Monday, December 19, 2011

Film Review: Carnage

Why do people enjoy uncomfortable, situations where people argue, whine and and embarrass themselves?  How many times can puke be funny?  When is it ever funny?

Carnage is the product of Roman Polanski, whom (I'm told) likes to explore feelings of claustrophobia.  I've only seen a few Polanski films, but not enough to know of this beforehand.

From the outset Carnage gives us the following scenario:  Two 11-year-old kids have an argument in the playground, one strikes the other with a branch and knocks the boy's teeth out.  Soon the parents get involved and meet at the wounded child's home to work things out.

Right from the start I knew this was a bad idea, especially seeing how uptight all four parents were.  The air was so thick I could see it.

After the four parents seemingly agreed to make amends and resolve the issue, the parents of the branch-wielding boy (played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) said their awkward goodbyes and headed for the elevator.  They went out into the hallway, pushed the button and were about to get on, when they were offered coffee and dessert by the victim's parents (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) with forced smiles.

And they said yes.

Why?

It's obvious from the outset how inexperienced these parents are.  Penelope (Jodie Foster) is so obviously seething about her wounded child (beneath her fake smile), that anyone with half-a-brain would have noticed it and fled at the first opportunity, knowing full well that one cannot reason with an upset mother whose child had been "mamed" by another boy. Why turn around and go back inside an apartment where the tension is so palpable?  Why prolong the agony?  Was it because the parents felt it was for the good of the kids that they get along?

What's worse is none of these people are likeable.  If the characters were better actors (not the actors themselves but the characters) and did a better job of hiding their emotions, then maybe their inevitable breakdown would have been funnier.

As the film goes on these very unlikable people become less so as the movie progresses.  Soon they're behaving like children. What sets them off is what seems to be the highlight of the film.  Nancy (Kate Winslet) projectile vomits all over Penelope's rare art book collection.  Cue the audience laughter from the first puke through the cleanup and on from there.

In a theater full of people, I was one of the very few who didn't laugh.  And that's not the first time.  So as I sat glancing around at my fellow moviegoers as they doubled over at the puking and its aftermath, I wondered, "What is it I'm not getting?  What am I missing?"

The film is based on the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza.  I recall seeing the ads and the posters for it when it was on Broadway and never having a desire to see it.  I'm so glad I didn't, although someone informed me that it worked much better on the stage.  Perhaps the stage version had characters that started out much more likeable.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: My Piece of the Pie (Ma Part du Gateau)

If you want to see this film, which I recommend highly, then I suggest you do not read any summaries.  I didn't before I saw it, but after I did and I think had I read the plot I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

Not that there's anything wrong with the plot.  On the contrary, it's well written and performed.  The issue is how much predictability do you like to observe when watching a film.  This movie is unpredictable.  I had no idea how it was going to wind up, and that's the fun of it.  Reading a plot summary could possibly give too much away without intending to.  So avoid the summary and see this film.

I will say this - just to give you an idea of what type of movie it is - it's an amusing, heartwarming and funny character study.

And that's all I'll say....

Oh, yes.  I almost forgot.  It's a French film with a few scenes in English, because they take place in London.

That's it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Film Review: The Descendants

I remember watching a young George Clooney early in his career in several TV appearances.  I liked a few of them, including a failed TV series called - believe it or not - ER.  But it was a different ER.  This one had a slash through he middle (E/R) and it was a comedy.

Flash forward years later and the other ER - the one everyone knows about - launches his career into the stratosphere.  Does anyone remember him in Facts of Life?

I've seen a few of Clooney's post ER films and one thing I've noticed is that while many are quite enjoyable, and he does give a convincing performance overall, there is this sameness between the characters.  It's as if he's playing the same character in different situations.  His narration is also a bit stiff.  In Up in the Air and The Descendants, it's as if the same character has been transplanted from one film to the next.  When the narration started for The Descendants, I wondered if his character portrayal on camera would be the same as Up in the Air.  Fortunately, I was wrong.

Still Clooney isn't as animated as I remember him from the 1980's.  Despite being somewhat convincing as Matt King in this film, I still felt he was a bit weak at times.  Fortunately, the rest of the cast is terrific and really carry the movie.

I think Clooney is at his best when he can play off others, and it's the rest of the cast who shine in this film.

The trailer is actually funnier than the movie itself, but it has some amusing moments and some equally cringe-worthy ones as well.  Still the film is worth a rental at the very least.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Belated Review - The Visitor

There is a new film being released this weekend titled "The Last Rites of Joe May" that has a familiar ring to it.  The plot summary sounds similar to The Visitor, which was the first film I had seen at the preview screenings I attend.  It was a few years back, so this is a much belated review of that film.

The similarities in plot-line are as follows:  A lonely man arrives at his apartment to find strangers living there, and initially tries to kick them out, then feels sorry for them and becomes involved in their own personal struggle.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Visitor, despite some concerns with the plot twist midway through.  I worried at first that this would be a veiled political film about being more tolerant about illegal immigrants in the US, but if it was, I didn't notice it.  I'm not a political person and would rather not see a film with an agenda.  Fortunately, this one didn't seem to have one.

As a whole it was a heart-warming story about the human spirit.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Film Review: The Man on The Train

Based on the French film by Patrice Leconte, this delightful tale depicts what can happen when people from opposite sides of the tracks meet and discover that the other person lives a life they had craved so much.

Donald Sutherland and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drummer for the rock band U2) star as two men who cross paths and wind up being unlikely friends.  Sutherland is a retired college English professor who is tutoring high school kids, while Mullen is a bank robber who arrives in Sutherland's town to rob the local bank.  Mullen's character (simply named The Thief in the credits, but has a name in the film) is suffering from a migrane headache.  He enters a drug store seeking a prescription drug, but when the pharmacist refuses to sell it to him without a prescription, Sutherland (credited as The Professor), happens to have just bought a bottle himself, and passes on a few pills to the robber.  And here starts the shaky beginning of what becomes a beautiful friendship.

It's obvious that the thief is out of place in this small town, but that's what appeals to the professor, who lives alone, has never married and is surrounded by the classics in literature, art and music.  He fantasizes of a more romantic life and wished he had been more cavalier and daring much like his literary heroes.  Meanwhile, the thief, who hasn't given his reason for coming to town away, quietly reveals that he is well read and has a love for literature himself.  He quotes text with the professor and even helps tutor a student when the man isn't available.

They each learn from each other, but in the end each much face their own predetermined fate in life.  The bank robber must rob the bank, and the professor must get his heart surgery.  Will they both make it through to see their dreams fulfilled or be stuck in a role that neither feels is as rewarding anymore?

Graham Greene and Carlo Rota play the thief's partners in crime. Both men are highly underrated actors in my book.

Being an English major myself, I'm always drawn to and entertained by these kind of films.  I might be biased as a result, but I really liked this movie.  Mullen was a bit too quiet for me at times, saying little, making it difficult to read his mind until he either picked up a book or said a word.  At times I wondered if he didn't speak for fear we'd hear his Irish accent, which did come out on occasion.  Considering this film was taking place in America (or Canada) somewhere, he did sound a bit out of place.  Other than that, I thought it was a really good film.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Film Review: Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine is an interesting, compelling film based on the true story of Maragaret Humphries and her response to hearing that millions of British children were shipped out to Australia and used as slave labor.

It's a shocking revelation that's very difficult to imagine.  Young children led to believe that their parents were dead and promised a sunnier life in Australia, when in truth their parents were very much alive, believing their child was dead.  Yes, the child was snatched from the parents.  They were not given voluntarily.

And that sunny life?  Well, it might be sunny in Australia, but the kids didn't enjoy that life there.  Most were abused and sent to manual labor.

The film delves into Margaret's (Emily Watson) battle with the government to bring attention to this issue and to reunite these people with their families.  Now adults, they have deep scars from what happened to them. 

Hugo Weaving and David Wenham star as two of the former children who were sent away and had to endure a brutal childhood.  Without their portrayals (especially Wenham's) I think the film would not have the impact it intended.  Otherwise, I felt like the details were glossed over a bit, telling us rather than showing us what happened.

I think the film is worth it just to watch Len (Wenham) as he opens up about his past, and to see his interaction with Margaret and how their friendship evolves in the film.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Film Review: Margin Call

This was overall an enjoyable film.  It had a sometimes realistic feel to it, and a sometimes comedic, farcical nature to it.  It was difficult at times to tell if they were taking themselves seriously or not, but that didn't bother me as much as you'd think it might.  I guess it's because my day job is in the corporate world, and my company has had its share of lay-offs.  So I found myself connecting to both aspects of this film quite nicely.

What impressed me about this film was how they tackled the problem they were facing.  I really liked how they spent all night in meetings discussing the issue and working toward a resolution.  It felt very realistic to me.  For some reason I had expected it to drag over a few days, but it didn't.  The sense of urgency was strong, the attitudes of management was amusing and had a touch of realism to it.

Another interesting aspect involved a couple of the characters making accusations along the lines of "I told you about this," or "I warned you this would happen."  No one in the film wanted to broach that subject, which was disappointing for me, because I would have loved to have known what they had said back then, but we the audience were more like flies on the wall in this film.  There were no flashbacks, no time spent in character development.  We were witnessing a melt down as it was happening, and it made it feel so realistic.  I wanted more, but I knew that this wasn't the intent of this film.

I was amazed at the cast, especially those actors who only were in one or two scenes.  This shows how strong the team was behind this film that would cause some name actors to take bit parts.  They're not minor, forgettable roles by any means, but they are only in a couple of scenes. 

I have nothing more to say without giving the plot away except to highly recommend this film.

Monday, October 17, 2011

DVD Review: Bridesmaids

Those who read this blog should have a sense right now that this really isn't my kind of film.  I really don't care for crude humor, partly because it's easy and predictable (and not to mention disgusting).

Many people compared this film to The Hangover, and while I probably will never see that film, I can find a better comparison.  How about a prolonged Saturday Night Live sketch.  This is what it felt like.

Some of the scenes were very familiar to me, having seen several in the TV ads and trailers, while others have been played out before either by the cast of SNL or by another show some 10-20 years before.  It was as if Kristin Wiig took a collection of sketches she wrote involving one character and linked them to this one theme and tossed them into this film.  Or maybe, as suggested by Leonard Maltin, the director just told the cast to improvise and this is what we have.

I'm not a fan of Murphy's Law films.  The idea of "whatever can go wrong will for a laugh" for 2 hours doesn't appeal to me.  I can only watch that in small doses and even then I can't wait for the resolution

I like my comedies to have some substance and pacing.  Sadly this one didn't.  Surely it was enough to have the British woman take advantage of her tourist visa to milk her stay in the US, but no....  Let's make her completely idiotic on top of that (calling her dim-witted would have been too kind).

The dueling microphones at the engagement party had a familiar ring to it, as did the over-medicated, frightened airline passenger who thinks that wearing sunglasses will hide the fact that they're sneaking back into first class again.

There was also the predictability that the lead would fall on her face in front of her competition on multiple occasions... but really?  A cabin retreat for a bachelorette party?  Really?  Is she really not of this century?

I do know that many people loved this film, so I know I'm in the minority on this one.  Hey, I didn't care for Wedding Crashers or Sweetest Thing either.  So tells you something about me.

Short Film Review: God of Love

This Academy Award winning short film is a treat.  Luke Matheny is Ray, a lounge singer who pines for his drummer, Kelly, but she has eyes on his best friend and guitarist, Fozzie.

Fozzie is loyal to Ray and won't give Kelly the time of day.  Each night for a year Ray prays to God to have Kelly fall for him.

Without giving too much away, Ray recieves what he perceives is an answer to his prayers, but will it work?

One thing I loved about this film is that while Fozzie insists he's not interested in Kelly, he knows more about her likes and dislikes than Ray does.

And what's with the Amish decorations?  Why Amish? LOL!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Film Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

When I first heard the title of this film I thought I'll never get it right, but once I heard the reasoning for the names and saw them within the context of the film, it became quite memorable.  This film is also very memorable and the subject matter resonates.

Despite dragging in parts, I found the film interesting.  The characters are all rich and provide insight without explanation.  Martha (who is also Marcy May and Marlene) is an escapee from a cult who has to not only adapt to society, but also struggle with the memories of what she thought was a loving, giving environment, while trying to deal with the shaky relationship she has with her estranged sister and brother-in-law.

What's interesting about this film is that neither world seems to work for Martha.  Her real family is distant, strict and not compassionate enough for her needs.  Her sister wasn't around much when Martha was a child, so it's easy to see why Martha doesn't feel any love for her.  However, despite the fact that the cult life puzzled her at times, she accepted what she was led to believe was love.  If the leader, Patrick, did something that would be considered alarming in the real world, Martha (called Marcy May by the cultists) is told that it's all about existing and being and loving.

At times I wondered why she left the cult.  I could see what was wrong with her life in the cult, but her acceptance of the lifestyle made it seem idyllic vs her sister's world.  I knew at some point something had to happen that led to her running away, and we are soon shown what it is.  And soon both world seem to merge, and Martha has trouble separating reality from memory.

Or is it reality?

Elizabeth Olsen has proven herself a worthy actress who has managed to rise above the label of "the younger sister of the Olsen Twins".  She does a great job of evoking emotion by not saying a word.

John Hawkes is great as Patrick.  I liked him in Winter's Bone.  The rest of the cast is terrific.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Opinion/Review - sometimes one has to turn it off....

I'm not sure why I get so picky about certain film genres and subjects, but I do.  I am aware that I prefer films that have likeable characters (or relatable ones) and a wrapped up ending.  I also prefer positive films over depressing ones with seriously morbid and dark characters.  I just don't care for movies that I can't feel emotionally connected to, or can escape while watching it.

If a film doesn't appeal to me while I'm watching it, and I'm at home while this is happening, I'll usually give it at least 20 minutes before I stop watching.

Here are two examples:

Dangerous Liaisons:

Last night I gave Dangerous Liaisons an hour before I stopped.

This was a film that got rave reviews when it was released back in the late 1980's.  So why did it take me so long to finally sit down and watch it?  Because even back then it didn't interest me.  I've watched many costume dramas and have enjoyed several, but this film's ads didn't win me over.  I can't remember why.  I'll have to watch an old trailer.  However, given that I couldn't sit through the last hour of it, I suspect it had something to do with the acting.

Most of the cast were very good.  The only one who wasn't was the charmer himself, Valmont, played by John Makovich.  My problem with him was when his character professed his love, whether true or not, his voice would become stiff and monotone. Every time he had to act emotionally with Michelle Pfeiffer (and even when he was saving the beggar whom he did for show more than anything else), his voice was flat.  It ruined the film for me and after a while, I had to shut it off.

I wondered if maybe it was because the director was worried that American audiences wouldn't be able to tell when he was telling the truth or lying, so they made him an unconvincing liar, although no one seemed to notice.  Or maybe he as an actor couldn't make himself believe the lies his character was telling.  So in a way he had trouble acting out a pretense.  It was just unnerving after a while.

Rather than enjoy his lustful scenes, I become more and more repulsed.  There just was no charm in him after a while.

ironically, I found Uma Thurman pleasantly surprising.  I was never a big fan of hers, although I do think she's a good actress.  But here she's playing a character so unlike the ones we've seen her portray within the past 20 years.  Most of her roles have been tomboys or tough girls.  Here we get to see that she has a range and can play a demure engenue quite convincingly.

I do think Swoosie Kurtz was terribly miscast.  She comes across as an upper-crust wannabe, rather than being of that stock.

And Keanu Reeves, often accused of his stiff acting, might have taken lessons from John Malkovich while working on this film, although, I have seen plenty of Keanu's films and have less trouble with his acting than I did Malkovich's in this one.

My Beautiful Laundrette

Another Stephen Frears film (Dangerous Liaisons is his as well).  This one lacked appeal for me within the first 30 minutes or so.  I found the lead actor with his plastic smile to be too bland and superficial.  I can imagine the director telling him, "just smile vacantly and the audience will be charmed by you."  Not really.

And the dirty underworld he gets embroiled in didn't win me over either, nor did Daniel Day Lewis.  The blonde streak didn't bother me.  After all, I was a teenager in the 1980's and loved some of the looks, so that was fine.  I just didn't care for the character.

None of them appealed to me.

I find I'm not too keen on Stephen Frears work.  I plan on watching The Deal and The Queen, hoping for something a bit more substantial than the above two films.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Film Review: Bride Flight

Bride Flight (Dutch with English subtitles) is a fictional account of three women, who leave their native Netherlands in the 1950s, heading to New Zealand to reunite with their fiances, marry and start a new life.  The women meet on the plane, and their lives soon intertwine in a story of love, loss and independence.

The film spans several decades flashing forward and backward from present day to the past as it chronicles what each woman goes through alone and together, and the link that binds them to each other.

The film was shot in Holland and New Zealand, the latter location allows for some English to be spoken in the film with most of the dialog in Dutch

A friend of mine in The Netherlands tells me its a bit hit over there, and I can see why.  I highly recommend this film.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Film Review: Tied to a Chair

Tied to a Chair is one of those films that makes me sit back and wonder whether it might have been better served if the writer/director had given one of his roles to someone else.  A low budget film that reveals its inadequacies in its editing and mish mash of a storyline.

The film has essentially three plots revolving around one character who is essentially the amalgam of three.  The Naomi we meet from the outset is a ditzy British wife who can't cook nor do anything right.  When her husband asks her what she wants to do with her life, she reveals that she threw her dreams out the window when she married him.  She wanted to be an actress.

So she ups and leaves her staid life in Britain and heads off to Cannes, and this is where plot two begins.  She no longer has the British accent and instead she's an American, desperately seeking the role of a lifetime.

Her quest eventually leads her to New York, her hometown, where she gets embroiled in some criminal activity.  And this - in essence - is plot number three.

The film has some potential, but it seems to be lost in the stiffness of some of the acting and the choppiness of some of the editing.  I think had the film been directed by someone else, it might have been much more refined all around with only a marginal increase in the budget to accommodate the additional headcount.

In the end this film had way too many stories going on and not enough umph to transition between them.  The magic unfolds at the end as if that's when everyone become more comfortable in their roles.  At times this film was more a collection of ideas, rather than a fluid story.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Film Review: The Double Hour (Italian with English subtitles)

This is an engaging film, harkening back to classic suspense films of the 1940's and 50's.  Some might find it cliche'd, but I truly enjoyed it.

The plot revolves around a young woman who works as a hotel housekeeper and an ex-cop who meets her at a speed dating event.  They date for a while, but things soon turn ugly, and she must find out what really happened that day they spent together on the grounds of his boss's mansion.

The scenes are woven together nicely and it will definitely keep you guessing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Film Review: Exporting Raymond

Everybody Loves Raymond... Well, almost.  I was never an avid watcher of the TV show myself, although I did land on it on occasion and have a good laugh.  So I could see the appeal and often watch an episode when I come across it in reruns.

Exporting Raymond is a comedic documentary featuring the producer of the TV series and the hurdles and challenges he goes through helping a Russian crew create their own version of the show in Russia.

Phil Rosenthal, producer and stand-up comic, gives us a somewhat amusing look at what it was like for him to ensure the show retained its theme and humor as it was translated for a new audience.  He reveals the culture clash and marvels at the differences in cultures, despite his ardent belief that the quirks of married life is universal.

I found this film a bit self-serving and naive at times, but if you liked the TV show and enjoy this humor, I think you'll find it an entertaining ride.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

TV Detour - Midsomer Murders: The Decline and Fall of Ben Jones

Growing up watching TV most of my life, I've often noticed and pondered why producers and writers do things to characters that are inconsistant, thinking that audiences won't notice.

Many times I've seen shows change the background of a character in such an obvious way that viewers notice.  And yet in this day and age of DVDs, DVRs, computers, and any other technology in which we can rewatch episodes (even reruns that were in place as far back as the 1970's), producers and writers forget this aspect and assume the audience won't notice for the sake of entertainment.

News flash:  We do notice.  We notice all the time and we comment and critique it in message boards all over the internet.

I want to talk about one such instance that's been becoming more and more obvious recently.  And this involves a regular character named Ben Jones who is in the British murder mystery called Midsomer Murders.

For those of you who don't know Midsomer Murders is a show that has been on the air since 1996 and is televised in hundreds of countries (including parts of the US and is available on DVD in the US as well).

For the first 13 series (aka seasons) the show had starred John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby.  Now in its current series (14) the lead is Neil Dudgeon who is the new DCI and is Tom's cousin John.

 Through the years Tom Barnaby has had three sidekicks:  Gavin Troy, Dan Scott and Ben Jones, all three detective sergeants.

Jones has stayed on since Tom's departure, now reluctantly working for John Barnaby.

When Jones joined the show he was an eager police constable who won over Tom Barnaby at a crime scene.  He eventually became a detective constable, then a detective sergeant. 

For the his first three series (series 9, 10 and 11) Jones showed good instinct, loyalty and demeanor. But something changed in series 11.  For some inexplicable reason Jones has become more and more inept through the years.  He can't solve his own cases, he's extremely sensitive and defensive....

...and in a most recently aired episode (Echoes of the Dead) he's been described as a "Jonah" or bad luck by an ex-cop who claims all Jones' former colleagues agreed with him on this.

This is a revelation that leaves me puzzled, as I have never seen him cause any bad things to happen.

He has gradually become more and more unappealing as each new episode airs.  In his first three series, he never let anyone's personal opinion bother him as deeply as it does now.  He whines and complains a lot more these days.  And he acts like an idiot sometimes.

What happened to the man who had great hunches, had a respectful demeanor and had a sharp, keen wit?

I'd like to know when in the past six years has he proved to be a Jonah?  And what of the perceived loyalty and respect Jones seemed to share with his colleagues through the years?  Is it all out the window now?  Jones' reaction in the scene seemed to imply that he knew he was considered bad luck.  So it's apparently not something he was called behind his back.

I know that he wasn't pleased to have Barnaby hear this comment, as John has a degree in psychology.  But the episode never returned to this to either refuted or support the claim that Jones was considered a Jonah by his colleagues.  And since this show is episodic and rarely returns to references made in past episodes, I doubt we'll hear about it again.

The UK paper the Sunday Mercury questioned why Jones has had a "personality transplant" and loyal fans of the series want to know why he's been made so inept.

I want to as well.

Believe it or not, while Jones has a supporting role in the show, his screen time and activity in it was much more involved in the first three years than it has been recently.  Jones has faded into the background, becoming more of a plot device and a poor attempt at comic relief.  There were episodes in the past in which I would laugh out loud at his antics, but they were situational and they worked.  Now they made him into a goofball, forcing humor in when it doesn't work.

These days they change his background and personality to suit an episode.  That never used to be the case.  He's so unpleasant right now that it's affecting my enjoyment of the show.

What happened to him?

I'm sure ITV (the network that airs the show) or Bentley Productions will say that Jones is angry because he had hoped to get promoted and got passed over.  So he's mad that he has to work for another Barnaby.  I don't mind him being irritated by that, but his behavior started before it was even announced that the old Barnaby was leaving.  Does this mean that he was growing angrier at the old Barnaby by the end of it?

And what of his oversensitivity and his lack of smarts?  Was that due to anger?  Did he suddenly become emotional?

Could it be that the producers had heard that some fans thought Jones a bit bland in the first three series, so in an attempt to give him some substance, they regressed him into a problem child, rather than introduce something that would have made more sense?  Surely, reducing his intelligence wasn't the only option, but it seems to be the one they took.  One would think that once a character has been established for 3 years, changing him so radically might puzzle the audience.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the producer of this show once said that he was worried about confusing foreign audiences.  So while the original Barnaby retired from the show, repeats of his final episode will have a different ending that won't show him retiring.  This way audiences won't get confused.  Neil Dudgeon also has been quoted as saying that he hopes audiences won't see much of a difference between his Barnaby and Nettles.

So does this mean that Jones is actually a reincarnated Gavin Troy?  That still doesn't work for me.

Personally, I never thought the earlier incarnation of Jones was bland.  I liked him and I thought there was a good person with brains an integrity underneath the surface.  Sadly, that's not the case.

I also think the writers lost the plot with him as well, unsure what to do with him in some episodes.  So he fades into the background as a result.

Bottom line:  They should have left him alone and continued with him as he was up to series 11.  Where was the man who had things under control in Blood Wedding?  Can we have him back now, please?

I've been  a fan of Midsomer Murders since I was on vacation in England in 2002.  I caught an episode with Gavin Troy and loved it and watched ever since.  Believe it or not it was John Nettles portrayal of Tom Barnaby that kept me watching, although I was tempted to stop when Dan Scott was on the show, because some of the spark that the program had during the Troy years seemed to be missing.

When Jones joined the show, the magic returned and in time I grew to really like his character.  I became a fan of the actor, Jason Hughes, as well.

Now with Neil Dudgeon in the lead and Jones being crabby, it's lost it's spark again.  I have nothing against Neil, and believe that in time I could warm up to his character, but he's not Tom Barnaby and Jones is not the same man we knew before.  With Jones in rapid decline I don't see how their partnership will survive.  They may have to do another transplant and give Jones back his old personality, but it might be too late for that.

Bring the old Jones back, please.

Absent and Tardy

Apologies for not posting in a long time.  Real life sneaked up on me and caused me to take a breather.

First there was the Bell's Palsy that hit around mid-August of 2010.  That made me feel very tired, so my evenings after work were spent lounging on the sofa, watching TV or snoozing.

Then I bid on a condo in late September and that was a nerve-wracking experience getting all my i's dotted and my t's crossed.  I finally closed in December, but the place needed plenty of work, and still does.  So that's occupied my time as well.

I know I am very late in posting film reviews, but I still want to do that.  This means there will be plenty of belated reviews from the past several months, but I'll try to intersperse them with more recent films.

I also plan to change the layout of my reviews, as one thing that causes me to procrastinate is the listing of credits.  I like having them, but I'm finding myself less motivated to post when I think of the work involved in including them.  So instead I'll mention names within the review and tag, when relevant, and post a link to IMDB for anyone interested in full credit info.  This will motivate me to keep up with the postings and not fall as far behind as I did before.

So apologies again for the disappearance.  And thanks for your understanding.