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One of the strongest episodes in the series
This episode has a great plot and great characters (and actors). It is - on the whole - a very convincing whodunnit, something you cannot say about some of the other episodes. Maybe it is because of the mystery and the intrigue that the levity seems to come a bit short in this episode. The interactions between Brett and Daniel are a bit infrequent and toned down.
Gladys Cooper does an outstanding job as the Grand-Duchess - a role which would prove to be her last. The other actors in this episode are also doing a good job, even if some of them have to deal with characters that seem to be written a tad larger-than-life.
This is definitely one of the show's strongest episodes - for me it ranks in the top 4.
I love the show, but this episode was beyond ridiculous. I can accept that they had to do some ret-conning in order to bring that particular affair to a close. But there was no need for the many many conjectures they made to be so extremely far-fetched. Not even a psychic could have come up with this stuff. A lot of very lazy writing must have gone into this - plus a need to rush things (perhaps certain recurring characters' contracts were up and they did not want to renew them beyond season 6??). All this conjecture was made worse by them cramming a lot of plot development into 40 minutes. There was more than enough plot here to do a two-parter that would have been decently paced and would have given the plot and the twists and "discoveries" the necessary room to breathe. Yet, they choose not to do this as a two-parter. Perhaps they did not have the time because they were getting too close to the end of the season??
Castle: For Better or Worse (2014)
The episode is fun in itself, and not that much out-of-character, actually, compared to others in earlier seasons. So, for me, there would nothing be wrong with the tone of the main plot in itself. But the ending is tonally completely different from the rest of the episode; and everything is bent and forced into that kind of season-ending that all TV shows nowadays believe they must manufacture. The other problem with the tone is that it feels jarring compared to the tone of the previous episode, which was so much darker (which is, of course, only "jarring" if you watch them on a DVD set, back to back, not one week apart on TV).
On the bright side, the acting by guest stars Scottie Thompson and Eddie McClintock is delightful.
hotchpotch of immature jokes --- very little substance
Hellfjord is a prime example of missed opportunities. It has a great premise, and some suitable actors in its cast, but a number of creative choices (some of them just plain lazy) turn this show into a dead duck. Marketed as a mix between Lilyhammer and Twin Peaks, Hellfjord may have some of the absurdity of the latter, but none of the warmth and wit of the former.
The series tries to score with gross-out scenes and potty-humour - it's like a trip through the brain of a psychopathic 6-year-old. None of this is entertaining, all it achieves is to paint a picture of creative helplessness and to shine a light on the many ways in which the writing in this series lacks true originality. Toning down all the nonsense and toddleresque jokes by at least 30% would have been a start to improve the show, but then the writing would have needed to be better in order to fill in the gaps. Throwing all the potty-humour and every bawdy joke they could think of at the screen, the writers stuffed the script so full of this kind of crap (and similar bad choices), so that there was no room left for any actual humour. The writing completely fails to tap into the rich reservoir of Nordic humour, the subtleties and the oddities of which we all love so much. Very little of this can be found in this show.
The other massive failure in this show is the casting/acting. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to have the characters of Kobba and Kose played by young people in bad make-up (Stig Frode Henriksen and Maria Bock). The questionable acting and writing choices surrounding these characters aside, it would have improved the show a lot if they had chosen seasoned actors of the same age as those characters. Preferably character actors that could carry these roles through their experience alone.
Only by episode 6 (out of 7) does this show start to become interesting, but by then it has completely changed its tone because it is heading for a dramatic showdown. And while drama and comedy work well together, drama and silliness don't. That change in tone is so sudden and abrupt that it feels like an entirely different show. The final episode then offers us a Tarantino-style shoot-out which is completely undermined by the following scenes which see the show revert to the inane silliness of the earlier episodes.
It is a shame that such a great idea has been squandered by numerous questionable choices in production. Rating: 4.5 out of 10.
The Bleeding (2009)
very mediocre film, but not "the worst movie ever"
Let's make one thing clear right at the start: this is not a good film.
There is nothing new or inventive about this film. I do not mind film- makers using old-and-tried tropes IF they use them to make a polished and accomplished B-movie. But in cases like The Bleeding, where mediocrity was all that ever seemed achievable (or worth aiming for) for everyone involved, you need to come up with something new: low budget needs to be outweighed by higher creativity. But there is nothing creative about this script or this film. It has a very average "seen-it-before" plot, and many things in this film I consider well below average (writing, directing, etc.).
However, there are worse films than this, so 1-star-ratings do not seem justified to me. This is probably a 3 out of 10; I gave it one extra star for Michael Madsen's performance, who - unlike Vinnie Jones - actually put in some effort.
Very funny and subtle Scandinavian comedy
Hemma combines all the strengths of Scandinavian comedies. It is subtle, quirky, funny, and moving. It has a very good cast, and is a surprisingly strong showing for a first-time writer/director (Maximilian Hult).
The male and female lead characters are played with exactly the right kind of subtlety. But as is often the case with comedies, the supporting characters are essential for the humour - although "supporting" may be a misleading term here, as the two characters in question have probably more screen time and more lines than the two protagonists. Veteran actress Anita Wall delivers a superb performance as the grandmother. And Erik Lundqvist gives an outstanding debut for a boy his age. The performance of these two alone would be enough reason to go an see this film.
Two minor points of criticism: The developing love story is hindered a bit by the fact that we see little character development in the female lead. That was certainly intended, as she is definitely an Asperger's case. Still, some scenes between her and her male counterpart could have been a minute or two longer, so that the audience can better get into the relationship they are meant to root for. Then there is the problem of two rather strong but underused minor characters. Elin Petersdottir and Lia Boysen do an excellent job, but their characters are unsatisfyingly presented by the script. If you have two female characters in the film who are presented as that strong and forceful, you should use them more and tell us more about them. If you do not have the time and/or inclination to do that, do not present them as that potent a factor in the film.
An almost perfect film - I'll give Hemma 7 out of 10, easily, probably even 8 out of 10.
I've just seen this film at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and talking about the audience reaction, the general mood of the crowd was at least of a "8-out-of-10"-quality....
My Mandala (2013)
Interesting film with some structural flaws.....
My Mandala is an Asian 'spiritual' drama with hidden elements of comedy.
It is an interesting film, and the cast is very strong, especially the actors playing the leading roles. Despite its deficiencies, it is also a rather impressive work for a first time director with only one other script to her name.
I'll admit that with Asian films I always feel I lack the necessary cultural background to fully understand the motivation of some of the characters. So as far as that is concerned I'll confine myself to saying that I wish that the explanation of the motivations of He Xinyu and her husband had been developed a bit more, for my sake at least.
Two more general - and in the end more weighty - problems are the failure of the script/edit to connect the film's diffuse sibling-relationship-storyline to its main plot, and the nauseating and at times chaotic flashbacks which are meant to illustrate that relationship-storyline.
Still - as I said - an interesting film to watch. Maybe even more so for those with some knowledge of Asian spirituality.
I give this a 6 out of 10.
I've just seen this film at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and judging from the reaction of the audience, I am not alone with my confusion about the elements mentioned above, and the overall reaction had a general "6-out-of-10"-feel about it, in congruence with my opinion.
The Thirst (2006)
This film is really awful.
The acting is bad, ... the writing is bad, ... the directing is bad, ... even the cutting/editing is bad. And it does take a lot for a film to be so dismally bad that even as a layman you can literally witness each and every one of the bad editing decisions.
I like vampire films; and I do know that there are some films that can be good even though they are bad.
But this film here has absolutely no redeeming features.
It isn't trashy cult, ... it isn't unintentionally funny, ... nothing of the sort.
--> It is just plain bad.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Weakest part of the franchise?
I'll start (again), by saying that the acting is good to very good throughout. That does exclude Pattinson and Samuel - both very good actors I'm sure - who seem both at a loss as to what their characters' motivations are. For Pattinson, it is evident throughout the franchise that he cannot find access to Edwards weird inner self. But in my opinion it is never more visibly obvious than in this third film. This is usually not really the fault of the actor - writers and/or directors are to blame for that. In Edward's case, I think it is fair to say that he is a rather badly written character. And Samuel seems to be at a similar problem with his character (Riley), though I am tempted to put the blame more on the directing than the writing in this case.
As for the plot, there isn't much. It is all just one long preparation for the final battle scene. And the love triangle subplot is just a continuation from the second film. A judgement which one might extent to the whole film: it does at times seem a bit like an addendum to "New Moon".
Although the film contains the most hilarious line of the whole franchise ("Doesn't he own a shirt?"), it also features the infamous "I'm Switzerland"-line, a line so bad and so incongruous in that very scene that it even seems to throw Stewart of her game, as it is one of the very rare scenes in all of the films in which her acting seems to be sub-par.
On the whole, I'd probably struggle to give this one more that a 5.5 out of 10. However, it does make a difference whether you view it as a stand-alone film, or whether you watch it in close succession with the other films (which is preferable).
Decent genre film
Taken on its own - i. e. taken as a stand-alone film and judged independently of the other films of the franchise - this is a decent film from the very specific "Buffy"-genre: high-school/growing-up/vampire-love. The story holds up, and the acting (throughout the cast) is good to very good. It's more or less a 7.5 out of 10. But there are some weaknesses that make me withhold my ratings vote for the moment (for some further reflection). Some scenes of the film (e. g. the one with Edward and Bella on the mountain/meadow) are rather badly written and even worse directed. And as for the music: the score in this and other scenes is at times quite atrocious.