I have started watching this movie twice before, but turned it off after some five minutes each time, because I couldn't relate to the character of Luke somehow. Yesterday I got the blu-ray in the mail and was determined to finish it, as I was still curious for the whole story. In short, I was thoroughly disappointed. Even though there were plenty of enjoyable bits and aspects and it is always a pleasure to watch Eva Mendes, there is just too much wrong with 'The place beyond the pines'.
First off, I didn't care much for killing off Luke and then going with the struggling 'heroic' cop Avery and his troubles with his colleagues and later on the shenanigans of their sons became simply boring. And why would Romina look Luke up if she has no intention of getting back with him, let alone tell him she's had his baby? And there's more that just annoyed me plot-wise, but I'll leave it at that. There are also plenty of very hard to believe things in here, such as the 'brilliant' plan of placing a big white truck near a busy road and close to a house as a means of escape...
And then there's the acting. I'm not a particular fan of Cooper or Gosling, but that often depends on their roles. In 'Drive' or 'All good things' Gosling does very well, I think, but the way he goes rampant during the robberies is way over the top for my taste, and all in all, I'm not very charmed with this character Luke - it seemed very out of place that he hit Kofi, for instance,... I haven't seen Cooper in many films, but in a simple comedy like 'The hangover' he does well enough. I wouldn't have cast him for this role, but I think his part was not very interesting in the first place - which goes for a lot of characters.
That leaves some really nice scenes with the bike(s), the ever enchanting Eva Mendes, a pretty nice soundtrack (although it is a little much at times) and... what else? 'The place...' felt a bit like a really long episode of 'Twin peaks' without the weirdness, with that motorcycle guy, what's-his-name - but certainly not as good or interesting.
I'm sure I will give it another try sometime and maybe I can discover some more upsides to it (or downsides...), but for now I can't give more than three stars out of ten.
I thought I was going to watch the eponymous movie by John Huston, but this one did continue to hold my attention anyway. I'm pretty sure I have never seen anything else with these two actors in it, or any other film by this director, but it was a pleasant experience, for as far as pleasant is the appropriate description here. Because, this story, greatly playing out in real time, is pretty unpleasant most of the time. Two people live together in a rather paradise-like place, but the woman is agoraphobic and also wants to leave the man, and the man is possessive and wants to keep her there, no matter what.
The film is a psychological tour de force between the two (there are some extras in the home video playback memories, but other than that, there are no other actors), where especially the man is trying to manipulate the woman (or else use force), although there are some moments in which he comes off as pretty helpless and somewhat pathetic himself. Will she get out? Or will the man see the light and admit to his mistakes and make up to his wife? I won't tell, but even though there is no really shocking outcome, I thought it was all pretty good and au naturel. Not a big budget film, sure, but in this case, who needs it. Nice setting, good actors, intriguing story, sometimes that's all it takes.
About 6 or 7 out of 10, with sympathetic lenience.
I wasn't able to watch this under the good circumstances. It was a relatively poor rip and I couldn't watch it from a comfortable sofa or such, and that never helps. I have been looking forward to watching it, though, since I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the other mockumentary films made by Corky St., ehrm, I mean Christopher Guest. It was a little unsettling to see how much older some of the actors / actresses have been growing, but it is what it is - time waits for no one.
Then, onto the actual movie. I wasn't too excited by the subject matter of sports team mascots, but Guest usually pulls it off, so I had some hopes. And I must say, it's pretty much more of the same but still different. I had to get used to some of the new actors in the cast, but especially Sarah Baker and Zach Woods did quite well. Some other actors were less impressive, but a lot of the familiar faces did just fine, like Posey, Hitchcock, Begley Jr., Higgins, Piddock, etc., and of course it was quite a good idea to get Corky St. Clair back in. It may have been partly the circumstances in which I had to see this, but all in all it wasn't much more than just enjoyable, with Chris O'Dowd as a low point - not sure I can explain exactly why, but his part and acting didn't much speak to me.
Maybe if this ever will come out on dvd or blu-ray I will be able to watch it over and over (as I did recently with all the other Guest mockumentaries) and get more into it. For now, this was fun in part, with most of the final performances in the finale being the very highlights, but I just can't get myself to go any higher than a good 6 out of 10.
I've seen a few Altman films now, the first ones being those ones from the '90s and of which 'Short cuts' will remain a very impressive one. Later on, I noticed how not every film was as good, but mostly there was plenty to enjoy, still. Only more recently have I been looking up his older work, such as 'The long goodbye' (pretty darn good, getting better every time I watch it), 'Images' (disappointing as an effective horror drama, but still not bad), 'McCabe and Mrs. Miller' (a little disappointing in some way, but still pretty good, intriguing and one I will definitely will try again) and '3 Women' - an excellent, spellbinding piece of alternative American cinema and a personal Altman favorite at this point (more recently I have seen 'That cold day in the park' as well, which is a terrific film, and also 'California split', which was simply enjoyable).
'Nashville', I'm sorry to say, did disappoint me also, this first viewing. A day later, a lot of scenes and characters and the overall atmosphere of the country music does stick with me in a positive sense. I guess this is one I will try again sometime, too, but not for a while.
A character like Goldblum's really didn't seem all that necessary to me, while the story, consisting of many pieces of personal lives all over Nashville, combined with a 'real-life voice-over' (the politician speaking) lacked a certain amount of coherence for me, even if many parts were still cleverly connected. Perhaps I'll get a better sense of things another time around, but a first viewing is always important to me.
I'll leave it at a good 7 out of 10, because there was plenty to enjoy, in all departments.
On season 1: utterly disillusioned, but still merciful.
Why is there no 'goofs' list on this? The series is full of it (no one seems to be checking and double checking facts or putting together all the facts for comparison - and don't give me any guff about tunnel vision, because it just doesn't fly, or even get to the airstrip). Here's about the biggest flaw. The series starts out pretty good, I'll admit that; atmospheric, dark, interesting story lines (politics, murder, the bereaved family), but then, in episode 10, finally, they get the smart idea to interview cab drivers. Okay, maybe they had a little tunnel vision going on with that teacher and didn't think to put out a broader net, and it's not like that has never happened with the police, right? Okay. But then, in the end it turns out that the cab driver who 'reported' Nanna to Varg (instead of Theis, who wasn't able to take the call), who then 'ended up' killing her (that part deserves some question marks as well, including his previous murder, but oh, well)... Why, then, when the cab driver (Leon Frevert) knew that he turned Varg onto Nanna, did he not say anything to anyone? I can't come up with anything, and that's because there isn't anything. Just pi*s-poor writing, through which the whole series collapsed in the final episode(s).
I could say something about the thoroughly good acting as I have already mentioned some other positive things about it, but it doesn't change much. Okay, yes, I was pretty captivated until episode 10, and there is still some pretty good and interesting stuff going on here and there, but when the basic writing of a crime series of this supposed stature fails as miserably as this, I really have to dig hard and deep for some mercy...
'Wicked' has long been on my list to watch, mostly because of the enchanting Julia Styles, but I was as much afraid that it would be just something of a B-film with no redeeming qualities. But I was quite wrong, I'm happy to admit. It opens straight away with a blend of some Hitchcockian elements (fine cinematography, fine classical music - there is some noisy music later on, as well - and a square stairwell, even!), showing us the main character Ellie, who's in the habit of running away from every almost every single day, and a few other key inhabitants of Casa del Norte, a secured suburb somewhere in America. And that Hitchcockian feel never goes away.
The story is not all the time focused on the thriller side of things, but mostly feels like something close to a twisted - quite twisted - black crime comedy on suburban family life gone astray, with some horror and drama elements. The title, plot and movie poster really don't leave much room for guessing, but there's a twist at the end, and the whole ride is more than fun enough to go along for - I've even seen it twice within a few days. Julia Styles may take the cake, but not without Vanessa Zima taking a big chunk as well, and none of the other cast members disappoint.
A devious little flick from the late '90s that is worth a try, I'd say. A good 7 out of 10.
'Top of the lake' has potential, lots of it, but fails to fully satisfy. The biggest problem is the detective part of things; Robin starts out as more or less a freelance officer (specialized in abused teens) on a case that is not really within her jurisdiction (she's from another country, even). It would be believable if she only assisted for a short period of time, but instead, she becomes a full-time, full-blown detective on a case that is soon way too big for one 'cop' to handle. Why she never calls in the help from any higher authorities than Al is way, way beyond me.
The main criminal case (Tui) is pretty heavy, and there's plenty of other intriguing story lines going on, resulting in lots of very refreshing scenes, playing in beautiful sceneries to boot. The acting is very good, and most characters are pretty interesting. At times, things dragged on a bit, and some outcomes were not all that strong, with the finale (with Al and Robin) being a particular low point.
This could really have been something else and something great, but the makers should have thought things through a lot better before releasing on any audience, because now it is only partly that.
A small 7 out of 10, which could have been so much more.
Max Porcelijn's follow-up to his feature debut 'Plan C', a thoroughly fun and apt crime comedy with dramatic elements. 'De Grote Zwaen' presents us with a lot of the same actors as his first, although the lead is now played by Peter van de Witte, who is (in Holland anyway) better known for his work in cabaret. I had expected much from him, especially after seeing the trailer, but I was a little disappointed; the other actors mostly overshadowed him, and his character wasn't all that interesting all the time (just like those colleagues he kept meeting up with).
The story concerns some iffy characters, some bad guys, a big sum of money, and quite a few complications in what at first seems to be a pretty simple plan - much like 'Plan C' and many other crime comedies. On the one hand, there's plenty clichés here, of which some are working just fine, but there are others that are just a little too plain and boring. The parts played by Michiel Romeyn, Ton Kas, Ruben van de Meer and René van 't Hof are the best and amount to some very memorable, dialogue driven scenes. Then, there are few terrific comedic bits, such as the car driving into two trees... that's the stuff classics are made of.
All in all, it wasn't as good as 'Plan C', but certainly entertaining enough. A good 7 out of 10.
Someone said this to be the French 'Straw dogs', and so I got interested. There are some similarities, especially the revenge motif, but other than that, 'Le vieux fusil' is quite a unique film on its own.
Philippe Noiret is perfect to play the this character, who becomes instantly obsessed with revenge after he finds his wife raped (this is shown in a flashback, but his character can only guess) and burnt alive with a flame thrower, and his daughter shot in the back. His character, Julien, is a respected doctor who tries to go on with his life in spite of the war, even joking about a nurse's sex life and not putting up much of a fight when the enemy comes into his hospital to take some suspects away - what could he do?
Well, what he could do, we see later on, but only when his close family is involved. Like a trained soldier, he works out a plan in which he continuously manages to keep the upper hand over the Germans, who at some point are sure they are surrounded by many Partisans - his extensive knowledge of the castle and its architectural secrets being his great advantage.
The film switches back and forth between sweet and sour memories of Julien, his wife and his daughter, and the brutal attacks he embarks upon to exact revenge - in the end it becomes clear how much he lost his mind. It did go back and forth a little too much for my taste, but it's still a pretty unique and intense piece of film, immersed in blood, sweat and tears.
A lot of fun, a lot of kills and effectively devious in its simplicity. The main three bad kids are pretty charismatic, considering the low budget side of 'Bloody birthday'. Then, there are some pretty teen girls of the legal age for the more spicy, topless scenes, and we're getting closer to a truly fun horror film from the (in)famous '80s.
The story does not make much sense, with Jupiter being blacked out by the moon when the three killer kids are born, but who really cares? The kills are fun, the cast is pretty enthusiastic and the atmosphere of yet another American smalltown is caught on screen more than well enough.
Yes, if this is the sort of cult horror you seek, you can't be disappointed. 8 out of 10.
Reason numero uno for me try this one is Barbra Streisand, and even more so since she was supposed to go topless (in my version I did not catch her topless - and I think I was paying attention well enough). And there were no other reasons, really. This sort of romantic comedy does not appeal to me particularly, but 'The owl and the pussycat' really wasn't bad, at all. It was suggested that 'Pretty woman', a film that used to like but now would not soon choose to watch again, could have been based on this, but that seems a stretch to me.
The story here is a stretch, too, but I suppose it's fun enough and has some decent and more serious issues in there, as well. Barbra does a very good job, as does George Sagal, but them ending up together seems a bit unrealistic.
It's an interesting film, that's the least I can say about it, but I'm not entirely sure what I think of Eric Bogosian's character Barry and his acting or what Oliver Stone is trying to tell me here. The dialogue consists of many more or less obvious, juxtaposed points of view of the talk show host versus the listeners / callers, and after a while it feels sort of gimmicky. At the same time, there is a wry love story developing, and it even seems that Barry fore-feels his untimely demise. Politics, thriller, love story, they should only be mixed with great care.
Bogosian and Stone surely try their best to deliver an edgy piece, but I suppose it only worked in some parts for me. Michael Wincott's performance as a hard rock cliché come to life was hilarious to the point of getting scary, by the way. All in all, I had an interesting time with this, but perhaps I should see it again sometime to be able to wrap my head around all of the dialogue.
Another fine film by Louis Malle. An understated drama about two pubescent boys, one of whom is a Jew hiding from the Germans. The pacing is slow, but the various dramatic are scenes telling. The ominous ending creeps up like a thief in the night and the finale comes down like a sledgehammer. Even if it is as subtle as can be.
Gaspard Manesse, on whose character the film focuses mostly in the first part, plays wonderfully natural, but I have no complaints on any of the cast. And the setting of rural France is beautiful to boot.
This may not be the sort of film I watch a lot, but from to time, I can really appreciate it. A good 8 out of 10.
There is a lot of beautiful scenery in 'Pale rider', which is probably the best thing about it. The story, about a group of 'tin pans' who are in conflict with the big shot gold digger who owns most of the land around them, and more specifically, the girl who prays to the Lord to help them and then a tall, dark stranger is sent their way, could have worked, but things stay pretty simple, clichéd and blunt.
The hero is always there at just the right moment and is basically a western Superman, even if he is also referred to as Death himself. The intended dramatic impact of the two women who both have their hearts set on the hero and the other man (Hull Barrett) who quietly wants to be part of the 'family', remains pretty much absent, all the more because the films switches between Eastwood's macho efforts, Superhero gunslinging, simplistic moral lessons and some bloody killings. But I wasn't much impressed with Sydney Penny's acting either. The rest of the cast did okay, mostly.
Maybe this one is simply not for me, even if I was certainly mildly amused by most of it. 5 out of 10.
Nice sci-fi series, and pretty offbeat for American TV standards.
This is a nice mini-series, though almost everyone will agree it's not great. The acting of James Belushi really lacks impact when it counts (the desperate crying in the car!), but overall, he gets away with playing a big shot TV executive who grows something of a conscience over the course of five episodes. Ben Savage plays the most fascinating role, that of Harry Wyckoff's 'son' Coty; a young brat who turns into a megalomaniac murderer / general. But there was really no truly disappointing acting here, even if it is all not that grand. Robert Loggia, Angie Dickinson, Dana Delaney, Kim Cattrall, Ernie Hudson, David Warner, Bob Gunton, Brad Dourif, they all fit right in there.
The story is at its core pretty interesting, though dramatically, I was hardly ever overwhelmed. The most fun is in all those details; the rhinoceros, the strange society in which people are openly attacked but no one bats an eye, the empty swimming pools, the luxurious, exuberant settings, the glasses that light up, the holograms, the 'metallic' monster that gets Terra, the samurai and movie references, the choice of music, etc., etc.. Good fun, and with enough interesting dialogue and story details to keep things going. Unfortunately, I missed quite a bit of dialogue (due to the fact that the DVD has no subs and I couldn't play it very loud), so I'm sure I'm going to give it another go sometime.
This really is a nice slow burner, with plot elements reminding me of 'Fight club', 'The usual suspects' and 'American psycho', while it mostly looked like the latter (even if that one was mostly filmed in Canada, no less). David Koepp has written some interesting stuff over the years, and this one is pretty good. Not all of it is always credible, but if you're willing to go along for the sensational, nihilistic ride that it essentially is, you may just have a ball.
James Spader and Rob Lowe play their parts with enough conviction, but let's not forget about Christian "I guess we can close the file on that one(!)" Clemens and the beautiful Lisa Zane. The story is perhaps a little far-fetched, but it fits right in with a lot of those over the top thrillers that were there aplenty in those dear '90s. 'Neo-noir', I read somewhere, and that it is in a way, and with lots of nice twists and turns and psychological baggage to keep you on the edge of your seat.
A remake of one of the ultimate horror movies can only go wrong, can't it? Julianne Moore seems to be a good choice to play the haunted Christian mother, yet she is no match for Piper Laurie. The same goes for Chloë Grace Moretz versus Sissy Spacek. Of course, I knew that. Beforehand. But I saw a couple of pretty sweet stills and thought I'd give it a go.
Story-wise, Kimberly Peirce really upped the ante on various dramatic issues, and it works, but it did made me think more than once what this remake would have been like if the telekinesis part was completely left out. You know, Carrie evolving into a frantic, but still very human, killer, instead of the fantasy horror shenanigans (which is why I was very pleased to the series remake of 'Psycho'). The original gets away with those shenanigans since it was directed so perfectly by Brian De Palma, and of course because it has Sissy Spacek in the bewitching lead.
The horror element never really comes into play until the infamous bucket of pig's blood is finally dropped, but I must say, it is a pretty decent finale. Together with some fairly decent attempts at updating the story, that does count for something.
The short intro, with some black and white photos of Brasil's colonial times, is telling. Straight after, we go into a middle class suburb of Recife (I would have guessed Rio de Janeiro); children playing in little streets and outside places between lots of big apartment buildings. There are various casual portraits of some people who live here; a bored mother and housewife who is much bothered by a barking dog, her daughter and son who are learning Chinese, a rich young man who is newly dating a young woman who once lived in the area, a small group of men who are trying to sell their security services to the people of the suburb, a local thief (or is he is a student, or both?) and the father of the rich young man, who owns most of the property in the suburb.
At first glance it looks like a broad portrayal of middle class life in Recife, but there are plenty of bigger and smaller details hinting at the state of the people, the street, the suburb, the city and the land, and its past and current issues. The film will give you some feeling impending doom here and there, but the actual thriller elements emerge rather late into the film, and at first only through the dreams and nightmares of some characters. There is no gore, hardly any on-screen violence, but the implied actions still speak for themselves - like neighbouring sounds that can't be ignored. It will make you think, without throwing it in your face. Very good and naturalistic acting, fine cinematography - it's all good.
Buy Phoebe Gloeckner's work (or at least check it out)!
I was interested in this anyway, but when I learned that it was based on a work and the life of Phoebe Gloeckner, I knew I had to see this. I only have her monograph (I thought it was a comic, but hey) 'A Child's Life and Other Stories', and I'm fairly impressed with that. It (and this film as well) entails subject matter of the edgy kind, about a talented girl growing up in an unstable setting.
Bel Powley was twenty-two years old while doing the role of the fifteen years old Minnie Goetze, though I would have estimated her to be about eighteen. In any case, it doesn't really get in the way of the story and what it wants to get across. Powley is charismatic enough, and the rest of the cast keep up pretty well, though Christopher Meloni felt a little out of place for this role somehow.
The animations that pop up a lot of the time reminded me of the terrific film 'American splendor', but I'm guessing that Ralph Bakshi was (one of?) the first to actually have done this...?
This is a good depiction of the confusing and difficult life of a troubled teen girl who is confronted with lots of irresponsible adults and other adolescent issues and is made to find her own way.
A cult ero-horror flick, yes, but only partly fun enough.
The first part of 'Entrails of a virgin' is rather boring. The initial photo shoot is relatively entertaining, but the soft porn scenes are pretty much a drag. Then, the film turns into a 'cabin horror' flick. There's still plenty of (boring) soft porn, but at least there is some nice gore in there as well. The scene with the severed lower arm is a true horror (soft porn) gem and almost took my rating out of the realm of the mediocre... almost.
5 out of 10. This is true cult film and worth a watch, I'll second that, but it takes a good while for the fun to start. And even then it's mainly just some gory, weird moments that do the trick.
The follow-up to 'Guts of a virgin' is as much cult and weird as its predecessor. But it's not as good, even if that one was just mediocre, all in all. The story is pretty much ludicrous, but the insane gang members and a lot of the gore and effects make up a little for that. There's a lot less soft porn here than there was in the first one, but there is still some. This one does not have a truly great scene as the first one did (the severed lower arm scene near the end), and so this must end up with a lower rating.
4 out of 10. I'm glad I finally tried these two films, but I may never want to see them again, except for maybe that one aforementioned scene.
A more than decent drama film with some elements of thriller, crime and romance in it. This is still the only film by Jean Renoir I have seen so far - shame on me, I suppose - but it has an interesting enough story and the sets (studio and in nature) are a pleasure to look at, as are Anne Baxter and Virginia Gilmore, by the by. The acting is all very much in order. Characters like Tom, Ben, Thursday, Julie, Mabel, Hannah and 'the wild bunch' that hangs out at the store a lot, are plenty believable.
Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say about it. It's the sort of film I like (as well), even if it is not a masterpiece. A small 8 out of 10.
'Klown' may make you very uncomfortable. It did me, at times. Some parts were actually really good in pointing out 'social issues', but other parts were just downright choking the chicken of human conscience... or something like that. Not that that's a bad thing. But, more importantly, not all of it is very funny or even worked out well, in my opinion.
The film looks mostly like an amateur feature film, with not much cinematographic elegance. Maybe it wouldn't be befitting of such a film, but I can't help looking at that side of things as well. The acting is fairly good, and Frank Hvam has just the right face to play this guy.
All in all, it was relatively disappointing, but certainly not all bad or unfunny. 5 out of 10.
"I kicked her and I poured water on her and I chucked rocks and sticks at her and all she does is ball like's she's hurt."
'Tobacco road' is very typical and very loud. A lot of singing and screaming, and relatives playing tricks on each other, because they are... very, very poor, and not much, if at all, educated. You could look at it as a comedy (Imdb indicated so), but it's not quite that to me. Sure, the recurring loose board on the porch and such other stuff work that way, but mostly, all the other 'fun' has a layer of tragedy right underneath it.
The acting is very enjoyable, with poor old struggling Jeeter Lester by Charley Grapewin as a personal favorite. But it's also terrific watching Gene Tierney as Ellie May, as the seductress poor people style; crawling through the mud, just to get a taste of a turnip. Screamin' Dude ("Now, 'dude', that's a name no one would self-apply where I come from.") Lester was something else as well; kicking and screaming the whole way through, going crazy for nothing more than a plain car horn. Yes, this film is fun, but tragedy lurks everywhere, even if it's all lined with plenty of comedic and sentimental elements.
It's not for everyone, and I don't particularly want to watch it over and over, but it's still a pretty good, enjoyable film. A good 7 out of 10.
This remains fun stuff, still, and I deem it the best installment of the 'Vacation' series. It's pretty straightforward American comedy stuff, but here and there, there are some sharp observations about American life (and life in general, I suppose) and some bits are pretty nasty or dark; let's put aunt Edna (dead) on the roof of the car or leave her hanging dead in a chair with a relative, forget to unhook the dog from the car and drive for a while, aunt Edna who doesn't mind eating a sandwich which was micturated (Imdb's 'auto-correct' seems to think this word does not exist...) upon by the dog, etc., etc..
Chevy Chase is perhaps a love-or-hate actor, but I think he's excellent for this type of job. Beverly D'Angelo is also perfect for her role, and, out of the various duos that have played son Rusty and daughter what's-her-name Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron are probably the best (although Juliette Lewis was pretty damn good, too). And, of course, good old Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie - irreplaceable. And there's plenty more little fun parts.
A big 9 out of 10 for this ever funny classic. And I don't mind at all that 'Holiday road' pops into my head on whatever occasion.