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A tremendous improvement over the original film adaptation
As much as I loved the original film adaptation, and I definitely loved that, the six episode Swedish mini-series contains much more information, much more emotional depth and breadth, and is a much more rewarding experience for the viewer.
Even the addition of long slow closeups of Lisbeth Salander are filled with meaning, emotion, and add greatly to our understanding of her character and her history. Noomi Rapace knocked this one right out of the park. Often, her performance was so strong I found myself actually holding my breath.
With the additional scenes, not footage, by the way, actual intended scenes, we get more of the investigations, and that proves ultimately to be so much more rewarding.
The "Millennium Trilogy" may just end up being my all time favorite adaptation of one of my all time favorite series of novels.
The Poker House (2008)
A Near Perfect Movie
A person's life is made up of many stories, and this is just one story from Lori Petty's life, but it's told with all the style of John Steinbeck. Speaking of style, something which is lacking in so many films today, even great ones, THE POKER HOUSE is done with an amazing amount of it, and the only thing you get more of than style in this movie is the incredible performances and characterizations of Jennifer Lawrence, Sophia Bairley, Chloe Moretz, and Selma Blair, an excellent supporting cast, and a to-die-for script. The final scene of this movie is not an ending, it's a beginning, and it's so powerful I jumped to my feet while watching it. Lori Petty has an incredible grasp of the art of visual storytelling. I can't wait to see what she does next.
The Philanthropist (2009)
America is one country among many.....
.....but Nigeria and Burma are not household words here. Thanks to THE PHILANTHROPIST, American television entertainment may have just taken a humanitarian turn for the better, while still providing solid entertainment.
This can't help but be a good thing, and I sincerely hope this show is successful. It's entertaining enough, so I remain optimistic.
One thing I noticed, the lens through which we view the rest of the world, so far, isn't filtered by American values. What we see are simple human values. This is a good approach, I think.
Our protagonist, emotionally devastated over the death of his son, is driven to help those who are also suffering, especially children. That this takes place on the world's stage is quite unusual for American television, and long overdue.
I've enjoyed the first two episodes and been moved by them as well. This is what a dramatic series should do.
A Soap Opera Set in Space
If future episodes are going to be like the pilot, 30 minutes of material stretched to 2 hours, then this is going to be one bumpy ride. Plus, anytime our astronauts are together, they all talk at once, and yell, too.
Still, the virtual reality side of things could be interesting, plus the mystery of who's doing what to whom. Do we have another HAL9000 here, a saboteur, or is mission control the bad guy?
Another down side is I've gone two hours into this without liking any of the characters. That's not a good sign.
On the other hand, I've gone two hours into this without turning it off. That's a positive sign.
I'll wait for another episode and see how that goes.
Nurse Jackie (2009)
An Instant Hit!
I work with Nurses and Edie Falco does Nurse Jackie perfectly. Earthy, gritty, with hard hitting humor and heartbreaking drama. Sure, it may be derivative but it's seriously well done, and realistic, too.
I loved the first episode and they had me five minutes in. That's pretty amazing. I already feel like I've known Nurse Jackie for years, I understand her, I feel what she feels, and I know why she feels that way.
You guys did that with one episode. I'm impressed.
Even the supporting characters seem real, as well as the patients, and nothing comes across as rushed or hurried. The director is taking his time, getting it right.
I'm sure this will be an instant hit.
Nothing Is Private (2007)
This is one odd, disturbing, strange little movie that is as seductive as it is uncomfortable to watch. The ensemble cast is a standout but Summer Bishil absolutely steals this one by delivering an amazingly adult performance of an almost impossible role, and Peter Macdissi, as her father, is also excellent with a heavily nuanced complex character.
I'd also like to point out this movie has more WTF moments than anything I've seen in recent memory.
Another thing I was struck with is just how commonplace, how "normal" the events in this girl's life appear, and that is even more disturbing.
I'd like to close by saying this movie will not be enjoyed by everyone, nor will it be understood by everyone. This is a major piece of film-making and a major piece of storytelling, though, and if you don't mind extremes, definitely give this one a try.
Äideistä parhain (2005)
Klaus Härö has done two films that I've seen, MOTHER OF MINE and ELINA, which are two of my all time favorite movies, and the only other director who has done that is Akira Kurosawa.
Few directors are able to show us the unimaginable sense of loss children can sometimes feel the way Klaus Härö can, and do it in such a compelling, honest, and beautiful way.
Utilizing great camera work, a stunningly talented group of actors, and a rock solid screenplay, he goes about painting a portrait so real it broke my heart.
Almost anyone can put together a list of 'must see' movies, but, as far as I'm concerned, MOTHER OF MINE and ELINA should appear on a 'movies to see before you die' list. They are both THAT good.
This is film-making at its finest!!!
Bájecná léta pod psa (1997)
Odd but Delightful!
The story is told using a gentle, almost subtle, form of storytelling, which works amazingly well because, even though the story takes place during the Soviet occupation of Checkoslovakia, not a particularly funny time, it's also warm, humorous, and down right good natured with more than a few laugh out loud moments.
I'd like to say there's a strong political message here, but I can't. What I did come away with is that life goes on, no matter what's going on around you. There's no grand historical perspective here. Just the history of this one odd little family told in an almost lyrical way.
Each character is a well painted portrait but not necessarily an expected one. Yet I warmed to each character quickly.
The storytelling is top notch, the acting mostly so, and the overall effect is both charming and entertaining.
I was pleasantly surprised by this fine little movie and I recommend it without reservation.
Si j'étais toi (2007)
A Good Story Minus The Better Story
First, I enjoyed the movie. The story was more than interesting, had plenty of dramatic elements, convincing performances, and a rich visual presentation.
Second, this is one of those rare movies, like BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, where I kept feeling the better story was slightly out of reach. I don't know why that is. It could be me, it could be somebody was locked into the screenplay and couldn't make changes, or it could be the writer was just going in a different direction and I didn't want to follow.
We started off OK. The father was in both disbelief and denial. His wife terribly confused to find herself in her daughter's body. The father slowly comes around as the evidence mounts. This is where I come off the tracks. I would have written the rebirth of the husband/wife relationship and built on the obvious problems that would entail. The father keeps seeing his daughter every time he looks at his wife, the wife's friends become suspicious, people begin looking at the father oddly because of his apparent strange relationship with his daughter. Adding a sexual element here would have been unnerving and highly dramatic. Not a popular decision but I would have done it anyway. Then I would have introduced the daughter back into the equation with the wife becoming aware of her daughter's presence, slowly but increasingly aware, and at that point the husband/wife become distant from each other as their confusion mounts over not understanding what's happening. I would have ended the movie the same way, with the daughter returning. I would have, however, offered a few more scenes of spiritual explanation, possibly because I am not spiritual at all and I would feel the need to offer some reason for what has happened.
Like I said before, it's really unusual for me to react to a story this way, but every so often I sense a better story and simply yearn for it.
I am in no way criticizing this one. This is a fine story and a fine movie.
Lost in Austen (2008)
A Readers' Fantasy Come True
I've enjoyed Jane Austen's writing but I wouldn't consider myself a big fan. However, I loved LOST IN AUSTEN and I found it to be a readers' fantasy come true.
What would happen, what would it be like, if you had a favorite novel, one that you revisited frequently, a novel that you absolutely loved, one that you could get lost in, and suddenly you did? What would it be like to discover yourself in the middle of that story, not as one of the characters, but as yourself? Wouldn't that be totally amazing?
Well, that's exactly what happens in LOST IN AUSTEN and I loved every minute of it, as anyone who loves to read would also. This is as much a celebration of both reading and storytelling as it is about Jane Austen.
A lot of attention to detail, a cast who look and behave exactly as you expect them to look and behave, a story you're already familiar with, but now toss in the reader herself and stir the mix. WOW!
I had a wonderful time watching this and I hope you do as well.