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Posts Tagged ‘Not Recommended Movie’

Amadeus (the director’s cut)  –  movie review
Today’s movie review is for the music / biopic “Amadeus” (1984) about the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (full name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart).  Actually, the movie is about a contemporary composer: Antonio Salieri.  Before I go much further, I will state with full voice – I have little or no knowledge of classical music or composers and therefore practically no appreciation for either classical music or opera.  Additionally, and I say this with shame and not with braggadocio – I play no instruments and cannot read music.  I am clearly not in a position to critique the music in this film.  (I thought is was okay.)
In it’s day, this movie garnered a total of eight Oscars, including best Actor, Director and Film.  That means it should be pretty good.  But, is it?  No.  Not really.  I watched the director’s cut which has an added 20 minutes of movie, but in theory is supposed to more closely match the director’s concept of what the film might have been – if there were no constraints – like the audience’s need to use the restrooms.  But I digress…
The movie is a period piece about genius and envy.  As a period piece, the movie is outstanding. The costumes / clothes, hair and make-up are all outstanding.  That is, they make you feel as if you are in the mid-1700’s.  Or, at least what we, in this day, imagine them to have been.   But all of this is only a shell without a story to go with them and I’m afraid the story was too long and uninteresting to be entertaining.  It was at best, only mildly interesting.  I kept waiting for this highly decorated film to take wing, but, unfortunately, it was more of a fluttering and flapping  turkey that it was a soaring eagle.
For me, the whole of the movie was F. Murray Abraham’s performance as Antonio Salieri.  Abraham deservedly won best actor for this role.  He is excellent as both the elderly Salieri telling of his plotting against Mozart and as the young Salieri, expressing his hatred with the slight turn of a lip / sneer.  You can feel Salieri’s love for the music and his anger at both God (for His slight) and against Mozart for his ill manners.  As Salieri curses God: “why did you give me the ability to appreciate this music if you were not going to give me the ability to create it?”
The real question is: why did it take over three hours to ask this simple question (repeatedly)?  The answer, I’m afraid is because this isn’t a very good movie.
Final recommendation: not recommended for an “average” movie goer like me.  Maybe somebody with a lot more music background will appreciate it more, but I didn’t.  As much as I tried to see this in one sitting, I couldn’t do it.  I ended up watching it over two evenings of approximately 90 minutes each.  Neither half moved me.
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On This Day In:
2015 We Are All Explorers
2014 Still Trying To Cope
2013 Dear Diary (A good chuckle!)
2012 Conveniently Sequential
2011 King’s Speech Number Four
Rational Probability

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I had a few days off last week, so I relaxed by watching a few films: Cash McCall, StarTrek Into Darkness, Fist of Legend, Interstellar, Annapolis and Atlas Shrugged 1, 2 and 3.  Because there are so many, I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this posting.  I hope some of you make it all the way through, though…
Cash McCall (1960)
Wealthy “youngish” industrialist Cash McCall (starring James Garner) makes his money by purchasing unsuccessful businesses, whipping them into shape and then selling them for a profit.  (Shades of Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman“.)  When Cash comes across a small corporation which manufactures plastics, he realizes it might be a gamble to buy the company, but the company’s owner, Grant Austin (played by Dean Jagger – better known as the General in the holiday favorite “White Christmas“), is the father of an old love interest, Lory Austin (played by a young Natalie Wood), he buys the business just to get a second chance at romance.
Well, that’s pretty much the “love story” aspects of the film.  Very predictable and, to be honest, not as funny / humorous as I thought it might be.  Be that as it may, there are a few interesting things about this movie.  First, Woods is absolutely gorgeous in this film.  She plays a “wealthy” daughter and nails the “acts very entitled” role.  The camera loves her.   Strangely, although Garner is only 10yrs older than Woods in this film – in real life that is – he “looks” much older.  Granted he’s still a sexy Hollywood male lead, but to me, the couple didn’t really gel because he “felt” so much older than her.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in the movie actually has very little to do with romantic comedy and everything to do with predicting economic reality.  Bear with me on this…  At the end of his second term as President of the U.S. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military / industrial complex.  There is a scene where Cash is explaining his view for the companies he’s consolidating (in the movie) – a plastics and an electronics firm.  The one he already owns is a financial conglomerate – which by the way owns a private security / detective agency and a credit / business checking business.  Anytime someone investigates him, Cash gets a report from both companies.  The second company is interesting because it’s a plastic firm.  If anyone knows anything about films from the mid to late 60’s, you almost certainly know the famous line “One word, son: Plastics”, from “The Graduate“.   Well, in this film, the star is saying (six years before “The Graduate”) you have patents on manufacturing plastics and the patents are worth more than your company because plastics are the future of manufacturing.  He then goes on to say, but that is only a bridge because the long term future is selling electronics (mounted on plastic) to the military and he doesn’t want the electronics company as much as he wants the retired general who is running the company, because he (Cash) wants an inside track with the officers in the Pentagon the retired general can provide access to (because he knows them all personally).  Who knew Hollywood could be so prescient about the future of industry in the U.S. (and the world).
Bottom line: a fairly typical rom-com with a very attractive couple.  If that’s all you’re looking for, this will be okay.  If you make the effort to look at the movie more deeply, there is a whole lot more going on…  Highly recommended!!  (By the way, I am a Jim Garner fan from his “Maverick” TV series days and I make no bones about my lack of objectivity.)
StarTrek Into Darkness (2013)
This is the sequel to the hit reboot of the movie franchise from 2009.  As with the second movie in the original StarTrek movies, this is about one of the series most popular villains: “Khan!!!” – or more accurately: Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan is a product of biological enhancement, essentially a superior man – physically stronger and a genius mentally.  The problem (well, one of them) is that Khan has little to no regard for “normal” humans.  Blah, blah, blah…  Long story, lots of special effects and a very good addition to the StarTrek legend.  This is a second review and you can read my original (and more detailed review) here.   This movie has “legs” and can definitely be re-watched again and again.  (Still) Highly recommended.
Fist of Legend (1994)
This movie is kind of a “classic” in the martial arts genre.  A Chinese martial arts student Chen Zhen (Jet Li) returns home to China to investigate the death of his Sifu.  Chen discovers his master was poisoned and goes about seeking revenge.  If you’ve spent any time watching movie fights on YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one of the five (yes, count them 5!!) set piece fight scenes in this movie.  Hence my opinion that the film is a classic.  To be honest, although the movie is 20+ years old – and I’d never seen it before (!!!) – I felt as if I’d already seen the entire movie just based on the fights – which I have seen multiple times.  I would rate this movie right up with any of the early Bruce Lee movies (“The Big Boss”, “The Chinese Connection” or “Fist of Fury”) and definitely with any of the more recent Ip Man series.  Jet Li may not have the cinematic charisma of Bruce Lee, but he (Jet Li) certainly plays the part of acrobatic martial artist just as well.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!!  Come for the fights, stay for the interesting social commentary about national bigotry (from both the Chinese and the Japanese).
Interstellar (2014)
Now I never saw this movie at the theater, which is probably my loss, but I did not find the cinematic effects in this movie as awesome as everyone else seems to have found them.  Having said this, I feel the movie was a “real” attempt to bring some of modern science to the big screen.  So, kudos for that effort.
In Earth’s not to distant future, a global, unexplained, biological agent produces a crop blight and second Dust Bowl which together are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable – nitrogen is being released and oxygen is not.  A brilliant NASA physicist – Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. First, Brand must send former NASA pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers (one of which is his daughter Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway) through a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.  One of the movie’s tag-lines is: “Humanity was born on Earth.  It was never meant to die here.”
Of course there is a “conspiracy” and bad guys.  Hey this is Science Fiction, you know…  No, actually this is less a science fiction movie than it is a cinematic battle of ethics and morality.  In the end, time is malleable and family is everything, so the hero saves the day…  The movie works in a lot of different ways: as science, science fiction, special effects, acting.  The movie was nominated for multiple Oscars and deservedly so.  Final recommendation: highly recommended, but see it on as big a screen as you can find.
Annapolis (2006)
A cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “Rocky“, this movie is about a fish out of water who goes to the U.S. Naval Military Academy at Annapolis.  (And, yes, that’s a bad pun.) The three main characters are:  Jake Huard (the “fish” – I mean star –  played well by James Franco),  Ali (the love interest played well by Jordana Brewster) and Cole (the antagonist played well by Tyrese Gibson).  Basically, Jake is only marginally qualified to be at the Academy and Cole is trying to force him to leave by quitting.  Ali agrees to help coach Jake in boxing for the brigade tournament and life ends happily ever after.
Just a few comments: I am not a big James Franco fan.  I thought he almost personally ruined a couple of the Spiderman movies.  Well, close anyway.  I have never heard of Jordana Brewster, but the camera loved her in this movie.  I had to check the Wiki-background on this actress because I could hardly believe she has done nothing I’ve seen in the eleven years since this movie came out.  She reminds me of a (Latin and younger) Jennifer Connelly.  Anyway, Brewster has worked, but I’ve just not seen any of it (TV or movies).  Finally, I like Tyrese Gibson!  I liked him in the Transformers movie series and I liked him in this role.  He and Brewster have both been in the Fast And Furious movie series, but I haven’t seen any of them so I can’t really comment on them in those roles.  Tyrese is multi-talented, but I wish he was able to focus more on acting.  I think he could be another Denzel Washington – and that’s saying quite a bit.
Final recommendation: better than most movies in this genre – moderate to strong recommendation.
Atlas Shrugged (1, 2 and 3) – (2011, 2012, 2013)
Back in 2012 I reviewed the first movie in this trilogy (see review here).  If anything, each movie in the series got worse.  I picked up I and II on sale for $5 each.  #1 was probably worth it.  #2 was not.  I saw #3 on YouTube.  The quality of the film was not high, but it was still better than anything else about the movie.   Terrible acting, terrible actors, terrible writing and absolutely no explanation of the reasons behind Ayn Rand’s popularity (objectivism or libertarianism).  Use the six hours of your life to do something productive and don’t watch these films.
Final recommendation:  not recommended movie(s).  You’ll get more from reading the book, than you’ll EVER get from watching these three movies.
Again, apologies for the length of this post but that’s four highly recommended, one moderate to strong recommendation and three not recommended.
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On This Day In:
2014 Get Wisdom
2013 Enjoying The View?
2012 Adam’s Rib
2011 I’m Sure I Remember That…
Memorial Day, 2011

 

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Of late, I’ve been watching more DVD’s in my free time and reading less books.  I’ve also been reading a lot more other blogs instead of books.  I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, or even if this can fall under such “moral” concepts as good and bad.  I am generally against reading a book on-line.  Not because I am anti-technology, but because I’m a dinosaur and like the physicality (the touch and smell) of a “real” book.  e-books simply seem sterile.  I’m not sure why I don’t “feel” the same way about reading blogs, but I don’t.  I think it’s because reading blogs doesn’t seem to be discrete in the same way that reading a book feels.  Books start and end.  Blogs start and die.  Maybe “die” isn’t the correct word.  Maybe “wither and end” is a better description.  I guess most folks simply run out of time when other things in life start to get in the way.  Blogs are more conversational, and people sometimes just quit speaking…
I also really seem to be going through phases in my own blogging “life cycle”.  The first one to two years I was posting infrequently but they were longer posts about things which were moving me emotionally.  Gradually, I started adding quotes, favorite speeches and poems (and favorite song lyrics) and then finally my workout history.  Typically, I made multiple posts on the days when I had free time, and then there was nothing for a couple of weeks.  My daughter “introduced” me to scheduling, and that kind of evened out my postings.
Every now and then I’d post a review of a movie I’d seen or book I’d read.  Then, of course, my tendency to be obsessive meant I had to do them daily (or as near as possible to the actual day viewed / completed).  “Mostly” that has remained true, which means that some days, you’d read my scheduled post and then later get a second about whatever was currently happening (like today).
I had few “views” and even fewer “followers”, but that was (is) okay because I was (am) blogging for me and not for you (sorry about that dear readers).  A couple of times a month I might get a “like” and once in a blue-moon I would get a “comment”.  I always responded to the comments, even if it was only to smile ” 🙂 ” and say thank you.  I almost always went back to the “likes” to see what their sites were about.  Not because I wanted to read anyone else’s site (per se), but because I was curious about the someone’s which were responding to my random thoughts (postings).
It wasn’t long before I was stumbling upon really creative and interesting people.  You’ll have to excuse me if I seem anthropomorphic, but I think of your blogs as you (and yes, I realize they are only the “you” you want me to see).  Over time (sometime in year three), the number of “likes” got to be too great to visit each every day and I began the slow slide into “following” myself.  I now have a couple hundred “followers” and I “follow” several hundred too.  At first this wasn’t a big deal as most bloggers either post a couple of times a month or post five or six times a day (but they are photos and quotes which don’t take long to view).  Slowly, though, I noticed I was reading more and more blogs which were posting more frequently, with more content and which took more and more time to consider (not just read, but think about and consider the “impact” on my thoughts).
I must admit I’ve now reached the saturation point.  Where once I obsessively followed each posting on every blog, I then began to flitter like a butterfly amongst the blogs I follow.  I now have realized that I simply lack the time to “touch” them frequently (even with the weekly round-up).  However, I simply do not have enough hours in the day to enjoy all of your work.  Reading (books in particular) is my passion.  Trying to note / record a few of the thoughts which touch (or move) my soul has become the purpose of this blog.  For now, I must apologize to those, who like me, are casting threads into the ether.  If you see me “like” or “comment” on your sites fewer times than I have in the past, this is not a dispersion on your blog, as much as it is a recognition that time is fleeting and life is wondrously short…
DVD Reviews:
I’ve actually watched five different DVDs since my last movie review, so in addition to my lengthy lead-in (above), you’ll now have to bear up under another large chunk of reading.  The five DVDs are: “The Informant!“, “The Last Airbender“, “The Iron Giant“, “The Dark Knight Rises“, and “Ip Man: The Final Fight“.
The Informant!” stars Matt Damon as an up-and-coming executive at a corporate agribusiness, who upon feeling threatened by the failing project he is assigned, decides to become an inside agent for the FBI in an investigation of price fixing.  The movie is based on a real-life case, but is meant to be treated as a kind of black comedy.  To be honest, although I am a Damon fan, this was a movie I could not wait to end.  I found it tiresome and humorless.  I guess the comedy was supposed to be in the irony, because it certainly wasn’t in anything else.  If you are a committed anti-agribusiness advocate, this movie may confirm / support some of your worst fears.  For anyone else, give it a miss.  Final recommendation: not recommended.
The Last Airbender” is a children’s kung-fu, magic, sorcery, fantasy movie.  The story and acting is suitable for the target age (5 to 12 yrs old).  The special effects are quite good.  My son watched the TV series the movie is based on and he hated this movie.  My daughter, who did not follow the TV show has friends who did and she says they all uniformly hate this movie.  I have never seen a single TV episode, so my review must be taken with a grain of salt.  I enjoyed it!  It’s not great cinema, but really, how much great cinema comes out of the 5 to 12 target audience which is based on the above description (okay, I grant you the first “Kung-Fu Panda” was pretty good).  This movie has none of the humor or heart of “Kung-Fu Panda”, but it’s okay.  By the way, I got it used for $3, so it’s not like it broke the bank to view it.  It is obviously meant to be the first in a long line of series / sequels.  Will I watch them.  Probably, but I won’t see them at the theater, even at a discounted matinee price.  Final recommendation: an okay action movie to kill a few hours watching with your kids, nieces and nephews.
The Iron Giant” is throw-back to earlier animation movie style – pre-3d (“Toy Story“), Saturday-cartoonish flat style.  Basically, a metal robot is sent to destroy earth.  It is damaged and then assisted by a young boy who befriends the robot.  The robot is a weapon which “learns” to be non-violent.  This is a twist on the “Frankenstein” / “Number 5 Is Alive” Sci-Fi movie where the “bad guy” is not necessarily the “un-human” character.  Anti-military, anti-government, pro-peace movie…  In any case, this is a very charming movie which (deservedly) has kind of a cult-classic following.  It is suitable for almost all ages.  Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!
The Dark Knight Rises” is the final movie in the Christian Bale, “Batman” trilogy.  I reviewed this movie back when I saw it at the theater (see that review here), and my review as it stood remains very accurate.  Well, maybe too kind…  Not much of this movie plot/story bears thinking about too much as it is all comic-book fantasy – even within the scope of comic-book adaptation it’s pretty far fetched.  But as stated in my original review, this is not the type of movie you go to for anything but fun and action.  One final point: the sound problem I had at the theater was not present while viewing the DVD, so basically the sound levels in the theater were screwed up.  The dialog is fully understandable.  Final recommendation: Still highly recommended.
Ip Man: The Final Fight” stars Anthony Wong in a dramatized biography of the Kung-Fu Sifu who taught the famous Chinese movie star / martial artist Bruce Lee.  This is the third in the series and it follows the life from the end of World War II to Ip Man’s death.  This is “Americanized” Chinese movie making, similar to a number of movies which have come out in the last ten or so years.  The movie’s production value is superb and up to the level of the martial arts in the film.  As such, plot, dialogue and action all make for a pretty enjoyable movie.  In terms of pure martial arts, I think the first movie was the best of the three, but again there is not much of a fall off between the sequel and this, so the series holds up very well.  If you are into the modern age of Chinese martial arts movies, this is definitely a must see.  Final recommendation: Highly recommended!
Thank you to all of you who’ve managed to make it through this lengthy posting!
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On This Day In:
2012 Thoughts And Communications
2011 But How Does Peter Feel?
2010 Name That Regret

 

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