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Huh, so that's why I can't date anymore...
At first glance, the show is full of selfishness, narcissism, and psychopathy. The "selfie" generation. At a deeper level, it is a commentary on the state of parenting and socialization; actually, the lack thereof.
The show focuses on three characters, all of which deeply flawed. Alex and Valerie are children of "me" generation parents, which means that they had to contend with not being the center of attention at all times of their parents. Valerie compensates to a terrible degree, much like most of her generation, in raising her kid. Her kid is a disaster; she was given no boundaries by her mom in her desire to be loved by her child and afraid to lose the attention that she did not get from her own parents. The daughter acts in all kinds of narcissistic, borderline psychopathic ways, and mom, a therapist no less, lets her get away with it because again, her desire to be loved overshadows her requirement to be a responsible parent.
There is no growth in this expose of millennial dysfunction outside of Alex. Maybe because he never had kids he is able to focus on himself and the problems within. He travels from intense swinger without a care to sensitive brother to Mr. Lonely quickly and satisfactorily.
Valerie is a failure as a therapist, and an odd duck to boot. She seems a little mentally unstable altogether, like someone headed for a breakdown perhaps. She is not likable at all, really, she is essentially lousy at everything. She actually can commit, actually commitment doesn't seem to be a problem for any of these characters, but it is to what they commit that is so worrying.
The daughter - this girl is really in trouble mentally. She is so scathed I cannot see her coming out of this without intense therapy, if she isn't already a psychopath and beyond hope. This is through no fault of her own and she should have been actually raised, not liberated way before she matured. This is a real reflection of what these over-permissive parents are doing to their children today and why we are ending up with terribly disturbed kids doing terribly disturbed things, if they don't contract the red measles or pertussis first due to the non-vaxxers.
In terms of the production - the sets are nice and full of interest and very Californian. The acting is good all around. There is a sense of claustrophobia in every scene, not sure if that is a function of the camera work or intentional. No shaky cameras though, big plus. What I am on the fence about and where I cannot score higher is the gratuitously liberal use of swear words and dirty talk (I for one cannot imagine and know no one who would talk with their brother about what Valerie talks about so casually...but maybe I am out of touch?).
As an aside, now I get why I find dating today so disgusting. I don't know, it used to be so much fun getting to know someone and anticipating the "big" night! I feel bad for this whole generation that is missing out on romance and respect.
Bad editing or bad filming...
The story drew me as I wanted to see how this scenario played out. Obviously, the reality of it was marred by the fact that Meryl Streep was the boy's mother. That said, I thought that that bit of oddity would add some comic relief once Rafi found out. But it didn't. In fact, the discovery was completely anti-climactic, and therefore a huge disappointment. But the story was real in a lot of ways and dealt with issues facing an "upside-down" relationship. As for the acting, I found that the boy's acting was so slow, so quiet, I almost wanted to shake the TV to wake him up. He was boring. Cute, but boring. Uma Thurman I like normally, and she is good in this, realistic. But poor Meryl Streep, what a waste of her talent. Either she was really not into it, or she was showing up for the money, or the part was just that bad. With a better script, I think the part could've been great for her, so that is too bad. As for the flow, blech, and that's the reason for the 3. It moved so slowly, but it didn't flow, and I don't know how one achieves that, but either the editing was awful or the directing stunk. Almost elementary, like a first time at the feature film genre, there were so many scenes that didn't really flow nicely, so you had to wonder "hmmm, did I fall asleep for a few seconds and miss something?" Even if you left the film script as is, I would take another shot at the editing and try again to get some flow so even if it slow and thoughtful, you stayed engaged instead of having to pop out of the film when it suddenly shifts.
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
A TV movie at best
I had high expectations for this film, loving everything about that time frame. But when it first began, I thought that this looked like a made for TV movie and checked the listing again.
I found the film very claustrophobic, dark, dull and frankly, boring. The costumes were awful - silly really. The girls looked like twins with only the colour of the dresses telling them apart. The dresses were dull, no great patterns, jewelry, or anything remarkable. Even the hair just look flat ironed and boring. True to the time? I don't know - I cannot imagine that they really did not have more variety.
Makeup? Hello! Where was the makeup artist? Even the Egyptians wore makeup. And I could not look at those weird hats after a while. Really? Everyone wore them? Without much variety again? It seemed like all the costumes were recycled over and over again.
The movie felt filmed on sets for almost everything. There was never a sense of space to me, just one set to another, and some really strange shots as if there was a limited space so we needed a body part up close like an elbow then another character in the distance to indicate space. This seemed like a very under-budget way of directing to me.
The acting though I enjoyed, and even if the story wasn't entirely factual, it was fun, and seemed to ring true as to the nature of Anne Boleyn.
Ultimately, this seemed like a TV movie fitted to the big screen (as opposed to the usual vice versa). So much room for so much gorgeousness, wasted in tight shots and dinginess.
The Number 23 (2007)
The movie's pacing was too slow and pedantic for my taste perhaps, relying too much on visual gimmickry. I did, however, enjoy Jim Carrey -comedians tends to have a dark side to them and in this way he gets to play it out (maybe that'll prevent him from sinking into a deep depression, psychosis or suicide). I was not crazy about Virginia Madsen in either of her roles - she seemed too matronly for the femme fatale and too old for the wife. She is wonderful but a tough one to cast because she looks so steady, stable and mature which ages her. In fact, while lying on her side on the bed sleeping at the end of the nightmare scene, she looked like Bette Davis in All About Eve.
What I was really impressed with was the introduction where the significant events encompassing the number 23 are flashed. I would bet there were 23 flashes as well, but I could not count during this viewing. The 23 stabs that was flashed? Ceasar was stabbed 23 times. Dr. Sirius Leary (seriously?) is interesting because Sirius the Dogstar rising from behind the sun on July 23 signifies the start of the dog days of summer. In Airport, the mad bomber sat in seat 23. There are lots of '23' referrals (for more 23's,see http://www.geocities.com/fairyoflyonnesse/ as well as other sites).
And let's not forget 23 Skidoo, the 23rd Chapter called Skidoo in Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies in which the commentary says 23 Skidoo means "get out" and the chapter describes "a man ridding himself of all his accidents". I believe that Walter Sparrow says something of the sort. It almost seems as if the movie was based on that chapter.
The Astronaut's Wife (1999)
If only I hadn't already seen Devil's Advocate...
Wow. If I shut my eyes, I would swear that was Matthew McConaughey. Johnny Depp is excellent at finding inspiration for roles and making it apparent to us, but in this case, I was disappointed. While he was eerie, his voice and accent really reminded me of The Wedding Planner so I couldn't really take him seriously, and much as I like Matthew McConaughey, I get really tired of his accent. So, I was tired of listening to Johnny early in the game.
And the visual didn't help either. I also love Val Kilmer anyone remember how cool he looked in sunglasses in Top Gun? Well, if you don't, he looked like Johnny Depp's character in sunglasses. Too much identification with current and overused characters.
But wait, it didn't end there. Charlize Theron Devil's Advocate wife Revisited? An almost identical performance in an almost identical role. I don't like it when an actor invades a role and similarities between roles exist due to the actors themselves, and this is what I felt happened with Theron's character.
In terms of the film, I couldn't figure out the time frame. I know it was the shuttle, etc., but the dress of Natalie Streck seemed so '60s or early '70s. Then fast forward to a modern haircut on Theron and that apt in NY, but with an old radio that transformed into a pretty good sound system at one point. The radio that Natalie had was very '50s it all seemed off in time. Finally, when at the end, Theron has on a '70s brown wig and looks right out of the '50s, again. I am in my 5th decade so it isn't as if I hadn't been there when we landed on the moon and saw how the astronauts' wives used to look.
Redeemingly, though, the movie had a dark, artsy feel, and if I hadn't seen Devil's Advocate, I may have actually enjoyed it. I liked the ending, although I think that Theron could have looked as menacingly as she did after she was invaded, but she seemed her old self a little bit and that was disappointing. The twins were great, however, and I hope that there will be sequel but without the unfortunate title of "The Astronaut's Wife II". I would like to see what happens with the twins, how they will work together, and how the aircraft they will build will hurt humanity. That would be interesting. The twins could almost make good comic book antiheroes (or heroes thanks to her pre-invasion genes!).
It's a Small Small World catches fire - we can only hope
This film translates so well to IMAX, where I saw it with with my 12-year-old son. There is no question that a film adapted for IMAX just adds so much! Besides the classic Tim Burton look, it takes you right into the film as opposed to simply watching the film. But the real scene stealer, the man of the show, of course was Johnny Depp.
There is not one movie in which he plays a part that doesn't cave to his on-screen charisma. It is so obvious that Johnny loves to act and loves to act in fun, character-driven roles. Every look, swing of the hand, and grimace has intelligent nuance and meaning behind it. This brings such a robust, well-rounded attitude to the character of Willy Wonka, and frankly, one that only a parent could love.
His dismissal of the kids, not so much the words other than the "what would it matter" or the "stop mumbling" lines, but the looks he gives, the "smiles" or grimaces, the wave of his hand when he first starts the tour, all reminiscent of a parent who has, well, had enough for awhile and really doesn't like kids all that much anyway.
But how about his lascivious look at Violet's mother? Johnny Depp can look at me anytime like that - so sexy - he becomes an adult right there...or,the crazy loon look when they were going "up and out"? Only Johnny Depp can channel his other characters, like Hunter S. Thompson (Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) in the jungle scene especially peeking out from beneath his hat, walking in that unique Raoul Duke - wait a minute Raould Dahl/Raoul Duke - whoa - way (yes, he does the swagger in the jungle) or trying the green bug slime (andrenachrome anyone?), or Edward Scissorhands (papa? sniff sniff) and get away with it as only Johnny Depp can. It's almost like a separate Johnny Depp sub-culture that permeates all his films now - and I like it!
There were lots of adult jokes ("don't touch the squirrel's nuts, that makes him crazy"), or "try some of my grass". There were drug references like the repeating of the same thing (hmmm, grass?) and the phasing out (hmmm, grass again? or just tired of the kids...). And if you are a parent sandwiched between kids and older parents, you will get the old people jokes. (My son couldn't stop laughing at his look when visiting his father - he says I get the same look on my face when visiting my mom or dad).
I also loved the "white hair" look - there were absolutely no adults over 21 in the crowd but me, so I was the only one laughing when he held his new white hair up and looked at it with that look that only those of us who have lived through the first white hair go through. Which brings me to the Good morning, star shine line - immediately Hair - which just cemented for me the idea that this movie is geared to 40-somethings.
My son saw a lot of me in Johnny Depp's performance which meant to me that the performance itself was recognizable as a disgusted parent speaking with that "I'm going to kill you but we are in public now" teeth talk which is so familiar to many, especially those around grandparents and kids too much and are starting to be not overly fond of either.
Interestingly, the elevators were hilarious - I used to have nightmares about elevators going in all directions and I was speechless when I saw it in this movie. That, along with the boat ride - heck you can almost see the Disney ride! There were obvious references to that stoner of a movie, 2001 A Space Odyssey,and in my opinion, when the puppets are singing a la "It's a Small Small World" Disney ride which bursts in flames (we can only hope), and I even thought "The Fly" with the teleporter, along with, or course, "Hair". The "relatively new" puppet hospital and burn centre, the pink sheep, can't see them as kiddie jokes, and his braces/headgear - oh yeah, so reminiscent of my 70's teenage years (although I too have oddly perfect teeth as do my all my 40 something cousins). And the platform boots/"Prince" get up...so 40 something.
I'll tell you, at the beginning I half expected Vincent Price to pop out during the chocolate making scene - wow, how Edward Scissorhands. And frankly, the hut and the snow - Fiddler on the Roof meets Beetlejuice. Actually, the TV scene set reminded me of "The Prisoner (the 60's show). I bet there is a ton of stuff I am missing but I only saw the movie once so once I see it again, maybe I will post some more if I see anything else! And maybe have a glass of wine before...
A kid's movie? I don't know, really. My son caught the adult jokes because he would look sidelong at me each time they happened (like the squirrel's nuts joke) which he has been doing lately now that the jokes aren't flying over his head like they used to when he was younger. Johnny Depp is not a child's actor per se, but a smart kid can appreciate some of the things he says and does, as most adults can. This movie seems to be riddled with inside, 40-something culture knocks - no one in the theatre laughed until someone laughed at us because they were all too young to relate.
Definitely one of the smartest movies around - and much as I love chocolate, I wish to never get fat and stuck in a tube or be rolled around for de-juicing. New nightmares to add on to my collection of sideways elevator rides.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Two words: Vince Vaughn
This is funny. Not in a stupid, teenage sort of way, but rather in a purely for adults way. The opening was priceless, with the audience gasping in laughter at Vince Vaughn's comments to the divorced couple, while seemingly relating to the scene itself (obviously, the majority of the audience had been through a divorce, it seemed). The film then oddly slows down to loud music and a frenzied tempo, and although I have never experienced that kind of weirdness, I am reading Hunter S. Thompson again so I can "dig it". It finally picked up, and from there, the fun lasted until the sappy beach scene which was a little nauseating, but I think we kind of needed a rest from laughing and straining to hear every word coming from Vince's mouth.
In an Benny Hill sort of way, it was campy too, which would appeal to those over 40. This makes the film so much more attractive to a middle aged group that is not baby boomer but early gen-x. Owen is a good straight man, but has his great straight comedic moments at the right time. Christopher Walken is in enough of the movie to satisfy me, and the bedroom scene, well, that was just...so...brilliant.
But Vince Vaughn, he was 6'5" of hunk, a little meaner and more cynical than in Dodgeballand that's where the comedy really shone. My love of Will Ferrel has been replaced, finally and totally. Vince can deliver words so fast yet so clearly and also understand what he is saying! He doesn't ever break character,and he has superb timing.He doesn't look like he is having fun,he is serious,and takes his "fun" seriously in this film, which is so funny for Vince Vaughn. He stole every scene he was in, and his psycho girlfriend was an excellent match for him and when they interacted, it was magic. That bedroom scene, simply a classic.
Owen was cute, as always, with hints of his Zoolander character here and there. But to me, Will Ferrel really kind of surprised me. His character seemed old, or he looked old, actually, he looked like the "Darrin" in Bewitched! That's it! He didn't seem to really bring anything to the flick for me - he was grosser than his character in Anchorman (and I hated that movie), and really, his comedy was more of the teenage boy sort of stuff that the movie up till then really didn't portray. I was sick and tired of his physical stuff, but maybe I just didn't get that humour. I noticed that the laughter during his parts was deeper than otherwise, which means more men laughed than women. I loved him in Elf ("Does it have sugar in it? Then...YES!") and many other things, he was my favourite for a long time, but, it seemed that this part was written in strictly for him and really wasn't necessary. It is almost scary that Will has already hit the "cameo" stage when he hadn't really peaked yet - I wonder if we will see great full-time work out of him ever now.
This is a comedy for adults, for men and women, for first dates, for group outings, and for those of us who grew up in the 70's and are still cool (or at least, WE think so...).
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
This movie could have been a great "what-if"
This is a film I could really get into because I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, lately the home of extreme weather. We just recently had freak thunderstorms and days of rain resulting in heavy, prairie engulfing flooding. As my basement flooded and I couldn't stop it, and my backyard became a lake, I wondered what would happen if the rain didn't stop. Winnipeg lies in the grip of deadly cold for weeks at a time, but somehow, this rain disturbed me. So, as soon as the rain subsided, I went to rent a video and the movie jumped out at me.
What was right? The graphics were great, especially in the first hour. The ideas were sound, at the beginning. I was excited I thought I had it on a more or less realistic "what-if" that I could almost identify with! But no. It degenerated so fast it was ridiculous. Let's start with the obvious. When it gets really cold and icy, cold enough to freeze 4 feet or so of salinated ocean water, you are not going to be touching metal with your bare hands. But, that's what our friend Sam Hall did. Over and over again. And again. Jumping down the stairs as his hand glides effortlessly over the steel banner. Grabbing at metal runs, ledges, and so forth, and holding on and releasing with no trouble.
Let me describe a very very common event here in winter. I bet more than half the population of the US would be familiar from a very young age with this kind of story. Years ago, I placed my little boy in a metal shopping cart to go grocery shopping. It was about -20° outside (farenheit or Celsius, really doesn't matter when it is that cold) and there was a slight breeze. Not a bad winter eve. He was of course completely swaddled, except for his tongue. He just discovered that he needed to lick everything, and as I locked the car, I caught him in the corner of my eye dropping his head down to the metal cart. I knew what he was going to do, and screamed, but it was too late. We know what happens. He is now completely stuck.
I was panicked. I headed for the store quickly, all the time spitting on his tongue to warm it up while screaming for someone to bring warm water. Once we got in the store and got warm water, his tongue released. So what's the lesson here? First of all, all the better stores only use plastic carts now, and second, why the heck would the film research team not ensure they knew enough about cold weather to be a little more realistic? All they had to do was phone anyone over 2 north of the imaginary line they drew in the film.
The second obvious thing no breath vapour. So I guess it wasn't really all that cold. And the snow really looked like that artificial plastic snow. They need to improve those flakes. If the flakes were really that big, they would be more moist and it would be warmer outside and the flakes would clump together. If it is that cold, the flakes are very tiny and hard and glimmer like diamonds and are powdery. Also, it doesn't snow when it gets that cold. And yes, the penicillin would have been frozen.
And the deep freeze chasing our Sam like something out of a Stephen King novel. Is this a horror flick or a catastrophe movie? And the door, yes the door would keep out this cold. Let me tell you something. Once, on Christmas eve, my furnace stopped working. It was cold out, about -30° with a really high wind chill. It was bad. Within an hour, my house cooled down to needing jackets. You felt it right away. If we had to go all night without a furnace, the results would not have been too good. So no, a door does not keep out -30° cold, much less the deep cold in the movie. It just breaks the wind. And by the way, the car needs to be plugged in to start in the morning at those temperatures using a block warmer which keeps the oil from freezing.
As for gas lines freezing, that is true. Once, in Minnesota in the dead of winter, my car's gas line froze while driving on the interstate. This is common, and there are additives especially for this kind of occurrence.
On to the plot. Why the wolves. What in the heck did they add? They were very poorly rendered animals and people are difficult to render and easy to spot as CGI because of irregular weight distribution leading to odd movements. The wolves were laughable and stupid, and provided no addition to the plot line whatsoever? So what if they escaped? And then they bit the rich kid's leg, but then what? And why? And the whole septic shock thing with the girl so they would have a sequence on the boat. Really.
This movie could have been a great "what-if". But it failed and that is simply too bad. I could have seen it playing in schools to teach the effects of global warming. Required viewing for everyone. But the plot and technical failures simply ruined it.
I give it a 7 for special effects and the first hour or so, but it really is more on the level of a 5 if not for the good intentions behind this film.
Umi wa miteita (2002)
Vivid view of the seamier side of old Japan
The Sea is Watching was an interesting film experience. First of all, the overall feel was intense, internalized, claustrophobic, and small. Each frame seemed to be a photograph of something inside, something very focused and not part of a bigger picture. It was obvious what we were to look at in each frame. The physicality of the set itself contributed to that feeling of smallness and intensity. The lights along the middle of the road cut the road in half, and the tiny gate to the tiny settlement followed by the tiny and few cubbyholes that served as the establishments that made up what seemed to be the entire town. Even the view of the ocean was framed by a tiny landing on which one can count the number of longer grass swaying in the wind. No panoramic views. In fact, it reminded me of the Montmarte sequence of Moulin Rouge where the camera sweepingly focuses in to the windmill creating again a feeling of a small area where everything is happening.
While the acting was passable considering I really could not discern how the lines were truly delivered, I felt that the actions were overly melodramatic and nonsensical. Why Kikuno would continue carrying on the way she did when Fusanosuke announced his impending marriage really didn't seem true people hadn't really changed that much, and the character Kikuno was so strong and resilient that even if they were busy taking on O-shin's business for naught, the reaction seemed out of character and unnecessary and distracting. Another example of odd acting was when the drunk boyfriend of Kikuno showed up and Ryosuke decided to intervene and was pushed down the stairs, the way in which he got up and menacingly came up the stairs and the ensuing fight outside among the reeds was simply unsatisfying. It wasn't that I like fight scenes au contraire but it seemed a little stilted and again, overly dramatic.
Otherwise, while not a beautiful movie to watch, it provided an interesting glimpse into the darker side of prostitution (as opposed to the geisha). Unfortunately, perhaps it fed into our expectations of wanton women (the "honey I'll give you a deal" comments supported by the over-stretched actions) and seriously caused me to doubt whether indeed 19th century prostitutes really acted in that way. But once inside the house, the inner workings became most interesting, vivid and real and provided a scenario I never anticipated or imagined in my romantic view of Japan in the 19th century.
Oh Anakin! I have lost my will to live and take care of my children!
I saw the original Star Wars when it was released and loved it. I mercifully slept through all the other ones when I took my kids. Today, my youngest finally persuaded me to see ROTS promising me I could once again sleep through it, but I really did want to see the story behind Darth Vader. I had the supreme fortune never having seen all the other ones, just the original and way back when. So, I thought it would be really interesting to see how I would react.
And I will say, love and hate. The love first: I loved the special effects. I thought that they were fun and reminiscent a little of the chase scenes in the original and following the same general action sequence. I can never get enough of really good special effects, especially in space. Hey, I was thrilled by the warp thing, so you can see I am easy to please.
And that's about it for love. Now the hate, that's something else. The acting oh my gosh, the acting. Yes, I know it's basically an action film and therefore, acting comes secondary. But my gosh, was there really no way that the acting could have been improved? By the third time we watch Anakin and Padme together, my son was going: "here we go again". It was getting so tiresome, watching these two in such great love that Padme would die because she lost the will to live and take care of her children and Anakin would turn to the dark side to prevent Padme from dying. Uh, no, not believable at all. Insulting to our intelligence, really.
A saving grace would be the dissolution of Anakin's values. This could have been involved, complicated, complex and full of moralizing and analysis, and thereby could have been used as a great lesson for kids. But instead, we got a very silly and stupid reason for Anakin's turn to the dark side. My son summed it up with a comment that Anakin was very weak anyway and he was getting weaker with the other prequels so it wasn't so hard to believe he could be so easily convinced. In other words, he wasn't much of a man anyway so big deal. That would've made him a weak Darth Vader so now I have to watch the original again to see this Darth Vader, whom I loved because he was so strong, in a new, weaker light. How could such a weakling become that huge, menacing Darth Vader?? Implausible. And if Anakin were really stronger, he would have had a much more complex descent into hell, especially if he was prompted more primarily by the pursuit of power, which he wasn't really it seemed just an adjunct to his ridiculous excuse of dreams. I am so sorry that I was disappointed since that was what I stayed awake for in this movie.
The Chancellor was good but it was so obvious he was on the dark side. You have to wonder at how this movie is just for the masses which is fine but I think the masses are just a little brighter than that. There were also no funny parts moments of mirth to lift the darkness, maybe a little sarcasm here and there.
I found the pacing slow, and in triplicate. Everything seemed to move in a sequence, to be repeated in a more evil or action way each time. For example, Anakin and Padme yapping, the Jedi talking, fighting. Then, once again. Then again. Even the fight scenes seem to happen in bursts of three, which gets tiring after a while because it isn't sustained. Eventually, the empty promises lower expectations and that's what I think finally happened.
I liked the film in general, but I wouldn't say it was the brainteaser of the century. But then, this is mostly for kids, so what should I be expecting I guess. 4 for special effects, 2 for story and acting.