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Dark Waters (2019)
brave new world?
Ruffalo gives the performance of his career in this sly, softspoken and understated narrative, which hooks you from the open and never lets go. Like THE BIG SHORT, a peek at how the world really works.
don't "underestimate" a show...
.... which is all about dangers of underestimating. Spencer gets the role of her career and fanboys watching her are unlikely to complain about the odd pauses in the script. Somewhere between a guilty pleasure and a pre-fab classic.
Frozen II (2019)
A truly magical sequel about love, trust, doing the right thing, growth ... with a script to die for and not a hint of a n LTBGQ agenda in sight. Of course the critics hated it.
Only in Hollywood
Only in Hollywood. Only in this era that so closely mimics the Fall of Rome could Hollywood unashamedly make a film about sexual harassment starring some of the hottest women in the business. "Not that there is anything wrong with that."
Last Christmas (2019)
The real mystery
The real mystery is not the plot twist. The real mystery is, what happened to our expectations about movies to make so many people think they can easily find a "better" X-mas movie somewhere else, making it OK to give this one a low rating? For the last few decades, some 95% of all the X-mas movies produced have come from Canada, using basically the same actors and writers, and they do not even come close to this one. This is a real movie that engages and holds the attention, with real talent both in front of and behind the camera. Cmon people, follow the example of the main character in LAST XMAS, grow up.
Black and Blue (2019)
Harris is great
Harris is great, superb, the script is overlong, has plot holes you could drop Kansas into, and the political overtones don't help. Perfect for a cross country flight.
Yip Man 4 (2019)
Review in Note Form:
1. Not for newbies. To really enjoy this film you should see the previous 3 in correct order, as well as the unofficial IP MAN knockoffs as well as a few Jet Li films and maybe a Bruce Lee as well. To put you in the mood. And remind you how few superstars are left in this genre.
2. Viewers of non-Asian persuasian may be uncomfortable by the reverse-discrimination theme common to all these films. Sorry, but this time you are not the good guys. Oops.
3. Yen is solid as a rock. The choreography is good. Adkins has never matched his triumph as the Russian prison fighter but he delivers as well.
4. Bottom line? Yen said this is the last IP MAN for him. It arrived for X-Mas 2019. Don't look this X-mas present in the mouth.
There is huge irony in the fact that, notwithstanding the completely inappropriate title, this 3 part doc has almost nothing to do with cats -- and everything to do with how a bunch of internet geeks who had never met tracked down a truly diabolical Canadian serial killer. Even those who did not ""like"" the movie agree it is one of the most compelling stories ever put to film -- once you start, you will binge the 3 parts in one sitting. It is also obvious -- painfully obvious -- that the police in multiple jurisdictions were always on the back foot throughout the chase. It was the internet geeks who did the heavy lifting -- they even predicted the murder before it happened, and were ignored. And it was the manager of an internet cafe in Berlin, a self-proclaimed news junkie, who recognized the suspect on sight, in a heartbeat, and called the police, even while the international police still thought he was in France. Astonishing and unforgettable.
The Americans (2013)
Other Reviews Miss the Point
Get the obvious out of the way first. One of the best conceived, written, casted, acted, directed, and filmed dramas in the history of TV. The casting in particular. Even Holly Taylor was perfect for her role, haters notwithstaning. But that is not the point. The point is that this was not merely a snapshot of the historical 70s. Dig deeper and you find the reason for audience "connection" is that this series is a perfect snapshot of life today. No moral center. What works, works. The degree of "viewer manipulation" by the writing team is one of the highest in the history of the medium. Much like the way today's media controls the public. The entire show was about controlled chaos and the anticipation of the catharsis to come. Just like today. And the catharsis is coming.
Hands down one of the best 60s mins of TV ever produced. Introduction of new cast member brilliant.
Ultimate Force (2002)
Had zero expectations going in. After all, British TV is known to be proactively non-violent and politically correct, a land where knives (yet alone guns!) are the root of all evil, and every show has to showcase at least one mixed-race or same-gender couple. And instead found a solid show with great writing, great scripts, and genuine suspense.
Jack Ryan (2018)
S01 8 stars --- S02 2 stars
In case you are living on another planet, the proportion of "streaming" shows that run into a brick wall after the first season is very very large. The first season had grit, tension and a crackerjack finale. S02 is MEH on steroids. The actions of these professionals are made comical by the writers, such as "invading" an armed enemy camp in the middle of the jungle ... with 6 men? And no radio? And one is in ill health? The word on social media is that one of the alphabet agencies co-opted the show and is using it for propaganda purposes. If true, THAT would be a better story than anything in season 2!
Veronica Mars: Papa's Cabin (2007)
If you really want to understand why this show is iconic and has legions of fan this episode which wraps up the Landry murder arc is all the "proof" you need...
Corner Gas: Safety First (2005)
One of the best of the series -- not merely clever but funny -- helps resolve the debate about CG vs Seinfeld -- the line about the teleporting bike is precious.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
and no one even noticced
The critics completely missed the point. Ask yourself, what if it were possible for Shakespeare to come back and do a sequel to Hamlet? Wouldn't you want to know how he might top "To Be Or Not To Be?" Well basically that is what just happened. Stephen King (still alive and well, by the way) took one of his most popular books -- a book he wrote in 1977 -- and did a sequel. He doesn't do that every day. Takes hubris. And cohones of steel. Then Hollywood stepped in, grabbed Ewen MacGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, and did a followup to The SHINING (1980), one of the most iconic hits of all time. And the critics just moaned and groaned and navel-gazed, as per usual. It might be too long. It might have flat spots and missed beats. And it might not pass Ebert's infamous "watch test." But, at the end of the day, Shakespeare just came back to give us an extra play. And no one even noticed.
Hinterland: Episode #3.3 (2016)
solved 2 mysteries, the wrong two!
Explains why the show ended. A great first season, a fair second season, and now the writers have no idea what to do next. Not an uncommon problem, in the streaming universe, over 50% of the news shows disappear after a single season. And the second mystery is why IMDB reviews get skewed so easily. Never mind the paid fake reviews (almost always for movies, never TV) the nutty reviews for this episode demonstrate cognitive dissonance -- fans of the show from early simply can't accept a bad episode (based on the type of narrative popular in the 1950 US police shows) of a show they love -- so they make reasons why it is great. It is not.
The Finder (2012)
The Dying of the Light
Basically the poster child for the pre-streaming "network" cable model of TV. Which, as of the date of this review, is pretty much dead. There were some really fun things about this show -- including Maddie Hasson -- but there were also many sour beats even in the early episodes. As if the writers, like the character they created, could never decide what they really wanted. If you decide to binge the series, skip the last episode -- the Finale from Hell -- because by then the show knew it was doomed and the producers seemed determined to go full tilt schizo and give viewers the finger.
Yellowstone: Enemies by Monday (2019)
At the end of the day entertainment today is about triggering a response in the viewer. This show is completely unashamed of its zeal to push as many buttons as possible; and in the entire series to date no episode has ever been bolder about this intention. It succeeds.
Hands down the most fascinating film in years. Starts slow and then rockets. Adrenalin rush level 10. Part Twilight Zone, part Sci-Fi, part Stephen King (at his best), part first-gen (pre-woke) Marvel, part social parable, and part family therapy. Top-notch casting, acting and direction keep the viewer off-balance throughout. Great to see Bruce Dern working again! Ditto for Grace Park. If you didn't like this film, dial back on the flouride in your water.
One of the most perfectly written and produced episodes in the history of TV -- never panders to the viewer -- just keeps building
The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
A home run ... by Canadian standards
Canada has been churning these out for decades but this one is smoother and sweeter than most. Credit to the leads, esp. Hudgens who gives one of her better turns, adding an almost-Hepburn touch of class. Canadian accents barely audible.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
have some respect!
Longest running action franchise in movie history with original star!
The Perfection (2018)
first 60 minutes are completely extrardinary
So good in fact that the last half hour, although clever, is something of a let-down. The production values and acting, however, are themselves worthy of their titular namesake.
action film and sci fi both
Again the critics missed the point. Great production values, cinematography. It is of course revenge porn - duh! -- and also sci fi. The 47 year old Garner uses the latest medical technology to play a 30 year old soccer mom -- and pretty much pulls it off.
Yellowstone: Resurrection Day (2019)
if you wear a pacemaker skip this episode
More adrenalin pumping action at the climax than any other show in recent memory. Literally.