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emdoub's reviews view profile

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Heartwarming, I guess....  
12345678910
on July 8, 2009 - 9:51 PM PDT
  of Millions: A Lottery Story (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


Is it spoilers if there isn't any mystery or surprise?

This is the heartwarming story of 18 lottery winners - 15 who shared a 95 Mil ticket in small-town Minnesota, and two guys who won big in the New York lottery for 5 mil each, took the monthly checks, and now the checks aren't coming in any more. The focus in the Minnesota group is the ladies who kept their jobs and lifestyles, and mostly just don't have to worry about money any more - it changed them and their town very little. The New Yorker who is now living in West Palm Beach is a nice guy, who enjoyed gambling with those checks, and is now living on a very limited income, but he's getting by just fine. The other New Yorker, now living in St. Louis (I think), was the first black man to win the NY lottery that large. His story seems likely to parallel the other NY winner's story - enjoyed the money, now is largely broke, but had a helluva ride. Mostly, I couldn't watch any more at that point.

Dramatic stories, these aren't. Nor, from what studies I've seen of lottery winners, are they typical. Sweet people, moderately heartwarming - but a documentary about them is just a documentary about any average person - other than being lottery winners, there's not much story to tell.

Stories, especially true stories, about the average person can be fascinating. Sadly, these stories aren't.
Nobody else is warning people?  
12345678910
on June 29, 2009 - 8:29 PM PDT
  of The Prisoner: Set 1 - Arrival (1967)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


Okay - after hearing the hours and reading the megabytes of praise for this series, I finally rented it. Fans of the series tend to be almost rabid in their enthusiasm for the series, and I have to admit - as television goes, it's pretty fair.

I heartily endorse the message - keeping one's individuality in the face of crushing conformity. But as entertainment, I've seen far better, even from television - Firefly, for example.

The two available DVDs have two one-hour episodes each, with fairly grainy picture quality and truly horrendous audio quality in some of the episodes. The storylines can be followed, anyway.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some folks love this stuff. I'm afraid I'm just not one of them.
Nice, creepy ghost story.  
12345678910
on June 18, 2009 - 8:17 PM PDT
  of The Others (2001)
 


I haven't seen the original, but this version, with none of the jump-cuts and gore one expects from horror movies, delivers an interesting and creepy ghost story. There could have been better character development, but all in all, it was a good workmanlike job of storytelling on all sides, with an ending I didn't see coming by very much. It made for a pretty entertaining evening.
Nobody else is warning people?  
12345678910
on June 18, 2009 - 8:08 PM PDT
  of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Special Edition) (2008)
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
 


I'll try to explain my disgust at this movie for people who loved it, and don't understand the naysayers: in previous Indy films, once you accept the magickal premise of whatever artifact he's hunting this time, everything else makes sense and is possible - in this, the script simply insults the audience's intelligence. The metallic component of gunpowder will float toward a magnet? What metal is in gunpowder? (Anyone who does not know what gunpowder is made of should watch old Star Trek reruns...) (OTOH, ammunition of the era would have used smokeless powder, which is nitrocellulose - but still unaffected by magnetic fields - but that's not reasonably common knowledge.) The lead shot from a shotgun shell will also roll toward the same magnet. You can pour the "metallic" gunpowder from grenades - they apparently use it as an explosive. Russian agents, in 1957, were perfectly willing (and able) to take a US Military base by frontal assault - in New Mexico. Once they kill the gate guards, the place is theirs, because the whole place is deserted for weapons testing nearby. A strong magnetic field will swing metal lamps far overhead, but not have any effect on the guns slung on the backs of the guys carrying the magnet. Secret military bases come equipped with rocket sleds (starting in the basement, and never mind the backblast) that lead, for no apparent purpose, to an empty spot out in the desert. All of this is before the nuclear test site town, which is equipped with lead-lined refrigerators, which enable an occupant to be thrown clear of the nuclear blast radius without serious injury (though he's making a Geiger counter tick rapidly in a shower scene later, despite the lead lining). After this, events in the movie become less plausible. If you're willing to park your brain outside, you might like this - there's plenty of action and some passable gags. If you like to use your brain, you're likely to be disappointed, if not downright annoyed at the insult to what used to be good movies.

This wasn't really Indiana Jones - this was X-files meets Tarzan meets Abbot and Costello meets Chariots of the Gods, with a bit of 'Secret of Monkey Island' tossed in. I honestly expected the hero to have to do battle with a kitchen sink, too.
Great cast, anyway....  
12345678910
on June 16, 2009 - 4:17 PM PDT
  of Jungle Fever (1991)
 


Maybe it's just me, but the 'it's all about race' theme was so annoying I couldn't watch as far in as the beginning of the relationship. If this is a realistic depiction of how people behave in NYC, I don't want to go there - in fact, I don't want these people on a screen in my living room for long enough to finish the movie. There aren't many movies that I stop watching partway through, but this was one of them.
Everyone misses now and then  
12345678910
on May 28, 2009 - 7:00 AM PDT
  of The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck (1967)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


Roman Polanski, directing Sharon Tate - how can you go wrong? Well, perhaps there's a reason that Mr. Polanski didn't do other comedies.

A horror/comedy, obviously paying homage to the Hammer Studios vampire movies of the time, could have clicked. The cinematography was excellent, the sets impressive. Some of the effects were downright awesome - CGI didn't yet exist. In the ballroom scene, when the few humans spot the mirror in which they (but none of the vampires around them) are reflected, it's not really a mirror - it's a pane of glass, behind which is a mirror-image ballroom with other actors being the 'reflections'.

Unfortunately, what lacked was the script. There were, I suppose, some moments in which fright may have happened in some of the audience. Some of the dialog sparkled, but that scene wasn't very long. There was humor, now and again - but mostly, it fell flat.

The version here is the original, 106 minute version, not the U.S.A. theatrical release which ran 98 minutes with an animated sequence. There are English subtitles, which you'll need to follow the dialog. There's Sharon Tate in her first feature film, looking lovely. There is awesome scenery and cinematography. If only there'd been some actual entertainment, this could have been great.
Passable soft porn  
12345678910
on May 11, 2009 - 8:05 AM PDT
  of Schoolgirl Report, Vol. 5: What All Parents Should Know (1973)
 


Fair T&A, simulated sex, nudity. Several vignettes based upon the idea that young women are quite forward about getting sex, reflecting the '60s free love concept. Made in the early '70s, the guys are goofy, the girl hirsute. More for amusement than excitement, if you're looking for '70s-style German exploitation, this is where you'll find it.
Art for the sake of art  
12345678910
on May 5, 2009 - 3:47 PM PDT
  of Blue Velvet (1986)
 


Certainly not moviemaking for the sake of storytelling.

Beautifully shot, remarkably acted, with loads of allegory and symbolism - what's not to like?

Never mind that the story is remarkably oblique at many points, that characters don't develop, and that the only motivation the audience is ever privy to is the curiosity of the protagonist - that's not important here. Unless it is.

You'll like this film if you like dissecting film, admiring technique, and find plot secondary. If your primary purpose is to hear a tale that you'll care about, you may want to pass this one by - it's largely a pretty examination of the human psy.... well, a blurry reflection of a distorted shadow of the human psyche.
Basic '80s teen comedy  
12345678910
on April 12, 2009 - 6:59 AM PDT
  of Teen Wolf/Teen Wolf Too (1985)
 


Some charming characters, an amusing story line, and a young Michael J. Fox as a bumbling, unsure teen - how can you miss? It's almost as good as the first _Back To The Future_ - if you enjoyed that, you'll enjoy this. Unfortunately, it ships with the sequel, Teen Wolf Too, which stands as a prime example of sequels that should never have been made, so simply ignore it, or watch it and wish you'd ignored it.
Um..... wow.  
12345678910
on April 4, 2009 - 9:51 PM PDT
  of Let the Right One In (2008)
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
 


This is 'first love' and 'coming of age' mixed with 'interview with a vampire'. Roughly, a 12-yo boy, picked on by bullies at school, meets a girl who just moved in next door - and eventually figures out that she's a vampire. I won't place spoilers, but the story is remarkably good, the acting is at least as good, and it's well worth an evening. I watched in Swedish with English subtitles - can't comment on the English dub or English Narrative subtitles.
It may be based upon a good book...  
12345678910
on March 25, 2009 - 8:11 AM PDT
  of Owning Mahowny (2003)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 



This has an interesting-enough story, some remarkable performances, and decent production values, yet still fails, for several reasons.

First - Minnie Driver should never wear another blond wig. It wasn't a bad wig, mind you - but she looked so wrong as a blond that it marred every scene she was in.

Second - have someone who hasn't read the book read the script. So much of what was going on was unexplained that it was difficult to follow the action.

For example, at one point, Mahowny is gambling in a casino, dealing from the shoe. The game could be blackjack, but it's not clear enough to be certain, you never see the other player(s?) at the table, so it's unclear whether it's a casino employee or another patron. The only casino game in which patrons deal that I know of is baccarat - and I don't believe that that is played in U.S. casinos.

At another point, Mahowny is driving along in his old car, and the scene cuts to his car being stopped in the middle of the street, with him trying to restart it. Did he run out of gas? Did the engine just quit, inexplicably? The action at the bank is told in much the same way - there are little snippets, but the viewer never gets enough information to have a clear idea of how our protagonist is doing what he's doing.

It probably makes a much better story if you already know the story - but there's so much missing from the actual action, and from the characters, that it's remarkably difficult to become engaged with either the events or the characters.

I'm giving it 4/10, but only that high because the performances were as good as they were. The script gets 1/10 - I must admit, I've seen worse.
If you liked Airplane  
12345678910
on March 24, 2009 - 6:41 AM PDT
  of Repossessed (1990)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


This not-for-children comedy spoofs _The Exorcist_, with Linda Blair reprising her role as the possessed. Not quite as good as the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker spoofs, but still pretty amusing.
Putting the 'B' in B movies  
12345678910
on March 24, 2009 - 6:22 AM PDT
  of The Thirst (2006)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


With vampirism treated as an addiction, this straight-to-video effort mires itself in low production values, poor effects, and a second-rate script. Fans of 'Firefly' will enjoy a turn by Adam Baldwin (Jayne in Firefly, no relation to better-known Baldwins) as an Arabic vampire with a Texan accent (explained in dialogue).
Jeremy Sisto as the deranged vampire leader, and the rest of the cast do the best they can with the script before the plot unravels, and the music is interesting. I've seen worse from bigger studios.
Moderately entertaining  
12345678910
on March 24, 2009 - 5:56 AM PDT
  of Eerie, Indiana (1991)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


Fairly entertaining, for a series that looks like it was intended for the Nickelodeon after-school crowd. A great bit of nostalgia for those who watched it as kids, or appropriate for tweens now. Campy, but you'll experience the horror of seeing that some kids have been stuck in the 7th grade for 30 years, and that a retainer can pick up the thoughts of revolutionary dogs.
About what you'd expect -  
12345678910
on March 24, 2009 - 5:37 AM PDT
  of Robot Chicken: Star Wars (2007)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


Pretty much the random, irreverant insanity fans of the show have come to expect. The "Luke, I *am* your father" scene from their first season is recycled in this special episode.

Runtime, from opening sequence to the 'Stupid Monkey' tag at the end, is just under 23 minutes. Extra features, commentary, behind-the-scenes, etc. run at least twice that, and are pretty amusing as well. If you've watched the show, you'll be wanting to see all of this. It's not deathless cinema, but it's an hour you'll enjoy.
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