cwhaskell

IMDb member since December 2010
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    10 years

Reviews

Outer Space
(1999)

A worthy experiment into an alternative way of presenting horror
Honestly, it was okay. Outer Space was just the right length but DO NOT WATCH IF YOU GET SEIZURES.

I thought it was cool the way Tscherkassky user editing techniques for all of his special effects and he gave us viewers a classic horror ending.

Not sure how this is rated a top 1,000 film of all time, but I would say that horror fans should definitely give it a chance. Outer Space, to me, is an experiment around presenting the typical 'there's someone in my house' horror film in a unique and very memorable way. And, it's only 10 mins long so even if you don't like it there's plenty of your day you can still get back.

Trop tôt/Trop tard
(1981)

A pleasant modern art piece
I did not go to film school so cannot speak to the technical side of this movie, although people seem to agree that is quite solid.

So, I'm left to judge the film by the way they tell their story. When it comes to Too Early / Too Late I think there seems to be a lot of space left open for interpretation and contemplation. Much like a therapist whose comfort with awkward silence causes the patient to wrestle with their own thoughts,Straub and Huillet invite us to meditate on the passing of time and the legacy of rebellions.

Growing up reading about various rebellions or overthrown governments I had rarely given thought to the physicality of the spaces these impoverished workers lived in and dreamed to improve. This is what the film does well.

Where I find it lacking is that a fair amount of the film is boring. Too much contemplation and meditation. The poems on rebellion spoken over the landscapes they reference is a cool idea for a project and at times it's very thought-provoking. In between those moments, however, there's just too much dead air with 10-min shots of country roads.

(1963)

Getting Unstuck
For the sake of this review, I am going to assume that Fellini was trying to make a movie, got stuck, and finally decided the best way forward is to make a movie about how difficult it is to make a movie. Apologies to history if that's not what happened.

There are lessons I have resonated with in this movie that I have not commonly seen in reviews, so I thought I would jot them down for others. I hope they are helpful:

1. You will get stuck in life. Even if you are doing something you are good at and enjoy. There are moments where you will not be able to finish something, or maybe start something, that is important to you.

2. If you are headed in a direction that is unproductive or will cause you pain, take the time necessary to stop and recognize the fact that it temporarily sucks. Based on the content and themes in the film I am assuming Fellini had this moment of realization.

3. Reflect. The visions and dreams in this movie are a beautiful representation of the importance of reflecting on who you are or the experiences that have shaped you. You do have to face reality, but roots are important and do influence who we are and the way we see the world. Guido's conversation with the priests is a perfect example. Is the main character religious? It's complicated. And this brief conversation makes the memory of his childhood so important.

4. Be willing to give it up. When he makes the decision to cancel the production, Guido loses the white-knuckle grip he had on having to get it done, which led to his epiphany that he had everything he needed for his movie right in front of him. The order of this is important. If he would have remained unwilling to lose it, he would have either finished something he was unhappy with or it would have never seen the light of day. Neither of those options would have led to 8 1/2.

5. Be bold. There were many voices in his life telling Guido to be different than who he was. There was unnecessary time pressure, high expectations, actors and actresses wanting answers or they were not going to get involved, blah blah blah. He was the only person who could make the final movie, as was Fellini. There are some things that only you can do. Once you find that thing, be bold and believe that you are the best in the world at it. You don't have to brag, just know it. It will dramatically impact your confidence and most likely results.

Thank you for reading if you made it all the way through.

Zorns Lemma
(1970)

How to take 50 minutes to peel a clementine
I am not a fan of avant garde cinema. I like it in theory but have a very difficult time actually watching it and staying engaged. This was actually pretty different from other experimental art films I have seen, and really connected with me and made it to where I had to see how the individual stories resolved. I would say it's worth a watch if you're interested in trying out experimental films.

Just know going in that it will require a certain degree of patience. That's not a bad thing, of course, just something to be aware of. One of the ways the filmmaker captures the audiences attention is by lulling you in to a certain rhythm and then disrupting it on his time instead of your own. Very tricky, but effective, as I was never fully comfortable watching this ... in a good way.

Alambrista!
(1977)

very humbling to watch as a gringo
It is difficult to talk about this movie without getting political, but maybe that's the point? Not sure, anyways, there were a few very powerful moments in the film for me. The most common point of discomfort was the multiple times Roberto had all of his choices, and thereby his freedoms, taken away. He had a vision for what he wanted out of America, and it was uncomfortable to watch his version of how he wanted his life to go be shattered by the unforgiving reality of how undocumented workers are treated.

Perhaps the thing that struck me the hardest, however, was how quickly life changed. There were a few times throughout the movie where, without warning, Roberto's life was drastically altered. I was aware of the fact that this type of thing happens, but seeing it played out was emotionally exhausting, I can't imagine what it must be like to live it.

I really hope this film gets rediscovered. It's a seemingly very brutal and honest portrayal of the very difficult decisions and sacrifices migrant workers have to make.

Flesh for Frankenstein
(1973)

"Make Him Unconscious!"
Director, Producer, and intentions aside, movies age however they age. This is the plight of the creative team behind any work of art, and films are no exception. Watching this movie nearly 40 years after it was made, without knowing much about Andy Warhol or anything about Paul Morissey, the best I can do is review this film on what I see:

It's hilarious! I hope that was the intent. The dialog is campy and ridiculous, the acting is over the top, the subject matter is disturbing, the gore is pretty extreme, and the story is pretty far from the touching, haunting tale that Shelley originally penned.

It is a macabre comedy of power gone unchecked (as well as inbreeding, necrophilia, organs fetishes, just for starters!) with pretty great bloody special effects and super creepy children. So, you know, a family film.

Rating: 26/40

Barney Miller: The Courtesans
(1975)
Episode 5, Season 1

Still experimenting to find the magic formula
This was a good episode. There was sharp humor, and a real heart around addressing the exotic dancers that got picked up. Captain Barney Miller is starting to really get some depth as a character, as we get to see him balance between empathy and kindness and decision maker depending on the immediate need.

The show tried something different here by bringing his wife into the squad room. This was the first time in the show where her and Barney were together outside of the apartment, so it added a nice touch to be able to see them in different scenarios.

This was also the biggest role his daughter has played up to this point, as she is trying to convince her parents that she's ready to live alone.

I get the feeling the writers have been trying hard to work within the framework of a sitcom while bringing up real-life issues for members of a police precinct. So far so good, and I'm enjoying the show a little more after each episode.

Rating: 24/40

Code Name: Wolverine
(1996)

A little bit worse than you'd expect from the title and cover art
Before I say too much I think it's important to point out that this was a made for TV action movie, so right away that takes away any serious bloodbath potential, as well as any serious language or nudity possibilities.

So working under those parameters, not to mention a tight budget, I guess the creative team did OK with this one. There are a couple of sweet moments where the Wolverine shows how quickly and effortlessly he can crush a persons hope of survival.

That's about it. A couple of sweet kills sprinkled in a large vat of mediocrity. What's a hard-hitting action thrill ride without any of the vices discussed above and without a budget for special effects? It's a movie like Wolverine, with long periods of tough guys talking and making decisions and out-toughing each other, and a cliché ridden boring mess.

Some other reviewer already mentioned it, but the ending is really bad. Not even like "oh, that's not the way I would have ended it" or "I don't understand the point the director is trying to make here", but just awful. It's a cliffhanger for all the wrong reasons, and made me want to go Wolverine on the production team

Rating: 12/40

Barney Miller: Graft
(1975)
Episode 4, Season 1

Evidence they were still finding their identity
OK, so I'm a little torn at this point in the show over which direction the series needs to go. There have been two episodes strictly shot in the Squad Room, and they have worked very well. With an ensemble cast there are many ways to keep the jokes fresh and the pace moving for a 22 minute show.

There have also been two episodes shot between the squad room and at home with Barney's wife, and she has some of the best dialog out of all the characters. The actress, Barbara Barrie, is very funny, and plays concern for her husband well without overdoing it.

I get the feeling that her character was introduced to help ground the main character and make him more relatable as a family man. She does do that, but I am a little skeptical how she could play an integral role in the show for the 8 seasons it was on air.

Dick O'Neill has a small but funny part in this episode, and despite the lack of consistency show-to-show this is still entertaining television.

Rating: 24/40

Barney Miller: Snow Job
(1975)
Episode 3, Season 1

Starting to gain an identity
Just watching all of these episodes for the first time. Started earlier in the day and am curious how a show that was nominated for 29 Emmys does not get the same attention that some of the other 'classics' do.

Three episodes in I can see an outline starting to form. This is now two episodes in a row where there has been one A and one B story working alongside each other. The dead of winter trench-coat flasher is a funny antagonist, and the officers having to keep money overnight because of an armored car driver strike makes the audience start to feel what it's like to be a cop in New York City. There are some good foundations being established here, and I am interested to see how it continues to develop.

One pattern I have noticed early on is this is now the 2nd episode shot entirely in the squad room. I wouldn't think that would be interesting television, but good writers have been able to pull it off so far.

Rating: 26/40

Funny Face
(1957)

What Makes This a Classic?
I watched this film for the first time earlier today and enjoyed it. Audrey Hepburn is charming even if she wasn't born to play in musicals, Fred Astaire is a little bit older, slightly tuned down version of his younger self, and Kay Thompson is very commanding in her "Cruella Deville" of fashion role. Something struck me as I was watching this, however: does age add value to a motion picture?

I can't imagine this being seen as an instant classic when it came out. The dance numbers were above average, but nothing spectacular, the star power was there but either outdated or out of place, and the visuals were absolutely stunning but a film needs more than that to last. With time, though, and the legacy Astaire and Hepburn have left behind, there is definitely some interest in seeing the one film they headlined together.

That interest does not necessarily a good movie make, however, and I feel obliged to call it what it is: An above average movie from Stanley Donen (who was able to do much more with less in his career) with the star power to make it last longer than it would otherwise.

Rating: 24/40

Barney Miller: Experience
(1975)
Episode 2, Season 1

Wow, what a jump from the first episode
Now this is more like it! Having never seen this show before I sat down earlier today to give it a chance. Episode 1 was a little disappointing, but first episodes, or even seasons, sometimes are.

This episode seemed like a whole different show. It took place exclusively in the "Squad Room", had an opportunity to flesh out the 12th precinct employees, had an interesting antagonist (that must have been fairly scandalous back in 1974!), and was overall a much better show.

I was willing to give the whole first season a shot, but am now excited to as they almost instantly created a show with memorable characters. Now if the DVD could just have an option of removing the laugh track!

Rating: 28/40

Barney Miller: Ramon
(1975)
Episode 1, Season 1

Underwhelming but Intriguing Intro
Having heard so much about this show my wife and I sat down 22 minutes ago to give it a chance. Here's my instant reaction

I see potential here depending on how the creative team decides to expound on the characters introduced in the first episode. Almost every show struggles through the first season, and the tone, characters, overall mood can change as the writers become more comfortable with the world that they have created.

The wife shows potential. She had some of the best lines from the first episode and her cynicism is a nice counter balance to a seemingly optimistic police officer. Speaking of her husband, the character of Barney Miller is great and Hal Linden seems to balance strength, wisdom, and empathy well as an actor. The cast of misfits at the police station haven't shown anything yet, but I'm withholding saying too much until later on in the show. Can't wait to see how it goes from here!

Rating: 20/40

The Wrecking Crew
(2000)

The director of this movie started his career with 'The Sword and the Sorceror'
Just wanted to point that out. Albert Pyun is no Orson Welles, but by the time he made 'The Wrecking Crew' he had already made 28 full length films. 28 ... this was not the work of a High School student who had some friends that got together and made a movie about some crazy stuff about guns and drugs and hip-hop. This would be impressive actually if it had been made by a High School student, both in the fact that Ice-T and Snoop Dogg were available and that a 16 year old was able to get the budget together to finish the project.

Albert Pyun was 47 when this came out, however, and had been working in Hollywood for 28 years. This is inexcusable.

Why is it bad? Art is subjective, right? One person's trash is another's treasure, right? I completely agree with that sentiment, but I don't know my belief in art has ever been stretched to this point.

Rating: 2/40

The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women and War
(1973)

Double Entendre Arise!
I have never seen The Six Million Dollar Man so am starting from the very beginning: the two introductory pilot movies. They each have a slightly different feel, with this one definitely being the more playful and lighthearted.

Steve Austin's cyborg powers are on display throughout the movie, and the audience is treated to cool abilities like night vision, fast swimming/running, etc. This is provided as expected, but what caught my attention and allowed for some cheese filled chuckles was the funny attempts at double entendre. It feels forced, as if the screenwriters had to seduce the audience and lure them into the chambers of the mind. It felt like a pounding instead as they were usually in inappropriate - plot wise - situations and we are left waiting for the rim shot from the band.

Fun effort all around, makes me excited for the show, I hope future episodes can rise to the occasion!

Rating: 20/40

Trinità e Sartana figli di...
(1972)

Parkour in the Spaghetti West
This is a pretty silly movie. If this was in the Police Academy series of movies, it would be somewhere between Assignment Miami Beach (where they still made an effort to care about the series) and City Under Siege (the official F*** it, let's go make some cash sequel). The jokes are plentiful and plenti-awful, and the romance is super cheese.

This is still definitely a genre movie, however, and all the reasons to enjoy Spaghetti Westerns exist in this world, even if on a watered down level. There is one thing in particular that really makes this movie watching, however, and that is the crazy Parkour moves of the Sartana character! He's all over the place, extremely athletic, and makes the fights/escapes very entertaining.

Rating: 18/40

Arizona Colt
(1966)

Arizona Colt
Released on DVD here in the states as "The Man From Nowhere", this entry into the Western All'Italiana oeuvre features pretty boy Guiliano Gemma as the good, veteran character actor Fernando Sancho as the bad, and a disappointing script as the ugly.

Arizona Colt can never quite figure out what it's trying to be. As a Hollywood western there would have been a few too many deaths and too strong a focus on destruction. As an Italian Western it takes itself too seriously and leans too heavily on wide tracking shots of the ol' west.

There is some good humor, and the reveal how Arizona is going to take on a town full of baddies is very slick, but this movie is a series of good moments and an overall weak effort when considered as a whole.

Rating: 16/40

One Hour with You
(1932)

A weaker Lubitsch picture is still grand
Over the past month my wife and I have been on a Lubitsch bender. His films are completely intoxicating as he invites the viewers to a fantasy world where wealthy people cavort around and constantly get into trouble with the opposite sex.

One Hour With You is no different, as Maurice Chevalier's aw-shucks smile and French charm are on center stage as he considers an affair with his wife's best friend. It is a musical, but not in the traditional Hollywood sense; rather a more subtle approach where it just might actually be possible for these characters to break into song.

There were some down moments in this movie, which is extremely rare in anything Lubitsch. They are few and far between, however, and there are some laugh out loud moments as Chevalier justifies his actions to the audience, since, after all, he is only doing what any of us would do. The good far outweighs the less than great, and One Hour is well worth the watch.

Rating: 30/40

The Six Million Dollar Man
(1973)

Going into it green
I am just watching the pilot and the show for the first time. I have always heard so much about this show I had to give it a shot ...

Wow, this has so much potential. This first episode was interesting and entertaining, and I am glad to have the back story, but what really excited me while watching this was the possible direction they could take this once it goes serial.

The production value was on par with TV shows from the late 60s/early 70s, as was the acting and dialog, but I believe this show will stand apart just because good writers can make something fantastic. I should mention that Lee Majors seems like a great choice for this role, he plays the everyman-tough-guy perfectly.

Rating: 26/40

Wrong Side of Town
(2010)

WWE steroid-fueled retelling of 'The Warriors'
How could you give this movie one star? The dialogue is very silly and the acting is goofball central, but you can't say the plot doesn't make any sense: the original 80s version called 'The Warriors' is widely considered a classic. This movie is goofy, but it's way more fun than it should be and the two WWE stars detract from the story only to the same degree The Rock used to when he was busting skulls. Van Damme's younger brother (in name only) is a bonafied action star, and I hope he continues to make movies.

For seekers of unintentional comedy this is a gem. Find it and give it a shot. For low-budget action aficionados this will be a great addition as it has an independent feel with an above average production value. For people who only watch Eisenstein films ... well, you probably won't be on this page anyways. Happy viewing!

Rating: 22/40

Si può fare... amigo
(1972)

A True Grit style western with a little comedy
While not exactly the same plot as True Grit, it is definitely in the same vein, but this time with slapstick humor interjected throughout. Bud Spencer chops his opponents into submission and Jack Palance goes from goon to goof as the story unfolds.

This has all the parts of a Spaghetti Western: Decent theme song, genre character actors, settings, etc. but winds up a few feet wide of the mark. The humor is decent, especially some of the interactions with Coburn and the boy, and it is an entertaining movie, but I never really warmed up to the gentle giant Coburn (Bud Spencer) and believed his connection with the kid. And I feel like I just have to at least mention the awkward spousal abuse ending ... I guess it was just being historically accurate? Anyways, there are better Western All'Italiana.

Rating: 18/40

Gli fumavano le Colt... lo chiamavano Camposanto
(1971)

Oh man, this is such a good movie!
Seriously, where did Spaghetti Western Comedies go? The literal translation (best I could do) is "The Smoking Colt ... Call Him Cemetery" and don't worry about the fact it doesn't translate well, every other portion of the movie does.

There is an amazing theme song, good humor, plenty of gun fights, just in general a real positive energy throughout the entire film. The quality of the print was pretty awful, so I hope someone picks this up and restores it. The man called cemetery is a grizzled veteran of Westerns All'Italiana who appeared as the anti-hero several times and knows how to stare down a bad guy and can not-be-bothered-while-people-are-shooting-at- him with the best of em. Take the time out to watch this forgotten gem.

Rating: 30/40

The Seven Year Itch
(1955)

A quick breakdown
If you're reading these reviews trying to determine whether or not to watch this movie, I'll do my best to break down - quickly - why this movie is considered a classic and why it is worth watching.

The Seven Year Itch is a throwback comedy that was very incendiary during it's day. I'm writing this review a few months after 'The Hangover Part 2' came out, so by today's standards there is hardly anything controversial at all. This is part of the beauty of these older movies though, they are subtle in their shock-and-awe.

There was a board in Hollywood that did nothing else except for censor movies, and so getting a movie like 'The Seven Year Itch' out was a real coup. There is an amazing short documentary on the DVD about this process, and they mention there was actually a priest on set watching and critiquing on the entire production! What a weird history America has ...

Anyways, so the story moves along at a quick pace, the humor is subtle and brilliant, Marilyn Monroe proves she can act, Tom Ewell is perfect in his comedic timing, and it moves a lot faster than it's just under 2 hour run time. This is one of those intro-to-classic-film movies that you need to see if you're interested in giving older movies a chance.

Rating: 34/40

xXx: State of the Union
(2005)

I never realized what a good actor Vin Diesel was
Line - Witty Retort; Action - Witty Retort; Tough question - tougher answer with wit; Whoops, good acting by Samuel L Jackson for a second; Ice Cube - Close up, tough guy stare and one-liner; explosion, guns, stunts, boats, "grand theft choppers", girls, surprising villain (not too surprising); anti-hero makes tough guys seem like pansy boys - witty retort

I got a copy of the script and just wanted to share a little bit with y'all. This movie's got all of the above, and gadgets! I'm trying to think of a situation where this would be worth watching ... and all I can come up with is if you're the curious type who's going to watch it anyways. One thing I will say, at around 39 minutes in, pop-violinists in a major motion picture never looked so good!

Rating: 12/40 (just because it delivers on the very few promises it makes)

Yellow Hair and the Pecos Kid
(1984)

What a Nice Surprise!
There are some reviews on this site that give Yellow Hair one star. That's uncalled for as this is not a bad movie. It's no Seven Samurai, but let's be honest with our expectations on a movie called 'Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold'. This movie doesn't deliver Oscars, but it does deliver a funny script with plenty of gun-play and Spaghetti Western caricatures of good and bad guys (or gals!).

It promotes itself as a 'Lost Ark' style adventure movie, and that is more than a little misleading, as this could have just as easily been a Corbucci or Tessari film. I would let that go, however, and just enjoy a goofy throwback with a high entertainment value.

Rating: 26/40

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