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Fuller House

For Major Fans Of The Original Only.
I have seen every episode of "Full House" countless times. I can practically recite the episodes. Whenever I watch them, they all seem fresh. Not many shows can do that. So I was thrilled when I found out Netflix would be making a continuation of my favourite show. It doesn't approach the beauty of the original, so if you you are not a fan of Mary-Kate & Ashley's series, skip this sequel series.

While Full House started as three guys raising three girls, Fuller House is the opposite. DJ is a successful veterinarian whose firefighter husband recently died on the job. Alone to care for her children, sister Stephanie and BFF Kimmy decide you move in to help out. The Olson sisters wanted to focus on their fashion stuff and always rejected this show. Would have been great if they appeared once, but whatever. Their decision.

DJ is supposed to take over Danny's neat-freak persona to no luck. DJ seems more mean and annoying than her dad.

Stephanie is an up-and-coming musician who loves being an aunt to DJ's three boys because she cannot have children. While DJ is annoying, Stephanie doesn't really have much personality or things going for her. She's really pretty and has a nice singing voice, but that's about it.

Kimmy is a party-planner who has a daughter named Ramona who is the same age as DJ's oldest son, Jackson. She ended her marriage with Formula 1 racer, Fernando because of his infidelity. He stays a regular in the series, but it took me a long time to like him. Out of the grown-ups, Kimmy is the best.

Remember in the original series the constant mention of Kimmy's older brother, Garth? Well in season 2 of Fuller House, they write in that she has a little brother named Jimmy. Jimmy looks like Ashton Kutcher, but is even worse at acting than he is. This to make a romance angle between Stephanie and a Gibbler closer to her age (Garth was already eligible for unemployment in season 1 or Full House).

The best of the new grownups is DJ's work partner who is sometimes her boyfriend. His name is Matt Harmon. Out of all of DJ's boyfriends, Matt comes the closest to being as great as Steve. Obviously I have always been Team Steve (Steve is a regular on the show, so don't worry), but Matt was way too awesome to leave out. Prettyboy, good with DJ, good with the kids, good by himself, hey I like this guy.

The kids take time to get used to. Ramona is a talented dancer who wants romance. That's about it for her. Jackson is aimless. That's about it for him. DJ's middle child is Max who is a sophisticated prodigy and the most developed of the kids. The kid who plays Mac starts off with over the top acting. He adjusts to it pretty quickly and doesn't butcher the character. DJ's youngest is Tommy who is awful. The Olson sisters acted a hundred times better when they were 1! I hated Tommy.

The biggest arc of the show is DJ being caught in a love triangle between the legendary Steve Hale and the awesome Matt Harmon. They dragged this out way too long. Should have had one season of contemplation then she chooses Steve. But we got Steve proposing to a DJ lookalike and Matt proposing to DJ, all of which ended in disaster. None of the other arcs were promising. Barely any episodes had emotional weight. All of the sparks of greatness happened when stars and guests of the original show appeared.

While I love "Full House" and would easily watch it whenever, "Fuller House" is tolerable.

Fuller House: Our Very Last Show, Again
Episode 18, Season 5

Good While It Lasted.
It's really over. This may not have been an excellent show, but nobody takes news lightly when a tv show wraps up.

Jimmy accidentally sees his bride after midnight on their wedding day. Bad luck? The venue gets seized for tax evasion, so that may be Jimmy's fault. So like typical tv shows, it only makes sense that the wedding gets held in the backyard. Another bit of bad luck is the pastor backs out for another, bigger wedding. Danny and Joey scramble to find a replacement. This was used for guest appearance sake. Derek S. Boyd from the original series makes an appearance! (They get Joey McIntyre, by the way.)

While the kids are helping out, Lola and Popko return. Jackson and Ramona don't introduce Rocki and Ethan properly. It's pretty awesome how this all happened. Rose and CJ even come back. If this were reality, there's no way this would have happened. Vicky Larson makes one final tv appearance. Lisa Loeb, Duane and Viper are also seen during the wedding sequence. This is a homecoming episode.

During the wedding itself, it is one of the best I've seen. I love these people and I've waited so long for DJ to marry Steve.

When they actually move out, holy geez is it heartbreaking! It was just DJ et. all that were crying, it was Candace et. all that were crying. They weren't acting.

Two weird things happen during the goodbyes: first, Jesse is missing. His on-screen wife is behind bars, I get that, but not having him in the final scene was even stranger than if they did have him without Becky. Secondly, everyone moves back in! It was a big "fooled ya!" moment. I guess they want to give hope for "Fullest House." So the ending was weird, but so is the whole show. I loved it.

Fuller House: Something Borrowed
Episode 17, Season 5

The Climax. But Still One More.
Here is an episode of "Fuller House" that is truly great, no matter how you measure it. It is a series of mini-climaxes that is the spike of the series.

Uncle Monty's opens. up a new location in Palo Alto. Fernando will manage it causing him, Kimmy and Ramona to move out. Ouch!

So with Fernando managing the new Uncle Monty's, Jimmy will handle the original. So him, Stephanie and Danielle will move closer to the store. OUCH!

So many people moving all at once! And this whole arc with Uncle Monty's and moving is finessed. That's what makes it hit harder than expected.

Matt takes grooms-to-be out for their bachelor party. They go to an axe-throwing place. As a family show, they couldn't go to a strip club like normal guys. There may not be strippers present, but this subplot is well done.

Remember when Jackson got the lead in the musical? Well right before it starts he fakes sick in a bid to get Ramona on stage. Seems like a good goodbye gesture.

Max and Fernando's feud gets culminated in a fencing dual, much like Hamlet. Max wins. Instead of gloating, they realize they have been friends the entire time.

The girls get their "something borrowed" and reminisce about old things. Stephanie's is her mother's veil. Unfortunately, she has no memory of her mother. So DJ takes her sister and the family to an old diner to bring back some memories. What a beautiful ending.

An episode like this would have fit well in the original series.

Fuller House: The Nearlywed Game
Episode 16, Season 5

One of the Best Fillers In The Series.
Episode fillers are ones that could easily have not been included. They are usually duds, but they somehow found a way to make one really good.

The kids organize a Newlywed Game-esque game for the she-wolves. Winner picks the first song they dance to at the wedding. Each of the girls take the game too seriously while the guys just want have fun. Fernando even asks Steve to cheat in the second round. Minus Jimmy's bad acting, this is just as good as the game show they competed on in 1994 Full House.

99% of this episode is a game show. There's not much else to say, other than to have fun with a loving game show.

Fuller House: Be Yourself, Free Yourself
Episode 15, Season 5

Not Good Enough. Sorry.
Stephanie gets back from her tour with Lisa Loeb. Fernando makes her realize that she needs to do more for Jimmy. Barely anything happens. But she tries to cook and gives Jimmy an allergic reaction. That's the spice needed for the storyline.

Pamela and Jesse make an appearance (we all know where aunt Becky is). Pamela got bitten at school. Jesse goes overboard in finding the culprit and it is not funny nor entertaining. The result is pretty stupid. The only good out of this is Josh Peck's special guest appearance. Luckily it doesn't last very long.

During a discount week at the pet clinic, Kimmy temporarily fills in as receptionist. Obviously she wreaks havoc because Kimmy is...Kimmy. This is the best part of the episode.

This episode was half-way to sucking. I don't blame you if you don't like it.

Fuller House: Basic Training
Episode 14, Season 5

One Decent, One Not So Much.
I'm just really happy this episode didn't stink. It could have been horrible. Looks like the writers are learning something.

Max is skipping a grade and is moving straight to middle school. After a bad first day of being himself, he changes his style to be more like the popular kids. It's a shocker to everyone. DJ thinks she has failed as a parent, but who cares? This was a funny bit.

A sandwich eating contest for Uncle Monty's is pretty trivial that I could not take seriously. But the actual eating is funny. Ramona turns out to be the best eater of the family. Can she beat a fat customer that holds the new record? We don't care!

Fuller House: College Tours
Episode 13, Season 5

The Kids Are All Right.
We needed an episode of Jackson and Ramona in college before the series ended. It wasn't great, but whatever.

Ramona wants to go to school in the east coast and Jackson decides college isn't for him. So their moms take them to DJ's alma matter in a bid for them to change their minds. At the tour, DJ tries to revive her old sorority. It is a story exactly like in Full House Season 3 when Danny and Joey dress up as women. It may not play out exactly, but geez. The kids don't change their minds, but the moms respect their decisions. (Ramona is confident and Jackson would rather go to a 2 year program instead of a 4 year.)

The grooms have tuxedo fittings. They all have their own styles so Max offers his input. He almost completely ruins the whole deal. Not a bad subplot, just meh.

Fuller House: Cold Turkey
Episode 12, Season 5

It Could Have Been Great.
This episode is overstuffed with things that fall so short.

Stephanie makes thanksgiving dinner. Nobody has confidence in her, so DJ organizes the traditional cooking behind her back. That's not nice of her. Dumb plot.

The three original guys return. Stephanie gets them to run to Uncle Monty's to pick up some ingredients but get locked in the meat freezer. Lucy and Three's Company did this much better. Thing with meat freezers is they are unbearably cold. This is shown as being just a little bit cold for the first few seconds. This episode does not play out that way which is unrealistic and thereby, diminishing the subplot by a lot, including a buried secret. So much more humour could have come about by depicting the freezer to be as deadly cold as they are.

Remember Joey's car named Rosie from the original series? Well we get to see its replacement. When Stephanie finds out about DJ doing stuff behind her back, she gets mad and goes to take New Rosie to get the food she needs. Flashback to Full House season 3 happens. This rehash would have been funnier if it was Max or Tommy Jr that crashes into the house. But that's just me. This was a good time, but nothing great. But Tommy had to come in and reenact Michelle's part ("There's a car it the kitchen!"), but the Hammett twins are terrible actors. The Olson sisters could act circles around the Hammetts in season 1 of Full House.

I don't wanna write anymore. This is too stuffed.

Fuller House: Three Weddings and a Musical
Episode 11, Season 5

Unbalanced, But Good Considering What We Have.
The main plot is not very good, but the others are great.

The She-Wolves go to a wedding expo. They realize they haven't agreed on the theme for their triple wedding. I never cared for this portion of the episode. It's not worth going into any detail about what happened.

Ramona auditions for the school musical. Jackson also auditions just to get out of gym class. He is forced to sing anyway. Oddly enough, he gets the lead and Ramona will be his understudy. Jackson did this just for the heck of it and Ramona rehearsed for months, so she has every right to be upset. But when we hear Jackson sing "The Impossible Dream" it is evident as to why he got the lead. He's a brilliant singer! Love this. This should have been the main plot.

Steve watches the kids while the girls are gone. He plays chess with Max and beats him, but loses in the rematch. This is a great subplot.

Love & Mercy

A Supremely Fascinating Film. One of the Very Best Of Its Kind.
The Beach Boys is one of my very favourite bands ever. I could listen to them all day long. So I was thrilled when I saw a new big-budgeted theatrical film based on its leader was coming out. I was in awe from start to finish with this. This has got to be one of the two or three best music biopics in film history. Even if I wasn't a lifelong fan of the band, my opinion on the film would be the same. I have waited so long to review this because a review needs to do the film justice.

"Love & Mercy" is a psychological character study of Brian Wilson. As a deep character study, we are immersed deep into the mind of the musical genius. Paul Dano plays Brian Wilson during the peak of the band in the mid-1960s. Having had a nervous breakdown and jealous over The Beatles' release at the masterful "Rubber Soul," Brian takes time off touring to focus on making the best album in music history. A departure from traditional Beach Boys tunes, Brian makes what many consider one of the best albums ever recorded: "Pet Sounds." Cousin Mike Love hated the album because he knew the departure from their signature sound would result in plummeting sales. Despite critical acclaim, Love was right. Love also persuaded Wilson redo "Pet Sounds'" followup (SMiLE) to a more familiar sound. Seeing the musical and mental process into the making of such greatness is out of this world. We watch in amazement as Paul Dano re-enacts Brian Wilson's essence. We feel horrible when Brian clashes with Mike and gets belittled by his father.

In the mid-1980s older Brian (now played by John Cusack) meets car salesperson, Melinda (Elizabeth Banks). This is also the part where we get to know more about Brian's childhood. His father was very physically and emotionally abusive. Since Brian was the oldest of the three brothers, he got it the worst. He tells Melinda that his father beat him so hard that he is now hard of hearing in one ear.

Melinda finds out that Brian has been under the spell of crooked psychotherapist, Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). Despite Giamatti not looking at all like the real Landy, his performance was so dead-on that it genuinely scared the real Brian at the screening. Eugene Landy was a corrupt doctor who kept Brian inside a bubble. Landy got Brian on a ton of different medications that worsened his mental and physical health than what it was before. Melinda is determined to get Brian out from under Landy.

Dano and Cusack never met and took totally different approaches to playing Brian. Despite the time gap being twenty years, we still see where one guy ends and another begins. They are both Oscar-worthy. Well, so are Banks and Giamatti. When all the leads deliver Oscar-worthy performances that are spot-on their real counterparts, you know you've got excellence.

Most of the best films ever dive deep into the minds of their characters; developing them so well, we feel like we've known them our whole lives. Not only do we get that, our subject happens to be a musical genius that we fall in love with. Seeing him on fire composing will make you say wow.

Aside from a deep, personal story of Brian Wilson, this is also a tiny bit of a love letter to surf country. The glistening sunlight and lovely waves are beyond enchanting to look at. It may be one small aspect, but it shouldn't go unnoticed.

This extremely well-detailed and shockingly accurate biopic needs to be seen by all, whether you like the Beach Boys or not.

4/4 (Four stars aren't enough for this.)

Fuller House: If the Suit Fits
Episode 10, Season 5

An Episode That Gets Better As it Goes.
With the triple wedding around the corner, Steve is nervous about being the boys' new stepdad, especially Max. But it is Jackson that reacts badly when he sees his mom about to give away his father's special suit. Cant blame Jackson for getting angry. DJ should have passed down Tommy's suit to her first-born right off the bat. But they needed for Steve to have a heart-to-heart with one of the boys. It is a great moment, especially when he does what DJ should have done at the beginning.

Joey plans an engagement dinner for the three brides-to-be. He invites Kimmy's parents so her and Jimmy are thrilled. To prepare for their kookie parents, Jimmy and Kimmy have a mock-dinner where they pretend to be their parents. It not that funny. When the night comes, they get a telegram that the parents dipped out. I was really looking forward to finally seeing Mr. and Mrs. Gibbler. Upset at the whole thing, Joey offers his hand to Kimmy, saying he wants to be the one to walk her down the aisle.

So there may be some flaws, but they get rectified by the time the episode finishes.

Fuller House: A Modest Proposal
Episode 9, Season 5

Could It Be?
All goes well in this episode.

Fernando proposes to Kimmy again because...who can keep track of their relationship? He wants there to be a proposal party and Stephanie gets Jimmy to guard the ring. He loses the ring so he and the kids look through the sandwiches they made. It's pretty funny.

Some time after Kimmy breaks her leg, all of San Fransisco breaks out into song and dance, and the three old male leads show up. Then it happens...the one thing I have been waiting for since 1995...Steve proposes to DJ!!!

My life is now complete. I am giving this episode a perfect score because of Steve.

Fuller House: Five Dates with Kimmy Gibbler
Episode 8, Season 5

They're On A Roll!
With Stephanie engaged, Kimmy wonders if she and Fernando are too. She wants to go on some dates to make sure that Fernando is truly THE one. So she goes on a series of dates, all of which are disastrous. Then she meets Kirk Cameron and has food with him. That's right Candace Cameron's brother, Mike Seaver, cousin Steve from Full House season 1.

Lisa Loeb is the newest client at DJ's and Matt's pet clinic. DJ tries to get her to hear Stephanie's music. Not all goes to planned.

Ethan meets Rocki. Turns out they already have a past. Max plays detective to see how they know each other. Prettyboy Ethan and punk Rocki used to be video game buddies.

All stories have happy endings, as they all should. Cheesy, but I liked them all.

Fuller House: DJ's Amazing 40th Birthday Race
Episode 7, Season 5

I Love This Episode! One Flaw, But Whatever.
Something is wrong...this episode was great!

It is DJ's 40th birthday bash and is ready for Steve to propose. When will he? Stop the suspense! We all know they will end up together. Just do it already!!

Tommy gets gum in Max's hair. Jackson and Ramona do all they can to help. It is hilarious.

Steve organizes an Amazing Race for DJ's birthday. It is just a ton of fun. Steph and Kimmy pick of clues that Steve will actually pop the question. This whole sector is awesome. But since Steve didn't actually propose like all the clues said, I cannot give this a perfect score. She was let down and so was the audience.

Fuller House: The Mayor's Bird
Episode 6, Season 5

A Mixed Bag.
Most of the time, there is at least one episode in this series that isn't good. This is no exception.

Matt, without talking it over with DJ, expends the pet clinic into making house calls. DJ hates the idea, but Matt already booked their first thing: the mayor's bird. This is not a funny story at all. The setup is cheap and the bird stuff is lame. This brought down the whole episode. But them talking near the end is decent, so it is not brought down by much.

Stephanie's latest gig was a hoedown which she hated. Ever since becoming a mother, she has become more picky. So she departs from working for Kimmy. Steve gives her some good advice. This is the best part.

Ramona has a date with Ethan, but Kimmy declares Gibbler Game Night. It is embarrassing, but funny too. I liked this plot also.

Fuller House: Ready Player Fuller
Episode 5, Season 5

Go For Dunebuggy.
One surprisingly good plot and one plot that was easily good.

Fernando heads to Monte Carlo for the racing hall of fame. But he will remain crucial to the episode.

Jackson gets into a history program, but is way more concerned with video games. Steph and Kimmy suggest she does some too. With both of them on a switch, Jackson thinks his mother is just some guy. He wants them to be partners in a tournament, so DJ is happy. That is until she realizes the tournament will be held at a sports arena. This is a tender and cheesy story that is surprisingly good.

Flyers for Uncle Monty's reopening have been passed around, but they have the wrong date--tomorrow instead of the next week. Typical Fernando. Good luck everyone! Oh, and there is also a massive discount. This is the best of the stories. We are kept in suspense since everyone is screwed during the reopening. We hold our breath wondering how on earth a miracle can happen.

Fuller House: Moms' Night Out
Episode 4, Season 5

Back Up!
Usually good episodes in this series are directly followed by bad ones and vice-versa. They are staggered. But we just had two good episodes in a row.

The She-Wolfpack is heading out for the night, but are interrupted by Matt and Gia announcing their marriage. DJ notarizes it. Matt suggests Gia joins the She-Wolfpack and the guys have a dudes' night in. The girls' joint has turned into a boring place. Before they leave, their old dance partners come and rip up the joint. This plot is good, but the others are simply better.

Matt just wants a good relationship with Rocki. Matt would be Rocki's third stepdad, so it is understandable why she wants to brush him off. Plus Jackson still has feelings for her. But Jackson belittled her to save face infant of his football buddies, so we understand Rocki's anger towards him even more. The bit with Rocki is what makes this episode work. That is what makes this episode actually good.

I am glad that it is official that DJ is with Steve and by the looks of things will stay with him. Prettyboy Matt is far too cool to get rid of. He needs to be kept. Keeping Matt elevated this episode.

Fuller House: Family Business
Episode 3, Season 5

Better Than The Last. I May Recommend it.
Remember how bad the last episode was? Well it seems to be a theme with this show that the bad and good episodes get staggered. It's a good way to throw off audiences.

Fernando is retired from Formula 1 and is moping around. Jimmy is on the road and doesn't want to miss his daughter's milestones. So DJ talks Steve into taking them out to a sandwich shop called "Uncle Monty's." When they get notice of the joint closing down, all three of them buy it. Their women are furious, but in typical sitcom fashion a happy ending happens.

When Jackson swipes Ramona's phone, he accidentally likes one of Ethan's posts from ten year before. It will look like Ramona's a cyberstalker. Not a bad story.

Max overestimates doing the high dive at camp. He gets vertigo and firemen have to bring him down. Jackson and Ramona console him. It's pretty cute.

This is a very corny episode. I don't want to recommenced this but I don't want you to skip it either. Uncle Monty's becomes a big deal for the remainder of the show, so I guess it is essential viewing in this series.

Fuller House: Hale's Kitchen
Episode 2, Season 5

A Throwaway
I came to the conclusion long ago that "Fuller House" is not a truly good show. It is only good if you are a diehard fan of the original or if you are seeing the episodes for the first time. So many of these episodes are meaningless and unfunny. At least other shows that have meaningless episodes like "Seinfeld" are awesome.

Much to DJ's surprise, Steve takes her to a cooking class for their date. How exciting, NOT! But it turns out Steve is an expert at French cooking. DJ being over-competitive with other classmates is not funny like they intend on. I'm glad they lose because DJ is not a good sport.

The delivery boy is a big fan of Fernando, but gets instantly drawn to Ramona. The pretty-boy's name is Ethan and it turns out he has lots of common with Ramona. But Fernando drives him out. Typical overprotective father. So Kimmy helps her outsmart him so that Ramona and Ethan can date. She eventually talks Fernando out of it. At least it introduces us to a boyfriend for Ramona that is better than Popko.

Stephanie forgets about her commitment to Max and the Renaissance fair. Being a mom is taking up time and making her forget. Jackson helps Max snap out of it. Why didn't he realize this when Tommy was born? Bad writing. Stephanie brings the party to him. Spoiled. But at least it had a good look.

Skip this one. If you see Ethan in a future episode, consider that his first on-screen appearance.

The War at Home

Not Perfect, But The Talent Really Makes This Work.
Emilio Estevez directs a movie he stars in and casts his dad to play his on-screen father. I always knew Estevez was a talented guy, but this really shows how good he is. As the unofficial leader of the Brat Pack, he did some of the most iconic films of the 80s, with my favourite performance of his being when he played Billy the Kid in "Young Guns." Problem is, nearly all of his films are humorous and don't show his acting range. The bigger problem is just when he does show his true talents as an actor and as an up-and-coming director, nobody knows about it. This starred Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen and Kathy Bates for crying out loud! But the better-known third instalment of the Mighty Ducks series eclipsed this great film in 1996.

"The War At Home" is not much of an original tale. A soldier has PTSD and must adjust to life after the war. This film focuses on the soldier with his parents. In order for an unoriginal film to work, I think it has to raise the bar from what it stole. There is enough originality to separate this from others and the bar does get raised from lots of other films it emulates.

Estevez plays Jeremy. He was one of the first to be drafted To Vietnam and he is still scarred from those horrific experiences. Taking music at the college and living at home, Jeremy is having an extremely hard time adjusting to civilian life. His crumbling life is taking a toll on his parents and sister. During the weekend of Thanksgiving, all reach a boiling point.

"The War At Home" is a flawed movie. There are some moments of dialogue that are actually funny. I think the humour in those were accidental. With better dialogue, much of the problems would have been solved.

The movie is finessed with everything building very gradual until it's explosive conclusion.

We all knew Kathy Bates and Martin Sheen could blow away the audience if given the right material. Martin's son is the real crown jewel in this case and I'm sure Martin must be proud.


Never Rarely Sometimes Always

I Will Be Surprised If A Better Film Comes Out In 2020.
My criteria for awarding a film a perfect score has always been one that immerses me, impresses me, and overwhelms me. With so many release dates for films in 2020 being pushed back, we will be lucky to get anything of good quality. I was not expecting a film of such high quality to come out.

"Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always" is a film about an abortion. It argues pro-choice. Personally, I am against abortion. But this little film is much too good at making great cinema for me to be angry at. It is a paralyzing experience where we automatically give it our full, undivided attention. You will be able to hear a pin drop.

Autumn Callahan is almost eighteen-years-old and just found out she is ten weeks pregnant. Right away, she decides to have an abortion. Her doctor tries to talk her out if it to no luck. Living in rural Pennsylvania, she and her cousin, Skylar, travel to New York City to get the job done. Many obstacles are in their way.

It is revealed through clues that Autumn was raped and that it why she is dead-set on her mission. I personally would rather her do what Ellen Page did in "Juno," but there needs to be an original film. Autumn is selfish for taking a life growing inside of her, but we cannot help but sympathize with her. Having an unlikable character but still making them merciful is extremely rare. It shows good and original writing.

Obviously, Autumn's mission turns out to be a success, despite her struggles. We hold our breath, not knowing if the abortion will happen or if she will have a change of heart. The main flaw with the whole thing is that it praises abortions. In 2007, there was an abortion movie from Romania called "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" that was very similar to this but was clearly against the action. I do not like that this film was in support of it. Good thing all of its surroundings were so great.

I have never seen or heard of any of these actors. Sidney Flanagan plays Autumn. Talia Ryder plays Skylar. In the performances of the year so far, I certainly hope they get remembered for Oscar season. If they don't, it is only because this film is about such a sensitive subject. The friendship between these two is the essence of the film that gives it its backbone. They are dazzling.

I may not condone abortions, but I do condone this film.


Before Midnight

The Most Different From The Three...
...is also what makes it my favourite from the series. Now more than ever, we need a breath of fresh air from all the mindless stuff put out these days. And just before the "Before" series becomes stale, changes got in motion.

In 1995, two young strangers meet on a train and fall in love. Nine years later they reunite. In both films, the romance seemed so enchanting that it was unrealistic. "Before Midnight" breaks that rule with Jesse and Celine approaching a mid-life crisis and possibly getting sick of each other.

Jesse and Celine live in France with Jesse's son from his previous marriage living with them in the summertime. When he heads back to his mother's Jesse realizes that since he is entering teenage hood that he needs to be in his son's life now more than ever. This leads to our protagonists bickering over living arrangements.

They vacation in Greece where some very beautiful shots are taken on the Greek landscape. Best looking of the three movies, easily. We get some throwback to some great conversations but this one actually seems to unfold and go places while the other two didn't.

While hearing this intelligent dialogue, we see their marriage crumble before our eyes. But Hollywood must save the day. This look into dark territory is both original and realistic. It also provided a great throwback to Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes From a Marriage." I guess the only thing preventing perfect scores in this series is that each film could have been about 50 minutes and offered us just as much. That's what Bergman did with his miniseries. But "Before Midnight" has come the closest to getting a perfect score.

I love this series, I love its stars, and I cannot wait for the next entry in 2022.


Before Sunset

A Reunion We All Hope For.
In 1995, the world got introduced to youngsters in Vienna named Jesse and Celine. They spend just one magical day together where enchantment takes over. It is the best day of their lives. Can history repeat itself?

In 1995, Jesse and Celine were unsure about their places in the world. Nine years later, Jesse writes a bestselling novel based on his journey with his first love. During the last day of his book-signing in Paris, none other than Celine walks back into his life. Sadly, it is Jesse's last day in the romantic city. Just over an hour of them catching up with one another has them rekindling their friendship from nearly a decade before.

Is this like reuniting an old friend and you haven't seen in years and talking about old times. Reliving memories while making new ones is what life is all about.


Before Sunrise

Absolutely Wonderful!
Believe in love at first site? Well Richard Linklater's 1995 sleeper hit may make you say yes. "Before Sunrise" is about the chance encounter of love, one-in-a million. Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply are on a train in Vienna where Deply changes seats to avoid an arguing couple, ending up across the aisle from Hawke. They converse and they get off the train together. They go sightseeing and talk about everything under the sun. It is the best day of their lives. Unfortunately, it is likely the only day they will ever see each other.

The main thing that this hit has going for it is the dialogue. The greatness of what they say is at the same level of "My Dinner With Andre." But while the Louis Malle hit takes place entirely at a dinner table, Linklater's hit takes us site seeing while the dynamic dialogue becomes music to our ears.

While the romance is captivating and the premise of good and the dialogue is awe-inspiring, the movie just consists of them walking at talking. Nothing unfolds and nothing gets anywhere. We know they have to get back home, so they are stuck being victims of the writing. What would have made it better would be if there was more contemplation and none of them really had to catch a ride home. But what's done is done. The ending does give us hope for a sequel. Just sucks we have to wait nine years every time we want a sequel. We want them sooner!

As someone who loves all aspects of cinema, I dearly love the lines. The romance is great too. I just wished that the movie went somewhere and that it wasn't plotless.


As Good as It Gets

"You Make Me Want To Be A Better Man."
"As Good As It Gets" may appear to be about mean man with OCD, a stressed waitress, and a gay visual artist, but it is actually about trying to be a better person. When Nicholson says the film's most famous line, the message becomes very clear. We get that this entertaining character study is trying to tell us something, but not until the end to we finally get what it is.

The great Jack Nicholson won his third and final Oscar for what is my favourite performance of his. This is not his best movie (I simply think "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Shining" are examples of better films he has done) but it is my favourite performance of his. Like his great roles of the past, his character of misanthropic author Melvin Udall has many layers. Unlike his other roles, the theme of trying to better one's self is displayed with such richness and compassion that it is hard not to want to follow suit. Melvin hates everyone, and most people in today's world feel that way too. And when Melvin and the two others change, it is done with necessity. Melvin also displays classic obsessive compulsive disorder--another obstacle he needs to overcome.

Melvin lives in Manhattan where he enjoys insulting his neighbour, Simon (Greg Kinnear) who happens to be a gay artist and must do the same things at his favourite restaurant with the same waitress, Carol (Helen Hunt) waiting on him. Carol's son has severe asthma and Melvin overhears her talking about it. He feels a little bad about it. When Simon is brutally beaten in a setup with his model (Skeet Ulrich), Melvin must look after Simon's dog. Why Simon got beaten up is barely looked upon and perhaps the biggest flaw this movie has. While looking after the dog, he instantly falls in love with it and is heartbroken when Simon returns home and takes the dog. Since Simon is gay, it takes a little longer for Melvin to become his friend, but they obviously do. Since Simon's injuries are so severe, he intends on heading to Baltimore to see if his parents can help pay the medical bills. Melvin feels it is his duty to escort his new friend and takes Carol along with them.

Carol does not like Melvin, but somewhere beneath his cruel exterior lies someone who is fond of this waitress. With her son's health worsening, she stays home and thinks about getting work closer to home. Melvin helps her pay for some medical treatments, much to her surprise. He says he wants her to keep waiting on him, but he actually cares for the both of them.

Carol and Simon feel sorry for themselves (and justifiably so), but they try to get out of their stupors. This trio of original characters are the best people suited to make them find their happy places.

The final act seemed as though they tried stretching it out, but it didn't bother me. The positive nuances that these three have gone through is extraordinary. And a thing I liked was how well the mix of comedy and drama blended. There are some seriously sad scenes followed by very humorous bits. Yet somehow, it never feels very uneven. Each and every emotion is rightfully earned.

With three first-rate performances directed by the great James L. Brooks and a life-affirming message, this one comes highly recommended by me.


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