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    18 years


Kept Woman

good potential
Jessica (Courtney Ford) and Evan Crowder (Andrew W. Walker) decide to leave NYC after a robber breaks into their home. They move to the country where they hope to live a safe suburban life. Jessica is concerned about their oddball neighbor Simon (Shaun Benson) who later kidnaps her. She is held captive along with Robin Simmons (Rachel Wilson) in his 50's lifestyle basement. Evan seeks help from his NYPD friend Tyler Haynes and Jessica's fellow amateur sleuth Oscar Garrett.

The creepy story has some potential and I like some of these actors. Somehow, this feels a little light despite the brutal violent story. It's probably the lower budget and some less than stellar plot points. I do come back again and again to the basement decor. I get the idea of the 50's looking prison. It's a trap. It's not scary enough but it's not real enough. It's fake at a lower price point which takes away some of the intensity. This has the potential of a good indie horror but it doesn't quite hit its target.

This Is Us

perfect pilot
The show opens with text hinting that there is a connection between people who share the same birthday. Kate (Chrissy Metz) is in an overweight support group with Toby Damon (Chris Sullivan). Her brother Kevin (Justin Hartley) lives a superficial Hollywood life acting in the superficial Manny sitcom. Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown) is a workaholic father looking to confront his birth father. Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) are pregnant. The first episode ends with a shocking and satisfying reveal tying everyone together.

The pilot is amazing and the show lived off the good feelings for the first season. It's a glorious first season with plenty of memorable episodes. Several ascended into the popular zeitgeist. The second season tries to go over the top with a shocking turn but in many ways, it jumped a mini-shark. The later years are fine family TV drama but it could not reached the highest heights of the first season. I think the turn was not necessary especially so early in the show's run. It's more a gimmick for a floundering show's later years. It wasn't executed that well either. It left the show with an obvious handicap. One has to love the first season but the second season twist sped up the show's decline.

Four Good Days

serious rehab film
Molly (Mila Kunis) is a longtime drug addict. She had lost her children after many failed rehab. Her mother (Glenn Close) is at her wits' end and refuses to let her into the house unless she is clean and sober. She looks bad. Her mother relents and helps her try rehab once more.

This is sincere but the first hour lacks drama. There is a blandness to the straight forward story telling in the early part. The movie should start with a scary episode in Molly's drug life which leads her to seek safety from her mother. At least, the opening should be Molly struggling to find a vein to inject drugs. That would be something dark and different. It would be devastating and a good rock bottom. This has the greatness that is Glenn Close. There are some very compelling scenes here and there. It takes an hour before the story takes an unexpected turn. I'm sure that a lot of the scenes in the first hour are wanted but some of them need to be cut if they're not necessary. The sister is not necessary. It's a serious story but it's still a movie. The drama needs to move faster and earlier.

The Djinn

small indie horror
It's 1989. Dylan Jacobs is mute from the tragedy of his late mother. He and his father move into a new home. He finds an old mirror and The Book of Shadows in one of the boxes. The book reveals how to summon the Djinn and make one's wishes come true.

This is a low budget indie horror. It's quiet with some spooky atmosphere. The pacing is a little slow. The narration could be better. The plot is very thin. The CGI is fine for a small film. The limits of this small indie does show. The lead Ezra Dewey looks a bit like a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His acting is fine. His muteness makes it easier and simplifies his performance. All in all, this is a fine small indie horror. It could be more. I don't know anything about these filmmakers. They seem to have the basic skills. They'll have to do more to stand out from the crowd.

Village People

some minor fun
Mercado Village is supposed to be a hip sexy tropical resort in Nicaragua. It's also supposed to be the last chance for Alan (Brandon Scott) and his wife. She's a no-show. Instead, he is joined by her brother and his best friend Mike (George Basil). Barbara (Aya Cash) and Zak (Echo Kellum) are the co-owners of the resort.

I like a few of these actors. I want to love this. Aya Cash and George Basil are doing all their standard comedic moves. I do like single gal Aya Cash struggling with her drunken life but the tone is a little more towards the depressing side. Alan is such a wet blanket and he has limited chemistry with Barbara. It may work better without the wife drama. This trio could have some wacky adventures. As it stands, it's a little random. The dildo adventure is fun. The sex scene wants to be funnier than it is. The same goes for their fight over her. I can see the comedy but it's not quite as funny as it should be. I would probably replace Echo Kellum with a stuffy suit type actor. Quite frankly, he could do well as Alan. This has some minor fun but mostly, it's a limited indie comedy.

Too Hot to Handle

Gable and Loy
Slick playboy newsreel filmmaker Chris Hunter (Clark Gable) is working the Chinese-Japanese war. His bosses are not happy with his work or his attempted reporting. He uses every underhanded trick to get the action shots even if he has to fake it. He literally runs into pilot Alma Harding (Myrna Loy) and recruits her despite his many tricks and lies.

Clark Gable's devious cad is loads of fun. His pairing with Myrna Loy is easy money but the story takes too many turns. This should be a lot simpler. Hunter needs to learn his lesson in China and the most obvious way is for him to deliver a real serum to war-torn Chinese refugees. After his many lies are exposed, he could try to do real reporting about a real outbreak but nobody would believe him. He and Alma would deliver the life-saving serum against all odds. That's the better story move. Nevertheless, there are some fun flying footage and some good banter. The action is good with rear projection and miniature work. It's good but I keep thinking that this could be better.

The Day the Bookies Wept

Joe Penner
A group of cabbie friends decides to buy their own racehorse. They tap pigeon trainer Ernest Ambrose (Joe Penner) to go to Kentucky. He gets quickly targeted by a con man who sells him an alcoholic horse. The horse is a loser until Ernest's crush Ina Firpo (Betty Grable) overhears the secret of the horse from the con man. It runs best on beer.

I don't know Joe Penner but he was apparently a big depression era comedian. I can certainly see the screwball comedy of it all and Penner's vaudevillian skills. He's doing something like Jim Varney's Ernest. There is nothing wrong with that type of comedy but it's not the most refined. The writing is a bit messy but there is inherent comedy in a drunken horse premise.

Dark Delusion

Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) has enough of the young aggressive unconventional Dr. Tommy Coalt (James Craig). He sends him as short term replacement for a local small town doctor. He is asked to commit young socialite Cynthia Grace (Lucille Bremer) to an insane asylum but Coalt insists on searching for a cure of her disturbing behavior.

I don't know if this film is medically sound. I would have preferred a murder mystery, or maybe she's lying, or at least a cinematic multiple personality. I want something more dramatic. The movie goes off on a detour with a phone chase in the third act. It's like the writer knows that the movie needed some action to spice things up. Apparently this was the last film in the franchise which created Dr. Kildare. I can see this more as a TV medical drama. As a cinematic film, it's lacking.

She Freak

bad movie with real circus
Waitress Jade Cochran quits to join the circus. She's waiting tables again but she is quickly befriended by dancing girl Pat 'Moon' Mullins. Steve St. John is the owner.

The acting is painfully amateurish. The lead actress is all false attitude. It's also not an appealing character. The fake acting is really annoying. It's an amateur low-budget indie and it's pretty bad. The filmmaking is poor. The story is a melodramatic pulpy mess. The most compelling aspect is the real life circus location. I'm more interested in a montage of setting up the rides than the plot. I love the circus paintings in the background. They look gorgeous. Everything else is pretty bad.

Thrill of Fair

not quite Swee'Pea
Olive Oyl is entering her beloved pig in the livestock fair. While she's busy, Popeye takes Swee'Pea around the carnival. Swee'Pea crawls off and chaos ensues.

This is mostly a Popeye and Swee'Pea story. The design of Swee'Pea seems to have been simplified. He looks more doll-like which becomes part of the plot. He doesn't have the iconic look. Olive Oyl's role is small and I didn't know she had a pig. It's a simple Popeye cartoon. I do miss the standard Swee'Pea design.

Cherry Blossom Time in Japan

TravelTalks visits pre-war Japan during the cherry blossom season. This could have been an interesting insight into everyday life and the cities which were destroyed by the war. This could have been a great time capsule. Instead, they are doing a lot of parks, temples, and costumed ladies. It's not showing anything that hasn't remained the same for hundreds of years. In fact, most of this episode can be seen today and only glimpses of everyday fashion have changed. It's fine. It's pretty enough but the timelessness actually works against this one.

Barney Bear's 'Polar Pest'

simple Barney Bear
Barney Bear's hibernation is interrupted by his polar bear nephew from the North Pole. It's too warm for the nephew to go the sleep. It's a very simple Barney Bear premise and execution. It's a standard Barney Bear problem. Someone is keeping him from hibernation. It's interesting to have a polar bear nephew although they should definitely give him a name. He needs a name in case he could be a recurring character. This is generally fine.

The Mutations

freak show
Aka The Mutations. University professor Dr. Nolter (Donald Pleasence) is experimenting on plant genes. He and deformed assistant start using innocent people in his experiments to combine humans and plants.

There are some great elements in this and it has Donald Pleasence. The geek show is amazingly freaky. It hits the perfect campiness with a good amount of creep. The movie is somewhat disjointed and the pacing is slow. They probably need to do more with the group of young students although I would hate to lose time with Pleasence. Nolter should be the leader of the geek show. It could take place all in one night as he kidnaps a group of young people to experiment on. He's creating more geeks. That's the better horror.

How We Roll

bowling network sitcom
Tom Smallwood (Pete Holmes) has been laid off from the factory. He has only been good at one thing, bowling. With no education and few opportunities, he starts on the long road to be a professional bowler. His wife Jen (Katie Lowes) and mother (Julie White) are both concerned. His best friend Archie (Chi McBride) owns the local bowling place.

It's standard network sitcom and it's bland. Pete Holmes is a comic with certain skills. In this case, the show tends to accentuates his whininess. I also don't see the concept doing that well. One would think that bowling would send him on the road a lot. In addition, I don't like any of the family or the friends. The wife and mother don't start off well by complaining about his dream. It's cancelled after the first season. I doubt anybody is going to miss it.


intriguing start
Amnesiac Isaac is hired by his landlord Moe Barrett to look after his mentally ill niece Olga. She lives in a house on a remote island and Isaac can't swim. Moe has one more caveat. Isaac has to wear a leather harness anchored by a metal chain. This prevents Isaac from entering Olga's room and access to some parts of the house.

This starts with an intriguing premise. It's a great launching point for this low budget horror. I'm hooked like a guy wearing a chained harness. The convoluted plot does lose me somewhere along the way. It starts to feel Kafkaesque but it does explain itself. It's still intriguing although I do find myself writing a different movie in my brain.

The Nowhere Inn

some funny
Annie Clark is music star St. Vincent. She asked her friend Carrie Brownstein to make a documentary about her tour. On stage, she is cool and powerful but in the real world, she's a nice boring pushover. Carrie suggests injecting some of her on-stage persona into her real life to spice up the documentary. Annie takes it too far.

This is funny little indie. Some of it is downright Spinal Tap. The sex scene is pure Spinal Tap. The story does lose the thread at the end when it tries to go surreal. It seems like the writers felt they had nowhere to go. The thing is that there is an obvious way to close it out. Annie and Carrie need to have a heart-to-heart to save their friendship. Their friendship is the overarching premise of the movie. I thought the prison is a great move but everything after that is missing the point. It's still really fun.

Mr. Mayor

Tina Fey and Robert Carlock
Billboard tycoon Neil Bremer (Ted Danson) won a special election and is now the mayor of L. A. He's completely new to politics and wildly unconventional. His daughter Orly (Kyla Kenedy) is not happy even though he got into the race for her. Mikaela Shaw (Vella Lovell), Tommy Tomás (Mike Cabellon), and Jayden Kwapis (Bobby Moynihan) work for his office. He brings in rival council woman Arpi Meskimen (Holly Hunter) to be his deputy mayor.

The bigger names are actually creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Everybody knows Tina Fey. Carlock is a veteran TV writer and producer. This team comes from 30 Rock and more. It has that sense of wacky fun and a cast of comedic characters in another workplace sitcom. Ted Danson is a fun lead for a TV sitcom. He's proven that over his many years. It has a wacky cast and Holly Hunter. She's doing something completely different and I like it. This is no 30 Rock but one can see the similarities. It lasted two seasons. Network TV is a tough landscape nowadays and it couldn't get the needed audience.

Below the Sahara

old fashion nature film
Filmmaker Armand Denis and his wife Michaela travel to British East Africa for a safari. Only they're not bringing guns. They're bringing cameras to capture the animal for eternity. They do catch a few alive for their zoo friends. That's what passes as progressive back in the day. This is an old fashion nature film. One can really feel the colonialism. The cinematography is solid with some awesome animals. There is a bit of the culture of the villagers as they help them in catching their live specimens and kill a gorilla for a feast. It's the early 50's, so the wifey can be seen but rarely heard from. I'm joking, sort of. This is old fashion in more than one way and that's fine.

The Art of Self-Defense

Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is a mild-mannered accountant. He has his work and his dog. He's a pushover. One night out of the blue, he gets attacked by a group of bikers. After getting out of the hospital, he joins a Karate dojo run by Sensei (Alessandro Nivola). Anna (Imogen Poots) teaches the kiddie students.

The first half is a little slow. The comedy is mild and dead-pan. I love Eisenberg turning awkwardly violent. It's hilarious. The second half has an obvious reveal. There is some unspoken elements in Anna. I want a different way to end the story. Maybe Tarantino it up. All in all, it's a good little dead-pan dramedy with a few good laughs.


A couple finds a comic book called Utopia while cleaning out their newly purchased home. It's the follow-up to Dystopia, a cult comic book depicting an imprisoned rabbit scientist forced to create apocalyptic viruses. The couple is meeting various fans at a comic book convention to sell the original manuscript. Most are just fans. A few believe that this is more than fiction. It is and there are those who are willing to kill.

I like the UK original, especially the first series. I like its visual style. I like its surrealism. I like its mystery story and I like its brutal violence. For this American version, I knew coming in that it had already been cancelled after its first season. I wanted to check it out anyways. Obviously, the mystery is gone since I've seen the UK version. The style feels less unique. The show is keeping the weirdness but the visual is not as cool. The pilot episode needs to start with some brutal violence like the UK version. There is no need to save any of that. The bloody violence is a big part of the show. I would have liked to keep Rothe. She's the best comedic actor in the group along with Dan Byrd. Maybe she could have been a good Jessica Hyde. I love Sasha Lane but Rothe has more comedic chops. Sasha delivers more instability but that also makes it questionable why the group stays with her. This one needs to exploit more of its comedy.

The unnamed elephant in the room is Covid. The story is uncomfortably close and uses a conspiracy theory that touches upon the reality outside our windows. It's too close and too soon. It's uncomfortable in many different ways. It's also too convoluted. Of course, it's contrived but it feels contrived. There are too many things that are too unreal. The evil scheme has some unrealistic holes and is overly complicated. The conspiracy is too big to keep secret. In the end, it wraps a short eight episode first season and gets cancelled before moving on to a second.


more creepy than funny
Jeff Penaras (Danny Pudi) and Sarah Penaras (Emily Chang) are a married couple with differing opinions on having kids. They and their friends, Taylor Small and Don Small, come up with an unique plan to have a child.

This gets more creepy than funny. At first, Jeff and Sarah are not that appealing. It's like the PC argument at Jeff's work. It's a bit of anger, a bit of ridiculous, and a whole lot of could be funnier. The same goes for the baby plan. I get the comedic premise but it doesn't feel funny. Creepy may be too harsh of a term. It's definitely awkward but not a funny sort of awkward. Stretching out the sex scene does arrive at a place of awkward humor. In the end, it doesn't succeed as a comedy and that's all that matters.

Sweet Thing

some powerful moments
Billie and her younger brother Nico grow up in a dysfunctional family. Their mother is desperately clinging to a man who is an abusive drunk.

The filmmaking style is naturalistic and experimental. There is a mixture of black and white and color filming. Both are very beautiful but I'm not sure of each's significance. There are some really powerful moments. I would like the abuse to come sooner and to have more time for their adventure. I prefer a longer road trip for the kids and more story. The movie does have its slow spots. I want less of those and more well-constructed stories.


follows Silence
It's 1993, a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) is a rookie FBI agent. Former senator Ruth Martin is now Attorney General and she assigns Clarice to work in a new task force under Paul Krendler.

I like the lead actress but I don't know about her accent work. I'm not from the region but it looks ill-fitting coming out of her mouth. It is very interesting to watch this alternate telling of the story. The tone could be darker. It's a fine procedural but maybe a better serial. I like the ongoing progression of the story. I am surprised by its early cancellation. It only lasted 13 episodes.


bad start to generic sitcom
Kenan Williams (Kenan Thompson) is still struggling after losing his late wife. He's raising his two daughters with his live-in father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson) and brother manager Gary (Chris Redd). He has a morning TV show. Mika Caldwell (Kimrie Lewis) is his longtime producer and Tami Greenlake (Taylor Louderman) is his high maintenance co-host.

Kenan starts the show with a blend of suppressed anger and frustrated comedy. It's not a good way to start a sitcom but his natural charisma pulls me back in. It turns into a rather standard network sitcom. It's fine but it's not elevating to something more. It's all very generic. It lasted two seasons.


most disappointing cancellation
Amy (Eliza Coupe), Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Sarah (Maggie Q) make life defining changes after their best friend Colleen's death. Local morning talk show producer Amy decides to be a better mother to her kids. Jodie has an affair with her trainer. Sarah quits being an ER doctor to be a grocery store cashier.

I love this show and this has to be the most disappointing among this year's cancellations. First, I love these sexy older actresses. Quite frankly, I'm surprised by Maggie Q's comedic abilities. Each actress brings something compelling. I love their relationships and the variety in their changes. It's a fun show with fun characters. It's a real shame that it couldn't find a bigger audience.

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