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phd_travel

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1072 reviews in total 
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La La Land (2016/I)
An enchanting step in the right direction, 8 December 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In some ways this is a lovely movie with a wonderful homage to old Hollywood musicals and a romantic if slightly derivative main musical theme.

The cinematography is nostalgic and the musical numbers are for the most part quite good. I liked them except for the Glee like freeway opening number. Generally they were not over done. Less is more. The romantic Observatory number is a standout.

The story of a the different careers of music and acting pulling them apart is a familiar one. The modern twist is the poignant ending and what if flashback. They could have made things work if she had just gone back to him after her movie. A happy ending would have been too old fashioned I guess.

Ryan Gosling - kudos to him for singing and dancing. Not many successful screen actors of his generation are capable of it. He doesn't have a Broadway caliber voice or snappiness in his dancing but it doesn't matter - it's his screen presence that brings in the crowds. Emma Stone is slim and dances satisfactorily - her voice is acceptable if not that lovely. There are too many closeups of her face. Her face isn't really beautiful. The two performances aren't as high a standard as those of the multi talented MGM stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood - those who could actually sing dance and act.

It's just so good that movie makers of this generation are trying to do this type of musical on screen again - maybe it will pave the way for some successful Broadway actors and actresses to get big screen roles they deserve. The broader audience has missed out on a lot of fine talent the last couple of decades.

Good B movie with a message, 6 December 2016
7/10

For a fictional not big budget WW2 war movie it is good for what it is. An American / British team go behind enemy lines in Prussia and team up with a Russian team and a good Fraulien to stop the 4th Reich from being formed.

The cast isn't very famous except Tom Sizemore and an elderly looking Rutger Hauer. Liked the actress Julie Englebrecht - she's pretty and convincing in her role as a good German.

There is a feel good video game logic to the story but it's actually quite good. Of course there is some unrealistic aspects like the respective kill ratios. But who cares, it's quite enjoyable and the fictional elements are inspired by a factual framework.

The message of this movie is the U.S. and Russia fighting on the same side against a common enemy is a good idea.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Familiar concept but well done, 5 December 2016
7/10

Facing some difficulties in her life a woman wishes she hadn't been married. She gets her wish granted and dreams of life without having married her husband and the consequences of having a successful career and no love. The concept is familiar but the execution is quite light hearted and well done.

The cast is likable and avoids the annoying nature of some Hallmark movies. Nikki de Loach is quite bright without being too perky. Andrew Walker plays her husband.

The lesson is to be grateful for what you have. The alternative could be worse.

Quite good - kept me interested, 5 December 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The courtroom drama about a son accused of killing his nasty father is a little different. Liked the part showing how the truth is hard to get from witnesses because of their memories and personal reasons to slant the truth.

Things seem obvious at first - the boy is covering for his mother. That is the way things seem to be put to the audience but as expected there is a twist. The twist fits in and does explain things and though logically possible it isn't that probable.

It's good to see Renee in a non Bridget Jones role. She is very slim. Renee doesn't look like she has had surgery on her face - don't get all the rumors. If she had surgery there won't be wrinkles around her eyes and mouth.

Keanu's acting reminds a little of Devil's Advocate with the slow talking Southern lawyer. He is acceptable here - the movie doesn't depend on his acting.

Don't understand the negative reviews. This movie is better than a TV thriller drama and not deja vu at all.

Interesting look at doing business internationally, 4 December 2016
8/10

This is a very interesting movie about an American businessman doing business in Saudi Arabia. Lots of interesting culture differences shown. Liked the way the story unfolded. But I can see why this wasn't a box office hit even with Tom Hanks in it - not many would be interested in the subject matter.

There are some strange casting choices. The driver wasn't Arab and didn't sound Arab a total whitewashing choice. The love interest lady doctor wasn't Arab either - they chose a British Indian actress. There are so many good actors of Arab descent why didn't they select from them.

Although filmed in Morocco it does have a transporting experience.

Too long and hard to follow but locations are fun, 4 December 2016
3/10

The main problem with this movie is that the story is an overlong mess. It goes on and on with twists and whatever that it's just tough to follow the story. The magic seems a bit lame and repetitive. In the end I didn't care what was happening to whom.

But there are some good points. The locations in Macau and London have a fun on location feel. They didn't choose the nicer parts of Macau to film in but it felt authentic. The Covent Garden and Tower Bridge scenes in London were quite magical.

Liked the cast. The older cast is likable and it's nice to see the actress Tsai Chin on screen again. Daniel Radcliffe shows he can overcome his small stature to act in any mainstream non Harry Potter movie.

Not quite worth a watch.

Monotonously insipid acting, 2 December 2016
3/10

I'm surprised this movie was successful at the box office. It's just not good. Compared to the Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility this is a let down. It's too bad because the story of a manipulative widow is interesting and relevant today. You just have to concentrate hard to see the good story the way is presented.

There is a reason why Kate Beckinsale doesn't get period roles, serious dramatic roles or even much comedy for that matter. Her acting in this movie was expressionless, monotonous and cold. It took her performance to show me how much better Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet were in Austen roles. She seemed to deliver too long sentences in a dull fashion. I couldn't tell what she was feeling or trying to convey.

The cast was a bit insipid and hard to distinguish from each other especially Sir James and de Courcy.

A few good points. The little introductions with the different characters is quite useful. The filming in Ireland was pretty even if the houses looked a bit less grand the ones in England.

A waste.

A masterpiece, 2 December 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the best movies of the year. Involving from start to finish. An art gallery owner (Amy Adams) receives a manuscript of a novel by her ex husband (Jake Gyllenhall).

Tom Ford directs two very different scenarios: 1. a glamorous world in LA where everyone is smartly dressed and 2. the manuscript set in rural Texan outback. He manages to keep it clear when moving between the various time frames and scenarios. It's stylish but not excessively when it needs to be eg the hideous Lucien Freud type art exhibition and raw when at other times during the terrifying outback kidnap etc. The scenes in the novel are so terrifying that I often had to tell myself it's just the novel within the movie. A top fashion designer and a top notch director as well.

The technical aspects are praiseworthy. Cinematography is attractive and shows the viewer everything you need to see in the frame. With such clear direction none of the plot is obscured. So much better than some modern movies with too much darkness and wobbly camera work. The musical score is atmospheric and recalls Hitchcock.

The cast. The supporting cast are superb in their minor roles. Armie Hammer is just right as the wealthy good looking second husband. Laura Linney gives the most effective materialistic maternal advice speech since Frances Fisher in the Titanic. The irony is she was right in a way. Aaron Taylor Johnson is one of the more convincing trashy killers in recent memory - many have tried to do the trashy killer thing and come across fake. Michael Shannon as the cop is well cast and manages to be sick looking. Amy Adams is very beautiful and manages to act and look younger when necessary. She has had to play opposite leading men younger than her and she pulls it off flawlessly. Jake Gyllenhall is powerful and effective.

The story is involving, meaningful and thought provoking about the direction life can take and the consequences of our choices and values. The contrast between the two relationships is insightful. This is a story that makes one ponder after the ending

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good leads and story, 29 November 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A lovely movie star comes to a small town to film a movie and falls in love with the widowed mayor / inn keeper. She is played by Taylor Cole has a classic beauty almost 1960s Hollywood that is good for romantic roles - she doesn't look silly like some other Hallmark movies. Michael Rady has a kind face and is a convincing small town mayor inn keeper.

The town looks quaint and the paparazzi invasion is a believable touch. Liked the way the ex boyfriend co star isn't a bad guy. There are a couple of plot weaknesses. The reasons for objecting to a filming in the town seem weak - most small towns need the revenue and publicity. Also doesn't really explain how they are going to handle the big city small town romance in the future.

One of the better Christmas movies.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Kristin Davis makes this worth watching, 28 November 2016
7/10

Kristin Davis has a unique sweetness and charm so her presence together with her other A list (for Hallmark) co stars Eric Maccormack and the still limber looking Shirley Maclaine elevate this Hallmark Christmas movie to above average. There isn't the usual filmed in Canada look with pleasant looking but not too famous Canadian actors.

Kristin is a work obsessed executive who neglects family and love. After falling and hitting her head on a snowy pavement she becomes an angel and falls for a sad guy Eric Maccormack who lost his sister and cares for his niece. He runs a diner and used to be a singer - so he does get to display his singing voice a fair bit.

She only has a week but romance ensues. The little fix and the end is predictable but it's palatable.

Most hallmark movies are predictable but when you have a good cast it's just that much more watchable.

Want to see more of Kristin Davis on TV.


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