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Mike Wallace Is Here (2019)
Now I know where Dominic West developed his American accent
I really wanted to like this documentary, as the critical reviews for this were mostly positive, and I found Mike Wallace to have an interesting career. But the film basically was just a history of Mike Wallace interviewing people, with no cohesion, and no bigger picture. It would have been nice to hear how his colleagues thought of him, or how his son and TV journalist Chris thought about him, but there is none of that. I also thought it was a mistake not to caption during the movie which famous person he was talking to. That was revealed at the very end, and who cares at that point? Since I'm in my late 50's, I recognized almost everybody he spoke to without needing to see a caption, but people younger than me are going to recognize fewer people. And I was annoyed that there were no captions identifying people that I was unable to recognize.
Also, because they show his interviews from the 60's in black and white, there is lots of smoking going on...lots.
16 Shots (2019)
Informative, and not overt
While all filmmakers have a point of view, I think if there were any biases in "16 Shots," they are not overt, and I appreciated that. Of course there is no doubt that some people will disagree with this previous statement. This film covers an extremely polarizing event that took place in Chicago, and I recognize that it's hard to stay politically neutral. I consider myself pro-police, but I also thought the shooting of Laquan McDonald was dead wrong.
The other interesting tidbit in this movie was seeing a pre-Jussie Smollett version of Kim Foxx.
Not surprised this won an Audience Award at Sundance
I'd probably give this a 7.5 if I was able to break this down further, but as an American, this is a fascinating story that I knew very little about. It's the true story about a Hong Kong teenager leading the charge against China, and if this wasn't a true story, you would think that whoever made a story up like this was thinking up an implausible fantasy.
I saw this in August, 2019, and with all the news about what is going on in Hong Kong at this time, it was an extremely topical movie. Joshua Wong is mature far beyond his years, and I can see him winning the Nobel Peace Prize at some point in his life. Remember, I am writing this in August, 2019, so if he gets a Nobel Peace Prize sometime in the future, I obviously didn't know about it at this time of writing.
Gentleman Jack (2019)
Probably won't watch Season 2
For about the first four episodes of Season 1, I thought the show was both interesting and entertaining, and very well-balanced among the many competing storylines (the coal pit, Anne Lister trying to seduce Ann Walker, Anne Lister trying to find out who crippled the little boy, Thomas Sowden and his drunken father, etc.). But then, starting with episode #5, the bait-and-switch took place, where the primary focus of this series became Anne Lister's lesbianism, and the show became maudlin and preachy. Now, if the creator's of the show wanted it to be primarily about Anne Lister's lesbian relationships, I have no problem with that. But the reason I believe this was downplayed in the first four episodes was because these are typically the only episodes that get reviewed by TV critics, and I think the creators wanted good word-of-mouth on this series. And indeed, as I said above, I really liked the first four episodes. So good for them that they got me for Season 1. But I don't think I'm going to be the only one to avoid Season 2 when it comes out.
Pardon My Sarong (1942)
Glad I'm not the only one on here who thinks this is one of the best Abbott & Costello movies...
This film never seemed to get the acclaim as one of the best Abbott & Costello films out there...but I think it really is. Although a totally different A & C vehicle, I put this right up there with "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," which I know is generally considered one of their best. There's plenty of great one-liners and set-ups in this movie. My favorite is the "stinker" scene, which I am genuinely surprised has never popped up again in modern film comedies (at least that I know about). I also liked the scene in the first minutes of the movie with the New York Yankees baseball story.
Unfortunately, no one really talks very much about Abbott & Costello anymore, but if you've never seen this one, it's really good.
Some Mother's Son (1996)
A better version of the Bobby Sands hunger strike than "Hunger."
This film seems to have been overlooked and forgotten over the years, especially in comparison with Steve McQueen's "Hunger," which came out in 2008. I'm not sure if this issue was too raw to deal with in 1996, and was more palatable in 2008 when more time had passed, but I think this is the much better film about Bobby Sands and the hunger strike that took place in 1981. Not that "Hunger" is bad...it has its moments, and Fassbender goes "full method" on losing weight as Bobby Sands. But "Hunger" has a lot of "art for art's sake" shots, and doesn't really give you much context or backstory, so if you don't know much about this historical event, you're not going to be given too much insight while watching this picture.
"Some Mother's Son," on the other hand, just tells the story so much better, and because of that is more entertaining to watch. Helen Mirren, who was pretty much unknown in America in 1996 (I'm American), does a great job as the naive mother of one of the terrorists who then becomes politically active and savvy on the IRA vs. England. Think of all the Jane Fonda films in the 70's like "Coming Home" and The China Syndrome" where she plays a naive character who becomes educated in the politics of that subject and era.
I do think "Hunger" tries to provide some balance between the IRA and England better than what is done in "Some Mother's Son," but other than that, I feel that "Some Mother's Son" is the superior film.
I feel sorry for the guy who was attacked. I feel sorry for me sitting through this.
This had been sitting in my Netflix queue since it had been released on DVD in 2010. I guess I thought about finally watching it due to the release of "Welcome to Marwen," the mainstream film that bombed in 2018 that was based on this documentary. I didn't watch the 2018 bomb because it...bombed.
Anyway, while I truly felt sorry for what happened to Mark H., and while I think what he's done for himself is interesting, this seemed very thin to put into a nearly 90 minute documentary. Maybe a 20 minute version on a news magazine show would have been more appropriate. Or maybe if they dealt more with his personal life, especially that fetish that he has which wasn't revealed until late in the movie, it would have been more interesting. But showing me multiple make-believe stories that he has developed in his "town", and we see pictures of his dolls posed in positions to back up his story? I just found that to be very uninteresting and boring.
Fyre Fraud (2019)
Much better than the Netflix version of the Fyre Festival
It certainly is interesting that 2 documentaries about the Fyre Festival got released nearly simultaneously by two streamers...Hulu and Netflix. Although the Netflix version received generally more positive reviews and will be seen by more people than Fyre Fraud due to Netflix's larger subscriber base, I feel the Hulu version is the superior version. Using IMDb's 10 point rating scale, I would give the Netflix version a 6 out of 10.
I think a lot of one's preference is based on what you think is the truer representation of the Fyre Festival. The "Fyre" version on Netflix basically says, "This was a plausible, credible attempt to put on the Fyre Festival, but too many things didn't work out." The "Fyre Fraud" version on Hulu basically says, "This was an absurd, ridiculous, unrealistic idea from the very beginning that was never going to work out." So after watching both, I think the Hulu version is closer to the truth than what Netflix did. Fyre Fraud is also the much more entertaining of the two to watch. The supposed controversy of Billy McFarland appearing in the Hulu version doesn't make sense to me, because I thought he came off far worse in the Hulu version than in the Netflix one.
Russian Doll (2019)
Unlikeable Pseudo-Hipsters and Natasha Lyonne
With all the positive, over-the-top critical reviews for this show, I was really looking forward to watching it. However, during the first 10 minutes of episode #1, I couldn't believe how bad and unfunny it was. Natasha Lyonne's character is extremely unsympathetic and unlikeable, and since she's the focus of the series, it's hard to get past that. Nearly all of her friends, both male and female, are also very unlikeable and unsympathetic. The exception is Greta Lee as Maxine, and no, I'm not a friend or relative of her.
Because each episode is less than half an hour long, I made it through 2 episodes before calling an end to this misery. If it had only been 3-4 episodes long, I would have tried to finish it, but 8 episodes? I'm just not that much of a glutton for punishment.
Pick of the Litter (2018)
Not all dog movies are worth seeing, but this one is...
I know that there are many people who love dogs so much, that just about any movie they see on this topic, they love. I beg to disagree, and I would give examples of Marley and Me, Megan Leavey, and the six part documentary streaming on Netflix that is simple called "Dogs" as not worth seeing. But if you like or love dogs, I just can't see how you couldn't love this picture. It is probably one of my 10 best movies of 2018.
The film is tight and moves quickly, and is an easy watch at one hour and 20 minutes. One of the highest compliments I can give for a movie like this is that if it was two hours long instead of 80 minutes, I probably still would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But at 80 minutes, it keeps you wanting more, and that's what you want a film like this to make you feel.
The first 10 minutes of Episode 1 were super-funny. And then...
...it became pretty bad, and had very unlikable lead characters. I was going back and forth on whether I should finish Season 1 of this series, as it's only 7 episodes at about 35 minutes each. However, once I watched how episode 4 ended, I was so disgusted with Sally4Ever that not only am I not going to watch the final 3 episodes of it, I'm actually angry at myself for trying to give this show a chance.
I rarely give a "1" rating on this site, but Sally4Ever more than deserves it.
6 Balloons (2018)
Surprisingly very good...
I say "surprisingly" because I usually rely on Metacritic scores, which were just OK for this one, with less than 10 reviewers being counted on for their score. But at just 74 minutes, it was so short that I wanted to watch it. And even though I knew it was a drama, I like Abbi Jacobson from "Broad City," and wanted to see what she would be like in this role. She was very good, as was Dave Franco, who I don't normally care for. And there was a real chemistry between the two of them. "6 Balloons" is intentionally uncomfortable to watch, but it was a good story, and very well-acted by everyone, but especially by Jacobson and Franco.
The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
Very good movie with a very lazy plot device
I guess since this is an independent movie, no one had to pitch it to some movie executive. But if they did, the high concept would be, "A non-sexualized 'Fatal Attraction' where the woman is obsessed with a kid instead of a married man."
The film is uncomfortable and disturbing to watch, but I'm sure this is all intentional. And maybe Maggie Gyllenhaal isn't going to get a Golden Globe or Oscar nomination, but she definitely should.
The very lazy plot device (and here comes the big spoiler...you've been warned!): The little boy locks Maggie G. into the hotel bathroom...from the outside! How many hotel bathrooms, or bathrooms for that matter have you ever encountered in your life where you can lock someone into the bathroom from the outside, and they can't let themselves out? For me, I think the answer is zero. Maybe if the producers/directors/writers encountered it once, they think they're safe to do it. But this is very, very rare. It's just a very lazy plot device that they employed because that was the way they could tell the story the way they wanted to. I can suspend my disbelief watching movies with the best of them, but this was a bridge too far.
Wade through the first half. The second half is compelling.
I thought the first half of the movie, which is the making of the original Shirkers film in 1992, was a little too slow. But once we get to the thrust of the movie, i.e., what Georges Cardona did to Sandi Tan and her colleagues, it was very, very compelling. Maybe we had to sit through the long set-up so the movie could effectively show how devastating it was to Sandi Tan that Georges Cardona crushed her dream. I thought the insights made by Stephen Tyler (no, not the guy from Aerosmith), who this also happened to gave additional context and corroboration regarding the sick mind of Cardona. Tan and her colleagues all became successful in their lives anyway, but they didn't deserve this happening to them after they put so much work into the original film. So if you haven't watched this yet and want to, my advice is to hang in there and give this documentary a chance.
Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (2017)
Couldn't even make it through...
After watching this for one hour and 10 minutes, I had to bail, because nothing at all was happening. How this film was highly rated, much less won all the awards that it did is beyond me. This was agonizing to watch, and as it is considered a 2018 release in the USA, this one will definitely be appearing on my Worst 10 List. It's the least I could do.
The Party (2017)
Don't let the all-star cast fool you...
It's hard to believe that so many good actors and actresses, like Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Mortimer, etc. could be involved with such a garbage film. The good thing was that it was only 71 minutes long, but it turned out to be a real slog getting through it. Nearly all of the characters are extremely unlikeable (most especially Cillian Murphy), and most of the film is the stereotypical "comedy of manners" where people make cutting remarks about each other in a very regal and polite way. In America, this is a 2018 release, and honestly, this has a very good chance of being the worst thing I see this year.
A bit too melodramatic
I was expecting a lot more of a film that was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and I'm surprised that as of this writing (about 20 reviews), only one IMDb review was negative. I'm sure a film like this in Lebanon is groundbreaking, but researching this film on IMDb, it looks like it didn't even win any awards in the Lebanese version of the Oscars, although nominated. I don't know exactly what is allowed in a Lebanese courtroom, but it seemed there was a lot of unrelated issues being litigated, which didn't seem very believable. The film was just too heavy-handed and melodramatic for me.
The one positive thing I'll say about this movie is Rita Hayek, who has the possibility of being a real breakout star in international cinema if that's something she wants. She can act, and is gorgeous.
She's Gotta Have It (2017)
The good: Spike Lee has a unique visual style that is impressive to watch. His shots of Brooklyn are gorgeous. And unlike many others, I thought the actors/actresses did a very good job, especially the actors/actresses playing Nola Darling, Mars Blackmon and Jamie Overstreet. The final episode, where they all spontaneously break into a choreographed dance to Prince's "Raspberry Beret" was the highlight of the series, and maybe the best scene of this kind since Travolta and Thurman danced to "You Never Can Tell" in "Pulp Fiction."
The bad: What has killed his career is that he can't keep his far-left political views out of his films. Episode 8 opened up with about a five minute trashing of Donald Trump that was completely unnecessary. Episode 9 showed a white woman calling the police to remove a homeless man from sitting outside her property who may have also vandalized her property by painting something on her steps. The white woman and the police were made to look like horrible monsters, and that it was wrong to remove the homeless person in this situation.
Of course, some people will probably agree with Lee's political views, so they'll probably really like this series. But I'm guessing that group will be niche. So as for me, I'm still not sure if I'm going to give Season 2 a chance when it appears on Netflix in either 2018 or 2019.
Not bad, but incomplete
Like many, I watched this documentary on Netflix after I saw the Netflix drama series with Alison Brie about GLOW. I was in my mid-20s when GLOW was on TV in the mid-80's, so I knew something about it. So I was a bit disappointed in this documentary. It was really hard to get a sense of what the series was like during that time. The documentary focused on a few of the wrestlers (such as Mountain Fiji and Matilda the Hun), but I remember a few other notable wrestlers in that series (including the no-longer-politically correct heel from the Middle East called Palestina), and they weren't talked about at all.
The problem with this movie is that without David McLane (the creator of GLOW) or Matt Cimber (the director of most GLOW episodes) participating in this documentary (they both apparently refused when asked to participate) there's just a lot that isn't there. It kind of reminded me of the documentary "Disgraced" about the murder of a Baylor college basketball player by one of his teammates, when they got refusals to participate from Baylor University, most of the teammates, and most of the attorneys who worked the case. That left much missing from the film, as is the case here.
I understand that you work with what you can work with, but there is always the risk that the result is not as good as it could have been. And that is what the case is here.
The Larry Sanders Show (1992)
One of the all-time great shows...
...and I say that as someone who thought Shandling's earlier show on Showtime, "It's Garry Shandling's Show" was pretty bad. Because this series was on HBO in the 90's rather than on one of the three major networks, I know that not very many people got to see it. I heartily encourage anyone who hasn't seen it to do so. I very rarely laugh out loud watching TV shows, but I did numerous times throughout it's run. Because it was on HBO, the language is R-Rated, so if you're offended by that, I guess you shouldn't see it. But I thought that's what made it so good, because you got stars playing themselves talking in a way that you wouldn't hear them on talk shows or on publicity tours. And Jeffrey Tambor as the insecure sidekick may not have leading man looks, but has superb acting chops instead.
Funny for just about anyone.
Even though this show got very good reviews, it is shown on Comedy Central in America. I'm in my 50's, and let's just say I don't think I'm someone that Comedy Central is targeting to watch their shows. However, from the start of Episode 1, I thought this series was very well-written, and very funny. Most of it is deadpan humor, but I very much enjoyed it. All the actors/actresses are very good, but I'd say my favorite is Lance Reddick who plays the CEO of Hampton Deville. My favorite Episode in Season 1 was the one about Casual Fridays, which is probably the funniest show I've seen on TV since watching the homage to Mrs. Doubtfire episode on "Broad City" in 2016.
I'm not sure how many people are watching this show, as it seems to have zero cultural buzz. But it is well worth watching, and I very much look forward to Season 2!
Kinda convoluted, complicated and long
This looked like a fun movie from the trailer. As my rating of "6" shows, it wasn't that bad, but it could have been much better. As others have noted, the film is very long, and could have been cut down by 15-30 minutes, which would have made it tighter. And as is the case with many films in Asian cinema, this film gets extremely complicated and convoluted on just who is doing what to whom, so it gets very, very confusing at times. You really need to keep your focus to follow most of the picture.
The Big Sick (2017)
Unfunny, and a very poor "acting" job by Kumail Nanjiani
Based on a true story, we see that Emily Gordon, the love interest in this movie was played by Zoe Kazan. I would suggest that the role of Kumail Nanjiani should also have been played by someone else. Now, one would think that it shouldn't be hard to play yourself, or a reasonable facsimile of yourself. But he seemed painfully unprepared to play himself(!), and came off as extremely unlikeable. That is the crux of the problem of this movie for me. If we don't empathize or like Kumail, we really don't care what happens to him. And I didn't care.
And since we knew that they are married in real life, there was absolutely no dramatic tension for me that she was going to die or be disabled, and that when she says she wants to break up with him and doesn't want to see him again, well of course we knew that wasn't going to happen!
The only positive thing I can say about this movie is the performance of Holly Hunter, who is fantastic as Emily's Mom. Ray Romano as Emily's Dad also does a good job. I also think that Nanjiani does a fine job on the TV series "Silicon Valley," but he did a terrible job in his own movie.
Great chemistry between the two leads
We've seen the theme of Tramps played out before in other movies...two lonely people beaten by life meet each other and find love. However, in Tramps, both Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten are both physically attractive and have excellent chemistry with each other, and the film works. The characters are also handled very sensitively, especially Ellie (Grace Van Patten) who transforms along the way in a very believable manner.
It's not going to win Oscars or Golden Globes, but is definitely worth a look. And it's only 83 minutes long!!
I am Jane Doe (2017)
It's really more about Backpage than it is about child sex trafficking
As a couple of others have already noted, this film should have been titled, "The War On Backpage." While the film does talk about child sex trafficking, that really isn't the thrust of this movie. Therefore the way this film is positioned and marketed is highly misleading. If I knew this film was about Backpage.com, I doubt I would have watched it, which I'm sure is why the film is being positioned the way it is.
The primary thrust of this movie is about how Backpage has a personals section where there is de facto child sex trafficking, and that this should be stopped. So we keep on seeing lawsuits against Backpage, but Backpage keeps winning based on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Now, the obvious solution (at least to me), is that Congress should modify the law, and perhaps give a "carve out" to make it criminal to publish this type of thing. But that would be too hard for Congress, as companies like Google and Microsoft don't want that law to be touched. So Congress isn't blamed here, probably because Senators like John McCain, Claire McCaskill and Rob Portman were cooperative with the filmmakers. Instead, the judges are blamed for siding with Backpage. So the film leans toward it being the judges' fault, because this is clearly wrong, and they should be more activist.
The film is earnest enough in trying to make its point, but that doesn't mean it's a good movie. If you're really interested in seeing a movie about child sex trafficking, watch "Abduction of Eden" (sometimes just called "Eden"), which stars Jamie Chung and is based on a true story. It is a harrowing, upsetting movie to watch, but I thought it was magnificent. I thought I would see a documentary perspective of something similar to that, but that is not at all what is going on here.