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Solid and tense, with great performances.
I saw the trailer for this series and got excited. Probably too excited. I was hoping for a new "How To Make It In America" style start up journey. I was so wrong. It's definitely a quality made show and worth watching.
There are three things that stand out to me about this series.
The first, and what initially gave me hesitation about the show - Is that it is formulaic. The term 'What goes wrong, will go wrong' hasn't been this pronounced to me in a well done TV show for years. The way the show is structured is strong, but I find it so structured that it makes the viewer aware they are watching a show, rather than engrossed in it. The drama will hook you back in.
The second thing, is the tension. Yes the TV show is a thriller and it holds up that end well with extreme tension and bordering panic. It leaves a strong cliffhanger at the end of each episode that will leave you wanting to know what is going to happen.
The third is the acting. This to me is the saving grace, the story is decent but with the too constant drags of conflict, the story isn't enough for me to appreciate alone. The acting is very strong, you have well known actors Adam Brody and Martin Freeman who provide top shelf performances. Adam is nervous but takes risks, while Martin is a calculating but dodgy professional.
And the lesser known Edi Gathegi, who has that cold yet vicious gangster aura about him that penetrates the screen and is very believable. He is the highlight of the acting to me. While the other characters are complex are clearly in the gray, he walks that fine edge of the anti-hero, stepping onto the black and the white at various times.
Otmara Marrero is harder to like as she's so driven, she can lack compassion and is so switched off to other people, she snarks her way through scenes with dismissal and anger. I'm not sure if her performance is good for this or bad because I don't like her because of it.
Ray Donovan (2013)
A well delivered series
Ray Donovan has amazing drama, tension, languid pacing, excellent choices of music for scenes, unique story lines and twists. It is a solid TV series.
While it evokes some emotion in the storyline and occasionally with it's side characters, it rarely spends time there. The only mar to it's success is that it lacks empathetic characters.
The show is engaging, but it's hard to find much sympathy or care for the characters. Ray Donovan is hard headed and tough. He's mysterious because he doesn't say much, and when he does say something, it's calculated and to the point.
Ray struggles with moral issues and hard decisions by pinching his eyebrows and cheeks but he otherwise comes across as a somewhat empty contracted thug to the rich, not letting anyone in, the audience included. His choices dictate his character and he leaves behind his humanity to get the job done.
If you can put up with morally ambiguous characters that you find yourself not caring too much about then this is excellent TV.
The Wild Hunt (2009)
Pessimistic yet engaging.
The Wild Hunt is dark. The LARPers for the most part come across as craven, reminiscent of Vikings, nordic warriors and pub-dwellers alike.
The lovers are morose throughout. The actors in the background were largely mute. The real gems of acting come from the King, the Viking leader and Shaman. But these were inconsistent.
The film stood out because it evoked emotion and worry throughout, the soundtrack created mood and the well delivered tirades of screaming and begging encompassed tangible fear. The question of, "How far will they go?" really carried the film for me. Not wanting to have the dark side of humanity revealed but far too intrigued to stop watching.
The cinematography was realistic, with the tone and music really pinpointing the despair of being locked in a false reality at the behest of others.
There were moments where the film lulled to a crawl but this same failure, that of dragging time, really allowed the dramatic moments longevity.
While I didn't enjoy all of the movie, I give it 7/10 for the innovation and emotions it evoked.
Music Within (2007)
A movie mirror on how to structure writing. All the fundamentals of character creation, short and defining moments, give them a strength and a weakness; this movie ticked all the boxes. Its all played out in this film, if you want the cookie cutter guide on how to write a book or a screenplay, get this movie. Joseph Campbell commends you.
Why it lost 1 mark. It has three writers and its obviously Hollywood formula. Regardless of how amazing the content, the dialogue and characters were clichéd and it was too well written. I would have loved for it to have had a sharper edge, more creativity please. The writer used well known humor in all the exchanges, I wanted to yell, "Thanks dad!" throughout. Funny and charming but overplayed.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
good trailer, bad movie
I remember seeing the trailer and wanting to watch this movie. The roles of a bipolar man and a nymphomaniac woman interacting was appealing
The mental illness aspect was overplayed in the trailer yet was very shallow and almost irrelevant. The dialogue seemed forced and pointless at times. The occasional outbursts from both Rob and Tiffany was decent but the interaction between them was disconnected. Rob was aloof, coming across as wooden. And Tiffany seemed disengaged throughout. Not a believable relationship at all.
It seems using a popular name like Hemingway draws interest but it really added no substance to the film. The premise of Rob being stuck pining for his wife was good, however, the acting deliveries were cringeworthy. I saw this movie on a top 10 list and shuddered.
The movie may be worth seeing for a fresh change of story and new elements to character background. Be warned though that the pace and story devolves half way through and the ending is despicable.
Dynamo: Magician Impossible (2011)
Dynamo is a shy magician. The tricks are excellent but the delivery and social dynamics between him and his audience just scream awkward. After his tricks, people seemed to fake enthusiasm, 'Oh.. wow." He seemed to hurry through the tricks with no showmanship.
Being shy, it was hard for him to keep his audiences' attention. He can do decent tricks, now he needs to develop the flair, timing and style.
The movie had too much filler, jumping around like an action movie. Dynamo usually only completed one trick at a time, which created a lack of flow in watching.
Hopefully with more time in front of a crowd he can develop, but this movie was a flop.