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phd_travel

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714 reviews in total 
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A Killer Among Us (2012) (TV)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not your usual lifetime murder story, 15 November 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This has a slightly different angle. A woman is murdered. Everyone has an alibi and they can't prove anything. Faced with a closed case, the detective finds out the husband is having an affair. Unable to prove he is the killer, the detective gets her daughter to help investigate her father for the crime. It's quite scary because she is just a teenage girl and makes mistakes.

The strangle ending is a bit clichéd. But it was refreshing they never found the actual shooter. Feel good element that she actually has a different biological father.

Worth a watch.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Gripping and real - exceeds expectations, 14 November 2013
10/10

This true story of 4 Somali pirates attack of a cargo ship is gripping and terrifying and totally believable - allowing you the feel the vulnerability of the unarmed crew and the tragedy of the doomed pathetic pirates against the mighty navy.

The acting from the Somali pirates is top notch. Their emaciated look makes them so authentic. Tom Hanks as the titular Hero is suited to the role. I thought he looked tired and puffy in Da Vinci movies but here he is just right. His acting during the last part of the movie is so convincing.

Direction is top notch. Shows you everything you want to see without any cheap shock tactics or unnecessarily ugly images. The production on the ship and in the sea are good too.

Wish the subtitles for the Somali dialog had been clearer - sometimes hard to see the white words against the background.

A must watch - the 2 hours just sped by.

Margaret (2011/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Worth the effort - a surprising movie, 12 November 2013
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an interesting movie. The main character Lisa is played by a slightly too old for high school looking Anna Paquin. She is a teenage girl who while distracting a bus driver, witnesses the bus run over a pedestrian. At first she covers for the driver but later changes her mind. She faces a moral dilemma about the accident including guilt and responsibility. But that isn't all there is. Surprising insights into human nature are shown in the supporting characters. Lisa's actress mother and her romance is very real and the relatives of the pedestrian are especially interesting. Despite an A list cast this wasn't a big success because of some production issues that delayed release for years while arguing about the length of the movie. Maybe some scenes could have been cut like the hostile classroom debates.

Good supporting cast in minor roles from Mark Ruffalo as the bus driver to Matt Damon and Matthew Broderick as teachers. Alison Janney is memorable as the pedestrian.

Good on location filming in the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center and other parts of NYC. Shows some parts of the city that other NYC movies don't usually show.

The dialog is realistic and well written even if there are a few over confrontational scenes.

Liked the scenes in the Metropolitan Opera which were used to bring out reactions in the characters.

Worth the effort.

Fire with Fire (2012/II)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The fire goes out fast, 11 November 2013
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When fireman Josh Duhamel witnesses a murder in a convenience store he is put in witness protection and it doesn't work he has to fight fire with fire. Poor Josh gets beaten up to many times and has to be a one man fire fighter criminal killing machine. He is a capable and suitable action hero but the story he has to work with loses steam after the first half hour.

Rosario Dawson plays an FBI agent - but the most useless agent in history till the end.

Bruce Willis looks tired and squinty and doesn't do much - but I guess they need his name to add prestige to the project.

It's okay for one watch but it is a bit of a let down and you'll see why it went straight to DVD.

Killing Lincoln (2013) (TV)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Partially successful, 11 November 2013
5/10

It's fascinating to show in detail what happened during the assassination. "The Conspirator" was angled more towards the Surratts. So I was looking forward to seeing this TV movie. Unfortunately it's only partially successful. The good parts are showing the shooting and deathbed quite in detail. They made Mrs Lincoln act too hysterical.

This is an uneasy blend of TV movie and documentary. Tom Hanks narration should have stuck to vocals only. It broke up the momentum showing him on screen.

The casting it hit and miss: Billy Campbell is too unlined and youthful looking for Lincoln. He is the least Lincoln looking actor in all the portrayals on screen. It's not hard to get someone to look like Lincoln (North & South, Lincoln), but here they really made a strange choice.

Jesse Johnson as Booth is quite good and his looks and get up suit the part.

Liked the blending of real photographs with the scenes.

Overall worth one watch but not that good.

A good story that stands on it's own, 10 November 2013
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think the best way to enjoy of this movie is to think of it on it's own without the Silence of the Lambs in mind. Because as a story it is a very good WWII related historical thriller set in Lithuania and France. And the character of Hannibal is actually a sympathetic hero of sorts. You're on his side throughout the story since he has some justification and the retribution theme is surprisingly freshly done here. In that way it doesn't seem to gel with the later stories that much but that is because of the novels.

I was not a Silence of the Lambs fan thought it mostly gross horror - so I didn't see Hannibal Rising till 2013 on DVD. In Hannibal Rising the violence isn't that graphic - you know when to avert your eyes. Cannibalism is there but it's not so in your face. Anyway the violence mostly has a feel good element that makes it more acceptable.

Production is good. The historical European atmosphere and sets are authentic looking. Acting is good too. Gong Li is beautiful here and actually a useful as opposed to the usual helpless heroine with some goodness in her heart. Gaspard Ulliel is fascinating to watch just creepy enough yet sympathetic. Just have to put out of your mind that he could turn into Anthony Hopkins.

Surprisingly good on its own - even for non Silence fans.

Citizen X (1995) (TV)
Well acted and insightful, 10 November 2013
8/10

This is a clear, straightforward and well acted movie about a Soviet serial killer over 50 women and children in Rostov in the Soviet Union. Some killing is shown but it's not too graphically violent showing what needs to be shown for the story but not more.

Stephen Rea and Donald Sutherland as the Soviet investigators put on mild Russian accents which adds authenticity. The production captures the bleakness and despair of a Soviet city of the time. Very interesting insights into the ideology and Soviet thinking and bureaucracy of the regime. Especially how these things interfered with catching the killer earlier. It's amazing how they actually had the killer and let him go. The almost primitive methods they had to use to catch killers is quite shocking.

Well worth watching for the culture difference.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Too little story and too much fighting - time to retire Iron Man, 8 November 2013
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a mostly brainless action movie with too much fighting and too little plot.

On the plus side Gwyneth looked nice in her white suit. Guy Pearce's makeover was amusing.

The destruction of the Malibu House was quite good. But things kind of went down hill after that.

Didn't like the fast little one liners in typical Robert Downey speak. Too many too fast - couldn't catch most of the quick mumblings. A few is amusing but there almost all his dialog was like that.

Didn't really get the red glowing exploding stuff. But at least it provided a change from the usual Iron Man routine.

The ending battle is just way too much back and forth - dragged out fighting with little actual plot advancement.

It is high time for Iron Man time to retire.

5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Yawn - not enough for a spin off, 7 November 2013
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know why they made this series. Firstly it is no Pretty Little Liars at all. So fans of PLL will be disappointed. Without the charming beautiful cast of PLL all they have is a rather insipid half baked pseudo supernatural mystery drama that has no romance, no thrills or excitement.

Tyler Blackburn of PLL isn't enough to lead a spin off. Nicole Gale Anderson from Beauty and the Beast either. They are both fine supporting cast but with the other unknown newcomers this series has an amateurish second rate feel.

After several episodes nothing much has happened except one death, re-appearance as a ghost and a rather lame mystery about teen deaths to be solved. Plus some spaced out looking adults. The town isn't spooky just dull. And it's really slow moving.

This spin off is really a mistake. Can't see it lasting too long.

Paranoia (2013/I)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Too weak a story for the 21st Century - waste of a stellar cast, 7 November 2013
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie has such a lame and dated story it deserved to flop. Despite having such a top notch cast. It feels like a B movie from the early 80s. What were they thinking?

A young tech employee is forced into spying on a rival company and going to work there.

There are too many plot absurdities to list. In the end it just came down to some simple bugging here and there. What dumb CEOs. The way Embeth Davidtz's character was brought down was so weak. The way they were threatening the main character to do the deed was so out of proportion. He wasn't even some kind of trained spy - how could they expect him to surmount such a sophisticated security system? Total rubbish.

Harrison Ford looks too old and out of breath for a great CEO. Gary Oldman's strange cockney accent is comical and out of place. Their scenes together are so Grumpy Old Men. The lovely Amber Heard with a more intelligent brunette hair color than usual is given such a weak character to play - out of place in this century. Liam Hemsworth isn't right for the role. Tech nerds don't look like that. Even though she is finally paired with someone her own age on screen, their romance is unconvincing. Poor Richard Dreyfuss - his character sums up the state of this dud.

This was plain and simple a waste of time and should not have been made into a movie with such a lame simplistic and unoriginal story.


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