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Le fate ignoranti (2022)
"Addictive"? Don't be misled by the phony 10-star reviews
This is a moderately entertaining soap opera that drifts pointlessly over eight episodes and follows too many characters. There's nothing creative or original about the story, but it's pretty to watch. What really irritates me is the obviously phony reviews that exaggerate the ratings. By my count, a third of the reviews rate this a 10 and every review uses the same string of superlatives. In particular, they all say it's "addictive" which is laughable for this monotonous melodrama.
Beware the fake reviews, and watch this series if you have nothing better to do with your time.
Don't blame the actors
Many reviewers criticize the acting in this episode, as if the actors have control over the script or production. Truth is, the actors here are drawn from the usual pool of talented character actors as throughout the Perry Mason series. Sadly, at this point in the series, the producers were attempting to keep the show going as cheaply as possible. They were also tossing in gimmicks to goose ratings (such as a color episode, Raymond Burr playing a double role, younger cast members). This episode attempts a screwball comic approach with mixed results. It can be jarring to watch Perry Mason episodes out of sequence, because the early episodes are so much richer and cinematic than during the later seasons. But the later episodes have their own merits, and I found this one a fun watch.
The White Lotus (2021)
Check in. Ruin lives. Go home.
Mike White has an outstanding track record for writing sharp-edged comedies that are quirky and uncomfortable. I love "Chuck & Buck" and "Beatriz at Dinner." But this series is a six-episode disappointment. The pampered guests are clueless and mean-spirited in non-comic ways. Their treatment of the well-meaning resort staff members is just plan cruel. Normally charismatic actors like Steve Zahn and Jake Lacey are stuck playing annoying characters with no redeeming qualities. Even the indefatigable Jennifer Coolidge falls flat without a chance to work her usual quirky charms. I think this series is trying for social commentary, but misses the mark. The lower-class hotel employees suffer the consequences while the upper-class guests head for home unaware and unimproved. It's not funny, it's not insightful.
Perry's hottest episode
It's summer in Logan City and there's no air conditioning. Everyone is sweating and wiping and fanning themselves. Perry mops his brow with a handkerchief. Della has an old-fashioned electric fan in her hotel room. In one scene, PI Briggs stands in front of a fan holding out his shirt to cool off and then spends the rest of the scene wiping his hands. The courtroom spectators fan themselves. I'm envious of the duck who at least gets a refreshing swim. It's a reminder that the good ol' summer days were hot ones, and how life has changed with AC.
Goes off the rails quickly
I laughed a lot during the first episode. It's a witty and audacious comedy with actors willing to commit to the outrageous premise. But the joke tires quickly, and by the time we reach the two episodes of the second season, it is downright embarrassing. One of the problems is that the show's writer, Julia Davis, promoted herself from supporting to lead during the run of the show and she and/or her character grow tiresome. I'll rate this a 5, as an average score based on the hilarious early episodes and awful final ones.
With a title "Panic" and a plot that sounds ripped from The Hunger Games, you might watch this series expecting suspense or scares or action. But nope, it's episode after episode of generic teen angst. No action, no fun. The mystery, if you can call it that, is pointless. The actors (in particular, Mike Faist) are better than the material. But the story is a dopey waste of time.
Atlantic Crossing (2020)
Well, I've watched all eight episodes. I'm not concerned about possible historical inaccuracies. It's a docudrama after all, and it's refreshing to have a "Masterpiece" from somewhere besides Britain. But the series is really quite terrible. The script often comes across as a grade school historical pageant, with actors orating bombastic lines. There is rarely any sense of real people with real emotions having actual conversations. It's as if the Norwegians decided to outdo Masterpiece Theatre by throwing in every cliche of the genre. The result is a parody that had me rolling my eyes and laughing out loud.
Worst cleaning lady ever?
This is an excellent episode, except for one scene that is so preposterous that I re-watched it several times. We had previously seen Allen Sheridan's murdered body on the deck of his beach house, so it's a surprise when it is missing when the cleaning lady arrives the next day. She notices a high heel stuck in the slats of the deck (don't ask me how the murderer managed to dispose of the body and clean the blood, yet leave behind a high heeled shoe) and she goes to investigate under the deck where she sees blood dripping underneath from a now non-existent corpse. She does the first thing any logical person would do: stick her fingers in it. But here's the kicker: she climbs up on a chair to inspect the blood dripping through the deck, and when she steps down from the chair, lo and behold, there is a puddle of blood at least a foot wide right at the foot of the chair. The only way she could have climbed unto the chair would have been to step in or around the pool of blood. I'd like to think a cleaning lady might notice a thing like that.
The Mauritanian (2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch as a Texan?
This film is so generic, like any of hundreds of TV episodes, that the power of the important story withers away. The performances of Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim deserve more stars than the film itself. Rahim, in particular, brings surprising humor and humanity to the role of the brutalized prisoner. But who knew Benedict Cumberbatch was capable of giving a bad performance? The only thing worse in this movie than his Texas accent is his haircut. Overall, a missed opportunity.
I Saw the Light (2015)
Hank Williams, the karaoke version
Hank Williams is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century. So it's baffling that this film replaced his distinctive voice and talent with a karaoke version by Tom Hiddleston. Don't get me wrong, Hiddleston is a talented actor who brings a great deal of charisma to this role. His hard work in preparing for the role is evident. But he's no Hank Williams...no one is. The decision to leave Hank William's voice out of the film contributes to the bland, paint-by-numbers feel of this biopic. There are so many missed opportunities to make the film special. For instance, the country music fans are always photographed at a distance which misses the opportunity to show the passion and hard knocks on their faces. You never feel like you're observing fully lived-in lives; just actors in a set. That's the director and writers' fault in this missed opportunity.
Tribes of Europa (2021)
It's understandable that German filmmakers would want to cash in on the apocalyptic film genre craze. This film is a mash up (or perhaps, rip off) of Mad Max and The Hunger Games, with a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark. At one point, the tribes are actually searching for an ark. But this series lacks any originality or style. I watched all six episodes, and here's my take-away:
This takes place in the near future following a never-explained catastrophe in 2029 that crashed all technology and civilization. Governments collapsed leaving the world run by feudal tribes. All people have been renamed with tribal sounding names like Kiano and Tusk. Even though these characters would've been alive during the earlier times, their collective memories seem to have been wiped clear of any knowledge of history or common sense. Some characters ride in limos while others are on horseback. Some wear designer fashions while others are in animal skins. It's all very random and nonsensical. I watched this in the dubbed English version, which only accentuates the childish writing. The character of Moses is supposed to be a rakish anti-hero like Han Solo, but the actor is so lacking in charisma that it creates a void whenever he is supposed to carry the story. Watching his performance increased my appreciation of the talents of Harrison Ford.
I Care a Lot (2020)
Waste of talent
I've worked over 30 years as an attorney specializing in elder care, and I've witnessed tragic exploitation of elders by family members and caregivers. But the idea that a complete stranger could fraudulently waltz in and involuntarily commit a competent senior citizen and personally pocket their assets is complete fantasy. If a corrupt judge was in cahoots, it would take a fast second for them to be reported by an attorney or social worker. So, the premise is nonsense. But this movie is a hot mess for many reasons. The actors are skilled, but the elder fraud story gives way to a bizarre Russian mafia plot that is laughable. And who are we supposed to root for among these despicable crooks and con women? Very disappointing.
In the Dark (2019)
I binged through the first season on Netflix with those awkward TV breaks for non-existent commercials. It's a good watch while I'm using the treadmill because the plot is thin and the characters predictable. The crimes and bad guys are about as scary as Scooby-Doo. Murphy's best friend goes missing in the first episode, and that's all you need to know because nothing else much happens the rest of the season as she searches for him. Murphy is acerbic and unkind to everyone in her orbit, including her boss and her roommate and her boyfriend and her family. Why these long-suffering people put up with her is the biggest mystery of the show. There's a brief moment in Episode 11 where roommate Jess confronts Murphy about her general unpleasantness and probable alcoholism. But it's brushed off and on she goes. Oh and by the way, she's blind. That doesn't add much to the plot except to show that blind people can be as flawed as the next person. At one point, Murphy escapes from a killer by rowing a boat by herself across a lake, then walking through snowy woods where she is rescued (I'm not joking) by a school bus of nuns. It's that kind of show. To me, the standout in the cast is Morgan Krantz who plays Felix and resembles Jason Schwartzman. He's lovably dorky and you root for him. That's unlike Murphy, who never grows, never reflects on the damage she inflicts on those who care about her. Much like Murphy's friends, I have a love/hate relationship with her and this show.
I Married Joan (1952)
No restraining order from Desilu?
I've sampled a half dozen episodes on Prime, and I can't help but wonder how this show avoided a plagiarism lawsuit from Desilu. Every element (including the title) is a direct rip-off of I Love Lucy. Joan wants to break into show business. Joan wears a tutu at ballet class. Joan has twin beds and a long-suffering husband. But Joan is no Lucy. She mugs and she cries and she mugs some more, but Joan Davis lacks the comedic genius of Lucille Ball. While I Love Lucy is classic television, I Married Joan is painfully dated. The sets, the writing, the acting are no match for Lucy. In later years, Jim Backus was candid about how difficult it was to work with Joan Davis and how poorly she prepared. I think that is evident from viewing the show. There is no chemistry between the actors, and Davis seems to think making a funny face is the answer to every scene. There's only one Lucy, and this show proves it.
Worst narration ever?
This documentary is like browsing through the scrapbook of a faded, minor celebrity. Mildly interesting, but mostly desperate and pointless. There are no sparkling anecdotes or revealing insights. There are lengthy compilations of noteworthy stars with whom Mary Small appeared, but no photos of them actually with Mary. Don't expect to see much evidence of the "big voice" that is her claim to fame. The voice-over tells us that much of this has been lost. And regarding that "voice over." The narration seems to be a synthesized voice generator. Grating, emotionless, weird. This "loving tribute" is equally flat.
The Queen (1968)
Don't judge this by today's standards where RuPaul wins Emmys and Pete Buttigieg is in the Cabinet. I am the same age as the guys in this film and was coming out as a gay man during the 1960's. Stonewall hadn't happened and there were ZERO gay role models. We can roll our eyes as these performers strut their not-so-spectacular stuff, and we're aware (as they are not) that AIDS will ravage. But give them their moment. They're bold and funny and, most of all, brave. At the time, they could be arrested for gay behavior, let alone ostracized and fired. It all kinds of glorious... for a night.
Big Sky (2020)
Other than the "big surprise," it's bleh, blah, meh
We're starved for new network series during the pandemic, but this one is just a waste of time. Once we pass the "big surprise" in the first episode, the rest of the season is just the same thing over and over. Nothing fresh, nothing interesting. The plot never advances. Why does this need a second season? Perhaps this might have been allowed more edge if it weren't airing on network TV. But what we have is the blandest murder/mass kidnapping story ever told.
What's the point of the opening storyline?
Either I missed it (and I might in fact have daydreamed during this overlong film), but how did the opening sequence involving the sister connect with the main story of the summer fest in Sweden? The opening scenes were compelling, but I don't see how they connect with the remainder of the film. I'd appreciate your thoughtful insight.
Ted Lasso (2020)
Ted Lasso's accent?
Charming show, but I can't figure out what American accent Jason Sudeikis is using as Ted. It's sort of mid-Midwestern somewhere between Texas and West Virginia, but unlike anything in the real world. I'm guessing it's something Sudeikis invented for the character. Any ideas?
I know Ted was in previously in Wichita, but I lived in Kansas and I guarantee Kansans do not sound like that.
Sweet Magnolias (2020)
Escape to Serenity
What's not to love about a beautiful town with beautiful people where love and friendship are always around the corner? I was hooked and enjoyed my binge with the good folks of Serenity, South Carolina (although it's filmed in Georgia). Oh sure, the plot is too thin for 10 episodes and we meander through many unresolved, overwrought situations. But there's always another handsome man to sweep our heroines from one broken heart to another. You don't watch a show like this for logic. Suspend your disbelief as the three friends open a spa in a decaying mansion house, in spite of having full-time careers and family commitments and never once mentioning financing. Chris Klein might want to fire his dialect coach. And can we talk about Trotter? There's a fleeting moment where he kisses his boyfriend, who is never seen or mentioned again. Trotter exists as the stereotypical gay gal pal with no personal life of his own. Literally. He apparently works 24/7 at the spa while the owners are off dealing with their numerous crises. The first season ends on a disappointing cliffhanger without resolving the many frayed storylines that have inched along over 10 episodes. But everyone is so darn sweet, I'll be back to spend more comfort time with my friends in Serenity.
Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! (2009)
Relic of its times
Worth watching simply to see how far public attitudes have (or in some cases, haven't) changed regarding gay marriage and adoption. It's not a very good movie, although its heart is in the right place. The performances are good-natured and you can predict the happy outcomes. Suspend disbelief as the family is shocked to discover Bruce Vilanch is gay. To me, the oddest thing is the casting of John Lloyd Young as the gay son. At the time, Young was hot off his Tony winning role in Jersey Boys. He doesn't sing in this movie and the relationship with his boyfriend is tepid at best with a few kisses on the cheek. Both actors seem far too old for their stereotypical coming out roles. If the title makes you laugh, then you'll enjoy the movie.
A Secret Love (2020)
The hero of this story
My partner and I have been together almost 40 years, so you would think I would closely identify with the gay couple. But I am also the son of elderly difficult parents, so my heart went out to the niece Diana in the story. Just like my parents, Pat and Terry are stubborn and unrealistic about their situation as they age with declining health. They don't appreciate the sacrifice of their niece traveling back-and-forth from Canada to Chicago. I cheered when Diana finally had her meltdown. My advice based on years of experience: don't wait until a crisis to make plans as you age. Be realistic about your needs for help and be grateful to those who provide it.
While there is some pleasure in Renee Zellweger's return to the screen and the stylish settings, it's hard not to feel insulted by the writing. I looked forward to seeing how the extraneous storylines about the brother and friends would cleverly tie together with the main plot involving Ms. Zellweger. But they're nothing more than filler to stretch the thin story into 10 episodes. As for the big twist ending? *SPOILER ALERT* If you show a major character in a situation that is impossible to survive, then you need to provide some explanation of how that character does in fact survive. Otherwise, it's just lazy writing.
Bangkok Love Story (2007)
How does the Thai title translate into English?
I am curious... what is the English translation of the Thai title? I am guessing that "Bangkok Love Story" is not a direct translation. (Thanks!)
Pheuan... Guu rak meung waa Thailand (Thai title) Puen Thailand (Thai title)
I always enjoy a film that takes me to places I will never personally experience (such as the slum rooftops of Bangkok)and this film does a good job of that. I found the film's melodrama eventually went over the top. But my partner was teared up at the ending, so "to each his own." The production qualities were much better than I expected, and the lead actors have a certain charisma.
The Office: Did I Stutter? (2008)
Stanley's speech to Michael
Oh man, is there any way to get a transcript of Stanley's speech putting-down Michael? Stanley nailed him upside and down. I would love to have that speech ready to go for my own boss...someday, sometime.
Plot-wise, I thought this was an important episode. As much as I love the show, it often passes the point where I find myself thinking, "Oh, come on. Michael would be SO fired in the real world for that" or "Those employees can't possibly have such low self-esteem to put up with it." This episode with Stanley helped make sense of that. Also, the actor who plays Stanley was simply brilliant in delivering those lines.