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Pearl (II) (2010)
Kind of thrown together, but watchable and family-friendly.
27 December 2010
"Pearl" covers the life of a young aviatrix with a Chickasaw mother and a blind, white father during ages 12-18 in the 1920s and 30s. The same actress plays Pearl throughout all these years, which doesn't quite work. This film focuses on the love of young Pearl for her family, especially her father, and her love of flying, and the conflicts that ensue.

This movie was sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation, and has that BBC film quality rather than a Hollywood feel. Many BBC films, however, are excellent, while this one was just . . . not. Apparently it was filmed in just a few weeks, and it really shows. The acting, while not terrible, was a bit forced rather than natural. The flying "special effects" are rather transparent as well.

While it had many flaws, it wasn't boring and did wring a few tears from me anyway. It is an interesting story, and something the whole family can enjoy. I would recommend watching if you have an interest in aviation or Native American film.
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Mad Men (2007–2015)
Start from the beginning - you wouldn't watch a foreign film without subtitles, would you?
3 September 2009
The brilliance is all in the subtext. There are many hilarious moments that are only funny if you've been paying attention and understand where the character is coming from. There are also many tragic moments that would pass you by if you didn't know what came before. Many lines have double or even triple meanings. Watch this from the beginning, with a friend. Believe me, you will want to discuss each episode afterward to figure out some of the nuances of what happened.

The main Mad Man is the confident womanizer Don Draper, who is head of the Creative department at a mid-sized ad agency in 1960s Madison Avenue. I admit, at first I kind of hated him, but as the viewer learns more about him and his past, I learned to - not love him exactly - but like him and want to watch him endlessly. He is a complicated character who can be a very good man, but also a very bad man.

Don Draper is joined by a rich cast of supporting characters, many of whom deserve a show of their own: The ambitious young Campbell who is utterly sleazy most of the time, but has occasional moments of growth and even cuteness.Peggy Olson starts out as Draper's secretary, but her growth into a strong, confident woman mirrors what is happening for Woman in the 60's. Silver fox Stirling - he may be morally bankrupt but gets some of the best lines. I could go on . . .

The 60's clothes, hairstyles, decor, and current events provide an interesting backdrop for what is essentially a character piece. The setting provides both the occasional laugh (cigarettes being advertised as "healthy") and the more than occasional cringe (how could dumping trash from a picnic in the park right on the grass ever seem okay?!).

If you need fast-paced action or a laugh track, this definitely isn't the show for you. But, if you like character development and subtlety in your television shows, rent the first seasons on DVD and settle in. You won't regret it.
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But it's actually funny!
3 October 2006
I was fully expecting this one to be the usual trite, mildly amusing romances that proliferated during this period. I would've been okay with that, except it wasn't - it was so much more. More original and way more than mildly amusing.

It dodged the first bullet of triteness when the love story was not between the millionaire and the girl, but between the girl and her (broke) boyfriend. Then, instead of the boy being affronted by the prospect of being supported by his wife's money (as in the hilarious movie clip shown at the beginning of this movie), he reacts in a perfectly sensible and realistic manner.

Beyond the freshness of the plot itself, it was genuinely funny, causing me to laugh uproariously several times. I don't want to ruin any of the gags; just keep in mind this is a satire of the usual rags-to-riches comedy, not dumb and dumber comedy. I found Always Together to be quite entertaining and fresh.
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Surprisingly funny
1 May 2006
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting much, I found it to be rather well composed and way funnier than pretty much any teen movie I've ever seen.

The movie begins with our hero, Dean, discovering his best friend has hanged himself. Dean then leaves the house without telling anyone. While this seems inconceivable to hear about, in the environment of the movie, it is a perfectly reasonable reaction. We learn that he and the whole town are too heavily medicated on happy pills to deal with loss.

There's quite an ensemble cast, but they aren't too hard to keep track of, because you've seen most of them before, and they all do excellent jobs here.

It reminded me a little of Donnie Darko, only it wasn't so far out there or so obscure. Definitely a dark comedy, but it ended up making me feel good - go figure.
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