Reviews written by registered user

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50 reviews in total 
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"Hack" (2002)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
David Morse Overrated and show's writing, direction and acting was mediocre, 19 April 2012

I watched 11 complete episodes before bailing. This show was the personification of a mediocre cliché. David Morse is a grating, very average actor who must have friends in high places. People who like the show got 40 episodes of this catastrophe. It should have died much sooner--much,much sooner. Viewers like this show simply because it is like most other police shows on t.v. It lacked authentic propulsion and moving the action along in a failed attempt to create a credible plot was comic. The dialogue was also a personified cliché or it was just plain boring. Poorly written, poorly acted, Hack should have been hacksawed before it made it to the screen

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Summer Hours Tedious and so slow, 2 March 2012

I love Juliette Binoche's acting, but she can't save a film from its self-destructive implosion. French viewers and critics (non-French Franco-philes) too often use the crutch of contrasting negatively American films with French films. French films have depth and great acting ad nauseam. I have seen many, many French films over the years and even the best (I read reviews before viewing them) are usually just above average, same as America or British films. Ironically, one of Binoche's best performances is in the American film, Dan in Real Life. She is also quite good in the adventure film The Horseman on the Roof, a very, very good film. Anyway, Summer Hours has a Bergman feel, but none of his story telling ability and very little of the performances he elicits from actors and actresses. Not a winning film.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The t..v. version of State of Play still too short and moves too fast, 2 March 2012

Although far superior to virtually all t.v. productions, it still subs speed for character development, themes, and a more fuller and less fast-moving unfolding of the story. There is an obvious attempt to replicate the newsroom hustle-bustle of a newspaper, but this effort sacrifices depth for a heavy amount of superficial handling of important themes. Also, for me, the effort to lionize the news media is a non-starter. Sure, there are some negatives about reporting and the press room, but the editor is far too soft and mushy. I understand Michael Kitchen was offered the role of editor, but declined. Imagine him playing the editor-NOT tall, blonde and handsome. Gritty depiction of reality is also impeded by the very average acting of Stephen Collins, a key role. I found his wife too beautiful for the part, but that's a personal, somewhat subjective opinion. The lead role of Cal is handled effectively, and Kelly Macdonald is a big plus for the film. All in all, this is entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking.

"Luck" (2011)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining and enticing if you like horses or horse racing, 1 March 2012

Simply put, in one respect Luck is excellent, apart from plots and characters, because it gives entry to the world of horses and horse racing. I have learned a lot about the these subjects. Regarding the characters, they are a varied lot, in terms of acting ability and the personality/actions of the fictional characters.

Nick Nolte is marvelous as a curmudgeonly trainer, while the semi-low life gambler characters who hang out at a tawdry motel are also very well etched and well acted. Dustin Hoffman uses retro method acting techniques in his performance, which often doesn't work for me. I can't get past the immediate impression that Hoffman's acting is just that: Hoffman acting. He strains my credulity most of the time. I don't find him real as a character.

Overall, the show is entertaining, but lacks thematic depth (which isn't necessary in a t.v show, but it helps). The theme of the evils of obsessive gambling as reflected in the performance of the young card player fails to move me. For me , the theme of obsessive gambling and the destruction it wreaks has been done a lot in books, t.v. shows and movies. Perhaps I would be more positive about this plot-line if I didn't find the whole concept to be a cliché, a very negative one.

When the show focuses on Nolte and the horses, it is top-notch. Also, the low-life track obsessives have a certain aura or charisma. As stated above, I don't find Hoffman's character or performance convincing. I understand the motive behind having him as character (very clever, sinister, an upper-echelon criminal and also humorous at times) but his plot thread is weak. It doesn't keep up with the others.

13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Vivid, believable shows with a charismatic psychologist solving intriguing crimes, 16 February 2012

Wire in the Blood, is first of all a showcase for the excellent acting skills of the charismatic Robson Green. For a mystery/suspense,thriller this show easily surpasses virtually all shows in the genre. The shows all involve murder and this is the focus of the plots. The plots, moreover, are taut and well-written. The setting and actors are British. For non-British viewers the British actors provide something faintly exotic and alluring, which works fine to subtly draw the viewer into the action of this suspense show. It is our not insignificant loss that more shows weren't filmed

The acting overall is fine; Green's outstanding acting seemingly makes all of his fellow actors elevate their performances. The stories are quite compelling, but the real interest is in the way Green solves the murders, using his training as a psychologist who teaches at a university and in at least one episode is seen acting as a therapist. His credentials are present just to make him initially credible. He has the intelligence, training, and experience to solve complex crimes.

For a t.v. show, there an unusually high level of tension and suspense, often only seen in movies. All in all, this show rewards close viewing, while the violent/gruesome scenes are few, they are minimally sanitized, and are contextually justified. In fact the reality of violence and destructive sexuality reflect quite accurately what homicide detectives see in the real world on a regular basis. This is a show about evil--so don't expect extenuating circumstances, except for brief views in some of the shows of the past of the criminals, usually childhood, that help explain why they commit their heinous crimes.

"Kingdom" (2007)
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Somewhat quirky comedy that makes you feel good about life, 24 January 2012

Stephen Fry, playing an attorney with a young, eager-beaver legal intern, lives and works in a small seaside town somewhere in England. The show has wit and charm--also, it delivers thematically with usually understated or just matter of fact truths about life. Fry is truly great in this role, where he is asked to be the man everyone likes and to whom they turn to solve their problems, legal and otherwise. His character's sister is over the top with obvious, but not major, psych problems. But she makes a great contrast to the almost always unflappable Fry. A special mention should go to the actress who plays Fry's secretary/receptionist. She helps to make the show seem real by being a good person whose presence helps Fry to solve the problems of the various denizens of this village. At 18 episodes, the show is incomplete---the final episode does not in any way wrap up the show or give a sense of an ending. Three good reasons why show stopped: cancelled--Brit t.v. is notorious for cancelling popular shows (did it with Foyle's War and outcry was so great that it was brought back for a few more shows); Fry is a millionaire who may have decided that he'd had enough; the episodes had covered a lot of ground in terms of what it's like to live in a small village with quirky characters and situations. Anyway, with all he junk on t.v., it is truly too bad that a quality show only gets 18 episodes. I believe that with a bit of creativity many more stories could have been engendered and not have been repetitive or boring.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Jacobi Makes A Very Difficult Premise Work., 5 January 2012

Derek Jacobi, recently knighted, is on the short list of great Brit actors, if the Brits are doing the ranking. Virtually unknown over here because of his lack of movie roles and t.v. appearances, he takes firmly hold of his role as Cadfael, the medievel, detective/herbalist monk. The 75 minute shows, set in the middle ages (late middle ages probably because of crusades backstory for Cadfael and the show itself) are just long enough to develop character of the main roles, tell the story, explore a theme or two, focus on CAdfael's bumbling, at times,attempt to stay true to his orders as a monk, and remind the audience that good and evil are sustaining characteristics of so many people throughout all times. Although somewhat subtle, this show owes much to the Medieval morality plays (short plays illustrating different human and divine virtues and vices) there is no hemming and hawing about the presence of evil that infects Cadfael's monastery and surrounding area--mostly woods and in the background the great (fictional I believe)Shrewsbury Castle looming over the landscape of the shows. There is a civil war going on between Empress Maud and King Stephen for control of much of England (fictional characters). Many of the plots involve characters' allegiances, at least as jumping off points. The monastery and its surrounding lands (supposedly quite vast) are up for grabs for the monarchs, though Cadfael's monastery is part of the land of one of the monarchs (or at least claimed by one of the monarchs) at the time of the show--Empress Maud is the putative ruler of the abby, BUT CAdfael's monastery and lands are technically neutral and this neutrality is another premise that motivates the characters and their actions. A show about a detective/monk in the middle ages is not immediately appealing to most people. Many people give Jacobi all the credit for making the show work, or at least marketable. However, the recurring characters (three or four monks) are fleshed out nicely and permit the show an easy way to illustrate the the contrasts of good and evil--two of the monks (second and third in command) are lubricious, sneaky, rather creepy, but also ambiguous, characters who belie their Christian vows ubiquitously. They look for bad in people and do nothing to nurture the good in their brother monks and other people in the show. I am very sensitive to 20/21st secular animosity towards devout Christians (Southern born agains are the devil for most Hollywood filmmakers). This show comes close to being too strenuous in its depiction of the evil, in the monks and thus in Christianity, but the handling of religious wickedness works because most of the very human evil in a couple of the monks is manifested more in their thoughts and beliefs, not their actions. In any event, Jacobi is magnificent in this underplayed role. The role could easily be consumed by his bumbling, but Jacobi keeps the role "real" and not a caricature. This is a great show of 12 or 13 compelling episodes, whose excellence is proved by the fact that multiple viewings of individual episodes yield rich rewards and the show maintains its thematic, character and plot potency from viewing to viewing.

"Traffik" (1989)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Comprehensive, compelling depiction of Drug Trade and its effect on three cogs in the wheel of drug trafficking, 24 December 2011

Bill Pullman, one of Britain's seemingly endless great actors, stars in this 6 hour mini-series that covers the growers, the distributors and the users. Unlike the American 2hour+ t.v. version, this British version show why the drug trade will never be reduced, much less crushed. Like so many people who don't wake up to the realities of life until they are hit over the head with a very heavy, inherently lethal 4 by 4, both in the very real sense and metaphorically (analogically is perhaps the right word.). Pullman plays an anti-drug, idealistic, left-wing crusader m.p. who believes, really believes and dreams that the government can crush the illegal drug trade that harms so many. Of course this is an exaggeration and a major league delusion. Pain drugs, legal or illegal, make people feel good, along with mitigating their pain. Why he never considers that this war against drug use is a pipe dream and people will not stop using drugs because one, drugs ease pain and two, drugs make people feel good. And those, like myself, who have done a lot of research on pain medication realize that adults should be allowed to use drugs to feel good and shouldn't have to lie about why they want drugs. Government has been silent--waiting for the silent scream-

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining, if you want to give your mind a rest, 22 December 2011

Modestly entertaining, but as with so many contemporary crime shows there just has to be a distracting, hard-to-believe gimmick. Unlike House, to which a reviewer alluded, the protagonist has a "special gift" that makes it easy for him to solve crimes. Yes, I said easy and I mean it. Not that House is free of an unbelievable gimmick--that being his knowing everything about medicine and his infinite knowledge springs into action when it is time to solve the medical problem. However, in House, there is just a glimmer of credibility and truth that his genius intelligence and remarkable intuition can solve medical mysteries. In the 8 episodes of Lie to Me that I endured, I hoped for improvement. Nada improvement. Lie to Me's premise is simply a subset of the supernatural. Many people want to believe that there are special powers that enable some people to solve crimes and do other wonderful things. Boring show.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Highly Entertaining with Almost Uniformly Excellent Stories, 23 October 2011

This show is simply superb and Jonathan Creek, the character and the show, is a very special creation. In spite of the grating quality of all the female sidekicks who accompany him--actually I have figured out that the female sidekicks are intentionally made to be "fingernails on the chalkboard" scratchy and off-putting, but it took me awhile to buy into the creator's intention to have Creek's laid back character contrast with the magician and also contrast/conflict with the females. Someone praised Julia Swahala effusively, but she is just serviceable and appropriately obnoxious--nothing special. To actually see her in a good role, you might view some episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford, in which she acts the character wonderfully. I found most of the shows to be entertaining and Alan Davies as the lead is great. Most non-recurring actors are also good in their roles. All in all, this is a very watchable show. Highly recommended.

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