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Survivor: You Get What You Give (2018)
Wow! That crazy tribal
The beginning is not so hot: more men find more advantages (yawn). Why aren't more women actively looking for idols? (where is Kelley Wentworth when you need her). And the reward challenge is no great shakes, either (although that pizza does look yummy, and Dan's slip-up may actually be foreshadowing). But the immunity challenge is bite-your-nails tense when it gets to the final two, Mike flipping back to the Goliaths is refreshing, and the tribal council is un-freakin'-believable. Better than I dared to hope for. Try to NOT get spoiled for this tribal, it's absolutely worth it. I'll just say that the difference in how Davie and Dan handled some situations so far paid off in spades in this tribal. ***1/2 out of 4.
Reasonable Tarzan film
The James Bond influence is strong in this one, starting with the opening credits sequence. Mike Henry is very wooden in his debut as Tarzan, although his god-like physique is certainly eye-catching. The monkey shines and the young boy slow down the proceedings a lot, but some of the sets and locations of the city of gold look impressively authentic. ** out of 4.
The first all-female episode of "Fear Factor". The first stunt will have you on the edge, the second will shock you, the third will take you for a bumpy ride. Oh, and Mandy the Insane most definitely desrved a second chance - which she still hasn't gotten. *** out of 4,
A Cure for Wellness (2016)
Gonzo gothic thriller
Personally I like films that take chances and dare to be different, and "A Cure For Wellness" is one of those films. It's an operatic thriller that pulls out stop after stop as it slowly builds to a (literally) fiery climax. The big twist at its center is kinda obvious, but the method to the villain's madness is less so. Extremely well-directed, this is overall an immersive experience. *** out of 4.
Absolutely awesome episode
The merge episodes of Survivor are traditionally among the strongest of each season, and this year's can stand up to comparison with the best of 'em. The opening 20 minutes are mind-boggling in the strategic possibilities they present (it looks like "goodbye Brochachos, hello Strike Force"!). The immunity challenge is original and gives its winner an ecstatic, inspiring moment. The tribal council is riveting and shows that, no matter how much the game has evolved, one basic element has remained steady at its core: if you don't have enough people willing to work with you, you're gone. Let's hope things continue on this level. ***1/2 out of 4.
Daughter of the Dragon (1931)
Third time is not the charm
The third of Paramount's Fu Manchu films - unfortunately, none of them are worth watching. This one is stiff, stuffy, stilted, and very boring. The cast is so bland that I was hoping Fu's daughter would kill them all, but that is far from being the case. * out of 4.
Imagine a world where your greatest hope becomes reality....
....welcome to this episode of "Fear Factor". I don't really want to spoil it too much, except to say: if I could write an episode of FF, it would play out almost exactly like this, from the contestants, to the elimination order, to their byplay, to the final stunt, to their outfits, to the winner(s). OK, I said I won't spoil it too much, but I can't help it: the girls rule in this episode like they've never ruled before. As close to perfect as it gets? ***1/2 out of 4.
More total female domination
Nothing more satisfying than watching "the manly men, not the feminine men" choke and embarrass themselves. Highly suspenseful final stunt, thoroughly deserving underdog winner (but the other woman would be equally deserving as well). *** out of 4.
Where's the ending??
This is actually a decent courtroom drama, and a well-sustained mystery, and looking at Lali Esposito's extremely beautiful, enigmatic face is enough to keep you occupied even at the slower moments, but when a movie is centered around three big questions ("did she do it? if not, who? will she be convicted?") and only one of them is answered at the end, you can't help but feel cheated. Because of this lack of closure, I wouldn't recommend this movie. ** out of 4.
Hands down best episode of the season so far
For several reasons:
a) great confessionals by a variety of people (Elizabeth, Alison, Angelina, Kara, Christian, etc.) b) creative and exciting challenges c) the person who goes home at tribal was far less interesting than the person who stays in the game, so it's a happy outcome - but it's also a miraculous outcome! I mean, the opposite would have made so much more sense at this point. The person who survived THIS tribal can now survive anything. ***1/2 out of 4.
Total female domination
If you enjoy female domination over men in physical and mental competition (and, unless you're a sexist caveman, why wouldn't you?), you'll love this episode. Women have won Fear Factor before, but to see women outperforming the men in every stunt is a little more rare. *** out of 4.
One of the best Fear Factor episodes
It deservedly receives the special 1-hour treatment. It's like a short movie, it has everything: two unpredictable eliminations in the first stunt, the women showing both great strength and great vulnerability, one extremely likable, laid-back guy, a final stunt that is as close as it gets (literally to the second)....and two winners! *** out of 4.
Beauty for Sale (1933)
It gets points for trying something that Robert Altman would popularize many decades later: several conversations at a crowded place (this time, a beauty parlor) going on all at once, the audience only hearing snippets of each. But overall the script is too scattershot, if directed with some flair by Richard Boleslawski. Madge Evans is attractive, Una Merkel is cute (the most surprising scene in the movie is a short mouth-to-mouth kiss between them!), but Otto Kruger lacks magnetism as the romantic lead. **1/2 out of 4.
Survivor: Double Agent (2011)
Triple Agent would be more accurate
The first excellent episode of "South Pacific". It has everything: Christine's last Redemption Island duel (she had an amazing 5-win run), the 6-6 merge (they should do the merge more often with even numbers in the tribes, it becomes a game of chicken), Coach's manipulation, Dawn's anguish, Ozzy's failed idol play, the deadlocked vote, the revote, Cochran's flip, Whitney's shock, Brandon's protectiveness. It is both a very strategic and very psychological episode. ***1/2 out of 4.
Twin Peaks: Part 2 (2017)
Terrific if you're under the influence; GODAWFUL if you're not
I won't even call this pretentious, because it doesn't really pretend to be anything else than it is: David Lynch stroking himself and hoping his sheep will follow. Picture the worst Twin Peaks episode of the original series: this is 10 times worse. The entire "Darya" sequence is disgusting. If I see something like that again, I will stop watching this series on the spot - it's already a huge sacrifice on my part that I will continue watching after the first two episodes. 0.5 out of 4 stars.
Survivor: Taste the Victory (2011)
Finally they are shaking things up
It took them five episodes, but better late than never I guess. Though blindsiding Ozzy directly would make even more sense (why just make him angry? Just take him out of the game - before he has a chance to use his idol (which two people know about already, because for some unfathomable reason he told them!)). But at least they have the guts to go against the "leader"'s commands. Now if the other tribe does the same thing with Coach, and if they DRASTICALLY reduce Brandon Hantz's screentime, this might turn out to be a good season after all. *** out of 4.
Gina is by far one of the sexiest and most entertaining women they have ever had on this show. I see they even brought her back - something they rarely do on "Fear Factor". A big mouth who does well in challenges and has no real mean edge. I laughed hard with her antics. Joe also has a great line (referring to the "elk johnson"): "No, it would be a delicacy. Delicatessen is where you would find it!". *** out of 4.
Calling Philo Vance (1940)
Pointless remake of "The Kennel Murder Case"
One of the weakest Philo Vance films: a pointless remake of "The Kennel Murder Case", with a blander cast. But if you haven't seen "Kennel", you may still find the story ingenious. The then-topical WWII elements look out of place now in a Philo Vance mystery. ** out of 4.
Yet another episode for the greatest-of-all-time club
One of the most moving family visits ever, becuase each visit means something different to each person, and we get to see what. One of the most shocking moments ever, when one contestant literally collapses in the middle of a challenge due to pushing their body beyond its limits. And a suspenseful tribal council where you wonder, "will they make another big move, or will they play it safe this time?". If anybody in this season wasn't blindsided, he simply wasn't in Cambodia at all. **** out of 4.
Another astonishing epidode
Wow, this season is going from strength to strength. This episode has a tough reward challenge in harsh conditions, people almost breaking down due to the relentless bad weather, a tremendous dilemma, and a brilliant aggressive strategic move countered by a brilliant defensive strategic move. Watch and learn. **** out of 4.
Edit: on IMDb this is paired with the next episode, which is ALMOST as good; if nothing else, it shows the dangers of overthinking. You can get so wrapped up in complicated things that you forget the simple things, like the fact that you cannot securely split 5 votes when there are 9 people left (and most of them voted against you in the previous tribal council). The Cambodia folklore story was amazing. The **** rating stands.
The Phantom of Paris (1931)
John Gilbert's very good performance uplifts an otherwise just-OK drama. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well, but the film lacks spark and life. Maybe I went into it with the wrong expectations, because I was expecting a mystery or an adventure - there is very little of either. ** out of 4.
The Phantom of Crestwood (1932)
Everything comes together in neat little mystery
Initially murky but ultimately neatly plotted murder mystery, whose chief novelty is that the role of the amateur detective is filled in by a gangster! The flashback editing technique is also quite impressive. **1/2 out of 4.
Survivor: You Call, We Haul (2015)
In contention for greatest Survivor episode ever
This one is right up there with Amanda's idol play / Alexis' blindside from season 16 (Micronesia), but with one important difference: the playing field is much more even here, because they are all returning players, not veterans fooling newbies like in Micronesia. I don't want to spoil too much, except to say that besides a funny, thrilling and iconic tribal council (Ciera's facial expressions and eye rolls are the best), it has an exciting reward challenge won by Joe, Keith and their harem! Almost everything you watch Survivor for is in this episode. **** out of 4.
Survivor: Bunking with the Devil (2015)
What happens when 7 people go to tribal council and all of them are sure that they're not going home? Someone's plan has gone wrong! There hasn't been a single predictable boot this season and it's already episode 6! It's amazing. Like Jeff Probst says, this time the game is played at a very high level. Two, maybe three competing blindsides, Chaos Kass battling Calm/Caring Kass, and some genuine emotion mixed in with all the strategy (Terry taken out of the game to look after his son, who we learn at the end had a successful heart transplant). ***1/2 out of 4.
Fun female-dominated episode
The women totally kick the men's butts in this episode, not once but twice. There is one guy in particular who is big muscles, big mouth, small results. They leave him far behind. It's also an unsusual episode because nobody completes the second stunt, so they all come back for the third but for the reduced prize of 25,000 dollars. The final sprint of the winner in the last stunt is absolutely amazing. A strong 8 out of 10.