--and that's all it wants to be. And it works.

7.5 out of 10 so far.

Bad Teacher
(2011)

Shockingly Bad
I have become somewhat of a Cameran Diaz fan lately so I decided to give this film a try. (The extensive marketing didn't hurt either.) I was shocked at how bad it was.

Something is incongruent and off about this movie. The script is hit and miss, as is the acting. It's just...awkward. There were so many awkward silences in the theater I attended, so many moments that you knew the writers wanted you to laugh, but it just.wasn't.funny. In fact, some of the more offensive parts sneak up on you and you're just left dumbfounded, like "Did they really mean to put that in the movie?" See the periodic race references. They are a major miss, borderline racist and all the way offensive.

Anyway, I'm surprised Timberlake agreed to play this nothing role, after getting so much acclaim for other roles. Diaz has the soft talent to carry a film like this, but she missed the mark too. Lucy Punch is okay but many of the awkward joke moments come from her character.

I don't know. It's just not a good movie. 4 out of 5 is all I can muster.

Fast Five
(2011)

Decent...but
I don't know all the backstory of this franchise, but I enjoyed this movie for the most part. It was action-packed and visually enticing. I am not a guy, but if I was, I think I'd know this movie is tailor-made for me: filled with bravado and a cameraman who apparently can't take his lens of the eye candy and cheesy little one-liners parsed throughout here and there. This is a film tailor-made for the "Fast and Furious" fan.

But while the action and cinematography is appealing and exciting, some areas left a little bit to be desired. I thought the plot was a little weak and convoluted. I found some of the acting to need a little improvement--the cheesy one-liners didn't help. Most of all though, the cheesy romantic components were just sad. If Diesel and the cop had one more long stare at each other, I might have hurled right there in the theater. And the way all the relationships came together at the end and pretty much everyone got their fantastical happy ending was just a bit much and over-the-top cliché. I was actually surprised at how cliché it all was. The over-the-top happy endings left me wondering where this franchise will go from here, if there is a plan for its continuation at all. There are no holes left. How will the next installment come in with all the characters rich and free and in love and whatnot? Hmmm But let not the previous paragraph deter you. This is a fun film worth seeing.

X: First Class
(2011)

I Liked It
I am not an X-man aficionado but the best thing about quality movies is you don't have to be an expert on the subject matter to appreciate the quality product being served. This movie was well-done. Good acting. Interesting storyline. Great action. I liked that the movie mixed both new and familiar faces. Overall, I think the concept of people with superhuman powers trying to find their identity neat and intriguing. In this vein, I also think the "be proud of who you are" lesson is a good one for a young audience.

On the flip side, I will say that I found the movie to be quite violent ie someone's hand being stabbed, and I wondered how appropriate some of the violence would be for kids, the core audience of the X-men franchise. Another thing I thought was a little too cliché was the Black superhuman being the first to go. That was kind-of cheesy. But these were only minor gripes. Overall, this film is well worth checking out.

8/10

The Hangover Part II
(2011)

If you like the first, you'll like this one
I thought "Hangover" was funny, but I wasn't in love with it like most people I know. It was just a slapstick-type of movie that wasn't very memorable for me. The second is a carbon copy. So if you liked the first one, you should like the second one. I really don't get those who low-rate it (Roeper) simply because it's like the first. The fact that the same formula was used does not in and of itself make it a "bad" movie, which is the biggest dig I hear about the sequel. No. A good movie is a good movie...even if it's like its predecessor.

I'm giving the movie a 7 because it was HILARIOUS. Raunchy as all get-out, maybe a little too much so at some points, but still it delivers what it sets out to deliver: mouth-wide-open at how far they dare to go shock mixed with fun and humor and even a little sentimentalism. That's the takeaway from this movie. It is EXACTLY what you think, what you expect, what you are hoping for. It is a movie customized for its audience. That's all it is and that's all it promises to be and if you liked the first one, leave your over-expectation at the door and just enjoy an encore.

The Lincoln Lawyer
(2011)

This movie made me smile
I walked out of the theater after seeing this movie with a big ol grin on my face. I just couldn't help but smiling. It's been a while since I had a memorable movie-watching experience, so I guess my heart was just singing a little bit.

Very solid movie.

First the cast: Matthew Mc was born to play the lawyer. His portrayal here rivals or even surpasses "A Time to Kill." He definitely has the goods to carry a quality movie: swagger emitting out of his pores, attractive visage, charming personality, you name it. His co-stars here are all very complimentary as well. Seeing Marisa Tomei age so much about the eyes kind-of takes you aback for a minute, but eventually you allow her to be this character. Ryan Phillipe is now type-cast in my book: he loves the cute, articluate, but freaky and disturbing characters, doesn't he? So in that sense, this was not a stretch for him...but he pulled the role off nonetheless. It was very easy to hate him. Sprinkle a relatively short but meaty role from William Macy (who apparently did this role while still shooting for "Shameless" as he sported the same long, messy mane as on that show), add some cuddly criminals to the mix, and you have a solid cast. The only thing that kind-of irritated me was the "yessa boss" lingo of the lawyer's driver. I guess it was supposed to be a cutesy touch, but it never grew on me. Too much a reminder of those turbulent racist years of yesteryear. I could have done without the reminders personally. But this is only a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.

I read someone state the plot may be too legal-ly for some viewers. I didn't find it too much in the weeds at all. I've seen overly-involved plots that leave the viewer behind before, this was not one of those. This plot was clever and a little predictable, but you appreciate how it allows you to follow along while still making you feel somewhat intelligent in the process. In this sense, the writing is admirable.

Finally, the music. Funky, modern, inspiring. I thought it added a welcome "cool" touch to the experience. It kept things hip enough for younger audiences, while not being overly offensive for older ones. In fact, that pretty much describes the movie overall. You appreciate how it doesn't indulge in seediness. Save a little bit of a gratuitous lovemaking scene and possibly offensive language to those living alternative lifestyles, this movie is general audience-friendly. (Take note Hollywood, it doesn't take all the dirty-ness to make a quality film that can rake in the bucks.) 8/10 for the Lincoln Lawyer

Who's the Boss?
(1984)

In Awe all these years later
I recently re-discovered this show in syndication on Hallmark. I've been DVR'ing it ever since. Just a quality show all the way around. Whne I see it now, I'm in awe of how well-done it is, how great the acting and writing and execution.

Tony Danza carries this show, he was BORN for this role. His supporting cast is right on the money too. Everyone pulls the appropriate amount of weight. They are the perfect accompaniment to the superb writing that made the show so appealing for almost a decade. Only great writing could pull off the kind of anticipation of a romance between Tony and Angela that lasted for upwards SEVEN years. That's talented writing for sure!

This show embodies the heyday of the sitcom. Before reality TV, there was the sitcom, the 30 minute show with the laugh track and quickly-developed plot and resolution. And for some reason back in the 80's, there seemed to be more talent for effectively executing the sitcom. Now, in the age of oversexualization and violence and edginess, it brings a smile to look back and remember when something could be clean and quality at the same time. The good ol' days I guess they're called now. sigh

For Colored Girls
(2010)

Superb Acting saved this film
I had very little background on this film before I saw it. Perhaps had I seen the play or read more about the concept of the work, my opinion would be better or worse. But as it stands, I enjoyed it...at least to the point you can enjoy such a heavy piece of work. I left the theater feeling I did when I saw "Precious": glad I saw the film, recognizing it was a special piece of work, but ambivalent about the over-the-top darkness that resonated in the film. Both films try to take you to a place you've never seen on film, a place you didn't even think film would go ie murdered kids and graphic tales of molestation.

The strong: SUPERB acting, from most involved. Rashad, Elise, Devine, and Rose brought Oscar-worthy performances. Perry will get props here for choosing a wonderfully-talented cast to pull off a challenging piece of art. Thandie Newton and Kerry Washingtong both did respectable jobs as did Whoopi Goldberg and the younger cast member whose name escapes me. Another strong element was the concept. I don't know if it was pulled off to a tee, which I will mention later, but I found the poems brilliantly written and delivered and the concept of documenting intertwining lives interesting.

The weak: The exception to the superb acting cast would be Janet Jackson. Once again, Perry tries to force her to be better than she is, and once again, he/she comes up short. As another commenter stated, she just doesn't have it. I will give her props on finding a way to garner up the tears on cue when going through her poem lines, but as a whole, she is stiff and unmoving as an actress. But she does wear her color (I guess they all have colors or something?) red well. Maybe that's why she was chosen for the role? Who knows except Perry why he continues to go that same well for his films. I digress there though.

Another glaring weakness of the film is that once again Perry's lack of good instinct as a director is evident. WHY for the love of all things holy did he have the cast recite ALL THE LINES OF THE POEMS? Did he not watch the film in the edit room and see that the poems were too long-drawn out for a film and could easily be too much for the audience? Where are his instincts? Even movie-watching instincts. It seems he should have recognized that the script needed major tweaking. It's troubling that even now, after all his success in his many films, he still has not captured more sophistication as a director. The film could have easily been sliced down by at least 30 minutes and been just as effective--actually moreso--than it was.

I do not know if this is a weakness of the film or if the original play was written for just this effect, but it is obvious that the author hated men. Virtually all the men were portrayed not just as mean or insensitive, but as devils. And there was no subtlety. The blatancy of the double standard was rather insulting and off-putting. But again, perhaps that is where the author meant to go with the piece.

In sum, while there were major areas that could have been improved, I have to call foul on some of the critics' assault of this film, and their proclivity to compare it to other--admittedly weak--Tyler Perry works. Though Perry's fingerprints are all over this film, including the garden variety Madea-esquire funny lines from the resident overweight character to the stoicism of the well-to-do professional with the troubled marriage (Jackson's character is practically a mirror image of her character in other Perry films), I do think this film is of better quit than most of his offerings, and he should be given credit for elevating his game a little bit. Perry knows his audience well and though it can be argued that he sometimes seems to "dumb down" for laughs or whatever, he has to be given credit for being loyal to his fans. Time and time again, he gives them what they expect--a safe thing to do yes, but an amazing show of loyalty nonetheless. This film should not have a score as low as the 3.6 it has right now. The great acting alone carries it to at least the mid-way mark. Though I want to give it a 6.5 and could thus go for a 6 or 7 on the IMDb scale, I am going to up-rate it to counter what I believe is unfairly low number at the current moment.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
(2010)

Solid Offering from Stone
I was hesitant about seeing this film because my last Oliver Stone experience, "W," was underwhelming to say the least. However, the famed director redeemed himself with "Wall Street 2." The cast is superb. Shia is not only eye candy, he has the goods, he'll be an actor to watch for the foreseeable future. Mulligan with her unique look took some adjusting to as the female lead, but once you get used to her, her character works. You begin to accept and even root for them as a couple. Their chemistry is really appealing and even welcoming.

Other highlights are the cameos, from Charlie Sheen to what seemed like the whole cast of CNBC anchors to even Stone himself who appeared more than once on film.

The plot and storyline are solid, even if predictable in some areas (like Gecko cleaning out his house and shipping out after being wired the money from overseas.) The movie is great but not flawless. It felt a little slow, long, and drawn out in some areas. As aforementioned, some of the characters took a little getting used to. Frank Langella looked out of place when first being introduced on screen, on the stock exchange floor, his age a major contrast to the surrounding more youthful stock traders. Mulligan's character was a little irritating with all her hatred towards her dad, especially so if you didn't know the storyline from the previous movie. In fairness, they did attempt to explain a little afterwards so it wasn't a huge problem. It also took some getting used to seeing Susan Sarandon play a slacker. And even Lebouf's character seems a little old for the young looking actor at first, but he pulls it off as the film unfolds. I could nitpick other small things here and there, but none of it really takes away from the overall quality of the film.

7.5/10

Racing with the Moon
(1984)

Great Acting
I had not even heard of this movie until I caught it yesterday on one of the movie channels. A real delight. It's not heavy, there is no horrible lows or extreme highs. It's steady-paced and its significance will mean something different to each viewer. In fact, I thought it was an adaptation of a movie because it feels like a literary work, one in which you feel yourself analyzing the meaning of this or that. At its core though, it's essentially a coming of age story, not really a lot more than that.

By far, the movie's best selling feature is the acting. Simply superb, from all parties, especially Penn and McGovern. Sean Penn is really likable in this role, sweet and endearing. You almost forget what you know of him later on,how political and intense he really is in his real life. But that's what superb actors do--they make you forget what you know about them personally and force you to accept whatever character they're offering on the screen. I also thought Elizabeth McGovern played her role seamlessly. She and Penn are great together. Nicholas Cage also shines, but not as brightly as the two main characters.

This movie is pleasant and delightful, but not all that memorable. It won't leave a huge indelible impression on you. It will just make you feel good for a few hours, then you'll be on to the next thing, maybe even forgetting about the movie. So I can see how it wasn't a smash hit and how it has flown under so many people's radar. Star Wars it ain't. But a quality piece of cinema it most definitely is.

One small quarrel I will offer before closing. I would like to know how the powers that be negotiated the movie down from an R-rating to PG. There is nudity and language that does not fit PG criteria. I smell a payoff of some sort. Hmmm

Anyway, see this film on a lazy afternoon, even add it to your DVD collection for those times when you just want to feel good. It is worthy.

7/10

Flash of Genius
(2008)

Greg Kinnear is a gem.
I don't think I've ever seen Greg Kinnear not bring his A-game, never seen him play in junk. This movie is not exception. He is truly one of the finest character actors on the scene, we should all be grateful we get a chance to experience his work, they don't make too many like that these days.

This movie is one I had only glanced at previously on HBO, never really took the time to watch in full. I finally did today and I'm glad I did. I think only a certain type of person will really be able to identify with the main character. Only if you feel you have something unique to offer can you really grasp the depth of anger and sadness and betrayal one would feel if that uniqueness is stolen. Kinnear evoked that real emotion very well. Other highlights were Alan Alda and the kids.

I really found myself disliking the characters played be Graham and Mulroney. Their ability to leave someone at a time he needed them most was just infuriating to me...even though it was probably realistic.

Anyway, yes the movie is somewhat formulaic, but I didn't mind that. I even found myself wishing towards the end, "Please let that jury find in his favor." As someone emotionally invested in the film by the end, I would have been devastated had it not turned out favorably for the main character. And this movie had the added benefit of being true, which in my eyes, made it even more endearing.

It's a nice movie, no fireworks, no Oscar nominations or anything, just a nice way to spend two hours. 7/10

Takers
(2010)

My Head is Spinning
This movie is fast-paced and the cinematography (specifically the shaky camera thing) is clever and interesting when it's not irritating. Also, there is some eye candy for the ladies and some of the cast is full of interesting and appealing characters, some who actually do decent acting jobs ("some" is the operative word.) Those are the good points.

Now the other side. I like T.I. as a rapper and even thought he did an okay acting job in ATL a few years ago, but his acting here was just downright criminal. There was one scene in which he dominated the dialog that I actually said out loud, "his acting is so bad, it's offensive." You're actually offended that that is being pushed off as something you should buy as a viewer. You're wondering how no one in the director's booth was offended by it. In fairness, the fast action of the bulk of the movie shields the poor acting a bit, so the blow is blunted a bit. But between his poor acting and Chris Brown's sometimey acting, it was just a lot being asked of the viewer. Speaking of characters, the lack of character development is also a low point of the film. I agree with another commenter that you're asked to feel something for a character who dies, but you feel nothing because you really haven't been given anything to know or care about. And finally as others have stated, the plot is clichéd to the point that you're wondering if it's supposed to be a satire of some sort. But no, no satire. They're seriously trying to wrap Heat and Set it Off and Dead Presidents up in a big bow and pass it off as a new present. Just not a good thing to do.

I rate it a 5 on a 10-point scale because while it's not a great movie, it does hold your attention and as bad as some parts are, it's not the worst movie I've ever seen. So I say giving it about half credit is pretty accurate. In that vain, I won't say you should pay to see this or you shouldn't pay to see it. I say do the 50/50 thing--flip a coin. Either way, the earth won't shatter. This movie is just not that significant either way. It will probably be forgotten pretty soon.

Greetings from the Shore
(2007)

Sweet and Endearing
I had never heard of this movie until I caught it on a movie channel on television. Once I saw a few minutes, I was hooked. Something about it drew me in. I spent the rest of the movie trying to figure out what that something was. I think I know.

It's a true "feel-good." It's not offensive, it's not run-of-the-mill, it's not cliché. In fact, I was surprised it was rated R, it could easily have gone PG or PG-13. Some of the humor is edgy, but the romance is pure and sweet, there are NO sex scenes (can you believe it) and yet it's still effective.

The characters are real and the acting is right-on. The dialog is strong. The plot is unique. Perhaps the climax scene is a little predictable, but it doesn't take away from the movie. It only adds to the lightness of it. Sometimes it's refreshing to just experience something that is in its essence sweet and good and simple. That's what this movie is. If I had one word to describe it, it would be "genuine." You feel genuine when you're watching it and you feel genuinely satisfied once it's over.

7.5

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