Tag Archives: BRYAN CRANSTON

Something to offend everyone! CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM – SEASON 9 – TV REVIEW

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM – SEASON 9 – TV REVIEW

Created by and story by: Larry David

Executive producer(s): Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Robert B. Weide, Larry Charles, Erin O’Malley, Alec Berg etc.

Production company(s): HBO Entertainment, Warner Bros.

Starring: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, J. B. Smoove etc.

**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

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There’s absolutely no reason why a situation comedy about an aging, wealthy, neurotic and narcissistic Hollywood writer should be one of the most consistently funny comedy shows of the last twenty years. There’s no real substance or depth in Curb Your Enthusiasm; in fact not much really happens of great value as it occurs in a “Larry David / Hollywood” bubble. Moreover, in anti-hero Larry David you more often than not find his behaviour abhorrent as he goes about upsetting friends, family members, celebrities, and strangers on a daily basis. However, due to the writing, cast and situations the humour is always pretty, pretty good!

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After a six-year hiatus Larry David is back and nothing really has changed. The formula remains the same inasmuch as he gets himself in ridiculous situations upsetting everyone around him, resulting in the most farcical of comedic pay-offs. However, while many of the narrative reveals can be seen a long way off it doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Special highlights during Season 9 are JB Smoove’s scene-stealing turns as Larry’s “house-guest” Leon Black; who over the course of the last few seasons has inveigled his way into Larry’s life. The two have become an unlikely double act as uncool Jewish bald guy buddies up with his cooler, streetwise and “player” pal. With Leon and Larry you get a relationship which both reflects and satirizes racial stereotypes to funny effect.

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While most of the Season 9 episodes work as stand-alone stories the integral over-riding arc involves Larry David writing a new Broadway show. Inspired by events which occurred to novelist Salman Rushdie, Larry has written a musical called, incredibly, Fatwa!  At first everyone loves the idea and rushes to invest. However, when Larry mocks the Ayatollah on the Jimmy Kimmel show he himself is, you’ve guessed it, hit with a Fatwa!!  The running gags throughout created by this comedic narrative are very broad, un-PC, stereotypically offensive; but also bloody hilarious. I wondered why there wasn’t more controversy; however, Larry David himself is the butt of many of these jokes as he fails to lift the Fatwa.

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The season is crammed with celebrity appearances and particular standouts are: Salman Rushdie, Elizabeth Banks, F. Murray Abraham; and Hamilton creator Lin Manuel-Miranda. The latter hilariously clashes with Larry during the production of the Fatwa: The Musical. There are also some great gags relating to everyday observations including: Uber ratings; pickle jars; tipping; disturbances in kitchens; Asperger’s; plus many more. The episode, Running with the Bulls, with Bryan Cranston portraying Larry’s harangued therapist, was probably my favourite. It was also great to see The Mighty Boosh comedy nut-case Rich Fulcher make an appearance as an evasive Restaurant Manager. Overall, the season was pretty scatter-gun in it’s target humour but it certainly hit the mark throughout. I’m just amazed, in these liberal-PC-social-media-offence-driven times there wasn’t more controversy. Having said that Larry David probably wouldn’t care as in his own words, “I have reservations about everything I do.”

Mark: 9.5 out of 11

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10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #2 – MOVIE HAIR!! BY PAUL LAIGHT

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #2 – MOVIE HAIR!!  

By Paul Laight

As a balding man I felt it my duty to raise my concerns about the desperately poor wig-work that has occurred down the years in the movies.  The wigs, actors chosen suck because they are so appalling and the filmmakers should have let the actor go natural to avoid discriminatory practices against baldies.

Obviously, for sci-fi, historical, and comedy films wigs are used in context and for humorous purposes so I have generally avoided picking on those but for the examples used there is NO EXCUSE!  They are a travesty and deeply hurtful to the bald community.  As Larry David says:  Baldism is a proper thing.


10.  IT LOOKS STUPID!

Okay, I understand certain characters require wigs especially if they wore them in real life like Phil Spector as played recently by Al Pacino but generally Movie Wigs look dumb.  It’s fine if it’s in the context of the character such as American Hustle (2013) where Bale’s character was shown to be vain but when an actor has what looks like a ferret stapled to his or her head then I’m thinking less of the movie as I’m too busy laughing at it.

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9.  IT’S DISCRIMINATION!

I started watching the decent-enough movie TransSiberian (2008) on Netflix and Woody Harrelson’s character is wearing an obvious wig.  Harrelson has played some fine bald heroes in his time most notably in the brilliant Zombieland (2009) but he’s let us right down in this movie.  His character was a nice guy in it so by giving him a syrup and spectacles are they saying that bald people cannot be pleasant and easy-going.  Either cast an actor with hair or don’t. It’s baldist! Come on Woody – you SHOULD know better.

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8.  WHAT HAPPENED TO TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT?

So I was watching a very disappointing blockbuster film about a massive lizard and I was so disconnected with the lack of characterisation or suspense I got distracted by the usually brilliant Bryan Cranston and his appalling wig!  Why not allow let the character have a natural hairstyle of the actor? Are they saying a character with a receding hairline or a bald character is less sympathetic?  All that money spent on special effects and incredible looking giant monsters in Godzilla (2014) and his hair-piece was so unconvincing I was embarrassed. Mind you not as unconvincing as the script.

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7.  KING OF THE WIGS – NICOLAS CAGE

I can’t stand wigs and plastic surgery and Cage seems to have had his fair share of both. It’s vanity gone mad.  Unless of course you have a tragic disfigurement or burns I see no reason to alter your body or face in ANY way via artificial means!  If you need to lose weight go on a diet don’t use liposuction. If you are bald don’t get a rat transplant on your bonce just deal with it.  The worst hair-cut he ever had was arguably in the terrific prison-escape blockbuster Con Air (1997). While the mullet had a certain magnetic quality it, in my opinion, it was laughable and took the piss really.

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Anyway, Cage — on his day — is an outstanding actor but he has been in some really sorry old tosh like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011).  Here’s a guy who could be a hero to all baldies everywhere with his receding locks so why not  allow his characters have Cage’s natural barnet.  His lack of locks worked well in Adaptation (2002) as it added to low-status nature of one of the brothers but this was an exception to the rule.
6.  BALD PEOPLE DEHUMANIZED AS THE BAD GUY!

Look all the villains over the years who have been bald: Lex Luthor, Voldemort, Ming The Merciless, John Doe (from Se7en), Bane, Gru, Don Logan, Darth Maul, The Baldies from The Wanderers (1979) and many more. Choosing someone who is follicly-challenged is an easy shorthand and detrimental to the humanization of bald people all over the world. We are not villains.  We are humans – just because we don’t have hair it doesn’t make us bad people. We have feelings you know.

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5.  THE BALD UNTRUTH! – JOHN TRAVOLTA

Why use wigs? Why can’t the character be bald – does it make them any less of a human being?!  At the very least why collude in the fact the character has real hair.  Try and be inventive with the syrups.  John Travolta has worn some horrific fringes in his time but at no stage does he send this part of his being up or make it part of the characterisation.  In Wild Hogs (2007) — a film about mid-life crises he spends most of it in a bandana rather than embracing his lack of hair.  Fair play in the dreadful From Paris With Love (2010) he is bald but he still has a compensatory goatee to take the bald sheen away from the role.

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4.  UNINTENTIONAL HUMOUR

I’m just going to say one word:  Surrogates (2009). This Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller is a dog of a film and the syrups are hilarious.  Humans are essentially lock-ins and rarely go out.  Instead they live their lives through virtual reality surrogates.  It’s not a bad idea and contains a reasonable social comment on technology displacing actual physical and emotional contact.  The problem I have with the film is the human version of Willis is bald whereas the computer version has hair.  So basically, Willis’ preferred setting is having hair. Why couldn’t it be the other way round!!   Plus the haircut is an absolute joke; much like the film as a whole.  Bruce Willis is a flag-bearing hero to all bald men and he has worn some dodgy wigs in his time but this is the most monstrous blot on his career.

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3.  BAD HAIRPIECES DEVALUE THE PRODUCTION

Films are SO expensive to make you would think they could spend a bit more of an effort to make the hairpieces more realistic.  Some films — even historical dramas like Lincoln (2013) — have incredible sets, amazing actors and a cast of thousands but when it comes to the syrups the whole thing falls down.  I found Lincoln a tough watch anyway as it was SO boring.   Has anyone actually watched this film and enjoyed it?   Anyway, despite a ponderous story the incredible production is let down by wigs so ridiculous they act as a Brechtian distanciation device and consistently remind us we are watching a movie.  I realise that movie God Spielberg may have been going for authenticity but it backfires in Lincoln and the wigs are an embarrassment.

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2.  IF THEY HAVE HAIR – WHY ARE THEY WEARING A SYRUP?

The worst thing is when the actor actually has hair and they STILL put a hair-piece on them.  It’s a travesty really because they could have cast a bald person in the role and given them a leg up in the vanity-led industry that is Hollywood.  Or at the very least use the actors real hair and style it accordingly.  If the film covers a number of years then for additional realism they should shoot the film in order as the hair grows.   The biggest culprit for this is Oliver Stone.  He has made some magnificent films but his career is littered with crimes against bald people. Just have a gander at these monstrosities:

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1. HAIL THE BALD HEROES!

We shall fight them in the barbers, the make-up chairs and film & sets. Hail the heroes carrying the fight against the vain, unreal and plastic harbingers of doom!  Stand proud the hairless and bald!  Fight the good fight to the last strand!

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GODZILLA (2014) – FILM REVIEW BY PAUL LAIGHT

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GODZILLA (2014) – FILM REVIEW BY PAUL LAIGHT

**CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS**

This massive budget reboot of Tohu’s iconic monster GODZILLA is not a terrible movie. It is a technical triumph in fact and has some memorable moments; however, for a MONSTER movie and cinematic experience it was a bitter, bitter disappointment. Plus, at times – dare I say it – it was pretty boring.

If I pay ten quid to see a film called GODZILLA I expect and demand ultimate carnage with the lives of thousands destroyed – eaten and crushed and fire-balled to death –  while cities and oceans are awash with blood, rubble and the tears of survivors.  Because Godzilla is a metaphor for nuclear attacks don’t you know so surely this should be your first priority:  show annihilation and destruction of cities and humans?  That’s what I want for my money!

Gareth Edwards and his massive team of filmmakers offer some destruction over its 120 minutes but ultimately Godzilla fails as a monster movie; it fails as a disaster film and fails most importantly as a piece of drama driven by believable and empathetic characters.  It’s not a great surprise to be honest as the sophomore director got the gig on the back of his independent film MONSTERS (2010)  which was filmed on Prosumer cameras with special effects and editing also done very cheaply. Much kudos goes to Edwards’ for creating Monsters on such a low budget and he is certainly a filmmaker who deserved a big break.

Monsters, like Godzilla was slow-moving, solemn and very serious in tone and in both films their monsters are hidden from view only appearing in full way too late in the narrative for my liking. I enjoyed Monsters because it gave us the brilliant actor Scoot McNairy who has gone onto to feature in some fine films notably Argo (2012) and Killing Them Softly (2012).  But it was essentially a love-story-come-travelogue with the creatures having little direct impact or threat on the characters.

Sadly, this also happens somewhat in Godzilla. It begins promisingly enough in 1999 with a nuclear explosion caused by the hatching of an egg which releases an unknown creature into the sea. So far, so intrigued.  Flash forward 15 years and Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is devastated by the loss of his wife (Juliette Binoche) during said nuclear disaster and obsessively attempts to find out what happened that fateful day.  Throw Brody’s son portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson – quite handily a bomb disposal expert – into the mix and you get a promising character axis on the go.  Simultaneously, scientists Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe enter the fray to investigate but they are dull cardboard cut-outs there to serve us mundane expositional ramblings with no character momentum whatsoever. But Cranston’s character disappears from the narrative quite quickly and moreover, having to wait an hour before the first main bit of monster action really tested my patience.

I realise Edwards chose to go down the less-is-more route of Jaws (1975) but the reason the shark could not be seen in that was because the mechanical beast was beset with troubles and didn’t work so Spielberg and his team had to think creatively around this issue. Consequently, they created so many great set-pieces – something severely lacking in Godzilla. For example the scene with the two fishermen trying to catch the shark with a lump of meat is an especially brilliant sequence where the camera and music act as the shark. It’s a quality and economical piece of filmmaking with a fantastic punchline at the end to lift the mood.

When they do appear the Monsters are amazing to look at but there was not enough in the screenplay for me to actually give a damn by that time. The ensemble cast are pretty much wasted in my view and the less said about the screenplay the better. I feel it would have been better to have done a Towering Inferno (1974) or Poseidon Adventure (1972) style disaster movie with an ensemble star cast battling against the impact of Godzilla on their lives. In fact, Godzilla, however impressive he may look is pretty benign as a threat to humans; a decision which dumbfounded me. Overall, I felt the film needed a bigger name director like Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson or a James Cameron figure to give us that WOW factor. The screenplay also had a humour bypass too and I failed to get value for my entrance fee. Sad to say this film was a gigantic disappointment.