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Posted on Nov 20, 2012 6:29:37 PM PST
Jonathan says:
re: "Don't recall who was worse--Mickey Roarke, or Lisa Bonet."

Alan Parker was the worst. One of the worst directors of all time.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 8:04:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 8:17:45 PM PST
Mike Gordan says:
Cavardossi: There are plenty of liberals and others in Hollywood with disagreeable political beliefs; I try not to let that get in the way unless they insert it where inappropriate. Sally Field not only does that often (especially with her two Oscar winning roles), but she's such a shrewish, annoying woman who is banal and vain to a fault (have you not seen her oh-so-famous Oscar speech when she won Best Actress for Places in the Heart? Ugh...shut up, already!). I will at least admit to a few moments where she's tolerable, but they're way too few and they fail to mask her true persona.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 8:52:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 1:27:03 AM PST
Mike Gordan says:
Three more movies, and thus three more reviews. I'll start with the movie in which I have next to nothing to say:

Hotel Transylvania

Only three things stand out about my trip to see this; first, it's surprisingly tolerable for a Sandler film. Second, I couldn't believe it was available at my local Movie Tavern for so long; it came out on September 28th and it's been available for almost 2 whole months now (though today was the very last day in which it was available). Third, I was the only person in the theater when I saw it.

So what's the plot? Well, within the first few minutes, we see a portrait of a woman, and you never see Dracula's wife around with their daughter. Dracula builds a hotel resort for the monsters of the world with the intent of sheltering his daughter from humans (gee, I wonder what happened?). A human wanders inside, and Dracula tries to chase him away while simultaneously trying to prevent a panic...and the human away from his daughter.

And that's pretty much it; you can pretty much pick up the rest from there. Aside from how painfully cliche the ending was, I really don't get the joke at all; apparently, the whole conflict of fearing human persecution into the 21st century was all but completely incidental? And if vampires could die if exposed to the sunlight for too long, how did Dracula survive even though he appeared to be exposed to the sunlight for about half an hour at the end? And all he got out of it was a little bit of a sunburn he quickly regenerates from?

...Yeah, there are literally no steaks in this...er, or is it stakes? Either way, there's none of them to speak of. The ending is essentially Liar Liar meets Meet the Parents; there's literally no villain or otherwise douche to speak of--heck, the closest thing to a villain is Quasimodo and his pet rat, and we never see him again after he exposes the human to the rest of the titular hotel. A relief for cartoons, kids films, and Sandler films at large especially.

Speaking of, yes, this stars Adam Sandler and many of his recurring costars and friends (including Andy Samberg from That's My Boy), and for what it's worth, at least you won't cringe in pain watching it. But that isn't saying much. It's like cutting your finger with a chef's knife on a cutting board; yes, you'll live, but it doesn't mean you should try it. Technique--as detailed and clever the attempts are, is largely incidental in this film, but then again, the jokes are clearly tailored for kids.

And that's what this is--a bland, generic, uninspired kids film; nothing more. Witless, yet harmless, but there's no way I can recommend this to anybody in the long run. I give this a no-rating.

Oh, and did I hear Andy Samberg drop the f-bomb shortly after his introduction in this movie?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 9:08:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 9:09:29 PM PST
Hikari says:
@Larry
Well, I'm fresh out of series recommends for now. But if you like the gritty tone of Swedish Wallander, have you watched the Swedish Girl movies? (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, et. al.?) Also in the gritty vein, set in the North of England, the Red Riding Trilogy (1974, 1980, 1983). Each is a standalone movie that uses some of the same characters and references some events from the preceding ones. Not a partner procedural, but it does deal with murders of young girls & police corruption. Featuring some of Britain's best actors, the stories are based (loosely) on the Yorkshire Ripper killings and subsequent investigation. I will warn you that it's very dark--the darkest.

WHITECHAPEL was supposed to be a series; so far only one set is available. Follows an ambitious but inexperienced newly-minted Detective Inspector who is put in charge of an older, crustier squad of detectives based out of the Whitechapel precinct. 120 years after Jack the Ripper terrorized the district, copycat murders that follow details of the original Ripper homicides are cropping up. The usual dynamic is flipped from what we normally see--this DI is a greenhorn in completely over his head. He's the titular leader of the squad, but the de facto leader is his crusty 50-something DS, Sgt. Miles. The new DI is going to have to earn the respect of his men while at the same time catching a heinous killer. It's a two-pronged battle.

If you want something in a lighter vein, "Dexter" and "The Closer" are my two favorite American TV shows.

Turns out I lied--I wasn't out of series recommends after all.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 11:17:18 PM PST
Mike Gordan says:
The next movie is much better:

Wreck-It-Ralph:

Allow me to clarify things for those who may not know this: I am quite fond of video games, especially good ones. This is the type of film that will most likely appeal to video gamers (even if you're only into the old-school games) and not so much anyone else. And frankly, an image of Sonic the Hedgehog on the cover for the movie was what ultimately convinced me to check it out, just so I can see what role in the film he has (it's a cameo Roger Rabbit style, but more on that later).

And would you guys believe me that this is one of the few modern Disney movies that actually has a brain? I wouldn't go so far as to call it a highly intelligent or enlightening movie, but it does have some semblance of thought put into this one.

Wreck-It Ralph is depressed; he's the villain of his own game, but it's his job to be the villain. At the end of every day, he is left out of everything in his own game; only the hero of said game, Fix-It-Felix Jr., remotely sympathizes with the villain (see Chuck Jones' wolf vs. sheepdog shorts). Video game villains go over to the Pac-Man arcade game every night for an intervention, and Ralph decides to game jump one day--or as Felix puts it, goes Turbo (he explains it in the film, but it has to do with the film's villain), and enters Heroes Duty (not a spoof of Call of Duty, I assure you) just to get a medal so that he feels good about himself. He unintentionally hatches the egg of a cyberbug within the game and unwittingly crash lands into another arcade game called Sugar Rush (which is essentially Candyland meets Mario Kart); he loses his medal, supposedly kills the cyberbug (or did he?), and must get it back by helping a glitch in the program (voiced by Sarah Silverman) win a race she isn't supposed to be a part of.

But there are a lot of rules to follow; the world of the arcade is vast and detailed, and draws a ton of inspiration from Tron (which is an intellectual work in of itself). In this world though, there are a lot of rules: Everyone who is a part of this world must do their job as programmed by their creators, and during opening hours at the arcade whether they like it or not; their is no totalitarian Government forcing them to conform to the standards; only the threat of the arcade owner--who couldn't possibly understand the world of the arcade--pulling the plug if a character is missing or a glitch is detected in the game and it becomes problematic. And while residents can indeed leave their game, they'd be homeless when the plug is pulled, and anyone left behind in their game when the plug is pulled will die (but they will be regenerated should the owner plug the game back in). Furthermore, as Sonic explains it, characters going through the terminals or entering a different game in which they're not a part of has to be careful; if they die outside of their game, they can't come back. Period. And glitches can't leave their game; it's literally impossible as they're just errors in the game's coding. Therefore, when that game is unplugged, their death becomes indefinite. This is explained by an important character in the film, whose role I won't spoil for you guys.

So the video game characters of the arcade are not prisoners of a totalitarean government, but by a comformist existence. Few characters would dare to venture out in another game unless they had to or it's closing hours. The society itself is based on the principles of the Tree of Life; when you comform to the rules established by your creators, you will remain immortal. Step away from these rules--the Tree of Knowledge--then you will be cast out of your game forever, cast out to lie in misery for eternity in the arcade terminal, along with all the other residence of said game that managed to escape (I think the scene where Ralph eats the Pac-Man cherries inside the terminals where they don't belong can symbolize this).

And the motives for leaving the game can be drawn from the seven deadly sins. In Ralph's case, he envied the recognition Fix-It-Felix Jr. always got and all the medals he's won, and he was enraged of all the scorn he gets from the other characters on a daily basis; as such, as a means to satisfy his own lustful desires, he leaves his game during opening hours to pursue a medal in another game for his own self-gratification. The villain demonstrates all of these cardinal sins as well as Pride for the fame and recognition he got in his arcade game of origin; greed for the position of power he's seized; and gluttony from his means to an end--replacing the glitch character's data files almost completely and thus rendering her a glitch and taking her place in the game's coding. One can even assume that the unused sloth can serve as motivator to leave the game (see Office Space for more details).

Furthermore, the film demonstrates the shattering of order and its restoration in multiple layers; Ralph destroys the Cyberbug infestation and the assimilated villain in Sugar Rush, thus saving the game from being completely destroyed; as he does it, he recites the villains prayer inside of his head (the prayer the video game villains recite during their group therapy sessions), willing to die to save his glitchy friend and her world--thus finding inner peace and is thus is self-restoration; the glitch had to cross the finish line in order to reboot the game and repair all the damage caused by the cyberbugs, as well as to reprogram herself into the game proper once more; turns out she's the princess of Sugar Rush, but opts to forsake that title in favor of President--order is restored on muliple accounts here, and Democracy is favored over comformity (though comformity wasn't exactly abolished per se). The marriage between Fix-It-Felix Jr. and Sergeant Colhoun is another symbol of the restoration of order (speaking of, their own journeys to retrieve Ralph and destroy the escaped cyberbug infestation leads to the characters slowly beginning to operate beyond their initially programmed paremeters--for out of selflessness, they're willing to forsake their immortality in order to restore the balance of the worlds).

If I am to take any issue with the movie, it would have to be in the casting. For the most part, I rather liked the cast even though the main characters were clearly voiced by celebrities--Jane Lynch as Calhoun in particular always came off as funny, especially when we find out she was programmed with a tragic backstory that was clearly meant to be satirical (her husband-to-be was eaten by a cyberbug in the middle of their vows). John C. Reily as the titular character is pretty fine too, and plays his role as he should. And then we have Sarah Silverman as that glitch character (as you can see, the filmmakers went to great lengths to make her name really hard to remember); aside from the fact that she is beyond completely annoying, she doesn't sound the least bit convincing as a child; she sounds more like Silverman was reading all of her lines with her nostrils pinched together. I guess the idea is that because she's a glitch, she sounds really grating to the ears, but couldn't they just get a child actress to voice the character (my guess is, they wanted to authenticate the pattern amongst most child characters in video games by having them voiced by adults instead of children; needless to say, the pattern isn't exclusively to video games and thus doesn't make much sense in the long run)?

People often find that this film resembles more a Pixar film than Brave did; personally, I found it to be better than most of Pixar's outings, and Disney's best animated film since The Emperor's New Groove. It's a safe bet it's going to be the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, and I'd me more than surprised if it fails to get nominated. Between this and ParaNorman, I'd probably lean slightly towards Wreck-It-Ralph for best animated film of the year (keep in mind that Rise of the Guardians is coming out tomorrow, and I have yet to see Frankenweenie).

If you're a fan of animated films--or at least tolerate them--then I highly recommend this film. For video game fans, certainly--so long as you keep in mind that you are not going into another Roger Rabbit, Toy Story or Kingdom Hearts, but for video game characters. If you're not a fan of either one, then no matter how hard I try to recommend this movie, you'll probably refuse to see the film in theaters at all; so if anything, at least wait until it becomes available on video or cable free of charge before you give it a look.

I'd give this film an 8 out of 10. Silverman or no, I still wouldn't exactly call this a great film.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 3:59:16 AM PST
Gordo: You are surprisingly generous.

Sure, Wreck-It Ralph wasn't awful, but it still wasn't that good. For my tastes, a 6/10. I found that it's been done a million times, the celebrity voices took me off track, and I found the references to other Disney films quite odd.

Paperman on the other hand, was a terrific short.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 4:27:46 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Gee. Less ink has been spilled on reviews of "Citizen Kane".

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 4:30:01 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 10:43:45 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
What's the thunder factor, on a scale of one to ten? Ebert coined the term--it's the noise of kids running up and down theater aisles. The lower, the better, I guess.
Always give the thunder factor for a kids' movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 6:38:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 6:42:25 AM PST
stevign says:
I remember after West Wing went off the air, I tried a couple episodes of the new tv series Brothers & Sisters starring Rob Lowe, Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Balthazar Getty and Rachel Griffiths.

[Wiki]
"The series revolves around the lives and problems of the wealthy Walker family in the wake of the death of family patriarch William Walker (Tom Skerritt), the founder of the family business Ojai Foods. The family consists of wife and mother Nora Walker (Sally Field) who must deal with revelations about her husband's infidelity, and her children Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and Tommy (Balthazar Getty), both married executives at Ojai Foods, Kitty (Calista Flockhart) a conservative activist, Kevin (Matthew Rhys) a gay lawyer, and youngest sibling Justin (Dave Annable), who has recently returned from the Iraq War with a substance abuse problem. They were joined by Nora's brother Saul (Ron Rifkin) and Holly Harper (Patricia Wettig), William's mistress. Plotlines typically revolved around the romantic relationships of the family, their business fortunes, especially with regard to the control of Ojai Foods, and the relationship between the siblings. Most conflicts were resolved with a renewed call for family unity."

The problem was, the family is very liberal with Sally Field's character being the most devout and shrewish. It seemed to be nothing more than a series in which the idea was to give Field's character a chance to bash the Conservative Calista Flockhart character as nastily and as often as possible. After two episodes I wanted to smash Field's face in and gave up on the series.

Normally I can separate an actors politics from their performances; I still think Sean Penn is one of our best actors ever and despite his insane politics will continue to see his movies. On the other hand, some Liberal preachers like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have taken it so far I can no longer stand to even see their faces.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:22:51 AM PST
Hikari says:
Gee, this sounds exactly like a weekly-series ripoff of "The Family Stone" with Field substituting for Diane Keaton and Flockhart standing in for Sarah Jessica Parker. I never watched it; loathed it just by the concept.

Random celebrity connection--I attended college in Grove City, Pennsylvania, hometown of Patricia Wettig. When I did my student teaching, I worked with a teacher who had been Wettig's classmate at Grove City High School. They were drama nerds together and good friends. Patty is probably the most famous alumna of GCHS.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:24:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 7:36:27 AM PST
Sean Penn's talent? What talent? Chewing the scenery to bits?

And as long as we are citing those without an excuse--there is Babs. Dear, dear, shrewish, egomanical Babs.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:31:25 AM PST
H: Re: Angel Heart: Well, if someone has to chew the scenery a bit, DeNiro is your man. Sometimes one forgets the good among the bad.

Read the book instead.

Rourke went downhill faster than just about anyone else I can think of. In terms of quality, it was pretty much all over after Diner.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 7:35:17 AM PST
H and LK: I'll second on The Closer, and the early seasons of Dexter.

My tolerance for gloom rivaling Russian literature (you know, gray studies of hopeless misery where nothing much happens until page 237 when one of the landlords decides to shoot himself) is extremely limited. Even with Bergman.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 7:37:34 AM PST
Gordo, much credit for enthusiasm. But are there any really good movies based on videos games?

Honestly, I don't think so.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 7:53:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 7:58:46 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Gordo the Lonely Puppet

Re your feelings about Sally Field: "...shrewish, annoying, banal, vain to a fault...."

Heavenly days, G., you sound like you're in dire need of a Valium! I take it you know Miss Fields in real life and can reliably describe her that way from personal experience.

Why would someone's political views so enrage you? I skew left of center myself on many issues, but Charlton Heston's and John Wayne's ultra conservatism never hindered me from enjoying their work, even when they were publicly stating their positions. On the other hand, my innate conservatism on many issues causes me to shudder sometimes at the extreme leftist statements of actors I like, but I don't have a fainting spell when I hear them. Despite what many actors of both political persuasions may think, we who admire their acting are under no obligation to endorse anything they say in the political arena.

I just don't get extreme reactions to actors based on their political views or actions, whether liberal or conservative. Now, not caring for an actor because of reactions to their performances is another matter entirely.

P.S. For me, Sean Penn's only satisfying performance remains Spiccolli. For the rest, it's all frowns, glowers, and growls. So tiresome.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 8:16:15 AM PST
Hikari says:
@Cav, on Penn
-----------------
One good later performance by Sean that surprised me was in Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter". He amazingly does not chew the scenery one time. It's a very restrained turn from him. Which makes it watchable for me. More than watchable, really good.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 8:24:38 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
stevign: Never watched Brothers & Sisters. Even when I had big cable I seldom watched a lot of popular series--the idea/plot/scheme of most series leaves me cold. Even the new shows are re-runs of previous series, often with a mixture of the same "stars". The animated series, which I have watched no more than 1 or 2 episodes of, seem to be about being as gross and insulting as it is possible to be, and, of course, to push the limits on censorship (they have exceeded the limits on courtesy, politeness, manners, taste, a long time ago.) I assumed after a couple of tries at Ren and Stimpy, etc. that the humor? was for young people, that I was too old. That happens. My reaction to shows like Brothers and Sisters is simply not to watch. West Wing was an exception, and it wasn't always about bashing the conservatives (just mostly). About the only TV show I have watched continuously over the years is NCIS. It is hit and miss at times, but it is often entertaining.

My political views are mostly conservative. I use to vote on every issue, make phone calls to the congressmen/senators, even once to the White House. While I believe that perseverance is a very admirable quality, it sometimes is like beating your head against a rock wall--pointless. Still I went to two Tea-Party gatherings here and was surprised at the different age groups there, plus the presence of Hispanics and Afro-Americans--not a lot, but they were there. My personal opinion, and it is gloomy, is that we have seen, for the time being and maybe forever, the end of the two party system in America. This is NOT just due to the Liberals/undecideds, it is due to the Media. A conservative cannot win a major election in the USA with the forces of the liberal media against him. Fox news and a few independent stations cannot combat the overwhelming number of utterly liberal TV/Newspaper/News Magazines/Talk shows. I have no idea where America is going to be in 5 10 or 15 years--but I am pretty well happy that at my age I won't be around to see it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 8:43:24 AM PST
stevign says:
Larry:

Surprisingly enough, I loved West Wing. I think they kept their Liberalism down a bit and didn't over do it. And.....with the addition of Associate White House Counsel Ainsley Hayes (played by Emily Procter), she was given opportunities to put them in their place from time to time.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 8:47:33 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Hikari/Mr. Smith: Watched another Midsomer Murders (episode 4) started slow for me but wound up one of my favorites. Watched a Lynley--the girl detective looks a little like Genevieve Bujold, and that was a plus. Show didn't grab me like I hoped. Watched the first episode of The Last Enemy, interrupted twice by extended phone calls, so it was a bit confusing, but I think I have the idea of the story in hand. Benedict is interesting to watch. I have a theory that his face does not have many expressions, that he has to act using other effects--will see if I am correct in the next episode. This is the series that sort of grabbed me. I like Midsomer, shall go back there, but meanwhile will continue to test-view other recommendations.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 8:50:13 AM PST
LK: Without going deeply into the matter (and coming from a libertarian viewpoint as I do) political shifts are inevitable. We have an evenly divided electorate. The Democrat party made hay in this last cycle on a small number of tactical errors (viz. Senate rates in MO and IN, the 47% comment) and maintained control of the Presidency and the Senate in consequence. The Republicans control the House and a majority of governorships. I foresee a remarkably unproductive second term for that man in the White House, with a high probability of another economic contraction. A very different outcome for 2016, I think.

Personally, I would like to see a realignment into two new parties, a Liberatarian and a Socialist. At least we would have truth in labeling.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 8:53:27 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
stevign: They let her have her say occasionally but never with the fervor or tears or emotion that the liberal views were presented with. The episode that upset me most of all was the one where there was a big shooting--rednecks shooting people because (if I remember correctly) the Presidents daughter was dating a black guy. This allowed several episodes to give the liberal view of gun-control. Not once did they mention that the bad guys were "shot" by people carrying guns (secret service I suppose) and if there had not been guns present, everyone could have been killed. Of course the liberal view is similar to that of Dean Martin who was stopped by cops in Hollywood or somewhere and they found a loaded .38 in his car. A newpaper guy asked Dean if he thought everyone should be able to carry guns. "Absolutely not, Dean said, just me!"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 8:58:07 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Mr. Smith: Your ending comment: "personally": I wanted to yell Amen, but that might offend someone. I can't completely go with some Libertarian views, but I have always got a lot of amusement and insight from watching/listening to John Stoesel (sp). I love well thought out ideas presented in a logical way, building one idea on the other and he, imo/ excels at this. Plus he has that look on his face that says, "This is just too easy, all you have to do is think a little!"

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 8:59:14 AM PST
Caswell says:
Was stuck on a plane the other day and watched the first 45 minutes of "Dark Knight Rises" then wanted to bail out. Since the media hype ended (and the tragedy in the theatre) so few talk about it and with good reason. Not only is it poorly acted and just plain ridiculous - mind you, audiences back in the 60's were hip and intelligent enough that TV's "Batman" was appropriately made as a parody as is the comic book premise - it's DULL! It's odd how the endless cliche cliffhangers are laughed at in the "Austin Powers" trilogy but are beyond criticism when repeated ad nauseum in all these DC comic book films as well as the cheesy Indiana Jones films.

Overall review of "Dark knight Rises" ; I felt deeply insulted. What a pointless waste of time and money. Imagine how many better films could have been made with that astronomical budget?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 9:06:36 AM PST
LK: I have no patience with social conservatives, or single-issue left-wingers (I refuse to sully the concept of liberalism by applying it to them), be it racial, sexual, or whatever. The only real option in a democratic society is to treat everyone equally, and not create special pockets of entitlement.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 9:13:13 AM PST
stevign says:
True......all of it. (

ps: Love the Dean Martin story. lolol
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