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Caprica (2009–2010)
Wonderfully smart and complex.
20 April 2009
I have to say, as a BSG fan I wasn't exactly sure what I'd think of this show. I saw it on the big screen at the Arclight cinema tonight (as part of the Paley Center screenings), and the cast and film makers spoke after-wards. Ron Moore said they 'wanted to make a clean break from Battlestar, and do something different, and that yes they would lose some fans but hopefully they'd gain others".

Even without their talk, I am now a fan of the new show. But here's what I thought of the film.

I loved it. It was really very good. I guess I'm a true sci-fi (or 'syfy' - do I really have to type that?) geek, because I'd totally watch this as a series. It has a strong and rich story, and kept my interest.

It starts with a small group of teenagers plotting something, which to me was the weakest part and a bit confusing. The actor playing "Ben" should have given us more of a glimpse into his intense beliefs. The actress playing "Zoe" seemed a little posy, but she was playing a teenager (and I'm sure I won't be the only one who thought "Zoe" was a cylon at first, perils of being a BSG geek). If they're hoping these will be the new Bamber/Helfer/Park, they may want to rethink it. Surprisingly, it was the adults that captured the audiences attention.

Eric Stoltz gives a stellar performance as Daniel Greystone, a man so haunted by his family tragedy that he jumps at the first chance of getting out of his grief and doesn't let go. He does a chilling and enthralling job of conveying his character's sly knowledge of the inner world of computers and people, especially in a scene in which he spins a web for the young teenage friend of his daughters, traps her, then dismisses and releases her. No sign at all of the 'serial killer' he played on Gray's Anatomy, really impressive acting.

Equally as strong though not in it nearly as much is Paula Malcomson as his wife Amanda Greystone. She is just as smart and well written and beautifully played as Stoltz's part, and I completely believed that they are a couple, and a couple that have been together forever and have a strong relationship, something rarely seen these days. I look forward to seeing what happens with this family, and hope they give her as much to do as Roslin in BSG- she is strong and smart and when she lashes out at her kid, you cringe, it's really great. Not to mention her eyes, which could hold magical powers, that's how intense they are. The scene where she takes on the government agent- very short scene, but beautifully played- really gives you an idea of her power.

The other part of the show that did not work 100% for me were the scenes with Esai Morales, and the mafia type clan of his. He does a good job overall, but I did not believe in this mobs power, nor intimidated by their threats. I found myself wishing that this whole story line was a bit more mysterious and hard to figure out; the way it is presented is almost an homage to the Godfather, they kind of hit you over the head with it a bit. But given time, I can see how this will develop into an interesting 'Upstairs/downstairs' kind of thing, with the poor minorities (Morales et al) versus the rich folk who rule the planet (Stolz et al). And to be honest, I did enjoy it when he spoke to his son about the origin of their name- that was a very well played scene.

Note to BSG fans, the boy playing 'Willy Adama' doesn't really look much like Olmos, but he's just a kid. Whether or not he'll be featured any more than he was in this film, who knows? I sure couldn't tell. But it didn't bother me, because he wasn't as interesting as everything else going on around him.

Polly Walker plays 'Sister Clarice', and she's chilling and odd in every scene she's in. I'm not sure where she'll go or who she'll end up with, but I was very impressed with her acting. In this film she was sort of on the side, but obviously being set up to play a very important part later on. She was nothing like her character in "Rome", something I always find impressive in actors.

One nice surprise- the music is actually better and less obvious than BSG, even though it's the same guy doing it, Bear McCreary. It has a haunting and unusual approach that took me by surprise, I'd buy this score if I had the chance.

As to the 'panel discussion' after the show, it was hosted by Seth Green. Ron Moore was very smart and articulate, David Eick was cracking wise (much like his video diaries), Esai Morales told a long story about how he was cast, and Eric Stoltz was very funny and didn't really answer the questions ( but I've always had a thing for him). Paula Malcomson was tough (she took Seth Green to task for mistakenly saying she was on '24'), and the girls who played Zooey and Lacey were both darling. Grace Park and Tricia Helfer were there as well, answering questions about how they did the scenes acting with themselves on BSG. Overall a very interesting and wonderful evening.

I'm giving the show a 9 out of 10, and very much looking forward to watching it all unfold.

NOTE: I just watched this a second time and really hope they explore what the HOLOBAND was originally made for. I have no idea what that may be, but it holds a great deal of fascination to me.
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Ghost World (2001)
Great weird movie.
25 September 2001
I really liked this movie, it's odd but in a good way. All the actors are

superb- particularly Steve Buschemi as the lonely nebbish- and

the film has a haunting weird quality about it that reminds you of

when you were a teenager and HATED EVERYTHING. Even most

movies. This movie gives some of the best commentary on

modern American culture out there, and it's kind of sweet too. A

good companion to American Beauty, as Thora Birch plays yet

another disaffected youth, and she does it very well.
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Betrayal (1983)
Beautifully done.
25 September 2001
One of Pinters best plays, this one is filmed with just a superb cast. Jeremy Irons looks like he's about to steal the film, then Ben Kingsley sneaks up on you with an odd stiff but wounded performance that takes your breath away. I loved the woman too. A masterfully told story of love and desire, and pain within relationships. Not easy to watch, not very 'flash', but worth it indeed.
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Rambling and okay, I guess.
23 September 2001
The reviewer in Variety said this was "overwritten and overlong", and I kind of agree with it. It has some events that seem forced and unlikely, like when Cal (Crudup once again as the 'lost, vacant, and kind of dull' male) and Julianne Moore find a map of the US in kind of an unbelievable place. The story is one of those 1970's "guy must find meaning in his life" stories, and I found myself imagining Jack Nicholson in his prime playing the role of Cal. The whole "hitting the road to find meaning in life" theme is still kind of interesting though. Does it all really lead back to family? I wasn't so sure. The acting is okay, I particularly liked Karen Allen and James LeGross, who unfortunately only have supporting roles. I'd give it a 'five'.
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Serendipity (2001)
Gag me.
23 September 2001
And that's not 'gag' as a good thing, either. This is a sitcom pretending to be a film. What has happened to 'cutting edge' Cusack? This drek must have paid a

bundle, because there's no 'there' there. They meet cute, they separate, they both have funny goofy looking friends who advise them poorly, please. The

trailer is better than the film, the audience was laughing at places that weren't intended to get laughs. The best part of the film- New York City, in all it's glory. Either go there, or stay home and watch 'Friends', which is just about as deep and interesting, but only a half hour long.
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Six Feet Under (2001–2005)
It's not "the Sopranos", but it'll do.
16 July 2001
I had high hopes for this show based on the previews, but so far I've

been kind of disappointed. I suppose it's not fair to compare it to

"American Beauty" (same writer) or "The Sopranos"- the best tv show of

all time, whose time slot this show is in- but it can't be helped.

Sometimes it seems like it's straining to be 'different' and 'unique',

and the strain is evident. The acting is, for the most part, great. The

stand outs are the women. Frances Conroy, who was so great in the PBS

"Our Town", is the matriarch, and she holds the show together. The

daughter is great too. I look forward to watching this show grow, it's

definitely very good.
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The Sopranos (1999–2007)
The best show on television.
16 July 2001
Really, this is just one great show, and it's telling that it's not on

any 'networks'- it's on cable. Filled with impressive acting, great

scripts, beautiful music and photography, there is no way this show

could lose. My whole family watches it together every week just like we

used to do with "the Wonderful World of Disney"- which is a telling fact

about our world, isn't it? This show is just great and I highly

recommend it.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996–2003)
Great fun.
16 July 2001
It's not Shakespeare, that's for sure, but it's well written and a lot of fun. Sometimes I get the feeling that the actors aren't really in on the jokes, which makes it even better. This is one of the few instances where the tv show is superior to the movie. Well done!
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Law & Order (1990–2010)
One of the quiet good shows.
16 July 2001
This is a great one, but for some reason it's not the most talked about. That is a shame, because there's great quality to be found here, starting with the actors who are uniformly great. I've yet to be disappointed by any of them. Some of the writing gets a bit 'tv' at times, they sum things up pretty quick, but for the most part it's very realistic and interesting. I hope it lasts another ten years.
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Divided We Stand
15 July 2001
This is the true translation of the title, and it's a telling one. A story about people who are very confused and in great danger all the time, continually threatened by betrayal and death, yet they manage to stand together and survive. An alternately funny and tense and touching film, this one really goes deep in a way that most American movies don't. Superb acting, beautifully filmed, but most of all- the story. This is one great story, that's all there is to it. It works. I was even touched by the ending, which I didn't see coming. A beautiful beautiful film, one that everyone should see if possible.
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15 July 2001
And I mean that in a good way. This is, in every way, and 'adult' film, and I don't mean that in the pornographic sense. It's slow and sensuous and languid and if you don't revel in it you should leave the theater. I loved it and revelled in it. The performances are all wonderful and the camera moves as though it's the girls lover. Oddly enough it turns out this whole film was made in Paris- you'd never know from watching it.

Really interesting stuff.
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One of the greats.
15 July 2001
I loved this show, and still do in re-runs. Featuring one of the best casts ever assembled on tv, some great scripts and interesting direction, this show never let me down. Why'd they cancel it? Probably too much quality. It always had great guest stars too, I'm disappointed I can't find them listed here. Oh well, there's probably too many to name, but it was a great show and if you get a chance check it out late at night. Maybe it'll come out on DVD!
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Star Trek (1966–1969)
Silly fun turned into phenomenon.
15 July 2001
And I don't mean that as an insult. I grew up on this show, and I just

love it, but to read so much into it- well, I just don't know. It was a

fun sci-fi show, far ahead of it's time, and perfect for the sixties.

All the races living and working together (although lead, of course, by

a white male) and exploring the universe and saving it. That seems to be

how we Americans see ourselves- the privledged saviors of the world. It

was comforting growing up, and it's comforting now. I still maintain

that this show is better by far than any of the new Star Treks, or even

of the movies. The big budgets lessened the show for me somehow. Anyway,

I love this show, and it should be watched from episode one all the way

till the end.
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Okay family film.
9 July 2001
The animals really steal this story, and they are pretty amazing. The Corgi has many scenes, and does them with great style. Rikki Lake is good too! The supporting cast (not the animals) are good as well, the redoubtable Ed Begley Junior does a fine job. This is a great film for kids, but adults may find their attention lagging.
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Dog Park (1998)
A nice afternoon.
9 July 2001
I wouldn't class this with The Godfather, but it's a decent way to spend an afternoon. Filled with kooks and freaks (this was after all directed by one of the "Kids in the Hall") this movie ambles about pleasantly and manages to provoke a smile or two. I much prefered the supporting players to the leads, I found Natasha Henstridge and Luke Wilson a little stiff, but that could have been the script. There are not really a lot of dogs in this movie, so if that is your thing, go see "Cats and Dogs".
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Amusing and fun.
9 July 2001
The music starts it off perfectly, with a cheesy funny song sung over

the credits, and then Julia Roberts charm carries the rest of the film.

A pretty standard plot driven forward by the chemistry of Roberts and

Rupert Everett as her gay best friend. Apparently, they had better

chemistry than Roberts and anyone else, so they went back and filmed a

new ending involving these two characters. I'm not faulting them, I

enjoyed it very much. Diverting fun.
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Mrs Dalloway (1997)
Very good.
9 July 2001
I enjoyed this movie very much, although I really loved the novel a bit more, but that's always the case it seems. Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha McElhone make a GREAT older/younger version of each other, and Rupert Graves gives a stellar performance as a young man dealing with the impact of war. This is a gently told tale, but it's done very well. Worth a look.
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Mrs. Soffel (1984)
9 July 2001
This one was a nice surprise, I hadn't seen it when it first came out, so I rented it and enjoyed it thoroughly. Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson carry the day in this true tale of a wardens wife who falls for a prisoner. Matthew Modine does a fine job as Mel Gibsons brother, and the entire cast is fine. It's beautifully shot in Pittsburgh, and there is a languid quality about it that I found alluring. Well done all around.
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Watch it with your kids.
9 July 2001
This film will mean a lot to children of a certain age, particularly boys. It's not really an adventure story, but it is 'boy runs away from family' story done in the old Disney style- that is, you never reall feel that he's in serious danger, and you learn a lot about nature and love along the way. Worthwhile.
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My Horrible Year! (2001 TV Movie)
Wonderfully offbeat and loaded with wit.
8 July 2001
This is a charming little film, meant for kids I think.

The story is this; Nik (Allison Mack) is about to turn 16 and is

burdened with problems- her mom and dad (Karen Allen and a really funny

Brian Heighton) have hit financial hard times, and they are forced to

work at 'lesser' jobs until better times return. Also, Nik's uncle (Eric

Stoltz) has just died of a heart attack, and Nik thinks her dad is

fooling around with her sexy widowed aunt ( Mimi Rogers). But the

biggest drag is that Nik's mother recently had twins and Nik has to baby

sit them when Mom goes to work every day. It's a teenage girls

nightmare, but luckily she has some really great and funny friends that

bolster her (and us) whenever they're on screen.

It's basically teenage girl vs. the world, and from my point of view her

problems are very small, but like all teens, to her they seem

insurmountable. Consequently, sometimes I had a hard time caring about

her dilemma, but I did keep caring for her. Allison Mack gives a great

performance, deftly balancing comedy and (self involved) pathos- I

enjoyed her very much. I enjoyed the entire cast, to be honest.

There's a lot of odd moments and quirky laughs that came out of nowhere,

obviously they were trying to make more than just another teen film, and

for the most part they succeeded.
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A lovely film.
8 July 2001
This is indeed like a little trip to Vietnam, much like Scent of Green Papaya. Sort of a "Hannah and her Three Sisters", this film explores the relationships of the sisters not only to each other and to their men, but also to ritual, to their food and city and lives. It's meditative, and some of the audience got a bit restless during it- it does take it's time- but if you stay with it you will be rewarded. It's a long slow meal, not fast food. Lovely camera touches and acting, and this man's sense of color is fantastic. I really liked it.
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19 June 2001
And empty, like a Hallmark card. I didn't see one real touching

moment, but the music acted like this was a really great moving

scene. I was distant and ended up fast forwarding it. Natalie

Portman is fun to watch, in fact all the actors were okay, it's just

that the story didn't really go anywhere and it took a long time to do

it. Shot like a television movie, this could've been much better.
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Wag the Dog (1997)
Great fun, a little scary.
19 June 2001
I mean, so much of this seems to have come true! A hollywood

producer fabricating a war to help cover up a presidential scandal.

And I don't mean just with Clinton, does anyone remember the

Falkan Islands and why we were there? It seems every government has done this at least every ten years. Anyway, the

performances are fantastic in this film- Hoffman and DeNiro are

tops, and Anne Heche is at her best. Everyone in this film (which

apparently was made for very little money) does a great job. See it!
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Okay film, great sound track.
19 June 2001
Ry Cooder did the music, and it is definitely better than the film, which is both a Viet Nam allegory and a mediocre script. Walter Hill challenges us yet again, this time with his favorite 'man vs. nature vs. dumber man' theme. Violent, sure, but well shot and scored. If only the script were better!
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Enjoyable mess.
19 June 2001
I love Bill Murray and Peter Boyle as much as the next, but how they got mixed up in this must be a story in and of itself. A big sprawling messy glop of a film, it's still worth seeing, and maybe in tandem with the Terry Gilliam film. This one has a better cast and better actors, that one has much better camera work, they are BOTH kind of disasters.
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