Reviews

9 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Key and Peele (2012–2015)
9/10
In the pantheon
11 June 2015
Key and Peele are the most acerbic, gutsy, and funny duo on American television today. In fact, comedy duos seem to be a lost art form in the United States (gone are the days of Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, and Martin and Lewis). Perhaps, that's why Key and Peele seems fresh, while at the same time, hearkening back to pre-war era comedy. The writing is heavy on satire, but the performances are rife with pratfalls. In an era of snark and ironic distance, it's invigorating to watch a comedy in love with the execution of a sketch, not just the target of a joke. The cinematography also elevates the show above the usual crop, with its filmic look and splendid editing. Noting about this show is slapdash (Judd Apatow improv, this ain't). The show's writing and performing is deliberate and the dividends are many! Highly recommended.
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Awake (2012)
9/10
I really hope this show is picked up!
2 March 2012
I must say, the premise is admittedly frustrating: A man in a terrible car crash with his wife and son finds that each time he goes to sleep, he wakes up with a completely different reality. In one, his wife survived the crash, while his son died and in the other, his son survived, but his wife did not. Though neither outcome seems dreamlike. He lives and works in each, accepting both as absolute fact. Add to this already complex premise his duties as police detective having to solve not one, but two crimes per episode and...whew...I'm exhausted. But also, highly entertained and captivated! Jason Issacs, who plays the lead in this dual reality is superb, as always and surrounded by an exceptional supporting cast. I hope NBC renews this show, I have a feeling it will be must see television.
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Louie (2010– )
Promises, promises
7 July 2010
Ricky Gervais called Louis C.K. "the funniest comedian working in America today", so it's fitting that Louis should repay the compliment with a guest spot for Gervais on his show. And what a guest spot! Gervais is allowed to do what Gervais does best, say ridiculously sublime and horribly tasteless things while still remaining oddly endearing. Ricky's jokes in anyone else's hands could seem the punch lines of a sociopath. Whether Louis C.K. will fulfill Ricky's pronouncement as "the funniest comedian working in America today" remains to be seen, but he's off to a good start. Each episode of Louis is presented in two vignettes, two seemingly random episodes connected by a greater theme, such as aging, love, death, health, wealth and happiness, etc. And so far, Louis C.K. has surrounded himself with excellent playmates (Gervais, for one). Now let us hope that he takes a cue from Ricky Gervais and keeps his comedy grounded in a painfully bittersweet hyper reality, as opposed to a Jerry Seinfeld/ Larry David world of snarky cynicism. The random quirkiness of his show has already drawn Seinfeld comparisons, but it's pretty obvious Louis has a hope for humanity his predecessors have never had. Louis C.K. (the character) is both a schlemiel and a schlimazel, a loser either way you look at it, but he has a dignity befitting a Ricky Gervais character. And that's a winner anyway you look at it.
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Year One (2009)
5/10
A movie about Neanderthals for Neanderthals by Neanderthals.
19 June 2009
One knows going into this film that the comedy will be broad. That being said, Harold Ramis doesn't seem to be able to hit the broad side of the comedy barn. I might have expected at least some pithy and quotable dialogue, a la Judd Apatow (who produces), but alas, I can't remember a single phrase from this film. The jokes are stale (foreskin humor! Jews being bad athletes!) and the scenes are poorly edited. Some scenes don't even resolve themselves before moving on to the next. An early scene involving Michael Cera and a snake cuts to the next scene without any explanation as to what became of either. The actors display all the self-indulgence of a Judd Apatow film, without any of the comic rewards. If only the film makers had taken a bite from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they might have known how bad this movie was destined to be.
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The Office (2005–2013)
8/10
The Atlantic transfer
27 February 2009
Though I'm sure it's been said before, that won't stop my "re-hash", since the subject I'm discussing is, itself, a "re-hash". But where to begin? Firstly, I believe I must state the obvious: The tones of the two shows are completely different. The English version was so awkwardly spot on at times, it left you reeling with embarrassment. It had obviously been built by hands which had been imprisoned by a cubicle. And, as it turns out, Ricky Gervais did indeed spend some time in the office doldrums. The "polite" small talk and awkward pauses in conversation, with people you don't really care to know outside of work, are all there. And then some. The American office however, is a more absurd place.

The American office is like no work environment I've ever seen in my life. And I don't think it attempts to be. It pulls absolute absurd-ism out of a magic hat and wields it like a wand. The antics pulled on this show would not only get the employees fired, but probably arrested. The character, Dwight K. Schrute, part psychopath, part ubber-nerd, would most definitely be put in some sort of facility so that he would not cause harm to himself or others. The boss, Michael Scott, shares a few character traits with his British counterpart, David Brent, but goes further down the path of redundancy. By the third season, Michael actually brings the office to a standstill on a daily basis. Were he real, not only would he not retain his job, but he would be sued into oblivion. This is a show, in many ways, more akin to the Seinfeld universe than the original Office.

If one can grasp this fact and really separate the two, then both are enjoyable in different ways. The British original often had moments of deepest poignancy, while the American one usually just heads for purest escapism. The characters are wonderful on both shows and, in some ways, are archetypes for their respective countries. One thing that has been harshly criticized about the American characters is that their "too mousy". I agree with this. Most Americans I've observed wouldn't act as reserved as these characters do. I think this is a uniquely British trait and is one of the few things which should have been translated better.

In closing, watch the original for its unmatched subversive wit, which stings at the worst of times and actually soothes at its best. And watch the American one for its absolute brilliant comedic lunacy. The world is big enough for both.
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9/10
I understand the controversy.
17 February 2009
I must admit, as a middle of the road, middle-class American male living in the deep-south, I was completely ignorant to the plight of India. In fact, any images I might have retained in my head concerning India usually had Ben Kingsley in them. Or at the very least (and I mean racist least) Apu from The Simpsons. I knew it was a very beautiful place. And I knew it held a certain "mysticism" over western minds. But, what I did not know was how dire the slums of India were. There are images from this film that will be with me many years from now. The fact that I left the cinema elated is a testament to how wonderfully moving and uplifting the film actually is. It shows the filth, but, in a very non-Martin Scorsese style, doesn't leave us with just horrendous images of people in dire straights. It actually inspires the soul by showing hope is never truly vanquished. Especially if a person has goal and a journey. True, my heart wondered what became of the mutilated children still left in the slums. And true, I know logically that a population in the billions offers little hope of "striking it rich". But, cinema should not be a window into reality. That's what actual windows are for. Cinema should be an ideal reality, a piece of knowledge, a way to educate, and lastly, a way of escape.

In closing, I can understand the controversy surrounding this film. It certainly won't help tourism in India. In fact, it might kill it. But, to those with an open mind, it's just the start of a great adventure.
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The Aviator (2004)
9/10
A Beautifully Crafted Film!
2 February 2005
I won't deny it. I'm a huge Martin Scorsese fan and have rarely been disappointed with any choices the director has made. The Aviator met my high expectations and in many ways surpassed them. One could not ask for a more gorgeous filmed movie. Every scene is so lush in detail and color, and did I mention detail! If one ever wants to see a true biopic on old Hollywood or even a museum of knowledge about 30's and 40's pop culture, this is it. Besides the eye and sound candy is the acting caliber. The Aviator has one of the best casts this year led by Leonardo Dicaprio and Cate Blanchett. They both give wonderfully rich and absorbing performances and should make the Academy's job extra hard at crunch time. Highly recommended.
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8/10
Will this film stand the test of time?
28 September 2004
The criteria for a classic film to become timeless is very simple. It must speak to every generation that comes in contact with it. Films like the The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, both which were released in 1939, have obviously aged well. The Wizard of Oz, like The Shawshank Redemption, was not an immediate success and yet it grew an audience. The Shawshank Redemption is a well told story that seems to connect with people on a basic level. It has also subsequently grown in viewership in its first decade. It will be very interesting to see how it fares 50 years from now. Will this film stand the test of time? Will this film always remain a favorite among audiences?
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10/10
a powerful, unsappy teen flick
21 December 2003
I think "Rebel Without a Cause" is a landmark film of the 50's and should be considered a classic by all true movie buffs. It delivers it's message of teenage angst in way that does not feel forced or corny. It leaves a lasting impact on the viewer and a haunting memory not soon forgotten. The way teen flicks should be done. It's also one the best widescreen movies I've ever seen.
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