The Secret (2006) Movie Review By Simon Daniel

I am just now finding to time to say thank you to my friend Sherryn to have me be a part of her wonderful lifestyle blog. Please check out her very informative blog about life, trends, pop culture and lots of other meaningful topics:

Also, check out my review about The Secret, a helpful and inspiring documentary for those who feel stuck in life.

The Secret (2006) Movie Review By Simon Daniel.

#TVReview: Tyrant (2014) – The most controversial and compelling Show on TV

Category: Drama
Actors: Adam Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan, Ashraf Barhom, Fares Fares, Moran Atias, Noah Silver, Anne Winters, Salim Dau, Mehdi Dehbi, Alice Krige, Justin Kirk, Raad Rawi, Alexander Karim, Sibylla Deen, Cameron Gharaee, Waleed Elgadi, Mor Polanuer, Amir Boutrous, Mohammad Bakri, Sammy Sheik, Tom York, Maddison Jaizani, Tom Graziani, Nasser Faris, Housini Abour, Oshrad Ingadshet

Channel: FX
Duration: 42 min
Rated: TV-MA

People are scared. People are broken. If you can bring anyone of them even an inch closer to trust, that’s a win.

Long Story short:

Barry lives a peaceful life in the United States with his family. He has left his violent past of being the son of a tyrant in the middle east behind, but the thoughts of it still haunt him.

When he gets invited to his nephews wedding back home, he has to introduce his family to a world they have never even experienced, or may not understand.

“You better be careful, this isn’t America.” says daughter Emma to her brother Sammy.

And so the story of hatred and pain begins.

My thoughts:
Before it has even started Tyrant received many bad reviews and has been criticized about its negative representation of the Middle East, giving a false perception of women in this world, and having an American actor as the lead character who is Iraqi. The harsh criticism seemed to have shown effect since in episode two they changed the whole setting into a fictional city called Aboudin. I guess this was mainly done to emphasize that even though the incidents are inspired by actual events the storyline and characters are just as fictional as the setting.

As far as the portrayal of the women goes I don’t think we are given a misperception. I think people don’t understand, that even it seems like those woman are obeying and follow the men, that they are still strong independent women. It takes a lot of strength to do and take what women in these circumstances do. And episode two already introduces a few brave characters who dare to speak up or do something about their misery.
Then we have Jamal’s wife who seems more devious and manipulative than anything else.

And let’s be honest, the situation in the Middle East is not any different than it is shown here. People are clearly suffering and that shows in Tyrant. Looking at their political system is like going back in time, but also a wake-up call that we are not as civilized as we would like to be, because we are only as strong as our weakest link. There are always rebels who try to speak up and fight for their rights, but it is hard to stand up against an army that is a thousand times bigger and stronger than the little flock you lead.

From the very beginning I was intrigued by the storyline, the characters and acting, the unexpected twists, and the connection to current political events. The dialogues are meaningful and smart, the violence shown is necessary so people understand how barbaric things still are in this world. We see how two worlds clash together, to societies, two different states of mine. We see how people can be blinded by money and status, and ignore the misery around them. And we witness the struggle of a person identifying himself with a culture that he left behind decades ago.

And while it may have given the impression that it focuses too much on the tyranny vs. people standing up against it – which again has been complained about – I see a constant progress each episode. It is important to understand what people are fighting against at first in order to relate to why they do it. It is not giving a horrible image of the Middle East, I would say it creates hope that things could change.

In short, I love this show. It is giving me everything.

One minor criticism: I wished it wasn’t entirely in English, I mean if the president holds a speech to the nation, I am sure, he would do it in everyone’s native language, right? But I guess FX is just responding to the laziness of people these days. So many great movies never make it on people’s shelves because no one wants to read subtitles…

Watch Tyrant to keep this important show on TV.

Caution: Tyrant is very realistic and has many shock moments, especially when it comes to violence. It contains also many sexual references including exploitations such as rape, but hardly shows any nudity. Be aware of that.

Rating: 9/10

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes (2014) – An epic Adventure that makes it hard to pick a Side

Actors: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Nick Thurston, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Larramie Doc Shaw, Lee Ross

Duration: 130 min
Rated: PG-13

You might Like this Movie is you enjoyed:
Rise of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)

Long Story Short:
After a virus hits the world, a small group of humans survivors tries to convince a huge pack of apes to let them discover their territory to find a way to keep the electricity up. But anger and mistrust son turns into a tragedy.

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes continues many years (or decades?) after it’s prequel, Ceasar is the leader of a huge pack of apes who follow his peaceful message “Apes don’t kill Apes”. When a small group of human survivors tries to see if there are any resources in the woods to keep the electricity in the city, they get caught, and accidentally shoot one of Ceasar’s kind. While most apes are ready to kill them for what the humans have done to them in the past, Ceasar wants to chose the peaceful way and hear them out. But neither race finds complete trust in each other.

The movie starts a bit slow, but only for about ten minutes. We get to know how the apes have evolved, they have a sign language, but can also speak (not like humans though). They hunt together, eat together, spend time with each other, and have their rituals like a big happy family. Even though it is interesting to see that, it is almost too quiet since they speak in sign language at first and we see subtitles. But once they reveal that the apes can speak and the humans come in the picture, there is no stopping from there.

The story soon turns into an action filled adventure that confirms that no matter what race we look at, evil spreads faster than good.

I didn’t look at it as a science fiction movie, because the apes didn’t speak as fluent as they did in the early versions the Planet of The Apes, nor did they act entirely human. It was more of an action-drama with a serious undertone. It definitely got me thinking.

The digital effects are mind blowing, the actors, especially the ones who play the apes are phenomenal, while the human characters fall a little flat at times. Nonetheless I can say I can recommend this movie to anyone. Period. Who doesn’t like a good story filled with great special effects, action and drama?

Dawn of The Planet of the Apes is easily of (the few) best movies of 2014, and I like it just as much as the first part, if not even better.

Oh, and P.S.: Don’t expect a fight under the San Francisco bridge like the movie poster may suggest, this wasn’t part of the movie.

Rating: 9/10

The The Green Inferno (2014) – Disturbing? Horrifying? Worth Watching? You’ll be the Judge!

Eli Roth has a twisted mind when it comes to sick storylines. I personally only liked Hostel, and looking at this one, it seems like a thrill ride full of fear and shock moments, but I am afraid it might end up in a big gore fest without substance. And that weird disclaimer at the end talking about “This tribe has never been filmed before…”… Is he trying to make it look like a true story? This movie is standing on shaky ground in my opinion. But we will find out in less than 2 months!

Tammy (2014) – Glad I went to see it anyway!

Actors: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, Nat Faxon, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Ben Falcone, Sarah Baker, Rich Williams, Steve Little, Dakota Lee

Duration: 96 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie is you enjoyed:
Identity Thief (2013)

Long Story Short:
Tammy loses her job and catches her husband cheating the same day. Ready to leave her old live behind she decides to go on a road trip with her grandmother.

We all know what a goof ball Melissa McCarthy is, and that’s why we love her. She can be raunchy sometimes, and relies on stereotypes, which in her case is the heavy set clumsy girl, but all that doesn’t matter, because she is simply adorable and hilarious. And since she is doing a great job, why not relying on it? Stick to what you know.

With that said, I don’t think Tammy is doing her too much justice. It’s the first movie McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone take full credit for; they wrote the script and produced it, so it goes without saying that this piece is very important to them. I think with the pressure they have been putting on themselves by wanting to make this movie a success they were too stiff and staged with some of the dialogue parts, certain scenes seemed like a skit and at times it felt confusing whether they wanted to create a comedy or drama. It wasn’t funny enough to be a comedy and not serious enough for a drama, not consistent enough for a dramedy. The idea was simple and could have been executed in many different ways, but I believe they wanted to show McCarthy’s sentimental side, which I actually liked as well. But whenever a sad moment was about to happen it was killed by a cheap laugh.

The movie has an amazing entourage like Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, only to mention a few, and while I think Bates was giving an amazing performance as usual, I felt like Sarandon got a little lost because it didn’t fit her persona at all; Tammy’s grandmother was not complex enough for her. Actually I wished they would have made Kathy Bates the grandmother and Sarandon her friend.

So, is it worth watching? I think it is, especially for everyone who likes Melissa McCarthy. Does is have a deeper meaning? Not really, but why are people trying to look for one? People will always find something negative about a movie and I agree, it might not be the best movie Mrs. McCarthy has ever come out with, but it was a project and an experience she wanted to make. Maybe she realizes that she should work with scripts from someone else from now on, or establishes a deeper meaning and character development next time she writes a script with her husband.

I enjoyed myself and could look past the few slow parts. And I will watch again in a few years.

Rating: 6/10

My Name is Khan (Indian with Engl. Subs) (2010) – Everyone Needs to See This!

Actors: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol Kajol, Katie A. Keane, Kenton Duty, Benny Nieves, Christopher B. Duncan, Jimmy Shergill, Sonya Jehan, Parvin Dabas, Arjun Mathur, Sugandha Garg, Zarina Wahab, Razia Khan, S.M. Zaheer, Arif Zakaria, Vinay Pathak

Duration: 165 min
Rated: PG-13

You might Like this Movie is you enjoyed:
Forest Gump (1994)

Long Story Short:
An Indian Muslim man with Asperger’s syndrome is going on a long Journey to see the President of the United States to give him an important message: My name is Khan – and I am not a terrorist.

My Review:
Too little attention is paid to movies that could actually change the mindset of many people, and therefore the world; My Name is Khan is one of them.

I have to admit, I just wanted to see it because my favorite Bollywood couple was in there, Kajol and Sharukh Khan, who have been acting together in original Bollywood productions such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – two must sees for Bollywood fans.

My Name is Khan is an international production and takes place in the United States but is mainly kept in Hindi.
The story is about the misconception that our society created towards Muslims after the terror attacks during 9/11. Even now, more than ten years after the attack, people are getting the side eye for being of middle eastern origin. I get two side eyes, because I am German, which reminds some people of Hitler, and Pakistani – no explanation needed here. :D
The storyline is pretty simple but at the same time it keeps you guessing until the very end. As usual we are being delivered with an ending that some might call cheesy, but it is still settle and not over the top. Emotions are running high and eyes won’t stay dry. The actors convince, however, and this is something I never really like about the international Bollywood productions, the script for the English speaking people is very staged and seems more like a play, or even a cartoon. I always wonder if it is the actors and how they deliver their lines or the just the script that fails. Also, Bollywood loves to play with stereotypes which is why black women for example are usually very sassy and snappy, but mostly they also have a big heart, but I guess that’s okay.

Nonetheless, I can say that My Name is Khan is no less than brilliant, and probably Sharukh Khan’s most challenging role. I loved every minute of it, it never got boring, the storyline was never dragging and it left me inspired and sad at the same time.

It is definitely a good movie to watch in schools and to use for discussions. If you really think about it, it is not about Muslims, but minorities who are looked down on, or anyone who has to face ignorance from people who don’t even have a clue. At the end of the day we are really the same, just the shell is different.

Rating: 8.5/10