Movie Reviews

I’d like to propose this be started, seeing there are many movie buffs here speaking about which movies are good/bad/end badly, etc., and would like to take it a step further: writing a movie review, like one would at Netflix, or a review over some product anywhere else.

I propose the following guidelines:

[li]List title, running time, rating, year (these are optional, but include as possible)[/li][li]limit reviews to ~ 300 words (a little over is ok, but keep it to the point)[/li][li]Reviews must contain enough information to let someone make an informed decision on if it’s what they would want to watch[/li][li]Reviews should not only contain “I liked it” or “It’s ok” and nothing more[/li][li]It’s fine to reflect the plot, but even better to comment on social themes, history or other cultural commentaries the movie highlights[/li][li]While specific examples may be cited from the movie, try to avoid “spoilers” or things that would ruin the viewing pleasure of others[/li][li]The movie may be of any origin (American, Mexican, Spanish, French, etc.)[/li][li]Include an overall rating on a scale of 5 stars (5 being the best)[/li][/ul]
I will lead off, to provide an example of what I mean. :wink:

“Chasing Papi” ~ 80 min., PG, (2003)

If you’re not Hispanic or not at least ‘into’ Hispanic culture, you’ll miss how well it interweaves all its cultural references. Also, if you have never tried to master another language, how the actors speak may seem strange; however, knowing how hard most of them worked to do so well with English is obvious, as most are Spanish speakers. [In fact, Walter Mercado (does the horoscope) appears, and a woman from “Primer Impacto”—both from Univisión.] Additional cultural ‘hints’ will help explain this movie. The music helps narrate events and supports the action: if you notice the guitar and castanets (sometimes almost a ‘flamenco’), you’ll notice they match the ‘romance,’ ‘fever pitch’ and ‘desperation’ the women experience for Versategui; the music (in Spanish or English) even tells us how the actors feel. Using “La Llorona” is funny, as this is the woman of legend who parents use to threaten their children with to behave, or she will punish them. Miami, Chicago and New York are central, as they are major Hispanic centers for culture. “Papi” is the affectionate term for the ‘stud,’ and while perhaps a bit exaggerated, the ‘Latino male’ is sometimes fawned over that much. The fact Versategui markets products shows us how the ‘Latino male’ is usually all show, little action, and usually leaves the woman ‘high and dry’ once he tires of her. In fact, the women chase “Papi,” showing how many times Latinas get their identity from their men (notice the huge twists regarding these items). But, see what the women go through and even how “Papi” realizes why he acted the way he did after some soul searching. And only with a little ‘soul searching’ and understanding the symbols can one better appreciate this comedic gem.

(4 stars)

Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result…
An overlooked movie and great entertainment…
Repo Man
This movie just cracks me up…

Mr. Baseball, 1992, 108 min., PG

While obviously a comedy, I can’t help thinking Tom Selleck uses his role in part to say that major league stars should ‘come down to earth,’ as that’s what his character must do to survive in Japan: he can’t afford to hold onto his self-image or ego or both will finish him. This film also highlights cooperation and harmony being superior to individualism–although one should never think of only the group. It also shows Japan as both modern and traditional, while contrasting America as needing to learn to get back to its traditions and beginnings, so it can avoid the current destructive trends of “me at all costs.” On the human side, it proves that a person can only begin to deal with problems and overcome them once one admits what they are, then starts taking action–even if it’s not pleasant. Minor ‘cultural reminders’: learn another nation’s culture and make a serious effort to at least be minimally proficient in its language. Universal themes: women are still women and must be considered and included in a man’s life; one must be able to associate with and get along with people of all ages and background if one hopes to succeed at all. This is a solid role for Selleck and the movie lives up to its billing. You can’t go wrong with renting this comedy and multi-themed film.

(4 stars)

[off topic]
Nice idea for a thread. Let’s make this one a sticky. :iagree:

Big thanks, Dee! :iagree: :bigsmile:

Here’s another:

Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health (1996) 117 min.

(3 stars)

It is a review of 3 “generations” of “Penélope Cruz”(younger, older, then she plays the role of a daughter; the use of “3” is also prototypical of many Hispanic films that want to highlight some kind of change between generations: the amount of ‘change’ is based solely on the story): she starts as a Beatles fan; in the middle, she’s still attracted to fame–but more to rich men she doesn’t love (because she wants to ‘enjoy life’); towards the end (and when she plays the ‘daughter’), she has an opportunity to change and pass it on to her daughter, but does not choose to rectify her mistakes from the past 25 years. While labeled ‘comedy,’ this seems more a ‘drama’ about how people get in a rut–knowing they could sacrifice a little and change their future for the better–but yet, they continue their lives for fear that the sacrifice won’t be worth it. That’s this movie in a nutshell. Penélope loves the man she first met, but she feels ‘doomed’ to only marry those who are bad choices, yet wealthy and successful, so she can have the money she wants. The farce enters when the partners of both people (Penélope and the man she truly loves) find out they are cheating on them–yet neither leave their partners. So, much of this movie is based on flashbacks, improvised moments (where the two have their affairs for what amounts to less than 30 hours in 30 years), and even some sense of “Gone with the Wind” (there’s one scene and set of lines that mimic it). This film is great for showing people’s fears in relationships and adding the real ‘dangers of getting caught’ that go with affairs. It is likely more ‘painful’ than comic, as one of the two (Penélope’s love) sticks to his goal to become a pilot, but she–when offered the chance to finally be with him–chooses the easy way out.

[K-Pax, 120 mins., PG-13 (2001)


This is one of the few American movies I’ve seen that successfully weaves drama, comedy and ‘whodunit’ together. I gained more respect for Kevin Spacey’s acting, as he really sells you on him being from K-pax, as well as being who Jeff Bridges thinks he is. This is an exceptional, as “Prot” leads the doctor out of his ‘professional shell’–where psychiatry is only supposed to be ‘distant and impersonal’–which shows the doctor needing more help in his personal life (as his job is more important than his wife and children) than “Prot”. Although supposedly ‘alien,’ “Prot” humanizes those in the mental institution and (likely a societal comment) shows that people considered ‘crazy’ or having ‘strange habits’ might only have them because they are marginalized, ignored, then removed from sight. When they are treated as people with potential, they can start to overcome those quirks that made them appear ‘too different’ to deal with. It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking Bridges, Spacey or the people in the institution as ‘one dimensional’ or somehow not adding to the film: all play their parts close to perfection. Combine those things with a film that manages to make two possibilities equally convincing, without concluding one way or another, and you have both a cerebral and enjoyable film that forces you to think and keep track of what happens. This is a hands down 5 star!

Yerma, 1999, 118 mins., Spanish

(4 stars)

I would have given this 5, but this is a play of García Lorca’s adapted to a movie. The acting by Aitana Sánchez-Gijón is first rate, as is with all the rest of the cast. This movie reflects the XVI-XIX attitudes of “women should stay at home”; “there must be something wrong with a childless woman”; and how women/townspeople gossiped about everything. If you are not familiar with Lorca, pay attention to the gitano (gypsy) songs, which will reflect the moods and feelings of Aitana, as well as the events happening. Lorca loved the gypsies and admired their passion and expression–which is heavily used in this movie. The songs, as well as the lighting, circumstances and charcter interactions will draw you in and make you feel Aitana’s pain and desperation–not to mention the restrictive and smothering restrictions on women of this era. Of course, remember this is a drama, a reflection of a certain point in time in Spain, so unless you like such a socially-themed movie, this may not interest you. But based on what the movie is supposed to portray, it does an excellent job, as many plays adapted to movies generally fall woefully short. This one does not.

Nice idea Quema34. I see a few a day and the last one that really held my attention was Ice Harvest with John Cusak. A little bit of Grosse Point Blank and a chunk of Red Rock West. I’m not inclined to re-invent the wheel so here is the IMDB link.

Anothe one I keep going back to for its narrative and the interchange between the main characters is Love and Sex with Famke Janssen.

I will keep that one in mind, Chas (I bookmarked it and will also read about it at Netflix). Sounds like an interesting one, and I’ve been more or less a Famke Janssen fan since she got her big break on ST: TNG with Jaunt-Fluke Retard (you know who I meant–Patrick Stewart :p) That’s some Mad magazine parody for you. :wink:

I’ve got several in that vein you listed you might like, but of course they are in Spanish: El crimen del Padre Amaro; Pantaleón y las visitadoras; Celos; Live Flesh; and Hable con ella. The last 2 are from Pedro Almodóvar, a brilliant Spanish director, but some of the content may seem a bit of a farce or a bit wacky, but he does it to make a point in a different way. I’ll have reviews on those upcoming…

Pantaleón y las visitadoras (2000), 137 mins., Peruvian

(5 stars)

Expect anything Vargas-Llosa to contain obvious and hidden ‘jabs’ at people and politics. This movie uses comedy to veil accusations against corruption, hypocrisy and the status quo. It also contrasts the way of strictly following duty or following your passions. So, if anyone views this movie as just ‘racy’ or a ‘sex romp,’ the many points will be missed.

The captain debates between his married life and duty or his passionate liasons with Cepeda. Cepeda not only draws him out of his shell, but shows him that the ‘women’ are far more than tools to improve the troop’s morale and efficiency–but actually a valuable commodity that requires caring and attention. When he realizes this and tries to improve their lot, his commanders ignore then castigate him–showing the army’s indifference to the ladies’ present and future–while also demonstrating that as soon as someone tries to buck the ‘status quo,’ one is slapped down instead of rewarded for his efforts. This illustrates the irony: if one blindly follows orders and never questions matters, there’s no problem; however, if one desires to improve someone’s plight or even an institution, this is a no-no. In addition to this ironic tragedy of human existence, it illustrates all people should be reached out to, as no one can say one would never do such-and-such for a living. The truly honorable people turn out to be the women and the captain, while the military and radio announcer (El Sinchi) are the hypocrites.

While this movie can be considered ‘adult,’ it is very ‘human’ in its portrayal of abuses, certain institutions, and people trying to get by…and even trying to do the right thing. When considered in context, this movie certainly merits a 5—especially considering these are not well-known actors outside of Perú.

One of my favorite con game movies, from Argentina, Nine Queens. This one holds together very well. I thought I had it figured out 3 times before the end.

Quema34, thanks for the tips, I routinely try to appreciate Almodovar.

[o/t] You are one of very few people I have talked to in the U.S. that even knows who Almodóvar is. Some of his stuff, though, is just too far out for me, although I understand what he’s trying to say. He’s very multi-layered in his “commentary” in each movie.

Since I mentioned this movie as a recommendation to another CDFreak, here is the pertinent review:

Carne trémula (Live Flesh) (1997) 103 mins., Spanish

(4 stars)

This is a powerful drama that involves a series of twists that seem unlikely, nevertheless possible. It shows circumstances can victimize an innocent person and how the ones that would be considered ‘good’ people can go bad. While some Hispanic movies use patterns of 3’s to show a “complete” picture of the subject matter and interaction/evolution of the characters, this one uses a pattern of “two,” or one that intends to either show “agreement or harmony” or “disagreement or rejection.” Pay attention to the two cops and how their lives evolve; the ties between Victor/Elena; and the ties between Victor/Clara. People can learn from one another in the most unexpected ways and if one keeps living and attempting to do better, redemption IS possible–although it might never have looked possible from the start. Look at how the ‘truth’ comes out about the shooting, and how it affects the characters. When you combine these things with the other messages to not stereotype anyone by looks/profession, with how both men and women need love and understanding on their levels, you’ll see how well Almodóvar weaved all these details to create such an interesting series of storylines in this movie.

Huh? I guess this is no longer ‘stickied,’ b/c it was buried… :frowning: I’ll try to get back into the ‘swing of things.’

“The Bourne Ultimatum” ~120 min., PG-13, 2007

(5 stars)

This installment doesn’t fail to disappoint, with plenty of action scenes, more development on Jason Bourne’s quest to discover his past (starting back in "The Bourne Identity), and with a few nuances and additions to keep the interest high for what’s sure to be another installment. We even discover one tidbit (I won’t reveal it, as that’s a ‘spoiler’) about Nikki Parsons we never suspected from the previous two installments.

As for the main movie, I’ll ‘counter’ some elements mentioned by a rather uninformed MSN movie reviewer seen here. First of all, David Straihairn and Scott Glenn (in the tradition of the other installments) are NEVER meant to be ‘developed’ as characters: they serve their purpose as single and narrow-minded people that are only interested in protecting their backsides; in fact, the viewer only desires they receive their come-uppance (just like their predecessors). The entire movie is never meant to revolve around them–it is clearly intended to revolve around Bourne, who is the clear protagonist driving the action–with others there to ‘support’ or oppose him. It should be obvious just from the movie title that Bourne is the one to be served up on a silver platter! The music is also a mainstay, which is never ‘overused’ as the former reviewer asserts: this is part of the tool expected to heighten the tension or to suitably frame continuing action. In fact, music is such an indispensible tool in this movie (also a strength in the past) that it amazes to hear such creativity (something that generally wanes by a third installment) in itself. So the music also achieves its desired effect in all settings–it is never ‘overdone.’ Secondly, the reviewer errs in using Damon’s summary of Bourne as a “serial monogamist,” something called an “intentional fallacy.” Bourne is not a “serial monogamist”; he is simply someone still hurting from a deep wound caused by Marie’s senseless shooting in Supremacy. As he becomes more ‘human’ all the time throughout this installment, many things haunt Bourne and he seeks to make things right, as well as to stop the vicious circle. Lastly, prepare yourself to possibly see the next installment parallel some elements of “The Bourne Identity,” as this contains a few examples eerily similar to the first. One can probably even expect Bourne to “move on” emotionally, and to “heal” from Marie’s senseless murder.

Mega Snake (2007), US, Made for TV (Sci-Fi)

Possibly the only ‘draw’ for this movie might be Michael Shanks (former Dr. Jackson on Stargate SG-1). Other than that, the plot is very simple, to the point of being childish: an extremely dangerous snake is stolen from a Native American store, by a foolish snake-handler. He drops the jar at home, then that’s when both the snake and movie get ‘out of proportion’ to reality. Shanks nor his TV girlfriend really act, and the Native American snake handler doesn’t prove much of a warrior nor much of a Native American for that matter. It gets to the point the movie quickly bores viewers, since it’s obvious the snake is going to pretty much do what it wants, eat whatever and whomever it wants, and really the only thing left to wonder if how long the movie will go on providing totally clueless people that don’t pay attention to their surroundings–until of course it’s too late. About the only suspense remaining is how high the body count will go and how big the snake might get. Due to the fact some horror films either succeed in being scary, being partly comedic (about who gets their comeuppance) or both, this one succeeds in neither aspect; it even fails in showing the process by which Shanks is supposed to overcome his fear of snakes (part of the plot).

In the end, Mega Snake is not only Mega Boring but Mega Bad in acting, plot development, and possibly many other ways viewers could name. Unless someone is completely bored with nothing better to do, best to avoid this one at all costs.

(1/2 star–and that’s pushing it!)

“Ice Spiders”, USA, Made for TV (Sci-Fi channel), 90 mins.

Essentially about genetically-engineered spiders that escape from a lab facility, this film is partly meant to play on people’s fear or at least serious aversion to spiders. In terms of limiting it strictly to its ‘horror’ effect, the movie comes off as fairly scary–if of course you can somehow ignore the intellectually absurd premise of somehow getting spiders that large that can also move with ridiculous speed.

What is oddly comical about the movie is the choice of Patrick Muldoon as “Dash,” a washed up, former professional skier now relegated to skiing lessons. This is the same guy who had a fairly stand out role in “Starship Troopers,” but oddly enough hasn’t starred in any notable movie since 1997 that got anyone’s attention. While he manages to pull off the washed-up ski pro role with a fair degree of credibility, he makes it seem like he’s on drugs by how he talks and acts. Another curious sidebar is Stephen Cannell, a TV writer that oddly enough plays a very credible role (for someone not known for acting). Then there’s Vanessa Williams, a black, buxom and brainy scientist partly responsible for the spider snafu. She only partly manages to credibly play her part, although it seems she’s there more for guys to ogle or otherwise be the movie’s ‘eye candy.’ As for the military response to contain the spiders release, it seems the Keystone Cops would have been a better choice to have used. Possibly the funniest one liner/pun is when Dash kills a spider with a stuffed deer head’s antlers, then stares Williams in the face only to say “Nice RACK!!!”

Interestingly enough, this movie is from the same director of another film called Mega Snake, a tremendously sloppy film that could best be described as a ‘flop.’ While this one is slightly better (primarily due to the use of spiders), the development behind it is still lacking and as implausible as in Mega Snake. If one truly desires to view a horror film involving spiders that is well done, I’d suggest Arachnophobia. Otherwise, see this one only if you enjoy consistent intellectual contradictions, or would like to see how dopey Dash can act (and a few other items that could garner a nice laugh or two).

1 1/2 stars

“Final Destination 2,” 90 min., USA, English (2003)


(3 stars)

Looking for a movie that pokes fun at trying to cheat death? This one is it!

It begins with a young lady having visions of people dying and so begins her quest to ‘unravel the clues’ (and showing others what ‘signs’ to watch for) and therefore decipher how and when the next person will die–then trying to figure out how to prevent it.

Ultimately, the movie seems to toy with the age-old idea of ‘is one’s destiny written and unchangable’ or ‘does one make one’s own destiny’ by a series of life choices. Also, this is not a purely a horror movie nor a thriller, as while it will engage the viewer’s mind (those who choose to try to figure out the pattern), the manner in which several characters die is somewhat improbable at times; in fact, in several instances the way in which they die and what events cause their untimely passing are quite hilarious (i.e., they die VERY well! :bigsmile:).

As for what else the movie pokes fun at, it’s almost as if it partly attempts a parody of “Charmed,” with one of the witches having visions/premonitions, then a group of characters attempt to save ‘innocents’ from the untimely intervention of the grim reaper. I imagine there are more integrated and hidden references to other horror/fantasy movies, but only seasoned horror movie fans may spot those other hidden jabs.

If you’re expecting a pure horror flick, this isn’t it. However, if you are expecting a rather unique blend of a little horror, part thriller and part comedy, this is your flick. Not a bad one to watch–despite the sometimes too far-fetched manners/causes of death.

ok was anyone able to make through more than 30 minutes of Mr. Brooks and or The Fountain?

Yes, i actually made it through Mr. Brooks. My curiousity kept me in it.

I appreciated Mr. Costner’s role as a mild mannered serial killer, not something you see often.

I was a bit surprised by Dane Cook’s acting. It didn’t suck!

And, i wanted clarification on where the hell his alter ego came from. None was given.