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dropjohnson's reviews view profile

Are you f-in kidding me?  
12345678910
on March 6, 2006 - 11:58 PM PST
  of Crash (2005)
11 out of 19 members found this review helpful
 


Crash is perhaps the worst choice for Best Picture in the 78 year history of the Academy Awards. It claims to have a writer-director but I believe that white, middle-class guilt found a conduit through which it could be transmogrified directly onto film. Pure trite trash. I haven't enough bile within me to properly depict my hatred for this self-important nonsense.
Dear lord I cried like a little (Japanese) girl.  
12345678910
on February 24, 2006 - 11:29 PM PST
  of Nobody Knows (2004)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


If you have patience (believe me you'll need some) and a penchant for deliberate movies about very human characters, then rent Nobody Knows. It is easily one of the best movies to hit American theaters in 2005. Kore-eda does some amazing with what at least appears to be entirely available light photography and gets four of the most realistic and startling perfomances from child actors I have ever seen (the oldest boy won best actor at the 2004 Cannes film festival). I'm still crying and it's been three full days since I watched it...
This movie is a sucks!  
12345678910
on February 24, 2006 - 11:20 PM PST
  of The Great Raid (Director's Cut) (2005)
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


It gets one square because there is no option for zero. It's like one of those bland hunks of jingoism starring Lee Marvin or John Wayne but without any of the fun personality provided by such stars. Filmmaker John Dahl, director of such wonderful neo-noir as Red Rock West and The Last Seduction, has fallen far. I rarely ever walk out of or turn off movies but 45 minutes into this crapburger I could take no more.
Meh  
12345678910
on January 5, 2006 - 12:34 AM PST
  of Basquiat (1996)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


While the relationship between Warhol and Basquiat portrayed in the film is fascinating (the marvelous performances by Bowie and Wright don't hurt), the rest of the movie is formulaic tripe peppered with oddly inappropriate source music. Rent Dowtown '81 instead; it ain't perfect but it'll at least fire your imagine from time to time.
Maybe? Well, not so much I guess.  
12345678910
on November 23, 2005 - 3:28 PM PST
  of Yes (2004)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


One review that I have read for Sally Potter's Yes calls it "A film of startling banality." Indeed it is not that so much as a film with grandiose designs yet marginal accomplishments. It does in some degree deal with all of the following concepts: Aging, Idealism, Belief, Faith, Communism, Capitalism, Terrorism, Love, Passion, Christianity, Islam, Infidelity, Politics, Class, Sexism, Racism, Self-Image, Cultural Self-Image, and there are probably more (some of the items on the list may seem redundant, but Yes treats all of these items as separate but intertwined entities). All are worthy subjects but the light that Potter sheds on them is minimal indeed.

The dialog is written and spoken in iambic pantameter, the verse of Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. It is a stunt that succeeds, much like Yes itself, in equal measure with its failures. The camera work (esp. the artifacting slow motion) can be distracting as can the device of having certain characters address the camera. Yes ultimately feels like a grad school project and is likely to infuriate you just as much as it entices you...
And God said, "Let there be dreck." And there was...  
12345678910
on August 19, 2005 - 3:31 PM PDT
  of Constantine (2005)
6 out of 9 members found this review helpful
 


An Open Letter to Hollywood:

Please Hollywood, stop presenting me Keanu Reeves as the personal savior to all of humanity. Oh I know we all laughed permissively when he stopped that explosive clad dolphin in Johhny Mnemonic (...or did he save us from Dolph Lundgren? Does Anyone actually remember? If they do remember, do they wish that they didn't?), wondered why we had ever talked ourselves into viewing Chain Reaction in the first place, swallowed hard and begrudgingly accepted him as a messianic figure in Matrix 1, and laughed incredulously, but watched nevertheless, at his ascension to full-fledged Second Coming o' Jesus status in the subsequent Matrix sequels. And it's just enough already! For crap's sake, it was difficult enough to fathom him saving that busload full of annoying people (especially Sandra Bullock) in Speed. And really if Keanu is so consistantly our only hope, is humanity not then beyond redemption? Mr. Reeves was born to play Ted "Theodore" Logan and retire from cinema to assistant manage the Tower Records in Redondo Beach. And yet next spring we will have to swallow our collective pride once again if we want to see A Scanner Darkly (after what he did to the work of William Gibson one might be disinclined to cast him in an adaption of Phillip K. Dick). So seriously, stop. Now. Really. Point taken. You can cast anyone you want and we can't really stop you. Unless... well, we could just stop going to see the shit you jam into the multiplexes. We could always do that. In fact, some of us already have. Year by year the amount of people willing to pay exorbitant admission prices for the movies has fallen, and this trend will continue. And in the end, you will have no one to blame aside from yourselves and Keanu Reeves.

Sincerely,
An exponentially growing chunk of the moviegoing populace.

ps And don't think that we aren't on to you in your efforts to groom Keanu Reeves II in the likes of Paul Walker.




A few thoughts on Constantine:
Rachel Weisz... why? Couldn't you find a lump of driftwood? A little pancake makeup and no one would have been the wiser.

Way to waste good actors like Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Peter Stomare by relegating them to about three-and-a-half minutes of screen time each.

Hell looked a lot like Pheonix, Arizona, only windier.

Way to waste an above average job on CGI effects by making the demons look like sweatshop knockoffs of every other demon from every other demon-related movie ever made.

A quick suggestion for the Mexican guy who found the Spear of Destiny: Next time don't walk all of the way across Mexico and halfway across California before you carjack somebody. Just commit to evil with both feet in the pool. The movie would have been over a good half-hour sooner had you used a modicum of forethought.

Apparently the Spear of Destiny makes you a scourge to cattle, but does not make you any smarter.

Being a chain smoker is not characterization, it is a single trait in need of much more embellishment.

Never have I seen a movie about redemption with a more trite message regarding redemption.

Never have I seen any movie on any subject with a more trite message regarding redemption.

Exorcised demons can be rather easily trapped and disposed of by holding a large mirror over the posessed and then shattering said mirror. It's fun and simple and you kids can try it at home. Finding someone posessed by a demon may be a bit tricky but I can guaruntee you this will be more exciting than watching Constantine.
If only Hitler had a pony...  
12345678910
on August 19, 2005 - 2:17 PM PDT
  of Downfall (2004)
3 out of 10 members found this review helpful
 


Hitler had a dog, a German Shepard (oh how typical) named Blondi. He loved his dog and was very kind to it (Blondi's sex is not revealed in the film). He was also very loving toward Eva Braun and his secretary, Traudl Junge. For the better part of Der Untertag, a film about those last halcyon days of the Third Reich in which they were cloistered in the bunker where Hitler and several other key Reich figures would ultimately meet their self-imposed ends, Hitler is portrayed a bi-polar hunchback. He smiles sweetly at Braun only seconds before flying into a rage, pounding on a map of Berlin, strategizing movements for long dead and/or defunct platoons of soldiers, and ordering one or more of his general's executed for treason. There is a school of thought that Hitler should never ever be humanized to any degree and should instead remain a monolithic boogeyman. Such thinking is flawed to an alarming degree. It exists only to forward the notion that Hitler was an aberration who invented genocide and that it died with him. Sorry, hon. He wasn't the first or last, just the best. To better understand Hitler is to perhaps better prevent the next Idi Amin or Slobodan Milosevic. The trouble with the film is that we get only one scene of Hitler from 1942 when he seems much less like a yammering fruit bat and none from prior to the war. He pet his dog, cared for his girlfriend, and complimented his underlings. Okay? I never imagined that weren't moments of Adolf's life where he was wonderful company. I'm certain at some point in time he gave a cute kid a lollipop and helped and old woman across a busy Berlin intersection. Are we then to conclude that enthusiasm for one's dog and vegetarianism are precursors to genocidal megalomania? Two and a half hours and, "Guess what, Hitler had a dog!" is what we get for our investment.

The film's greatest success lies in its portrayal of Hitler's acolytes, who, aside from Mr. and Mrs. Goebbels, seem to be taken aback by the sudden realization that their Fuhrer is a skosh of kilter. Most continue, despite this cognition, to follow Hitler all the way down in flames because, in the words of Magda Gobles, "Without National Socialism, there is no future." The film would have done a greater service had it kept Hitler as a periphery character (or perhaps even a specter, always just off camera but never seen) and focused instead on the dilemma of his loyal zealots, some of whom have come abruptly to the realization that the war has turned irrevocably against them and that very soon they will be held culpable for their actions and inactions, and others who would rather face a bullet from their own gun than confront these realities. There are interesting notions offered of the national fervor that swallowed up all of those who chose to align themselves with the Nazi party and a suggestion of condemnation of those who disapproved but whose abeyance acted as a form of tacit approval. These ideas are raised but abandoned. What will be remembered most of all is Hitler flailing maniacally, which leads only to the ultimate conclusion that Hitler used to flail maniacally.

Perhaps the greatest miscalculation is the amount of sympathy Downfall attempts to garner for dead and dying Nazis. I know that the loss of human life is tragic and all of that but I have trouble drumming up much sadness when a member of the SS bites it. In fact, I had to refrain the entire movie from audibly rooting for the Russian soldiers advancing day by day in an ever-constricting circle on the bunker. I was able to dredge up real sympathy only in two instances (I suppose these are spoilers so stop reading if you don't wanna know): one in which poor Blondi is forced by Hitler to display its commitment to National Socialism and a second in which the little Goebbels children (who are oddly reminiscent of the Von Trapp kiddies from the Sound of Music) are tricked by their parents into ingesting a sedative (you can probably guess what happens next). For a hundred and fifty-five minute film about the collapse of the Nazi party there are few allusions to the Holocaust. In fact, there are only three actual mentions with just one of those coming in the course of the film (at the end there is a footnote that, oh by the way, six million Jews died in some camps). The loss is measured entirely in terms of German casualties. And not only is it solely German casualties, but that of SS and Reich officers. Should I get misty at the thought of Himmler' death? Junge is something of the film's moral center, if there is such a thing in a film about the Third Reich. It is bookended with interviews from the actual Junge before her death in 2002. In the end of Downfall she escapes through the advancing Russian line and is excused from her involvement because of her relative youth (though she is in her mid-twenties and I can't quite understand what makes her anymore of a youth than the twenty year old soldiers on the front lines). Her escape is presented with a dramatic weight that is not and cannot be earned. It is a good thing that someone survived to present a portrait of those final days but the life of a single person who collaborated with and admired Hitler holds precious little gravity in the face of fifty million corpses.
Another one to throw on the "Wasted Opportunites" slagheap.  
12345678910
on March 26, 2005 - 5:15 PM PST
  of Empire (2002)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


The first hour and fifteen minutes of Empire reminded me a great deal of Menace II Society, which blatantly ripped-off Scorecese's Goodfellas, teleporting the story from the Italian working class clime of Queens to the Black inner-city neighborhood of Watts. They say the good ones borrow while the great ones steal and, while I don't consider the Hughes brothers to be great fimmakers, Menace has become a minor classic. Empire steals much in the same vein from Goodfellas (owing a debt as well to Scarface, though Empire is far more subdued) transposing the story onto a predominately Latino neighborhood in the South Bronx, but sadly to a lesser result.

The main trouble arises in the last two reels when Empire veers away from its social context into the land of predictable twists and turns. Anyone who has seen the trailer knows exactly what to expect and even if you've not you're likely to have seen the setup so many times in a dozen other movies that you will be a couple steps ahead of the film regardless. John Leguizamo gives the best performance I have seen to date (I am, however, not a big fan and have skipped more than one of his films) while the rest of the characters are relegated to one dimmension (perhaps a dimmension and a half in a few instances. But, come on, Denise Richards portraying a skank? That's daring and new). The real problem is that the screenplay has no desire to deal with Jack (played by the wonderful Peter Sarsgaard) as a character but instead treats him first as a dubious and hollow symbol and second as mere plot convenience. That there are elephantine plot holes probably goes without saying. What's left when the dust settles is a slightly over-stylized and under-realized exercise in plot mechanics that proves a completely forgettable experience.
Well they did have to make way for Jack and Bobby...  
12345678910
on March 22, 2005 - 3:32 PM PST
  of Angel: Season 5 (Disc 1 of 6) (2003)
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
 


Please fans of Angel, and of Joss Whedon shows in general, take a moment to thank the fine people at the WB for canceling Angel after its finest season. Really the possibilities for season six were boundless, what with Buffy crossover Spike and his contentious-at-its-best-moments relationship with Angel and the late addition of Ilyria. Season five shows a return to form from the heavy soap-opera morass of the Connor era. This reinvigoration is owed primarily to the show's return to humor (much of which came in the form of their change in address and also the addition of Harmony to the full-time cast as Angel's secretary) without losing the ability to occasionally shock or devastate. Even with the abruptness of their cancellation (they only found out it was the end with five episodes remaining) Angel provides a far better denouement than Buffy (who had the entirety of season seven to be ponderous) leaving one able only to consider those splenid possibilities that a season six would have provided. Such is life in a television universe teeming with LCD pablum such as Joan of Arcadia and Blind Justice (Show's tagline: He lost his sight, not his vision. Get it?). Note: if you like Angel (and I'm assuming you do if you're looking to rent season five) and Buffy and you've not already watched Firefly (which would be a bit surprising), give it a shot and I bet you'll have a reason to thank the Fox network as well.
It should garner more points for not featuring Dennis Franz's ass...  
12345678910
on March 2, 2005 - 11:38 PM PST
  of American Buffalo (1996)
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


Few people can turn expletives into an artform but David Mamet is one such fellow. One might've hoped for more from a transposition of one of Mamet's more well-regarded stage plays to celluloid, especially following on the heels of the excellent crossover Glengary Glen Ross, but American Buffalo suffers from stagnation regarding its singular location (or more accurately from unimaginative cinematography in regards to fully exposing its singular location) and an excessively cagey performance from Dustin Hoffman who pushes his character Teach to the border of caricature. Franz and Sean Nelson both comport themselves well and seem able to bear the gravity of Mamet's dialog (no small task). The overall effect is an overwrought study of vernacular featuring one player who noticeably attempts to transcend the material only to realize that his reach far exceeds his grasp. Likely to please only Mamet fans.

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