BIG FAN (2009)

Written & Directed By: Robert D. Siegel
Cinematography By: Michael Simmonds
Editor: John Trank

Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rappaport, Matt Servitto

A hard-core New York Giants fan struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.


This film feels like a dark odyssey but it’s one that takes place in a lake, not an ocean or river. A hard-core New York Giants fan struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.

This is a film that I wanted to love but I ended up only liking a lot. It appealed to me but scared me at how much the main character resembles me and my life. Only I hope not as depressing.


In full admission, I am one of the biggest fans of Patton Oswalt. I actually met him while he was in town filming this movie. It’s a darkly comedic film where all the characters might fit a few stereotypes but they felt real. No one was perfect they all had flaws, They all had good things and bad things about them. 

The Writer-Director of the film is Robert Siegel who also wrote THE WRESTLER. In his direction Siegel is a simple storyteller he doesn’t use visual trickery or distracting angles, He still gets his point across. The film’s low budget also adds to the film’s believability. In his writing, at first, you could write him off as someone interested in characters in sports but each film goes deeper than the actual sport, Which ends up only plays a small part in the overall stories, as the film is showing the in’s and out’s of the sport. 

The film let’s you get inside they’re heads and what is going on and affecting them in their immediate life. It shows the characters and the trouble they find themselves inevitably in usually done to themselves and the fact that the world is cruel. And of course, when it rains it pours. 

Not a fan of the film’s ending but if it ended any other way it wouldn’t have made the impact or told it’s the message the way it clearly wanted do. The film is a downtrodden character study that seems to revel in its misery and you feel it deeply as the situations and characters feel more realistic, then fabricated for the story.  

Of course, the film will be compared to the better TAXI DRIVER. But the film has an identity of its own and lends itself to the 70’s era type of filmmaking. Where character comes before story and plot. The reason I believe those films are so well remembered is that the films felt real and believable and the people who made the film wanted to tell stories and not show off they’re technical know-how and care more about pleasing studios, audiences, and box office returns than making a memorable film and maybe art. 

What this film does cleverly leads you down a dark road. That shocks you and fills you with despair the further you go and at each pit stop you think you know and feel dread thinking you know where it’s going to lead. It goes in that direction, But then gives you a detour. Making it all the more revealing. It’s a Must see but it is not a film that needs to be in your film library.  

GRADE: B+

HOLIDAY (2018)

Directed by: Isabella Eklof 
Written by: Johanne Algren & Isabella Eklof 
Cinematography: Nadim Carlsen
Editor: Olivia Neergaard-Holm

Cast: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thjis Romer, Yuval Segal, Adam lld Rohweder, Morten Hemmingsen

Young and beautiful Sascha discovers her dream life of luxury, recklessness and fun comes at a price when she is welcomed into the “family” of her drug lord boyfriend at his holiday villa in the port city of Bodrum on the Turkish Riveria. Physical and psychological violence are a way of life for this gangster family, but when the velvet veneer is stripped raw to the bone, Sascha’s eye drifts towards the “normal” life she is leaving behind–is it possible she could still be accepted by polite society?


This film feels like a Study or gazes more an examination. As we watch the main character on vacation with her boyfriend who seems to be a gangster of some sort. Who is mostly low keys she seems to be his moll and the film mainly stays with her except for a scene or two. 

The film seems to want to present and show how Women always having to be nice and look pretty to be noticed and fit in. Also to be taken care of.

This is a movie that Is either a love or hate film. No real middle ground as it is a polarizing film.

Not much happens. It’s not even really episodic more days in the lives. Where you begin to examine any event big or small looking for clues as to where it is going or to reveal more about the characters.

At times the film feels tedious. There are only so many angles of her good looks, body, and tropical landscapes to look at 

We more watch things from her experience so while they might be laid out they are never quite explained. The film doesn’t even really come off as a character study. 

As her character seems more innocent and naive. As she is roughed up and usually upset yet seems to enjoy all the indulgences and does nothing to rebel or stand up for herself.

Though the film tries to present her constantly as desirable and a bombshell anytime sex comes into the equation the camera pulls away as sex seems to be usually taken or is more violent. So that when she is about to be revealed the film chooses to move on. Sort of like her blocking it out of her mind. 

later found out this is only when watching the film on TUBI. As they decided to cut the films sex scenes) which actually makes it seem more profound and reasonable in that version.

Which might get on the audience’s nerves. At the amount of abuse, she seems to take, and never strikes back out of revenge. Which is where you are hoping the film is going to.

Her boyfriend/boss takes members of his family kids and maybe even wife as well as members of his crew. While she comes off more as an assistant though really his girlfriend.

The rape scene is disgusting and shocking and Was actually cut out of the version I Saw and when I watched the uncut version. It’s like a horror scene that does affect the rest of the movie. Even if the film and character want to treat it more as an everyday occurrence. What is worse is that family members seem to be coming down to see about the noise and once they do see just retreat back up and is never spoken of nor does anyone try to help her. Which shows whole shocking this is everyday behavior for him And maybe what those around him have come to expect 

When a story seems to be starting it does so subtlety. Like when she seems to strike up a flirtatious friendship with a guy. Who is clearly into her. Who comes across as normal and middle class and seems like he might be able to be her escape. Her boyfriend gets jealous but also seems turned on. As someone else desiring her and not knowing what kind of trouble he might be in as the boyfriend is obviously an alpha and wants to assert his power and influence by inviting the guy over then embarrassing her by molesting her and threatening him. While not the worse he does to her during the movie. This is another in a long line of degradations. Where we feel like the suitor disgusted and don’t understand her at all and she actually begins to disgust him.

When she does finally take out her anger towards the end. It seems more misplaced even though insulted and the person speaks to her plainly out of anger. She attacks with a random act of violence that seems off but definitely has been waiting to be unleashed. As it is ok for her boyfriend who she believes loves her to degrade her in all sorts of ways but a stranger disrespecting her verbally is too much.

That turn at the end. When she even goes to a police station shows she wants to do the right thing. Maybe to just escape what she seems trapped into, but even then she doesn’t have the strength or bravery to speak and for it. Which is her character’s problem throughout. 

In the end taking responsibility and working would disturb her comfort and gifts. Just as her the film seems to stay aloof and at a distance. As the film never passes judgment on any of the characters. Nor does it ever get emotional. 

The end seems to show she has become just as corrupted as the company she keeps, with a perfect ending theme song to describe the situation she has found herself in. 

It feels like the film was aiming for controversy though would help if it was more structured into an ongoing story rather than a study where not much happens except for a graphic rape scene and ends up provocative though with no depth. 

You keep wondering where is the film going or hopefully some kind of revenge will Happen. Unfortunately, the film never quite rises and Delivers the promise that we were hoping for.

The film does show the price that is paid for that beauty and all the dirty things done to achieve and maintain it.

Never choosing to show any acts of brutality in close up until the end. Where by that time each main character has done an unforgivable act of violence. 

It’s an interesting film showing privilege and entitlement and taking abuse just for the riches to a degree and when push comes to shove when offered an escape chooses to want to keep her status even if rough to a degree. 

The film could have had something to say if it had made more decisions and gave the lead character, character. Her third act changes the whole welcome feels unearned. As if the movie realized it needs a catharsis or something to happen. As it just seems to continuously show older rich men abusing young scantily clad women. Having power over them they that they use these women with money and by the end of the film. The film seems to choose to agree with it. As we know this goes on in real life and the film chooses to show one particular situation. Which is still shocking considering the movie is directed by a female. 

GRADE: C+

LADY MACBETH (2016)

Directed by: William Oldroyd

Written By: Alice Birch

Based on the book “ LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK” by Nikolai Leskov Cinematography: Ari Wegner

Editor: Nick Emerson

Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Roseuval, Anton Palmer, Bill Fellows 

Rural England, 1865. Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.


This movie features Florence Pugh in a star making performance and also one of the all time great cold femme fatales on screen.

The title makes you believe this Will be a take on Shakespeare’s Play.  Only focusing on one main character from their point of view, but this is based on “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Nikolai Leskov 

That might have served as inspiration for the play and the title just happens to deal with the same machinations, manipulations, and themes as that character and play

Though some will see this from a modern context of a female asserting herself in a suppressed time. That she is sticking up for herself and choosing to use her strengths and power. As after all she comes off as a mastermind even though motivated more by being dumb in love. If she wasn’t so selfish she might have been a strong female role model. Though she might still end up being one to some audience members 

The film allows us to see how she comes upon her decisions. How as soon as she gets there she is mistreated by her husband who refuses to actually consummate the marriage and then disappears leaving her feeling bored and degraded. Even when not suffering the disdain of her father in law.

Once she spies the help trying to sexually assault her handmaiden and sticks up for her she feels an attraction and passion for the

Young field worker who originated it and begins to flirt with him until he comes to her bedroom And is aggressive with her and she fights back but also accepts his demands. Once started the affair intensified and anything or anyone who stands in the way she is willing to sacrifice.

She does so coldly, but to a certain extent, you can understand why. Until the third act when she goes to far. Even shocking the audience as well as her lover. 

Throughout it is easy to not feel sorry for the male characters in her life. They don’t necessarily deserve death, but they are also not the most sympathetic characters. The film also makes it seem like the lover will eventually use her but in the end. He is more a pawn as she loves him And tries to prop him Up as more respectable. Though he can be expendable if he chooses to betray or cross her.

The most sympathetic character is her handmaiden Anna, who witnesses everything and goes mute from shock. While still being made to serve her and seemingly punished by her from time to time. What she is put through and where she ends up is just cruel. It’s Disappointing though not shocking.

Since the character is African American she more seems like a slave so watching her being mistreated is not all that shocking and while it’s nice to see people of color in the film. While being historically accurate it does get on the nerves or brings the audience to a dark place to be reminded of this time In history. Especially as in the end classism And racism stand supreme. Even when the one who so thought to be more privileged is the one who has done the worst and should have a bad reputation 

The film also manages to be quite sexual though not quite erotic. 

The film is quite a surprise from what you might think the film will be about or go to. It is actually richer even if also more cerebral and remote, with beautiful backgrounds. 

I really enjoy this film and am only recently becoming a bit of a fan of period pieces. 

GRADE: B+

THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002)

Written & Directed by: Peter Mullan
Cinematography: Nigel Willoghby
Editor: Colin Monie

Cast: Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh, Mary Murray, Brita Smith, Frances Healy, Geraldine Ewan, Phyllis Macmahon, Eithne Mcguniess

Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.


This is a harrowing story of survival and injustice. Where young women were forced into indentured slavery to a degree. As they were made to be subservient to priests and nuns at monasteries and convents. For supposedly being bad girls but usually see being attacked or abused sexually or even thought if for being non chaste.

In the first act of the film, we see the three characters who we will follow their daily lives and what lead them to be Sent to this asylum. The next act is their lives in the asylum and the third act is an escape attempt. 

Then once sent away being made to be tortured and abused by the church. From molesting and raping priests In Servitude. While the church makes money off of their slave labor. 

This film allows us to be brought into the situation by three protagonists who are sent there we see what leads them here before interacting with one another as we hear snippets of other women’s stories while being preyed upon by the nuns who are the main tormentors. As they believe the girls deserve it as sinners and that they themselves are in service to god. So they are the more mighty.

The film is a powerful historical dramatization as well as a strong movie that doesn’t offer any conventional Cookie cutter answers or depictions. Even when some are released there are no emotional goodbyes or promises to help get them out. It makes you want to learn more about the history of the subjects the film offers. As it is such an immersive experience.

This film easily could have gone into exploitation. Though luckily the film is meant to show what they go through without getting bogged down in any graphic depictions of sex and violence.

Though it does manage to keep the tension high and filled with drama. We watch the Female protagonists and see how each in their own way survives and gets released or makes their getaway. How it scars then and haunts one especially even past their supposed escape.

The film is hard to sit through due to the victimization that went on until the 1960s and was never brought justice. As the audience watches, they can feel the pain

What makes this move unsettling is the fact that It’s a true story. Which is also what makes it so unforgettable. It’s a history lesson and a survival story about a time no one really talks about and you see and experience the horrors of the characters. Though the actual people who survived the asylum said it was much worse then depicted. 

Grade:B+

DHEEPAN (2015)

Directed By: Jacques Audiard 
Written By: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain & Noe Debre 
Cinematography By: Eponine Momenceau 
Editor: Juliette Welfling 

Cast: Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers
Marc Zinga Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter, a Tiger. In Sri Lanka, the Civil War is reaching its end, and defeat is near. Dheepan decides to flee, taking with him two strangers – a woman and a little girl – hoping that they will make it easier for him to claim asylum in Europe. Arriving in Paris, the ‘family’ moves from one temporary home to another until Dheepan finds work as the caretaker of a run-down housing block in the suburbs. He works to build a new life and a real home for his ‘wife’ and his ‘daughter’, but the daily violence he confronts quickly reopens his war wounds, and Dheepan is forced to reconnect with his warrior’s instincts to protect the people he hopes will become his true family. 


The first French film shot nearly entirely in the Tamil language. In fact The first film in Tamil language and with Tamil lead actors to win the Palme d’Or.

The film involves a former soldier is suffering from PTSD. Tries to start over with a new identity and a fake family.

Not as violent or action-packed as once thought and advertised. As mostly there are scenes of action but we see it mainly from his point of view and more towards the end. Even though throughout the film the characters are surrounded by dangerous characters and hear stories of violence in their new home and the one they are coming from.

As the film moves along it becomes a slow-burning vigilante tale with heart. As it seems here thankfully the film considers the characters first and the action is secondary.

Once the action starts what a glorious sequence it is. The film is full of vivid handheld camera work which makes some scenes more dramatic than one would think.

The film focuses on him and his makeshift wife mostly. Their relationship and how it actually blossoms purely out of survival at first then slowly becomes affectionate. While they also raise an orphan girl who is more in the background and used more to help them get sympathy but is the chain that binds them together. As they have escaped war-torn Sri Lanka only to move into and work in a gang filled Parisian housing development (projects)

She slowly gets close to the son of the elderly man she takes care of, the son is a gang leader who is under house arrest. So that she is constantly in the middle of the current war going on in the streets. 

Everything goes good until the third act with the reemergence of an old general who has lost it. He seems to have cursed them as old nightmares come to the forefront in the new form of continuous random violence until DHEEPAN decides to take a stand. As he couldn’t before, forming a peace block.

The film is pretty straight forward which is why it might seem like I am just telling the plot and scenes. Just as with his precious film director Jacques Audiard has us with the characters every step of the way. Right up in their faces.

The film is an immigrant story that doesn’t solely focus on being in a new country and trying to assimilate more dealing with the troubled past of the characters as they try to settle. Starting a new life when virtually everything is new and different. Especially as most of the leading cast had never acted in a film before. So it gives the film unmannered performances that make it feel all the more natural and real.

It’s the anti – BROOKLYN movie (which is a romantic tale of an Irish immigrant in New York on the 1950s)

Not much happens but much is felt though at times the film seems to try to hide it’s hand. Even as one thing really particularly shocking happens in the film.

After his more provocative films. He plays this one pretty straight other than turning the camera in characters and cultures usually not seen on the big screen.

Happy for the ending as it is rare for these types of tales to end positively and with promise. They always seem to be downtrodden, sacrificial, or compromised.

Grade: B+

DONALD CRIED (2017)

Written & Directed By: Kris Avedisian 
Story By: Kris Avedisian, Jesse Wakeman & Kyle Espelata 
Cinematography By: Sam Flesichner 

Cast: Kris Avedisian, Jesse Wakeman, Louisa Krause, Ted Arcidi, Shawn Contois 
With the sudden passing of his grandmother, Peter Latang returns to his hometown and encounters his long lost, childhood friend, Donald Treebeck. What begins as a simple favor, turns into a long day’s journey into the past.


I will say that this film isn’t for everyone.

Making and distribution of this movie funded through the website, Kickstarter.

As it is very low budget and seems more like a labor of love and a kind of semi-autobiographical cal story that feels like a kind of therapy or expression of what could have been.

This is a film that will easily be overlooked, it’s worth it if you take your time to discover it.

The cartoonish appearance of one of the characters prepares you to expect one type of story but delivers another. Almost like a bait and switch.

The director stars in the film and wrote the film. His co-star in the film who plays his friend is also the co-writer of the film.

It’s a comedy of sadness that feels at home in despair. That comes off depressing to a degree. That shows how some people grow and some don’t. Who seen stuck in arrested development. To when they had their heydays and as the world matures they still seem to stay the same.

Here a character comes back to his hometown to bury his grandmother and take care of her estate and rubs into an old friend and while definitely changed he can’t seem to shake this friend and the longer he is around him find himself reverting to his old ways. Even though we are never completely told we find out so much about their past through stories and other characters. Gradually over the 24 hours they spend together. It appears both have some anger issues towards one another and in general.

The film generally stays awkward and uncomfortable throughout. With both characters not particularly likeable though whenever you want to feel sorry for them. Something happens that brings them back to being unlikable. Maybe then it is more understandable what makes them that way.

The film is very revealing with an intimacy that is not that intricate, but is affecting. As it seems like both characters are sensitive and working through issues but constantly pushing them to the side or deflecting. That makes the film feel like they are both having a one-man show. Working through the pain only more encompassing and interacting. Though Donald clearly cherished this friendship and that they were close when others recollect it seems that his friend was kind of cruel to him and used him. Which is why Donald who seems to dress more like a comedic character who looks like he belongs in NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

How hard it is to communicate feelings as a man to another man. Especially when you have grown up and grown apart. That asks what if you were only friends die to location and necessity. Seeing other characters from their Youth move on or marvel at how stuck they seem or how some have moved forward. They don’t necessarily fit into each other lives now, but always have a bond and feeling for one another. Are friends for the past entitled to you and your feelings? Are you supposed to be on their side? I matter what? The film explores how friendships can evolve like relationships. How they can be manipulative and disintegrate.

The past can be subjective. You can look at it as positive, but once confronted the truth comes to light and you realize you weren’t as good and heroic as you once thought.

It even seems to have a moment of easy temptation that seems like selling out of sorts.

The film affected me. As it might have hit too close to a nerve for me. Though the film also feels like a kind of release for the characters and the audience finally by the end.

Going back to a past you hoped would stay that way and becomes  a comedy of layers

GRADE: B

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (2010)

Directed By: Jay Roach
Written by: David Guion & Michael Handelman
Based on the original screenplay “Le Diner De Cons” by: Francis Veber 
Cinematography: Jim Debault 
Editor: Alan Baumgarten & Jon Poll

Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifinakis, Jemaine Clement, Bruce Greenwood, Larry Wilmore, Andrea Savage, Lucy Punch, David Williams, Stephane Szostak, Ron Livingston, Kristen Schawlow, Nick Kroll, Randall Park, Chris O’Dowd, Jeff Dunham, Octavia Spencer, Rick Overton 

When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he’s invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.


While I quite enjoyed the french original it was smaller scale and crueler. Limited in its locations and hijinks. 

As Well the lead was less likable and by the end, all that happens seemed more like a well-deserved comeuppance. Though after a while you Could feel his pain

This American remake is opened up more to allow more characters and situations. That makes the film feel more Bloated than it needs to be.

The film has a talented comedic cast, who all seem to go over the top and try way too hard to make the material work when not needed and steal the movie. It doesn’t feel so much as fun and entertaining. With each trying to top one another in a game of one up man ship that it feels grand in its upper-crust air. Though proves that some bits and pieces are good enough. Which is a shame because the cast is pretty solid. 

Steve Carrell feels too familiar with this role in THE OFFICE of being innocently annoying and stupid more silly here and bigger. While He is one of the stars he keeps getting scenes stolen from him by co-Stars.

Steve Carell does what he is supposed to do and can be a chameleon usually in roles you would never believe he would be cast in, but here he never quite makes a mark to pass into an original or a classic. 

The film certainly lacks any subtlety. The film still wants the main stars to be likable. So the film opens up the story for more hijinks. As well as padding out the cast and a third act showdown. Whereas the original could have been a theatrical stage piece.

One can give credit for opening up the Story but each new location most feels like a set up where you know things are going to go wrong. 

The film isn’t As snobbish or highbrow as this seems more broadly humored. 

Yet again though this is a remake made for now original the foreign language one was and other than it’s the Main point most is changed around for a more mainstream appeal that subtracts what made it so special in the first place. It’s never a good place to be, because if you follow too closely then it’s like the film

LET ME IN practically the same shots with different actors and in English with minor changes. Where you might as well watch the original as everything is pretty much the same. You just won’t recognize the cast and will have to read subtitles.

So if you have seen the original while this is bigger it comes off strangely and as even if you haven’t seen the original. This still will be way too familiar and you’ve seen it before and done better.

GRADE: C

BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991)

Directed By: Peter Hewitt
Written By: Chris Matheson & Ed Soloman
Cinematography By: Oliver Wood
Editor: David Finfer

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, George Carlin, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, Hal Landon Jr., Sarah Trigger, Jim Martin, Taj Mahal, Primus 

The world of our distant future is a veritable utopia, thanks to the lyrics of two simple-minded 20th Century rock and rollers, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan. However, a would-be conquerer threatens to throw history off-track by sending “most non-non-heinous” evil robot Bill and Teds back to kill their good counterparts. Finding themselves dead, the boys must outwit the Grim Reaper and traverse Heaven and Hell to return to the land of the living, rescue their “babes” and have a “most triumphant” concert at the all-important Battle of the Bands


The original title was “Bill and Ted go to Hell” but was changed because of American objections to the use of the word “hell”.

Stephen Herek declined to return as director because he thought it was “almost a parody of a movie that was already a parody”.

This is a sequel not too many people saw coming as yes the first film was a hit, but this sequel while seeming a bit more forced. This seems to revel in the off the Wall motif of everything involved and seems giddy with the chances they have in where they can take the film. As this film is much more wild and experimental and bigger budgeted.

When it comes to this film while there is much more to love and it is more accomplished. I prefer the original for it’s newness factor. Here we are used to these characters and while the film offers a noticeably different story. It still doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the original. Though this one is stranger. It’s not a bad film just different In its own way

definitely can say that this film seems to benefit from a better budget. As the art direction is a lot more sharp and pleasing to the eye. Making the film seem more surreal overall. As the visuals stay with you.

While this film is futuristic it is also definitely a film of its time. Which is where the film’s weakness lies. This is a film where you can tell everyone had a lot of fun making. As all the actors are inspired even the leads seem more gung ho in their roles as maybe they understand the characters more.

As the leads get to play multiple versions of themselves and seem to have their characters more on a directional path. Whereas in the first film they were teenagers who got a glimpse of the future. They still had the time and plenty of room until then. Here we see them trying to get there and the otherworldly obstacles in their way.

This film has less of a necessary story than the first film which just seemed like an odd quirky high concept comedy. Here the film seems more inspired by the characters than the plot. As this film Plays more like a comedic nightmare for the characters. Though you can’t debt that the film is more vibrant if slightly more off-center. As the film beers more into star Alex winter’s early short films and show on MTV, IDIOT BOX. As well as his feature film directorial debut FREAKED, in it’s strange and surreal humor. Where scenes seem partially like sketches that tie into the overall story. Especially in the hell sequences 

William Sadler as death (his death character seemingly more inspired by Max Von Sydow in THE SEVENTH SEAL) steals the film with so much gusto and comedic highlights. That it is another performance that should have made him more in demand and lead to either more lead by roles or character actor roles. At least more comedic ones.

In this film, there is very little time travel. This is a relief as it leaves the film Not relying upon or rehashing the first film’s main focus. Making this sequel seeming fresher.

This film though does feel more creative. As it takes more chances and seems a lot more fun. It’s like a funhouse version of the first film. Whereas this film shows it’s inspirations and seems more aimed at off the wall humor. Focused on its core younger audience. This film also introduced an actual villain for the two characters to face. Even though Joss Ackland claims he only too the role because he lost a bet.

These films always feel like a precursor or an inspiration to the WAYNE’S WORLD skit and movies. Which just like this film had a more surreal and overstuffed sequel. as well as BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD was only more likable.

The film has an ending song that at the time felt iconic but listening to it now feels more melodramatic and embarrassing from the band KISS.

Grade: B-

CELEBRITY (1998)

Written & Directed by: Woody Allen 
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Editor: Susan E. Morse 

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Winona Ryder, Famke Janssen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gretchen Mol, Greg Mottola, Charlize Theron, Judy Davis, Douglas McGrath, Joe Mantegna, Andre Gregory, Sam Rockwell, Adrian Grenier, Michael Lerner, Melanie Griffith, J.K. Simmons, Famke Janssen, Becky Ann Baker, Issac Mizrahi, Anthony Mason, Kate Burton, Debra Messing, David Marguiles, Tony Sirico, Bebe Neuwirth, Patti D’Arbanville, Ingrid Rogers, Jeffrey Wright, Hank Azaria, Karen Duffy, Aida Turturro, Allison Janney, Donna Hanover, Celia Weston, Wood Harris, Donald Trump 

Lee Simon, unsuccessful journalist and wanna-be novelist, tries to get his foot in the door with celebrities. After divorcing his wife Robin, Lee gets to meet a lot folks of the rich and/or beautiful, partly through journalism, and partly because he has a script to offer. But life amongst those from out-of-this-world is hard, and his putative success always results in defeat. Meanwhile, Robin meets a very desirable television producer and takes the first steps in the world of celebrities.


This seems to be more of a moralistic take more than a character piece. filming in black and white the film does come off looking beautiful and Classic but just like the characters, it’s empty.

This isn’t a typical woody Allen film. This feels more aggressive and verbose than usual a bit more hardcore. Where you can’t tell if he is angry or trying to fit in with the cinematic trends and language of the time. As this film and DECONSTRUCTING HARRY have that in common. 

While we have the typical Woody Allen type surrogate lead character played here by Kenneth Branagh. Here he feels disposable and never quite makes a mark. As he is just one of the many unlikeable characters throughout the film.

The characters are all physically beautiful but seem to be grotesque internally. As it seems only the lead character seems to know better. As he constantly cheats on his wife as his profile seems to rise, but as he slowly gets his comeuppance his suffering wife seems to become famous herself and finds love and good fortunes. 

The film seems more like a commentary on modern life at that time. The nature of celebrity web tabloids. A kind of acid commentary on it all. While feeling like a tabloid itself how it jumps around from character to character and tale to tale. Though it also feels like with this film though not surreal Allen seems to try to emulate Fredrico Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA to a degree. While it tries to feel like that movie it never quite rises to that level. 

Using the nature of having a lot of big names in his cast. They are here for a reason. While this little is a commentary the film seems scattershot and ultimately lost because it never seems to come to a point. Just cruelty  As the Lead and the movie goes on many misadventures on his way to trying to achieve being a great writer and screenwriter. He finds the romantic entanglements prove to be as artificial as the proper and the world he is trying to enter. Even if all are around him are supposed to be artists and of such depth and passion. Showing all to be more in the moment and inauthentic with a love of self More than anything. 

Falling in love with the image in which others see them and list after them. Loving their own image More than anything else. 

The most noteworthy thing about this movie is that it has Leonardo DiCaprio in it. Mirroring his TITANIC fame of popularity but this was filmed before that film’s release. So it seems like life imitating art. Though some of the films revolve around him, he isn’t actually in it much. 

While not a classic the film is admirable in it’s own ways. It is beautifully shot and tries to say something overall it just has a funny way of showing it. 

Grade: C

THE INFORMANT (2009)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: Scott Z. Burns 
Based on the book by: Kurt Eichenwald 
Cinematography By: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews) 
Editor: Stephen Mirrione 

Cast: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Clancy Brown, Tony Hale, Ann Dowd, Rusty Schwimmer, Eddie Jemison, Tom Papa, Rick Overton, Thomas F. Wilson, Scott Adsit, Andrew Daly, Ann Cusack, Patton Oswalt, Tom Smothers, Paul F. Tompkins, Candy Clark

Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake – being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he’s a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him. 


Based on a true story. 

This seems like the perfect set-up for a comedy a rather dry one. 

The film starts off a little haphazard at first laying its groundwork. That at first is confusing, but you get the full picture as the film goes on. The first half of the film also feels a little pretentious as it seems to feel it’s the smartest kid in the room and has jokes and humor that seems to be inside and to itself, but the film becomes more interesting and compelling as the film goes on. 

Though there are many good actors in the film their roles are so small they never get a chance to shine. Quite a few stand-up comedians in the cast. I believe more for their improved skills and ability to punch up the lines to have a humorous stance, but most of them play straight and deadpan where as the dramatic actors are playing more comedic roles. Which i believe is another cinematic experiment by director Steven Soderbergh to subvert genre rules and play with the material. 

The film is practically a one-man show for Matt Damon who gained weight for the role. Already a great actor. He is certainly having fun here while portraying a three-dimensional real character. 

It’s always nice to see Scott Bakula on screen a character actor. Who always seems to pop up in the odd film. Who I always feel should work more though it may be my hero-worship of him from the Tv Show QUANTUM LEAP. 

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Mr. Soderbergh and his movies. I applaud his filmmaking skills and the fact that he brings more experimental techniques and direction to mainstream films. The problem is that at times it generally distracts and makes you pay more attention to it. Then the actual story that is onscreen can work if it’s a story you’ve seen many times (ERIN BROCKOVICH) before or the films. Theme and plot are thin or more of a character study, but if it’s a straightforward film it can be a bit much. I respect and honor him for it, but at times it feels a bit much. 

What works here is that in his head Matt Damon’s character is playing this espionage mission and is a hero and has convinced himself that he is the innocent hero and his employers are the villains when in actuality he is the villain, yet see’s himself as a double agent and is able to convince others of this. Only it’s not an exciting action-packed cat and mouse situation, but the most mundane and boring business double-dealing. It’s a nice and interesting contrast considering we have seen Damon actually play a character in life or death Espionage action films in The Bourne Trilogy 

In an NPR radio interview, Matt Damon said that Steven Soderbergh, to get Mark Whitacre’s final apology to the judge just right, directed Damon to perform the lines as if he were accepting an Academy Award. (Damon said it was an example of “perfect direction”.) 

The mood of the film comes off as a timely classic period piece though it is thoroughly modern. Steven Soderbergh makes films full of ideas that might not always work for general audiences, but at least he is trying you get a general sense of excitement behind his films as he is actually thinking far ahead while in the moment. This doesn’t make for the fastest most exciting moments while watching the films. Once you are finished watching the film though it does leave you to think more about what you have seen. it stays with you a bit longer. You just don’t dismiss and forget. It’s not exactly disposable. That is what a true artist as a director brings to the screen. 

The film purposely styles itself like a classic 70’sfilms in tone and mood. Even its titles and score by Marvin Hamlisch. This also leans it more towards the Pretentious style or maybe I am being a bit harsh and it’s more a homage. 

I realize that at times Soderbergh more goes for the documentary-style where he seems like he is filming as it really happens. I give more kudos to the cast for never breaking and making the mundane of the character believable. 

The film starts off as a guy who tells a lie to get out of trouble and the lie just snowballs bigger and bigger leading to a bunch of lies and when he finally gets caught. He tries to lie and deal his way out. The thing is as he is lying at times he even seems to believe the lies but ends up destroying many lives for nothing while still feeling and portraying the victim not understanding or refusing to see why people are mad at him. 

I believe his character appears to want to be the rebel because he believes he is always being slighted but wanting to be popular also and believing he is the smartest guy in the room. 

GRADE: C+