The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

The Last Temptation of Christ Movie Review

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The Last Temptation of Christ Movie Review

The Last Temptation of Christ is a 1988 epic drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Willem Dafoe. It is one of the director’s best works.

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What’s good for man isn’t good for God!

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The Last Temptation of Christ Movie Review

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I absolutely loved this movie and it is in my opinion Scorsese’s most underrated work. Again this is one of those spiritual films where being an atheist such as myself helps and surely I loved it, but I can understand why people of faith would object to it. It does change too many of the story parts and it doesn’t follow the Gospels faithfully.

But it is its own thing, its glorious own thing. It wonderfully explores the temptations of a religious person and in my opinion Jesus here is not just Jesus, but he can be any spiritual person and thus I think the film should be relatable to all of them. We see doubt and depression, but most importantly lust plays a big part here and that struggle within his being was so well explored and it gives the movie immense strength.

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The Last Temptation of Christ Movie Review

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That is why The Last Temptation of Christ is a true spiritual film unlike Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ which is too literal and straightforward. This film is wonderfully artistic and ambiguous at times and I always felt its sense of spirituality which is not easy to accomplish but is expected from a deeply religious person such as Martin Scorsese (‘Silence’ is another great religious film of his). It is both emotionally and thematically deep and sophisticated and of course I loved that ending. It was out there and bold, but different and unique and the titular last temptation only strengthened and deepened an already deep and moving film.

This Jesus is excellent owing in no small part to Willem Dafoe’s terrific performance. He truly shines in this role and almost becomes Jesus. Judas is a great character, but I am not a fan of Harvey Keitel and another actor would have done a better job. Barbara Hershey is so good as Mary Magdalene and her performance truly elevated the role. The problem with this movie is that it sounds too American, but that is the only flaw in an otherwise strong and realistic period piece.

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The Last Temptation of Christ Movie Review

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The Last Temptation of Christ is superbly directed by Scorsese and it is one of his best directed and most elegant works. The same goes for the editing and pacing as the film is surprisingly engaging for such a long running time. It is also very well filmed and I liked its fantastical scenes which featured solid effects work. And the technical highlight has to be the score. Wow, Peter Gabriel’s work is terrific here. Surely, the more timely musical pieces helped bring a sense of realism to the film, but the more contemporary cues were also great as they elevated the more emotional and beautiful scenes even more.

So well acted, wonderfully scored and being emotionally and thematically deep and spiritual, The Last Temptation of Christ is one of the best religious films ever made and one of Scorsese’s finest films. The ending is out there, but very interesting, temptation is so well explored, this version of Jesus is phenomenal and there are a lot of scenes here that are unforgettable. The movie is also very engaging which is commendable given its long running time. A hugely underrated film.

My Rating – 4.5

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Just Dogs (1932)

Just Dogs ReviewJust Dogs Man Review

Just Dogs is a 1932 Silly Symphony animated short film by Disney. It is one of the most underrated entries in the series.

A dog wants to impress Pluto by bringing him a big bone, but a bunch of other dogs want the bone too and he manages to give them all fleas and thus successfully give the bone to Pluto. That last scene was simply hilarious and one of the best gags and endings in the series in my opinion.

The animation still needs some work and the score is somewhat repetitive, but the designs of the dogs are better than usual for this period and actually stupendous. There are a bunch of different dog races featured here and the attention to detail in their look, behavior and barking was fantastic and it surely is a great film for dog lovers such as myself. Pluto is excellent in his first role and watching him calm down and start to care for the little dog was charming.

Just Dogs is surely one of the most underrated, great Silly Symphonies with great looking and sounding dogs and a hilarious ending.

My Rating – 4.3

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The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review

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The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review

The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 fantasy comedy film directed by George Miller and starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cher and Susan Sarandon. It is a solid, funny flick.

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Who are you?

Just your average, horny little devil

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The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review

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It is about a devil who comes to taunt three single women. It is an original film I have to say as I have never seen anything quite like it. It is mostly a comedy with strong fantastical elements, but at its core it is supposed to make you laugh and it did make me laugh a couple of times as its humor is quite strong. Most of the lines spoken by Jack’s character and his behavior and seduction scenes were hilarious.

Yes, this is one of the best performances that he has ever given and certainly his most underrated. All three of these actresses are very strong, but he is easily the standout actor here in my book. Pfeiffer is forgettable and I have never been her fan, but Susan Sarandon is very good and Cher was actually a good actress around this period in time which is crazy. And Veronica Cartwright was overrated and over-the-top here.

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The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review

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I wasn’t so crazy about their characters. Daryl was awesome and the mix of devilish and seductive with flamboyant and eccentric definitely led to a very authentic presence. But the women are not the greatest. They easily fail the Bechdel Test as they never talk about anything other than men and I didn’t mind it much as it is a comedy and that led to many funny scenes, but it was troublesome because the movie somehow presented itself as a feminist picture when in reality it is exactly the opposite.

The Witches of Eastwick is very well directed and it is crazy that this was George Miller’s work as it doesn’t resemble him at all. But he did a nice job with this crazy material. The film is well shot and the special effects are typical 80s effects, but far from terrible.

I loved the first half of the movie as it was sinister in tone and filled with hilarious scene after scene. Except the beginning which was somewhat dull, the whole first half was stellar and very good. However, the movie falls apart after that tennis match between the foursome as the fantasy elements came too late in the game and the battle wasn’t the greatest.

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The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review

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But it mostly fell apart as it was too slow in its pace and it featured way too many music scenes. Those scenes ruined it for me as they significantly slowed the progress of the film and its storyline. It was a wasted potential as the film could have been much better, but ended up being just solid.

The Witches of Eastwick features a crazy, original storyline, many funny scenes, a great, underrated comedic performance from Jack Nicholson and the first half is terrific, but the second half is slow in its pace and much inferior in plot, the movie is somewhat sexist and it never succeeded as a fantasy as much as it did as a comedy flick.

My Rating – 3.5

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Buddy the Gee Man (1935)

Buddy the Gee Man ReviewBuddy the Gee Man Review

Buddy the Gee Man is a 1935 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is the final Buddy entry in the series.

It is basically a parody of the movie of the same name and that means that we get a gangster plot which is solidly executed, but nothing to write home about. Buddy again sounds and looks different and is forgettable, but the animation quality is much better than usual and the score is solid.

It is just a weak parody and nothing else meaning that even the gags are lacking and not only storytelling. There is not a single scene here that is even remotely memorable. Yes, this is the last ever appearance of Buddy and he did not go on a high note and when is all said and done, Bosko is a much better character in my book. From now on, Beans is going to become our main Looney Tunes star for a while and then Porky Pig. I am looking forward to them both.

Buddy the Gee Man is forgettable and uninspired leading to a weak final entry for Buddy.

My Rating – 3.3

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From the Manger to the Cross (1912)

From the Manger to the Cross Movie Review

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From the Manger to the Cross Movie Review

Telling the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his crucifixion, From the Manger to the Cross is a 1912 drama film directed by Sidney Olcott and it is one of the most popular movies of its time.

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And the earth did quake

and the rocks rent

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From the Manger to the Cross Movie Review

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This is a very problematic film, I found it to be very annoying and extremely troublesome. I wouldn’t call it mediocre, but it is also not good. The filmmakers chose to tell literally the whole story of Jesus and that I find to be such a bad approach and also execution thanks to many reasons. First, this is probably the most iconic historical figure of all time so you have to be careful. Second, the running time is literally a little over an hour which is, suffice to say, too short for such a fascinating and important story. And lastly, the execution is absolutely terrible because the movie is filled with endless intertitles, there are way too many of them ruining the flow of the picture for sure. And it is so by-the-numbers and boring, you could literally read this in a book. They show you everything that happened here in the most ordinary, standard and bland way possible. The energy was much needed in the execution along with the better script.

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From the Manger to the Cross Movie Review

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The technical aspects are solid frankly. The editing is awful thanks to those interrupting intertitles, but the cinematography as well as the imagery present are mostly good. The acting is also solid as is the directing. But it all went into this unfortunate production for nothing. There is nothing iconic or authentic or memorable about this film which has to be the biggest reason why it is largely forgotten today. It could have been a great film had it had a good approach and a more energetic execution, but it failed to bring this material to life leading to a failure of a movie.

With way too many intertitles, troublesome pacing, way too short running time and awful approach and execution which are bland and very by the numbers, From the Manger to the Cross has some good technical aspects, but it is not remembered today for all the good reasons because it fails to bring its subject matter to life and fails to bring energy and sophistication into the project. It is a very problematic film which is definitely not good and a huge disappointment.

My Rating – 3.5

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Paddington (2014)

Paddington Movie Review

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Paddington Movie Review

Paddington is a 2014 British family film directed by Paul King and, although the trailers weren’t promising, it proved to be quite a good film and even magnificent in its own right.

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This family needed that wee bear every bit

as much as he needed you. There. Said my piece

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Paddington Movie Review

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The first thing I noticed about this film is how old-fashioned and traditional it is. It reminded me of all those feel-good family films of the nineties that I grew up with. And the story is, although quite predictable and familiar in that fashion, nevertheless extremely entertaining and engaging from start to finish.

The technical aspects in this movie are absolutely terrific and they definitely help elevate the film to the next level. The direction is surprisingly good, but the art direction and production design is simply astonishing. The Muppets meets Wes Anderson – that’s what this film has been called by some. I honestly think that might be true, but it has to be more of the former, because I absolutely hate Wes Anderson’s films , they are just not for me, so that connection definitely seemed odd to me. But the evident attention to detail that went into this production is amazing to behold and all those wonderful details help the film feel like such a well crafted and rarely well thought-out children’s film.

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Paddington Movie Review

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The next big thing that is certainly a huge plus for this movie is its humor. Wow, never would I expect something like this. The humor is so charming, endearing and filled with so many goofy moments and great lines that can really make you laugh. What of course makes it so good is the fact that this movie can be enjoyed by people of all ages and that is due to the inclusion of various kinds of humor that range from goofy slapstick to British dry humor to pop-culture references. Add to that some excellent messages and wonderful characters and you’ve got a beautiful distraction for the whole family.

Speaking of the characters, the character development here is dealt with surprisingly well. The protagonist is simply endearing, the whole Brown family is interesting and the villain is somewhat funny. But the relationship between Paddington and the father is what drives the film and makes it so human with all the nuances in his character. The acting is also pretty good, not fantastic, but fine nevertheless and serves the purpose.

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Paddington Movie Review

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The pacing and editing are also quite good, but the action is overwhelming and while I know that today’s audiences like that, I dislike too much action and this is the same problem I’ve had with the Toy Story trilogy in that the story, characters and everything is so good, but there is not nearly enough quiet, character-driven or emotional moments to compensate for all that overwhelming action. But that, along with familiar storyline, is the only big flaw I found in this film. Everything else is unexpectedly phenomenal and charming.

All in all, Paddington is a proof that a family film can still be done if it is made with proper care, right amount of humor with all of its kinds, effervescent characters and charming tone and details. It is one of the biggest surprises of 2014 and one of the year’s best films for children.

My Rating – 4

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Life Itself (2014)

Life Itself Movie Review

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Life Itself Movie Review

Life Itself is a 2014 documentary film directed by Steve James and it tells the story of one of the most famous, probably the most famous, film critic of all time Roger Ebert.

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All I require of a religion is that it be tolerant

of those who do not agree with it

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Life Itself Movie Review

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This film is so masterfully well crafted and directed and that is evident throughout the whole movie, right from the beginning. It combines the personal life of Roger Ebert with his work along with his relationships and friendship with Gene Siskel. Speaking of Gene, that is the aspect I liked most in the whole movie, their troubled relationship. When it started, it was quite troubled and they honestly did not get along well which was somewhat evident in they work together. But, it became very beautiful and sad when Gene died and when Ebert talked about him when you see how much of a friend he was to him and how much he cared for him. That was the film’s most beautiful moment in my humble opinion.

Although there is less of the criticism parts in this film, those are also terrific. Every movie they chose was excellent and every point others and himself made really made you think. There are some really thought-provoking lines and thoughts here about the filmmaking and movie reviews. The interviews are also great and there is just enough amount of them in the film along with pictures and footage which really makes you realize how perfectly edited the movie is.

I honestly had a couple of problems with the documentary, two to be exact. First is that there is not enough footage, pictures or talk about his earlier career and life. And second is that the movie can jump too many times from time to time, from his early reviewing days to his illness days. But those two are the only flaws I found in this otherwise remarkable picture.

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Life Itself Movie Review

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Life Itself is, along with being very insightful and definitely engaging, also very emotional and even heartbreaking sometimes. The later scenes when his illness progressed are definitely hard to watch, but also inspirational when you see how strong and full of life he was as a person, even in the darkest hours. His relationship with his wife and the interviews with her are truly beautiful and extremely sad as well. It is all so heartwarming and sad without ever going to maudlin territory.

In the end, Life Itself is a truly magnificent piece of filmmaking, a movie that captures so many aspects of Ebert’s life and really makes you understand and care for him with a wide variety of interviews, footage, thought-provoking points, emotional as well as intriguing and even funny moments. It is very well crafted and directed, wonderfully made all around, involving from beginning to end and it is, without a doubt, one of the very best documentaries of 2014.

My Rating – 4.5

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 monster film starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson among others. It is a pretty solid, entertaining blockbuster.

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This planet doesn’t belong to us.

Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind.

I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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Its story is actually quite solid which I did not expect. It is a remake of the 1933 original, but the time period is changed to 1973 and it is obviously influenced in style by various Vietnam War movies. It can of course never be compared to the classic original, but I never expected it would come close and it is in the end pretty solid and fun in its own right so it is successful in my opinion.

It is fun because it is so adventurous. The plot is typical, but at least present and well executed. I loved the twist with John C. Reilly’s character and I absolutely loved his entire story, so well done and fascinating, not to mention moving. I now have to see 2014’s ‘Godzilla’ because this MonsterVerse piqued my interest to be honest. That is because its end-credits sequence is really well done and intriguing, but the movie stands on its own and isn’t too connected to other things to come which is why this is definitely the first successful movie universe to come after the MCU, at least for now.

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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What I didn’t like about Kong: Skull Island is of course the character development which is so incredibly weak that it hurt the movie so much. I don’t know what is the point of having all these great actors, and surely this ensemble cast is amazing, if you’re not going to utilize on them properly. Only Reilly’s character is well developed and I really liked him with all of the others being so weak.

It is disappointing to see that Brie Larson did not get a better role after her unforgettable performance in ‘Room’. Her character here is very disappointing and forgettable. Jackson’s character is somewhat better, but still a far cry from his other roles. Tom Hiddleston did not get much to do as well and John Goodman only got one good scene. As I said, the characterization is so weak that it was really troublesome to me personally.

That is also because Kong: Skull Island is just way too frenetic in pace and it didn’t have enough time for either of its characters because the storyline is too ambitious and it wanted to check a lot of the boxes and introduce a lot of the creatures. Certainly that made the film very exciting and hugely entertaining, but rushed and the running time should have been longer for sure.

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Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

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I really liked the use of score as the famous songs from the early 70s were very utilized into the whole picture. The film is very well made technically and I absolutely adored its cinematography. I loved the special effects work here, certainly one of the year’s best. Kong himself looked excellent, I loved his fight with Skullcrawler whose role I did not understand as much, but the fight was great and I loved his final reigning scene. All of the creatures look magnificent and are fascinating here, but also have soul and are superbly used in action scenes. The effects here are the kind of effects I love – light and colorful and pleasing to the eye.

Even though it is way too frenetic in its pace and thus the characterization is mediocre and I did not get why they assembled this great ensemble cast if they were not going to utilize them properly, Kong: Skull Island is so incredibly entertaining to watch that it ultimately succeeds as a solid remake. I loved its adventurous tone, the action was great, the creatures were fascinating, the end-credits scene was intriguing and the film looks fantastic owing to amazing special effects.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Merry Old Soul (1935)

The Merry Old Soul ReviewThe Merry Old Soul Review

The Merry Old Soul is a 1935 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a weak, problematic entry.

I don’t know what they were thinking with this one. Admittedly, it does have very good animation and it is well scored and certainly never boring to watch, but I did not understand its plot at all. The king has a bunch of babies and takes care of them. Are they his babies or someone else’s? What is about that cry-filled ending?

The film was influenced too much by Disney’s Silly Symphonies of similar type, but it’s much inferior to them. It doesn’t have a clear plot nor goal. This is the point in time where Warner Bros. was clearly in a rut as is evidenced by these successive weaker entries. Thankfully, that is all about to change pretty soon with the arrival of Tex Avery, the end to Buddy and the start to regular Porky Pig entries.

The Merry Old Soul is well made, but so problematic and incomprehensible in terms of the plotting.

My Rating – 3.2

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Frozen Fever ReviewFrozen Fever Review

After over a year, the long awaited sequel to the smash hit Frozen has finally arrived and I have to say that it is a major disappointment.

The story is awfully slight and I know that they couldn’t do much in 7 minutes, but this is too slight regardless. The birthday idea is interesting and it has a couple of endearing sequences, especially the ending which is wonderfully warm and Disney earned that scene with great character development and troubled history between the two sisters.

But everything else fell apart, especially the music. The new song is so mediocre that it is definitely not worth it to learn and listen to the lyrics which are also subpar. And it doesn’t help the fact that the song is interrupted multiple times.

As for the characters, Kristoff is there barely, but the brief moment with Hans is hilarious and definitely the highlight here. Olaf is probably the best character here which is a shame because he wasn’t that good in the first film. His jokes were adequate to his persona and should prove amusing to children. Anna lacks her spunk here which is a huge disappointment, but Elsa is great. She is really caring for her sister, warm and compassionate and it is quite charming to watch her endlessly try to organize her sister’s birthday party despite her evident cold.

The animation is still great as well as the character design. The new characters Snowgies are just there for the charm and cutesy factor, but they are well thought out, if repetitive. And the ending with Olaf putting them all in a palace and naming them all is again a proof that he is the finest character here and a highlight which is weird and unexpected. Elsa’s new magic powers are also touched upon and it definitely opens it up for a feature sequel along with the Hans sequence.

Frozen Fever is definitely more meant for children to enjoy and it is simply fun to see all of those charming characters again on the big screen, but it is still some slight stuff with mediocre singing parts and not enough standout scenes. But it still has its heartwarming moments as well as fine jokes and it is all around a solid, if disappointing film.

My Rating – 3

 

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