Directed By: Richard Lester
Written By: Alun Owen 
Cinematography: Gilbert Taylor 
Editor: John Jympson 

Cast: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington, John Junkin, Victor Spinetti, Anna Quayle 

Over two “typical” days in the life of The Beatles, the boys struggle to keep themselves and Sir Paul McCartney’s mischievous grandfather in check while preparing for a live TV performance.

The film is shot in black and white that makes the film feel timeless. As well as give it a classic fresh feel.

The movie moves along briskly is pretty episodic almost like a Group or music video and live performances with a rather than story built around it. 

Director Richard Lester was ahead of his time based off of this film. He paved the way for music videos. Not just putting out clips of live performances. Fast-paced, rapid editing videos of songs with the band and a storyline of sorts that can be self-contained.

Wilfrod Brambell plays a frisky uncle to Paul. Here to add comedy and have a reason for the hijinks and confusion that keeps the story afloat. 

The film tries to give each member a different personality to play off and their own space to have a singular adventure. It also allows them to be goofier and show a sense of humor and enjoy their youth giving them range And full personalities. After all, this movie is about them.

Even though most of the film feels like filler and comes off as a lark to kill time. Though it has its fair share of memorable visuals.

The film is energetic and freewheeling that feels loose like you can go anywhere at any time. 

It also seems to show how normal the Beatles are despite the fame and situations they find themselves in. More a service to their fans to get somewhat up close and personal.

The film works as a time capsule of the times and culture. As well as a place to show and satirize the level of fame they had, that was the beginning and how they dealt with It in behavior and attitudes. 

It’s a fun film that helps if you are a fan. As it’s an inside look to a degree. This first film is their best film. Not quite as surreal as the others, but more artistic, comedic, and simple.

So that there are constantly scenes and moments to remember. Even if just the songs as the soundtrack is an original album itself.

Remember the excitement for this movie when it got re-released and finally came out on DVD. Which is when I first saw it. It was kind of my introduction to the Beatles. As I had heard of them and a few songs from them before but never quite got into them to kind of learn about them and investigate them and their music until I saw this film. 

Grade: A-


Directed By: John Slattery 
Written By: Alex Metcalf & John Slattery 
Based on the Novel By: Pete Dexter 
 Cinematography By: Lance Acord 
Editor: Tom McArdle 

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, Joyce Van Patten, Eddie Marsan, Christina Hendricks, Molly Price, Dominic Lombardozzi, Caleb Landry Jones, Sophie Takal 

When Mickey’s crazy step-son Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working-class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body, but when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please, and a debt he can’t pay

This is a film that’s hard to describe as the fact that you have seen stories like this on-screen before. Though this one feels strangely authentic and that is the scary part. As the film is so downtrodden it seems almost the product of nightmares.

Luckily the film stays low-key. It goes by quickly and with nary a kick. Though it takes its time to tell its story. It doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. It’s surprisingly lean, though it feels indulgent. There is no real fat in the film.

The film has an amazing group of actors, who are all good and believable. You only wish the film had more to give them as far as story and quality. While the film relies heavily on the atmosphere it feels at times like it has very few places to go. It presents circumstances and challenges but very little action and story.

This being one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances it is noteworthy as he is our put upon the protagonist. Trying to figure his way out of an increasingly sticky situation. While also being his own worst enemy. He seems to be one of the few semi-decent characters who while not being from the neighborhood which everyone reminds him. Still seems very much the product of it as he seems to fit perfectly in.

The film is the story of more a neighborhood that seems to be its own trap. We just watch the inhabitants as they go about their day-to-day life. The main story selling point the death of a young man seems to be just one of those things. An act of senseless violence. That seems like it will become some story of the investigation and seeking justice. Though it ends up just being a catalyst for changes and actions for some characters and setting in motion events.

The film seems constantly depressing as the characters seem to always make the wrong decisions and there is little to no humanity. Everyone is out for themselves. Anytime there is humanity shown it is rather surprising and usually followed by acts of merciless violence.

Christina Hendricks continues to come across as a desirable screen icon. She is luminous and beautiful and though she plays a grieving mother. Later in the film, as she seems to be irresistible to any male. She seems oddly emotionless as her character knows better yet is shocked by the attention paid to her. She commits an act but does so with what seems little care. That has incriminating results that she oddly seems to have no concerns about. Though they affect her.

Richard Jenkins truly makes a mark as a columnist in the middle of all this investigation. While being from the neighborhood has his own demons to deal with while trying to get the story. As he is easily distracted and we get some clues for his condition. We observe his questionable prowess with women also.

In fact, the entire third act of the film becomes strange at how quickly the neighborhood turns from favorable to certain inhabitants to just pure hate and the reason seems rather thin. Like it happens more because the script and story demand it rather than naturally or organically.

John Slattery making his feature film debut, Picked an exemplary story to tell. It always seems when actors choose to direct they pick material more character-based and depressing that has to be gritty to bring more of a reality, but smartly pick material that allows for an ensemble to play off of and includes actors friends who are more the character actor types. He could have done slot worse in the material.

The film at times feels like it is trying too hard to be gritty and showcase all his grime and crime. Then at other times it wisely becomes more understated.

The film has a strangely happy ending or as close as this type of film can have.

This is a film that feels in the same world as TREE’S LOUNGE only not as optimistic and also would go well with a viewing of THE DROP only this is less exciting and feels more authentic.

Grade: B-


Written & Directed By: Joshua Safdie & Ben Safdie 
Inspired By The Book Written By: Arielle Holmes 
Cinematography By: Sean Price Williams 
Editor: Ben Safdie & Ronald Bronstein 

Cast: Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Eleonore Hendricks, Buddy Duress, Ron Braunstein

Harley loves Ilya. He gives her life purpose and sets her passion ablaze. So, when he asks her to prove her love by slitting her wrists, she obliges with only mild hesitation, perhaps because of her other all-consuming love: heroin.

This movie is crazy as it seeks to keep you on your toes and off-center throughout. It is a slice of life that feels like it lacks are tidier and goes out of its way to show the downside of drug abuse. Which yes we have seen many times. Though it has been a while. Then again just as we have seen many other stories a bunch of times. So one more won’t hurt and all that matters is how it is told and the individual’s story. Here we get more of an insider’s guide. Cinema verite style.

The film feels a bit like misery porn as there is no shame throughout this film. We see the rarely good, but plenty of the bad and ugly. I can’t really call the film exploitive as it is stylized a bit but feels like an experimental attempt to tell a story but also a show-off film to show how edgy the filmmakers are by going after the truth. Like a less surrealistic, more realistic drug addiction tail like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Though we are thrust right into the tale rather than showing the beginning like how the characters started in the addiction. We also get very little told about anyone’s past.

Think of this film as a modern-day PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK. Without the luster of seeing classic New York locations.

For some, it might be like seeing the day-to-day life of those addicts or characters you see it encounter on the train or New York streets.

Caleb Landry Jones is barely recognizable. Which is how deep he goes into character here. He is also the only recognizable cast member who might be a professional actor. As the character of Ilya this ghost-like a menace. Who is the main character’s ex who at the beginning of the film demands that she commit suicide as an appropriate apology for cheating on him? He seems to haunt the film as he stares in judgment and treats her like crap but seems to give off a sense of caring

Arielle Holmes makes an impressive debut. This film is based on her book a kind of journal/biography of her life on the streets as a drug addict. Written in an Apple Store using the free computers there. It’s interesting to see her now clean having to relive all these moments.

The film almost seems like a documentary. It is more docudrama as there seems to be a voice and reason for this film and why it was made. Not to mention keeps moving forward.

Throughout the film stays realistic as the level of dirt and grime is a supporting character that could easily take over as the lead.

At times it’s hard to believe it is going anywhere. Though stays hard-hitting and feels disturbing half of the time. The film is not an empty endeavor.

The film feels almost like an 80’s film with its washed-out look and man-on-the-street type camera work as well as a soundtrack that feels ambient. Then sometimes it adds to the scenes and comes along naturally.

There is no pretension in any of the performances. Which is a danger sometimes that you encounter in films of this nature. They all feel like characters you have encountered it seen like this.

Seems filmed on the streets with no permits as it seems rate that there are rarely any actual sets or setups or grand camera shots.

Goes into detail on how these junkies who are often homeless survive and hustle for money and drugs. Sometimes shelter

Throughout the film, it is hard to see why she is in love with Ilya so deeply and cares so much about what he thinks. Throughout the film things ha he yet remains the same which the ending clearly illustrates.

The film never comes close to having a message nor having its characters clean up their act though you might hope for it.



Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Billy Ray
Based Upon the article “American Nightmare: The Ballad Of Richard Jewell” By: Marie Brenner 
Based Upon The Book “The Suspect” By: Kent Alexander & Kevin Salwen 
Cinematography: Yves Belanger 
Editor: Joel Cox 

Cast: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Ian Gomez, Nina Arianda, Mike Pniewski 

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, security guard Richard Jewell discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. With little time to spare, he helps to evacuate the area until the incendiary device inside the bag explodes. Hailed as a hero who saved lives, Jewell’s own life starts to unravel when the FBI names him the prime suspect in the bombing.

A film about a man who at first was a national hero than a suspect. Shows how fast admiration can turn on a person.

While this film is an interesting investigation and feels stronger than a television movie. It still feels like the handiwork of one just with better talent. It oddly also feels rushed throughout.

What saves the film is the tremendous cast. Especially Paul Walter Hauser in a more dramatic role than the comedic ones we are used to. This is the time where someone is more seen as a character actor. Gets a chance to not only star in a film but show they have the right stuff to play a lead in the movie.

This is a film about a man who has been raised to believe in the American dream. Only for it to turn its back on him and despite it all. While he is seen increasingly as a suspect and mistreated he still believes in due process and only seems to help incriminate himself. 

Olivia Wilde is over the top in the role as a reporter who seems out to ruin Richard Jewell. In her performance, she feels like she came from another movie. The film also treats her character as misogynistic. As she seems to use sex and sex appeal to get her stories more than research and talent. 

She also stands out, as most of the film and the characters come off as subdued and she comes off like a shining bright light comparatively. 

The film Is at least fright forward in its telling there is no fat here. It gets straight to the point. 

Again Paul Walter Hauser gives a strong performance that could be seen as both comedic as Dramatic. as this is a sad character whose world falls around him but still believes in law and order despite it all. He has bravado but proves to be quite delicate. Not necessarily likable especially these days but quite identifiable. 

As this is a character who could easily come off as slow or more comedic but Hauser gives him heart and a presence. Where he deserves more respect than most give him. 

Sam Rockwell’s character is a kind of frustrated standoffish type lawyer,  but believes in Richard and ends up being his closest and true ally. Even if he seems ornery or distrusting most times. 

The film feels like a thorough truthful docudrama. As there is little grandstanding. No overly dramatic scenes though based on a true story there is an end but not necessarily any closure or satisfying nature or narrative.

The film gives Jon Hamm’s character motivation to basically try to hide his leaking of info and trying to quickly close the case by trying to find a patsy who fit the Bill and to be a hero himself by solving the case as this crime happened on his watch.

This comes across as Another story of the people of the Midwest for director Clint Eastwood. Where the characters are more salt of the earth and face their destiny abs have to deal with the aftermath. As this film is a dramatization of a more recent evening witch hunt. Where the film villainized the press as the government to a degree. Showing the common man no matter how overzealous to be a pawn rather than letting them live their lives naturally and non-corrupt.

It also shows Eastwood’s passion to show a dying Americana from which he believes in and comes. Though his politics are old school and tricky. He’s not above showing the atrocities of those in power, but also like John Ford with his wearers where they showed the disappearing plains and modernization taking over. Eastwood does the same only with it seems American culture and values 

Grade: B-


Directed by: Martin Scorsese 
Written By: Terence Winter 
Based on the Book “The Wolf Of Wall Street” By: Jordan Belfort 
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Ethan Suplee,  P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Jake Hoffman, Rizwan Manji, Thomas Middleditch, Fran Lebowitz 

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

This film at heart is more of a dark comedy than a drama. Yes, it’s based on a true story and there are many victims in this tale who barely get any attention. As the film’s protagonist is the con-man who ripped them off, but the film feels like no matter what it wants us to root for him and feel for him overall.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances and one of his out-and-out funny comedic performances. As we have never seen him this loose and open in a performance. that truly astonishes

 It’s not only him the film is filled with recognizable actors playing real-life people but while they are characters and three-dimensional they are also played so big that they come off naturally more comedic. Even though their crimes hurt many. As Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jon Berenthal all have their times to shine and at least a scene to highlight. 

At a certain point, they are doing so many illegal things that you can barely tell what is right and what is wrong. As the business they build seems to get off on debauchery and the film treats it as both revelatory letting us participate In The mayhem and experience the 1980’s excess but also giving us enough details to see it as a cautionary tale and see the harsh aftermath for some.

This also is Margot Robbie’s debut and introduction to the public as a sex symbol. Just as Charlize Theron made her debut in the movie 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY. Here at first, you notice Ms. Robbie’s looks then you notice she is actually quite a good actress and one of the memorable ingredients to this movie. 

Now this tale could have been told in a smaller way but just like the main character it must be told larger than life and feel rather epic in size. As it is a rare film where we kind of root for the bad guys. Even if we know they are horrible. As we have been following them from the beginning and in essence living the life of excess with them in the film. So that even when we see them do bad things we have a weakness for them and want to see them succeed even at the expense of others. 

The film feels like a crime spree as it is episodic as we are taken throughout the crimes and how the businessmen stay afloat and the deals they have to make to keep laundering their money and stay on top. The film even follows their international adventures that open up the film to be more global and have more consequences. As they have their overseas adventures. Even with the law on their tails embodied by a character played by Kyle Chandler who seems to be incorruptible and always right behind.

The film even though his character later In The film asks if it is worth it. Being honest and in the straight and narrow. Still having to scrape by when you could easily turn a blind eye, do the wrong thing, and live in Luxury. 

This is the most electrifying and energetic director Martin Scorsese has been with a film. Also, his first film has come close to a comedy since AFTER HOURS. Though the film condemns the characters. The film also has a lot of fun with them. Leaving behind plenty of classic moments. 

The film gets to glorify and highlight the 80’s and 90’s excess and over-the-top nature of business and the stock market. A kind of juvenile version of the movie WALL STREET, but just as powerful and memorable. Only here do you see more behavior outside of the office than necessarily the more business side. Which marks the film all the more attractive. 

In the end, even for a somber tale,  the film is a good time. A misogynistic fantasy that offers what happens after you wake up from the dream and have to pay for it. As the film presents its a tale with the highs like being on drugs but then eventually you have to come down and sober up and the pain of what sobering up feels like. 


CASINO (1995)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese
Based on the Book “Casino” By: Nicholas Pileggi
Cinematography: Robert Richardson 
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker 

Cast: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Frank Vincent, Don Rickles, Alan King, Kevin Pollak, Pasquale Cajano, Richard Riehle, L.Q. Jones, John Bloom, Dick Smothers, Vinny Vella, Melissa Prophet, Bill Allison, Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Frankie Avalon, Jerry Vale, 

A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast-living and fast-loving socialite.

This movie is a grand opera. Though its stage seems grand, you can tell at heart it has a central story that is a drama. That concerns a core small group but their actions affect way too many for it to barely be noticed. It charts everyone’s downfall. As really the film is a tragedy.

It feels like it might pack too much into the story and take as it tries to be partially a history lesson. As well as tell a story to these particular characters and how their Affairs and behavior brought down or exposed the mafia in Las Vegas. 

Now while this film is epic and told In Quite the same way what makes it so strong and magical is how much in the small details everything feels right and paid close attention to. It might not be as satisfying a gangster film as his previous film GOODFELLAS, but this is more a tale of greed and corruption that happens to have gangsters in it.

Everything presented here is over the top, even the cast. Which is peppered with Las Vegas entertainers in various roles. As well as big names sprinkled throughout. 

The film stays true to the true story being told but also has many subplots that might seem like distractions at first but eventually come together to show that these minute seeming trivialities are what makes everything come together to a clash eventually. 

Sharon Stone has never been better than Playing ginger. The hustler wife to Robert DeNiro’s casino runner. At first idealistic beauty and then is slowly addicted to alcohol and drugs who proves to be a bad bet for him. Who has always been a winner and picked them and as soon as he gets involved with her. Slowly things begin to crumble due to excess and ego.

It has been a little too familiar for Joe Pesci playing a likable killer sociopath again who is as funny as he is scary. Even though a different temperament and Robert DeNiro is quieter and less violent a character but more know it. Whose ego is his worst problem.

While this film Shows how Las Vegas and the mob rules Las Vegas with an iron fist. So that the house always won. It also shows how things have changed over time and how drugs and morals began to affect everything. Went so far as to include an ending where at the time they show how my body Vegas has changed and that the time they ruled was the end of an era. Even if corrupt how much fun it was or could be.

This film is certainly a grand vision painted with a paintbrush of all colors. As cinematographer Robert Richardson seems to go all out with lenses, filters, scopes to emphasize how crazy and exact things were at the time. At that point usually worked for director Oliver Stone. This was his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese and it seems a match made it. Heaven especially with this tale.

Though for as big as the film is it couldn’t be told any other way. Even when it tries to stay on certain stories and characters it can’t help but give the audience the whole picture so that they can understand exactly what all went into actions and decisions. Even throughout the film the narration changes to certain characters, even minor ones to help explain situations.

The soundtrack almost runs over each other in the changing scenes, moods, and tones. Though always seem to be playing the right song and cue 

While not exactly a masterpiece this is a big picture. That is hard to describe but it has all the elements that are needed for a soap opera only here treated more seriously. Filled with flawed and shady characters where the only close to innocent ones are just less shady than others.

The film tries to show that not all that glitters is gold and even if you try and gold plate it the tarnish is never quite fixed.



Directed By: James Foley 
Written By: James Foley & Robert Redlin 
Based on the novel by: Jim Thompson 
Cinematography By: Mark Plummer 
Editor: Howard E. Smith 

 Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern 

An ex-boxer is drifting around after escaping from the mental hospital. He meets a widow who convinces him to help fix up the neglected estate her ex-husband left. Her Uncle talks them both into helping kidnap a rich boy for ransom money, and the ex-fighter must make decisions about his loyalties and what is right. 

This film was built up in my head over the years as a pulpy erotic drama. An undiscovered gem and over the years I avoided it to wait for the right moment to watch and appreciate it. And with that decision, I feel I doomed this movie to a level t could never live up to. I was Correct It’s not a bad film. 

 I like Rachel ward who I have been a fan of ever since the kidnapping thriller FORTRESS from the ’80s. Yes, I was into that 80’s fad of being interested in Australian culture. So her being in a erotic thriller. You would have thought I would jump at the chance to watch it as soon as possible. 

 I like how minimal this film is, for a major release it has a relatively small cast and really feels like it takes place in a small town and community. James Foley expertly directs it. The color schemes of the backgrounds are rich and styled.
 I like the fact that the kidnapping plot of the film is dealt with as more of a side plot in the background to developing the characters and the drama between them. 

 I really enjoyed Jason Patric’s performance our protagonist who we don’t even know if he is all there mentally. The other characters are intense as you never know if you can trust them entirely. Constantly wondering are on the level or deceiving. So it makes the situations more interesting.

I almost wish Jason Patric’s character could be used in a television series of movies. That’s how interesting he is and maybe get a chance to learn about his past more.  One of my problems with the film is for a film advertised as being erotic there is one graphic sex scene that isn’t very long. It’s quiet and is more than halfway through the film and more passionate than anything else. 

 I also found myself lost a few times as in the film as far as the plot. It’s a slow film as dry as the land it takes place on. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. 

 It’s not a total disappointment but I can’t say that I entirely like it. It’s worth checking out. 



Written & Directed By: Benson Lee Cinematography: Daniel Katz Editor: Steve M. Choe

Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-Pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Rosalina Leigh, Albert Kong, Hee Jun Han, Crystal Kay, Nekhebet Kum Juch 

During the 1980s, the Korean government created a special summer camp for “gyopo” or foreign-born teenagers where they could spend their summer in Seoul to learn about their motherland. While the intentions of the program were honorable, the activities of the teens were not. The program was eventually canceled after a few years because the government simply could not control the youth. Seoul Searching is a teen comedy and coming of age film, based on a true story about one of the summer camps that took place in 1986.

While this is a fun nostalgic coming-of-age movie exploring the usual themes of finding oneself and their own identities. While growing up. This film is also about culture and trying to find it. As you are misplaced. As first-generation Americans coming to grips with your heritage and history. While managing to be both.

The film would be admirable if it could have stayed on that path and for the most part it does m. As a kind of John Hughes homage as most of the characters learn something and prove to be more than the cultural identities they came with.

Most characters seem lost between their American-style selves and who they are supposed to be back in their home countries. 

Then the film runs into a similar problem John Hughes was called on later in His career. Having little to no minorities in his films and the few he did playing into stereotypes and caricatures in his films. Notoriously long duk dong in SIXTEEN CANDLES and just like that film this one would have been near perfect if not for some unfortunate stereotyping. 

This is interesting considering that this is a film that is about a foreign culture but liberally uses the n-word and other derogatory names for dark-skinned characters and a group of characters who have chosen to identify with rappers and hip hop. Who is more played for laughs.

As the film is set in the 1980s some of the defense might be. Oh it was a different time, but still, the one mixed character not only barely gets any screen time but when she does she is treated at first as beautiful than as a bitch and disposable. 

The rapper wannabes are the ones mostly using the n-word, but their characters are treated as buffoons and comic relief. They are the few characters who get no dramatic epiphany and are gone before they can wear out their welcome. Meanwhile, the sexist, Racist good ole boy character who uses mostly racially charged derogatory terms amongst other bad behavior gets a chance to explain himself and get the audience to have sympathy for him. Which still runs the audience the wrong way. If not for that this film could be a total success, instead of wallowing in The same problems as the films that inspired it. 

As it has an original cultural story. An ensemble cast who each get character arcs and times to shine. Romance and even a mentor figure in their chaperone and teacher who has his own dark secrets and a drinking problem. 

It’s a worthwhile film if not for some dark clouds around it. As it does expose the audience to the culture and price of history they might not have known and gives a lesson for teenagers and foreign characters to identify with.


THE NEW GUY (2002)

Directed By: Ed Decter
Written By: David Kendall
Cinematography: Michael D. O’Shea
Editor: David Rennie 

Cast: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Parry Shen, Jerod Mixon, Sunny Mabrey, Ross Patterson, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Griffin, Ileana Douglas, Kurt fuller, Matt shogun, M.C. Gainey, Julius Carry, Geoffrey Lewis, Horatio Sanz, Gene Simmons, Kool Moe Dee, Tommy Lee, Henry Rollins, Jermaine Dupri, Jerry O’Connell, Charlie O’Connell, Tony Hawk, Rob Van Winkle 

A high school senior branded uncool in the ninth grade gets himself expelled so he changes his image to cool kid at the town’s other high school.

The film is strange as it is a teen comedy that seems at times to be more of a spoof. Then it just becomes more of a wacky comedy that comes off more as abstract and slapstick but still makes little sense.

Though considering it is directed by a noted comedy writer. Who coincidentally didn’t write the script. So that the film feels cut up from a decidedly longer and more coherent film. Though it doesn’t matter as this is a film you just watch and have fun with what it offers. 

It’s also a movie that is built to build off of trends of the time.

Which would explain the strange number of cameos by rock stars and skaters and recognizable celebrities playing themselves and others throughout for no real reason. 

Though it might hint at, What does end up being truthful about the movie is the character’s passion for music. As it seems to almost be their everything. 

For instance, Lyle Lovett’s Father character makes no sense at all, but he is in the movie throughout. As the Square dad who seems to try to relate and overreact  to his son and his actions 

While the film feels like it got cut to pieces as some storylines and characters disappear or are never resolved. So that instead of plot or character the film tries to give you a Greatest hits version of the story. 

Which makes it feel more like a Frankenstein of teen film cliches. You have seen before Only more heightened and campy comedically. There is even a scene where Eliza Dushku’s character goes to apologize to an old friend who she has shunned and snubbed only for that friend to say “I know” before she can say anything 

Most of the female roles here are more as sex objects and hook up’s. Even Dushku the female lead has two scenes of first her trying in various scantily Clad outfits like bikinis and another scene of her riding a mechanical bull suggestively. More for a male teenage audience. Though she is both the love interest and sex symbol of the film.

The film builds off star Dj Qualls fame from ROAD TRIP. As an early version of McLovin from SUPERBAD. As his character goes from

Dork to cool in a new attitude and look with a lot of Farrelly brothers style comedy. That is gross yet heartwarming and manages to win the Audience over.

The film gave DJ Qualls the rare odd Leading man role. Even if the film Tries to play like more of an ensemble at times. 

Sure the film’s humor is lowbrow but still comes off as innocent or like it doesn’t know any better. Though with it’s juvenile humor it’s

Perfect for its intended audience. Though definitely a testament to the time period in which it was made.

It is filled to the brim with what was hip, but trends change so fast that by the time the film Actually was released. It felt a little past its Time to the audience and worse the film is so low stakes. It doesn’t Make its Mark. 

If anything this movie is more. A guilty pleasure that gets by because of its Silly and fun attitude. This film is put together very loosely with plenty of gags meant to tie the story and characters together with a moral lesson of not labeling and not believing in whatever labels you are branded with. 



Directed By: Arthur Hiller
Written By: W.R. McKinney
Cinematography: David M. Walsh 
Editor: Don Zimmerman 

Cast: Nick Nolte, Jobeth Williams, Judd Hirsch, Ralph Macchio, Allen Garfield, Lee Grant, Richard Mulligan, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, Morgan Freeman, Steven Hill, William Schallert, Mary Alice, Anthony Heald Virginia Capers, Royal Dani, Art Metrano 

A teacher overcomes his frustration in a high-school full of flunkies. As he attempts to educate his students, he attempts to help them gets him into trouble with the school board, which only adds to his problems. With the support of his students, he beats the school board and his frustration.

This film is in the same vein as AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Where it is a darkly satirical look at a system that wasn’t working. For that film, it was legal and the justice/court system. In this case public high school and just how dangerous it was for students and faculty. As you had kids who were uninterested and unmotivated. Teachers who were burnt out, scared, or don’t care and the unions and powers that be whose hands are tied or want them to do the best that they can with what they have yet offer no hope.

Now, while this film isn’t as sharp or necessarily as heavy as that film they do share a kinship. As well as with films like THE HOSPITAL and NETWORK (both of those written by Paddy Chayefsky) these are meant to be more ensemble films with a central figure in the lead who is riding on both sides until the end. Where they finally have to show where they stand and make some kind of difference even if ultimately lose.

This film is interesting as it can be funny. Especially pinpointing Richard Mulligan’s character, a teacher who gets into character to inspire his students and actually gets through to them. Before finding out he is an escaped mental patient.

What keeps the film lively is that one minute it can be gritty and dealt with seriously but then the next goes for a laugh that is more character-based comedy and less broad. 

Though there are many characters this film mainly focuses on Nick Nolte who is burnt out it actually seems to be the rare teacher who gives a damn. Though he wants to be a team player he has a reckless rebelliousness to him.

This role fits note to a The cuts an imposing figure but comes off quite intellectual. He is rugged throughout and tries his best but whenever he seems to be getting somewhere he has another bureaucratic door slammed in his face. This is a vintage performance from him where he is unpredictable but lively throughout. 

Nick Nolte is a famous actor. For me, he is an actor I discovered while looking for somebody else. He usually starred or Co-Starred in movies I initially watched for some other actor who was in the film for instance 48 HOURS I watched for Eddie Murphy and he co-Starred in it. I watched DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS for Bette Midler he Co-Starred in it. I watched this film initially to see Ralph Macchio. He made this before KARATE KID, but I discovered it after he starred in that film.

The film has a recognizable cast. That looking back is impressive and all out to good use. The town of the film does become more serious after the death of a character.

Watching the film these days barely raises an eyebrow. But I remember when first seeing it felt scandalous like an expose almost. As it seems to try to shine a light on the problems of the then-current education system. Some of those problems still exist and some have gotten worse. It seems to try to take a bite but there is so much to chew it can only get to a certain amount of pieces presented.

This is a film that is worth watching to see how a film can make a point and bring up issues. By being gritty but also offering a light touch to round out and let the audience off somewhat. 

Grade: B