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No Signal (2009)
A bit of a let down
I have seen similar kinds of shows to this before like "Broken News" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479827/) and "Unnovations" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303560/) for example, so I hoped this might raise the bar of this genre a bit, but sadly it was not as original as the producers would have us believe. Some of the sketches went on a bit too long such as the "Plastic surgery from hell" going on way past the funny point and even being revisited later on in the show. Funniest parts for me were "Deaf porn" with the signing couple translating the moaning and groaning into sign language in the corner of the screen, and the names of some of the shows in the information bar as the viewer hopped around the satellite pulp. I found my attention wondering away from the show as it went on and pretty much gone during the final sketches. Lets hope it gets better during the coming shows as it really needs to be a lot sharper. Overall, worth a watch but if you have Sky+ or a recorder, chances are you will find yourself fast forwarding or rather ironically, channel hopping off.
Dollhouse: Ghost (2009)
No doubt a lot of people will tune in on the strength of Joss Whedons major hit "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and no doubt they will be largely disappointed as they were with most of his other post-Buffy efforts. There seems to be more things wrong with this show than there are right. I knew very little about his new project before I watched it other than it was some sort of sci-fi brain swaparama. My initial thoughts were that this could be something new and innovative. Having watched it, I felt I had seen most of it all before. The secret do-good organisation I have seen countless times, most recently in "Bionic Woman" and not so recently in "The A team". The brain manipulation reminded me of "Total Recall" and "Strange Days" amongst others. There is a Fox Mulder type character who is hellbent on uncovering the organisations existence. Once you get past all this, it seems like each storyline to be inserted each week after the personality implant could be lifted from any one of the plethora of mediocre crime dramas that seem to be in vogue at the moment. Im guessing there will be a predictable love interest as well as a love/hate relationship. Another thing that annoyed me was the sound effects of the Ducatis being totally wrong during the chase scene- that reminded of "Terminator II" when young John Conner has the bike throttle pinned wide open yet the bike revs up and down and settles at idle. A minor thing but still a poor attention to detail and annoying! Overall, I would describe this as a weak sci-fi meets the A team and Mr Ben (for those not familiar with 1970s children's TV, MR Ben was a character who tried on a different outfit each week in a magic clothes shop, which led to an adventure based on his differing guise...)
Quick review-Over rated!
Delicate subject matter was fairly well handled and at least it wasn't too Hollywood-fied. There is good acting throughout, especially from the new find Cesar Ramos. Paulina Gaitan was convincing as the thirteen year old kidnap victim and the fantastic looking Alicja Bachleda-Curus also puts in a worthy performance as the victim of an modeling agency scam. Reliably, Kevin Kline also puts in a solid effort. The photography is beautiful and for the most part the dialogue is well thought through but falls apart at the end. The first part of the film is drawn out way too much and is essentially a chase movie. The film was obviously trying to show that Jorge would do anything to find his sister but too much time was spent on this. A few clichés slip in such as when Jorge spots the kidnappers van parked up in a dark street after losing site of it hours earlier when his car runs out of fuel. Another annoyingly unrealistic scene is the online auction of his sister. The whole thing would have been better if it had been more in the style of "City of God". The opening and closing music I liked very much, and overall well worth a watch.
Gavin & Stacey: Episode #1.1 (2007)
Great little sitcom kicks off (spoilers)
The series begins with Gavin and Stacey chatting on the phone planning their first date in London after six months of telephone flirting. The prospective couple meet up and hit it off straight away. They are joined by their best friends Smithy and Nessa who engage in their own sexual relationship much to Smithy's own disbelief. Well written and very funny, the main characters develop swiftly, as does the plot. The program reminded me a little of "The Royle family" with comical insight into the British psyche. Nessa (played by co writer Ruth Jones) is one of my favourite characters , her matter of fact opinions and presence are gold, but as all are very funny in their own way it would be tricky to pick a stand out character. Just watch it, Highly recommended!
A warming and sometimes comical insight into learning difficulties.
You will probably react to this documentary in one of two ways. Some people will see it as a "mock"umentary, having a cheap laugh at the expense of the peculiarities of some of the trainees and guests, some will see it as a light hearted look into the lives of people who just so happen to have learning diificulties. It is easy to see why anyone could take this view as some of the characters and situations are just naturally comical. If you choose to interpret this as the film makers exploiting the situation then that would be a shame. It would defeat the object of the film if the trainees acted as any "normal" person, plus it would be a lot less interesting! My opinion is that it is an interesting, thought provoking,funny and sad insight into how people with disabilities can integrate into society. Yes, it is narrated in a tongue in cheek manner, but I do not believe the film makers object was to trivialise or devalue the students achievements or personal aspirations. Surely we have all seen too many overly serious and depressing films on special needs. Why not have a fun and light hearted film for a change? Along with the sister film "The strangest village in Britain" , this is an absolute must see whether you agree or disagree with the production style.