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Dirt (2007–2008)
6/10
There is potential...just potential...
2 January 2007
The endless previews for the show got me interested. And I found it interesting that I was interested because when a network advertises the crap out of a show, I'm easily bored. I thought I would give the show a chance because FX always seems to give us racy, dramatic, unique shows. And I wanted to see Courtney Cox as a bitchy, lost editor in a hot red dress. I'll admit it.

The pilot was a little rocky, but most pilots are. I try to never judge a television show by the first episode because it takes time to develop the story lines and characters. This show could easily find a groove if it wanted to.

Courtney was fitting in her roll. She's got the tough, commanding demeanor about her. But it still seems as though she hasn't completely found the character. But maybe that's how it is supposed to be right now in the show. I think her character has many places to go in time.

I found that the real star was Josh Stewart who plays a failing actor who finds himself sucked into the world of a "celebrity". Stewart is that smirky, doomed, lovable rebel that Jason Dohring recently made a career out of on "Veronica Mars." As I mentioned before, the show is on FX, so obviously there is a lot of sex. A lot. I think this is one of the weaknesses of the show. The softcore porn distracts from the plot and the sweet camera shots that are accompanied by great music. I doubt that will go away.

The show has a message. We live in a messed up world. We are all awful. But has the world become so despicable that there is no humanity left? I have hope for this show but it could easily suck. I'll give it a few more chances, though.
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Lord of War (2005)
9/10
An Entertaining Look Into A Hidden World
11 March 2006
"Lord Of War" is probably the most in-depth, cinematic look into the world of gunrunners, which is a world that many know nothing about.

Starring Nicholas Cage as Yuri, a Eukranian-American who stumbles upon the world of selling firearms and becomes the greatest gunrunner in the world, "Lord Of War" is an educational, entertaining, wonderfully written thrill-ride. At times, it is difficult to watch because the subject matter is so intense and disturbing.

Guns, in the film, are seen as merchandise, not weapons of death. They are thrown around as though they are food or clothes for sale. But there is constantly that thought, in the back of everyone's mind, of what this "merchandise" will be used for. But Yuri does not let that thought in.

Cage does an excellent job, as always, in the lead role. His character seemed, at times, to be the cliché, suave, bad-ass criminal that everyone hates to love, but he takes Yuri to places that many of these type of characters have rarely been. He is vulnerable. He is incredibly smart and very aware of his flaws. Of course, he is the hero of the piece, but American audiences are most likely getting used to the bad guy being the good guy nowadays. Good and evil don't mean much these days, and this film strongly represents that.

Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke are the other stand-out performances in the film. Leto stars as Yuri's lost brother who seems to always be getting himself into trouble. Hawke stars as the detective who is after Yuri throughout the entire film, and is outsmarted for most of the time.

The greatness of this film lies in its writing. Andrew Niccol created a script full of beautifully flowing humor, tragedy, violence, suspense, satire, and political education. So many great lines, especially with the character of Yuri, are present in the film. Of course, having Nicholas Cage deliver these lines doesn't hurt. Cage has a way of saying a line in a way that nobody would have thought to do, but he blows everybody else out of the ballpark.

The underlying message of the film (there always has to be one) is stated in the last lines of the film, spoken by Yuri: "The art of survival is never to go to war - especially with yourself." The battles we go through during life are unavoidable; all we can do is try to keep living. That's all we can do.
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9/10
Disturbing Topic Creates A Beautiful Film
5 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Watching this movie as an 18-year-old girl, who still has a lot to learn about sex and the world that it creates, I took a lot from this film. Mysterious Skin, based on the novel by Scott Heim, takes on the topic of child molestation and how different victims deal with it throughout their lives.

The film centers around two characters: Neil McCormick and Brian Lackey. Together once in their childhood, they now live in separate worlds but share a deep, dark connection. Neil, who dominates the story, is a fascinating, unique teenager who developed a fixation on older men very early on in his life. He was sexually abused as a young child, and, as he gets older, it remains with him in whatever he does. He lives life as a rambunctious, dark, teenage hustler. Brian, who was also abused, can not remember it at all and, instead, believes he was abducted by aliens and he spends his entire life trying to figure out answers.

Towards the end of the film, in a beautiful scene that captures all the true pain of an adolescent in about three minutes, life slowly brings these two back together to re-live what happened to them as children and discover what it meant to both of them.

The main factor that contributes to the greatness of this film is the acting. Especially by the two main characters Neil, played by Joesph Gordon-Levitt, and Brian, played by Brady Corbet. The two young actors literally transformed into their characters and deliver the kind of acting that forces the viewers to forget their watching two actors and are merely watching two people. Gordon-Levitt was particularly brilliant in his role. He stole every scene as the intriguing Neil McCormick and makes you scared of him but also begging for him to appear back on screen. It is, by far, the best acting of his career.

Although many scenes are incredibly (and I mean incredibly) hard to watch, it is, in a sense, important to understand that this exists in our world. Sex is a mysterious thing, and it can often turn people into maniacs or lost souls. Director/Screenwriter, Gregg Araki, Gordon-Levitt, and Corbet all agree in the auto-commentary for the film that the scenes that were filmed throughout Neil and Brian's childhood were shot in a sort of fantastical, distorted way to capture how adults look back on childhood. During childhood, every experience is looked at in an innocent way and even looking back on those experiences, adults continue to see them in that sort of naive light. Childhood almost becomes like a fantasy, and even when awful things happen to a child, they see it in a child-like way. As the film progresses, and as the characters grow older, it becomes more clear and real, just as life does.

But the film is not just about childhood abuse. It is about the destruction of innocence, and how it affects people. It is about discovering what's real and finally coming to terms with reality. It is about leaving childhood behind and stepping into the adult world. And it is also about the connections and bonds we create with each other during our lives and how distance and time do not break them. Every element of the film is beautiful-the music, the look, the feel, the acting-it all comes together to create a film that is almost like watching a living work of art.
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