Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blue Jasmine

“Blue Jasmine” is an excellent introspective look into the life of a group of very interesting characters. A key dilemma is how much does someone know, what does she do with what she knows, and what consequences result. The writer-director has created a cast of divergent believable characters who are, above all, interesting. Each character has flaws and good elements. The movies makes excellent use of flashbacks, a technique that often is difficult to implement. Here, the flashbacks work as they drive divergent story lines and helps us appreciate the future and flashback stories much better. While writer-director Woody Allen is known primarily for comedies, this is a serious drama. Do not arrive expecting a typical Woody Allen comedy. One should find a sensitive look into the lives of people with their own torments and hopes. The acting is superb. As one who has liked Woody Allen’s films yet criticized that sometimes needs someone overseeing his own work to help him trim some lines (which is a danger of writing and directing your own film), I have no such criticism for this film.  The screenplay is brilliant and the directing appears superb. Most characters arrive at satisfying arcs, although some may quibble that while Jasmine reaches an arc in her story line, one does not know what the future holds for Jasmine. Although, that probably is the point. This is an excellent dramatic film.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Seven

The seventh season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” shows it is able to continue its successful wacky humor formula that has served this show so well. We may cringe at the wild ideas the gang conceives yet many laughs are found as their schemes fall apart. The faults are the making of the characters. They often are too self-absorbed, out to make quick money, generally lack the ability to foresee the consequences of their actions, and often lack common sense. They  have little honor even amongst themselves. This all sets the episodes for many of the most bizarre situations for the characters. These are adult situations with foul language and sexual situations. Some may find offense at a scene where two characters want the services of a police sketch artists so they make a false rape report. That, though, seems normal for this incredibly unique cast of characters. The cast are all hilarious and great actors. They have terrific chemistry between them that has remained through these seasons. The scripts are funny. This is a great show.

Carnival Knowledge

“Carnival Knowledge” is the film of Naomi Grossman’s one woman play It is set with an arcade background and depicts life as represented by carnivals. The tales of dating are humorously told. Many witty remarks and references emerge from the stories and analyses Naomi Grossman presents. The tales become serious and urns to sadness. Fortunately, the tales arc to a nice conclusion. Much of the humor is adult in nature, It is well told and should produce quite a few laughs for most viewers.


“Insidious” grabs the viewer by getting at one of our greatest fears: A child is sick, in a coma, and no one knows why. The family just moved into a new house, and there are unusual things about this new residence, like weird sounds emanating from unknown sources. A villainous person appears, but only the wife sees him, creating tensions between the husband who doesn’t see the creature and a scared wife. This movie gets a bit intense for those easily scared. It has some terrifying scenes which are signs of a good horror movie. It is noted that the late Tiny Tim probably never realized his tulips songs could be the source of immense terror. If one likes to be frightened, all through the story, this is a movie for you.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Butler

‘“The Butler” is an inspiring movie. It projects the life of one family with their personal involvement with what is happening during around them regarding changing attitudes on race relations. It begins shockingly and tragically depicting the times when a white person could kill a Black person without legal ramification. It shows how disagreements within a family over how one should respond to racial hatred tears apart a family. Viewers see the debates over civil rights through the eyes of a White House butler and a son who is in the forefront of civil rights protests. We see the son realizing that domestic servants play their own roles in the movement for civil rights approval. A father comes to realize that activism also an important role. This movie presents a satisfying arc for the characters and the nation. The lead characters are all well acted. The film provides an excellent view of important parts of our national history. The portrayals of some of the Presidents play to their caricatures and visually fail to capture the Presidents. Yet the story is the butler and his family, and that is the true heart of this film.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Knight Rider: Season One

The first season of “Knight Rider” is reminiscent of an era where many TV dramas were a bit hokey and underacted. This is one of the better representatives of that era, as a talking car that can drive itself (soon to be a reality) steals the limelight. There is a consistent theme: some rich criminal hurts people that includes a beautiful woman and attempts to destroy hero David Knight and his car KITT, without realizing that Knight and KITT are pretty much indestructible. In most episodes, Knights saves a new damsel in distress. David Hasselhoff is good as the lead although held back by scripts where things happen without much intellectual challenge, sometimes by coincidence. Edward Mulhare is a pleasant eccentric support cast member. Patricia McPherson, whose auto mechanic’s suit never has any dirt, is underused as the requisite female support cast member by only having a few lines each episode. The underacting is amplified by scenes which should be of intense drama where few emotions are shown.Still the story lines,at times, can be compelling. One gem is when David Knight is confronted with his fiancee from his past life. Realism is difficult to find in this series. For instance, one wonders how Knight finds all those roads to drive so fast or so quirky where there is no other traffic. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fruitvale Station

“Fruitvale Station” is a film that accomplishes something difficult for a film. It presents a gripping story where the audience knows how the movie will end. Indeed, the film begins with the scene of Bay Area Transit Police shooting the main character dead. Viewers then see actors presenting a flashback of the final day in the life of a man unaware that his demise is near. It is very well done. The movie takes the risky route of presenting something negative about the main character near the film's beginning.  Over the course of the film we see a more complicated and caring person. We see a man who is loved, who has people he loves, who does nice things, and who has flaws. It has an interesting arc where characters seen previously reemerge at critical moments. This makes for a great film. (I have not checked how much of the film is true or fiction. This is a review of the film itself.) It is an interesting peak into a life as it proceeds towards a disastrous end.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Way, Way Back

“The Way, Way Back” is both a realistic depiction of the awkwardness of the early teen years and a natural comedy. One is amused throughout the films over the situations in which the characters find themselves. There is an extroverted neighbor and a water park manager who refuses to go his age who provide much amusing entertainment. There are memorable side characters such as a wise cracking employee who is afraid of germs. These characters are well portrayed and are believable. Many will be able identify with the characters and feel for them. The movie has a great arc for the teenagers that is honest and refreshing, as well as an important arc for a scared mother, This is truly one of the funniest movies around, with an excellent script and superb acting.