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Movie Review – Gone Girl

Spoilers. Sorry.

OFFICIAL SILVER SCREENER REVIEW

– GONE GIRL –

IMDB Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (62,612 votes)

Director: David Fincher

The poster for Gone Girl.

The poster for Gone Girl.

Nick Dunne is a bad husband. No matter how much he endeavours to be good, he can’t do it. Throughout his 5-year marriage with Amy Dunne, the cracks begin to appear bit by bit, culminating in her disappearance. At the beginning of their relationship, they swear not to be “that couple”. They identify other marriages as one thing, and hold themselves to an ideal which is the contrary, an ideal which conforms to what they believe is a healthy relationship. After 5 years, their marriage is far from healthy. They’re both at fault, but who really holds the blame? If Nick Dunne is a bad husband, why does ‘Gone Girl’ demand that we like him?

It’s a strange and consequential thought that the film toys with. Acclaimed director David Fincher, whose career has been made by films like ‘The Social Network’ and ‘Fight Club’, chooses to once again explore the psychological war of humans-against-humans in his new thriller. ‘Gone Girl’ is typical Fincher – it’s dark, brooding and bold. Elements of comedy are placed inconsequentially throughout the film, like a drop of water entering the ocean, because ‘Gone Girl’ is pessimistic, it’s bleak and it’s essentially depressing. Don’t go into this film if you’re just about to lose faith in humanity: ‘Gone Girl’ may just do it for you.

Straight away, Fincher, or rather the screenwriter Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the bestselling novel, introduces us to this idea that humans are violent and vicious. “When I think of my wife,” Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) narrates, “I always think of her head – I picture cracking open her lovely skull, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.” We don’t know when he says this, or why – we can make an educated guess that it’s around the time of his wife’s disappearance – but we can only assume that he wants answers. He needs an explanation of how it all went wrong. The failed expectations of an ideal couple. He was only trying to be the best husband he could, which was his problem. His marriage was a psychological war. And in this war, there is only one rule: never let your opponent know what you’re thinking. Nick had to find this out the hard way – choosing a manipulative, evil genius of a wife didn’t help.

Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) picks him for the fool he is. Nick believes in true love. Amy knows better than that. She has the uncanny ability to spot Nick’s weaknesses, and she exploits them. Nick makes it too obvious that he only wants Amy because he believes marriage is normal. He doesn’t love her, and she doesn’t love him. This idea of image is central to the film’s ideas. It’s all about what’s on the outside. Portraying an image of happiness is why these two are together, and it’s why Nick decides to stay at the end. He wants to keep up his profile. He’s won over everybody, every single person that ever doubted him. Why ruin all that public admiration?

Fincher sends us on a rollercoaster and absolutely loves every moment of it. Ven from the opening credits, the two-second shots and disappearing names of the production team, we know that nothing in this small town is definite: everything is constantly changing. There’s such craft to the screenwriting and the suspense, the unreliable narration, which is so brilliantly misleading. There are moments of violence which are built up like a symphony, as Fincher gives us little clues here and there – a suggestive recording on a tape; a throw-away shot of someone grabbing a razor; someone sneaking into the bathroom in a seemingly meaningless moment – before he finally culminates all of these things into one violent and very disturbing act. It’s these things that Fincher does exceptionally well with ‘Gone Girl’. He leads us on. And he’s very, very good at it.

I did not having anything to do with the disappearance of my wife...

I did not having anything to do with the disappearance of my wife…

The film is so incredibly pessimistic that, at times, it’s hard to contemplate ever seeing marriage in the same way again. Nick and Amy are such a failure, down to the tiniest detail. They live in a big empty home and work average jobs. They have no kids. They are so desperately unhappy, both of them, and they each resort to their own coping mechanisms, which I would spoil if I weren’t so diplomatic. This marriage is doomed from the moment they utter the words “I do”, which we don’t see because it would show a kind of unity that Nick and Amy should never represent.

The thing that makes ‘Gone Girl’ so gripping is that it’s essentially asking us to be the detectives. We’re required to make our own mind up about Nick and Amy in order to make any part of this film work. Every other person in America has already judged the pair of them, so why not us? We need to sympathise with one character. It’s obvious whose side we’re on during the first hour. So incredibly obvious. As soon as we reveal the fate of Amy, we then realise we’ve been completely mislead and we switch sides as soon as possible. Fincher so easily twists our mind, it’s like we’re the actual caseworkers. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) is second-guessing Nick the whole film. She doesn’t want to make her mind up just yet, but as each clue stacks up, she has no real choice, just like us viewers. Her partner, Officer Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), made up his mind before the case was even opened.

And then the ending comes and it’s brilliant, because it allows us to make our own mind up. Throughout this entire film we’ve been a puppet in David Fincher’s grand show. He’s manipulated us and he’s thrown us in every which way and we’ve gone along with it because, hey, who wants to sympathise with the wife-killer? Even the people who believe he’s innocent – his sister (Carrie Coon) especially – can’t help but wonder if Nick is actually a murderer.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to think of ‘Gone Girl’. It’s like the night sky – you feel like you can look into it forever, but you never really know what the hell’s actually going on up there. It’s the same here. Trying to puzzle out the mindset of all the parties involved in this marital mess is probably not a good thing after all. The investigation could easily be solved if Nick, Boney and Tanner Bolt (aptly played by Tyler Perry) just worked a little harder to uncover Amy’s story. Because in the end, who really believes Amy? Who wants to believe her? And furthermore, who actually leaves the cinema thinking she got her comeuppance?

It’s this that frustrated me about ‘Gone Girl’: what it said about humanity. For all the craft, the amazing suspense, the tantalising clues and the gripping nature of the watch, a basic need of a story – an ending – is left lacking. The film is so firmly pessimistic, it’s hard to know if Fincher was being serious or he was just making a film about bad people. I don’t mind the pessimism, in fact I like its boldness, but the ending is flat-footed and frustrating. Maybe Fincher was just trying to say what humanity really is: a war against the sexes. Nick Dunne even knows it. He knows it from the start. “What will we do to each other?”

MY RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

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Movie Review – Les Miserables

WARNING: Spoilers. There are small plot giveaways in this review. (But nothing big so stop having a cry and read the damn review!)

OFFICIAL SILVER SCREENER REVIEW

– LES MISERABLES –

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10 (30,323 votes)

Director: Tom Hooper

A poster for Les Miserables.

A poster for Les Miserables.

Let me just say, for the record, I have not seen the play, so I won’t care to comment on how good an adaptation it is. I will only comment on the logistics of the film, and basically, whether I liked it or not.

————

I have heard many people claim this film to be “brilliant”, “entertaining” and “a joy”. But to me, Les Miserables is one of the big disappointments of 2012/13.

The beginning of the film was actually very cool. I loved the view as the screen flew over the ship and down to the ground, where the convicts pulled. The song – oddly titled “Work Song” – was ruggedly sung, and for now all was good. I found Hugh Jackman’s beard annoying, but that shouldn’t take anything away from what was a fantastic performance on his part.

Not long after, we met Fantine – basically, Anne Hathaway minus attractiveness. Well, turns out I didn’t mind at all how she looked, because Hathaway absolutely belted this one out of the park. Her performance was so mature and real. I was shocked when she got killed. The thoughts running through my head were mostly thoughts of despair. Where will the story go from here? Will the story improve now that Fantine is dead?

The answer was unfortunately no. It got worse. It got itself in a mess not even Helena Bonham Carter (one of my favourite actresses) and Sacha Baron Cohen could clean up.

I don’t want to be harsh, but Russell Crowe can’t sing. His acting in the film was absolutely fantastic. But his voice was far too one-dimensional and flat for my liking. Crowe himself even commented on his voice over Twitter, saying:

(In response to Adam Lambert who was not a fan of the singing–taken from popdust.com) “@RussellCrowe – I don’t disagree with Adam, sure it could have been sweetened, Hooper wanted it raw and real, that’s how it is.” The article on the feud can be found here.

Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables.

Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables.

If Les Miserables really lacked something basic, it was a map. No, I don’t mean a map that Javert carries around with him in his back pocket as a good luck charm. I mean a map that explains where everything is going on. For a lot of the time, I was confused about where this was in relation to that. Was it set in Paris? Or was it set somewhere in France? (Far too casual if this is the case). And you’d think, with all the moving around that happens – particularly with Jean Valjean – that I’d know where he’s going, how long it takes to get there or whether he was in a city, town or in the countryside!

I think it’s fair to say the main event in this film was the Revolution, which meant the introduction of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), or as I like to call him, Shakes. Did anyone notice whenever he sung, he had to shake his head? What was that? Is he being continually tazered? And the fact that the main thing in the movie came nearly half-way through didn’t ease my pain.

So, in the end, all the revolutionites die, except for Marius. I’m sorry…did I say in the end? Well, I thought it would’ve been the end, but apparently there was 40 more minutes of singing left in store. That was probably the worst thing about this movie. The ending was so long! I’m pretty sure I could’ve walked from Melbourne to Sydney and the movie wouldn’t have finished yet.

Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) in Les Miserables. Gee, this kid was fantastic.

Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) in Les Miserables. Gee, this kid was fantastic.

One more tiny thing that annoyed me was the time jumps. Not only were there one too many, but there wasn’t enough time between the jumps. I was just getting into the movie and then BAM! Just like that, we’re 8 years ahead and I’m losing total interest.

Despite all the points I’ve made above, I must say Hugh Jackman‘s performance could easily be the best of the year. I might put money on him to win Best Actor at the Oscars. His power & presence on screen was fantastic. His voice is rugged and coarse; powerful, if you will. He’s just so talented. I’m glad for Hugh that he got this gig, because he nailed it.

The direction of this movie was seamless. The camerawork was absolutely fantastic. Some of the shots were breathtaking. The cinematography was great. It all looked pretty damn good.

Les Mis could’ve been something great. It had me excited when I first saw the trailer. But ultimately, all the singing just got to me. This was not my cup of tea.

Très moyen.

MY RATING: 4 out of 10.

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TV – The Worst of 2012

TV SHOWS

**Note – this will be a 3 part series on TV Shows, and this section is also on current TV shows (that I don’t enjoy).

**This review does contain spoilers.

Hello friends, it’s me again. Today’s installment is about TV shows currently on TV that I do not enjoy watching, or have disappointed me.

Now, I will try to make this as American as I can. I know a lot of people who read this may be American, and a lot of the stuff I watch is American. I just want you all to know that where I live (Melbourne, Australia), half-decent shows are few and far between. Normally, the good shows are comedies. It’s a big problem. All the stations ever put on are either silly news shows, god-awful teen singing programmes that showcase the “hidden talents” of children from all across the country, or the most uninteresting reality show of all time. So I’ll put – Australian – next to the title if it’s an Australian show.

So without further ado, let’s get into some of the worst shows on TV.

PART 2: BAD TV SHOWS

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)

IMDB: 8.6/10

MY RATING: 2/10

This show, for some reason, is popular beyond belief. I can’t quite put my finger on it. This bunch of people apparently run their lives like it’s just one big game. A game of what? I’m not quite sure, but it certainly doesn’t take much skill to win.

This show just bores the hell out of me. There is nothing interesting about a Dad who takes 8 SEASONS TO TELL HIS KIDS HOW HE AND HIS WIFE MET! Jeez man, just finish the story! These kids need to eat! They can’t listen to you ramble on for 160-odd episodes without a break. Yeah, I know, that’s cynical of me, but it’s basically the premise of the show; a guy explaining how he and his wife met to his children.

The situations are boring. The characters are so stupid it’s hard to believe they are surviving. The only one who is even the slightest bit successful in my eyes is Ted, who is the only character I care for. He is getting the closest out of all of them to making me feel something for them. The others, I just don’t care for.

Barney. God damn it Barney, on a bank person’s salary, with the amount of booze you drink and money you spend, it’s a wonder you survive. Your jokes are annoying, your personality is frustrating to watch, and even though you think you’re a mega-cool, chilled out guy who is hilarious, you’re just a massive tool. Get over yourself, man!

This show just makes me so annoyed. Why, oh why, is this show so popular?

THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)

IMDB: 8.6/10

MY RATING: 3/10

This show has little credibility with me. Jim Parsons is the only half decent guy on that show. The rest of ’em, much like “How I Met Your Mother”, are just boring people. It would help if the actors were any good, as well. It’s just so meaningless!

Sheldon is an okay character, I’ll admit. I don’t mind him. He is actually well acted, and a teency-weency bit likeable. As for the others, not so much. Leonard: stupid. So cliche nerdy, and I hate his voice. It’s an obvious attempt at geekiness, but in all honesty, it is just plain annoying.

Penny. I don’t even understand what she’s doing there. Why? Apparently you’re “hot” (obviously a geek’s definition of the word), yet you choose to have a fling with really unattractive losers? Enlighten me. Raj is awkwardly in the middle of all this, which makes this show harder to enjoy when he decides to pop in for a quick and meaningless visit to the screen.

Howard annoys me the most. The acting itself isn’t bad, but the stupid, nonsensical attempt at comedy from this hateable child of a man is just silly. He isn’t funny, and his haircut is just awful. That’s a minimalistic error, but it is on his head, which a lot of people tend to look at when he’s on screen.

Sucky show. Next.

REVOLUTION (NBC)

IMBD: 6.6/10

MY RATING: 2/10

I had high hopes for this baby. Ever since the first advertisement for this show, I’ve been all over it. I thought to myself “I’ve been waiting for a new J.J Abrams project. This surely won’t disappoint.” And gee, this disappointed.

UNINTERESTING. UNFULFILLING. SLOW. Just three words I can use to describe this show. The plot was so promising at the start. But somehow, “Revolution” has become nothing more than a show trying to be more than it is. What’s this about? Hope? Survival? Determination? Sadness? I’m pretty sure that’s what they were pitching, and shades of these characteristics come across in the show. But far too often am I left in awe of how mediocre this show is.

Billy Burke plays Miles, a post-Blackout bartender who has ninja-style skills in combat and can take on 10 men with nothing but a sword. Before the Blackout, he worked for the CIA or some organization like that, with his brother, Ben. All this time, they knew more than ANYONE ELSE about the Blackout. But once it hit, these two couldn’t use their knowledge to maybe secure their safety, or make a deal. No. Instead, Ben lives in a small village and Miles is a pathetic bar-keep. Idiocy. Also, Miles: what is the point of having all these skills if you haven’t used them for 15 years? What, all of a sudden you just remembered you had them and you pull off all sorts of attacks on the Militia? WHAT?!

Charlie, Ben’s unfortunate daughter who has lost it all, is weak and scared without a weapon in hand, but all of a sudden becomes a fierce fighter when her Uncle hands her something to fight with. Tracy Spiridakos sucks with this character, anyway. Graham Rogers plays Danny, Charlie’s brother, who suffers from frequent asthma attacks. So frequent that sometimes, Charlie would stay up ALL NIGHT to make sure Danny wasn’t dead. So he gets captured by the Militia, and he’s all sad. Okay, fine. But for gods sake, how has he not had an asthma attack yet?! He’s been captured for like a week. HOW IS HE STILL ALIVE?

This show is farcical. Giancarlo Esposito is a great actor, and the only light in this dark mess of stupidity and bad writing. Zak Orth is alright. I don’t mind him, actually. Nate sucks. He makes no sense to me. How did the group let him in? Didn’t even bother to check his wrist?

Pure idiocy. Enough, I say.

X-FACTOR (CHANNEL 7)

– Australia –

IMDB: 4.5/10 (94 votes, mind you)

MY RATING: 0.5/10

God I hate this show so much.

Reality garbage. It’s just a less interesting twist on shows like “American Idol”. The contestants are so talentless, as well. Yeah, sure, they’re having a go. Well done. Good on you. But you must know that I’m a cynical person, and therefore I have a go at people who are just trying to impress.

The judges (Ronan Keating – a dwarfy moron, Guy Sebastian – a once talented singer who took to AutoTuning his every lyric, Mel B – a former Spice Girl who took to judging in-over-their-head teens, and Natalie Bassingthwaighte – an Australian music reject who has an incredibly long last name) are just so stupid. Basically, the act is a pre-pubescent kid singing a boring song badly. Then, 2 judges give “constructive criticism” to the performer, and the other 2 judges praise that person’s talents to the point where it’s like the next Madonna is standing in front of them. Times that by 12, and that’s a show.

The worst part of all this is that millions watch it. How a person subjects themselves to watch this joke of a programme for an hour of their lives is worthy of a reward in my book. The reward should be a JB-HiFi gift voucher, so you can buy yourselves a Pink Floyd CD and listen to some real music. I’m sick of hearing little girls talk about this trash. Abysmal show. This one goes in the “most hated of all time” pile.

New episodes of THE SIMPSONS (FOX)

IMDB: 8.8/10

MY RATING: N/A

Okay, so I didn’t choose to write a rating for this show, purely because I think, besides the last 3-4 seasons, this is the single best animated show of all time, and in my Top 5 best shows of all time (which I will discuss in the next ELROY TALKS).

These new episodes, though, have completely lost the originality that made this show amazing. They’ve run out of ideas, and I can understand that. It’s been a very long time. These may be the saddest words one may ever say, but it think it’s time to say them: It’s time for The Simpsons to finish.

I don’t want to watch the show I have loved for all my life to destroy its reputation, or tarnish it. The latest episodes of this show make me sad. It isn’t what it once was. It’s still slightly funny, but the stories are silly and come from nowhere. It’s enough, FOX. Its gonna happen sooner or later. Better it happens now than before its too late.

I’m sorry, Simpson family.

New episodes of LAW & ORDER (NBC)

IMDB:

SVU – 8/10, CI – 7/10

MY RATINGS:

SVU – 4/10, CI – 3.5/10

Like The Simpsons, it’s definitely time to put this one to bed. But unlike The Simpsons, the programmer has agreed. It’s sad to see one of the great crime series’ on TV finish, but it’s time.

Criminal Intent have some okay stories. But the show lacks the killer instinct. It lacks a sense of “who dunnit” in my opinion. I’m never really questioning who it was that did the crime. What’s the point? It’s either the really obvious choice, or some person they find out about at the last minute. Same as SVU, only in SVU, I don’t mind the actors. The actors in CI do their job well, but thats it. They don’t add another dimension for me. Not saying that’s a problem, if done well. Like in the original episodes of Law & Order. Jerry Orbach was a policeman who wanted justice, and was good at finding it. That’s all. And I couldn’t get my eyes away from those episodes. I had a stage when it was all I watched.

I’ve given SVU a slightly better rating because I love Mariska Hargitay. She makes that show. The crimes are always disgusting tales of sex, drugs, money, and child’s being hurt. I hate that. That doesn’t work every week, for me. You can’t make that a continuous thing. Stop, already.

Special mentions: Any Australian reality show, The Vampire Diaries, The Cleveland Show, The Mentalist, Pretty Little Liars, 666 Park Avenue, House.

The next review will be up A.S.A.P, when I talk about the best shows of all time. Exciting, is it not?

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TV – What to Watch

TV SHOWS

**Note – this will be a 3 part series on TV Shows, and this section is on current TV shows.

**This installment of “Elroy Talks” does contain spoilers.

Okay, so as some of you may be aware of if you have followed my Twitter (@ElroyRosenberg), you may have noticed I’m a lover of all things TV. There are some brilliant shows on TV nowadays, and I can’t get enough.

It sure is unfortunate, though, that I live in a country dominated by stupid reality TV shows about bogans needing their backyard repaired by and even bigger bogan (Better Homes & Gardens), awful cooking shows (Masterchef Australia), idiotic builders (The Block), and nonsensical viewing based around the life of a semi-popular and almost meaningless “celebrity” (Brynne: My Bedazzled Life). Yep, that’s Australian TV for you, folks.

It’s only taken 10 years but the threat of pirated shows from the Internet has finally forced the big channels to put decent TV shows on, and fast-tracked from the US. ABOUT DAMN TIME, AUSTRALIA.

So let’s get into some of my favourite shows that are on currently, some of my all-time favourites, and some crap.

PART 1 – CURRENT TV

What I’m watching regularly:

THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)

IMDB: 8/10

MY RATING: 9.5/10

Gotta say, this show has it all. Great writing. Quirky situations. Brilliant case study. Real-enough characters. Lawsuits. Bad guys. Good guys. Marital problems. Elections. Bi-sexual investigator. Great direction. Meaningful cases. Consistent characteristics of certain people. But most of all, entertainment.

I love this show. It’s probably my personal favourite current TV show at this minute. What’s not to love? Well, actually, I can answer that question.

As you may have noticed, I gave this show a 9.5 rating. Where’s the other .5? It’s been taken by the stupid Brit. Season 4 has arguably been sabotaged by the comically bad relationship of Kalinda and her “husband” Nick, played by Marc Warren. To be blunt, Nick sucks. The actor sucks, the character sucks, and it doesn’t fit at all. Did anyone see the egg-fight that he and Kalinda had? Comical television. And not in a funny way. Kill him off. Get rid of him.

The whole “Kalinda lesbian” scene has gone too far. It’s not relevant at all. It was fine when nobody knew her sexual interest. Now it’s getting out of hand and is featured in almost every episode. I love her character for the most part, she’s a deviously good investigator, but this lesbian thing has to stop.

Besides that, this show is amazing. Chris Noth does such an amazing job. I find it quite amazing that he makes a man who has lied time and time again so believable. The experience he brings to the table makes Peter Florrick just that little bit better.

Julianna Marguiles is a truly amazing actress, and Alicia Florrick is one of my all-time favourite characters on any show. She may be a good wife (no pun intended), but she is so deliciously evil at times, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone, not even her husband’s mother, Jackie.

But the one I really love is Eli Gold, played by the impeccable Alan Cumming. For a Scot, this guy’s American accent is pretty damn good. He doesn’t have much empathy, which is displayed by his sarcastic attitude, combined with his nature to not give a damn if you have a problem. But slowly he is growing into a man who cares about the Florrick family. Not so much Jackie, though. It seems nobody likes Jackie except her son.

Will and Diane are perfect in every way. Well played, calm and collected, devious, nasty, understanding, but most of all, just great partners. I just love Diane’s character, played by the brilliant Christine Baranski. Will also understands Alicia’s situation and even though he had an affair with her, wants to help rebuild her marriage with Peter.

Overall, I love this show, and I watch it A LOT (as you can probably tell).

SMASH (NBC)

IMDB: 7.7/10

MY RATING: 8/10

Something about this show has caught my eye. Ever since the “20th Century Fox Mambo”, this show has propelled me into the mysterious universe of behind-the-scenes action in a musical production. Sure, the plot can be predictable at times, and the characters are quite one-faced, but this show makes for an enjoying experience.

The songs in this show are absolutely first-class. Marc Shaiman is a genius, and Scott Wittman ain’t half bad either. They are such catchy tunes, it’s so well written, and the lyrics match up perfectly.

SMASH is not your average blatant auto-tune garbage you get with Glee, it’s a quirky drama of the ups and downs of developing a musical. It gets on with the good stuff fairly quickly, so there’s no meaningless drivel in between important scenes.

Anjelica Huston is such a great actress, and I love her hatred for her ex-husband. Also, her relationship with the bartender Nick. Jack Davenport makes a great mean guy, and plays his role as the show director Derek Willis all the more lovable with his sarcastic wit and lack of empathy. He’s the SMASH version of Eli Gold. That, plus he’s a mega-player.

Debra Messing, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee all do their job superbly in this show. Julia (Messing) is caring and hard working, and somehow got into her affair having “the best intentions”. Tom (Borle) only wants the best for Ivy (Hilty), and looks out for her while he’s not writing songs or seeing his boyfriend. I think the whole ‘gay’ thing is handled well, which is rare for a TV show. And as we see Ivy, the girl who was always a star, descend, up comes the lovable Karen Cartwright (McPhee), taking her chance at fame and nurturing her talent.

The lip-syncing is surprisingly good on this show. Must have been one of the things they really wanted to nail. And they did. Because the lip-syncing on Glee is shabby at best. Yes, it’s predictable, but I still love this show for all the songs, the writing, and the overall feel that makes you want to be involved in a musical production.

HOMELAND (SHOWCASE)

IMDB: 8.6/10

MY RATING: 8.5/10

This show is just so interesting. I really enjoy watching it. It’s so well made, so well written, so well directed. The acting is perfect, the characters intertwine with each other, and there’s a general sense of uncertainty as to what will happen next.

Claire Danes is simply perfect for this role. She plays the unnervingly investigative Carrie Mathison, who is always trying to find answers or evidence for one thing or another. And it doesn’t just make Carrie a great character by the actress who plays her, it’s the writing. Gee whiz, the writing in this show is seamlessly good, and so realistic. It makes Carrie sound so convincing, even when her ideas make no sense to anyone but herself. Carrie is the perfect protagonist for a show.

Damien Lewis. Why are you so good? You’re making it hard for me to joke about redheads, because for them to have you in their company makes them very lucky people. Lewis plays Nicholas Brody, a former Army member who was abducted and survived in the enemies care for 6 years before returning to America, and being branded a hero. Come on, how can you not love that character description. It’s such a brilliant idea for a character. Lewis can faultlessly portray a hero and a villain in the same take. This is a must-appreciate performance.

Brody’s wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin), is not only beautiful but also questionable as to her thoughts about her husband. It seems even she, the “loyal” wife of an American hero, is suspicious of Nicholas’ activities. Very good writing.

Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is SO well written, it’s hard to fault the character, even if it was poorly acted. But the thing is, it’s well acted, so there’s even more to love. Carrie’s “mentor”, if you will, is always looking out for Carrie, while being mindful of whether she is insane, or spot on. I love Saul.

I think I should stop myself before I write 5 paragraphs, all praising the writers. Oh wait…I just did.

By the way people, how good is the intro to this show? The pictures, the speeches, the music, the setting, the dire tone, the whole thing….it just makes sense.

VEGAS (CBS)

IMDB: 7.1/10

MY RATING: 7.5/10

A lot of people aren’t giving this show the recognition it deserves, in my opinion. It’s well made, it looks great, the plot is interesting, the setting is wonderfully “mafia”, and it makes for great viewing.

For a show revolving around the life of a cowboy, it’s delightfully focused on the busy city life of 60’s Vegas, and the control that the Mafia had. It all comes together beautifully…it just needs something more. But I’m probably wrong; after all, I’ve only seen 3 episodes.

Vincent Savino. Okay, that name is just totally badass. Plus you wouldn’t want to mess with anyone Michael Chiklis plays. He makes a great mafia boss. Totally without fear of getting caught, level-headed, cold-blooded, and a smart businessman. Doesn’t sound like an easy character to play, but it works.

Dennis Quaid plays the nasty new sheriff, Sheriff Ralph Lamb, who is actually a real person. Aged 85 in 2012, Lamb (the real one) served in Las Vegas from 1961-1979. And Quaid does a good job in this one. He will teach you a very valuable lesson: never mess with a cowboy who knows what he’s doing, because you will come out second best.

Good job CBS, yet another good show. Don’t know what anyone could hate about this show. Yes, the sets are a little poor, but I still like the show for its cold-blooded nature.

THE NEWSROOM (HBO)

IMDB: 8.7/10

MY RATING: 7.5/10

I don’t have much to say about this show, apart from I enjoy watching it. It is a well-made show, and although there is a fair share of Aaron Sorkin negativists out there, I enjoy his style of writing. I really enjoyed The Social Network, and I don’t see why this would be any different.

Jeff Daniels is strong and delivers the news well for a guy that doesn’t actually deliver the news…oh well, you get what I mean…hopefully. Not too sure about Emily Mortimer. She seems a tad weak and struggling to keep up with the pace of the show. It’s a fast-talking show and a lot of the time, she slows it down.

I like the idea of it all, the political standpoint that makes Will (Daniels) such a controversial character. It’s well made, and I like the team mentality of the station.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)

IMDB: 8.5/10

MY RATING: 8.5/10

What’s not to love? This show is perfect in almost every aspect. It’s just so damn funny. Is there much more to say?

This is a brilliant show, in several ways. Firstly, it’s not scripted. Larry David tells the actors what’s going to happen in the scene, and the basic details, but there is no set script, which is one of the key factors in this show being so good.

The situations Larry finds himself in are not only beautifully planned so it’s not on your conscience the whole show, but they’re ridiculous. The show is made, though, in such a way, that it’s entirely and utterly believable that Larry keeps getting himself into these problems! It’s brilliant! Everything ties in together at the end so what Larry had you thinking at some point, comes back into your memory at the end.

The main characters. This is also what’s so great about this show. There are…what…maybe 5 or 6 main characters? Let’s see, there’s…Larry, Jeff, Cheryl, Susie, Richard and Marty. Okay, that’s 6. I wouldn’t say Leon is a main character, but he is just as funny as anyone on the show.

Larry David is such a brilliant mind. Not only is he a brilliant mind, but he always does it HIS WAY. I love that about him. Seinfeld is probably my all-time favourite show, I’ve seen every episode at least twice, and you can see shades of Seinfeld in Curb. He makes every situation possible a funny one.

Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and Susie Essman make great company for Larry to be in. Susie plays Jeff’s wife (just in case you didn’t know, Jeff, Cheryl. Larry and Susie are their names in real-life and in the show), who is often unnerved by Larry’s antics. She swears…a lot. And Cheryl is basically the level-headed one, who always knows the responsible choice. Jeff is Larry’s best friend, and negligent at times to get involved with Larry’s schemes, just in case Susie catches word and punishes him.

This show makes great viewing for everyone. Yes, it’s a little rude and in your face with some of the language, but it just increases the hilarity. This show is genius.

MODERN FAMILY (ABC)

IMDB: 8.7/10

MY RATING: 9/10

When I watch this show, I struggle to find an imperfection. The ‘gay’ feel is handled the best I’ve ever seen on a TV show. It’s a bit crazy to me that such a weird family always seem to work things out. I mean come on, there’s a gay couple, a family living in a hostile environment, and a Colombian who has fallen for a much older man.

Jay, Gloria and Manny. Ed O’Niell plays a lovely dad who struggled to come to terms with his odd situation, Sofia Vergara plays a stunning Colombian who doesn’t always feel wanted, and Rico Rodriguez plays a child way ahead of his time. In fact, I’m sure he’s the best child-character I’ve seen on TV. The love/hate relationship of Jay and Gloria is such a marvellous thing to watch.

The Dunphy’s. Yes. Yes. Yes. BEST TV FAMILY EVER. Ty Burrell is a magician. The way he works Phil is perfection. Julie Bowen surprised me with her versatility as Claire, Nolan Gould is a star in the making as the lovably clueless Luke, and Ariel Winter plays the smartest Dunphy, Alex, who always battles with her sister, Haley (Sarah Hyland), who is popular.

Mitch and Cam. Best gay couple ever. It really isn’t very much about being gay; it’s more of a family theme they’re working with. Mitch, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (gay in real life), is the smart and neat city-boy that Cam completely contradicts. Cam (Eric Stonestreet) is a lovable country boy who grew up on a farm, and loves to regale Mitch with stories of the farm, like when he hurled a pumpkin across a football field. All they want to do is take care of their adopted Oriental baby, Lily.

I love Dylan as well. Dylan, played by Reid Ewing, is Hayley’s on and off love interest, and although he loves Hayley, she is sometimes reluctant to be with him. Dylan is clumsy, and a hopeless romantic, even though he likes to think he knows what he is on about. Life for Dylan is about his guitar, winning back Hayley, and chilling out.

It’s a superb show, with great situational comedy, as well as heart-warming stories. It will never disappoint, in terms of comedy and in terms of entertainment.

THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)

IMDB: 8.7/10

MY RATING: 10/10

Perfection. That’s what this show is. Perfection. There’s NOTHING I can fault this show on. No grounds to say there is a problem. This show is fantastic.

Andrew Lincoln and Sarah Wayne Callies play Rick & Lori Grimes. Rick uses his killing skills to keep the group alive, as he was a police officer before the outbreak. Lori is a sharp and witty mother who is responsible and always looking out for their son, Carl (Chandler Riggs).

I love Glenn and Daryl. Glenn (Steven Yeun) is such a calm person and always wants to help. He initially saved Rick from the Walkers in Atlanta, which makes his relationship with Rick strong but not best-friend-ish. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is a badass country guy who’s tough, but also can be friendly and is a real leader in the group.

I love what they’ve done in Season 3 with Carol, played by Melissa McBride. She has taken a much more important role, probably filling the gap left by Andrea. She’s turned doctor when needed, she’s proved a worthwhile character and she’s rekindled her friendship with Daryl. Also love what they’ve done with T-Dog (IronE Singleton). He’s proved more valuable than ever. He’s helped with almost everything possible, and he’s killed many a Walker.

I really loved Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) when he was alive, and I liked the character of Shane, played by Jon Berthal. Shane was so easy to hate, and that was brilliantly portrayed over the first 2 series’. Dale, on the other hand, was so lovable, and you felt he was being treated harshly by Andrea (Laurie Holden).

The show is so well written and directed, it seems so hopeless. Yet there’s always hope ignited by Rick. He makes a great leader; you’re really rooting for him to survive. Partially because you know if he dies, they all die.

I love the setting, and how everything is so bare. It makes for great drama, and even though these places are seemingly empty when you look at them, they are anything but, and the danger of getting bitten is all too real.

The Walkers look incredibly real. Like, amazingly real. The makeup artists do a brilliant job, and yes, a lot of it is done on a computer, but I’ve seen photos of the Walkers while they’re shooting, and they look unbelievable.

I do regard this as probably the best show on Television. It’s just faultless.

I would love to see the dad & child from the first episode of Season 1 return. Oh, and I’m excited to see Merle coming back.

A few photos of the Walkers. So interesting. http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead/walker-gallery

I did watch ‘Awake’ before it got cancelled, and I thought it wasn’t too bad. Suck-tastic ending though. Seriously? It was all a dream? That’s something a primary school student would write. Would have given it a 7.5/10, but for that ending, it deserves a 6/10.

Okay, so these are the main new shows I enjoy. Mind you, I am only 14, and the mother has banned me from Breaking Bad until 15. Same as Game Of Thrones. Will probably get into Dexter soon, though.

OTHER NOTABLES:

VEEP (Hilarious), New Girl (quirky), The New Normal (love the whole idea), Raising Hope (love it), Family Guy (love it), The Colbert Report (funny), Saturday Night Live (been good for a long time).

WHAT I WISH I WATCHED:

Dexter, Breaking Bad, Revenge, Once Upon A Time, Boardwalk Empire, Fringe, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Mad Men.

Part 2 will be up A.S.A.P, when I talk about the shows that I really hoped would be more, and think are basically a steaming hot pile of garbage.

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Game Review – FIFA 13

OFFICIAL SILVER SCREENER REVIEW

– FIFA (SOCCER) 13 –

IGN RATING: 9 out of 10

Developed by: EA Canada

Published by: Electronic Arts

Background: So, I’m a huge fan of FIFA. Have been since FIFA 08. I bought FIFA 04 for my original XBOX, but I didn’t get into it that much. So, when I was given a PSP, I bought the FIFA game from that year (FIFA 08) and couldn’t put it down. I got 14 seasons into my “Manager Mode” campaign with Manchester United (even though I hate them in real life, they make a bloody good FIFA 08 team), but unfortunately my PSP broke recently before I could finish my 15th and final season.

My titles include: FIFA 04 (XBOX), 08 (PSP), 09 (PSP & Wii), 10 (XBOX 360 & Wii), 11 (Wii) and 12 (XBOX 360). Now FIFA 13 (XBOX 360) sits among the collection.

Expectations: Gee, my expectations for this game were high. I have loved this franchise and I was so pumped for this game. Nonetheless, I bought it at the first opportunity I had available. Hot tip: Look around at prices. I was nearly suckered in to buying it for $90 at JB-Hifi, but later purchased it for $70 at Dick Smith.

First thoughts: I hadn’t played the demo much, so I was really excited to play the inaugural game against my brother. While FIFA 12 was the latest FIFA, we played a ridiculous amount of games against each other, with our trademark teams. He played as Porto CF, and I was Arsenal. (Don’t read too much into it, I’m a Liverpool fan but they sucked in that game.)

My first thoughts were “This game is good. It was faster, and more hurried than FIFA 12,” which is exactly what that game missed. Pace. But I soon found the first-touch confusing and frustrating. I was shouting at the TV, for crying out loud. Look at me, I’m a game-playing psychopath with nothing better to do than complain at something that I can’t control.

After further inspection: Uhh…I want to like this game, I do, so bad. But something about it is so…un-FIFA-ish. I mean, it’s not an awful game. But there are little niggles that keep coming back to taint the experience.

Problems:

FIRST TOUCH CONTROL. Silly little EA *shakes his head and tuts*. Tried to over-complicate things and now I want to punch my groin 76 times every time I hold RT while taking my first touch and the ball going 30 feet in front of me. I mean, WHERE’S THE NEED FOR THIS?! Why did you put this extra little nuisance in? Does anyone gain from this?

GOOD TEAM ADJUSTMENTS. Well-rated teams, like Manchester United and Arsenal, will not beat you because their better. They beat you because EA is out to screw you. They will gain extra possession by you tackling their players who have the ball, and the ball ricocheting straight back to enemy feet. It’s annoying. Very annoying. This just plain makes no sense. IF A TEAM HAS A GOOD RATING, MAKE THEM PLAY FLUENTLY. Don’t make them better because of dumb luck programmed by EA staff. Give them good passing skills, good movement and nice-looking structures.

BAD TEAMS CAN WIN OUT OF NOWHERE. Okay, this is a joke. Sure, I’m not for a momentum meter, like in FIFA 08 on the PSP, but maybe the EA staff should implement something like that. No joke. Because seems even if you DOMINATE the game, and your opposition has no shots the entire time, they create ONE meaningful chance with good dribbling and good movement, then BAM they score. EA staff is royally screwing me this time. How is that even possible?! 20 shots to 0, the opposition hardly ever get the ball, and then they SCORE? Yuk, FIFA, yuk.

Oh, and fast attackers getting outrun by slow centre-backs. EA pls.

Good stuff:

On a more positive note, I love what they’ve done with the commentary. I know it’s small, but the in-game updates, the fixture previews, the special comments of certain players/news events…it’s all really well done. Plus, Martin Tyler is the English Morgan Freeman.

General gameplay has improved because of the pace being increased. FIFA 12 was unbearably slow, and the speed has made this game more enjoyable for me. Fast people are actually fast, slow people are actually slow. That makes sense, right?

Lastly, the shots are more realistic and feel nice and fluent. It’s good that they got it right, because in FIFA 12, my brother and I were scoring goals from 40 yards left, right & center.

Career Mode: Yes, yes, yes, I like what I see. Well planned out, well structured…this mode has it all. Even transfers are getting better, which is cool, because that’s all I play Career Mode for. Transfers. It’s like a more in-depth version of FIFA 12 Career Mode, plus it’s a little more neat and tidy.

Ultimate Team: Why would you bother with this crap? Waste your money on meaningless “gold packs”, then spend even more on the next game? Good way to make money, it’s a good marketing scheme from EA. Shame for all the suckers who fell into the trap. Plus, it’s not fun. At all.

Recommendation: Buy this game. Just do it. There may be a few problems here and there, but EA make great games and this won’t prove any different. Sure, I have my problems with it, but there’s no reason why any normal person would. I’m just some kid who looks to much into things.

Final Thoughts: This game wasn’t what I hoped it was. Didn’t suck, either. But there is a recurring feeling of frustration vented when I play this game. Something doesn’t add up. Did EA overdo it this time? Try too much? In a sense, if the game were a little simpler, it would have been just right. No need for this “first touch” nonsense that has me hitting myself in the pelvis.

MY FIST IS GETTING SORE, EA. MY FIST IS GETTING SORE.

Bring on Madden 13. Sorry to say it, but 1 and a half months of this game will be enough.

MY RATING: 5.5 OUT OF 10.

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