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SeriousJest

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109 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the Best Visual Depictions of the Sacrifice that Troops Make and the Horrors of War, 12 January 2015
9/10

As a former Marine who deployed to Iraq, this ten-episode mini-series is a must for my personal collection. In fact, I think it's safe to say all military personnel should have it in their collections. Even if you have little to no interest in military affairs, however, you should take the time at some point in your life to watch this series all the way through.

Beautifully scripted, masterfully acted, and filmed amongst breathtaking (in many different ways) cinematography, this production, which significantly contributed to HBO's fast rise as the gold standard in series quality, is an amazing portrayal of the sacrifices made by troops and of the horrors of war. A healthy dose of clips from this series was played by my instructors during training ops to drive home points about all kinds of important subjects germane to war.

A few random thoughts I had while watching the project: - Everyone did such a great job acting, and the character development was top-notch. Even amongst this wonderful cast, Damian Lewis stood out, followed closely by Neal McDonough.

- It was pretty awesome to see David Schwimmer play such a different role.

- There are countless useful lessons to be learned from this series, especially by those who hope to lead troops someday.

- Why is there so much hip firing throughout the series? Isn't it a bit unrealistic to make some of these shots without looking down your sights? - I watched one of the most squared-away officers in the 101st return a salute sitting on his ass. This would not happen in the Marines. Is it different in the Army? - I understand very well the transition that one may go through in terms of how he/she thinks of the enemy during war. When you first get out there, you dehumanize them in your head in order to justify some of the things that you may have to do. After a while, however, there comes a point when you realize that your enemies are human beings, much like you, fighting out of a sense of duty, and just trying to make it out of this thing alive like you are. At least, I went through a transition like that, and this series did a good job of illustrating such a transition. Still, despite the respect that our soldiers may have gained for the Germans as a formidable fighting force made up of dedicated human soldiers, they were still Nazis. They were supporting some pretty foul principles. I'm not saying that our troops were wrong for regarding Nazi troops with the respect that they did during the conflict, but I wonder if my attitude toward Nazi soldiers would have softened even after we defeated them.

- It would be great to have a beer with one of the living members of the 101st who fought in WWII.

- After you finish watching this production, watch The Pacific. It's even better! Then again, I'm biased. :)

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

Death Race (2008)
One of my Favorite Hokey Car Films, 18 December 2014
6/10

In the bonus feature "Start Your Engines – Making a Death Race," Anderson declares that he meant for this movie to be a darker, more serious, believable version of Death Race 2000. I've never seen the original, so he may have succeeded, but I found this film to be hokey in a few parts, including the ending. All of that being said, it is one of my favorite hokey car films. There is actually a compelling plot behind the race, plenty of great action, and a solid cast, including newcomer beauty Natalie Martinez, whom I'd like to see more of. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that you need to see this flick, I will say that you probably wouldn't mind watching it more than once, either.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Senseless, 29 November 2014
3/10

According to IMDb, Red was credited as a screenplay writer for this movie, but had no part in writing it (aside from writing the 1986 film). I haven't seen the 1986 version, but if it was any good, I don't blame him for wanting to distance himself from this version.

This flick starts strong and features competent performances by good actors (except for Bush's second-half performance, which gets out of her range, in my opinion; she just hasn't mastered the thousand-yard stare). However, it's a lot of build-up for nothing. The effects and action are often hokey, it feels as if some major events were skipped (and not in a good, it's-better-to-leave-it-to-the-imagination way), and the payoff to the big question throughout the movie is never realized. If I had to describe this film in one word, it would be "senseless." Also according to IMDb, "Rutger Hauer, who played the character of John Ryder in the original was offered a cameo, but declined for artistic reasons. Hauer has since said in the press that he has yet to watch the remake, and according to some of his friends he shouldn't bother." Smart man.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

Instant Classic for Western aficionados, 6 November 2014
6/10

This is a very solid film, with a compelling plot and solid cast, featuring two of the most notoriously ill-tempered actors in the business. Who will be the bigger jerk? Watch it and find out! Also, Foster brings the same leashed intensity that inspired Mark Wahlberg to give up some of his own pay in order to recruit Foster for Lone Survivor. Foster is one of my favorite supporting actors.

You can enjoy this movie as a straightforward classic action Western, or you can delve deeper into the psychological underpinnings, which are spread throughout the movie and which culminate in an ending that can either anger you or inspire a subsequent deep discussion with others who have seen the film.

For Western aficionados, this flick is an instant classic and Must See. For the rest of us, you could live with missing this one, but once you start watching it, you'll be hooked.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

Hannibal (2001)
More comedic-horror than thriller, but still a Must See for fans of Hannibal the Cannibal, 8 September 2014
7/10

The sequel to The Silence of the Lambs is more creepy than thrilling, and sometimes a little hokey. Moreover, while Moore is an exceptional actress, it just feels different with her playing Starling. Furthermore, the plot is not as sophisticated as SotL.

That being said, the film is entertaining in more of a comedic-horror way. Hopkins is deliciously sinister, the supporting cast is very talented, and there is a classic scene involving the human brain that is worth adding to your pop-culture tool belt. If you're a fan of Hannibal the Cannibal, you should set aside time to see this flick once, although you shouldn't go into it with high expectations.

For more reviews and a kick-ass podcast, check out www.livemancave.com

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Needlessly delved into soap-opera scandals, 16 July 2014
5/10

This superb cast really brings out the essence of cutthroat DC politics, both in government and in private-sector. The series is basically a modern-day version of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. While some may not like Spacey's breaking of the fourth wall, I think it adds to the Poe-like tone that this show obviously seeks to convey. The series also pulls back the "government-conspiracy" curtain, looking at such conspiracies from the point of view of the conspirators and the cleaners. Unfortunately, the show becomes a bit too far-fetched for my tastes in some respects, reaching for soap-opera scandals to pacify those viewers who will not be content with political coups and corporate maneuvering. Also, I deeply despise Spacey's and Wright's characters for their ethical and moral depravity, and for their lack of a code, so I have some trouble separating my hostility towards them from the series as a whole.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

Watch this and then try to complain about your "first-world problems.", 2 July 2014
10/10

I kept hearing that this movie was good, but I never got around to watching it. Having glanced at its cover before, I was expecting something different…more of a sappy romantic tale. Instead, I discovered one of most poignant, suspenseful, exciting, and action-packed tales of a place that I've only heard stories about. It catapulted me through a wide range of emotions. Watch this and then try to complain about your "first-world problems." The City of God is shockingly poor and frighteningly dangerous, yet culturally rich and unexpectedly beautiful.

Meirelles and Lund manage to convey a stark realism through a cast made up largely of actors from Rio favelas who had never acted before, but who stepped up to the task in an amazing way with some intense coaching. The film even features some takes which were not scripted, as well as real coverage from true events. The music masterfully complemented the mood of each scene, while staying true to the beauty of Brazil. The camera work was top-notch (especially for 2002), both in César Charlone's skillful employment of the equipment and in the scenery that he captured. Daniel Rezende, the film editor, presented Charlone's vision at a wonderful intersection of deliberate and thrilling, ensuring that the viewer's attention stayed captive throughout.

This flick is so good, I wanted to watch it again immediately after the credits rolled the first time around. You will be hooked from the moment the chicken starts running for its life. Make this film the next one you watch.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Very Dark Version of Scream, 1 July 2014
7/10

This film is like a very dark version of Scream. While I enjoy horror movies, haunted houses, etc, not many of them raise my heart rate anymore. A good thriller, however, may still get my blood pumping. Enter this unique take on the serial-killer thriller. Haneke uses a calculating and methodical tempo, a Hitchcock-style method of making your brain fill in the gore, and an expert contrast of peaceful music with obnoxious music to keep the viewer's eyes glued to the screen. The movie is like a soccer match: stretches of anticipation, with exciting moments happening very quickly and with little warning. I had the good fortune to watch the film without knowing what it was about, so those payoffs were even more exciting for me.

And like Scream, while the director showcases his ability to make a proper killer thriller, he also sends a message to the viewer in a creative and artistic fashion. According to IMDb, Haneke told producer 'Veit Heiduschka' during the production that if the film was a success, it would be because audiences had misunderstood the meaning behind it. It could potentially get frustrating to watch a well-executed thriller color outside of the lines all of a sudden, but if you keep an open mind, you might realize that such creative license actually adds to the thrill.

It would be wrong to end this review without mentioning the actors, who all performed very convincingly. A great game plan is of no use if the players don't execute it well.

In closing, I would also be remiss not to mention what I saw as the most important lesson of all to take from this film: a man should have the physical ability and disposition to protect his family. Just ask Muhe's character. Moreover, when presented with a threat, passive compliance is not always the best answer. Act decisively and before your situation has worsened, and you might just catch the enemy in the OO of his OODA loop. Sometimes you just have to fight with a busted knee.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

Like watching my neighbor on Jerry Springer, 29 June 2014
5/10

This flick has the video quality of a 1990s health class film, and features a town that looks like it is the product of generations of inbreeding. At first, the residents' rally against the incumbent mayor is comical in a campy way, but then the documentary drags a little bit. Specifically, I started thinking of how depressing it would be to live in Bogota. About halfway through, however, one of the campaigns gets a game-changing injection, and so does the film. I grew up in New Jersey and currently live close to Bogota, so, all in all, this flick was worth watching for me because it's like one of your neighbors appearing on The Jerry Springer Show. Plus, it's got a real human aspect to it…both good and bad.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com

"Oz" (1997)
Makes you wonder how you'd do in a max-security prison, 23 June 2014
7/10

When this show debuted, my friends and I would make sure our schedule was clear to catch each new episode live. I have heard it accurately described as a male soap opera. Every week, something crazy happened. Network television wasn't playing anything like this. The character development available in a mutiple-season series was impossible to achieve in a two- or three-hour film.

This show constantly made me wonder how I'd fare in a maximum-security prison. It convinced me to prioritize a spot in my budget for Home Box Office (HBO). With one of the Ghostbusters at the helm, a plethora of cameo appearances by hip-hop stars and professional athletes, and an unforgettable theme song, the first hour-long drama that HBO ever produced also put Harold Perrineau, Simmons, Dean Winters, Eamonn Walker, and BD Wong, among others, on the world map.

Over time, especially in comparison to HBO's later projects, some of the scenes seem a bit hokey. Also, shotgunning episodes can be a little depressing, given the subject matter. Still, this series is a pop-culture requirement.

For more reviews and a kickass podcast, check out: www.livemancave.com


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