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The Good Lie (2014)
7/10
Very good with focus on "lost children"
21 January 2015
This is a superior film about some "lost children" of Sudan, victims of the war-torn country, who ultimately come to settle in the U.S.

The film's first third or so is an extended flashback to the three main young men whose stories the film focuses on losing their parents and becoming refugees. A girl is involved here too that has some importance to the plot but has a lesser role. A fourth character that plays an important role to the motivations of one of the three as well. The title is a type of spoiler in that respect.

I have no real knowledge of the particulars here but this portion of the film seems realistic and adds a p.o.v. and setting that is quite original to what we usually see in American cinema. Reese Witherspoon gets top billing here (she plays a somewhat cynical employment agency counselor) but gets limited playing time. She might be seen as a stand-in for many average viewers here who don't know this story of these men and believes there is not much she personally can do.

The middle portion of the film has the three young men adapting to living in the Mid-West while still having personal demons and concerns to handle -- one feels a special responsibility as a leader, one is strongly religious and a third is more laid back but has his own anger issues regarding his situation. I think the film is a bit too abrupt here -- a lot is covered in a short time -- but it is overall impressive. Reese Witherspoon's character is a bit of a caricature, but overall she does okay.

The last third involves a surprise and a trip back + the aforementioned twist/spoiler. This too was handled well. Overall, it was a very good though probably not great film though many probably will be very impressed by it. I was left wanting to know a bit more about some of these characters. There is material for more to be sure.
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Rules of Engagement (2007–2013)
8/10
Fun Syndicated Viewing
21 January 2015
There are some episodes that are hilarious, a few that are weaker. But, as a whole, this is an excellent show that can be enjoyed even after multiple viewers. Thus, it is a great syndicated show.

The show is about a long term married couple, a couple just engaged as the show begins and a single sex crazed character played by David Spade. Each episode tends to have two or perhaps three subplots involving each of these characters. After two seasons, Spade got an Indian-American assistant who is a bit of a prig. The married couple eventually have a lesbian (Sara Rue) as a surrogate, who becomes a familiar face. One of the crew from "Reno 911" also sometimes shows up as an unpleasant friend of wife who amusingly for a short time is married to Spade. For one season, the husband has a gay friend, which later is forgotten about.

The show is well written and has a lot of funny situations, now and then rather off color in nature. One flaw is that later in the series less is found for the two female characters to do, especially "Jen," while her fiancée becomes a bit too stupid. Sara Rue fills the void here somewhat, but it would be nicer if the show had more of a female p.o.v. at times. As a whole, the female characters do have many moments.

The show is not a classic but there is a reason why it stuck around for seven years. It is in fact a mini-classic for fans.
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The Fosters (2013–2018)
6/10
Starts great, becomes tiresome
21 January 2015
This show is about two lesbians, one a police officer with a teen son from a previous marriage, one a vice principal. To get a sense of things upfront, note that one is white, the other black. This show is full of that sort of thing -- it covers a lot of ground, has a lot of subplots and issues to cover. Each episode is likely to have multiple subplots.

Anyway, the couple (in the first season, we learn how they met & so forth) eventually adopted a pair of twins (Hispanic) whose mother is a drug addict (the father is missing - at least for now!). The show starts with Steph and Lena taking in -- for just a little while surely! -- a troubled teen as a foster child. BTW, the name of one of the women is Stephanie Foster. So, foster parents/Foster -- thus the title. Well, Callie sticks around & turns out she has a brother, each with issues.

A lot of issues on this show, and up to a point, it was fun as well as dramatically enjoyable. I think it fell off for whatever reason after the first set of ten episodes. The show's original plots started to get tiresome and the new ones not as interesting. And, by the third set of episodes, it got too repetitive, melodramatic and tiresome. I still liked the characters in various ways. They weren't use correctly.

The first ten episodes were at times "10" worthy & overall deserve a high rating. The show dropped off and the average rating would be much lower. The show got to be too much & I stopped watching it regularly. Sad.
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All Babe Network (2013 Video)
6/10
Good of its kind
19 November 2014
This is one of a series of soft porn films that pop up on Cinemax or some such channel almost nightly which repeat viewers will note have familiar actors and actresses such as Christine Nguyen and Beverly Lynne. They often are something of a parody (multiple ones has some sort of sci fi theme, counted around six) or at least try to be lighthearted with some comic touch. They are a mixed bag.

This is one of the better efforts. The idea is a low rent television network goes big time by chance when an executive's nephew's gf tosses in some breasts. As the executive (a familiar face) says, "who doesn't like boobs?" Meanwhile, another Mary Carey plays the upset programming director whose position is usurped, just when she thought she was rid of the troublesome nephew. The gf is played by Jazy Berlin, who looks about as much like a big breasted Barbie doll as Mary Carey, but has more of a light touch. Still, Carey (including when doing the name drop -- that is, when the title is dropped into the story -- "I don't want this to be an all babe network" or whatever) is decent too.

It all is doing with a sense of humor though the sex scenes are fairly average (sorta par for the course -- depends on taste, I guess) and it's hard to retain interest the whole way. Still, what do you expect, Shakespeare. For what it is, it is better than usual, with some real acting ability (again grading on a curve). Volume does gain skill there.
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Bikini Spring Break (2012 Video)
3/10
Okay of its type
21 June 2014
Add or or two starts if you are watching it late at night, changing channels while doing so, only watch a few decent segments (like the beginning locker room scene) or are drunk.

This is not high art. It is boring in large doses. But, relatively painless in small doses and a few of the women are nice on the eyes as well as pleasant enough actresses. And, you have Robert Carradine who earns his paycheck while mostly retaining his dignity.

A few reviews gave this a crummy rating. But, really, what does one expect of this sort of straight to um DVD / cable stuff? On a curve, I'd give it three stars.
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Life on Top (2009– )
7/10
Pretty good, drops off in S2
18 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is based on the book by the same name and the first season is pretty loyal to the book though changing the woman boxer character a bit (to the better really -- the book has her work with Bella) and expand the restaurateur character (again this works), so it is a type of "Sex in the City" dynamic.

The first episode in fact matches the book quite neatly, down to (get this!) the prudish Sophie (the wise one, ha!) taking a shower after sex. This is like the last time (almost) the no no of actually reminding us sex involves bodily fluids occurs. The scene even has a condom! {A later good scene at a shoe store is also straight from the book as are others -- the writers do make good use of source material.} Anyway, Sophie escapes a boring suitor and comes to the big city to live with her sis ... Sophie is a brain and has a big job set up to use her business skills. Turns out == the horror == her big sister (in more ways than one) is a soft porn magazine model! The title is thus a sort of pun. Sophie's bestie is pretty continuously in heat too, so you'd think Sophie would not be so shocked ... she does get over it eventually. Like the book, she also has to deal with a boss who deflowers "technical virgins" and has a special skill at poker ...

The fourth (Cassie) is a budding chef (you might recognize her guest starring on Lingerie as did Heather Vandeven), who is bi, though I think we mostly see her with guys. Sex-wise, the show is pretty good. The first season also is pretty serious about plot. The actresses here are good enough in that department to keep things going. I like that sort of thing myself. The actresses (Sophie's boss and hot boy poker love interest are the only guys of interest in S1, the latter somewhat interesting) also look good -- they aren't the sort of sloppy cheap girls seen in some soft porn fare.

Only Belle remains of the quartet in S2 when things then move on to the office (Brandin Rackley gets more face time) and a club (Jayden Cole, another pretty good porn actress, in both departments). The plots aren't as good though there are a few good episodes (e.g., trip to the farm, a bet and blackout) and things are still decent. A bit more focus on a few guys. A gem here is the somewhat dim but smarter than she looks Tippi (Riley Steele) with a distinctive babyish voice.

Repeats continue to be on late at night and continue to catch bits and pieces of it. It's above average soft core fare w/o totally escaping conventions. For instance, minus the first episode, the usual totally tanned, no bodily fluids (sweat, cum etc.) sex that can pop up anywhere and then the people go back to what they are doing sort of thing. Still, the actual plot and acting is notable. Good cast overall.
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Dirty Blondes from Beyond (2012 TV Movie)
7/10
Pretty enjoyable for the genre
17 February 2014
Back in the day, one thing people used to do is flash past a certain channel on the dial to hope to get a flash of nudity on some blocked channel. It doesn't work that way these days but now we have so many channels with sexually explicit material (aside from straight porn Playboy type channels) though after awhile, you see a lot of familiar faces. Yes, it is like the old Hollywood studio system! I personally like Brandin Rackley, Christine Nguyen, Beverly Lynne and a few others of that ilk so the cast was promising. As someone noted, Rackley is a treasure -- she can act and is nice on the eyes. Nguyen is not quite as good of an actress, but is pretty good too.

Some of the more recent films of this type seem to have a bunch of bad actors who have really fake looking gigantic breasts. Jazy Berlin is one of the regulars in the newer wave of soft porn flicks that to me is the best of the bunch. She has the breasts, yes, but has some acting ability. We aren't talking high art here, but some of the new film (e.g., the one in a spa) are pretty bad.

This film is a fun cheesy knock-off on sci fi. The ship sets are a riot. There is enough plot to actually keep your interest. Evan Stone and the other guys leave something to be desired but are workable. The sex scenes are pretty good.

A good companion film to Housewives from Another World.
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4/10
Disappointing
20 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a disappointing film that has a really annoying denouement.

I saw this movie because a list of graphic horror films brought it to my attention and the DVD extras also suggested it had a certain "extra" that might also make it a bit of a cult classic.

It started well. The movie gives us a "deep message" (a bit forced, but I'll allow it) by having our hero suffer a major trauma. We later find out that by chance it is connected to what will come. It provides him with some issues, while suggests a reason why he wears a razor blade around his neck like a charm.

We learn less about our quiet psycho who ask him to the prom, gets turned down and well, has daddy invite him to a "special prom," let's say. Again, the set up is fine. The film btw takes place in Australia, so it has a certain foreign flavor, which adds a nice touch. There is also a bit of early gratuitous nudity. Female, of course.

So, the film goes along nicely here, including some gross out stuff when our teen hero is kidnapped by psycho dad for his daughter. There is some gross out stuff here done fairly well. Then, it basically putters out. Part of the problem is that there is a parallel story, that takes a decent amount of an already short (under 90m) running time about some stoner who takes a Goth chick to the prom. It adds little to the proceedings. It seems like a time waster to me. Is it supposed to be a comparison of the psycho prom? Sort of a drugged out prom? It ends about as lamely.

Then, basically the film doesn't know how to reach a climax and end things. I found how things went there pretty lame. I spoiler alerted so ... okay, so the guy has a knife rammed thru his foot to keep him in place. His head was drilled. He previously fell out of a tree. Basically, he should be pretty hurt and worn out. He manages to untie himself (they don't realize he has that razor blade) and kill the dad, but falls down into the cellar. Looks pretty deep. But, he still manages to kill four (it looks like) crazed zombies. Then, somehow he stacks bodies up to climb out. How does he manage that exactly, even putting aside the bones in his foot much be broken among other things. This is a sort of reverse of the never dead killer -- Indiana Jones wasn't this durable.

This isn't even the last of it. Still, our crazed prom queen wants to gain revenge. You know, by this point, we are sort of on her side. The hero should be dead or incapacitated by now. His mom looks like something out of a Poe poem -- worn out x 3. His oversexed gf with her nice perky breasts also is not someone really worth rooting for. And, going mano-o-mano against our crazed prom queen, who has the element of surprise AND a knife, who gets the best of the situation? Oh come on.

And, our never die hero comes zooming along and hits the RIGHT person this time. But, she isn't quite dead. All we get out of this however is one last shot of her crippled, trying to crawl in the middle of the road. She's hit again ... payback of sorts for the first accident. Still, it is a pretty lame ending.

I think the film had potential to be a gross out horror film with certain dramatic overtones, but about half-way thru, it lost its way. It got a bit dull and then just unbelievable as well as unsatisfying. In fact, the ending really annoyed me. The beginning and some good performances (though the good guys get to be a bit tiresome) provide the four stars. It really could have been much better. Disappointing.
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Dorm Daze 2 (2006 Video)
4/10
Okay Late Viewing
4 August 2013
This is starting to be a film that I see when flipping thru the channels (and darn if Fios has a lot) late night to see if anything good is on to watch. It is relatively painless on that level, though it is hard to imagine too many will find it worthwhile to watch the whole thing. It is one of those films, however, you can mindlessly watch parts of, especially if you aren't desiring to think much. Drinking or being half asleep will help here or something along those lines.

The film is very frenetic -- it aims, especially during the extended play performance climax -- for slapstick style farce. I think it deserves a bit of love for at times managing to do this 1/2 well. It's not really that easy to do, especially with such a large cast.

Take the scene where two characters are trying to get into mood for sex. While this is happening, other things occur, and it all comes together when one of the boob characters accidentally falls over the ledge (because of some other plot development), down to his butt ramming against the cabin window. A crowd of people come in while this occurs. Basically, I'm saying, it requires some degree of plotting the situations to put this all together. It isn't that funny, mind you, but I respected the skill of it all.

Who expects much from a sequel to a film of this nature anyway? So, not much of a positive rating, but I do respect the effort. I think some of these people, including the creators of the film, might have enough talent that in another context, they could make a superior product.
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Pleasure Spa (2013 TV Movie)
3/10
Eh
6 June 2013
There are various familiar faces for those who watch late nite soft porn (the cops are repeat players as are people like Heather and Brandin), but the whole thing was pretty lame. We even have one or two shots of the girls apparently posing to the camera after doing their thing. The sex is not very sexy and the story particularly lame. If you like big boobs, this might work for you in small installments.

The three stars are mostly for nostalgia of better films some of these people are in. Brandin Rackley has a quip or two, for instance, that reminds us of better options. I do admit to liking Raven Alexis here -- she has a cute girl next store look, at least, while clothed.
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7/10
Overall Enjoyable
11 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of a range of tongue in cheek soft porn films with various overlapping participants including a basically straight role (here playing the boss) in each. I liked "The Devil Wears Nada" the best, but this is one of the better ones. Overall, it is a good experience.

Heather Vandeven is the lead here and as in "Life On Top," though she comes off a bit stiff at times, she has a nice acting style in the non-sex roles. Distinctive voice.

She also handles something of a duo role (before and after the alien invasion) well. Starting off as a sharp tongued wife (the title is a misnomer in that no one here is really a "housewife" -- she is coming home from a business trip, another works at some tech firm & apparently isn't married & the third isn't really given much of a back-story).

Another review speaks of "unintentional" humor but these films are intentionally satiric. The espionage subplot down to its conclusion is not supposed to be taken seriously, for instance. The characters in these films generally have fun with this sort of thing.

I personally like films like this to have a bit of plot to go along with the porn and this one has enough to move things along. Some amusing aspects including how the husband gets a neighbor to have sex with him & what happens afterward. Of course, we are here mainly for the soft porn. I think some might find these scenes a mixed bag, but Heather and Rebecca Love was my favorite with an interesting back shot at her pubic hair that is notable.

Christine Nyugen (spelling?) is decent overall -- I find her a bit more bland than Heather Vandeven (Rebecca Love has certain assets but isn't asked to do much in way of acting). The guys do their part.
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Bewitched Housewives (2007 TV Movie)
4/10
Lesser Fred Olen Ray
10 May 2012
The rating is a bit generous given the genre but overall it was okay.

A star should go for the opening sequence alone. Fred Olen Ray favors tongue in cheek theme related plots, but the open that takes place back in 17th Century Salem is actually a bit impressive. Looks decently real, particularly for a soft core flick. Ted Newsom again plays straight man well, here in a Pilgrim outfit.

The film isn't as good afterward though Beverly Lynne and Rebecca Love do their usual (Love looks younger here to me, but her big boobs are in place). Some guys not usually in the series pop up too. No Frankie Cullen etc. The film also seems a bit shorter than usual. And, where does Newsom spend the night exactly after he pops into present day? Does he hide in the bushes somewhere? A few stars for decent goings on and sex scenes, including the finale with some nice comic tidbits. Having the guy explain what went on while our two ladies are nude aside him is a nice touch. Quick shot of BL's pussy. A pretty good bonus scene in a porno our 17th Century babe watches. She must get the Spice Channel -- it was during the day.

Overall, watchable late nite soft porn fare, but other films (including "Little Witches" which also has a "let's rob his ideas" ad subplot with extra plot) in the series are better.
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4/10
Inferior Remake
15 June 2011
(from a blog post of mine; I reviewed the original on IMDb too)

The original is not to be exaggerated as to merit. The remake, which I saw on DVD, was disappointing. The trailer for the original speaks of five attackers, though there were only four, but this one adds a fifth (a redneck sheriff). The original had Camilla Keaton, the actor's granddaughter (though at least one source as I recall suggested some doubt on the matter); this one has a character actor in a bit role. I toss that in as trivia. Anyway, the addition of the extra person, having the lead talk a lot more, a few touches updating the time period (such as her having a laptop and cell phone) and so forth really doesn't add much positive to the film. Some suggested the original star didn't have much acting chops, but I think her overall silence added to the proceedings. A few more sarcastic revenge tinged comments didn't.

I think the lead-up and intermission (after the rape, before the revenge) was done better in the original. A scene in some cuts of the original where the guys talk about the "city girl" was particularly powerful. Jennifer being being harassed by two of the guys passing in a motorboat (sorry fans of the original, not much motorboat related early or late here) not here. For some reason, they cut the scene of her going to church, praying for forgiveness for the sins she will do. And, unlike the retarded guy not being able to go through with killing her in the original, this one has a lame ass scene of her falling into the water, them not shooting at her or anything and then she pops up some time later ready for revenge. The original showed her right after the rape, the horror of the situation clear.

The rape itself is not as explicit as in the original (that really drew things out) and it suggests how remakes often are less gritty these days. The remake of Assault on Precinct 13 or The Taking of Pelham One Two Three both appeared from previews and what I heard about them to have similar problems. But, it's not really necessary to draw out the rape. That's not really the issue here. I do like the original Jennifer. This one seems more like someone out of some WB show. The clip of her walking nude after the rape was briefer here and as unrealistic looking as some stylish show there too. The original was gritter and dirtier. You might feel dirty watching it, but that's the point -- she was abused horribly and her revenge is psychologically understandable if not defensible (for some). The guys are not really much different though again the original set probably did the job better.

The revenge of the original has her trick the retarded guy and ringleader (the latter by having a bath with him!) in ways that turned their use of her around. Since she basically had died inside (the last shot again underlines this more powerfully in the original), use of her body toward this end was understandable. It was not merely some exploitation device though the honest viewer realizes that is part of it. What else is an extended nude scene in a bathroom, including her putting pins in her hair while talking to the ringleader, right before she castrated him with a pair of scissors? The second half of the revenge was quicker, but also turned around an earlier bit of harassment by two of them in a motorboat as well as the desire of one for oral sex.

The sequel does have an original worthy twist, this time concerning anal sex (with a gun) though The Descent probably has the best answer in that department. But, overall, the scenes were stupid. The basic problem was believability -- how did she actually move the guys around to set things up? She didn't need such strength (didn't seem to break a sweat) in the original, where surprise and guile did the trick. The bit where she pretended to be the cop's young daughter's new teacher (the remake gave the family man one less kid) was a nice touch. Still, if you didn't like her using her body in the original as much as she did, fine, but the remake's revenge scenes left something to be desired.

Overall, the remake was okay. As suggested, it didn't have the style of the original and some aspects hurt the overall flow of the film. The lack of a portion between the rape and her starting to gain revenge particularly was a major deficit. The deleted scenes showed that a scene in the church was shot, but that's all that we see even there. The lack here robs the film of a key dramatic element. It is as if The Descent skipped from her rape to her revenge, with her dealing with the trauma of the situation basically off scene or basically assumed. That is quite possible, but that's like assuming grief in a portrayal of tragedy -- the audience generally should see some evidence of emotions, not just take them as a given.
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Twilight Vamps (2010 Video)
7/10
Funny But Not Best Brandin
5 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of many Fred Olen Ray take-offs and unlike another review noted, it has various regulars including the main guy who here looks like prime gay porn material -- guy is working at the gym! My main reason for checking it out is that I saw past efforts, particularly enjoying Brandin Rackley. I was a bit disappointed by her performance here -- didn't see that much of her and what we see is a bit pedestrian (still hot; only a bit of her playful voice work here). I also enjoyed a film like Devil Wears Nada better for some of the sex scenes. The scene with the woman from Coed Confidential (Michelle Maylene -- some sort of crossover? lol) was a bit quick, for instance.

It still is well worth watching, especially for soft porn. The open credits are great -- very creative. Love the "inspired by a poem by Edgar Allen Poe" bit. Any soft porn movie with a plot that fairly holds your interest and has serious comedy chops on at least three or four occasions is worth a nod. Still, a bit disappointed. The somewhat slow beginning is part of it, a pretty bland sex bit.

There is a lot to like though. Beverly Lynne, who I like along with Rackley because she actually has some personality and isn't just like a walking silicone experiment, is great here. Her bitchy cheating lesbian girlfriend is quite amusing. Christine Nguyen, who in a couple other films I felt was pretty bland, has more personality here too. I realize some just want nudity but really, a bit of personality doesn't hurt in that department. And, these films also benefit from a bit of acting chops. As another review notes, she shows improvement.

The third vampire provides good support. Frankie Cullen is particularly good here too. The detective provides amusing comedy relief.
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Quick Change (1990)
8/10
Funny and Great for New Yorkers
9 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Quick Change" comes a bureaucrat who is sick of urban life and dreams of an escape with his girlfriend. Unlike most, he finds a way to put his fantasies into action by robbing a bank. He has additional help from a loyal child-like friend.

The "quick change" from their disguises in the bank might be the reference in the title though there might be a deeper meaning about the need to change on a personal level or how we do change. This is after all part of the conflict -- the lead's girlfriend is uncomfortable about his apparent personality change as he appears to almost cruelly go about escaping from the myriad of roadblocks put in front of them (some pretty funny, other wryly so) while they try to escape the city.

The film suggests a certain love of the city since much of the humor is based on various exaggerated expressions of "types" (like a bus driver who strictly follows the rules to keep sane or a big city detective, well played by Jason Robards -- part of a good ensemble cast, about to retire). It is also often low key, which some might not like, but I did enjoy the film as a whole. And, Bill Murray is not so sure of himself, so above the fray, that we don't see him as a real person.

Funny movie which New Yorkers might appreciate more.
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Juno (2007)
7/10
Pretty Good But Overrated
8 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I did like this film when I first saw it but even then thought it a bit overrated and too cool for school. I think the overall not very good "Disaster Movie" has a wicked portrayal of the lead here as a over the top witticism spouting too cool chick. She is a bit hard to take, more mannerisms at times than real person. OTOH, yeah, teens can be all about that sort of thing. Image is very important to them. Often adults too.

Ellen Page and company were very good in this film. One sign of a good film is that many members of the cast add things to the film. This is the case here. Her parents and the possible parents to adopt her child, for instance, are serious characters. Parents often stereotypes in teen films, this is notable. The music also is good. And, overall, the film is good as well. Not great, but worthwhile.

A word for those annoyed about the abortion angle. Okay. This film couldn't be made if she didn't stay pregnant. So, her deciding not to abort, though that scene is a tad bit much, is necessary. I agree it was not really taken seriously though many teens don't decide one way or the other that seriously, if we are honest about it. This really isn't the place for pro-choice sorts (and I'm one) to get all upset about. Again, her being pregnant is essential to the plot.
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Keeping Mum (2005)
8/10
Seriously Entertaining Flick
8 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I basically used the summary of another review since it fits the film well. This film is seriously entertaining in a British sort of way. That is, it focuses on some quirky sorts doing outrageous things that on some level is not assumed to be that big of a deal. Well, at least, by some people in the film. And, it focuses on mostly average sorts, not "the beautiful people." Finally, as a bit of an aside, it has a comfort level with sex that American films often do not (I'm reminded of a Canadian film that I just watched -- "The War Bride," which had a think nothing of it full frontal nudity scene involving a bath. It fit the times and character and was not dirty or anything. Just run of the mill adult fare.) The film concerns a kindly but absentminded vicar (Rowan Atkinson, nicely low key here) in a small British town with a cutesy name, his wife loves him but is bored with their marriage, so is planning to have an affair. The wife (Kristin Scott Thomas, notably plain looking here) is in fact apparently an orphan. She is also having problems with her children, including her oversexed daughter and picked on son. A new kindly nanny (Maggie Smith, very good too) helps out here in all respects (including showing the vicar the charms of the Songs of Solomon), but turns out to have a secret.

It's amusing, wickedly so often enough, and enjoyable on a character level. You like these people (well maybe not Patrick Swayze, playing a heel -- well he is American! -- perfectly) and that is part of the charm.
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U Turn (1997)
7/10
Fun
7 November 2010
Oliver Stone is known for various serious and/or controversial films that have a certain audience, while others are not big fans. But, this film is not of that quality. This bit of triviality seems more of a lark. It was destined for late night viewings and video rentals. All the same, I think it can be said to be more enjoyable than some (who knows? maybe all) of those other "message" movies. And, conspiracy free.

The movie concerns Sean Penn as a loser who has the unfortunate fate of winding up in some hick town where, to paraphrase him, everyone seems crazy. A major part of all this is a woman played by Jennifer Lopez, showing her ability to have some fun, again better than many of her later more serious roles. I don't remember all the details -- don't even recall Claire Danes had a bit role in the thing.

Still, I remember having a lot of fun. Thus, my summary.
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Zero Effect (1998)
8/10
Nifty Witty Character Play
7 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a nifty little character study, character play, if you like.

The overall plot is simple enough: a recluse is great detective, and is hired to find out two things: where a set of keys is and who is blackmailing someone. Ben Stiller plays his public face, downplaying his usual uncomfortable shtick some here.

Bill Pullman plays Daryl Zero, the detective, and does so as he often does in his character roles -- very well. And, Kim Pickens -- very good in a piquant role -- also has an important part of the plot, particularly as some one Zero falls in love with. Ryan O'Neal has a small part, which he does fine enough, as the client.

The movie is laid back and some might be turned off by that, since it takes it time and doesn't try to do too much. But, to me, given I liked the characters and all, it works for me. Nice ending too.
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Freaky Friday (2003)
6/10
Enjoyable Thought Not Totally Convincing
6 November 2010
There has been various versions of this movie from the original with Drew Barrymore to a lesser known remake with "Diane" from Cheers to this one. Of course, there are other parent switch movies involving guys as well. And, a few cases where there is only a one way transformation, that is, the adult becomes a younger or older version of themselves.

Most of them are enjoyable, teaching little lessons fairly painlessly, though not really dealing with some of the more "R" rated ideas of the plot. For instance, compare "Back to the Future" that does face up to Marty needing to avoid the affections of his now teenage age mother. The plots tend to be "PG" rated as well, sex not an issue, though "Big" for one does address that, though again, not very much.

Anyway, back to this movie. This was fairly enjoyable, a good follow-up to another Lohan re-make (better performance by her probably in that one), "The Parent Trap." The star of this film is actually Jamie Lee Curtis, who has the most fun with the transformation. My problem is that I didn't really believe she was her daughter in that adult body. It was a fun "teen" performance, but I'm not sure how much of the Lohan character was in it. Lohan was a it stiff in the movie overall, I think, even her teen not that exciting really. Mark Harmon played a real nice guy -- somewhat atypical, since he did play nice, but not quite this blandly.

I did like it overall. Not great though.
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Office Space (1999)
8/10
Fun Movie Very Laid Back
6 November 2010
This is a classic movie and shows the guy behind such classics as "Beavis and Butthead" can do a more long form / live action film as well. Now, there are cartoon aspects to the film -- Milton is a bit of a cartoon, one can imagine him as one in fact -- but this is clearly a live action movie. And, it is a funny one that also says a thing or two about office life and does so years before The Office.

Ron Livingston plays his average schmuck who decides to say "f" it and do what he wants perfectly. The idea is a bit like Jack Black when he is hypnotized to only see the person within. The people who work at the office are also great, the hilarious nature thanks to how perfectly they play the roles. Consider his slimy boss. This is the guy who also played "Mike Brady" in the Brady Bunch Movie and a vice president on "West Wing." So, this was a great bit of acting. Also, Jennifer Aniston is great. It's a bit sad that her charm in such early works seems lacking now.

I took off a couple points since the movie isn't perfect as a whole. The material does seem a bit stretched out in a feature length film. But, that's not a big deal really, especially if you see it on t.v. or whatever. It still is very fun and worth watching.
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Fortress (1992)
8/10
Great Genre Flick
6 November 2010
This is not a great work of art but it is a great work of popcorn eating genre watching. Everyman against evil corporation in a scary future.

Shades of Margaret Atwood for those who might not know who she is. ["The Handmaid's Tale is worth reading or watching -- it is quite readable Atwood, the film pretty good too.] The film should not be confused with a lesser known foreign genre flick by the same name about a schoolteacher trying to escape a different kind of danger with her school children. Again, both the film and book is worthwhile.

Anyway, so, a man (Christopher Lambert, perfect genre everyman) has to escape from a prison to save his wife with the help of the likes of Jeffrey Combs (taking a break from trying to bring things to life) against the evil Kurtwood Smith (of course!). Great for late night viewing. Don't take too seriously!
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Easy Virtue (2008)
8/10
Very good but maybe not the second time
4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this movie the first time around since I thought it had great leads, a good sense of place and examined numerous important themes.

The "7th Heaven" actress hit pay dirt here, finding a perfect movie to show her talents. She has not have had much success finding a similar role since. In time, we see the depth of her character, who at first just comes of as "outrageous." The parents of her new husband are excellent as always. Again, their characters are deeper in time, at first, they might be seen as just "characters" in a period drama. Supporting actors like Katherine Parkinson (of Doc Martin) also are good. And, there are some really wicked (the dog scenes; the can can) and touching (including toward the end) moments.

I watched it again and didn't quite enjoy it as much. So, maybe it loses something on re-viewing. Maybe it was just too soon.
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Wild Target (2010)
7/10
Fun But A Bit of A Trifle
4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it had its down moments so I gave it 7 out of 10.

The best thing about this movie are the leads, the movie working as a whole however because many actors provided good support. For instance, soon enough the um "good guys" (at least those we are rooting for) amount to a three person team, the Harry Potter 'third wheel' coming up on the rear. Each adds a nice touch. The villains and mother also work as does the person who helps Emily Blunt early on.

The movie has a leisurely pace that overall works though it gets a bit boring toward the end. This allows us to enjoy the characters.

I was a bit put off by the easy killing of various people, including a couple who we basically don't want dead. The movie isn't exactly "realistic" in some ways, so I'm not sure if that was necessary. I also am a bit put off by May/December romances -- in fact, Blunt played the daughter of her love interest here in an earlier film! But, they had pretty good chemistry.

Overall, I had fun and it's well recommended, even for theater prices.
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XXY (2007)
9/10
Very good
4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very good examination of a teenager struggling with gender confusion. As with all good films, it is not just about that. It is also about how the family and others deal with that and other conflicts, the immediate confrontation arising when company arrives. The father's ultimate facing up to his child's struggles and what needs to be done is also handled very well. An excellent film in any language.

Well, it tells me I need to write more, and I'm not one to deny myself of that when possible. Let me add that the whole scene when the dad goes to visit someone else who dealt with the same issue was handled very well, including the opening distrust when the stranger comes by.
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