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CharWoman

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11 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Poorly constructed but with some working parts, 7 May 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't remember why I added this movie to my Netflix queue, but it wasn't because of the older woman/younger man dynamic. If I'd taken a good look at the poster they chose, I wouldn't have bothered, but it's a good example of this film's identity crisis. It seems to have been marketed as a "cougar romp", which it is not (the sexytime scenes are few and low-key), and takes out-of-tune detours into gross- out/obnoxious-sidekick comedy that don't match the rest of the movie, seemingly tacked on to widen its appeal. The rest of the time it does a fair (though not stellar) job of what it apparently set out to do, which is tell us the stories of the two main characters and how they come together. Despite some stumbles in outlining the particulars, the relationship portrayed feels organic and believable.

Jones and Bartha have nice chemistry together. Sandy's character arc is certainly of interest to any woman who is questioning her life choices and redefining what makes a good or 'suitable' relationship, whether or not the betrayal and divorce themes happen to resonate (certainly moreso if they do). Both she and Aram are being pressured by friends/family to make life choices deemed suitable for them by others, a situation most of us can relate to. I appreciated that Aram was not reduced to a two-dimensional cougar or divorcée fantasy object. Happily, they are written as equals, despite a few details being thrown in to remind us of the age difference. More important than the age gap is the exploration of parental/caretaker roles. While Sandy discovers after her divorce that she is able to pursue a career that matters to her, Aram hits the ground running as a competent and gentle caretaker for her two kids, a job he seems to take on out of a desire to heal from his own broken sham of a marriage. Whether or not Justin Bartha really is a genuinely lovely, decent man and human being, he always manages to come across as such, and was perfect for this role. The relationship grows into a working, loving romance, until a sad bump in the road causes Sandy to panic about their future and break it off--an agonized reaction understandable given the circumstances, but which feels by that time very much like breaking up a happy, well-adjusted family.

A few years intervene before they run into each other again, with both parties having grown and progressed in their own lives. Sandy has been promoted, and Aram has (entirely consistent with his character) adopted a son during his word travels. It seems that perhaps the timing is finally right--not least because the attraction between them is still palpable. Neither has been wallowing in misery since the break, but they are delighted to see each other. It's nice to see a romance that doesn't declare life impossible without a partner (for either party), but gets across very nicely that love is vitally important, something to be hoped for and invited in, not turned away, and to recognize it when it offers itself.

At a mere 95 minutes, I felt they wasted far too much time with Aram's unnecessarily repugnant "friend" from the coffee shop and a truly disgusting first date for Sandy. The comedy inserted to qualify this as a rom-com was badly done. Although we could certainly see how Sandy was desirable to Aram (Jones is gorgeous, and her character is succeeding at life despite the trauma of divorce), it might have been nice to see her character fleshed out a little bit more.

Overall, despite it feeling mismatched and annoying at several points, the two principals worked well together and I enjoyed watching them fall in love. I found I wanted them both to be happy whether or not they stayed together, and was pleased with the ending. This movie could certainly have been better, but when you're in the mood for a gentle romance about grownups, you could certainly do worse.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Werner Herzog!, 18 July 2012
8/10

This is a typically good Simpsons episode--I don't know how they've kept it going so well for so long--but I was especially amused by hearing the highly identifiable voice of Werner Herzog as Dr. Hottenhoffer not long after seeing (and hearing him narrate) his documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. A treat for those familiar with the man. (you know he once ate a shoe, right?)

Lisa accidentally discovers that a Springfield native flower has mood- altering properties, but the applications soon wander beyond the scope of her school science project. The episode touches slyly on the pharmaceutical industry, antidepressants, and ethics while remaining funny. Enjoyable as always.

Haywire (2011)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not a "great" film, no, but it IS good. Worth a watch., 29 May 2012
7/10

Having enjoyed the Bourne series, and since this movie offers a few interesting actors , I decided to check out the 'female Bourne'. Others have pointed out that it's not the most original plot to come along, and it's true. It could have been a better story and I wish it had been in order to do justice to the excellent work of the actors, although I found the screen writing overall to be enjoyably and suitably concise, since the characters in this world must by nature spend a lot more time listening and watching than talking.

Despite the shortcomings of the plot, it's well executed. The story ends up being the very immediate experience of Mallory's character and the people she's fighting--the men she's fighting, which does add a clear but utterly controlled sexual dimension to the mix. The combat feels very real, though also artistic in a way that I appreciated. I don't particularly like violence but was pulled into each major fight, really noticing each turn of the tide and each opportunity to take advantage of a weakness, feeling not just the pain but the risk each injury creates for the combatants. It doesn't take long to see that this woman is a natural, both the actress and the character. Despite the hints we get at an "out-of-control" violent past, Mallory's about being good at what she does; thorough, keen, vigilant, instinctive, relentless, confident without arrogance. We see a capable lethality but no traces of any supposed psychotic rage, which was fine with me. I'd hire her for any job at all in a split second, including the one she has in the movie. But she has neither a believable tragic flaw nor a hidden/personal agenda, and that made the predictable conflict that was manufactured seem flimsy (though it was refreshing to have a main character who isn't a tortured soul). I would have liked to see more of this character, but unless they can come up with a better reason for a second movie than a revenge-fest, it's hard to see how they can justify it. To see Mallory come back with nothing more than a chip on her shoulder and a score to settle would be a disappointing premature end to a promising career. Probably better to leave it at this one as Carano's feature debut.

Nevertheless, I'd like to see more of the kind of work that went into this. Gina Carano is easy on the eyes, tough and strong but not 'roided out, still very female. Not hard to see why Soderbergh wanted to make a movie just to put her in. All I know about her comes from the DVD extras and watching her in this film. Not just any talented fighter could step into a role like this; she trained like a madwoman to add some demanding new weapons and choreographic skills to her repertoire, and although the spare script didn't challenge her to a lot of dialogue acting, she seemed quite natural and believable in her non-combat screen time, and seemed like she actually knew what she was doing. I really enjoyed watching her with Tatum, McGregor and especially Fassbender. There were many ingredients here worthy of trying again in a different recipe.

"Girls" (2012)
49 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
Mixed feelings, 22 May 2012

I hadn't been following the show yet but decided to get caught up since all the episodes were available on demand, and since they are nice and short it didn't take much time.

I have mixed feelings about the show. I'm definitely not in my twenties anymore, and even when I was my situation was different from Hannah's (I was broke and struggling through art school without any family support, and not in New York). That was years ago--Hannah could theoretically be my daughter--yet I recognize and sympathize with a lot of what goes on in her world. A good bit of the show is funny and smart, and I do care about her--she's afraid and a little lost and going through a series of disappointments. I get how it feels to have something to say and find yourself (or others) questioning whether it really needs to be said, which must be really rough when you've spent the last few years in a crucible of complete focus on self-expression (grad school). I'm just not sure I like her. And maybe that's OK, since Hannah doesn't seem to like herself very much despite little bursts of ego and a chronic exhibitionism--but the occasional moments pop up where it feels like I'm supposed to cheer her on when I want to shake her instead. Her motives seem hollow, and too focused on trying to actively *impress* others, which could be intentional. It's hard to tell if she's having trouble being herself or if the trouble IS that she's being herself. Maybe the generation gap is to blame, or maybe there is no message and she's just packaging up and delivering a slice of life without any adjectives or claims printed on the box. And there is certainly more going on in the show besides the protagonist's character study.

I'll continue watching to see how Hannah progresses. There is value in the writing, and it's pretty original. Feels a little like a graphic novel (a la American Splendor), weirdly. Glad to see Zosia Mamet after being introduced to her on Mad Men, and hope her character (Shoshanna) is allowed to grow out of what appears to be comic relief. Also good to see Becky Ann Baker again, the warm and authentic mom from Freaks and Geeks. She's less cuddly here but just as real.

If you're in your twenties you may well like this more than I do. If you're {ahem}older you might like it more than me anyway. But it's certainly worth watching an episode or two to find out.

10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Mixed feelings, 11 April 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I started reading the books after the first season hooked me so thoroughly. That may make it harder for me to consider the series on its own, but I'm getting worried about how much gratuitous sex HBO is stuffing (npi) in, and the liberties with the story lines and dialogue. There are some alterations that, after a little thought, do serve to drive home a point more quickly and show the viewer what the books show in a very roundabout way. Those who have read the books will probably struggle with some of that.

This episode was particularly bad regarding the overdose of softcore porn, but hopefully they all won't be like this going forward. When you've got as many characters and as much to tell as Martin's world contains, a lot of daylight is burned on excess bootknocking. ***spoiler*** And some of it goes against character, too. We are shown Melisandre seducing Stannis with a very particular purpose in mind, in part to explain something we'll see in a later broadcast. In the book, we know it happens, but we are not shown, and this hot and heavy scene misleads us about what was likely a pretty clinical interlude, and also about Stannis' personality.***end spoiler***

Nevertheless, a lot of the acting is still very good, and I got an excellent dose of Tyrion, so it's not as if I won't keep watching. I'm pleased they chose to keep Dolorous Edd, knowing that many characters have to be streamlined out to fit the adaptation. But I do feel the tone of this episode was below the first season's, and below the books. Hopefully next one won't disappoint.

"Grimm" (2011)
9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Stylish balance of humor, horror, and imagination, 10 December 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***Possible very minor spoilers herein***

Six episodes in now, Grimm seems to have really found its stride. It was a little awkward now and then in the first couple of episodes only while it was busy establishing the premise, but the writing is solid, the recurring characters are enjoyable in their own right, and the main theme--a born "monster-hunter" hearing his calling in a world recently revealed to be full of said monsters--has deftly avoided the obvious and played Good™ v. Evil™ model and instead been imagined as a much more organic and nuanced ecosystem in which the conflicts are not always as they first seem and the Grimm himself is arguably in the same category as the supernatural species he so often pursues for their crimes.

Nick is introduced as a police officer who has learned that he's among the last of a long line of Grimms, and the imminent death of his nearest relative has caused his Grimmyness to manifest mainly as the ability to recognize the not-quite-humans around him--but only when they lose their cool for a moment and display their supernatural streaks, something ordinary humans can't see. (Creepily, some of them seem to never lose control, so Nick doesn't always know what he's dealing with.) This and the ancestral knowledge conveyed to him (centuries of family research, a collection of specialized weaponry, and insider help from a reformed Blutbad) seem to be the sum of Nick's Grimm-gifts, although perhaps a natural combat instinct and desire for justice also form part of the genetic package. He's a natural cop and a tough customer, but he's also not invincible, which I appreciate. Despite the extensive documentation and conventional knowledge about the various supernatural creatures in this ecology, we realize there's still plenty to learn and, even better, that choice has a much bigger part to play than it might if worse writers were on the case. The premise lends itself to analogies of dealing with the hand we're dealt and either struggling to make the best of ourselves without losing who we are or indulging ourselves in the worst of our natures. We also have themes of how to survive and even thrive in a world we might not be perfectly suited for but on which we depend, if we are to enjoy the benefits of civilization. Suffice to say each episode might make you think, although it goes down like candy, not broccoli.

The Pacific NW location is well-chosen and beautifully shot and set up, with joy in the use of color and occasional winks to fairy tale imagery without being picturesque. It's easy enough to follow but they don't spell everything out in big grade-school letters, so there's the stimulation of piecing some things together for yourself. Each episode incorporates thoughtful homages to the stories of old but invents something new and interesting in each one, with many great Eek! moments included and reasonable though not excessive amounts of blood and gore. The fantasy is grounded on an underpinning of plausible weekly crime procedurals. And it's sophisticated and often sexy without being an excuse for soft porn. Nothing seems gratuitous. All, so far, has been in excellent balance.

Skillful casting--the acting has been uniformly good and the choices for both recurring and guest roles have been pleasing. The guest actors are well-used and often include some of my favorites (Patrick Fischler, Tim Bagley). Although Nick's character could be drawn a little more thoroughly, he works well as a sort of glass through which we see his world and we feel like we're discovering it along with him. Nick and his partner Hank have good cop chemistry, and the plots seem to work even though Hank is not yet in on the secret. Monroe (although created perhaps for convenience's sake) has been the most fun of all. Nick's fiancé Juliette is not quite fleshed out yet but I suspect the writers have special plans for her as the story continues to unfold at its pleasingly natural pace. The dialogue is smooth and funny without being too 'clever' or overly defusing the darker goings-on.

If you liked the X-Files, you might enjoy Grimm. It's worth checking out, and I hope they let it continue on the path it has found and not turn it into something suitable for being made into a video game.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Nice to see something that's not about teenagers and twentysomethings, 5 October 2011
8/10

and doesn't treat the thirty-and-fortysomethings like they're elderly. We find it funny and enjoyable and don't understand the highly negative ratings this is getting. I could do with less of Emma personally, but there's a lot of funny stuff and as has been mentioned, the cast are great.

As for the people who say it's worthless because it "doesn't compare" the UK version, well... haven't seen the original, might or might not ever see it, but definitely don't care how this compares to what inspired it. Same with The Office. Each succeeds or fails on its own merits.

Sad to hear Free Agents on the bubble, especially since the deplorable Whitney seems to have been picked up.

I give this a 7, which means we'll keep watching every week, and expect it to improve with time, if it's allowed to prosper.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A good show that's getting *really* good--too bad it's on the chopping block., 27 May 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've kept up with Tara since the show started, and it has improved steadily. The last few episodes have been riveting as the show has moved from the outer repercussions of Tara's disorder to the inner workings of her personae. I'm extraordinarily bummed to see that the show is getting cancelled, but there's some hope that the current rate of change Tara is going through means there will be some critical breakthrough that will allow the show to end with, well, closure. Ultimately this is why I've watched the show, to see Tara collectively unravel the mystery of her dissociation and find the key to reunion.

I'm going to miss these characters; Kate, Marshall, Max, Neil, even Charmaine who so frequently makes me want to slap her; but most of all Tara and her changing cast of inhabitants. Toni Collette has proved her chops in this show. They haven't always given her the very best material to work with but she always runs with it like a pro. I was sorry to see Eddie Izzard taken off her case in the last episode but glad to see that he is in the credits for the remainder of the season. Their chemistry is good, and he entertainingly puts the pomp in psychopomp.

I read Sybil back when I was still in gradeschool and found it fascinating, so the subject matter was naturally of interest to me. They have in previous seasons strayed off into sensationalistic displays ***SPOILER BEGIN*** (what happens when the teenage girl alter seduces the gay son's boyfriend?? what happens when the redneck dude alter uses Tara's body to carry on with a barmaid??) ***SPOILER END*** but it's still been an enjoyable and interesting ride, and shows mental illness from the inside of a loving family, which is rare. Like one reviewer, I suspect most people assume they would simply walk away from someone like Tara and never look back, but as Marshall realizes, his parents' marriage is a love story--and besides, Tara is not _just_ "sick"; she's also attractive, intelligent, creative, and a good-hearted person.

We've usually watched Tara along with Nurse Jackie through OnDemand on Tuesdays, our network TV desert night. I like being able to catch up on a couple of episodes at a time. My husband has watched with me but has only gotten really involved this season. Let's hope it comes to a proper close, if they insist on pulling the plug.

13 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Quality HBO production, 26 May 2011
8/10

I'm not a huge fantasy fan, but I am a bit of a sucker for anything Brit-flavored and anything period, even if I can't always choke them down in the end. With historical productions, disappointment often comes with too many liberties taken with the facts. Literary adaptations suffer the same problem for those who have read the books.

I hadn't read the Martin books when I gave this series a try, so I had no expectations. However I was wary because Starz's Pillars of the Earth, which I also had no expectations for, turned out to be such an overwrought bag of cheese, full of bad writing and direction and what must have been a closeout purchase of chicken-bladder neck-blood- spurters. Then Camelot (also Starz) lost me in the first 20 minutes, and after that I had no stomach to even check out The Borgias after seeing what Showtime did with The Tudors. But with Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage, I thought Game of Thrones was worth a try, and it has been.

The production values are fantastic, and the acting and writing are very good, with only occasional forays into excess. The violence and gore are kept in context, although the sex and nudity are a little heavy-handed at times, probably as a safeguard in case the plot lines turned out to be too complex for some viewers. I found the story compelling enough to download "A Song of Ice and Fire" to my e-reader after watching a couple of episodes.

It's not a perfect creation, but it's very well done and as others have said, each episode makes you anxious for the next, and without the need for cliffhangers and sensational devices, just a desire to keep going. Bean and Dinklage are indeed both great as Ned Stark and Tyrion Lannister, and Mark Addy unfolds as an impressive and flawed King Robert. Having liked Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau in the short-lived New Amsterdam, it's good to see him back at work as the arrogant Jaime Lannister. Michelle Fairley is a formidable Catelyn, and Maisie Williams as young Arya Stark clearly has a great career ahead of her. In fact, most of the acting is solid-to-excellent. Sometimes the story line with the Targaryens and Dothrakis seems a little too over the top to match up with the very naturalistic feel of the rest of the series, but it's still interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it intersects with the rest of the tale.

Although it's not vital to the story, the opening sequence is beautifully done and worthy of mention.

HBO generally doesn't half-*** their projects, and they certainly didn't skimp on this one. Worth a watch.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
NBC is really p***ing us off canceling this show., 13 May 2011
10/10

We have loved this show from the beginning. It's funny, clever and sweet and the characters are genuinely likable. It might not be for everyone, but if NBC hadn't shoved it to the end of the Thursday lineup and filled in the 8:30 slot with pointless newbies and endless Office repeats, people who don't have a DVR but do have a job to get up for in the morning might have had a chance to enjoy this show.

They announced its demise today along with the addition of four new shows, none of which sound promising.

I'm going to see the suit that makes these decisions in hell, and he isn't going to like the encounter.


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