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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Movie Review Red Sparrow (2018)

Movie Review - Red Sparrow            Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Red Sparrow
Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence is Dominika, a former ballerina forced to join Sparrow School, a secret government program that transforms her into an agent who can manipulate, seduce and kill.


In the spirit of the novel, “Red Sparrow” the movie adaptation would probably be Borscht with Seasoned Ham: Combine a Tom Clancy thriller with an early James Bond picture, season liberally with last year’s “Atomic Blonde,” add a cup of the old Mad Magazine panel "Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy" and a pinch of both the 1942 film “Casablanca” and 1946’s “Notorious,” a puree in a blender, and serve chilled with vodka and vermouth on the side shaken, not stirred.

In “Red Sparrow,” prima ballerina Dominika Egorova suffers a grotesque injury during a performance and must say adios to the Bolshoi. As an alternative to losing her modest government-provided apartment and the health insurance she needs to care for her ailing mother, Dominika accepts a proposal from her creepy Uncle Ivan that she enroll in “Sparrow School,” a training program operated by Russian Intelligence.
Jason Matthews' original novel “Red Sparrow” employs an unusual literary device: Each chapter of the book includes a reference to a specific gourmet food and ends with a recipe for its preparation.
Derisively referred to by Dominika as “whore school,” the Sparrow program instructs female recruits in seduction techniques, for use on foreign operatives as a means of gaining secret information. “Red Sparrow” essentially details Dominika’s enrollment and vigorous training in the program, and her first secret assignment.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, who also guided the last three installments of the “Hunger Games” film series, “Red Sparrow” boasts first-class production values, including beautiful photography, music, and a supporting cast of professional actors riding on a sort of merry-go-round of international accents and inflections Brits and Americans using Russian inflections, an Australian affecting American cadences, and Mary-Louise Parker reciting her lines in her signature distracted southwestern drawl.

Unfortunately, “Red Sparrow” is plump and ponderous at 140 minutes, and filled with unnecessary characters, details, and plot twists and turns which will either keep viewers on their toes or hopelessly confuse them. There’s not a single subplot or peripheral character this picture couldn’t jettison as ballast to reduce “Red Sparrow” to a less-punishing running time of under two hours.

Among the players, Jeremy Irons with each new performance grows to resemble legendary horror star Boris Karloff so closely that aficionados of classic films of have taken to examining the actor’s neck for Frankenstein’s electrode bolts. Irons delivers a characteristically exacting and riveting performance as a highly-placed Russian spy with motives that will keep viewers surprised until the very end.

Charlotte Rampling as the matron of the Sparrow School is essentially playing a reheated version of the Lotte Lenya character from 1962’s “From Russia with Love” the scary, bad-tempered, uniform-clad spymaster. Rampling’s performance is also strongly reminiscent of her breakout performance in 1974’s “The Night Porter” which is to say that her character has more than a few kinks in her cable.

The Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts appears as creepy Uncle Ivan, Dominika’s sponsor in Sparrow School. Schoenaerts’ resemblance to Vladimir Putin is so eerily pronounced that it’s impossible to not imagine his character is based on the Russian president, if not actually played by him. And Mary-Louise Parker contributes a cameo performance as a US government employee who might have secrets for sale. Parker’s appearance is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes-repressive movie, but her hasty departure will leave viewers gasping.

The primary assets of “Red Sparrow” are the wonderfully seductive Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika, and Joel Edgerton as the CIA operative she’s sent to seduce. Essentially, Edgerton distracts the girls in the audience while Lawrence steals the picture. As anyone knows who’s seen Lawrence’s appearances as the villain Mystique in the “X-Men” film series, even covered in blue paint and without dialogue the Academy Award-winning actress finds a means of endearing herself to audiences of all ages and genders.

Although the teaming of Lawrence and Edgerton fails to generate the sparks necessary to ignite “Red Sparrow” into the grand romantic entertainment plainly intended by the filmmakers, both actors deliver persuasive and ingratiating performances. Lawrence’s role requires such physical punishment that viewers might wonder if the actress is performing penance for her appearance in the execrable “Mother!” a few months ago, a film so fatally pretentious that even the traditionally easygoing audiences polled by CinemaScore assigned it a grade of F.
“Red Sparrow” is receiving decidedly mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, although as usual Lawrence’s performance is being praised across the board. The picture has received an MPAA rating of R for nudity and violence, surprisingly little of which is gun-related.
This movie marks the reunion of director Francis Lawrence and actress Jennifer Lawrence, who made 3 of the 4 Hunger Games movies before. Here they go a very different direction, namely an ol' fashioned spy thriller drama, as if we're back in the Cold War (and maybe we actually are). The movie is very plot-driven and, I must admit, quite convoluted, so pay attention! even then, there's a good chance you'll get lost during some parts along the way. 
Lawrence truly takes the movie on her shoulders, appearing in virtually all scenes, and no-one is going to out-tough Jennifer Lawrence! Speaking of Jennifer which there are several extended torture scenes that are just brutal (I had to look away more than once). Besides Jennifer Lawrence, the movie also benefits from the performance of Belgium's Matthias Schoenaerts, in the role of the sinister no-good uncle. 
Charlotte Rampling equally delights in her small role as the sparrows teacher/trainer. The movie's production set is first class all the way, with Hungary standing in for Russia, and extended scenes in London and Vienna as well. Last but certainly not least, there is a warm orchestral score that plays prominently in the movie, courtesy of veteran composer James Newton Howard.

"Red Sparrow" opened wide this weekend, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was pretty much sold out, which is of course normal for a movie of this stature just opening. Whether it will have staying power, only time will tell. If you are a fan of a good spy story (even it it's a bit convoluted), or a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, you'll want to check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
Author Jason Matthews is contracted by his publisher to write a sequel. If Jennifer Lawrence is going to appear in the film version, we should get in line now.
"Red Sparrow" (2018 release; 139 min.) brings the story of Dominika. As the movie opens, Dominika cares for her ailing mother, and then, while dancing ballet at the Bolshoi suffers a brutal leg injury (accident? or not?). We then go the "3 Months Later", when Dominika is forced by her uncle, the Vice Deputy of Security, to go to training school for sparrows (in return for which her ailing mom receives medical care). 
Sparrows are used by Russia to compromise enemies of the state in any way possible. "Every person is a human puzzle of need", they are taught. Dominika is tasked with finding a mole high up in the Russian government. To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
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Red Sparrow (2018)

Movie Review
Red Sparrow (2018)

Movie Review Goodbye Christopher Robin

Movie Review Goodbye Christopher Robin    Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Christopher Robin
Goodbye Christopher Robin

Goodbye Christopher Robin
Get a rare glimpse into the relationship between author A.A. Milne, creator of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh stories, and his son, in this moving story about success and family.

Returning from The Great War, Blue (AA Milne) finds it hard to readjust to ‘proper’ society and moves his family to the country where he plans to write a protest book against war. When his wife flees back to the social lifestyle of the city and their nanny abandons him, a bonding with his son Billie (Christopher Robin) changes not only his objectives but his perspective.


A very thoughtful film, well written, acted, and filmed. Felt like you were actually watching the Milne family. The actor playing Christopher Milne was phenomenal. This made me cry, both time's I watched it. This is NOT a Disneyesque film, much closer to a Merchant Ivory film and not for the folks looking for an easy "feel good" family film. 

It captures the consequences of a terrible war, and the difficulties of social strata in England, the corruption of childhood, among many other things. It does not diminish my love for Winnie-the-Pooh, and I am encouraged to go see Tiger, Pooh, Piglet, Kanga and Roo at the New York City Library. It only has increased my empathy for this whole family, and their struggles, and my love for the hundred acre wood Again, this is a serious, imaginative and special film. I am seriously considering purchasing as gifts for my adult children.
My family and I have always been huge fans of Winnie the Pooh. This movie was so good. I can't believe this movie wasn't nominated for anything. Glad I purchased instead of just renting, I know we will be watching it again. My 13 yr old daughter and 22 yr old son both loved it as well. It is sad, quite sad at times but so worth watching.
This is an extravagent independent film of the depiction of children's' beloved Winnie The Pooh creator A.A. Milne. Tears fell from my eyes as I felt empathy for Christopher's plea for love in a world that exploited, neglected, and abused him. No child should have experience this at the expense of fame for a children's book. I really felt this movie. I wanted to jump through the screen and give Christopher Robin a bear hug and say that it would be okay. Wow! What a movie experience. I have not felt this in a while. This film is very family friendly but can be dark and cynical at times. I recommend this movie for adults and older children. Younger children may need parental guidance to talk about these mature themes. 
To Winnie the Pooh fans the script was not centered on the creation of Winnie the Pooh as it was centered on A.A. Milne's relationship to his son and Milne's post dramatic stress. The movie's ultimate theme is the effects of fame on Christopher Robin. Fans that want a detail account of the creation of Winnie The Pooh should look elsewhere. It's not that the creation of the Winnie the Pooh is not included in the film; It is just shown briefly. The chemistry between the characters was ecstatic.
I will be the odd reviewer here because I have not read the Winnie the Pooh books or seen any of the animated films that have been made from the books. Good-bye Christopher Robin is a beautifully filmed and acted movie. I have come across comments elsewhere about the chilly relationship between A.A. Milne and his wife and son Christopher. Even though the First World War is only 100 years past, the devastating effects of the war does not seem to register with viewers. Many villages in England had all of their young men wiped out entirely because they were encouraged to join a single regiment. The sense of extreme loss was very palpable. 
The Milne marriage was devastated from the shell shock that Alan suffered and made him withdraw. The fact that the story of the writing of Winnie the Pooh had no happy endings is the way life goes. The tragedy of Christopher is that the writing of the book blighted his life because it made him famous, and he was unable to cope with the demands that fans of the book placed on him.
I loved this film and have loaned it to my daughter for her to view. I also texted my sister to recommend that she watch it. It was well done, and the child actor who played Christopher Robin was adorable. The beginning was confusing slightly, but I soon sorted out what was going on. A very pleasant viewing experience although I was almost in tears in parts.
For me the story had was wonderful because Alan Milne and his son did draw closer over the writing of Winnie the Pooh and created books that offered some light during the difficult times following the war. If Daphne Milne enjoyed the glamor of London, her husband and son found peace in the English countryside. Ultimately, this is a beautiful film with a good resolution as Christopher goes to war, like his father and comes home. He reconciles with his fame from the Winnie the Pooh books but wanted none of the royalties. I plan to see this film again for the sensitive direction by Simon Curtis and the superb performances by Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Will Tilston.
I strongly recommend this film. Please support Independent Films.
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Goodbye Christopher Robin

  • Genres: Kids & Family
  • Starring: Vicki Pepperdine, Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson
  • Supporting actors: Domhnall Gleeson, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther, Stephen Campbell Moore, Richard McCabe, Geraldine Somerville, Mossie Smith, Stanley Hamlin, Kelly Macdonald, Dexter Hyman, Sonny Hyman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sam Barnes, Allegra Marland, Mark Tandy, Richard Dixon, Shaun Dingwall, Ann Thwaite
  • Director: Simon Curtis
  • Format:  Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: January 23, 2018
  • Run Time: 107 minutes

Movie Review
Goodbye Christopher Robin

Monday, March 5, 2018

TV-Series Review Deadwood: The Complete Series

TV-Series Review Deadwood: The Complete Series            Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Deadwood: The Complete Series
Deadwood: The Complete Series

Deadwood: The Complete Series
The Black Hills of South Dakota. Witness the birth of an American frontier town - and the ruthless power struggle between its just and unjust pioneers

Reviews :

Loved this series. I hated when it came to an end. This is not for everyone, definitely not for children. This series is raw, with profane language, nudity, sex, and violence. The acting is superb. This is fiction mixed with historical fact. Great endeavor by everyone involved in the making of this series.

The acting is outstanding and based on historical fact. A show that you can certainly watch more than once. I still think of the fight scene was one of the best I have ever seen and worth watching the entire series just to see that.
I had not liked Deadwood when I first tried it, just the first episode. One of those wasn't in the right place at the time things. But, I decided to revisit it after a while and found a wonderful and unique series with some of the best acting and writing on TV. The "Cowboy Shakespeare" inclinations of the writers, that was in plain view from the first season, really took off and became a main element of the show in the second season. 

Entire internal monologues and thoughts would blossom forth in lengthy obscenity laced rants and tirades, all delivered with brilliant pseudo Shakespearian eloquence and poetry. Amazing stuff for those viewers willing to get in the zone for it. The Special Edition set features a wide range of commentaries, special features, documentaries and photos. If you love the show this is a must have set for understanding the background, creation and production of this unique series. There's talk of a Deadwood movie to re-unite the cast and put a proper end to the story. Hope they bring it off. 

Superbly entertaining series with some basis of fact. Brilliant characters both good and bad, Seth Bulluck, Al Swearangen, Wild Bill, calamity Jane, brief appearance by Wyatt Earp, lots of foul language yet still articulate.

I highly RECOMMENDED.
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TV-Series Deadwood: The Complete Series

  • Genres: Drama, Westerns
  • Actor: Various Artist
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 19
  • Subtitles: English
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2014
  • Run Time: 2006 minutes

TV-Series Review
Deadwood: The Complete Series

Movie Review Coco Disney-Pixar

Movie Review - Coco             Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Coco - movies.disney.com
Coco

Coco
In Disney-Pixar's extraordinary adventure, a boy who dreams of becoming a great musician embarks on a journey to uncover the mysteries behind his ancestor's stories and traditions.

Reviews :

Written and directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo) and Adrian Molina (The Good Dinosaur, Monsters University), Coco is a wonder to experience. Dazzling, breath-taking animation, marvelous story-telling, engaging characters and so much heart that it's a film that's going to stay with you for a long, long time. This isn't just the best animated film to come out this year, it's arguably the best film of any kind to come out this year. It's the first film in years that I immediately wanted to see again after it was done, like just not leave the theater and watch it all over again. It's that good.

Coco takes place in Mexico on Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) an important holiday in Mexican culture that is celebrated every year from October 31st to November 2nd (All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas where families display photos of those in the family who have passed on, often going back for generations, then honoring the deceased using calaveras (decorated skulls made of sugar), Aztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and also visiting their graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at their graves. It helps to know this as background for the story, though the film does a good job of showing all of this as it goes on. It's all centered around the importance of family and of remembering those who have gone before you.

Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is a 12-year-old boy who lives in a small rural village of Santa Cecilia with his elderly great-grandmother Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía) and three generations of her descendants. Miguel's dream is to play the guitar someday, much like his hero, the famous Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a nationally celebrated musician and actor who came from his village and whose mausoleum is a major attraction there.

However, there is a problem. Many years ago, Miguel's great-great-grandmother, the formidable matriarch Imelda (Alanna Ubach) was married to a musician who left her and their young daughter Coco to seek his fortune writing songs and playing music and never returned. Imelda turned to shoe-making to support herself and her daughter, and eventually shoe-making became the family business. She also began a ban on any and all music in the family - no singing, no guitar-playing, no musicians! - which has continued to this day, rigidly enforced by Miguel's take-no-prisoners grandmother (Renee Victor).
All of this serves as a major obstacle to Miguel and his dreams. Miguel does practice in secret though, watching old movies of the great Ernesto and teaching himself how to play, and decides in spite of everything to enter a talent show for the Day of the Dead.
A sequence of events however result in Miguel stealing Ernesto's guitar from the mausoleum, and the next thing he knows is that he's suddenly an invisible ghost to the living - but the returning dead can see him and he can now see them. Which in turn sets him on a journey across a mystical bridge from the land of the living to the land of the dead, a wondrously beautiful place but one from which he must quickly find a way to return before he ends up becoming one of the dead himself and having to stay there forever. He's helped along the way by a down-on-his-luck denizen named Hector (Gael García Bernal), who's in danger of being forgotten, and a number of other characters he encounters. His quest ultimately requires him solving a generations-old mystery and setting right a wrong that occurred long before he was born.

The musical score by Michael Giacchino (Up, Ratatouille) is as beautiful as the animation, shifting from lively to wistful as the scenes require, and young Anthony Gonzalez's singing voice gives heartfelt depth to Miguel's dreams of becoming a musician.
 
Disney has always been synonymous with great story telling, powerful artwork and animation, and having heart in most of their major films. Some of the great Disney movies have transcended time and are loved by different generations for that very reason. But then in 2013, Disney attempted to trademark "Dia de los Muertos", or Day of the Dead for one of it's upcoming movies, a move met with much deserved resentment and criticism from Hispanic writers, critics, and the public. To say that the Day of the Dead is the Mexican version of Halloween is incorrect. It isn't a holiday as much as a tradition which is embedded into the heart of many Mexican families to honor loved ones who have passed away.
Disney's trademark attempt was an insult to not only the day itself but to millions of people who honor that tradition. That being said, Disney dropped the trademark, and did everything right since then to fix their mistake. Many of the people hired to work on Coco were Hispanic, and after their blunder they also hired Lalo Alcaraz, a political cartoonist and Disney critic, along with Octavio Solis and Marcela Aviles as cultural consultants on the movie. They went from possibly being boycotted to having great international and domestic success, turning many into believers including myself. The end result being a culturally rich and emotional movie that left tears in everyone's eyes.

Unlike past Disney/Pixar movies I've seen, there are three layers of meaning integrated into this movie. The first layer is what every Disney story requires which are the characters, plot, visuals, settings etc. The second layer are the morals that Coco teaches, which any person watching the movie can learn from. These two alone are enough to call Coco a great Pixar movie in my opinion. However the third layer, which involves the integration of hispanic traditions and culture, is what makes this movie standout as special, memorable, and unique.
As a Mexican-American, this movie holds a special place in my heart because so much of this movie feels real and familiar. From the family dynamic that Miguel shares with the family, to the chancla (sandal) smacking grandma, and especially because of the music, this movie feels saturated with Hispanic customs and way of life. It is obvious from the first scene to the last that Disney listened very well to their cultural advisors for this movie.

Being a Mexican-American, I've learned that various aspects of Life, Death, and Family are handled and understood differently between all ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures. Coco involves several scenes in a graveyard, shows relatives returning from the afterlife as skeletal versions of who they once were, and has Miguel racing against the clock to return to his family before dying. These are cinematic occurences which some may not want to watch or explain to their children. My suggestion for anyone who hasn't watched this movie and is not of a Central/South American background is to be prepared and be open minded.
Though some parts of the movie could seem farfetched, myself along with all the Hispanic adults and children watching the movie in theatres were mesmerized to watch something you can identify with as a person and as a community. For many, this movie is all about seeing the world through another's eyes, and that's wonderful in itself.

Ultimately, Coco is a fantastic movie worthy of the Pixar/Disney brand which every family should enjoy. Prior to release, my two concerns with the movie was that it would be a heartless Pixar version of the Book of Life, and that Disney would take advantage and exploit the Hispanic culture in a distasteful way. I'm glad to say that besides focusing on music and honoring the Day of the Dead , similarities ended between the two movies.
I enjoyed The Book of Life, and had low expectations for Coco in comparison. The truth is (no disrespect to the movie or the people who made it) The Book of Life is enjoyable and relatable, not a cultural staple. Although both movies treated one of the most important Mexican traditions with dignity and respect, Coco's heartwarming interpretation will become an unforgettable treasure in the Hispanic community for generations to come.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves animation, great story-telling and characters that grab you by the heart and never let go.
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Coco (Theatrical Version) 2017

  • Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Kids & Family
  • Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal
  • Supporting actors: Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Herbert Siguenza, Gabriel Iglesias, Lombardo Boyar, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Selene Luna, Edward James Olmos, Sofía Espinosa, Carla Medina, Dyana Ortelli, Luis Valdez, Blanca Araceli, Salvador Reyes
  • Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
  • Format:  Prime Video (streaming online video)
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Studio: Pixar
  •  

Movie Review
Coco: (Theatrical Version)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

TV-Series Review Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-7

TV-Series Review - Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-7
Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-7

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons
From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and ancient Wall that protects the realm from the mysterious darkness beyond. The powerful families of the Seven Kingdoms are locked in a battle for the Iron Throne. Game of Thrones, spans across the fictional continent of Westeros.

Game of Thrones Characters:
Game of Thrones is a thrilling journey through a riveting and unforgettable landscape. This is a story of duplicity and treachery, nobility and honor, conquest and triumph. In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.

Game of Thones is one of my favorite shows of all-time. The story is brutal and tragic, yet engrossing and compelling. The characters are wonderfully written, and everything from character motivations to the dialogue and action sequences are superb. The show also has top notch production values, as the environment, props, and wardrobes look magnificent. GOT is a beauty.

The packaging is awesome, as it has been on all of the season blu rays. The discs are in flip book, which go into a sleeve, which has a paper sleeve over top of it all. This season has black and brown artwork, which looks lovely. Very happy with the packaging. The insert also has a complete character guide, breaking down the different families/houses, and a full map of Westeros.

Extras include a complete guide to Westeros, making of featurette, in episode guides, histories and lore, audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and a plethora of behind the scenes featurettes.

The episodes look amazing on blu ray. The 1080p really shines on this series, and everything look breathtakingly beautiful. The characters, scenery, wardrobes, etc all look excellent. The 5.1 audio is great too. The score is brilliant and the metal swords and armor clanging sound great. Sound and Video are easy 10/10.

Overall this is an excellent 1st season in this great series. I enjoyed every episode, and always recommend this show to anyone I talk to about movies/tv. Game of Thrones gets my highest recommendation, and the blu ray sets are glorious. This is the best show on television, in my humble opinion.
The casting is excellent and the plotline riveting from the first episode, even when I can't keep all the Houses straight! (That's when the capability to rescreen comes in handy - and it helps to keep a novel with the appendix of Houses at your elbow.)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-7

  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Action & Adventure
  • Starring: Various Artist
  • Supporting actors: Various Artist
  • Directors: Various
  • Producers: Various
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Studio: HBO
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 3800 minutes
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TV-Series Review
Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-7

TV-Series Review Sons Of Anarchy: Complete Seasons 1-7

TV-Series Review - Sons Of Anarchy: Complete Seasons 1-7

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The writer of the Shield and the producer of the Sopranos bring you the most ruthless adrenaline-packed new drama of 2009. With over 40 minutes of unaired scenes, the DVD takes you even deeper in the unexplored world of this outlaw Californian Motorcycle Club as its members struggle to balance family life and weapon-trafficking business.

Sons of Anarchy is very well-made, well-written, and extremely well-acted FICTION. Though engaging and entertaining, it won't offer any insights into a real motorcycle club. Kurt Sutter's speculations and story threads have woven a persuasive, enthralling TV show. Let's keep all this in perspective: excellent entertainment draws the viewer in, makes them feel as if they know these characters, and makes viewers envy and wish to be part of such a story. But at the end of the day (and each episode), it's TV at its finest, and not a statement on real life.

Some other reviewer mentioned "for people who don't know any 1%-ers," but I would argue that those of us on the outside will never know anything about 1%-ers, because Motorcycle Clubs are secret societies, like the Masons. They fiercely guard those memberships; thus the need for prospects. Even if you happen to be a family member of a patch-holder, you won't know anything more about the club than any average citizen. They do not and will not share club details with an outsider. Any no 'old lady,' even one of a club president, could or would ever wield the kind of power and sway that Gemma does. Women are regarded as p*ssy, and that is all. Katey Sagal adds another dimension to the story threads through Gemma, but it's an entertaining and compelling farce.

The actors in this entire series bring humility, reason, and understanding to a subculture of folks that just aren't that nice or interesting in real life. Remember that they call themselves 'outlaws' for a reason. They're an unknown quotient, so it's easy to speculate about them and give them the benefit of the doubt. This makes for outstanding entertainment, done by fabulous actors in realistic settings. Keep all of this in perspective: you can envy them, buy a Harley, and ride on the weekends, but leave it at that. They're the 1% that you wouldn't want to join, even if you could. Go read the book, "Three Can Keep a Secret if Two Are Dead," if you disagree.
Magnificent action drama that follows the adventures of Jax Teller, a modern-day Achilles who rides a Harley and helps his Uncle Clay run an outlaw biker gang, the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club (Redwood Original.)
The shocking thing about the show is that although there's sex, violence, and gun play galore, the tone is closer to GAME OF THRONES than THE SOPRANOS. Golden-haired Jax is as tough as they come, and when it comes to brawling with knife, pool cure or bare fists he's always ready. Yet Jax is also a visionary, philosopher and dreamer, and as the first season progresses it becomes more and more clear that he is beginning to question the outlaw life and in particular his Uncle Clay's corrupt and cynical tendency to use the gang for criminal gain. Will Jax challenge his uncle like Hamlet, and if so, will he triumph or fall?
Such a great series. I love that I could buy the entire series all together. The price was very reasonable. I love that this series did not glorify the behavior of those that were in this motorcycle group. The characters were all complex. You could see good and bad in all of them. You could hate and love them at the same time. This is not a series for young ones at all.
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Sons Of Anarchy: Complete Seasons

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TV-Series Review
Sons Of Anarchy: Complete Seasons 1-7

TV-Series Review The Sopranos: The Complete Series

TV-Series Review - The Sopranos: The Complete Series 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Sopranos: The Complete Series
The Sopranos The Complete Series

The Sopranos: The Complete Series
HBO's hit series 'The Sopranos' takes a realistic, darkly humorous look at members of a suburban New Jersey family, whose patriarch Tony Soprano happens to be a mob boss. James Gandolfini stars.


I realize I’m pretty late getting to the party weighing in on “The Sopranos”. However, having recently gotten around to watching the entire series I’ll throw in my two-cents. There’s not really any room for debate that this show completely earns all of the many accolades and awards it’s received.

Casting is incredibly perfect; every single player brings an authentic feeling to their role and you really buy into these folks as real people. The late James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano is a force of nature who is completely invested in his character. At first glance he just looks like some fat guy but after one episode you quickly understand why he’s the boss who is feared and respected. Hard to believe he’s no longer with us. The two women in his life; wife Carmela played by Edie Falco and Dr. Jennifer Melfi played by Lorraine Bracco make an interesting contrast. The concept of a tough mob boss who’s got anxiety issues and needs psychotherapy is brilliant.

Writing is flawless, the dialog has the unmistakable stamp of reality to it that it’s almost as if you’re watching a documentary. Sets and locations are superb. Things get a little too homicidal the last half of Season 5 and through both parts of Season 6 and cast members start dropping like flies. The controversial ending is indeed a disappointment and it’s clear why so many fans were unsatisfied. Just recently internet gossip suggested show creator David Chase is actually considering a prequel for the “Sopranos”; could be an instant classic.
I recently decided to watch the whole Sopranos series from start to finish. I loved every minute of it! It's been a while since I've watched it so I felt like I was watching it again for the first time. James Gandolfini is an incredible actor. This time around watching it was bittersweet knowing that he passed away. He's the glue that holds this whole show together. All the other actors in this show are superb! In a nutshell, this is a show about the rise and fall of a sociopath: Tony Soprano. Yes that's right a sociopath. This show is not for kids or the weak hearted. It is not politically correct. I've been a fan of gangster movies since Public Enemy with James Cagney to Goodfellas. So, this show was right up my alley. If you are a fan of this genre this show is for you. Thanks Amazon for streaming the whole series. The picture quality was excellent! It looked better then the DVD version.
 
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The Sopranos: The Complete Series

  • Genres : Drama
  • Starring: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco
  • Supporting actors: Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico, Robert Iler, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Aida Turturro, Drea de Matteo, Steve Schirripa, Dan Grimaldi, Joseph R. Gannascoli, John Ventimiglia, Sharon Angela, Vincent Curatola, Frank Vincent, Vincent Pastore, Federico Castelluccio
  • Directors: Timothy Van Patten, John Patterson, Allen Coulter, Alan Taylor, Henry Bronchtein, Jack Bender, Steve Buscemi, Daniel Attias, David Chase, Nick Gomez, Matthew Penn, Lorraine Senna, Andy Wolk, Martin Bruestle, Lee Tamahori, James Hayman, Peter Bogdanovich, Mike Figgis, Rodrigo García, Danny Leiner
  • Producers: Martin Bruestle, Martin Bruestle, David Chase, Brad Grey, Ilene S. Landress, Ilene S. Landress, Ilene S. Landress, Ilene S. Landress, Henry Bronchtein, Henry Bronchtein, Henry Bronchtein, Henry Bronchtein, Terence Winter, Terence Winter, Terence Winter, Terence Winter, Terence Winter, Mitchell Burgess, Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Digital_copy
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Dutch, German, Spanish, English, French
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 28
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 4980 minutes
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TV-Series Review
The Sopranos: The Complete Series

Book Review Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted

Book Review - Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted                   Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted
Black Widow

Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted

They wowed you with Daredevil, now the Eisner Award-winning team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee take Black Widow to new heights -by forcing her to go on the lam! Natasha has a lifetime of secrets, and when some of the darkest ones are made public, nobody is safe. As S.H.I.E.L.D. turns on its once greatest asset, she seeks out her own answers in a knockdown drag-out tale of action and espionage! 
But will the Widow's hunt for the Weeping Lion send her back to the one place she never wanted to go? And, when a S.H.I.E.L.D. funeral makes the assembled top brass an attractive target, it's lucky for them that the Black Widow is still on their side, even if they aren't on hers.

About the author:

Mark Waid, a New York Times bestselling author, has written for a wider variety of well-known pop-culture characters and franchises than any other American author, from Superman to Star Wars to the Justice League to Archie to Spider-Man and many, many others. His award-winning work with artist Alex Ross, KINGDOM COME, is one of the best-selling graphic novels of all time. (Secretly, however, he prefers SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT and his IRREDEEMABLE collections as his favorite works he's produced.)

Additionally, Waid is a leader in the digital comics medium. His publishing imprint, Thrillbent.com, hosts an enormous collection of multimedia stories in all genres.

With over thirty years of experience in his field, Waid happily mentors young writers and maintains a blog at www.markwaid.com that is full of advice for beginning writers and experienced authors both. 

I love this series and everything it is doing with Black Widow's past trying to haunt her. If marvel gets around to making a Black Widow movie (which they should) they should just adapt this book it would fit perfectly in the MCU with very little change necessary.

Waid and Samnee lay down a marker basically storyboarding an awesome black widow movie. The dialoguless first issue is a tour de force of action art that really shows off just how good Samnee is at telling a story in exciting and unpredictable ways. If your interest is even slightly piqued do yourself a favor and just pick this up you will be very happy you did! Now let's hope Marvel can keep them on this book for a long time!
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee continue to redefine Marvel's classic characters. These first six issues easily stand on their own as powerful and iconic storytelling; it's just as gripping as the acclaimed Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey Moon Knight run from 2014. Waid proves that he can carry on the brutal and badass characterization from Nathan Edmondson's previous run, and nobody conveys clear action and movement like Chris Samnee. Matt Wilson also graces the book with his beautiful palettes, and it looks like this Daredevil team isn't going to stop delivering amazing comics anytime soon.

Great action sequences and a plot with plenty of twists and turns. If you haven't read this already, I'll wait here while you go. Buy. Read. This is good stuff

This a great read I would recommend to anyone interested in the character.
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Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted

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Book Review Black Widow Vol. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted

Book Review Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Superheroine

Book Review - Wonder Woman Unbound: 

The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Superheroine

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine
Wonder Woman Unbound

Wonder Woman Unbound: 
The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Super Heroine
This close look at Wonder Woman’s history portrays a complicated heroine who is more than just a female Superman with a golden lasso and bullet-deflecting bracelets. 
The original Wonder Woman was ahead of her time, advocating female superiority and the benefits of matriarchy in the 1940s. At the same time, her creator filled the comics with titillating bondage imagery, and Wonder Woman was tied up as often as she saved the world. In the 1950s, Wonder Woman begrudgingly continued her superheroic mission, wishing she could settle down with her boyfriend instead, all while continually hinting at hidden lesbian leanings. 
While other female characters stepped forward as women’s lib took off in the late 1960s, Wonder Woman fell backwards, losing her superpowers and flitting from man to man. Ms. magazine and Lynda Carter restored Wonder Woman’s feminist strength in the 1970s, turning her into a powerful symbol as her checkered past was quickly forgotten. 
Exploring this lost history adds new dimensions to the world’s most beloved female character, and Wonder Woman Unbound delves into her comic book and its spin-offs as well as the myriad motivations of her creators to showcase the peculiar journey that led to Wonder Woman’s iconic status.

About the author:
Tim Hanley is a comic book historian, and the author of WONDER WOMAN UNBOUND: THE CURIOUS HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS HEROINE, INVESTIGATING LOIS LANE: THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF THE DAILY PLANET'S ACE REPORTER, and THE MANY LIVES OF CATWOMAN: THE FELONIOUS HISTORY OF A FELINE FATALE.

His website, Straitened Circumstances, discusses Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and women in comics, and his column "Gendercrunching" runs monthly on Bleeding Cool. He has contributed to several pop culture sites, including the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Comics Journal. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, between his massive stacks of comic books.

This book is great because it discusses the complete history of Wonder Woman from her beginnings to the present day (circa 2014, that is). Even being a diehard Wonder Woman fan there were parts of her history that I didn't even know. I didn't know that there was a point in time in which Wonder Woman lost her powers. I would love to find some of those old comic books to read them. This is a great book for any diehard Wonder Woman fan as well as anyone new to Wonder Woman. This book contains a lot of information and is an excellent resource!

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine is an entertaining and thoughtful history of the creation and evolution of the most iconic female character is comics. The author begins where all good comic book stories begin: the origin story. In 1941, psychologist and inventor William Moulton Marston (the creator of the systolic blood pressure test, the precursor of the polygraph test) set out to create a comic book heroine that not only would appeal to women, but also prepare young men for a feminist future. Marston’s philosophy was strongly rooted in the belief of female superiority, and he believed that one day women would take their place as the leaders of the world. Wonder Woman, then, was originally meant as a guide to teach boys to submit to female authority.

The author has clearly made a valuable contribution to comic book historical research, yet I found that Wonder Woman Unbound is best enjoyed if it’s not treated like a scholarly tome. If Wonder Woman Unbound ends up on the required reading list for a college course on gender studies, popular culture, or freshman composition, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s the kind of book that can get conversations going, and no professor is going to miss this opportunity to push sex into the forefront of the discussion. 
This book is such an interesting exposé on such a famous hero. And not just discussing her attributions but also other women in comics and even critiquing the males that society reveres. This books borders a master's thesis and I recommend this to anyone who is fascinated by comic books, the industry, Wonder Woman and most importantly, feminists.
Great book, highly recommended!
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Book Review - Wonder Woman Unbound

The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Superheroines

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Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Superheroine
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