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All reviews - Movies (33) - TV Shows (43) - Books (2)

The Vampire and the Ballerina review

Posted : 1 month ago on 11 February 2018 12:39 (A review of The Vampire and the Ballerina)

I'm not sure how many times I'll have to post WTF? to satisfy the 50 character minimum requirement for posting reviews. So many things wrong with this picture: the incoherent plot that seems more like an excuse to see beautiful woman dance around in leotards and fishnets (hey, maybe this wasn't such a bad movie),....vampire bites leaving no marks, no back story on the vampire antagonists. It was in Italian and even the English subtitles were occasionally wrong (words misspelled and incorrect translations). I'll stick (or is it shtick?) to the 60s made-in-Italy Hercules movies from now on!

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A Study in Stark Contrasts

Posted : 1 month, 2 weeks ago on 31 January 2018 03:16 (A review of The Girlfriend Experience)

First, do be fooled: GFE isn't in the vein of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Hell, there don't seem to be ANY shades of gray with GFE.  It's either black or white. The show's atmosphere swings from sparse and sterile to carnal and depraved. From the immaculately-clean, high-end apartments with state-of-the-art everything that are the setting for the sexual activity, the five-star bars serving top-shelf vodka, bourbon, and the driest of martinis that are the settings where assignations are arranged, and the Michelin-starred restaurants for pre-and post-coital meals to the boardrooms and business offices that are the backdrop to the GFEs' artifice, the scenes and acting are one moment taut, dull conversation and the next flesh pounding against flesh. In almost all scenes, the shots are wide, but filled with only two or three actors, uttering a sparse, clipped dialogue to match the sparse surroundings.

In season 1, the show highlighted Riley Keough's Christine, playing a classic trope: the law school student who's dalliance in high-end prostitution is funding her education.  But Christine is a temperamental, tightly-wound, high-strung young woman who's failing to live up to her family's expectations. As an intern at a well-to-do law firm, she's caught up in a conspiracy simultaneously involving her boss-slash-john. That plot alone would have made great fodder for a law firm drama but, like Christine's failings, it was undone by her inability to control her own temper. Eventually, Christine's two worlds collide and she comes crashing down to Earth.  In the end, she makes a choice to live only one lifestyle and it leaves her soul as empty as her surroundings.

In season 2, the show ran two separate plot lines back-to-back each week.  First was Anna Friel's Erica, a functionary working for a political action committee during an important election campaign and lesbian on the rebound from a recent break-up. The second was Carmen Ejogo's Bria, a gangster's moll in the witness protection program.  Anna Friel was brittle, dowdy and drab in her role, evoking little sympathy for her character Erica, while Carmen Ejogo, as Bria, brought some life to an otherwise poorly-written season.  Bria, now working a dull assembly line in Albuquerque, New Mexico, eventually falls back into GFE mode to not only break up the monotony of her life, but save up enough money to escape from under the Draconian thumb of her Federal Marshal handler.  Neither plot had a clean ending, especially Bria's "is this a fantasy or not?" finality.

I don't know if the show was renewed for third season, but I'm hopeful for a return to the first season.

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Quick and Easy

Posted : 3 months, 2 weeks ago on 3 December 2017 09:01 (A review of Cacio e pepe)

This is such a simple dish!  Boil up some spaghetti, drain it, season with some good, well-aged grated Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper and you're in heaven!  Serve as a side or as a quick supper with a good glass (or three) of white wine!

Tutti al tavolo e mangiare!

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A Distaff Limitless

Posted : 7 months ago on 18 August 2017 03:29 (A review of Lucy)

So, give Luc Besson a rough outline for a plot, a lot of money and loads of armaments and - PRESTO - you have a hit, right?  Sometimes,...  In Lucy, what started out as a distaff remake of the far-superior "Limitless," quickly devolves into blood, gore, chase scenes, cool SFX, more chase scenes, a plot(?) and finally ends in an incredulous denouement.  Hell, at one point, Morgan Freeman LITERALLY phones his part in!  

At least the end of "Limitless" left the story line open for more (hint, hint, CBS,...you could have handled the series better, but I digress).  Lucy ended a whimper, or the beep of an incoming text message. 

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Pizza Rustica review

Posted : 7 months ago on 17 August 2017 04:04 (A review of Pizza Rustica)

Pizza Rustica isn't really a pizza; it's actually a meat-laden quiche made for Easter. According to the legends passed down from my Abbruzese family, it was a way to use up all the eggs and meats that were hoarded away for Lent. In my family, we called it "Easter Pie."

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SiREN review

Posted : 7 months, 1 week ago on 6 August 2017 03:18 (A review of SiREN)

My son suggested I watch this mess. He now owes me 90 minutes of my life back. If he doesn't pay it back, I'll withhold his next tuition payment!

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A More "Realistic" Sci-Fi Series

Posted : 9 months ago on 16 June 2017 12:46 (A review of The Expanse)

First, ignore the reviews calling The Expanse "The Game of Thrones in Space." Any decent, multiple-plot show that's written well and keeps the characters in check will draw that comparison.  Watch The Expanse and drill a little deeper.  Why? I'm a die-hard sci-fi fan, but as we advance further into the 21st Century, many of the old standby sci-fi tropes are fast becoming sci-realty. True, The Expanse isn't populated with alien races, phasers and space travel at speeds greater than light.  What drew my eye was the attention to details: the humans raised on Mars, with its different size and relation to the sun, have difficulty orienting themselves in Earth's environment, with our stronger level of sunlight and those raised on "The Belt," with its lower gravity, cannot survive on Earth without being crushed by what we consider "normal" gravity.  All-in-all, this series is on the right track.  The metagenome, the show's "Holy Grail" has the potential to be the show's undoing.  Let's hope not.

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Unique Police Procedural

Posted : 1 year, 5 months ago on 28 September 2016 01:58 (A review of Motive)

So, the final episode of Motive just aired this week on US television and I was saddened to find out that it wouldn't be renewed for a 5th season (it's big financial backer and carrier, the USA Network, declined to pick up the airing rights for another season, essentially leaving CTV alone to pay for a season with limited, in-Canada only viewership). 

As police procedurals went, this one was unique: the killer and victim were both identified in the opening act.  As the show's name tells, the motive for the crime is what played out over the next hour.  The police investigation moved forward, while the relationship and circumstances of the killer and victim were shown in flashbacks.

The show was a great vehicle for it;s stars as well: Kristin Lehman, a ubiquitous presence on Canadian TV, brought charm, wit and pathos to the "gutsy, rebellious single-mom cop" trope. Louis Ferreira, long an actor known for playing heavies and psychotics, was "criminally" understated as Kristin's partner. And American ex-pat actress Lauren Holly, who's career was waning, shined as quirky, sexy Dr. Betty Rogers.

Sadly, only the ION channel is currently airing made-in-Canada TV series (all in reruns and not always a good thing, but I digress)  and they don't appear to have the financial power to support producing another season or two of Motive.

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Posted : 1 year, 8 months ago on 25 June 2016 05:22 (A review of Mozzarella)

As a child, growing up in a mostly-Italian neighborhood, many of the local grocery stores catered to people like my parents, who emigrated to the US from Italy.  One of my favorite memories was going to one such store every Sunday after attending church and loading up on a week's worth of Italian delicacies and fresh Italian bread!  And best of all?  Getting to pick out the best, soft, round ball of mozzarella from a huge tub of brine in the back of the store!  

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Slash The Writers!

Posted : 1 year, 10 months ago on 8 May 2016 03:15 (A review of Slasher)

So, as with most made-in-Canada TV productions, Slasher takes someone else's original premise, in this case the "Scream movie" franchise,  and drives it straight into its own ultimate level of banality.  

Where do I start?

 - Katie McGrath, late of <i>Merlin</i> and the quickly-cancelled <i>"Dracula"</i> reboot, seemed to have a hard time controlling her native Irish accent (probably not an issue in Anglophone Canadian, especially the Maritimes, but I noticed it.)

 - Hitting on all the pointless Canadianism tropes: a mixed-race marriage, prominent gay couple (hell, one of the victims was discovered by a lesbian couple on a hike!).  Not that there's anything wrong with that,...

 - The villain's ID was telegraphed in Episode 1 - I knew it was either <spoiler>the Anglican reverend</spoiler> or <spoiler>his police officer son</spoiler> in the first 30 minutes!

 - I don't live in Canada, but I would think after the second or third murder would have resulted in the intervention of the O.P.P. (the show was clearly based in Ontario) or the RCMP, instead of a lot of shoe-gazing and existential worry!

- The appearance of every member of <a href="http://www.listal.com/list/the-canadian-ten">The Canadian 10</a> actor.  Even DeGrassi stars Lauren Collins and Paula Brancati got 5 minutes' of pointless face time. 

In all, it was a dozen hours of prime DVR time that could have been better used viewing another series!

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