LeonLouisRicci

IMDb member since April 2012
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Reviews

The Circle
(2017)

Shallow, Empty, Pandering and Platitudes...Badly Executed "Fear of the Internet" Film
What is it with "Fear of the Internet" Films? Most of them are "God-Awful" suffering from Shallow Concepts, Uninspiring Followups and Resolutions, Bad-Writing, Bad-Acting, and even the Big-Budget Movies take the Concept and Fail Miserably.

"The Circle" has a Big Budget Background and is a New, Barely Released, DOA Movie that went Straight to Streaming because once it was Finished, the Filmmakers and the Test Audiences knew it was a "Stinker".

Dull, Flat, and Poorly Executed at almost Every Level. It Takes a Huge, World Wide Phenomenon (the current and developing technology), and Fantasizes about a Tech Driven "Global Community" with Pretensions of a Utopian Existence with its "Citizens/Members" Blissfully Living and Behaving with a Spirited Collective Free from "Bad Things" Happening.

At the First Indication of a Test Model Things Immediately Turn Ugly. Act One and Two that got Us to This Point were Snoozers and the Ultimate Reveal and Climax is Less than an Alarm Bell and Barely a Wake-Up Call. It's Empty Blathering and Pandering to Post-Modern Concepts that are given very Little Thought, or Drama for that Matter.

No Viewer of this Misfire will be Trolled for Napping because the Makers of This Thing were Asleep at the Wheel as well.

John Wick: Chapter 2
(2017)

Kung-Fu...John Woo...First Person Shooters...The Evolution to John Wick
Slick Post-Modern Movie that owes a Great Deal to Films and Video Games of the Pre-Modern Era. Kung-Fu, John Woo, and the First Wave of First Person Shooter Games.

That's the Foundation that has been Meticulously Manipulated with Vows to In Camera Realism, Hand to Hand Fights that can Actually be Witnessed On Screen Without the Aid of CGI, Shaking Camera, and Quick Cut Editing.

The Numerous Set-Pieces are given Art Full Attention to Detail and Dressed with a Slightly Surreal Appeal. The Action is Virtually Non-Stop and the Pace is Over the Top. A Few Times Suspension of Disbelief can Suffer from Situations that Venture into Cartoon Land, but Thankfully Not for Long and it is Infrequent.

John Wick's Car and Dog are given some Grounding Screen Time to Carry On the Tradition of "John Wick", Chapter One (2014).

It's More of the Same, but More Dark and Beautifully Shot. All Three Acts have their Own Arena where an Awful Amount of Carnage is Choreographed with its Ballet of Bullets and Mayhem.

Overall, this Repetitive Other Worldly World of Assassins of the New World Order are In Play and Play by "Rules" is Displayed for Adrenalin Junkies, Addicted Video Gamers, and Anyone who Enjoys a Wild Ride at the Cinema.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
(2017)

Icky Dark Humor & Loud, Long CGI Action Sprawl Separate this from the Original
All and Any of the Sophistication of the First "Kingsman" is Abandon for Icky Dark Comedy and a Sprawl of Action Sequences that can leave You Breathless, Exhausted, and it becomes a bit Tiresome unless Your Anticipatory Attraction to Video Game Visuals is what You Desire and Expect.

This Long and Entertaining Movie has its Ups and Downs, Ins and Outs, and can cause a Cringe from Prudish Types. But what are Prudish Types doing Watching this Matthew Vaughn Vile, Violent, Satire anyway.

Bang for the Buck is Rewarded with a Colorful CGI Template and even the Non CGI Scenes are Staged and Photographed with a Stylish Artsy Sheen.

The "British" Anal and Gay Fetish is on Full Display (Elton John, etc.) and can cause One to Welcome a Trip "Stateside" for "American Fetishes" that Range from Cowboys to Baseball to "Fox News".

The A-List Cast are here for Fun and a Huge Paycheck (the Movie really does look expensive) with None Embarrassing Themselves and Contributors like Julian Moore and Colin Firth, maintaining Their Screen Presence among the Ridiculous Roundup of Everything and Anything in Pop Culture and Politics Available to Poke Fun.

Fans of the Original might be Disappointed that this one is Nowhere Near as Cerebral in its "Spy Movie" Spot On Homage. It is Ramped almost like the Defined Differences of Sean Connery's "From Russia with Love" (1963) and Roger Moore's "Moonraker" (1979)

Café Society
(2016)

Woody Hanging On...But Mediocrity Doesn't Deserve a Place in the Allen Filmography
It's a Sad Thing, Growing Old, even when it is Relatively Painless. Our Heroes, or People We Greatly Admire Grow Old in a Spotlight. Fat Elvis, Mickey Mantle bringing His Lifetime Batting Average Below 300 because He Played so Ineffectually a couple of Seasons too long, just to Illustrate.

Woody Allen hasn't quite reached the Embarrassing Stage of Old Age, but the Signs are Signaling. Example, His usually Snappy, but Droll Narration is Audibly Atrophied. He just Sounds Old and Power Drained.

Also, the Recycling of Plot and People from Previous Works are Intruding Frequently in His Late Year Mediocrities. Allen may not be Obese like Elvis, and His Batting Average is Still Better than His Peers, but Life Expectancies Expect their Due. Here's Hope that Woody has the Wit and Inclination to Know when to give Us His Swan Song and Retire with Dignified Reluctance.

Woody Allen probably has at least One or Two Tricks remaining to work His Magic and Entertain His Legion of Admirers and Confound His Many Critics. Even Mickey Mantle Hit a Few Home Runs in those Subpar Seasons just before Hanging Up His Spikes.

Swing for the Fences Woody so We can Watch that Home Run Trot once more.

This isn't a Bad Film, its just too Mediocre for a Genius Superstar.

Wormwood
(2017)

Mesermizing and Meticulous Documentary/Drama...Compelling, Informative, & Thrilling
The Macro Story of the CIA's Covert, Illegal, and Unethical MK-Ultra Program Unveiled in the 1970's is now in the Public Domain and has been Fodder for Historians and Conspiracy Theorist since its Embarrassing Entry in the Conscience of the American Psyche.

The Micro Story is of Eric Olsen's Quest to find out what Happened to His Father, Frank Olsen, a Government Scientist who was Found Dead on the Sidewalks of New York after Plunging 13 Stories from His Hotel Window is Meticulously Metered Out in this Errol Morris Documentary/Drama.

The Macro and the Micro are Combined for this Netflix Mini-Series that runs 4 hours from 6 Episodes. Those Searching for the Modernist Instant Gratification Fix might find this Format a bit Too Much.

But the Dazzled Presentation of Cut and Paste Collage cannot be Denied its Power and Entertainment Gravitas. The Real Footage of Politicians and Journalists puts the Viewer in the Time and Place, and the Dramatic Recreations of the Unknown "Real Happenings" of the Story are Compelling.

This "Collage" Creation of the Visuals, using Actual Print and Video is Mesmerizing and Informative. Overwhelming, but Magnetic it is a Ride of Historical Musings on a Headline Grabbing Uncovering of Government Hubris and a Personal Lifelong Lamenting from a Son's Dedication to the Truth Stemming from the Love of a Father who got Swallowed Up in the Paranoia of the Cold War.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
(2017)

Fizzy Fun Full of Cool Color, Calamity, and Camraderie...Jokes & Jingles of Pop Songs
An Abundance of Overload with Fizzy Candy Colored Oversaturation on Every Level that the Eye can See and the Ear can Hear.

The Main Characters Whiz in an out of and in front of the Mammoth CGI Presentations of Planets and People from Space. Galactic Goo Drips from Every Frame and is Punctuated with Jokes and "Jingles" from the Preponderance of Pop Songs.

The Hyper Style is Ramped Up from the Original with a More is Better Philosophy but Still Maintaining its Niche of Time/Space that is Anchored by Cassette Tapes, Walkmans, and Kurt Russell.

The Story is as Rich as the Color Palette with a "Family" Thread holding the Narrative into Place when at times it seems like it might Come Loose and Fray from the Utter Domination of Background Details that are Overwhelming to say the least.

"Baby Groot", as Anticipated, has enough Screen Time and Attention to Please, and Stay through the Credits to See What's Next for the "One Line" Treester Phenom.

Overall, it's one of those "If You Liked the First One" questions with Expectations of More and that Definitely means More of the Same, it's a Treat. Because the More of the Same Dial is Not Set at 11, it's Set at "Infinity".

Atomic Blonde
(2017)

Hybrid Neon-Noir Spy Thriller Burns with Style & Comic-Book Sensibilities
This is Cinema of the "Ultra". A Neon-Noir "Spy Action/Thriller" with a Snappy Style and a Look to Kill for. It Falls both Inside and Out of the Traditional Spy Genre Trope with Hints and Shadows of John Le Clarrie, James Bond, and Jason Bourne.

It's some of All of those but also its Own. Complex like Le Clarrie, Cool like Bond, and Hyper-Kinetic like Bourne.

The Source Material is from a British Graphic Novel (a fancy comic-book for those uninformed cave-dwellers). Starring Charlize Theron as the Titular Character with James Mcavoy and John Goodman.

Given that this comes from Art as much as Prose, it is Forgivable that this Super-Sexy-Spy Struts around in Platinum Blonde Hair Wearing High-Fashion, High-Heels, and Garter-Belts while She Belts Bad Guys to a 1980's Synth-Pop Soundtrack and Scenes are Bathed in Flash and Fancy Vibrant Neon Colors.

This is more Removed from Reality than its Aforementioned in the Spy Genre. Although it does Strain to have a Complex Plot with Double and Triple Agents Fighting the Cold War in Close Proximity to the Berlin Wall, Pre and Post Collapse.

Overall, it's a Hoot and Multiple Viewings are in order to keep things in order, because the Movie's Template is so Overwhelming Cool that Paying Attention to Motivation and Intent is Secondary and Style Overtakes the Substance at First Glance.

Star Trek: Generations
(1994)

A Transitioinal Star Trek Film...From the Original to the Next
The "Star Trek" Franchise did Not have to Fuse the Original and the "Next Generation" On the Big Screen in the First Film from the New TV Series...but THEY DID!

So Fans of both Incarnations of the Never Ending Saga of Gene Roddenberry's Creation Waited to See, and the Nervous, Anxious, and Nerdy Fans were Ultimately Mixed....from Disappointment to outright Rage (hardly surprising).

Objectively and Viewed Outside the Trek "Bubble", it's Not a Bad Movie but Far from Great. There are Highlights that Entertain. Kirk and Picard's On Screen Meeting, Data's Emotion Chip, the Klingon Confrontation, and some Outstanding SFX.

The Film is Extremely Corny in Spots and as a Whole it doesn't Mesh very Well, but Overall it is Certainly Worth a Watch for Hardcore Fans (in fact a must see considering the series transition) and Casual Observers can have some Fun with the Iconic Display.

There would be Better "STNG" Films to come and there were Better "Star Trek" Movies before.

It could Never Capture the Old Crew without the Presence of Spock, Bones, and Sulu and given what was here to Work With, it can be Considered Worthy.

This was a Challenging Ploy that Didn't quite Come Together and could be Termed a "Misfire", and it is, but the Tricky Trek Transfer from One Generation to the Next is at Least Done with a Modicum of Honor and Respect.

Rosemary's Baby
(1968)

Started Occult Trend of the 1970's...Relentless Slow-Burn Supernatural Thriller
Hollywood would have None of that "Devil" Worship or "Heil Satan" Stuff in the Hays-Code Era. It was a Taboo. But by 1968 Attrition had set in and the Zeitgeist of the "New" Hollywood was Slowly Eroding the Previously "Forbidden" Restrictions of the "Watchdogs of Morality" Censorship Board and All "Hell" was Breaking Loose.

Roman Polanski's First American Movie can be Credited for Starting the Wave of Occult Films that would become Full Blown with "The Exorcist" (1973) and "The Omen" (1976) and its Ilk.

It was a Huge Hit with the Public and Critics. More of a Psychological Thriller with a Supernatural Theme than a Pure "Horror" Movie, the Tension and Creepy Atmosphere of the Characters and the Surroundings Unleashed a Relentlessly Suspenseful Picture Anchored by Mia Farrow's Endearing and Sympathetic Performance.

The rest of the Cast, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and others all made this a Believable Unbelievable Story of Modern Witchcraft in New York City. Its Captivating Milieu of a Woman Caught Between Liberation and Tradition both Socially and Spiritually.

The Script, by Polanski, from a Best Seller by Ira Levin Teases with Taut Complications and Black Humor. There are Shades of Hitchcock and Val Lewton with Scenes of Hidden Meanings and Messages Lurking Everywhere.

Overall, Moderns seem to have Trouble Considering this More than just a Bore, but its Slow Burn Sears the Senses and Captivates with its Considerable Suffering of Rosemary and the Forces of Evil around Her.

In the End She is Stronger than She Seems and Motherly Love Notwithstanding stands Alone in Her Convictions and the Strength and Wherewithal it took to Survive the Ordeal was Considerable. Her Liberation has Crossed the Previous Boundaries of a World that may have the Answer to the Question..."Is God Dead".

Chinatown
(1974)

A Synthesis of Cinematic Class...A Film Firing on All Cylinders
As Perfect as a Motion Picture can be, "Chinatown" is considered a Masterpiece in "Critics" Circles and Public Opinion Decidedly Doesn't Differ much.

It's one of those Films where all the Ingredients that make up a Movie Synthesize in a Symmetric Conglomerate of Cinematic Class.

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards (winning only 1, Best Original Screenplay) the Movie was a Bono-Fide Hit with Critics but the Public took a while to Warm Up to its Charms. The Final Box-Office Toll for the Year...it came in 15th.

However, since then it is Fondled Over by Fans and Film Historians as an Object of Affection. Movie Making at its Best. A Flawless Film that is Firing on All Cylinders. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston and a Great Supporting Cast Deliver the Robert Towne Script Effortlessly.

Bathed in a Sun-Baked Glow of Burnt Brown and Yellow with Highlights of Bright Red/Orange, the Cinematography of John Alonzo was an Attractive Anomaly for its Time.

Most Films of the Era were Shot in Stark, Gritty, Realism in Sync with a Postmodern Template and Hays-Code Busted, Unfettered, No Frills Format.

Alonzo's "Chinatown" is Dreamy as it Lights the "Nightmarish" Underbelly of Evil Displayed by the "Money Men" and Forgers that gave Birth to Los Angeles. It's Pulpish Tonality adds a Lush Layer to the Lured.

Jerry Goldsmith's Haunting Score is also Memorable in its Minimalism of Horn and Single Note Piano. Goldsmith was brought in at the Last Minute and Composed the Music in 9 Days.

Director Roman Polanski Considers this His Second Best Film after "The Pianist" (2002). Most Agree that the Maestro of "Chinatown" was Surely on Top of His Game with this Homage to Film-Noir where He took Chances with Conventions, Filming in Glorious Color, No Voice Over Narration, and Wide Screen for Example.

The Film has many Fascinations and Stands Up to Repeated Viewings. It's a Feast of Film-Making Techniques that, in fact, may Require Repeated Viewing to Fully Appreciate.

The Infiltrator
(2016)

Awkward Expositions Collide - Suspenseful Story Anchored by Cranston's Angst
A Great Cast does some Fine Acting that Drives this Fractured Movie. It is Split into a Schizophrenic Story that Struggles to Balance the Two Competing Milieus.

The Emphasis Switches, not so Seamlessly, from Corrupt Shiny Bankers to Psychopathic Drug Cartels. There is Evil being done with Paperwork and Wetwork and as the Film Unfolds these Things Blur, Disorient, and make the Viewing Experience Less than the Entertainment is should be.

However, taking Each Element on its own, both sides of the Issue, ("The Sting"), are Engrossing Enough to Withstand the Ping-Ponging of the Story-Line.

It's Bryan Cranston's Picture Portraying "Real Life" Undercover Agent Robert Mazzulo and Cranston's Angst Anchors the Movie as the Deceits and Deceptions Determine the Outcome of each Phase of the Case.

It's a Good Looking Film with a Soundtrack that doesn't quite Nail the Songs of the Era but it's Not Too Distracting, because the rest of the Production Design is Snappy with its 1980's Template.

The Banker/Gangster Expositions Collide now and then with Tonal Shifts and are Awkward, but Overall the Movie is Worth a Watch for some Good Acting and a Supply of Suspense.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
(1974)

70's Era Fan Favorite Crime Movie - Suspense, Cynical Humor & Un-PC Characters
Very Popular, but Overrated, Crime/Heist Movie Forged out of that 1970's Grit and Post Modern Template of "Tell It Like It Is" and "Foul Mouthed" Neo-Realism. There's Nothing Fancy here. It is Bare Boned, Character Driven, and Captures by Contrast those "On the Streets" and those "Underground".

It's got a Heavy Hand, especially when it comes to Loud Mouthed Ridicules of People and Places. The New York City "Style" seems to have Captured Most Viewers and Viewed Today some of the Un-PC Stuff can be "Refreshing".

The Film has a Cult Following, among those Director Quentin Tarantino (a 1970's Fetishist), and Objectively it is Typical of its Era and there are quite a Number of Films from the Time that are just as Good and some that are Much Better.

But Given its Due as a Good Combination of Suspense and Humor it all Works quite Magnificently and Grips from the Get-Go.

Never Letting Up, and if You can Forgive the Hyperbolic, Unlikable Characters (Mayor, Cops, and Transit Authorities) who all seem to be Straining to Stand Out among the many Stereotypical New Yorkers Populating the Frame, it can be an Exciting and Entertaining Movie.

Went the Day Well?
(1942)

War Time Rallying Cry...Low-Budget Masterpiece of Prideful Propaganda
What if the Nazi's Executed a Surprise Land Invasion and what would happen in a Small Sleepy Village? What would be the Result and Impact on the Unprepared Citizens, especially Women and Children.

It was a Nightmare Scenario put forth in this Wartime Thriller and the Film Pulls Few Punches in its Portrayal of the Events that were Not Far from the Minds and Concerns of the British Population.

The Bleak and Brutal Occupation from the Germans sets in Motion an All Out and Rousing Retaliation from the "Good Folks" of the Village on the "Evil Invaders" and with Not a Second Thought the Civilians Take Up Arms against the "Godless" Foe. Utilizing Everything from Captured Machine Guns to Garden Tools.

Women and Children Battle on the Front Lines and are Injured and Killed in the "Line of Duty". Using Their Wits and Determination, it's a Fight to the Finish and what Ensues On Screen was Not for the Faint of Heart in 1942 or any Year for that Matter.

The Violence Shown in this Low-Budget Propaganda Piece is Visceral and there are Scenes of Up Close Carnage Never Before Seen in British Cinema.

There is a Final Battle Siege that is a Wow with Adrenalin Inducing Action, Music/Sound, and Mayhem. Overall it is an Extremely Effective Evocation of Patriotism and Pride and as a Movie it can Stand Up to most War Films of its Era.

Wanted
(2008)

Gluttanous Eye Candy with No Sustenance...Entertaining to a Point
Lacking the Wit of "Hardcore Henry" (2015) or the Grounding Sophistication of "The Matrix" (1999), this Over the Top of Over the Top Exercise in Expressionistic Extremism is Entertaining to a Point.

But the Breaking Point is Reached Quickly as the Brain Turns to Mush and the Stomach Wretches at the Obnoxious Portrayals of the Characters that go through all the Motion. Slow Motion, Ultra Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Sideways and Upside Down Motion, and Over Emoted Emotion.

James McAvoy Screams, Sweats, Shouts, Yells, and is in Hyper-Mode along with the Visuals from the Get-Go and there is No Contrast. He is as Manic as the Tone of this "Graphic Novel" (Mark Millar, James Jones) Come to Life.

There is a Good Cast On Board this Violent Splatter-Fest, but Bored You may be about Mid-Way, but None of the Name Actors can Compete with the Cinematography and CGI Trickery. They and the Audience are Overwhelmed at the Overt Brutality and High-Contrast, High-Def Images.

There is an Audience for this Type of Thing, but there are Degrees, and Each Film that Takes on this Template of Video-Game Visceral is Ultimately Judged by the Overall Feeling and Substance of what Lurks Beneath the Slight of Hand Distraction from the Story and Characters that will Remain After and are the After Effects of the Viewing.

This is one You will Feel while Watching but Not a Whole Lot of it will Resonate. Especially the Ludicrous and Incomprehensible Meaning of it All. Shallow but Sensational, the Movie is, when all's Said and Done, Witless but Willing to Offer a Bang for the Buck.

Most Folks will Probably Get Their Money's Worth of Eye Candy, but those Seeking something besides Sweet Sustenance need Look Elsewhere.

Aliens on the Moon: The Truth Exposed
(2014)

The NASA Air-Brush, Buzz Aldren's Hubris, & "The Brookings Report"
Not One Reviewer, as of this Date, Posted a Remark about...

(1) The NASA "Air-Brush" Brigade. This Assault on the Truth has been Reported by NASA Employees for Decades who have either Taken Part in the "Cover-Up" or have Witnessed the Before and After Photographs First Hand. Why would NASA do this? Just for Fun?

(2) Buzz Aldrin REFUSING to even LOOK at a Photograph. This Reminds of the Catholic Church REFUSING to LOOK through Galileo's Telescope.

(3) The Famous "Brooking's Report" Think Tank Warns...(paraphrasing)"If Proof of Extraterrestrial Existence is Discovered, Keep it from the Public".

If Nothing Else, this Far from Smoking Gun Proof Documentary, Exposes those bits of FACT about what goes on in the UFO Research Community and Why it is Difficult at Best and Impossible at Worst to Approach the Subject with a Clear Head.

There is so much Resistance, Cover-Ups, Misdirection, Misinformation, Disinformation, and Ballyhoo that has to make one Wonder just what is the Agenda Motivating all of the Smokescreens.

Skeptics and Trolls are Quick to Ridicule and Poke Fun at the Researchers but give the "Authorities" a Pass at any and all Chicanery. NASA, for example and the "Government" are Taxpayer Funded and Answerable to the Citizens and Their Duty is to the Public.

Maybe the Infamous "Brookings Report" (sighted, by the way, in this film) was Correct, or at Least those in Charge to this Day Believe it to be Correct and We are all being Pampered and Corralled into the "Party Line". Move On Sheeple, Nothing to See Here, We have this Under Control for Your Own Good. We are "Definitely Looking Out for You."

The Train
(1964)

Unique WWII Film from John Frankenheimer and a "Star" Locomotive
"Cinema Verite"...is a Phrase used when a Dramatic Film is Shot so Real as to be "Documentary Like" in Tone and Appearance. It's Drama Mimicking Real Life.

There is "Verisimilitude"...The quality of appearing to be true or real.

Both can be Applied to this John Frankenheimer Movie, Starring Burt Lancaster. "Train Magazine" Lists it as the #1 Movie about "Trains.

It is a Universally Praised, if Relatively Unknown, WWII Film that is a Wide Open, but Curiously Confined Thriller. The Focus hardly ever Leaves the Train Tracks whether the Bulky, Black, Behemoth is in Motion or Docked and Pampered Upon.

There's more Suspense than Action but Both are Utilized in this "Fictional" Tale based on True Events. The Nazi's Pillaging of France's Foremost Frames of Art by France's Foremost Artists. The Occupiers are Determined to take the "Decadent" Pictures Home Despite Their Disdain.

It seems the Nazi in Charge has a Secret Lust for the Work and is not about to let the "Apes" Possess what They Cannot Appreciate.

Lancaster, on the other hand, Cares Not about the Paintings and is Motivated by the Murderers of His Fellow Yard Workers and Now will Stop at Nothing to Thwart the Germans from accomplishing Their Thievery.

Precious and Valuable "Art" vs Precious Human Lives is a Philosophical Conundrum and a Muse throughout this Gripping and Riveting Film. However it is the "Train" that becomes the "Star" of the Movie.

Frankenheimer Stages Real Locomotive Train Wrecks and Aerial Bombings and the Results are Nothing Short of Spectacular. The Film is Relentless the way it Photographs the Oily and Gritty Machine and French Resistance Workers Assigned to Operate and Maintain the Mechanics of the Proud and Determined "Iron Horse".

The Trains Wheezes, Squeals, and Chugs that says as much in the Movie as its Human Counterparts. It all becomes a Unique and Uncanny War Film and there is Nothing quite Like it.

Rogue One
(2016)

"Rebellions are Built on Hope"......and Sacrifice
This is a "War" Story...A Star "Wars" Story.

Its Template is of Rag Tag and Grit. Dirty, Disheveled, and Dour, the Movie Feels like the Only Thing going for the "Rebels" is Hope. This Supposedly "Stand Alone" Film does No Such Thing.

It is Directly Tied into the Beginning of the Whole Darn Franchise. This is a Prequel and it Presupposes what Happened in the Immediate Past just before "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" Premiered On Screens in 1977.

The Synopsis of the Film is that Opening Crawl of the George Lucas' Game Changer.

This Film is Dark, Violent, and Desperate. There are many Highlights and a Lot of it is Shot in Low Light. Although Filmed Digitally it takes Great Pains to Shoot Practical when it is Practical to do so.

There are Grand Battle Sequences and at the Center of the Story is the Plans for the "Death Star". There are Cameos from Familiar Characters and much of the Hardware of the Original is at hand for Suspense and Sprawling Sequences of Mayhem.

Some Complain that the New Characters are Lacking, but this is a Group Story. Names of the Rebels become Elusive as does the Places and Planets, because in the End this is about One Thing and One Thing Only...Hope...for the Survival of the Rebellion and the Elimination of an Awesome Weapon of Mass Destruction and the Sacrifice it took to Get the Job Done.

Overall, it is not as Kid Friendly or as much Family Fun as "The Force Awakens" (2015). This is Serious. It is Great "Star Wars" Stuff and a Significant Entry in the Franchise.

Catch-22
(1970)

Solid & Entertaining Film from the Insanely Popular & Beloved Novel
This is a Review of the Film. Not the Novel, whose Numbers are by Book Standards Stratospheric (still sells thousands of copies every year).

The Source Material may be Sacrosanct to those who have Read the Vietnam Era, Counterculture Icon and Love to Belittle its Cinematic Representation for Not Including......Fill in the Blank and Consider the Movie Not Worth Considering are in the Wrong Space. This is IMDb...Key Letter "M" (Movie).

But Any Movie that takes on as its Source a Novel that so many People Find Endearing and a Significant Part of Their Maturation Process or at Least a Significant Part of Their Literary Litany, is Asking for it.

It Doesn't Matter who is Directing, Writing, or Starring in the Film. It Doesn't Matter how Much Money is Spent on the Production. You Don't Mess with a Person's "Favorite" Book. It's Insane that Anyone would even Try (second time director Mike Nichols).

The Insanity of War is what this Satire is Offering. The Film is Beautifully Shot, well Scripted (Buck Henry), and is Overall Funny, Depressing, and Well Made. The Movie is Long and makes it Message Meaningful if Elongated.

Sputtering a bit by the End, the Heavy Handed Need for the Hammering Home of what Amounts to the "Horror" of War and the Military Industrial Complex it could be Said that it Cannot be Overstated.

So it's a Deep and Disgusting thing to Contemplate, considering the Suffering. It's one of those Dilemmas. Laugh or Cry. Can You do Both at the Same Time? If that's Possible, this Movie does what it does just Fine and You Should See it.

See the Movie.....Read the Book...Entertainment to be had from Both.

Snowden
(2016)

"Every Breath You Take...I'll Be Watching You!"
"Snowden" is Director Oliver Stone utilizing a Restrained, Laid Back, Contemplative Template, that is Against-Type. Known for His Hyperbolic, In Your Face, Frenetic Visuals and Extreme Editing Techniques, Stone chooses a more Cerebral Approach to the Whistle-Blower and His Outing of the NSA Meta-Data-Surveillance.

Edward Snowden Uncoveres the beginning of a "Dragnet on the whole world."

The Film is Anchored by Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Smooth and In-Skin Performance while Surrounded by Responsibilities that are so Severe His Epilepsy Emerges as He is on a Trajectory that can't be Stopped.

The Enormity of the Consequences of both Edward Snowden and the Governmental Agencies "Spying" on "Everyone" is what is at Stake in this "Real-Life" Story that Modernity has Yet to get a Handle.

Snowden's Story is Now Well Known and the Director goes Deep in the Psyche of "Snowden" and His Personal Life as it Relates to the Stresses and Consequences of His Job as a Government Contractor, CIA and NSA Analyst.

The Movie can be real Creepy at times, especially when He is with His Mentor Corbin (Rhys Ifans). It is a Suspenseful Film despite the Foregone Knowledge of Events.

Oliver Stone, although He is in Unobtrusive Mode, makes much use of Camera Angles and Techniques that are Subtle but Impressive throughout the Film.

It's Visceral Effect is Nowhere Near the Director's other well known Films and probably would have been Ill Advised Anyway. As it Stands it is a Compelling, Cohesive (despite the tech stuff) and Completely Satisfying, considering the Scope of the Subject and the United States Government/Citizens Implications of the Still Ongoing and Very Real Daily Headlines.

Hell to Eternity
(1960)

Over-Long & Clunky in Spots but Overall a Compelling Neo-Realistic War Film
As if on cue, when the New Decade and the Year 1960 Clicked Over, Hollywood Suddenly, almost Subconsciously started to Defy the "Hays Code". "Hell to Eternity" was Not an Ordinary "War" Movie. The Neo-Realistic Films started to Emerge in Genre after Genre.

In this Gritty Phil Karlson Film there are Sequences of Raw Sex and Ultra-Violence (squibs). Up Close and Personal Battle Scenes that were Visceral and "In Your Face". Even a bit of Off-Color Language can be Heard now and then.

Add to that, previously only Sam Fuller seemed to Showcase and Care about Minorities Involved in War-Time Settings. But here, the Director makes it the Center Point of the Film. Some Hedging and Changes were made to the "Real Life" Story of Guy Gabaldon (Jeffrey Hunter), but the Core Message Remains.

The Movie is too Long, with some Scenes Extended beyond Tolerable, mainly the Marines Drinking and Sexing, but there are others. The whole First Half of the Film is a Setup and Pre-War Family Bonding, that was Needed but it goes on Way too Long. There are other Small Missteps like No Subtitles in the Long Japanese General's Speech to His Men.

It's Not a Perfect or Great Film, but Overall, it is Karlson's Edgy Direction of a Story Worth Telling that makes this a Remarkable and Memorable Movie.

Part of its Reputation is because in 1960 it was an Anticipatory Style that Prefigured the Decade and Beyond and there just wasn't anything like it at the Time. It Stood Out and Got Noticed by Fans of War Movies and those with a Social Conscience.

Swamp Thing
(1982)

Craven's Charming Low-Budget Cult Movie with an Endearing "Swamp Thing"
There was a Time when Comic-Book Fans would Salivate at the Mere Mention of a Big-Screen (or small screen) Adaptation of Their Beloved Characters Leaving the Page and becoming Live-Action Movies.

Even Low-Budget Quickies were cause for Anticipation. The Rewards, however, were usually not that Rewarding. "Swamp Thing" came about in 1982 about 10 Years after the Popular "Cult" Comic from Len Wein and Berni Wrightson. Wrightson's Artistic Style was a Perfect Fit for the Swampy, Atmospheric, and Off-Beat Character and was an Instant Hit.

This Film Version does what it can and the Movie is Fun, Touching, Colorful, and Interesting. Despite the Limitations of Budget, Make-Up, and Technology this Curiosity is Worth a Watch.

Watched in Context and with a Gleam in the Eye, it can be Enjoyed for what it is. Director Wes Craven Thankfully Forgoes the Vile Violence of His Previous Drive-In/Grindhouse Movies "The Last House on the Left" (1972) and "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977) and shows His "Sensitive" Side.

The Movie probably couldn't have turned out much better, Considering the Restraints of the Production and the Time Period and as it Stands it is somewhat of a "Cult" Movie, just like the Comic.

Adrienne Barbeau Helps move the Movie to a Fan-Boy Favorite with Her Pin-Up Like Presence, but Her Performance is more than just Low-Cut and Wet T-Shirt Posing.

The Ending with the "Monsters" Fisticuffs is Weak, with Louis Jordan Turning into something Less than a "Thing" and more of a Halloween Costume. But that bit of Goofiness Fails to Bring the Movie Down from its Respectable B-Movie Status.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
(1965)

"James Bond" Unplugged...Gloomy, Moody, and Stone Cold Spy Thriller
John Le Carre (Novel), Martin Ritt (Director), Richard Burton (Star), and Oswald Morris (Cinematography) all Combine and Contribute to what Some Say is the Best Spy Movie Ever.

A Total Antecedent to the Immensely Popular James Bond Zeitgeist that was Exploding onto the Pop Culture Scene, this 1965 Film was a Reality and Gut Check to the Real Cold War Anxiety (the Cuban Missile Crisis) that Permeated Everyday Life.

Le Carre's Novel came Straight from "The Horse's Mouth" and the Author's Own Experience at MI-5, MI-6. Ritt was a No-Nonsense Director Prone to Realism and the Plight of "People" (Humanism) and was Blacklisted for Leaning Left, Burton was generally Considered one of the Best Actors of the Era, and Morris was Determined to give the Picture the Darkest, Bleakest, Stone Cold Look Imaginable.

All of these Artists Delivered an Espionage Film, a Neo-Noir with a New Subject, and to this Day it is the Standard and Measure for all Spy Movies.

A Good Supporting Cast, Claire Bloom, Oskar Wenner, and Cyril Cusack and others with a Fine Script by Paul Dehn, all Help make this a Completely Unique Experience, especially for its Time. In Fact, it is an Artistic Accumulation Across the Board and the Film is one of the Great Ones.

It's "James Bond" Unplugged and a Gritty, Against the Grain Entry in the Glut of Garish and Goofy Spy Stuff and Spoofs of Spy Stuff that were Everywhere in the Mid 1960's. It was Super Realistic and in Black and White. It was more Enlightening than Entertaining.

It Bombed at the Box Office.

Blood Father
(2016)

Great Casting & Well Done B-Movie - Moves at a Blistering, Blazing Pace
Great B-Movie Grind with Chiseled and Grizzled Characters, Ultra-Violence, Layered with Pathos, Humor, and Determined Grit.

Well Cast and Written Starring Mel Gibson in another Role as a Late-Life No-Nonsense Alpha-Male Forced into Setting Wrong-Doers Wright and Talk, Compromise, or Debate is Not the Language these Dastardly Folks Speak. Gibson's Jail-Bird knows how to "Communicate" with Them and it Ain't Verbiage, its Violence.

On the Wagon and On Parole, His Missing Daughter Shows Up and is in Deep Do-Do with the Dastardly's. Gibson's "John Link" must Now Resort to the "Skills that are a parole violation", even Riding a Motorcycle is Grounds for Incarceration.

Erin Moriarty is the 17 Year Old Lydia that Link must Protect. This Triggers a "Road Trip" to "Hell and Back" for the Father-Daughter "Buddies" and what a Ride it is.

It's an 88 Minute B-Movie that Clips along with Sharp Dialog and even Sharper Confrontations with a Neo-Nazi (Michael Parks), a former Mentor of Links, and a Drug Cartel Hot on the Lydia's Trail. The Movie Delivers what its Peddling and Then Some.

Overall, those who Go for this Type of Grindhouse Gruff it is a Winner. Mel Gibson's Fans can Appreciate the former Super-Star Slumming for some "Rehabilitation" Detox. For the Record, He hasn't Lost His Acting Chops and Screen Presence.

Raising Cain
(1992)

Complicated Personality Disorders & Brian DePalma Clash in Stylish B-Movie Fashion
Visual Stylist DePalma Unleashes another Psychological Thriller. Again, the Homages to Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) are presented Playfully with nods to Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom" (1960) and just because He Can, there are Parallels to His Previous Work.

Departing from what made Him a Famous (or infamous) Director in the 1970's, with Films like "Carrie" (1976) and others, for more Conventional Mainstream Movies, "The Untouchable" (1987), the always Interesting DePalma feels like He is having Fun with "Cain" but the Film's Complicated and Deep Subject Matters are Many but Not Manageable in a 90 Minute Genre Picture.

Combining John Lithgow's Multi-Personality Role in a Multi-Character Performance with DePalma's Over-the Top Flourishes that are always Fun to Watch, the Movie is a Beautiful Display of Clinical Considerations and B-Movie Madness.

The Film Divides Devotees of the Director and Confirms for His Haters that DePalma is forever Surrounded by Controversy and Highly Opinionated Pontificates. The Newly Released "Director's" Cut was put together Not by the Director (but blessed), and is a Different Attempt at Cohesion. The Plot, for some Discerning Folks, was Confusing and Awkward.

DePalma's Lurid Take on Edgy Entertainment with Abnormal Psychology is Not the Stuff of PhD's and High-Brow Dissertations, it is the Stuff of a Master Manipulator making B-Movie Fun for the Trailer-Park and Frat-Boy Film Lovers. They don't give a Hoot if it makes Sense, just that it is a Good Time Thrill and for most of the Director's Good Work, that is a Given.

Psycho
(1960)

Hitchcock's Most Famous & Profitable...Groundbreaker Prefigured the 1960's
This Film, Alfred Hitchcock's Highest Grossing and most Famous, has been Deconstructed to Death. It is virtually Impossible for Newbies to View it Without Familiarity and it is a Film that Screams for Unfamiliarity.

Gus Van Zandt did the Art of Film No Favors and should be Ashamed of His Shot for Shot Color Remake.

But even without that "Blasphemy", the Movie is so Ingrained in Pop Culture that its Twists and Denouements are as Comfortable as a Warm Bed after a Shower when Viewed Today. Not So in 1960.

Conventions, Expectations, and the Experience of Movie-going were Flipped with this Low-Budget, Low-Brow Movie from a High-Budget, High Brow Filmmaker. To List the Things that were Groundbreaking would Spoil the Effect for the Folks in America that are Unaware or have Not Seen it. All 3 of Them.

Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh Star. Bernard Hermann's Score also Stars and it is Unanimous among Critics, Fans, and Hitchcock Himself that it is an Integral Part of this Masterpiece from the "Master of Suspense".

It sent Sparks Flying to B-Movie makers and once the Code Broke Down all Hell Broke Lose with Mario Bava's "A Bay of Blood" (1971) Inventing the "Slasher" Sub-Genre.

Hitchcock Himself was Inspired to make the Movie because William Castle's "The House on Haunted Hill" (1959) made so much Money and He wanted to see what He could do in the Horror Genre with a Low-Budget. Nuff Said.

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