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bbewnylorac

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108 reviews in total 
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Still funny, but maybe time to end it, 1 June 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recently returned to this show after many years of not watching it, and was pleased that it is still quite funny. The acting, script and editing are all first-class. Not one line or scene is wasted. But the sets and the characters have unfortunately not changed and the show doesn't take risks with its plots. One thing I hate is its treatment of women. It's good that we now have Bernadette and Amy, both of whom are great, but often they're still portrayed as appendages of their boyfriends, Howard and Sheldon. Yes, the woman now get their own scenes, but they're often talking about the men, not their own issues. And the portrayal of Penny remains problematic. All the guys objectify her. Yes, OK, the joke is that she is a blonde bimbo, but that's getting a bit old. I hate it when the script compares her with Amy - Amy is always seen as a lesser person because she is not as physically attractive as Penny. What sort of example are we setting for young viewers? The gang have now been together in their little apartment complex for 10 years. Big Bang has had a great run for any sitcom. I feel it's time for a major overhaul, or new characters, or a spin- off. Or it might be time to quit while they're ahead.

Not great, but not bad, 1 June 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I binge watched this show on a long haul flight, and it's not bad as light entertainment. At least the affable Steve Buscemi is trying to do something unpretentious and original - interviewing celebrities on a park bench and in various galleries, pubs and other New York spaces. The in-joke, that we're let in on, is that while he's pretending to be very casual, the show is actually quite scripted and staged. Still, the guests such as comedian Billy Connolly, the Beastie Boys, performer Joel Gray and various monks, artists, musicians, actor friends and even Buscemi's relatives, make for a good mix of interviewees. At first I thought Buscemi would be interviewing members of the public. I was looking forward to that - imagine the weird and wonderful stories that he might dig up? But no, it turns out Park Bench is more of a celebrity show after all. But Buscemi is impossible to dislike, and again, I admire his efforts.

Great achievement, 29 May 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At first I felt that a documentary about a movie critic wouldn't have a lot to say. Would it be a bit self indulgent? But director Steve James lovingly conveys the interesting and genuinely accomplished life and career of Roger Ebert. For someone dying of a horrible facial cancer, Ebert shows a remarkable openness and trust in James. It's terrible to watch the gaping hole in his jaw, and his throat being suctioned, but he displays a fierce will to live. You suspect he must be in great pain, but those eyes sparkle, and he presses on with emails and even starts a blog. He says focusing on his writing saves him. His wife, Chaz, also displays incredible openness on camera. She can't let him go, but is as solid as a rock in her love and a source of boundless humour and optimism. She admits they met at alcoholics anonymous. He remarkably gave up drinking as a young man, despite it being at the centre of his life as a popular and hard partying journalist. His passion for film through newspapers and TV propelled him to international stardom. The film deftly conveys how his and Gene Siskel's reviews could make or break a film. It asks whether they were too influential, and whether they should have befriended many directors instead of staying more remote. Overall, this film is very well done.

Great film, 14 May 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I admit that I didn't understand many of the film's technical lines. The Enigma project was a very complex dilemma involving advanced mathematics, cryptography, engineering and early computing. So I won't be too hard on myself. What I enjoyed about the film is themes such as how prejudice, for example against gays, is so brainless - think of the mind-blowing contributions Turing could have made to society in the 1950s onwards, had he not been driven to severe depression and suicide by homophobic individuals and by a hostile community. Though it may be grotesquely too late, at least Turing is being recognised in this film for almost single handedly solving the codes the Germans used to broadcast their military moves in WWII. An incredible feat. The excellent scenes of Alan as a boy being bullied at school for being a geek show how people who were shocking misfits can go on to be brilliant adults, because later in life their 'odd' interests and behaviour are an asset in their careers as entrepreneurs or inventors or intellectuals. Some of the best scenes are between Benedict Cumberbatch, as Turing, and Keira Knightley, as his brilliant mathematician friend Joan Clarke. Clarke plays a crucial role in realising that Turing is heading for failure is he doesn't stop being so anti social and make an effort to get along with his team. She's kind of like a code breaker for his personality. She 'gets' him and yet she socialises well with the other code breakers, so she's a vital link. This film obviously takes poetic licence and viewers have pointed out quite a few bendings of the facts. But overall it's a good hearted and entertaining film,

Unbroken (2014/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great film, 2 May 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A lovingly made film, Unbroken (as it was called when I saw it on a plane) is an excellent account of Louis Zamperini's incredible life. Jack O'Connell is perfectly cast as the athletic, charismatic young man whose chance to win gold at the Olympics is destroyed when World War II intervenes and he goes through several forms of hell surviving 45 days on a raft when his plane crashes into the sea, and then is singled out for severe treatment, seemingly for years, by a sadistic guard in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The early scenes in which Louis is a juvenile delinquent saved by his brother's encouragement of him to be a runner are simply but movingly portrayed. The scenes in the plane with his air force buddies are incredible. Japanese midget planes, bullets and bombs whiz by from all angles. The guy next to you could be joking with you one moment, and the next shot through the head. The scenes in the life raft are truly gripping, with sharks, storms, the sun and gunfire from a Japanese plane all seemingly determined to kill Louis and his two fellow survivors. The detention camp scenes were very realistically stark and brutal. Uncomfortable viewing, and the Japanese actor playing Louis's sadistic, deluded tormentor 'Bird' is outstanding. I found the ending quite moving. Overall, for a big Hollywood movie, it was very well done.

One Chance (2013)
Quite good, 2 May 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a solid, but not outstanding, story of an ordinary man's journey to fame. I didn't see it in the cinema because the trailer revealed the entire plot and made it seem like another of those cheesy movies about kind hearted Northern folk triumphing over adversity. One Chance even has Julie Walters, the go-to actor to portray wacky working class characters. I finally saw the film on a plane and found that there was more to it. James Corden, as singer Paul Potts, is a great actor - he can play the Everyman underdog with just the right balance of tentative confidence and vulnerability. The film is about sticking to your dream and rising above the obstacles life throws you. It's interesting how fate can turn on the smallest things, such as friends pushing you to enter that talent competition or suffering health setbacks. And how he realises he has to actively reject working in the foundry and work at his singing. Corden and the script elevate many scenes into works of art, such as the time in Venice when he's rehearsing with his opera singer friend on the streets. And the love scene on his wedding night is genuinely moving. The disastrous audition for Pavarotti is beautifully done. Imagine being told by your idol that you aren't that good. It's another pivotal point where Potts rejects his fate and persists in his goal. Which is quite inspiring. The ending is corny, but hey, it is a musical, and it is what happened in real life. Good on him.

Whiplash (2014)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Excellent film, 2 May 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At first I feared I couldn't relate to the world of elite jazz musicians at one of America's top music schools. But through the psychopathic teacher Fletcher (JK Simmons) and his protégé, manic young drummer Neiman (Miles Teller) this movie explores issues such as the role of mentors, how far talented and gifted student should be pushed, and push themselves, and just the painful life of a young musician who is quite lost, and who believes that becoming the next Charlie Parker - being someone - is the answer to his problems. When it's pointed out that Parker had a short life of addiction and pain, Neiman says that maybe it's better to have fame and die young than live a long life and be forgotten. It's one of the many nutty but interesting things in this film, which has a great script, tight direction and great acting. It isn't afraid to go over the top, and interestingly, the story continues well after the film's climax, but it works. You get the feeling that many real-life elite artists and their teachers have some sort of mental condition, in pursuing perfection to an extraordinary degree while ignoring their own health and welfare. The scene where Neiman breaks up with his lovely girlfriend, because having a relationship would affect his drumming, is priceless. Ironically music is for pleasure but in the world of Whiplash it's soaked with pain and sacrifice.

"Our Girl" (2014)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Interesting and heartfelt, 23 April 2015
7/10

This series is clunky in many ways. It's true that sometimes it comes across like an army recruitment ad. Sometimes the script, acting and plot are too clichéd and the English countryside is an unconvincing stand-in for Afghanistan. But it's fantastic to see a drama revolving around a young cockney woman, Molly Dawes, who in London has a pretty bleak and insular life with few options in the future, and so tries a different tack and joins the army. The army opens up her life, and while she's not sophisticated at all, she does go on a journey that holds your interest. Lacey Turner is very convincing as the, at first, tough London teenager who becomes a scared, out of her depth, bullied, but brave and determined soldier. Too often, British dramas depict cockney girls as tarty losers always at the pub. This series was made with a good heart and I'm enjoying it.

Downfall (2004)
Excellent film, 19 April 2015
8/10

A very well made film that dares to present Hitler and those close to him in the dying days of the Third Reich as human. But it must be said, it's quite chilling to watch him dressing down his generals whose men are dying for Germany in the thousands, and criticising failed military moves of his own making, as his world literally falls down around him in the Berlin bunker. Also, when he's told that civilians including children are dying because he won't surrender or negotiate with the Allies, he doesn't care. The film effectively portrays the banality of evil, as Hitler lovingly strokes his dog, and as his girlfriend Eva Braun rather manically smiles her way through the crisis. It's strange to watch an impeccably groomed Magda Goebbels calmly poisoning her six sleeping children to death because she doesn't want them to live in a world without National Socialism. It's so surreal it's hard to believe it actually did happen in real life. The film also dares to present some of the generals, secretaries and senior Nazis as having compassion and emotions. I found that quite confronting. The film doesn't shirk from the utter bloodiness of the destruction of Berlin that Hitler is bringing down upon himself. The film is wrongly promoted as narrated by Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge, although it is based on her riveting book describing her time working for Hitler. In the film, Junge is very much a side character, and doesn't seem to do much, other than react with horror to what's going on. I guess the film's subject matter overwhelmed that angle.

Fantastic fun, 12 April 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A beautifully acted and directed film that will be hilarious to anyone who has ever watched an Olympic ice dancing competition. One wonders whether it's far from the truth! Will Ferrell is perfect as the hyper-egotistical superstar Chazz Michael Michaels who, rather predictably for a Ferrell film, has a spectacular fall from grace. He's barred from skating for life for fighting with rival Jimmy McIlroy (Jon Heder), who is also banned, but McIlroy's nutty stalker finds a loophole in that Chazz and Jimmy could try becoming a male- male dancing pair. Almost stealing the show are Amy Poehler and Will Arnett as the Van Waldenberg siblings, the hysterically nasty, incestuous rivals to Chazz and Jimmy, and their Cinderella-style, sweet younger sister Katie (Jenna Fischer) who they blackmail and manipulate to do all sorts of evil things to Jimmy and Chazz, but who falls in love with Jimmy. Poehler and Arnett are obviously loving their dastardly roles and I don't know how Ferrell and Heder were able to keep straight faces through all of their own ridiculously silly dialogue and routines. All in all, a very good movie.


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