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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

so random so wacky so funny
Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) was in the 8th grade when she was kidnapped by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm). She spends the next 15 years in an underground bunker in Indiana with the Reverend and his other captive wives. They are rescued by the police and become media sensations known collectively as the Indiana Mole Women. While doing media in New York, Kimmy leaves the group to strike out on her own. Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) rents her a basement apartment which she shares with Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess). She starts working for rich Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski) to care for her stepkids.

It's a funny ridiculous surreal Netflix sitcom. I like Ellie Kemper's unhinged comedy. Titus is the breakout character although he's a bit annoying to me. He's actually mean to Kimmy at first. I'm not in love with the introduction of Jacqueline White although I really like Kimmy's chemistry with the spoiled stepdaughter Xan. It's too bad that Dylan Gelula didn't become a main cast member. The serial aspect gets rambling. There are some really funny stories. There is something to be said about the catchy opening theme which always sets a good mood. It would be nice to settle upon a more set situation in the comedy. So much of this is random. The randomness can be funny but it's also random.

Stronger Than A Bullet

amazing pictures
As a young man, Saied saw the revolution as saving the Iranian people. A year later, the war with Iraq begins which would claim a million deaths. Saied becomes a photographer and propagandist. It's three decades later and he returns to Iran to revisit the war for him where the picture is stronger than a bullet.

The photographs are amazing. This is not much more than an hour and it doesn't get too deeply into his live. Honestly, a photo catalogue of the pictures would be more compelling. He gives the pictures some limited context. It's enough to give the sense of lost and waste. It sounds like the full catalogue will never be seen as the Iranians continue to use a selection of them for propaganda purposes.

A Dog's Way Home

journey home
In Denver, puppy Bella (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives under a condemned house with her family and various stray cats. The evil dog catcher Chuck grabs her family. Lucas and his girlfriend Olivia find Bella. Lucas opposes the developer from demolishing the buildings without saving the cats. The evil developer hires evil Chuck to declare Bella as a pitbull threatening her with euthanasia. Lucas brings Bella to his work at the VA where she becomes a comfort animal to the troubled vets including Lucas' mom Terri (Ashley Judd). While trying to avoid Chuck, Lucas teaches Bella how to "Go Home". It doesn't work and Lucas is forced to send Bella away to Olivia's relative in New Mexico. Bella is confused and sets off to "Go Home".

It's a sweet movie. There are obvious tear jerking manipulation going on here. I'm perfectly fine with that. I like Lucas and I love the dog. The veterans aspect is really pulling on the heart strings. The journey has a lot of fun. At first, I was concerned about the cougar story. I did grow to like the companionship. It got too convenient with the reunion in the wolf attack. Sometimes, a character left behind is better off being left behind. The cougar does not need to make a return appearance. I would have preferred Bella to make the escape herself. After all, the first escape happened with the two campers. Why not let her engineer her own escape crossing a fallen a tree across the river? That was already set up from before and the wolves could fall off. Also the CGI of the wolves-cougar fight is far inferior. It looks very fake. The CGI animals are problematic anyways. Making CGI action is beyond this movie's capabilities. It's just more fun to steal grocery store roast chickens. That fight scene is the most problematic of the movie. The homeless guy is the next closest because I wanted a different resolution to his story. I have sympathy for the guy even if he chained up Bella. There is a way to save him if he meets up with one of the vets. Overall, it's rough at times, sweet at times, funny at times, and a touching melodrama in the good sense.

Beat Street

cultural time capsule and cult classic
In the Bronx, a group of friends perform and enjoy the street culture. Kenny Kirkland is the MC, his brother Lee is a break-dancer in a group called Beat Street Breakers, and their friend Ramon is a graffiti artist. The boys go to popular nightclub Roxy where Beat Street battles a rival dance crew. Kenny is taken with music student Tracy Carlson (Rae Dawn Chong). Ramon's dream is a white subway car.

These are not professional actors. The amateur acting does give the movie its own authenticity which adds to the film's street value. It's of its time and presents its cultural world. It would be great to have more on Ramon's rivalry. The friends have good friendship chemistry but there is little chemistry with Tracy. It would be great to have more charismatic actors. It's the early world of hip-hop. It's a cultural time capsule. It's a cult classic.

The Trip to Bountiful

life is a journey
Hymn singing Carrie Watts (Geraldine Page) lives with her son Ludie (John Heard) and his demanding wife Jessie Mae in Houston. The women fight. Carrie hides her pension check from Jessie Mae and is desperate to return to her childhood home in rural Bountiful, Texas. She sneaks off to take the train to Bountiful but no trains go there now. Even the bus doesn't stop there anymore. She befriends Thelma (Rebecca De Mornay) on the trip.

There are a couple of real tear jerker scenes in this one. The conversation between Carrie and Thelma on the bus is devastating. I kinda expected Thelma to join Carrie on the rest of the journey. It's a disappointing when she departs the movie. I wasn't excited about the sheriff but driving her is a great redemption and her return is another tear jerker. This is a simple story and a powerful emotional journey. Geraldine Page won her well-deserved Oscar. This is a must see for cinema lovers.

Twice Upon a Time

strange interesting animation
Din is a city of 4B Rushers being driven by the Cosmic Clock. Sleep is a struggle between the sweet dreams of Frivoli and the nightmares of Murkworks. Greensleeves and his Figmen bring sweet dreams to the Rushers. Synonamess Botch and his vultures drop nightmare bombs on them. When Greensleeves is kidnapped, two unlikely heroes come to the rescue. Ralph is the All-Purpose Animal who turns into different animals and Mumford is the silent mime. Rod Rescueman is the bumbling idiot who causes more problems than help. Flora Fauna is an aspiring actress and Greensleeves' niece.

This animation reminds me of children's books from the 60's and 70's or outsider cartoons. They are cut-outs with some real black and white photographs as background. The animation style is interesting. It has my attention but the narrative is messy. The improvised dialogue doesn't help and isn't actually funny. Instead of spending time creating gobbledygoop names, they should spend more time giving the story more flow. The two heroes are interesting although if Flora Fauna is to be part of the group. She should be in the trio. I also think the Clock muddles the nightmare story. They're really two different ideas. Overall, this is an intriguing outsider oddity. It's a little strange and well worth a watch. I don't know which version I saw but it seems perfectly fine.

The Red Line

pushing hot buttons
High school teacher Daniel Calder (Noah Wyle), his respected surgeon husband Harrison Brennan, and their adopted daughter Jira live a comfortable life in Chicago. Harrison is mistakenly killed by police officer Paul Evans (Noel Fisher) during a convenient store holdup. Paul comes from a police family. He's troubled by the incident and his partner has stolen the surveillance tape proving his fault. Jira contacts her biological mother, Tia Young, who is running for local office against corrupt incumbent Nathan Gordon. The Red Line also refers to a train line that cuts through different neighborhoods in Chicago.

The show is pushing some hot buttons. It's pushing the audience's buttons. The politics may be off-putting for some. Daniel is off-putting for me. He's got the annoying self-righteous neediness. He's more of a problem than any of the politics. As it stands, the plot is compelling enough. Noel Fisher is able to thread the needle without making his character villainous. His daddy issue is the needed origin story. Jira's need for a black culture connection is compelling. There are good aspects and I want to see the characters' journey. There are still plenty of problems. Even the last episode has Tia bribing somebody in Gordon's camp. I wouldn't mind it but Tia needs to be conflicted about the bribe. Instead, she seems oblivious to her own corrupted politics in the situation. There are a few awkward bothersome turns. Overall, it is intriguing enough to hold one's attention.

Game of Thrones

In the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the ruler sits on the Iron Throne. It's a story of various characters fighting to gain the throne, influence the throne, or survive the throne. There are White Walkers, giants, dragons, and a big ice wall.

This follows the George R. R. Martin series of fantasy novels, at least for the earlier seasons. This HBO show lasted 8 seasons, 6 of which are the pinnacle of prestige TV. In our fragmented TV world, this may be the last of the watercooler shows. People are eager to watch it on its first airing and eager to discuss it with their friends right away. People binge to catch up so they can join the conversation. The writing is great. The production is cinematic. No spoilers in this review. Just binge and enjoy.

The Big Bang Theory

love and hate
Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in next door to awkward nerds Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). The boys work at the university with fellow scientists Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). Aspiring actress Penny works as a Cheesecake Factory waitress along with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). In the third season, Sheldon goes on a blind date with Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik).

Chuck Lorre must be a gagillionaire by now after creating so many successful network sitcoms. There seems to be two main arguments for the show's detractors. It's either the nerds are not real people or that Lorre is a sitcom hack cultivating the lowest denominator of network TV. There is truth to both and it doesn't matter. The truth of the characters and the nerd culture is that it's a cartoon but that's network TV. Urkel is a TV icon but he's not a real person. Sure, these are broad characters but Chuck does add depth to most of them... except Raj. They are enjoyable and loveable... except Raj. There is a continuity problem with a character like Sheldon who gets modified over time. Everybody gets a bit of modification. In fact, Raj needed to modify his mute problem a lot earlier. It's tradition that minor characters can disappear without a trace. Minor history does not have to match up. None of it is anything different from most of the TV greats. As for nerd culture, this has the positive of digging into the boys' work. They are nerds because they love the stuff. They are science geeks. Maybe they talk too much about comics and not enough about important cultural and political ideas. That's not this show.

As for Lorre being a hack going low brow, it's not so low brow that it's badly written. It is better than 90% of network TV. As for repeating himself or repeating others, I simply quote another Barenaked Ladies song, "It's All Been Done b-e-f-o-r-e." There are similar misunderstandings or arguments or love interests as other iconic shows from before. It does follow the sitcom formula. It's not a show pushing any boundaries. There are catch phrases. It has its own Urkel. I don't look down on that. Most of the problematic writing comes with Raj. He could have been rehabilitated with Lucy. I love Kate Micucci and she could be another Mayim Bialik. The biggest differentiator between a good show and a bad one is usually how much the audience likes the leads. In this case, the fans love these characters. I'm also giving this show an extra point for being a successful show for twelve seasons. In our modern fragmented world, this show stands atop of all the network sitcoms.

Angie Tribeca

Angie Tribeca (Rashida Jones) is a member of the Really Heinous Crimes Unit in the LAPD. DJ Tanner (Deon Cole), Jay Geils (Hayes MacArthur), and canine David Hoffman are her fellow investigators. Chet Atkins (Jere Burns) is her boss. Monica Scholls (Andree Vermeulen) is the medical examiner.

This is an outlandish network cop show spoof from TBS. It's extremely silly done with a straight face. It's cute. It's fun. It's got a great cast led by Rashida Jones. It's CSI done with Airplane! sensibilities. It's nice.

Triple Frontier

good overall
Santiago "Pope" Garcia is a military adviser working beside the Colombian police taking down the drug cartels. With his beautiful informer Yovanna, he gets intel about the location of a drug lord hide out and his loot estimated at $75M. He recruits other disenfranchised ex-military; Tom 'Redfly' Davis (Ben Affleck), William 'Ironhead' Miller (Charlie Hunnam), Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund), and pilot Francisco 'Catfish' Morales (Pedro Pascal). They plan to kill the drug lord and steal his money.

This has good action and good locations. It's got good actors and some good tense thrills. A few of the group's move do annoy me. They are well organized but they make a few annoying mistakes that frustrate me. The first annoying contrivance is when they start talking about their plan at a local hang-out. It's kind of annoying when they won't shut up. It's bad enough that they are showing their faces there. On the other hand, I have no problem when Redfly starts pushing back the timeline as he greedily grabs the money. That is a very human concept. Although I have a real issue with not killing the guards. Why don't they have silencers? Why aren't they killing the guards? Are the guards innocent in their eyes? It's awfully unreal like one of those 80's action movies. Then they make the stupidest mistake. The first drop should be the net. It should always be the plan if they don't make it over the hump. They should drop the net on an isolated peak and plan to come back for it later. It's poor planning and they're supposed to be smart. They could still write in a mechanical failure and a crash landing. I just need the guys to be smarter. As for the hike across the Andes, it's somewhat unrealistic to carry that much cargo on foot. At the very least, they should eat one of the mules. There's no way they are carrying that much food. The calories needed to carry that weight would be enormous. Despite the unrealistic turns, I do find the action well done and the thrills intense. The movie is a little long but good overall.

Iron Fist

bad intro = worst of pocket universe
A shoeless Danny Rand (Finn Jones) walks into the headquarters of his family's company Rand Enterprises in New York seeking answers. It's been 15 years since he was presumed killed along with his parents in their private jet flying over the Himalayas. He was the sole survivor. He's raised by monks in K'un-Lun, and taught martial arts. He finds the company had been taken over by family friend Harold Meachum and left to his kids, Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup) after Harold's death. In reality, Harold had faked his death and running the company in secret using Ward as his puppet. At first, no one believes Danny. When Danny confronts Ward with childhood memories, Ward immediately sends his security team to kill Danny. Local martial arts teacher Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) witnesses the attack and comes to believe Danny after the Meachums lock him up in a psychiatric hospital. Davos is Danny's former best friend from K'un-Lun who is bitter at not being Iron Fist.

The introduction of Danny Rand is one of the worst bit of writing in TV history. He and his clueless entitlement is very annoying. It shouldn't be like that. The most annoying is that he keeps asking Ward and/or Joy if they could talk. Just TALK. It's as if he has no plans to prove his identity. He is surprised that nobody believes him and they are unwilling to listen to ramblings. He is badly written and the writing only accentuates all of his problems. Let's rewrite the pilot. When he gets to the corporate penthouse, he should tell Ward and Joy the story of the dead frog to prove his identity. Joy doesn't remember because she was too young. Ward remembers but denies it. Ward sends in his goons. That's it. That's all that is needed. Instead of doing the same scene four different times and only telling the childhood story once, Danny should be smart enough to try to prove his identity in the first meeting and let the story flow. It is such an annoying way to introduce Danny that it taints the whole series. The first season is the worst by far in the Marvel-Netflix universe. The season never recovers, not that the writing gets markedly better. Some people like Colleen Wing. She's alright. The only cool part is the drunken master fight. That brought a smile to my face. The first season sucks.

The second season starts kinda flat. There are lots of hidden secrets being slowly revealed. The characters and the writing are too flat to hook the audience. It gets moving by the third episode. The show still suffers from a tireness and struggles to maintain momentum. I don't like Alice Eve as that character. The second season is better than the first. At least, it's only ten episodes. Quite frankly, Danny improved by the time of The Defenders. The show ends after two seasons along with the rest of the pocket universe as Disney Marvel ends its relationship with Netflix.

Bird Box

structural flaw
Malorie (Sandra Bullock) harshly lays out the rules to two young kids named Boy and Girl. They are going on a difficult river trip. They have to stay quiet and can never ever take off their blindfolds. The situation begins five years earlier. People are going mad and killing themselves. Malorie is extremely pregnant and her boyfriend has left. She's at a checkup with her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) when she first encounters the happening. She escapes the chaos and finds shelter with various people inside a house.

This is a variation on The Happening with a touch of A Quiet Place. Here the thing about The Happening. I didn't hate it. Mark Wahlberg and the reveal almost get me to hate it but I like the concept just enough to overcome it. The mass suicide angle is good although the deaths in this one is much more kinetic and therefore much more harrowing. There are a few problem, the biggest being the structure. Basically, the flashforward structure reveals who are probably going to die. The movie should have started with Malorie laying out the rules but the audience cannot see who she's talking to. It should have played the movie chronologically after that. By revealing the final grouping, it sucks the tension right out of the movie. Along with that, there are issues with some of the characters' actions. Someone should be in the room with Greg ready to pull the plug on the monitor. He is basically performing an experiment and it needs someone else to monitor it. When the group decides to leave the grocery store, there is no reason why Douglas wouldn't want to stay. In fact, it would be easier to move the group to the store rather than the other way around. While I understand locking up Douglas, somebody is supposed to look through Gary's bag. At the very least, I would have tied up Gary and put him under questioning. When the girls start the contractions, somebody should release Douglas. They need another set of hands. Instead of braving the rapids, it would be safer to walk it, no matter how much longer it would take. Despite all these issues, I do find the concept very compelling and it pulls me into its world.

Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire

new animation
The gang solves another mystery. The sewer adventure is too much for most of the team and Velma decides that everybody needs a vacation. She takes them to a town in the bayou founded by a Van Helsing. It's Vampire Palooza. The girls are eager to meet the author of Silverlight. Vincent Van Helsing's old fashion vampire book is not selling. Fangenschanz is a vampire themed performers. A seemingly real vampire is on the loose which attracts media attention and helps liven up the failing festival.

The new animation style is fine although the colors are a bit too glossy. The greens are radioactive. I like the opening adventure in the sewers. I like the new adventure setup. A couple of plot elements do annoy me. I don't like Daphne as the damsel in distress. Daphne should be more than the girlie girl of the group. Along with being scared of roaches, it gets too stereotypical. I would also the group to have more time together solving the mystery. It's the best part of the group's chemistry. That's why I like the opening so much. Overall, this is pretty good but it's not a classic.

Life on the Reef

the people and the reef
This is Australia's Great Barrier Reef from its natural beauty to its interactions with mankind over a span of about a year. In theory, this is a more complete examination of the modern world's connection with the natural world. In practice, the show feels split in two. The nature part is as beautiful as any modern nature show on TV. The Great Barrier Reef is a place of wonders. It's hard to get that wrong. It doesn't really connect with the people working the reef. There are the aquarium specimen collectors. It may be better to have their world examined in their own episode or section. It doesn't help to have their stories scattered. It also doesn't examine any quotas or environmental impact or the business. It needs to be more insightful.

The show also struggles to give meaning to the connection between man and nature. Each episode should do its own story. Other than a few incidents like the cyclone, each episode doesn't have an identifiable subject matter. Each one should say something specific. Instead, the show skips from one subject matter to the next. There is a lot of info but also the info isn't that deep. It should be more hard-hitting at times but the narration keeps it chill and nature show wonderment. The government support may have limited any unfavorable comments. No matter what, the pictures are beautiful, there is some info, and... it's beautiful.

Wine Country

not quite The Trip
It's Rebecca (Rachel Dratch)'s 50th birthday and the gang is going to Napa wine country for the weekend. The ladies became friends as young waitresses in a Chicago pizza place. Catherine (Ana Gasteyer) is busy with her own pizza chain. Abby (Amy Poehler) is the obsessive organizer. Naomi (Maya Rudolph) is the tired mom. Val (Paula Pell) is needy for love. Jenny (Emily Spivey) is sad. Tammy (Tina Fey) owns the place. Jenny is into waitress Jade (Maya Erskine). Devon (Jason Schwartzman) comes with the house. Lady Sunshine (Cherry Jones) is the tarot card reader.

The first problem occurs with Tina Fey. Instead of being one of the friends, she's trying to be this weird character and it's weird. It's completely fake which clashes with the movie's need to be authentic. She's doing an SNL character. I keep hoping for The Trip. I'm not expecting Sideways. It's nowhere near those levels. I don't mind the ladies doing stuff together although they're writing too much. The lines come fast and furious but few of them are actually laugh out loud funny. It's like a series of improv games. Everybody is camping. There are too many weird side characters although I don't mind the tarot card reader. At least, she is able to move the character development forward and get a couple of chuckles. This would be better and more real if it drops Tina Fey and Schwartzman's characters. On the other hand, Jade's art is ridiculously stupid and funny. Val is adorable with her. Meanwhile, I groan every time Tina Fey shows up with her character. I don't see why she thinks it's funny. Some of this is fine but other parts fall flat.


best of the Marvel Netflix pocket universe
Matt Murdock as a child was blinded by a toxic spill from a crash. He becomes a lawyer fighting for the little guys. In secret, he develops his other senses and becomes the vigilant Daredevil of Hell's Kitchen. Foggy Nelson is his law partner. They defend Karen Page in the first episode and she becomes their office manager. Later, she becomes a journalist. Their main nemesis is master criminal Wilson Fisk known as Kingpin.

It's the first of the Netflix Marvel universe. It's also the best of them. It's a moderately budgeted series geared towards more adult stories. The characters are compelling. The actors really work. It maintains the cartoon action while giving some real world tension to the stories. The first season sets up this pocket universe with a great tone and great start. The second season fades a little. The thirteen episode runs may be a little too long. The third season returns to form as Vincent D'Onofrio takes back the mantle as the head villain. It is as much his story as it is Matt Murdock's story. It does dwell on Dex a little too much as it tries to set up his character. In the end, Dex and Nadeem are not much more than one season wonders and they aren't a draw for the audience. Dex would become another big Daredevil character but the show is canceled before that. With Disney-Marvel starting up its own streaming service, the partnership with Netflix ends after three seasons. It's been a really fun side hustle and this is the best of the them.

Kuai can che

HK action comedy
Thomas (Jackie Chan) and David (Biao Yuen) have a food truck in Barcelona. Thomas delivers the food and takes orders on his skateboard. They fight off a group of bikers. Bumbling private detective Moby (Sammo Hung) gets hired to find Gloria and her child. David's father gets out of a mental institution. Her Spanish girlfriend Gloria has beautiful daughter Sylvia (Lola Forner). Sylvia is actually a con woman stealing from unsuspecting men and being pursued by a lot of gangsters.

This is one of those 80's HK action comedies with Jackie and Sammo. As often is the case, the foreign actors are B-level. It traffics on stereotypes while fighting other stereotypes against the Chinese. The fighting action is top rate. There is one awesome stunt from Biao Yuen to start off. His butt must hurt after that. The story is simple. It's everything one expects from this type of movie. It's action. It's silly humor. The writing is simple. It's fun for those who love it although it doesn't have the Jackie Chan closing credit stunt outtakes. That's the only disappointing aspect for Jackie fans.


In modern New York, a thief (Adrian Lester) breaks into an old woman's apartment. She surprises him and holds him at gunpoint. She tells him the story about two brothers in the turn of the century. Elijah (Joseph Fiennes) and Luke (David Wenham) have a breakdown in relationship. Luke is drawn to the wild east in Macedonia where the Ottoman is battling a local revolt. He joins a group of bandits pursuing the revolt leader known as The Teacher for the lucrative reward. He gets taken prisoner by the Turks who is joined by his hated brother.

Filmmaker Milcho Manchevski has taken on too much for one movie. It's trying to do too much and ends up stepping on each other. It may work better as an old style violent spaghetti western. Even taken separately, the narrative flow is a bit disjointed. The modern part only adds the trans-generational story. The robbery part isn't that compelling. Without knowing either character, there is nothing to root for or against. It's often problematic to have a character tell the story of the movie. The reliability of the telling is suspect. It's also trying to have some surreal poetry about flying. It's doing too much and gets muddled. This is definitely ambitious and probably too ambitious for its own good.

Charlie Grace

has potential
Former police officer Charlie Grace (Mark Harmon) is a private detective in L.A. Six years earlier, he turned in his corrupt co-workers leaving him as a hated pariah in the police department. Crawford is one of those fired cops but he is quite happy working as a fellow private detective. Charlie often gets work from defense attorney Leslie Loeb and takes care of his daughter Jenny after his ex-wife is sent to prison.

This short-lived series produced nine episodes airing only six. Mark Harmon shows that he could lead a network series. He's perfectly charming. The tone is on the lighter side of the crime drama. The opening credit is a bit cheesy. This is early in young Leelee Sobieski's career. Robert Costanzo is solid as the sleazy P.I. The lawyer is a bit flat. The pool hall office adds nothing but the cheesy opening. He needs a buddy best friend. I assumed it to be the police captain but that ended quickly in the pilot. It's just as well that this got canceled quickly as Harmon was able to latch onto Chicago Hope and eventually much bigger success later.

Lea to the Rescue

An American Girl film
10 year old Lea Clark (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) loves his brother Zac. He comes home for a visit with his new girlfriend Paula Ferreira. He is going back to Brazil to pursue poachers. He doesn't tell anyone except Lea. When he goes missing, Lea and her mother go down to Brazil to search for him. Lea drags Paula to follow Zac's trail into the jungle where they are helped by native girl Aki and her tribe.

This seems to be a mishmash of shooting locations. Some of the exterior actually looks like Brazil although apparently, it's mostly shot in South Africa. It simply looks fake a lot of the times. Authenticity is a big problem for this movie. Aki is oddly racially insensitive and I really don't know about the tribe. It feels too much like dress up. The movie could have added authenticity with more Portuguese but I can understand that this doesn't want too much subtitle. It would have made more sense to rewrite the thing for South Africa if that's where it's filmed. It's not like it's Shakespeare. Lea could have gone on a safari. Lea is too brash and Paula is too high maintenance. The combination is supposed to be humorous. None of this is actually funny unless pineapples get funnier. There is some allowance to be made since this is a kiddie movie although it has pretentions of being serious like many of the American Girl movies. There is much too much conveniences in the plot. When the mom hangs up on Lea, there's no reason why Lea wouldn't call her back. The writing is not thought all the way through. It gets a bit too dangerous for a kiddie story. The production is not good and the movie struggles.

Whiskey Cavalier

breezy light
FBI agent Will Chase (Scott Foley), codename Whiskey Cavalier, is pursuing hacker Edgar Standish (Tyler James Williams) in Moscow. They're intercepted by CIA operative Francesca 'Frankie' Trowbridge (Lauren Cohan), codename Fiery Tribune, who is desperate to retrieve Standish and his stolen computer file. Standish turns out to be a whistleblower who uncovered Russian infiltration into the agencies. Assisting them is FBI profiler Susan Sampson (Ana Ortiz). FBI agent Ray Prince (Josh Hopkins) is Chase's former best friend who clashed over an ex. The group is tasked with taking down the conspiracy and other cases.

For better or for worst, creator David Hemingson has been writing and producing many, many, many TV shows over the years. This is trying to be an action comedy espionage show. It has a lot of the formula and a lot of the standard tropes. It could have really worked if Foley and Cohan have a lot more chemistry. Whatever it is, they don't have it. Foley has a lot more flirtatious chemistry with Ophelia Lovibond and it really hurts to kill her off. Cohan needs to adjust the character and she eventually injects a bit of comedy. I really like Tyler James Williams as the comedic sidekick and Foley easily fits the charming lead. It's a breezy good time, just not a great time.

The Greatest Event in Television History

Oscars for Everyone
Jeff Probst hosts this once in a lifetime Adult Swim event, four times. Adam Scott, Paul Rudd, and others recreate the opening sequences of four iconic 80's TV shows; Simon & Simon, Hart to Hart, Too Close for Comfort, and Bosom Buddies. Shakespeare is jealous. Orson Welles' mind is blown. Billy Wilder is done. In fact, it is too good. The actors are too good at bringing their real personalities to life. It's beyond good. It's based on a true story.

Murder, My Sweet

sets a fine example
Private detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) got blinded by an incident and is being interrogated by the police about some murders. He had been hired by dim-witted giant Moose Malloy who was recently released from prison after eight years. He lost track of his lounge singer girlfriend Velma Valento. Marlowe easily tracks down club owner Jessie Florian who tells him that Velma is dead but he suspects that she's lying. He is hired by Lindsay Marriott to protect him while he buys back some stolen jewelry. Marlowe is knocked out while his charge gets murdered. After reporting it to the cops, he is approached by Ann Grayle whose family had lost the jewels. Her father had remarried to the much younger Helen.

This is a nice noir crime drama. This brings a new wave of pulp crime drama along with The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, and others. The only big issue is Dick Powell himself. His face is too soft. He lacks the darker edge except for one moment when he got scruffy. He needs a world weary look but he looks more like an accountant. He's a perfectly good actor otherwise. It's just his looks don't scream noir. Mike Mazurki is a great Moose. He's actually a little funny. The other performances are good. This sets a fine example of crime noir.

Fighting with My Family

Who the hell are you?
Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia Knight (Lena Headey) are the parents of Saraya (Florence Pugh) and Zak (Jack Lowden). The wrestling family runs an amateur wrestling circuit in small town Norwich, England. When the WWE arrives in London, Saraya and Zak are invited to an audition. Coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn) is the judge.

This is a WWE film about the real professional wrestler Paige. It's a great family and solid family drama. I love the loving family and everyone in it. I love their relationships and the troubles in their relationships. I love Paige's relationships to the other wannabe wrestlers. The Rock is pretty cool, too. There are two issues. One is very minor. It comes when Paige gets called a witch in Hogwarts. It was an opportunity to up the ante. Paige is flustered but she is given nothing to say. It could have elevated the tension by having her go overboard. She could have called them strippers. She could have called them fake wrestlers. The key to tension is elevation. She could have gone up another level. The other issue is much bigger. The movie tries to conclude with a traditional sports movie ending of the big game. It's not going to work in this case. While they're sensitive to being called fakes, the wrestling outcome is scripted. It's not like Paige could actually win the match. It's not a match. It's a performance. The true climax is actually when the champion asks Paige, Who the hell are You? It's the emotional climax and a better writer would understand that. It is the only real battle in the movie. Who is she? It's usually the most important question. I don't know what she actually said in the real WWE but the movie version should have her say that she is the daughter of Ricky and Julia. Her brother is Zak. Her father was a criminal. Her mother was homeless. Wrestling is their lives. She represents them and everybody who had to struggle to make their dreams come true. That's the emotional punch and the movie can end right there. A closing text can tell whatever the rest of the story. It doesn't matter whether she wins or loses for the story. It matters that she knows who she is.

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