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shiftless's reviews view profile

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Charter School Anti-Union Propaganda  
on November 9, 2011 - 11:22 PM PST
  of The Lottery (2009)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This film, like Waiting for Superman is less a documentary than a commercial for privatized charter schools as well as a conservative anti-union propaganda film. Unions, and teachers themselves, are demonized as the problem in the public school system but you'll never hear an articulate pro-union person say exactly why they might be opposed to a charter school taking over a public school building, or any other issue that put the 2 sides at odds with each other. Opponents of charter schools are portrayed as rabid and inarticulate, practically frothing at the mouth but without much to actually say. More than once they are called "thugs" and it's suggested they are "mafia like" and violent. They even bring out conservative's favorite bogeyman, the defunct and defunded A.C.O.R.N.. Skip this trash and read instead about how charter schools are no better than public schools in performance.
One of the better Guest films  
on June 29, 2010 - 12:01 PM PDT
  of For Your Consideration (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

I liked this much better than previous efforts A Mighty Wind and Best In Show. Lots of funny bit parts played by great comedians, especially the pairing of Jane Lynch with obnoxious Fred Willard. Catherine O'Hara is particularly great as a botoxed and neurotic "veteran" actor unprepared for potential success. Since most people have been (over) exposed to the Hollywood awards season and all the marketing/publicity that goes with it, I don't think the subject is too exotic to relate to, unlike a previous reviewer who mentioned it. Aside from Waiting for Guffman, I think this my favorite film from this comedy group.
Oh my god, what was that? It was a movie with no plot.  
on January 20, 2010 - 1:43 AM PST
  of Paranormal Activity (2007)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

This movie has no plot. Was a writer even involved? I do like movies that refuse to explain everything, but this one explains nothing, reveals nothing, including evidence of a clever script or original idea.

The contrivance of everything being filmed by the protagonists is unsustainable, especially when they start carrying the camera around at the most inappropriate moments. Every movie I have seen that uses this gimmick has failed to distract me from that annoyance. Slamming doors and off-screen noises were scary 4 decades ago but only provide an initially chilling atmosphere for anyone who's seen more than a couple horror movies. Then you are left wondering... what's next? Oh, nothing.
Fun indie horror  
on September 22, 2009 - 12:18 PM PDT
  of End of the Line (2006)

You'd probably need to be a fan of the genre in some way to like End Of The Line, but I found a lot to like about it. It's requires some thinking, leaves a nice amount of ambiguity to the story, and it's not just a slasher-by-numbers movie. There is some less than stellar acting at times but a lot of the time it's due to the lines the actors are given ("I have to take a dump"? Seriously?). The effects are mostly good, creature effects are meh. If you like horror/ thriller movies, I think you will find something enjoyable here.
Wait.... what?  
on May 25, 2009 - 12:15 AM PDT
  of Cthulhu (2007)

A lot of potential but in the end, pretty terrible as a whole. Beautiful and atmospheric shots would give way to awkward dialog scenes. One or two of the actors were down right awful, but the rest were surprisingly good. And with apparently no budget for creature effects, pretty disappointing on the Lovecraft end of things.

My impression at the end was that they had run out of money and had cobbled together and ending with what they had. And it was confusing and slapdash and felt like the story had a lot missing. Still, it's nice to see gay characters integrated into story lines like this without making it a "gay" movie. Still I would have preferred they cut the "romantic" scenes and concentrate on the horror since it really lacked any cohesion or truly scary moments.
Not very serious but serious fun  
on May 24, 2009 - 5:00 PM PDT
  of Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

A Spaghetti Western with an all-Japanese cast, speaking "frontier" dialog in heavily accented English? Yes, please! Great stylized and saturated color, violence that defies the laws of physics, and numerous references to Shakespeare, it's a movie mash-up tribute to a film you've probably never heard of. I did find the energy and pacing lagged a little despite my giddiness at all the elements I loved, but as soon as I noticed the lag, something happened to grab my attention back again.

I'd recommend the subtitles being on, because even though it's English being spoken, the accents of some actors just overwhelm the pronunciation, and I think the dialog adds to the feeling quite a lot.
Perfect antidote to Hollywood steroids  
on May 10, 2009 - 12:03 PM PDT
  of Syndromes and a Century (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Beautiful, mysterious, romantic and initially confusing. I cannot get over how amazingly gorgeous every shot in this film was. Makes me wish for Blu-ray and hi-def. Some will be bored by the pacing and lack of "plot" but I really enjoyed this. The old monk in each story was hilarious, and the little bits of humor like this that peppered the scenes was perfection. Big screen, quiet night, go for it.
Sentimental Dramedy  
on March 22, 2009 - 12:50 AM PDT
  of Son of Rambow (2007)

British films always make me feel like I'm watching a television program, not a movie, and so does this one. It has some charms in the way that watching some one else's kids play act can be funny, but in the end it becomes overly saccharine and sentimental. The final blow, a "feel good" ending that says nothing about the rest of the themes addressed in the film, not to mention the reality that both the main characters must continue to live in.
Fun Low Budget Sci-Fi  
on March 20, 2009 - 10:41 PM PDT
  of Alien Raiders (2008)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Light on special effects (and good lighting) but overall a pretty fun story. On par or slightly better than a Sch-Fi channel movie. The history that leads to the events in this movie is continuously hinted at rather than laboriously explained, which is a good thing. Decent acting and good pacing. Good for a Saturday night double feature on the couch.
So MUCH Fun!  
on March 5, 2009 - 1:09 AM PST
  of Hatchet (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This movie is an homage to 80's slasher/monster flicks, and as such I don't think it's meant to be as atmospheric and scary as those films tried to be. But this movie is not only having a lot of fun with it's take on the genre, it's also HILARIOUS. And I don't mean hilarious because its bad, I mean the script and actors are brilliant and funny and it's supposed to be that way. The first 30 minutes are pure comedy, better than any Judd Apatow attempt at humor. And how can you beat cameos by 3 of the most famous killers from those slasher movies this film pays homage to? Jason, Freddy, and Candyman! I was totally surprised by this movie and loved every minute.
on February 15, 2009 - 2:05 AM PST
  of Tin Man (Part 1 and 2) (Disc 1 of 2) (2007)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Poor Alan Cumming, that's about all I could think of during this overly long TV movie. I was embarrassed for him. Poor special effects, a dopey script and a lame half-assedness I can only assume was meant to be sassy irony. To be fair I did laugh a few times at the references to the original OZ but it did not make sitting through this thing worth while. The main reason I'm writing this, however is to let others know that you need to get both discs, the second disc is not just "Bonus" material, it has the ending of the movie on it.
Absolutely Terrible  
on July 17, 2008 - 1:05 AM PDT
  of Diary of the Dead (2007)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

The final nail in the coffin as it were. Diary of the Dead is poorly acted, poorly written, and a chore to sit through. Yet another entry in the hand-held camera for the slack-jawed Youtube generation of films. Romero makes a bit (I'm kidding, it's more than a bit, it's blunt as a sledge hammer) of social commentary on our society's obsession with filming itself and broadcasting it to the world, but forgets in the process that his first job is to make an entertaining film. Maybe even a scary one (nope!)? His flat characters dogged insistence on filming (eventually with multiple cameras, so silly) in the midst of horror is as unbelievable as almost all of the choices they make. I would never recommend this film to anyone it was that bad. Stay away.
Really fun, but sub-par singing  
on May 28, 2008 - 10:12 AM PDT
  of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Tim Burton and Sweeney Todd is a near perfect combination, they suit each other so well. From the opening credits sequence and on, Burton has a lot of fun with blood. Numerous throat cutting scenes involve a Monty Python-esque amount of blood spurting everywhere. He doesn't cut away from the victims either, you get to see the whole thing every time he does it. It's a fun show, but I think some of the grim humor has been subdued in this version. Acting is great all around but I have to say, that people who are big fans of the music and Sondheim in general will be vastly disappointed with the singing ability of nearly everyone in the cast. Johnny Depp is passable, but hides his limited range in growling and talk-singing, and the rest all have very weak voices, with the exception of Jamie Campbell Bower. If you don't like musicals much you may like this for the story and gore. If you love musicals, you'll still be able to enjoy it, just don't come expecting Broadway quality voices.
For fans of the books or kids only.  
on May 15, 2008 - 10:16 AM PDT
  of The Hogfather (2006)

I have read some Terry Pratchet, so I am familiar with his writing, but not this particular book. It's easy to recognize his sense of humor in this adaptation but unfortunately the acting and script range from "eh" to just plain awful. There are a few good character actors sprinkled in amongst the rest, but on the whole Hogfather is very broad and mostly flat. Pratchett's charm is lurking in there somewhere, you get glimpses of it, but over all, it misses. It was made for TV, and the effects, sets, and costume budget generally reflect its limitations.

Fans of the book, characters or Discworld universe will be able to enjoy this on some level, but on the whole I felt it was made for a much younger audience than even the books are targeted to. So unless you have older kids or are already a fan in some way, I'd have to suggest skipping this.
Nearly unwatchable  
on April 30, 2008 - 12:34 AM PDT
  of Master of the Flying Guillotine (Anniversary Edition) (English Version) (1975)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

This DVD starts off with a title screen warning you that the original 35mm print of the movie was irreversibly damaged and has been "patched up" digitally for the DVD release. This means minutes at a time of pixelated video squares dominating the screen and choppy sound that cuts out frequently. The first 20-25 minutes are unwatchable. The rest is OK with only a few more instances of damage but since this movie is just a "bandwagon" flying guillotine movie, I suggest you see the original instead.
on April 26, 2008 - 2:39 PM PDT
  of Black Sheep (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

I had higher hopes for this movie as a parody. Unfortunately it tries to be both parody and serious about its scares, and so neither works very well. There are a few really funny moments but the parody line keeps getting broken with by-the-numbers horror bits and 'gotcha' cuts, none of which are scary but are not funny either so it breaks the mood. The actors play it mostly straight too, even the hilariously broad animal-right-eco-terrorist characters. The make-up and effects are mostly old school (as opposed to CG) and done well. This movie likes its gore factor. Overall, I enjoyed it but would have preferred they stuck with the funny side of things more often.
Adolescent psuedo-philosophy  
on April 5, 2008 - 11:16 PM PDT
  of Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

I was perfectly fine with the way the original series ended. Also, it had a variety of characters with depth, and a nice mix of action and personal relationships. This "movie" has none of those things. And if you found Shinji somewhat annoying and wishy-washy, be prepared to watch 80 minutes of him cry and do just about nothing but be a wet blanket. Then the long drawn out pseudo-philosophy that is present in way too many anime series kicks in, and its a slow boring ride that peters out all the way to the end. This one's for super fans only who just can't get enough.
Iceland has 'deadpan' down pat  
on April 3, 2008 - 11:44 PM PDT
  of Eleven Men Out (2005)

The plot synopsis above tells too much about the story in my opinion, but don't let that affect your enjoyment of this very funny gay sports movie. The humor in this movie is delivered very straight and subtle and maybe that's partially due to reading subtitles and my not understanding Icelandic inflection. It is interesting to see how they portray conservatives and conservative speaking points about gays, which seem from another decade or a rural point of view, and yet they are also so much more free with their bodies and nudity in general, both men and women. Anyway, rent this movie because you'll laugh a lot, there are cute men and it's well acted and a good story. Can't say much else about it because I find describing the Icelandic elements to it so difficult.
Dude, it's so bad it's laughable  
on March 29, 2008 - 3:42 PM PDT
  of Gag (2006)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Dude, these characters are so stupid and do things that make no sense. Dude, you'll pray that they get killed sooner rather than later. Dude, this is about as poorly written a script as you can imagine. It's so full of holes and senseless "plot turns" (and that's being generous), you'll want the time you spent watching back. Dude, with so many actors in Hollywood, I can't believe they couldn't do better than what they got. Even those desperate for new horror should avoid this one. And if you find the word "dude" annoying... well... you have been warned...
Give it a miss  
on March 21, 2008 - 11:32 AM PDT
  of Karas: The Revelation (2005)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

As a general fan of animation and a new casual fan of anime, I found this movie to be annoyingly shallow. Character development is nonexistent and until mid-way through, immensely confusing. A dizzying array of characters that sometime change their appearance before you get to know who they are and keeping track is difficult. Things happen fast, and without explanation, and you are left wondering...well, wondering...should I just turn this crap off? I didn't care about a single character. Despite really pretty art and a potentially interesting story, it failed to deliver as a whole experience. I kept wondering if I was seeing some edit of a longer work. If you're in it for the art, it's beautiful. If you are a casual fan or new to anime, I'd say skip it and check out a longer series that actually takes some time to develop.
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