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The Happy Poet (2010)
Funny, Sad, & Depressing
As a person who eats healthy vegetarian foods, I was immediately drawn into the story about a below-average guy who sells vegetarian foods from a hot dog cart in a park. The humor in this movie isn't always obvious because of Paul Gordon's deadpan acting, which is top notch and sometimes infuriating because you want to reach into the television and shake the talking rock that he is. Don't get me started on his lack of skills when it comes to talking to the opposite sex.
The script complemented Gordon's acting because of the excessive use of "cool", "yeah", and a few "uh's". Honestly, the writer must've consulted a slacker dictionary to create the dialog. But that's not a negative at all. It worked in this film and added to its charm.
As an aside, that "Eggless Egg Sandwich" looked really good.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
The Great Gatsby: The Vapid & Hip Edition
When Nick Carraway and Gatsby drive over the Queensboro Bridge, Nick says, "I didn't know what to think." Unlike Mr. Carraway, I "do" know what to think: This adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" must have F. Scott Fitzgerald rolling in his grave! If the setting is 1922 Long Island during the Jazz Age, then what the hell is "hip hop" doing in the soundtrack? Are we now catering to the vapid generation because they don't wish to read the classics? And if they do manage to crack open a book now and then, is this the way to make literature more palatable? Yes, I'll have a syrupy coating of tasteless CGI, irregular scene transitions, mediocre acting, and hip hop to go, please?
DiCaprio held his own, as usual, but why did he sign up in the first place. He should have thrown the script out the window and walked out.
As for Director Luhrmann, forgive me when I say, your job at the gas station is still waiting for you. Better stick to what you know.
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Not as bad as I thought but still needs work
Not the worst offering by Polanksi, but there are unanswered questions that I'll attempt to answer in this review. Please understand mine is but one of many interpretations on "The Ninth Gate".
So, let's get the first mystery out of the way: Why did Andrew Telfer hang himself? Polanski doesn't feel the need to reveal the "why" behind Telfer's suicide. However, he does provide a not-so-obvious clue by using the character of Baroness Kessler to state, "If he (Telfer) ever finds out what his wife gets up to in these gatherings, he'll probably kill himself." This quote needs an explanation to make more sense: Andrew Telfer's wife, Liana Telfer, is the leader of a secret witches' coven known as "The Order of the Silver Serpent". This coven was formed back in the 1600s and its purpose was to read from the book and worship the Prince of Darkness. But in the present, "they've degenerated into a social club for bored millionaires and celebrities who use its meetings as an excuse to indulge their jaded sexual appetites." On top of that, there's also the "possibility" Andrew Telfer found out that his wife only married him for his money, so she could buy a copy of "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows" and have her family's château restored for Satanic meetings. In the end, I feel the truth was too much for Andrew to deal with.
Corso visits an antiquarian bookshop owned by the Ceniza Brothers. The Ceniza's are two old guys who happen to be twins. Just as a side note, in mythologies from various cultures twins are seen as a sign that something bad is going to happen in the future. Anyway, the twins tell Corso that only six of the nine engravings were signed by Torchia, the other three by Lucifer. They then go on to interpret an engraving for Corso. This engraving clearly shows one of the twins as an angelic archer holding a bow and arrow ready to shoot. One of the twins explains its meaning and says, "Venture too far and danger will descend on you from above." Notice how the twins live up to their myth by indirectly warning Corso of the dangers that lie ahead if he continues on his journey.
In my opinion, Polanski is using the twins as cherubs who've been sent by God as messengers to warn Corso that he's reached a fork in the road, so to speak. He can go left and choose the path of Satan or go right and stay on the path of the righteous. By the way, in the Western occult tradition, the left-hand path is the path followed by Satanists and those who believe in Black magic. Obviously, Corso didn't get the message, which reminds me of Milton's "Paradise Lost" where Satan says, "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven".
The biggest mystery of all is, who is that blond woman? As far as I can tell and based on what I've seen and what I read in the screenplay, she's the Devil. Yes, that woman is Satan himself. And what's up with all the flying and martial arts, you might ask? Well, I think Polanksi needed a way to make Lucifer's presence on Earth not so obvious to Corso. Let's face it, having the blond woman wave her hand to kill a person would reveal too much. So, making her a into a decent martial artist allowed Polanski to get around this problem. What about the flying scenes? Polanski stated in an interview that he wanted the Corso character to question his sanity. Did he see the blond fly down from the ledge or did he imagine it? This is where Polanski tries to be clever by using these cheap tricks. I guess you will have to decide.
Another clue to the identity of the blond woman is found in the screenplay. Corso bumps into the blond at the hotel lounge. This is their conversation:
"THE GIRL: Are you on a business trip? (indicates his shoulder bag) Is that why you always carry that thing around?
CORSO doesn't answer, adjusts his glasses. inquiringly at her book.
THE GIRL hands it to him. We see the title: 'The Devil in Love' by Jacques Cazotte.
CORSO: Been traveling long?
THE GIRL: Ages."
Here we have the clue of the title of the book which identifies the blond and her amorous intentions for Corso. Also, the fact that she's been traveling for "Ages" pretty much leaves you with one conclusion. If that's not enough, here's another quote by The Girl, "I'm a bit of a devil myself..." I rest my case.
As I mentioned above, the Devil has the hots for Corso so we know why she's helping him and leading him down that wicked road to sin. Before I continue, Angels like Satan are pure spirit with no gender and usually take on the form of a human male when visiting Earth. But in this instance, Satan took on the form of a human female. So, for those who think this is some kind of "homosexuality" by proxy, you're wrong.
To continue, there's more to their relationship when you think about it from a scriptural point of view. Satan had a chance to destroy Job, God's servant, but he failed miserably in the end. Perhaps Corso is his second chance to get back at God. To laugh in his face once again.
What about the scene where the blonde marks Corso's forehead and nose with her own blood? I think that's her way of literally "marking" her man. As if she's saying, "You belong to me and no other woman." If you notice the marking, it looks very similar to a trident, or in this case, the Devil's Pitchfork.
Bates Motel (2013)
The Horror That is Norman
When I watched the first episode, I was a little disappointed because I wanted the series to be a period piece. I expected a backstory from the 1940s. But after the third episode, I got sucked in and soon forgot about such a minor quibble.
The show has solid acting all around especially from Norman and his mother. The Oregonian setting doesn't appeal to me personally but it works to propel the story forward.
The sheriff (Nestor Carbonell) is as close as you can get to a dead ringer for Anthony Perkins. They should seriously make this actor do a new Psycho movie.
I feel there are enough plot twists to keep the average viewer interested in the series. It's too bad they only did ten episodes. I hope they consider doing more for season two.
Definitely worth a watch.
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
What the Frack!
I plan to spew some vitriol right now, so if you're a BSG fan, don't read my review.
First off, one cannot discuss BSG without mentioning religion. It is the driving force behind the series. In fact the creator and executive producer of the original BSG and one of the writers of the remake, Glen Larson, is a Mormon. I only mention this so you can see the similarities between characters and certain events that occurred in BSG to those in The Book of Mormon.
The following is just guesswork on my part since I don't know the details behind Larson's vision: Admiral Adama could be loosely based on "Mormon"--the commander of the Nephite armies who battled against the "Lamanites" over a period of centuries. This leads me to believe the Cylons are based on the Lamanites.
The Gaius Baltar and Number 6 hallucinations could be based on the prophet-angel "Moroni". Again, I'm only making an educated guess here.
I'm sure if one were adventurous, he or she could discover other connections between the show and The Book of Mormon.
Okay, this may come off as a rant rather than a review but I feel it needs to be stated:
The Props: I don't understand why 20th century technology is incorporated into the highly-advanced technology used by the Capricans. The person in charge of props should've demanded a pink slip for himself and one for the director and called it a day. Who uses 1950s microphones for meetings? Why are doors made to look like those used in submarines? Why does Adama use a common razor to shave? I could go on but the damage has been done. Even the original Star Trek got the doors right and that was back in the 60s.
The Acting: For the most part the acting was solid. I don't think you'll find anyone who came across as "amateurish". Some do a better job than others but everyone held their own.
The Backstory & Character Development: The Latin term "ad nauseam" comes to mind when I think about the excessive use of backstory and character development. In fact, I'll go so far as to say there are more episodes concerning the past than there are of the present and future. This is what slowed down the series to a painful crawl and what made it a bloated mess in the end. Yes, like anyone else, I want to care about the characters but I didn't sign up to be their biographer. I don't need to know the minutiae of their lives. Do you? The Characters: Admiral Adama: How was this tyrant allowed to get away with half the stuff he pulled off and not answer to anyone for his crimes is beyond me. He was just a thug in a uniform who made more bad decisions than good. His famous lines are "I'm done here" or "I'm through talking". Wow! How enlightening. And this coming from a fleet admiral. I had to shake my head whenever Adama exercised his twisted version of morality. What was the rationale for allowing this despot to continue past the first season? President Rosalin: Now this woman annoyed me to no end. First, I had to get over that stupid face of hers. She looked like a "surprised catfish" in certain scenes and a dumbfounded hamster in others. I just wanted her to die already. Like Adama, she was a control freak who made bad decisions.
Gaius Baltar: How the frack did this guy end up surviving is beyond me. He pretty much screwed billions of inhabitants and screwed a few more on New Caprica and then gets off for his crimes. To what end? He contributed nothing to the larger community. I'm supposed to feel sorry for this twerp? I have another pink slip and this time it's for the writers.
Starbuck: Her annoying laugh made me want to put her in front a Cylon firing squad. She's an in-your-face character that got on everyone's nerves on the show and eventually mine as well. Throw her out of an airlock.
The Cylons: The machines believe in one god. The production team couldn't come up with something better than this. Must machines have a sense of religion to make a failing show interesting? My hands are going up in the air right now.
There's more but what's the use. I'm a hater in a sea of BSG fans. I admit the show had great potential but it was handled by the wrong people. Way too much drama for my taste. I guess it was way too much of everything that killed it for me.