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Hannibal (2013–2015)
8/10
As sophisticated as Hannibal's favorite demi-glaze.
12 April 2013
Two episodes in and I'm admiring this curiously crafted, visually stunning (and very risky) program. I entered into this show as a fan of the novels and films (with the exception of 'Hannibal' 2001). Last week's pilot was considerably rushed (I felt an extra 30 mins to flesh out the crime would have evened the pacing) however this 2nd episode really nailed me with the tone, and development of the characters. Hannibal and Will Graham, predator and prey (one character unwittingly). Sure there are some cheap moves for shock value and and certainly the investigations are rushed to make room for the greater psychological thriller, yet the time and craft spent on creating haunting atmosphere and imagery really help to dispel the smaller annoyances. This show is as sophisticated as the sauce being served with Hannibal's loin of pork.

Even though this show seems intent on the trappings of a police procedural I am very seduced by the bonding (and manipulation) between Hannibal and Graham. Intellectual peers although one is weak and the other exuding strength. I thought this week was terrific in terms of setting up the trust between patient and doctor. Moreover, Mikkelson, who I found wooded and sterile in the pilot really begins to flex his characters charisma and control. Hannibal is a monster and Mads is perfectly cast. The show expertly sets the tension that he is already 5 plays ahead of everyone. Dancy impressed me as well. Two episodes in and your already experiencing the brilliantly frail and dark mind of Will Graham. The labels of 'finest china', 'broken pony' are perfect labels for his embodied genius who is also a tortured soul. Someone who suppresses the impulse to kill like a recovering alcoholic avoids mouthwash. I know many will knock the casting but after watching a decade of stale, wooden acting of 'Criminal Minds, CSI:Everywhere, NCIS's casting... and so on it's gratifying to see actors with depth and a script that allows them to emote pain and fear. And Larry Fishburne even elevates himself from CSI land (not a bad show, however this is a step up).

I'm admittedly a pretty picky viewer. Since HBO's The Sopranos graced the screen there have been very little network TV that I've been inclined to tune into. Aside from LOST, The Good Wife and a few other programs that have been here and gone (cancellation) I've had a steady diet of serial based cable dramas to fill my TV time. BREAKING BAD, THE WIRE, JUSTIFIED, SOA, THE WALKING DEAD, THE KILLING, MAD MEN, DEADWOOD, THE SHIELD, HOMELAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE... I could go on but the message here is that the networks offer me little to invest in. Kudos NBC and Bryan Fuller here. I could see myself watching this for 13 episodes (the series run). I don't shake my head at the screen and feel my intelligence is being cheated here.
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Rock Star: INXS (2005– )
The Real Rock Stars are the House Band
26 July 2005
Mildly entertaining contestant show with the usual trappings of a bad reality programing. A bunch of karaoke contestants live in a house and compete in a popularity contest for the lead position in a pop band well past their prime. Of course they pose for the audience, embarrassing over the top performances and receive scathing critique from the 'talant' judges. Damn American Idol for opening the doors for garbage like this. Dave Navarro... what were you thinking. My advice: Skip over the contestants and focus your attention on the killer group of musicians supporting them. This tight group stomps everything from Queen to Nirvana. They are the true rock stars of this program.
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3/10
It's been a long time since I've wanted my money back!!!! (Spoilers)
10 December 2004
First, let me begin by saying that Blade III didn't need to be this bad. A good collection of actors can't make up for a horrible script and ridiculously poor directing. Blade 1 & 2 have always been good B-movie action extravaganzas. Nice on the big screen, great on DVD. Unfortunately , Blade Trinity wouldn't even work as a Sci-Fi channel feature.

Trinity is nothing more than a bad collection of CGI action sequences, staggered visuals and flat one-liners, that attempt to extend some story about Blade saving man-kind once again from the clutches of vampires. There are unbelievable weapons, very little gore, and no horror to speak of... which makes the movie somewhat pointless (unless you were hoping for a two hour music video). There are more gadgets than you can shake a stick at, but nobody seems to have a day job to pay for all that gear. Jessica Biel and Ryan Renyolds have no chemistry, and no purpose, other than to steal screen time away from Snipes. Dracula, stomps around, shirtless, like Scott Stapp from Creed and is neither creepy nor menacing. Laughably bad is a short part/cameo played by Natasha Lyonne who plays the token handicapped computer nerd. Her post mortem video message had me laughing out loud in the aisle.

This stinker will surely will guarantee that Blade IV will go direct to video. 4/10
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Secret Window (2004)
Great performances, excellent directing lift a mediocore story
13 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(Warning small spoilers)

Bravo for Johnny Depp!!!

Largely under the radar for the last two decades and without a substancial hit until last summer's "Pirates", Depp was a brooding character actor without true A-list recognition. He has developed into our generation's Al Pacino or Christopher Walken: an actor who can handle dark, light, comedic, dramatic and everything in between. This movie is, of course, all about Depp.

And thank god too... otherwise we would be watching this movie as a made for TV film on USA Network with maybe Timothy Hutton in the lead role. "The Secret Window", doesn't provide any surprises, chills or characters we've never experienced in a Stephen King book or movie before. A struggling writer, isolated location, personal demons, spiraling madness. All of this ground has been covered many times before in stories and movies like, The Shining, Misery, The Dark Half... what lifts it from the typical King fare is Depp's unique characterization, Koepp's skillful direction and a solid supporting cast (particularly John Tuturro). Depp handles his disheveled, isolated, arrogant, loneliness shell of a man like a one-man stage show. He makes every generic moment on screen seem alive. Even simple moments, lost in thought, eating Doritos with crumbs falling on his chest, looking like he is coming off a three day bender, projects a feeling that we can all associate with. That "Huh, where was I?" factor. His interactions with others on camera are merely a wall to bounce his energy (whether subdued or projected) off of.

Koepp camera does his best to follow Depp without getting in his way. His pacing surprisingly works, even though there are long periods with not very much going on. Unique Hitchcock-style camera angles help to elevate the tension, and darken the mood.

Lastly, the supporting cast. John Tuturro won't be getting any notices from the Academy next spring for best supporting actor, however fans of Fangora, might have a new horro hero. Tuturro's slow boiled performance of John Shooter eminates dread and reeks of bad things to come. His cold unflinching look gives the immpression as if he wants to crawl outside his body and into yours. It's like a stare down at the OK Correl with Clint Eastwood.... well, Eastwood playing the devil. Hutton, Bello and Dutton are all effective in their roles as well.

All this helps to lift a largely medicore story which has been done before many times. Like last year's "Identity", it's the acting and directing that makes this an enjoyable cinematic experience, instead of one made for TV.
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Surprise of the summer!!!
3 July 2003
For months I've been waiting for the poor test screenings and bad press. For weeks I've been waiting for the bad reviews to being pouring in. For every minute on screen, I was waiting for this movie to fail. It never did! Mostow did a commendable job with a tough act to follow (T2) but he pulls it off with a hugely entertaining, action piece. Not without flaws, mind you but very satisfying nonetheless.

He's my review of the series

T-1 4 out of 5 stars- A classic. A movie that will borrow, change and redefine sci-fi action for years to come.

T-2 4 1/2 out of 5 stars The Grandaddy of all action piece. A perfect blend of story, fx and big screen glory. The best action movie of the last decade

T-3 3 1/2 out of 5 stars Some of the best action scene ever captured on film and it's relentless pace more than make up some plot holes and an under utilized villian. Nothing groundbreaking but a great sequel nonetheless.
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