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phd_travel

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845 reviews in total 
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0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Puts you backstage Broadway, 16 January 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The best thing about this movie is the backstage look at mounting a Broadway play with all the insecurities and neuroses of the personalities involved. The photography really puts you there in the back streets of the theater district and makes it look pretty gross. The fantasy alter ego bird superpower thing is okay not too much till the ending which should have been more resolved.

Michael Keaton's performance is good and reminds sometimes of Beetlejuice in parts with the hyper muttering. Don't really feel that much for what his character is going through. Naomi Watts is good as the insecure actress. Wish there was more of her. Edward Norton is a bit unattractive to be the leading man of Broadway. Emma Stone looks disheveled as the ex rehab daughter but sounds a bit together to have been in rehab.

Worth a watch for it's originality - although not a classic for the ages.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A brave fantasy but not the greatest Vietnam war movie for sure, 15 January 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you want a good movie about the Vietnam War watch Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth for the effect on the Vietnamese, watch Casualties of War for war crimes on the Vietnamese, or Platoon, Full Metal Jacket or Deer Hunter for the effect on the soldiers. For the impact of the War on the Cambodians, watch The Killing Fields. Apocalypse now is not mainly about the Vietnamese or Cambodians even though it is set there. It is a fictional dark fantasy allegorical tale inspired by Conrad about the ugliness of the Vietnam war and what it did to the soldiers fighting it. It's brave for the time, but it's by no means the greatest of the Vietnam War movies because it is so unreal.

In 1979 when this was released, the Vietnam war hadn't been over that long. This movie was an anti war statement showing the effect of the war on soldiers. Contrasting the ugly behavior of the soldiers fire bombing peaceful villages to Wagner and killing civilian fishermen and women. The ugly Playboy entertainment that gets out of hand shows the soldiers at their most base and primal. Finally holed up in a Cambodian temple they resort to some pagan mass murdering decapitating barbaric tribal society. Martin Sheen is good. Look out for young Lawrence Fishburne and Harrison Ford. But Marlon Brando is too overweight to have been a military man.

Brave, unreal and not the greatest.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Doesn't bear the test of time - only of historical interest, 15 January 2015
5/10

This film noir may have been ground breaking in 1941 but it is one of those films that just doesn't stand the test of time. It's too dated to be of entertainment value today.

I can see Humphrey Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade is influential. But the other performances are kind of stiff.

The directing by John Huston isn't great. People stand stiffly around while a very fake punch takes place between two people. The action is abrupt and comical shifting from no action to punch then no reaction. It's almost comical in it's absurdity. Selznick and Hitchcock did not direct so stiffly at that time. So it's not just that it's old.

This is one for historians only.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A showcase for the fine actors if a bit lacking in what is shown, 14 January 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Firstly I only watched Them which felt some things were not shown. So can't judge all three. But with over 2 hours Them could have shown a bit more crucial plot elements. The ending with the implication that they are together again could just have been more clear. The death of the child or the immediate aftermath needed to be shown rather than just referred to in brief dialog. That was the crux of their temporary separation so why was it glossed over. Having said that this slow long story is for fans of the fine actors. The basic premise has been done before recently with Nicole Kidman. This is less stagy and more art film like.

Supporting cast: Isabelle Huppert is quite droll as the alcoholic chain smoking French stereotype mother. William Hurt as usual doesn't act at all. Just delivers his lines in a low monotone. In a preview of her role as professor in HTGAWM, Viola Davis is watchable as a kind mentor. Nina Arianda is unnecessary here. Main cast: Jessica Chastain looks beautiful and elegant in her grief with whatever hairstyle she has. James McAvoy despite his small size still looks okay with her. They are fine actors and they are the main reason for watching this.

"Fargo" (2014)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dark comedy with lots of lovable characters, 13 January 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is a lot to like about this miniseries. There is a host of quirky lovable characters villains and heroes, cute accents, and dark comedy interspersed with a crime drama. Like many fans of Breaking Bad who were looking for something to fill the void - this is it. Not as intense, it is more comedy than drama. The story is original, well crafted and makes you feel for the different characters.

Like the 90s movie this is set in a frozen landscape with the kind, quaint characters with their Minnesota accents. Billy Bob Thornton plays Lorne a contract killer in a role perfectly suited for his comic and dramatic skills. Martin Freeman (showing so much more real acting than in the Hobbit) plays Lester a victim type who gets his own back with the aid of Lorne. Just as with Walter White, I was still rooting for Lester no matter what bad things he did. Allison Tollman plays a kind smart policewoman and Colin Hanks a policeman. Breaking Bad fans look out for a different looking Saul (Bob Odenkirk) playing a naïve police chief. Good support from Kate Walsh in a small role and Keith Carradine.

Deserved to win the Emmy and Golden Globe. Looking forward to next season.

Mr. Turner (2014)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
The least interesting part of Turner's life, 13 January 2015
1/10

This long movie shows an old sick fat Turner sometimes having a dalliance with a wanton wench. Who wants to see that? A good biopic would have shown his life from young, with him learning his style and his breakthrough and triumphs. This is what is wrong with biopics today - they just show the least savory aspects of his life and at the least interesting time. Just like the Dickens movie with Ralph Fiennes. With the impossibly thick accents, mainly unattractive middle aged cast and slow pace I don't know how this movie could be interesting at all. No wonder it didn't receive any Golden Globe nominations it doesn't deserve any. The only good thing is sometimes the scenery looks a bit like a Turner painting.

Don't waste your time.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Worth watching even if you are not into golf, 13 January 2015
8/10

This is a feel good triumph against the odds uplifting true story about a amateur golfer from a poor background who won the US Open golf championship in 1913. The snobbery and class barriers he had to overcome seem a little exaggerated for effect. Shia La Beouf as Francis Ouimet is endearing and his 10 year old caddy is a scene stealer. The David vs Goliath tournament is quite exciting as he takes on the British Champion Henry Vardon played sympathetically by Stephen Dillaine. It's interesting to see that Vardon himself faced class discrimination in the sport.

The actor Bill Paxton is a good director. The photography is interesting with a mix of shots and visual effects to make the movie exciting even for non golf players.

3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Good 1940s atmosphere but she talks too fast, 12 January 2015
7/10

This Marvel show set in the 1940s has an atmospheric post WW2 setting and a female lead to distinguish from other action hero shows today. The 40s music is a nice change from Shield.

The predominantly British cast acts well. Haley Atwell is refreshingly not stick thin which suits the time period and her action moves are quite convincing. She talks too fast sometimes - can't understand everything she says. James D'Arcy and Dominic Cooper are top quality supporting cast. Chad Michael Murray looks older. Great to see Lyndsy Fonseca of Nikita again. She looks a bit like Haley Atwell so it's confusing at times. Maybe a different hair color might help.

Interesting to see the history of Iron Man. Was a bit lost in the pilot because she talked too fast. A lot in the darkness too. This show has potential.

9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Thoughtful comedy - likable if not a laugh a minute, 12 January 2015
7/10

This is a thoughtful evenly paced comedy that is not a laugh a minute. It feels more like a light hearted drama. If you are looking for a Big Bang Theory laugh a minute thing then this isn't right.

The cast is likable if not 'Devious Maids' attractive. Gina is intelligent looking. Her chemistry with Justin Baldoni kind of wears thin after a while. Don't know if the romance plot can sustain another season. The voice over explanations help keep things moving along. It doesn't feel like a typical CW show - it feels less juvenile.

Surprised at the accolades at the Golden Globes. Although Gina acts well she doesn't really make you laugh so doesn't display comedic timing that would earn a best actress in a comedy award.

Worth watching.

Foxcatcher (2014)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The actors are really transformed, 10 January 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a true life murder about an eccentric Du Pont heir shooting a Olympic champion wrestler he was sponsoring. The murder itself is shown but you kind of want more of an explanation. Maybe there just isn't one. If anything one comes away with increased sympathy for athletes, who without state sponsorship are subject to financial uncertainty and in this instance a mentally unbalanced patron. After watching this movie I can't understand what wrestling is about as a sport.

They did a terrific job transforming the actors. Steve Carrell with the prosthetic nose and make up looks and behaves unrecognizably. He gives off a wacko vibe that is chilling. He doesn't have a lot of dialog or change of facial expression but what he does is convincing. Channing Tatum with some Neanderthal prosthetics in the nose and mouth does the primate walk quite well. Mark Ruffalo is ard to recognize at first but his voice and smile come through. Some big name support from Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller in small roles.

Overall it's a tragic grim movie worth one watch.


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