CinefanR

IMDb member since August 2010
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    75+
    IMDb Member
    9 years

Reviews

The Eiger Sanction
(1975)

Offensive, lame 70's trash
A particularly bad movie, even for the 70's film making.

Offensive, misogynistic, racist, homophobic and just plain stupid, start to finish.

All the women in this sorry excuse for a movie are dumb bimbos whose sole purpose of existence is to get laid for money. The ongoing jokes about rape, race etc are in very poor taste, if not unacceptable. The script is beyond stupid, the acting terrible.

The only redeeming quality of this movie is the scenery, but there's nowhere near enough of it to make you sit through. The attempts at humor are incredibly lame, and Eastwood's "tough" persona gets old really fast. As a Clint Eastwood fan, I found this very disappointing.

The War of the Roses
(1989)

Brilliant script, splendid movie
This gem of a movie oddly never got enough praise. It's a stroke of genius right there, and the whole thing is simply flawless. The screenplay is extremely clever and for once there are no compromises in this script. One can only admire the movie's commitment to the truth. It has a certain sincerity that I find absolutely refreshing, so those who call it "cynical" miss the point entirely. Marriage and its dissolution are dissected with a stunning finesse of psychological observation; it's all very funny, insightful, touching, ruthless, relentless. Three major stars in their prime (Douglas, Turner, De Vito)play their roles to perfection and deliver the best performance of their careers.

One of the best films ever made (don't watch it on a first date though!)

The Day the Earth Stood Still
(2008)

The best of Hollywood
The movie is a comical masterpiece, thoroughly enjoyable as unintentional comedy- the kind that is made with the straightest of faces.

I wish for once Aliens landed in a Mexican village and not in New York or Los Angeles. I wish for the world to be saved or doomed by someone other than American Presidents and their bravery or stupidity. Just for the sake of diversity, no other reason! Other clichés: good scientists vs. evil governments, dumb generals stuck in MAD mode, "love conquers all", and so on- you gotta love this stuff.

The idea of a superior alien civilization trying to put sense into the human race is pretty ridiculous. Just as stupid as putting an alien to a lie detector. Or having the said Alien meet another fellow alien in a McDonald's joint, speaking Chinese. The shameless McDonald's product placement is another stroke of moronic genius, and that scene will have anyone rolling on the floor laughing.

The encounter between Klaatu and the Nobel laureate was, again, laugh- out-loud cliché. Klaatu listens to Bach and has a sudden revelation on human duality. The Alien and the Man seem to share a mathematical language, so they gaze at each other and feel a connection. We are not that different after all. How deeply touching!

Now for the truly bad parts: the ungrateful, obnoxious little brat played by the child of a famous actor. This character is so ANNOYING, he spoils every single scene. Keanu's performance is in the "so bad it's good" category, and it's fascinating. The whole movie would be in the same category if it wasn't for the damn annoying brat.

Blue Velvet
(1986)

David Lynch at his best !
When David Lynch made this movie, he still had it. "Blue Velvet" is so quirky, in that unique "Lynch" style, perfectly blending dark mystery with romance, irony and humor (a twisted sense of humor I might add). It is moving, scary and funny all together, it's pure Lynch: familiar but dark Americana, white picket fences, light and darkness, innocence and insanity, the mysteries of life and death.

Everything is top-notch here - the outstanding sound design, the writing, the acting (Why hasn't Dennis Hopper won an Oscar for this one?). I found Hopper's character to be very funny. He never crosses the line to being a caricature, but he isn't all that frightening either. All the scenes he's in are priceless, and he's totally unpredictable. It's a strange world, indeed.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape
(1989)

Interesting approach
It's about sincerity and closeness, and how this closeness is achieved through conversation, not necessarily sex.

The main attraction here is James Spader and his enigmatic character. The mystery around him is enough to keep you watching, and Spader's performance is captivating as usual. This actor has a sort of surreal edge that makes him fascinating. All the others are memorable in their roles, especially the younger sister.

Special credit must be given to the outstanding score, which emphasizes the dramatic build-up. It's discrete, mysterious and it's in the right places, and puts a neat finishing touch to Soderbergh's project. Because the movie does look like a filmmaker's personal project. It's very close and personal, with documentary-like sequences and private conversations filmed indoors. Everything clicks - acting, script, direction, and there is a satisfying simplicity to it. Soderbergh is known for his daring, smart experiments ("Schizopolis", anyone?) and this is one of his best.

White Palace
(1990)

Unlikely romance, but not because of the age difference
It's not the age difference that's the issue here; this is a movie about the arbitrariness of attraction. The two protagonists seem to have nothing in common, except a deep sense of personal loss. They are worlds apart. Men and women often fall in love without a reason, or at least a reason that others can understand. It may be inexplicable, ridiculous, unbelievable, outrageous- whatever. It happens!

The only flaws of this virtually unknown film are the awful music/sound design and the terribly clichéd ending. Sarandon is at her best, while James Spader is unforgettable as always. All in all, a very underrated movie, with fine acting as its main strength.

Crash
(1996)

Strange, Stylish, Fascinating
One of the great qualities of this film is the ability to constantly astonish with its relentless, shocking strangeness. "Crash" is most likely to leave viewers speechless, even those who are used to "weird" or unconventional. None of the scenes are gratuitous however, and "Crash" looks extremely stylish, as well as twisted enough to make one uneasy. Fortunately, this isn't 'cheap shocks' and the usual exploitation fare filmmakers throw in to stir some "controversy".

Perverted addicts leading corrupt lives never been more fascinating. These people are craving some basic fulfillment, but are doomed to never achieve it in life. Metaphysical allegory? Probably. It's also a cold analysis of self-destructive compulsion. What's offensive is that these characters never even stop to consider the moral implications of their actions - hurting others who don't share their "hobby". Even if they did, it wouldn't make much of a difference, because they simply can't stop. Like Lynch, Cronenberg doesn't spoon-feed the "message" to the audience, so there are no answers, only uncomfortable but equally valid questions. I guess it takes guts to ask them.

Dialogue is minimal and clever, and keeps the characters sealed. The narrative is filled with long pauses, eerie metallic riffs, empty glances directed inwards. Physical encounters are depersonalized and compulsive. There are always people around at the scene of sexual encounters or car crashes, and yet nobody bothers to notice or intervene. It's a surreal landscape of urban alienation that associates with voyeurism.

Steel-cold (the unsettling score hits the right note as well), clinical in its depictions, "Crash" has a clean sharp edge that only a handful of directors could walk on with such elegance, insight and a sort of detachment that has a dream-like quality.

All the actors are fearless and did a splendid job, especially James Spader, who is great as usual. He was born to play this role, with his other-worldly, strangely absent stare and androgynous beauty (It's surprising David Lynch never worked with him!). Spader's surreal performance is mind-blowing, as he gracefully carries along that creepy Cronenberg vibe. This is the same Spader who stole the show as the intriguing voyeur in "Sex, Lies and Videotape" and who would later do it again in the offbeat "Secretary". His other roles just didn't do justice to him. Likewise, Deborah Unger manages to turn into an abstraction, whispering her lines, floating in the same trance of addiction.

The sexual scenes are elegantly choreographed. It's bizarre, disturbing and at times funny altogether, with a pretty sick sense of humor that's absolutely fantastic to a minority of people who can appreciate it. "Crash" explores sexual compulsion in a sterile environment, you can almost taste the metal. This is Cronenberg's best work and one of the most fascinating, audacious films ever made.

Clearly not for everybody, but for those who enjoy the Absurd in all its complexity. Unforgettable cult classic to be watched in the uncut version.

The Thorn Birds
(1983)

It's a classic for a reason
Never been a fan of love stories, but this one I enjoyed a lot, on repeated viewings. The story is dripping with passion and repressed desires, Oedipal complexes, love, hate, anger, guilt, sacrifice… And of course, there's the eternal struggle between body and spirit, the search for truth and meaning, and its disastrous personal consequences.

The series is well written, and the acting is very good, especially from the supporting cast. Unfortunately, Rachel Ward is obviously the weak link. In fact, one of her very first lines, a simple exclamation like "Oh, no!" sounds unbelievably false. In addition, she seems to have a speech impediment, a lisp, which is very grating. She sounds like Daffy Duck. Casting Ward for this role was one gigantic, inexcusable mistake.

Nevertheless, the story is poignant, endlessly entertaining and "feels" real on many levels, no matter how outrageous it gets. The movie resorts to shameless manipulations, but it's the subtleties of fine acting and clever direction that elevate the melodrama and make it compelling. Art direction and editing are splendid! The story's twists and turns are plausible, and the characters' reactions are always reasonable - they remain believable to the very last minute, even if sometimes the dialogue gets overly dramatic (as in "exquisitely over- the-top"). Strong character development is one of the film's great achievements.

Christopher Plummer is simply unforgettable in a key supporting role, as well as Jean Simmons and Barbara Stanwyck, who often steal the show from Chamberlain himself. The chemistry between all actors is palpable, and it's a rare delight to see all those energies cross-fire. Take for instance Ralph and Mary or Frank and his mother- their encounters are sizzling! "Star Trek" fans will be delighted to discover John "Q" De Lancie in a cameo.

I was also very surprised to see that the "aging make-up" was excellent, in fact much better that what we see in movies today. The best part of "The Thorn Birds" is arguably the first episode, which includes, among other highlights, the legendary party scene. The last episode was a bit "overdone" in my opinion, more specifically the last 4 scenes or so contain too much unnecessary, explanatory dialogue, that undermines the power of those scenes. Less words would have been preferable.

"The Thorn Birds" never gets old, it's a classic for a reason. Die-hard romantics will cherish it, while cynics will enjoy it too for its heavy theatrics and great old-school entertainment value. It's a spectacular three-hankie like no other.

A WARNING for those who watch the DVD: there's a completely unnecessary "preview" at the beginning of each episode, where they show the outline of the entire film. It contains many spoilers and will ruin the whole experience for you. Movie trailers were lame back then, but these ones are galactically stupid. So make sure to skip that extra-footage!

Monk
(2002)

"Monk" shines!
I will start this brief "review" by stating the obvious, which is that Tony Shalhoub is an extraordinary actor. His intelligence and sensitivity just shine through every scene - he IS Monk in very single detail, and the range of his emotional nuances is amazing. Instantly recognizable and disarmingly vulnerable, Shalhoub makes a truly memorable detective.

To me, Monk, as a character, ranks right up there with Columbo. In addition to "Columbo", this series delves into some darker, more poignant aspects that are always compelling thanks to Shalhoub's great acting. Also the comedy is very well balanced with the tragic elements of Monk's persona.

The scripts are very good and entertaining most of the time. Maybe the "Trudy storyline" gets overdone every now and then, and the finale was disappointing and abrupt, but the writers did a great job overall. I also didn't like the "Randy" character - he just seems too cartoonish, too stupid to be a detective. Sharona, however, is perfect, and I love Bitty Schram's interpretation, she's authentic.

I never get tired of watching "Monk", it's incredible!

Columbo: A Deadly State of Mind
(1975)
Episode 6, Season 4

Intriguing, very entertaining
I liked this episode, mainly because the killer is so incredibly arrogant and vicious that he almost gets to Columbo. I haven't seen Columbo raise his voice at someone, and him getting so affected by another murder during his investigation sheds more light on his personality. I found the actress who played Nadia to be the only weakness of the episode.

I have always considered the series a character study as well, because Columbo always remains in a vague cloud of mystery, somewhat elusive. His solution to this case is brilliant and surprising. Great and entertaining as ever!

Columbo: A Stitch in Crime
(1973)
Episode 6, Season 2

Great addition to Columbo's characterization
Although to me Leonard Nimoy will always be Spock, this fact didn't diminish my enjoyment of this episode, where Columbo gets a difficult case. Even if he's dealing with unknown, difficult medical issues outside his area of expertise, Columbo is on to the killer.

What made this episode a special one is the fact that we get to see another side of Columbo. In a very surprising scene, he loses his temper, dropping his "mask" sooner than usual. That was so unexpected, it's always a treat to discover different aspects of his personality. The last scene is also great, although a bit abrupt. Still, great episode! Columbo never ceases to amaze.

Columbo
(1971)

Peter Falk as Columbo is incredibly charming. The Best detective series ever!
"Columbo" is simply the best detective series ever! Peter Falk as Columbo is wonderful and I absolutely love him. Although the formula is pretty much the same for all the episodes, I never get enough of that cat-and-mouse game that Columbo is playing with his "victims". There are delightful elements of surprise in each episode, that also add up to the puzzle that Columbo himself is. Falk's acting is splendid, his mannerisms are unmistakable, he is so intelligent, natural and subtle. Falk's talent for comedy is a treasure. There is great humor in Columbo's antics, the script is smart and ingenious, and the guest stars, especially the villains, are always a treat.

Besides, Columbo is a very intriguing character. We never really get to know who he is. Yes, there is mystery around Columbo, and catching a glimpse of the man behind the smoke screen is one of those things that have kept audiences watching for decades. He is indeed a fascinating character. "Columbo" will never get old, it's pure entertainment of the best kind. Splendid work!

Seasons 1-7 are the best and remain unmatched by anything else on television, including Columbo later seasons. It's not only the charm of the 70's and 80's that make it fascinating, but it's mainly the quality of the scripts in the early years of "Columbo".

Zardoz
(1974)

What a hilarious mess...
From the "so bad it's good" brand of entertainment, there comes "Zardoz", an absolute masterpiece of the hilariously insane. They must have been all on crack when they made this flick, there's no other explanation.

I don't know what's funnier, this movie or some viewers taking it seriously. I mean, come on, Sean Connery's outfit alone is enough to undermine any serious statement that the director might have wanted to make. It's clear that "Zardoz" was made with a straight face and intellectual pretension, the result however is an incredible mess. Definitely worth watching for a good laugh.

Crimes of Passion
(1984)

Very funny, intentionally or not
First of all, if you are going to watch this movie, you'd better get the uncut version. "Crimes of Passion" is pure 80's entertainment, thanks to Anthony Perkins mainly, who was given some of the most hilarious (bad) lines ever. Characters are so over-the-top and absurd, dialogue is so unnatural and bad/funny, the acting is exaggerated and sometimes awful (intentionally maybe?), the music is so out of place that the whole thing is a Camp Masterpiece. Anthony Perkins seems to be spoofing his own classic "demented" persona, even the ending looks like some sort of "Psycho" parody. The preacher's maniacal performance, sniffing drugs in sleazy sex booths, reminded me of Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet". This is funny stuff, and it looks like a De Palma film.

The sexual content is surprising for a mainstream movie with famous actors, and it only adds to the quirkiness. The point seems to be going everywhere, and the plot, crazy and unlikely as it is, is all over the place– the movie can't decide whether it's a satire, thriller, comedy, love story or marital drama, the common element being sexuality and what it represents for different individuals. For the housewife, sex is something dirty and unpleasant, a conjugal duty; for the husband, it's the best way to express love and respect; for China Blue, it's a means to avoid emotional attachment; for the preacher it's a destructive impulse, a source of guilt and self-hatred. Despite some "hard-core" scenes, the movies remains light-hearted, and it's very entertaining.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain of Command, Part I
(1992)
Episode 10, Season 6

Captains Picard and Jellico
"Chain of Command" was an awesome episode (Part 1 and 2), it was very well acted, especially from Ronny Cox and Patrick Stewart, but also David Warner. The fact that the writers made Jellico an antagonist, not a villain, was a masterstroke. The weaknesses of the Enterprise crew were revealed, and it was great to see all those energies crossfire.

Although Jellico may seem unlikable at first, I have to say his approach is correct. The crew was all whiny and pretty unprofessional. In war time, people usually die, and they will die for sure if they are unprepared. That was the Captain's responsibility and he had to take measures. So complaining about hard work and the lack of "rest & relaxation" in such times is unacceptable for a military-trained crew.(Yes, Star Fleet is a military organization, even if its main goal is exploration).

Jellico is a very interesting, multi-dimensional character, and it would have been extraordinary to see more of him in later episodes. Great acting, great story. This is TNG's tribute to "1984".

Capricorn One
(1977)

So bad it's funny (Spoilers)
Aside from an interesting premise, everything is so incredibly bad, it's laugh-out-loud funny all the way. Since I thought "2010" was pretty good, I certainly wasn't expecting this kind of comedy.

First of all, the dialogues are so stupid, unrealistic, clichéd and puerile, nobody could write something worse. There are characters who give long, really LONG, bizarre, insanely inappropriate speeches, like the "telling a joke on the mountain" episode or the "reading a children's book" scene, and many others that are just as unnecessary. What is it with this 70's habit, of inserting never-ending, completely gratuitous scenes? The "flirting" between the journalist and his love interest is so awkward, you can't help but wonder: was this supposed to be funny or what? Those ramblings could match "Gigli" anytime, and the so-called performances look like some kind of rehearsal after a severe hangover.

Now, about the acting… Well, the acting is atrocious. Gould's non-performance is simply astonishing, and it culminates with the moment when secret agents plant some drugs in his apartment. Man, his reaction was priceless. There was no reaction, to be more precise. The same can be said about Brenda Vaccaro, whose constant head shaking and blank expression are pretty shocking. O.J Simpson's lack of any acting skills is also striking, and you'll have to listen to a really funny monologue in the desert and all… It seems that all the actors in this movie were seriously competing against each other in bad acting, like "I bet I can do worse than you".

Many other stupid scenes and plot developments, weird and unlikely dialogue, ridiculously portrayed characters, Brolin's headband and his full "Rambo-mode", and the hysterical slow-motion ending – all of it makes "Capricorn One" a masterpiece for the ages. Pure 70's comedy, although unintentional – it's meant to be deep social commentary.

Kafka
(1991)

Marvelous performances, great atmosphere, beautiful soundtrack
This is human nature under a magnifying glass.

What an interesting cinematic experience... A memorable performance, as usual, by Jeremy Irons, whose trademark tormented restraint and meditative quietness make a compelling Kafka; the haunting, adequate cimbalom music with Romanian undertones; and the beautiful, mysterious Prague - these are only the first elements that get your attention. Mixing biographical detail with fiction is a clever trick, and the streets of Prague add a sense of claustrophobia and eeriness, enhanced by the black-and-white cinematography.

The movie may not ring "true to Kafka" to everyone - surely, that's impossible - but I found it commendable as a daring experiment. Novel adaptations are rarely satisfying, so of course, some Kafka readers may feel uncomfortable or disappointed. Steven Soderbergh, who has a penchant for The Absurd (the dazzling "Schizopolis" comes to mind), is clearly an admirer of Kafka's work, and this interpretation feels like a personal homage to the great writer. Despite some clumsiness in the dialogue here and there, which is its main weakness, that "Kafkaesque" dreamlike quality is clearly present all throughout.

Timeless exploration of the mind, filled with philosophical questions and sharp social commentary, "Kafka" ranks up there with the great "1984" and "Brazil".

Recommended to everybody, not just to those who enjoy the theater of the absurd or Kafka in particular.

Star Trek: Generations
(1994)

Picard should sue filmmakers for slander
This abysmal TNG movie turned Picard into a confused crying old man, destroyed his family for no reason and transformed Data into a raving idiot. How is that possible?

Picard has always been an explorer, not a common family man. He knew what he wanted to be, embraced his vocation and made his decision fully knowing what to expect from then on. No regrets. The Captain was never comfortable around children and the last thing he craved for was a housewife and a bunch of kids. He was meant to discover new worlds and travel the the galaxies, not to baby-sit and enjoy domestic life. Of course, Picard had his emotional moments throughout the series, but those moments were always perfectly justified, consistent with his character and carefully planned. The idiots who made this movie… have they no common sense? No understanding of these characters? No respect for the fans? It's like they did it in spite of the Trekkers, in spite of everything Star Trek TNG stands for.

I can't even remember anything else from this movie, that's how awful it was. They shouldn't be allowed to trash the franchise like that, yet they did it over and over again with every single opportunity. It's a crying shame, that's what.

Star Trek: Nemesis
(2002)

What were they thinking when they made this movie?
What a disappointment!

With the exception of Data, everybody is out of character, which is inexcusable for fans of Star Trek TNG. Where are the characters we loved so much? Where's their spirit? There's no adherence to any of the main themes/issues/aesthetic covered by the TV series. The movie is also full of inconsistencies in its own storyline (What was Picard looking so happy about in the last scene? just to give one example. It makes no sense whatsoever).

The so-called 'villain' is a complete bore, extremely weak and uninteresting.

Cloning Picard is a totally a f***ed up idea to begin with. Why would they think that audiences would like to see a younger, pale replica of Picard? Maybe if Patrick Stewart himself would have played his evil alter-ego, it could have been fun. But still, the "doppelganger scenario" is getting old. It's an over-used idea in the series (Data had an evil twin, Riker and Picard both had doppelgangers in at least two episodes, as far as I can remember). Why would filmmakers get back to this lame plot device, when this movie should have been epic, meaningful, revealing? I also don't understand why they always need to "wrap things up" at the end, instead of leaving it open. Finales are disappointing in most cases, with the fortunate exception of Star Trek TNG.

The action/plot is extremely boring, the script inept. STNG was about ideas and character development, not "Star Wars"-type scenarios. I found it hard to sit through, and I was constantly annoyed by everything, from the weird behavior of the characters, to the lackluster dialogues unworthy of the Captain Picard we all knew.

Killing off Data is another incredibly stupid choice. Why so much unnecessary doom and gloom? Why this terribly sad ending to our beloved series? What has been achieved with this?

This being said, the movie flopped at the box-office not because the franchise was "fatigued" at the time of its release, as I read somewhere, but because it was very poorly done. What a shame… It's just one gigantic missed opportunity that will never come back, and it left me with a bad taste.

Drag Me to Hell
(2009)

Idiotic and disgusting attempt at horror comedy
It seems I have to write 10 lines about this piece of garbage that some folks call cinema. Well, let's see what it contains.

A despicable killing of a baby pet. Totally unfunny scene, at least to humans.

Many, countless, vomiting scenes. I admit there is a sense of humor (sick in a puerile way) somewhere in there, but it's so shockingly disgusting that you might end up throwing up yourself. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of puke here, including a corpse vomiting in someone's mouth. Lovely, isn't it, and hilarious.

An old lady who puts a curse on the main character and gets pushed around all over the place. Yes, she was a nasty witch, but getting old people kicked around is in very poor taste. The parking lot scene is mind-blowing, you don't know whether to laugh or cringe.

In conclusion, this is a moronic attempt at comedy horror and a waste of time. There is nothing scary or suspenseful, no redeeming value whatsoever in this lame excuse for a movie. The whole jumping out at you for a scare is cheap and never leaves an impression. Try Alfred Hitchcock for a change, you might actually learn something about the real deal. Yes, the comparison is outrageous.

Galaxy Quest
(1999)

Smart and funny homage to "Star Trek" series & fans
Patrick Stewart liked it! Who could disagree with Captain Picard, anyway?

Rarely do we see a movie that is so intelligent, funny and touching all together. "Galaxy Quest" is like a breath of fresh air... The ultimate homage to "Star Trek" series and fans, "Galaxy Quest" also comes off as one of the best movies ever made about the film industry, actors and "make-believe". What the job is like, what challenges actors come across and what kind of relationship they develop with the audience- all these are scrutinized with smart humor and spot-on observations worthy of the finest connaisseur of human nature.

The script is very, very funny – a spoof of the "Star Trek" phenomenon and a reminder of why we all LOVE Captain Picard, Data, Riker and the others. Bravo!

Star Trek: The Next Generation
(1987)

Captain Picard was (and is) one of my role-models
I read somewhere that Patrick Steward is proud of the educational role Star Trek – The Next Generation had over young viewers. I'm glad he enjoyed his work just as much as we did, because it had indeed quite an influence on me as a child. I practically grew up with the Enterprise crew, and Captain Picard was one of my role-models. Even now, revisiting the series restores my belief that the world will get better.

After all these years, TNG is still so much fun, even more so. In a media landscape full of violence of all kinds, Star Trek – The Next Generation is something to treasure. It's that unique 'feel-good' vibe, the funny make-ups, wild scenarios and holodeck escapism, that make it a magic, timeless adventure. An ode to diversity, exploration, friendship and growth, TNG is the evidence that true values can be affirmed in a manner that is both educational and great fun. Gene Rodenberry had an admirable vision of the future...

The series stayed faithful to the characters until the end, and it's a miracle that it didn't "jump the shark", which seems to be the fate of all successful series, for some reason. STNG just got better and better with each season until its final episode, thanks to Patrick Stewart's growing involvement in the production, script and character development. Rarely do we see a truly gifted actor with such dedication to his craft.

Among all characters, Captain Picard shines with his tremendous commanding presence, wisdom and moral stature. Patrick Stewart's talent, professionalism and commitment to the role are that one thing holding everything together.

My favorite episodes include "Chain of Command" with the memorable Ronny Cox as a non-villainous antagonist, "The Big Good Bye" and "The Measure of a Man". There are many, countless others that are just as good, in fact I love them ALL.

3:10 to Yuma
(2007)

It works... as a comedy
If you're in a mood for high camp, "3:10 to Yuma" is sheer entertainment. It never gets boring, thanks to its two leads, who are cheerfully chewing the scenery.

Outrageous plot holes make for an endless source of humor, the unintentional type. Funny details like why Wade isn't handcuffed properly with his hands behind or how is it possible that his face looks intact after a severe beating, will keep you wondering what brand of entertainment this is.

With a gunshot wound to the stomach, Fonda's character shouldn't even be alive, let alone travel and talk back. Dan gets to jump off roofs despite his handicap, the most dangerous mass murderer is allowed to sit next to Dan's children at the dinner table… Not to mention something that all viewers must have wondered: why don't they just kill Wade? Why are they willing to risk their own lives to save a murderer from torture? "You can't do that. It's… immoral". Wow, this is a masterpiece of the unintentionally hilarious. Are these people politically correct police officers transported with a time machine back in the Wild West? Such blatant disregard for plausibility makes you wonder about the filmmaker's intent.

The conclusion is tragi-comical and mind-blowing, for sure. Characters are elusive and inconsistent; we never really know what's driving Wade, and why Dan is ultimately drawn to him. The perplexing punchline, dripping with "moral ambiguity" had me laughing out loud. The soundtrack made it epic. I almost felt sorry for poor Charlie Prince.

Romper Stomper
(1992)

Crowe's future stardom looks obvious...
The un-stylized, mind-numbing violence makes it a difficult experience, but "Romper Stomper" somehow manages to walk on that thin line between "edgy" and "self-serving". It makes fine observations while not crossing the line, and that's what makes the difference between art and mere exploitation. Enjoyable like a smack over the head, the film basically gives you the horrifying spectacle of humans trying to connect. To fill a void. Through violence.

The major asset of "Romper Stomper" is a young Russell Crowe who already dominates the space with tremendous star power. If he's not perfectly "credible" in this role it's only because, despite his tattoos and menacing physique, he simply looks too intelligent, too complex for a Skin-head. A real Skin-Head, as I imagine it, would be nothing more than a brain-dead, inarticulate brute, with no intellect whatsoever. Russell's clear voice and eyes can't help but blowing his "cover".

But this is no dumb reality-show, and the choosing of Crowe is a wise one. We are watching here more than mindless violence - there is something going on in these characters' minds after all. And it is interesting to get a glimpse. He's the leader, so he has some degree of intelligence; the rest are cattle. Nobody but Russell Crowe could represent an idea so convincingly: the fascination of violence.

By the end of the movie, I was left with the impression that these people were just a bunch of confused kids who hadn't been fortunate enough to have better role-models. Violent as they were, they seemed to be craving, deep down, for something else – for a family, for love and friendship. The way it plays out certainly leaves room for more open questions on "nature vs nurture". However, the film doesn't make excuses for the gang's behavior. On the contrary, it presents them as a dying species, their ideology rendered obsolete by natural evolution. The movie only tries to identify the causes of this aberration. As I see it, the ending comes as both an affirmation of faith and a much needed moral position. It's good, seeing a filmmaker take responsibility for a change. The director could have easily turned Hando into a tragic hero, wronged by society and only taking what's rightfully his. Fortunately, that doesn't happen.

Great acting and direction, well developed and intriguing characters, compelling social commentary and above all, Russell Crowe's take on a difficult role, make "Romper Stomper" an interesting exploration of the mind.

Gladiator
(2000)

CGI Overkill
First of all, the CGI is terrible and mostly gratuitous. I don't see why the director couldn't shoot some REAL natural landscapes for Crowe's psychedelic flashbacks. As for Rome, it was all obviously fake, computer generated crap. Not a single sparkle of authenticity. I won't deny the utility of special effects, but I can't be alone on this one. CGI has cheapened the epic by inserting flat digital figures where beautifully three-dimensional human extras once stood, and by creating green-screen worlds that never have the depth of real locations. Watch „Lawrence of Arabia" for example and you'll feel the difference. What a sad irony that a film made 40 years prior to „Gadiator" gives class to contemporary cinema...

Secondly, the action was excessively violent. I won't even discuss the historical accuracy. The only bright spots are Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, both over-the-top in a pretty entertaining way. Russell's presence is overwhelming thanks to a spectacular physique and charisma... but not even his amazing acting skills can't save this movie. The music by Lisa Gerrard wasn't necessarily bad, but redundant when applied to (over)emotional scenes. That's the way to manipulate crowds: play the violins and let the blood/tears flood the screens. By the way, Gerrard's music was infinitely better and more properly used in "The Insider".

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