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The Lilac Bus (1990)
I enjoyed reading the novella on which this was based but what a banjax of a job on the movie. All of the actors seemed to belong to the "look, ma I'm acting school" of drama.
And there was no script or story, just reaction, film quality was also terrible and it was a total waste of time.
I'm still baffled that it made it to screen.
Completely unbelievable. 1/10
Could hardly make it through the 1st episode.
Seriously thinking of cancelling Netflix subscription if they keep churning out cheese like this.
Terrible unbelievable script.
Renee chewing the scenery with her new face.
Every scene falls flat as a pancake.
A terrible stretched remake of Indecent Proposal.
Serious simplification of a big theme
Yes, Lara was a seriously troubled 15yo. And there was no serious psychiatric counselling offered? No exploration of her deeper issues? She displayed gender dysphoria at every turn, I wondered if it had something to do with the missing mother who's never mentioned (dead? abandoned? mentally ill?) Lara's obviously physically a young man, performing oddly in his corps de ballet training. Broad of shoulder, large feet and hands and flat chested
An oddly disjointed effort, too much awful ballet and enormous bleeding feet and Lara's face.
But no denouement apart from the rushed ending which feels tacked on. And well, are we supposed to applaud the mutilation?
And she marches off to where, exactly?
After Life (2019)
Brilliant portrayal of devastating grief.
I'm a fan of Ricky Gervais. I've seen all his work from The Office to Derek and Extras and he is insightful, painfully so, into the human condition.
In After Life he sets the bar pretty high. A portrayal of grief that is angry, raw and abusive. And so very real.
I will watch it again.
Not to be missed. 9/10
Bird Box (2018)
A Huge Disappointment
Note to self: Don't pay too much attention to hype. The hype is written by Netflix employees.
If you look up at the sky you will kill yourself. That's it. That's all.
Sandra Bullock manages to have a baby simultaneously in a shelter with another pregnant woman (that always happens, right?) and then heads off up a river to a "safe" place she hears about with 2 nameless five year olds . All blindfolded and facing rapids and the birds in a shoebox. Sandra wears full make up and screams an awful lot. Everyone around her dies along the way.
Blindfolds? To protect from monsters? Seriously?
I hate moves that leave me with a WTH feeling at the end.
It truly was awful 0/10
A Kid Like Jake (2018)
This film was done much better in a little French gem released many years ago called Ma Vie en Rose.
Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg Wheeler (Jim Parsons) play the parents of a son Jake who likes to wear dresses. He's a psychiatrist (ha!) she's a part time lawyer. They send Jake to a kindergarten run by Judy (Octavia Spencer) who appears to be BFF with Alex but this isn't clearly established.
All of this results in eternal conflict everywhere. No foundations are established for any of the relationships and they all seem hostile.
Jake is rarely seen or heard from apart from the swishing of his tulle skirts and reports only of his bad behaviour.
It's a popular topic at the moment and this film is obviously cashing in on this and failing on every level.
And the ending.
Please. But of course.
Derry Girls (2018)
The acting is atrocious, the script pitiful and the directing on the edge of melodramatic slapstick without the humour. If you're a fan of that dreadful Mrs. Brown go for it.
The facial contortions of the actor who plays Erin is particularly painful to watch and the accents slip and slide all over the place. Mind numbing. Embarrassing.
Most of the stars are for tackling a tricky subject
I am struck mainly by how little substance there was in the main characters, lots of staring meant to be meaningful no doubt.
Briefly, it is about a lesbian love story in an orthodox Jewish community. One of the lovers vanishes to New York from London (?) and returns for her father's, the rabbi's, funeral.
The movie is rampant with cliches and tropes. I expected far better. One scene of a lover in a nightie chasing a taxi down the street made me groan out loud.
The sex scenes are oddly static and involve full clothing in private hotel rooms. I am not prurient but this felt highly contrived, sparing modesty of the actors no doubt but there are ways of filming nude without the full monty, surely?
The biggest trope of course was the old one of two female lovers always been torn apart at the end. I was thankful it wasn't a Thelma and Louise redux.
In this case, all that angst and rebellion went the way of the whimper.
The Kominsky Method (2018)
I've watched about 4 episodes
The best thing about this series is Alan Arkin. The rest of the cast are in his shade. Michael Douglas is awful, I find him unbelievable both as a coach and father and BF. Sleazy and unlikeable. Edelstein shrieks through her role. There is nothing even remotely sympathetic about her.
It must have cost a bundle to make with the guest roles - seriously Danny DeVito as a proctologist? Slapstick all the way. Not my favourite type of comedy, It always screams: Lack of good original script!
But boy is Adam Arkin good. He shines.
5/5 for Arkin
House of Cards (2013)
The high rating is for 1-5. 6 is a disaster.
I enjoyed every season of HoC 1-5. The writing, acting, cinematography and direction were faultless. I was riveted.
Season 6 is an unmitigated disaster. Dull I'd say being charitable. Then I'd add lifeless if provoked. You can tell the cast are as lost as the viewers.
I've never seen such an almighty Jumping of the Shark as the final season of this once stellar show. This was one of the best of the Netflix series ever and they could have honoured their viewers by securing a top notch script.
I was completely and utterly bored. And incredulous that this bilge was foisted upon me.
For all you fans out there, stick with the first 5 seasons. I wish someone had warned me not to look - as in nothing to see here but bilge water. HoC has ended with a pitiful whimper. 0/10 for Season 6
Three episodes in and I'm hooked.
I had to force myself to turn it off as it's getting late but this is what TV should be all about, great script, superb acting and breathtaking action.
Well done to all!
Designated Survivor (2016)
This is so overloaded with cliches it just about topples over whimpering.
A meek cabinet minister is thrust into the presidency of the US when everybody in government is blown up. Yeah right.
Grieving takes approximately 5 minutes.
He stands on rubble and greets firefighters. Coz brave like that.
He has monosyllabic conversations with his wife, senate, supreme court nominees while his face twitches and his toupee stands at attention and his glasses come and go as the mood or the lights take him. He has similar stiff conversations with staff who tear around and pretend they are in West Wing redux.
Meanwhile you have FBI agents going off by themselves wearing loud high heels as they chase the bad guys, getting beaten up in cars and containers and falling down and blood lashed and getting glued together with crazy glue because hospitals are dangerous and fighting as their scars fade rapidly.
His wife is a top notch civil rights lawyer who is monosyllabic and sexy and purses her lips in sympathy. No script for her. Just batty eyes at hubby. A lot.
Sometimes I watch something so awful just to amuse myself.
End of. Can't do it anymore. 2/10
A Kaleidoscopic Mess
It was hard for me to get my bearings in this film. I love Toby Jones and he never disappoints even with a script like this. The Big Reveal frankly doesn't. I remember thinking at the beginning when Weird Things Happen: oh no, this is going to be one of those "dream movies". A sign of poor writing in every medium.
Alas and alack 'twas all confirmed.
Great acting though and some of the exteriors were brilliant. I could not figure out how he had an upstairs though as each apartment was on a floor above the others.
I've no idea what's causing the poor ratings here. The series had me from the first. A delight to see so many strong female characters and some excellent story lines all coming together in the end.
Carey Mulligan is a knockout.
Many topics were covered, some controversial and real, like sexual assault in the military, all too prevalent unfortunately, and emigration and profiteering from the plight of refugees. Rogue politicians add to the mix. And M15 shadowing all.
Fast spaced and realistic. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
Rarely have I seen anything quite so awful with no tension or any kind of plot layout in the script. And no, I haven't seen the original but I would like to.
Add to this mess a frozen district attorney Nicole Kidman who provides no basis or foundation for the passionate obsession that the cop (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has for her that is a sidebar in the "story" and so many unbelievable scenes like the cop breaking the news of a murdered daughter to an FBI agent on the actual murder site so that she plunges at her deaddaughter and contaminates the entire murder scene.
There's mad chasing with no purpose, out of control cops and guns chasing down who cares? filling in for the lack of dialogue or any kind of deeper meaning and a working script.
Everybody phoned this in.
Altered Carbon (2018)
Not rating it yet, 2 episodes in
A TV critic I respect recommended this. I haven't read the book it is based on.
The CGI is terrific, the concept I am enjoying.
Joel Kinnaman mumbles so I had to throw on the CC.
First observation is that there are so many fight scenes which means massive grunting and no dialogue. That always disengages me from the characters and leaves me thinking: too many big words, let's throw in red lasers and masks and big huge fights. Interesting that 250 years from now the hero can't be pulverized into dust in a nano-second and that what looks like duct tape is still used to bind another character to a chair.
I'm hoping it will improve and engage the intelligence a little more. I'm picking up on allusions to religions that don't allow sleeving which bothers me.
One of Us (2016)
Strange Scottish Overkill of a Series
Here be the list:
Far too many characters Uneven Script Melodramatic in the extreme Ham-fisted John Lynch clawing the scenery and gulping it down. Totally unlikeable characters. All of them.
There were more plot twists and turns and sidebars to keep track of than was reasonable in a 4 parter.
Everyone in the cast, including the investigating police had a problem/secrets/lies
And I never bought into the angst ridden resolution, puh-leese.
Too bad. Most of the cast did their best with some dismal material.
But the whole thing needed more flesh on its bones.
It was really hard to care.
4/10 Brilliant Scottish scenery.
The Journey (2016)
Wonderful cast in a film that could have used a better script. Timothy Spall's accent slippage irritated at times, though I realize how difficult the Northern Ireland accent is to imitate.
There were many contrivances, a walk in the forest, in a church, in a graveyard to force the final outcome of peace. And I was astonished that the retaliative murders by the RUC got short shrift versus the bombings and killings of the IRA. 6/10
Vengeance: A Love Story (2017)
Seriously, Nicholas Cage's wig screams "look at me!" in every scene he's in. It has a life of it's own, moving about as if it were a live thing in some scenes, sleeping greasily in others. C'mon Nick, spring for a buzz cut, you are heading into the twilight years and Elvis is long dead.
There's no evident plot here. And the movie needs some serious editing, continuity is shabby (for example the child's age keeps roving around from 8 to 12 according to who's talking), the court scene is something out of Charlie Chaplin with accuseds hissing at the victim, and Nick keeps popping up in scenes like some weird wizard.
And who was the woman who phoned the last accused anyway? Plot holes all over the place.
Now Charlene Tilton as the raging momma was a treat.
And the poor fellah who was her husband was the only person, apart from Nick, who was employed.
No depth, but that child actor, Bateman, was brilliant in her scenes.
Did I mention the dollar store makeup? Seriously. Worst. Ever.
And who gets that close to the falls in a car with no barriers?
For a film about the "love that dare not speak its name" it has a deadened, passionless air to it.
I never bought the love/emotion/desperation between Therese and Carol, played by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. From the first scene in the department store where Therese worked, I viewed Carol's interest as repulsively predatory and it would have been if the part of Carol was played by a middle aged man.
Down to the "erotic" scene in the hotel, which again was lifeless and uninspiring and well, boring, the whole film had a coldness to it, down to the limp dry hair of the main characters: wigs, I would guess.
Carol never comes across as a concerned mother, yes she grabs and hugs her kid a lot but does not engage in any meaningful way with her.
The cinematography was well done, the 50s scenes for the most part believable.
But for a film about passion and undying love, no, this didn't work for me.
3 out of 10.
Please Like Me (2013)
Quirky, funny and utterly sympathetic.
I would never have found this show only that my granddaughter recommended it, knowing I'd love it.
I can't say enough about it. It takes a while to get to know the main character, Josh, and to make sense of the title. And then about 3 episodes in, it all clicks into place and the emotional investment takes over along with the laughs. And there are many.
It's quite graphic at times, particularly when talking about sex but it all rings true. And grown-up compared with so much that comes out of the American and Canadian studios.
I loved all the characters, flawed and all and so many of the scenes are still resonating, Josh off on a wilderness tour with his mum, fireworks on the beach, John the dog, etc.
Wonderful, I binged. Of course. Highly recommend.
A movie that drew me in, great internal dialogue, brilliant performance by Bryan Cranston, a believable plot - a guy cracks up and makes the ludicrous decision to live in his own garage's attic and spy on his family.
Wakefield is a devious character and not very likable but Cranston's riveting performance engages the viewer from the beginning until about 10 minutes from the end when the plot falls apart.
An impossible ending, contempt for the viewer writ large.
I give it a 5/10 for Cranston's stellar performance but what on earth were the writers thinking?
La corrispondenza (2016)
Old professor and hot young student younger than his daughter
How many times have I seen this done before. Every old man's fantasy. Except this time he dies. And then tries to control her from beyond the grave.
The guy (played by Jeremy Irons dishabille, worn, ancient and boring) has been cheating on his wife for 6 years. He also manages to escape to his villa in Italy every year to spend acres of time with his young paramour.
The stock characters of boatman and Italian charlady are right out of central casting. Every secondary character in this movie works to keep his letters, emails, gifts and texts coming after he's dead.
That's basically the whole thrust of the film.
Also main character played by Olga Kurylenko is a complete narcissist. She abandons her mother, has her cellphone ringing in the theatre, at lectures, in solemn libraries, everywhere. She stalks his family who all come around to her way of looking at things (where's the betrayed wife?) i.e love of his life, even his youngest gets introduced to her.
Seriously, skip this, suspending disbelief gets exhausting after a while.
Mr. Holmes (2015)
A dark sunset for Mr. Holmes
And oddly depressive film featuring the great Ian MacLennan and Laura Linney. Not forgetting the child actor, Milo. All doing their very best with a plot that is tedious with the added bonus of making old age, even for the brilliant Sherlock, a hideous business indeed.
Add to that two uninteresting and meandering flashbacks, the hook of Holmes's faltering memory not capturing the resolution to a case that haunts him (a glove, a letter) and it all adds up to quite a yawn.
The pointless emotional maneuvering of the 3rd act, really destroyed the whole film for me and then Sherlock on his knees in the meadow with stones for this dead ones, no this was not the Sherlock I adored all through those books and films.
4 out of 10, quite disappointing but the cinematography and sets were lovely.
State of Play (2009)
Betraying the original BBC thriller.
Why does Hollywood hire the best cast, crew and direction, use a perfectly good political plot borrowed from the UK and then proceed to pander it to unsuspecting viewers by dumbing it down completely.
The "script" in the US version is full of plot-holes that frustrated this viewer: once you know who the assassin is connected to (red herrings abound) it makes even less sense. The contrived affair between Afflecks' wife, played by Robin Wright, rang completely false. The original series had her as a scheming and vengeful spurned wife.
And the crusty disheveled old reporter buying the hot cub reporter a necklace of pens? Oh please. Helen Mirren walked on and off screaming Britishly as demanded.
No tensions whatsover, Justin Bateman as a sleazy PR guy shone.
Disappointing. But interesting to see the Washington Post inner workings.