Reviews written by registered user
|51 reviews in total|
What's remarkable about "Luther" is how series creator Neil Cross takes
a rag-tag bag of clichés--brilliant but damaged rogue cop,
long-suffering boss, genius killer, etc.--and makes it all seem so
fresh. Of course, having the fantastic Idris Elba helps immeasurably.
He doesn't just act the part of Luther; he is Luther, fully inhabiting
the role and moving like a force of nature through every scene. This is
one of those rare times where you see an actor's innate intelligence
and physicality used perfectly. (Watching Luther decompensate, as he
does at various times over the story arc, is really something to see.)
Elba is matched every step of the way by Ruth Wilson, playing a sort of
female Hannibal Lector--brilliant, amoral, remorseless, scary, and, I
daresay, sexy. She and Elba make quite a pair, and their interplay is
Finally, it's worth noting that this series, while ostensibly a cop show, has its own look and feel. It plays more like a beautifully filmed, weird morality play. (Cross makes the point that Luther believes in only two things, life and love, though the viewer will quickly see that, despite his damaged psyche and emotional baggage, he also ultimately believes in himself.) Some may think that it's just insane, far-fetched, and way over the top. (which it sometimes is if you look closely and cynically). But I think that it exudes a unique vibe. Take a look at the impressionistic opening credits with Massive Attack on the soundtrack, and you'll know right up front that this is something special.
There are few perfect things in life, but this is one of them--a busted
Showtime Network TV pilot so misguided, stupid, and terrible, that it
is perfect, perfectly wrong in every way. TV director Paris Barclay
("The West Wing") and James DeMonaco (scripter of the boring remake of
the classic "Assault on Precinct 13") take you inside (you can almost
imagine that typed in upper case in the script) the Hate Crimes Unit of
the NYPD, one of those TV police departments that employs every
stereotype you can imagine--the newbie gay guy, the bigoted cracker,
the angry Latina, the sad-sack Asian-American, the elegant
African-American... Oh yes, as the Chief, Oscar winner Marcia Gay
Harden shows up looking like she's impatiently waiting for the results
of some medical test--or for her paycheck to clear. And back home, she
has the stereotypical high-school-age son hooked on drugs.
The pilot is perfectly structured with an idiot main plot on top of an idiot B plot. In the main plot, the Unit investigates the slaying of gays who have had their spinal cords scooped out with a broken whiskey bottle or something. Yep, that's right. Spines ripped out. Zejelko Ivanek, recognizable from "Homicide: Life on the Street" and countless other shows, even shows up as a pathologist to prattle on about how much force it takes to pull out a spine. Yep, that's right. It's a lot of force. In the B plot, two detectives investigate dog-feces swastikas on the sidewalk in front of a synagogue. Yep, that right. Dog-feces swastikas.
Every character here takes it in turn to stand around, grinding the meager action to a halt, with either silly voiceovers of his or her thoughts ("thoughtovers"?) or long-winded, badly written polemics on prejudice,intolerance, or how bad cheese curls are for you. Yep, that's right. Evil cheese curls.
Eventually this travesty, filmed in a murky and blurry pseudo-"CSI" style with Toronto masquerading once again as New York, comes to an end. And the viewer is left to ponder just how this thing looked good enough on paper to get the green light for a filmed pilot, but more importantly, how one hour of TV can perfectly manage to offend every race, creed, ethnicity, and orientation that it depicts, without exception, without failure. You'll hate "Hate" as a pilot but love it as entertainment. Some things are so perfectly awful, that they are just that.
Luc Besson, who must be the busiest man in the industry, seems to have singlehandedly put France on the map as purveyor of well-made action films. And that's not surprising since his team understands that a gazillion bucks, CGI, and wire work aren't always needed to make an entertaining film. This one is no exception: straightforward and to the point, with an economy of direction and truly excellent, old school stuntwork. I think that it's superior to the bigger budget stuff coming out of the Besson factory. In the end, it's a fast and furious entertainment with charismatic leads and is sure to tickle the hearts--and action bones--of jaded action film fans.
Two things of note about this raggedy, mostly-Canadian sci-fi series
called "Starhunter": First, this series must have set some kind of
record for production companies, the credits for which play out for
something nearing five minutes: Danforth Studios/Le
Sabre/Alliance-Atlantis/TMN/Super Channel in association with Space and
bunch of others... It's actually quite amusing when you see this show
to think that a dozen production companies each chipped in what looks
like about $(CDN)1,000 for any one threadbare episode.
Second, Tanya Allen as Percy is absolutely wonderful and makes the show eminently watchable. On paper, her part looks like the clichéd "space brat," right down to the gum-cracking, but Ms. Allen (also excellent in the Canadian classic "The Newsroom") invests the role with so much wit and so many sharp character bits that she becomes the best companion Doctor Who never had. Here for once is a character you can truly believe is that young, cute, and smart. And that studied kind of nonchalance that she effects is as adorable as it is endearing. She blows everyone else off the screen by just standing or slouching around that it makes you long for her to turn up starring in her own Percy series of space adventures. She's that good!
In the 1970's and early 1980's we had mad-slasher films, and for lack of a better term, slasher-beast films, such as "Arthropophagus" and "Humongous." This film could easily have been made back then, except that it's very well made, looking much better than the films that it replicates. Director Smith, obviously a horror fan, gives his film the most primitive of plots--woman stuck in underground tunnels with beast--but imbues things with enough jump shocks and gross-outs to satisfy even this jaded horror fan. Of special note is the truly exceptional sound design and score. This film is much scarier simply because so much care was taken in mixing the tracks for maximum nerve-jangling effect. All-in-all, not a world-beater by anybody's definition, but a cool, fun little film.
This is the classic existential thriller from the 1980's, brilliant in every way. Rutger Hauer plays a character personifying pure evil. This is a difficult task, prone to over-the-top theatrics, but not once does Rutger fail. He's one of the greatest movie villains ever. Just listen to his wonderful monologue about cigarettes in the opening minutes, and you will know what I mean. Mark Isham's score is perfect, John Seale's cinematography places you in a hell-on-earth, thanks to screenwriter Eric Red's spectacular vision, and Robert Harmon's beautiful economy-of-direction ratchets up the suspense to an unbearable level. What an extraordinary film this is!
OK, she's got those great big, brown expressive eyes, the huge cache of symmetrical auburn tresses, that exotic profile, and the kickin' figure. (Did I mention that she's of Albanian ancestry?) She's Eliza Dushku, and c'mon now, admit it--you'd willing spend five weeks locked in a room, forced to survive on gas station vending machine crackers just to spend five minutes with the only true goddess on this earth this side of Jennifer Connelly. So even if "Wrong Turn" is just another routine, competently made homage to a much, much better 1970's horror film, your life will not be complete unless you've seen it. Go now and give meaning to your sad existence...
"High Tension" is clearly intended as a cheery throwback to those halcyon days circa 1980 when you could see "Driller Killer," "Maniac," and "Nightmare" back-to-back in a center city grindhouse where the house lights never went up, only one seat in the place didn't reek of urine and sweat, and the poor teenage usher and concession stand worker huddled together in the lobby under a bare light bulb to avoid being knifed to death by some crazed street person. Of course, this film, while being just about the most violent film in recent memory, is French, somewhat arty, and extremely well made, certainly at odds with the subject matter of its homage. If a straight-ahead slasher film throwback with no self-reflective winking to the audience is your thing, then this will be your thing too. Otherwise, it just is what it is: well-made exploitation fare, right down to the silly, slap-your-head-and-say-"doh" final twist, just like back in the day.
"Adderly" is not of the caliber of "Twin Peaks" or "24," but it is a sharply written, clever little show that will appeal to anyone stuck in a menial job. Winston Reckert plays off his aging-pretty-boy-looks well, and Dixie Settle is a nice romantic foil. All in all, this is memorable Canadian series.
OK, what's to say about this underappreciated masterpiece of a sitcom that hasn't already been said? Ed O'Neill IS Al Bundy in a way that most of us aren't even ourselves in our own lives. The series wore out its welcome long before its end, but its prime years were incredible. I enjoy my life so much more knowing that I could be Al Bundy, but I'm not!
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