Game of Thrones (2011 – )

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Created by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Starring: Sean Bean, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Alfie Allen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Jack Gleeson and a host of others.

Game of Thrones is the most talked about drama on television.  Almost every comedy or late night talk show I’ve watched in the last six months has mentioned it, at least once, not to mention friends, strangers, family members etc.  So, naturally, when Showcase started airing Season 1, I decided the join the party before any major plot points were ruined.

Quite simply, had I been one of the first to discover it, I would be making a gift of the DVD set for at least a year.  As it stands, everyone is already in the know but at least they humour me with first season discussions and remind me that it only gets better.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s novel of the same name, the series is about a medieval fantasy world where seven noble families battle to claim the Iron Throne.   There is violence, intrigue, plotting, romance, sex, nudity, charm, wit, humanity and intelligence crammed into every 55 minute episode.

What I like:  The show is executed like a film divided into 10 parts. The exceptional quality of the filming, directing, and staging transported me to a  fantasy world that feels real down to its language and landscapes.  Strong editing drives the story forward with force as we jump from family to family and scene to scene constantly wondering what will happen next.  The casting is perfect and the performances are complex and driven which provide depth and a touch of sympathy to almost every character.

What I don’t like:  It’s amazing how fast you can go through ten episodes.  Only two weeks after I invested myself in this program, I’m almost at Season 3.  Thankfully the show has been renewed for a 4th Season so there will still be more to look forward to once I catch up. Mainly my complaints are directed at Showcase, the network that airs Game of Thrones in Canada.  For those of us who don’t have HBO, I highly recommend renting or buying the DVD set.  I appreciate Showcase’s effort to bring critically acclaimed programs to the masses, and I would have been a lot longer to the party  without them,  but a 6 min commercial break is more than I’m willing to put up with, even if PVR’d.  Going on hiatus after Season 1 was also not the best choice when it was quite easy for me to get my hands on Season 2 without waiting.  My suggestion: If you’re going to start three seasons behind, then play them all back to back.  Finally, promoting Season 3 during Season 1 episodes was a nice idea in theory but they should have been more aware of revealing crucial plot points in the execution.

My rating: Two enthusiastic thumbs up for the show; one thumb down for Showcase.

IMDB:  9.4  (I am not providing a link to IMDB as it ruins plot points for those who have yet to start from the beginning)

Metacritic: 79%

Airs:  Showcase: Season 2, ??
HBO USA & Canada: Season 3, Sundays at 9pm

42 (2013)

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Directed by:  Brian Helgeland
Written by:  Brian Helgeland
Starring:  Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, T.R. Knight and a host of others.

This movie is a biography first and a baseball movie second.  Director and screenwriter Brian Helgeland does more than recount the triumphs of MLB Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, he focuses on the backlash of the first African American to play professional ball for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

What I liked:  This is a truly inspiring biography of an American icon, and it feels like Helgeland takes a step back to let the story unfold on its own.  Despite the many clichés in the dialogue and relationships, that are part and parcel of a sports flick, I still felt the lumps in my throat at Robinson’s strength as he broke the colour barrier in baseball.  As Stephen Whitty put it, Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, “captures, in a clenched jaw or a sidelong glance, a lifetime’s worth of dearly attained dignity and barely contained rage.” Boseman is matched only by Nicole Beharie who plays his wife.  The pair are as strong as their characters and make a, perhaps, unexceptional film heartfelt, meaningful and memorable.

What I didn’t like: I can commend Harrison Ford for stepping out of his comfort zone but his performance felt too forced to be convincing, despite his depth of character, as Branch Ricky the Dodgers Executive who searched out Robinson.  Although, it might be that I’m so used to seeing Ford play a certain role in a certain why that I was taken out of my comfort zone with this performance…Finally, the ending is anti-climactic, and despite the team’s final achievement, I was only aware that it was the finale by the surging music and heavy editing.

My rating: Even if you see it coming a mile away, you’ll be fighting off tears.

IMDB: 7.8

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%

My Most Anticipated Movie

(0f 2013)

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The Great Gatsby is finally here.

Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated 3D film adaptation of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, was originally slated to open Christmas 2012 but was pushed back to May 2013.  I’ve read a series of evasive responses to the reasons for the movie’s delay including this from Lurhmann himself: “I will tell you this; I’m just very nourished by just working on it. I’m just thrilled.  Right now I’m working on music. You can imagine how involved I am in the music alone.” So, the movie was delayed because???

The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton and opens May 10th.

I cannot wait, effects, performances, music and all.

If you haven’t seen the trailer:

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