A Dirty Shame

A Dirty Shame is about a Baltimore, MD neighborhood whose residents are divided into two separate groups. On one side, you have the Neuters, who are all about decency and are disgusted at the depravity going on in the streets. On the other side, you have the concussed sex addicts, all of whom have suffered head injury and just want to be free with their sexual desires. One small family finds itself split across both sides. With a plot like that, it should be no surprise the original cut of the movie was rated NC-17. The movie gets going pretty quickly, Tracy Ullman’s character Sylvia suffers an accidental bump to the head, and Johnny Knoxville’s character Ray Ray is there to release her inner sexual desires. With all this, she finds a way to relate to her daughter Caprice/Ursula Udders (I can’t make this shit up) played by Selma Blair – who is probably one of the few actresses bad enough to pull this role off right. This happens all while Sylvia’s own mother, Big Ethel, is the leader of the Neuters and is leading the crusade of morality.

The movie starts off like it has a direction. There are some amusing parallels between the neuters and the addicts and other groups divided over controversial topics, but it really fails to capitalize on that for either any point of the movie or even a laugh. While there are plenty of memorable quotes in this movie, many of which might get you banned from various public establishments if they had any idea of what you were talking about, but that is about it. The movie hits its peak at about an hour in and then just sort of drags on to the end. The movie ends with no real resolution nor satisfaction for the viewer. I guess the addicts win and get to go on freeing the world or something, or they just sit in a big pile and hump each other. I don’t think it really matters anyway. Continue reading “A Dirty Shame”

Ultraviolet (TV Series)

If you only watch U.S. television you will likely miss some great shows from the U.K. and other countries. Ultraviolet is one of those excellent TV series from outside the United States. This British mini-series is about vampires, but it has class, mystery, and style many other vampire stories lack. You will never hear the word “vampire” in the series which helps the viewer avoid creating certain expectations and assumptions about the content of the show. Read more to read the whole review.

Set in modern day England, the audience is dropped into a world where a special branch of government is in a constant battle with Code V’s, or vampires. The story follows Jack Davenport who is being recruited by both sides in the war. Vampires are worried the human race will destroy itself which would eliminate their food supply, and the humans do not want to be ruled by vampires, but everything it not as simple as that. The vampires are sometimes smart, cunning, even charming and at times the Special Branch officers are violent, rash, and destructive causing both Jack Davenport, and the audience to wonder which side they really should support.

The six part series not only brings new ideas to the table about vampires, but also challenges the viewer to really think about the code V’s as another race instead of immediately attaching the label of demonic soulless creatures set on destroying the world. The filmmakers make sure most things cannot be taken at face value, making for a great mystery and stylish vampire story not seen before.

Birth

Birth, starring Nicole Kidman, fails to deliver a cohesive movie to its audience. The idea is an interesting one and probably the reason most people watched the film. After losing her husband ten years ago, Anna (Kidman) plans to remarry. She begins to have doubts when a ten-year-old boy appears, claiming to be her dead husband. While this is a promising start to the movie, it quickly slows to an unbearable pace and at some points, nearly stops. Continue reading “Birth”

Space Cowboys

Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood stars and directs the ultimate cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, James Garner, and James Cromwell! This space adventure is sure to please all ages while infusing patriotism and American pride into all that watch.

At least, that is what some critics think.

A big, star-studded cast does not make a great movie (as proven by Batman and Robin) and Space Cowboys helps to reinforce that statement.

I know this movie was released in 2000, but I never thought it really got the panning review it deserved. This movie is bad. So bad that I frequently use it to counter anyone’s claim that [movie of the moment] is the worst movie they have seen. With the rare exception of Dungeons and Dragons, Space Cowboys is probably one of the worst movies of the late 90’s through 2005.

The plot may well have been written ten minutes before they started filming. It has that sickly feel of those “oh wouldn’t it be cool if…” stories that always sound better in your head than when you are telling them to other people. Unfortunately in this case, Clint Eastwood also thought it was a great idea.

Spoilers: Russians build a satellite containing not one but twelve nuclear missiles aimed at the U.S.A. Spectacularly stupid writing makes this satellite launch it’s weapons if it starts to fall out of orbit. While S.P.E.C.T.R.E. from James Bond might be dumb enough to build in that feature, I highly doubt the Russians would. Continue reading “Space Cowboys”

Donnie Darko Director’s Cut

Donnie Darko is a movie you will have to see at least twice to absorb its full effect. The first time you take in the settings, mood, and characters and subsequent times you get to try and figure out what everything means. Nothing is really predictable except what the filmmakers blatantly tell you. The second time you watch it to try and pay attention to the details the director slips in and how those details relate to the rest of the story. Donnie Darko does an excellent job of keeping your mind running well after the movie has ended.

What is Donnie Darko? A superhero? Severe schizophrenic? Time traveler? The answer could be all three; it all depends on how you interpret the movie. I think the filmmakers push the audience, with the director’s cut, towards a science fiction explanation.  There a lot of other valid explanations, but it’s hard to explain the end of the movie solely based on Donnie’s possible schizophrenia.

The original cut of the film definitely moves much quicker than the director’s cut, so if slow movies are not your thing then you may want to stick with the original. The director’s cut adds music the filmmakers originally wanted, and some added footage including helpful excerpts from the Philosophy Of Time Travel. I did not like the random computer noises and visuals they added to the transitions in the director’s cut. They felt out of place and unfinished, but this is the only negative I see in this version of the film.

In terms of the features, I was hoping they would include the entire Philosophy Of Time Travel book, but you still have to go online to read it, and while that is a neat tie-in, the site is probably not going to be around forever. Other features include a production diary, commentary with director and Kevin Smith, and a fan made film about being the number one fan of the movie.

I am glad they released the director’s cut of Donnie Darko.  The movie’s pace is different than the original, but it’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. I think this version helps support the mood and mystery the filmmakers had developed in the original.

Alias… To Be Continued!

The Alias television show, started in 2001 and I was there right from the start. You are thrown immediately into the world of covert ops following the life of Sydney Bristow who works as a spy for the CIA. She started out in SD-6, an organization that fooled its employees into thinking they were doing good. Once she found out about their real intentions she became a double agent for the CIA. Anyone who says the plot is original should go watch From Russia With Love. The action was pretty good, the characters could potentially grow into something interesting, the small plots kept my interest, but overall this is a show I can no longer watch.

First, and probably the most picky flaw I have for Alias is Sydney’s variable spy skills. One minute she’s infiltrated a base, sneaking past two hundred armed guards, through 8 secret doors, 10 alarms, and a building full of killer bees, yet someone inevitably sneaks up on her and knocks her on the head. She clearly needs to listen harder. My second small problem is she rarely (never, even?) kills anyone. People die, but not by her hand. I know it’s network television, but come on.

“To Be Continued” should be reserved for shows in which you tried really really hard to fit your story in one show, but just had to make it a 2-hour event. Alias uses cliff hangers and “To Be Continued” in every episode. You get to the end of the show, and OH-MY-GOD someone’s bonked Sydney on the head! WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT TIME?!?! I’ll tell you what happens next time, the problem will resolve itself in the first 3 minutes where Sydney will spin-kick/disarm-bomb the problem away and the show will build to yet another lame cliff hanger. So stupid. Continue reading “Alias… To Be Continued!”

A Star Wars Prequel to the Prequel!

According to Movie Hole Lucas has an idea for a prequel to The Phantom Menace where we would suffer through enjoy the adventures of the Jedi taking back control of the universe from the Dark Lords. Yoda would be the star guaranteeing two fun filled hours of puppet-on-speed action.

I don’t know what its name would be. Maybe Star Wars Episode 0: Rise of the Jedi or maybe Star Wars Prequel 1: The Greed of Lucas? Whatever it is, I don’t think I could stand to sit through an entire movie headlining Yoda in light saber battles, but then again, I did watch The Phantom Menace with the worst sci-fi character ever created, Jar Jar.

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland follows Peter Pan playwright J.M Barrie (played by Johnny Depp).  Before writing Peter Pan Barrie sees  several of his plays fail at the theater. While Barrie seems concerned over the failures, especially after the plays end, he also does not take the disappointment to heart, he simply searches for his next idea.

The movie follows Barrie’s journey to write a new play, that would eventually end up being called Peter Pan.

Johnny Depp plays J.M. Barrie brilliantly. It helps that the character was somewhat eccentric, characters that Depp seems to excel at in other movies. Kate Winslet also excelled in her part as the widow with four young boys. You see Barrie grow to love the boys and how they help inspire him to write Peter Pan. You also see the boys work through their pain of losing their father, living a less fortunate life, and dealing with their mother’s illness.

I was surprised at how different I saw Peter Pan after watching Finding Neverland. The last time I saw the play was when I was very young, and while I have seen movie versions since, I never realized each character in Peter Pan represented people in J.M. Barrie’s life, and how his own imaginary world was brought to life on the stage. For me it is no longer simply a play designed for children, but rather the child inside us all. The scenes from Peter Pan included in the movie are especially moving when intermixed with the events surrounding Barrie’s life. You see Barrie change from a grown-up playmate to a father figure through the movie and you have no doubt he will be a wonderful father for the boys he befriends in the beginning.

Whether it was intended or not, Barrie’s separation with his wife is rather unmoving and uneventful. You can see from the first moments of the film, and even in the way the Barrie house is decorated, that something is wrong. When Barrie is with his wife he is quiet, restrained, and uninspired. When he leaves to go to the park Barrie becomes a new person reinforced by the bright park setting. If you compare that to anytime Barrie is in his house, you see dark wood, dim light, dull, dreary, and depressing.  The filmmakers do an excellent job visually separating the two parts of Barrie’s life.

Finding Neverland is an excellent movie that gives us a great look at the person behind Peter Pan and the events and people that inspired the famous story.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events brings together three of the Lemony Snicket books into one movie following the lives of the three Baudelaire children after their house was burned down in a mysterious fire. The movie had potential to be quite good, but just did not come through with some essential pieces to make it a great movie.

Since this is the first DVD I am reviewing I should point out that I usually will not spend a great deal of time on the features, quality of sound and video, or any other DVD specific information unless something strikes me as really bad or far above and beyond.

Lemony Snicket sets the mood brilliantly with the meticulously detailed sets and excellent soundtrack. Immediately I was drawn into the dark world of the Baudelaire children. The casting of the children was excellent as well. Emily Browning (Violet) stands out of the three main characters, drawing you into her world with her quiet brilliance. Jim Carrey as Count Olaf was a little over the top, but as the movie went on Carrey’s acting toned down a little and matched the movie much better. Carrey’s funniest moment was when he was imitating a velociraptor (while giving examples of his great acting ability), but it unfortunately did not feel at home in the movie.

I was pleased with the start of the movie: A disturbingly cheery and brightly colored animation burst on to the screen. Shortly the lights are shut off on the animation, literally, and the characters cower in fear until the real movie and setting is revealed; one of a dark and dreary fog covered beach. I wanted to love this movie, but I just couldn’t. Continue reading “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Star Wars Episode III: ROTS

What better way to start out the movie review section with a fantastically positive review of an awesome epic movie such as Star Wars Episode V III The Empire Strikes Back Revenge of the Sith ! The New York Times calls Revenge of the Sith or ROTS (an acronym that is both a title and a description) “…better than (the original) Star Wars.” Could this be the epic ending (technically middle-ending/beginning) to the Star Wars franchise that everyone wanted? Was ROTS better then even the Empire Strikes Back as the New York Times would have you believe? Did Lucas gain respect back after losing it from the first two craptacular movies?

No. Not even close. Hahahahaha, no. Continue reading “Star Wars Episode III: ROTS”