Tuesday, February 1, 2011

# 3: social network (collector's Edition two-Disc)

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98 of 112 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship, Betrayal, And Success--An Online Social Revolution Is Born From A Real World Social Ineptitude, October 28, 2010 This review is from: The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD) Director David Fincher is back in fighting form! Those fearing he may have lost some of his bite with the ponderous "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or the disappointing returns of the criminally overlooked "Zodiac" need not worry. "The Social Network" is a caustically funny and incredibly contemporary look at the evolution of Facebook. Playing like a thriller and a blisteringly dark comedy, this terrific film may be Fincher's most sophisticated piece to date (and certainly his most riveting since the days of "Seven" and "Fight Club"). On paper, "The Social Network" might not sound exhilarating but with the perfect screenwriter (Aaron Sorkin) and the perfect cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and Armie Hammer)--Fincher's tale of betrayal, pride, and avarice has become one of this year's must see films.

While I'm sure that everyone knows the subject matter of "The Social Network"--very briefly, the film's plot construction is structured as two pieces of litigation are being brought against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (played with intensity by Eisenberg). One lawsuit is from his former business partner and best friend--a co-founder of the original website who got systematically squeezed out. The other is by a trio of Harvard grads (Armie Hammer plays 2 of the 3, they're twins, in a starmaking performance!) who claim Zuckerberg stole the idea from them after he was hired to create an exclusive dating site. Seen through these concurrent cases, deftly edited with flashback footage, the full picture starts to unravel. From Zuckerberg's social ineptitude, but superior intellect, a social revolution was born. And the more powerful Facebook grew, the more disconnected Zuckerberg became to his only friends and compelled by the drive for domination (his ultimate sense of acceptance).

Make no mistake, while "The Social Network" is incredibly smart and literate, it is also grandly entertaining. Screenwriter Sorkin (creator of "The West Wing" and my favorite "Sports Night") has put together what, in my opinion, is the best screenplay of the year. Sorkin is known for his whip fast dialogue and it is spot-on here! The movie is corrosively witty and uncompromisingly in your face. The film is cast with thoroughly unlikable types in a battle for supremacy. Eisenberg has never been better--no doubt Zuckerberg is a tool (both before and after his success), but Eisenberg makes you understand why and (I'm startled to say) actually appreciate it. Timberlake (as oily Napster creator Sean Parker) is a fantastically appealing devil-in-disguise, but as much as you may dislike him--he was integral to Facebook going wide. Hammer, as I said, is the film's biggest surprise. And Andrew Garfield, as Zuckerberg's betrayed partner, is vivid and alive--and, dare I say, the only character to elicit actual sympathy. But again, the film is merciless--even though we know that Garfield is screwed, we also know that it was an essential part of the successful expansion of Facebook. Business ethics be darned.

"The Social Network" is grown-up entertainment that has much to say about success in the modern era. I appreciated that no one veered away from the heart of darkness in this morality piece--that's what makes everything seem so relevant. Can someone be both repugnant and admirable? If you told me earlier in the year that a film about computer geeks at a keyboard would be edge-of-your-seat entertainment, I wouldn't have believed it. But here, I go. For sheer entertainment, remarkable performances, and an incredibly sophisticated screenplay--"The Social Network" is easily one of my favorite films of the year! Easily. KGHarris, 10/10.

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, But Crazily Overrated, January 21, 2011 I saw The Social Network and when the movie was over, all i could think was, 'This is what the critics are freaking out about?' Now let me just say that the movie is a great one, the acting is top notch, but this movie is being very badly overrated. I can think of 5 movies off the top of my head that were better than this movie. Inception, The Kids are Alright, Black Swan, True Grit, Hell, even the latest Harry Potter was more enjoyable. Now let me just say again that i didn't completely hate the movie, it was great, but it is in no way the best movie of the year. The fact that it is being so overrated is what is making me angry.
Anyway, to quickly highlight the good and bad things.

Jesse Eisenberg, top class acting, he stole scenes easily.
Score, the score was surprisingly perfect for the movie, very nicely done.
The rest of the cast, Justin Timberlake was awesome as Sean Parker and even though her part was small, Rashida Jones was perfect. Andrew Garfield was very good as well.
Screenplay, wonderful.

The movie got boring at times and I found myself yawning every once in a while, I found it hard to pay attention. Even though Jesse was acting beautifully as Mark Z, i found his character surprisingly hard to like. He acted like an ass that would make TV's House proud, but House is funny and likable at least while he is being an ass, Mark is not. I also found that Andrew's character got on my nerves for some reason, I just found that he seemed almost whiny and annoying.

So all in all, it is a good movie, but not the best like the so called 'critics' are saying it is.

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22 of 32 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars BD Digipack, January 11, 2011 Presumably many have seen the film. Some comments on that later on.

The packaging, I think, is incredible. No, it is not packaged in a jewel-blue case like many BDs are. Like many of Fincher's previous DVD releases, it is packaged in a digipack cardboard design - equal in size to the blue jewel cases - as the likes of Seven, Fight Club, etc were released in their respective DVD versions.

The packaging is simplistic and chic. The paper has a nice rubbery/cloth like feel to it. I don't know the stock, but it a good quality and the slipcase is all black and embossed with phrasing from the log/taglines for the film. The inside has the familiar poster of a blurred out Zuckerberg with the "500 million friends" quote. The color image featured is simply a "wrap around" piece of standard cardboard that simply fits over the slipcase itself... not very practical or keepable, but was included probably at the request of the studio for ease of identification or whatever other stupid reasons the execs come up with. I'm probably throwing mine away.

BD transfer is superb. I did not notice any major changes from film to disc that I can recall, except maybe in the Henley rowing sequence. I think a slugline was added to the intro of the scene and the sound design seemed to feature some diagetic sounds occuring within the scene as opposed to just the score. It has been some time, so I could be mistaken.

The film itself is excellent and Fincher has definitely proved himself as a masterful director. The acting is excellent, the photography is superb, and the writing is outstanding. It's not just "a movie about facebook" it's more about the drama behind it, relationships, and psychological workings.

I predict an Oscar nod.

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# 5: Masterpiece classic: Downton Abbey

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219 222 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars funny, if a tad flawed, series Edwardian, November 13, 2010 this review is from: masterpiece classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) Julian Fellowes has undermined his screenplay for Gosford Park and took some cues from the beloved series of the 1970s Upstairs, Downstairs-Edition Megaset collector (The Complete Series plus Thomas and Sarah), to create the Downton Abbey, a stunning and colorful drama around the aristocratic family of Crawley and staff serving them. Between 1912 and 1914, Downton Abbey Chronicles of class conflict, sex and politics and served with a dollop of sizzle and refreshing of scandal. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Dame Maggie Smith (as Robert, Earl of Grantham, Cora, Countess of Grantham and viola, Dowager Countess of Grantham, respectively) are knock out, but the rest of the cast are not slouches with the gorgeous Michelle Dockery avant-garde as Lady Mary Crowley, who's the selfish, proud, and vengeful daughter I can't help but like. Actors and stunning interiors of Highclere Castle, home to the Earl of Carnarvon, give Downton Abbey Shine gloss, sophisticated, even when the script twists and turns can be a bit of a let-down. However, the drama is addictive and tonic and a worthy addition to any set period drama aficionado--and those who love good drama, period! help other customers find the most useful reviews This review was helpful?

138 of 145 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars series interesting!, November 16, 2010 this review is from: masterpiece classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) ALERT: possible spoiler! But I'll try not to give much ...

I discovered this series after watching the latest episode of Sherlock on PBS. I'm a big fan of period dramas and after seeing the trailer for Downton Abbey, I knew I had to try.

Downton Abbey opened in 1912, after the sinking of the Titanic on which the heir of Robert Crowley, estate of the Earl of Grantham, dies. This leaves the family in a tizzy trying to figure out who would then inherit the estate, since the Crawleys have three daughters who are not enabled for the connection. Enter Matthew Crawley (the wonderful Dan Stevens a.k.a "Edward ferrars" sense and sensibility-2008-whistle, whistle) Next in line and, of course, not everyone is excited about the idea.

In the meantime, we have the privledge to bear witness to the bitter, but incredibly fascinating sibling rivalry of Dean two daughters of Earl, Edith and Maria. Mary was committed to the original Downton Abbey's heir, but was Edith that really loved him. Moreover, the oldest, Mary, apparently is the favorite of girls mother, which is almost sole occupation is to marry her (especially now that the link went to a "foreigner" and his father didn't fight). Edith, on the other hand, is consistently neglected and according to her mother, Cora, most likely will be to take care of her and the count in their old age. Daughter of count, Sybil, however, is the personification of quiet strength. Super sweet but definitely not a push over, she is a strong supporter of women's rights and have no qualms voicing his opinion, even if it means getting into trouble with his father.

Downstairs, we have the arrival of the mysterious Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle, Robert Timmens of Lark Rise to Candleford--whistle, whistle again!) that develops feelings for Anna head home, and vice versa, but their station (and its secrets) make their romance a little difficult. Put off by the arrival of Bates and the idea of the "lower train station" footman is the uber-villianous Thomas (I assure you, I hate this guy!). Aided by O'Brien Miss equally ugly, they plot to get rid of Mr. Bates at almost any cost.

Of course, there are tons of subplots: Matthew determination not to be edited by the inhabitants of the forest, past "shameful of Butler," discontent a waitress working in service and hopes for better jobs, secret (and some not so secret) crushes and much more.

Scattered throughout the series is a series of memorable characters. More specifically, the fabulous, Maggie Smith, which lends itself very sass (and some hilarious jokes) this series as Violet Crawley, Countess Dowager of Grantham (count). We also Jim Carter (Captain Brown from Cranford) as Carson, the faithful Butler family Crawley and Penelope Wilton (Mrs. Hamley's from wives and daughters) as Isobel Crawley, the mother of new heir Matthew thrifty partners and applicants of violetta.

This season's series ends at Garden Party of Crawleys, to which the count informs the guests that are at war with Germany. Up until that point, a scandalous secret on Lady Mary is leaked that ruins virtually her reputation and her plots revenge on his show. A new "development" arises that can alter the likelihood of Matteo gaining estate of count. Matthew, who himself is a thrifty partners in Mary, inevitably falls in love with her. She says that her feelings are reciprocal, but he is unsure if she wants him per se or because of his perspective is heir to a House of his father.

I found this to be a series of funny thoroughly. Can't wait for season 2.

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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars nobody does it better the British, November 11, 2010 this review is from: masterpiece classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) I became aware of this wonderful series ITV when reading a Larkrise to Candleford dashboard (another great series, highly recommended). As soon as I saw it on youtube thanks to you guys British! After that I saw, it occurred to me that was a little like "Upstairs Downstairs" that saw the operation "above the stairs" and was as inactive. The difference is located in a magnificent Palace (seat, or whatever, I am not British).

It is set in the early 1900s. The costumes and settings are superb.

I did feel the count was a little worried about egalitarian downstairs staff, too "nice". By 1901, on pbs series, servants/staff had to be out of view as possible.

Highly recommended.

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# 10: 24: The complete eighth season

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115 of 133 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting end, May 26, 2010 This review is from: 24: The Complete Eighth Season (DVD) I came into this season expecting it to be the last. Fox had long maligned the fact that '24' was very expensive to make. They also cited lagging ratings (mostly due to the lackluster season 6 leaving a bad taste in viewers mouths and the WGA strike making the show almost irrelevant.) as a reason to ax the show. And besides, the concept was becoming a bit outdated. Even the tenor of season 8, with the world standing on the brink of an historic peace agreement, signified that 24 was coming full circle. The idea that peace could exist in a world of espionage and paranoia such as the one 24 dwelled in, was a big step toward a brave new world. The kind of thing you see when a show wants to go out with a bang. I was ready for it to end and am sad to see it go. The Machiavellian exploits of Jack Bauer have been must see television from Day One (November 6,2001) in my household. On Tuesdays at 9pm (Seasons 1-3) and Mondays at 9pm (Seasons 4-8), no one was allowed to bother me. I loved this show. As for season 8;
The first half really was tough to swallow. After seeing Doug Hutchison on Lost as a hippie running the Dharma Initiative, I really had trouble buying the Russian Merc angle. His accent was horrible. Davros really bothered me. Strike 1. Katee Sackhoff's character Dana Walsh was one of the most annoying main character in the history of the series (Marilyn Bauer really bugged me). Brian Hastings was a major tool. ANd I am sorry, I just can't take Freddie Prinze, Jr. seriously. Not all of the casting was bad, though. We did get Michael Madsen, Jurgen Prochnow, and David Anders this year. But for not nearly enough time. These actors were too good for the short arcs and cheap exits they made, especially in Anders case.
The plot was pretty straight forward until the fuel rods came into play. Then I was slightly annoyed. Arabs with Russian supplied nukes? AGAIN?! The stench of season 6 began to waft upward.
But, then, Omar Hassan died and the Russians took center stage and committed the worst mistake ever; killing girl Jack (Renee). Jack went off the deep end. And the series really caught fire again. Those last seven episodes of Jack acting as judge, jury, and executioner really made me think a ninth season would not be all that bad.
In the end, everyone stood accountable for their mistakes. And Jack was given time to run. The final goodbye with Chloe was poignant. The long last look up was, too. And then the clock reached zero on one of the more ground breaking and innovative series of this or any generation. It was so ground breaking, it could only copy itself (and did so a lot in season 8).
Now that this show is done, I am done with network TV. Really, how could anything top this show and Lost? So, it's the end of an era. Thank you, 24, for making it enjoyable. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? 

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars When the country he fought for turned their back on him..., May 27, 2010 This review is from: 24: The Complete Eighth Season (DVD) I may be in the few when I say this, but I don't think this show ever qualified as "past its prime." It seems like a lot of the reviews coming out from papers, magazines, even fans revolved around the fact that the show ended on a good note, HOWEVER --note the asterisk-- (*it's not what it once was). Yes, there were recurring themes. Yes, we've gone through the whole nuclear weapons story before. Yes, some things were more predictable than they used to be. But I, for one, loved watching Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brian evolve. I loved watching Charles Logan try and wiggle his way back into the good graces of Americans. I loved watching where the shattered life of Tony Almeida led him in Season 7. I think, reasonably so, a lot of people considered the shark jumped after Season 6. I did, too. But I continued watching, and I thought Seasons 7 and 8 were two of the strongest the 24 crew put together.

**Spoilers Below**
Since I can't rate the product yet, the five stars is for Season 8 itself. It's more of a 4 1/2, but I think they've earned the benefit of the doubt with consistently great work. This season got off to a slow start, much in the same way Season 3 did. Annie Wersching's portrayal of a darker, hardened Renee Walker dominated the early season episodes as a plot was methodically developed. By the twelfth episode, 24 hit its stride in vintage form. The twists and turns were as drastic as ever, and following the assassination of President Omar Hassan of the I.R.K., the show took on an angle it never had before (or at least an altered version of Season Five's anti-terrorism treaty).

The blood stained peace treaty among a trio of nations was a different kind of plot for the show, especially since it ironically made Jack Bauer the biggest, not to mention the only legitimate threat in the final third of the season. Noteworthy: You DO NOT kill Jack Bauer's girlfriend. Apparently the Russians didn't hear that from the Chinese (Audrey's alive but status unknown), who in turn didn't hear it from Nina Meyers. I thought it all made perfect sense, because Jack was finally in a good state of mind at the beginning of the season. He was finally getting his life together, he finally stopped playing mind games with his female counterpart. And then Renee Walker gets killed... in Jack's apartment. Jack summed it up best while torturing Pavel. "Why couldn't you just leave us alone?" You have to look back on 8 days of professional, and personal, sacrifices Jack has had to make and wonder how it even took him this long to boil over.

Jack became the anti-hero, stopping at nothing to eliminate the participants in a treaty based on crime and deceit. For all he's sacrificed for his country, the United States turned its back on Jack Bauer for what they envisioned as "the greater good." So when justice by law was refused, Jack took justice into his own hands. What ensued was a bloody mess created by a man who had been betrayed by nearly everyone (NEARLY--thank you, Chloe).

Though many would have preferred Bauer to go out in a blaze of glory, gun in hand, I thought the ending was appropriate. For all the times Jack had been spared, whatever the reason, it was only right that the man with 9 lives was granted a 10th. Taylor, in good conscience, couldn't sign the treaty. I'd like to think the video Jack intended for Kim was a tipping point for the President, thus making Jack his own hero, once again. But like the Chinese said at the end of Season 5: "you're too valuable to kill." One more time, Jack was given a pass.

- My only problem with Season 8 is the Dana Walsh story, and I don't think I'm in the minority here. I was somewhat relieved she became a mole, but it also discredited much of her story earlier in the day. If she had no problem killing Kevin's parole officer, I don't see why she would have a problem killing Kevin. Yes, she had to maintain her cover, and yes, she was on camera when he visited her at CTU, but why not when he and Nick came to her apartment? I'm just a little cloudy as to why Dana was letting those guys push her around. The fact that she was a mole explained further her change of identity, but there were still several holes in her story (not to mention how she got away with wearing a cocktail dress to work.)
- As opposed to many fans this season, I had no problem whatsoever with Brian Hastings. Mykelti Williamson was given a very unoriginal role, because we've seen the kind of stubborn, oblivious CTU/Division/Homeland Security directors before on many occasions. However, outside the fact that he looked like a football coach with his earpiece and hunchback way of treading CTU, I thought Hastings was always an interesting, even comical character on screen.
- A couple people mentioned in earlier reviews that they found it difficult to take Freddie Prinze, Jr. seriously. I couldn't agree more. He had a steep hill to climb from the reputation he's made for himself since becoming an actor. However, I thought if there was any character in any season of 24 he could've played, Cole Ortiz was the perfect fit; the straight and narrow, by the book, "boy scout" if you will, field agent. Though he's certainly not looking at a Primetime Emmy nod for his performance, I thought he did an excellent job with the role.

24 still had tricks up its sleeve after 8 seasons. It had some repetition, but still much more originality. It still presented shock value and still produced likable characters. Season 6 may have been sub-par, but was it sub-par as a TV show or was it sub-par by 24 standards? I really think S6 was wrongly tapped as the show's dip into mediocrity. It was just an isolated miss, in my opinion. Honestly, I think the show went out as good as it came in. Now we turn our attention to the big screen.

Season 8 | Grade: A-

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46 of 60 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A GREAT SHOW!!, May 10, 2010 Like most of you, my wife and I will certainly miss our Monday night '24' shows. We've been watching them for some 6 years now. Got into it in Season 3 and then caught up with the first 2 seasons via the DVD's. Man tonight (5/10) was sure intense and we can't wait for the showdown with Logan coming next week. This show has been a real addiction. Nothing better on TV and I don't believe anything will ever top this show. The bar is too high. Wouldn't it be nice if somewhere in this country their really is a person similar to Jack. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? 
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