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Amazingly low energy and dull, 24 July 2017

The biggest problem with this documentary from Louis Theroux is that it is very, very low energy...and other documentaries have covered this same fascinating material and infused it with more energy and passion. My advice is to try one of these other films, such as Leah Remini's very passionate and personal series about the same subject, "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath". However, instead of hearing folks talking about their own personal experiences, often Theroux recreates scenes or talks with very little energy or enthusiasm...which is strange because he CAN make amazing films on cults, such as his seemingly heartfelt films on the infamous Fred Phelps cult "The Most Hated Family in America"--and the best film about the Westboro Baptist Church and their hate-filled protests. I have almost always loved Theroux's films...but this one is clearly the exception and I wish he just hadn't bothered.

This Warden is a real jerk-face!, 23 July 2017

Shirley Knight plays Erica, a young pregnant woman who is being incarcerated in state prison. The rules of the prison are that women can keep their children up to age three...and Erica hopes that she can get paroled before her child is over this age limit...otherwise, the child will be put up for adoption!! So, to present herself as good as possible, Erica is a model inmate. She's so good that she's chosen to work as a maid in the Warden's house. But the Warden (Andrew Duggan) is a total misfit...a screwed up man who is much more interested in making Erica his plaything instead of helping her with parole. With this and a very, very hard hand with the women, anger, resentment and rage is building up in the inmates.

In many ways, this is a very good film. The women are not lesbian caricatures like they often would be in later prison movies and the film actually does a good job of portraying the women rather realistically. However, the film also occasionally lapses into they needed to re-write a few things but never got around to it. In particular, the scene where the child dies is utterly ridiculous and otherwise mars a decent film. The scene just makes no sense whatsoever...who would put a nursery on an upper floor and why leave the door wide open so a child could crawl out to their death?!?! Pretty dumb. It's also a bit hard to believe a Warden as screwy as this one and with his family background would exist...see the film and see what I mean.

Overall, the film is worth seeing...even with a few lapses in the writing. As it is, it's very good...but could have been better...easily. Plus, it sort of conveys an interesting message...sometimes violence IS the answer!!

Strictly a forgettable B-movie...., 23 July 2017

"The Sport Parade" is strictly a quick B-movie and since Joel McCrea was pretty new to the film industry, it's not surprising he made a few cheapo films.

When the story begins, Sandy Brown (McCrea) and Johnny Baker (William Gargan) are star athletes at Dartmoth. They are multi- sport heroes and their future looks grand. Johnny dreams of working for a newspaper and Sandy simply wants to get rich. What follows is a Horatio Alger-type story where Sandy eventually learns that his way is not the healthy way...and he repeatedly makes an idiot of himself until he eventually does the right thing.

Overall, a mildly interesting best. About the only interesting things that stand out are seeing McCrea and seeing a lot of male skin, as it's a pre-code film and titillation was big back in the day.

This melodrama offered a few unexpected surprises., 23 July 2017

During WWI, an American nurse, Doris (Constance Bennett) meets up with an American serviceman, Barry (Joel McCrea) and soon the pair are in love. Since this is a pre-code picture*, the pair apparently slept together before he shipped out for France...with the promise to marry her when he returned. However, she soon receives word that Barry has been killed...and she is pregnant. The ardent suitor, Sir Wilfred, still wants to marry her despite this and so she agrees. No one is apparently the wiser that the baby was not his other than Sir Wilfred and his new bride...and things appear very happy. However, when Barry returns and it's obvious he was not killed in action but only injured, Doris has some tough does Sir Wilfred. Unfortunately, Sir Wilfred does NOT rise to the occasion. What exactly happens? Well, see the film and be prepared for a few surprises.

What I appreciated about this film is that it took a somewhat familiar story idea and cast all sorts of unexpected events as well. The story is NOT one you'll be predicting long before things occur. Additionally, for a 1932 film the acting is quite nice. Well worth your time.

*In films released after July, 1934, this story would have either not been filmed at all or would have been heavily edited due to the premarital sex in the plot. Such things were pretty much taboo in the post-code era...a time period during which Hollywood began making more wholesome and less sordid movies. And, while I love the pre-code films, as they are very entertaining, some of the films did get a bit too racy considering that there was no rating system and anyone could have been in the audiences to see topless girls in "Ben Hur" (1925), lechrous bosses who refused to keep their hands off the women at work ("Employees Entrance") and women who sleep their way to the top...and somehow remain there by the end of the story ("Red-Headed Woman"). I don't think this film really has anything offensive at all about in it...but a few pre-code films did seem to really push the envelope!

Why didn't anyone tell me about this show until now?!, 20 July 2017

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is one of the best television shows on why is it I never heard about this? Only when my oldest daughter came home for a visit did I learn about this one...after the second season?! Fortunately, the show is supposed to return for season 3...and you should binge on them like I am in order to catch up and be ready once the show returns.

Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) is a super-well educated and successful young lawyer. After all, she went to Harvard AND Yale and now is working a great job in New York City...and is about to be offered a partnership in her firm! Yet, she just ain't right in the head. When she sees an old boyfriend from summer camp a decade before, she learns that he's moving back to his old home town in California...she impulsively quits her job and moves to this city!! Why? Because she is highly delusional and imagines he'll soon fall in love with her and they'll live happily ever after! What's next? See this very weird and surreal show and find out...and it's a show that always keeps you guessing...and is filled with some of the funniest songs I have ever heard.

The writing for this show is amazing. While the show COULD lose its momentum quickly, episode after episode it keeps your interest...and features some of the strangest and most screwed up characters on TV. Well worth seeing...and there is nothing like it!!

The typical baddie trying to control the west., 18 July 2017

The only real positive distinction this movie has is Joel McCrea in the lead. He was terrific in westerns and he's very good in the this one. However, the plot is not great. 95% of all westerns basically boil down to 3 or 4 plots...and this one has the big baddie who is trying to take over the new state of California. Yep, Andrew Cain is yet ANOTHER big greedy baddie...a plot seriously overused in westerns. And, not surprisingly, there is a hot babe who comes between the two men (Yvonne DeCarlo).

While the acting is good an makes up for the dullness of the plot, there is something that retired history teachers would not like about this film--the highly inaccurate details. The guns are all circa 1870s and the set clearly is a typical western set--but it's supposed to be San Franciso in the 1850s. Hand guns were almost never revolvers and very few folks in the town would have been walking about in cowboy apparel. After all, by then it was an up and coming coastal city...not Deadwood or some other western locale.

So is this one worth seeing? Well, possibly. McCrea is great...he almost always is. But the plot might be too familiar and you need to look past the fact that it's not at all historically accurate.

The story of three friends who liked to tinkle everywhere they went., 17 July 2017

Despite having Joel McCrea in the lead, this is a rather dull western...dull and pretty predictable. About the only part that was unexpected was how less than honorable McCrea's character was through much of the movie.

The story is set during the Civil War. Three buddies all arrive in Yankee occupied Texas on the lookout for Cottrell (Victor Jory). Cottrell is fashioned after the real life Civil War raider, Quantrill...though oddly he's fighting for the Union in this one. Despite Kip Davis (Joel McCrea) and his friends wanting to kill Cottrell, soon Lee (Douglas Kennedy) joins the Confederate army and Kip and Charlie (Zachary Scott) help the South by running the blockades. Eventually, however, Charlie comes to enjoy getting rich much more than helping the Confederacy and this brings a very predictable showdown at the end.

Everything about this film is mediocre at best and the story only occasionally interesting. I had a hard time caring about the characters and the story.

Deadpool (2016)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I am NOT the target audience for this one...please keep this in mind as you read., 16 July 2017

I am a 53 year-old man...and the target audience for "Deadpool" is much, much younger. So, it's not all that surprising that I wasn't bowled over by the film like so many younger people I know. And, when I am not as enthusiastic about it, understand that I am writing my review mostly for folks who are NOT huge fans of superhero films. Sure, I've seen more than my share but I am growing tired of the whole genre. And, while "Deadpool" deliberately avoids some of this, it's STILL a head on assault to your senses due to all the action and primary reason for not being a superhero fan. Yes, there are tons and tons of explosions and action...that left me pretty did some of the ultra violence. What I did like was how Deadpool occasionally broke through the fourth wall and talked to the audience or made commentaries about superhero films...that I really liked. Overall, it's a mixed bag for me...worth seeing and enjoyable but one I am very glad I waited until the film came to cable TV.

A modern twist on the old heist picture, 16 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 1930s and 40s, quite a few heist films were made. However, due to the tough Production Code, the movies were amazingly non- violent and evil always was punished eventually. Starting in the 1960s with films like "Bonnie and Clyde", the studios changed the genre completely. Now, because of this films and a few other violent films of the era, bad guys could be anti-heroes, the violence level was cranked up several notches and the audience in many cases had no idea if evil would ever be punished. Director Sam Peckinpah benefited from this new film morality and "The Getaway" is a film in this new tradition...a tradition where the line between the good guys and the bad is DEFINITELY blurred!

When the story begins, Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen) is in prison for his part in an armed robbery. When he comes up for parole after four years, he's denied...yet, oddly, the decision is reversed and he is freed. Why? Because the Warden is organizing a bank robbery and he needs Doc's skills. Unfortunately, many things go wrong in the robbery and folks involved in the holdup start dying. This is only the first third of the film and the final portion involves Doc and his wife (Ali McGraw) and their attempt to get away scot-free.

With Sam Peckinpah and being made in the 1970s, it's not at all surprising that this film is violent and several gallons of blood are spilled. According to IMDb, the director and his notoriously difficult leading man argued a lot during the filmmaking...and the studio always backed McQueen. I assume had Peckinpah been SOLE director it actually would have been even bloodier. But like you'd expect in a McQueen picture, there is LOTS of driving mayhem...lots of shootouts...lots of action. It's like all the action of "Bullit" and a dozen other McQueen films shoved into one! Now this is not to say there isn't much in the way of story...there is. And it has enough novelty that it keeps the viewer wondering what's going to happen next. Well worth seeing, though if it has a fault that it is a tad overlong and the action seems a bit more important than the plot.

By the way, Slim Pickens makes an appearance near the end...and it's VERY memorable!

A terrific performance by Streep...about a woman who is not exactly who she pretends to be., 15 July 2017

Warning: This film is about concentration camps and is VERY hard to watch at times. While I would not put it in the same emotional category as "Schindler's List", be prepared and think twice before you see the movie. It is a super-depressing picture.

"Sophie's Choice" is an interesting film in that the performance by Meryl Streep is truly of the best acting performances I've ever seen. To get this part, she learned German and Polish and THEN worked on her accents...and seemed to be great at them as well as speaking German during the flashback scenes. She also has her hair shaved and allowed herself to look just godawful in these scenes. Yet, while she is amazing, the rest of the film is good but not nearly as good. This would explain why this is an unusual case with a Best Actress award for a film that was not nominated for Best Picture. Now I am not saying the rest of the film is bad...but dwelling so much on the present day in the first half of the film seems like a bit of a mistake. The last half, with the powerful flashbacks and secrets divulged about Sophie and her incredibly volatile boyfriend (Kevin Kline) is very exciting and it left you wanting more...and left me wanting far less of the friendship portion in the first half or the ravings of the boyfriend. In fact, I wonder if it might have been better to split this into two entirely different movies. Still, with such a great performance by Streep, it's still on my list of movies to see.

By the way, this is not a complaint but in the amusement park sequence near the beginning, notice how Peter MacNicol's straw hat stays on as if super glued to his head!

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