Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Streetcar Named Desire (1984)
I didn't go into this expecting much, thinking Brando and Leigh could not be surpassed. In other remakes I can't shake the feeling that the lead emulate Leigh too much. Here Ann Margret truly imbued Blanche Dubois with a different, less hystrionic personality, you feel like you are finally seeing the character through a different lens. Treat Williams also gives Brando a real run for his money. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
The Wonder Years (1988)
Not fun to binge watch
Like many shows the first few seasons were better than the last two or three. There's only so much teenage angst I can take and some of it was pretty contrived. The writing on this show was too uneven, though I highly recommend the episodes on the piano lesson, the choir practice, and the math teacher, possibly some of the best writing in TV history. By the last season I wanted to throw tomatoes at the narrator. If I had to hear any more end-of-episode tripe like "just as in the spring the flowers bloom, boys everywhere are on the cusp of manhood" I was going to barf. From the other glowing reviews, looks like I may be in the minority here.
THE Native movie I've been looking for
The most engrossing, intelligent movie I've seen in several years, not to mention gorgeously filmed. I only hope I can catch it on the big screen. Nothing is romanticized. It's THE Native movie I've been looking for, an authentic portrayal of how life must have been before the arrival of Europeans, not just the living conditions, but the world view and social relations as well. The love story is also one of the most beautiful yet believable I have ever seen on screen.
My review does NOT contain spoilers
Wow. If it's not too late, try to go into this one completely blind - no trailers, synopses or reviews. I have never been so drawn in by the hero's tragic flaw than in this movie, and that flaw is casually dropped all over the web. The moment of realization was gut-wrenching. Watched this as part of an Eric Schweig binge and so far it may be his finest performance from the four or five films I've seen. (Graham Greene sort of goes without saying.)
Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)
And so it ends, on such a low note. Horrible, crying shame. Left me hitting up my thesaurus for fresh ways to express my disappointment (dismay, sorrow, ire) at this ludicrous (risible, nonsensical) tosh. I don't go for super-villain type shows or movies at the best of times, so to see the Sherlock series sacrificed on this particular altar was painful.
This is where writers become victims of their own ideas of how things should go. They had a winning formula, why not run with it? It's like there are Commandments of modern scriptwriting that must be slavishly adhered to in the name of "story arc". Thou shalt develop a rift between your lead characters. (Uh, no, I and millions of others *enjoyed* the season 1 and 2 dynamic between Sherlock and Watson. Why did you change it?) Thou shalt find the bizarrest possible ways to incorporate women into the plot. Thou shalt represent authority figures, like Mycroft, as imbeciles incapable of even, let's just say, choosing a good Christmas present for a psychotic criminal in the world's highest-security prison.
I'm not expecting more episodes. The Final Problem does have a definite finality about it, particularly the speech at the end, of an eye-rolling cheesiness sure to leave even the most strong- stomached Parisians pinching their noses.
The Politician's Husband (2013)
Everyone is ready for their close-up
You can tell how evil or - can't really say "good", let's settle for "less evil" - a person is by the length and intensity of their glares.
It's as if John Barrymore and Gloria Swanson were brought in as acting coaches.
Worsened by head-scratching plot developments such as throwing out a diaphragm but leaving its box in the medicine cabinet (huh?).
Oh, and these high-achieving politicians haven't mastered the basic use of a shredder, yet.
So if you can buy all that, maybe you'll like the show. I didn't and was lol-ing my way through the end.
Sherlock: The Six Thatchers (2017)
The show originally started with fantastic new takes on canonical stories. But don't expect The Six Napoleons here. Now it's more Dr Who than Conan Doyle. I'm half expecting the lady psychiatrist to end up being Moriarty. The writers substitute far-fetched coincidences for genuinely clever plot twists. Disbelief must be suspended on several levels. Incriminating USB keys? Make it a microchip and I would have thought I was watching an eighties spy story. Very tired not to mention implausible (heard of this little thing called the cloud). To top it all off, the filming is bad. Really not digging the new style of digital editing (not just in this series) where it is so painfully obvious everyone filmed on different days, in isolation. Really ruins the chemistry between actors.
Endeavour: Pilot (2012)
The actor or director read the character card wrong - it's Morse, not Morose. But I suppose that's the easiest way to portray a deep-thinking intellectual these days. Forget dialogue, just give us long shots of brooding stares out of windows in the pouring rain with everyone's favourite suicide aria from Madame Butterfly playing on a scratchy old LP in the background. And of course allude to the requisite religious struggle. (Cliché after cliché.) Any more long-faced and this Morse would turn into a bloodhound.
Not saved by the laughably convoluted plot which involves trysts convened by crossword puzzle clues.
The Big Bang Theory (2007)
Seasons 1-5 are a 9/10. After that a rapid spiral downhill
I thoroughly enjoyed seasons 1 to 5 with some of the most intellectually-stimulating and subtle humour since Seinfeld. Like physicist Sheldon "embracing the chaos" or using classical conditioning techniques on his roommate's girlfriend. But you did need a modicum of (popular) science knowledge to get the jokes, so apparently by season 6 they rolled out the usual array of mindless comedy writers to turn it into a yawn-worthy series of relationship clichés and rake in more viewers. When binge-watching it, you also notice disturbing patterns like the demeaning portrayals of both the men and women scientists, for different reasons. Grew up around researchers and no, they were not men-children who spent their time at the comic book store. Actually at my Dad's university they were pretty much all stable family types with successful careers, and there were a few loners, too. Like pretty much any group of humans. Lest people think this review is unfair, I have seen all seasons, hoping for a return to the cleverness of seasons 1-5 but alas it shall not be. This is one series that unfortunately will not go out with a Big Bang, but with a fizzle.
Executive Suite (1954)
Bad corporation, bad
Amazing to see these stories of how in the good ol' days, you could start out on the shop floor and work your way up to president of the corporation, MBA optional. In this movie we see just that, as a floor manager, despite misgivings, ends up vying with the chief financial officer for the presidency of a corporation.
I enjoyed the drama section of the movie, peering into the wheelings and dealings of the members of a board. The plot is satisfyingly convoluted as the skeletons come out of the closet one by one, and everybody gets the upper hand on each other.
However at the risk of a spoiler (I'm ticking that box), Holden's acclaimed pride-over-profit speech near the end fell somewhat flat for me. It is rousing enough, and I was fist-pumping in spite of myself. I guess even back then, as now, there was that irresistible pipe dream of big corporations offering quality over quantity, paying a decent living wage, and staying domestic all at the same time. The economics simply do not add up. That's what buying local is for, and yes, that comes at a premium. If there were a sequel to this movie ten or twenty years down the road, unfortunately the company would probably be bankrupt à la Rolls Royce circa 1971. Then I imagine a Citizen Kane moment with Holden's character sadly crumpling his tattered Declaration of Principles.
Apartment for Peggy (1948)
Neither pure philosopher nor pure pragmatist be
What a beautiful, little-known piece this is. It deserves several viewings to appreciate all the nuances. Pay close attention to all that fast dialogue at the beginning, because the light banter turns to deep philosophical musing soon enough.
What is there left to live for if you are far into retirement and your most beloved family members have predeceased you? How important are friendships in this case, inter-generational or otherwise? Is education a pointless luxury if you're down-and-out, expectant parents struggling even to get a roof over your heads?
One key scene, for me, was the one in which the adopted Grandpa and Dad-to-be struggle to assemble some IKEA-type baby furniture together. Here we have the older generation, that had known pre-mass consumerism, when you sent off to the local craftsman for bespoke pieces. The prefab furniture here seems to symbolize the ever-widening cracks in the small, tight-knit communities that once existed. The younger generation is just as confused as the elder, trying to follow the cookie-cutter guide and match dowel RB to hole LT with screw B1. It's a touching tableau depicting young and old struggling to help each other make sense of a confusing, new reality.
"In the next life let us be birds"
I'll settle on a "so bad it's good" rating of five stars. Zero as a romantic tear-jerker, but ten for the polar opposite: this film afforded the heartiest belly laughs I've had in a while.
Tellingly, indulgent reviews seem to use the word "aspirations" a lot, as in "this film had aspirations of exploring inter-racial relationships".
So just dismiss the overblown affectations and have fun roasting the contraction-free English, stilted romance (the leads hated each other and it shows), clunky foreshadowing, and cornball (rice ball?) dialogue. Best enjoyed in the company of a similarly lampoon-minded friend.
Rife with riff fodder
Where is MST3K when you need it? "Picnic" had me resurrecting this late 80s fad: Conflicted belle shirks marrying for money for a deeper passion - NOT! Irrestible 20-something drops out of college and out of his boxcar into the roiling undercurrents of a... picnic - NOT! Gracefully aging spinster displays resilience and inner strength grappling with the gender roles of her day - TRIPLE NOT!
Holden's bluster and swagger had me wanting a film noir ending of some sort. He looks ruggedly hot as usual, but nowhere near the age he's supposed to be. Bogie could have been cast to similar effect.
Novak expressionlessly drones about being tired of being looked at, only to throw over the local nice guy for a booty call with a sexy dancer she has known for all of six hours - the sort of charmer with lines like "you asked for it".
She's egged on in her non-mutual romance by her social-climbing mother, who in countering Novak's objection that she is only nineteen, displays a knack for non-linear mathematics: "Next year you'll be 20, then 21, and then...40!"
The movie never succeeds in making us care for the main characters. There is an attempt at exploring Holden's inner conflict, but in the balance of things, he's more creepy than compelling, while Novak wins the Oscar for "Best Blank Expression" in most scenes. But Russell's "spinster school marm" performance is the nadir of the whole affair. Acting with all the poise of a tipsy Old West bar maid, she literally rips Holden's shirt off in public then (also literally) throws herself at a long-time boyfriend the next morning. And when, implausibly, he goes through with the ceremony, she sticks her tongue out at the school on the way by.
The only likable character is the ditched boyfriend. What is so repellent to Novak's character? He's cute, nice, rich and until the picnic, has even settled for kissing when they park. More to the point, he is going out with her against his father's wishes and stands up to the old man about it.
At least I came away with some ideas for my next picnic, like the octogenarian balloon blowing contest. I'll have to watch that scene again, it was an emotional high point.