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The Tall Guy (1989)
A little odd gem
One of the best kept secrets about me is that I am a complete JGJ (Jeff Goldblum Junkie): I could watch anything with him on.
So I can swear that first this is not one of his worst movies, and second it's absolutely not as bad as some of the reviews (and the movie's success) may suggest. True, the humour is not at everybody's grasp, the songs come up in the middle of nowhere and a few more flaws are patent; but at the same time the actors' performance are great (finally Emma Thompson is funny! "And she's naked too!" added my male friends; "Wow, Rowan Atkinson can speak", as most Italians would say; and Goldblum's distinctive oddness for once doesn't look out of place). The story is a simple, funny one about love, the satire of the theatre world is brilliant and that of the Health Service is funny but could be much ruder (but that was 1989!).
I know most of this movie by heart, and I can't stop watching it: every single time it manages to move me!
Gilmore Girls (2000)
Hey, I talk like that!
This show was recently launched in Italy with a title that translates back to "Mum as a friend", and I, being "that difficult daughter", I knew from the start I was going to hate it, knowing its sugariness would have gotten me diabetes.
Boy, was I wrong! The first thing that strikes on you is that, finally, hardly anyone is trying to be nice here: Michel the concierge, the crazy harp player, the counterculture coffee shop owner, but also the "genteel-old money" grandmother, who looks straight out of reality (at least my own). Then, this show is full of my favourite ingredient in life: sarcasm!!! My friends call me Daria, and I always complain about the lack of sarcasm on tv, apart from Roseanne, Daria and the butler from The Nanny: Gilmore Girls has become my daily sarcasm fix!
And also for the person who wrote "Nobody talks like that", at 27 I'm very much like Lorelai: 90% caffeine - 10% water and an attitude that makes most people go "Are you kidding?" and another few just run away (unfortunately I don't have Lauren Graham's eyes). I would love to be Rory though, and to have a mother like me, or like Lorelai (self-righteous? Me?).
Last (and perhaps not least) the nuclear family gets slashed in this movie, but I know a lot of households already slashed by the nuclear family concept, so this shows only portrays reality, but for once it's great!
Blue Heelers (1994)
Wow, it grows on you!
BH is broadcast in Italy by a second-class network that airs every episode three times a day (at breakfast, lunch and in the night) to make the most of it, and which recently made news because of the high ratings of their "Bonanza" repeats (go figure!!).
So, at first I wasn't surprised to find a series like this on the channel, because when you first look at it it looks poor, drab, dreary and totally 80's styled, like a bad remainder from the bargain bin.
At the same time I became totally addicted with "Murder Call", to the point of waking at 6AM during weekends just to watch it, and when it dawned on me it was the same production company I simply had to find out what was causing this gap.
After careful study, I have to say that there is no real "gap": yes, you can see more money being thrown in MC, but at the same time the series have such different settings that BH is definitely making a choice, and their choice is to be real. Yes, a lot happens in Mt.Thomas for such a small place, but you also see the policemen spending most of their days networking in the community, accompanying witnesses home and filing, and this is very real. The actors look ordinary, but this just adds to the greatness of BH, because would you believe a model serving as a PC in Mt.Thomas?
And you can see no one was hired for their looks, but for their talent instead: all the actors manage to deliver a lot, from the divertissement episodes (ie: The beauty pageant) to the more dramatic ones. Not to mention the Maggie-PJ chemistry, where their performances are perfect beyond belief.
The writing in this show is great, and the dialogues are as real as you can get. Another great point is that every few episodes there's a very "pervy" storyline, like the ones you can experience in Murder Call, and they are always a work of convoluted genius.
Need I say I became addicted to this show as well? Definitely worth a try!
One of the worst movies I saw this year
You have to be thankful for small favours, so I am thankful for having seen the original version of this movie, 'cos I'm sure an Italian dubbing would have accomplished the hard feat of making this movie worse. First, the lack of continuity is so big it jumps (and dances) in front of you: how come Best's accent is so strong at the beginning and almost gone near the end? how come he arrives in Manchester has a teenager and three years later looks fortyish? This movie lacks rhythm, it doesn't have a story and doesn't go anywhere. This movie lacks insight: we are told the life of a man who was good at football and who one day starts drinking, gambling and womanizing out of the blue. We await for an explanation of any kind, but to no avail. However, Best is portrayed as a "poor victim": a victim of what? Of the fact that someone gave him big money to run around a ball? Please!!! This movie lacks acting, so badly it hurts: only Ian Bannen delivers, but he has to put with lines from an alternative version of the "Symposium" that make him sound like a cheesy Socrates (the philosopher, not the footballer). A particular shame in this department must be bestowed upon females. I would not dare saying "female characters": Sophie Dahl is better than Patsy Kensit (go figure!); the latter would have found it easy to play this role, since she's been married to a lame imitator of Best's excesses (a Gallagher, in case you didn't know), but she can't even draw from personal experience. This movie lacks football, and it lacks it a great deal: if I knew nothing about this sport I would find the "coreographed scenes" ridiculous. Also, why re-enact famous matches only to film them with a 1960's-telly effect?
For this, and many more reasons, this movie lacks directing. It looks as if it's been directed by a large group of people who don't speak to each other, and it feels like a long bad tv commercial (what about that Irish choir?). Oh, and about the music, I haven't seen a single British movie that didn't feature "Come up and see me" by Steve Harley/Cockney Rebel: can some charity up there ship some new music to British Filmmakers? I don't want to go on forever, but the re-enacted scenes are another shame of this movie: you get actors filmed with a lousy filter and then pasted over an 80s (or 70s or 60s) background: it doesn't make sense, and it totally sucks. Like this whole movie.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988)
How low can you get?
Like many of the reviews of the current full-lenght movie point out, the original Scooby Doo was somehow very camp and contained some light, but funny, drug references, and had likeable characters.
In respect to this, this version is an absolute lemon and rip-off: the characters are the sort of 6-year-old neurotic kids you sadly see around these days (product of neurotic parents) but wouldn't want to go near.
In one particular episode they had to uncover a drug smuggler, and each time the word "drug" was pronounced, all character went "drugs... bleah!" in disgust, like (stupid) 4-year-olds at chorus practice. So, if the guy who commented that these are the characters "when they were kids", I would like to know what, oh what, took away poor Shaggy's virtue...
On top of it all, in the Italian version Scooby-Doo speaks with a very strong Neapolitan accent, sometimes even Neapolitan dialect.
How low can you get?
Higher Ground (2000)
Show me the pervert please
After three entire episodes of this shows, I only want to know the name of the pervert who thought that audiences might find interesting this fly-on-the-wall approach to unrealistically troubled kids sent to an unrealistic camp.
Hayden Christensen isn't even good looking and nobody can act, while complicated flash-backs, unbelievable dialogue and totally meaningless group therapy sessions do the rest.
If you like this show, test yourself by volunteering in a real institution for troubled kids. You're likely to change your mind, in a way or another.
Home Improvement (1991)
The truth about Tim Allen
Let's face it, Tim Allen wears a wig all the time, because no one, after seeing a minute of this show, could deny he's hiding a mullet under the wig!
And, as they teach you at your first marketing lesson, in fiction you should always portray a world that it's one step higher than your intended target, it's called "an aspirational (yearning) approach". Thus, the true target of this show probably lives in a trailer, wears a mullet and has never managed to read more than a service-station sign on the motorway.
The cast is below average, sometimes below acceptable, the writing sends shivers down my spine and the jokes make me want to either throw up or become a political activist. That is, I know perfectly well that everything in this show is exaggerated to trigger a laugh from the audience, but why exaggerate on sexism and machismo to make people laugh? Because it's the staple of their intended target' life! If it wasn't for the fact that the intended public of a series like this just isn't able to understand that it's exaggeration: they probably hang around treating their women even worse, justifying themselves by going "Tim said that! Buuuuurrp!"
This show is ignorant, sad and miserable, not to mention the fact that the actor who left is a "radical vegetarian (...) who loves to fish!" Thumbs up, you Jonathan Taylor Thomas! Not that you could expect much more from the member of the most arrogant cast that graces our tv-screens... go ahead, keep on making people's lives a misery!
And for those of you who probably think I have no sense of humour I can only say Bring back the 1964 Addams Family, please...
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
I saw this one only when there really was nothing else worth seeing, and the least I could say is that if there was a point in this movie I'm positive I didn't get it. Someone wrote here this movie has good dialogue: well, I found it unbelievable and one of many things that detaches this from being a real movie, both for Russo and for Brosnan. The acting is average for Brosnan, but will he ever stop playing that character? You don't need a crystal ball to foresee typecasting. Russo's acting is very, perhaps also due to a character that makes no sense, at least in this script. If they really tried to give it irony it was too gross for this type or movie, and maybe her character could make sense in a different story, some sort of b-movie. But the two major flaws of this movie are the endless sporting sequences and the ending. I won't go into spoilers here, but these two features makes you think the makers had little to say and lots of film to waste.
Signore & signori (1966)
A pleasure to watch and a great lesson about Italy
First of all, thumbs up to the restoration of this movie, which happened in 1997/98. Secondly, though, shame on the media who didn't flag this operation as it usually does when a masterpiece movie is finally restored. And this is a masterpiece.
Then, there is no real "Rezega", the small town in which this movie is set. This movie was shot in Treviso, the place were I was born and lived for 20 years, and my father can recall the shooting taking place in his youth. This because, like in every other small town in the world, nothing ever happens in Rezega/Treviso, and whatever may happen can't be made public, but should be spread by word of mouth.
All sort of things happen: marriage, betrayal, births and deaths, the fabric of every town's life. But decency is more important, and so "si fa ma non si dice" (everybody does it, nobody tells about it) is the law. Great performances from Gastone Moschin, Virna Lisi and Alberto Lionello, very good scriptwriting and magnificent direction by a true master like Pietro Germi make this a pleasure to watch, whether you want to understand provincial Italy or not. Oh, and if you do want to, this movie contains all you need to know about the dynamics that regulate the life of 80% of Italy's population, all those who live in towns of that size: I went to a movie screening a few years ago, and my acquaintances in the cinema were all related by stories similar to those in the movie (mind you, they are just in their 20s!).
Go see it, ask for it, let the world know about this great little movie!
Control freak! how can anyone stand this?
First of all, this show is *not* about a location: this show is about *just another* female character! Secondly, call me male chauvinist for what I am about to write, but I am a woman. We have all had a colleague at work that is just the complete control freak- always in charge of everything, welcoming more and more responsibilities, lecturing others and *not having a life*. Well, here's Melina Kanakaredes' role in "Providence": a female doctor who is, in a word, perfect. In two words, she's your ordinary and unsustainable control freak.
She works? No, she does everything at work! Other doctors should only be extras! She volunteers? No, she is probably preparing to run for mayor one day. She helps, she befriends? Yes, but only developing relationships with people she can control more, eg her patients (how professional)! She is even in touch with her dead mother, mind you, because they clearly took her away without her consent! Who could have been so stupid to challenge her almighty powers like this? Does she ever engage in useless, yet funny activities? Does she ever avoid to take her heroic self so seriously? If I were one of her colleagues I would just tell her politely to *Get A Life* and resign from my job. Oh, and when the show isn't concentrated on the epic of this woman there is also her family - a bunch of poor actors who try to raise the morale of the show with some humor, only to succumb under lines and gags that are worse than those from "The Drombusch Family". The saddest thing is that writers surely didn't need to invent anything for her characters: women like that are everywhere theses days. If it's coming near you, get a bigger tv set to accommodate the ego of this character.