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Men, Women & Children (2014)
An extraordinary film! Never have I disagreed more with a critic consensus.
Despite loving Chad Kultgen's novel, I viewed this movie with low expectations due to the overall negative reviews. To my surprise I was blown away! Jason Reitman has transferred the book perfectly to the screen, and in many ways improved upon the source material. There are changes made from the book, such as aging up all the younger characters, and cutting nearly all of Brooke and Danny's storyline. The amount of sexuality is also greatly reduced in the film, something which I felt Kultgen often included to unnecessary extents in his novel. By making these changes Reitman is able to generate characters and scenarios that are much more believable than those in the novel, resulting in a very powerful, brutally honest film, with strong resonating themes about sexual frustration and the desire for intimacy in today's modern electronic age. The casting here is inspired and the movie is full of terrific performances. Ansel Elgort is a revelation as Tim Mooney, Dean Norris from "Breaking Bad" fame, gives a heartbreaking performance as a single parent trying to connect with his football quitting, video game addicted son, and Adam Sandler is great in one of his few dramatic roles. In my opinion "Men, Women & Children" is a profound topical film that should be revered alongside such classics as "The Graduate" and "American Beauty". I hope it can eventually gain the praise and recognition it deserves.
Game of Thrones: The Children (2014)
Wow. Good but very mixed episode that covered material which should have easily made it the best of the series.
This is a great episode but it could have been so much more if it weren't for some truly head scratching omissions on the creators part. I usually don't complain, but "A Storm of Swords" is probably my favorite book of all time, and I think this episode would have measured up and met my sky high expectations if only they had included Jaime's conversation with Tyrion and the Tysha reveal. I could have forgiven all the other stupid changes and omissions if they had only kept that scene. Even cutting Lady Stoneheart I'm OK with (though maybe that's because I'm quite sure she'll still be introduced next season), but cutting the reveal for Tyrion was such a terrible idea I can't believe it. Tyrion killing Tywin and the dialog in that scene was mostly ruined as a result. I don't care if non-book readers don't remember who Tysha is. Tysha wasn't mentioned much in the books and the reveal still worked. Tyrion's character and storyline have always been my favorite from the books so I was so excited for this episode, but I guess my expectations were just too high, and I'll have to except that book Tyrion and show Tyrion are very different characters. Anyways, to me this was just a frustrating aspect of an otherwise outstanding season.