#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

Django Unchained (2012) – Does Violence Succeed Over Inspiration? – A social Study

Category: Western/ Action
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, David Steen, Dana Gourrier, Nichole Galicia, Laura Cayouette, Ato Essandoh, Sammi Rotibi, Clay Donahue Fontenot
Duration: 165 min
Rated: R

You might Like this Movie is you enjoyed:
Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Long Story Short:
A freed slave is trying find his wife and rescue her from the barbaric hands of her owner. A former dentist – a Caucasian – is helping him.

I know people have mainly praised this movie, called it a classic, or a Spaghetti Western (?) – only the wind knows why. And while I have to admit that the entire cast was simply brilliant with their performances, and I also like Quentin Tarantino, I cannot recommend this movie. I don’t understand how someone can enjoy it.

Let me explain, that when I watched the movie, I was the only light skinned person in the movie theater. Well, I am kissed by the sun, but I stood out. While the movie was playing I felt the rage growing. I heard people say “Yes, that’s exactly what the white man did to us.” The anger felt real and current, not for something that happened in the past. It felt like an anger that is still slumbering insight people’s minds that creates the (mis?)perception of still being oppressed.

I am currently living in a mainly black neighborhood and every day I get a different impression from my surroundings. There is definitely a pattern that shows that “someone” or “something” is trying to oppress the people who live here, or at least holding them back; for instance: the only internet connection that’s available here is so slow that I can barely post an entry on my blog because it takes up too much speed that I am not provided with. So even looking for jobs online is a pain, especially if you have to fill out application forms when the connection keeps crashing. Furthermore the gas prices here are outrageous. But if I drive towards the areas where mainly Caucasian people live the prices are lower. Why is that? Is someone or something trying to keep the poor or less fortunate people down while making the privileged people richer?

At the same time, I get the feeling that a lot of people are complaining about this situation but no one is standing up or willing to do something about it, so basically they are doing it to themselves. People are complaining about having no money, but they rather go to the gas station and buy a roll of toilet paper for 1$ every three days instead of going to the grocery store and get a package with 14 rolls of toilet tissue for 7$ which is half the price of what they are paying. Instead of keeping their neighborhood clean I see people throwing out trash on the streets, when there is a trash can three feet away from them.

Movies like Django Unchained don’t really help making a difference. Django got more than half a million votes on IMDB and a rating of 8.5/10, while inspirational movies like, Akeelah and The Bee(2006), Remember The Titans(2000), A Time To Kill(1996) – hard to watch but with the most impressive pleading- , The Blind Side(2009), Antwone Fisher(2002), Soul Food (2007) or even the The Color Purple (1986) hardly get one hundred thousand votes. So does violence succeed over inspiration? Choosing violence over inspiration creates anger, and anger holds us back. Why? Because we keep focusing on the negative aspects in life rather than the positive ones. Eventually we think that we don’t deserve any better and start accepting. Eventually we stop caring, and this attitude will reflect on our children. And unfortunately I see this behavior every other day.

Yes, I admit, people of color – and by people of color I mean anyone other than Caucasian – still have a harder time being hired in certain establishments than Caucasians, especially in the U.S. – the country of freedom but also segregation; where else do we have China Town, Greek Town, Polish Town etc.? But if we work hard enough we can get just as far as anyone else, maybe even further, we might not even have to depend on anyone to hire us, and become successful entrepreneurs?! There are no limits in life. And until we understand that, there won’t be any change.

Now, coming back to Django, here are a few more things I didn’t like about it:

The release date:
Why would someone chose Christmas time to release such a movie? I am not looking at Christmas as a Christian holiday, but a time families usually spend together and have a peaceful time. Well, not if they went to see Django. But Les Miserable was too depressing too, in my opinion. So either choice would have caused anger or depression. Though one to choose from.

The use of the n-word:
It was used at least 110 times. I mean, I get it, black people were treated and talked to in the most horrible ways, but do we really have hear it to an extend where I am pretty sure it starts to feel normal for some people? I myself felt a pain in my stomach every time I heard the word. I despise the n-word, and not even a black person should use it if you ask me. Why would you use a word today that represents anger, pain, torture and humiliation? Like Maya Angelou once said, “The “n” word is like poison, whether you take poison from a vial or pour it into Bavarian crystal, it is still poison.”

The idea of turning tragic events into a comedy:
Sure, I had to giggle, too, about certain scenes, but at the same time I couldn’t believe the fact that I was actually watching a movie about slavery and had to laugh.

The glorification of violence:
Django was not only brutal in the revenge scenes, but the torture scenes of the slaves seemed even more gruesome to me, which raises the question: If a director choses to show a scene more graphically than others, does he want to create a more dramatic effect, or does he actually enjoy it more?

Those were my honest and true feelings about Django Unchained. Like I said, I admire the entire cast and their acting, and I really like Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill are two of my all time favorite movies, but in this particular case I just can’t agree with the majority and applaud him for a master piece that in my opinion was a slap in the face.

Rating: N/A