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Peaky Blinders (2013)
I'll just get my buzzkill out of the way before praising this series...I am a feminist at heart and I get annoyed when the women seem only to serve as love interests and naked yum yum time for the males who dominate the stories. The only woman I've truly been able to admire is Polly (Helen McCrory) but even she seemed to be lost in generic maternal yawnishness for most of series 2. It was only during that moment we all wanted to come, the "Don't @!#% with the Peaky Blinders" incident in the s2 finale, that I said, "Well...there she is...good to5 have her back." Polly is nothing less than a badass b@#$t, the true leader of the Peaky Blinders, the one who makes the final decisions. Please, no more mama crap?!!
I've never been able to latch onto Grace (Annabelle Wallis) because from the start, she presented as a "half-hearted" operative, assigned to infiltrate the gang. She seemed wimpy, and of course, fell too easily in love. What were her motives for becoming a spy in the first place, aside from that sketchy IRA bit I mean? She was even more disappointing in S2. I may change my mind...is she the one person who makes Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) think about other people? Is it she who makes him think about how grabbing up all the goodies you can during your limited days on this miserable ball of mud isn't necessarily the key to contentment? If she is indeed this special of a person, I will like her more in the future. In the meantime, May could have been a really great flipside to Grace, but she's just another love interest. Nothing really special happening with her.
Crime, gangster and mobster stories are not my thing. I think these kinds of men are the dregs of society who will wipe their shoes on anyone in their path to get the things they think they want. Tommy, Arthur (a highly amusing Paul Anderson), John and the other Blinders are damaged men. They came home from brutalities we can only imagine. Their life experiences have left them...disallusioned to say the very least. Now they want what they can take. They hate the law because they feel they served their country and something is owed to them. I get it. But using people, lying to people, stomping all over people on your way to the top? We all know that on their deathbeds they will be no happier, no more fulfilled than they are now. It never ceases to amaze me. People just don't stop. Each side has to have the last word. It is war, and war is hell.
Sounds like I hate this show? Not at all. My ability to cheer on Polly while knowing she's a ruthless bitch is what entertainment is all about. Sure they're the dregs of society. Sure they're loathsome, but they are, like it or not, our protags. I find it so much easier to love and identify with Polly and Tommy than with Sam Neill's scumbubble of an agent to the Crown. He's supposed to be the good guy, but he's really slimy. Kudos, Mr. Neill!!! Actors who love their craft can be so good in a role you end up hating their guts.
No I can't say I find it perfection, but it' a great series, riveting in all its repugnance, very beautifully acted and written. It just needs stronger females aside from the formidable Polly.
All Relative (2014)
Not your average romcom
This is a new film, and my review might be BRIMMING with CRUCIAL SPOILERS, so proceed at your own wish.
Wow...just got done watching this one on OnDemand and let me just clarify that there is no prejudice in me when I say this film goes far deeper than any recent romcom I've seen. The trailer is sweet and shows the film's comic side, but I'm so happy that when I saw the film in its entirety, it presented its very dramatic side. There's no slapstick or farce here. These are real people, real problems, and real behaviours that result in real conflicts.
The one thing that nagged me is that someone should have really pointed out to Grace (Sara Paxton) that the event that lead to all of the conflict and misunderstanding took place only hours after she met Harry (Jonathan Sadowski). She and Harry were not committed to anything solid. Though I never doubted that she genuinely liked Harry, it is pretty evident early on that Harry really, really REALLY likes Grace, and her admission that she had another party of interest hit him kind of hard. In genuine distress and loneliness, he does hook up with Maren (Connie Nielsen) the beautiful sexy older woman, but let's remember, he was single. Let's also remember he was still recovering from a broken engagement, in which he was cheated on no less.
There was never a moment in this weekend where Harry was sure Grace would become someone he could have a relationship with. He didn't cheat on anybody, and even Maren was talking nothing but casual sex and fun while they were spending time together. She lied by omission when he asked her if she was divorced.
Suddenly, once something real with Grace presented itself, Maren's casual attitude evaporated and she became all to commonly bitter and scorned. I felt that in the course of this film, Harry was unfairly and repeatedly punished,tortured and manipulated by Maren. In his words, he did nothing wrong. She had motives. Though Nielsen does an amazing job, it is very hard at times to like Maren and not see her as a passive-aggressive, vengeful bitch. If her husband Phil (David Aaron Baker) hurt her so (and of course he did...I never doubted for a minute that Maren is a very sad and hurt person) why not divorce him? Why not sit his ass down and tell him, "You do that to me again, and I'm out of here...no questions asked."
Instead, she is either testing whether she's still got "it" by sleeping with a lonely guy...or she's plain just punishing Phil from afar. If that wasn't enough to get my back up at her, she deals a harsh blow at both Harry and Grace by sending Grace a breakup text in Harry's name...because she wasn't going to let him tell Grace the truth, so that he could deal with the consequences, good or bad. She was selfish, and I discerned a desire to continue "punishing" both Harry for deciding to be with someone else, and Phil for an affair he had sometime back. It is only after everyone confesses to each other their sins as it were, that I began to believe Maren really wanted to atone for her own destructive deeds, and that she and Phil could somehow find the happiness they once knew.
Maren and Harry indeed DID NOTHING WRONG when they slept together. She had no idea Harry would end up dating her daughter. Harry had no idea Maren was Grace's mother, or that Maren was still married. I just found it sadly amazing that Harry spent most of the film punishing himself for something he shouldn't have been punishing himself for. I was very frustrated because that crucial tidbit, "Your mom and I slept together BEFORE we really had anything going on," seemed omitted. Grace was wounded, and it's hard for me to tell if she was just shocked at the fact that it's that small of a world, or if she truly thought Harry and Maren hooked up AFTER Grace and Harry began to date officially. If he had been established as Grace's boyfriend before meeting Maren, yes, I would agree with her smacking Harry in the face and shutting him out, but otherwise no.
Sorry this is so long...thought provoking movies do this to me...I love the movie, but it made me think about things...it really made me examine its characters, and even if my review sounds like I hated the film, the opposite is true. I love character studies most of all. It is a credit to JC Khoury's writing and direction, as well as the amazing cast bringing these four complicated all too humans to life. This is the first romcom in a long time that made me cry more than laugh, but I like it.
The Big Bang Theory (2007)
Root for the underdog!
WARNING: PROBABLY A LOT OF SPOILERS, ESPECIALLY ABOUT SEASON 7 !!!
I only got into this show on account of my Mom, uncle and brother, who kept saying, "This is such a funny show! Watch it!" It took them from '07 to '10 to get me to pay a little attention to it.
At first it seemed like the producers/writers/crew were trying to say to me, "Look how UNcool these geeks and nerds are around this gorgeous blonde babe." And that made me mad. Why another show making fun of smart people who aren't so good-looking or smooth, and who aren't so skilled at going to boring bars/clubs to pick up women or dressing in haute couture?
As I watched over the next few years, I began to realize I was wrong...either that or the writers' plan backfired. Who was cool? It certainly wasn't Penny (whose last name has never been divulged). Don't get me wrong. I love the character and Kaley Cuoco has done a wonderful job with the evolutionary process. She began as a bright eyed ingenue with perfect, bobbed blond hair. An angel of sorts. It's been great fun to watch her grow more and more cynical and troubled as the years pass and her career stays stale and dormant. By and by, you notice she has a bit of an issue with turning to alcohol whenever things go wrong or a major snafu occurs. In spite of her big plan, and as the years pass, she is still waitressing or barkeeping at the Cheesecake Factory, and to date has only done a Prep H commercial, The Diary of Anne Frank over a noisy bowling alley, and worst of all, 2 cheezy sci-fi schlocks about genetically molested killer apes.
No wonder she depends on (more than she will admit) and loves (she'll never say it aloud) her faithful entourage of science loving dorks: Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), an experimental laser physicist who has been head over heels for Penny since day one; Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) the scarily genius, yet oddly childlike theoretical physicist whose quirks and neuroses force everyone around him to watch their every move carefully so as not to offend/traumatize him; the painfully lonely and shy Rajesh Koothrapalli (Kunal Nayyar), a celebrated astrophysicist whose inability to relate to women in a sober state has him almost as close to alcoholism as Penny; Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), the tiny, over-confident, color-coordinated aerospace engineer whose lack of a PhD makes him the butt of Sheldon's jokes; Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) the fierce, petite microbiologist with the chipmunk voice; Neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik, brilliant!) the woman "chosen by science" to be Sheldon's mate, the frumpily dressed, limp- haired ultra-nerd who slowly becomes more and more delightful as she ingrains herself to the group; and Stuart Bloom (Kevin Sussman), the half-dead from depression owner of everyone's favorite comic book store.
Together, these "losers" daily navigate that big thing called life. Penny realizes she is most certainly not the "cool" one, and it is a great thing to hear a character who has had more sex than John Holmes say, "Sex is not what makes you grown up" to the virginal (not by choice) Amy. All of these people are extremely lovable. You may not understand all the physics jargon, but you understand they're human beings like you, and you root for them. For all their gifts, they are still confused and troubled and even broken. Leonard's mother (Christine Baranski) is a nightmare of a cold fish and has definitely left an imprint on her son; Howard's Dad disappeared when he was eleven and you'll get a look at the impact that made in an episode from season 7; Raj, again, is painfully lonely, the opposite of a person like myself who prefers solitude. He's had romance after romance fail on him. I was really hoping things would work with the weird little Lucy girl. Perhaps in the smart, somewhat kinky Emily, he will finally find happiness. Sheldon's Grandfather and father died when he was very young. In a very recent episode, a childhood idol of Sheldon's passes on, and it seems to trigger a sea change in him. As yet, he and Amy are still virgins. Leonard and Penny have finally decided to marry. So much change for a person who doesn't do well with even minor change. Sheldon finds himself at a crossroads by the finale of season 7.
Waiting for season 8.....
Young & Hungry (2014)
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS...YOU WERE WARNED!!!!
Emily Osment is a revelation and a delight as one of the newest faces of prime time comedy, taking on the role of Gabi Diamond, a Po-arse aspiring chef who applies to be the household cook for a self made dot- com millionaire named Josh Kaminski (one of my male harem members, Jonathan Sadowski), a naive and sweet-natured genius who believes he's found his soul mate in West Coast Socialite Caroline Huntington (Mallory Jensen). Against the protests of his longtime publicist and right hand helper Elliot Park (the one and only Rex Lee, who I'm so happy to see since they canned one of the other delightful comedies of recent years, SUBURGATORY), Josh "sort of" hires Gabi after she makes him an gooey- gooey lopsided grilled cheese, and then asks Gabi to please make him a fail safe proposal dinner so that he can make Caroline his wife.
Oh what food porn awaits! And this is AFTER Caroline abruptly tells Josh via phone that she wants to break it off for a while, that things are moving too fast. Translation: I'm a selfish gal...and I've met a guy...and I feel like having a 14 hour ff-a-thon rather than honor my previous plans to have dinner with you. Oblivious to the fact that she has torn Josh's heart out, Caroline makes merry with her temp fling while Gabi agonizes not only about the heartsick Josh, but about the possibility that since the proposal dinner is a bust, so is her job.Both Gabi and Josh live in that most beautiful of all cities, San Francisco, but Gabi lives on the less glitzy side.
Using her telepathic abilities to know what food will comfort Josh, she begins feeding him the sexiest mashed potatoes of all time...Sweet Jesus!!! Frankly, I can't blame either of them for what happens next. It would never have occurred if Caroline hadn't been the biggest flake since the Kellogg's Rooster. Josh was crying and Gabi was upset too. Suffice it to say, that a few too many delicious glasses of cham-pag-NE changed the course of the boss/chef relationship forever. Oh me, the curious perv has so many questions...what did they say to each other? Did they cry some more? Did they both confide that they were lonely and felt empty inside because they felt like people didn't love them for who they really are? My, my, my...this is what they mean by "less is more!"
Next day, Ms. Selfish appears at Josh's door, claiming she was wrong, that her psychologist tells her it's all about how her growing up a spoiled brat has made her crave conflict and challenges. From this moment on, you can see that Caroline treats Josh like an accessory rather than a human being. Would she have fallen for him, the sweetest tech nerd in Creation, if he didn't have the money he has? What draws him to her, and vice versa? The pilot was my favorite episode, followed by the episode guest starring Ashley Tisdale, and now, the fifth episode, in which Gabi attempts to jump start her dating life with a hot little number who lives a few floors down from Josh.
I love each and every character in the show. Yolanda: "I ain't clean-in' up after no horse!" and of course Gabi's roommate Sophia, who works at some bank or law firm. I splattered my screen with lemonade during this: "Yo, Gabi I need pizza...worked up an appetite...Babe...still waiting' on that pizza!"
Oh, and the FOOD! The hog within you will love the food as much as the hyena will love the laughs...those mashed taters, Chinese duck and catfish, salted caramel creme brulee, Scandanavian princess cakes, and holy moly...sriracha jalapeño poppers and Oreo-gasms (what they should be called, right?!)
Something new and wonderful to add to my fave of all time shows: That 70s Show, Big Bang, Suburgatory, Chasing Life and The Fosters. Please let YOUNG & HUNGRY stay with us for a long long time!!!!!!! It's a keeper!
My God this was awful!
Just horrible. Denzel has always been a "hit and miss" kinda guy IMO. I admire his acting ability, but this movie is just absurdly bad. I am not a prude, but gratuitous nudity in a movie never sits well with me. I usually enjoy Zemekis' movies too, but this is a festering turd of a disaster of a disaster flick. Denzel plays Whip, an airline pilot who does every drug on the street and guzzles the juice as well. Before the first five minutes, you lose all ability to sympathize or like the guy. And what's with the F word every other word? AGAIN, I AM NOT A PRUDE, but dialogue is destroyed by the overuse of profanity. This was why I didn't like PULP FICTION either.
The only remotely entertaining and riveting scenes are of course the malfunction of the stabilizer and the ensuing crash scene. After this, the movie descends further into caca and chaos, not sure which direction or genre to adopt...spiritual odyssey??? Comedy??? Mystery??? No...just a damn mess!
If you want something better, skip this atrocity and just watch the episode CUTTING CORNERS/FATAL ERROR of AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION, which I am told FLIGHT was inspired by.
No Happy Endings
Thanks to an episode of AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION, I was aware of this harrowing true story. I am not fluent in German, and the YouTube subtitles leave a lot to be desired, but I got the gist of the movie. I do not know why the names of key persons were changed, but the movie is well acted and wrenching, a story of shattered families and two shattered fathers, and the tragedy of trying to "pass the buck" in order to save face with the media. The saddest part is near the end, when it seems as though one of the 2 principal characters is just beginning to pick up the pieces of his life.
I had no problem with the inclusion of a kindly fireman/rescue-recovery person who befriends one of the devastated main characters. I am not sure if this character is fact based or not. But the ending with his son learning to fly in a small private plane seems a big hokey.
Mostly a great movie though.
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Gets a 3 for visuals and period costumery, but this movie is a bore!
I don't get it. Maybe because I never read the Ellroy novel on which this is based. All I know is, I expected a movie about the short life (excuse pun) of Betty Short (Mia Kirshner who is one of my fave actresses ever) and her grisley death in Hollywood. All we get is a boring overlong bloated mess about 2 troubled cops. Boring dialogue, even more boring boxing match, and you don't even see anything of the title character until 25 mins. into the film. In short, (again with the pun) the life of Betty Short is hardly given more than a few scenes, reducing her to not much more than victim, and the emphasis on the "seedy" side of Hollywood is predictably provided with disturbing glee by director DePalma. The 4 main principal characters were completely UNinteresting, and the acting is pretty wooden overall. Sorry to say that other than Kirshner's scenes, along with some cool musical stuff by k.d. lang, this movie was as lackluster as a butterknife left in the dirt. Blech!
That '80s Show (2002)
I'm sorry, this has nothing to lure you in and keep you watching.
I tried on at least 3 occasions to watch this series. I really thought and hoped it would delight me at least half as much as THAT 70s SHOW did. But this show failed before the first scene was over. Where the 70s Show instantly showed you delightful characters with amazing personality and chemistry, the 80s Show was so busy trying to convince you that you were now in the candy colored, superficial, electronic, wealth-obsessed Reagan era that all you were given was boring mannequins, not people. THAT 70s SHOW wasn't "self aware" of the era it was set in. They were just people, living their lives in their orange, brown, gold and olive green living room. It seemed that THAT 80s SHOW tried too hard to get that 80s "vibe" flowing during the crucial "bonding time" when we could have known the people that populated it. We had the oddly bland "Dad" trying to fit in with a bad 80s hairdo, a wacky sister who spent way too long dancing to a Pat Benetar video on MTV, a boring bisexual who unrealistically dresses in those brightly colored asymmetric outfits as though she wants to live in a nightclub 24/7, an extremely boring and uninteresting girl who sports an extreme mohawk but has absolutely no punk charisma, the yuppie "best friend", and of course the central protagonist male, who is nowhere near as interesting as Eric Forman was.
The first episode is a bizarre bore...Yuppie best friend wants to listen to self help cassettes, then the 2 guys decide to sing along with the Talking Heads. "Hey! Do you realize this show is set in the 80s yet?" Bisexual chick tries to hit on daffy sister. Mohawk girl clashes with Main Protag for unknown reasons. No chemistry. Nobody is connecting. Nothing is happening. I've heard that subsequent episodes are better, but I actually watched 3, and I still felt nothing. So disappointed. For a better 80s vibe, just watch the Season 4 opener to THAT 70s SHOW, where Eric accompanies an angel to see how his life would have turned out had he never kissed Donna after that Todd Rundgren concert.
That '70s Show (1998)
A wonderful, sweet show that fizzled near the end
When the show first began with seasons 1 thru 3, it was an amazingly effective mixture of innocence and decadence. The characters were discovering themselves and we were discovering them simultaneously. The innocence was amazing to behold. Many of them were sexually active, yet so unknowing of the much more difficult and complex terrain of falling in love and committing to one another.
Each character brought something unique to the table. Certain shows are really successful because instead of one character in the center of attention while everyone else is sort of "reactionary", each character, whether adult or teen, commands attention. Two of my favorite characters are Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), the caring but overly authoritarian father and the nervous-natured, peacemaking mother of Eric Forman (Topher Grace), a sweet, slightly built boy who is falling in love with longtime neighbor and friend Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), a tall, athletic, beautiful redhead who loves and appreciates Eric as much as he does her, especially his understanding of her embarrassment about her parents, two sexually adventurous sometimes- swingers, the hilarious Bob (Don Stark), and the dizzy but very loving Midge (Tanya Roberts).
As Eric and Donna shyly tiptoe into a romantic association, they spend much of their time in Eric's basement hanging out, watching TV (and frequently indulging in smoking weed) with their childhood friends Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson) an intelligent but rebellious boy who habitually wears sunglasses indoors and often discusses conspiracy theories; Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a beautiful petite brunette who is self-centered and bitchy and starts out as an unwanted "Yoko" in the group; Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Jackie's boyfriend, who is just as beautiful as she is, but much less snobby, and unfortunately, a little light in the brain; and Fez aka F.E.S. (the Foreign Exchange Student)whose birth name and country of origin remain unknown (I'm currently watching season 8 and I'm not sure if these 2 items will ever be divulged :). It is a delight whenever Red Forman calls the boy "Sabu" or "Haji". Like Archie Bunker, Red Forman is a bit on the close-minded side, but he is still very lovable :D
This show was at its finest during the first 4-5 seasons, with genuinely funny and nostalgic story lines and storytelling styles. Around seasons 5-7 it began to lose steam. Eric Forman goes thru a transformation from a nervous wreck living in fear of the wrath of Red to a lazy and unfunny smart-mouth. In truth, Eric always had a "porky" mouth, but it was in a hilarious way in the early days. Red's "foot in your ass" liners became more and more infrequent. Kitty went through a disappointing change from a delightful basketcase with that unforgettable giggle to a rather mean, judgmental woman, drinking more and more and calling Donna a whore after Eric ends their longtime relationship and Donna begins dating Randy (the character meant to replace both Eric and Kelso after Grace and Kutcher left in season 8). No offense to the actor who plays Randy, but with Grace and Kutcher gone, there is just nothing much to be fired up about, and Randy is just annoying. His delivery of the lines seems more like those actual cheesy, unfunny 70s shows.
I didn't hate ALL of the story lines from the later seasons: Hyde's discovery that he is biracial; Hyde's competetive half sister Angie, Kelso fathering a baby, Fez and Kelso trying to share an apartment, and Hyde's drunken marriage to a Las Vegas stripper were all pretty decent. Still, without Eric's centering presence and Kelso's hilarious goofiness, it's just tolerable. I also greatly missed the hilarity that Lisa Robin Kelly (RIP) brought to this mix as the promiscuous and devilishly funny Laurie Forman.
If they are doing a reunion show or movie, it will be interesting to see what has transpired in the early 80s :D
World Trade Center (2006)
A great and reverent Oliver Stone movie
Stone is known for political button pushing, but in WORLD TRADE CENTER, starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as two NY port authority policemen who are literally buried alive beneath the wreckage of the WTC collapses, the director tells the story without any digressions. It's simply the true life story of John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, as well as the story of a horrible day that assaulted America and then brought us together.
When the Twin Towers are hit by the hijacked planes, the brave men and women of the FDNY and the NYPD, along with the PA police, risk their lives to try to save thousands of innocent lives. When Trade Center 2 (the south tower) collapses, McLoughlin, Jimeno, and a fellow PA named Pezzulo (Jay Hernandez) survive, but soon they are buried by tons more debris when Tower One falls. While they struggle to stay conscious through the excruciating pain of their injuries, their loved ones back home anxiously await word from them.
Jimeno was buried about 15 hours, McLoughlin about 22. Most of the movie is centered on them as they talk to each other and keep each other alive. It is quite dark on screen for a lot of the film and that kind of affects how much I enjoyed it, even though it's probably realistically presented. They were practically entombed.
Luckily, you get to know the wives of these 2 men: Allison Jimeno (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is pregnant with their second child. Donna McLoughlin (Maria Bello) is wondering if she'll ever get a chance to try to be close to her husband the way they once were.
The film also showcases Michael Shannon as a dedicated Marine who decides to go to New York and help in the rescue operation that saved the lives of the 2 PA policemen.
I like this film because it has no political subtext. It is what it is. A story of the real heroes of 9/11.