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42yo man's excuse for screwing a 17yo
I loved this film in my teens and twenties. Then I got to be married, have kids, deal with the real ups & downs of making a long term relationship work, and then I realised the only decent character in this film is 17yo Tracy who is completely dominated by her creepily older partner who stops her from having a proper life of her own. The message being- it's important for Isaac to have his romantic whims, even at the cost of any sort of stable home life.
Really- there is nothing to admire about this film but the shots of NY and the music. The rest is pure self indulgence on Allen's part.
Frasier: The Two Mrs. Cranes (1996)
I get it- Americans don't care about non-American accents: it's an American show for American people. But given that so many of their top sitcoms get syndicated and shown around the world, do they not have enough professional pride in their work to make sure that they get the details right? Millions watch Frasier in the UK, NZ, Australia and various other countries and they can spot an awful English accent- and Clive's is so awful it's like nails down a chalk board. It's so bad that every time he spoke I couldn't concentrate on the rest of what was going on and it stopped me from enjoying the rest of what should have been a great episode.
Surely by the 4th series the show had enough money and clout to be able to get an actor who was either English or could do a decent English accent? I know Americans can't hear it, but surely Jane Leeves or John Mahoney told someone?
Don't Americans also experience excruciating embarrassment when someone does an appalling American accent? It's actually worse than Dick Van Dykes- at least his didn't go from London to Australia via vague parts of northern England. It makes the current crop of accent-savvy British & Australian actors stealing roles from American actors seem much more acceptable. Revenge!!
Biggest twist of the series
Given that the point of the series was to give the viewer a surprise ending, this episode definitely fulfilled the brief. I always try to guess the twist in any given episode, and more often than not I'm right, and when I'm wrong, I'm usually close- but with this one, I genuinely didn't see it coming and found it both pretty heart-breaking and a neat exploration of the nature of memory, the stories we tell ourselves, romanticism and how some of us change.
There is some foreshadowing of the way in which people can put a romantic gloss on an encounter (or just plain misread it) when we hear the irritating Marjorie telling onlookers what a wonderful time she'd been having with the American; a few scenes later and we discover that Doris is now a miserable cynic: or maybe she was a miserable cynic back in 1942 as well, but Gerry Armstrong was just too romantic or deluded to see it, as was Marjorie. Indeed, does Gerry tell people his wife is a wonderfully kind and romantic soul in the same way that Marjorie seems to embellish her tales about unwanted admirers?
There again, as others have said, maybe the writer was simply saying that the romantic dreams of wartime romances often fade and turn sour over time, thereby turning viewer expectations on their head and giving them a very downbeat ending after watching a seemingly very romantic tale.
All in all, a very thought-provoking end to the tale, and far better than all my initial mad predictions about Carol being his granddaughter or a ghost. Which is why I am not a writer!
Duck Patrol (1998)
A gentle chuckle with some pleasant views
It's maybe not surprising this only lasted one series, but it still has things going for it. Richard Wilson more or less reprises his Victor Meldrew and steals every scene he's in with his immaculate comic timing and trademark delivery. The scenery is gorgeous, set on a stretch of the Thames between Sunbury Lock and Hampton Sailing Club, although the name Ravensbeck and the number of northern accents seems to hint it's trying to set itself somewhere less London-centric - in a mythical middle England where the sun always shines, the only traffic is of the boating variety, and the only commerce is to be found in quaint little pubs that aren't mobbed as soon as the weather's fine.
Sue Johnston's character brings a certain Darling Buds of May warmth to the roster of characters, and the brusque but non-HR way in which Samantha Beckinsale's character deals with the casual and specific sexism on the job is rather different from the way it would be handled now.
David Tennant is pretty wasted in the sort of "Ballykissangel hapless male hero in unrequited love with the feisty young colleague" role, and doesn't really get to show the flair he shows in so much other fare, but it's still interesting watching him and Jason Watkins try their best with a fairly thin script.
It's nice not to have a laughter track, but the producers have over- compensated for this with heavy-handed jaunty incidental music, as if they couldn't quite handle the silence. And although having gentle stories where not much happens was never a problem for Last of the Summer Wine, here it's hampered by the stories often having very weak endings. And the Sarge character played by Geoffrey Hutchings was a mistake. He's a Col. Henry Blake type character- nominally in charge but actually always off fishing. But he's far too much of a fool to be tolerated, either by his colleagues or the viewer; no matter how much of a backwater this place is supposed to be (and no pun intended)- such an incompetent would never have lasted such a length of time in this day & age.
But such gripes aside, I enjoyed stumbling across it on Youtube- and watching the likes of Josie Lawrence and Celia Imrie doing their cameos. It was pretty star-studded for only 7 episodes.
Shaun the Sheep (2007)
Wasted on kids!
I came across Shaun The Sheep by accident, putting it on for the kids after finding it on Amazon Prime. At first it was just on in the background for me, and then bit by bit I found myself watching each episode more and more carefully, guffawing with laughter at humour that went right over the kids' heads. In fact there's so much to see in each 7 minute episode that I'm actually glad they're not longer, since I'd get detail overload and they'd become the thief of time.
I agree with the other crit that said they preferred these to Wallace & Gromit- there's an even greater economy and precision in the story- telling of each little episode to that which you see in the half hour features.
They remind me so much of the Buster Keaton silent comedies as well- pure physical comedy and visual wit. And having no dialogue makes you watch them even closer; take your eye off the screen for even 10 seconds and you miss vital plot development! And the recurring joke that Bitzer the human-like dog reverts to being 100% dog as soon as someone throws a stick for him never fails to make me laugh.
I cannot recommend the series highly enough. Sheer artistry.
Love Soup (2005)
A younger, more romantic, One Foot In The Grave
I had looked forward to this based on loving both One Foot In The Grave and Tamsin Greig in Black Books, and I wasn't disappointed. The two main characters are, in many ways, younger, softer versions of Victor Meldrew and they suffer all the petty indignities that modern life can throw at us such as, and this had me laughing from the opening minutes until a good five minutes into the first episode, plastic ring-pulls on milk cartons which don't work. Cut to the next shot of Alice with a bandaged finger and you have the style of the programme right there- don't show the moment of agony, just let the audience work it out. The main actors are great but what I really enjoyed was how good the incidental characters were; the nurse with her low-key words of wisdom on finding a mate and marrying them was beautifully understated, and the estate-agent's comment that the living-room "is...15'3" because there are no other distinguishing features is just so subtle and so perfect: just like the rest of the show.