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Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain
Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain
Price: $11.99
38 used & new from $1.98

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why...., July 4, 2007
...does this album have two reviews? Two. Two. Hmmm. Two.

Why does that upset -- nay, sadden -- me? Probably because 'Palmless Prayer' is, no joke, one of the most beautiful compositions I've ever heard. Really.

Two reviews... goodness. I will say, however, the only reason I sought out this album was because I heard someone else declare it to be levels above one of my most beloved bands -- Canadian post-rock 'Godspeed! You Black Emperor!'; the spite that immediately exerted itself, simply from another being putting 'Godspeed!' (qualitatively) at a lower level than any other particular musical force, was enough for me to seek out this music immediately... and so I did.

...and this guy knew what he was talking about, at least in part. No -- I will not be so bold as to praise 'Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain' an entity towering above the works of 'Godspeed! You Black Emperor'... no, I cannot do that, because, to my ears, it is not of a higher level. That said, I am both surprised and excited in being able to tout the album as reaching the same general level of greatness, because that greatness, in my experience, is not reached very often.

There are various reasons this music is haunting, but perhaps the most demanding virtue is its sense of drama; not often have I heard such sadness echoed in the form of music. At first, the sound was so unrelenting I had to take a giant step back, and proceeded to observe with skepticism, for anything this morose can so easily come off as narcissistic or, similarly, containing a mild amount of pretense. Yet, with further listens, it was obvious -- behind the seemingly 'artsy' surface, there is a permeating heart that, for me, breathes the most loving, sensitive of breaths... As a painfully somber cello segways into the angelic, minimilist notes that conclude "Trailer, 2", I sit in mere awe... Often, yes, I prefer to use words like "angelic" because they provide a powerful sentiment to anyone reading it, but admittedly I like to, at times, pull words out of the hat just to garnish attention (I want all good music to be heard!). In this case, words like angelic couldn't be more appropriate or sincere.

What's more, is that this composition really doesn't feel all that FRESH, so to speak; the more celestial sections recall ambient-master Brian Eno, the use of strings familiar to those exposed to a good deal of film music (the yearning of Tan Dun's 'Crouching Tiger'). "Trailer, 4", possibly my favorite of the elegies to be found here, is haunting and unforgettable [really]; its use of boy soprano absolutely pristine, drenched in a seriousness I rarely hear in any form of contemporary music; referring again to film (which, as the "trailer" titles in the tracks might indicate, the album has much parallels with), 'Mono/World's End Girlfriend''s use of vocals in this particular track remind me of the brilliant, (post?)modern classical/film composer Elliot Goldenthal (his works for 'Alien 3', 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, 'Michael Collins', etc.)... I.E., the guys' here are utilizing a formula that has existed before, but they lace it with such authenticity and deep emotion that its familiarity comes with grace and gratitude.

I'm about to check out both of these bands' other works; looks like they reside in the "post-rock" world, as far as vague categorizations go. Knowing this, 'Palmless Prayer' feels only slightly post-rock; it's too serious, too direct, and simply too draining to be compared to stuff like 'Explosions in the Sky' or 'Sigur Ros'. The sheer melancholy within compares with the best of 'Mogwai' and 'Godspeed!', and probably the most apt comparison to be made would be with 'Godspeed!''s run-off band, 'A Silver Mt. Zion', primarily because both flow to a slower tempo, provide more orchestral instrumentation opposed to guitar/bass/drums (piano/strings/soundscapes largely in place of), and on a very basic, real level, are simply more powerful.

Like 'A Silver Mt. Zion', one should probably tread lightly if they're not accustomed to such moods. It's all interpretive, of course; I have no question many would simply turn off the music after hearing it for a few moments -- "boring", a very likely response. Thus, or at least for me, it's a matter of willing the imagination to feel the pain endowed in the music, but never forgetting that birthed from this pain is a rapture of beauty too evocative, brimming with a hope that is hard to penetrate without first knowing the contrasting darkness.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2012 11:23 PM PDT

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 - PC
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 - PC
65 used & new from $2.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unprecedented, June 1, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Without exaggeration, this is in the top five games I've ever played.

For myself, there was a game released in the mid 90's, the first of it's kind, called 'Theme Park'. It was made my a brilliant company, Bullfrog. No joke, it provided some of the most precious moments of my very life, around the age of 11 or 12. It set my imagination on fire. It captured that indescribable joy I had as a child when visiting Disneyland.

As time went on, Rollercoaster Tycoon came out. I was floored, amazed, enchanted.

Now, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is out; it's even a few years old. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think back then that graphics, scope, and sheer control over your fabulous creation would reach such heights. It still boggles my mind.

This game is a treasure.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2007 9:05 PM PDT

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Offered by 2swellguys
Price: $6.50
108 used & new from $1.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My thoughts, May 16, 2007
Good album that borders on great. I'd say it's a bump up from 'Good News'; just as 'Dashboard' is not nearly as powerful a pop-ballad as the sickeningly popular 'Float On' became to me, 'We Were Dead', as an album in its entirety, regresses from the pop-laden mentality of its older brother, instead pulling out cues from the bands earlier work; i.e. creative, unpredictable, discordant song structure, etc. To be fair, the album is not a work of unparalleled complexity, but it IS complex -- I've never understood the argument that 'Good News'' foray into a more pop-filled musical universe discounted the actual stuff being written (the best pop's as good as anything, in my mind), and I don't understand it because it doesn't make sense -- 'Good News', like this album, still possessed so many of the engrossing musical/personality traits of the entity known as Modest Mouse. Who in the world thinks 'The Moon and Antarctica' was devoid of pop anyway?; need I point you to the first tracks on that album? Right. Oh, and for those who want to try and tell me that Modest Mouse's output pre-Moon was their peak, I say this -- you're wrong; if you want to tell me establishing some sort of lyricism via music and melody over time is a negative, and that retaining a peculiarly "raw" sound that refuses to enter territories known to us already is the only way to go about things...; I say look at how delicately Brock and co., over the years, managed to become more and more evocative; 'The Moon and Antarctica', in its heavier time/spaces, is one of the most poignant, reflective, intimate albums I've heard. And these guys, as far as I know, are a bunch of stoners (gasp!).

Sorry to get off track. I've liked every Modest Mouse album I've ever heard -- to varying degrees -- and this is no different; soundscapes breath a familiar air, yet still manage to impress with their fresh imprinting of that already-unique Modest Mouse musical palette. Where the album doesn't work as well as its prior, to me, is in its synthesis as a whole; all of MM's previous works have, in the end, felt complete; 'We Were Dead', despite maintaining some consistently awesome material after its mid-way point, seems to lose direction, or at least stability, and goes off tempo, with song structures not transitioning correctly into one or another, and other such matters... Too eclectic, even for Brock; there needs to be order. Nonetheless, that's the biggest flaw of the album, I think, and I speak of such in regards to only the music, too; when it seems like its psychotically running for the cliff, seeming never to return, Brock still provides SOME base with the ideas and themes he established earlier in the album... and thus, at that particular level, there is a start and finish to the whole thing -- even if the band's music doesn't display it the whole time, Brock's mind is in a state of congruency, and it saves the day.

OK last interjection -- though I really do love much of 'We Were Dead' musically, it really is one of those rare cases (for me, at least), where the lyrics actually rise above the music; again, to reinstate, this ---IS--- good, often stellar music, and yet Brock's poignant expressions still rise above that.... Brock has always been one of my favorite lyricists, probably because he seems to share some similar personality to my own; at once a goofball able to throw words together not before thought sane -- a musical comedian, to a degree -- but also able to convey his separate selves with such resonance, from anger, sadness, to fear, and all the while doing it wish a piercing imagination and execution..... Again, it's his worldview that I find so enrapturing, because he thinks for himself, distinctly from so many others, but all-the-while he is musing on things that I, and probably you, have too; when I listen to this album, I get relief in that I can relate to a madman like Brock (I'm not alone), and what appears new to me is not really new; I'm just accessing that little Issac Brock within the barrels of my unconscoius... and he's smiling. Wait, nevermind......

.........he's not smiling. He's neurotic as sin. The lyrics on 'We Were Dead', despite the music nearly always being up-tempo and of a pretty benign tone, are desperate, tragic, ugly. I'm not sure I've ever heard one album filled to the brim with personal anxieties, but again, it seems as if Brock is both opening up himself but also the universality of these particular emotional states we all are facing at this point in time and culture. It's a mini-novel, if you want to call it that; the metaphor of the ship -- ourselves -- finally sinking with nobody onboard.. Sure, the idea of spiritual death is nothing new, but the way Brock comments on the particular subject and its prevalence in both his existence and our own is intelligent and, like Brock has demonstrated before, reflective and sincere.

So overall, just get the stupid album.

Gothic Kabbalah
Gothic Kabbalah
Price: $16.99
46 used & new from $3.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half bumped to four out of guilt complex, March 20, 2007
This review is from: Gothic Kabbalah (Audio CD)
What's so frustrating, to me, is that 'Gothic Kabbalah' is a good album with spasmodic moments of utter brilliance. Even though every song isn't strong in its own right, each piece is delicately written and the result is so easy to admire, even when the songs themselves don't excite a great deal... and that really sums up my feelings towards this set; I find myself revering the technical aspects of the music more than the music itself. The production is crisp and the performances awesome, as usual; the mix of all instrumentation crisp and tight. If 'Gothic Kaballah' is evidence of anything, it's that 'Therion' are true craftsmen. One particular example of a good song that jumps into ecstatic territory is "The Wand of Abaris", track one of the second disc. The song is well structured, with a strong chorus and a graceful flow -- it's good stuff. Then, about 3:40, it becomes enveloped in a soundscape so enchanting it defies belief... and that lasts for near a minute, too. Just sheer ambient delight... only masterful musicians could produce something so sublime. Another similar, stunning moment comes at 4:20 on the fourteen minute long closer for the second disc... Just godly.

As far as the album not rocking as much as previous, I'd agree; there isn't a lot of speed or aggression on here. Generally, the songs are straightforward and typical in structure. I think it's worth noting, though, that while most bands following this formula SURELY rely (at least mostly) on winsome choruses to make or break an individual song, Therion does not. In fact, a lot of the choruses found on the disc are borderline average, and yet the songs themselves are still of a respectable quality, because it's obvious there is a huge emphasis on the songwriting for the song's entire length, opposed to just gimmicky hooks here and there. That, I think, is why I admire these guys more than so many other bands; it shows passion, dedication, and a true duty to the album as their own.

For what it's worth, I find the second disc here superior to the first, though I'm not sure how much so. I really dig a number of the songs on the first disc, but my favorites would probably be "Son of the Staves of Time" (I just love the little synthesized sounds that surround the chorus soooo much), and the barebones chant known as "Trul", easily the catchiest and most commanding song on either disc. On the second, the aforementioned "The Wand of Abaris" and epic "Adulruna Reiviva" mark my most beloved, but most every song on that one hits me close at least somewhere along its run.

Overall...... It's not a mindblowing masterpiece that will stand the test of time, but it is a solid composition (and yes, I believe it easily earns the right to call it such a thing) that comes off as consistently entertaining and, from an orchestration standpoint, unique and interesting. It took a little while for me to warm up to it completely, with time it eventually began to etch into my skin and burrow itself. Definitely recommended... to the few that this particular kind of music is actually recommendable to.

The Fifth Element (Ultimate Edition)
The Fifth Element (Ultimate Edition)
DVD ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by newtownvideos
Price: $6.28
171 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nasty fun, March 11, 2007
This movie is so freaking cool. Most the time, I try to avoid such juvenile uttering when commenting on whatever I happen to be writing about, but somehow that sentence summarizes this movie better than even the most sophisticated linguistics.

Everything works. More than anything, it's absurdly entertaining. This, I believe, is mostly due to the phenomenal sense of pace, combined with the fact that there is almost never content on the screen that isn't interesting and thoroughly unique. The cinematography is excellent, the costumes are fabulous, and the special effects unrivaled for its time ('97; the only film comparable in my opinion being 'Starship Troopers', which actually exceeds this). The acting is also respectable, particularly Jovovich as the "fifth", Ian Holm with his fidgety performance as an almost messianic priest, and, perhaps most fun of all, Chris Tucker's manic, slaphappy D.J., filled with bizarre, eccentric energy that's little else than hysterical.

Speaking of energy -- this movie has it in spades. It also does such a wonderful job of combining utter professionalism (what with the awe inspiring set pieces and virtually every other technical aspect) with a demeanor that never takes itself too seriously. And yet, while the movie does maintain a loose, jovial personality (goofy would also apply, but it sounds a bit demeaning), it even works -- at least somewhat -- in its few, short dramatic bits. By no means are these the reason to view the movie, but I still find them engrossing and reasonably emotive.

One element that's also worth mentioning is Eric Serra's score, which is impressively dynamic. The action scenes are distinctly scored unlike most action films, with a fluffy, almost lounge-like mood, and in other scenes he employs contemporary synthesizers that create a refreshingly chill ambience. The primary theme which underscores the dramatic moments -- employed around most scenes revolving around the fifth element -- is eloquent and moving. I give the guy a lot of credit with his composition here, for sure.

I don't have many complaints. There are a few things that don't make absolute sense, but I have such a good time I have no intention of diverting my attention to call them out, at least in a negatively affecting manner. Luc Besson is in top form here (though surely the film isn't as emotionally captivating as his prior masterpiece, 'The Professional'), and I totally respect him for 'The Fifth Element,, as he dives into the sci-fi genre with grace, humility, imagination, individuality, and filmmaking valor.

So yeah -- the result is bizarrely creative and fantastically witty. A sci-fi ADVENTURE, forged in a day which finds itself difficult to find a film that could accurately be deemed as such.

Strangers With Candy
Strangers With Candy
DVD ~ Amy Sedaris
Offered by newtownvideos
Price: $5.34
50 used & new from $0.24

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, March 10, 2007
This review is from: Strangers With Candy (DVD)
I was never a member of the cultish fan base that belongs to 'Strangers With Candy' (I preferred the somewhat similar 'Upright Citizens Brigade' far more, around the same time -- both airing on Comedy Central), but I did always enjoy the show when I happened to catch it, simply because it was so unique and absurd. Honestly, it was a bit strange hearing that they were making a transition to film so long after the show began, but naturally I was up for it and hoped for the best... and I was pretty disappointed.

The lamest aspect of this film is that it doesn't do anything differently than the show did for a great deal (!) of years. What's up? I mean, sure, we are to expect an overall ambience that is familiar, but I couldn't differentiate the movie from any particular episode, aside from the (overlong, at only an hour and a half) running time. It's Jerri doing the same schtick, with the unchanged type of people in the high school. Yes, that's fine and all, but if this is your tact, then you'd better provide consistently funny writing and, if it's not asking too much, some sort of interesting storyline. Yeah.... 'Strangers With Candy' is not armed with such pleasures.

I've always admired Amy Sedaris' ability to showcase her character as utterly repulsive, not so much mentally but physically. I mean, ugggggly; there's very little chance you'd think the actress playing Jerri underneath the makeup and expressions would be remotely normal looking, but Sedaris is, aesthetically, arguably a truly beautiful woman. I mean, what attractive actress would have the balls (figuratively _!_) to put themselves in such a position? None I can think of. But more than that, Sedaris really --is-- a brilliant comedian. I tend to come from the vantage point that, as sexist as it may sound, females lack the cardinal comedic abilities that make the paramount male comedians out there so outstanding -- just look at the rarely-changing inclination of the most renowned female comedians to possess more male personality attributes than female -- but there are exceptions... Sedaris, as Jerri Blank, is one of them... In this movie rendition, she has just as many moments that don't work as ones that do, but the ones that do prevail, soar... As with such performances, communicating the true magnificence with words is ultimately an act shrouded in futility, but I'd say that her manic, subtle bodily expressions and grotesque vocal delivery are most responsible for the humorous glory. And, with this overall execution of character, she accomplished what so few performers have allowed me to witness, providing an utterly unique sense of humor and wit that noone else can claim to possess. Again, it doesn't always work (and I personally think the direction is mostly to blame for this, even if the funniest moments must also be proudly accountable to the same director), but its oft radiance overcomes this.

So really, it's these glimpses of genius that make the movie at all worth watching. There are some completely wasted cameos by great actors (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick), and characters such as Paul Dinello's art teacher, that I've seen be so funny in the show, are near worthless. I will, however, admit that Stephen Colbert's performance is absolutely hysterical (intensely demanding his classroom to turn around so he can weep miserably). I have mixed feelings about Colbert -- I revere him for being partly responsible for much of Cartoon Network's 'Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law", but I can't really stand his political personality -- thankfully, his behavior in both the show and movie is a riot.

Overall, as a full-out experience, I'd probably bestow 'Strangers With Candy' two stars. Yet, like so many of my most treasured [live-action] shows ('Upright Citizens Brigade', 'Mr. Show', 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'), the greatness often arrives in spontaneous bursts, albeit at amply consistent intervals... and this greatness helps overcome so much of the mediocrity that can be found elsewhere in 'Strangers With Candy'. In this case, I honestly posit the particular trend is due more to laziness than, say, an unavailing result of over-ambition (with something like 'Mr. Show'), but I don't really mind that.

I will also mention that, in my opinion, it's pretty feasible the people who aren't able to reap anything from the movie's finer moments, will, as a whole, regard the movie an utter abomination.

I think [hope] I got my points across (with WAY more words than I'd have liked)...

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Price: $12.99
53 used & new from $4.66

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit askew, February 25, 2007
I'll say off the bat the last thing I feel inclined to do is throw any sort of punches at 'Explosions' for this release. Even if I do find it to be their least preferable album, these guys seem sincere and dedicated, and I'm glad they're still out there creating new music.

With that said, 'All of a Sudden...' just doesn't seem to ever go above and beyond. 'Explosions' are one of those bands that have, 'till now, maintained a consistency that made it impossible for me to say which of their discs is my favorite; while that question still remains unanswerable, I can in fact say without doubt this is my least beloved.

I hate to say it, but the thing most lacking here is melody; the songs are towering epics, indeed, but most of them seem scattered and, ultimately, lost. Especially when compared to the blunt, crescendoing direction the songs on 'Earth...' took, the unpredictable course many of the songs here make with is disappointing; while they seem confidently whimsical and strangely at ease with their seeming disorder, things just don't come together more often than not. It's so disappointing, too, because when things do gel, the music soars beautifully (ten minutes into "It's Natural To Be Afraid", for example -- my favorite track on the disc).

A double edged sword -- the incalculable nature of 'All of a Sudden...' that the bands' predecessors lacked is admirably ambitious, and what makes the album a distinct experience even among the many "Explosion-isms" that still exist. Musically, though, that tact just isn't fulfilled to its potential, and so amongst the generally inspired sound is a result that sounds almost half-baked. Consequently, there's also less thought and feeling, to my mind, than all but the band's debut 'How Strange, Innocence'; while there are hints of the heart that permeated all through 'Earth..' and 'Those Who Tell the Truth...', it's dissected all too often by the staggering current of musical ideas.

The whole thing is still pretty, for sure, but it's not the type of beautiful that will stay in memory over long periods of time. There are individual moments of glory that rival anything the band's wrote, but they come in spades, and so the album never grabs hold as tight as those before it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2011 8:49 AM PST

Child's Play 2
Child's Play 2
DVD ~ Alex Vincent
Offered by Super Fast DVDs
Price: $8.62
47 used & new from $1.88

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probing psychological drama, February 14, 2007
This review is from: Child's Play 2 (DVD)
Think 'Jacob's Ladder' with the subtext of Kubrick. No wait -- don't.

What's amazing about 'Child's Play 2' is that it somehow manages to be more entertaining than its predecessor. And that's a feat because the first film was so very solid, especially considering it was working with about the most ridiculous premise ever imagined; that they pulled it off with such style and effectiveness is still impressive viewing it fifteen years after its release. While this sequel isn't as good a film as the first, it's more colorful and exciting, well paced and a downright good time.

Of course, Brad Dourif is the commanding force behind the movie, as his vocal performance of Chucky is so so impassioned; he eats up near every moment. What's more is that while the film is still a scary horror outing (at least to a younger audience, as I was in the early 90's -- all three films scared me s%*@)less), it contains a lot more humor than the first. Chucky's got a generous amount of comical dialogue and his delivery is perfect. One of the more direct attempts involves Chucky beating the hell out of 'Tommy' (a regular doll that annoys Chucky with his grating, automated sayings), and I find that particular scene pretty hysterical.

One motif that is reoccurring and, again, a point of comedy, is most of the victims tendency to throw Chucky around like a rag doll before they become aware he's actually alive. The way those scenes are executed make for successful slapstick humor, and have me laughing indeed. Of course, this invariably leads to a temporary revenge response for treating him like dung, a generic gimmick that ends up still working.

The largest problem though, by far, is the logical inconsistencies, which spring up in hordes, time after time. Things just don't make sense; characters act senseless and stupid. Yet, while being contrived and a bit frustrating, I find myself not really caring, because the film is absurd anyway -- it is easily forgiven in this respect. Another bogus aspect is that this time around Chucky seems to possess a superhuman amount of strength and weight -- there are numerous examples, one being a bit where Kyle (the beautiful Christine Elise) steps on the breaks and Chucky flies through the windshield as if he was 150 pounds. Again, though, most of it's absurd, so it's not really a burden.

The film is well shot, too, the cinematography unexpectedly good at times. And the acting, surprisingly, is really solid too, especially considering this is "Child's Play 2", the god forsaken sequel to a killer doll flick (!!!). Lastly, it's easily the most colorful of the original trilogy, and this makes it more endearing than the others (and not as dark, for sure); along these lines, it also makes for a result that warrants repeated viewings without succumbing to boredom. The doll effects are also admirable, probably even better than the original.

The last twenty minutes of the movie are the wackiest, taking place in the doll factory. Chucky seemingly dies about four times. THE most glaring goof in the movie comes when Chucky becomes completely mutilated by some sort of steam machine, and when we see him, he is nothing but a mishmash of doll skin; he is completely unrecognizable. Two shots later -- somehow -- his upper body and face is completely back to normal; I'm not sure how they could have overlooked this little bit. But who cares.

4 stars might seem crazy (I consider myself pretty critical of movies, mostly), but I like the movie too damn much.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2009 9:02 AM PST

Mr. Show: Seasons 1&2
Mr. Show: Seasons 1&2
DVD ~ David Cross
Price: $11.49
78 used & new from $0.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Performers, February 9, 2007
This review is from: Mr. Show: Seasons 1&2 (DVD)
The reason this show works is because the ensemble cast (which is probably five or six actors alongside Bob and David) is absolutely brilliant. Each of them. The writing, really, isn't that great, but where it compensates for this is in execution -- acting, directing, etc. Like 'Saturday Night Live', most of the sketches are performed on a set live in front of an audience, but they also take the opportunity to make more cinematic comedy and utilize editing and timing to heightened effect in pre-recorded scenes. Personally, I prefer this tact. My personal favorite sketch comedy is the relatively short ran 'Upright Citizens Brigade', which aired on Comedy Central in the late 90's. That show, more than any I've seen, truly took advantage of all the benefits sketch outside a live arena has to offer, and when 'Mr. Show' walks this road, the two shows are very similar indeed.

Personally, I still don't find this show to be outright hilarious -- at least not in great doses --but I do find it to be utterly compelling. Again, it's the talent amongst the crew -- they're all great performers. I find Bob Odenkirk to be one of the funniest, most entertaining men alive, and while I'm not as fond of David Cross, it's pretty hard to deny how unbelievably gifted the guy is... He's dynamic and crass, real and able to unload without shame. The chemistry between the two (friends) is obvious and a joy to watch, and this extends to the rest of the crew. You really get the idea that most the primary people working on the show were good friends, and this makes the show far more endearing when it's all said and done.

Again, as far as writing, and general ideas, 'Mr. Show' is often frustratingly inconsistent, but part of this is due to the fact that it's so ambitious in concept and what it aims for. It's the people involved that make it shine, regardless of what material is being worked with.

Rocky III
Rocky III
DVD ~ Sylvester Stallone
Price: $5.99
78 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars YOU KNOW WHAT?, February 2, 2007
This review is from: Rocky III (DVD)
This -- THIS -- is the perfect film to show someone [with a respectable level of intelligence] who find themselves dogging Stallone. Trust me -- the opportunity arises around every corner, if you talk movies with any range of people. Who, then, would even imagine that 'Rocky III' is perhaps the finest cinematic accomplishment of Stallone's career, and a true testament to the fact that Stallone is actually a hugely talented man, rather than a hammy action star of B-grade flicks?

So why 'Rocky III' amidst the vast Stallone catalog? Because it's an impeccably crafted film that does just about everything right. It is perfectly paced, features great nuance, acting, and most importantly, directing. Ahhh yes, Stallone the director. Never in my life would I imagine the guy had such skill to craft something so exceptional. I mean, really, exceptional; certain films strike me as good films, some have great individual elements, technically, and others I just downright like; 'Rocky III' is one of those films that just screams "exquisite direction" to me. Funny, too, given it's Stallone the director we're talking about, huh?

Most everything works phenomenally. The editing is tight and pristinely timed. Conti's score hits all the right notes (his cue for the final fight is superb). The acting is passionate and naturalistic -- Burgess Meredith as Mickey and Carl Weathers' Apollo Creed both stand out, amongst the consistently solid Stallone. Oh yes, Mr. T! It's funny, because people think 'Rocky III' and little more than a humored "Oh the one where he fights Mr. T" comes to mind. This is terribly unfortunate, for not only does it bypass what truly is a great film, but, surprisingly, Mr. T's performance is riveting; he is entirely consumed with his character. More than a balls-to-the-wall animal, his acting displays evocative subtleties -- the entire final fight (boxing aside), his character drips of doubt amongst his facade as he realizes Rocky is prepared and as confident as he is; when he begins to get tumbled by Rocky, he reveals a near catatonic sense of emotion at the temporary defeat he's just been subjected to, seemingly unable to cope. Really, it's downright impressive.

It just feels like Stallone really injected all he had into this sequel. Not ever scene works, but most do. You've got the anxiety that goes with seeing a high-and-mighty Rocky go down in two rounds. Later on, a montage of Rocky training (to inspirational Conti greatness) packs a wallop with its perfectly trimmed self. The fight scenes themselves, while perhaps not technically accurate, are entertaining as all, with ravishing cinematography and, again, editing. The directing and editing, more than anything, give 'Rocky III' an entitled sense of rhythm that is so unique; the film dances. What a dance.

It's not perfect, but I really do find this film great. It's beautifully shot, at the very least; boxing never looked so lush. I don't care that it's the third film in a series; it doesn't destroy 'Rocky III''s sense of accomplishment one bit.

Stallone, as evidenced in this film, is a brilliant filmmaker with a slew of punches to throw out. 'Rocky IV', unfortunately, saw him revel in his own excess (and I love the movie for that very reason, despite the fact that it's a --huge-- drop in quality on a --film-- level), but even there it was obvious the man possessed boatloads of style. Here, style only accentuates the piercing substance, and it's a lovely thing.

Long live 'Rocky III'. Four and a half stars.

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