paradux

IMDb member since November 2013
    Lifetime Total
    75+
    IMDb Member
    7 years

Reviews

Small Town Crime
(2017)

Nelms Bros take on the Coen Bros -- the result is a foregone conclusion
The Coen Bros first hit BLOOD SIMPLE not only remains the best iteration of the modern Haute Noire but is also an easy target for newbies. Which is what this film is, another set of bros aim for the brass ring with a goofy, feisty and often unpredictable tale of a failed cop turned detective. It almost works. But 'almost' only counts in horseshoes. Hawkes' performance is worth the ticket however, painting a portrait of a loser who finally finds his niche. Unfortunately, the Nelms Boys are still looking for theirs.

The Foreigner
(2017)

Imagine Bruce Lee still doing martial arts movies ...
Or Elvis still doing Vegas, and you will have a glimmer of how special this movie is.

Well written and well directed, with a plot that starts off as implausible but grows on you, the magic is Jackie Chan at age 62 still doing his thing.

And he sells the part too. Not the usual funny stuff. In some scenes he was crying.

A treat of a film, holds the attention, crosses and double crosses.

Wish there were more like this.

Mayhem
(2017)

Brilliant timely and (clearly) unappreciated
Part social satire, part action film, part zombie end-of-the-world story, this wonderful little gem is technically perfect, well acted and scripted, and generally more fun than a barrel of hammers.

The fact that viewers don't seem to get it seems more a symptom of how conflicted our society has become than any actual fault in the film. A quarter century ago, Michael Douglas did FALLING DOWN (1993) which explored the same theme and audiences immediately connected. This is a better film and more relevant.

if you work for a large firm or simply are alive on the planet and wondering where society is headed. this is for you. Recommended.

OtherLife
(2017)

Brilliant yet overwritten
Otherlife is one of those rare "smart" sci fi films (films that rely more on story than SFX) that is actually too smart for its own good.

The story is not merely engaging, it is overwritten. Too many themes, arcs, loops for the viewer. Too much choice. The end result is that the viewer feels cheated in some way.

And then there is the cinematography. It is stunning and brilliant. Too brilliant. It distracts from the story.

The argument could perhaps be made that the story had so many loops and twists in it that there was no other way to tell it than the way the director presented it. But that is just an excuse for a film that leaves the viewer feeling lost.

The wild card is Jessica De Gouw. She has what Hollywood calls a "chimera" face. In some scenes she looks plain. In some she looks like Kate Beckinsale's prettier sister. The camera loves her and justifiably so.

Better Watch Out
(2016)

Squirrelly, the Word du Jour
While it is true that writer/director Chris Peckover may have just taken the teen horror niche into a new direction, it remains an open question whether this was a direction anyone really wanted to go in.

Even seasoned IMDb reviewers may find themselves using words to describe this film they have never used before. Take, for example, "squirrelly." This is a film which, intentionally or not, makes the viewer feel squirrelly. Not horrified or shocked or squeamish or even, unfortunately, entertained. Squirrelly. Which, in turn, makes this genre-busting exercise in unpredictability more of a one-hit wonder than the beginning of a trend.

Twenty year old Olivia deJong (playing younger) is incredibly photogenic. Try as she might to overcome that genetic attribute with actual acting, she fails to pull it off. Peckover knew this of course when he first cast her, and the extra time the camera spends doting on deJong is, trust me, no accident.

The real surprise is 16 year old Levi Miller who amazingly looks and acts like a young Robert Patrick (Terminator) -- which basically means that, long after this film is forgotten, Miller will still have a heck of a career ahead of him.

The Good Doctor
(2017)

the question no one dares ask
David Shore is widely acknowledged as the genius, the artiste, behind HOUSE, arguably one of the best TV shows of the last half-century. The good news is that Shore is back in the saddle with another medical show about another doctor with exceptional skills. The bad news is that this show, while it has its moments, does not quite tick on all cylinders.

So what happened? First, the production budget does not seem to be quite where it should be. Spotting deficiencies in a series is no less a skill than that deployed by the main character in Good Doctor. The giveaway is the character actors, the secondary roles. They don't quite come across as genuine, suggesting a production on a very tight budget with limited resources.

The second issue is tone. HOUSE was about a genius who was also an SOB. You always knew where House stood, so you the viewer could always know how to relate to him. This character is too complex for his own good. The flashbacks are way overdone, a sign that the writing is not doing a proper job. There is also an issue in that the mannerisms of someone suffering from autism do not engender empathy. The opposite. In fact, there has never been a successful show about a character like this. Which means (a prediction) that if this show is going to make it, the lead character is going to have to develop social skills at a pace never seen before in the annals of medicine.

Finally the question no one dared ask! How much did the skills of Hugh Laurie contribute to the success of HOUSE? The answer is that Laurie is one of the greatest actors in the biz and could have compensated for any shortcomings in Shore's scripts without missing a beat. Is Highmore on the same level? Don't think so.

To the Bone
(2017)

more than meets the eye
Writer director Noxon has spent a lot of career time working with Joss Whedon and it shows. It shows in moments of dialog which seem effortless and seem to pop out of the blue. Of course, these sorts of scenes are hard to write, even harder to deliver, and push the actors to the max. Which is precisely why the film is somewhat under-rated and unappreciated.

A strong lead is a MUST for these kinds of films and Rebekah Kennedy delivers a near perfect performance.

Alex Sharp is a find, sort of a young demented Paul McCartney.

Yes, the film is un-even. And because I want us to stay friends, I will not even mention the name of the actor who took on the role of the doctor and life coach.

More than meets the eye. Recommended.

Daredevil
(2015)

wow, they finally nailed it!
Put enough monkeys at enough typewriters and you ultimately get King Lear.

Iron Fist is not merely bad, it is terrible. It is a cautionary tale on how NOT to do a superhero.

Jones was great, I mean really great, when Ritter had a good villain to work against. With the villain gone, she is kind of naggy and bitchy.

Luke Cage had a great start and Coulter looks and acts the part, but the scripts are tedious to the point of a migraine. If I never hear the word "Mariah" again for the rest of my life, it still will not be enough compensation for its over-use in this series.

And then SURPRISE here comes Daredevil, possibly the best actioner in the history of TV (superhero genre) with PERFECT scripting, acting, direction, casting and action scenes.

Especially given the way Marvel messed up the film version I did think they were capable of this kind of quality.

Took me by surprise. I am binge watching.

Happy happy joy joy.

It
(2017)

Obscurity Here We Come
OMG. Well it is strange time in America politically socially geopolitically and psychologically. Even the weather is odd. So we expect movies to reflect that and nothing reflects that more than this god-awful gratuitous remake that somehow managed to lose all the good human bits of the TV movie and leave behind only the bitter husk.

Aside from taking bullying to a new low, you have to believe that not even Stephen King (no longer a literary icon in the Youtube age) would prefer that this film have never been made at all rather than have it as part of his legacy.

Recommendation: watch the original. Read The Stand. Watch The Stand. Go repaint the garage. Just avoid this.

It's Gawd!
(2017)

textbook throwback to the C films of the early 70s
By the early 70s, after the baby boomers were being absorbed into the consumer marketplace, indie film-makers tried to make their mark by renting whatever they equipment they needed and knocking off a full feature in an obscure location using actors who were mainly local waitresses and butchers. And a script written on the back of a napkin.

A few gems occasionally emerged from this approach -- Night of the Living Dead comes to mind.

This is clearly a "C" film done on the cheap, but it will never, ever, be remembered as a gem.

Props to the member who titled his review "What did I Just Watch?" -- that nailed it.

At the 9:00 mark, the "Gawd" character is dressing himself from a vandalized clothing donation bin and somehow (?) has photos of what God should look like. One of those photos is George Burns. That is the only thing thing this movie gets right.

Ride the Pink Horse
(1947)

watch the strange movie
I am a huge fan of Montgomery.

He starred in two of my all time favorite films, Here Comes Mr. Jordan and The Lady in the Lake (which he also directed).

Here he both stars and directs but unfortunately that is not enough. Films in border towns turned out to be the kiss of death for adventurous Hollywood producers. Even Charlton Heston tried one (actually playing a Mexican!) and it almost ruined his career.

Montgomery has personality, star power, and directing chops to spare. But again, just not enough. The film never gets moving and the faux Mexican overlay (here Wanda Hendrix puts on heavy makeup to play the Mexican love interest) strangles the film in its sleep.

An irony Philip Marlowe would appreciate.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
(2017)

Annunaki (God) Syndrome
Similar to the 1920s, as the real world gets crazier and crazier, people (especially young people) turn to fantasy for comfort.

Similar to Sitchin's Annunaki story, those with power (Marvel and DC) soon see themselves as Gods and as such start to act with reckless abandon.

Similar to what Zack Synder did to the DC library (Clark has no hesitation telling Lois his secret BUT LETS HIS DAD ACTUALLY DIE TO PROTECT THAT SAME SECRET) Marvel is playing God with their own library.

The first hour is so dead it could fit into a zombie story. The second hour has maybe two or three interesting moments, assuming you are OK with the idea that the father of the girl you are crushing on has sworn to kill everyone you love.

Overall, Marvel's TV division (SHIELD, LEGION) does better work.

Raimi's SPIDEY2 remains the king.

The simple fact that even the MSM critics missed this is disheartening.

Sleepover
(2004)

** object lesson in Hollywood no-nos and taboos **
The other reviewers have it covered except that no one is talking about the elephant in the room, namely how the casting broke a Hollywood taboo.

If you consider the backstory (to the film, not the script) this was part of the attempt to turn Alexa Vega into the next Selena Gomez, a project which, with hindsight, can be considered to have been less than successful.

Nonetheless, Vega's work in this film was harder than it had to be, because the producers did something you are never, ever, supposed to do. They cast the role as "second banana" with someone prettier, older, and generally more likely to steal scenes from Vega.

Don't believe me? Wind the film back to scene one and watch how Mika Boorem steals shot after shot after shot.

Should teach this in film class.

Critical
(2015)

chalk and cheese do not mix
Boy this must have looked good in the concept stage.

We'll do the most graphic medical drama in history, said one exec to the other, and we will overlay classic dramatic arcs to keep it moving along.

Well, the first bit worked. This is the most graphic show of its kind. It is even more graphic than many medical documentaries.

The second bit did not work. Never underestimate the viewer. By the third episode the viewer has figured out 3 key things about this series:

1. No matter how straightforward the procedure, no matter how skilled the staff, something will go wrong at the 30 min mark and stretch it to a one hour operation.

2. Overlaying life and death surgery with maudlin and peevish character arcs does not work.

3. Overall, I would rather work in my garden.

Which is why even with James (who is always great) this imploded after one season.

Beauty and the Beast
(2012)

Props to the creators and producers
Don't give a fig about the haters.

Props to the producers and creators. You can almost see the recipe take shape.

Start with one of the most beautiful women in the world. Oops -- see the hook? A beauty. What famous plot arcs have a beauty in them? How about the original French fable of Beauty and the Beast?

Sure its been done a zillion times, but this time we will do it in Canada which (as any student of film knows) makes it instantly lucrative because of the exchange rate ....?

There were a thousand ways they could have screwed this up. In fact, you can see in the first few episodes of S01 they they actually tried to make a cop show out of it. And they decided to give the writers a carte blanche to play up the chemistry between Kreuk and Ryan, and boy is there chemistry.

You can say the show is manipulative and over-written but so is every soap opera ever done, and this entire series is one long romantic soap opera that (shades of Buffy!) has some violence thrown in here and there.

It works. And it works well.

Wynonna Earp
(2016)

Canada's revenge
Other reviewers have this point but it is worth repeating.

Because of the cheap Loonie, the Canadian industry has turned in a bountiful source of "produce" for many cable channels looking to fill slots they can sell ads into.

This bargain basement product is so desirable that buyers will lower their standards to snag it. By that I mean, weaker acting, writing, casting, locals, SFX, the whole 9 yards.

This horrible show is a textbook example of a major channel lowering standards to get a product that everyone makes money on.

Worst of the worst from the Canuck film factory.

Alien: Covenant
(2017)

if this is the future of mankind, we are doomed
Start with the good news.

Scott is probably the best producer of space travel sets, backdrops, gadgets and paraphernalia. I cannot think of any other producer/director who comes close.

The bad news? Scott appears to have forgotten everything he ever knew about story-telling and dramatic arcs. Worse, he seems to have ignored all the reviews of Prometheus -- all 10,000 of them -- and become even more determined to make these kinds of films. Whether anyone wants to see them or not.

There is not one empathetic character in this story, not one. By the 45 minute mark you will find yourself wishing that the cast and even the production crew all die a horrible death.

Transformers
(2007)

short retrospective review 10 years later
When this little gem first came out, everyone thought it was a pretty cool little flick. But that's about all.

With the benefit of 10 years of hindsight, and keeping in the mind that every successive installment has become progressively worse, we now see this as the pinnacle, the high point, of the franchise.

Laboeuf and Fox actually had chemistry. In fact, Fox's career more or less imploded with Jennifer's Body, so in many ways this may be the only work she will leave to the historical record.

(Also don't forget Fox's famous scene at the 25:00 mark where she opens the hood of Bumblebee to check out the engine. It has now become iconic. All around the world, millions of young people watching this scene instantly were able to resolve the issue of what their true sexual preference was, no further doubt remained.)

It was even nominated for 3 Oscars. Seriously. Kid you not.

Oh, God! Book II
(1980)

I did not want to write this review.
If you are looking for "miracles," look no further than the fact that Hollywood managed to turn a superb, one-of-a-kind, hit film OH GOD into a 3-picture franchise before it sagged to the ground under its own weight and melted.

OH GOD (the original) is one of my favorite all time films.

It is a treasure. Not so this sequel.

OH GOD was poetry in motion. Not only a perfect script but possibly the best performances ever from George Burns, Teri Garr and John Denver. Never a dull moment, never a bad scene, never a line of bad dialog. It is a film you could see over and over.

OH GOD BOOK 2, which embarrasses itself right off the top by showing more writing credits than there are key positions on a football team, never once gets into gear. All that saves the film from infamy is an astonishing performance by a young actress credited only as "Louanne." Not only does this young lady have perfect timing, but she serially steals scenes from every other actor in the film including the master of timing himself, George Burns.

The kindest thing I could ever say about OH GOD BOOK 2 is, see the original.

Prometheus
(2012)

an enigma inside an enigma inside a gluten free bun
One of the greatest film-makers of all times decides to revisit one of his greatest hits (Alien) with a prequel that arguably no one wanted or needed or even asked for.

On the plus side, it is technically perfect, with a tight script, and SFX to die for. It raises profound questions on the nature of God as good as or better than the best theologians ever have. It has many twists and turns. Knowing that his earlier film had delivered one of the strongest female characters of all time (Ripley) he deliberately breaks his own record with a character who finds she is impregnated with a mutant killing alien baby and jury-rigs a surgery machine to remove it, barely escapes the machine alive as her own baby tries to eat her and without taking any maternity leave returns to her job and manages to rescue Earth.

Not too shabby.

On the negative side, trying to follow the story is a headache and trying to find a character to relate to is a headache and trying to understand the nature of God as presented here is also a headache.

A hard film to review.

Inferno
(2016)

** the opening ... the infamy ... the horror ...
Is there an award for one of the worst openings in the history of film? If there was, INFERNO would win. The confused opening features an old man awaking in hospital in severe pain. The audience does not see this old man as a hero -- which is what the producers were hoping -- but rather as someone they would like to rescue and put in Motel 6 until he feels better. Instead everyone on the planet is trying to kill him and he does not remember why? Wait, let's insult the intelligence of the audience even more shall we? Let's pretend this confused old man, who seems to be in the wrong movie or possibly wandered onto the wrong set, forms some sort of bond with the otherwise delightful Felicity Jones, who is old enough to be his grand-daughter. She is not of course, but if she actually were, she would have taken the old man to a Motel 6 and saved us all from the horror that is this movie.

For those that think this review is not positive enough, here is a positive thought. Hopefully this ended the franchise.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
(2017)

so see, Arthur's mob has to take out the Kings mob ... get it?
The times we live in are strange that viewers of the future will look back and wonder how IMDb members found the time to contribute reviews during an era of chaos when sane people should have been building underground shelters and waiting for the radiation and chemtrails to kill us all? Against this backdrop why should it surprise ANYONE that Guy Ritchie, king of the mob film, decided to give his unique spin to the greatest single tale ever to come out of England, the story of the King.

And, if you follow this logic, why should it further surprise anyone that this odd version of the story seems a cross between Arthur, Robin Hood, and the story of the Cray Brothers?

For those who care -- a progressively smaller group from year to year --- heed this well, varlets:

1. Best Arthur movie, Excalibur 1981.

2. Best modern twist: The Forever King 1993, an astonishing book not yet made into a movie (hint hint)

3. Best runner-up: the Merlin TV series which had moments of brilliance.

Fringe: An Enemy of Fate
(2013)
Episode 13, Season 5

Lesson in Hubris
Take a hit show produced by one of the most successful and powerful men in Hollywood, generate four seasons that are almost perfect, and then in the fifth season simply .... lose your s**t. And you have a lesson in Hubris.

Without S05 Fringe could have been one of the top 10 series ever. Now every review or blog I write always contains the caution STOP AT THE END OF S04.

S05 is so awful (with each episode getting progressively worse) that if you were not already a fan and you started here, you would never become a fan.

God-awful.

Want to see the RIGHT way to close out a series - watch the last season of Banshee.

Fargo: The Law of Non-Contradiction
(2017)
Episode 3, Season 3

astonishing change of pace episode
Fargo the movie in 1996 seems to have heralded a seachange in TV generally. Most shows today, the real hits, do not follow the old fashioned linear narratives (think CSI) and moreover tend to have liberal amounts of absurdity built in.

Fargo the series has been one of the most successful efforts at balancing the narrative and absurdity to great effect.

Season 3 Fargo was showing signs of losing some of the zing. Not really a criticism, really just the observation that maintaining the level of quality of Fargo S01 is almost impossible.

Then comes this amazing episode out of nowhere. This single episode with its flashbacks in time and change of locale is better than many iconic films. It is for example better than, yet similar to, Chinatown.

Carrie Coon is amazing. The entire episode is amazing.

Open Range
(2003)

Even the nuances are nuanced
First of all this is piece of film history.

Costner was just coming to the end of an extraordinary run where he was so popular with audiences that he was even playing parts which, with hindsight, were way beyond his range. (Like for example Robin Hood.) Here he was both in front of the camera and behind it. And doing great work in each position.

Duvall had been working in films since the 1950s and was still carving out his legacy with extraordinary roles like this one.

And Bening also was reaching the stage in her career where she would no longer solely provide the "love interest" for an entire film.

But all that was yet to come. In 2003 these actors were the peak of their craft and they picked up this film and carried it to the finish line.

The script is to die for. The sub-texts of loyalty, secrecy among men, and respect for your employer are rare, and to be treasured. The revenge theme is wonderful and deeply nuanced. The chocolate bar scene is unforgettable.

An amazing movie and highly recommended.

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