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|39 reviews in total|
I was hooked after the first episode because it's what is NOT said that I keep waiting for. Aside from an amazing cast, the characters are holding back so many secrets, some old, some new, and all painfully itching to get out. There weren't enough episodes to fully disclose the depth and complexities of the relationships of all the characters who share a history all the way back to child hood. I was so relieved when Jean finally sought out Phillip to clear the air after he spent the better part of his life being punished as the bad boy he'd been profiled to be by the lies and deceptions of Harold, and by the utter betrayal of his crazy, criminal father. Each episode left me wondering who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. This is the first time I've had opportunity to see Jason Momoa in anything, and he is mesmerizing. His physicality dominates the screen, and is particularly noticeable in the presence of the pale and anxious character played earnestly by Martin Henderson, who is really good at appearing to have everything under control while he is raging under the surface for all his lost opportunities. The two men are so different, yet not so different, when it comes to moral flexibility. And even though Kopus is supposed to play the villain, he's likable. Harold, tortured with ghosts and secrets, is supposed to be the good guy, and is hard to sympathize with because he is devious. Jean is fragile and barely present, while her daughters pretty much raise themselves. Tom Sizemore is so scary it's hard to believe he's acting. I waited each week eagerly to see what was next, and I hope they approve Season 2, because 6 or 7 more episodes may tell the real story, and may give Kopus and Harold opportunities for redemption. Otherwise, all the characters seem so miserable. And we need to know who's responsible for those cancer causing sink holes in the woods. More!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It all starts with a bond between two little girls, Roz and Lil, that continues well into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood. It appears the two main characters Roz (played by Robin Wright) and Lil (played by Naomi Watts)led similar lives with similar timing and managed to, live next door to each other in an idyllic, isolated beach front community, where each had one child...at the same time...and the child for both was a boy, and the boys grew up to be best friends. The two women work in the same community they live in, and spend a significant amount of time together having dinner, wine, and walking the beach together. Their sons, who look like young gods, spend all day surfing before retiring to dinner, wine, and sometimes living room dancing with their mothers. Within this tightly knit foursome, age, maturity, and boundaries slowly and almost imperceptibly evaporate as the two best friends find themselves doing what they've always done...what the other one does. Ben Mendelsohn plays Harold, the husband of Roz, who treats Harold like an after thought. When Harold announces to Roz that he has been offered the job of his dreams, and that the family will have to move to Sydney for his job, Roz decides she loves where she lives more than she loves her husband of several years and they begin separate lives, leaving the two mothers and two sons together in paradise. This is the perfect (and unrealistic) set up for what follows. Other than the fact that two young men who look like Ian and Tom would be swamped with young girls their own ages, and that these two young men would have normal social lives with their peers, and that boys their ages don't usually hang out and drink with their mothers, it's plausible that an attraction could start between a young, handsome man and his mother's attractive best friend who he has known all his life. But for it to happen once, then happen twice within the same foursome in addition to all the facts that have to line up in the set up of this story, is just too much to ask the viewing audience to believe. Later in the movie when Roz throws her son a birthday party, her house is full of people, and I have to wonder, where did they all come from? and why do none of them know about these secret May-December affairs? or if they do, does it matter at all? Later I find out it does matter, when both boys eventually meet and marry women their own ages and father a daughter each, of the same age. It matters a lot to the wives. So the two best friends, who are now grandmothers, lose access to their grandchildren, which seems to be the only penalty for continuing the sexual relationships with their respective sons. And so they all (4) are left with each other. Wright and Watts are superb, and manage to carry off the characters flawlessly. Mendelsohn has maybe all of 10 minutes of screen time, which is a shame, as he is such a talented actor and is a pleasure to watch in any film he's ever been in. Samuels and Frencheville are certainly handsome, and have their clothing off more than on, so the female viewing audience has some idea of the temptation poor Roz and Lil are up against, and how difficult it must be to resist that temptation. The cinematography is awesome. Life seems very perfect, but for the fact that these two mothers are having sex with each other's sons, and nobody seems too upset about it. In fact, both Roz and Lil are very accepting of it. Harold eventually moves on and has a new family to love and to love him back, and nobody ever tells him what is going on, not even his son. I'm not saying this couldn't happen, but where I'm from, somebody would at least be angry. Somebody eventually does get angry. It's Ian, when Roz says it cannot continue and it's over. Weirdly, she only does that because Tom has cheated on Lil with another girl his own age, and Lil is wounded because it's over for her and Tom. So Roz ends her relationship with Ian. So in the end, the story seems to be about two best friends whose friendship is all consuming and without boundaries, no matter the sacrifices. If that's not what it's about, then I really didn't get it. Great acting, beautiful setting, an enjoyable film to watch...just not very believable.
If this great cast of actors can't make Red Widow work, then they weren't given much to work with. I watched every episode, and aside from the fact that it's just not believable that the intelligent, involved, loving Marta would not know more about the source of her family's income - it's also not believable that she emerged from her horrific childhood as this confident, balanced, ordinary soccer mom...not to mention her sweet sister. The brother was believable as an egomaniac twisted with anger and a need to prove himself to be the top dog, and make his father proud. Schiller's character never did anything bad, but we were supposed to be afraid...very afraid. After the 3rd episode I only watched the show to see how on earth the actors were going to make the plot twists seem believable because the writing was terrible. With the excellent cast, this show had a chance, but even this cast of great actors couldn't sell this limp biscuit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having watched 13 episodes of Season 1, I found this to be a wonderful story about one woman's experience serving a 15 month sentence in a minimum security women's prison. Based on the memoir of executive consultant, Piper Kerman, this is a story about Piper, a young woman raised in a white, upper middle class family, who completed her education at college, and while looking for a job as a waitress at a local bar, meets and begins a relationship with Alex, played by the statuesque and pretty Laura Prepon. The two young women live an adventurous and romantic life for several years globe trotting and drug trafficking for an international drug cartel until they eventually part ways. Then, after 10 years, Piper is arrested, tried, and found guilty of being an accomplice to drug trafficking and money laundering, right when she's settling down with her boyfriend, Larry, played by Jason Biggs. So, Larry drives his beloved Piper to prison where Piper surrenders herself to begin her 15 month sentence, with the intention of serving her time, and then marrying her fiancé, Larry. But, Piper is a fish out of water in an environment that seeks to teach the hard lesson of conformity. The cast is amazing, and the storyline well written, with good character development through flashbacks. The guards and prison administration are portrayed as corrupt and exploitative in a believable way. The prisoners are multi-dimensional, at times sympathetic, with loyalties that change depending on what is at risk at that moment in time as tribal principles prevail. This story is about adaptation and survival as much as it is about finding love in all the wrong places. And this really happened to someone. I would highly recommend this enjoyable series, and look forward to Season 2.
I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I don't know much about Matthew Settle's work, but he was perfectly cast as the dumped boyfriend that didn't want to accept that things were over with his blond, eye candy ex-girlfriend, Liz, played fetchingly by Gretchen Mol who had me going until the very end when she revealed her true colors. Settle does most of his acting with his eyes, and has that look of being really handsome, yet slightly wounded. I found myself feeling sorry for him, yet afraid of him. Settle played his character just right, struggling to maintain control, but very, very hurt. The character of Garrett had me fooled to the very end as well, with his sincerity in trying to talk to Matthew as a friend, while helping the seemingly fragile Liz with her fears. The only honest character seemed to be Corey, played by Samantha Mathis. Samantha Mathis played her character as very ambivalent, hesitant, and lacking in confidence, and self esteem. But Corey was a loyal person. What I liked most about the film was the subtlety of the acting, which made the chain of events seem to evolve naturally to the point of eventual escalation. Nobody knew what anybody else was actually doing, only what they appeared to be doing. All the characters had secret motivations, with the exception of Corey who just wanted to be liked by all. In the end, Matthew realized he had been too obsessed to see things clearly. Garret's switch flipped. Liz turned out to be a gamer. And Corey found some much needed self respect. Never did figure out who was interviewing Matthew. But I liked what he was saying, because it gave insight into who he was all along...a sensitive, decent guy. And the film left me wondering if he got back together with Liz or Corey? Hmmm. I vote Corey.
Had I not had a close relationship with a man who suffered from sexual addiction, I would not have seen this film as anything other than a showcase for Michael Fassbender's rather fine body and a lot of sexually explicit scenes. As I watched Fassbender's character walk through his daily life with such fastidious attention to detail, everything in his apartment so sharp, perfectly placed, and never disturbed as evidence of being lived in I felt like I knew this person very well. And nothing about his behavior surprised me afterward, except the sheer amount of suffering. I hadn't witnessed that kind of suffering first hand, but had only heard the testimony of a recovering sex addict, and the scenes in Shame pretty much fit the bill. Had I not read about sexual addiction, I might have thought the character's obsession with porn and masturbation was overdone, but in fact, from what I've learned, this film was spot on. Even the inability to have sex with someone Fassbender's character is actually attracted to, I'm told that is a very real problem with sex addicts...the inability to find stimulation in anything other than prohibited, shameful sexual behavior because shame is the turn on, and serial anonymous sexual encounters is the acting out...the drug. So this film was eerily accurate in its depiction of the life of this man. Carey Mulligan's role as his sister, from the same family where, as she stated, bad things were done to them that were not their fault, also made perfect sense. The sister alluded to the damaging and unresolved problems both brother and sister suffered from what was likely childhood trauma of an inappropriate sexual nature that the film doesn't go into. I understood why the sister's presence made her brother uncomfortable. He was constantly reminded of their pain when he looked at her, and when he felt her raw neediness, her masochistic need to be used and tossed aside. In fact, it was painful to watch these two otherwise nice people, engage in self destructive behavior without any hope of changing in sight. Sister and brother are so damaged by shame that they can't even have a healthy relationship with each other. I left the theater feeling like I needed a shower.
So this is a film about perceptions and assumptions because I learned in the last 20 minutes of the film that I had made several assumptions and had based my understanding of the story line on those assumptions. Wow. Was I ever shown a thing or two by the clever writing and understated acting. Also, I was fooled by the seeming innocence of the young girls' familiarities and pleasantries, when the subject matter was actually quite horrifying. So congratulations to the cast and the writers because this was an unexpected and pleasant little surprise of a film. Can't say much about it without spoiling it for others who haven't seen it, but I suggest you watch it and that you keep an open mind. The ultra-calm tone of the film made it all the more ominous. I enjoyed the acting, and didn't find it too amateurish or off putting. I felt the loneliness and isolation of the characters through their acting even though they weren't obvious about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All that potential, and such a bad movie. How can that happen? And talk about the overuse of vulgarity. There's a certain art to cursing that makes it comedy, and that did not happen in this film. So, here's the story. Becky (Rebel Wilson) is a beautiful plus-sized young woman who is getting married to her very handsome fiancé, and her maid of honor Regan (Kirsten Dunst), and 2 best friend bridesmaids Kate (Isla Fischer) and Jenna (Liz Kaplan) are making fun of how large Becky is the night before her wedding by trying to fit 2 of them into her wedding dress so they can take a photo of it and post it all over the internet. What great friends, huh? It's bad enough they hired a male stripper that called her "pig face," her high school moniker, the night before her wedding, but her 3 best friends were total bitches, envious, self absorbed, with enough personal problems to add a psychiatrist and a drug rehab subplot to the movie. The entire film consisted of all 3 being frantic, drunk, drugged, angry, rude, vomiting, bleeding, snorting coke, cursing excessively, and just acting like chickens on crack. It was not entertaining, it was annoying. And, it was a mistake to give Rebel Wilson minimal screen time because she is funny. Adam Scott saved the day with some good acting as the man pledging his undying love for the cynical, wounded, dark, angry, foul mouthed Lizzie Kaplan...as unbelievable as that was. Isla Fisher's character was a stereotype...pretty, stupid, objectified, and destined to overdose. Sad, predictable, boring, and a waste of time. Kirsten Dunst's character was hard to sympathize with. Always playing the over achieving perfectionist, in this film she also admitted to having had a problem with bulimia in the past, so this role was essentially Kirsten playing herself. And, in the end, none of the 3 stood up for Becky at her wedding but skulked over to a park bench and had a smoke while she got married. The film may have been more interesting if Dunst, Kaplan, and/or Fisher would have been cast against type, but they essentially all played the same roles they play in every movie. Don't waste your time watching this movie. It's not pretty or funny to watch women try to emulate men at their worst. Plus, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifanakis have already done this movie and have done it way better. Some posters have called this a "dark comedy," but I'm missing the humor of a story about 3 "best friends" sabotaging the bride they already pitied for being inferior to them because she isn't skinny. The only redemption of the film is that, of the 4 friends, Becky was the happy one.
Who eats ice cream out of a cup with spoon while driving a car, having a conversation, and feeding ice cream to the other passenger? Why not close your eyes and take your hands off the wheel like Diane Keaton chose to do after she learned her only child DIED IN A CAR WRECK? This kind of bad writing insults the audience. Then, the actors, who are supposed to be the deceased Sarah's best friends, continue on with their vacation and the deceased girl's grieving mother joins them so she can get closer to Sarah's private life while she grieves the loss of her only child. Who does that? Before the diary was ever read, I knew it contained the poor dead girl's burdens of feeling like she had to be her mother's universe. And what was the deal with that hideous growth on that poor waitress' chin? What was the point to that? Was there some symbolism there besides she must not have a best friend because if she did, her best friend would tell her to shave her beard? This, coming from a girl who clearly would rather spend all her time with a homosexual man than take a risk of developing a relationship with a man who is not the husband of her best friend. Who is the best friend that tells you she's sleeping with your husband? I had a hard time liking Sarah after that. The plot gets more annoying as it becomes obvious that the deceased girl's mother not only tried to control every minute of her only daughter's life, but also had to invade her private relationships with her friends after she was dead, as if Sarah is her possession, or as if she is still a small child and has no rights to privacy as an adult. And can Diane Keaton over-act or what? This is really a story about how suffocating a mother's love can be even with the purest of intentions, especially for an only child. I found myself watching the clock to see when this nerve wracking mess of a movie would end.
Matthew Beard stole the show from Aaron Johnson with pure kick ass acting. The film did a pretty good job of showing how loneliness and pain can bring lots of emotionally crippled people together, and that sometimes that can be good and sometimes not so much. Aaron Johnson, whom I usually enjoy watching, seemed a bit like a one trick pony in this film. I'd have liked to know more about the characters and how they came to be the way they were. It all starts at home, of course, but all the parents seem trivialized, when in fact, they were central to their children's issues. Perhaps this is reality and I'm naive. I did feel very sad for those poor young people and it occurred to me that the internet has opened up an entire world of opportunity for evil people to exploit people looking for a friend. In that regard the film hit its mark by touching upon the dangers of being too busy to notice that children are turning to those who don't have their best interests at heart, and that, thanks to the internet, they can reach a larger audience of creeps than ever before. Hopefully, the reverse is also true...that they can reach a larger audience of heroes than ever before. Maybe someone should make a film about that.
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