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158 reviews in total 
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Lilting (2014)
Bad title. Good film., 15 February 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I confess to being impressed with Ben Whishaw as an actor. His ability to take on a character fully at his age bodes well for a brilliant career. His role as a grieving gay lover caught between cultures while navigating his loss is delivered with realistic vulnerability.

Pei-Pei Cheng manages to portray a character who treads between cultures with unabashed identity. She knows herself. This is her rock despite language barriers and cultural disconnects. The interplay between her and Whishaw's character is subtle and develops throughout the film in a very true way. Watching this can be painful and frustrating, thereby letting the viewer participate in the agony of estrangement that can come with unfinished business when someone dies suddenly.

This isn't a thriller or sentimental mush. It is not really a gay film or an ethnic film. It is a film about human experience. It requires some work on the viewer's part and is well worth the effort.

Copenhagen (2014)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Not so wonderful Copenhagen., 10 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Narcissistic American throws tantrums across Europe, alienates best friend, abuses any stranger he meets, steals drinks from café tables, smokes cigarettes, gives cigarettes and liquor to a minor, litters pristine Copenhagen canal, steals bicycle, flirts with having sex with a 14 year old girl, beats up boyfriend of girl's mother. The character travels an arc from point A to point A minus. If I were a dysfunctional and spoiled 14 year old American boy, I'd probably love this movie. Unfortunately, I'm a mature adult and watched it on Netflix because I thought is would be a good Danish piece. It is not "Hamlet" but something is definitely rotten in this Denmark. We can be sure if the 14 year old was a boy this would not be on Netflix.

Propaganda of political correctness., 3 January 2015

I never watched this show in its first run. That is an honest disclosure. My review, based on watching it on Netflix without commercials and in serial succession, will probably reflect a different experience from the weekly viewers'. Fair is fair.

The cast and its ensemble rapport are stunning and addictive. The roles are beautifully crafted by the actors and writers. The hopping pace, Mamet-like, is riveting and intelligent. That's the good stuff.

The problem I have with the show is its relentlessly pro-religious and superficially Liberal bias. It scans like propaganda much of the time. The political correctness of almost every episode is not only unrealistic. It borders on lock-step conformist bullying, wrapped in a subtle package of quips, winks and nods.

It does not surprise me that the Republicans rose to power throughout this show's popularity. Perhaps this is the subconscious balance of the popular mind when faced with dictated complacency in the face of a Centrist Liberal propaganda. Then there's the other thing: Martin Sheen is so much more George Bush than Al Gore in style and appearance. Who knows what effect that also had on the 2000 and 2004 elections?

The boredom of insanity., 26 December 2014

My high respect for Juliette Binoche's technique and talent has been bolstered by watching her performance as Camille Claudel in this film. The film itself presents a stunning vision of mental illness and its treatment in the age prior to advanced psychotropic drugs. I am a registered nurse and worked for ten years with very symptomatic psychiatric patients in hospital. Ms. Binoche's subtle performance captures the painful boredom of confinement, both physical and mental. Confined mentally by her anxiety and paranoia, Camille is sealed off from satisfying human contact with the sane, while being tortured by the attentions and needs of those more disabled than herself. The well-meant attempts of nuns to engage her with those whom she fears come across as nearly sadistic. This subtlety marks the film as exceptional in my opinion. The appearance of the religiously fanatic and equally disturbed brother, Paul Claudel, who functions as her jailer, adds a feminist sensitivity to the film. Camille's powerlessness is largely feminine in her sexist world. The interplay between religion and confinement, physical and mental, is also brought to light through Paul Claudel's obsessive grandiosity as he converses with his god. Who are sane or insane? The depressed nuns? The grinning abbot? The pompously righteous brother? Camille hoping for release? No answers are given, in typically French fashion. But this film is well worth the time and reflection.

"Dicte" (2012)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Denser Danes, 20 December 2014

I know I look to UK, Europe and Scandinavia for classy dramas. Crime dramas are my favorite genre. Costume dramas a close second. So, I ate up the Swedish "Wallander". I ate up the Swedish girl with the tattoo series. I like a darker Brit series, like "Luther".

"Dicte" must be for a different audience entirely. I guess even the Danes have the soap opera crowd who just want feel-good TV drama. This series really disappointed me. The writing is downright vapid in some cases. The dialog is curt and lacking any depth. It is like high school cafeteria fare. The characters are flat and undeveloped, almost laughable.

I feel like the actors did their best with what they were handed. There is the frequent glimmer of talented acting, despite the lousy story lines. However, that isn't enough for me to return to this brand in the future.

"Revenge" (2011)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Look under the cheese., 20 November 2014

Netflix has led me to a trough of cheesy fluff from which I never thought I'd ever snack. Truth is: I have binged on this series. I have to say the production values have a lot to do with it. I watched it on a big HDTV. I also watched it without commercials. It would be unbearable with commercial breaks on a small screen.

From Victoria Grayson's progressive face work to the overblown art direction to the hunks galore...this fluff is visually riveting on a big screen. Under the superficial cheesiness, there is an ageless class-struggle story. Granted, the 'impoverished' folks in this show are much better off than the legions of homeless who grace most American cities.

The acting is pretty good. The plots are often filled with plausibility holes. The vicious predatory attitudes of the rich is accurately portrayed, surprisingly well for U.S. major network TV. The lack of educated sophistication among these predators is also accurately portrayed. The mega-rich struggling with the working classes will never escape my interest. Good to see it put out there to a general audience and greeted with popularity.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Ingenious and moving., 28 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am not a fan of most American gay films. In fact, many remind me of 1980s California high school films, like "Breakfast Club". Gay cable networks certainly haven't helped to refine the quality of gay cinema in the U.S.. After seeing the French "Stranger by the Lake", for example, I was annoyed that the U.S., a leader in LGBTQ politics, still has a largely puerile gay cinema catalog.

"Getting Go, The Go Doc Project" is a big step in the right direction. The artistry of this film and its excellent acting by Tanner Cohen and Matthew Camp is seductive. It presents as a documentary and is totally believable as such. In fact, I felt voyeuristic in the sex scenes because they were so convincingly human and genuine.

The interactions between Doc and Go transported me back 45 years to my own experiences with first infatuation and sexual exploration in friendship. The mattress discussions between Doc and Go about present-day gay male issues were more candid and pertinent than many pages of published gay observers, and in fewer words. The serial public kissing scenes around Manhattan, despite mimicking Warhol, struck me as passionate, intensely erotic and profoundly political, all at once.

I didn't expect to become engrossed in Doc's and Go's world, but I did. Partly because I was revisiting a real urban gay world in which I once lived myself. Since my life hasn't been one of a suburban marriage with children, I found this tremendously moving and encouraging. This movie asserts that there is still a gay male culture aside from heterosexual-lite.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
How to mess up a great project., 29 February 2012

I am a fan of sword and loincloth movies from way back...the late 1950s to be precise. Obvious reason is that I am of the gay persuasion. Who can resist all those beefy men sweating and leering at each other? Anyway, I stray. I was a fan of HBO's "Rome". Amazing actors, top notch names, great writing, great art direction, wit, sex....the whole bit. So, I embraced the two previous seasons of "Spartacus". Great actors, great scripts, great sex, great art direction. I think the basic story line is also appealing. The underdogs against the bosses.

When I watched the prequel second season (Gods of the Arena) I was very pleased to see the same quality as the first season (Blood and Sand). I mourned the passing of Andy Whitfield, but frankly I was totally taken with Dustin Clare as Gannicus. He was brash and even funny...not to mention seductively sexy.

This third installment is a bitter disappointment. Liam MacIntyre is a real letdown as Spartacus. He broods well, but lacks fire and intelligence. Frankly, he looks like he climbed out of an office cubicle, not the 1st century BCE. And the lack of a solid villain, like John Hannah, makes Lucy Lawless' Lucretia much less effective. Craig Parker's Glaber is wooden and one-dimensional. Viva Bianca is truly evil as Ilythia, but her character isn't very well developed in the writing.

It's probably all about the writing. Just not up to the standards of the previous seasons. The effects are the usual, but this show illustrates that blood splatters are best left to "Dexter" as a plot element rather than a central theme. I will watch another episode perhaps, but my interest is seriously waning.

Hereafter (2010)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Old man grasping?, 26 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I suppose if I were a famous man who had lived the good life of celebrity for decades I wouldn't want to believe that it would just end with death. But this movie makes a death without a memory of having seen it or its ilk quite appealing for me.

I will say I have worked closely with a verified psychic, examined by the Edgar Caycey researchers and English researchers. I have also been a hospice nurse, who witnessed the final moments of over one thousand people. And, I feel this film does a disservice to the whole matter of death and dying by being exploitative and smarmy.

The tsunami CGI recreation was spectacular. The only reason I gave the film a 5.

The Matt Damon theme was probably closest to reality with some tangents of silliness, like the cooking-class bimbo. Was that an attempt to bring in romance? Or was that to dispel the possible perception that sensitive psychics must be gay? My psychic was indeed gay and proud of it.

The identical twin piece was compelling to a point. However, all it was missing was a dog dying as well. Milking kids to win over an audience always rings cheap with me.

The glamorous French piece was the sexy bit, I guess. The tsunami was sexy in a horrible way. Our French heroine was a resurrected Shirley MacLaine. If you're too young to get that, Google her.

And what was the setting? The female-male dynamics of the film were right out of the 1960s. The absence of technology in the communication between the characters was notable. I felt like Doris Day may be channeled any moment. Then I remembered she's still alive.

Then all the characters come together at the end. Oh, boy. How tired is this? What committee cut and pasted this plot line together? I am sorely disappointed in Mr. Eastwood, who has approached brilliance at times in his directing career. Nobody is perfect, but this is really, really bad.

14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Hamlet and Kegs, 17 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read a review of this moronic show that compared it to Hamlet. Well, friends, Charming, CA ain't Denmark but there's something' rotten in it: This series. What amazing talent, though. Ron Perlman, who has done European art films. Charlie Hunnam, who has done Dickens for BBC. Kate Sagal, who was the iconic wise-ass mama of "Married With Children". Kim Coates who has played countless psychos to perfection. On and on. What the hell are all these great people doing in this turkey? The pay scale must have been tremendous. My major objection is an ethical one: This series portrays violence and crime as admirable pursuits with dignity. This is not only false to the core, but it is at the root of its poor writing and poor acting by some great actors. I watched several streamed episodes of the first season on Netflix out of pure boredom. I can't even begin to imagine who sponsored this trash when it had commercials. Harley Davidson? Male jock-itch cream? Dominos Pizza? My rating of 5 is too generous, but it is a pity vote for the good actors who felt needy enough to submit to this bad writing.

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