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Cinema and TV have been a big part of my life since childhood. Comedy is my favorite genre, but I mostly enjoy movies that surpass classification.
I hope to one day publish reviews as more than a serious hobby.
The Sopranos: About a mob boss trying to maintain a balance in his attention to his real family and problems with his crime family. In terms of production and writing, this is one of the greatest shows of all time. But a terrible ending keeps it out of my list.
Lie To Me: This Psychological Crime Thriller about the new-born science of reading facial expressions staring Tim Roth, started out as one of the best Crime shows to date, but the series steadily decline throughout the second and third season, resulting in its cancellation. Homeland: As far as TV shows and movies about the post-9/11 war on Terror goes, Homeland is pretty unbiased, but the show is simply to young to be considered as a show for the ages.
Lost: A fast-paced exciting story about a mysterious island where the passengers of an American Airline flight are stranded slowly turned into a far-fetched pseudo-scientific time-travel show that answered none of the questions it created. As with Sopranos, the show also failed miserably at its finale.
A Bit of Fry & Laurie: A Brilliant british sketch show that would definitely be on this list except for the fact that it's not for everybody.
Mr. Bean: Another hilarious british show, that would be on this list if it were longer.
One of the most politically incorrect episodes in the history of sitcom
Sitcoms usually generate humor through creating situations (hence the name) and it's been classically so that they don't usually feature heavy topics, strong language or sensitive themes. Shows like Seinfeld have ignored this successfully but most shows (Big Bang Theory included) have stuck to that formula more or less, which is why this episode stands out so much from Big Bang Theory episodes ever, and generally from a typical sitcom show.
Without spoiling anything, This episode features one of Sheldon's classic moments, where, without realizing the plethora lines that he is crossing, crosses them all, which makes for some hilarious super politically incorrect moments. The real mastery of the writing here is, that firstly, it's not so awful that anyone can justifiably be offended by it, but also the hilarity of the fact that the person being politically way incorrect isn't even aware of it.
This is definitely an episode you should watch if you think Big Bang Theory is not funny anymore. I think It continues to be one of the best shows ever and this episode is a tiny reason why.
Great episode but an out-of-character Sheldon
All in all this was a really funny episode. The pre-opening scene was one of the best in recent memory (not that this show has ever gotten bad in my opinion) and interesting new dynamics were created when we saw Amy and Bernadette siding with their significant others over the parking lot dispute. It's possibly the first girl character vs. girl character real fight we have seen so far. Usually they are on the same page but here we saw them make some brutally honest comments about the other's boyfriend. All in all, that was really funny and I hope to see the relationship between the girls get as layered as the relationship between the boys are in this show.
Not much development on the Penny-Leonard front which is good if like me, you find the two characters the least funny and interesting in all the cast. Generally I think Leonard and Penny are no longer front and center in this show, with Howard and Sheldon developing relationships and also with the girls becoming more prominent in the series (which is definitely welcome in my book).
Now to the uncharacteristic Sheldon (and here is where you may see spoilers): In the end of the episode there's a scene where Howard finally gives up fighting Sheldon for the spot and goes to his office for the apology. Here we see Sheldon not accept the apology and go on to give the parking spot because he needs to be the bigger man, and even makes Howard say "Sheldon, you are the bigger man." This is completely out of character for Sheldon in my view. Sheldon is definitely self-centered, stubborn and not above petty argument and fights, but he has never been a megalomaniac and has never had the classic male ego that he's been written to portray in this episode in my opinion. I think this is to allow for a more macro story arc that sees Sheldon become more and more aware of his career's lack of development, but I just find it out of character for Sheldon to be jealous of Howard because he has been in space, and it's very out of character for Sheldon to make Howard apologize because he has always shown to have such low regard for social niceties.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller is an asshole.
Being a big fan of high school/coming-of-age movies, I had high expectations from this film. Everyone says it's one of the best coming-of-age comedies out there, and it's maintained that title for nearly 3 decades now. The movie starts off very promising, immediately setting itself apart from a sea of derivative titles in the coming-of-age comedy genre, with its rather original protagonist. Most conventional high school films are about an unpopular kid's rise to popularity despite numerous challenges, popular kids bullying and rejecting them, etc. Ferris Bueller, on the other hand, is already popular. He's handsome. He's got a girlfriend. All the things that the protagonist has at the end of most high school movies, Ferris Bueller starts his day off with. However, I now understand why kids like him are usually the villain, because Ferris Bueller is just an unbelievable asshole.
He fakes sickness to get out of school, something we've all done and can relate to, but then he drags his actually sick friend, Cameron, out of bed using all kinds of manipulation, not because he enjoys hanging out with him, but because he needs a ride. He then pressures Cameron to steal his dad's Ferrari, drives to school with the henceforth stressed-out Cameron to pick up his girlfriend, effectively turning him into the third wheel for the remainder of the day. In fact, they barely talk to the guy from that point. Oh, and he doesn't return the car after all this, instead he drives recklessly for a while, to yet further worried protest from Cameron that goes ignored, then takes it to a garage and hands the keys to a random guy (who also proceeds to drive recklessly with it). He then spends the rest of day doing the weirdest crap. He could drive around in the Ferrari for example, or go do drugs or smoke or drink like normal kids do when they skip school, or maybe use his popularity and his confidence to get Cameron a girl as well, but instead he uses his day off to dine at a fancy restaurant and go to a museum. What high school kid ditches school to go to museum? Oh, and apparently he is so popular, that he can use his citywide influence to be the star of a whole parade.
I'm all for the anti-hero approach to the otherwise over-told high school story, but Ferris Bueller is not a good anti-hero. You can't relate to him and you don't root for him, except only when the school principal develops a strange obsession with exposing Ferris Bueller's whole plan, and only then because the principal is an even bigger asshole.
The story is mostly not so believable, and none of the characters are very layered or developed. From the weirdly adult choice of entertainment, to the variety of strange and hardly believable events that unfold, such as the principal's obsession, or Cameron entering a catatonic state at some point, to the parade scene, the film feels like a collection of random events sparsely unfolding between a lot of silence or uninteresting/unfunny dialog. A big portion of the film is just kinda awkward.
In my opinion, what makes most teenage movies great, is how relatable they are to all of us, and to our own adolescent experiences. As teenagers they helped us get through our own lives and as adults they make us laugh at who we used to be. In my opinion, Ferris Bueller's Day Off fails in this regard. Maybe if I was myself still a teenager, or kind of an asshole, I would appreciate this film more. To its credit it doesn't look like it's a movie that hasn't aged well, though that would at least explain why such a bad movie is so highly spoken of.
A Collection of Modern Clichés
With such a great cast, and raving reviews and recommendations, perhaps my problem is that I expected too much from this movie. I can also see its appeal, but at the same time, I can't help but feel turned off by what it really is: A collection of Modern Clichés. The same stock commentary on a plethora subject matter that gets people, myself included, going, but none of which is Original nor improved upon in this movie.
There's the cancer cliché. Just think of how many movies you've seen lately which revolve around a family/spouse/child dealing with the inevitable perish of a loved one, and the roller coaster of emotions that movie makers, especially amateur ones, can't stay away from these days, and the audiences stay put and cheer.
There's the Love Cliché. A girl who doesn't talk, a love that starts at a low-point of the protagonists life and improves, only to end like the rest of them. The Romance part of this film was its weakest in a series of weak links.
Then there's the Gay Cliché. A father coming out of the closet upon the death of his wife. A son trying to 'Cope' with his father having lived a lie, a young boyfriend and their relationship. Again, this subject matter has become a favorite with amateur film-makers, and always a good way to warm up to your audiences.
I have no problem with Clichés, or unoriginality, just, I wish it was about ONE cliché. I wish it would focus on something. I wish it was more funny, or more dramatic, or more sad, or more serious, but this movie was none of it. They say life doesn't have a genre, yes, but it also doesn't have no genre.
Monday Mornings (2013)
Not the most promising show...but not bad either.
I should clarify that this review is written at the very beginning of the series. So far, only the pilot has been released, so this will be obsolete soon. However, I saw that the show is already getting more negative reviews than it deserves, so I thought I should do my best to do it some justice.
Now, if you're a David E. Kelley Fan, you'll soon find familiar elements in this show, the easiest to spot being the abnormally high number of main characters with different personalities. You will probably come to love some of them and hate others. Personally, I love this aspect of Mr. Kelley's writing. Sure, shows with all insanely cool characters fighting insanely unlikeable villains are...cool. But, through creating an array of very different characters, the writer has you constantly questioning values, and as a result, gets you more emotionally involved.
One of the most disappointing things about the Pilot was the lack of Comedy. Now, obviously this is meant to be a drama, but again, Mr. Kelley has shown a lot of strength in intertwining drama and comedy in various dosages: The practice had lots of Drama and some comedy. Boston Legal had both equally. Harry's Law had perhaps the most comedy of all. But so far, I've seen lots of Drama and no Comedy, which can get boring, preachy, and resembling shows like Grey's Anatomy.
In short, this show does have a bit of promise, but some flaws too. However, being a David E. Kelley fan, one should know that all his shows start slow and work their way up. One should also know that the cast may change without notice, and one should also be sure of the fact that a lot of strength is bound to arise from the guest appearances.
In conclusion, if you are the kind of person who follows a show a week-by-week (as opposed to those who'd rather wait for the DVD to come out), then it's only fair to have some patience, and let the show grow. Granted, I won't lie and say it's the best pilot ever, but I see some promise in this show, enough to give it a chance to properly impress me.
House M.D. (2004)
Simply the greatest TV show of all time
I grew up with House, and I can say with certainty, that it played a huge role in shaping my character. I was only 14 when it came on air. At first, I didn't like it, nor did I understand why would anyone but a doctor enjoy it. But at my mother's recommendation, I gave it a second shot and 3 episodes in, I fell in love. To this day, I go back and re-watch it and learn new things all the time.
House is the perfect TV show. It surpasses genre and classification. Elements of Comedy, Drama and even Thriller combine in a show that is funny, exciting, sad, and philosophical at the same time. It's a show you can laugh to, eat popcorn to, or really learn something from.
Many critics have drawn comparisons between House and Sherlock Holmes. From the similarities in their names (House & Wilson, Holmes & Watson) to their characters (House does drugs to do his job better, House is also a brilliant judge of character, House can also observe and deduce extraordinary things from a mere glance, House also likes to experiment on himself, Wilson is his moral compass, Wilson admires his genius but also understands his misery, etc.) to little references that the writers drop themselves (House also lives in apartment 221B), This show is sure to find its way to the heart of any Sherlock Holmes fan.
On the medical front, this show never fails to amaze even strangers to medicine. House and his diagnostic team deal with increasingly special cases that are apparently largely real-life. As they try to figure out a diagnosis, they also have to figure out the patients themselves. This is a big source of psychology for those interested. House has impeccable skill when it comes to reading people and telling if they are lying. Pay attention and you can Learn and use these in real life.
On the non-medical front, the show explores the relationships between a group of interesting characters, and sheds light on how people behave behind their masks. In its eight-season run of nearly 200 episodes, there is little subject matter that the show doesn't discuss. The story-lines are gripping and peak toward the end of each season. Unlike most TV shows, the writers of House are never afraid to write not-so-happy endings to their story arcs. An example of this fearlessness can be seen when Kal Penn, who joined the main cast in season 4 as Dr. Kutner, had to leave the show to go work for the Obama Administration. Whereas most shows would simply write him off by having him quit, or move elsewhere, the writers had his character commit suicide.
At the center of the show, Hugh Laurie does a perfect job at bringing to life the anti-hero of the show, Dr. Gregory House. A genius in medicine, House is often portrayed as a miserable anti-social introvert, and at other times, as a manipulative unethical jerk with little concern or regard for rules or the humanity of medicine. Yet, all his rule-breaking leads to countless lives saved, often times in a way that wasn't possible if he had done it by the book. House constantly plays jump-rope with the line between right and wrong, and the show has you examine your values and morals and judgments regarding what's right and what's wrong. As House so cleverly puts it "Would you rather have a doctor that holds your hand while you die? Or a doctor who ignores you while you get better?"
The fact that such an odd character has the main role in this show, in itself, makes this a unique show, and a daring one.
Thanks to an all-star cast, both the main stars and the guests, a unique premise, interesting medical cases, great direction, and a decent ending, House never ceases to amaze from the pilot to the finale. If you like being challenged philosophically and analytically, this show will be your fix.
Brilliant movie and an equally brilliant depiction of a post-revolution Iran
As an Iranian, I was cautious to watch Argo. Hollywood has a way of portraying Iranians in a way that pisses most of us off. From '24' to 'Don't Mess with the Zohan', Iranians are portrayed as America-hating Barbarians with untamed beards, and nothing is further from the truth. Iranians are relatively Normal people. They love America, and most of them look pretty normal. I was happy, ergo, that 'Argo' didn't live up to this stereotype. Instead, Argo takes a very non-biased approach to the matter. It doesn't glorify Iranians. It just tries to keep them out of the occasions. There are no Iranian antagonists, with a fake Arabic-sounding English accent and cunning ways, nor are there brave patriotic Americans who would do anything for their country. All it does it show Iran at a very chaotic time, and the only group of Iranians that are portrayed in the movie, are the fundamentalist Muslims who raided the U.S. Embassy in the late 70s, and that group is portrayed quite accurately. Any Iranian who takes offense in the way that "Iranians" are portrayed here, should understand that this movie isn't trying to make a generalization about the Iranian public, but is only showing a minority of angry bearded men and women in burkas, who do exist in the thousands and who did attack the U.S. Embassy.
While the events leading up to the movie are historically accurate, where the movie takes off with them is fictional. Without giving anything away, it revolves around 6 American workers of the American Embassy in Tehran, who fled the Embassy following the attacks and sought refuge at the house of the Canadian ambassador, and a joint operation between CIA and Canadian Authorities to extract them safely out of Iran. The story is pretty solid and the pace of the movie, specially the dialog is very fast. It is filmed mostly in the U.S., though it does briefly visit Istanbul as well. All the "Iran" bits were filmed in Hollywood, yet the locations were chosen wisely and it does look like Iran. The protests and the riots were also decently shot and the movie sure brings back bitter memories of those times for Iranians. The story unfolds Rapidly. It doesn't stray into unrelated sub-plots or feature, like almost every movie ever, a romance that has nothing to do with the story. The Final chapter of the movie is a hell of nail-biter and leaves you at the edge of your seat.
Ben Affleck, who directs and stars in the picture, has grown from a medium actor into a brilliant film-maker and actor, and 'Argo' is his best work yet. A Job Well done!
Fasle kargadan (2012)
Beautifully shot, but lacking pace
Presented by Martin Scorsese, 'Rhino Season' is the 6th full-length film by Bahman Ghobadi. Following his success with 'No One Knows About the Persian Cats' which earned him international recognition, Ghobadi's first non-Iranian production features an international cast. Old-timer Iranian Superstar, Behrouz Vosoughi returns to the screen after more than 20 years off the grid. He is joined by Italian Femme Fetale Monica Belucci, and a number of Prominent Turkish Actors and Actresses, namely Yilmaz Erdogan.
Shot entirely in Turkey, the movie follows the ordeals of Sahel, a Kurdish-Iranian Poet, whose poems were misconstrued by the post-revolution regime of Iran as political, and landed him in Jail for 30 Years. After he is released from Jail, he travels to Turkey in search of his wife (played by Monicca Belucci) who is now remarried.
It's loosely based on a true story, and the movie paints a realistic picture of a post-revolution Iran, in the hands of the vengeful servants of the Shah regime. Even Sahel's jail sentence is revealed to have had little to do with his poetry.
The movie's primary language is Farsi, but there is little dialog going on altogether. Monica Belucci speaks a few lines of Farsi quite decently, but Yilmaz Erdogan doesn't do a great job. Obviously the reason behind his wasn't his Farsi-Speaking skills, but the fact that no Iranian actor hoping to keep his permission to act inside Iran, would ever consider doing a movie that depicts a half-naked Belucci. Behrouz Vosoughi's role has even less dialog, and mostly consists of smoking a cigarette in various gorgeous scenery.
The locations were chosen brilliantly, and the camera work is exceptional. Several scenes in the movie are shot solely for the purpose of accompanying an off-camera poetry recital, and are perhaps of great appeal to poetry lovers.
Other than that, the story unravels with a slow pace, and leaves the ending entirely up to the viewer. The acting is decent minus the Farsi accents, and the Soundtrack, while minimal, creates an appropriate atmosphere. If you enjoyed most of Ghobadi's work, you will enjoy this one too, but most people can agree that it's not his best. Nothing is particularly wrong with this movie, but nothing is particularly right either.
A disappointing cinema experience.
Looper presented itself as a promising movie before coming out without generating too much hype. I realize now that maybe that was the whole trick.
All I knew was, Joseph Gordon-Lewitt turned down a role in Tarantino's upcoming feature 'Django Unchained' to play the younger version of Bruce Willis in this action-packed time- travel flick that has them facing each other. It's an interesting premise and at times, it leaves the audience to decide for themselves who the protagonist and antagonist is, though they're both the same person. It also deserves credit for its unprecedented take on Time-travel, which poses an interesting question: What would happen if you had to face your future-self? But that's where the cool ideas run out and the movie gradually abandons its premise altogether, branching off in several equally un-suspenseful sub-plots, none integral to the story.
It's hard to discuss the plot without giving too much away. The events take place in the 2070s but you wouldn't know it if you weren't told so, as it doesn't look so different from 2012. The movie tries to account for that by explaining that America has fell into bankruptcy, yet it seems far-fetched that while Time-Travel is supposedly a mere couple of decades away, the cars still look the same as they did 50 years ago. It comes off as lazy and quickly puts you off. Meanwhile, the budget was apparently spent on building a diner set from scratch for our stars to shoot holes through, in what you later realize was the climax of the whole movie. After that, begins a slow and uneventful chapter, one that says goodbye to most of the cast and shifts focus from Time-travel, to romance. 30 long minutes and several clichés later, we arrive at final face-off, but it never comes. The movie takes a detour from answering any of the few questions that you may have had, and offers nothing in their place. There are no twists, no shocking revelations or any suspense. I can't say I saw the ending coming, but I can't say I was blown away by it either.
To cut a long rant short, this movies offers so little you haven't been offered before, and fails to deliver on any of it. Its multiple sub-plots contribute nothing to the story and rob the movie of what little pace it starts with. It even seems pointless not to spoil anything, since I wouldn't recommend you waste time with it anyway.