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How We Got to Now (2014)
I found this show unwatchable
I watched the episode on Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, inventor of the phonautograph. Fascinating topic.
I barely made it to the end. Between the host Steven Johnson's patronizing condescension as if his audience were three year olds, and the dreadfully slow pace at which information leaked out between all his cutesy stammers and stutters, not to mention the pauses to make room for yet another unneeded production gimmick, I found this program simply unbearable.
This was a wonderfully interesting subject. The first recordings of the human voice! Amazing.
But in some bizarre attempt to dumb it down to a 1st grade intellect, all the fascination was stripped away leaving a sickly sweet Leave it to Beaver meets Disney patina.
And most incredibly, the real gem of the show, the actual digitization of the original "phonoautographs" into renderable audio files, garnered a whopping 15 seconds of screen time.
One wonders if, perhaps, the producers were less enamored with personality and more on the actual subject matter, we may have been treated to a better treatment of it.
Even my 9 yr old found it slow and condescending. And when she realized that no further recording would be forthcoming, her exact words, unprovoked or influenced by me, were, "Aaaah. Bummer."
Cut Bank (2014)
Entertaining to the end
I just watched this and found it very enjoyable. The script was compelling, well performed and well directed. The performances were top notch and I will not be surprised at all to see Oscar activity for Bruce Dern. His was a ravishing performance of a ravishing character. Fun for all.
The story was tight and well told with sufficient lack of predictability to keep me fully engaged - a rarity these days. Matt Shakman, who I was unfamiliar with till this, is a director I will watch for.
Overall, this was a fun, intriguing movie and would recommended it to anyone.
A quick sidenote about the performance of Liam Hemsworth. It looks like we have some disgruntled people who have a vendetta.
I had never even heard of Liam Hemsworth till watching this film. But his performance was flawless.
No Offence (2015)
If we can't entertain you with a good story and interesting, well played characters, we'll just try and shock you to death and call it entertainment. That is the trend television has followed for many years now. And never has it been more obvious than with 'No Offence'. But one wonders where this will lead. The Car Crash channel, where we can sit and watch mangled bodies being removed from mangled automobiles. Riveting. The problem with shocktainment is the effect wears off. We become desensitized. And the only way to remedy that is to up the dose until eventually you're all watching the Torture Channel brought to you live from Qatar. No? Well we don't need to imagine the future to hate this crap. It's low enough and depraved enough to hate it as it is.
I'm Sorry, But This Was just a Horrible Story
Just horrible. An audience can endure a lot of hardship if there's a seed of hope. And that's really this movie's downfall. It's hopeless. Then it gets even more hopeless. And just when you couldn't think it could be any more hopeless, it gets worse - five more times.
It's one thing to create conflict for your characters. But this movie is the equivalent of making a movie about a baseball team, and they lose, fail, die off, lose some more, fail some more, continue losing, and then finally, at the end, for reasons unfathomable, they suddenly win.
The bottom line is it was just a downer. A long, tedious, depressing downer. For three hours. And then, in the last 10 minutes of the film, everything's all suddenly better.
All of that talent, amazing production, amazing performance, just to tell this horrible, depressing story.
As always, I study the faces of people in the theaters, and on the way. There's wasn't a 9 out of 10 face in sight. Everyone I saw looked as tired and fatigued as I must have.
And yet we have a IMDb rating of 9.1? Sorry. I don't buy it.
The Equalizer (2014)
I Can't Trust a Denzel Washington Movie Anymore
Sad. This was barely a notch above a Steven Seagal movie. But worse, it had Denzel Washington in it. That hurt me.
The movie was as cliché' and stupid as most action movies. This one seemed slightly unique in its bland of the revenge porn template with a slasher gore thing. Only the slasher was the protagonist.
Seeing Washington put a screwdriver into the back of someone's skull, then pull the trigger, was truly the low point of his career. But it was also another low point in mainstream American film.
The moral inversion is almost complete. We have serial killers as heroes. Why not a madman with power tools.
This kind of violence is supposed to be funny. The chainsaw massacre, so over the top, you laugh out loud. But what Antoine Fuqua has done with this movie is attached psychopathic bloodletting with the cause of justice. And this isn't just bloodletting. Mel Gibson perfected that years ago.
This is psychopathic bloodletting. By another American psychopathic hero.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
This Movie Is An Embarrassment - For the Creators, and the People Who Recommended It
What an utterly sad and offensive legacy for Tom Clancy. In Hollywood, truly, nothing is sacred.
Instead of the thought provoking, truth to power story we came to expect from a Jack Ryan movie, this brings us more of Hollywood's waronterrah porn.
It was interesting a bit back in 2002 maybe. Let it go. As propaganda, you've pretty much saturated your market. For the rest of us, you've actually made expensive CGI FX boring.
The thing that made Jack Ryan more interesting than a Steven Seagal character was he was thoughtful, intelligent, and not an action figure. And Clancy raised some fascinating dilemmas with American might and power.
What is this? Garbage.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
This Movie Is Like a Lame TV Commercial About My Life
I'm sorry, but the first time I tried to watch this movie 20 years ago, I thought, "What high school is this supposed to be? It resembles my high school sort of. But it's all wrong.
The other night, I decided to watch it again, and I can confirm definitely, this movie is trying to be about my high school, during my high school days. It's clear that that's what it's trying to be.
Unfortunately, it doesn't even come close. The clothes are wrong. The hair is wrong. The cars are wrong.
And the worst is, the characters and the situations are wrong. It's as though all my friends in high school were replaced by fashion model robot people, doing and saying things no one would ever do or say.
Or maybe it's like someone in 1976 decided to make a lame fruit punch commercial for stoner high school kids. Mmmm Mmmm.
One test is does a movie about a certain era actually succeed in taking you back to that era. And for me, that is the ultimate failure of this movie. As I watched it, it actually pushed that era away, and tried to replace it with something false, canned and plastic.
I often find it annoying when people review a movie based on a book. I think a movie should stand on its own, and I don't usually care whether it sticks to the plot or not. I only ask is the movie good, in and of itself.
Maybe this movie is good in and of itself and I'm not giving it a fair viewing. But in this case, the "book" is my life. And I just hate seeing it shrink wrapped in plastic.
Imagine the Parody
As all the characters, especially lead character DCI Tom Mathias, stand around and stare at nothing in particular in the most intense way possible, they fail to detect, solve, or generally comprehend anything in their immediate surroundings. They are utterly dumb as cattle, but for their super moody and intense expressions. Kind of like the Zoolander of detective drama.
Can you picture the parody? Well, that's how I see the real thing. The only thing that would top it off is a laugh track.
Not to say there is not merit to some aspects of this production. The cinematography was quite beautiful. The score was good. The cast was quite good when the cast was allowed to drop the Zoolander thing.
But once you strip away all the pseudo-nordic-noir crap, which has pretty much played by the way, it's just another poorly written, cookie cutter detective drama with an unmemorable detective who can't detect.
Is it really that hard to have a smart detective, solve the puzzle in a clever way? Really?
This series (show) started off great. The combination of a compelling character with excellent mystery writing made for one of the best shows of the genre in years. It actually turned Morese into a wizard, Sherlock character, except without the smug, sociopath thing. Much more likable.
Also missing from the first season was the usual, formulaic, and extremely boring 'delve into the personal life of the detective' bit. Am I the only one who feels dread every time it cuts to the detective's home? With the usual clichés of the troubled spouse, or the family that suffers the hard work of being a cop, or some other tired tripe that's been played over and over again in British crime drama. It takes a gifted writer to make that storyline as interesting as a murder mystery. And the first few episodes of Endeavour found the perfect balance.
It's not that the show eliminated the personal side. They just kept it interesting and managed to maintain a bit of mystery to the Morse character. I mean, really, the only mystery you want solved, is the murder. Even the most interesting detective's personal life can hardly compete with the kind of personal turmoil that could lead to a murder.
But alas, that was then. This is now. It's as though they replaced the entire writing staff with the people from New Tricks. And the next thing we know, a great mystery is turned into a parody of itself - another ridiculous soap opera where anything can happen because the writer's just pulling it out of his arse.
This is starting to look like season 2 and 3 of Forbrydelsen, where a great show devolved into the ridiculous.
Also, episode 4 of season 2 betrayed its audience by splitting the story arc over two seasons. We would have to watch season 3's 1st episode to continue the story started in season 2, which I will not do. I've lost interest.
As far as I know, this has never happened before in the original series or Lewis. Maybe a slight tease, but not a "to be continued" type thing. It's a cheap trick and a betrayal to us fans who specifically watch these shows because they DO NOT have a multi-episodic story arc.
So congratulations Russell. You (and who? WPP?) actually took a gem, and polished into a... Well, you get the point.
Endeavour: Nocturne (2014)
Russell Lewis and Shaun Evans have created the perfect detective. Brilliant, thoughtful, and extremely dangerous to unsuspecting villains, the Endeavour character is the most interesting of any British detective I've seen yet. Combined with consistently smart and compelling scripts, this show is the best of the genre.
As any writer knows, a good story requires conflict for the protagonist. A challenge to overcome. Unfortunately, most writers of modern detective fiction achieve this conflict by making their detectives dimwitted and weak. This is usually combined with formulaic, dreadful diversions into troubled pasts, or unhappy spouses, and other such lifeless cutouts and clichés.
I'm afraid it takes a brilliant mind to write a brilliant detective. And apparently, those are in short supply. So enjoy it while it lasts. Before long it will all be shock crime with "3D Autopsy: The Series."