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11 reviews in total 
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"Glue" (2014)
14 out of 16 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)
1 out of 1 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."

17 out of 51 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)
18 out of 28 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.

Great Film, Terrible Poster, 17 April 2013

What an unexpected surprise! When I went to a pre-noon matinée on Sunday and the theater was nearly packed, it was a surprise. My friend who took me said the theater management had said audiences grew by word-of-mouth. I can now understand why.

This is a classic crowd pleaser, if asked to sum up its appeal, I am telling people it's a combination of THE COMMITMENTS, DREAMGIRLS, GOOD MORNING Vietnam and RABBIT PROOF FENCE.

It is playful and comical, sometimes corny (but not often), very accessible, and hugely engaging. The story of four Aboriginal women who are hired to entertain troops in Vietnam is peppered with crowd-pleasing hits from the 1960s that are done to perfection. The knockout singer in the group is beautifully portrayed by Jessica Mauboy who was runner-up in the 2006 Australian Idol competition when she was just 16.

All the actors are fantastic, and unlike DREAMGIRLS, they are all shaped like real women. The Aboriginal aspect is quite unique and presented sincerely. The saga of racism in Australia is eye-opening and lends gravity to this generally light, but thoroughly enjoyable fare.

55 out of 75 people found the following review useful:
First three episodes: No expense spared, 2 February 2013

This is a splendid production, top notch casting, Spacey is back on his game after a recent career of missteps, boondoggles and occasional brilliance.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, wife to Spacey's character, is stunning -- even Underwood's office manager Evelyn (not credited) brings credence to the cast.

Kate Mara (older sister of Rooney Mara) is fantastic as a go-getter of a reporter who manages to push through what Spacey's character knows will benefit both of them. She knows her assets, but just barely.

There are numerous directors involved, it will be interesting to see how they handle their segments, and if the series can persist in making reprehensible characters intriguing, and earnest characters look clueless.

The Messenger (2009/I)
8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Unbelievably raw without being sensational or fake, 8 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ben Foster is officially a man, not a college kid or winged teenage mutant.

In THE MESSENGER he portrays a seriously wounded soldier who takes no consolation in having saved the lives of his men or surviving. He must still perform self-administered medical routines each day as a result of his injuries, he doesn't make miraculous recovery and he can't just "forget." With three months left in his stint, he is assigned to a notification detail under the command of a jaded and harsh soldier played by Woody Harrelson. It is their job to tell people their relative has been killed in war.

It is annoying that the angle of him overstepping bounds with a widow, because this has been done poorly in so many films. The fact that they become friends is far enough over the bounds for the soldier. This is a beautifully and sensitively handled situation that looks and sounds real, not contrived.

The responses from the people who are notified of their loss are too striking to be fake. I'll need to read more on development of this script, but I encourage you who see this movie to be prepared: it is touching and gripping in its rawness.

If you are the kind of film-goer who likes to be emotionally and cognitively challenged by film -- even if it's difficult -- this is a must-see.

105 out of 204 people found the following review useful:
Mawkish and full of holes, 8 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An attractive cast quickly deteriorates in this heavily visual film that forgot its story.

It's no secret that the protagonist is murdered, but the neighbor who commits the crime (it is revealed at the top of the film, no secret there, either) is a cartoon of creepiness. The only traits missing are flop sweat and incontinence. Tucci's character is no picture of normalcy.

Wahlberg and Weisz are wasted in this film. The actresses who portray their daughters do better, but the film fails them. The beautiful boyfriend is so carefully framed, that this should have been a TWILIGHT-type flick so tweens could worship him. And the actress whose folks oversee the sink-hole dump is too pretty to play a socially-disabled teen.

Then the chorus of characters in the "between world" are Stephen King quality spooks, complete with wooden delivery and mysterious statements which when questioned are followed by "you'll see" answers.

Questions about this film: (1) In a field adjacent to the school, why didn't anyone see preparation or demolition of the secret place? (2) Why was Wahlberg miscast in this role of an emotional wreck who is short-fused and obsessed? His celebrity has been built around characters who are cool, circumspect, smarter-than-average, and now they want us to believe he's slightly stupid? (3) When a safe is taken to be dumped into the sink-hole dump, why does he park so far away, and who built an antique floor safe that appears to weigh as much as a filing cabinet? (5) Why is Susan Sarandon in this film? It seems as if her character came from another movie and offers NOTHING to this script. She's overdressed, but can't operate a washing machine? This is failed farce at its worst. (6) Why isn't there ever resolution to this film, which deals in obviousness? Why get obtuse now?

I've read several reviews in which female viewers "cried" and gave high marks. Is that all it takes… emotional string-pulling? Film makers know exactly how to lead up to an emotional crescendo, how many "beats" to wait, and when to pull the trigger for tears.

Nine (2009)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Where is the DANCING?, 8 January 2010

The trailer for this film caught my attention a couple of months before its release.

I even vaulted over mediocre reviews that kept defending Fellini's film and stage show. Nobody said any of the acting in THIS film was faulty.

Boy, what a sad disappointment. Then I remembered I had the same problem with Marshall's CHICAGO.

The cache of talent in NINE is mind-boggling, which is often problematic for films once lawyers and agents start wrestling against the script for more lines and screen time for their clients.

The real problem with NINE is the same slash-chop editing of dance numbers that came into vogue with MOULIN ROUGE and Chicago. Seriously, the dancing on television's SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE and GLEE is more satisfying.

Once upon a time, musical movies featured incredible wide angles and following shots that showed dancers doing their thing: dancing! It was incredible and the dancer's skill and exertion changed the heart rate of viewers. This same aesthetic set apart masterful music videos from the mediocre.

For some reason Marshall pieces together bits and angles in hopes we will believe the dance occurred in a fluid, skillful take. But I don't believe it. I think these dance numbers were shot step-by-step in dozens of takes and then pieced together. The skill on display in NINE is that of the editor, not the dancers and singers.

It is the same effect as films about great musicians where you see the hands on the instrument, then a shot of the actor's face, then the instrument: it's pretty clear the actor isn't playing the instrument. Then someone like Jamie Foxx comes along and plays the piano with the camera capturing his skillful musicianship along with incredible acting. RAY wasn't a great film, but Jamie Foxx' performance soared.

Marshall makes me sad, because I know he's influencing other filmmakers to follow suit. Somebody break the cycle with a truly great musical movie so he and Baz Luhrman will learn to focus on skilled artists instead of celebrities being made to look like they're doing the work.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The ultimate HORROR show, 8 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was an unlucky kid and grew up in the 1960s in a small town where several boys fell prey to a pedophile.

This film shows how easy it is for pedophiles to pick up naïve boys. I think this film should be shown to every school-age boy as self-defense training.

One member of NAMBLA casually mentions how easy it is to pick up boys and the camera follows him into a mall where he leads boys out to the parking lot, aborting his plans just as the boys are about to climb into his van. Chilling!

In 1994 I attended a Queer Symposium held during Gay Games in New York. The rules for the crowd were that anyone who identified as "queer" was invited to participate. When representatives from NAMBLA arrived, organizers of the symposium had to quiet the crowd from the stage and moderate the heated audience Q&A.

When I went to see this film, I noticed that most of the sparse audience was sunk down in their chairs, wearing hats; it was easy to spot who was there out of morbid curiosity and who came out of livid interest.

"Chicken Hawk" is aptly titled and wickedly unabashed. Child molesters and pedophiles are complex in their desires, and if one can get past the initial repulsion, these are just men who have justified their aberrant behavior. They don't question it, they embrace it and have found a support system. That is scary.

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