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phd_travel

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713 reviews in total 
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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Refreshing perspective but doesn't translate well to present day., 8 January 2014
5/10

At first it's quite touching to see the neglect of the young girl caught up in the custody battle. Not many divorce or custody movies show the perspective of the child and that's refreshing.

The acting is good. The young actress who plays Masie is good. Julianne's character shouldn't have been made to be a rock star. Alexander Skarsgaard is suitably disheveled as the bar tender step father.

The updating of this 19th century novel doesn't translate well to present day because the one dimensional nature of the characters is just too hard to believe. The natural parents are just too neglectful and ungrateful to be believable and the step parents just too good to be true.

"Mom" (2013)
4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Best new comedy this year, 8 January 2014
9/10

This new sit com about 3 generations of women is good. Both the stars Anna Faris and Alison Janney are excellent actresses with great comedic timing and delivery. Anna is the likable type of comedienne it's okay to tune into weekly. It's great to see Alison doing comedy she is so versatile. At first I thought she would be too smart looking for the role but she is great. The dialog is sharp and original and well written. Manages to give a funny treatment of teen pregnancy, alcoholism and other white trash issues. Usually it takes some time to warm up to a sit com but his one is funny from the start. It's got a humor that is grown up enough like King of Queens later seasons. Good use of A list guest stars like Justin Long and Octavia Spencer. Well done again Chuck Lorre.

0 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A showcase of fine acting - story could have been slightly clearer, 26 December 2013
8/10

This rewarding true story of two con artists in the70s who are forced to assist the FBI is enjoyable and worth watching for the terrific performances Christian Bale gives a convincing accent and performance with his scary toupee. His partner in crime is played by Amy Adams who is given a racy role to show of her versatility as an actress and she looks stunning. Her low cut dresses were a bit overdone though. Jennifer Lawrence is very funny as the idiot wife. Bradley Cooper is alright but his role isn't that demanding.

The only minus point is that I got lost a couple of times in the latter third of the movie. The narrative could have been clearer. With such a complicated plot it helps to not break up the continuity and explain things a bit.

Killing Kennedy (2013) (TV)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Ginnifer is terribly miscast, 25 December 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The casting is the issue here. The worst thing about this movie is Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie. She is too plump and rounded. Jackie is famous for being super thin even by today's standards. Ginnifer with her darling smile is also too sweet and cuddly for the elegant sophisticated Jackie. Even Katie Holmes looked more like her in the recent miniseries.

Rob Lowe looks like JFK from certain angles but he comes across as a bit to slimy. Not a good choice.

The actor Will Rothaar playing Lee Harvey is better he is watchable but a bit too handsome for Lee Harvey. Michelle Trachtenberg is prettier here than on Gossip Girl - the 60s get up suits her. But Marina was actually quite attractive when young so she is okay.

As far as the story goes, this is the lone gunman theory. No Oliver Stone conspiracy version here. It shows a lot of detail from Lee Harvey Oswald's point of view and his family's reaction. Not so often shown in other versions. After watching this movie I actually feel more convinced he couldn't have acted alone even though that probably wasn't the intention.

It's still fascinating to watch no matter how many times they do it but the casting here is just off.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A let down - fizzles out fast and badly cast, 21 December 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A thriller set in the world of online gambling in exotic Costa Rica. A grad student gets lured into the crooked world. But instead of taking off it becomes rather formula.

Casting isn't good. Gemma Atreton isn't beautiful enough to be the romantic lead here. She is okay as a fighting Gretl in "Hansel and Gretl" but in this movie she is the object of affection and her face just isn't beautiful enough. Ben Affleck looks a little ill at ease as the bad guy. He lacks the evil vibe necessary. But to be fair his lines and material weren't great. Justin is okay.

Ends with a whimper after some unconvincing boring twists. Not worth a watch.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A must see - heart breaking, 19 December 2013
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you think you already seen enough of slavery on screen this year with Django, think again. This movie is completely effective because it's a true story of a free black man kidnapped into slavery. The film is direct and very personal in its photography and direction. The scenes of the brutality feel terrifyingly real. Every whip or beating has impact. The jumping back and forth in time in the beginning though not too confusing wasn't necessary. The story has a varied mix of good and evil white folk and plantation owners and the different types of sufferings both male and female that the slaves endured.

The acting is excellent. Chiwetel Ejiofor who has always been good at acting worried and sad in other movies like Tsunami the Aftermath is very good here. He doesn't over do it and makes it believable. Of the other slaves, Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey with her pure African looks is perfectly cast and her acting is convincing the scenes of her beating and rape are heart breaking and hard to forget. In contrast with the horrors, the photography of the plantations and Louisiana bayous is very scenic and evocative. Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson as evil plantation owners are better than expected. Casting of Paul Dano and Paul Giamatti wasn't so good. They came across as good guys playing bad ones for this role.

Although the subject matter is so depressing and sad, this movie is surprisingly watchable. The brutality is never for the sake of violence but serves to move forward the plot. One of the best movies on slavery made to date.

20 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
Frustratingly incomplete but at least there is some action, 12 December 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This trilogy shouldn't have been a trilogy. There just isn't enough story. After watching the first part which was so dragged out and inconsequential this second part finally had some action and excitement in the river and dragon fight, it ends before the real climax.

Everything was dragged out and unnecessarily so. The river fight was well done but twice as long as it should be. The dragon was too chatty and long winded. Reminded me of the Gollum conversations. Gandalf's fight with the orcs was superfluous. Actually we have seen too many orcs. Enough!

At least compared to part 1 there was some action and a hint of dwarf elf romance. Other good points are the beautiful scenery. The new supporting cast are good. Evangeline Lilly from Lost as an only in the movie character, a female elf fighter is quite good and beautiful. Both she and Orlando Bloom's Legolas have some pretty good fighting sequences. Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman is quite convincing too. It's nice to have something else to look at than middle aged vagrant looking types with British accents running around the forest.

Can't believe we have to wait for another movie to finish things up. Two parts would have been enough.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The second half is better. Bonnie isn't well cast., 12 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This miniseries of Bonnie & Clyde is detailed and the second part is really quite exciting. Comparisons to the 67 movie with the way to attractive Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are inevitable. This mini has the time to go into the characters and their families a bit more than the 67 movie. The foolhardiness of the pair is really shown here. Rather than glamorizing the pair, this version makes them out to be psychopathic serial killers more or less spurred on by a very conscienceless and wicked Bonnie. Don't know whether this is accurate or not.

As far as casting is concerned, they did a good job with Clyde not so much with Bonnie. Emile Hirsch is a quite good as Clyde. He is suitably thug like and is convincing. Even if he is a bit short in stature. Holliday Grainger is a bit too plump in the face for Bonnie. Don't know why they made her a brunette. If you look at photographs of Bonnie she was blonde. Even though Faye Dunaway in the 67 movie was unrealistically elegant at least she was more similar to the real Bonnie. Holliday's accent was authentic sounding but thick to the point of incomprehensibility at some parts. I don't know why she is getting so many roles that she isn't suited for.

Overall it's worth watching for the detail and endlessly fascinating duo.

Homefront (2013)
4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Top notch cast make this solid thriller very entertaining, 5 December 2013
8/10

This is an entertaining well paced and satisfying thriller about a ex undercover agent (Jason Statham) who goes to live in a small town in swamp land. A small school fight escalates into the criminals from his past catching up with him Getting A list cast like James Franco, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth to do white trash is a good move. Kate is very convincing and shows she has versatility. James is a bit too clean cut looking for trash still but it's explained in the dialog - "he doesn't look like much but ...". Having these people who are usually the heroes or heroines as bad guys is effective because it makes you feel anxious for both sides. Liked Rachelle Lefevre as a school teacher. She is pretty and was a bit under used.

Sylvester Stallone has written a clear screenplay where the plot and motives are all easy to understand. Don't like thrillers which are too confusing. There is a good balance between slower moments to get into the characters and action sequences which aren't too over the top that it is ridiculous.

Couple of minor faults. Didn't explain Statham's British accent. Also why didn't he get out of town quicker - but there wouldn't have been a grand climax if he did. Worth a watch.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fascinating even if you've already seen the TV version, 3 December 2013
8/10

Watched the TV version some time back and liked it so I decided to see this Sofia Coppola directed movie version. This movie has a darker tone. The production feels more realistic. Really felt like I was looking inside Paris Hilton's home.

We all know the real life story of the high school kids who robbed the homes of celebrities. But it's still fascinating to see how reckless they were with no attempt to hide from security cameras. Would have liked a bit more screen time for the celebrity victims - couldn't Sofia get more than a few seconds of Paris and Kristen Dunst? Emma Watson is good here. She has got the harsh amoral bitchy look down very well. Her accent is more convincing than in Wallflower. To be more accurate the role of ringleader Rachel Lee should have been played by a fully ethnic Korean instead of the mixed race Katie Chang. The guy Nick was played by Israel Broussard who looks a bit plump compared to the real guy which is strange - usually the on screen portrayal is more glamorous. Here it is the opposite. Liked Leslie Mann's character's ridiculous home schooling - the comic relief.

It's a nice social commentary on the wrong values of some teenagers today - especially materialism, celebrity obsession and lack of conscience. Worth a watch.


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