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Penny Dreadful (2014)
Slowly losing direction
I loved season one and two of this show. With season three however, I could almost immediately detect the angry feminist and blatant misandry message - prostitutes being glorified and men being demonized. In their attempt of subtle glorification of the feminist agenda, the writers and producers instead succeeded in portraying the feminist characters as vulgar monsters. There really is no equality intended – as Lily stated: "Never again will I kneel to any man. Now they shall kneel to me." Basking in the luxury that (ironically) male hands created, in season 3, creatures shriek hatred towards anything male. So instead of sticking to the original theme of series one and two, Penny Dreadful is now flying the flag for feminism – an odd decision seeing that in the USA, a male is the victim of domestic abuse every 37.8 seconds and in Great Britain (according to the Office of National Statistics) men comprise 40% of those who suffer from domestic violence.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, cowboys, crooks and Red Indians – all present in the third season. Still a good show, but when social agendas infiltrate the story-line, it often signals the decline of a series. After feminism, what next can we expect to be addressed in this cocktail of blood and gore? Climate change, education, corruption? Penny Dreadful is obviously no longer a horror / fantasy / explicit s*x show. You decide whether that is a good a bad thing er sorry you decide whether that is worth a penny or just dreadful
The Counselor (2013)
Movie made to a recipe
It is actually not so difficult to make this type of recipe-driven movie if you throw enough money at the production effort.
Recipe ingredients:  Famous director and actors (the audience expects a good movie then)  Flashy cars and houses (plebs love seeing how rich people supposedly live)  Violence  Sex
Method:  Write some sex scenes.  Write strange dialog with constant reference to sex or women, to fill the gaps between the sex scenes.  Fill any remaining gaps with more weird dialog in protracted irrelevant conversations. For instance, a conversation must have say, 200 sentences. Ensure that only ONE of the sentences has relevance to the the actual storyline.  Insert more and more strange dialog (actually, speeches) and mix with violence until movie reaches length of about 2 excruciating hours.  Serve up in theaters.
Do not waste your time and money.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
A study in ultimate crass vulgarity
This movie is so offensive, so filled with endless drug and sex fueled debauchery, so full of rot, squalor, and porn that I am almost loath to even spend time writing about it. There is virtually no conversation – simply hundreds of expletives that are connected with inconsequential words in a doomed attempt to fake dialog. And drugs-porn.
Most of the shallow characters portrayed, show such a gargantuan lack of class that it leaves you breathless. A moneyed common lot that act on virtually every debased animalistic urge that their festered brains can come up with. And everybody is screaming at some point or another – one of noisiest (non-disaster) movies I have ever been tortured with. And drugs- porn. (Drugs are even snorted out of a woman's assh*le. So classy ) After this, what can possibly be the next level Mr Scorsese? Scenes of child rape? I really expected a bit more class from you. But hey, we are all in it for the money hey? It is our right. And it is your right to shove this rubbish down the audience's throat.
As true as the sun rises in the morning, this excruciatingly-three-hour-long-stretch of bawdy, very noisy and lewd porn-vomit, can never be called art.
Expected so much more
It is as if Neill Blomkamp, inspired by the (baffling) success of District 9, got hold of SciFi Movie 101 and started ticking off the oh-so-predictable recipe items required for such a movie. The two big Hollywood names (Damon and Foster) could not mask the atrociously thin storyline and mindless action / violence scenes. The plastic character of Kruger (the one with the ludicrously phony accent, spitting out over-used one-liners) did not provide any pain relief either.
The story is then wrapped up in sugary soap-opera type ending, so simplistic and dripping with syrup, it almost makes you cry (of frustration). There is no depth to this movie, just characters going through the motions in a gritty environment. Foster basically just had to say her lines, the script was that undemanding. Damon did his best not to come across as the new Robocop. He failed.
A brave SciFi interpretation of the classic those-who-have-and-those-who-don't type of story - the righteous oppressed vs. the evil privileged view. Mixed with some action scenes and very good visuals and CGi - enough to make the movie predictable and not enough to make it memorable.
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Could have been so much more
What a mess-up by the director. The story has so much potential, but somehow nothing ever gelled in this movie. The animated werewolf looked like some anime student's first attempt – fake, instead of like professional CGI work. Add to that the sound-stages which looked even more fake, and you have a recipe for disaster. The director simply could not build up any tension in any scene, the actors mechanically going through their lines and not once, appearing authentic. What Gary Oldman is doing in a movie of this calibre, I can only guess.
The costumes and general fabrics also did not work for me – it looked somehow too modern in that village and period.
The movie is clearly aimed at teenagers, as was Twilight, but RRH is nothing in comparison (not that that is saying much). A mediocre B movie at best. You decide if it is worth your packet of popcorn...
Half Broken Things (2007)
Evil appears as Virtue
Three people (Jean, Michael and Steph) from very different backgrounds, land up together and spend time in an almost idyllic setting.
Jean, a matriarchal figure, desperately tries to create the life she could never enjoy before. She had to look after her mother and from this and other statements she makes, one can conclude that she had difficulty in finding and or maintaining meaningful relationships.
Michael and Steph's conduct perfectly illustrates how seductive one's own desires can be. The "I deserve this" attitude blinds them to the reality of what they are actually doing. Because they have challenging lives, lies and deceit, theft and common criminality becomes acceptable and is almost glamorized in the movie. The viewer is made to sympathize with their self-centered delusions. Vulgar crime is portrayed through a soft lens of acceptability; crime is excused because of the "deserving" circumstances.
When Michael and Steph enter Jean's life, the scene is set for her to create her fantasy world. Jean seems fair and soft spoken, decent, moral, virtuous and respectable. But in fact Jean is manipulating others in order to satisfy her own needs - with deadly consequences. Jean looks pure but is in fact fatally tainted. Jean is the epitome of pure evil.
This movie makes for very good entertainment and is well worth a watch. It makes one realize that sometimes you have to take a step back and critically look at what you are doing. The "Me-Me-Me" attitude of so many people today, can in fact be very dangerous...
Many commentators here seem to miss the messages of the film - how precariously thin our veneer of civilization really is. The director went to great lengths playing on the theme of senses and sight - or the lack thereof - a massive poster of eyes, amplified sounds of coffee being poured, scenes fading through white, lack of names and so on. Stuff we take for granted. When struck with blindness, humans became vandals, aggressors, each on for himself.
The other message for me was that if we cannot see race, if we cannot see what the other looks like, if we thus cannot JUDGE the other person, we may get along remarkably well.
Another disturbing message was that even in the most adverse conditions, there will be opportunists who will descend to the lower instincts and urges and start to behave accordingly. It takes a person like the one Moore portrayed, to be strong and maintain some modicum of civilization, ethics and morals, although even she was forced into unbelievable violence to maintain just that.
If you prefer your entertainment filled with sexy bodies, car chase scenes, unfair bosses, dumb men, opinionated feminists, rushed breakfast table scenes, bar fights and the rest of the de rigueur ingredients on the movie making recipe, then give this one a miss. If you can understand the images that the director presents, then you will find this movie thought-provoking and disturbing. Certainly not light entertainment.
Death of an Expert Witness (1983)
British TV at its best
These adaptations of the P D James books of Adam Dalgliesh are of the best - and I mean all of them. The stories are long in comparison to today's highly edited story lines. It makes for a natural flow to the story, building atmosphere and generally contributing to the general feeling of the episode. I like seeing cars arrive and depart and the characters making the tea! It is also very natural for a detective to sit and ponder a very complex murder - and the director did good by showing us these scenes.
Roy was an excellent choice to do this role as he did not resort to emotional gimmicks as lessor actors would have done - he interpreted the role as that of an inspector who was fully aware of his detective abilities and the character had no need to impress the viewer with predictable devices. This show was obviously aimed at a more mature audience - hence the absence (most of the time) of bar fight scenes, car chase scenes, bed scenes, impossible superiors, sub plots and other devices to pad the plot and episode.
Terry and June (1979)
Terry and June was one of the classic British sitcoms in my opinion. You knew what to expect - and ain't that just so typical! :) Unlike modern sitcoms with utterly contrived plots, this show is still a breath of fresh air. How lovely not see or hear remarks about bodily functions or not to see a family PERPETUALLY late for breakfast or a family with impossible teenagers. And therein is the secret: Terry & June was based on a middle class couple living in relative harmony in stead of today's strained plots with the 'de rigueur' dysfunctional family (made to look hip).
Personally, I vote the "Bridge to far" episode as one of the best. In a way, Terry's antics reminds me of Basil Fawlty - both sometimes getting almost impossibly embarrassing!
Terry & June comes highly recommended. Have your tea and biscuits ready!
Good disaster movie
Excellent special effects make this disaster move very plausible. One can see that the producers went to some trouble to get the displays on the computer screens just right - it all makes it very convincing. The sets are also very authentic looking. A good choice of music rounds off the film nicely.
Acting is good and the presence of David Suchet adds some weight to the cast of course. Compared to other movies of this genre, Flood is right up there with the best of them. Thankfully, the "human drama" aspect has not been overdone, as is often the case with this type of movie. The human suffering is portrayed in perfect balance with the actual flooding scenes.
And of course, the movie confirms what many of us suspect anyway: weather forecasters so often do not get it right! :)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Sugary and predictable.
Light entertainment with Meryl Streep playing an extremely undemanding role in a movie with basically no plot. The little plot that there is, is fantastically predictable. Meryl Streep does not really play the main character - the story is about her assistant. It looks as if Meryl is just saying her lines while trying keep bored expression on her face. And that is all that the script demanded from her anyway. I don't know if that warrants an Oscar
Of course Meryl plays the role excellently (can she not?) The supporting cast did not do much in the movie - except be non-supportive - just faces filling the screen. Perhaps it is the very nature of the movie's theme - the fashion industry is notoriously superficial (whether warranted or not). And just maybe, that is all the movie can offer. Not the typical Streep performance you'd expect.
Saint Ange (2004)
An atmospheric movie
Saint Ange is an atmospheric movie. A leisurely walk into a strange world depicted through excellent photography and sound track. The movie has all the elements of a scary movie but delivers these elements in a rather adult fashion, hence no cheap thrills and screams to entertain an audience younger than 18 perhaps. A beautiful set and setting compliment the story well with the emphasis being on the visuals and mood rather than the actual storyline. If you like your movies to have a linear beginning middle and end, with everything falling into place, this is not the movie for you. If you can enjoy what a movie presents you with, rather than the narrative per se, you will enjoy this movie for what it is a stroll (leading nowhere) into the twisted past of an orphanage of a bygone era.
The Dark (2005)
Not your average scary flick
As movies of this genre goes, this one is excellent. Not scary, but disturbingly fascinating - the glances into an utterly disturbed mind is menacing.
The director used clever techniques to portray the "other side". Also, violent scenes are brilliantly handled without resorting to the predictable "blood & guts" routine. Good acting from a very strong cast ensures that the characterization is true. Add to this beautiful shots of the surrounding scenery which provides a feeling of isolation.
The movie also has a subtle message about how we as adults, react to our teenage (or near teenage) children's conduct. Worth a watch!
The Forgotten (2004)
A surprisingly fresh movie, honest in its entertainment value with no attempts at deeper pretensions. The director maintained an excellent pace of surprises and revelations. A very disturbing concept. There is enough there to flesh this movie out into something much more. This was resisted however. I'm not sure whether this was a good thing however!
I particularly liked the fact that special effects were kept to an absolute minimum even though there is plenty opportunity. It could so easily have been turned into a SciFi computer generated movie. The special effects are almost toned down, not in your face, you almost do not experience them as special effects. In stead, the flip side of the familiar coin is shown...the human side / reaction.
Ms Moore was well casted in this role - something that is not aways the case with her. An adult movie I would say, 30+ of age. As such, a very entertaining watch!
Jeepers Creepers II (2003)
Traditional horror movie
A horror movie is just that: horror - rather thin on plot, with plenty of cheap shockers thrown in! And we just love it.
JC2 shows much more detail (than in JC1) of the actual creature - making it that much more scary. What an incredible monster! Makes my skin crawl even now! What saves this movie is the personality the monster displays. As horror movies go, the creatures normally just perform mindless acts of horror. Not this one! He actually chooses his victims, and let them know of their new status! Disturbing to say the least.
The opening scenes were especially well done, using camera filters for a haze of tinted light to add to the unnatural events about to take place. In fact, the camera work deserves positive comment overall. Night scenes were ACTUALLY shot at night! Well-handled distance shots including excellent above ground ones. This added an extra dimension to the `hunting' scenes.
Enough said. Enjoy this movie, but only if you have a partner to grab!
Joe the King (1999)
We are the product of our environment
This movie highlights the horrible effects a dysfunctional family life has on a child. Can we really blame juvenile delinquents for their actions? Or are they the product of their environment? Noah Fleiss did a sensitive portrayal of a boy trapped in impossible circumstances. Yet, remarkably so, he was a strong boy, able to withstand the stabs from his father and non-supportive mother, ultimately landing in very serious trouble for trying to do good.