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phd_travel

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1068 reviews in total 
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Interesting but ultimately a let down, 5 September 2016
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a pity this movie didn't end more clearly because the earlier parts were actually more involving than the average post apocalyptic movies. A farm girl survives from some radioactive disaster unscathed in this pretty valley equipped with chicken a pond with fish etc. Enough to survive. She is joined by 2 survivors first played by Chiwetel who knows how to build stuff and then a miner played by Chris Pine. Margot Robbie shows she can act the rough and tumble farm girl just as convincingly as in more glamorous roles. She is a versatile actress. Only thing not great about her performance was the squeaky hillbilly accent she put on. Chris Pine had too strong a hillbilly accent too. Couldn't make out what he was saying.

It was interesting to see how they survived and farmed and built the water wheel. Then is started to get irritating. The love triangle was annoying and then the ambiguous ending was bad. If you can't figure out an ending from watching carefully - then it's a bad movie. I can't even be bothered to find out what happened.

War Dogs (2016)
35 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Eye opening - very interesting and funny look at arms dealing, 1 September 2016
9/10

The story is eye opening, relevant and very clearly told with a humorous tone through the serious subject matter. This is based on a true story with some fictionalized elements to make it entertaining. A massage therapist links up with a childhood friend who is a small time arms dealer. Very interesting to get a look at the legal but morally questionable world of arms dealing. I thought this would be a juvenile buddy movie with a bit of war thrown in but it isn't.

Jonah Hill has some funny lines and he does a great job with the over the top character but he can be subtly sinister when he needs to be. Miles Teller plays his character sympathetically and I liked him here. Quite different from the rather annoying characters he usually plays. Bradley Cooper who produced the movie and has a small but pivotal role and he is effective as an arms dealer.

Quite a transporting experience as the action takes you from Miami to Jordan and Iraq with some funny situations there and Albania.

Watch this movie. It deserves to do better than it has so far.

Genius (2016)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A great cast makes a story about book editing watchable, 29 August 2016
7/10

A very international top rate cast make a story about book editor and his writer watchable.

The acting is top quality. Jude Law has a strange Southern accent but he is a good actor and his exuberant performance makes an unlikable character watchable. He needs to wear a wig to make his thinning hair less of a distraction. Colin Firth has always come across British - he isn't the most versatile actor and restrained to the point of blandness in his performances. But in this role he is quite suited to the role of solid book editor. Nicole Kidman's plays Wolfe's mistress and her role as a melodramatic eccentric needy woman is fascinating. Laura Linney looks more matronly as the wife of the editor.

A few good points are the appearances of more famous writers Fitzgerald played by a rather too outdoors looking Guy Pearce and Hemingway buy Dominic West. Wish there was more of them although their stories are already familiar to most.

An interesting watch even if like most people today you haven't read anything by Thomas Wolfe.

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Could have been less contrived, 28 August 2016
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie that should have been better. The Iranian revolution is interesting today because of the deal with Iran.

Considering it's based on true events there are some weaknesses in the way the story unfolds. If things were so bad didn't they have any plans to leave at all? Would they bother to torture and fake shoot some simple jeweler like that? But maybe things like that really did happen in the revolution. The way he buys his way out is quite good.

It is a more or less one sided story and that may offend some. However this movie doesn't need to show both sides of the revolution to be watchable. Can't put everything in one show.

The acting is good. Great to see Salma Hayek on screen again. She is watchable and believable needs to act more. Shohreh Aghdashloo from House of Saddam, plays a housekeeper and she is good as always. Adrien Brody is especially convincing during the torture and in his scene with the son of the housekeeper. He is good as showing suffering and this is a role that is quite in the vein of the Pianist.

The ending feels contrived and weakens the message of the story. I get it that they have to make things exciting for a movie but the escape would have been more effective without the car chase and mountain horse ride. A more realistic treatment would have been far better.

Lost River (2014)
Beautiful actresses in an ugly story - don't bother, 28 August 2016
2/10

Despite being a huge fan of the terrific actresses Ronan and Hendricks I just didn't like the movie. It's not as weird as David Lynch - there actually is a story and it moves along to a satisfying conclusion but I just didn't get the point of all of it. The ugly images and pseudo violence just seem meaningless. The ugly acts aren't funny and don't advance the plot like in a Tarantino film. Ryan Gosling wrote and directed this movie. He directs things fairly effectively but it's the story that is weak. He even got his girlfriend Eva Mendes to appear in this and she is kind of wasted. In fact the high caliber international cast is all wasted. Poor Detroit seems to be the setting of many a horror/thriller movie now.

Even if you are a fan of the stars, don't bother watching this one. I though it was a waste of time.

13 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Don't miss this!, 26 August 2016
10/10

Who knew there was still an original exciting thriller to be made? There isn't anything deja vu about this very well paced and directed movie. The camera work is excellent showing just what you need to see to be scared but never leaving you confused. There is a skewered sympathy for the characters - the 3 protagonists are bad guys - burglar scums you can't really feel sorry for. The person who they rob is a victim of sorts blind Iraq veteran but flawed as you will find out. The story is good with unpredictable but still plausible twists. You never feel cheaply shocked or let down by an unbelievable twist. It's more exciting when you are kind of rooting for both sides at the same time.

Steven Lang is well cast as the blind man. The other cast including Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette make bad characters kind of sympathetic.

Best thriller in recent memory. A breathtaking roller coaster ride. Kudos to the director, screenwriter and actors.

Deserves to top the box office.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Timely, relevant and completely fascinating, 25 August 2016
9/10

The movie isn't perfect but when it is good it is really good. There are so many interesting aspects about the drug war that haven't been shown so centrally on film before - the white collar financial type undercover DEA operation and the money laundering aspect. This movie is timely and relevant. It's fascinating to see the money laundering by BCCI. And right now the money laundering scandal with the Malaysian fund 1MDB stretching from the U.S. to banks in Singapore is playing out. Drug movies have to be shooting a minute action movies to be exciting.

Brian Cranston is as always watchable and sympathetic. It takes a moment of getting used to him on the other side of the drug war and Walter White comes to mind now and then. Diane Kruger shines as a DEA undercover agent posing as his fiancé. She is convincing, watchable and beautiful. She needs more feature film roles.

There are a few faults: it's a bit confusing who some of the minor drug characters are and which side they are on. Some things leave you a bit confused and should have been clearer. Please give this movie a chance - don't give up if the start is a bit slow. This is a true story that deserves to be widely known. If you enjoyed Narcos so far this is a real treat.

Ben-Hur (2016)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Not half as good as the 59 version but still worth a watch, 22 August 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If like me you know the 59 version well, is this 2016 worth watching? The answer is yes, it's such a good story that such an extravagant remake is worth watching. This is despite the fact that this 2016 movie is definitely not as good on many levels and will never replace the Charlton Heston version.

The good points first: The galley scene together with "ramming speed" is quite exciting with some elements not seen before. The chariot race is well done as well just as exciting. The scenery and setting are excellent.

Bad points: Casting. Toby Kebbell as Messala is just wrong. He has a cross eyed rather daft expression most of the time and is just not good looking enough for a major role like this. Compare to Steven Boyd in the 59 version. Secondly, the Danish actor playing Pontius Pilate is also completely wrong. He looks like some Game of Thrones background character with his light coloring - not Roman or dignified at all. What were they thinking? Morgan Freeman with his full on American accent is just so out of place. Nazanin Boniadi as Esther is a bit cold if pretty. She lacked the passion and Middle Eastern accent of Haya Harareet.

On the other hand Rodrigo Santoro makes a suitable looking Jesus and his some dialog. Jack Huston as Ben Hur wasn't as bad as I thought he would be. He looks more ethnically appropriate as a Jewish prince. Not blond and blue eyed. He doesn't act or look the big hero.

Some of the costumes looked contemporary and out of place. The music is wrong too. The score in the 59 version was memorable and suitable. The pop song in the end of the 2016 version was just ludicrous.

The plot changes are significant. Messala's back story is interesting to watch his point of view. Roma Downey produced the movie and her Christian message of forgiveness of Messala removes one of the most powerful scenes in the 59 version - Messala and Ben after the chariot race. This change regarding Messala's fate in the end spoils the story.

This movie shows the 59 version was almost perfect. Nevertheless it's still worth one watch. I watched it in IMAX 3D - not really necessary. It was a terrible gamble remaking a perfect movie. It isn't as disastrous as the remake of Psycho with Julianne Moore, Roman Holiday with Catherine Oxenberg or Sabrina with Julia Ormond.

Tallulah (2016)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Oustanding performances, interesting story, 21 August 2016
9/10

The three leading ladies of this movie are good in their own ways. Firstly Tammy Blanchard is the Judy Davis of her generation - completely convincing as a mother who can't cope. Ellen Page is suited to her role as the vagabond title character Tallulah who takes her child. Alison Janney as Tallulah's boyfriend's mother is fascinating to watch.

The story is quirky unique and involving. It's funny in pats and tense and has some insights about human relationships that haven't been shown on screen before. This is a very good indie movie and deserves some awards.

Great scenery terrible dialog, 21 August 2016
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The best thing about this movie is the on location European filming - Prague, Venice etc. with some opera thrown in. The story is another matter. The basic premise should work - a Roman Holiday kind of romance involving a first daughter and s secret service agent. BUT the dialog is for the most part terrible and many situations are unfunny and some of the situations are painful. One of the worst parts is how she throws herself at him and gets angry when she is rebuffed. Her character is quite unlikeable.

The actors are hit and miss. Anabella Sciorra and Jeremy Piven look a little ill at ease as secret service agents. As does Mark Harmon as a disheveled looking president. Mandy Moore has a really annoying role to play. Matthew Goode as her love interest is a bit unsuited to her. He looks too mature for such a spoiled brat.

Watch this for the scenery and locations but the screenplay is dreadful.


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