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Alien: Covenant (2017)
I beg you. Enough!
We need filmmakers with the courage to do something new. There are lots of great science fiction books out there with exciting new stories. Do we really need to squander development money on a rehash of alien. There is nothing new here. If they left anything out from prior movies, it was Ripley and she was the best thing about the franchise. The human characters in this movie are less interesting than the synthetics. What does that tell you? Please please. Make it stop.
All Is Lost (2013)
Life of PI without the tiger; Gravity with no emotion
I thought Life of PI was a waste of time. Once they get on the boat with the tiger, it is a series of visuals and that's all there is to it. This one is even worse. We get Robert Redford mostly grunting with frustration at his lack of preparation and the failure of his many toys. We watch him opening bags and getting wet and then opening more bags and getting more wet. How anyone could contemplate nominating this performance is an utter mystery to me. He behaves like someone who is desperately trying to keep his emotions under control. That might be what you would really do but how does it lead to anything we want to watch. The Sandra Bullock performance in Gravity is way more convincing and involving for an audience. If only Redford had no dialogue at all. Surely then he would be a contender to win an Oscar. Maybe he needed a tiger or at least a cat. For a real performance, see 127 hours.
Wake in Fright (1971)
Ugly Behaviour with no point or story
I cannot believe people see any value at all in this film. Men behaving badly is the formula for a lot of films, especially comedies and here it is a drama. I found myself watching a collection of lazy good for nothings drink, gamble, fight and murder animals. By the end I was hoping that all the characters would not produce progeny. I felt like I needed a shower to wash off their stench. Where is the story? What is it about? Is there a moment I will cherish, a great idea, a great line of dialogue? Give me something, but it does not. People may think it has something to do with the corruption of intellectuals by their exposure to primitive men, but the lead character for all his learning is a bit of drunk and a failure and he only needs a shove to fall into the pit. Somehow I suspect he will return to this group of frat boys. His willingness to slaughter defenseless animals for the joy of killing is proof that he harbors inner demons and is as disturbed as his vile comrades. Men like this eventually murder. The gang in Reservoir Dogs was more appealing than this bunch.
Des hommes et des dieux (2010)
The irrationality of people of faith
Let me begin by clarifying that yes I am atheist. Those of you who are religious and perpetually need others to support you and pat your little pointed heads can stop reading as I am sure to just push your buttons. My wife and I were shocked when we saw this movie based on a 7.5 at IMDb. I can only imagine that this score is due to the film's audience consisting of people who are devout or perhaps who are monks. I am not sure how a monk would get to a movie but I will not speculate further.
This is surely one of the most amateurish pieces of filmmaking I have ever seen. The paper-thin plot is punctuated by irrelevant scenes of utterly banal daily activities in the life of a monk. We see a car on the side of a road with its hood up. A group of women walk by and say hello. The two monks lower the hood and drive away followed by a panoramic shot of a group of hills. We see a tractor driving along, get stuck, get unstuck and drive off. A monk cleans up broken glass. Yawn! Once in a while we get back to the story. The movie is honest enough to tell us that poverty and death is how you get close to God. Men are never so cheerful about committing acts of evil as when it is motivated by religion or words to that effect. I am not sure how the devoutly religious think and I am also unsure whether think is a word that I would use to describe it. People who are generally faith-based cannot think rationally and have little use for facts, which might challenge their faith. This explains the popularity of the Republican Party. The factual consequences of Republican policies are never of importance to those who support them based on faith that they are right. It is much easier to just have faith than to think. OK a diversion. Back to our friends the monks.
So a life devoted to prayer and gardening. If we all lived that way we would still be living in caves. That's all right. Life is of little value; only a death that is linked with religious belief matters. Isn't that the philosophy of the suicide bomber? Now one of the monks is a Doctor. Strange. Why would one need science at all when one has prayer? Surely to heal someone with a drug is a mistake when one can simply pray and let God decide. OK I am trying to think rationally about religion. That is an act of pure futility. You tell a monk that a hurricane is coming and will level the monetary. Should they leave? No! This is a chance to die while praying. You tell a monk to go into a war zone where they will surely be killed. Here is another perfect chance to die, hopefully while praying or singing or chanting. Such behaviour is clearly what we should all do, wiping out the human race. God will give us our reward in heaven and then he can start all over again.
Here is an experiment. I hold a gun to your head. I say, "if you stay in your chair I will shoot you but if you get up and leave it means that you do not believe in God and trust in his ultimate reward of heaven; alternatively you can sit in your chair and ask God to grant me heaven and in a short while I will shoot you." What do you do? What do you do if a child occupies the chair and your actions will determine not your fate but the child's?
The monks are not heroes or martyrs. They are simple foolish men whose lives were thrown away. They are prisoners of brains that at one point in their lives were wired to believe in utter nonsense. They are like all religious people, victims of inception. They are victims of the greatest and most destructive con in all of human history.
My favourite scene was the metaphorical last supper with the idiotic smiling and the ludicrous close ups. I love the way the movie's description says "Under threat by fundamentalist terrorists". What does it mean when a group of Christians go to a Muslim country and tell people that if they do not accept Jesus as their saviour, they will go to hell and burn for eternity? Is that not religious terrorism of a different form? I note how similar the reaction of Christians to the proposed Muslim mosque near the trade towers site to the reaction of Muslims to a monastery in a Muslim country. Of course religious has been the wellspring of most of the terrorism we have seen throughout human history and in the modern world.
OK, this is way too long a review. Thanks for your patience.
A Room with a View (1985)
A boring movie about nothing
The fact that anyone likes this movie is a complete mystery to me. I have watched it several times and I see no merit in it whatsoever. I can not even figure out its genre. It is not a drama and I am shocked that anyone would describe it as a comedy. It is a full length feature film about a stolen kiss. Beautiful scenery, music and clothing are used to disguise the fact that there is no story, no suspense, no emotion, nothing. I can only conclude that the people who like this movie like movies about nothing. It is the Seinfeld joke in the form of a movie – a movie about nothing. I also think there are people nostalgic for the innocence of this bygone era. The fact that this movie has never to my knowledge appeared on any sort of great films list, not even for the 80's, is just proof of the fact that it was over-rated at the time and now has largely been forgotten. This is I think the fate of Merchant Ivory films, to be forgotten.
Route 66: I'm Here to Kill a King (1964)
A bright memory from my childhood but how did it end???
I remember watching this series faithfully as a kid and how much more dramatic and real it seemed than a lot of the fairy tale TV back then. I am confident that it would hold up on TV today were it ever replayed To me it sort of leads to Easy Rider. It seemed like a manifestation of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run. The acting was wonderful and I can still see the two main characters Tod and Buzz, not to mention that car. I can even remember the theme music which I have not heard for over 40 years. What a shame that Maharis left the series. That killed it. It was filmed largely on location, a novelty for those days. It showcased the corvette before it became an American classic. I wonder to if buddy films were inspired by this great show. The main writer was Sterling Silliphant who won the Oscar for In the Heat of the Night and he knew how to write drama. I wish it could be rented. One of my great regrets is never seeing how it ended. I only wish IMDb has a full episode guide. If anyone knows how to find out how it all ended, please let me know.
A refreshing change from the usual garbage comedy
What a pleasure it is to see a comedy that was witty and fun and also sweet and touching. I have not met a person that didn't like it. The conventional criticism of Juno is that it's dialog and characters are too snappy, too mature for their years. I think adults today have little idea of the sophistication of many of today's kids. Exposure to the internet has changed everything. If you want to talk about what will never happen, how about Seth Rogan matched up with Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up. Sorry but no woman could ever be that drunk. No man would ever get away with his behavior towards her. I think to of how I have suffered over the years in Adam Sandler or Jim Cary movies. Please no more! For a long time I thought movie comedy was dead and then along came Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. Maybe there is hope for the future. Maybe we can have real comedies that make us laugh while trying to tell a real story. You will not find this kind of wit on the walls of public bathrooms and that is more than I can say for the 40 year old virgin or knocked up.
I'm Not There (2007)
Cate Blanchett continues to amaze. She does not act. She becomes another person. It is like some sort of magical trick. It will be a travesty if she does not win the Oscar. Ruby Dee - please. Was she in American Gangster? Did she have more than 3 lines? This movie is bad beyond bad. A meaningless collection of images and gibberish. I loved the Billy The Kid segment. Wow! Surely some sort of hallucinogen was required to create this movie. Are they telling us that Bob Dylan is really a random thought generator? Toss in a quarter and get a stream of words. Maybe it is accurate, I do not know. If it is I would never have made the movie and exposed an audience to such nonsense. I recently read that Susie Roloto, his ex-girlfriend says in her biography about her time with him that "He had an uncanny ability to complicate the obvious and sanctify the banal - just like a poet". What an apt description this would be of I'm Not There.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
A Character Study But We Leave Wondering Who Is This Man?
Although well done in many ways with a great mood and great acting, I felt deprived of information watching this film. Who was Daniel? What was his childhood? What is the secret hinted at in the film in Daniel's family history but never revealed? What is the story with his brother? Did he ever have a woman in his life? Who was his lieutenant, a man he seemed to trust? The movie had a chance to really tell us what kind of life would have produced this emotionally stunted nihilistic violent man but it does not. The story of the early days of oil was interesting, but the film is less that story than the story of Daniel and it is incomplete.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
3 brothers wasting their lives and asking you to waste some of yours
Not funny, not dramatic, not romantic, not having a story but on a positive note, it is less than 2 hours. I must have 10 lines of text for my comments and I am confident this is more than the screenplay of this pointless movie. It is filled with moments of I am searching for a word to describe the absence of anything remotely meaningful or entertaining or well anything. Let's have breakfast and stand on a hill and have some cough syrup. Yeah and then let's get our shoes shined. Maybe we could have some lime drink. Hey let's film Bill Murray one of the greatest comic actors of all time running because that's what he does best. We will let Owen Wilson talk and film Bill Murray running. Sounds good to me. I know - a flashback to our father's funeral but let's show them trying to pick up his Porsche instead but it can not be driven so let's push it out of the garage and then push it right back in again. Let's wrestle for a bit and then go to the dining car. Shall we let the audience go home now. Sure why not. They already paid. I am certain that some sort of random plot generator was used to create and stitch together this drivel. I wasted some of my life at this movie and now I have wasted some more commenting on it. Enough!
Into the Wild (2007)
Selfish idiot throws his life away in the wild
Biographies are usually about people we wish we had known, people whose lives were of great significance or filled with drama. I think of Patton or Laurence of Arabia or many others. I am sure as movie fans that you can fill in the blanks. Now Sean Penn offers us Christopher McCandless. Who? Was his life a subject for cinema? Let's see. He lived a boring uneventful life tooling around in the wild for a while (should be some dramatic music here) usually by mooching off others or off the technology and civilization he abhorred. He created nothing. He changed nothing. He shaped nothing. He selfishly and thoughtlessly abandoned his family including a sister who loved him and never did him a bit of harm. He managed to walk away from everyone who ever cared about him or wanted to befriend him or help him. He had that always charming arrogance of those who believe they have all the answers to life that us lesser people just can't see. We insist on having a shower in the morning and not having lice in our hair or stinking. More the fools us. Apparently smelling back and hopping freight trains is some king of revelation of truth. If only we would abandon all this modern science and technology and just pee on a tree or look at a mountain. There has always been a cult that believed the secret was to run away. Somehow wasting your life doing nothing is better than spending it trying to actually contribute something. Just be. Just breathe. That's the ticket. Well that is the difference between us and animals. We try to do something, to learn something and make something and we fail and we try again. We do not run away. Why would anyone want to spend over two hours watching this pathetic loser destroy himself. It is like watching grizzly man. One is just waiting and let's be honest, hoping for a bear to get hungry and the real truth to be revealed. Like the grizzly, the wild is not your friend. It is beautiful to look at but you do not belong there. It will kill you for just that reason. Good bye Christopher. Let's hope there is no sequel.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Same Time Next Year Meets Sheep-herding
Bless the academy for ignoring the political hype and rewarding the superior film - Crash. Brokeback is just a gay version of Same Time Next Year except that movie grew the relationship and the people changed and actually had conversations. It was a richer version of the story that I frankly liked better. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was considered courageous and ground-breaking but who remembers it today or puts it on a list of great movies. Brokeback's first 45 minutes are a bore of sheep herding and eating beans and nice scenery. This is a movie where a life long love is unjustified by anything we see or hear on screen. What holds these men together besides lust? Who knows? It is a shame there was no way to make Angels in America a theatrical release because there is a far better written film with a real wow factor. It is not hard to believe that Brokeback came from a short story because there is very little story, very few great scenes (although the great ones are great) and a lot of padding. A good movie - yes. An Oscar winner - NO! Of course criticizing this film is not permitted amongst those who seem to believe that a liberal challenge to conservative bigotry should should win Oscars instead of writing and acting. Now that the movie has lost the Oscar it may be remembered at least for that.
Great spectacle but repetitive storyline
It is difficult to imagine this movie better made. It reflects as much as any film, the seemingly unlimited ability of Hollywood to turn imagination into screen reality. It is a combination of sound,images and furious action that explodes off the screen. However it's story line is a simple telling of the classic mythic cliche. We have a hero on a quest to save the world (what else) with a band of diverse fellow travelers and guess what - they are constantly in trouble. It makes one realize that Tolkien could have been an inspiration for George Lucas's Star Wars. The problem is that we have already seen Star Wars and it is funnier and more fun to watch. So is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lord of the Rings is humorless and it's hero and characters have no charisma. We don't care whether the quest succeeds or fails and it becomes repetitive like one of those songs where they just repeat the chorus because they have no other lines.