Reviews written by registered user

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17 reviews in total 
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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Deviled by the Details, 31 January 2017

This is supposed to be ITV's "replacement" for DOWNTON ABBEY, but it's an elaborate game of dress-up.

That was a poor marketing ploy, because by comparison THE HALCYON is tarted-up run-of-the-mill soap. On its own, the show is fancy, sometimes fun, and often unbelievable. The writers have packed in as much trauma as possible -- every A and B-list character has something tearing at them.

THe characters are written as graphs: no actual realization possible. Those in charge of the plot and characters seem to be making it up as they go along, because the characters don't arrive fully formed and ready for discovery. Back story details feel tacked on.

It was believable that DOWNTON characters prized their positions and sacrificed a great deal. At THE HALCYON, a senior staffer is nearly axed, has had three precious days off in a decade, but decides to take off the day when a major social reception is booked. Not the day after, but the day of. Sorry, but that disservices the character and the story.

15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Excellent first episode, 16 January 2016

If the series continues in this way, I suspect it will be a starmaker along the order of POLDARK and approaching DOWNTON ABBEY. Well formed characters, beautiful period detail, and a keen knowledge that human issues -- love, anger, fear, greed, desperation, pride, stupidity, transformation, etc. -- persist even in the midst of crisis. The Civil War is seen from a fresh perspective that is grueling and more intimate.

Excellent performances by actors with whom I'm not yet familiar. It's a shame the producers do the cast a huge disservice in the credits. In the first episode, there is a teenage soldier clutching a flagpole he has held since he fought alongside his dad. Then there is a wounded soldier whose crisis is key in unfolding the story of a Black character and the attitudes of others toward race. The crappy credits simply read: Union Soldier #1, Union Soldier #2, and on. Really? How lazy and short-sighted.

The Gift (2015/VI)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
EXTRAORDINARY cloaked in the familiar, 11 August 2015

I have seen this film three times and it almost demands two screenings to see what is really going on. The subtlety with which Jason Bateman delivers the character of Simon.

Many reviewers have failed to view the beginning of the film through the filters of what we know about these characters at the end. What if Simon immediately recognized Gordo and remembered everything about their shared past? What we learn about Simon is that he likes the upper hand. How does that apply here? Edgerton's clever use of over-worked types and settings to provide cover for an astounding main story is smile inducing. The energy with which he approaches this story is elegant. This is not a jolting roller-coaster, but a first-time sky dive with a perfect landing.

8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Astounding and Unforgettable, 30 July 2015

This is a simple story of childhood tragedy, absence of fatherly love, and a young man with unreconciled grief and emotional turmoil. Young actor Finn Elliott turns in a remarkable performance. He's a beautiful kid and delivers a complex role with naturalness and heartbreaking authenticity.

When the role is picked up by George MacKay, the transition is seamless. After a forced absence which takes place between episodes, he returns older and harder, but not repaired. As his stepmother says, a "broken thing." MacKay has turned in impressive leading performances in HOW I LIVE NOW and PRIDE. He is absolutely among the rising class of performers who will probably dominate the next generation.

Greg Wise in the role of the father is cold and rigid, but isn't a monster; he's simply unequipped with emotional warmth for his son or his new wife. This television production exceeds most of the feature films I've seen this year.

Bravetown (2015/I)
7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Emotionally LOADED, 9 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a slog through exhausted, overwrought ideas. This film is chock full of characters with issues, but they're not well-rounded.

Lucas Till, who looks like he could be the kid of Randy Travis, gets into all kinds of trouble and is supposed to be 17-years-old. Why didn't the judge charge his mother with neglect, he is supposed to be a minor? Everyone expected shows up in this film, including the small-town girl who is achingly beautiful, and who takes an immediate dislike to our city boy.

To make a long story short: An electronica DJ ends up being the savior in a rural school, while an interpretive dance ends up healing survivor guilt, clinical depression, and a host of other issues. This film doesn't employ a single method of emotional manipulation, it uses ALL of them.

Showboys (2011)
Not quite ready for direct-to-DVD, 7 May 2015

This film stops just short of a laugh track in its pursuit of humor. It's attractive cast of newcomers has uneven acting abilities that are dragged toward the deep end where they drown in a lame caper with dialog that requires them to behave like imbeciles. Even the title is ill conceived and sounds like an industry rag for drag queens.

The film boasts adult film veteran Ron Jeremy, and this may be his most embarrassing and disgusting project to-date.

The two previous comments are highly rated, but they are from cast and crew of the film -- is that actually allowed? Even they couldn't give it 10 stars.

"Glue" (2014)
18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Stunning ensemble of young actors, 3 November 2014

This series and the gradual revelation of characters, their histories and self-realizations make for first-rate watching. From an opener in which the players seem like a bored bunch of small town fun seekers, to the end where we feel intimately acquainted with every one of them, the central crime and associated misdeeds play against the personal network in perplexing, infuriating and masterful ways. This is a memorable group and the show should garner awards all around.

The insight into ethnic factions and the unreasonable biases they create and maintain was eye-opening. Revelation of grudges and resentments takes its time and unfolds just as one has nearly forgotten about them. This season feels wrapped-up, but there is definitely room for another season. The Karma Cafe still has a couple of characters who haven't yet received what they deserve.

Browsers (2013) (TV)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Sharp, Hilarious and MERCILESS!, 13 December 2013

What is more absurd than Huffington Post and Musical Theater? Marrying the two and exploiting stereotypes which are stunning by their obviousness: 20-somethings who are self-absorbed, and simultaneously cocky and insecure; takes on popular political entertainment (Anne Coulter, for instance), dissecting Arianna Huffington (Julianna, in this program). Even the name "GUSH" is a nice takeaway from "HUFF" Post.

For those who are unfamiliar with Huffington Post, its success formula and its players, this will likely be tedious and moronic, as the references sail by without effect.

The characters are winning, but heavily of type. After all, The Onion said it best on their popular t-shirt: "Stereotypes exist for a reason."

19 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Painfully concocted, 26 October 2013

This story of sexual politics and medical restraints of the mid-20th Century suffers under the weight of its trappings. It's not uncommon for Victorian costume dramas to falter under the weight of their costumes, hair and sets; but BREATHLESS introduces the same problems to the era of Rob & Laura Petrie. Every character is perfect, without a hair out of place and in a costume that looks like it's worn for the first time. Every set and piece is meticulous and doesn't feel inhabited.

Driven by a chorus of muted trumpets, with excessive fussiness about lighting, sets and hair; this is less a about characters than it is a parade of period snapshots. Had this been presented in black-and-white, the potboiler flavor and melodramatic delivery might work.

G.B.F. (2013)
24 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
A high school comedy with HEART and BRAINS!, 19 June 2013

I tire quickly when a high school comedy pops onto the scene with stupid adults and know-it-all kids who look too mature for the roles. Kudos to writer George Northy for giving his kids heart and the grown-ups brains, it elevates this film above the bulk in his genre. Director Darren Stein is very judicious in his nods to similar films -- Clueless, Mean Girls, Heathers, Carrie, and nearly every John Hughes film.

RESTRAINT is what makes this film so enjoyable: Megan Mullally manages to escape the curse of Will & Grace alumni and is able to NOT rehash Karen walker, but create a new character. Paul Iacono is brilliant and I can't imagine him as any other character -- which is how I felt about his TV character RJ Berger, who is worlds apart from this role.

Sasha Pieterse is blond Denise Richards pretty, but a whole lot smarter. Xosha Roquemore is all legs and laughs. She mutters a brilliant line that made me bust out laughing: "I ain't mad at that" -- watch for it. She owns the role and is smart!

G.B.F. smacks of a cult favorite and star-maker. I suspect in a few years we'll look back at this pop-masterpiece and marvel at all the now-celebrities who broke-through in this cast.

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