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Heartland Has Great Scenery, a Few Likable Characters, But Lacks Heart.
Heartland can basically be called, "A show of spoiled, insecure women and the men who are too good for them."
Lou, for me, is the most unlikable character on the show. She is one of the most insecure characters I've seen on over 40 years of television. She constantly has to be the center of attention, and she pouts and whines when she doesn't get it. She likes to be helpful, but only when she's in control and getting something from it (attention). I feel bad for Peter who is a good guy.
Amy is definitely more likable than Lou, but can be just as irritating. She is someone who connects more with horses than people. She is very moody, naive, as well as incredibly hypocritical and unappreciative. She makes similar mistakes, but when others do, she holds it against them, as she's done countless times with Ty. She demands to talk things out when SHE'S ready, but more often than not, she walks away. I know it will never happen, but I'd hoped that Ty would just dump her and find someone more mature, compassionate, and understanding. Amy is another character that I just don't care very much about what happens to her.
The show also seems to enjoy allowing the "kids" to say and do whatever they want without any consequences or discipline. Right from the outset, Amy could say anything she wanted to her grandfather to get her way. I guess the show mirrors a generation of spoiled children who just need to pout, throw a tantrum, or give a cold shoulder in order to get what they want.
I don't mind characters having faults. It's largely what makes them interesting, but when they come across as too annoying and unlikable without making any changes (these characters don't change at all, and they aren't motivated to because of the lack of communication and conversation), then you become less interested in what happens to them.
I've watched many family shows over the past 40 years, and aside from some unlikable characters (except for Ty and Jack), these characters don't have real, meaningful conversations. Nobody really talks things out. Again, this must be a reflection of a generation where conversation just isn't a part of the mix. It's a real shame because it prevents Heartland from being a much deeper and more heart-felt show than it is. Shows, such as "Life Goes On," "When Calls the Heart," "Road to Avonlea" and others demonstrate that you can do this without being too melodramatic. It's as if this show is afraid to take that step, and instead, you have a show that mostly just skims the surface of feelings and rarely takes the plunge. The writers also make a number of glaring mistakes as well for the sake of the plot. Jack going to Arizona ALONE to recover?!? As if any member of that family would have let him go alone just to get a surprise reaction from the audience after Season 6's cliffhanger.
I have to say that Heartland, of all the family shows I've seen, is probably my least favorite one of the genre. It's a good show that could be, and should have been, so much more. I love the scenery and the scenes with the horses, but ultimately, it's not enough to keep me vested in this show. I've tolerated 7 seasons, and frankly, I've already given this show much more time than it deserves. I'll stick to "When Calls The Heart" and the older shows that truly have heart and aren't afraid to go there.
Heartland: Aftermath (2012)
A Good Episode That Should Have Been Great
There are times when a great story can be pushed aside for your "B" and "C" stories, in which case, your "A" story suffers. This is what occurs during this episode.
When you have a cast of characters that is as large and vast as Heartland's, writers can easily lose focus in their attempt to give some time to those other characters. It becomes prudent for a good writer and director to realize where the focus should be.
At the end of the previous episode, Ty avoids hitting a wolf, and all we hear is a loud crash. We find out that Jack is banged up, but Ty is badly injured. Ty is disoriented and begins reliving memories of the past with Amy, including telling Jack that he needs to see Amy. Meanwhile, Amy begins seeing the spotted Appaloosa horse that has a connection with Ty. She suspects that it is a sign that something is wrong, and Jack tries to find some help in a very desolate and remote area.
Ty's disorientation, Jack's struggle to find help, and Amy's attempts to interpret the signs are the heart of the story. It is an emotional story arc, that as a viewer, you are more than vested in because you love and care about the characters.
However, too much attention is given to Lou and Peter's news about their respective job changes as well as Tim's attempts to bribe Amy into using her influence to probe Shane about his feelings as Tim is preparing to engage Miranda in a custody battle. While these are interesting story-lines, they are given too much attention and take up too much valuable screen time that should have been devoted to Ty, Jack, and Amy. All I cared about was getting back to them. I didn't care about Lou and Peter's job issues any more than I did Tim's problems.
By the time Ty is rescued, we are already at the end of the episode. Ty is virtually desperate to see and talk to Amy, and yet there is no moment given to expand upon this. There is no conversation between Ty and Amy, or even between Jack and Ty. Too often episodes of Heartland avoid taking opportunities to go deeper, thus making you feel that the writers and directors are only happy with skimming the surface. In this way, the viewer feels cheated of something that could be thought- provoking, touching, and profound. This are lost moments and opportunities that aren't capitalized upon which turns out to be a real shame.
This isn't a bad episode, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed at something that had a chance to be truly touching and magical and failed to be. It was an episode that had a chance to be truly great but wasn't.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Should Be Required Viewing For All Teacher & Parents
Coaches, teachers, and parents of kids often make one of two errors in competitive activities:
1. They try to convince their kids that winning is the only thing that matters. 2. They instill in their kids a great fear of losing.
Josh Waitzkin is a young 7-year-old boy who enjoys playing the game of chess. He's also a very nice, sweet kid who never feels comfortable or even enjoys "beating" an opponent. He simply loves the game. When he first plays his father in a game of chess, he doesn't try his hardest. He's afraid of beating and hurting his father's feelings. This part of the film lays the foundation for the entire rest of the film. His mother has to tell him, "it's okay if you beat him. You won't hurt his feelings." Only then does Josh play at his best and wins.
Fred Waitzkin (Joe Mantegna) represents the first fear that I listed. He's an extremely supportive father who is very proud of his son. "He's better at this than anything that I will ever do in my whole life," he says of Josh. While his passion and support are strong, he falls into the trap of living vicariously through his son. Winning is the most important thing to him. When Josh loses a match to an "inferior" opponent, Fred is upset and can't understand why Josh lost. He doesn't realize that Josh loves his father and only wants to please him. It isn't until then that Fred realizes his mistake, and he finally encourages Josh to play for fun.
On the other side is Josh's chess teacher, Bruce (Ben Kingsley). He represents the second fear that I listed. He is afraid of Josh losing. Bruce is a man who is so scarred by his own losses that happened long ago, that he more or less "hides out" in an old chess room. At first, Fred Waitzkin has to talk him into taking his son as a student. While Bruce's demeanor is somewhat cold, it's obvious that he truly loves Josh, and can't bear the thought of Josh going through the pain of losing a match. It isn't until the end that he realizes that Josh is really in no danger of this, even if he did lose. Josh isn't greatly affected by either winning or losing. He only likes to play. But, Bruce tries to tell Josh that he needs to hold his opponents in contempt. That type of notion simply doesn't exist in Josh.
"Bobby Fischer held the whole world in contempt," says Bruce. Josh responds, "I'm not him." Josh already knows who he is, and he isn't trying to be the next Bobby Fischer, no matter how much everyone else wants him to be. He only wants to be himself.
There are two characters in this movie that already know Josh's heart, and they give him the positive values and support that Josh needs.
First, his mother (Joan Allen). She is so enamored by Josh's good heart, that at one point, she threatens her husband. "He's not weak. He's decent. And if you or Bruce or anyone else tries to beat that out of him, I swear to God I'll take him away."
Second, is his friend Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne), a man that Josh meets in Washington Square where Vinnie spends his time playing speed chess with other people who are mostly transients. Josh quickly makes friends with him, even though Bruce doesn't like it. But, Vinnie holds the wisdom of competition that Bruce fails to give to Josh. "You're playing not to lose, Josh. You have to risk losing. You have to play on the edge of defeat. That's where you want to be!"
I can't stress the performance of young Max Pomeranc (Josh Waitzkin) enough. He seems to know exactly who Josh is, and he plays him with a gentle sweetness that can't be ignored or overlooked. You see it in his eyes and facial expressions. He looks at his opponents not as enemies, but simply another kid sitting across from him who could easily be his friend. Josh has a well-balanced life. Chess isn't everything to him. He enjoys doing other things. Perhaps this is a testament to why his character is so strong. His opponent at the end, Jonathan Poe, thinks of only chess, and we quickly find that he is a very unhappy and miserable kid. He's the kind of player that Bruce tries to make Josh, and we are thankful that Josh never goes down that road.
Competition is so strong in our culture. Most parents, teachers, and coaches fall into these two fears without realizing it. We push and push, we forget that they are children, and that we need to stress the importance of having fun, being a good sportsman, and being gracious in victory and defeat. It's truly amazing to find that Josh Waitzkin already realized this at the tender age of 7. Hopefully, we can begin to pass these values on to our own kids.
Superman Returns (2006)
Re-hash of Similar Plot Simply Doesn't Fly
There is a reason that the 1978 version of Superman is a classic. It stands against the test of time. Christopher Reeve definitely made you think that he could fly. Subtle body movements were more than enough to make you feel Superman in flight. He also captured both Clark Kent and Superman, giving each of them defining characteristics that made you like and care about them, even though they were, technically, the same person. Back in 1983, they tried to re-make Casablanca. It isn't hard to understand why it failed. When a movie is deemed a classic, it's virtually impossible to make it again. Like a work of art, it can't be duplicated.
And that was the first and biggest mistake of the writers and filmmakers on Superman Returns. They simply should have made a Superman of their own rather than try to copy and extend the storyline from the original films made over 25 years ago. Christopher Nolan understood this when he decided to finally make a good Batman film (Batman Begins).
The writers probably thought they were paying tribute to the 1978 classic when they borrowed similar plot lines and even used the same dialogue in several places in this film. You'll recognize many lines and parallel plots to easily make the connections between the '78 version and this film.
In the 1978 version, Lex tries to sink part of California to increase the value of the desert land he bought. In this version, he attempts to create his own land, using stolen Kryptonite technology and wiping out the eastern half of the United States.
To be fair to Brandon Routh, you simply can't fill the shoes of Christopher Reeve. However, Routh makes Superman much too wooden. He doesn't give much indication of anything. His facial expressions are nearly void of emotion or feeling. Christopher Reeve was a Juliard trained actor. He literally immersed himself in his roles, including Superman. Routh also doesn't disguise his voice as Clark Kent. And no one can make the connection?!? Reeve gave Kent the charm of a bumbling Cary Grant reminiscent of the Grant's film "Bringing Up Baby." Supposedly, Superman Returns is a continuation from the original Superman films. If so, why does Clark Kent no longer disguise his voice? Also, you just don't get the sensation that he's flying. Part of the problem with this is that there aren't enough close-up scenes of him when he's flying. The writers and director also never devoted enough time to the characters of Clark and Superman to where we feel a connection with them.
Kate Bosworth is simply awful as Lois Lane. In fact, I don't think anyone has portrayed her worse. Bosworth seems almost lost in how to portray the "tough" reporter of Lois Lane. Even Margot Kidder furnished Lois with a "go get'em" attitude. Bosworth plays Lois like a wallflower. Plus, there is no chemistry between Routh and Bosworth which is the pinnacle of this story! Superman and his, Lois Lane. Again, they attempted to copy the romantic Superman/Lois flight as Superman takes Lois for quick ride into the night. It doesn't work.
Kevin Spacey has his moments as Lex Luthor when he's almost good as Lex Luthor. He attempted to stick with Gene Hackman's performance. The scene with him beating on Superman when he's being affected by kryptonite is good. Lex is supposed to have a savage side to him.
SPOILER ALERT BELOW! The back story is also not convincing enough. Superman travels back to Krypton to find out if it is, in fact, destroyed?!? After Jor-el tells him during his training that Krypton is gone, it's hard to believe that he would need confirmation, even if astronomers claimed to have seen it. If Superman remembered Einstein, as Jor-el taught him about Einstein's theories of relativity in the '78 version, Superman would have realized that light from "Krypton" would only now be seen from Earth, and therefore, Krypton is not really there anymore.
Also, the part with Superman having a son just doesn't fit at all. When and where was this to have supposedly happen? Again, if this is supposed to be a continuation of the original Superman films, the only time "Superman" slept with Lois Lane was in Superman II, and even then he was mortal. Plus, the timing doesn't figure into it. The writers tried to sell this "bit" but instead of trying to make it somewhat credible, it ends up being ludicrous.
The kryptonite is also handled poorly. Superman's powers are literally drained from him, making him even weaker than a normal person. If you recall in the 1978 version, he couldn't even take the chain off from around his neck when Lex put the kryptonite on him. And suddenly, in this film, with a fragment of kryptonite stuck in him, he's able to lift a land mass the size of a small country out of the ocean and into space?!? It isn't likely or believable, nor are we given a plausible explanation about how he could do this. Even in "Smallville" when Clark is exposed to kryptonite, he can barely move.
Many of these problems could have been fixed simply by making a new and different Superman, rather than continuing where the previous films left off. It would have been that simple. I mean, they did manage to give Superman a totally different costume (the worst Superman costume ever designed).
The special effects were first-rate, but this day and age, special effects aren't enough anymore. We want a good story with good, believable characters, and this film simply doesn't have either one.
Kuch Naa Kaho (2003)
Charm of Yester-Year Films Rest in this Bollywood Classic!
If anyone feels that Hollywood has forgotten how to make quality films that are pleasant to watch such as the kind that Hollywood used to put out regularly up until the late 60s, then you can feel assured that Bollywood is picking up the slack.
In many ways, this movie reminds me of the films that Doris Day and Rock Hudson put out, like Pillow Talk. Abhishek Bachchan (Raj) has the suave sophistication of a Cary Grant. He plays the role of Raj with charm, class, and sophistication. Aishwarya Rai (Namrata) has the beauty, intelligence, and charm of an Ingrid Bergman. The woman is multi-talented. Rai can act, sing, dance, and speak 3-5 language fluently. You may think these comparisons are a stretch. Watch this movie and see for yourself. I'm the biggest fan of both Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and these two delightful, Bollywood actors, in my opinion for this particular movie, deserve the comparison.
When was the last time you found a fun, entertaining film for the whole family that could also inspire? More and more of these little Bollywood gems are coming to light. Most the world is already more than aware of them. It's only here in America that we are still a bit in the dark when it comes to International Cinema.
This is a wonderful tale of Raj, who is an Indian man living and working in the United States. The furthest thing from his mind is settling down and getting married. His young cousin is getting married in India. Raj knows better than to attend, because he knows that his Uncle will have a line of potential brides lined up for him a mile long! Nikki, his cousin, brilliantly schemes a way to get him there as she bawls to him on the phone that she needs his help to break up the marriage because she doesn't love the guy. It isn't true, of course, which leads to some hilarious misunderstandings when Raj does go and tries to find an excuse to break up the marriage.
In his attempt to get to India as quickly as possible, Raj meets Namrata at the airport. She is also going to India. Little does he realize that she is attending the wedding as well as she is a fashion designer working for Raj's uncle. Raj finds a way to get Namrata to give him her airline ticket by making up an incredible story about his dying son! The fun has only just begun, as Raj's uncle does, indeed, find a way to get Raj to meet eligible women. He decides to send Namrata along to help. The way Raj sabotages his chances with these women is brilliant and downright hilarious! Obviously, we understand what is coming next: he begins to develop feelings for Namrata, even though she isn't aware of it for a time.
This may seem like a typical storyline, but there is a twist to this story that I won't mention in this review for those who haven't seen the film yet.
The song and dance numbers are wonderful in this movie. As explained by a popular Bollywood actor, "A movie without music and dance is like a movie without special effects for westerners." This movie is just pure, genuine fun. It does, indeed, carry a powerful message about the perception of women, and hopefully, this might serve to influence the Asian belief system about women in many of their societies. What does it mean to be a husband? What does it mean to be a wife? Are they simply titles or should they mean something? Every now and then, I find myself watching the old classic films. The stories and performances had a wonderful charm that I find is sadly lacking in most of today's films. I'm happier now that I can start setting my sights on Bollywood films for the same thing.
If these are the kinds of movies you love and enjoy, then you simply can't go wrong with Kuch Naa Kaho. You'll find it to be one of the most wonderful three hours you've spent watching a film in a long time. At least, I did.