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City on a Hill (2019)
Kevin Bacon is terrific!
This is a cop/legal thriller set in Boston and produced by two of Massachusetts' favorite sons, Ben Aflek and Matt Damon. It's a great story, well written and the cast is very strong. Kevin Bacon really brings his sleazy FBI agent character to life.
My only problem with the show is that in nearly every scene, the producers are shoving down your throat that the story takes place in Boston. I watched the entire 10 show first season and I heard 3 "R's" or "AHHS" They even throw in that now officially cliched line from "The Departed" when Mark Wahlberg's character comes at DiCaprio's in his job interview and questions his authenticity about "comin' round' hair and droppin' yar AHH's like ya from hair". I had to roll my eyes. In City On A Hill the line comes from some bad guy's wife insulting the absolutely stunning Sarah Shahi, who plays an investigating detective on the show.
In almost every scene at least one or maybe all of the actors wear some sort of Boston shirt. A shamrock here, a Celtic's Logo there, an Irish Priest, the obligatory Irish Pub Scene, Hell, we even get a cop funeral with bagpipes (Those are Scottish by the way) and on and on...
We get it Matt. The staahry takes place in Bahston.
So come for the Charlestown Bank Robbers and stay for the Bacon.
The Space Between Us (2017)
The film just does not stack up scientifically speaking.
To think that the first mission to colonize Mars would let a pregnant woman slip through the endlessly redundant medical tests prior to any space mission is simply preposterous. So at the very outset of the film, we will lose all the serious and scientifically literate sci-fi fans.
Gary Oldman is a fine actor but his character is over-played and the story is weak to say the least. He really didn't have much to work with.
Kids and casual sci-fi fans, have at it.
If you're looking for something serious in this genre, keep looking.
A dud. The film just does not stack up scientifically speaking.
Nothing tops it...
...in terms of building tension and telling us of the mindset of The Cold War era.
Henry Fonda demonstrates his great skill at showing humanity to itself. That is his power as an actor. His honesty shines through in every scene. Oh, and that voice. His delivery of every line draws us in. We care. The sorrow engendered in the opening dream sequence encapsulates the entire movie, a precursor of the tension and fatalism. This movie is High Art.
Decent, if you're not a science literate person.
Unlike 99% of Science Fiction on TV and Film, this is good. It's the standard trope sometimes called "Monster in the house".
In the fairly distant future, maybe a couple hundred years judging by the colony ship in deep space the show starts off on, some of the passengers held in suspended animation wake up to find the crew and most of the passengers gone.
An alien life form has attacked the ship and used some of the passengers as hosts.
The protagonists struggle to find the compromised shipmates while figuring out how the ship functions and attempting to reach the planet Thea, their new paradise in the stars. Interlaced is the back-story of the characters and the colony project. And well done, I might add.
The producers of, Lost and The Crown are the producers of this show.
No actors I recognize are in the cast, and they're admittedly average in skill but it's got all the production values you would expect in quality Sci-fi. I can work with that. Quality of production and writing can carry average actors.
In the world of Sci-Fi on TV, this so far has not risen to the high bar set by The Expanse, but here we have a watchable, enjoyable Space Adventure with a well-worn but always suspensful and capitavating story line when done well, "The Dreaded Monster In The House."
Alien, The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers are prime examples.
Science Fiction fans have something to appreciate here!
UPDATE: I had originally given this show a 7 rating after having watched 3 episodes. But after watching 9,I'm downgrading to a 5 I am no longer willing to overlook just how clearly wrong this show is on the science. I'll just list the final erros that did it for me. The corpses of the crew members that have been dead for days, perhaps weeks are under no type of refrigeration yet they still have eyes that shine like the living, healty people and have zero signs of decomposition. When one of the passengers needed a blood trasfusion the writers didn't seem to know that type O neg is considered a universal donor. That particular passenger was smashed against a bulkhead by a very heavy storage container moving at high velocity and he lost so much blood he nearly died. A day later he's up and walking around. Passengers perform highly bloody and invasive procedures on the dead who are suspected of being infected with an alien organism, yet they wear no protective gear at all. Not even rubber gloves or masks. Sloppy writing.
The Rookie (2018)
Average at best
I like Nathan Fillion. Everybody likes Nathan Fillion. He was the star of the legendary tv show, Firefly and the movie it spawned, Serenity. Great stuff.
But this show is lame and filled with cliches. None of these actors are believable cops. And I can see that the shills are out and handing out 10's like they're going out of style. lol
The police procedural all police procedurals need to be measured against is Southland. And this one is not even close.
Gee whiz! Another comic book movie...
How original! How ground breaking! Not...
How many is too many? When will they run out of these? Probably never.
Fat paychecks lure serious actors to attach themselves to these 2 hour Hollywood cliches.
Tom Hardy is a serious actor who can carry an entire movie ALL BY HIMSELF. See "Locke" a 2013 film . It's him in a car. Period. He pulls it off. Not many actors could.
So why did Mr. Hardy sell out? Because the price was right. I don't know who said it but everything is for sale. You just haven't hit the right price.
As for the movie itself, it's a comic book based movie like the dozens of others. Ongoiing testament to Hollywood's lack of creativity and the public's lack of taste and shallowness. I tried to watch it until the creature made an attempt at being funny... I then made an attempt at ending my viewing abruptly. Only one of these attempts was successful.
Split personality disorder?
This will be quick and painless.
This show is without a doubt NOT casting itself in the mold of the original tv series "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" starring Melissa Joan Hart. That lighthearted teenage romp.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn't anything like that. This one tries, and succeeds to be a bit darker and actually presents Satan and Satanic themes, along with violence and a bit or gore. But then, in the next scene, your watching a teen high school "drama". With all the attendant teen angst. It is also blatantly heavy-handed in its pro feminism stance. If you like politics shoved down your throat when being entertained, have at it.
The show really doesn't know what it wants to be and certainly isn't shooting for a mature audience.
No explosions or gratuitous sex
No naked female buttocks. No gratuituos gay relationships. (not that there's anything wrong with that) No shootouts and not even one zombie.
Just a thoughtful exploration of plot and character. That's part of what doomed this program. I've heard this one described as being in the mold of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Smiley's People. I can partially agree with that assesment. If so then why did this one fail and those Le Carre offerings hold up? I'll speculate. Rubicon got off to a slow start but in the first episode, you were given two major keys to understanding the machinations of the covert plot that unfolds throughout the season. so things did get going, however subtly. Those Le Carre adaptations had Creme of the Crop A list talent, but that's not to say Rubicon lacked talented acting. But no A-listers here. Rubicon was created by Jason Horwitch who co-produced the final season of House Of Cards and was producer on several episodes of Soutland, which in my mind is one of the best cop shows to ever grace a TV screen. But having said that, he's no John Le Carre. There are only one of those. In the end II think this offering was a bit too quiet and dark for the average TV viewer to latch onto. Still I wonder what changes a second season would have rendered. Rarely does a network let a flawed show with potential to grow into its audience.
A wonderful historical romance/drama
I've not read the books by Diana Gabaldon. But I understand they are an absolute hit for fans of whatever genre this series is.
Sci-fi or historical Romance with a beefy chested he-man with a swooning beauty helpless in his arms?
What drew me to this show was the idea of time travel. It's really the most intriguing concept in Sci Fi.
Knowing nothing about Ms.Gabaldon's books and never having heard of her, I watched the first episode of this show simply because is involed time travel.
It hinted at romance, which I have to admit means nothing to me. 99% of the time in a movie or tv show, it's there gratuitously to draw you in.
But what a rare gem this show is. It blends genres flawlessly.
The rare beauty of Caitriona Balfe graces the screen. She plays her role with restraint and subtlety.
Her 18th century countepart is played my Sam Heughan and together he and Ms.Balfe have chemestry from the very first episode of this series.
I'll admit I've only watched the first season, but I'm looking forward to seeing whether or not this wonderful, magical series can stand the test of time.
Weresquito: Nazi Hunter (2016)
This was a tough decision...
Which was worse? The title or the actual movie itself?
Only you can decide.
But one thing is certain, the 1 hour and 18 minutes of your life needlessly squandered on this steaming heap can never be reclaimed.
An Interview with God (2018)
Look at my hair. Isn't is unruly? lol
David Strathairn is the only saving grace of this piece of "filmmaking". I'm not sure how they got him to do it. Must have been a really huge paycheck.
His portrayal of "God" is about as good as you could expect from a mere human, to include the overexposed Morgan Freeman. He dances around the obvious moral questions adroitly with his typically skillful delivery without really answering them since as Humans, we have no answers. But I'll watch just about anything he does just because he's in it. He's the only reason I don't rate this thing a 4 or less. As for Brenton Thwaites, all I can think of is he needs a haircut. When he begs to his so-called wife on the phone, all I can think of is him thinking, "I really wish you could see how my head is hanging down as I toss my unruly mane about, it's really sexy." He is an average actor and has a couple of good scenes here but nothing that a thousand actors could not have done as well or better. . In a nutshell, one of the most intriguing concepts available with it's universal appeal but average fare. Move along folks, not much to see here...
Great flick (for horror, that is)
I'm going to confess to thinking that the Horror Genre, in general is 95% crap. It is a repository of junk. I can count the offerings of this type of film that are truly good films on two hands and I'm being generous. The Excorsist, The Omen and The Ring are a few that come to mind.
And honestly when a Horror Film gets a 7 or above in IMDB, it's almost meaningless. I think the folks that are true Horror fans have a pretty low set of expectations. I think lots of kids are fans of the genre which might explain the high ratings.
Hereditary was really a nice surprise. The movie's plot starts slowly. The tension and creepiness build very gradually to a crescendo finale that really puts a chill up and down your spine.
Skillfully directed and Toni Collette was really superb. And that little girl is one creepy looking kid. Mom won't have to spend a dime on baby-sitting her because nobody is gonna mess with that kid.
If you hate horror movies because most of them flat out suck, treat yourself to this little gem... And leave the lights on.
Where's the beef?
I really enjoyed this show when it first appeared. Smart writing, very funny and engaging. But then something happened. The show really found its audience and became a huge hit. And of course what did they do with all that popularity? They sold out. Eventually the amount of commercials in each half hour episode reached 13 minutes. I know. I timed it.
So thanks for ruining a show I really liked. I think it was 2012 when I tuned out permanently. I guess most people would not notice or care. The show became unwatchable for me. It's why I sold my television 5 years ago and haven't missed it for one minute.
Star Trek: Discovery (2017)
Just not up to scratch...
In the entire pantheon of Star Trek spin offs, this one started off impresively and had me enthused. But then something happened. I started to notice a few things. Let me explain. You know how some of the shows that last a few years, start strong and then the quality of the writing drops off and subsequently so does the audience? Well, in Star Trek Discovery, that quality drop happened around the middle of the first season for me. From the amateurish fight scene choreography in Episode 13 to the increasingly silly character Saru who is the commander of the USS Discovery. The makup just doesn't quite do the job. And the feet? The characters makup and design is, well, just plain riduculous. The makup and design of the Klingons is not well concieved either. The thick voices seem fake and put on. They do not allow this viewer to suspend disbelief which is critical for a sci-fi offering. The technology of the Star Trek Universe is a key player in it's success and when these characters talk tech, it's just pretend and it shows. It's obvious that the actors are simply spouting gibberish about "Spore Drives" and such. There is an interesting reference to Paul Stamets in the charactor of the same name in Lieutenant Paul Stamets. (The real Mr. Stamets is an american born mycologist and proponent of bioremediation and the use of medicinal fungii. There is a magic mushroom fan in the writing crew.)
Perhaps this fall off for me had something to do with the exit of Brian Fuller, who created the "universe" that these charactors inhabit. I'm not sure but as a lifelong fan of the original show and it's spin-offs, this one fell from grace around the middle of the season or sooner.
When I first read this collection of reviews for this show, I saw an absolute RASH of 1 and 2 ratings. I now see a rash of 10 ratings. So I can plainly see that CBS All Access has deployed their minions in order to maintain the ridiculous 7.4 rating. I see the scores of low ratings for this POS and the 7.4 is obviously a sham.
UPDATE: I decided to give the second season a whirl and it started off nicely with some of the elements that we all know and love that make Star Trek, Star Trek. But things quickly detiorated. The chronic over-acting of Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham speaks of a character that hasn't spent 5 minutes in the same room as a Vulcan, much less having been raised on the planet with a Vulcan Family. And of course the utterly silly character Saru hasn't been killed off yet. And to my utter dismay the show has further worsened to the point that a full 20 minutes of the 1 hour show is devoted to commercials. If there were a rating lower than "1" I would give it.
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors and he does a great job in this film. But the plot meanders about aimlessly in the middle 2/3 of the film. The story is pedestrian and its only saving grace is the satisfaction of seeing the bad guys get what they deserve. But I'm afraid that's not enough to carry this film beyond the ranks of the everyday. Put just about any other actor in the lead and you get a 3 rating.
The first installment of this franchise featured a focused plot. It had the continuity that this title lacked.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The same old, same old
I will begin this review by stating that I am highly biased against all Superhero films. As in (almost) all the others that have ever been produced, Avengers: Infinity War falls in with the vast majority as a collection of over-worked cliches that are the backbone of this "genre".
I will admit that the banter of Tony Stark is clever. It always has been. I love Mr. Downey's ability to talk that talk. He is master of the fast, catch you on your heels style of verbal attack. For Tony Stark, it's a mixture of self defense and bringing you to the realization that you are actually dealing with a world class genius. A fun character. (Mr. Downey even sang on stage with Sting. Do a youtube search. You'll probably like it. I know I did). They toned the Stark character down simply because every one and their Superhero brother, aunt and sister made an appearence in this cliche. On to my other gripe. We have the trope of the Superhero landing. You know, one foot, one knee and a hand on the ground with the other hand and the head in some stylized pose. I permanently turned off the Wonder Woman movie, featuring eye candy Gal Godot, the minute I saw it.
I puke each time I see this trope and thankfully, I didn't see it in Infinity War so my thanks goes out to the cast and director but my trusty barf bag was at the ready. Mark Twain is reported to have said, "History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." Right once again, Mr. Clemens!
I won't talk about the specifics of the film since truly, if you've seen one, you really have seen them all. I will confess and say that Deadpool 1 and 2 are the only two movies of this type that I actually enjoyed. We have actual human motivation and genuine, character driven drama and not just bombastic CG driven tripe. Plus the 4th wall is broken from time to time with irreverence. In other words, the DeadPool movies don't take themselves too seriously. That appeals to me.
As for the social aspect of why hungry audiences gobble up this tripe as quickly as Hollywood can churn it out is anybody's guess and here's mine. You live vicariously for the escape for 2 plus hours as you long to forget yourself and your society of hollow, mindless consumerism and its vapid celebrity worship. But I'll go no further with that since ameteur anthropology is best administered in very small doses.
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
A great story perfectly done.
House of Sand and Fog is a tragedy if ever there was one. The story is tight and the acting is superb. It stars Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley. It's described as a Crime Drama here on IMDB and that is misleading. This is a tragedy. Although there are crimes committed, by the Cop played by Ron Eldard, as he pursues a romantic relationship with the excellent Jennifer Connelly, falling for her considerable charms, it's not an accurate idea for describing this movie.
Why we don't see more of Connelly in leading roles on the silver screen must have to do with her not kissing the right Hollywood arses and certainly not for a lack of talent or looks, as she possesses both in ample amounts. A recurring theme in Hollywood, particularly with talented actresses. As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Hollywood is a town where they'll give you a million bucks for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul." Smart lady.
Kingsley is perfect in his portrayal of an Iranian immigrant moving his way up the social economic ladder in this land of promise. He comes by a house on auction that was illegally taken from Connelly's character. She has been wronged, but not by Kingsley's character as many would have you believe in their reviews of this disturbing film.
The wrangling over this house destroys everyone involved, although the ending of the book, by Andre Dubus III, has a slightly different conclusion, with Connelly's character in prison. In the movie, it's not really clear what becomes of her but she is homeless and alone with no visible means of support just after two very convincing suicide attempts prior to the end of the story.
This is a hard film to watch and it will haunt you for days after you finish it.
The Expanse (2015)
A rare thing, indeed!
The genres of Science Fiction and Horror have two things in common. Each other, as they are often mixed together or mislabeled almost interchangably. And secondly, there is the sad fact that the VAST majority of both genres are pure garbage.
SyFy dropped "The Expanse" after its third season, a huge mistake in my opinion but Amazon wisely grabbed it and now a 4th Season is in the works.
"The Expanse" is a true diamond in a pile of you know what featuring a great cast with top flight writing. These actors have the kind of chemistry that most shows only dream of.
Jared Harris plays Anderson Dawes. That crazy accent he cooked up for this role is absolutely a joy to behold.
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata is the heart of the ragtag crew of the Rocinante. Which is of course the name of Don Quixote's horse AND a song by a little Canadian Trio called Rush which has a ship of the same name in its 1977 epic title, Cygnus X-1. One of the writers of this show is either very well read and/or a fan of 1970's Arena Rock. From the first episode, I knew I was hooked!
Shohreh Aghdashloo plays Chrisjen Avasarala impeccably and is a central part of this show. Her character can scheme and fight dirty with any villain but also has heart and moral certitude.
Wes Chatham is featured as troubled tough guy, Amos Burton. He's an every-man type who first appeared on my radar in this show. He manages to make a very violent and dangerous character likable.
Cas Anvar plays Alex Kamal, the Martian pilot. It's fun to watch the bond between his character and Amos grow.
Steven Strait as Jim Holden plays his character with a slow burning intensity I'm sure the ladies will appreciate.
Thomas Jane is superb as the failed police detective, Joe Miller, who's about the bust the biggest case in the history of mankind.
Give this one a tumble and you won't be sorry!
Hyper Manic Jitter Jargon
I was a great fan of this show early on. Comberbatch was great. Then he started to rely so much on that fast talking hyper manic style of spewing facts at people. He has overplayed the character, in my opinion. That and the fact that the could only be bothered to make 4 seasons of the show in 8 years, frankly I just lost interest. I find Freeman's Watson the more interesting character.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
This film is a sappy ploy to get women and kids in the theater
Sappy and saccharine in its blatant attempt to get mom into the theater with her kids, which when you think about it isn't a bad marketing ploy since we all know mom decides how the family money is spent.
But although I loath super hero movies as the over-produced, 2 hour cliche's they are, this one put me off from the start. We have the non-threatening Paul Rudd flitting about the screen like some pre-pubescent boy acting like a child with a child.
And finally the scene of him killing time and playing some more after the Feds toss his house was enough to make me want to watch Reservoir Dogs, just to restore some sense of balance.
Trudno byt bogom (2013)
Mud. Lots of mud...
Scientists are sent to an earth like planet where they discover a medieval society which did not have the benefit of a Renaissance and certainly no Enlightenment. The Intelligentsia of this society are hunted down and executed. Some flee to a safer part of their world in hopes of surviving. Ignorance and filth are the lot of these miserable people.
I must admit the premise of this movie grabbed me. Sci-Fi with social implications? Are you kidding? Deal me in!
After the first 30 minutes I turned it off. A movie has 30 minutes to bring me in and hold me. That's it.
Now you have to remember this movie is made by Russian director Alexei German. He's highly acclaimed by sophisticated, artsy types. Apparently this film took a decade to complete and bring to the screen.
But the similarities between this film and most Russian Literature were too striking for me.
I've heard Russian Literature described thus: 5 people stand around talking for three hours and then someone's aunt dies. Be still my beating heart.
In this film, all the characters walk around covered in mud and human feces. They drown in feces and smear it on their faces while smiling.
There is one particularly captivating scene where the local duke wakes up in his squalid castle, picks a cockroach out of a glass of wine from the night before, flicks the roach onto the ground and spits into the wine. But wait. That's not all. The tension builds as he walks around followed by servants who swat bugs for him while playing some sort of clarinet for about 5 minutes. The same 4 notes with very slight variation. 5 minutes. At this point my heart nearly burst from my heaving chest.
I must though give credit where credit is due. The Director and Producers have succeeded in creating an utterly convincing world here. It completely breaks down the 4th wall. You feel as if you're there and it's thoroughly depressing as a result. Russians are a different sort of people I guess. I suppose that's what the artsy types are conveying when they gush over this film. I will offer praise on that but it must be said that filming in black and white does half of that job for you. Like Paul Simon said, "Everything looks worse in black and white."
But apparently I'm not sophisticated enough to watch people roll around in mud and their own fecal matter for 3 hours. Yes. It's a 3 hour movie.
Midnight Special (2016)
An average film
This plot took a long time to get going. We are a good 25 minutes into this before we have the most meager of clues what is happening.
The boy has eyes that glow. Until then the boy, Alton Meyer, (played by Jaeden Lieberher) reads a comic book for the most part. Not exactly something that inspires interest or curiosity. Suspense and mystery is the intention. We begin to wonder about this boy... and we keep wondering. Once you have created that sense of curiosity, letting it go unfulfilled for too long can tend to frustrate the watcher. All in all, the character is a disappointment.
Michael Shannon, from what I have seen is a pretty meat and potatoes actor. Not much emotional range. He's pretty much the same persona everywhere you see him.
Now, on to Paul Sparks, (playing FBI Agent Miller) here is an actor with some surprises although he playes this character very straight but with good presence. Look at his excellent work in House Of Cards, (the Netflix series)and Boardwalk Empire, from HBO. His characters actually vary.
Joel Edgerton, who plays Lucas,(the one who shoots the trooper) is interesting in anything I've seen him thus far. Black Mass and Zero Dark Thirty come to mind.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Typical overproduced Hollywood crap
Move along, folks. Absolutely nothing new here. They keep cranking out these clichés month after month. Big names with even bigger clichés. You deserve better films... or do you? I know I do. The opening was interesting with the Egyptian aspect, it really had my attention. I started losing interest with that absolutely awful scene where Xavier stammered and stuttered like a little school boy in the office of his CIA lady-crush.I nearly lost my dinner. I think the big stars go for making these things obviously for the huge payday they reap but I think pretending to be a super-hero appeals to their enormous egos, which most of them seem adept at concealing.