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phd_travel

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714 reviews in total 
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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Well acted and still effective, 20 January 2014

The story is powerful and shocking after all these years. It's as effective as a horror movie without any ghosts or blood or supernatural goings on. The family cruelty and tragedy is still painful to watch.

The atmosphere and direction are good and evocative of the time. The claustrophobia of the attic comes through.

Ellen Burstyn is perfect as the wicked grandma. Her coldness and vindictiveness really jump out on screen. The still young looking Heather Graham actually is quite right for the role. She looks pretty, selfish and silly enough to be the weak and terrible mother without overdoing it. She is better than the blank faced Victoria Tennant in the 80s version. The angelic looking young cast is good too. Kiernan Shipka (from Mad Men) is good at acting like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Mason Dye is suitably clueless then disillusioned. The incest is portrayed as delicately as could be for this story.

Worth watching. Hope lifetime makes a sequel.

Well worth watching - exciting story & good cast, 19 January 2014
10/10

This 3 hour mini about Chinese workers building the Canadian Railroads is actually very watchable and well made.

The story is well written, exciting and yet not too far out. It manages to have a gutsy brainy heroine as a central character who is a brilliant dynamite expert, with a family mission who manages to have a romance. And the whole saga finishes with a non clichéd ending. The melodramatic and action parts of the story fit in to the historical setting quite well. It has a good balance between modern sensitivities to the historical injustices and an entertaining story.

As the heroine Sun Li the Chinese actress does a convincing job against some more established actors. In her no make up boys get up, she believably manages to attract a few admirers. Peter O'Toole has a brief but memorable supporting role in the beginning. Sam Neill plays a railway company boss. His son played by Luke Macfarlane of Brothers and Sisters develops a relationship with the heroine. The acting all round including the Chinese supporting characters is high standard.

Worth watching.

2 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
New cast is good and the story is current, 16 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This fresh story (not based on a Tom Clancy novel) is quite current. Financial sabotage and terrorism are linked in a plot that our hero Jack Ryan must foil. Nice filming in Moscow. Good pace and a few surprises in the story make it a good thriller. The story is quite exciting especially the chase through Moscow but the NYC part felt a bit too easy to foil.

Chris Pine looked a bit old for the establishing scenes but he is right for his part. He isn't supposed to be a super action hero, he's a doctorate financial analyst and looks suitably non operational. He's likable enough to carry on this series. Younger than Harrison and more brainy looking than Ben.

Keira Knightley looks super lovely especially when she doesn't smile and super slim. Before seeing the movie I thought she might be too slim and elegant for the role but it actually her looks are a good thing because she looks intelligent enough to be the doctor and special enough to carry a lead role. A new generation leading lady beautiful and smart instead of the more homely types they had before in her role. Look forward to seeing more of her. Plus she has chemistry with Chris Pine.

As the villain, Kenneth Branagh has a decent Russian accent but he doesn't look Russian. At least they got Baryshnikov - a real Russian to add some authenticity though his screen time was too little. Kevin Costner looks a bit past retirement for his role. Maybe he could shed a few pounds and dye his hair.

Worth watching.

Old fashioned and modern at the same time, 15 January 2014
10/10

This very good Vietnam war movie about the first major conflict between North Vietnamese and U.S. troops is old fashioned in some ways and modern in some ways. It turns out to have the best aspects of being both old fashioned and modern.

It's old fashioned in it's patriotic heroism of the characters and that the soldiers are too good looking. Chris Klein plays a brave hero, Greg Kinnear a brave helicopter pilot and of course Mel Gibson is the religious and dedicated Colonel in charge. Watching this movie in 2014 again it's quite amusing to see Jon Hamm and Taylor Momsen in a supporting roles. There is no political agenda here about being in a wrong war etc. It's about the heroism of the soldiers not whether they were on the right side or not.

It's modern in the realism of the well choreographed battle scenes and graphic injuries. But it's not as gross as Saving Private Ryan. Also it's sympathetic and unbiased towards both sides Vietnamese and U.S. It actually is quite a clear depiction of the overall battle instead of a confusing mess that some war movies are. There is a good setup of characters prior to the battle and you can clearly see who lives and dies.

There are some faults. The filming location & vegetation didn't look like Vietnam at all. Couldn't they have planted some more suitable trees here and there? Poor Madeline Stowe as the dutiful military wife, probably the most beautiful actress of her generation did something to her lips that made her look strange for a few movies. Thank goodness the cosmetic procedures have settled down since. And what is wrong with that crazy long hair? It's a good solid war movie that's moving without being preachy and exciting without being too violent.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not a comedy at all and Meryl is miscast, 15 January 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story is about a bitter sick vindictive drug addicted woman and what happens when her daughters and their spouses / partners and her sister's family come to visit her upon the death of her husband. There is a bit of hillbilly behavior, molest and almost incest. Is that supposed to be funny? Meryl has a certain sweetness which isn't right for the embittered woman. She just isn't the right actress for the role. She isn't jittery enough like the stage version. Julia Roberts acts suitably unhappy throughout as the separated oldest daughter. Juliette Lewis plays the idiotic younger daughter. Dermot Mulroney is good as her sleazy beau.

The story is not as good as a Tennessee Williams Southern drama. I'd say skip it. It was a mediocre play that undeservedly happened to win all these awards and it's now a so-so movie.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Always unexpected deserves to be the hit of the season, 15 January 2014
9/10

This show is great because it's got the right balance of likable characters, good acting, a bit of unresolved mystery - who is her father and what's up with the hubby. So it keeps you tuning in to see what the connection is between the two leads, the young FBI agent and the mastermind criminal. It's a crime show that is not too gruesome or sickening and so far isn't repetitive. Each episode you don't know how things are going to turn out and the pace is good.

James Spader's best acting quality is his masterful delivery of dialog which makes you watch every word he says carefully. But physically what happened to him? Wish he could shed some weight and grow his hair longer.

Megan Boone is convincing because she isn't an impossibly beautiful actress being a bit full in the face. She is pleasant looking enough to watch week after week and looks like she could be in law enforcement and have a school teacher husband.

Worth watching.

P.S. (2004)
Strange movie with a talented cast - feels incomplete, 14 January 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this because Laura Linney is a talented actress and usually she does interesting work. Plus Marcia Gay Harden and Paul Rudd are in supporting roles so it had to be worth a watch.

What a strange movie this turned out to be. It doesn't really fit into any category. It's not fantasy and it isn't a romantic comedy. A few moments of out of place drama are interspersed with some odd dialog too. Plus the love scene is awkward.

The May December thing is a bit icky. Gabriel Byrne plays the sex addicted ex husband.

It would have been nice to have some explanation about the similarities between the deceased and the present. But it never came. Overall it is an uneasy blend of drama and whatever. Finally when the kind of happy ending took place it didn't mean very much.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Stupid story, 14 January 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The most serious fault is the weak story which apart from killing a lion and a brief impregnation by Zeus seems to have little to do with the Hercules legend. Instead of concentrating on his special strength and the tasks, it turned into a Spartacus like fighting movie. At least it wasn't sickening violence - just too much fighting. The love triangle with the brother feels forced. So is the liberation of Argos. Hercules isn't supposed to lead some army to free a city. I understand if they didn't want to just rehash all the mythology stories but this ill fitting incongruous story is bad.

The female romantic lead wasn't pretty enough for the role. That made it feel B grade. Kellan himself can't act as well as Chris Hemsworth but he's okay for the role in terms of looking the part - it's not Shakespeare after all. His big speech at the end is awkward. Acting shouldn't be the thing in this type of movie but they could have done with a few bigger names in supporting roles to add some weight.

If you lower your expectations a lot and don't think of the mythology at all to you might have a slightly diverting time watching an action movie set in ancient times. The grand CGI backdrops are moderately watchable. At least it doesn't pretend to be a great movie - so it wasn't as annoying as Wrath of the Titans with it's even more idiotic story.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Uninteresting - don't be tempted to watch it because it has a famous cast, 12 January 2014
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A total yawn. Don't know why they made this movie. Two uninteresting people doing a silly thing on a silly road trip. A silly golf pro fakes his own death and ends up with a troubled woman. They break into people's houses.

Emily and Colin are not convincing as Americans. They need to stop casting British actors as Americans when they are not suited to the role. Nice to see Anne Heche again but she is totally wasted.

How could he do that to his son? Faking his death because his young son is a bit sulky? What a bad father.

And things end when it's time to give him a tight slap for all the nonsense he put everyone through.

6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Laugh out loud funny with a perfect cast, 10 January 2014
10/10

This excellent true story comedy of a wall street hotshot downfall is laugh out loud funny. It's well written, over the top at times about the drugs sex and excess but it's comically so and relevant to the story. The way the dialog is written and the way the scenes played out is fresh and witty. The scene with the FBI agent played by Kyle Chandler on the boat is hilarious. So is the drive back from the country club. Doesn't feel draggy even though it's nearly 3 hours long because the story moves along and the characters are sympathetic.

The casting is terrific. Leonardo demonstrates some good comedic delivery without overacting even if the scenes and dialog are a bit exaggerated at times. It's good he isn't playing a more familiar person so you don't have to deal with him not looking much like Howard Hughes or J Edgar Hoover. Jonah Hill has some hilarious moments that he pulls of well like the cousin conservation. Margot Robbie is quite good as the poster second wife. The European supporting cast is perfect - Jean Dujardin as a sleazy Swiss Banker is spot on as is Joanna Lumley as the English aunt. Wonder why Matthew McConaughey is skinny and haggard for this movie as well.

Liked it more than American Hustle. Good to have a comedy about Wall Street crooks to contrast with the more serious Wall Street 2 and the recent documentaries. It doesn't glamorize drugs rather it shows the effects. Good warning about the dangers of penny stocks.


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