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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Bothersome Man - Purgatory Film ? Reviewed Here

Imagine this, you are dropped off in a city where you are given a nice home, a beautiful lover, an easy job and just about basic want in life is satisfied.  Doesn't sound too bad, right?
Now imagine the world is a dulled sensory experience.  The food doesn't taste good, the drinks are not intoxicating, there is no meaning to work and love has little feeling. Everything about this place is bland.

"The Bothersome Man" is set in such a place.  I watched this Norwegian film in  English subtitle.  The main character, Trond, is delivered to this strange, sterile, seemingly content city.  He is quickly given an easy, well paying job, a gorgeous girlfriend to live with, and very pleasant acquaintances.  

Trond soon finds though that all of the pleasures in life are vacuous pleasures.  Everyone is friendly but they have no desire for meaningful friendships.  Work is easy but gives no satisfaction.  Physical relationships are boring.  There are no children. Love serves no purpose.

If you enjoy films that do not give you the answers but let you sort them out for yourself, you may enjoy "The Bothersome Man"   It makes for an interesting debate.  Is this flick about Purgoratory?  Is it a simulated parallel world  (ie The Matrix) ? Is it a social criticism of our own meaningless routines?

I don't know.  The Bothersome Man had me thinking about it for days though.

For you are looking for something a little different and dryly disturbing (a cross between The Matrix and a bleak Twilight Zone episode), then check it out.


Rated R

96 Minutes

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Whatever Works - Film Review - Larry David - Rachel Adams

"Whatever Works" is written and directed by Woody Allen and stars Larry David.  Larry David plays a retired physicist, Boris Yellnikoff. He lives in New York City.  He is a tired, neurotic, suicidal, genius and disgusted with just about everything
and everyone one.  He thinks just about everything is stupid.  He is very vocal about his feelings and expresses them through a number of literal and thinly veiled monologues.

In between Yellnikoff's rants he meets homeless Melody (Rachel Evan Wood).  Melody is much, much younger (I'd say by 40+ years). She is bubbly, naive and not so bright.  Improbably, they fall in love and marry.

Whatever Works feels much like a play.  There is no sweep to the film, the scenes are played out in small spaces,  and the dialog is somewhat more animated that you'd see in a typical film.

Larry David is perfectly cast for this film.  Larry David is cynical as ever and there are times when you want to pat him on the back and other times where I wanted to turn off the film because he is so wonderfully depressing.

Rachel Evan Wood plays the naive young woman, Melody. Wood plays her perfectly.  I do not think the character of Melody is easy to play. Melody has fallen off track in life. She is naive and uneducated but she is also eager to learn. This character is a terrific mover and shaker in the film.  Wood's performance reminds me so much of  Amy Adam's terrific and not as easy as it seems role of Ashley in the movie Junebug (my review here).

Supporting cast is very good as well and played by veteran actors.  Notably Patricia Clarkson. Clarkson plays Melody's mother, does a fine job.  I don't think Clarkson has ever played a bad role in her acting career.

The theme of Whatever Works dare I say, is existentialism?  That might be too strong a word but maybe not?  Throughout the film characters are struggling to find what works for them in life.  Basically, if it makes you more happy, it must be good.

Whatever Works is very theatric.  It often feels more like a  play than a movie.

If you like quirky films or Woody Allen films in general, you should check this film out.


PG 13

1 hour 34 minutes

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Usual Suspects - Kevin Spacey Film Review

After years and years of people telling me to watch "The Usual Suspects" I finally got around to seeing this film.

The Usual Suspects is about a band of veteran, career thieves who are forced to do one more job together.

The cast (Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollack and Pete Postlethwaite) is great and were all A-list actors at the time this film was made in 2005.

I enjoyed the film but I really wish I saw this film in 1995.  The mid nineties saw a wave of these semi-artsey crime films (think Pulp Fiction) and back then a lot of the twists, turns and dialog were new and fresh.  Watch the same films now and they seem cliche at times.  That said, The Usual Suspects does have it's share of surprises.

The Usual Suspects is considered a crime-film classic by many and I do suggest you see it if you get a chance.  The film may feel all too familiar at times but if you can keep in perspective that the film came out in the nineties and was one of the best crime flicks at the time, you'll appeciate this film.

Check it out.

Another Film Critique on Best Movie Reviews By TurtleDog

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Men Who Stare at Goats - Army Psychogical Ops Film Review

"Men Who Stare at Goats" is a strange film that is loosely based on true events.  It features an A-list cast of characters portrayed as United States Army soldiers that claim to have psychic and other paranormal. These abilities like invisibility, visions of things happening in far off places and other Jedi mind tricks are used by the US Military against foreign interests.

George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor star in the film.

In spite of the powerful cast of actors and unorthodox script, some of which is supposedly 'true', I didn't find much to like in this film. It wasn't all that funny because it tried to hard to be funny. Perhaps with such odd subject matter, the film could have been played more straight up. A drier, more serious film could have exploited the unavoidably laughable, absurd paranormal training and activities of this (possibly real-life) special forces unit.

I'd skip this film or put it low on your priority list of movies to watch.  Not that is was terrible. It wasn't. I just can think of too many other terrific films to watch.


94 Minutes

Rated R

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Adult Dungeons and Dragons - Much More Interesting Documentary Than You'd Think

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Do It Again - Kinks Reunion Documentary Film

"Do it Again"  was also a radio popular Kinks song back in the 1980's. It is also the title of this documentary.

Boston Globe reporter Geoff Edgers has a rather irrational idea.... the year is 2002 and he wants to make a film about reuniting the rock group The Kinks.  That is, he wants to be the catalyst in reuniting this legendary rock band.

Most of this film is spent watching Edgers researching the methods and reasons he would need to utilize to get the Kinks to play music again. He does this by using his Boston Globe influence to secure meetings with people who have influence in the music world.

Along the way he meets with a number of celebrities and even manages to get them to sing along with him while he plays Kinks songs on his guitar.

Some will say, as I have wondered, if this movie isn't more of an ego trip for Edger's. After all, he uses much of the film as a vehicle to play his guitar with other musicians (some of whom are offended by this).  With that in mind, the film is pretty well done. 

The core members of The Kinks are often talked about but rarely seen. This creates an almost mystical, enigmatic element to the film. 

The film delves deep into the dark side of the Kinks and the psychological forces that thwart their reunion.

I loved the end of the film.  It comes to an emotional, decisive conclusion.

Check it out.

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Great Inuit Film Atanarjuat aka The Fast Runner Review

Set in the eastern Arctic "The Fast Runner " (Atanarjuat ) is a wonderful film that, according to smarter people than me, accurately portrays the ancient Inuit culture.

I really loved this film.  It never felt like I was watching a movie. It felt like I was gazing through a window back in time. The film is not just a great story but it is a lesson on Inuit family bonds, customs and how they function as a society.  The simplicity and complexity of the ancient Inuit people shine through in this film.

The unforgiving scenery is beautiful and bleak.  The acting is terrific. The story, based on an old Inuit legend was captivating.

The Fast Runner was tremendous. You want to watch this film. 

Check it out

Rated R (some subtitled profanity, strong sexual scenes, full frontal nudity)


2 hrs 52 minutes

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Darkon Real Life Dungeons and Dragons Documentary Film Review

I didn't know whether to laugh at these guys or run off to Baltimore, Maryland to join them.  A really intriguing film to watch.  Fantasy role players (ie Dungeons and Dragons, etc) will appreciate this film.   Members of Darkon are real life fantasy role players. They are all grown adults.  They participate in  full contact combat, medieval-knight style combat (padded weapons are used) in order  to advance the interest of their respective nations, which exist entirely on fictitious maps.

While members of Darkon live normal, working lives during the day, their time off consists of weekends of diplomatic negotiations, trading fantasy currency, and waging war.  All the while they speak to each other in a melodramatic tone that reminds me of a Lord of the Rings movie (which I'm sure they've all seen a thousand times)

I loved how the film completely respects the players of Darkon.  There is no ridicule, though there is a touch of irony. The film is a documentary intermingled with dramatic fiction that plays out the very fantasy the nations of Darkon are living out.

I loved this film and the passion of Darkon players.  Their sincerity, while sometimes disturbing, also shows a level of creative thinking that most of us grown-ups lose in our early twenties.

Check it out sometime. You'll see what I mean.


96 Mins

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Page One New York Times Documentary Review - David Carr

The oily shine on the face, the mussed hair, the puffy eyes, and day-old business attire in need of a wash.  Endless hours, brains that won't shut off, and a never ending cycle of deadlines

Apparently, this is a normal day in the New York Times newsroom.  "Page One" is a documentary that gives a peek into the culture of the New York Times and lends some compelling insight into uncertain future of the newspaper industry.

I've always been a sucker for films about people who are passionate and dedicated to their careers. I've also enjoy movies that examine the impact of real-world paradigm shifts.

Page One delivers both and a whole lot more.   This film really sums up the challenges the New York Times and other print newspapers face in the internet age. This struggle is the crux of the film, yet the audience gets a lot more interesting topics as a bonus.   Insight into what it is like to work in the workaholic, relatively PC, newsroom of NYT.   You get salacious details into the fall of The Tribune.  You get quick, fascinating stories of  internal controversies at New York Times  (think David Blair, Wikileaks, Judith Miller, to name a few).

The most colorful person in the film by far is David Carr. Carr is media reporter for the NYT.  I won't give much away, but let's just say his rough hewn, profane dedication to the New York Times really captivated me. He's a character with character.  You'll love his part in the film.

This documentary never lost my attention.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sugar - Minor League Baseball Film Review

"Sugar" is a largely English subtitled minor league baseball movie about a young pitcher, named Sugar. Sugar is from the Dominican Republic and is given an opportunity to play for a minor league baseball team in Iowa, USA.

There was not one predictable moment in the entire film. Not this is this film is filled with unexpected twists and turns, there are none. Each moment I thought this film was approaching some sort of cliche or melodrama, it completely avoids it.  Because of this, the movie "Sugar" is terrific.

The main character is very sympathetic but film does not force you to feel sympathy.  This is simply a well intentioned young man going through the motions of probably what thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of one-time young baseball hopefuls have experienced.

The end of the film (and I'm not spoiling anything here) I thought was pretty innovative though few people will realize it.  The end of the film left me with no doubt about the future of Sugar, yet the film didn't need to explain his fate to me either. It gives you enough clues and lets you fill in the rest.

Check out Sugar. It is a good film.

Rated R

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Troll Hunter Movie Review

Troll Hunter is a fictitious, sci fi film that is shot in documentary style.  It is a Norwegian language film. I watched it in English subtitles.

A group of college students are working on a school project. They want to do a news piece on an enigmatic bear poacher.  The bear poacher turns out to be actually a troll hunter employed by the government TSS (Troll Security Service)

Otto Jerpersen is perfectly cast as the troll hunter.  His character is believable. As you'd expect from a covert killer, he is jaded and terse but not a cookie cutter tough guy. He has a human side that is wonderfully subdued.

The college students are played very well. Nice acting.  They come across as the skeptical yet naive, fight the system types that are in over their heads, as often kids are.  Their expressions transition from child like awe to horror perfectly.

With the exception of the scenes where the characters re running. (there are not too many,) the camera work is pretty steady. You won't feel nauseated after seeing this film.

Monster films are tough to make.  The audience never satisfied with how the monsters look. The troll animation is not bad.  I expected worse. Trolls apparently come in different sizes. I was disappointed at the look of the smaller cave-dwelling trolls. To me it was just a better than average Halloween costume. The larger trolls though, they get up to 50 feet if you didn't know that folk, looked good enough to keep my interest..

A bold film to make. It combines suspense, conspiracy theory, good acting, uniqueness all in one nice mockumentary. Check it out.


103 minutes


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