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Pushing Daisies (2007)
Wanted to like it, ended up big disappointment
Sometimes, too much hype is a harbinger of a dud to come. You know the kind, the trailers at every theater show all of the funny lines, and I mean all of the funny lines. Soon after opening, it's direct to video.
But when you start out on video, where is there to go? I really wanted to like this show. Seemed by the promos to be a little Dead Like Me meets a David Kelly comedy. That would have been nice, instead we get Disparate Housewives meets Saved By the Bell.
After watching the first episode, (we will give it a second chance)we couldn't figure how long they could sustain this story line. It's why we'll give it another try. Fortunately, we have plenty of DVRs and I suffer from insomnia, so I don't have to be selective yet.
John from Cincinnati (2007)
interesting show but dialog and characters similar to Deadwood
For those who are fans of Deadwood, not only are some of the actors the same, but the same weird manner of speaking and timing are infused throughout the script.
The majority of the cast are good to better than good, but the weakest link (yes, pun intended) is Link, played by Luke Perry. Where Ian McShane embraced Al, the original bad guy on Deadwood, and made him the most interesting of all residents of Deadwood, Perry has yet to bring anything, never mind interest to his character. Al had a grand plan,saw the future of the Dakota's, wanted to get his piece, all the while wrestling with and exploiting with the weaknesses of those around him. Al was also willing to subjugate himself when necessary,or bully (and even kill) those around him to keep his plans on track.
We know Link has a plan, he hired Cassie to seduce Mitch, and he obviously wants Shaun. But to what purpose? What lengths is Mitch willing to go to reach his goal. With Al, we knew he grew up the hard way, and was first and foremost a surviver, and wouldn't let anyone take from him, at least in the long run. Al also knew how to make lemonade from lemons, running the long game. One feels that Link doesn't really have much of a plan or the ability to adapt to the circumstances when they change. But it may not be so much Perry's acting as it is the script. Though you got the sense that Ian McShane took Al further than the script originally called for, and we had the opportunity to see Al's complexity, and learn how Al's life was shaped by circumstances. And in the end, we ended up liking Al and cheering for him.
I enjoy the show and I'm looking to seeing how it all plays out. And it's nice to see David using a lot of the same actors he employed on Deadwood. It's also fun to see my old stomping ground IB, being the center of something again.
The Shining (1980)
Great Book awful casting
I started reading the book on the Thursday before a long weekend. From the time I picked it up, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. While I'd loved Salem's Lot, it paled next to The Shining. When I heard it was going to be made into a movie, and Stanley was directing, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I stood outside the theater hours before the tickets went on sale so I could be the first to see it.
Why Stephen King didn't encourage his fans to boycott this film remains a mystery. It's well known he was not pleased with the production. I'm with him. The book was about the Hotel and our own demons.
Unfortunately Jack Nicholson decided he need to take over the movie and make it about himself. While there are times and movies when Jack's over the top portrayals are amusing and spell binding, this was not the film he should have used or misused his talents.
Years later, Stephen remade The Shining, casting Steven Webber as the father. It was a much more interesting version, focused more on the story and less on one egomaniac's stealing of the spot light.
Diary of a Hitman (1991)
Forest Whitaker's first really stand out role
I saw this movie well after it was out, caught it about 10 minutes after is started, and was doing something else at the time the TV was on. After just a few moments, I was spell bound (I love Ms. Fenn) but she was not the one who grabbed my attention. It was this soft spoken hit man truly agonizing with the situation.
When it was on again, (you know Showtime runs the same movie multiple times a month) even though I knew the ending, (I will not spoil it) I watched it again, beginning to end. I was captivated by Forest's portrayal.
I referenced this movie to someone, and they reminded me he was in the Crying Game. I'd not made the connection.
I was told to see Ghost Dog, which I enjoyed even more.
Having just got back from seeing The Last King Of Scotland, and having watched the season he was on The Shield, I have to say Forest has turned into one of the finest actors of our time. I hope he wins his Oscar this year.
Waterloo Road (2006)
For a school, the staff don't seem to be very clever
I like the BBC, a lot of my favorite shows over the years have been broadcast on BBC America. One of my favorite aspects of BBC productions (At least those broadcast here in the U.S.) is a series season is short, and rarely does a show outlive it's time, lingering on because the characters have become a part of our routine.
Another aspect I enjoy is the character development. With such short seasons, the pace of shows are generally much quicker and the characters fleshed out early on. However, in the case of Waterloo Road, I fear there is little direction as to what the show is about, who the characters are, and surprisingly the staff appears to be more dysfunctional then the student's. This isn't meant as a criticism of the actors, but rather of the writing and concept of the show. Were it not airing during the bleakness of U.S. summer reruns and never ending "reality shows" I'd have probably quit watching some time ago. However, unlike great BBC shows like SPOOKS *MI5) or many of the "Mystery Monday" line up like Wire in the Blood, or Night Detective, which require my attention, Waterloo Road allows me to serve the internet, check google news, or play spider solitaire while it plays in the background.
The situations of the kids, are their moronic thought processes are easily waived off, as let's face it, kids always think they are much more clever then they really are. (I know I knew more at that age then I know now)Part of adolescents is learning just how much we still have to learn.
The teachers however are another story. One would expect they would have outgrown both their hormonal imbalances and emotional insecurity. The old adage about "not dipping your quill into the company inkwell" seems to have been a missing component of their education. Having your own kids in the school you teach certainly doesn't seem to be a very good idea.
The silliness and absurdity far outweighs the occasional dramatic moment or insightful instance which stumbles off the tepid script.
The Girl in the Café (2005)
Bill Nighy remains an interesting actor
This is a sweet little story, about a lonely man, played brilliantly by Bill Nighy, whom I first became aware of in another BBC production, State of Play. Bill takes on a character and brings odd little traits to him, which can make a middling story very interesting. This is not to say this is a middling story, far from it in fact. The premise of a lonely man meeting a girl in café might seem boring on it's face, and if played by a lesser actor, it may well have been. Accept of course, by the well cast Kelly Macdonald, who also developed an almost enigmatic portrayal herself. The storyline, though somewhat incredible, is made most plausible by the direction and cast.
I loved this film, found it an interesting and intriguing story line!
Channel surfing one night, I caught this film somewhere after it started and was drawn in by the premise, which if you have read the included summary, you know involves a man, locked inside an institution, claiming he is from the past. The interplay between the psychologist, wonderfully played by Hope Davis, and the "patient" played by Denis Leary, was very fascinating. Having stepped into the movie after it started, I was swept away by my imagination as to what was really going on. I continued to watch the film for another 20 minutes, still intrigued by the story. How did this man find himself in the institution? I searched my program guide, learned the film was going to be on a later date, and set my dish/recorder. When I watched the film from the beginning, (Warning, a little of the film plot) I realized how he came into the institution, was a mystery, at least to him. I was very impressed with Denis Leary's acting. Having seen him in the Ref which was a comedy, I enjoyed him, later, having watched him in Two If by Sea (terrible film) and The Job (an awful main character made this show difficult to enjoy), I didn't really expect him to show the depth of acting he was able to portray in this film. If you enjoy him on Rescue Me,(some of the finest work on television today, which makes the summer viewing pleasurable) and are now going back to view some of his earlier work, you will not be disappointed in the time you spend engrossed with this film.
The 4400 (2004)
Very little "Sci" Lots of "Fi"
I really wanted to like the 4400, and for the first few episodes, I did. The premise of abductees returning was intriguing, and in the first few episodes, watching the various "powers" of the returnee's was fun. Sadly, the poor acting of the major characters, especially Joel Gretsch, made what could have been a fun romp into SciFi, a long slow arduous horror show of constant over acting. Then, things turned from bad to worse. The plot lines devised to include the main characters, started to stretch the fabric of credibility. When the main "investigator's" nephew starts to show amazing powers, and eventually becomes the head of the 4400's secretive organization, the governmental agency doesn't balk at one of the most absurd conflicts of interest, which in the real world, would obviously negate his future involvement. He is partnered with female named Diana Skouris, (X file fans, sound like another female partner's name? Dana Scully anyone?) who also has a background in science (yet another Scully coincidence?) and "adopts" one of the 4400, a child who knows the future before it happens, she doesn't get removed from the case either. (Nor, in future episodes, when the investigators and government need to know things, like the location or targets of 4400 terrorist, do they employ let alone discuss the use of the child to help them know terrorist targets) Things get even more bizarre when Joel Gretsch's character marries a 4400. Again, no conflict of interest there. (another oddity, the woman he marries on the show, is the real life wife of Billy Campbell, who is supposedly assassinated on the show, by, surprise, Joel Gretsch's son on the show.) Like I said, the "Fi" just continues to get more bizarre. Its to bad, as many of the 4400 guest stars bring some interesting and refreshing acting and character developments. This show started off with some mystery and great potential, now, it has devolved into a bad soap opera, rife with convoluted relationships, in a poor attempt to include issues which were much better covered in Alien Nation, or X-Men, the natural instinct of people to fear the unknown or those who are different. It might not be too late to save the 4400, if only the writers would change back to the unfulfilled promise of the first few episodes. And a change in the leading man certainly would refresh what has become stale in less then 1 seasons and two episodes of the second.
The Intruder (1999)
Too convoluted and leaves one lacking!
After reading one of the other reviews, I opted to give this film a try. Boy was I disappointed. My Dish network guide which only gives ratings up to four stars, gave this one a 2+ star rank. After watching it, I can only shake my head and wonder why. The premise of the movie, a woman coming into the police station and confesses to crime which occurred two years earlier. The hook, she couldn't have done the crime as she claims she just committed the crime the day she walks into the police station.
I don't want to disclose the ending, or be a spoiler, so I won't go there. But suffice it to say there are so many red herrings, convoluted twists, and down right silly plot lines, that the films surpasses the point of absurdity. You find yourself not caring any longer about the characters, and only wishing the film would end. This film tries to breach a number of different genre's including mystery, thriller, horror and science fiction. Sadly, the mix rather than becoming an intriguing stew, becomes a weak broth leaving the viewer unfulfilled.
Lucky Louie (2006)
I love HBO, to bad this show is better suited for FOX
Married with Children meets a 13 year old writer. If you like pre- adolescent potty humor, this show just might be too low brow even for you. The jokes made in this show make those my friends and I made in the 8th grade seem almost brilliant in comparison. And a laugh track on HBO? Please, I subscribe (and pay a hefty "premium fee") to HBO and Showtime to avoid the type of idiot shows the networks have been producing, shows which demonstrate the networks have little or no respect for the audience's intelligence or their ability to determine when a line is actually funny. So imagine my surprise when the show opens with a laugh track(and nobody I'm watching with is even smiling at the supposed jokes) What's next HBO, commercial breaks? I thought last years show staring the Friends former star, Lisa Kudrow, was one of the worst shows ever produced on HBO, it, like Lucky Louie, also followed the brilliant show Entourage. Sadly, I kept watching Lisa's show long after everyone else in my family stopped watching it, for I thought it could only get better. I was wrong. The producers at HBO must have agreed with me because it disappeared after one season. Sadly, it appears HBO didn't learn it's lesson. They must of thought poor humor only needs a laugh track so that the audience knows how funny the show really is, hence Lucky Louie. HBO's use of a "reality show" about a reality show, another vehicle over used by the broadcast networks bombed. Their new idea,the much over used tired formulas of the failed sitcom genre. It bombs too, sadly, it even stinks. I won't make the same mistake this year of thinking it can only get better. Shows with this type of potty humor only have one direction they can flow, downward, just like a toilet bowl flushes out the waste. So save yourself some time, skip Lucky Louie, go directly to your bathroom now and get caught up on thosemagazines you've been meaning to read. It's the only way to make this kind of potty humor worthwhile or constructive.
Danny Deckchair (2003)
Cute little movie not as goofy as the description might lead one to believe
When I first read the synopsis on my channel guide, it seemed like a rather silly movie, whose focus was on some guy floating around in a deck chair. I almost passed on it for that reason. Fortunately, there wasn't much else on, so I recorded it for later viewing. Much to my surprise, I found a very endearing story of how love, life, and a reminder of how easy it is to slip into the everyday drudgery habit. I don't want to ruin the story line, so suffice it to say, the movie is well worth the 90 minutes spent watching. And if your a big fan of LOTR, you'll be pleased with female lead, Miranda Otto, who played Eowyn.
Best Spy Series Since the Prisoner
Rarely do I find DVD's of Broadcast TV worthy of the expense. MI5 or Spooks is one of the rare exceptions. As an American, I've been limited to the A&E versions, which has others have stated, are edited to allow for commercials. The pace, the actors, the plots even in the edited versions are exceptional. When I found out I could purchase the series on DVD, I gladly did. The only other Broadcast series I've purchased for myself, are Secret Agent Man (danger man in the UK) The Prisoner, and the Hornblower series. I've been pleased with all. The bonus with MI5 is seeing the full episodes. Unlike American series, the UK series have short seasons which keep the story lines clear, concise, intelligent, and plot driven not profit driven. The actors are generally given fleshier roles and unlike many U.S. shows, the actors seem to be chosen on talent, rather then a "look". MI5 brings a sense of what it may really be like in the intelligent community, as a clear delineations of right and wrong crosses paths with politics, ambition, and geo-political idealogy. In short, MI5 raises many morality issues while at the same time, filling one with suspense.