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Spinning Out

Unlikeable Characters and Repetitive Plot
I gave it a six, because within the realm of what it was, a soap opera, it was executed fairly well. But the bottom line is that these were characters unworthy of our sympathy. Self-absorbed, Godless, and nationless. The typical type depicted in film. Women with "resting ," and pretty-boy men with dubious morals. You don't see much of Sun Valley, Idaho, as it was filmed in Toronto, but the exterior shots of the real Sun Valley were nice. Most of the skating routines are mediocre, with stand-ins for the actors. But you do get a good feel for the life of people whose day revolves around training, and that appealed to me. January Jones has a ditzy, girly voice, and she played an irresponsible woman-child, so I guess it fit. The lead female character was intense and petulant, with psychotic tendencies. Yet multiple guys were after her. Meanwhile they tipped their hat to almost every minority, except Hispanic. There were Asians, African Americans, Gay, Lesbian, single moms, foreigners, etc. The ending was actually original and satisfying. Not cliché.


Little Jabs at America and Jews and Ambiguous Ambition
Nice concept and great casting. But I watched the whole thing and I don't get it. There is one brief interaction when the Messiah calls for the withdrawal of American troops around the world and alludes to misuse of them. With all the atrocities committed around the world, that's what he's concerned with? The land of the free defending itself? They don't even bother to develop this any further.

Then another scene where he reminds a cynical, Godless Israeli intelligence agent about the Arabic boy he murdered. Or a mannish, cynical, Godless Jewish American CIA agent mocking Jesus, and the Israeli cynic saying to her, "spoken like a true Jew."

The lead actress plays her character in the tradition of most of these new law enforcement films. As essentially a man. She's heavy-minded, cynical, burnt-out, a smarty pants, and has seen everything and done everything.

Meanwhile her boss is an even more hard woman in her 50s, African American and dour, hard, and manly.

But other than the troop thing, I have no idea what this messiah guy wants for the world. Someone dropped the football, if they couldn't convey it in 10 episodes.

Furthermore, what did he want with some spoiled, spaced-out small town, teenaged party girl? We are to believe that she is his muse, but why? Because we don't want men to dominate the redemption circuit?

There are vague attempts to show him sermonizing to groups or individuals. But all I could gather was that he wants people to understand themselves better, be less violent, and find purpose.

But does that mean no more countries or borders, no more organized religion, no more capitalism? Perhaps a Part 2 will explain.

The Jews are portrayed as Godless, the Muslims devout, and the Christian preacher devout. But there is no mention of an opinion on what's going on, from religious Jews.

The show moves very slowly and fails to explain what the heck is going on. We have a very spiritual-looking, ambiguously middle eastern or Indian 36 year old male, who looks much younger, doesn't say much, and never needs a shower, a meal, or a toilet.

Everything is focused on reactions to him, rather than any clear definition of his message.

Irreplaceable You

I Don't Care about These People
If you want to watch shallow, trendy yuppies deal with cancer, then enjoy it. Best of luck to you. Otherwise stay away.

It feels like a reality show about some boring, self-absorbed, cutesy couple. Between the two of them, they have one parent, and one party guy friend. No pets, no God, no kids.

Even when asked to describe himself, all the guy can come up with is that he likes hiking and would like to learn to dance.

It couldn't decide if it was a romantic comedy or a drama. Or maybe the people were just silly people faced with a dramatic situation. Either way, I didn't care. They didn't make me care.

The Last Whistle

A Slow, Cliched Contrition Message without Preaching
There were several clichés here. Also, the lead actor played almost the same character he played in the Friday Night Lights series. We had the rich kid with a chip on his shoulder, the earnest star player, the well-meaning assistant coach, and the troublemaking redneck bar patron to name a few.

But there were some good elements. The lead was actually a decent guy from start to finish, and both him and others grew emotionally or spiritually by the end. You keep waiting for some kind of religious preaching, but it never happens. Although you do see a Psalm on the wall of our lead's house.

There's little or no character development or back story for the ball players, bartender, bar patrons, or school administrators, but you get some half baked attempts for the daughter and the star player.

Music is barely used. This is good, because it would have been manipulative.

What's nice is that the coach never really grovels. He is who he is. He just learns to tell people he's sorry when he feels it. It's cut and dry without too much ceremony. You can't help but like him.

Unfortunately there just isn't much happening here, and the pace is excruciating.


Good Character Study, Bad Ending
You stick with it because it starts off with a very natural, sort of "indie" feel. A guy who is trying to live up to his wife and daughter's expectations of him as a husband and father, while clearly finding it difficult.

The hospital waiting room scenes are very believable, thanks to some unsung performances by those with minor roles in admissions and nursing. The "red herring" aspect with camera pans to certain activities or people seems obvious. Meaning whatever the camera focuses too much on, will probably not be the answer to the puzzle.

There is little background information on whether this guy served time in jail for drunk driving in the past or how he met his current wife. We just know that he is a recovering alcoholic with a dark past.

I loved the acting by the two cops, the security guard, and the staff psychologist. But I did feel a bit bored just watching a confused guy run around and insist that people believe his story.

Nevertheless, I made it through and found that family members saw it themselves and enjoyed it. So there must have been some worthwhile elements. It just gets a little crazy at the end. There were probably many more satisfying alternate ways to have wrapped it up.

The Savages

Memorable Downer
I really miss P.S. Hoffman. You could say that he plays a similar character frequently, the disheveled, complex loser with a heart of gold, but he still brings nuances to that character, and certainly Capote was different.

Here he delivers the writer's intelligent lines with great timing and emotion. Laura Linney did this character in her series Ozark more or less, but she too brings a special touch regardless. As others have mentioned, it's like neither one is acting.

The film makers didn't sensationalize the "dementia" angle to gain sympathy. It was presented in a few simple scenes. But they used a fairly unique plot line. Which is caring for a helpless elder that you hate.

He is the cause of most of their darkness and dysfunction, yet they are suddenly responsible for his welfare. An interesting twist. Meanwhile, they live up to their responsibility with honor.

There is zero mention of religion here. No angst over the spiritual morality of adultery, or last rites, or a religious funeral. Writers tend to write about what they know, and I believe many or most in the entertainment industry are secular.

The Buffalo setting adds to the grit. In theory one could live a perfectly optimistic life in a freezing cold, working class place. It doesn't need to be depressing. But the male lead has a fairly low paying teaching job, and the woman is unemployed. Plus obviously the circumstances are dark. So their own circumstances do fit a dark, cold industrial city.

There's not much music, which is good, because that would be manipulative. There are also some admirable supporting performances from a Nigerian caregiver and a middle aged boyfriend. Both very natural.

I would have liked to know more about the man their dad had been previously. But overall a satisfying experience well worth the hours.

La fille inconnue

You Better Have Patience and Respect Good Performances
I guess French films often keep it real and simple. This one sure did. There is no big plot twist. You just get to see a couple of guilt-ridden people try to do the right thing. Which was refreshing.

There is one great emotional breakdown scene that made the film for me. It was from a supporting character. The lead shows no emotion. I assume that's the way the director wanted it. She's a quiet, moral person.

There's not much in the way of sex, drugs, or rock and roll. Nor scenery or effects.

Time Trap

Scooby Doo in a Cave
I don't get it. Some kids enter a time warp in a cave that houses the Fountain of Youth, but I don't understand the details.

Why are there cavemen in there, and a spaceman from the future, and ancient Romans trying to kill a little girl, and a cowboy who rarely moves and never speaks? What do they all eat, and isn't the fountain in Florida, not Texas?

What was the concept of a water bubble and spaceship? I'm sorry. I just don't understand any of this. Meanwhile, I assume the dialog was terrible on purpose, to give it a sort of cheesy, cartoon quality. I hope so. There's even a groovy VW bus and a dog.

I hung on, because I was curious to learn what it all meant, but I still don't know. Just that various people in history were competing for access to the fountain.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Too Long but Thoughtful
I don't think that life is a choice between dedicating every moment to a career or being a great parent. One can be an executive and still be attentive to children.

This is a familiar role for Gregory Peck. No one does it better. The gentleman with exceptional integrity. It works very well here. Especially with the added touch of distance, pain, and frustration.

Jennifer Jones was great. A character clever enough to be an executive herself, had she lived in a different era. The clash between the two, and the way they balance out each others' excesses is portrayed very well.

One can be a cog in a big business wheel and still live a meaningful life. This picture seems to indicate that it's difficult. But the daily struggle is actually what gives it meaning. You try to bring integrity to what you do. Sometimes you need to compromise.

There are several basically decent characters in this. That's refreshing. There is not much heavy-handed music. The war scenes are excellent for the time.

I can't tell exactly what point the writer is trying to make. But my arguments above attempt to refute the notion that business, family, and integrity are incompatible. You may not always get your way. But just being there and trying to make a difference is itself an act of integrity.


Shallow Pathetic People with a Heart
There are several references to infidelity, heavy pandering to gays and lesbians, drunkenness, ethnic stereotyping, and a mixture of clichés. But as Hollywood films go, this one was relatively tame and moral.

The main characters are not appealing, and there isn't much character development, so you're not rooting for anyone. Women who raised kids who no longer keep in touch with mom, while the moms are clueless why. But ultimately they want their sons to be solid, moral men.

Despite the sloppy attempts at slapstick humor or suburban kitsch, the basic points are made fairly well. Those are that people need to make an effort to truly get to know one another, yet sometimes it's best to give them some space. Also that forgiveness is hard, but often necessary, and finally that our most meaningful contribution to the world is our children.

There is a good sort of retro 80's song played here and there, and some great shots of the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Patricia Arquette is awkward here as a convert to Judaism. She tries to act like a stereotypical Jewish mother, yet her character is not from a Jewish background. So probably a convert would just have the personality of whatever they came from .

Angela Bassett is always solid and looks great. Huffman was born for these kind of roles.

Chaos Theory

Reasonably Moral Retread
As others have said, there are lots of clichés here. Uptight guy who needs to lighten up, best friend who is the opposite, mix-ups and misunderstandings. But Ryan Reynolds is a unique talent. He is extremely likeable no matter what he does, and has the skill to shift from serious to funny instantly.

The wife was portrayed as common and annoying. Not sure why anyone would want to marry her. Nor him. We aren't shown any appealing characteristics of either.

I can't stand when movies use famous songs or overly "emo" songs to manipulate time. This one does.

But ultimately, as far as a I know, premarital sex was about as risqué as anyone got. Despite considering worse. So as modern films go, these people made reasonably moral choices, including some that I won't spoil.

Operation Brothers

Slow and Cliche, but Nice Story
I was ready for this to end long before it did. There was virtually no character development, a bunch of cliched characters, and slow pacing.

But the story itself is an interesting one, and apparently true. Let's face it, the nuts and bolts of a rescue mission are not always that interesting. But the crucial moments had sufficient tension.

I wasn't really buying Chris Evans as ethnic, but I guess they needed a pretty face and he was available.

There is also virtually no explanation for what was going on in Ethiopia, other than some vague sense of a civil war.

I could definitely do without the sanctimonious narration.

There is no soundtrack really or sex.

When Heroes Fly

Great Dialogue and Good Character Development
There are flashbacks throughout the series to help explain everyone's back story. That's an annoying device in some movies, but it worked here. Because there are a lot of characters and several years to cover.

I loved the depiction of male bonding with all its ups and downs. The way the four leads share so much history. You really get to know each guy as an individual, as well as his relationship to the others.

Despite that great character development, we don't find out much about the main guru guy. Who is he and how did he come to do what he is doing?

Meanwhile, multiple Israeli lives intersect in Colombia. Sometimes it makes sense, because Israelis like to travel to exotic places and get into a lot of experimental stuff. But sometimes it seems like too much of a coincidence. They often don't even seem surprised that the person they are dealing with in some obscure scenario is another Israeli.

I really appreciated the fact that one of the guys is depicted as religious. Since in many of these films, everyone is some kind of Godless cynic. But ultimately this character sees things the way I assume the creator of the series does.

The photography of Colombia and Israel is terrific. There are no long, gratuitous love scenes. The subtitles go very quickly, so you may want to use the English dubbing, which is with Israeli accents.

A lot of tender loving care was put into the dialogue and the plot set up. But there is no explanation for the science behind how the mystery drug actually works.

The lead male character resembles Ryan Gosling in mannerisms. He shows loads of angst and has a very expressive, sensitive face.

There is not enough explanation for why a former religious character dropped out of religion, nor why another one is struggling with it.

The first two episodes are slow, but the rest are highly engaging.

Vivir sin permiso

Compelling and Fun
I chose to use the English dubbing on Netflix. But although I am not hearing the actors' voices, I can still appreciate their performances. I love the casting of the kingpin, his bodyguard, and his wayward daughter.

Interestingly, since these Spanish actors could pass for North Americans or other types of Europeans, I barely even get the Spanish feel that others must, because they are hearing the Spanish dialog. It just looks like Americans or French in a nice coastal town.

The lead actor has a strong presence. Despite the dubbing, I can feel his pain through his facial expressions. Meanwhile the plot twists are interesting and fun.

The beautiful scenery really adds to the fun. But the thing I appreciate the most, is the character development. There's lots of it, and I always crave that in a movie or series.

The bad Colombian guy really portrays "alpha" evil well, and the God-son is very intense. You can feel his determination and angst.

I judge these series by whether I am craving another episode, and I definitely am with this one.

Green Dolphin Street

Thoughtful, Spiritual, and Adventurous
Great story. It shows how meeting someone in a particular circumstance can lead to a lifelong connection with them. In this case, a couple on a date meets a ship's captain who becomes a crucial connection for years to come.

Also how connection to a hometown sticks with you for life, even when you're not there. You meet someone else from there, or you long to return. Which all ties in with the broader concept of a divine plan or fate.

The characters were fleshed out well, with great dialogue and farewell speeches. People were shown to have grown in life, to the point of understanding their own flaws and accepting them in others, yet rising above them.

There are natural disasters, misunderstandings, a love triangle, loss and birth, and spiritual renewal.

Lana Turner does not wear provocative clothing or even have blonde hair, yet she is so charming, vulnerable, and beautiful. A great role that she played well.

Even the topic of native tribal relations was handled with some grace. They weren't depicted as scary and heartless, but rather reasonable and loyal.

Every character is pretty decent and loving. Even the frustrated Van Heflin never crosses the line in to selfishness. In fact he sacrifices his own feelings to protect the feelings of others.

It's very long, but not in an annoying way. You feel like you're part of an epic journey. Also, death and disappointment bring the high and mighty down, just as they do the poor.

The Beach

Underdeveloped but Fun
I have not read the book. So forget that aspect. Maybe the reason for not sharing characters' back stories is a way to say that you can be anyone on a vacation, or everyone starts fresh on a deserted island.

But I personally prefer to hear about the lives of all key characters in a movie like this. Just have them explain in a conversation with each other. Then I would care more about them. But they didn't do this.

I like to reminisce about being young and about adventures I had or wished I had. So I enjoyed living vicariously through our main character. Thailand is one of those places where you are likely to meet Europeans seeking adventure or release, because many live in cold, uptight societies. So I believed the fact that most of the beach people were from Europe.

It is totally true that no matter where you travel, you bring yourself and your nature with you. There are some good lines in this film about that. Also that any grouping of people will include "Alphas," "Betas," and assorted misfits. At every job I've ever had, ever group trip I've ever taken, every school I've ever attended, there were always all those types, and they didn't get along.

Something I read into the plot that we are not told, is that the leader woman may come from money. Maybe they don't just exist on money from selling pot. She probably has a trust fund. That may not be in the book. But it would make sense.

I liked DiCaprio here, because he had that fresh, youthful loser guy vibe down perfectly. A guy who had nothing going for him, but was ready and eager to reinvent himself. He looked genuinely excited to be alive and experience this adventure, until it went bad.

I totally believed the young French couple. They were perfectly cast. As were the beach dwellers. I also liked the device of using physical injury or illness as the threat to paradise.

As for depth, we needed to hear more conversation about the nature of life. There is a good line in the final narration about what it means to find paradise. But I would have liked to hear some debates about morality. At least there was one somewhat Christian guy and one Catholic who shows some integrity.

They should have cut the entire sequence of animation. It did not fit. It was like a separate movie. I like the idea of our character starting to lose it, and witnessing what he did, but minus the technical hijinks.

Meanwhile the ending was fine for me. It made sense, and I loved the touch of having him reflect on it all at a café.

The Box

Like a 13 Year Old Made It
These were the wrong actors. Why put two romantic comedy players in a science fiction? Their reactions and emotions were not even close to how people in their situation would behave.

The 70s feel was good, in terms of the cars, music, T.V. They didn't try to use 70s soundtrack hits. Just some old crooners from the early 60s that might still be played at that time. They showed old T.V.s with some famous shows from '76. That era had some good science fiction, like Stepford Wives, a much better movie.

Setting it in Richmond, Virginia was unique. They both had good jobs and only one kid, but were struggling financially. They used one line to explain that away. Saying that they spend too much. O.K. if you say so.

I love the plot device of a moral dilemma involving a button to push and the choice of money with a moral consequence. But that was hardly the core of the plot. There were all kinds of juvenile pseudo-spooky scenes and effects thrown in with no relevance to the plot. Like some kid making a junior high student film just wanted to test out some cool images.

Zombies, boxes of water, nosebleeds, a foggy warehouse with special lighting, an all-knowing villain with half a face, a speechless Santa, Mars, a house flood, the afterlife. Ah jeez.

The only moral I can glean from it all, is that we need to focus on love not money, or Martians will mess with your life. Because they are also God. Good luck.


Better than Most but still Lacking
Saw this on neftlix. It wasn't about murder or serial killers, or dystopia like the rest. Just a family drama, which is refreshing.

A story about an urban white kid who plays basketball is unique unto itself. As was this kid. He was kind of soft and reserved, and he wasn't trying to be "street" like his teammates.

Shannon and Gugino were excellent as the parents, as was the guy playing the high school coach. So plenty to praise here.

But of course as professional reviewers have noted, there were too many clichés. The general metaphor aspect of the title was fine. But injuries, girls, betting, it was just too loaded.

I am always a fan of back-story. We heard that his mom met his uncle first, but we didn't hear from her about what initially attracted her to his dad. HIs confidence and popularity? Let's hear her reflect.

What does the kid want to major in at college? Does he like writing like his father? His dad seemed racist against Asians, but he doesn't say a word about his son's interracial relationship.

It's a Catholic school. Is the kid or his parents religious at all? We never see the dad go to confession, which is a cliché itself, but would still have added an interesting dimension.

The best aspect of the story was the idea that a jock has to be tough and dig deep. That it's very hard to walk a fine line between sensitivity and aggression. To have both. One of the great challenges of young manhood. This could have been explored much better. Clearly he inherited his mom's sensitive side. But everyone else was trying to toughen him up for his own good.

Could he still be a loveable character if he developed a thick skin and a pipeline to adrenaline? Were we supposed to assume that his final howl and chest-pound was indication that he was a new man? That he had learned how to tap into "beast-mode??

The Society

Statement on Straight White Toxic Masculinity
I love the concept. I don't care if it's been done before. Everything has. Parallel universes or the afterlife are both fascinating concepts that never get old for me.

Nice use of the imagery of woods blocking off the exits from town. Nature can represent both primal fear and sylvan simplicity. A terrifying perimeter to civilization, or a pristine refuge from it.

I haven't read any comments mentioning this, but all the kids were asleep on the bus when they came back to town. Granted it was nighttime, but were they drugged or just conveniently didn't notice what happened?

As others have mentioned, one of the problems with teen dramas is that the actors are rarely the age of their characters. The way some in this series look and speak makes that obvious. Especially the class president girl. Having said that, they did a terrific job. Very impressive.

I don't remember any explanation for which kids were chosen for the field trip to flee the smell in town and why. Were they all Seniors? Our lead girl was the little sister of the class president. She mentions being a bit more than a year younger, so I assume she was a Junior, as were some others. Where are the Sophomores and Freshmen?

The sensitive males are either gay, African American, or Hispanic. The straight white males are either thuggish jocks, psychopaths, or rich druggies and philanderers. But give credit because a couple of the sensitive guys do have some alpha qualities too. and one of the jocks has a sensitive side.

I do believe that girls would be a bit more mature than guys in this situation and would be bossy or have motherly instincts. But what about white alpha males who don't play sports and are Christian. or just academically inclined? There must be some in a school.

The gentleman who uses his alpha skills for Scouts, or a part time job, or even a rock or fusion band, or volunteer firefighting, etc. Or are the writers saying that this type of male is scarce in modern youth culture?

No doubt there is such a thing as "toxic masculinity," in terms of men too often giving in to their baser instincts. But there are also many who use their courage for the good.

They do handle the Christian character interestingly. I was expecting them to just treat her as a hypocrite, but it's more nuanced than that. She believes, but she's just a teen. She struggles with desire and doubt, and can be mean too. She's far from perfect, but also does a lot of good. Well done.

Yes, they do present some politically correct issues and keep your guard up for manipulation. But not too bad. They try socialism and make some speeches about it without mentioning it by name. But they also show it failing. Gay relations are shown as equally normal to that of straights and there is gay male physical interaction shown.

As for the theories of what is happening, that is fun to ponder. Some say it is a retelling of the Middle Ages German tale of the Pied Piper. It does closely resemble that. A flute player promises a town to rid them of rats, but they won't pay him to do so. So he draws their kids away from them. In the case of the series, it's a guy who has the power to rid the town of an unusual smell before the kids disappear.

Or maybe the kids are in an afterlife. They were shallow and nihilistic in their lives so they now have to give it another try. As per the biblical writing on the wall. Or their parents fell short of the mark and the kids are being offered a chance to make it right, but via some suffering.

Or a parallel universe for some other reason. Maybe the guy responsible for the smell is an alien or an angel and was testing the people.

Either way, it's been fun and deserves a second season.

Triple Frontier

Point Break in the Mountains
Kathryn Bigelow was involved with this one as producer I believe. It reminded me of Point Break which she directed. A group of adrenaline junkies bonding over a robbery A lead alpha dog, a little philosophy, some hair metal, one girl, crucial timing issues that can mess up a plan,, fire, a cop, etc.

I liked this one. Although they did make an attempt to establish a little background information on the guys, there wasn't enough. There was plenty of time during the first half to do so, but if could have been used a bit more wisely.

The scenery is spectacular and the action steady in the second half. There is a little moralizing and I could have done without the Bob Dylan song. I am always on guard for some Leftist propaganda when Ben Affleck is in something, but it wasn't too bad. Some thoughts on killing and greed, but basically we were rooting for these guys. All they really planned to do was get one bad guy and some money.

Watch with some buddies and a couple beers.

Winter's Bone

Wouldn't Even Make a Good Documentary
Ok. White trash live in hilly areas. Thanks for the memo. Ok. some teenage actress walks around the woods with the same facial expression for hours. This turns her into a star. Great range!

If you want to do a documentary about hillbillies, get to know them. Otherwise forget it. If you want to call wandering around the woods with a camera an actual "movie," forget it.

There's nothing here. Not even a character study. I don't know anything about this girl. Does she go to school? Any boyfriend? Is she good at anything?

Don't be fooled by the "realism" genre. Even realism needs storytelling, and this has none.


Predictable with Some Saving Graces
For those who have never seen a Duplass picture, they may be intrigued by the natural pacing and dialogue, and think they found a unique gem. But the truth is that he plays the same guy in every movie, with a variation on the same dialogue, and with the same pacing. Having said that, I do find the concept of outsider guys bonding over the simple pleasures of life realistic. I've been that guy and met others like it. Life is peaceful when no one is demanding anything of you or expecting you to make them happy, in terms of spouse and kids. It's a trade-off. I'm ok with not having much back story on characters if their current situation is engrossing or interesting. But since their current situation was not, I do need more background. At least the basics. But the fact that they never let you know where this takes place is a way of showing that it could be any two guys, anywhere. There is a scene with a woman and the Ray Romano character that was done very tastefully and believably. That in itself made this worth watching. Meanwhile, the final scene will stick with you for life, and that's not something you expect from a Mark Duplass movie. So hat's off to him. I'm also so happy that they didn't manipulate this thing with a soundtrack of famous hits.

The Edge of Seventeen

Jocks are People Too
Well, don't judge a movie by whether you like the characters. Judge it by whether the characters are realistic. Because people are not always likeable in real life. But their story can still be compelling. So while our protagonist may have been self-absorbed and overly dramatic, was she believable as a modern teen? I think she was. Keep in mind that this is just another in a series of one billion films about Godless people with empty lives. But that's who writes and directs many films. People write about what they know. Having a dorky Asian high school male character was refreshing. I also like that our main girl gives him a chance. But what was the most refreshing was the portrayal of the popular jock older brother as actually a pretty solid guy who is the glue of the family. Two thumbs up for the reliability of alpha males. Meanwhile, he also gets a chance to share his own frustration at needing to be the rock of the family. Of course he looked way too old and mature for high school. As others have noted, the lead actress is reasonably attractive and quick-witted. Those of us who were neither in high school may have a hard time understanding why she has such low self esteem. If only we had her assets when we were young.

Nevertheless, low self esteem is often in the eye of the beholder. Meaning that people look down on themselves for a variety of complex and subjective reasons that others may never understand. It is what it is.

The story did a good job of having the supporting characters remind our main character that she was being unreasonable, overly dramatic, and selfish.

I agree with other reviewers that it's a sad commentary on modern culture that teens judge the value of their lives based on whether they have a romantic partner. But loneliness and desire are powerful forces, and if there is no other narrative to balance out that potential void, it will consume a person who doesn't have the gravitas to see it in perspective.

I didn't notice any music. Meanwhile others say that the music was significant. It made zero impression on me.

There is no nudity, limited sexual references, and less profanity than in most films. But this film is not for the socially conservative. The main girl speaks her mind, including describing sexual fantasies and scenarios. I've never seen the lead in anything prior. But she seems quite talented and natural. Good performance with the material she had to work with.


Joy is Missing
The main dialogue has to be in Hebrew because this was made for an Israeli audience. Although they do show the older people speaking in Yiddish, please understand that in real life, everyone, young and old in those communities conducts their daily lives in Yiddish.

Also, I have yet to see this mentioned in the show or in these comments, but the group depicted is Chasidic. That is a totally different concept than the other black hat types you see in those neighborhoods. But no distinction is made in the show.

The Chasidic have a lot of big parties and dance a lot, and they revere a specific dynastic rabbi who leads their unit. But so far I have not heard any mention of a leader, nor have I seen any of the joy that Chasidim are known for. The characters here have troubles, but they would also be engaging in joyful occasions and exude a certain optimism.

Some have complained that the scenarios depicted would never happen. I actually think they would. These are just people. They need to make a living, they struggle with desire and disappointment too.

One thing that is made fairly clear is the contrast with secular life. Secular life can be rather vulgar, as we see in a few subtle situations. The way people dress, talk, and act. That's why the black hatters steer clear and have their own busses.

I like our main character. He's a sweet young guy. Very gentle. Obviously a bit ineffectual, but he's learning. But his kindness, his willingness to accept others, and his sense of humor show a side of these people that gets overlooked.

Generally we see people who are trying to live a moral life, love one another, and stumble periodically. Of course within any collection of humans, there will be the bad also.

The pace is slow and some of the narratives get old, but there's also a fair amount of humor and introduction of new plot lines regularly introduced. The opening music is catchy, but there is either no music throughout or very little. So there is no manipulation at key points, as there would be in other movies or shows.

Most of the actors look the part, despite coming from secular backgrounds in real life. But perhaps our main character has a bit too modern a way about him. Nevertheless, it is possible. Because the flip side of the heavyset somber types, is the slim refined type, which he represents. There's just something about his face that seems a bit too worldly. But he is pleasing.

Personal Shopper

12 year old boy wanders Paris on a scooter
It is not even remotely scary, interesting, or sexy. I only stayed because there were good shots of European penthouses, hotel rooms, and trains, and I have a travel fantasy.

The ghost payoff is so anti-climatic, that you will beg for your life back, if not your money. Yet the whole plot is about the equivalent of a 12 year old boy (Stewart) waiting for that ghost contact.

No one has anything interesting to say about the afterlife or the purpose of this life. Everyone is Godless and bored. Imagine the pretentiousness of French/Belgian film mixed with the moroseness of K. Stewart. You will lose the will to live.

But there is one novelty. An endless sequence of anonymous text messages, wherein our protagonist gives memorable answers like, "Yes."

Other than that, this is about a pre-pubescent boy who never showers, and wanders around on a scooter. Best of luck to you.

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