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Patterson's Wager (2015)
This is the type of film you wish came along more often.
There are so many reasons to see this movie, that you should stop reading and spend your time seeing it, but here are a few of the reasons that spring to mind:
#1 - The story is charming and surprising without resorting to shock and gore. #2 - The performances are engaging and precise, none of that indie schmaltz. #3 - The cast – all wonderful – is peppered with actors you might recognize from your sci-fi or comedy favorites on TV. #4 - The film itself has been expertly produced and edited, so you won't feel like you're supporting someone's backyard theater company. #5 - The Visual Effects are stunning. This isn't canned fire and smoke from a __phone app! #6 - It's not crass. You can take your kids and your grandparents and you'll all enjoy it. #7 - I have it from a reliable source – I met the director and co-producer at a film festival – that the film was shot in 12 DAYS! Yes, 12 DAYS!!! You wouldn't know it by watching the film. That's what real filmmaking is about and it's worth seeing the amazing results!
If that's not enough to convince you, think about how often you attend a small film festival and grind your teeth through some sloppily put together horror, feeling like you got charged to be a seat warmer. Well, that's not going to happen with this film. This is exactly the type of film you should go to festivals to see, because you may not get a chance to see it elsewhere and it's the kind of independent film you want to support.
Here is more of a brief synopsis-type review: The story starts with Charles (Fred Ewanuick) discovering he has a strange gift that he must learn to manage or embrace or both. His girlfriend, Audrey (Chelah Horsdal), helps him try to make sense of it all. Sounds simple enough. Nope! As the story unfolds, Charles' new found talent brings other things into perspective that you wouldn't expect.
East to West (2011)
Most Illuminatiing - a Must See
I recommend seeing this at least once. It's full of enlightening facts and ideologies usually obscured by Western bias. I'd give this 10 out of 10 based on how much I love this series, however, it does have some glitches.
A - Although it is well thought out and written, the pacing tends to make the intensely interesting information take on a sleepy quality.
B - The editing appears to have been done separately from the narration and translation to the point where some edits are outright awkward. In one instance a Turkish man describes the importance of the information on an ancient frieze. The clip is cut off just after his subtitle reads "and this is important because-." In another instance the narrator announces "the crown jewel of the Sultan's fleet," while the visual clip follows a female historian from an angle that looks straight down at her chest. In a third instance, an archaeologist explains how, in a specific region of ancient Mesopotamia, the eyes of statues were all made with shells and lapis lazuli (a blue stone) but she does not comment on whether this indicates that the people were also all blue-eyed. These instances are not frequent, but are jarring for someone who is watching closely.
NONETHELESS, the visuals and the information are quite enthralling. To accommodate any more information would require the series to be twice as long. I wouldn't mind if it were longer.
Nothing Is Private (2007)
Disappointing!! Don't waist your money, someone will write a better version one day.
It's hard to imagine that this inhabited the same brain as "American Beauty" since it is so inferior in structure, language, and even execution. My brother said, "are you sure it was 'American Beauty,' not 'American Pie?'" Clearly, Alan Ball was in scriptwriting class for the lesson to "keep increasing the stakes for your protagonist," but he was absent for the lesson "maintain focus or you will lose your audience." Was the point to barrage the audience with how horribly inhuman adults can be, how small minds hide behind cultural misunderstandings, or how innocence is equal to passive spectator-ship? Whatever the point, it's lost.
As an Arab-American I saw the potential for the subject of emerging sexuality in a bi-cultural sphere to be clever, or touching, perhaps even insightful. Instead, I found badly written dialogue, badly structured plot, 1 dimensional characters, and ugly clichés that belong in a bad comedy, topped off with marginal performances. And that's all within the first 20 minutes! I saw situations that echoed my own experiences as an young Arab-American girl, dealt out like cheap skits rather than carefully drawn with respect and compassion. Even Hollywood knows how to be funny, compassionate, and respectful at the same time. I felt more violated by the way this movie treated Jasira and the other characters, than I ever did by people taunting me in school.
I couldn't take anymore. "Perils of Penelope" simply doesn't translate to the contemporary cultural arena. If only I had been engaged by a single character or if my curiosity had been slightly peaked, but no. So, I popped it out of the DVD player. I don't remember the last time I did that without watching an entire film, even a bad one.
There was one moment when the father seemed to promise humor but it passed quickly. As a whole, the script is grossly underdeveloped, so the film misses the mark, every mark. Don't waist your money, someone will write a better version one day.
It's definitely worth checking out.
Fillion fans and mystery fans should be equally pleased. This isn't just another police procedural. You'd think something without flashy special effects and sophisticated forensics would fall flat, but the characters are solid and the chemistry between Katic and Fillion works. It's even got a little Remington Steele style friendly rivalry going for it.
It's definitely worth checking out. Don't base your opinion on the first promo that came out in December, which featured a little too much cute, but on the fact that it's into the 3rd episode and it's still giving us nice meaty revelations into each character. You'll want to see where these people will take you next.
I've been a Fillionaire for many years, and it's really great to see him play a role where he gets to showcase some different emotional vocabulary. His genius lay in the fact that he's always believable. He can sell and play all sorts or character traits and and jack them into one role, convincingly. His layered performance gives true depth, even to a shallow guy like Rick Castle. I wish I could say that the show was riding on his shoulders, but I have to give credit to Katic, Quinn, and Sullivan who all hold up their ends too.
The only reason that the show doesn't get a 10 is that the scripts could be a little tighter, so sometimes the pacing feels off. I think the style is dead on, though and the dialogue varies from good to great. Quinn and Sullivan have been challenged with awkward bits of character development, that I hope will disappear. It's early in the show's life to be so harsh, though. Remember how contrived the first episodes of Gilmore Girls felt? I think this show could warm up to a hot simmer.
Bravo! I'll keep watching.
The Syrian Bride (2004)
Simply Essential, a true "must see"
As an Arab-American who spent her childhood in the shadow of the Isreali occupied Golan Heights, I found many memories from my childhood coming back. How ridiculous the most simple task can become when politics enters the picture! Anyone who wants personal insight into the Isreali-Arab conflict, should watch this. It's about as realistic as it can get.
This seemingly simple tale is fraught with all the obvious and subtle problems of a family and a community living under the restrictions of international politics. Whenever it starts to seem trite, it will surprise you with some detail or twist that reveals a depth that is never allowed to show on the surface. The plot is simple: a bride gets ready for her wedding... Not so simple, apparently.
Is the policeman a heartless occupying force? Is the father an iceberg? Is a border officer capable of setting policy for his entire Nation? Can the hopes of one woman survive this emotional day? You'll explore these questions while you become attached to the characters engaged in this drama. The acting is seamless, the scripting spare, and the production value is appropriate to the story being told.
The bottom line is that you should see this movie. If you watch it on DVD, be sure to watch the extras. The film was shot in Arabic and Hebrew (with a smattering of French and English), with English subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles flash by too quickly; but that's my only "major" complaint.
Unusual wit. Don't skip this one.
To say that this is a romantic comedy would be oversimplifying it. Shelly wrote a script with an unusually realistic look at humor and relationships. The actors are wonderful; and so are the direction and the script. I have to give a special nod to Any Griffith for the best performance he's ever been allowed to do. At points when you expect the performances to go over the top and become caricatures, the script and the acting pull in tight and come up with subtlety. It's not only worth seeing once, it's worth watching over again for the moments you're afraid you didn't appreciate properly the first time. It has some pacing issues, or I would have marked it higher. It's a real gem, though, the type of movie to signal the start of a brilliant career. It put my guts in knots reading the credits and finding that even the catchy song I liked so much was co-written by Shelly. Film has truly lost a treasure.
Don't Miss This
The premier was excellent. Usually, I hate premiers; or at least don't go back and watch them if I can help it. They tend to have too much exposition for my taste. No problem, here. "Drive" was entertaining, and intense, and it fed me just enough information to keep me hopping from one character to the next, wondering if I'd ever decide on a favorite. I was thoroughly expecting to like Alex Tully (Nathan Fillion); but I'm already drawn in by at least 4 other characters. Up here (BC), the station that airs it also shows "Amazing Race" which invites comparison. I'd say the comparison is quite favorable. They hit the same tone and each does things and goes places the other can't.
I recorded the 2 episode premier of "Drive" for a friend who couldn't watch it last night and couldn't resist watching it a second time, myself.
When I first heard the concept, I doubted even Tim Minear could pull it off; but the first two episodes are a home run. I can't wait to see the next one.
Worth the time and money, lots of fun, delivers what it promises.
I'm really impressed by Fido. It's funny, satirical, and even delightful at times. The references to "Lassie" fame are funny but respectful. The characters are intelligent when they need to be and tweaked just enough that they don't have to reach for laughs. The production value allows the audience to buy into the camp style even though it's in the spirit of satire. I don't think there is a single weak performance in the whole cast. K'Sun Ray delivers a performance that rivals that of the adults in the picture. Billy Connelly manages to be funny without even saying a word. Last, but not least, it's a breath of fresh air to see Carrie-Anne Moss in a role so alien to Trinity. It does have some gore and tense periods; but it's more about comedy than suspense or horror. I'd definitely see it again, which isn't something I do a whole lot. I give it a 10 because even though it didn't change my life, it did everything it claimed it would; and all with some panache. Every moment was entertaining.