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Rating History

That Touch of Mink
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

70/100. This was a good quirky comedy. The comedy in this movie was mostly comprised of misunderstandings. Carey Grant was pushing 60 years old in this movie from what I heard, but he is a quick witted charming dude. Grant and his assitant were very funny characters in this film, but Doris Day brought down the score a lot. She is just not the type of old fashioned girl that you can't take your eyes off of. Maybe I'm spoiled because I'm comparing her to Ali McGraw in the movies of her I've seen- McGraw is a lot livlier and has much more personality on camera. I even liked Elizabeth Taylor a lot more in Butterfield 8.

Basic plot is that Grant's character is a rich owner of a company and his driver splashes Doris Day with mud on a street corner. Grant sends his assitant to apologize and write her a check. Doris Day's character succeeds in winning Grant's heart because she is not just another side girl who is won over by him buying her a mink coat and taking her to bed. Grant just wants another affair, but Doris Day wants to get married and not be another one of those girls.

Grant's assistant hates Grant and openly tells him how he despises him by solving everything and having his way by whipping out his check book. The assistant is one of those guys who does what Grant wants because he is paid well- and he complains to his therapist- who buys and sells stocks according to the stories he tells about Grant's character and his dealings. There is a lot of misunderstanding on this front about the assistant's talking about love and problems with a guy- another misunderstanding - due to the fact that the therapist is not in the room for most of the time he's spilling out his guts on the couch. Doris Day's friends also believe that the assistant is the one trying to buy his way into Doris Day's pants, so he gets attacked with food, purses and even a dog.

Overall, this is a movie that I enjoyed immensely, but Doris Day didn't pull her weight. Her character was written very well, but she lacks the personality to match that of Cary Grant. Definitely worth seeing- some may give a 70% to a crappy movie, but this is no crappy movie. You will really enjoy Cary Grant's quick sarcastic response everytime he is met with resistance from Doris Day's character, which is unfamiliar territory for him.

The Crucible
The Crucible (1996)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

80/100. I seem to enjoy even the most mediocre of movies about the supernatural and time pieces that I have studied while in school. The Salem Witch Trials is a topic that I have done many reports on, even a public speaking assignment, so unless the director screwed this movie up big time, I'd probably give it a thumbs-up. This movie was better than mediocre. It portrayed the outrageousness of the time very well. Witchery and evil spirits were feared big time! and hangings for being accused a witch were happening in Boston, Ma during this time. This movie didn't stray and try to do too much- it was very focused. This movie mainly focused on the love triangle of John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis), his wife and Abigail Williams (Wynona Rider). There was internal conflict by many, including the "town mayor" type guy between the beginning and the end. This movie even addressed the fact that only those touched by the evil spirits could see it- and there was no proof, but the judges did come up with some clever ways of trying to prove guilt or innocence. Kept my attention with the content and great performances by the main characters brought this home.

*** big time spoilers ***

I do not need to explain the plot in extensive detail- it started with girls dancing and casting innocent spells for boys to fall in love with them, but when they almost get caught and one of the younger girls in attendance gets frightened and pretends to be in a spell-induced sleep, the town immediately jumps to conclusions that it's due to witchery. Since that is the big fad of the time, the "mayor guy" feels that he needs to bring in big famous ministers to calm his town people down- and things begin to spiral out of control when Abigail Williams begins to lie when backed into a corner -- so that she doesn't get in trouble. She points fingers at the black servant woman Tituba, then they all start pointing fingers and saying everyone is signing the devil's book, sending evil spirits to cause harm, etc etc. One of the fathers in town was even accused of having his daughter accuse an old man so that he can buy his land up.

The main story, as mentioned above, surrounds the love triangle of Abigail Williams, John Proctor and Proctor's wife. John Proctor seduced and slept with Abigail Williams in a time before the occurrences of this movie, so he deals with the inner turmoil of hurting his wife and having inappropriately seduced a young girl. You also learn that he has a history of not going to church due to his disagreements with the current pastor (who seems to be out for money more than religion), which clouds his reliability as a credible source when he tries to put an end to the accusations. . As Abigail gets out of hand spinning this spectacle into a big trial with many death warrants signed, the tone switches to one of personal pride and principle- everyone accused- unfounded or not due to the towngirls (lead by Abigail Williams) is given the chance to either confess to walking with the devil and live- or deny the accusations and be sent to death by way of hanging. This leads to a very powerful scene with John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis) when everybody knows that his views are that the girls are faking and he has never walked with the devil, etc... one of the judges wives are accused and everyone begins to realize that they rushed to judgment, but couldn't necessarily back down... so John Proctor is given the chance to just admit it and have his name displayed as having walked with the devil to live and be a father to his children (making him "not worthy of the dirt on the shoes of those who have already hanged telling the truth")- or still deny it out of pride and principle and die by way of hanging. This scene was about 10-15 minutes long and really brought the movie home down the stretch- real conflict in the face of rediculousness. Great actor Daniel Day Lewis is.

The judges during some trial scenes did bring something to the table as well- there is obviously no way to prove that the girls were really seeing the spirits or not, but they gave John Proctor his chances to stop the insanity going on. These scenes were pretty intense because everyone in town was afraid to do anything to bring themselves to be accused- because it seemed that anything would get them accused- and there was nothing you could do once you were accused but confess or die. The one judge asked for Mary, who confessed that the girls were lying and it was wrong, to try and fake a faint, as she did during the first trial. Mary couldn't do it on the spot, so there goes that chance. Then the main judge guy questioned John Proctor's wife about John Proctor's adultery with Abigail Williams- which would establish motive for Abigail to lie. John Proctor said his wife never lies, but when they ask her if she knew of her husband cheating, she denied it in fear. You wonder what was going through her head at that point- was he to be accused or hanged if she said yes? She blew that shot.

So there were also other things that made this movie great, but this review is long enough. Anyone else have views on this movie? It's definitely worth a rental. They also use old poetic language that sets this apart from most movies. It's not quite Shakespearean, but made you feel like you were really in the late 1600s.

Inglourious Basterds
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

90/100. It is rare that a film lives up to it's hype. I really did have a good time watching this movie. Best Tarantino film I've seen in years- to which Tarantino kinda acknowledged in the last line of the film "... I think this just may be my masterpiece!" I've only seen it once, so I'm sure the various planning scenes (especially the one with Mike Myers!! wtf?) had a point in this movie.. but in my opinion, the film could have been condensed by getting rid of those filler planning scenes. This is just a minor complaint though. Brad Pitt has regained his coolness after the lame Benjamin Button role- this is his coolest role since Fight Club.

Certainly driven by a story that keeps you wanting to see what happens next, awesome characters and some absolutely memorable scenes. I won't give away the plot for those who have not seen the movie, but will go into some of my favorite scenes and charcter moments briefly:

The Bear Jew- his entrance into the film was legendary. You first had Hitler talking him up, then Brad Pitt saying that watching him work is the closest they get to the theater- he did not disappoint in his opening scene nor in the theater towards the end of the film.

The Jew Hunter was probably the greatest character in this. He reminded me so much of James Woods- he broke down the people he was interviewing- in such a calm and intriguing way. His scenes were great to watch. In any other film, if a character would have that sequence ... "That's a BINGOOO... is that how you American's say it?" .... it would have been corny, but had an almost Joker-like feel to it.

Sgt Hugo Stiglitz looks like someone I used to work with- and it made the film even more funny to me. He didn't have too many scenes, but he was a perfect fit for the Inglourious Basterds.

Brad Pitt's character was just great. His mustache, neck scar, the way he says Nazi- he was the perfect fit for this role.

Too much to say about this film, but it's offensive and blunt- both with ethnic dialogue, brutal videography (scalpings, carivng into skin, etc) and that helps make this film to be great. I wish I could see the bonus features on a blu-ray disc- so I may have to buy this movie to see what the bonus features have. I also love that Tarantino purposefully misspelled the title "IngloUrious BastErds"- go see it.

Alice in Wonderland
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

60/100. The film was very simple and a disappointment, but I give it a fresh rating due to the fact that it was visually intense. Most things are clearly cgi, but they worked in this very cartoony wonderland. I have to be honest, I do not remember the orginal story- but I believe a lot of the same things happened, they just added a hero story to this movie that was kind of dull. If it weren't for the characters goofiness and the great cgi work, then this movie would be a complete bore. Oh ya, and the 3-D I think hurt this film more than anything. It did add a little depth, but it's nothing like watching Avatar in 3-D.... except you notice that many scenes in this movie are very blury from the 3-D. If all movies coming out in 3-D are going to be like this, then I'll opt for the 2-D counterparts.

The characters were interesting enough. The Red Queen (Hellen somehting- she's in all Burton movies) was a good character. Her abnormally large head was funny and she had all animals there to serve her. You will feel bad for the monkeys that serve as table and chair legs. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were ok- very trippy to look at and weren't annoying characters in the movie- so that's a feat in itself. The catipillar was Alan Rickman- he was smoking a hookah the whole time. The rabbit and mouse were ok-- I liked the wacked out rabbit from the first tea table scene and in the white queen's kitchen - and the white queen- Anne Hathaway- was gorgeous, but it was annoying how she held her arms and hands- in an exaggeratedly prissy manner. Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter I have mixed feelings about. I'm not thrilled at the look of him, with his bushy eye brows, weird hair and gap in his teeth- he acted pretty good, but I'm confident in saying that he wasn't the perfect man for the job (Tim Burton just loves him I suppose).

The "real world" story is nothing special- she's awkward and doesn't know what to do, and once she finishes her quest in Underling? (is that what Wonderland is really called?) then she is very assertive and knows exactly what she wants. I really felt indifferent about Alice as a character. Her struggles weren't heartfelt- she was pretty much just going through the motions. The final battle with the jabberwalky was foretold and anti-climactic.

I am sure that if you think hard enough, that every place and character in wonderland corresponds to a place or person in the real world, but I don't think this film warrants that kind of mental energy. It's a visual feast, which Tim Burton is master of. He should just get people to write scripts and help him direct more- he can be the visual director of his films from here on out. Just a thought.

The whole story kinda reminded me of the Golden Compass- with some wacky and cool cgi monsters- a girl with a strong head on her shoulders- going on a quest.... cgi world around her. I wouldn't rush out to theaters to see it, but it's worth a rental if you have a blu-ray and HD TV setup. Candy to the eyes, so it will hold your attention, but not enough to be a very good movie. My wife likes a lot of bad movies (Cheaper by the dozen, Van Helsing, etc), but she was very disappointed with this movie too.

*** Added later ***
I may have underestimated this film a bit, but I won't change my rating because I'm getting annoyed that Tim Burton has Johnny Depp and Helen Bonham Carter star in every single movie he does now. They are both wacky and gothic and creepy- good actors both of them, but come on man! I'm hating, I know. I like some variety in my life.

The Hangover
The Hangover (2009)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

80/100. This was a very funny movie, but I can't say that I wasn't a little let down given the hype it received from everyone I know. The fun in this movie is in the interaction between the four main characters. The events are indeed wacky and wild, but my main problem is this... If I told you to write down 10 of the most outrageous wild and wacky situations people could get into when in Vegas, you can probably guess a lot of this movie. My other major gripe was with Mike Tyson- if I were to read the Mike Tyson scenes on paper, I'd think they'd be hilarious, but they were a bit off or dare I say bland (without getting punched by Iron Mike?). The Tyson cameos in this movie do not compare with Lou Ferrigno's cameos in "I Love You, Man". Don't get me wrong, watching this movie is a very good time, but when I hear things like "this is the funniest movie I've ever seen", then I have to disagree.

***Spoilers ***

The main plot of this movie is that one friend, Doug, (white Doug, that is- famous for being in National Treasure I suppose) is getting married and a group of guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party. They wake up the next morning and the randomness of the chaos is entertaining- with a live chicken, tiger in the bathroom, blow up dolls, beer can pyramids, a missing tooth, a baby in the closet... you get the picture- it was a wild night. Big problem is that the groom is missing and they must do some detective work in following the clues as to what happened and where they were the night before (since nobody remembers anything) in hopes of finding the groom- and getting him to his wedding in time.

I love the opening scene, which created some suspense and expectations, where Bradley Cooper is in the desert with a busted lip- calling the bride to be... "Bride"- where are you guys? The wedding is in 5 hours! "Bradley Cooper" -- ya, that's not gonna happen. What a great way to start the movie. In fact, the whole movie was structured flawlessly. You had this beginning, then the detective work where facts about their wild night are revealed- and then the ending surprises you with the digital camera- seeing the photos from that night was a fantastic way to end the movie. I love when movies give you a reason to stay during the end credits- if I'm not mistaken, the Seth Rogan film "Knocked Up" had photos in the ending credits also.

I'll refrain from going into details about the how the plot unfolds, but I think all of the actors were well written. My least favorite was Ed Helms (the guy with the missing tooth who is WHIPPED), but he wasn't all that bad. His story line was the most typical and predictable when compared with the other characters- he still had a very good role. I liked the brother-in-law even. He was the stupid and mentally slow guy in the group, but his "r3tard slapstick humor" didn't seem too out of place- his interactions with the group were genuinely funny. Even the little Chinese mob boss (whose character I wasn't thrilled about) enjoyed him by saying "he fell- it funny cuz he fat." It's hard to explain, but the situations they were in seemed forced, but all of the actors handled it in a way where it wasn't too detrimental to your overall viewing experience. You really get to liking these guys. I even liked the Father-in-law (from Arrested Development)- he had a line early in the film where he said "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except herpes. That s%$# will stay with you forever!"

I highly recommend renting this movie, but it's hardly groundbreaking. I rarely see movies in the theaters, so by the time I get to see it on blu-ray or cable, I have a feeling of what the hype around the movie is. Some people liked Avatar a lot, but were disappointed because their friends were saying it was the greatest movie ever- same thing here. I was in Vegas last year, so the fact that this was actually shot in Vegas brought back some memories (no, I didn't wake up with a Tiger in my bathroom though).