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217 reviews in total 
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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Very big disappointment, 20 August 2014

Let me say right off I'm a huge fan of dystopian sci-fi films, especially Blade Runner & Brazil & Code 46. In addition, Host & Mother, directed previously by Joon Bong-Ho, are two of my favorite films of recent years. I was really looking forward seeing this movie, even going so far as to paying full price for the Amazon Prime Instant Video.

That said, how to start cataloging the letdowns. First, the story, which is as linear as the train it takes place on. Some people claim the movie is a parable which I'd be more than ready to embrace if it were even remotely true, but in truth the story line is a simplistic, almost juvenile treatise on the evils of the powerful vs. the weak, predicable as to both plot & characters. None of the characters really stand out as much more than 2-dimensional cartoon characters, which might have worked if the film were animated, but the acting, especially among English- speaking ones, is stilted & forced. After viewing Host (2 of whose leads appear in this, again as father & daughter) & Mother, as well as other Asian films, I've pretty much concluded that English-speaking actors, particularly American ones, do not fare well in over-the-top films like this, apparently being unable to convey the powerful facial expressions of their emotionally less-restrained Asian counterparts & compensating with overly theatrical readings of their lines. John Hurt is the exception: he's lucky to have that finely engraved face, but drones on wearily as he has in most films since Alien. Tilda Swinton is funny but looks & acts like she's in a totally different movie, maybe Monty Python knockoff.

One major character named Gilliam & several vaguely retro futuristic sets suggest this is a minor homage to Terry Gilliam's Brazil. But in that case maybe it should have been called Bengladesh.

15 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
2 episodes in, this show's already worse than the last episodes of Lost, 9 July 2014

Lots has been written about Leftovers' creator Lindelof worrying that his work would always be compared to the awful ending episodes of Lost. Well, this show's already far worse than the last episodes of Lost. For starters, the whole concept is very tired & has been done far better, as already mentioned in these comments (The 4400 for starters). Nevertheless the idea might have worked if it were handled with some originality, but that's the whole problem: it's not, it's just a collection of old S-F tropes (disappearing people, crazy cult, feral pets, ordinary citizens under severe duress) w/o substance.

The acting isn't bad, given what the actors have to work with, but the plot is overly choppy & predictable. It's as though this mess came out of the same kitchen as Under The Dome.


Her (2013)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Sentimental pseudo-techno-tripe, 21 May 2014

Spike Jonze/Adam Spiegel sets up easy-to-knock-down situations, taking pot shots at generic targets which have no bulls-eyes at their center, just great big easy-to-hit circles. Yes, it's true people are having others write their intimate missives - so what, they were doing it in the 19th century - what's new? Yes, people seem to spend more time talking into machines than with each other. Wasn't that the complaint about A.G. Bell's new contraption? Isn't that "other people" they're talking to on the other end?

In the end SJ/AS is a techno-sentamentalist, decrying the medium because he can't find the message. This is a paean for the generation that looooooves to Kvetch. Any 3 minutes of Silicon Valley is orders of magnitude superior to this uninspired pulp.

To live a life w/o hope or humor, creativity or imagination is deeply disturbing, but to depict such a life in a film which is itself (deliberately or not) devoid of hope, humor, creativity or imagination is inexcusable. And to applaud such a work as worthy of esteem & major awards is to pander to the worst aspects of our Hollywood-spawned culture's self-referential obsession.

16 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Everyone's a loser, especially the viewer..., 12 October 2013

I mean the show, not the so-called story. I haven't seen the original Brit version of this series so I can't compare the 2 but just knowing the original was far shorter puts me in favor of that one.

I can't think of any aspect of this LWS worth praising except the cinematography and how could you go wrong with ruined Detroit? But the casting was atrocious & the acting (where there was any) consequently all over the map. The white hoods looked like college students, the black hoods looked like central casting.

Mark Strong seemed to be so wrapped up in holding in his Brit inflections that everything else got withheld as well. I found myself longing for some Victor Mature or Robert Mitchum grimacing & hamming. Those guys could have played Agnew in their sleep. Lennie James, OTOH, seemed to be auditioning for a modern version of The Tempest. Interesting but distracting.

What else? The plot was choppy & predictable & highly dissatisfying. Odd that AMC should have run this after Breaking Bad. Maybe they should have called it Breaking Worse.

47 out of 81 people found the following review useful:
Spader is the ONLY good thing about this mess...., 24 September 2013

First off, everyone picked up on the Silence of the Lambs knockoff in the relationship between Red & Keen, so that's a pretty pathetic start. Then our introduction to the star, FBI agent Keen popping out of bed displaying her lovely buns barely clad in a bikini (very lovely but really threw off the tension & rhythm - what little there was - built up so far).

Then the "plot" took off like a BOOH. Lots of choppy editing, screaming Feds, blood blood & more blood. But no logic or common sense. Games about what side Spader's character is on but not enough substance or character development for anything to make much sense or to care about. To say nothing of the cartoon acting.

Spader does reptilian very well & I'm glad he's working but for the sake of his sanity & his soul I think the man should hie himself to the UK where they appreciate talent like his & find himself a decent series.

One measly star.

Great series on radio & TV, 5 August 2013

I remember this series both on radio & TV as very superior fare full of existentialist romantic atmosphere. Morton Fine & David Friedkin were responsible for a lot of excellent radio programs including Broadway is My Beat (with lieutenant Danny Clover) & I Spy. Other shows the 2 created or worked on on TV included The Pawnbroker (which won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama in 1965), The Nativity, The Greek Tycoon, I Spy, The Next Man, The Most Deadly Game,& several television Westerns including The Rifleman, The Big Valley, Maverick.

A friend in the business once told me many years ago that Bold Venture scripts were all written in blank verse. I don't know if he was pulling my leg but they sure sounded that way.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant though somewhat extreme..., 23 June 2013

Which it was intended to be, of course. When Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 it generated much the same reactions as HC2 for many or the same reasons: Gruesome plot & graphic shots of people being tortured, dismembered & eaten alive. As I recall, the makers of that film had to get their props fresh from an abattoir to make things look real. And boy, did it work.

I see HC2 as the 21st century's NOTLD. True, there's some updating here: the use of staple guns, crowbars & duct tape as opposed to axes & plain old zombie brute strength. And more focus on the pain we inflict (or dream of inflicting, even if metaphorically) on one another as opposed to the (hopeless?) dream of escape from terror.

I think HC2 (paired with HC1 before it) is a real work of art: Brilliantly executed technically, a wonderful adjustment of perspective from the previous film & hugely adept at peeling back the social politesse to reveal what lurks underneath the surface for many of us.

I'm not saying we're all Martin, but if we don't try to understand Martin for what he is & why he is what he is, then more of us will be Martn's victims.

Can't wait to see HC3.

Hard Candy (2005)
Sophomoric Drivel, 7 June 2013

It's interesting how many people review this film as though it were a documentary of an actual occurrence. As has been stated in other reviews, the setup is fairly arbitrary, no actual evidence is ever given about the guy's actual guilt & it's all basically about setting him up as a straw man for his eventual demolition. Pretty simple-minded pedantic stuff.

As a film, it's pathetic. Stagy action, stiff acting, very dull uninsightful writing. The principals seem like 2 fairly competent students in an acting class going through an exercise, one that should have been critiqued & hugely improved before committing to film. But then what did the actors have to work with? Not much. A bland generic early-30s "pedophile" who "preys" on a twisted teen played by a cute slightly under-age looking 18 year old?

If anything this is a piece of "hard candy" for closet pedophiles who get off on sadistic teenies ala Kick-Ass.

19 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Truly awful, 2 April 2013

Where to start? First of all, I'm a fan of the history of the big department stores & the roles they've played in the evolution of cities & lives of urban shoppers, so I was really looking forward to this series.

How disappointing then to be confronted with this overabundance of clichéd writing & shallow acting.

No effort has been made to capture the pace & mood of the period. The performers without exception deliver cartoony interpretations of the denizens of London in the early 1900s. Jeremy Piven was terrific as an abrasive Hollywood agent in HBO's Entourage, but I don't believe Harry Selfridge was Ari Gold.

The characters & plot turns are Dickens Lite, from snippy shop girls, evil supervisors, to the decadent (too young & terribly acted) Lady Mae.

The whole presentation comes off like a wannabe musical comedy (doomed to close in New Haven if not sooner). There's even a music hall number that is looks to be, based on the costumes & dance number, out of a bad 1930s movie. This is supposed to be the first decade of the 20th century!

There's a great story behind Selfridge's but I'm afraid it's not to be found in this travesty.

29 out of 58 people found the following review useful:
Getting old fast, 2 July 2012

Sadly, this show is getting old very fast. Do they really think speed-talking makes this show more hip? Half the characters in Newsroom sound like outtakes from The Social Network. Rapid-fire banter does not a His Girl Friday make. More like Social Network meets Broadcast News.

What's with the network soap subplots of office gossip on which boss cheated on whom. Who cares in this day & age? Only the chemistry between Will & Charlie (Sam Waterston) works at this point. When either or both characters are not on-screen, the dialog sounds like tweet rehashes of NY Times front page clichés (student debt, high rent housing for 20-somethings) better handled in Girls. Maggie's goofy self-righteous quirkiness competes with Mac's whininess for irritation points.

Come on, what topics could be more tedious for a prime-time HBO show than how a network newsroom covers the BP spill (last year's news) or Will & Mac's (surrogate mom & dad of the newsroom crew) sexual history? Jokes (comedy situations) dependent on educated adults in a high-tech media organization incapable of correctly typing & sending e-mails? Excuse me?

Too bad Julia Louis-Dreyfus was committed to Veep. She might have given this series the humor & nuance it sorely lacks. Plus her chemistry with Jeff Daniels could have been terrific.

ADDENDUM - 7/17/2012

I have had it with this inexcusably derivative series. It's funny to read the reviews claiming how fresh this show is because it deals with "contemporary" issues when the "issues" are actually 2+ years old which in TV news years is about 30-something.

The cutesy stuff between 50+ sad-sack Daniels & whiny (& strangely humorless) Mortimer only gets more grating in each episode. But the worst part is the dialog tossed about by the newsroom crew, standard & very tired baggage of adolescent misunderstandings, unrequited love & goofy non-sequiturs.

The humor on this show sounds & feels like out-takes from early 1960s Beach party movies.

If Bud Lite is your favorite drink, you'll love this show. Personally, I'm tired of the dumbing down.

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