The Gandiman's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Nightbreed
Nightbreed (1990)
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

A very interesting story is marred by clumsy execution. Clive Barker is working with one of his original stories but he doesn't have strong enough experience as a director yet to pull off the complex high wire act this film needs to make it work.

He's too in love with his monsters making them a bit too cartoonish, his characters are not portrayed strong enough to pull off the sometimes-clumsy dialogue.

Main characters Boone and Lori are too broadly drawn and Craig Sheffer and Anne Bobby can't add any depth to them in time to rescue the film.

But at its core 'Nightbreed" is quite arresting. The story is quite insightful about human nature and the real monsters in the world.

"Nightbreed" is ambitious but falls a bit short of Clive Barker's genius story potential due to clunky execution.

American Ultra
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

"American Ultra" is an interesting idea not executed very well. It needs to be taken much more seriously than its casting and execution provides.

Lincoln
Lincoln (2012)
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Spielberg and Day-Lewis are masterful in "Lincoln". The material is rife with C-SPAN-like moments rendered quite compelling due to their execution.

The plot, while based on a quite complex historical situation, is told simply and efficiently. It is this efficiency that threatens to blunt the film's impact as it sacrifices emotion for historical accuracy.

But the high point for "Lincoln" is to witness the master class of acting put on by the committed Daniel Day-Lewis. He makes Lincoln a marvel to behold. And his performance makes going back to 1865 worth it.

The Help
The Help (2011)
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

There's nothing particularly wrong with "The Help".

Well acted, briskly shot with a story that is simply told without much complexity. But for a film that tries to be important it isn't orchestrated substantively enough to be as raw and hard-hitting that a film about this subject matter should be. But it's still a film worth watching as "The Help" has some impressive points that make it a film to be appreciated.

Based on Kathryn Stockett's best selling novel of the same name, "The Help" tells the story of a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (played by Emma Stone), and her decision to write a controversial book from the point of view of the help (the maids). She convinces two maids Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) to tell their stories exposing the casual racism they face on a daily basis from their white families.

The performances are strong. Viola Davis anchors a cast with power and she's a key reason why "The Help" works. She plays Aibileen Clark with an air of dignity, compassion and strength that is a sight to behold. She could have easily taken the character into caricature mode (the kindly old maid) but she doesn't - and for that reason Davis is earning some well-deserved kudos and strong Oscar buzz.

She is surrounded by some nice revelations as well. Octavia Spencer gets the role of her life as outspoken Minny Jackson. Like Davis, she walks the fine line between caricature and realism and pulls it off. Spencer's role is a particularly tough one as the "sassy" role has been done to death, but her portrayal is spot on and believable. Jessica Chastain is having a career year and her role here like Davis' and Spencer's is also borderline cartoon and she also nails it. These three standout performances elevate "The Help" from average status.

The rest of the film's performance don't walk that fine line quite as well. While it's hard to find fault with Emma Stone's solid performance, you can't say the same of Bryce Dallas Howard who starts off fine but then turns her character into Cruella DeVil. Her villainy is so outrageous at times (she puts her Mom in a home for laughing at her) that by the time she gets her, not surprising, comeuppance it doesn't ring true.

"The Help" in its attempt to be palatable to all audience glosses over a lot of the real serious themes the film is about. The racism is given the Hollywood treatment so the full impact of what the Help went through doesn't make the audience feel too uncomfortable.

At least the film doesn't entirely pander to the audience (like the atrocious "Crash" did). "The Help" is a smartly constructed, watchable film that has lots of great moments, but at the end doesn't leave much of an impact regarding the subject matter.

No
No (2013)
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

In 1988, Chilean citizens ended the rule of Augusto Pinochet after Chile's voters get inspired by a peppy ad campaign designed by an unconventional ad executive named Rene (a committed Gael Garcia Bernal)

"NO" tells the story of the creation of that campaign by focusing on a message of hope and by doing that delivers a message of how humans are motivated by messages of hope vs messages of doom - a pretty timely message considering how mudslinging politics are today.

As a film, "NO" relies on too many cinematic tricks to lend it its authenticity which sometimes blunt its message. The characters, except for Garcia Bernal's, are quite stock. And it is doubtful that any non-Chilean viewer can appreciate the severity of Pinochet's rule.

"NO" is a good watch and is at times quite smart. But it's not the home run it thinks it is.