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A parody and a disaster
No. I only gave this absurd film a 3 due to its fine cinema-photography. The story takes the legendary idea of master swordsman Myamoto Musashi and splits it into two different people, both named Musashi and from that silly premise the film gets worse in every frame. It sort of mimics the well-known story of the more historic figure, but divides it between two personalities, one young, one old. The actor playing the older one is possible the ugliest Japanese actor ever to appear in a film. The sword scenes are flimsy and poorly executed. The young Musashi goes on to star in the "Sleepy Eyes" series and he is in fact quite a good actor, but his budding talent is wasted in this farce. the plots are simple enough...duels between swordsmen for no reason other than fame. Followed by mindless revenge plots by their friends, that go nowhere and disappear. I love Japanese Samurai films, but this is pure junk. What the writer had in mind is unknown, as the film is an absolute insult to the actual legend of the magnificent Myamoto Musashi and otherwise makes the idea of telling a great story into a lampoon of itself, played with a straight face. Perhaps the poorest and lamest of the many awesome Samurai films that came out in the 1960s.
Sebastian Roché is truly bad...
Sebastian Roché? Why does he have first billing? His acting is terrible, he whines and shrinks and shrivels at every turn. He is not believable as someone a professional killer would save. The actress who leads this film is very good. She is an ex-British agent of some kind on the run from Columbians, she encounters the inspid, timid, unredeemable man ( Sebastian Roché) early one through a photo that he takes. The action here is slow, the direction is not good at all, the story is good but could have been, should have been much better. The photography does a pretty poor job of taking in the spectacular vistas of the great basin desert. the woman here is the story and she gets second billing, a fact that is absolutely insulting and outrageous. The so-called male lead is not worth the film he used up being on screen. It is to bad, with a few tweaks by better professionals, this could have been a much better film.
Unwatchable Cartoon Action exposes JD Morgan
JD Morgan gets a lot of work. His work is unwatchable, not credible, and it is just strange that he is actually employed as an actor. He only plays himself. He is not an actor, just someone who grins for a camera. Each and every part he appears in he plays the same one dimensional character. Robert diNero of course has such a great reputation, I wanted to watch even with Morgan on board. I could not finish this work of claptrap. I came away believing DiNero is finished. His last several films have all be unwatchable. He looks like an old burned out alcoholic in this film. Stiff. Emaciated. Shrivelled up. The plot? There is a casino. It gets robbed, in part to save a sick little girl yeah, right), the robbers get on a big bus that is followed by a million police. The supporting cast is useless and forgettable when they are not being obnoxious. The plot is impossible, well beyond suspension of disbelief to the point where one wonders how drunk and/or stoned the people who green-lighted this pretentious nonsense? This film is a nail on the coffin of a declining Robert DiNero. JD Morgan proves he is a ghost without talent; it would be great to say something good about a film like this, but I just can't. Don't waste your time. RIP Robert DiNero.
Midnight, Texas: Bad Moon Rising (2017)
Writers have destroyed original story
Why? One could ask. Everything about this is wrong. The writers of this disaster have taken the title of the Harris novels and turned it into a more vulgar, violent and meaningless story. In this episode the people of Midnight are fighting and shooting at one of their own members, whereas in Harris' story the residents all get along very well, which is the point of the storyline. It is honestly disgusting as to why the writers of the TV show cannot just tell the fine and lovely story Ms Harris actually wrote.
Midnight, Texas (2017)
No. Not the story as written.
No. Why cannot the makers of this series present the fine story as it was written by Ms Harris? The town is to big. The people in the town have no resemblance to the characters in the original story. They are way over the top. They have to many powers and abilities. The writers have taken the name of the books by Harris and turned them inside out into a grass and over-amped cartoon. All the genius of Harris' fine original story have been made ovepr the top. In the original stories, the residents of Midnight Texas all appear normal, their powers and secrets reveled slowly and in context, not in levitating.a police car or in legions of departed ghosts burning up a house. This series has taken a vulgar and sensationalist turn that has zero resemblance to the stories written by Harris. I wonder why she allows people like this to destroy her fine work? This is just sad and a bit disgusting.
The Art of Japanese Life (2017)
Narration by a boy in a cheap suit
No. Stale and ponderous. The narration and host of this dubious voyage into Japanese history is utterly spoiled by the juvenile nature of the "host". Dressed like a little boy in a very cheap looking, ill fitting colourless suit, the boy-man narrator whispers, flounders, shuffles and stumbles his way through an attempt to explain some of the most important Japanese treasures in the world. Why BBC felt it was right to include this child actor to guide actual adults through these treasures is not a question I can answer. Yes, the treasures are there for us to enjoy, as we kind of sneak up on them all the while enduring the insufferable presence of the distracting and inappropriate narrator. Only the fact that so many fine treasures are actually viewed can account for the inflated rating of this sloppy production. I found every moment tedious and frequently hit the mute button to watch the beauty and not have to hear the insufferable narration.
Propaganda: Divorced From Context (Truth)
This is a beautiful but deeply flawed film. Missionaries did not travel to Japan in this historical period "to do good". They went as paid agents of the church, of the Spanish crown, of the English and Dutch trading companies. In this fil we have two "do good" priests arriving in Japan at a moment when the Christians are outlawed in Japan. We are never ever given much explanation at all as to why the Christians were outlawed. No mention of the lies, the theft, the back room deals, the corruption and plans for conquest of Japan being hatched by the Church and its trading partners. In essence, this film is a fantasy and a collection of falsehood, where the actual truth is suspended fro dramatic effect by an ageing director who should know better and who once had the courage to do better. I find the film so deficient in historical fact, in cause and effect, as to be laughable. It is in fact sad to see such a beautifully acted, photographed and directed film fall into such a terrible pit of propaganda, historical distortion and outright misrepresentation of the church, the Japanese and the truth itself. The cruelties depicted are hard to watch and every one of them is presented without context. There is in fact something cowardly about this film. In the end it does not serve history, the Japanese, the Church or the casual film viewer. It is a cruel- hearted film presented entirely without context.
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016)
No. Here we have the most boring Romean Empire Story ever told
No. Stop. Boring. How the makers of this dried out tomato of a film was made might make a better film than we are presented with here. The actor playing Commodus is possibly the worst actor I have ever seen. Though he plays an incompetent historical figure, a Roman Emperor, he plays it so poorly. Accompanying this farce of acting are an overabundance of meaningless, posed shots of Roman soldiers shuffling around. None of the people in the background or at the edge have any part in the story other than their costumed presence. The story-telling of this chaotic, yet fascinating period of Roman history is really poor, stuttering and entirely to British. There is some sort of strange obsession the British have with producing Roman historical epics where all the leading parts are by obsessively British personalities and dialogue. The actual history here drips out, loops around itself, and is presented with very poor coherence. The cast is huge but the production values and staging are so stiff, so boring it is truly hard to find the words for how bad it is. I cannot say more than this, unless you are desperate or an an absolute historical fanatic, you will not enjoy this stiff, slow, boring "narrative drama". It is done up like a really bad "Discovery" or "History Chanel" docu-drama for a dead weekend.
The Good Wife: Party (2016)
J D Morgan has ruined and destroyed this series
JD Morgan is a terrible actor. He is one dimensional, only playing the one smirking obnoxious character regardless of the show. As the investigator he was tolerable. As Alicia's love interest he is unbelievable, unthinkable. I feel like he has shown up in this last season to just destroy it. He has been showing up everywhere lately. He is way over exposed and way over rated. His presence as Alicia's lover is not credible. I have followed the series from the very first episode and there is nothing in her personality that would be attracted to this smirking clown. I am really disappointed in how the series is wrapping up. This episode does hint at the fact that maybe the horrible Morgan character is going to run for the hills. We can only hope. The episode continues to highlight Alicia finally standing up for her own interests and trying to find her own way and perhaps she can be forgiven if the writers actually kill off or otherwise get rid of Morgan's insufferable character and his horrible acting. Many of you may have noticed he has suddenly shown up as a major character in Walking Dead, another tragic disappointment. If he shows up in any more of my beloved series I may throw my TV out the window. Why this insufferable little man is suddenly given all these great parts in popular series is incomprehensible to me. In this episode Alicia takes some great steps towards absolute freedom, which may or may not be sabotaged by this meaningless relationship with this smug and talentless "actor", Mr Morgan.
The world is let down again
Jeffrey Dean Morgan. No. No thank you. This "actor" is suddenly showing up all over, and far to much. He only knows one act, he plays the same character over and over. I was really disappointed when he showed up. This came after the stressful emotional build up in this crazy episode, where it seems everyone is cornered at last. But not by the Dead, by their own petards; by choosing to be pro-active and seek out their enemy, they probably really let down Sun Tzu as well. This is a hard show to watch, if I am honest. Why is all the best writing is always dark these days. there are so many popular dark stories. It is no surprise at this point that the family of Rick and his little village have understood that their biggest danger is from the predator collectives that populate the near and far countryside. More of these groups are apparent at this point, and they are becoming aware of each other. The illness, sudden and dangerous sends Rick and others out to reach the doctor at the community they befriended in the previous episode. Their doctor back at the village is not available. This is a big splitting of forces and resources, as it comes after 4 of the others have gone out spontaneously to hunt down the attackers that shows up from past episode, where Dixon loses his motor cycle: they show up again in this episode to very deadly effect. Several key cast members are blasted very hard here, very suddenly. Not just one cast member but several and it is hard to watch. The ending is yes a big surprise but having Morgan appear as a dreaded villain really deflated and diverted the impact of the dramatic ending scenes. At this point everyone seems trapped, but thanks to the ending, they seem trapped in a belated April Fools joke, and hanging. If you are a fan of the show you have to watch this, but it ain't going to be easy.
Bad reviews Piling Up
The existing reviews fro this new series (a spin off) are bad. Yet somehow the overall rating is high. Is this yet another Donald Trump-like phenomenon? A situation where the facts no longer matter? because the fact is, right from the start, this series is just terrible. Cinese is a very popular actor and I viewed this episode, attracted by his involvement. When he makes his appearance in the episode, he honestly looks like he is recovering from a months long alcohol binge. It is hard to notice much of the actual plot and dialogue as the soundtrack is so loud, so out of place, so invasive, I found myself wishing for sub titles. The terrible disco/party sound track is really loud, and it is continuous, it never lets up. Boom. Boom. Boom. There are so very strangely unattractive actors in this series. They almost seem to be there as the "bumbling sidekicks" but we are lead to believe this is a "serious" show. The plot line is not at all believable and after watching this episode, I am not sure there is one. The direction is as bad, if not worse, than the sound track. Was this series filmed with a go pro and an iPhone? I was up for, even excited, to catch this new offering in a franchise I do not otherwise watch, at all. After suffering through this opening episode I predict, with some hope, to spare the suffering masses, that this series will be canceled as soon as possible. It is truly terrible. I cannot imagine how it even got made. Did I mention the soundtrack? Yes, it is truly awful, and so loud. Right from the first opening shot. So beware, you have been forewarned.
Of Kings and Prophets (2016)
More phony history and bad acting
Right off the bat, the screen fills with gratuitous, slow-motion, detailed violence. Right off the bat the clothing is wrong, the sets are wrong, the weapons are wrong and the acting is very British. This series comes across as a lower budget Zena knock-off. Yet it pretends to be about actual history. Featuring a cast of mixed accents, mixed bloodlines and short all the way around on talent, we are watching yet another cartoon posturing as historical drama. Though I love historical drama, this one not so much. I can't imagine where the idea for this series originated. Is it meant to imitate Marvel Comics, producing a more greasy version of pre-historic super heroes? Is it hoping to be a "Game Of Thrones" companion? If so, it does not have the cast, direction, photography or writing of that great show. The principal actors, such as the laughable "King Saul" are just so out of place, it is easy to imagine everyone involved in this series was drunk on cheap wine once the filming started. I clenched my teeth and watched until the end. When it was over there was not a single scene that stayed in my memory. I predict this "new" series will not finish its first season. Why film and TV studios want o create and film fantasies and play acting and pretend they are somehow based upon real history is the mystery behind this series. The only element in the filming they craft carefully is the fighting; and that is to make it bloody, detailed and in slow motion. I would have liked to enjoy this series. I was prepared to like it but in the end there is nothing here. I found not a single actor who stood out or even seemed to know their lines very well. The most depressing aspect is the costumes; laughable at best and really just terrible if you have any eye for detail. Once again the actual, beautiful and powerful and fascinating history of the ancient world is made into a cheap comic episode, presented by the same writers and film-makers that have brought you 100 equally terrible and flawed "historical" dramas in years past.
American Crime Story (2016)
America needs to shut up
Cuba Gooding? OJ Simpson? Why is this story being hyped yet once again? What exactly is wrong with the American viewer? Are you kidding me? These searing questions will not be answered by this film, only by your own inner voice. I feel that the Khardasians must be the active force behind this film, as the plague of their presence on the world begins with this case. Not much chance of a spoiler here, as everyone knows how this story turned out. Personally, ANY film that has in it Cuba Gooding is a film I avoid seeing. In this film he is not believable for a second. That this tawdry production is receiving a high rating at this esteemed site is depressing. I don't understand it. If you decide to go against the wave and refuse to watch this contrived production, you will feel better for it.
Robert Redford is over the hill and under the bushes
No. Thank you. Such an interesting story absolutely destroyed and made nearly unwatchable by the presence of actor Robert Redford. He is just not believable as a national reporter of the type that was Dan Rather. Dan Rather, was, and remains, a hard working passionate advocate for news journalism. None of that comes across in Redford's performance. We may be lead to believe that Redford wanted to honors Mr Rather, instead we have yet another film where Robert Redford only honors Robert Redford, he is just not believable in this sensitive part. As the viewer endures so many scenes with Redford, the historical details, and the guts of the conspiracy to silence all the known facts about GW Bush's disturbing personal history seem lost. The great "Truth" trumpeted in the title is lost in the trivia of personalities and we have instead of a story about "Truth", a boring story about Robert Redford pretending to somehow be relevant as both an actor and an observer of the ills of our society. The remaining cast does very well, yet they struggle to anchor their connection to Redford. Blanchett is just fine in her important part. We learn more, much more, from observing the rest of this cast, and the backgrounds, for that matter, than we do by following the Redford performance. If Redford had produced this work, instead of acting in it, it would have been a better film. His "interpretation" of a hard working, legendary journalist does not ring authentic at all. Disappointing. Redford spends so much time in his own private bubble, he is just no longer believable as a real, working class person. A great actor, in my view, takes you inside the character, and you want to follow him or her in this process. Redford is unable to get out of his own way here, so we just see yet another "Robert Redford" performance. If, like so many, you just love Redford and whatever he does, you might like this film. If you want to know about the dedicated, outstanding life and motivations of a very influential journalist in the real world of Bush Protectionism, that film has not yet been made.
CSI: Immortality (2015)
Good riddance. Ciao.
How this "finale" rates above zero is beyond me. There was nothing believable about this show a any moment. Having the Peterson character show up was the signal that this was a joke episode. The plot involves a series of bombs, a case uncovered by a series of brilliant "deductions" that are just impossible...including bees that scout a distant mountain range. The last year or so this show has been just absurd. The acting is terrible, the stories absurd, everything seems so aged, decrepit and foolish. I cannot describe this show as there is nothing there. An empty plot, bored, worn out actors and it was just nonsense. Good riddance at last.
Incredulity? And somewhat racist towards American Indians and others.
American Indians, who were well settled in the region in which this series takes place historically, are shown in this series in such a sad and disrespectful way, in a racist way, it is unacceptable. Perhaps the so-called writers here are going for a "flavour of the times" approach, which of course points to a desire for "accuracy"..like the endless smoking of the characters in this series. Yet, it is troubling, disturbing and needs to be called out. As to accuracy, I have seen a lot of mistakes in the history, a lot of "fantasy" scenes that are very inaccurate. I am, I believe, quite well informed on the history of "the Bomb", and this series is disturbing. I am not sure at all it is a good idea. Even so, it is well written and very well acted. The direction could be much better. The photography is tedious and not skillful. Are we all thinking it is a good idea to take one of the most questionable endeavors in all of human history and make a fiction/drama of that history? Mr. Oppenheimer has been on the screen only a few times; his persona shown in this series also seems somewhat racist, a caricature of Jewish stereotypes that does not seem right to me. The making of the world's first atomic weapon is a story that, by now, has clearly slipped into the early stages of mythology, as fictions, projections, and might have been scenarios accumulate in the minds of writers and producers charged with telling this story. It may be far to important to hold closer to the facts than this series seems interested in doing, so I give it a low score for reasons of "incredulity".
Banal, incredibly banal
Sometimes, most of the time perhaps, the ratings here at IMDb agree...when a film or series is given a high score/rating it means it is good. This one is rated very high. I found it literally unwatchable. It brings me to imagine why this banal thing is rated so highly. I will never find out. I was excited, for one thing, that Sissy Spacek was present. She is so good at what she does, I figured I could trust her choice of scripts. No. The dialogue, in particular, of these characters in this series is so incredibly uninteresting. In the first episode there is an argument by a group of bad actors, about a chair, that made me want to put my TV in the trash, and all the dialogue leading up to it was not much better. And then there are the "men". The male actors in this series are dull, dull, one-dimensional and stiff with not a single quality, not one of them, that engaged me in caring two cents about any of them. In the first episode there are no sympathetic characters. If there is a story here, they have taken far to long to give me a hint of it. Given the hype and positive reviews this series has received; to say it was disappointing is about right. I find it unwatchable, poorly acted, badly directed. The writing in particular is bad. There is nothing in the entire first episode that brings me to understand who these people are, why I should like any of them, or what the point/plot/adventure we might share with them actually is. In my mind the writing is just terrible. Nothing to bring you into the story. I figure I am a reasonable viewer. I like shows like this. But I strong disagree with anyone who rates this turkey above a 3.
CSI: Cyber (2015)
Ann Donahue is Great, the rest, not so much.
No. At least not yet. While it is truly a great idea for a series, and has all the awesome writing, production and directorial chops of the many great CSI traditions, this show is way off the mark in what is believable or reasonable. Ann Donahue is great, she is a very interesting character and for her sake, I hope the show will grow some writers and some decent plots. So far it has not. I just finished with episode 2, and there is really not a single believable moment in it. It deals with a hacker who breaks into a public amusement ride and causes it to crash, a kind of crime related to criminals who cause bad things to happen so they can record them and share them online. An interesting plot idea, but this was a ten dollar idea with five cent presentation. Viewers these days know a lot more about computers then the writers so far have imagined. This series has really great potential, but it desperately needs qualified writers who are nowhere in sight at the moment. It is so bad it will disappear quickly, most likely, if they do not act right away to up the writing.
Compelling and Logical Presentation for Prosecution
It would help in the healing of the world, in a strong, absolute and powerful way, if Bush, Cheney, and all the others involved., were in fact to be brought before the American Court. Everyone knows, even those who refuse to say it aloud, that Bush and his ranking associates lied their way into a war with Iraq. That the consequences of this thoughtless act are even now not only unstable, unfulfilled, inadequate and failing; they are in fact mushrooming, expanding and instigating disasters of nearly biblical proportions in the advent of the Islamic State (ISIL), relentless, brutal civil wars throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, millions of homeless and misplaced persons, trillions of dollars of economic and infrastructure destruction, and ultimately the senseless deaths of United States soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent peoples. It is inconceivable at some level that not one ranking official in the United States will state clearly for the record that George Bush lied, that he should be considered a criminal suspect and brought before a jury trial. Even today, these facts are still true. Mr. Bugliosi makes a legal, correctly defined, logical, legal argument for this point of view; indeed, a blueprint for someone, somewhere to take up this cause. Perhaps the most insidious fact of our political system at this precise moment is the absolute impunity of men like Bush, Koch Brothers, Cheney, Fox News, even the GOP itself to violate law, disguise and hide the truth, and deflect blame, or even the need for blame. This tragic indifference to the integrity of our country is at least addressed on this theoretical, yet factual and legal argument by an intelligent and gifted prosecutor to fellow practitioners and students of the rule of law in the United States. It is also sad, and not a little suspicious, that this film is not widely known. The Main Stream Media, that faithless and faceless entity, has ignored it almost completely. Find it. Watch it. Pass it along.
Something is Missing, Flat
Something, hard to define, is missing in this important film. This film takes the viewer on a journey to Selma Alabama at the crucial time of the Civil Rights movement that took place during the life of Martin Luther King. It covers the important facts, describing clearly the sad situation that people of color faced in trying to register to vote in the segregated south. Even today, the efforts by white-dominated election boards make it more and more difficult for people of color to register and make their votes in the old south. The actor playing Dr. King, in my view, is one of the serious problems this film has. He seems to do a good job, but something serious is missing. The fact that he is not an American is part of this problem. There is something artificial about his acting. It is technically sound, yet lacks some deeper presentation of the driven, inspiring personality that defined Dr. King. Perhaps the problem is in the context. We don't really see any sense of the history that lead to this confrontation. The beat down on the bridge is, in my view, poorly filmed and does very little to capture the full outrage, violence and terror of that event. Certainly this is a difficult scene to set up and record, but Hollywood is very well-equipped to do things like this. A lot has been made of the so-called snubbing of Oprah in this film. She has a small part in the beginning of the film, a scene that could have been played by anyone. The scene where she tries to register to vote, while being questioned and intimidated by a series of crazy questions from the voter registrar is very helpful in telling us what this film is about. There is nothing exceptional about her small part, so I see no cause at all for her to imagine that for such a small part she should be nominated for an Academy Award. The very idea seems really childish. A lot of facts were left out, or glossed over; so an enormous opportunity seems to have been lost. Selma is a good film about the civil rights movement, but not a great film. It is flat, the lead actors are not very interesting and the script, in particular, seems half- finished. It comes across as a rough draft of an idea for a film rather than a finished product. I was very disappointed in this film. In particular I did not like the actors playing Doctor King or President Johnson. The photography, the camera work, as well was not very good...flat and dry. Perhaps we all have inflated expectations. This is such an important and dramatic story; yet it was created and presented in a very un-inspired form with to many missing parts. The part I absolutely did not like at all in any way is the "song" that closes the film. The semi-rap composition was very disrespectful and tried much to hard to be "relevant". And the fact that it is one of the few points on which it was nominated by the Academy, as "best song" is just sad.
American Sniper (2014)
Tragic Picture of a lost human being
In the film, good acting and a scrip grant a nobility and a personality to the man who is the subject of this misguided film...qualities he did not possess in real life. I read his book, or tried to. In its pages I found an arrogant and empty person. In the end he disappeared the way he lived. The director in this case does not himself have enough depth of character to understand that this seems to be a picture of a loser. I was a soldier in Vietnam. I was a medic, not a sniper. I never met a sniper. I can only hope they are not like this guy. So many films about America's present wars show us a troubling picture of soldiers disconnected from their lives, not very interested really in their country and completely unable to understand the "others" they face in these conflicts. Some people view this empty man as some sort of hero, apparently. I do not. I could not finish his book. I just could not relate to this empty person. It is difficult to believe that the story teller in this case is trying to help us understand a lost generation. Or help us understand why so many American men come home from these wars and kill themselves. It does not seem to care at all about these deeper issues. After trying to read his book, and trying to watch this film, I see nothing to commend this man and his wasted life. If somewhere in the acting and in the script and in the direction, somebody was crying for help that never arrived...well, maybe that is a point worth rescuing. But I suspect no one really cares because he was such a precise and talented killer.
Boring, nearly unwatchable plastic story.
Boring. Boring. Boring. Spielberg's colossal failure, AI, appears to be the template for this sedentary, incredibly boring new series. We are introduced to a small boy who is some sort of machine, played by a droll, completely uninteresting child actor. Yes "Artificial Intelligence" is the root subplot, as if Spielberg had learned nothing at all from his past, repeated failures to tell an interesting science fiction story. The cast is great. The boring special effects are perfect. The plot, a woman in space for 13 months, comes home pregnant is quite silly. I predict this show will never finish its first season. It is so bring, the so-called plot so absurd, it is very hard to watch the entire episode, but I did, so you don't have to.
A Night in Old Mexico (2013)
Tired, meaningless, drifting boring film
I am a big fan of Robert Duvall. I was so excited to see this film. It is about an old timer (Duval) in rebellion against his pending poverty, separation from his long time home into a trailer park, suddenly going off to "Old Mexico" on a lark for what, it never seems clear. Just as he makes this break out his grandson, whom he had never before met up with, shows up and goes off with him. So the stage is set for a great road adventure with a great actor. Not. This film creeps along, following an old timer who has lots of boring memories, a long life without any details as to what he was, or what he might have accomplished. The plot is really thin, almost invisible. It is by far a turkey film. Duvall is just terrible in this film. The writing is terrible, the supporting actors make no sense to the story. The basic idea of the story is thin to begin with. The film was really disappointing and it was terribly sad to see such a great actor lend himself to such a bad film and deliver such a forgettable performance. This film just made my list of really bad films made by great actors. The writing is very poor, the plot exceedingly thin, the supporting cast forgettable, the director seems to have tweeted in his desires, as there is no craftsmanship in this film anywhere. the only good character in the film is a vintage old red Cadillac, apparently owned forever by the Duvall character. Disappoint and a little bit infuriating, given the expectations we all have for a Duvall film. A truly sad end to a great career, if this turns out to be his last film. Five minutes after the film ends you will not remember what this film was even about.
Lone Survivor (2013)
Fidelity to the incredible stress of modern warfare
I was a combat soldier in the Vietnam conflict. The first thing that comes to my mind watching this film was the equipment used by modern soldiers. In Vietnam we had the clothes on our back, just underwear and shirt, pants, boots, and our weapon. Some soldiers wore "flack vests" but where I served with a small unit in the jungles of the south, I never saw that. It was just your weapon and the clothes on your back. As to the story, it raises from the very beginning all sorts of moral questions. The film opens with actual footage of the over the top training and stress imposed on elite fighting units such as the Navy Seals. We see signs right from the beginning of the film that such severe and brutal training regimens set up a trauma and stress situation inside the emotions and lives of soldiers. There is a critical point in the film where the choice to kill "innocent" people or not to kill them changes everything that happens later. A lot of people will argue about what the choice should have been, and how it might have changed the soldiers chances of survival. That moment is a key to understanding what comes after in the film.
Field Command Incompetence. Another issue defined, if not focused upon directly, is how often the field command, Colonels and up, what are called "field" officers, seem to be incompetent, arrogant and often ineffective. Recent published studies of the history of military service of American Generals, for example, show us that the field commanders of armies on the ground is often a tragic disaster.
Emotions. Like many who watched this film, I found the long combat sequence very riveting and yet repulsive, in that they are hard to watch. There are several sequences that caused me to have a strong emotional reaction and I had a lot of tears on my face by the time it was over. There is a point in the film where we see a photo of the soldier who survived (Whalberg's character) with the Afghanistan man who gave him "hospitality" and saved his life at a great cost to his village. It is very well acted by an very talented Middle eastern actor. It is very easy in this film to become angry about the bad people that are represented by the Taliban fighters. It is easy, honestly, to just become very angry about all Muslims everywhere in a film like this. Suddenly, right in the middle of this intensity of revulsion towards "terrorists" there is an incredible emergence of human dignity, beauty, that lifts the film upwards, that changes the whole narrative of the film from soldiers captured inside a desperate fight to stay alive, toward the greatest attributes of human society; that of respect and refuge, of personal honor and dignity even in the face of the most terrible events.
The film was executive produced by Whalberg, who also stars as the "Lone Survivor", and you can see in his performance and from the credits that roll at the end of the film, that he was very invested in this story. While it is a sort of "classic" Hollywood soldier story, the film has many surprises. It is incredibly effective at showing us, using dramatic events, the stress and trauma a modern soldier fighting the "war on terror" endures over a short period of time in their lives, one that leads to suicides and many other problems for our returning veterans; not to mention the villages and lives changed forever in Afghanistan and the other locations where this kind of warfare continues to this day. I think this film does a much better job at showing this dangerous stress than most other films; but this also makes the film hard to watch. This is a very mature film, very violent. The violence is showed inside of an honest context, but viewers should be prepared for a highly emotional and violent film experience.
The Blacklist (2013)
The "husband" has got to go. Sterling otherwise.
The husband of the female agent:fail. He is a terrible actor, I have started skipping ahead any scene he is in. I have seldom been more repelled by an actor. he absolutely has to go. Otherwise this is, while a little over the top, an outstanding series. Spader is great. The plot of the show, involving both corrupt and sterling government agents, makes one wish we actually had people of this intelligence and creativity somewhere in the government services. There are lots of really delicious mysteries in the background; the relationship between the principle characters is never what it seems to be, including the deadpan and deadbeat husband. Fictions always give us a chance to winder what life would be like if we actually had government officials who knew what they were doing. The show could be seen as a sarcastic commentary of law enforcement even while being an unpredictable adventure is the vein of a psychological thriller. The writing is first rate and the appearance of the villain/hero/who is this guy in the Spader performance is sterling.