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Hawaii Five-O: The Year of the Horse (1979)
Season 11, Episode 21
Uneven Episode
21 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This was supposed to be the Season 11 opener but was moved, for reasons I don't know, to the end of Season 11. As noted in other reviews the producers spared no expense for this 1 hour 37 minute episode. Lot of Singapore location shots, lots of Singapore props. Even a Rolls-Royce finds it way into the episode.

That said, the dialogue is utilitarian at best and the acting is uneven. In several scenes you can almost hear the director say "role film" or whatever they may see to begin a scene. In one embarrassingly terrible scene Barry Bostwick and Victoria Principal are alternately crying, pleading, laughing and smiling. For a moment before they begin their emotional cycle their faces are blank and then they burst into whatever emoting is necessary. I was embarrassed just watching this particularly awful scene.

Other odd choices included one where Barry Bostwick disguises himself as a day laborer but towers over all the other Malaysian workers (Bostwick is 6'4"). He blends in as well as red dye in pool water. In the same scene Lord is disguised as a monk but his height is equally noticeable. These two look more like tourists gone native then sophisticated criminals/crime-fighters. Absurd.

While they went to some trouble to deliver authentic locations they relied on Caucasian or arbitrarily non-Caucasian actors to play crucial roles. The Singaporean detective is played by a series veteran Fiji native rather than a Singaporean actor and the Asian general is played by an Anglo actor from New York.

Of course, there is Steve with his giant white plantation hat to protect his complicated hair style, inadvertently and hilariously subverting the seriousness of the lines he utters whilst wearing it.
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Gunsmoke: Aunt Thede (1964)
Season 10, Episode 13
Rather Lame Episode
30 October 2013
The above review quite adequately describes the episode. However, I find the humor of the rather broad Western fashion of humor (numerous fights without any lasting damage, faux authentic rustics uttering humorous regional observations) that wears thin quickly.

Festus plays such a character but he remains Matt's foil rather than the primary thematic thrust of an entire episode. It runs a bit thin for an entire episode, however.

For some reason the music was particularly irritating. Perhaps because it complimented the humorous rustic theme.

There remains underneath the humor is the often-used trope of abused women. Gunsmoke was one of the first series to highlight powerless women abused by men whose only source of power was their gender.
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In America (2002)
Disconnected, Maudlin Film
3 January 2004
Good production values but the storyline is a confused pastiche of emotions and crises. We get no sense of the family as immigrants or living throuh an unfamiliar experience. They could have lived the same life in Dublin or Belfast.

I had trouble connecting motives with their behavior and the storyline didn't provide many real clues. Obviously a very personal movie for Sheridan but too much is left out in the telling for me to make much sense of.
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Luther (2003)
Good Pre-Reformation Story, Unreformed Post-Reformation Add-On
26 October 2003
I can't think of another movie tackling the Reformation while trying to tell an interesting story. Luther succeeds in the first hour until he wins. Once the drama of his struggle with the Catholic hierarchy is finished the movie seems to lose focus. The revolution begins, Luther has a Christ-like confrontation at the temple, he marries a "runaway nun" he wraps up the loose ends.

But the first half is very interesting and the movies quite effectively recreates 16th century Europe.
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A Truly Terrible Movie
14 January 2001
I can't recall seeing as terrible a movie as this in recent memory. The jokes are poor, delivered flatly by actors seemingly asleep in front of the camera. Rebecca Pidgeon, Mamet's wife, appears to have wandered onto the set and given a script to recite.

A waste of electricity, film, and money.
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Wan Comedy about Serious Historical Event
20 March 1999
Aharon Appelfeld wrote a novel, Badenheim 1939, a few years ago about poor Jewish souls who tried to ignore the impending Nazi invasion. I see no difference between Appelfeld's characters and the characters in Life is Beautiful.

I've read the comments about how heroic the father is. Instead he was partially the creator of the tragedy. By blithely ignoring the world around him he helped seal his own fate.
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