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The Trip to Italy (2014)
Hard to believe that two people driving around Italy and eating great food would be so irritating. There is more half-assed impersonations of Al Pacino and Robert DiNero than comment on the food, the scenery, or five star lodgings. Mute the sound, fast forward as needed, and you can knock this one off in less than ten minutes. You'll be glad you did.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017)
Much to Like, But Finding Fault with Minor Details
Watch this, it is a load of fun. Having said that, I do wonder about a few details. - The story line is very Jewish, reminiscent of Phillip Roth. So why is the lead character played by a shicksa goddess? Okay, she's terrific. And does a great job, but after trying so hard on so many other details, why? - There are several scenes that seem inserted just to prove the director could spend a big budget. E.G. the exterior of the garment district, the women's exercise class, the professional dancers at the wedding. Fun, but definitely not necessary for plot development. More to show "period" details and the director's ability to handle the big scene? - In Ep. 2 (or 3) we learn that Joel's father bought their apartment and once they've split, he intends to rent it out. Midge's father goes to Moishe and says he'll pay for half the apartment, so Midge and children can continue to live there. So why in Ep 4 and following are they living downstairs with her parents? -Joel scores four tickets to the "Music Man" and a colleague from work eagerly agrees to join him and Penny at the theatre, only to cancel at the last minute, so we see them sitting in an otherwise packed theatre with two empty seats. Couldn't Joel's parents have come with him? - Then there is the finale set at the Gaslight, where Midge performs, after the owner has banned her and threatened the manager, Suzy, by saying she should never appear there again. So of course that's where the finale occurs. (Okay, Midge performs under a different name, but are we supposed to think that wouldn't matter?) - Have New York Yellow cabs ever been that clean and shiny?
Okay, I'm picky and none of these should prevent you from viewing and enjoying the series. But since the production crew obviously went to such great length recreating so many aspects of the late 50s in New York, why did they fail at minor details?
Surviving Family (2012)
Odd, Female Centric Film
About halfway through this film, as we were continuing to unravel the mysteries of Tara, her family, and her past, it occurred to me that the script had to have been written by a woman. Nothing wrong with that, but the men seemed to pop in for a few minutes and then disappear. The father, literally. The brother, most of the time, except for his reappearance at the wedding. An old boyfriend at the bar, her sister's first husband "for about six weeks."
Not sure why Aunt Mary's role had her heading to Atlantic City with the senior citizens, rather than making the wedding, but her disappearance seemed odd as well.
Okay, I get it. Families are hard, esp. when mom is bipolar. Oh, and now the niece is too. Will this same malady be visited on the newborn?
Then there were the actors: easy on the eyes but somehow missing the touch of reality that comes from better acting. The sister in particular looked like her face was pinched. The Say Yes to the Dress scene added very little to the film, and the wedding cake bit didn't provide much either.
The entire film felt like someone had a bipolar member in the family, it hit hard, led to years of therapy, and was turned into a film.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Indiana Holmes and the Masonic House of Lords
Rarely have I hated a film as much as I did this rendition of Sherlock Holmes. Blame the script, and to some extent, the director for willingly filming this mess. They have completely misinterpreted one of the greatest characters ever, presenting Holmes as an Action Figure. What is it about Hollywood that thinks we want to see vast conspiracy cults, intent upon taking over the city, the world, the universe? Why do they continue to turn already entertaining stories into total mishmashes of roller coaster, smash-boom-bah adventures? Whether "Dragnet," or "Temple of Doom," or "National Treasure," it seems that the Suits in Hollywood want every film to imitate the original Indiana Jones with a measure of Da Vinci Code on the side.
Granted, I have been a major Holmes fan ever since seeing the Basil Rathbone version of "Hound of the Baskervilles" long ago and then reading "Red Headed League" in grade school. Since then, I've read the entire collection and enjoyed more Rathbone and the wonderful Jeremy Brett interpretations on PBS, as well as some other more forgettable "consulting detectives." What they all have in common-- what makes Holmes such a memorable character-- is their reliance of the cerebral to solve the crime; not the physical.
Ritchie gives us a few inklings into Holmes deductive reasoning, to show us that the little details can contribute to an overall portrait of who, what, when, etc. But he also more frequently has Holmes punching villains, brawling in the betting ring, dodging a massive ship's hull as it lumbers towards him in dry dock, leaping head first out an upper window of the House of Parliament into the Thames, and concluding with a literal cliff hanger atop the then under construction London Bridge. By coincidence, today my cable was also showing a recent James Bond film, and that film offered fewer explosions and violent encounters per minute than SH.
I love Robert Downey and Rachel McAdams is a fetching actress-- but both are wasted in this film. I am reminded of a comment made long ago about the filming of "Gone With the Wind" which more or less said, "The audience will forgive you for what you leave out, but they will have a hard time with what you put in." I'm sorry, but everything that was put into this mess was a travesty to everything that Sherlock Holmes has been for all these years. What were they thinking?
Cerebral Holmes=good; Action Holmes=BMW ad. Ugh.
Tui shou (1991)
Before there was Broke Back Mtn or Crouching Tiger, Ang Lee had a few things to learn
I have to disagree with many of those who gave this film anything above a 5. Granted it was directed by Ang Lee in 1992, or long before The Hulk or Broke Back Mountain. But still, it looks too much like an earnest but not-too-skillful novice effort.
The story does center around the old man newly arrived to Westchester after more than 70 years in China, taken in by his loving son and his almost stereotypical Anglo housewife (Martha), complete with her curly hair, her vegetarianism, her obsessive concern about her weight, her poor parenting skills, her disinterest in sex, her... Lots of clichés on the feminine side, although to his credit, Lee does well with his main character-- except for making him a mysterious Kung Fu master (in this case Tai Chi).
The opening scene seems interminable, as we watch Martha struggle at her (now seemingly primitive) computer, while Grand Father slowly does his Tai Chi exercises in an adjacent room. He knows no English, she knows no Chinese, so there is no dialog. We wonder, what's happening, where is this film going? Finally, slowly, the story unfolds, and we learn details about their respective lives.
But this film may also set some sort of record for Most Visible Boom Mic. I swear it makes more on screen appearances than the couple's son (which is fortunate, because this kid is one of the worst child actors in memory).
Yes, this is a story of generations, cultures, ambitions, etc.-- but there are many, better examples. Some scenes show promise, but as a whole, this film does not warrant more than a 5.