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Awfully dumb., 28 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't particularly care for "To Cage a Seagull". It simply had too many dumb plot problems. Plus, episodes about Neo-Nazis and the like are pretty hard to take very seriously.

The show begins with a traffic copter in Los Angeles making its morning rounds. However, after signing off, he pilot notices something odd--a plane on a dirt road. He goes low to see what's happening--and a guy on the ground opens up on the helicopter with a machine gun and it crashes. Not surprisingly, the no dead pilot was a friend of Mannix and they were supposed to play golf together. Much of the next 10-15 minutes consists of legwork to find leads as to who killed his friend. I enjoyed this. However, when the Neo-Nazis came along, things got pretty dumb and the plot holes started appearing. First, Joe learns that the killing might be related to the supposed death of a Neo-Nazi leader who is a wanted man. You'd think he would IMMEDIATELY call the police about this-- especially when they're working on the case together. Second, when a lady soon arrives and asks Joe to accompany her to catch the folks responsible for the murder, Joe does NOT phone the cops to ask them to follow. Considering he's expecting to find a group of heavily armed Neo-Nazis, you sure think he'd get backup!!! But when he is naturally captured, the Neos also turn out to be dumb--they tell him their plans (duh) and instead of killing him immediately, they put him in a room where he might just be able to escape--and they plan on killing him in the morning!! Super-duh!! All in all, a ridiculous episode--and uncharacteristically bad when it comes to the writing.

It's obviously inspired by "The Petrified Forest" but it has a few big differences., 28 July 2014

When this episode of "Mannix" began, I thought it would be a direct copy of the old Leslie Howard, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart film "The Petrified Forest". Well, it was but it fortunately only stayed that way for a while and had enough differences that I enjoyed it.

Mannix stops at a gas station and coffee shop in the middle of the desert when he's on his way for a fishing vacation. However, he walks right into the middle of a hostage situation, as three gangsters are holding the owners hostage. Now, with three hostages, things look really bad. Soon a fourth guy arrives and what is up isn't really apparent. However, when the boss tells his two thugs to take Mannix and the fourth hostage 'for a ride', Mannix knows it will be his last unless they do something. The two guys later make a break for it--Mannix escapes and the other guy is murdered. Eventually, Mannix is discovered roaming about the desert by the police. However, when he tells them what happened, they cannot find proof any of it happened. And, oddly, the couple who own the gas station/coffee shop say that they were never being held by anyone! Of course Mannix is determined to figure all this out and prove that a murder DID occur.

As I said above, there are lots of ways the show differed from the old movie--all beginning about 10 minutes into the show. So, don't assume it's just a knockoff--it IS worth seeing.

It starts wonderfully and just sort of fizzles as it progresses., 27 July 2014

"Heartbreaker" is worth seeing. However, it's also very frustrating to watch because the film starts off wonderfully and through the course of the film it just sort of fizzles. It's a real shame as the first 10 minutes is magical!

The film starts with a man and woman on vacation in Egypt. However, they don't seem very compatible and soon she is being wooed by a very nice stranger. Then you learn that the stranger is not there by accident. He and his partners make up a strange service--one that helps break up toxic relationships. In other words, parents or friends who KNOW you are in a bad relationship can pay these schemers to destroy the couple. However, these folks are NOT totally mercenary. They won't break up genuinely happy and healthy couples nor will they break folks up for ridiculous reasons like race. So, the viewer actually LIKES the work these people do.

Soon after this wonderful intro, a group of mob types announce that they service is inexplicably heavily in debt--and they must produce the money fast or else. So, they take a job from a nasty guy--and their commitment to their ethics is challenged. After all, the couple seem very happy, well-matched and decent. Can the breakup artist STILL do his job when given this sort of situation?

Had the film been more episodic like the beginning and showed funny scenarios of breakups, it might have worked much better for me. Having the focus ONLY on this one couple with few problems was very problematic--as it became a bit dull AND the finale made zero sense at all. Nor did the friend that the lady had--as they seemed way too different in values and attitude to make it believable that they'd ever be friends. It's a shame, as the film did start off well and it does have some really nice moments scattered through the picture--but it just tried my attention span as it progressed and the film was a mild misfire.

Ricky (2009/I)
There's NO's just people behaving badly!, 27 July 2014

I have rarely expected so much from a film but got so little. This was my experience with "Ricky". After all, it's a story about a baby who sprouts wings--and so it's a comedy, right?! Well, no...there really isn't anything funny or even magical about the movie and I thoroughly hated the movie.

The film begins with a single mom, Katie, and her obviously ignored and depressed daughter, Lisa. Lisa's needs or welfare NEVER seem to matter to Katie and often Katie just does whatever she wants. She sees a nice looking guy at work...she has sex with him in a bathroom stall. She has a daughter to pick up at school...she shows up much, much later than she said and the kid just has to wait. She decides to actually DATE the man she had sex with in the stall, she runs off to do this and you assume the kid is with a sitter or at home alone. Later, mom brings the guy home and they screw again--and it's very loud and the kid is forced to hear it all. The next day, the kid sees mom and her latest passion having breakfast and you have no idea how this will impact the child. Most animals seem to have more on the ball regarding parenting than this woman! Look, I am not anti-sex--but there is a reasonable time and place and being responsible sure ain't important to this couple. Later, they create a boy--and the guy runs off for a while. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I didn't think much of this parenting style.

So, at this point, I assumed that when Ricky, the baby, sprouts wings that the parents will FINALLY grow up and there will be some meaning to all of this or some needed personal growth. Nope. Apparently there is no message. Mom, true to form, misplaces Ricky and the film soon ends. Apparently, the baby's needs, like his sister's really don't matter. But at least mom feels inexplicably inspired.

Why do others like this film? All I know is that I couldn't relate to it or enjoy it at all. It's a waste of an interesting idea, that's for sure. And, it really annoyed me.

Amazingly strange...and funny., 27 July 2014

While I am 50 years old and WAY outside the target audience for this show, my 24 year-old daughter is hooked--so much so that she always insists that I watch "Gravity Falls" with her. And so this is how I came to see the show--and I assume most who have reviewed the show are much younger than I am!

The plot is a lot like the old show "Eerie, Indiana" in that the main characters, who are kids, keep stumbling upon weird cases of the supernatural in this bizarre little town. However, and this is important, unlike "Eerie, Indiana", the characters are far more likable and funny. In particular, Mabel is a hoot--and is among the best things about the show--as is Gruncle Stan. But the others are all quite charming and weird. The writing, therefore, is a very strong suit about the series and, oddly, will appeal to just about all age groups. Sure, it's a show for kids--but oldsters like me will like it too, if they give it a chance. Well worth your time.

It's a Peggy episode., 27 July 2014

This is a very unusual episode of "Mannix" because Mannix is actually not in the episode very much and the case is solved in the opening scene. Instead, Peggy is the star--imagine!

The show begins with Joe entering his office and informing Peggy that he's just solved a case--thanks to a picture he just obtained. However, some gunman then enters the office and tries to take the photo--and in the process Peggy is shot! Oddly, although the wound is in her left shoulder, she's kept in the hospital for several days. During this time, she meets a handsome man in the room across the hall---and the guy is the leader of a new African nation. Minji Obuko (Hari Rhodes) is also very charming and soon the pair fall in love. However, three huge glitches stand in their way--he's very ill, some assassin is trying to kill him AND the writers of the show would never have Peggy leave to live in Africa! So, you know that it's not going to end the way Peggy wants--the only weakness of the show. However, apart from that, the program is excellent because it's so original and because it gives Gail Fisher a lot more to do than usual.

My only concern is just how many more awful things can happen to Peggy?! She's been kidnapped a couple times and shot in this show--and you'd THINK she'd find a better job! you'd expect from a Pagnol story., 27 July 2014

Marcel Pagnol was a wonderful French writer, director and playwright. His stories are indeed classics and have been filmed, re-filmed and even re-filmed again. So, it's not at all surprising that Daniel Auteuil has decided to take a stab at Pagnol's classic stories--not just starring in them but writing the new screenplays and directing them. I say that's not surprising because not only are these wonderful stories, but Auteuil also has previously been in a couple other Pagnol stories--"Jean de Florette" and "Manon Des Sources". His four new films consist of this film, "The Well-Digger's Daughter" as well as the wonderful trilogy consisting of "Marius", "Fanny" and "Cesar"--which just recently debuted and which are not yet available here in the States. I cannot wait to see these three most recent movies.

"The Well-Digger's Daughter" is a story with many similarities to the Fanny Trilogy Auteuil made following this film. All are set in Provence, concern ordinary folks and are about the complications that arise from an unplanned pregnancy.

The story begins with the daughter, Patricia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) meeting a handsome young man, Jacques (Nicolas Duvauchelle) when she's on her way to bring her father, Pascal (Daniel Auteuil), his lunch. The audience KNOWS based on their meeting that the two are destined to be a number. However, there are some complications---such as Felipe (Kad Merad) wanting to marry Patricia. But, of course, much more serious complications arise--and I don't really want to get to them here--just see the film.

I love films about ordinary people--and Pagnol's are about as ordinary as you can find! Some may not be quite so captivated by these folks-- they aren't exactly rich, cultured or the Hollywood types. But, I am pretty ordinary as are 99% of movie viewers! So why not enjoy the lives and loves of folks we can relate to?! Plus, the story is so nicely written, lovingly directed and enjoyable that I strongly recommend you give it a try.

By the way, Pascal's grandson, who he treats as if it's HIS kid is actually Zachary Auteuil--the actor/director's real life son!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I am certainly not the best one to review this one..., 26 July 2014

While I have a bazillion reviews to my credit here on IMDb, I must tell you up front that I am not the best person to be reviewing this movie. This is because I have never seen the TV series on which this film is based and I am not particularly familiar with Steve Coogan. So, unlike many viewers, this is my first time and I cannot compare the movie with the show.

The film begins with some corporate folks coming to the radio station where Alan (Coogan) works. They are there to make changes and he and the staff are pretty scared. It appears that Alan is the big change and he's going to be let go. But, being a weasel, he manages to focus their attention on someone else--Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). However, when Pat is instead fired, he loses it and goes on a shooting spree. He also takes a bunch of hostages and it's up to Alan to try to help the police to get the folks out alive. However, being a weasel, he also hopes to gain a lot of attention for himself and thus improve his ratings! In fact, as the film progresses, you really see that this is Partridge's #1 goal.

This movie is a very funny and EXTREMELY dark comedy. Such topics are usually NOT the basis for a comedy and the film manages to tackle a sick topic like this and still make it very watchable. However, at times, the film does have a few lulls--not serious ones but the pacing could have been just a bit better. Worth seeing--especially if you like your humor pitch black in tone.

A little more George, a little less of everyone else., 26 July 2014

While I am certainly no fan to zombie films in general because the genre has been WAY over-saturated in recent years, I have enjoyed a few of the films and understand that they still are very popular and important films despite my misgivings about many of the recent films. So, because of this, the new documentary Birth of the Living Dead is well worth seeing and is rather timely. It is THE granddaddy of all modern zombie films—the one that led to subsequent generations of such pictures. In fact, it's one of the most important movies of the 1960s and it's one every film student and horror fan should see and appreciate. It managed to overcome its low production values and humble origins to become a cult favorite.

Not surprisingly, the creator of the original film, Night of the Living Dead, George Romero, is featured in this documentary. When he's being interviewed is when the film is at its best. His tidbits about the making of Night of the Living Dead are really interesting and I wanted even more of this than Romero provided. Additionally, a variety of experts are interviewed and they discuss what they love about the movie. Also not surprisingly, various clips from this seminal film are shown throughout this homage. Among the topics covered are the director's expectations as well as how he made the film, the impact of the film on pop culture, the reaction of the critics (both immediately after the film was released and later after many re-assessed the movie), the political and racial themes in the film (whether intended or not) and how the film was groundbreaking as well as how it mirrored the times in which it was made.

This documentary certainly is well worth seeing and I recommend you see it provided you first see the old film it's based on—otherwise it might be a bit confusing. However, it's not a perfect making of film and could have been a bit better. As I mentioned above, the inside information from Romero was great but too often various 'experts' (and I have no idea what constituted this in many of the folks chosen to discuss the film) talked a lot more about hidden social significance (something that Romero revealed is NOT always in the movie) and the times instead of talking more about the original movie itself and how it was made. Still, despite this, the film is reasonably well made and kept my interest throughout. For horror fans and film students, it certainly should be a film to watch.

Aside from a weak premise, a pretty decent episode., 26 July 2014

This episode of "Mission: Impossible" has the distinction of starring an Oscar-winning actor as the guest villain. Edmund O'Brien plays Halder-- a scumbag who manufactures counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The problem is not only that they are fakes, but no effort is made to make them effective in the least. Because of this, a manufacturer of a life- saving heart drug is about to go out of business unless the IM Force can get the goods on him. To do so, they make Halder think that he is suffering from a stroke and he'll get counterfeits instead of the life- saving drug.

This is one of many weak premise episodes the show made over the years. I say weak because since Halder is living in the States and is they know he's a killer, why not just kill him?! Having the team perform a complicated sting on him seems pretty silly, actually.

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