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All reviews - Movies (8) - TV Shows (3)

Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978) review

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 5 June 2011 06:05 (A review of Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978))

I really didn't find the title or the premise of Koko, a Talking Gorilla to be very intriguing going into it. But after seeing Barbet Schroeder's haunting General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait several years ago, I was wanting to see something similar from him again. The subject matter is virtually the same as the previous documentary but this time a gorilla is the subject, a six-year old named Koko. Throughout the film she is paired with Penny Patterson, a graduate student in psychology and she constantly works at teaching Koko proper behaviour, various words and sign language. This may not sound like spectacular subject matter but Koko seems to have intelligence not seen in other apes and she is able to literally have two-way verbal communication with Penny. Of course Koko can't actually talk back but she can respond with sign language or actions to all of or most of Penny's commands and phrases, which makes it so fascinating to watch. And she seems to possess a self-awareness I don't think I have ever seen in another animal. She can tell that she is looking at herself in a mirror and she can even recognize herself on television. She also wears clothing, plays with dolls and can remember and recall previous experiences. There is even a moment in the film where Koko had just been glancing at a book and puts it down, then she goes back to it to find a particular page because it showed her favourite colour. She also sometimes behaves in the same mischievous manner a young child would, which understandably would seem to indicate at what level her intelligence is working at. By the end of the film it is argued that Koko is becoming too "humanized" for her own good and she thus would deem other gorillas to be inferior. But if communication can be established with another species, what could be wrong with that? It's almost as if she is bridging a gap that our two species started on tens of thousands of years ago, a gap that seems very small when watching her.

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You Don't Know Jack review

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 5 June 2011 05:28 (A review of You Don't Know Jack)

Al Pacino can seemingly do it all. From playing hard-nosed gangsters or dedicated cops to his Shakespeare adaptations, he now very convincingly plays Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who took it upon himself to aid some 130 suffering people in ending their own lives. It is an HBO television production directed by Barry Levinson but it could easily have been a theatrical film. The film starts out with his first patient, a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which he helps end her life out of his van in the woods due to inconvenient circumstances. There are several other incurable patients who are shown ending their lives and are all quite effective. (And to his credit there are other patients who are shown that Kevorkian denied assistance because he felt that their situations were not dire enough to die for.) One assisted suicide in particular which was quite distressing to watch involves a military veteran who is forced to go through a humiliating process Kevorkian had to use in order to save on the poisonous gas which he needed to use for other patients since it was denied to him. Throughout the film the argument is made about human rights and how even at this period in time we are denied the right to choose in how and when we die. If we are stricken with a debilitating and incurable disease we are essentially forced to endure its suffering until we are literally left all but brain dead and a loved one comes along and "pulls the plug". Dr. Kevorkian argues, why not let these people make the decision for themselves and end their own suffering? I myself do agree with various aspects of this moral choice, but to end your life when it may be possible to find a cure or if your illness can go into some kind of remission, I tend to have a problem with that. But I have never been in the situation that these people were faced with so I can't fully answer that question. But the film goes to show that Kevorkian did have a purpose behind what he was doing, whether it was good or bad or right or wrong. Also as a side note, I ended up watching this movie the night before Dr. Kevorkian died which was eerie enough, but after reading more about him upon his death it only demonstrated how spot-on the story, the characters and Pacino's portrayal was. Even Kevorkian's love of Bach and how it inspired him. So this definitely came out as an above average television production.

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The Brave One review

Posted : 9 years, 7 months ago on 10 March 2011 07:43 (A review of The Brave One)

The Brave One starts out promising and is thrilling for most of the way as Jodie Foster's character exacts revenge, due to police inaction, on the thugs who killed her fiancรฉ. But the ending just becomes preposterous and thus makes the film a disappointment. I expected more from director Neil Jordan.

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Inception review

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 24 February 2011 10:55 (A review of Inception)

Watching Inception I was endlessly intrigued by the plot and the idea of implanting or stealing thoughts through dreams. With the introduction of a new character, Christopher Nolan cleverly explains this idea in a way we can easily understand. Although as it went on I began to tire of the constant revelations by Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and after so much going on and introducing so many plot points, you begin to lose sight of why these characters are engaging in this "Inception" in the first place. By the end it almost seems to be a moot point. And I thought Ellen Page was woefully miscast, she just doesn't seem to be on par with any of the other main actors. And without spoiling it, the ending just seems like an insult to the audience after spending more than 140 minutes of our time.

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True Grit review

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 19 February 2011 07:34 (A review of True Grit)

True Grit, a surprising choice for the Coen brothers who are among the most original filmmakers of our time. This was supposedly a closer adaptation of Charles Portis' book and not a remake of the 1969 version starring John Wayne yet it is virtually the same movie, almost shot for shot. Only the ending differs from the original and is slightly extended and Hailee Steinfeld is more effective as Mattie Ross than Kim Darby was in the original. What I think they did improve on from the original is the dialogue which is probably closer to the period and the book. But making this version so similar to the original just might prove (and I hope I'm wrong) that even the Coen brothers are starting to run out of ideas as is the rest of Hollywood while we continue to be bombarded by remakes, re-imaginings and unnecessary sequels.

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The Ghost Writer

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 12 February 2011 04:19 (A review of The Ghost Writer)

The Ghost Writer directed by Roman Polanski starts out with the apparent suicide of a writer who was writing the autobiographical memoirs for a former British Prime Minister, played effectively by Pierce Brosnan. Right away with an indication from the tone of the score we know it probably wasn't a suicide and that the main character is going to spend a good part of the movie trying to figure out what happened to him. That main character is played by Ewan McGregor and he is hired to replace the dead writer to also "ghost" a book for the now troubled politician. I don't want to give too much away but it does build quite a lot of suspense as it goes along as our main character finds out more about what really happened and why. There is also a remarkably clever use of technology (encroaching into so many mainstream movies now as it is) to move the story along. Much more clever than when it was used in The Departed which in that film seemed intrusive and gimmicky. There is also an incredible extended shot of a note being passed around that reminded me of the best of Hitchcock or De Palma. Also, near the end something is revealed and Polanski doesn't dumb it down by showing flashback images of the movie to reveal to us the truth about what has just happened. I've seen that in so many movies before, like the audience isn't smart enough to figure it out. An excellent film and my pick for the best film of 2010.

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Born to Win review

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 6 January 2011 04:11 (A review of Born to Win)

I admit that the only reason I sought this film out is because I'm trying to see all of Robert De Niro's early movies. Of the ones I've seen this one may be the best, it was better than I expected giving its limited stature, availability and horribly deteriorated picture. It's about a small-time hood played by George Segal who is being set up by police (one of whom happens to be De Niro in a small role) to take down a high profile mob criminal. There are a few eye-opening sequences including a chase in a parking garage and one showing the outcome of taking bogus drugs. The only disappointment would have to be how it ends. Segal's character probably wants to go straight but ultimately doesn't really learn anything from the life of crime he was living. Not a disappointment but worth a look.

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I'm Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust review

Posted : 9 years, 11 months ago on 27 November 2010 09:04 (A review of I'm Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust)

This short documentary tells the stories of some of the younger people who lived and died during the Holocaust through their diaries, also pointing out that Anne Frank was not the only person to personally document the hardships that the Jews faced. Although compelling at times, and most documentaries on the Holocaust are, this is an odd choice of subject for an MTV production. Unfortunately that being the case the people responsible seemingly try to turn it into a music video with music from Moby and the occasional fancy graphic. If their aim was to appeal to younger viewers then I really don't think it was achieved with this film. A much better documentary on this subject would have to be Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000).

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Journey to the Center of the Earth review

Posted : 9 years, 11 months ago on 22 November 2010 10:59 (A review of Journey to the Center of the Earth)

I wrote this review in 1999 on IMDb and I thought I would add it here.

I've seen many, many movies in my time. Many were very good, and many were very bad. Then there was "Journey to the Center of the Earth". Of all the films I've seen in my 21ยฝ years of existence, I've chosen "Journey..." as the worst that I have ever seen. Okay so it was a TV movie. But still, a mess of a picture like this shouldn't be allowed to waste people's time like it did. It aired 6 years ago (on NBC) and it still lingers in my mind of how distasteful and laughably silly it was. Poor F. Murray Abraham. He went from winning an Oscar to landing a brief supporting role here. Also, I am currently trying to get "Journey..." on the IMDb "bottom 100 movies" list. Please, if you could help, vote for this film, even if you haven't seen it, and give it the biggest 1 you've ever given in your life! Please??

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Typical For These Times

Posted : 10 years, 12 months ago on 29 October 2009 06:32 (A review of Terminator Salvation)

I've long been a fan of the Terminator films so I went into this one pretty excited for the next chapter in the John Connor saga. What I got (and should have expected) was a movie with little regard for story and only concerned with non-stop action and shooting, but JUST enough so that it secures the PG-13 rating to get in all the 14-17 year old boys who undoubtedly lined up outside the theatres excited about the older movies their big brothers told them about. I guess that's why producers got an action and music video director instead of a real director who would focus more on story than on how many T-800 bodies pile up on screen. At least he had the marketing know-how to stick in that old Guns N' Roses song from the second movie for no apparent reason. He also inserted Arnold Schwarzenegger's face onto a body to remind us, or try to convince, us that this really is a Terminator movie. Not a total disappointment but it doesn't rank among the first two Terminator films or maybe not even the third.

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