Archive for the ‘Rating – 3 1/2 Stars’ category

Recent Viewings



Blue is the Warmest Colour (Kechiche, 2013)

*** 1/2 / *****


Citizenfour (Poitras, 2014)

**** / *****


 Life Itself (James, 2014)

*** 1/2 / *****

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 14, “Grove”



“Are You Mad at Me?!”

Season 2 grinded to a halt at Hershel’s farm and its too idyllic collection of live bodies and sexual innuendo. The Walking Dead has started to stall in the latter half of Season 4 until Grove. This with Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and her sis, Mika, collected with adults Carol and Tyreese and baby Judith. Until about 30 minutes in we are given the same character development episode that is starting to bog down this season. No more spoilers as more than one plot point ends here in tragedy.

Lizzie and Mika have had an important role in Season 4 as child protagonists. How would a 10 year old respond in such depravity and loss?

This is a special Episode for Melissa McBride (playing Carol). She has to sustain a mourning like no other single Episode in the series, and for good measure.

What a contrast these character development stories are as compared to Seasons 3 and the first half of Season 4. There is definitely a downbeat in action where every episode was a thriller. DC better be good. My comment drives from a re-watch of Season Three (now through Episode 9: Made to Suffer).

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 10, “Inmates”




Terminus. Hinted at in the beginning of Season 4 as the “Sanctuary,” Episode 10 brings back the other members of the group not featured in 9, “After.” Daryl and the now Daddy less Beth; Tyreese, Mika, Lizzie and yes, an alive and well baby Judith Grimes (who didn’t think she would make it back after the bloody carseat tease in 4/8?). Judith appears well cared for with mysterious bottles of formula appearing out of nowhere except for the fact that Lizzie seems hell bent on suffocating her to death to avoid the attention of walkers. How long has the group been on the road? Enough time to find formula? Carol comes to the rescue but is disingenuous about explaining her return.

Maggie, Sasha, … Bob. Glenn and … Tara (the Governor’s “Sister In Law,” played here by Alanna Masterson). Tara will surely become the new Maggie: innocence lost and a romantic entanglement, her being so fetching. Masterson sat in on AMC’s therapeutic Talking Dead (which follows every Sunday episode until the show is done – a very clever turn that AMC started with Breaking Bad, hosted by the very charming Chris Hardwick) and held her own with CNBC’s Joe Kernen and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

Set pieces of killing the undead, sub-group by sub-group, is really all this episode carries forward. There is no question that the “Group” and Tara want to find each other. Who is alive and who isn’t? In that sense it’s a disappointment because there does not seem to be a missing link. We have hopes for a sanctuary and/or the rather ominous paramilitary group that pulls up to Tara and a coming to Glenn as the episode ends. Nice work by Lauren Cohan in the bus scene.

Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)


Here is one lazy review about an older man looking for a child he may have sired.  This is Lost in Translation “lite.”  That’s all I gotta say.  Give me an advance Entertainment Weekly, I dare you.  Bill Murray is basically the same LIT character transformed into a Jim Jarmusch road movie.  Other than Murray’s character being unmarried, he coulda been named Bob Harris, his character in LIT.  Primarily enjoyable due to Murray’s extraordinary minimalist acting.  Good supporting cast including Jessica Lang, Julie Delpy, and Sharon Stone (on par with Casino).  Never have been a big Jarmusch fan (except Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai but I couldn’t even begin to get through 2009’s The Limits of Control) but Murray injects the film with his singular wit and affect.

*** 1/2 / *****

The Basketball Diaries (Scott Kalvert, 1995)


Leonardo DeCaprio continues his “audtion” for big budget, big paycheck films leading up to Titanic (1997).  Harrowing true account of a talented basketball teams’ decline due to certain team members’ descent into the bowels of heroin addiction.  Difficult to watch at times and certainly derivative of films before and after but it proves DeCaprio as an apprentice for Scorcese to mine.

*** 1/2 / *****

5 Quick Pics



The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009)

LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract.

*** 1/2 / *****


Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009)

The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout.

**** / *****

In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)

Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to today’s better pictures concerning race relations.

**** 1/2 / *****


Body of Lies (Scott, 2008)

Even though I had to watch it almost three times to get most details I didn’t mind it.  Very cool treatise on modern day warfare.

*** 1/2 / *****

Downfall (Hirschbiegel, 2004)

Had to check it out after all the parody.  Bruno Ganz is a god of acting in a pretty straight forward run of the mill thriller.

*** / *****

The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, 2008)


the visitor

A very sweet story that Richard Jenkins (economics Prof. Walter Vale) was just meant to play.  The feeling I am left with is altruism in it’s purest form, beyond even the backdrop of 9/11 deportation which is somewhat of a political misstep in the film anyway.  Vale, despondent from his mundane existence is reinvigorated by discovering an illegal couple living in a NY property of his but not one he frequents.  There should be more excitement in economics than this.  Vale bonds immediately with the male lead in a mutual love for music.  The film is not without its faults:  1.  Again, the political landscape falls tired because its been going on for centuries in many countries, 2.  The widower theme and a disjointed relationship with a son is never developed at all (this backdrop is a conceit to persuade the audience to feel a certain way going in – I don’t like to be persuaded a certain way going in.), 3. Why not have the relationship with the mother and Vale become sexual?

But overall its inspiring to watch Vale as he desperately yet calmly tries to solve the problem at hand.  I have always loved Jenkins, especially in his comic roles (e.g. Flirting With Disaster) but this is his film and in the special features in the blu-ray DVD he confirms its his role of a lifetime.

*** 1/2 / *****