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Samantha M. Summers RSS Feed (Buffalo, New York)

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Niagara
Niagara
DVD ~ Marilyn Monroe
Offered by cds_dvds_guaranteed
Price: $26.08
20 used & new from $12.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Retains an Undiminished Popularity Throughout the Years', November 18, 2008
This review is from: Niagara (DVD)
Henry Hathaway's 'Niagara' captures the the feel of a really bad vacation. A vacation with someone who no longer loves; or particularly likes you, and is quite possibly whiling away the hours thinking of ways to kill you.

One can almost smell the mildew on the towels and the staleness of the ashtrays in the Motor Lodge where Rose Loomis (Marilyn Monroe) lounges in bed wearing red lipstick and not much else, while her battle-fatigued husband George (Joseph Cotten), wanders around Niagara Falls, looking for sharp rocks to smash his head on. George can't stand Rose, and he can't live without her. This renders him powerless to do much more than paint model cars,chain smoke and break vinyl records he suspects are love songs about the guys Rose is really fantasizing about. Going nowhere fast, the Loomis' have 'late checkout' written all over them.

Enter Polly and Ray Cuttler of Toledo, Ohio. Polly is sharp everywhere that Rose is curvy, and Ray is a hapless dope who has cleverly combined their delayed honeymoon with a trip to the Corporate Headquarters of the Nabisco Factory, where, in his own words: "Breakfast cereal has become a National Institution." There is a wonderful seen where Ray, upon seeing for the first time- not the Natural Wonder that is Niagara Falls, but the Nabisco Company, lets out a girlish squeal. One wonders what Polly is doing with Ray, and when will she fall for, and save, the dark and brooding George who is clearly more interesting, and more a man of the world. Myself and quite possibly the other 4 members of the' Joseph Cotten-Is -One-Sexy-Powerful -Under-Rated-Actor' Club will be disappointed. Not in Cotten's performance, but in the plot of 'Niagara'.

Filmed on location with a powerful opening and moody feel of too much water, cold wind, technicolor souvenier shops, and a sun that never gets warm enough, and set to the gloamy music of composer Sol Kaplan, 'Niagara' eventually meanders through too many wardrobe changes into black and yelllow raincoats, resulting in an emotionally miserable cat and mouse chase. There is a suspense-filled broken railing scene, which should lead to a much-needed kiss, but instead becomes merely a backdrop for a weird scolding about the ethical dilemma of faking one's death.

Monroe, at her best when she plays a woman with a gently deranged personality disorder (must see 'Don't Bother To Knock'), plays Rose Loomis as a Femme Fatale who plots murder the way one might decide to sleep in late- with a sloppy, scattered-sheet air of boredom. Even when everything falls apart her fear lacks an edge, and her plans lack the cunning intelligence of most deadly women. That, and the removal of one of the big stars too early in the movie, gives the top Shredded Wheat salesman too much camera time.

As metaphor for loud, all-consuming obsession that blocks rational thought of calmer waters, Niagara Falls is the perfect third character. Does someone go over? Perhaps Hathaway is telling us that noisy, torrential, and dangerous obsession is more exciting than floating around with a guy who sells cereal.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2016 9:27 AM PST


Closure
Closure
DVD ~ Gillian Anderson
Offered by HOLLYWOOD DEALS
Price: $12.37
50 used & new from $0.98

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Copious Amounts of Violence, September 21, 2007
This review is from: Closure (DVD)
I picked up this movie because I am such a fan of Gillian Anderson.
Since 'X Files' I have only seen her in 'House of Mirth', and 'The Last King of Scotland'.

Just so you're warned, 'Closure' is a violent movie. So you might not want to leave it out for the kids, or watch it say, the night before you are about to swap your apartment with someone on EBay who has a cottage in the English countryside. Because 'Closure'is not quite like 'Holiday' with Jack Black, and Kate Winslet.

Set mostly in rual England, it is the story of a Alice Comfort (Anderson)and her date Adam, an alarm systems manager, played by Danny Dyer, who are brutally attacked on their way home from a party. Both survive, but have very different coping mechanisms. One character regresses, with a child-like dependency on the other, who has become a vigilanty avenger.

From the begining of the movie, Alice is an mysterious woman. She has a paraplegic boss who is obsessed with her, and the party she and Adam attend before the attack is so strange and subtle that I wondered for a minute if what followed was some type of set-up.

Most Hollywood movies that are extremely violent have a way of 'glazing' the violence so that I don't usually feel extremely effected by it. One example is 'The Brave One', with Jodie Foster, which I recently saw in the theater. I felt like I was watching nothing more than a graphic novel brought to life.

The climactic violence of 'Closure' takes place in farmhouse kitchen in the middle of the woods, and there was no glazed feeling. It was gritty, and it was horrible.

I loved the roll of the weather in this movie. Most of the scenes are shot outdoors in late Autumn, early Winter. Everything is cold, and dusky, and smokey. I appreciate movies where the countryside is a truly menacing presence, and one longs for the safety of the city.

Fans of 'Straw Dogs' and the French (possibly Belgian) movie 'The Ordeal' might agree. There is no DVD commentary, and 'Closure' and doesn't apoligize for the violence the characters perpetrate on each other.


You Kill Me
You Kill Me
DVD ~ Ben Kingsley
Offered by Surplus DVD Source
Price: $7.74
64 used & new from $0.18

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie With Some Buffalo References, September 16, 2007
This review is from: You Kill Me (DVD)
There is no movie starring Ben Kingsley that is not worth watching. `You Kill Me' is the story of Frank (Kingsley), a Polish hit man in Buffalo, New York, whose drinking is interfering with his job. When he botches the important job of killing an Irish rival mob leader (played by Dennis Farina), Frank's family, Polish mobsters who are being squeezed out of the snowplowing racket,give him an ultimatum: Get sober or get out.

Frank is sent inexplicably to San Fransisco, to dry out and get back on track. While there, he joins Alcoholics Anonymous, works as a mortician's assistant, befriends a tollbooth worker (played by Luke Wilson), and falls in love with a woman (Tea Leoni) so used to dating men who eventually tell her that they are gay and leave her, that she is willing to put up with anything to make it work with Frank.

Frank yearns for sobriety so he can become the hit man he once was, before beer and vodka made him sloppy. He keeps meticulous records of the people he has wronged, not by killing them, but by killing them incorrectly. To make amends, he mails the victim's families' anonymous gift cards of apology. As Leoni puts it " So, getting stabbed in the eye [instead of the throat] gets your family fifty dollars off their next purchase of electronics?" And Frank nods. "It's a start."

`You Kill Me' is a dark romantic comedy with some terrific off-beat characters, including a real estate salesman played by Bill Pullman who gets Frank an apartment in San Francisco, and a jar of cashew butter as a welcoming gift. "Why not just use peanuts?' Frank asks. Which is exactly what a Buffalonian would ask.

`You Kill Me', directed by John Dahl seems conceptualized around the question: "What could happen if a hit man joined AA?' While it works mostly because of Kingsley's performance, writer David Chase of `The Sopranos' has already asked and answered this question. What followed was a long line of awful movies including`Analyze This', which even Robert DiNiro couldn't save. But how many completely original ideas actually exist?

Because I live in Buffalo I was preoccupied with the authenticity of `You Kill Me'. The best jab at the Queen City is the first time Frank Speaks at an AA meeting. "Hello, I'm Frank and I'm an alcoholic. It took me a long time to realize this because I am from Buffalo."
`You Kill Me' was not filmed in Buffalo except for some stock footage. It was filmed in Manitoba. But the interior sets were believable, as Frank lives in a big, old, `Buffalo' house, with a gas stove, and tile and wood kitchen, and thee-diamond front door leading to a concrete stoop with black iron railings. Frank does a great trick with a bottle of vodka to keep him motivated to shovel (I am definitely going to try it in a few months-maybe weeks). Frank wakes up to an announcement on his retro radio of an upcoming event at the Polish Civic Center. This would be even better if Buffalo had a Polish Civic Center. And Dennis Farina makes a whispered reference to the powerful labor unions at Bethlehem Steel. But the movie takes place in present time.

Frank tells a very original and thoughtful anecdote of Buffalo history, about the assassination of President McKinley. But if Dahl wanted to keep up us completely swept up in the image of Buffalo as a Polish-centric, snowplow-warring, beer-drinking, racially divided city, that made Frank what he is, he should have known that, sober or drunk, Frank would never roll a gutter ball at a bowling alley in San Francisco.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2015 11:05 AM PST


The Killing
The Killing
DVD ~ Sterling Hayden
47 used & new from $3.79

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hold All Tickets, September 9, 2007
This review is from: The Killing (DVD)
Because of my Dad's job, I spent a lot of time at the racetrack when I was a kid. I am interested in any movie where a racetrack it featured, even if it is just in the background (and it usually is), as a place for degenerates and deadbeats to meet, scheme, and conspire.

When I was eleven, I was waiting in the empty bleachers at a racetrack in New York for my dad to finish work. A security guard climbed the steps and told me to wait someplace else. This wasn't out of concern that I was alone. It was because I was in the section directly below the cashier's office, where they were counting the day's money.

So I know it's not easy to rob a racetrack.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden),the ringleader and underdog hero of `A Killing' knew that too. That's why, in noir fashion he put together the perfect group of crooks, planned the perfect heist down to the last detail, and prepared for every possible hitch, except for Sherry Petty (Marie Windsor), a no good dame who would try to ruin everything.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (1956), and script dialogue written by Jim Thompson (the King of grit), `A Killing' has a stylish pace. Nuances such as secret addresses written on cocktail napkins and slipped to bartenders, motel owners who don't ask questions, and the lure of half the money now, and the other half when the job is done, make for good story telling.

Most importantly, Kubrick delivers the claustrophobic tension of the "criminal-wait". That period of time after the job is done where anxious bad guys have to sit around together and kill time. It is when someone inevitably allows their nerves to get the better of them, and things begin to unravel. A lot of smoked cigarettes, playing cards, and watered-down drinks add too the paranoia and anxiety of waiting and wondering what, if anything will come through the door.

While you may see the ending of `A Killing' coming from a mile away, it's a heart-pounding mile. And that, after all, is why we go to the racetrack.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2013 4:38 PM PDT


The Aura
The Aura
DVD ~ Ricardo Darín
Offered by CV Trading Corp
Price: $8.83
36 used & new from $0.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If A Crime Happens in the Forest..., September 8, 2007
This review is from: The Aura (DVD)
For an epileptic, robbing banks, casinos, and armored cars poses some unique challenges.
Esteban is a mild mannered taxidermist, prone to grand mal seizures. Right before a seizure he experiences auras, which he eloquently describes as a moment in time when he knows something [a seizure] is going to happen, and has absolutely no control over it.

Esteban spends his days fantasizing about committing the perfect heist, while quietly selecting glass eyes for his customer's recent trophy kills. He has the perfect job for daydreaming about an elegant crime where everything goes as planned, and no one gets hurt. Clearly it's been a while since Esteban rented `Reservoir Dogs'.

Set in the woods outside Buenos Aires, `The Aura' is a well-timed, crime thriller. It has all the elements of an urban genre: a down-on-his-luck protagonist, a mysterious woman, and some really, really, bad guys.

Although he is not a hunter, Esteban begrudgingly agrees to take a hunting trip with his buddy. An overbooked hotel manager recommends a nearby rustic hunting lodge run by a husband and wife. Deep in the woods, and angered by his friend's chiding, he decides to shoot a deer. This single action brings reality to Esteban's dream, as he fits himself into the planning and execution of an armored car robbery.

Much like a seizure, once his plan is set in motion, it roars out of control, with violent and unique consequences. Starring Ricardo Darin as Esteban. Darin also played the arrogant con man in `Nine Queens', which was later remade in the US as `The Criminal' starring John C. Riley.
`The Aura' is in Spanish with English subtitles.


Year of the Dog
Year of the Dog
DVD ~ Molly Shannon
Offered by SpReAdLoVe
Price: $6.96
99 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Funny, Really Sad, Really Human(e), September 7, 2007
This review is from: Year of the Dog (DVD)
The first thing I noticed in `Year of the Dog' were the vivid colors of the film. Mike White creates a pastel world that says "yes, the sun shines bright even when one is paralized by grief and depression, and ultimately experiences a brief episode of psychosis."

In addition, he captures the reality that despite personal crisis, the people in your everyday life do not stray from their own way of thinking. You have to go through it on your own. Despite dangers.

Peggy, played by Molly Shannon, is a single woman who has lost her dog. She is surrounded by friends and family who eagerly obsess about their children, their jobs, their egos , their causes, and their sex lives.
All of the characters in `Year of the Dog' are myopic to their own way of thinking, and their own way of life. They do not question themselves, even when their choices are screwing them up. They care a lot about Peggy, and they mean well. But they are not able to offer support until Peggy is in serious trouble.

The Beauty of this movie is that Mike White takes a character, who, in any other movie would be marginalized as "Aunt Peggy with pictures of her beagle on her Christmas cards", and makes her the most normal, and most affectionate character in the film. She tolerant and accepting of others. Her breakdown is both funny and difficult to watch.

This story is very human. I think it is about grief and rejection, and what to do (and maybe a few thinks to avoid doing- like adopting a deranged German Shepard) when your loss and grief take you to a place that is difficult for others to understand.
That, and I will never open a wine bottle with my teeth again.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2007 8:40 AM PDT


The Bridesmaid
The Bridesmaid
DVD ~ Benoît Magimel
Price: $11.99
32 used & new from $2.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Dress, September 4, 2007
This review is from: The Bridesmaid (DVD)
Claude Chabrol does not need to be compared to Alfred Hitchcock. His cinematic view of family obligation, obsession in everyday life, and cliché rituals (such as weddings) stands on its own. Right before it totally creeps you out.
The story of the good son, the good brother, the good guy who becomes an accomplice in the dark deeds of a bridesmaid who resembles Flora, Botticelli's goddess of Spring, begs the question: Which came first, his obsession or the object of his obsession? Chabrol's commentary is a must see, and an added bonus to the film.


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