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Empathy Inc, 2018

Joel (Zack Robidas) has just come off of a devastating end to a start up that used buckets of his own money as well as his entire network of investors. After being forced to move in with the parents of his wife, Jessica (Kathy Searle), he is hurting and when an old business school friend (Eric Barryman) comes calling with a sure bet, Joel is intrigued. But the new invention, a hyper-realistic Virtual Reality experience, comes with a cost . . .

I really tend to enjoy low-budget sci-fi films that put the emphasis on character instead of on special effects or nit-picking the mechanics of their premise.

While I feel that a plot development that lands around the first third is pretty obvious, it might be considered a mild spoiler, so maybe skip this review if you have any interest in watching the film.

What works here is the premise of the film, which spools out in an interesting way and leads to some fun late-act dynamics. The performances are also good in general. The science fiction aspect is almost entirely conceptual. It's all about the impact that the VR has on the characters, and I liked that the movie kept things simple.

What didn't work quite as well for me was the character of Joel. Now, I can give the film the benefit of the doubt and say that I'm assuming it is intentional that we are supposed to feel a little sorry for him, but also think he's a total moron. From the opening minutes when we learn that he believes his company has figured out how to catalyze water, it's like "This guy is dumb." And as the film goes on he continues to make one terrible choice after another, to the point that it's frustrating.

The premise itself also seems like it has some issues, just from a logistical point of view. While I didn't mind the film keeping certain technical dynamics a bit hand-wavey, I still had a LOT of questions about what was meant to be happening. The concept itself is really solid, but somehow it doesn't make as much sense as it should.

Probably worth a watch for any fan of sci-fi.




Victim of The Night


Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, 2011

Stationary store worker Jane (Lisa Haas) has always felt out of place, and has had no luck on the romance front. One day she meets Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), an alien who has relocated from a planet where strong emotions are destroying their ozone layer. Despite Zoinx's strange behavior, the two begin a tentative relationship.

This is a film that can best be described as mild. It's a gentle sci-fi/comedy/romance. One of those films where nothing is offensively bad, and the humor only really lands sporadically, but it has enough goofy charm to pull you through its 76 minute runtime.

One benefit of low-budget casting is that we end up with a lead actress who looks like a real human. Lisa Haas is adorable, and she, you know, looks like a lot of the gay women I have known in my life. She really nails the vibe of someone who is nice, but clearly doesn't click with the people--or the world--around her.

The alien characters themselves are more of a mixed bag. The joke, of course, is that they are classic 50s-style aliens, speaking in stilted voices and not understanding those wacky Earth ways. This does land as funny a few times, (such as Zoinx telling a date, "Holly is such a lovely name. I could say it a million times . . . . Holly, Holly, Holly, Holly, Holly, Holly . . ." or when Zoinx answers the phone while in a laundromat and tells the caller that she's just "taking her scarf for a ride"). But the downside of this style for the character is that it throws up a huge barrier to actually investing in them emotionally.

There's also a subplot about two "men in black" types who are spying on the aliens. I think that the joke is that one of the men is also an alien, but from a planet that only understands male-male romances. What helps this section of the film is that the actors (Dennis Davis and Alex Karpovsky) have a good, off-kilter rapport. There is one really strange but fun sequence where the two have a conversation about donuts that seems like it might also be doubling as a conversation about sex, but at the same time doesn't quite go all the way there.

The movie goes for an intentionally "bad" look with some of the effects. For example, an alien's headset which is just openly two plastic cups taped to a band of some sort, or the spaceship which is clearly cardboard.

I also give this movie a high five for use of the song "Sexy Bee".

This song?




Fantastic title...the title alone makes me want to watch it.
I wish that the film lived up to the title.

There are some little gems of moment in there. Like one of the aliens going on a dating show where the guy has to guess which woman gave certain feedback about kissing him and her quote is "It was pleasurable, but I wish he had been a woman."

It's fine and mostly easy to watch. It just doesn't quite reach past okay. That said, it's really short.



I wish that the film lived up to the title.

There are some little gems of moment in there. Like one of the aliens going on a dating show where the guy has to guess which woman gave certain feedback about kissing him and her quote is "It was pleasurable, but I wish he had been a woman."

It's fine and mostly easy to watch. It just doesn't quite reach past okay. That said, it's really short.
I'm a little disappointed...I guess it's true, you really can't judge a book by its cover.



I'm a little disappointed...I guess it's true, you really can't judge a book by its cover.
Well, the movie is full of codependent lesbian space aliens looking for love. So the title is at least very accurate.



Registered User
The last movie I say was the new Boss Baby with my 6 yr old son and it was pretty good.

10/10



Victim of The Night
Just wondering if anyone else appreciates what a good performance Albert Finney gave in Annie.

"I thought that he just STOLE the movie. And I watched this movie for him and I recommend it for him."
- Gene Siskel, 1982




Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)

I don't think I've ever seen this sprawling epic in its entirety so I decided to give it another go. Impressions are twofold. It's a good film with an impressive cast, beautifully directed, shot and acted across the board, but in the end it left me a bit cold as a whole. The multiple storylines make the experience a bit too overwhelming, and the ending was not quite the payoff I hoped for. There are some great moments, though. That scene at the pharmacy really stuck with me (Julianna Moore!).



Victim of The Night

Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)

I don't think I've ever seen this sprawling epic in its entirety so I decided to give it another go. Impressions are twofold. It's an excellent film with an impressive cast, beautifully directed, shot and acted across the board, but in the end it left me a bit cold as a whole. The multiple storylines make the experience a bit too overwhelming, and the ending was not quite the payoff I hoped for. There are some great moments, though. That scene at the pharmacy really stuck with me (Julianna Moore!).
I mostly agree except that I find the climax very moving and satisfying and I usually cry during it.







SF = Zzz


[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it



I've started to watch this film on three separate occasions and have always turned it off about 20 minutes in. I promise to give it one more try...I started and turned off The Social Network and Gravity four times before I watched both of them from beginning to end on the 5th try.
I've avoided watching this, presuming it to be just another whine about how badly Congress and Hollywood treated those film industry communists and communist sympathizers. If that isn't the thrust of the movie, I'll probably watch it.

As a kid I watched Murrow's See It Now on TV during the '50s, and it was almost always fascinating-- simply for the reason that it was the first TV show that I know of that had interviews of celebrities in their private lives. Many film actors would not even do TV in those days, so it was fun to see, for example, Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall in their home. The show was hugely popular.



11 Foreign Language movies to go

By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62231698

Sorry We Missed You - (2019)

Out of Ken Loach's oeuvre, aside from this, I've only ever seen I, Daniel Blake, so I can't generalize too much, but I seem to be finding his films terrifying. A modern day horror story, this features a family on the edge. Father Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is in debt, and this only increases as he buys into a delivery franchise and his own van - the person running the place is intolerably strict, and, in his own words, "a nasty bastard". The job is high-pressure, demanding, and punishing. Mother Abby (Debbie Honeywood) is a carer, and has had to sell her car to finance Ricky's van, so she buses around from early in the morning to late at night helping invalids who challenge her. Son Seb (Rhys Stone) is an entitled, sarcastic, ungrateful, maddening teenager who is heading down the wrong path, shoplifting, fighting and spraying graffiti when he should be at school. Daughter Liza (Katie Proctor) is struggling psychologically. These people are sliding further and further into crisis mode, and problems seem to have a kind of domino effect, creating more drama for another family member. The ending is highly unusual, but the film effectively has us really praying that these people can pull through in a modern world that seems a little too fast, too cruel and too isolating - there's a similar vibe to Daniel Blake, and it's a memorable film as far as I'm concerned - well acted and scripted.

8/10


By https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6850820/, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57565412

Peppermint - (2018)

This one somehow got past quality control. It's your stock standard revenge tale directed by Taken's Pierre Morel, and he doesn't have any awareness of how close to satire he's getting, with a weeping Jennifer Garner pointing out the men who killed her daughter (on her birthday) and being castigated by corrupt defense lawyers and judges - despite being an ordinary Mom she goes off the grid and undergoes Batman training, becoming an invincible assassin. This is all just one slight nudge from being funny, and that's where Morel and screenwriter Chad St. John miss their chance - it could easily be a great comedy, but by playing it straight it becomes irredeemably dumb. Garner goes on to massacre the villains (including that judge) - with dirty cops and drug dealing honchos mown down with military precision, and after being stabbed repeatedly and shot around 5 times, she walks away from it with a limp, having less trouble than I did when I sprained my ankle. Every scene is like a big joke - so representative of the most common and basic the genre has to offer that it's more like a template than a real story. Terribly scripted.

3/10
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.


Latest Review : God's Not Dead (2014)



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Torn Hearts (Brea Grant, 2022)
6/10
The Capote Tapes (Ebs Burnough, 2019)
6.5/10
Tankhouse (Noam Tomaschoff, 2022)
6/10
Samouni Road (Stefano Savona, 2018)
- 6.5/10

Partially-animated semi-doc about the slaughter of a Palestinian family mistaken to be terrorists while celebrating a wedding by Israelis in 2009.
Slaughterhouse-Five (George Roy Hill, 1972)
6/10
The Valet (Richard Wong, 2022)
- 6.5/10
Godspeed (Mehmet Ada ÷ztekin, 2022)
6/10
Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
7+/10

Writer Woody Allen learns some facts of life from teenager Mariel Hemingway while Gershwin plays in this beautiful B&W love letter to NYC.
Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity (Joe Bandelli, 2021)
- 6.5/10
No Man Is an Island (John Monks Jr. & Richard Goldstone, 1962)
6/10
Good Mourning (Machine Gun Kelly & Mod Sun, 2022)
5/10
Emergency (Carey Williams, 2022)
6.5/10

College seniors Sebastian Chacon, Donald Elise Watkins and RJ Cyler just want to party but end up in all kinds of trouble when they find a passed-out white girl in their dorm room.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Madeleine Olnek, 2011)
5.5/10
The Last Victim (Naveen A. Chathapuram, 2021)
5/10
Go for Broke! (Robert Pirosh, 1951)
6/10
An Enemy of the People (Satyajit Ray, 1989)
6.5/10

Honest doctor Soumitra Chatterjee finds the water in a popular temple causing illness, but his politician brother Dhritiman Chatterjee arranges to have his reports go unpublished and even makes his public meetings difficult.
Ali & Ava (Clio Barnard, 2021)
6-/10
Zero Contact (Rick Dugdale, 2022)
5.5/10
Hell to Eternity (Phil Karlson, 1960)
6/10
Hold Your Fire (Stefan Forbes, 2021)
6.5/10

Examination of the 1973 Brooklyn sporting goods robbery, the longest hostage siege in NYPD history with interviews and accounts from all sides.
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Professional horse shoe straightener
'Luzzu' (2021)
Dir.: Alex Camilleri



A quite charming tale about a Maltese fisherman struggling to provide for his young family and the need to spruce up his ageing boat (the titular Luzzu - a Maltese fishing vessel). It is Alex Camilleriís debut film, which is remarkable given the direction. The cast is mostly made up of non actors playing versions of themselves, which is pretty astonishing given the quality of performances. The subtext seems to have something to say about tradition v progress and commercialism in small communities.

The neo realist feel is bang on and even though there are some well trodden paths concerning morality and ethics, and a pretty open ending, it is a lovely way to spend 90 minutes. Alex Camilleri looks set to have a fine career ahead of him.



7.8/10



The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

This was a bit uninspired even if the performances were good. Apart from the script being bland the story just kind of.."grinds" along after an exciting start. The CGI is pretty ropey too for the budget it reportedly spent. Tried a reboot and it failed. Alexander SkarsgŚrd is a stunning looking fellow and a decent actor but this was trapped between a Disney version of the tale and a "right-on" retelling.




I've avoided watching this, presuming it to be just another whine about how badly Congress and Hollywood treated those film industry communists and communist sympathizers. If that isn't the thrust of the movie, I'll probably watch it.
It's nothing to do with Hollywood. It's about how the people at CBS covered McCarthy and the internal struggle over the line between reporting and editorializing. It's also about the culture of fear where, if you did speak up about it, someone would show up with a file folder with "evidence" that you were a communist sympathizer.

The two cases brought up are of a man in the Air Force who is fired because of something to do with his father and sister (and of course no one, even the guy who is fired, is privy to what those accusations are), and Annie Lee Moss.