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talltale's reviews view profile

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Coincidence and convenience -- squared  
12345678910
on August 24, 2010 - 8:39 PM PDT
  of The Square (2008)
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


If you like your would-be film-noirs full of these two attractions, and nearly non-stop, then discover Australia's THE SQUARE. It's chock-a-block with characters just happening to observe stuff they shouldn't or suddenly walking into a room at the wrong/right time. A little of this goes a very long way. Despite good performances from all, the movie manages to be both predictable and stupidly surprising. It's one of those "we're all guilty creeps" movies. And we are, of course. But give this to us in a little better thought-out fashion, would you, please?
Wonderful "Horrible"  
12345678910
on March 5, 2009 - 6:48 AM PST
  of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


Joss Whedon is one of those guys who can't seem to do anything very wrong. His oeuvre goes from good to better to best. Dr. Horrible... is a little throw-away number, created, if I recall correctly, during the writer's strike to prove that you can make something good without spending a ton of money. He, and his cast and crew, have done it. I just wish it were longer. At the point at which it seems to be taking off (around 40 minutes in) it's suddenly over. Oh, well. Whedon has definitely adhered to the old vaudeville saw, "Leave 'em wanting more."

The music and lyrics are particularly delightful; I could have listened to them all night, especially with Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day doing the singing. There ARE some extras to fill in the missing time. I watched only the first, a "making of," which was enjoyable enough. But I want more of the thing itself -- and Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer and Penny.
Under-seen and Under-rated  
12345678910
on January 6, 2009 - 4:34 PM PST
  of I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


I am so happy to notice this fun film among Erin Donovan's end-of-year list on the Best Films About Women. It certainly deserved a release rather than a straight-to-video dump, and now I wish I had read the Entertainment Weekly piece that Erin mentions. In any case, do your self a favor (even some of you guys) and take a look at this one -- if only to see Paul Rudd give one of his best performances ever. The guy is usually terrific, but here he is so loose and funny and real, he wipes the floor with just about everybody else in sight.
Rock-a-bye, werewolf, out on the moor...  
12345678910
on December 26, 2008 - 12:58 PM PST
  of Wild Country (2005)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


...when the moon rises, your audience will snore.

Brevity is in this short Scot film's favor (72 minutes, yes!) but not much else is. The first half is filled with quick cuts and the like, so that we can't/won't see the "creature." Once we do, he looks more like a large, heavily made-up dog (rather rubbery, too) than anything very scary or monster-like. The script ain't much, but the performances are the best possible, considering. Rating it a five, under these circumstances, seems to me pretty generous. Oh, yes -- and the baby thing is WAY too much. But if you need a heavy-duty symbol just crying out for plot twists, I guess it'll have to do.
Submarines, Scares and a Simply Wonderful Finale  
12345678910
on October 21, 2008 - 4:14 PM PDT
  of Below (2002)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


I've always loved scary movies but rarely enjoy them much anymore so BELOW proved especially satisfying. I also loved director Twohy's PITCH BLACK and thought his THE ARRIVAL was pretty good, too, so that should have clued me in to the possibilities here. The story moves rather slowly but builds nicely--jumping genres from WWII to ghosts in a clever manner. There are so many little surprises along the way--from who's good and who's not to what the hell is going on (and why)--that you will remain interested until the final frame, which manages to combine beauty, sadness and justice in one amazing shot. The cinematography is first-rate, too; I have never seen a more beautifully photographed submarine movie. Bruce Greenwood and the ubiquitous Olivia Williams (THE SIXTH SENSE, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS, THE BODY, RUSHMORE, THE POSTMAN and more!) and the rest of the cast--unknown to me till now--are all excellent. Although reviews of BELOW were generally upbeat, audiences didn't go, and the Weinsteins' Dimension division ended up pulling the movie fast. So take a chance on the DVD.
Grim and Tired  
12345678910
on August 31, 2008 - 2:02 PM PDT
  of Artifacts (2007)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


Another in what promises to be a very long line of by-the-seat-of-your-pants films ("Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest," also via Lionsgate, is a recent example of this genre), ARTIFACTS is clearly made by people who want to make movies but have little budget and unfortunately not much talent on view (as yet). The filmmakers take an already tired idea that seems like a "Twilight Zone" reject, spin it around with way too many chase scenes abetted by quick editing and a little blood and ooze and expect somehow that a real movie will emerge. It never happens. This is not to say that the filmmakers will not someday create something worth watching, but Lionsgate should be ashamed of foisting this on an unsuspecting public. Nothing like the cover art, by the way, appears anywhere in the movie. It was clearly created to grab an audience that, without it, would probably never be seduced into renting.
This One's Enough to Bring Me Back to the Bible  
12345678910
on August 16, 2008 - 11:17 AM PDT
  of The Gospel According to Harry (1992)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


Kino International is currently treating the USA to the work of filmmaker Lech Majewski. Having seen two of his films-- GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY and "The Garden of Earthly Delights," I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. A more pompous, pretentious and pedestrian moviemaker I don't think I've encountered. "Gospel," filmed in 1993, stars a thin, handsome and younger-than-we-usually-see-him Viggo Mortensen; a gorgeous Jennifer Rubin, missing from films and TV since 2001; a wry Jack Kehoe and a rarely-seen Rita Tushingham. Reason to watch this infantile silliness ends with the cast. Majewski's lame attempts at satire are plain awful; even back in the early 90s they must have appeared tired (setting up housekeeping in the desert and vacuuming the sand? Please.) There is a certain "how-bad-can-things-get?" quality that may keep you glued to the proceedings. But, really, haven't you more important things on your plate? Maybe walk the dog or wash the car....
Putting the Kibbosh on Bosch  
12345678910
on August 16, 2008 - 11:09 AM PDT
  of Garden of Earthly Delights (2003)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


On the basis of having sat through THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS and another Lech Majewski film "Gospel According to Harry," I'd have to rate Mr. Majewski as one of the worst little-seen filmmakers in the world. He takes big ideas -- here it's life, death, art and appetite -- and reduces them to freshman-level discourse (dumb freshmen, at that). "Gospel," at least, has good camerawork; "Garden," on the other hand, seems to revel in its home-made video look. Not a shot is in focus, and the sound is generally crummy. (And, yes, I realize that this is because the leading actor/character is taping everything that goes on, but why subject the poor, paying audience to such ugly, tiresome visuals.) While I admire Kino International for releasing the work of "smaller" filmmakers, Majewski's oeuvre approaches the infinitesimal.
The Future: Bleak, Scary and Loads of Fun  
12345678910
on August 2, 2008 - 8:05 PM PDT
  of Doomsday (Unrated/Rated) (2008)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


It's shocking--stupid, really--that Neil Marshall's ("Dog Soldiers," "The Descent") best and most mainstream movie so far failed to get a theatrical payoff. Did Universal not fully get behind this film? Was it a little too intelligent for mass taste? Whatever: DOOMSDAY is fast, tight, smart, wonderfully imagined, features several of the best chase and action sequences in a long while and ought to have given Rhona Mitra her breakout role. If this film doesn't bust loose on DVD, there ain't no justice. (We know there ain't; why do I keep using this worthless phrase?) The rock concert/barbecue scene alone is worth any ten of most years' "blockbuster, super-hero" shit. And Adrian Lester ("Primary Colors," "Starting Out in the Evening," "As You Like It," "Love's Labour's Lost") gives yet another terrific Boy-that-guy-was-good! Who-is-he?! performance. Aw, screw it: There AIN'T no justice.
"Pam and Jerry" Go Gay and Dirty  
12345678910
on July 28, 2008 - 9:17 AM PDT
  of 2 Minutes Later (2007)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


Think Mr. & Mrs. North (if you're old enough, that is) but with a gay/lesbian detective team and plenty of full-frontal (and one nice scene that I'd call "full-rearal"). That should give you some idea of the silly/sweet/sexy/campy/mystery quality of 2 MINUTES LATER, a real hoot of a film. Just over an hour long, it was clearly aimed for a cable slot, and maybe even a series. Well, why not? You--and gay cable TV--could do a lot worse.
Prime Stuff  
12345678910
on July 18, 2008 - 8:48 AM PDT
  of The Bank Job (2008)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


One of those rare movies that proves they DO make 'em like they used to: only better--smarter, faster, richer and more layered. In short, THE BANK JOB joins the don't-miss category. And it's not simply exciting, it's also surprising, funny, with a few shocking and/or moving moments, and plenty of context: social, political and economic. Congrats to the director, co-writers and cast for putting together one of the year's best films. I've seen it twice now, and it holds up beautifully. Watch the "Making Of" feature, too: full of fascinating info and ideas about the event and its time period: everything from how the costume designer worked to the way in which the talented writers managed to seamlessly meld fact with guess-work. This excellent little "extra" is also blessedly free of the usual (and constant) patting-each-other-on-the-back by the cast and crew that most Making-Of's are weighted with.
God Speed  
12345678910
on July 16, 2008 - 4:08 PM PDT
  of I'm Going Home (2001)
 


I'M GOING HOME promises much and delivers little, in the process asking the embarrassing question whether its director, the 94-year-old Manuel De Oliveira, should still be making movies. I have enjoyed with reservations some of the prolific Portuguese moviemaker's output -- and in fact, enjoyed immensely his later film, "A Talking Picture," so I guess all prolific moviemakers are entitled to an occasional flop. To get the full benefit of the "floppiness" on view, the viewer must watch the interview with De Oliveira that's on the CD. In it, the man talks about everything from modern society to the environment, the plague of cell phones and more--as though all of this is present and accounted for in his film. It ain't.

His story of an aging actor who suddenly loses most of his family wastes incredible footage on--first--the last act of Ionesco's EXIT THE KING then a scene from Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, and finally another from an about-to-be filmed version of Joyce's ULYSSES. The first two theatre pieces at least have wonderful dialog, but the Joyce scenes go on to unconscionable lengths while giving the viewer almost nothing except repetition. Yet the actor's bond with his grandson (his only relative who remains alive and a relationship one might imagine is key to the film) remains barely explored. Yes, there are some lovely visuals of Paris; lead actor Piccoli is, as usual, just fine; and it's nice to see Sylvie Testud and Catherine Deneuve in small parts. Yet, when the film is over, you sit there thinking "What?" Then, you watch/listen to the director talk about the movie and--ohmigod--you realize how unknowing and quite post-retirement this man is. Embarrassing and sorrowful do not begin to describe the feeling.
Beautiful, Moving -- but Not Quite There  
12345678910
on July 14, 2008 - 6:37 AM PDT
  of Sunflower (2005)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
 


SUNFLOWER may remind you most of "To Live," though it's not nearly as good a film. It offers many powerful moments, however, and it nails the oppressive version of familial duty pretty well. It also covers -- minus the imprisonment, torture and propaganda -- China's Cultural Revolution. Performances are strong, and visually the film is lovely to look at and often teeming with life.

I do wish that Joan Chen, as the mother, had allowed a wrinkle or two to grace her lovely face. She let them put some weight on her, but aging 30-40 years generally calls for a bit more than this. (The fellow who plays the father certainly ages appropriately.) Sentimental and long (but seldom slow-moving), this one's worth a watch for a number of reasons. By the end, you may feel that it has flirted with greatness but never given over to it.
I Want That Pie!  
12345678910
on July 10, 2008 - 3:09 PM PDT
  of My Blueberry Nights (2007)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


If you're a Kar Wai Wong fan (although didn't most of us first know him as Wong Kar Wai?), you're not going to want to miss MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS. It's not up to his best, but it's certainly worth seeing and offers two wonderful performances from David Strathairn and Natalie Portman--and perfectly good ones from the rest of the cast (even Norah Jones does OK, though she's not an actress quite yet).

You'll get gorgeous, colorful (though unreal-looking) visuals and lots of mood, missed connections and lost loves. Maybe because Wong has set this one in the USA (spoiler ahead), he manages a rare happy ending (for two in his cast, at least). Was he thinking "Gosh, a happy ending is surely what those Americans do need!" Who knows? Just enjoy.
(Faux) Honor Amongst (Faux) Hitmen  
12345678910
on July 9, 2008 - 12:54 PM PDT
  of In Bruges (2008)
1 out of 5 members found this review helpful
 


An early contender for "crap movie of the year," IN BRUGES should also lay to rest any more clamoring about how fine a writer is Martin McDonagh. At least, if the movie under consideration here is a good example of his work. His burnished reputation as a playwright had made me sorry I couldn't afford Broadway prices to sample his plays. Now I simply feel relieved. McDonagh's dialog constantly calls attention to itself-- Oh, how clever! Isn't that unusual! -- until you could easily poke the author's eye out with a quill pen.

Further, the characters have no real depth, no matter how hard the actors may try to breathe life into them. Instead, they simply do the author's bidding, with a vengeance. The twists and turns alternate between the obvious and the stupid (the last of these, which hinges on the Ralph Fiennes character's sense of honor, is ridiculous). My companion gave up midway, but I lasted it out--just to learn if things could possibly get worse. They did. Saving grace: the city of Bruges does look lovely, despite the Colin Farrell character's cretin-like assessments. This is "black comedy" for people with little sense of humor and a taste for cheap and usually bloody ironies.
A Good Kid's Flick That'll Hold Adults' Attention  
12345678910
on July 9, 2008 - 12:21 PM PDT
  of The Spiderwick Chronicles (Special Edition) (2008)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


Surprisingly fun and exciting, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is so much better than expected (and for my money better than the overproduced & overblown Harry Potter schlock) that you may forget at times that this is a children's movie. That's where the problem comes in: It's not quite up to snuff as a film for adults. But there's enough here to make the time pass fast, including good performances and simply fabulous special effects, some of these as good as I have seen (at last: monsters that look both imaginative and scary and who move in a very real manner). Overall, there's no reason not to give the film a try--unless you loathe fantasy. Oh, and you get Joan Plowright, David Strathairn and Mary-Louise Parker, too!
Tedious Tales  
12345678910
on July 7, 2008 - 2:44 PM PDT
  of Shotgun Stories (2007)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


Way over-rated by many critics, this "escalating revenge" tale suffers from characters who are just plain not interesting enough to carry a 90-minute movie. Their (and their story's) predictability, coupled to an exceedingly slow pace, results in far too tedious a movie. SHOTGUN STORIES certainly looks good -- nice camerawork, wide-screen compositions -- and is well-acted by Michael Shannon ("Bug," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead") and the rest of the cast. Naming one of your characters "Shampoo" does go a stretch toward making up for some of the drearier moments. But not far enough.
The delight of watching film roll in reverse  
12345678910
on July 2, 2008 - 7:07 AM PDT
  of Vantage Point (2008)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
 


For everything fun about VANTAGE POINT, there's something that ain't--starting with the repetition of the film moving backward at high speed to indicate that we are going back in time. Once was fun, twice is too much (particularly when we are simultaneously told each time the precise hour and minute of the day). By the fifth or sixth recap done in this same style, intelligent viewers will be pulling out their hair.

However, the ensemble cast is starry, adept and peppered with talented foreigners like Eduardo Noriega and Said Taghmaoui. The screenplay is passable and the direction speedy, so that the film comes in at just 90 minutes--including the credit roll. All in all, a typical American mainstream time-waster that's blessedly shorter than most.
Sweet 'n Dirty  
12345678910
on June 28, 2008 - 4:37 PM PDT
  of Park (2006)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
 


A lovely little ensemble piece set in a scruffy, overgrown bit of wasteland in Southern California, PARK offers a very disparate group of people connecting in ways foolish, nasty and sweet. The movie--which includes sex, nudity and dog-and-cat grooming (without the animals) manages to be alternately dirty, surprising and dear. It's nicely acted, too, by the known (Ricki Lake, Billy Baldwin, Melanie Lynskey and Cheri Oteri) and the unknown (to me, at least)--which includes everyone else in the cast. All of them hit their mark, and the writing and direction by Kurt Voelker is all it needs to be to keep us entertained and alternately shocked and charmed. A small winner.
Faith, Redemption and Beating Someone Silly  
12345678910
on June 24, 2008 - 8:33 AM PDT
  of Adam's Apples (2005)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
 


All about the uses of faith and redemption, ADAM's APPLES takes the form of black comedy to tell its story and make its points. You won't completely understand those points until the movie ends, but the trip is great, dark fun--and its resolution makes the journey quite worthwhile.
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