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‘The Good Shepherd’ (2006)

With the length and pedigree of Robert DeNiro’s ‘ The Good Shepherd ‘ (167 minutes), the film seems to be a self-conscious effort to create a Godfather-like epic for the WASP-Intelligence set. With Matt Damon in the lead as a fictionalized version of CIA co-founder James Jesus Angleton , it would have, more properly been executed as a tightly edited 2-hour feature and saved the ‘Director’s Cut’ extravaganza for DVD.

The structure of the thing, with its multiple flashbacks and interleaved storylines – personal and Global Politik – by ‘ Munich ‘ writer Eric Roth – does the audience no favors, as the first hour cuts back and forth between Washington D.C., Berlin, London, WWII, the Bay of Pigs and some African insurgency some-when, some where.

So, the CIA was founded 50 years ago by a bunch of Yalie, Skull-and-Crossbones, antisemitic, racist, white guys (and – I couldn’t help but reflect, only 6 years to decimate, by one of their ‘own’). [Read more →]

“Bionic Woman” (2007)

Anne says :

Michelle Ryan is Jaimie Summers If you are of a certain age (over 30) and of a certain persuasion (geeky), you probably remember The Bionic Woman the softer-core peddling of American values designed to capture the female 15 and under audience that was being lost by The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976. A quick recap to freshen the memory for those of you with out the auto-geek switch.

The show’s central conceit wasn’t the bionic replacement of limbs and organs – the melding of human tissue with computer technology in an age when the average computer filled a 9′x12′ room – nor was it the idea that a government agency could be fielding operatives who were using experimental technology to achieve slightly shady mission objectives. After all, we’d just come off the Watergate Hearings so the idea that our government was doing something we didn’t know about seemed not only plausible but damn likely. [Read more →]

‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978)

‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1978) I recently tried – and failed – to endear two of my younger friends to Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Don Seigel’s 1956 classic. I personally think the problem was demi-generational as both of the young men I tried to introduce the film to were 5 years my junior and therefore entirely unconscious during the Watergate hearings, not to mention the slow cavalcade of Vietnam casualties being announced on the evening news in the early ’70′s and the protests that those deaths inspired.

When I was an undergraduate at Brown University in the ’80′s, I remember Michael Silverman lecturing to us about Kaufman’s remake of this oh-so-wooden ’50′s Cold War science-fiction/horror canard. [Read more →]

‘United 93′ (2006)

United 93 We’re watching ‘ United 93 ‘ tonight, despite my long refusal to add a dime to the coffers that contribute to our perpetual climate of fear. This is an interesting film because it also seems to be a bit of a metaphor for the hijacking of of the West that’s taken place because of 9-11.

Did I mention that it was on cable?

Just as the hijackers took control of those planes that fateful day, the fearmongers have taken cintrol of our collective destiny – suddenly, the work of entire nations and economies has become the ‘War on Terra’, 24/7. Children in America are going to bed hungry, uneducated and without health insurance, but the War on Terra rages on. [Read more →]

‘Ripley Under Ground’ (2005)

ripley_under_ground.jpg Filmed back in 2004, but left on the shelf for 3 years, ‘ Ripley Under Ground ‘ a/k/a ‘ White On White ‘ has been released on DVD in Europe.

Barry Pepper plays Ripley as a rock-star – long hair, a close shave and charisma to burn – and the tone of the thing is far lighter than any of the previous incarnations – ‘ Purple Noon ‘ ,’ The American Friend ‘, ‘ The Talented Mr. Ripley ‘, ‘ Ripley’s Game ‘, etc.

Some early reviewers have referred to it as a ‘comedy’, but it’s not, really. Unfortunately, the lighter tone actually hurts the film a bit, because this outing paints Mr. Ripley as less of a predator and sociopath than any of the Ripley films that have preceeded it. [Read more →]

’13 Tzameti’ (2005)

‘13 Tzameti’(2005) The first rule of ’13 Tzameti’ is that you do not talk about ’13 Tzameti’.

The second rule is that you do not watch any previews for ’13 Tzameti’.

The third rule of ’13 Tzameti’ is that you should not read any reviews of ’13 Tzameti’ before sitting down to see the film.

The 4th rule of ’13 Tzameti’ is that you ought to just sit down and watch the film without any preconceptions or expectations, even though I’ve just done that. [Read more →]

‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ (2005)

‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ (2005) You’re Gonna Miss Me ‘ is a 2005 biopic on musician Roger ‘Roky’ Erickson (b. 1947) ,the former front-man of the groundbreaking, late ’60′s psychedelic band, The 13th Floor Elevators (1965-69). However, the way in which the filmmakers depict him, one would assume that Erikson’s creative life is behind him, which both untrue and unfortunate.

Documentarian Keven McAllester does a satisfying enough job of tracking Erikson’s youth and early music career, before arresting his musical inquiry to dive into a disquisition on the singer’s mental illness and the 17 years he floated in and out of Texas’ Mental Health Care system and the care of friends and family.

Apparently, Erikson discovered LSD in the early ’70′s and it triggered some nascent schizophrenia that Erikson had been walking around with his entire life. At this point – the 20 or 30 minute mark – the film becomes a bit too much like Terry Zwigoff’s ‘ Crumb ‘ (1994) and the filmmakers take too much of an interest in Erikson’s schizophrenia, twenty years of institutionalization and his eccentric family, specifically his Mother Evelyn and his brother, Sumner. And this is where the documentary seems to go wrong. [Read more →]

“Afterlife” (2005)

Not just another ‘Medium’ clone.

So, I was in NYC over New Years’ and I was pimping my friend’s VOD Digital cable and I came across this show, ‘ Afterlife ‘ and thought I’d give it a shot. Apparently it was broadcast in the UK starting in 2005 and has gotten play on Australia’s Channel 9 before comig to BBC America.

Knowing little the show’s premise and having missed the first episode (it had expired off of the system) I gave the show a look. Very interesting. Though the show’s got many of the trappings of Patricia Arquette’s co-evolved show (both premiered in 2005) Ms. Sharpe’s drama is played very differently… [Read more →]

‘Man From Earth’ (2007)

This film was an entirely happy surprise! ‘ Man From Earth ‘ came out as an extremely limited release at a few festivals and a sneak preview in San Francisco. It is a science fiction film by its premise, but unlike every science-fiction film of the past 70 years, there are no action sequences and no special effects.

For those that don’t know, Jerome Bixby’s claim to fame are the teleplays he wrote for the original Star Trek back in the ’60′s and a couple that he wrote for Rod Serling’s original iteration of The Twilight Zone and a little story he wrote called “It’s a Good Life”. [Read more →]

“Dirty Sexy Money” (2007)

ABC’s ‘ Dirty Sexy Money ‘ is ‘ The Royal Tenenbaums ‘ meets ‘ Six Feet Under ‘ by way of ‘ Californication ‘, but with a cast 2x as large as any of its predecessors.

Money is a bright, new turn for Peter Krause, who was about to be eclipsed by his former co-star, Michael C. Hal and his triumph in Showtime’s ‘Dexter’. Money is the kind of comedy that wouldn’t have made it to network television as little as 4 years ago –there are ‘too many’ characters, the show is ‘too high concept’ and and the only audience it could entertain is the well-educated and firmly middle- to upper-class people familiar with the idea of middle-aged trust fund babies. [Read more →]