Friday, December 31, 2004

The Sea Inside (2004)

See cause he can only move his head.. the quad...

Drama (Spain France Italy)

Starring: Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls), Belén Rueda

Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar (The Others; Open Your Eyes)

Overview: Based on the true story of a quadriplegic fighting for his right to die by euthanasia.

Acting: If I'm not mistaken, this actor was nominated for the Oscar, and with good reason. Javier, Belén, and all the rest, every single one deserve the highest rating possible for the portrayals they perform. You will never see anyone surpass such brilliance. Exquisite.
Rating: 10

Cinematography: When we see Javier in his moments alone, it's always to take us on a beautiful excursion, like a flight across the plains or a visit to the beach. In every scene, the camera seems to take us to the best parts of Spain, the sea, the fantastic realms of the character's desires, the most dramatic close-ups. You will not be disappointed by the visuals in this, guaranteed.
Rating: 9

Script: Acting and writing seem to go hand in hand usually, but what perfect complement! One scene struck me as particularly well done: The nephew is made to read one of the protagonist's poems, and in the end the deeper meaning is lost to the teen. This scene could have been a beautiful connecting moment between a nephew and an uncle, but ended up being a true testament to the patience of an older man with the immaturity of his younger counterpart. Throughout, it is true and honest without ever being rushed. No better.
Rating: 10

Plot: All told a little weak, transparent. A man who wants to die fights the system, and of course doesn't get granted his wish. As a plot in itself, it's see-though and predictable. Though, instead of taking us through the rigmarole of the court battle (which was no more than a very short sequence), the director takes us through the character's personal struggles with religious advocates and family strife; fame and love versus the finality of death and the final decision that must be made. Unique and wonderful.
Rating: 8

Mood: A tear-jerker most definitely. A brilliant character study, a masterpiece of film and cinematography, music and emotion. You will not be disappointed by the way this movie conveys every part of the dramatic.
Rating: 8

"Aahahah! One last smoke before you die, that's rich, like in executions, I get it!"

Overall Rating: 90% (A Must See!!!)

Aftertaste: It's great when you go to a movie expecting a good time with a couple of friends and end up seeing a jewel of a film that you can only see in those independent art houses that you visit on occasion. When the friend who took you gets lost in the moment and forgets that she's running a red light, it's a true testament of the fact that this film is something worthy of anyone repertoire. Of course, if you have an issue with foreign films with subtitles, you really should go elsewhere. This is not the site for you. I'll tell you though, you're missing out, unless you actually LIKE seeing Coca-Cola ads plastered everywhere...

Thursday, December 30, 2004

XXX - Dolls (2002) - XXX

Genre: Romantic Drama

Starring: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima

Directed By: Takeshi Kitano

Overview: Three stories of tainted love.

Acting: All the parts were well acted. The beginning of the movie had the characters all vacant and forlorn, and it really drew me in. They all did a great job.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: Perfect. Majestic and glorious, the visual aspect of this film is impeccable. Panoramic scenes of all seasons, vivid costumes, ingenious dream sequences and multiple styles will guarantee that you are not disappointed in this realm. I give it the highest rating possible.
Rating: 10

Script: Nothing here was poorly written. This movie did not have a plethora of speaking lines, but it was clear and well presented.
Rating: 7

Plot: I like that the three stories blend into each other just enough to provide a sense of wholeness, but the continuity escaped me now and then. Sometimes I felt a little lost, wondering what scene was for what story, but it always became clear to me. Unfortunately this movie had no tremendously grand sense of drama so the way the story went didn't do much for me.
Rating: 6

Mood: I quite enjoyed it. Slow and painstaking, the mood really carried the plot. Imagery and symbolism were ripe and everpresent, but always appropriately displayed. Great Job.
Rating: 8

Overall Rating: 76% (Very Nice!)

Aftertaste: Unfortunately, though it was a good movie, it really didn't do much for me. Each part had an ending, but they didn't seem very solid. This movie will most likely fade fairly quickly for me, but I'm a jaded Gen 'X'er.

God's Gun (1976)

Way too may cool posters make for way too terrible films...

Genre: Western (Italy, Israel)

Starring: Lee Van Cleef (Death Rides A Horse; For A Few Dollars More), Jack Palance (City Slickers; Attack)

Directed By: Gianfranco Parolini

Overview: A gang of robbers terrorize a town, while a boy tries to avenge the harm they've caused.

Acting: Eek. Not really good at all. Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance must have ganged up on the director on this one, either that or the director had so little film he just let it go. Melodrama as expected but not gritty and mean as it should have been.
Rating: 4

Cinematography: Ever seen El Mariachi? If you have you'll recognize the same nausea inducing camera work: low-budget, distracting and poor. As for the scenes and settings, nothing good until the end, then it was fair. This ain't no High Plain Drifter.
Rating: 3

Script: Oh, my, my, my. Jack Palance had some good lines, but there were very cheesy moments very frequently delivered by everyone else.
Rating: 4

Plot: So much to complain about it's hard to know where to start. The kid goes mute from the horrible things he sees, the mother opens her big stupid mouth revealing a secret to the big bad guy, who then of course makes it his mission to go chase after it (what did she expect?) and Lee Van Cleef's vengeful climax was ultimately suicidal and unbelievable.
Rating: 3

Mood: There was a great scene where the bandits get into a bar brawl with the women of the saloon. It's stressful and unpleasant, (as most rape scenes ought to be) but the women put up such a fight that it lasts 5 minutes, and with lots of tremendous action! Very original, that particular scene. All this to say that it bumped up the Mood rating, cause the other scenes really did nothing to make it good. The flashback scenes were too blurry and the haunting SCREECHES that played during them were annoying.
Rating: 4

"Bahahah, As if' I'm even making this turd of a film!"

Overall Rating: 36% (Russian Roulette For The Jaded Soul)

Aftertaste: Oh Lee, why must you let me down so! This was the final film in this four-pack of Lee Van Cleef Films that I had, and I was pleased with the other three, especially Death Rides a Horse. They should have put this movie somewhere else, like nowhere on that DVD. It was nice to actually see Jack Palance in a Western instead of a comedy mocking his Westerns (City Slickers). In the end I thought, "well I'm done watching this thing." One more down...

The Omega Man (1971)

Yep, it LOOKS super-awesome, but sadly, it's fruity-pants

Genre: Apolcalyptic Sci-Fi Drama Thriller

Starring: Charlton Heston (Planet Of The Apes; Soylent Green), Anthony Zerbe (Papillon; The Dead Zone)

Directed By: Boris Sagal

Overview: The last healthy man on earth tries to survive, hunted by "The Family", a group of infected anti-technological zealots.

Acting: Charlton Heston is one of those actors whose melodrama is almost as appreciated as any of those in Kurosawa's films. Yes, he goes a little overboard, but he made a career out of it, so there's no point in saying it's no good, try telling Shatner he overacts. The problem with the acting in this movie is the actress Rosalind Cash. Maybe it's the script but she just is not believable at all.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: A couple of problems, the blood is definitely not one of them. I like the squirting throughout. The stunts are a little forced. I don't know if they had a "Do two car crash stunts get one free" deal goin' on, but either that or Charlton's the world's worst driver. In one scene I saw the ramp, in the same scene I saw that the stunt double was wearing a bad wig. Other than that and a couple choppy edits (could have been the DVD version), it was decent.
Rating: 7

Script: No. This woman rescues Charlton from the mutants, then points a gun at him, yelling and threatening him to help her, when he was quite obviously appreciative of her saving his life. She wouldn't stop talking jive, she was waaay too two-dimensional. The way that some of the things were said just made me frown.
Rating: 5

Plot: Here's the problem. I love post-apocalyptic film, I really do, but this plot had more holes than the mutant's pockmarked faces. Quite obviously these people, once mutated, suffer severe brain damage. They can't knock a guy off a motorbike even though they form a gauntlet with 2x4s. The Omega man lives in a place for two years, and still "The Family" hasn't managed to burn down his house, but they light a bonfire in front of it and constantly harass him? They're blinded by light, but fire doesn't bother them. One character is a senior med student and does absolutely nothing to try and heal a wounded hero. Worst of all, Charlton gets plenty of opportunities to plug the big antagonist with his sniper rifle, or any other of his vast arsenal of weapons, but no, he doesn't even think of wasting a bullet on his worst enemy, just emptying his endless clip on the guy's minions! Yuck! Spit! This has so much promise, and I'm saddened by the delivery.
Rating: 3

Mood: The horrible Jesus imagery at the end scene just did not cut it; the end music just did not fit. There were some pretty good moments admittedly, some good action scenes and the darkness had a way of being appropriately invasive at times, but it should have been creepier, more madness of zealotry, more fear of the dark corners. I'd love the chance to do a remake, I could creep the hell out of people with this plot's premise.
Rating: 6

For an much as I may dump on this one, that is one sweet shot.

Overall Rating: 56% (Uh, Certainly Not The Alpha)

Aftertaste: It's too bad. This movie will go into the realm of disappointment, like The Frighteners did. It was a great concept, and it was completely ruined cause they couldn't afford a continuity guy and a writer with half a brain.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bad Santa (2003)

Holy Naughty Nice!!!

Genre: Crime Comedy

Starring: Billy Bob Thorton (Slingblade; Monster's Ball), Tony Cox (The Hebrew Hammer; Me, Myself And Irene)

Directed By: Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World; Art School Confidential)

Overview: A safecracking Santa plans another heist, but gets caught up with one of the kids on his list.

Acting: Billy Bob Thorton is one of my favorite southern actors. His acting in a comedy doesn't diminish his capabilities, nice. He does a wonderful pathetic portrayal of a down on his luck drunk. John Ritter complements him just as well in this movie as he did in Slingblade. In fact all the actors did a tremendous job.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The director obviously chose the rather simple side of things (only one 10 second shot of a scene made me go "How original"), and there was nothing special or innovative whatsoever in the way it was filmed. It was professional though.
Rating: 6

Script: Well written and entertaining. Lots of laughs, the kind of comedy where suspension of disbelief isn't required (like so many of those stressful scenes that make a situation impossibly dramatic). It was well written, the kid's lines, and the midget's were gold, though Billy-Bob and Ritter were given the treasures.
Rating: 7

Plot: Plot twists? Who needs em. It's a run of the mill film made by a director who doesn't pretend to be an overacheiver. The ending is decent and the predictability factor is bang on without being too obvious.
Rating: 6

Mood: Good Comedy. Again, no one pretends to try anything "new" or "artful" besides cracking out some great humour. Regular music, regular mall scenes, regular kind of movie, but very decent.
Rating: 7

Nothing's so bad when you got a nice summer day, a job, a bottle and a midget

Overall Rating: 68% (You're Getting Coal This Year)

Aftertaste: One of the plainer of the Billy Bob Thorton that I've ever seen, and he does an amazing job. This movie basically gave me some nostalgia and made me think I should see Friday Night Lights as soon as possible, or crack out the Slingblade, one of my top five movies of all time. As for Bad Santa, not a regrettable movie, but not one that will stay in my head for too long.

Memories (1995)

" 'Member whe you saw that decent Animé? yeah ... Good times."

Sci-Fi Fantasy Animé Thriller (Asia)

Directed By: Kôji Morimoto (Segment 1 "Magnetic Rose"), Tensai Okamura (Segment 2 "Stink Bomb"), Katsuhiro Ôtomo (Segment 3 "Cannon Fodder")

Three short stories

Acting: In Animé, there is a certain amount of melodrama and exaggeration to be expected, depending of course on the seriousness of the tale. These three stories fell into each of the spectrums: silly, serious and middle of the road. These shorts were subtitled, as usual, so it's a little harder to gauge, but definitely nothing distracting, and it was never over the top.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: As animation is done in controlled environments and the limits of the visuals of this kind of story lie solely in the imagination of the animators, you can usually figure that animation is a pretty good medium to score high in this category. Again with these three tales we find a mix of traditional and computer animation that could compete with all the rest. The scenes in Magnetic Rose were grand and panoramic, technically perfect, excellent zero Grav effects. In Stink Bomb, the tanks and planes and personnel really conveyed a sense of real attention to proper detail. Cannon Fodder's gritty style made the story perfectly oppressive, and the Cannon itself was as grand as it should have been.
Rating: 9

Script: They were all well written stories deserving of a good rating, though nothing stood out as being exceptional. Magnetic Rose was the story that stood out most of all in this category. The sense of confusion that was the Theme of this tale was intensified by the writing, most definitely.
Rating: 7

Plot: Magnetic Rose had a fairly linear and predictable plot line, but the story was really well delivered, and believable. Very dramatic ending. Stink Bomb had too much suspension of disbelief, but once you went ahead and accepted the premise, everything fell into place really well, great ending. Cannon Fodder was less about plot and more a slice of life character study, so nothing really tosay about that. Unfortunately, I didn't sense any sort of connection tying the three stories together. I think they took the title Memories from one of the themes of Magnetic Rose, then gave up when there were no other parallels in the other stories to keep the title appropriate to each tale.
Rating: 7

If you can't convey proper mood in Animé, what makes you think you could pull it off anywhere else? Magnetic Rose conveyed the elements required beautifully. The over the top ridiculousness of Stink Bomb took the story on a humourous twist you wouldn't normally expect with this kind of tale. Cannon Fodder was drawn in a less traditional style, more gritty, more 1984, more 1927's Metropolis. It was very a propos for the story being told. Excellent mood throughout.
Rating: 9

It's like Akira, only with a man's bowels as the superweapon...

Overall Rating: 78% (Well Done!)

Aftertaste: Well I liked it a lot. It won't stay in my mind as a great movie that everyone should see, but if it's on, don't look away, by any means. None of the stories stood out as being tremendous or anything, but it was a film of superior quality.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (1996) - * WORST 5 *

How about let's NOT remind me about how fisted I felt after watching this...
Genre: Drama Fantasy Mini-Series (UK)

Starring: Gary Bakewell, Laura Fraser (A Knight's Tale;Titus)

Directed By: Dewi Humphries ("Murder Most Horrid")

Overview: An average Joe runs into a waif living in London's Underground. She and her strange powers lead him into her world.

Acting: This entire three-hour, six-episode mini-series was acted out like a bad B Grade Comic Book. In all fairness the author's best work (and best known work) is, in fact, comics. There comes a time when a director has to step in and say, "Whoa, there. No. Do it again. " Well. where the hell was he? I ask. It's produced by BBC, and I gather their budget isn't high, but seriously, it's still a professional organization, isn't it? Only one actor in the whole series was worth her salt, Laura Fraser, the girl who played Door. The main character, Richard and the Bodyguard, Hunter, and that horrible Marquis were all so stupidly over the top that this gets a far below par rating.
Rating: 3

Cinematography: The Underground scenes were quite obviously the big ticket items. With a limited budget, the producers chose to elaborate on this, and appropriately so, given that most of the scenes take place in the Underground. I don't know what problem the cameraman had, but it seems as though he didn't believe in fixed angles, or really anything innovative. Too many scenes were shot too close, and shakily too, even outdoor scenes where there was all the space in the world. Also the camera's takes were choppy and too frequent. All this was so bad as to be distracting. The cameraman had a light meter at least, as there were no ultra-dark scenes; nothing so bad as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre night shots.
Rating: 3

Script: It's Neil Gaiman. This guy is famous for writing the ultra-gothic Sandman Comics in the early nineties. He's also done Angel, a short 4 issue side story Spawn comic series. This man has moved on to be an author of at least one book of short stories and two novels, including this, Neverwhere. He also helped develop the screenplay for this TV Mini-series. All this to say, he should have stayed in comics. The grand melodrama works a lot better there. There were a couple interesting characters (literally), but ultimately everyone was cheese.
Rating: 4

Weak! Suspension of disbelief in Fantasy is expected, but not beyond common sense. These people all have the power / curse having people forget who they are, and for some reason this Underground society never thinks of theft for the things they need. These people do stupid things and act on such a two-dimensional character perspective as makes them horrible caricatures of themselves. The obvious flaws are thrown to the wind. There's a scene where Monks give a key to someone, after some stupid cliché "challenges" including a RIDDLE, please! Anyway, these Monks sole task is to guard the key. They hand it over to Richard knowing full well it's going to the person they were in charge of keeping it FROM. Retarded and infantile!
Rating: 2

Mood: The only thing saving this Series is at least it stays true to itself. It's fantastical and full of stupid Sphinx Riddle style tests and adventures and trading favours for favours, and magic items and creatures and all that. Decent. Unfortunately the budget makes this suffer the way Zaphod Beeplebrox's second paper-maché head almost ruined the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Rating: 6

Don't even get me started on this poof...

Overall Rating: 36% (Never Anywhere!)

Aftertaste: Horrible! Hunter the bodyguard is the worst character in the whole thing. She gets into three fights and I laughed at how bad her and her choreographer had planned them out, oh yuck. She's worse than Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars Episode 1... Alright that's too harsh... Still I spit at this entire series. It was a waste of three hours, except for the fact that I am condemning it publicly. Hopefully you will heed the warning to stay the HELL away from garbage like this.
London's Underground? For Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Mind the Crap!

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Hoo yeah, more than just a pretty face!

Genre: Comedy Crime Mystery

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Arlington Road; The Fisher King), John Goodman (O, Brother Where Art Thou?; Barton Fink)

Directed By: Joel Coen (Miller's Crossing; The Hudsucker Proxy)

Overview: Some Dude gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity turned kidnapping investigation.

Acting: Perfectly professional, no one over-acting (any more than anybody else). The lines in this movie couldn't have been as well delivered if the casting were different. Delivery and direction were incredible. Top drawer. Not really impressed by Flea though, to tell you the truth.
Rating: 8

Script: "You don't fucking mess wit da Jesus, meinh."

The Cohen Brothers are known for their quirky dialogues, they don't let up here either. The lines in this movie are great and the situations are made even more hilarious by the script. Perfect.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: Incredible Cinematography. From high-art dream sequences to slow-motion character introductions, this movie fits right up there with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director Gus Van Sant's recent works (Jerry; Elephant) for scene-setting. Even some regular scenes in the bowling alley and in Dude's house caught my eye as being really well storyboarded.
Rating: 9

Plot: When you look at it from an overview perspective, it's really not that original a concept, but the Cohen brothers make it seem as though it was the first "I got caught up in something over my head" plot and the twists are predicatble while still throwing you for just one more loop over the last.
Rating: 8

Mood: Utterly silly. The characters were awesome and over the top, even the bit players like the Iron Lung guy and his kid, the cop who finds the car, the thugs throughout. The dream sequences and the characters really made this movie weird and quirky, and it was perfectly done without being too much. The Big Lebowski could really have done without the stupid narrator though, I don't get it.
Rating: 8

"You know when I thin Coen Brothers I think of me too..."

Overall Rating: 82% (Really Great)

Aftertaste: It's The Big Lebowski. If you haven't seen it, you were probably in a coma or something. This belongs in everyone's repertoire.

Here's a special treat for y'all:

The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman (2001)

Why is it Serial Killers are worse than hitmen? This guy's got over 100 under his belt! It's cause they're icky, I know...

Genre: Crime Documentary

Starring: Richard Kuklinski (as himself)

Directed By: Arthur Ginsburg

Overview: This two-part documentary shows how and why Richard Kuklinski became a successful hitman of over 100 murders.

Acting: Well it's quite obvious that Richard is genuine and doesn't slip on any of his lines. Of course Part One (1992) has him being less smug and cocky than in Part Two (2001). He's a good, captivating speaker. The Medical Examiner on the other hand is goofy and bug-eyed. The other people in this documentary were tolerable.
Rating: 7

Script: These documentarians decided to have their questions heard by the camera. There were questions I would have liked to ask. After 17 hours of interviews for Part One (1992), you'd think the editor would have put a couple of those in there. Ultimately though, the cold Iceman kept us frozen to his words. Too bad about the other interviewees. The interviews with Richard were a little less interesting in Part Two (2001), because they were more factual statements than opinions, but still great.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: Honestly, I would have preferred to watch some guy walking in a park or something that looks like a crime scene rather than hearing someone speak the words that were scrolling up on the screen. Having a fixed camera with a very tight shot of the Iceman was very effective, so much so that they decided to use it in Part Two (2001). The biggest problem this documentary had was once you've watched the first part, the second is just a lot of repetition. The Medical Examiner says the exact same thing 10 years later, only wearing a different doctor's outfit. Part One (1992) was mature and intelligent with pretty standard stills and videos of the killer growing up and with his family. Part Two (2001) had horrible fake crime scenes being snuck up on by gritty digital camcorders, and often used the exact same footage as in the first part. Ultimately, they should have re-edited them together. Too much repetition and low-budget lameness.
Rating: 5

Plot: Oh Lord, is this ever a good story. From current interviews with the inmate including his methods - Poisoning with Cyanide in every possible way (spilled drinks on clothes!) to "shooting his head clean off with a shotgun" to interviews with his wife, who was oblivious of the fact that her husband murdered for a living for the last 30 years. The progression from one Part to the other is really unfortunate, no one wants to see the same movie twice. They really should have re-edited. Still the story is a great one and I give it big Kudos.
Rating: 8

Mood: There really was nothing innovative about the Documentary style here, it's very run of the mill, predictable in it's presentation. Part Two (2001) had some pretty horrible haunting music, seriously it seemed as though it was ripped off of "Unsolved Mysteries" or "A Current Affair". It was strange to me, because I don't recall this millennium as being one that utilizes such cheese.
Rating: 5

Awww, Daddy Dearest

Overall Rating: 64% (Missed the Mark a Little)

Aftertaste: Part One (1992) is great. If ever you see it on TV on the Documentary Channel or something, watch it. It's much better and more real, especially the interview with The Iceman. There's more honesty and less showing off. Who knows, maybe the fame got to him and he grew smug. Still there's some segments in Part Two (2001) that I wouldn't give up: "I killed a guy with a crossbow to see how well it would work... No I didn't know him, it wasn't a contract hit, or personal... The crossbow? It worked great." This will stick around rattling in my brain for a little bit. Nice addition to the sickness in my head.

Shark Tale (2004)

Creepy how it even LOOKS like Will Smith and De Niro, huh?

Genre: Animation Comedy Family

Starring: Will Smith (Men In Black; Six Degrees Of Separation) , Robert De Niro (Goodfellas; Ronin)

Directed By: Bibo Bergeron (The Road To El Dorado), Vicky Jenson (Home On The Range), Rob Letterman

Overview: A fish wants to make it to the Top of The Reef, while a shark just wants to be accepted.

Acting: These rolls are voice acted, so the actors themselves have either less to do, or more to do, depending on how you look at it. It's quite obvious that these directors had no problem making sure their voice actors knew what they were doing. Big names like Martin Scorsese and Jack Black make the movie very marketable, and the animation quality is top of the line, no question as to the good job making the characters look alive, and well acted / synchronized. Very professionally done. The best characters, visually, were the Rasta Jellyfish, who were drawn to look as though they had big Rastafarai knit hats. Very original and funny.
Rating: 8

Script: Yes of course we have to expect constant punnery so the children can get jokes, but I've seen other Pixar movies that have more mature humour. A Bugs Life and especially Antz have better humour than this, and more laughs throughout. This movie really had no good lines to walk away with, but there really were no major groaners. Decent script, nothing distracting.
Rating: 6

Cinematography:The effects were great and the colour was ultra-rich. They definitely didn't hold back the detail, and everything was clear and pretty. It's easy to shoot a scene when you have total control, where lighting and setting issues are of no concern, where you don't have to worry about getting a crane or a helicopter for that shot. Quite obviously this category should have a high rating.
Rating: 8

Plot: This is where the movie suffered. For the African-American fish to go on and on about the bling that awaits him if only he could make it big and get to the Top of the Reef, even though his daddy lived modestly is not only cliché, but a painful truism of American Society. The fact that he ignores the blatantly obvious love interest makes it even worse. As for the shark, the gay metaphor is so loud that I had to plug my ears with frilled chiffon. The vegetarian shark not accepted by his macho carnivorous daddy... Please. No twists, everything predictable, though the plan that the characters come up with in the middle of the movie so each of them can have what they want was mildly original. Of course you can't run away from your lies, yadda, yadda, tripe followed by unoriginal tripe, happy ending. At least it wasn't way out there on the suspension of disbelief scale.
Rating: 4

Mood: It's hard to say that a Family film stays within the boundaries of it's Genre while still not falling into horrible clichés, because Family films are usually full of clichés on purpose, but I've seen much better and less predictable. The music was appropriate, the musical segments were not too plentiful, and it was ultimately true to what you would expect. Yes you can take your kids to this movie and they won't walk away scarred.
Rating: 7

Uh for as much as the Jamaican thing was cute it's still racist...right Jar Jar?

Overall Rating: 66% (Tell Me Something Else)

Aftertaste: The sharks were great: all mob-bossey and tough. The characters looked a lot like the voice actors, which was neat to watch, but that's nothing original, Hollywood's been doing that since The Little Mermaid. What I had a real problem with though was the sickeningly blatant product placement right there pointed at our children. The way they had Coral-Cola all over the billboards and in your face along with the GUP ads. If I had children I would teach them that Gap employs children like the demographic they entertain. It was the main thing I walked away with, and that definitely left a lingering aftertaste...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Death Rides a Horse (1968)

"Hey, look it's a white horse just like the Bible said it would be!"

Genre: Western (Italy)

Starring: Lee Van Cleef (Escape From New York; God's Gun), John Phillip Law (Barbarella; Diabolik)

Directed By: Giulio Petroni

Overview: The bad guys got a double load of trouble. A classic tale of vengeance times two.

Acting: Well I'm partial to Lee Van Cleef, who got his fame from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (he was "The Bad"). His acting style is a little two-dimensional at times but he's got a great sneer and he's a good tough guy. The other badder unwashed evil people in the story of course were a little over the top, but not as much as you'd expect for a Spaghetti Western (so named because they were usually made by Italian Directors and were about as hard to produce as a plate of spaghetti). The acting by Cleef was better than Law's, who seemed to have one emotion, but seething rage is a pretty good thing to watch, so this won't distract, at least not nearly as much as the overdubbing of the original Italian.
Rating: 6

Script: I was pleasantly surprised! Which such great dialogue as:

"Well? Take the dough and beat it!"
"I never leave without finishing my drink…"

before the big bar brawl, you can't go wrong. This movie is FILLED with lines that made me laugh out loud, just seething with Spaghetti Western mentality. Grrrrrr!!!
Rating: 8

Cinematography:The editing in the version I watched was choppy, and I'm guessing the original version had a few more seconds here and there. It looked like someone was literally doing a reel change-over, it was that bad. A great scene in the bar as well as the use of Classic Western Flashbacks worked great. The shootout scenes all have good action, there's a great windstorm during the climax that adds a wonderful element of nervous suspense, but a touch less than professional.
Rating: 6

Plot: You can't go wrong with this one. The protagonist just gets out of 15 years in jail, looking for revenge on the people who sold him out. This other kid whose family was raped and slaughtered is also looking for vengeance on the same people, in the vein of The Crow. The two hook up and there's some great twists and unexpected events that keeps this film outside of the boring predictable easy tale of "Got You Back".
Rating: 8

Mood: Lots of great music in this movie. I tend not to notice that sort of thing, but the score just kept me in the zone. This is a classic Western filled with desert scenes, shootout duels, ambushes and maidens in distress, not forgetting of course the fancy stunts as dudes got shot off roofs and down stairs. This was perfect for its genre. Really fun.
Rating: 7

"Oh Jesus! No! Don't... Oh, phew it's just a gun!"

Overall Rating: 70% (Good Movie)

Aftertaste: Lee says in this movie "I heard somewhere that revenge is a dish that you eat cold." To hell with the Klingons, Quentin, someone musta said it before them. Anyways this movie was truly entertaining and with a great title like Death Rides a Horse, this movie will actually stick around as one of those movies that was innovative enough not to lower the bar on Westerns. Good movie, great ending.

I got your review right here...

Good day all.

I've seen many a Film Review website and given many friends and neighbors my brilliant opinion on a hundred movies, compiling lists of "Must See" movies for their unappreciative lazy asses, and I've come to decide that this forum is better for everyone. I don't have to talk to them, they can just come online and figure it out themselves. Better still, you the stranger whom I've never met can get a good revue of a good movie, instead of hearing that Starsky and Hutch is "Effin' Great, dude" from your high school drop-out friend, or that Blade: Trinity is a movie with 'lots of action'.

I have developed a full comprehensive rating scale. As film is like fine wine to me, I'll grade it on five different criteria, with a breakdown of each one and in the end will have a percentage rating, like you would with a Chilean Red.

Acting will cover the actors who portray the characters on screen, but also will include if the director should have said "Do it again". Not to pick on Keanu, but even a perfectionist director like Stanley Kubrick (renowned for his shooting 50+ takes for a perfect scene) can only do so much with so little. Want a good example of some great acting? Go watch Titus.

Cinematography will represent the innovative costumes, shooting angles, filters and lenses used to make the movie stunning and panoramic, or camera work that terrifyingly puts you in the lair of the psychotic beast, anything having to do with the visual direction of the look of a movie. The Duellists and The Ring are excellent examples of brilliance in this category.

Script will obviously cover how well a movie is written. You can have all the rest, but with such great lines as "I know Kung Fu", The Matrix definitely would have suffered in this category. You dunno what I’m talking about? Check out Goodfellas or Taxi Driver, wiseguy.

Plot not only covers how good the plot of a movie is, but if the continuity of a film is believable. One of my favorite directors is Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville), but in all honesty, though his themes are excellent, he often goes out of the realm of the believable. This category will also include predictability and value of plot twists - vide:
Fight Club.

Mood will cover how good a movie stays within the boundaries of it's Genre while still not falling into horrible clichés. This way, even a person like me, whose favorite Genre is Tragedy, can rate a romantic movie that I would normally hate. A film's score also falls into this category. Fear not, I've seen enough of each genre to properly repruzhent. 2001 set a standard for Mood in film, if you know what I'm saying.

Aftertaste will not be a rating per se, but will let you know how much of an effect this movie had on me personally. Given that everything previously listed is my attempt at remaining neutral, this is my way of adding an afterthought. Besides the ones on my favorites list, Secretary and Gerry were two movies that would just not leave my mind…

My scale works like this: each of the 5 categories is given 10 points, a rating of 1 is the worst, 10 is the best evah, and then a percentage overall will determine how good the movie is. If you use the wine scale, a 70% is a 'passably good' wine.

My reviews will consist entirely of what I have seen recently. Opinions on films I've seen ten years ago, regardless of how memorable they are, won't be included. That would be cheating. This site will review all films of all genres and eras, including shorts, compilations and Television Series. I do my best to try not to watch garbage, or what I expect to be garbage, that includes Charlie's Angels or Failure To Launch, no matter how many other people have seen it. I tend to lean on the side of art in my viewing. Blockbuster's #1 is usually pretty lame, and I don't go there anyway.

So there you have it. Enjoy.

And feel free to recommend any film you've actually seen or even heard was great, I'm sure I'll enjoy it.