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"Good Lord...", 30 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Interesting what passes for reality now, and the 'avg folks' types now getting to the same level of truly talented 'not quite the star' types - like Art Carney as sidekick Ed Norton, comes to mind first..

Things I noticed right away (1) the brothers not only don't look like bros, but all seem to have different accents, I've yet to figure out where the heck Noah came from - totally diff't look, accent, and add 50 IQ points to the rest of the Brown-Gump family.. (2) some bad teeth, other good teeth - whassup w that? you can't eat moose, bear, & jerky without good teeth people

(3) the "Good Lord" gets mentioned whenever there's some drama or tragedy, as if now "he" will help with seizures or other recent tragedies AFTER dishing it out to begin with.. (he's busy w the cosmos, stars get priority - we hope!) (4) the annoying MUSIC, you can be listening to them announce cancer & it sounds like Hollywood film music, killing any sense of reality or family drama

(5) NO sex, apparently -- really - not even the parents? sure, but w five young men at full hormonal stage, plus a 14 yr old looking like the hot girl in high school.. for whom is she doing this, the "Good Lord?" -- someone on the film crew? fans at home?

there are other things, they never show meals, just maybe some backstrap frying after a deer kill - I'll wager it's a big spread of 4-5 fresh things they pretend not to have, and a platter of 10-20 lbs of various meats.. AFTER ALL: there's a family of NINE w dog to feed, and a film crew of, what, 10-20 more? don't kid yerself, it's like a FEAST on the set, daily...

MILD SPOILER: Hey, what's that nice California home they're now at? So, Alaska is only a "Summer Home" thing? JUST AS WE SUSPECTED..

"SAVE ME, JEEBUS! Only You can save me now!" - Homer Simpson

"IF you can't spot the mark in the room, then it's you" -- Con- artist's Proverb #1

4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Boring beyond belief, 17 July 2016

Most boring major show ever -- I gave up during season two -- nothing was happening, and the entire story is just like a bloodthirsty medieval royal family, France to be exact, where he got the idea, from series of historical French novels taking place in the 13th century..

The only thing making it "modern" or a fantasy is apparently a dragon, which never appeared while I watched.. then a friend said that big wall in the wilderness was to keep out zombies? unreal - how trivial, and unimaginative.. when you want vapid fans to flock to see it, add vampires or zombies or both..

Lowest common denominator stuff, just made with big money... I don't have a decade to spare to wait for this to unfold more violence and greed, that's been done so often that there's nothing illuminating or cathartic in it for me, but apparently it's new to people who are probably new to life itself, like those under 30..

My hope is that before finishing the book series or the TV show, George Martin will suddenly die, that would be appropriate.. his SF writing is much better to me, like Sandkings.. check it out..

I give it five on production values alone, and Peter Dinklage's acting, but he's better in The Station Agent

14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Excellent and Inspiring War Miniseries, 20 February 2016

EXCELLENT series, best war miniseries since Band of Brothers, and that was the best of all-time according to IMDb raters, myself, and many others (it was the first DVD set I ordered in advance).. I also learned more about physics from this, which caused me to look up heavy water (D2O) online and Germany's wartime nuclear research.

THIS series had me riveted, I watched the last 5 episodes in one sitting (til dawn) b/c I couldn't STOP watching.. some great footage of the skiing, just what you'd expect from Scandanavians.. The commando raid was also brilliantly filmed.

KUDOS to writers, directors, cast (Anna Friel, stunning as always!), and the incredible landscapes - I admire anyone who can conquer all that winter ice & snow and not only survive, but move around and fight wars in all that hostile environment.

HEROES prove their status in times of need, willing to endure self- sacrifice for the rest of us - glad to see that they also inspire cinematic ART many decades later!

28 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Please don't rewrite classic literature, 19 January 2016

This has the look and slow pace of a typical BBC Masterpiece production, good if you like that, and I usually do, especially the Dickens novels. (check out Martin Chuzzlewit for Paul Schofield's best performance) However, unlike most, in Tolstoy's major work, they've not remained true to the original literature.

Apparently (I've seen only Pt 1 myself), after reading a major media review, they've decided to sex up this story with scenes never in the Tolstoy novel.. in pt 1 a brother got in bed w his sister (both adults) in the morning, something inappropriate that I never remembered from any Tolstoy novels.. later there will be an infidelity they've thrown in as well -- poetic license apparently means RATINGS TRUMP LITERATURE.. I'm surprised they didn't add some gory violence as well, the more explicit, the more teenage viewers will love it.

FOR ME: IF you're going to film a major work of literature, then film THAT work, don't recreate it in your own modern perception filter of what it should have been.. or just write something original (if you can), but don't twist the classics into something more ratings worthy.

After seeing all four parts of this, I will no doubt immensely prefer the 1966 Russian version (even though subtitled), seven hours long with 250,000 Red Army extras in the war scenes, directed by actor Sergey Bondarchuk, shown here on PBS in four parts. A more epic and cinematic film, it had much better pace, more passion, and didn't invent scenes with the audience in mind. The war scenes in this TV production are very 'cheesy' by comparison.

Ida (2013)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The best film ever about individual spirituality, 10 May 2015

This is an incredible film about one woman's self-discovery at an important crossroads in her life, a novitiate nun about to take her vows. She is told at the convent that she has a living aunt, whom she seeks out, finding out in the process that she had Jewish parents & was born during WW2. That begins her soul searching journey that we all must make at some point.

The power of this film is that without being preachy, didactic, dogmatic, judgmental, or sadistic (a fault of many western religious films), it still inspires us to look at our own individual spirituality, and where me might be on what I call "the path to wisdom".

Beautifully shot in classic black & white, even full-frame "square box" aspect, the superb cinematography appears to owe much to master still photographers like Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, the Westons, and there are even images of lonely people in bars or diners reminiscent of the paintings of Edward Hopper. It received an Oscar nomination for cinematography (Lubezski won his 2nd in a row, for Birdman this year, Gravity last year), and a well-deserved Oscar for foreign language film.

Each person will likely take away something different from this film, and that's what individual spirituality is all about anyway - we can only decide individually our philosophy of life and our own place in the cosmos. Director Pawel Pawlikowski has made a masterpiece in this genre, one that will affect millions of viewers over the coming decades. Kudos all around for this gem.

17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Engrossing TV, beautiful location, 29 October 2013

I stumbled onto this Weather Channel series checking for local storms - thank you! This is not only gorgeous western scenery but engrossing TV, following a few "old style" prospectors, using pioneer methods to find rare gemstones in the high Rocky Mtns of Colorado.. most are hiking up above the timberline, and the best "pickins" seem to be above 14,000 feet, so expect a strenuous climb, with backpacking gear, just to get there.. after that, you have to negotiate over scree and boulder slopes that often drop off 500-800 feet, so if you slip, that's where you stop.. cast member Amanda (?) mentions seeing two fellow miners die in rock slides.. These are so common that an area nearby is off limits, due to slides every two minutes, constantly monitored by USGS equipment.

The only time the prospectors can get to these barren peaks is about 100 warm days from July to September, the summer months.. once the snow clears, there are still thunderstorms obviously w lightning that sends everyone scurrying off the peaks a.s.a.p., sometimes leaving equipment behind.. and if you've ever backpacked in the American west, you know that a sudden snowstorm can blow in at high altitudes at any time of year, and with only a few minutes warning.. one cast member even blames "God", saying "now this snowstorm.. dunno why he's angry with me" (I have to laugh at this, as many of us blame "the gods" when our machines break down and inclement weather throws a wrench into our plans, as if an intelligent deity wants to mess up our day for some obscure reason, as if we as individuals have any significance in the "infinite cosmos")

Add to this the knowledge that the film crews are enduring the same hardships, including toting heavy equipment up the mountains (as the cameramen voted to take the better resolution, bigger cams up rather than small handhelds, in order to "get better footage for TV", a great decision - one you can see in a 30 minute special about the filming of the series, which is also a highly recommended "must-see" watch for all fans of series of this type

How about this tidbit to whet your appetite: Steve Brancato found, before the series started, a largish stone (still less than a foot, and maybe 5-8 lbs) w a rare formation of one of these gems (aquamarine?), worth, I think they said, a quarter of a million - now displayed in a museum with his name, as the largest of its type ever found - and Brancato likes to prospect either alone or with one partner. There's a family mining a larger area using an earth digger (which costs them 1k a day) that finds a pocket of amazonite and smoky quartz together, very rare, and their one day dig is later evaluated at 500-600k when finally sold to collectors and museums. Not bad for a day's haul, even if split among 5-7 family members!

All in all, a very pleasant surprise for reality TV, and to me, much more engrossing and beautiful to watch than the other mining shows, though I did enjoy the unique environment of mining under the sea in Bering Sea Gold. IF you've ever hiked in the Colorado Rockies, you know how beautiful this scenery is, it's an alpine wonderland.

They will show a 'marathon' of season one b/c season two just started - I watched the whole season in one sitting, then the premiere of season two, it was that riveting for me! -- the Jman

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A heart-rending story shows that some universal conditions never change, 11 December 2010

One of the first major plays to deal with the frustrations and economic plight of lower-class black families in urban America, from author Lorraine Hansberry, makes an emotional tour de force film for a terrific cast, led by Sidney Poitier as the sole-surviving adult male of the family, Walter Lee Younger. He shares a small two-bedroom tenement apartment in Chicago with his wife, his son, who is forced to sleep on the couch, and his mother and sister, who share the other bedroom.

Even though he has a steady job as a chauffeur for a wealthy white family, the other adults are forced to engage in part-time work in stereotypical jobs, such as kitchen, maid and laundry work. His sister, a part-time student, has dreams of becoming a doctor, while Sidney has dreams of making it big in some emerging business opportunity, as a friend did in dry cleaning.

Most of the film takes place in the small apartment, so we feel both the claustrophobia and despair of their situation. The mother immigrated there from the deep south when a teen, in order to escape racism and to find some opportunity for advancement out of poverty, which until her husband's death has been an elusive and unattainable dream.

The play and film begin as a glimmer of hope is on its way in the form of a life insurance check for ten thousand following the death of his father, who also lived in the apartment for most of his adult life as well. His mother, played by Claudia McNeil in a Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated performance as the new head of the family, hasn't decided yet what to do with all the money, while the rest of the family dreams what it could mean to each of them. Along the way we get to see a very young Lou Gossett, Jr., and Ivan Dixon in small parts as romantic interests of the sister.

It may seem a little stagy, but it's obvious that director Petrie wanted to keep the feel and intimacy of the play. At times it seems a bit overemotional perhaps, with some acting bordering on histrionics; nevertheless, the entire cast turns in excellent, heart-rending performances, led by Poitier and Ruby Dee as his wife. This is a tough pill to swallow, but if you've grown up poor or within a minority, it feels right on target and gives honest expression to the plight of the economically deprived in this over-abundant yet unequal nation. Given the current economic climate, it truly seems that some things never change.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Very moving look at Alzheimer's, 10 May 2010

This deeply moving look at Alzheimer's and it's effect not only on the victims but their families deservedly won an Emmy award for "Non-Fiction Programming". In order to show the different stages of this progressively debilitating illness, Cookson shows many different patients, from one without any symptoms yet, up to a very touching scene of a man at the edge of death, with his family at his bedside. This is not easy viewing, as of course it's not meant to be, I believe the goal is to raise public awareness of the slow and painful erosion of one's mind while those who care are helplessly incapable of easing the symptoms or the suffering involved. Diseases like this beg for increased funding on research from every possible source, and removing restrictions on stem cell research, and for governments to more wisely use their funding for improving the life of citizens rather than squandering it on needless wars and intrusive policing actions in other countries. KUDOS to all involved with this project.

Insightful, open-minded look at hatred, 7 June 2009

I was impressed by the non-judgmental view of Skinheads, as director Shari Cookson exposes the hatred you can find everywhere in the U.S. by simply turning on the cameras and letting these people reveal themselves to us. I'm sure some viewers will see this and think the opposite that I did about the people this exposes. There's a scene with people discussing different viewpoints on the streets of a city that I think illustrates the way this should be handled in America: open, non-violent discourse where each side listens to the other - I believe this is called "communication".

A very well done and timely documentary, and just after filming, the skinheads shown here were arrested on weapons violation charges, which is another method the law has of getting rid of "undesirables" who otherwise may not be committing any known crimes.