John Brennan's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Great fast-moving entertainment. The costumes feature lots of great colors in some questionable styles. Rebecca Ferguson is just incredible. Her good looks belie the strength of her character and acting. It's refreshing to see Hollowood offer a complex, strong female character who's sexy, smart, talented (can you say motorcycle?), and consummately professional without throwing out her emotions. She's not a bitch, whore, or virgin. Yay!
It took me a while to get used to Simon Pegg, and he came though as not being awful or stupidly slapstick. Ving Rhames's solid character seemed under-used.
The action was fresh, interesting, and well-done.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)
½

I don't think ex machina is as good as other reviewers. The concept is great: an actual Turing test. The ending is brilliant. Everything in between is OK to weak. I ultimately find biggest fault with the unreliable filmmaker, which is not the same as an unreliable narrator. There's a lot that's flawless about ex machina, and its flaws got in the way of my full enjoyment.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Fun with lots of style, Kingman doesn't quite gel. I would see the sequel without hesitation though. I bet they'll get it right next time.

Force Majeure

Interesting film about memory, denial, relationships, and fear. It's not an action film or mystery thriller. Force Majeure is a body-language family drama being sold as a comedy.

Top Five
Top Five(2014)

I wanted to like Top Five, but found it predictable and dull. Rosario Dawson's performance was solid. Chris Rock was not bad, but the movie didn't go anywhere. The only reason it got a second star is because of the mature ending.

Selma
Selma(2015)

I liked Selma about as much as I thought I would. I didn't really care about the historical inaccuracies. The detail in the presentation, and the conveyance of the reality of being in Selma when those decisions were being made is what makes this film watchable and powerful.
Starting out with MLK's Nobel Prize ceremony sets the credentials for what comes next. Strong performances and some archival footage in the credits bring the movie home.

Point and Shoot

Duchebaggery!
A wealthy rich white guy forces himself into an adventure to become a man, then returns for a protected adventure in Libya's Arab Spring with some buddies from the first adventure.
This high school journal-like documentary is self-created content that stinks of conceit, faux hardship, and life-affirming dullness.

Blackhat
Blackhat(2015)

So horrible, I walked out. Why have an ex-con who's the best hacker be in gun battles? Why have him do detective work? Why send him into a melted-down nuclear reactor?
I may hate NSA, but I don't believe for a second that an NSA guy would fall for the super hacker's sly trick of disguising a key logger as a .pdf. What is this 1995 trickery? The huge globe-trotting team looks so suspicious in the real world. Maybe they are compensating for their digital stealth.
I can't believe this film. Literally.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

This last movie of the Hobbit trilogy is such a small part of the book, it's amazing that it was able to be a whole movie. Sentences turn into minutes, and paragraphs into seeming hours. It's not bad. It's just not plot.
I saw "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" directly after seeing the first two movies, all in 3-D IMAX, so I was a little exhausted.
I agree with the Rotten Tomatoes' summary: Overwhelmed by its own spectacle...

Wild
Wild(2014)
½

Wild was better than I thought it would be. Having hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail in one season, I thought there would be exaggerations, misrepresentations, and a strong sentimentality that was entirely absent in reflecting the trail.
Reese Witherspoon gives an unexpectedly good performance full of strength and vulnerability. Laura Dern's performance as the carefree mother was also unexpectedly strong, perhaps stronger than Witherspoon's.

The Imitation Game

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-Benjamin Franklin

The horrors of anti-homosexual laws, the sacrifice in the secrecy of war, and a daunting task of winning World War II come together in this emotional, and somewhat suspenseful, film about the inventor of computers and his team. Benedict Cumberbatch is engaging in a strong performance. Keira Knightley does not annoy playing a genius in a sexist Britan.
If only one's celebrated, well-earned, and significant accomplishments could be used to prevent homophobic chemical castration (hormone "therapy"), our world might be an even better place.

Room 237
Room 237(2013)

Ended up turning it off before it finished. Too detailed for me even though I liked The Shining.

Boyhood
Boyhood(2014)

I did not like Boyhood. I don't understand the enthusiasm that critics have. It's a gimmick and little more. An ambitious project does not a good film make.

The Babadook
The Babadook(2014)

Solid Australian movie that's not really a horror film as much as something else. The Babadook is emotional and irritating at times. There's more to say about how the film succeeds, but not without spoilers.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best movie about child abuse at the hand of alcoholics presented as life-affirming and fantastic: Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Don't get me wrong: Beasts of the Southern Wild is worth seeing. It's a powerful film about poverty and desperation that a US audience doesn't usually get to see. And, it's about uplifting as Leaving Las Vegas. Adapting to horrific circumstances is good, but it's also bad.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a complicated, well-crafted film about disfunction that offers hope in an unrealistic fantasy: naivety-as-salvation. In the same way Disney and films of the Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant variety rely on sentimentality and ability of film to manipulate, Beasts of the Southern Wild scores and then scores again using white guilt. It's very well crafted and acted, and probably deserving of awards. I'm concerned that Beasts of the Southern Wild will override more deserving films. IF the awards get more people to understand the depths of problems in the US, perhaps they are deserved.

Guardians of the Galaxy
½

Worth seeing, and better that it looks. Just entertainment; nothing more.

Pride
Pride(2014)

Moving and powerful, Pride's tragic ending is the beginning of a even more moving and powerful story that remains almost untold.

Upstream Color
½

I can tell you what I saw, but I'm not sure what it means. Here's what I jotted down outside the theater: Extortion drug using grubs from house plants (mostly orchids, but that's not quite clear) that induces psychic mental illness cured by becoming your own pig farmer and letting the piglettets live.
But it's much weirder, and enjoyable, than that description might imply. The main trailer has 50% of the dialog in the whole film. It's abstract. This is from the guy who gave us Primer, which was a winner in my book.

Unbroken
Unbroken(2014)

A solid effort that offers a tiny bit of emotion amid tremendous drama. Showing us falls short of creating something engaging. Everything in the movie is done right: flashbacks, grand camera spins to let you know something epic is happening, appropriate music. Unbroken ultimately falls flat, but not for a lack of trying. Characters are solid, obstacles great, personal triumph plentiful, and details attended to. It's an emotional, spiritual, physically compelling story that seems like it was made by someone who has not suffered emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or physically.

John Wick
John Wick(2014)
½

Can't believe what high ratings John Wick is getting. Keanu Reeves is like an inflatable doll delivering his lines; the contrivances, I mean plot, unastounding; the dialog is laughable; and the unbelievability is high. There's lots of face shooting.
That said, the pace is good, the style is good and, uh, the decor is good. The movie is unbalanced in its final offering, but the bad outweighs the good.
I'm guessing it's based on a novel.

Irréversible

Gaspar Noe is an intense filmmaker, and this is no exception. Love and brutal violence are at the core of Irreversible, and it holds no punches.

Citizenfour
Citizenfour(2014)
½

Great documentary about the first part of the Edward Snowden story. Although I didn't learn much, it was worthwhile to see the drama unfold as it unfolds. Snowden is articulate, and I hope this film get seen by his critics.

Horns
Horns(2014)

Worth seeing, it pulls off more than seems possible based on the premise. It's more violent than I thought, but nothing I couldn't handle, though there could be a moment of less gore.

I Saw the Devil
½

I Saw the Devil is a violent and bloody path that leads to soul-breaking revenge. I understood the motivation of one of the two main characters from the start, and did not understand the other. The movie showed me why the protagonist was set on his path, but I did not understand the villain. By the end, it was reversed. That didn't necessarily affect the movie.
I Saw the Devil has a great soundtrack with effective use of music to propel a scene.

This Is Where I Leave You
½

Good, not great. Not worth the full price of admission. Wait until it's at the cheap theaters, or rent/stream it. It's funny. It's touching. But it doesn't come together. It's vignettes of craziness. Its one redeeming quality is that it doesn't have a complete Hollywood ending.
Jane Fonda was great. Justin Bateman solid. Tina Fey miscast.
Was nice to see Rose Byrne in something else, as well as Corey Stoll. Both of them I knew from unlikable characters they played in the past.

The Skeleton Twins

If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the funny stuff. The rest is fairly heavy and well acted, but ultimately falls on its face. Yes, we want our characters complex, but we also want a story. Losers finding out that they are losers does not a story make. Swishing the waters of the past is not a story. I wanted it to be so much better, but it was not.

Vanya on 42nd Street

Who knew Chekov could be so relevant? Can you sit and listen? Oh, and let Louis Malle seduce you with Julianne Moore's incredible good looks.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

Avatar is great entertainment. I've seen it twice, once in RealD-3D and once in IMAX 3D. The latter is better. I've not seen the movie "flat." Both 3D technologies are worth the extra money.
If you've seen the previews, you know the basic plot. With Titanic, we knew the boat sank. Knowing doesn't ruin it. James Cameron is a good story teller. There's some stuff that's not explained in the previews that makes the implementation of the avatars more interesting, and locals (Nav'i, I think) are an evolved culture that is closely tied to their "animal" nature, the living spirit in all things, and their ancestors.

As with Titanic, the special effects are awesome, but are used in the context of an actual story. The story of of love is nothing new, nor is corporate imperialism. How it's all put together is convincing and engaging.
Are there flaws? Sure, but I'd be hard pressed to identify them in my wave of enthusiasm for the stuff done right.

Only God Forgives

A stylish, violent film about fucked up people in a slightly surreal revenge film with allegorical weirdness. Kristin Scott Thomas has never been better than as matriarch formed in hell. What a character.
Not as bad as the reviews led me to believe.

Valhalla Rising
½

Incredible film, and I'm not really sure why. It shouldn't be gripping or narrative, but it is. Valhalla Rising is epic, allegorical, and visually stunning; violent, raw and contemplative.
A producer, Karen Smyth: "nature is brutal, men are brutal, and religion is brutal." And, apparently, shooting was brutal. The movie seem hardly shot at all, and yet it's all on film. The rain comes and goes. The mud is thick and everywhere. Fog offers drama and concealment.
Valhalla Rising is about man finding his darkest places while following his instinct.

The Master
The Master(2012)

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman give great performances in this odd film about, um, what's it about? Really worth seeing, though hardly a profound film, The Master understands that charlatans have friends and begs the question about the existence of anti-charlatans.

Lucy
Lucy(2014)
½

Lucy ultimately disappoints and gets worse as Lucy's powers of perceptions increase. Watch the preview and imagine it's a good movie. Then go see a good movie.

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer(2014)

Snowpiercer: Not a great film. It has some qualities that make it not completely awful. I don't regret seeing it. Tilda Swinton was tremendous. The concept is strong, but Snowpiercer required too, too much suspension of disbelief. No amount of style, of which there is a lot in this film, can make up for the holes, gaps, and unreality. There's too much reality in the film to ask that much suspension of reality.
Got an extra half star because of Swinton's performance and a memorable quote.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
½

Not that bad, and much better paced than Source Code, which is alike in only concept. The editing and directing support repetition without monotony. Tom Cruise is great, and the more I see of Emily Blunt, the more I like.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Epic and amazingly visionary.

The Counselor

Harsh with stellar talent: Ridley Scott, Cormac McCarthy behind the camera and Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt in front of the camera.
What could go wrong with a counselor who's asking for advice that no one will give him, and ignores the advice he is given only to be told the truth in abstractions. It's as grisly and less glamorous than the trailer. Cormac McCarthy's writing is amazing. He doesn't tell any more of the story than he needs to, and with a wandering story, that's a good thing.

Like Father, Like Son
½

Wow. I did not know what to expect, other than it won the Jury Prize at Cannes. I found it engaging and full of heart, easily navigating six characters on their own journey. As someone from the US, it was great to see Japan with more depth and diversity.

Concussion
Concussion(2013)
½

Don't write this off because it's a film with lesbian characters. Concussion is a great movie with complex characters worthy of viewing by a very wide audience. The directing is strong and clear. The acting is powerful and mature. The production values are top notch. The story is interesting and complex.

I really enjoyed seeing a film about a midlife crisis that takes a healthy, realistic look at sex, our erotic nature as we age, and the complexities of long-term relationships. Seeing grown ups behaving in complex ways is refreshing and demanding.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of LGBT films are so-so quality. Concussion is not one of them. It's a mainstream film (and one worthy of your time, at that) that happens to have a New Jersey woman in a lesbian relationship as the main character.

Don Jon
Don Jon(2013)
½

Don John is unflinching, honest, has great acting, creative filmmaking and very likable, developed characters. There's ambiguity too. I had only a couple of moments when I was not completely captivated. In what could have been a standard role and character, Scarlett Johansson nails Barbara as honest and unapologetic, trashy and real. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Don Jon is complex and mature as we get to know him.
Don Jon dumps Saturday Night Fever stereotypes in favor of something much more real and interesting. And there are some really good laughs.

White House Down

Standard fare with a healthy pace that keeps it rolling along.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)

Not really worth seeing. Period. Predictable plot with unbelievable character actions make this movie with so much potential a big dog.

The World's End

Walked out after 40 minutes. Nothing to interest me up to that point.

Sunset Boulevard
½

I guess I'm becoming "that kind of gay." I was on a long flight and Sunset Boulevard was on the classics channel of the movies. Just watching clips, it seems over-acted and corny, but behind the annoyances of movies from that period, there's actually a good story, and it's reasonably well told. Now most of you know this. For those of you who don't: the movie is worth seeing from beginning to end.

Trance
Trance(2013)
½

Trance is good, but not great. And it's best until the full plot unfolds toward the end. See it and enjoy it while it's good. Rosario Dawson is nearly reason enough to see this movie. The direction is solid (until the script gets unnecessarily expository).

Shortbus
Shortbus(2006)
½

Wow. The "Movie Info" about Shortbus on Rotten Tomatoes is awful.
Shortbus is a movie about relationships and personal exploration, and perhaps growth. It' a celebration of the role sex plays in our lives, and the potential for sex to heal and transform. Shortbus promotes acceptance and diversity of sexual expression. It's tender and explicit, intimate and casual, profound and moody.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)

Worth watching for the human swarm behavior alone, WWZ was better than it could have been. This from the perspective of someone who didn't know it was based on a book. The trailer shows a lot of the movie, and the directing is engaging enough that the story is not ruined by it..

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

Pretty miserable, flat dialogue and delivery. Henry Cavill is dreamy and it was great to see Diane Lane, but nobody and no amount of effects could break this film free of the gravity of the script. It's laugh-out-loud at times. I guess in that way it was a perfect script for Russel Crow and Kevin Costner.
Did I mention that Henry Cavill is dreamy?

The Great Gatsby

It's a love story done with style that worked in Moulin Rouge and fails here.

We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks
½

I didn't learn much new, and I really enjoyed the story in sequence. The storytelling is compelling, and the graphics great.
We Steal Secrets deals with the complexity of truth, personalities, and the complex world that's governed by governments.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
½

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an engaging film with some great performances, including Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland [who knew?]. I didn't think it was heavy handed. It's ambition makes it a film for adults who want to know more. The US has been an asshole to the whole world, and Pakistan has been on the downhill side of it.
I don't know how it's doing at the box office. I hope it's getting seen.

Django Unchained

Simple love story set in the incredible, imaginary world of Quentin Tarantino. I wrote a review somewhere. Will try to find it.

Side Effects
Side Effects(2013)
½

Side Effects had it all, but falls short as a final product. A competent, daring director; good-enough talent; a plot with "disquieting twists;" and relevance in our a-drug-to-fix-everything world combine with exiting potential that is lost in pacing, in character inconsistencies due only to the short comings of the script, and by requiring too much audience buy-in/suspension.
Side Effects could be remade in to a good movie without plot changes, just added clarity, clearer motivations, and more desperation. Oh, and a little more "show me, don't tell me."
Directors manipulate a story. Steven Soderbergh has manipulated Side Effects in to a so-so effort.

Looper
Looper(2012)
½

Just not that good, but an interesting closing sequence. You can wait to watch on the small screen, or even skip it. See Primer instead.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
½

Good film to learn about the artist and activist.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)
½

On the big screen in 3D, it was worth seeing. The tiger did not convince me all the time, but it's still very, very good.

Crash
Crash(1996)

Compulsive visionaries passionate about life and injury find satisfaction in Crash, a refreshing film about men and women obsessed with the collision of sex and automobile injuries. Exploiting the tiny intersection between the danger in sex and the danger in automobile accidents, the Cronenburg-directed stylish adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel presents a fictional world that's set in the real world and drives head-on into our disorienting culture. Not for everyone. A great film. Not to be confused with the other Crash that, inexplicably, won awards.

The Forgotten

I liked it more than I thought I would. It's one of those movies that you want to know as little as possible about before you see it. Julianna Moore is lovely to look at and does lots of running with jittery camera. (2004)

Searching for Sugar Man

Completely unassuming documentary that tells a compelling story. The less you know, the better.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)
½

I'm not a fan of period pieces because they tend to rely on the distractions of the period. The script for Lincoln and the acting, particularly Daniel Day-Lewis, far overcomes the distraction that the period might bring.
I liked seeing the House in action, the inside politics, and the deep circumstances of compromise. I loved the telegram scene for its power and simplicity.

Delicatessen
Delicatessen(1992)

Delicatessen is not for everyone. Post-apocalytic French comedy and love story about canibalism, attempted suicide and neighbors from hell paying rent with lentils and corn. I am not kidding! Yes, it has subtitles. (1991)

The Artist
The Artist(2011)
½

I did not like it. I found it unremarkable and sentimental. It relied on gimmick to its downfall.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

I saw Prometheus several times in the theater. Only the sequel(s) will reveal if Prometheus was a great, as opposed to a good, movie. Michael Fassbender's performance was terrific, with lots of subtlety.

Argo
Argo(2012)

Very satisfying movie. A simple story, told well. I've never seen Ben Affleck better as an actor. It was really shocking how good he was. See it.

Moonrise Kingdom

Quirky. Ultimately, not satisfying.

The Impossible
½

The story is tight, Naomi Watts and Tom Holland are really good, and the film making direct. *That* it is based on a true story make it all the better. I was in tears often throughout the film.
I'm afraid this movie is slipping by and not being seen. It's great and really worth watching.

The Sessions
The Sessions(2012)

A touching story with incredible actors. Helen Hunt is gorgeous and strong. If the trailer looks appealing, you will like this movie. One summary said it best, it's a "grown-up movie about sex." I was seduced by this film, finding few flaws.
I loved the underwear lines in the nude scenes. It's a small, but important detail that demonstrates the filmmakers attention in making this gem.

Beauty Is Embarrassing

Inspiring movie about an artist who just does what he does. Very much worth seeing.

War of the Worlds
½

An intense roller coaster of disaster with stunning scenes. Some are stunning in their silence and simplicity, others in the spectacle, others in their surreality. I've rewatched it.

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away
½

This coming out story shows the heart behind a well-funded, competent publicity machine preparing for the announcement that a successful, mainstream country singer, Chely Wright, is a lesbian.
You don't have to like her music to enjoy this documentary, which started with Chely's own personal video diary entries as she struggles to reconcile the fundamental lie of her public persona.

Extraterrestrial

A romantic comedy with xenophobia, deep suspicion and spaceships. I liked Time Crimes, so I decided to give this a try. Not as good because it doesn't go anywhere. The female character is played dumb for no reason.
This is an expansion on a Twilight Zone episode about what humans do to each other.

The Dark Knight Rises

Solid entertainment from Christopher Nolan. Continuity problems are overlooked for the interesting aspects and action of the film. Anne Hathaway is gorgeous and strong as Cat Woman. Marion Cotillard is dull and lifeless, like most of her characters.

Headhunters
Headhunters(2012)
½

While not entirely unpredictable, fairly dull in its exploration of "how far can we take this?" And they take it far, so far that any revelations are hardly worth the journey. Wait to stream it, or miss it entirely. Got 2.5 stars because it wasn't a bad movie, just a tedious movie. Better yet, just watch the preview.

The Cabin in the Woods
½

It's truly a meta-horror film where the horror is secondary, but effective. A Cabin the the Woods is bloody, interesting and funny. It gets going quickly, and I wish it were more character-driven.

The Tree of Life

Great film with a haunting, enduring aftertaste. Nevermind that it has Brad Pitt in it. See it anyway. It's epic, slow, gorgeous, and profound.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. It's a small film that haunts.
It's 2001: A Space Odyssey science fiction, not Star Trek. It comes from the same reality as Alien but it's much more of-this-earth and tight.

The Raid: Redemption
½

From start to finish, fists, bullets, machetes, and throwing people out windows. A great, well-paced guy film that reminds me that I'm not so tough.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Evil children can drive a mother to doubt herself. At first I thought I was seeing a movie about losers, but, thankfully, it was not that. If I knew it was based on a novel, I probably would not have seen it.

A Separation
A Separation(2011)
½

The reviews are not overblown. This is a great film about the tragedy of being human, of growing up, of being poor, of love, of religion and of pride.
I had heard that there were comedic moments in this film, but I failed to find them. It was a riveting drama.

The Machinist
½

I really liked this movie. Here, Christian Bale's intensity and quirkiness is spot-on and appropriately unreadable.

American Psycho

Tedious, uninteresting, dull and self-important.

Haywire
Haywire(2012)
½

A suspenseful, 90% well-choreographed cross between Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Bourne movies that's ultimately a set up for a sequel. Haywire in the end is an unrewarding film with good acting, good cast, mostly good action, and a flop of an ending.

Melancholia
Melancholia(2011)
½

An adult paced film, Melancholia is a visually stunning, disturbing meditation on world view and how personalities react to extreme circumstances. Worth seeing on the big screen.

In Time
In Time(2011)

This movie makes The Adjustment Bureau look good. In Time is a waste of time. Just see the preview. Horrible screenplay, low budget continuity, and bad acting come together to make this movie, once you know there's nothing special in the end, worth walking out of once you've had enough.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
½

I heard that 3-D iMax was the way to see this, so I did. This was good entertainment. Not much plot to follow.

2012
2012(2009)

Laughably great, 2012 offsets the hilarity of it all with the severity of it all.
OK, so I've seen it three times. The first time, I was LMAO at implausibility stacked on implausibility stacked on bad writing, stacked on stunning special effects and good storytelling.
But really....

Sherlock Holmes
½

Dull and predictable. Rachel McAdams really ruins it. It might have been her character. I didn't care enough to figure out which.

A Single Man
A Single Man(2009)

Sometimes there was so much to look at, more of richness than of excess, that I missed the dialog. But that was OK because the acting told me what I needed to know.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

Incredible film about letting go of perception and limitations, about stepping in to one's power. Oh, and great special effects. I own it. Come over and see it.

I Love You, Man

It holds up. ARE there good guy buddy films? This one is the first I can think of. It's funny, but not 40-Year Old Virgin funny. The characters seemed realistic enough for a comedy.
Nothing profound in the movie, just entertainment.
HJ: Rush is featured prominently.
Plus, Paul Rudd is dreamy.

Secrets & Lies
½

Brenda Blethyn's performance is incredible in this family drama and comedy with lots of quirky characters. (1996)

The Rapture
The Rapture(1991)

Goes to a place few films dare to tread. The film has its problems, and it has balls.

A Zed and Two Noughts

An odd film that's either grim or funny, but I never knew. Features intense time-lapse photography. Worth seeing.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)

Dull for the most part. Jack Nicholson was annoyingly the same.

There Will Be Blood
½

Daniel Day-Lewis was great.

No Country for Old Men
½

Great Coen brothers film. Incredibly violent with a great, low-key ending. Put Josh Brolin on my list of serious actors to look out for.

Burn After Reading
½

A mediocre Coen brothers film still has many qualities to like. I found this too character driven with insufficient plot.Brad Pitt was annoying once again.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

It had a slow start that had me wondering if I was going to hate the movie everybody was loving. After all, who wants to watch a movie about a grumpy old man? It doesn't have a grand, explicit unfolding. Instead, it's a gentle, complex unfolding with several strong cultures interwoven.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
½

Tell children everything. Don't play with fire. Sad and slightly predictable. Intense and sickening. Worth seeing, but renting is OK too.

The Dark Knight
½

Great Batman film. I stopped watching them at some point, but talk of Heath Ledger's performance got me to return. Heath Ledger is a great Joker, and the script has some great and unexpected complexity, given the genre.

Casino Royale

Friggin' great James Bond film. Lots of action. Daniel Craig is dreamy. The location of the ending was a little too over the top for me.

Milk
Milk(2008)
½

Really glad that this movie is playing all over the US, both for its relevance to gay issues today and the effects of political assassinations. Well-crafted storytelling. Left me a little empty though. Dan White is the puzzle in the movie, as he was in real life. The fictional account gives no more insight into what Dan White was thinking than real life did.

The Times of Harvey Milk
½

Great, Academy Award-winning documentary about Harvey Milk, gay political activist in SF. I cried the first time I saw it.

The Man of My Life

Way better than I thought from reading several synopses. It's all in the film making and story telling: it's rich, expansive, reflective and subtle. Worth seeing.

The Pillow Book
½

Strange and lightly wonderful story of love and intensity and calligraphy. Rich, almost confusing visual, punctuate this Greenaway movie.

Drowning by Numbers
½

Not my favorite Greenaway, but interesting none-the-less, the number gimmick is something extra. I love the little boy's made up games.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
½

Incredible film with Jean-Paul Gauthier costumes, the incredible Helen Mirren, and canabalism. What else can you ask for? Saw it alone in the theater.

Capote
Capote(2005)

Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar, so that's reason enough to see it, but there are many more reasons. It's a joy to watch Catherine Keener in anything, the fictional account of real events is educational, and the costumes are great.

Happiness
Happiness(1998)
½

Now this is a great film about losers. There's an incredible first date scene. The movie's intense, direct and disturbing in an effective way.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Pretty great except that the gay person is the criminal.

Magnolia
Magnolia(1999)

Great performances on a wild ride. Not great, but worth watching. Julianne Moore's tightly wound character's scene in the drug store is incredible.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
½

Poor script, good performances, terrible movie about losers and bad decisions.

The Savages
The Savages(2007)
½

Strong performances, but it's ultimately a movie about losers. Who wants to see a movie about losers?

Quarantine
Quarantine(2008)
½

It's a cheap, effective horror film. It was not great, but it gets points for being scary, creepy, startling, and, again, effective. Quarantine delivers. I screamed and sweated.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
½

Once you get the look of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you get the movie. The characters are forgettable. The best relationship is between Sky Captain and Dex, his puppy-loyal friend. The two men even touch in the film. (2004)

Vanilla Sky
Vanilla Sky(2001)
½

Why did people hate this movie? I enjoyed it more that I thought I would. Penelope Cruz, while she looks vapid in most photos, was quite alluring and alive in her role. The very cute Jason Lee is not too cute in this film. Tom Cruise is credible in the lead role.
Vanilla Sky is not one of those "Gotcha" movies, but it has an element that weaves quite nicely into the love story.
I will see the original Abre Los Ojos as soon as I'm able, but before the comparison, I am a Vanilla Sky fan.
Rent it now. (2001)

The Opposite of Sex
½

The script for The Opposite of Sex was a bit heavy-handed for me. Lots of laughs, but the gay characters are all wrong. I wanted to like Christina Ricci so much, but I just didn't. There was also this strange jump from LA to Palm Springs which disturbed me. (1998)

The Truman Show

What happened to the last third (or even half) of The Truman Show? This movie is pure concept and no plot, but still entertaining. It tapped into my mind as a child when I wondered who was watching me. In my world, they were placing bets on what I would do next, so I tried to do the unexpected. (1998)

The Spanish Prisoner

Rent The Spanish Prisoner and enjoy a simple con, well paced. Mamet's screenplay is a knockout, and Steve Martin a surprise. (1998)

The Butcher Boy

The Butcher Boy is a spectacular film showing that state-of-the-art (1998) digital special effects can contribute to non-adventure/action films. I found young Francie's untamable spirit uplifting even though he was a homicidal bully. (1998)

One From the Heart

One From the Heart is a jewel-like musical with a dull patina even though it's set in a soundstage reproduction of Las Vegas on the 4th of July. A strange work for Coppola, this little film is worth a look, but don't expect more than a love story. (1982)

Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona is a great little comedy with Oscar winners Holly Hunter and Nicholas Cage in Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coens comedy about desperate parenthood and the seedier side of life. This film itself did not win any Oscars, but it may win your heart. (1987)

Children of the Revolution

Judy Davis is an extremely devout Australian Stalinist raising a son in Children of the Revolution. Mother and son bond by going to jail together for the Revolution. Lots going on in this uneven black comedy also featuring Sam Neill and Geoffrey Rush. (1996)

Husbands and Wives

Make it into a movie then turn around live it. Judy Davis steals the show in this enjoyable but grating Woody Allen film. This is one of my favorites by this out-of-favor director. Older men have little success with younger women in this story. (1992)

Things to Do in Denver...When You're Dead
½

A dull, predictable film featuring the incredibly cute Andy Garcia. Don't be fooled by the catchy title. (1997)

L.A. Confidential
½

The short tale of a group moral-less cops divided by the line between brute force and brains, between experience and intuition, and between Hollywood and Los Angeles. Good acting by Russell Crow (The Sum of Us), Kevin Spacey, Danny De Vito, Guy Pierce, David Strathairn, and Kim Basinger, who, at 44, brings mature acting to a part one would expect a 20 year-old to ruin. She won an Oscar after I wrote this review. (1997)

Heathers
Heathers(1988)

Bright, dark comedy about a clique of Heathers and one Veronica, played by Winona Ryder. What does your gaydar tell you about bottled water? (1989)

Contact
Contact(1997)
½

Gotta love Jodi Foster. Gotta hate Matthew McConaughey. An big idea film with a little too much character development and little too little action. Don't miss it. It has become one of my favorite movies because it's about sticking to one's dreams. (1997)

In the Company of Men
½

In the Company of Men is surprisingly good. People (well, OK, men) can be such pigs. Eat lightly before viewing: I left the theater nauseous.

Dogfight
Dogfight(1991)

Cruelty backfires on one of three Vietnam-bound soldiers trying to have fun in 1963 San Francisco before shipping out. Strong script with admirable acting from Lili Taylor and River Phoenix. (1991)

Bound
Bound(1996)
½

Bound is an incredible film by Andy & Larry Wachowski. This genre, which I usually avoid, captivated me. Jennifer Tilly's voice takes getting used to, as always. Stylish, suspenseful, thrilling and touched with hot lesbian love. I will see it again. (1996)

Breaking the Waves

Tedious filmmaking. Annoying characters set in a radically religious, windswept, cold Scotland. Stupid decisions made in the name of, and despite, religion. Ug. Only subsequent films will determine if Emily Watson can act.

Freeway
Freeway(1996)

Clueless meets Pulp Fiction, but not as good as either. When the good guy (in this case a teenage girl) has a set of values imparted by a life being raised by criminal parental units, and the bad guy ( in this case a straight man in a Jeep) appears to have a set of values imparted by a life in suburbia, the tables turn. Supposed to be a comedy, but only pulls off a little camp. Reese Witherspoon in an early role based on Little Red Riding Hood. (1996)

Powder
Powder(1995)

An isolated, unusual young man is forced into the world of Texas. Shows that Texas can be another planet with no room for the sensitive or compassionate. Weak script but a good film.

Showgirls
Showgirls(1995)
½

Better than I thought. A story of a sociopath. Stupid plot, stupid characters, stupid dialog: "I like having nice tits." Can be missed, but I've been thinking about it a lot.
So bad, it's good.

Casino
Casino(1995)
½

I thought I had good reason to avoid Casino, but I was wrong. Sharon Stone was great and Scorsese's directing was incredible. Stories based on true life in Las Vegas make believable movies. The story that leads to the new Las Vegas.

Georgia
Georgia(1995)

Georgia is excruciating. Mare's performance is not worth enduring Jennifer's. (1995)

Socket
Socket(2007)
½

Vaguely something. Non-gratuitous nudity is refreshing.

Midnight Cowboy
½

Midnight Cowboy is the first and only X-Rated film to win an Oscar. Intense and desperate, not to be missed. Andy Warhol's Factory crowd were extras in drug party scene. Look for uncut version. (1969)

Leaving Las Vegas

Wow! A new take on life. An inspirational film about personal choice and acceptance of those around you. Not to be missed. (Its not as depressing as it sounds, but it is about downward spirals.) (1995)

The City of Lost Children (La Cité des Enfants Perdus)

Orphans exploited by evil Siamese twins and a man who wants to steal their dreams. Little Miette finds One, an unlikely pairing, and their alliance finds adventure.
Not to be missed. Same French people who made Delicatessen. (1995)

The King of Comedy
½

Jerry Lewis as a Johny Carson-type celebrity in King of Comedy. Sandra Burnhardt as a delightfully disturbed fan. Robert De Niro at his near his best as a looser with a cause. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Dark, disturbing and very good. Rent it tonight. (1983)

The Tenant
The Tenant(1976)

Have you ever moved into a place and wondered about the people who used to live there? Have you ever wanted to become them? The Tenant is a disturbing film. This is no Single White Female. (1976)

The Adjuster
The Adjuster(1992)
½

Atom Egoyans quirky drama about archery, sex as an insurance benefit, and a censor becoming seduced by the pornography she reviews. (1991)

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now Redux is Franciss pièce de résistance. Fantastic embodiment of Conrads Heart of Darkness set in the Vietnam War. Great cast. Not a Vietnam film: the film uses the Vietnam war as the portal to the heart of darkness. Redux is the restored version with more footage, most of it making the film even better. Hearts Of Darkness is the worthwhile documentary of the making of Apocalypse Now.(1975, original, 2000 Redux)

Death and the Maiden

Death and the Maiden reveals that humane retribution is subtle. Probably a better play than film. Sigorney Weaver is great to watch.

The Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well)
½

Kurosawa's contemporary (as opposed to historic) corporate drama with Japanese intensity and architecture. It stuck with me. Yes, it has subtitles. (1960)

Tempest
Tempest(1982)

Interesting cast in this contemporary adaptation of The Tempest. Escape to another world. All the cards on the table. More accessable than Greenaways Prosperos Books, but less interesting. Great cast including Susan Sarandon, John Cassavetes and Raul Julia. (1982)

Heavenly Creatures

Not to be missed. It has a script, characters and exploits film as a mediums inherent possibilities. Peter Jackson went on to direct the Lord of the Rings trillogy. Kate Winslet went on to Titanic. (1994)

Red Beard
Red Beard(1965)
½

Kurosawa's Red Beard explore the edges of human existence and compassion. The attraction of the movie is not the content of the plot, but in the lives and stories. Yes, it has subtitles. (1965)

I Heart Huckabees

Pedestrian attempt at comedy. Might blow your mind if you are 20, which is probably who this movie is targeted for. Great cast with great performances.
****
Life is about finding balance.

Red Eye
Red Eye(2005)

Tight little film with appropriate subtlety, good story-telling, and suspense. Wes Craven CAN make films that don't require a gallon of suspended belief.