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Emotionally manipulative, and dishonestly promoted as a true story
24 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is promoted as a "gripping true story" (on the back cover of the DVD, and at online retailers, including IMDb's parent, where it's even described as a "documentary"), but the front cover of the DVD reveals (in much smaller print) that it was only "inspired by true events" but is based on a novel. That means it is a fictional story about a fictional character made up by the author and only "inspired by true events", as Star Wars was "inspired" by true events in the American Old West.

Phillip Schuman (the protagonist of this movie) is NOT a real person; he's not even a real person with a made-up name. He may be based in part on one or more real people, but that's true about all fictional characters. Han Solo may have been inspired by a real person who fought at the Alamo, but that doesn't mean Han Solo is a real person.

Aside from the fact that this fictional story is dishonestly promoted as being true, it is emotionally manipulative in a way I strongly dislike. It creates an extraordinarily vulnerable character -- a lonely, shy, sensitive, creative 15-year-old boy -- and subjects him to unimaginable, gut-wrenching cruelties and abuses ONLY so that it can resolve everything with a miraculous and completely unrealistic feel-good ending. Emotional manipulation like that disgusts me.

Some people love these "faith-based, inspirational and motivational" movies "the whole family can enjoy", movies that feature "forgiveness", "redemption" and similar lofty-sounding themes, and that's who give this movie ten-star reviews. I don't like movies with agendas, movies that are made not to tell an engaging story honestly but in order to lure viewers into accepting a particular view of life the movie-makers advocate. I don't like it when Michael Moore does it from the far left, and I don't like it when obviously evangelical Christians like these do it from their end.
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I'm very grateful I will never have to set foot in Japan.
15 December 2019
I had a hard time watching Fear and Trembling. If Japanese employers really behave as they do in in this movie, if they really treat their employees -- even if only their foreign employees -- with such contempt, screaming abuse at them in front of co-workers for insignificant errors that the employees have no way even to know are errors, or covertly but viciously sabotaging their work and degrading them as individuals at every opportunity, then Japan is much more hypocritical than another famously courteous society, the American South where I was born and raised. In the American South, contempt is reserved for private conversations with close friends and would never be expressed toward the victim in public.

I understand that this movie may be partially satire, but its tone is quite serious, and the fact that it is widely reputed to be faithful to a mostly autobiographical novel gives it credibility as substantially true. If this is indeed a true picture of Japan, then WWII was not an anomaly, and I can understand why they invented harakiri.

Vicious inhumanity hides under that efficient, obsessively courteous, antiseptic facade. Although Amélie is an annoying character, Sylvie Testud is a charming and formidable actor. She and the movie make a good case for the argument that in a contest for genuine human decency between East and West, West wins.
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Wow. Stick with it. It's an AMAZING movie.
21 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Giant Little Ones (the odd title is never explained) starts out like it's about straight teenage boys -- making out with girls, bragging about "doing it", and other crap I don't want to see or hear. I almost turned it off, figuring the only thing gay about it was going to be the side story about a father who ran off with another man.

Then, after it took a gay turn, it seemed to be showing that homophobia is even worse in Canada than it is here, which could have been great (I'm tired of hearing that Canada is so much better and more progressive than the US) if it hadn't been so brutally upsetting that I had to skip over some of it.

Finally, about halfway through, it turned out to be something completely different, not like any other movie I have ever seen, and everything about it is excellent.

It's the story of lifelong best friends Franky and Ballas (where they got that name is beyond me, but it's highly distracting, and it's my only major complaint about the movie) who do everything together and obviously care a lot about each other. They both have affluent and supportive families (Franky's dad is the gay one, but he's still actively involved with his kids and his ex-wife) and go to an affluent, suburban and evidently all-white public high school in Ontario (filmed in Sault Ste Marie, but that's probably irrelevant). They're both good-looking, smart, popular, and on the school's swim team. They both have attractive, popular girlfriends, although Ballas is the one who brags about what he does with his.

During a very drunken sleepover after Franky's birthday party, Ballas gives Franky a bj (shown only as moving covers on a bed in the dark with sound effects). Afterward Ballas is terrified, so he preemptively tells his girlfriend (and therefore the whole school) that he woke up with Franky giving HIM the bj. Some already-hinted-at homophobia at school breaks out of the closet (especially, and predictably, on the swim team), and Ballas leads an unbelievably cruel, prolonged and relentless verbal and physical attack on Franky. The fact that they'd been so close is what makes Ballas's cruelty so extraordinarily hard to watch.

What sets this movie apart from and above every other movie about teenage coming-out is the amazing but entirely believable way Franky deals with what happens. I won't say any more, but this is far and away the best such movie I have ever seen (I've seen them all) or anyone else will see in several lifetimes.

Franky is an amazing and completely original character, and Josh Wiggins, the actor who plays him, cannot be praised highly enough. I've never been a Kyle MacLachlan fan, but he's perfect as Franky's dad, as are Maria Bello as his mom and Darren Mann as Ballas. There are no weak performances in the movie, and the screenplay and direction are perfect as well.

Even the brutal homophobia (which I'm sick of seeing in movies) is essential and never gratuitous, and it is totally transformed by Franky's amazing and transcendent -- and yet completely believable -- response to it. Very, very, VERY highly recommended.
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Just Friends (2018 TV Movie)
mediocre movie that may appeal to eager romance-lovers
15 April 2019
Everything about this movie -- as a movie -- is mediocre: the story, the dialog, the acting, the direction, etc. The lead actors aren't even attractive, and there is no chemistry at all between them. The supporting roles and the actors who play them are mediocre too, more like cartoon characters than human beings. But the early reviews are effusive in praising this movie, so there's clearly something about it which some people like a lot.

My guess is that they're people who are in love with the idea of being in love, and they respond to any movie that feeds their need to believe in romance, regardless of its merits as a movie. It makes them feel good, so they believe it's a good movie. I'm not like that, but if you are you may like this movie as much as earlier reviewers did. I was able to watch it all the way through, though, which is pretty remarkable given my low boredom threshold.
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Charlie (IV) (2015)
10 February 2019
Nowadays a person with no talent in any facet of filmmaking can write, produce, direct and star in his own movie, and the apparently insatiable demand for streaming video content will make it available to the whole world. That's what this excruciatingly bad movie is. The 22 minutes felt like 22 hours.
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good actors wasted in an offensive, stupid movie
2 January 2019
The actors in this movie are uniformly good, even in small supporting roles, but the screenplay, direction and score are stupid and very, very offensive.

This is a romantic comedy, and each of the three main characters is assigned to either romance or comedy until the very end, when everything that came before is thrown out the window so that a completely unbelievable ending can be stuck on. Not that anything that came before was believable -- it wasn't -- but the ending is even more absurd.

Marc is the romance character; Cynthia and Robert are the comedy characters. Marc is NEVER ridiculed. Everything he does is perfect -- his face and body are perfect, his hair is perfect, his workout is perfect, his flirting is perfect, his pickup lines are perfect. And he is ALWAYS taken seriously, as if everything he does is done by a god who bestows favors as he chooses and is sought after, lusted after, followed and worshiped by everybody else in the movie. "What will Marc do?", or, maybe, "Whom will Marc choose?" is the question that drives the stupid plot from beginning to end.

In sharp and extraordinarily offensive contrast, Cynthia and Robert are ALWAYS held up for the audience's ridicule -- whether it's Cynthia's gross overeating and obsessive quest to go straight from college to Tina Brown's right hand, or Robert's goofy clothes and impossible, humiliating crushes on men WAY too hot ever to notice him. There are countless extreme closeups of Cynthia's fat, manic, over-made-up face and anxious, needy Robert in his thick glasses and dorky hat -- accompanied by clownish music that's like the laugh track on an old sit-com.

Compounding the problem is that the actor who plays Robert is a hundred times more attractive and sexier than the actor who plays Marc is. I'd choose Robert any day over Marc -- but the writer and director are determined to ridicule Robert and glorify Marc, so they force it to be that way with heavy-handed wardrobe, direction and music. I didn't buy it for a second. I always wanted Robert; I never wanted Marc.

I was going to give this a few stars just for the earnest and competent actors, but I can't do that. The movie is so offensive that I must give it the lowest rating I can.
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Boy Undone (2017)
LOTS of graphic but dead-looking sex. BAD acting. Dumb, plodding story. Interesting score. That's about it.
28 June 2018
The only thing remarkable about this movie is the rampant, relentless nudity and VERY graphic, largely un-simulated sex, which makes up well over 60% of the movie. It misses being pornography only in that -- though graphic -- none of it looks like it's really happening. I mean, one guy's thing is moving in and out of the other guy's mouth, but it looks like the guy's lips somehow are not really touching it. Weird ... very graphic, but not AT ALL erotic. The opposite, in fact ... pretty creepy.

So ... Why so much sex? Beats me! I guess the director was just pushing the envelope, seeing how far he could get his actors to go on camera, for some reason of his own. It certainly does not advance the story even a little bit. It's just THERE. Everywhere.

The only part of any length that does NOT include sex (and does include a LOT of talking -- 95% of the movie is soundless except for the very effective electronic score) is a bizarre scene in which Mike goes to see a very old, very queeny, sort of Mexican-Godfather "lawyer" with shoe-polish-black hair and eyebrows and lots of makeup and jewelry, who rants on and on for about ten minutes about Mexico's existential socioeconomic ills or something equally incomprehensible -- an amazingly incongruous soliloquy, read almost entirely off cue cards. I guess the actor was too old to memorize lines.

So you get lots of graphic but dead-looking "sex", and an ancient, painted queen reading a long, droning speech to the camera, and a "mystery" about what happened to young guy "X" (later identified as Fernando) one night that caused him to forget EVERYTHING -- even his own name -- and wake up in Mike's bed the next morning.

Almost everything about this movie is bad. Dumb, endlessly plodding story, stilted, pretentious screenplay, bad direction, bad BAD acting -- by everybody, not only the old queen -- and nearly indecipherable English subtitles ("Vanish you." for example), so it's good that there is almost no dialog. The old queen got 90% of the lines in this movie in his ten minutes of screen time. But a very interesting music score. Weird!
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An annoying, boring waste of time; incompetent writing, direction and acting
19 June 2018
Dumb, boring and unbelievable. Nothing that happens in this movie would ever happen in real life, and the characters are so clumsily written and acted that I wouldn't care anyway. The "attraction" between Jeremy and Scott is not only unbelievable but so awkward and forced that every minute they're together induces cringes.

And hospital personnel would NEVER discuss Scott's condition with unrelated strangers like Jeremy's parents -- or even with Jeremy, since they're college kids who just met, don't even live together, and can hardly be considered life partners. Clumsy, incompetent writing and direction. A completely unreal, intensely annoying and boring waste of time.
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UPDATED REVIEW: First hour and 57 minutes terrible; last 15 minutes sublime
10 June 2018
Well, I made it through to the end at last, and man, am I glad! It DID get better!

At exactly 1:57:00 on the Blu-ray, when Elio and his father meet in the library, an entirely new movie starts, and it is fabulously, fantastically, spectacularly, amazingly good. Perfect, in fact. Moviemaking cannot get any better than that. If the first part had been even half that good I'd have loved the whole movie and enthusiastically given it at least 8 stars.

Now I understand why Chalamet was nominated for an Oscar (the first two hours give no clue) and marvel that he didn't win. Now I understand why the movie and the director were nominated and why Ivory won. It's pretty amazing that the last 15 minutes could be so much better than the 117 minutes that came before.

I stand by every word of my original review (so I'm leaving it unedited below, and I think I'm going to leave the one-star rating), because it perfectly says what's wrong with the bulk of this movie. That's too bad, because some people won't press through all of that to get to the good part.

So I would advise anybody who has ANY problem with this movie -- whether it's a personal, aesthetic and artistic problem like mine or a moral problem with the subject matter -- to skip the entire first part, all the way to 1:57:00, and watch the remaining 15 minutes to the very end. Do NOT stop when the end credits start to roll, or you will miss some of the finest acting you will ever see.

The last 15 minutes are completely self sufficient; there's no need to know what came before -- in fact, you'd be better off NOT knowing. This is still really crappy as a gay movie, there is still no credible chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer, but that's irrelevant in the last 15 minutes. The dialog in just those final scenes gives you all the information you need and makes the relationship completely credible after the first two hours failed to.

The fact that the first 90% of the movie is bad is no problem after all, because you don't have to watch it. At the first urge to hit STOP or FAST-FORWARD, just FF all the way to 1:57:00 and enjoy 15 minutes of the best movie you've seen in a long, long time.

------------------------------------------ ORIGINAL REVIEW:

Dead at its erotic core, and Elio is obnoxious

Call Me by Your Name reminds me of Brokeback Mountain, because they both seem to me like movies made about gay men but by straight people and for straight audiences. In both cases, though, the characters aren't actually gay men but straight men who experience spastic episodes of gay-like behavior, which is one of my chief problems with both movies.

I love James Ivory, but he should have won Oscars for writing and directing Maurice -- the first unhomophobic mainstream gay movie ever made and 30+ years later still the best gay movie ever made -- instead of for writing Call Me, but it's typical of the Oscars to award the right person in the wrong year for the wrong movie.

Hollywood is full of morons, but occasionally they accidentally get something halfway right, like a roomful of monkeys eventually pecking out Hamlet on a typewriter if you give them a trillion years to do it. Ivory included Ismael Merchant and Ruth Jhabvala in his acceptance speech even though both were dead and had nothing to do with Call Me, so he realized he was getting the award, at least in part, for the wrong movie.

Two things bother me about Call Me, one trivial and one not. The trivial one is entirely James Ivory's fault, because it's something that's in the movie's screenplay but not in the book. It's the way Elio and his friends and relations switch effortlessly and fluently -- often several times within a single conversation -- between English, French, Italian and German (in the book, it's all English with a little Italian, since it's in Italy).

That IMMEDIATELY elevates the characters beyond reach and alienates the audience, because normal 16-year-olds (or 70-year-olds) CANNOT speak four languages so fluently that they can start a sentence in one language and flit at will in and out of the other three languages before they get to the end of the sentence, without even taking a breath. It made me hate Elio before he'd even done anything. What a privileged, obnoxious brat!

The second thing that bothers me about Call Me is exactly what bothers me most about Brokeback Mountain. It's that the sexual attraction between the two men is completely unbelievable.

In both cases (Call Me better than Brokeback) the actors go through the motions PERFECTLY, doing everything they ought to be doing exactly as they ought to be doing it, but it leaves me feeling as cold and dead as a dead fish. Nothing they do resonates with the part of me that resonates with sexual attraction. What they do LOOKS authentic, but it FEELS completely false. Empty, Cold, Mechanical. Expertly choreographed and performed, but lacking even a tiny spark of the relentless, consuming fire that drives real sex.

I would say that it's because the actors, in both movies, are completely straight (which they are), and that it's just impossible for ANY straight actor to get gay sexual attraction exactly right, making it feel real and alive and inescapable. But that obviously is not true, and, again, it's Maurice that proves it.

James Wilby and Rupert Graves both are completely straight, but the fire between them onscreen in Maurice is REAL, so real it's almost scary, but very wonderful. FINALLY I'm seeing on a movie screen what I feel inside and have NEVER seen onscreen before (or since). James Ivory got that from those two straight actors in Maurice, but it's completely lacking in the two more recent movies.

It makes it worse that the two actors in Call Me are extraordinarily beautiful men, while neither Keith Ledger nor Jake Gyllenhaal is. Ugly men making out can't be expected to be very sexy, but men as beautiful as Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet making out OUGHT to be sexy just BECAUSE they're so beautiful; so when it's not, the disappointment is much greater.

I should admit now that I haven't finished watching Call Me yet, although I bought the disc and started watching it almost three months ago, on March 13. I still have more than a half-hour left to watch out of the 2+ hour movie -- so I've averaged watching one minute of it every day for 90 days, although actually in spasmodic chunks of 3-5 minutes each.

The infuriating multilingual conversations and the erotic deadness at its heart make me so angry that I can take only a few minutes of it at a time. So it's possible that it gets a lot better before the end, but I doubt it. Struggling through that movie is for me like climbing Mount Everest in a blizzard; it will be a miracle if I ever actually make it all the way to the end.
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A lot better than its low rating implies
10 June 2018
I don't understand why there are so many strongly negative reviews of this movie on various sites. This isn't a great movie, and the story is muddy, with no clear explanation of what the guys in masks and capes were up to, or exactly what happened at the end -- but the acting and dialog are pretty good, especially Tom Beedim as Ray. He's sweet, charming and completely believable.

I guess, since this is a British movie, there aren't dozens of friends and family to pump up the rating with lying 10-star reviews. That's too bad. This movie is a lot better than many comparable movies with inflated, completely unreliable ratings.
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Grinder (2016)
A very badly conceived and executed movie that should never have been made
10 June 2018
Stupid, boring and completely unbelievable. Badly written, badly directed and badly cast. No actor should write and direct a movie that shows him (and no one else) showering, repeatedly, full-on naked, every part in closeup. It makes him seem like an exhibitionist who made a movie only so he could do that. It's not sexy or even interesting.

Way way WAY too many minutes-long closeups of faces looking directly into a mirror or the camera, grimacing or trying to look shocked or trying to portray some other unknown emotion. A very badly conceived and executed movie that should never have been made.
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Interesting technical information, but only one of the three voice actors is watchable
29 May 2018
I learned something interesting from this movie. I've always wondered why movies in foreign languages would be dubbed instead of subtitled, and now I know (for Italy, anyway). It's because after World War II, when foreign movies flooded into Italy, many Italians couldn't read. It makes perfect sense that those movies would have to be dubbed, and that set the norm for everything since. I'm very grateful to live where dubbing never got established and nearly all foreign-language movies are and always have been subtitled. For me, the sound of the original language is essential, and I hate watching dubbed movies.

It's also interesting to learn how complex, sophisticated and challenging the dubbing process is in Italy. The Italian script not only translates the dialog but tweaks it so that the dubbing matches the on-screen actors' lip movements -- so it's nearly impossible to SEE that the voices are dubbed. And the actors have no chance to rehearse; they get the script and start recording, without even having seen the movie. It's amazing.

Aside from technical insights like those, this movie is only occasionally interesting. Of the three voice actors (doppiatori in Italian) featured about equally in this movie, one (an emotionally raw kid who's been doing it since childhood) is painful to watch, another (a mild-mannered and very appealing thirty-ish actor desperate for work) is fascinating, and the third (a fat bald middle-aged blowhard who thinks he's both an expert and a star) is an obnoxious bore.
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Stupid story; BAD direction; charming male lead; obnoxious female lead
21 May 2018
I have never before seen or even heard of either of the two lead actors. The male lead is sort of charming, and it would be nice to find out if his range extended into any other emotions as the story developed, or if he stayed locked in the same surly shyness all the way through. But the female lead is so unbelievably obnoxious that I couldn't get past about 25 minutes.

EVERY TIME she came on screen and opened her mouth or gave that stupid dimply smirk I cringed, and I wanted some berserk extra to run up and punch her very hard in the face. Nobody ever did, and I couldn't stand any more of her, so I stopped watching. It's not like I HAD to watch this movie.

It's amazing that such an obnoxious person ever got hired to be in anything, even a direct-to-video flop like this. I need to look up her name so I can be very sure never to see her again. Rachel Nichols. Yuck.
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Spettacolo (2017)
Brief, incidental, but appalling animal abuse
19 May 2018
I was really enjoying this movie, loving the people and gently grieving with them over the accelerating decline of their remarkable community ... until about a third of the way in. That's when a short scene incidentally (it was not the main focus of the scene) showed the most appalling animal abuse I have seen in a very, very long time, as if it was a perfectly normal activity integral to the way of life in that village. The fact that the abuse was superficially so unremarkable, so commonplace, with no violence or drama at all -- not even noticeable if the viewer didn't happen to be looking at the relevant corner of the screen and realize exactly what it was he was seeing -- made it all the more chilling and appalling.

That scene INSTANTLY killed ALL of my interest in the people of Monticchiello and ALL of my sympathy for their disappearing world. What hypocrites! I hope they don't survive until next year or even next month. Good riddance.
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Sofiya (2016)
Spectacularly beautiful, believable and entertaining
12 February 2018
This series is not only absolutely gorgeous and fascinating to look at (not just the costumes, but ALL of the sets and even the make-up -- or the authentic-looking lack thereof) but extraordinarily entertaining, intelligently produced, and beautifully acted. Neither American nor British television (including the BBC) has EVER produced anything half this good.

I don't care about historical accuracy (and I disagree with reviewers who say you need to research the history in order to enjoy this series), but I care very much about historical believability, and there is not a single frame or word or movement that feels like anything but 15th century Russia.

There is much thoroughly believable drama, but not ANY melodrama, which is what sets it miles apart from American and even British productions. It's like a time machine, letting me watch these people living their lives as they really lived them more than 500 years ago. It seems so real and so true that I'm amazed when I remember occasionally that these are 21st-century actors only pretending to be historical persons.
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Before the Fall (I) (2016)
unrelentingly stupid
1 February 2018
Before the Fall is bad in every way. Terrible screenplay, terrible direction, terrible acting. Even the potentially beautiful Appalachian Mountains setting (which state it's supposed to be is debatable, but the mountains are not) is ruined by the overwhelming STUPIDITY of everything else. I mean, what lawyer conducts a confidential interview, discussing a third person in a way that would qualify as slander anywhere on earth, in the public hallway of his office, directly in front of the waiting room door, for anybody who may be waiting there to hear?

The whole movie is like that: stupid people saying and doing unvaryingly stupid things in the most unrealistic, unbelievable way possible. And there's an extremely annoying, cloying synthesizer-piano muzak soundtrack, the same dull, soporific notes played over and over, oozing its sappy way through every scene, constantly underlining the unrelenting stupidity of everything we see and hear.

I HATE this movie! The guy who plays Lee is gorgeous -- and I mean breathtaking -- but, just like the mountains, his beauty is buried in the mudslide of stupidity that swallows everything in its path.

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's best work by far, one of the finest and most deeply satisfying novels ever written. It's so good that it has survived many bad adaptations, including this one. But writer-director Byrum Geisler (whoever he is) really shouldn't have told anybody what he was trying to do, because his failure is so monumental that he SHOULD be too embarrassed now to show his face anywhere. There is no HINT of Pride and Prejudice, or any of its marvelous characters, STILL alive 200 years after she created them -- not the tiniest spark of Austen's genius -- anywhere in this stupid movie.
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Love Is Love (2017)
charming, sincere, awkward -- and Ian Spangler is adorable
25 January 2018
This is like a home movie about the awkward coming-out of a college senior in a Detroit suburb. It has jerky camera work, terrible sound, long periods in which nothing is happening (in a movie that's just barely an hour long), and a total creative crew that consists of the five people who appear in the movie (two only as voices) -- but I liked it. It doesn't pretend to be anything great, but it has a sort of naive sincerity that is really charming.

The acting is better than it should be, as is the writing (the two main actors also wrote it), and Ian Spangler is very VERY cute, even with his weird haircut. It all seemed real, like Ian and Holly were real people, talking the way real people talk, which means practically nothing they say is worth saying, but that's how real people are. Only fake movie people always say things that are interesting.

Although I got restless pretty often, I like this movie's simplicity and lack of pretension, and I want to look at Ian Spangler some more (he has a beautiful face and a quiet, shy, very sexy manner), so I'm going to watch it again.
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G&T webserie (2012– )
beautifully produced, but broadly (and badly) acted, written and directed -- like an over-the-top sit-com soap-opera
4 January 2018
This series looks fantastic, and a lot of care has been given to its production (including amazingly good English subtitles), but the performances are uniformly over-the-top: constant exaggerated drama; posing and other "attitude"; and stupid, clownish comedy -- everything, in fact, except believable stuff real people might say or do.

It's not a cultural thing, either, some sort of disconnect between Italy and the US. Some of the most compelling, moving, believable, genuinely funny and universally entertaining movies ever made have been made in Italy (everything Nanni Moretti has ever done, for only one example). It's just that the makers of this series evidently were going for a very broad, exaggerated, mawkish and slapstick kind of entertainment that completely turns me off. It's like a bad American sit com and a bad American soap opera all in one very irritating series.

G&T is so beautiful to LOOK at that I keep trying, but it's so agonizing to WATCH that I keep backing out. Too bad. A waste of money, effort, time and (I'm willing to assume) talent.
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Heartstone (2016)
Art is no excuse for cruelty
30 November 2017
I bought this movie because of its nearly universal glowing reviews. I tried, but I couldn't get past the protagonist's routine and gratuitous cruelty to perfectly innocent creatures around him, like kicking a cat -- hard -- just because it was there.

Art, age, social isolation, brutal environment -- none of those is justification for such unprovoked cruelty. All I wanted from then on was to see somebody twenty times his size kick HIM as hard as he kicked that cat, for no reason, so he'd find out what it feels like.
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what a scumbag
6 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tim is an arrogant but charming high-school student with an ego the size of Australia, where he lives. He decides he wants shy jock classmate John as his lover. He gets what he wants (he always does) and rips apart both families in the process.

Having gotten John all to himself, Tim decides he "owes it to himself" to play around, so he ditches John and ends up in drama school. He "experiences" numerous known and unknown partners, picks up the AIDS virus, and eventually tugs on trusty, faithful, genuinely loving John's leash so he can pass the virus to him. John dies, slowly, and in agony, while Tim (by now a C-list actor) plays the role of tender caregiver. The end.

Thank God, it's not really the end, because Tim has the virus too and dies a couple of years later. Good riddance to bad rubbish. HE deserved it. John didn't.

Knowing that he didn't waltz on to other C-list triumphs on the coattails of John's death is the only thing that keeps me from really, really despising this extremely well-produced and mostly well-acted movie. I loved the beginning, when it seemed that the two boys really loved each other, but when Tim started his scumbag, selfish acting out, I revolted. What a jerk. What a vile, loathsome, self-aggrandizing, self-serving jerk.
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Interesting but not quite believable
6 November 2017
I enjoyed this movie more than I expected to but less than other reviewers. My biggest problem is the relationship between the two lead characters -- I never believed in it. It was ACTED, not EXPERIENCED, by the two actors.

Their love scenes were so tightly choreographed to the cloyingly sweet soundtrack that they came off as cold and mechanical. It was like watching ballet dancers, not lovers. That may be either because the straight actors needed a rigid scenario to follow since there was no genuine sexual dynamic between them or because the director didn't know how else to stage those scenes. Either way, it's the director's fault.

They were more believable outside the bedroom. There the actors were somewhat freer to be themselves and allow the characters to interact as persons, not having to try to force themselves to act like lovers. The story is fairly interesting but not quite believable.
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Truman (2015)
All of the characters are jerks
6 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The problem with this movie is that ALL of the characters are jerks. Except Truman, I guess, but his part is so small and inconsequential that it's absurd to name the movie for him.

The guy who's dying lies all the time for no good reason, he spends his friend's money like a spoiled, manic child (he's an "Artist" -- an underemployed has-been stage actor -- so he can't be EXPECTED to have anything of his own but mountains of debts), and he's totally -- TOTALLY -- self-absorbed. Nobody matters but poor Julian, or whatever his name is (Who cares what his name is? Not me).

Oh, but he's dying! Boo-hoo. Everybody dies. It's no big deal, and it is NO excuse for acting like a selfish jerk and abusing the few people who care about him for reasons I CANNOT understand. I wouldn't spend four minutes with him, much less four days.

His childhood friend Tomas, who drops everything at home in Canada to jet back to Madrid for four days because Julian "needs" him, seems to be an okay guy until he sleeps with Julian's cousin Paula -- in the most gratuitous, unnecessary, shoehorned-in sex scene I have EVER seen in a movie -- evidently as a means of "coping" with their shared grief over the jerk's impending death, totally oblivious to the beloved and loving wife and two kids Tomas parted from with great affection just two days earlier. What kind of jerk does that?

Paula is no better. She frets and interrogates and pouts and sulks and cries because Julian is making his own decisions about dying instead of doing it HER way, whatever that way may be. And she sleeps with Tomas, knowing all about his family back in Canada -- but who cares about THEM? Nobody in this stupid, irritating, obnoxious movie.
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Guidance (I) (2015)
Good acting, bad screenplay, direction and score
28 October 2017
All of the actors in this little movie are surprisingly good, but the screenplay, direction and musical score are irritating, to say the least.

The story is stupid from the very first scene (in which Charles the high school guidance counselor nags at a fat kid for masturbating in the restroom) all the way through to the very end. I can't believe that any real human being would do or say anything that appears in this movie, and if they did it should never be filmed. And if the movie really does advocate staying in the closet (ie, lying to the school administrators AND to the kids who trust you) in order to keep your job -- as it seems to -- it REALLY should not have been made.

The direction seems to accentuate everything that's wrong in the screenplay. The scenes that stick most persistently and annoyingly in my memory are the pointless, endless, irritating, Charles-supervised confrontation between the girl and her erstwhile date-slash-jacket-thief (in the boy's home, which they invaded); and the coach's slow, loud, percussive clapping near the end, after Charles tells him something the audience (annoyingly) isn't allowed to hear.

The score is almost worse. A loud, intrusive clicking noise in the diner scene turned out to be music; and a relentless jollity toward the end demands that we take this movie as a comedy, despite the fact that absolutely nothing funny happens in it.

The writing, directing and music are so uniformly and consistently bad that it's easier to imagine that the movie is intended to be annoying than that the writer, director and composer are just incompetent -- but then why did they hire such good actors?

Whatever was going on in the creators' minds when they made this movie, it didn't work.
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terrible casting and makeup
20 August 2017
I love watching movies with subtitles, and I'm very comfortable with profanity and with bizarre, absurd behavior. What I couldn't take about this movie was the terrible old-man makeup globbed like plaster on an actor who was obviously no older than about 50, and a robust, athletic 50 at that. Because of the stupid-looking, distracting makeup on a burly, middle-aged actor who could climb out windows and run, I could not for a second believe that that character was a real human being.

If a movie is centered on an unbelievable character it just doesn't work for me. What the character DOES can be completely absurd, but who that character IS just has to seem real for a movie to work. A movie titled The 100-Year-Old Man cannot work unless it's possible to believe that the man is 100 years old.
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appallingly bad
23 June 2017
I don't know how to say how horrible this movie is. It's as if Sally Field (whom I've loved--and I do mean loved--ever since Sybil) forgot all the wonderful work she's done in the past 40+ years and returned to her moronic Gidget and Flying Nun sit-com roots. The problem is that she's hit 70 now, and behaving like an empty-headed, lovestruck tween is grossly out of place. She makes being an old woman seem extremely creepy.

If this movie had not been so badly written and directed, her performance might have pulled it out of the gutter, but she just played along with the astonishing dumbness and let the movie slog through the scum it was spawned in.

I'm going to try really hard to forget I ever saw this movie; if I can, maybe my appreciation of Sally Field will return. I wish I hadn't rented it, but I believed the gushing reviews, which must have been written by other septuagenarian Gidgets like Doris who are grateful finally to have a role model in Hollywood.
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