Live and Let Die (1973)

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Terrible Roger Moore Bond flick that left me angry and shaken and wanting revenge. Just awful on every possible level. I mean, magic and voodoo? In a Bond flick? Really? Whose idea was it exactly to turn the next installment of the series into a cheesy 1940s supernatural horror film? Who, I ask? WHO?!?

Terrible editing, acting, story, music choices, you name it. The only sort of okay actor here, other than Moore who really, really tries despite the god awful material, was Jane Seymour who played the ridiculous fortune-teller character. Idiotic and totally out of character for a Bond film, yes, but she does a good job in the role and, frankly, is quite easy on the eyes, as they say.

But no, awful. Stay away.

Watch this one instead. Way, way  better.
(Yes, I’ve sold out. Extended periods of unemployment will do that to you.)

The Bay (2012)

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Grisly, disgusting film with plenty of shocks and scares and all the other good stuff people go to horror movies to see. It’s extremely tense too, especially at the beginning when all seems quiet and calm as the voice of our sexy female protagonist warns us of the horrors to come. And it’s very well-edited and acted, and plausible in its own silly way, lending all the more to the realism of the events that unfold. Some of it is dumb, sure, but how this movie managed to get swept under the mainstream cinematic rug is beyond me.

Well worth watching, absolutely. You’ll never look at water the same way again, assuming you normally spend long periods of time staring at water, that is.

Watch it!

World War Z (2013)

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Tense, enjoyable action film with plenty of great moments and suspenseful/nail-biting action scenes, though the plot does feel a bit contrived and/or ridiculous at times, especially at the end. And Brad Pitt is way too pretty here to be taken seriously. It’s distracting. At least cut the man’s hair, damn it. What is this, a shampoo commercial?

Still, great film. Not the most intelligent in the world, granted, but it works in its own fun, sort-of mindless way. It’s well shot and directed and decently acted, even from Pitt surprisingly. Just a fun summer movie. Definitely better than average. Strongly recommended.

 

The Bling Ring (2013)

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Disappointing film from Sofia Coppola with little of her usual filmmaking charm and powerful, low-key psychological imagery. This is Coppola trying to be mainstream, I think, and failing because, frankly, she’s not a mainstream director, which is perfectly fine, damn it! Just make your usual weird crap and stop worrying about what mainstream audiences think! You’re one of the best filmmakers ever, dang it, you shouldn’t be lowering yourself to anyone’s standards!

Anyway, it does have its moments, and Emma Watson is pretty good, but the film doesn’t have very much conflict in it until the last 20 minutes or so, and by then, you just don’t care. And the characters here are so stupid and shallow. It’s infuriating. Another title for this could have easily been “Rich Idiots: The Movie.”

Undercooked and not very interesting. A definite disappointment.

 

Quick Reviews: Marie Antoinette (2006), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Living Daylights (1987), The Iceman (2012), The Unknown Woman (2006), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Licence to Kill (1989), Man of Steel (2013), This Is the End (2013)

photo posted on post-gazette.com

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Brilliantly funny hipster period piece. Extremely well shot, directed, acted, everything, especially the first two-thirds. Loved it. Sofia Coppola is a female Kubrick in a way; truly the best mainstream female director working today, and one of the best directors to come out in a long, long time. Better than her father, at least, who’s certainly no slouch himself.  The woman has such a strong filmmaking voice, maybe even a born filmmaker. She’s not for everyone, I’m sure, but man, to those who get her, what a treat. Who says women can’t make good films? Not this guy. Not anymore, at least. Strongly recommended.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Wacky action film that doesn’t always work. Weird plot, kind of goofy, stupid. Guy Pierce is good, as is James Badge Dale who plays his second banana, and the little kid, and Ben Kingsley of course, despite the SHOCKING BIG REVEAL in the second act. It’s entertaining and has its moments, but I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the second one. It’s just silly when you get right down to it, especially compared to the sort of realism the series established in the first two films. And what was with the “fire-breathing” scene? Dumb. Eh.

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The Living Daylights (1987)

Awesome, epic Bond. Romantic and sweeping; really takes the series to a whole new, totally unexpected level. It’s the Lawrence of Arabia of Bond films. Great acting all around too, especially from Timothy Dalton who certainly looks the part. He’s not as good as Roger Moore, but he’s definitely very good in the role. Better than Connery, that’s for sure. And the Bond girl is actually not just the eye candy for once, not totally at least, and the plot is so easy to follow. And what a great ending action set piece! Just a truly great piece of filmmaking, and one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this series. Strongly recommended.

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The Iceman (2012)

Decent, very well acted film with a premise that keeps things interesting enough despite the thing’s lack of conflict and plot for almost half its running time. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the sociopathic hit man, as are Ray Liotta and Chris Evans. Just extremely well acted all around. The editing is a bit odd at times though, and could have used some more stationary shots, and the dialogue is kind of clunky here and there, but nothing too terrible. The film is just a simple, solid, straightforward story with no big surprises or revelations or insights of any kind. It could have been deeper, sure, but it works as it is, I guess. Good, but not great. Watch for the acting.

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The Unknown Woman (2006)

Disturbing, rape and violence filled film I knew nothing about going into that left me crying and shaking in a corner by the time it was all said and done. The main character is really good here, especially considering what she’s put through. Granted it’s all movie “make-believe,” but man, those must have been quite the hellish scenes to shoot. The story itself is sick and disturbing, yet full of passion and immense, almost overwhelming sadness and longing. And it’s all held together by a strong emotional backbone that helps elevate the thing to a state well above what would otherwise be little more than exploitation.

But man is some of it hard to watch, especially the horrific flashback scenes of…I don’t even know what they were exactly. And that’s what makes the thing so frightening; you don’t know what happened to her exactly, or how she ended up where she did. You just get a few glimpses of it, some pieces of the puzzle, but you’re never told exactly what or why or how. I also really enjoyed the film’s distinct style and pace, and what a great, suspenseful first act. The ending didn’t make a whole lot of sense, what with the whole **SPOILERS** jail aspect, **END SPOILERS** but whatever. Pretty damn good film, but really hard to watch. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Pretty damn good, brainless sequel to a movie I hated. Yes it’s stupid and the plot makes little to no sense, like **SPOILERS** how the hell there wouldn’t be any space ships to provide security around Earth to prevent the kind of thing that happens at the end of the second act of this movie from happening, **END SPOILERS**, but so what? It’s fun and entertaining and well acted, and it has some pretty great moments of action, like the **SPOILERS** warp drive chase sequence where the Enterprise is blown apart and people get sucked into hyperspace. **END SPOILERS** Awesome. And so much running. Everything is frantic and fast paced and flashy, like living in a world run entirely by Apple, and that Benedict Cumberbatch, man, what a villain. Just mindless fun. Not sure why I enjoyed it way more than I did the first, but it was a definite improvement. Recommended.

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Licence to Kill (1989)

Violent, brutal Bond that reminded me a lot of Scarface. It’s very different, but not in a bad way, though it did take a while to get used to. It’s just a lot more grisly and violent and downright gory than most other Bond movies, with lots of mutilations and scenes torture and dismemberment. A sign of the times, I guess. There’s also a lot less sexism here, which I imagine is another sign of the times. And what a great end battle. Pretty good Bond, though very different.

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Man of Steel (2013)

An okay, overwhelmingly chaotic film with a few good moments here and there and some great action, though way, way, WAY too much destruction and death for a PG-13 film, especially at the end. And what was with all the 9/11 imagery? What the hell, Hollywood? Stop using tragic real life imagery to infuse your dumb, otherwise lifeless action movies with a sense of unearned emotional gravitas. It’s manipulative, lazy, and, frankly, a bit immoral. This isn’t a historical piece, folks, it’s just a stupid Superman movie. The guy flies around in a pair of tights, for crying out loud. No need to bring September 11th into it.

The editing too is quite terrible; it’s just too quick, and makes the whole thing feel like a two and a half hour commercial. There’s no sense of pause, no moment for any of the characters, and, in turn, the audience, to breathe. As a result, every scene of this movie feels exactly the same. Everything is shot at you at breakneck speed, faster than a speeding bullet, you could even say, har har. But seriously, there’s no tension, and very little suspense. Terrible, terrible editing. And such a stupid plot.

But it’s not a terrible movie, not completely. Like I said, it has its moments. It’s also very dark, especially at the end when Superman does something to someone you don’t quite expect a benevolent superhero to do. It definitely plays around with the mythology of the character, and I can see why some people would be angry with it, though I thought most of the changes it made were for the better. Still, it’s not a great movie. Not the worst thing in the world, but it certainly could have used a hell of a lot more work, namely with its editing.

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This Is the End (2013)

What the hell did I just watch? Ridiculous and clunky and way too long and self-indulgent. Very little of the film works once it kicks into gear after about minute 20 or so, and what does work makes very little to no sense. The film feels like it was written by a bunch of 12 year olds, and shot on a budget of $500. The cinematography/editing is awful and the mythology the thing tries to establish is spotty at best and highly inaccurate at worst, as much as a comedy about a bunch of celebrities stuck in the middle of the apocalypse can be inaccurate, that is. But, it has its moments. It’s very funny throughout, and some of the acting is pretty damn good, not just from Danny McBride who of course steals every scene he’s in, but also from lead Jay Baruchel who’s actually a pretty damn good actor. Why don’t people put him in more stuff? And the CGI actually doesn’t look half bad for a comedy. Not half bad at all.

But man, what a terrible story, and so poorly directed. Ugh. Felt like I was watching a student film at times. At least we get to see **SPOILERS** stupid James Franco and fat ugly untalented overrated Jonah Hill **END SPOILERS** bite the dust in a series of gruesome and twisted ways, the latter especially. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but not terrible. Has its moments, but not something I’d recommend going to see immediately. Or ever if you’re not a fan.

Mud (2012)

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Long, slow, somewhat dull film with a wonky, questionable plot that sort of picks up in the second act only to  fall on its face with a rather bizarre ending that seems like something out of another movie. And what terrible dialogue. It feels so written and fake, as though it were lifted straight from the novel I imagine it was taken from. Is this an adaptation? I don’t know. It’s certainly quite a clunky one if it is, and definitely not worthy of all the hype it’s getting. Not by a long shot.

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The film isn’t a complete disaster though; the cinematography is nice, the acting is decent to good, especially from the lead boy who isn’t the greatest actor ever but has a promising future if he keeps at it, and the plot, once it kicks in, is decent to interesting. Nothing spectacular mind you, but tolerable in its own small, insignificant way. Matthew McConaughey is okay here; not his greatest performance, but not his worst either. He’s charming and charismatic, but not as much as he should be. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. It just seems like there’s a block hanging over his performance here, like he’s trying to achieve greatness, or even just emotional believability, but something is holding him back, that something being the director probably considering every other performance in the film suffers from the same problem. The characters don’t seem quite there emotionally, I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. And Reese Witherspoon is in this? Where did she come from?

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Overall, not an awful film, despite my complaints, but not nearly as great as I’d heard it would be. It’s long and drags way too much, especially in the first act, the performances aren’t as good as they should be, the story is kind of stupid, and the ending with the whole **SPOILERS** action scene shootout **END SPOILERS** felt like something out of a completely different movie. And then there’s the ridiculous final scene. So dumb. Yeah okay, I get it, we **SPOILERS** needed a happy ending, **END SPOILERS** okay. But that’s what it’s going to be, really? How did that even happen exactly?

Anyway, okay film, nothing special. Overrated, definitely.

Never Say Never Again (1983)

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What the hell was this? A monstrosity masquerading as a James Bond film, with an ancient looking Sean Connery going to a wellness center at the beginning of the film, or was that a retirement home? What in god’s name were they thinking? A Bond movie that starts off with him being shipped off to a retirement home for being too old? Is this a joke? Not only that, but by sheer coincidence the retirement/wellness home happens to be the same place where the main villain is beginning to hatch his evil plan! Wow, what are the odds? And it only gets worse from there.

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God, I can’t even… This movie was so bad, so bad. I just about gave up once Rowan Atkinson showed up. And then the shark sonar, god, why? WHY?  Just awful and cheap and terrible in almost every respect. And Connery is so old and sleazy looking, and yet all the women just can’t get enough of him. And such a promising story too. How could you screw up something like this, and so badly? I don’t understand it. They didn’t even use the proper 007 title sequence for god’s sake. It was almost painful to keep watching, but I gritted my teeth and hung in there, hoping against hope for something, anything worth hanging on to. But nope. The villain is good, but everything else is a complete disaster.

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It’s almost intentionally terrible. It must have been. A clear punishment to the fans for their clear abandonment of Connery and their loyal devotion to Roger Moore, maybe. Well, consider me disciplined. Traumatized even, from Bond films, forever. It’s so bad. Words don’t do it justice.

Overall, stay away. Stay FAR FAR AWAY. Never Say Never Again indeed. NEVER EVER AGAIN.