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16 reviews in total 
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"Homeland" (2011)
8 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Overacting and Underwhelming, 8 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Claire Danes, whose work to date I admire, acts like a ditz who has had too much caffeine and is not convincing as a high-level CIA operative. Her over-acting is painful to watch. Had she actually behaved like this while on duty in Iraq she probably would not have lived to tell about it.

The returning POW (I am not familiar with this actor's work but in this role he does little more for me than an oil painting would) descends on his family unceremoniously, expecting to pick up where he left off eight years ago. There are no scenes that show family counseling sessions, as one would expect after an eight-year separation under such trying circumstances. There is no poignant scene between the POW and his wife, in which he asks how she managed all those years, did she become involved with someone else (I thought after seven years of going missing a person could be declared dead), what she has she told the children and what she can tell him about them. Nope. None of that; just jumped on her and relieves himself with no passion, compassion, concern or awareness of his wife's feelings. She was obviously underwhelmed with his performance, as I was with the entire pilot. How did she marry such a dolt in the first place? In any case, why didn't she initiate a heart-to-heart at this point? I understand her concern for his emotional state and her loyalty to her husband and country, but where is her self-respect and her character in being honest with her husband. His wellbeing is not the only issue here; her children's wellbeing trumps all, and she's not doing them any good by perpetuating a sham. Of course, the man with whom she's involved is a complete dolt, as well.

Not one character, including Carrie, is likable, convincing or sympathetic. And, as I am a stickler for details (as the director obviously was not) I was offended when Carrie's superior (or "babysitter," as he is called) put down his coffee cup on his wood table without a coaster, or at least on the table runner. In doing so he conveyed that the table was not his and he wasn't in his home (as he was portrayed to be)or else he would never have treated his furniture in that regard. The fact that he apparently lives in a house probably means he is married, and even if he doesn't care if he makes a mark on the table with a hot coffee cup, his wife would clean his clock for doing so.

I have to confess that I finally tuned out at the scene where Carrie is picking up a guy at a bar and she says something to the effect, does he want to hear how she sold out her best friend, or some such thing. That clinched it for me. Danes's character is a mess and provides no reason for me to stick with her. Nor does this pilot provide any reasons to entice me to follow this series.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Annie Hall Grows Up, 4 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you loved "Annie Hall," you will enjoy this film that reunites Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in an Alfred Hitchcock Meets Mr. & Mrs. North murder mystery romp. Set against the backdrop of the New York urban sophisticated married couple with their apartment-living and hip friends, Allen and Keaton reprise the "Annie Hall" warmth and nuttiness as the darling duo become involved in a murder mystery.

The production is not perfect, and it's not for everyone; but it doesn't matter. Mr. Allen's and Ms. Keaton's fans will love it, as their characters' witty banter, attractiveness and goofiness carry the movie. The ensemble cast is pure Woody Allen and is, as usual, terrific.

Routine, comfortable moments are mixed with suspense and comedy. Get out the popcorn, put up your feet and enjoy!

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Narcissism on Steroids, 13 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't read Elizabeth Gilbert's autobiographical book on which this movie is based (and I'm not sure I want to after viewing this movie, although I'm sure the book is wittier and more inspiring), but even reading the New York Times book review I can see that the movie missed the boat. As such, Julia Roberts plays a character who takes the prize for being a world class narcissist. A more self-centered heroine would be hard to find. After asking her heartbroken husband, played by Billy Crudup, for a divorce because she is not happy and needs to find herself, she jumps into an affair a struggling actor, whom she leaves as soon as her divorce becomes final and she is free to travel to Italy, India and Bali, to spend a year trying to sort out her id. I do not recall the movie making clear how she can financially afford to do so (she forfeits everything to her husband in exchange for the divorce), but elsewhere I read that Ms. Gilbert obtained an advance from her publisher to write a book based on her experiences eating, praying and loving for the year.

In the movie, Liz eats her way through Italy, struggles with meditation in India -- where she meets the most obnoxious, arrogant fellow traveler, played by Richard Jenkins, who browbeats her until she learns to cherish him as a friend -- then moves on to Bali where she falls in love and literally sails off into the sunset with him.

Throughout this tedious film, Liz's actions seem to reflect the influence of the person or persons with whom she has been with most recently; she doesn't seem to have a mind of her own, or heart, for that matter. The only spark of humanity that we see in Liz is when she emails her friends asking them to pass on getting her a birthday present and instead send month to help a divorced woman in Bali to afford a house for her and her young daughter; apparently divorced women in Bali have a rank slightly higher than dogs (nice place).

I've experienced the charms of Italy--its wonderful scenery and food, and somewhat insane men--and don't need this movie to entice me; however, I might be put off India and Bali as a result of seeing this movie. One could argue that it is always a pleasure to watch Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and Billy Crudup, who blessedly all played themselves and not their miserable characters, none of which I would ever want to meet.

Is there a woman -- or man -- who would not love to chuck it all for a year and travel the globe in search of self-discovery? Most of us cannot do this because we have responsibilities and loyalties and are not financially independent. This drab story fails to connect on any level except for pointless self-indulgence. Instead, treat yourself to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, dab on a little Shalimar and watch Gone With The Wind, a truly romantic epic with a narcissistic heroine who is interesting.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Dreadful Low-Budget Drek, 21 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite Angie Harmon's decent performance as a mother who suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- in the extreme -- there is no reason to waste two hours of your life watching this absurd movie. Ms. Harmon's skillful interpretation of a demented, murderous psychopath cannot offset a ridiculous script. The plot involves a wealthy couple who adopt two children, a little boy and a teenage girl. They are occupants of a Gothic mansion in an undisclosed location. Almost immediately, the teenager suspects something is amiss with this couple, but unlike most teenagers who manage to get out of the house when they want to, this one is somehow unable to do so, even to get help to save her life and that of her little brother. The fact that this is a low-budget effort becomes evident when, although the couple live in a huge house with presumably quite a bit of property, no household or grounds help or service providers ever make an appearance. Nor do any relatives, friends, neighbors or business associates show up. The children do not go to school, so no classmates, teachers, school administrators or social workers come poking around. The sole outside person is a police officer who is clueless as to the situation in which the children have been placed. Apparently no background checks were done or it would have been revealed that not only did the couple's little son die, but they also adopted another little boy whose whereabouts are unknown. This information should have given someone pause before providing these lunatics with additional children to dispose of. We're not told how the couple manages to afford such a grand home, although mom is supposedly a nurse, which makes it convenient for her to make her children very ill so she can nurse them back to health -- before she repeats the cycle. As the improbable story drags on, it focuses on mom's jealousy of the teenager and her vicious treatment of her. Although the teen attempts to contact the outside world regarding her plight, she has to be the only teen on the planet who cannot manage to get out a phone call, text message or email. The husband is a complete wimp under the spell of his deranged wife, powerless to stop her as she continues her vendetta against the young girl and repeatedly makes the little boy extremely ill. Ultimately, a light bulb goes off over the police officer's head, and he calls for help, which arrives only after he is attacked and the woman and girl battle it out. The battle culminates when, after being terrorized by Ms. Harmon's character, our teen girl merely pushes her down the stairs. But, still, the mother-of-the-year does not die until -- surprise -- father-of-the-year puts a bullet in her. To her credit, Jordan Hinson, who plays the teen, did not do an eye roll when the whole mess ended.

Tell Me No Lies (2007) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Storyline Not Credible, 7 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What could have been a decent drama about a rebellious teen who finds herself in a dangerous situation, and finally trusts her mother to help get her out of it, falls apart because of the mother's approach. In a real-life situation, when a mother finally puts together a scenario that involves the rape of her daughter's friend (who has one of those mothers who is a "friend" rather than mother to her daughter and helps the two girls in their stonewalling), the murder of a teen witness, the sabotage of her car in which she and her daughter were nearly killed, the arrest and incarceration of her daughter because someone framed her by planting drugs in her school locker, the son of the chief of police is behind it all, and a possible police cover-up, she would hire a lawyer to protect herself and her daughter. But, rather than hire an attorney to represent -- and protect -- herself and her daughter, or even go to the school authorities or her family, friends or neighbors, this mother chooses to handle this impossibly complex situation herself by leaving her daughter in jail under the supervision of a corrupt police chief while she runs around playing Nancy Drew, trying to gather evidence even while she is aware that there are murderous teens ready to strike again and a police cover-up in play. Even if she had tried, and failed, to secure legal representation or advice, it would have made a much more thrilling story. Even small towns have attorneys. The two mothers even try to make a citizen's arrest of one of the teen killers! This story is unbelievable to the point of being silly.

A Classic, 1 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the movie that set the pace for the "other woman" genre. It broke the mold for stories of love triangles involving married men. The subject matter is daring for any era or generation, and is delivered expertly by Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Ann Archer, who give electrifying performances.

The movie puts into sharp relief the all-too-familiar theme of the cheating husband of the long-suffering and faithful wife with the glamorous and exciting single career woman. But instead of the other woman clinging to the doomed affair by living on the periphery of the man's life, Glenn Close's character, Alex, inserts herself into the life of her new married lover, Dan, with a vengeance - literally - wreaking havoc at a level that is terrifying and thrilling. Suspense builds as Dan realizes that he has opened a Pandora's Box and tries to hide his indiscretion from his wife, Beth, whom he loves, and struggles to defend himself against the fury of the woman he has scorned. The unfolding of the story is breathtaking, and the denouement is shocking.

The movie reminds me of "Rosemary's Baby" in the way the writer and director weave everyday, normal activities with the doom that is building for Dan and his family. And, as in "Rosemary's Baby," an unstoppable chain of events has been launched, in Dan's case by his "fatal attraction" to a beautiful but unstable woman who is determined to possess him or destroy his family.

Because of its nearly flawless execution and impact, Fatal Attraction is a not-to-be-missed classic. I say "nearly flawless" because the one miscalculation was the dog; what self-respecting dog does not sense and intruder in the house?

Klute (1971)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fonda Brings Sparkle to a Dark Film, 9 June 2010

I don't think there is a lead character in any A-List movie duller than John Klute (Donald Sutherland). For that matter, there may not be a more plodding A-List film. Not that the plot isn't suspenseful; it does have its moments, especially as Klute, aided by prostitute Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) closes in on the man behind multiple murders whom Klute is tracking.

The film is shot in dark, moody lighting, with interesting use of light and shadows to denote the dark as well as sensual side of humanity. The music is a perfect accompaniment. The sound track ranges from hushed to sudden bursts of loud sound effects, which at times produces a chilling effect, but is often just plain annoying.

The characters are played well by an excellent cast; however, they are extremely grim; rarely does a smile escape anyone's lips. The exception is the character of Bree Daniels, which Ms. Fonda portrays as a stunning and complicated woman who carries the film. For Ms. Fonda's tour de force performance, which won her an Academy Award, the film is a must-see. In this role, Ms. Fonda solidifies her place as one Hollywood's finest film actresses, with the ability to master dramatic as well as comedic roles reminiscent of of Katherine Hepburn and Diane Keaton.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not Very Complicated, 30 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nancy Meyers's latest offering about midlife romance is pleasant and interesting at times, but lacks the spark, energy, pathos, passion, and, yes, romance, of her earlier masterpieces, "Something's Gotta Give," and "Baby Boom," both starring the adorable and talented Diane Keaton.

Although "It's Complicated," has the astonishingly talented Meryl Streep, who has turned in a plethora of brilliant performances, she managed to phone this one in as the movie's heroine, Jane. And, the two characters who are supposed to be helping to make the romantic entanglements complicated are played flatly by Lake Bell and Steve Martin, both of whom have never been less alluring. There was no magnetism in either character to create a dilemma and conflict for the main characters. No wonder the attractive, vigorous and very sexy middle-age ex-husband, played by Alec Baldwin, fled from his vacuous and shrewish young wife – whose only thing going for her is a tall, lean body – and her bratty kid back into the arms of his intelligent. attractive and fun to be with wife, who also happens to be a professional foodie. And, it is no surprise that said ex-wife would find her upbeat and sexy ex-husband more appealing than the only other obviously available man, her architect who seems to be suffering from Botox paralysis and terminal dullness; it's one thing to be charmingly shy and sexy, quite another to be catatonic. In contrast, the heroine of "Something's Gotta Give" had a real conflict and choices: to remain alone with her fabulous career and the company of her adult daughter and dynamic sister or choose between a dashing young doctor who sweeps her off her feet or a sexy rugged individualist who plays hard to get. And, there's the point -- "It's Complicated" really isn't complicated, it's pretty sterile, while "Something's Gotta Give" was deliciously complicated, engaging and achingly romantic. In both "Something's Gotta Give" and "Baby Boom," Diane Keaton's characters were complex and nuanced -- reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn characters, where Meryl Streep's character in "It's Complicated" was sweet, pretty, wholesome and motherly - reminiscent of Doris Day's characters.

Another problem I had with "It's Complicated" was the inclusion of four women friends, all of whom except the wonderful Rita Wilson seemed clichéd and one-dimensional, rather than the one strong friend or sister, such as Frances McDormand's caustic and intellectual sister of the heroine in "Something's Gotta Give." Finally, Jane's children were too perfect – consistently well-mannered, polite to each other, respectful of their parents – automatons rather than the way children act. Had they behaved like real children, Jane's affair with her ex-husband – or anyone for that matter – would really have been complicated.

I recommend seeing "It's Complicated" once or maybe twice. However, it simply is not in the same class as "Something's Gotta Give" or "Baby Boom," both of which I have watched dozens of times. I think that's the real test of the quality and value of a movie – how many times can you view it and laugh or cry just as hard as you did the first time.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Even Flawed, One of the Best Romantic Comedies of All Time, 26 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This move is one of my all-time favorites! I never get tired of watching this David-and-Goliath-themed adventure with a feminist twist. And, although it has some LOL scenes, I always choke up over the final scene and closing credits with Carly Simon's fabulous score.

The entire cast is excellent, and I agree that this is the best romantic role ever for Harrison Ford, and one of the best roles, period, of his career. Harrison has often looked uncomfortable playing domestic roles,but he is at the top of his game in this one. Sigourney Weaver is spot on as the beautiful and polished, but underhanded boss. Joan Cusack is hilarious, as always, as the heroine's loyal best friend in the secretarial pool; she has the bimbo look and routine down. And, Melanie Griffith is wonderful as the vulnerable yet steely 30-year-old secretary at a crossroads in her life and career. It is not surprising that the movie garnered one Oscar, Oscar nominations for Melanie, Sigourney and Joan, and Golden Globe awards.

The film is so inspirational and charming that one can overlook its few flaws: (1) Apparently Jack never contacts is alleged girlfriend, Katherine, when she has a skiing accident; the two seem on the verge of becoming engaged but yet they obviously have not spoken the entire time she is laid up outside the country with broken bones. Even if Jack was planning to break off the relationship with Katherine, surely he would have called to inquire after health! (2) As Tess lives with her cheating boyfriend, where does she hang her hat between the time that they break up and before she, at least temporarily, moves in with Jack? (3) How does Katherine manage to bluff her way into Tess's and Jack's deal when she does not have all the facts? Surely, she would have been found out earlier than the film indicates.

Despite these strange oversights, the film manages to make sense in the way the way that fun, audacious plots often do. And, the best part is that even today the film provides feminist history and inspiration to a new generation of young women.

Amelia (2009)
A Disappointment, 22 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Even with two of my favorite actors, Hillary Swank and Richard Gere, this movie is flat-out boring to excruciating. The only parts of interest to me were Amelia's flights, and even those seemed contrived. Yes, the romantic angle is of interest, especially with regard to the impact it had on her career, but too much emphasis was placed on her relationship with publisher George Putnam, whom she married, rather than her relationship with flying. Ms. Swank has proved that she can play a role with breathtaking passion and zeal; but not this time. She phoned it in, as did Mr. Gere. Certainly Ms. Earhart never phoned it in. What a shame. Especially as Ms. Swank was reported to be a co-producer of the movie; what was she thinking? And what's up with the writer and director? If you're going to make another movie about a historical figure, make sure it has something new to offer. Nothing new -- or exciting -- here. Don't waste your time.

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