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19 reviews in total 
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Ridicule: Compelling episode/Complex Synergy Within Plot!, 18 July 2014
10/10

I'm surprised there's only one review for this episode and a negative one at that!

From the first time I saw this I was impressed at the complexity of the story. The single previous reviewer had a problem with the gender of the rape victim. While that added complexity to Elliot's reaction and bias, this could have been accomplished in any of other number of ways.

1) Had the victim been a prostitute, there would have been a lack of empathy from the original responding police but the obvious problem of previous arrests.

2) Had the victim been a wealthy 'entitled' individual, there would be the prerequisite lack of sympathy and empathy. We've seen evidence of that, indeed hostility in other episodes.

So, I find the gender bias, a false claim of fault. Rather, the storyline itself would work regardless of the principle characters. The plot itself is what mesmerized me.

I love any story that turns on itself and this one certainly did as soon as it became apparent that one crime was tied to another seemingly unrelated one and that the evidence linking them was so incredibly like an illusion that it was hiding in plain sight!

This story was about clever people who thought they were too smart to get caught. They were not the typical horrible criminals who will go on committing crimes until they get caught; NO! These were intelligent but self-indulgent & narcissistic people who thought they were out-of-the-reach of 'normal' rules.

They simply wanted to continue living their high-end lives without consequences (which in this case, meant eliminating a person who has the 'troublesome' ethics of admitting one's participation in committing a crime).

The beauty in this plot & script is how well ALL is revealed; it has little to do with the gender of the victim and so much joy to do with stemming the arrogance of the attorney whose knowledge of law was all about having more than others would be able to slip into the palm of her hand.

It is satisfying to see things flip on those deserving of it and this was done supremely well. Another example of the fine writing all the Law & Order franchises are known for.

"Motive" (2013)
MOTIVE Deconstructs TV Crime Show, 16 July 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a fan of crime shows, I was intrigued to watch this show. The premise was fascinating; it's been used by notable writers such as Agatha Christie. The critical reviewers comparing the show to 'Columbo', certainly have an opinion, but it's not worth much in the volumes of literature and cinema.

In a ' typical' crime show, the cops & detectives investigate & follow leads. They rule out suspects & generally solve the crime in 60 minutes or within the arc of several weeks. The puzzle of solving a murder is rarely as simple as doing research in a lab where things are 'cut & dry'.

The similarity between 'typical' crime shows & Motive is that the Audience gets to witness the detectives pursuing leads and solving the case.

The STRIKING difference is that in this remarkable show, the producers have the freedom to spend time on the detectives' WORK PROCESS itself. We get to see cops the way they work every day, as cases unfold; not the abbreviated highlights for TV versions.

So, this may not be the glamorous Law & Order, SVU show (which I love!), but this show is a different version of a cop show. It's not competing with Law & Order, Columbo, or any other. It's just deconstructing the job; taking it apart in front of our eyes.

By deconstructing the cops doing their job, we get to see the process in a different light. It may be less glamorous than Law & Order but it's deeper, more character driven and it is fueled by it's core by the case. Peripherally, there is the baggage that normal folks have.

Better than Law & Order, SVU? I could not say. They are both on my watch list & satisfy different pleasures.

90 out of 119 people found the following review useful:
Compelling, Intelligent, Good Character Development, 18 December 2009
10/10

I keep under-estimating this drama; perhaps because there are no big names associated with the production of it - my mistake! This drama continues to capture me hook, line and sinker every week. I am loving it to the point that it has become one of my 'must see' TV shows.

The writing is strong, the acting is as good as one finds on any other hit drama show (CSI franchises, Law & Order franchises, Criminal Law, etc.) and the direction is excellent. The budget is clearly huge. Given all that, this show may not win a bountiful of Emmy's although it may win for the lead actress or the support actress.

However, with all that is on the air these days, this is in the top 10% of all television and the top 2-3% of Drama.

City Hall (1996)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Complex but Worth Repeated Viewings, 20 February 2009
8/10

I read the negative comments before viewing this film and undeterred, went ahead and started watching. I admit that I had to rewind quite a few times as the film is incredibly complex, involved and full of detail. That is a good thing but also, quite unexpected in this culture of car chases, explosions, gratuitous sex and general violence that substitute for plot and character development. In fact, what a welcome departure, however, I am so used to not paying a lot of attention to what I watch.

This film is chock full of character development and plot line; the kind that we used to analyze when I was in high school. It requires actual mental participation on the part of the viewer. What a nice change. I would compare it to 'All The President's Men' in terms of generic subject matter. That is, it is a mystery about intense misconduct on the part of elected officials and those with enough influence upon officials to essentially 'own' them.

Unlike 'All The President's Men', this film makes an effort to give a couple of the characters actual personality. In this sense the movie is a character study like 'The Negotiatior' with Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey. In that movie, their characters are both city employees and the plot is extremely intense. Yet, the plot is dependent on the ability of their characters to cooperate with each other, trust each, and ultimately unite together against the corrupt Police Department. There is more gun fire in this film and the specific plot is different but generically, there are many similarities.

I WILL say that City Hall requires a whole lot more concentration. In fact, I was struck how parallel it was to past and present political scandals I've seen in my life going back to Watergate. The thing is, the public knows that something is wrong, for sure! but following the details is hard to do. This movie is not even close to being as complex as real life but it actually is realistic to life in its complexity. I think that is one of the reasons that previous posters have criticized the film: unrealistic expectations.

If one watches this knowing what they are about to see and are up to the experience, it really is excellent! I watched it 3 times in a row! The acting is superb and the directing is flawless. The weakest link is John Cusak's accent.

Mary Poppins For Grown Ups, 6 August 2008
8/10

This is basically the Mary Poppins story repackaged for the 21st century.

It is edgy and funny. The writing could be a tad bit better but I would not criticize it on dialog but on details that establish time and place. That being said, these are small criticisms compared to what I believe is the film's weakest link: Direction.

I think that in the hands of a really good director, this excellent cast and very adequate script, the film would have done far better. The story is strong, the cast was excellent and the direction was simply passable. It deserved better.

Capote (2005)
Excellent Script Reveals Capote's Complexity, 4 May 2007
9/10

This movie is a marriage of excellent writing and superb acting; what a treat for folks who love good cinema! I have always known that Truman Capote was a talented writer in spite of his eccentricities but DAN FUTTERMAN really nailed it. I realize that he collaborated on the script with the author of the original book, Gerald Clarke III. Kudos to both of them. Clarke for the original material and FUTTERMAN seems to be the primary author of the movie script and was the Executive Producer, along with the genius lead actor, PHILLIP SEYMOUR Hoffman.

I really got a sense of how powerful yet conflicted CAPOTE was. It was apparent how his own morality and ethical conflicts would, at times Impede his work. Excellent writing illustrates this point. PHILLIP SEYMOUR Hoffman's acting is so seamless that it was easy to forget that I was watching Hoffman playing a role. Rather, I felt that I was watching him 'channel' Capote, body, and soul. Hoffman was that convincing.

When I had this thought, it occurred to me, "PHILLIP SEYMOUR Hoffman truly deserved the best actor Academy Award for this film; this is fantastic acting!" Another point in Hoffman's favor is that his delivery was entirely consistent from start to finish. I have rarely seen that, even from Kenneth Branagh or Kevin Spacey. Staying 'in the moment' for an entire film requires up to 3 months of constant mental discipline for the actor; no small feat.

The directing may have been the weakest link. That is NOT to say that it was bad; just unremarkable in a positive or negative way. It was simply adequate.

I liked this film so much that I was disappointed when it ended. I wished that it could have covered more events in CAPOTE's life rather than a single (significant) one. I do hope that FUTTERMAN and Hoffman will team up again with another colorful story. This was a winning combination.

Sunday (1997)
David Suchet is Masterful!, 5 April 2007
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this movie only because David Suchet was in it. I have followed his career for the past 7 years or so. It is frustrating to find anything beyond the 'Poirot' series with his name in the credits. I am not here to analyze the story but David Suchet's contribution to the overall success of the film.

According to his website, Sir Laurence Olivier was Sir John Gielgud's mentor in acting. Sir John Gielgud was David Suchet's mentor. That means that from a thespian genealogy, there is a relationship between Olivier and Suchet.

In this film, I realized why Suchet's talent for years has mesmerized me. His performance reminded me of Laurence Olivier in his powerful quietness. He evoked such angst and emotion without any outburst, tears or flailing of arms. He said volumes silently through quiet eyes. I simply felt like I was watching Olivier performing in Suchet's skin.

I have seen this briefly in other films but never so unleashed as in 'Sunday'. This was the right script and the right director for David Suchet's talents. It was not a perfect script. It may not be the best film but it was a good script and a talented director. I know because I got to see a brilliant actor shine.

I found the movie a bit difficult to follow but attributed that to artistic style. Every author and director has their inclination and desire to make their own voice heard. I can accept that and suspend my own sense of disbelief, at least for a couple of hours. After all, it was for the performance of the lead actor I had settled in.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Intricate Plot, Pay Attention, It's Worth it!, 18 February 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is so intricate; I thought it was based on a John Le Carre espionage novel. However, it appears that Arlington Road was written directly as a movie rather than adapted from previous material. I have no idea whether a complex plot is more difficult to build as a novel versus a screenplay but as I recall how tightly elements fit together or set up other elements, I am just amazed. Ehren Kruger (WGA) must have tremendous mental dexterity (or copious notes!). This film is not fully digested at the time of viewing.

In particular, as many other folks have mentioned, the ending was particularly upsetting. I found myself thinking, "NO! This isn't the way it's supposed to end!" Indeed, I was so troubled by the moral ambiguity of the ending that I played out alternate endings in my mind for several days; endings where the good guy comes out on top.

Eventually, I got it. I realized that had Mr. Kruger given us the 'good guys always win' kind of ending, it would have diminished the quality and integrity of the story. I mean, for the story HE wrote, it actually ended the perfect way for THAT particular story. After all, Jeff Bridges was not blown up and did not really die. It was just a character; a make-believe character in a make-believe story. In the case of Arlington Road, the make-believe college professor HAD to end the way he did because his role in the story was over but the bad guys' roles were supposed to go on, yet another day.

Like most people, that fact goes against the grain of my own sensibilities and moral compass but Arlington Road is NOT real life; it is art. From a strictly artistic point of view, the way Ehren Kruger (WGA) penned it is seamless (perfect).

What I liked least about the film was the directing. Before Arlington Road, Mark Pellington's experience has been mostly music videos. U2's Achtung Baby, Pearl Jam and television. I think that this story is strong enough that it would be excellent for a remake with a good director.

Good Fences (2003) (TV)
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Good Fences; Great Moments, 18 February 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Showtime movie really deserves a far better viewer rating than a 4.5; I gave it a 10 based on the story and the acting of the two stars. After reading the viewer comments, I was surprised at how many folks expected this movie to be a comedy. Yeah, I see that IMDb lists it as Comedy/Drama under Genre. That sure is misleading, isn't it? Fortunately, I saw the movie before logging onto this website so I did not have that expectation. In fact, based on the synopsis of what I heard, I fully expected it to simply be a Drama. I'm wondering if disappoint at this not being a funny movie caused so many low votes.

Another factor that might have caused low votes is that this movie is very much 'character-driven'. 'Driving Miss Daisy' is an example of another character-driven movie that comes to mind. Someone's previous comment complained about a boring trial. Tom's (Danny Glover) work scenes seemed to distract from the real plot of the movie. That is, how he was engineering the upward social climb of his family - or his personal troops, if you will. However, they served to establish credibility and justification as his right to move to Greenwich and move 'up' in the world.

Tom's obsession became a compulsion. He proved that he would stop at nothing to blend into the white neighborhood. His chagrin when another black person moved next door was not due to skin color. It was because of everything the 'interloper' represented; everything that Tom had left behind. In essence, Tom had become an Oreo cookie: Black on the outside but White on the inside.

The last 20 minutes of this movie are among the most powerfully written, directed and acted (by Whoopi Goldberg) I have ever had the pleasure to witness. I realized that the climax of the film was not the obvious event that happened next door (don't want to give it away). The climax is verbal and Whoopi delivers it. I am still not clear if it is the conversation when she informs Tom which college Tom -Two is going to or when she releases it, all in the middle of the night and Tom wakes up. Nevertheless, the denouement is great. You know that life on that street will never be the same.

My favorite kind of character-driven flick: people go through problems, some pain, do their dance, they grow, they change, and life goes on. As an audience member, I may learn something or be inspired.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Amazingly Authentic Acting, 7 October 2003
10/10

Uma Thurman and Juliette Lewis don't even seem to be acting, they give such genuine performances. To turn a phrase of Stanislavsky's, "I truly BELIEVED their performances".

I had the pleasure of seeing Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara in 'Love Letters' in Beverly Hills some years ago. I loved how seamlessly they worked together. Their chemistry was alive again in HB, though I would have liked more on-screen time for the two of them. I was happy they were rewarded with Emmys.

All in all this was a great movie. I'm surprised it didn't win more awards, it certainly deserved more accolades. I give the movie a 9 out of 10, but I tend to be enthusiastic and passionate about films that I like.


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