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Sentimental and sweet
An old-fashioned sweet movie, sort of Being There meets Cocoon. Only Shelly Winters is out of place in a one-note portrayal as the evil owner. This is a fitting valedictory for Carroll O'Connor who trots out his Archie Bunker accent for the occasion. Barbara Bain is marvelous and steals every scene she is in. Charlton Heston and Shirley Jones make me wish I could look, talk, and act like them at their age --- heck, make that even at my age, and they have 30 years on me. This has a sweet and winning charm, It may be a bit too much saccharine for hardened hearts, must most of us sentimental softies will want to watch it again and again.
Well-acted offbeat cop yarn
Joe Pantaliano, Wade Dominguez, and Robert Townsend make for a most interesting crimestopping team. This is a blue collar, unglamorous tale. Pantaliano's character is no superhero: he's a tax investigator and a family man (Great line: "I'm not interested in sex. I'm married.") with a rough-hewn manner and an unpleasant disposition. Dominguez is a great balance who goes along with Pantiliano for the ride as he does in life. The film is dedicated to his memory so he died very young. Townsend is perfect as the ambitious D. A. who finally agrees to take the case. Michael Chiklis (The Commish) nearly steals the film as a sympathetic Russian businessman being hunted by Russian mafia hit men. He is terrific in all of his scenes and teaches the boys about Russian life in Brighton Beach.
Gaily, Gaily (1969)
Atmospheric coming-of-age Jewison comedy
I originally saw this atmospheric turn-of-the-century comedy in the theaters in 1969, and recently saw it during the wee hours on a cable station. It still is charming and a lot of fun. Hume Cronyn is a standout in a key supporting role as a crooked politician. George Kennedy supplies a marvelous counterpoint to Bridges' wide-eyed male inguenue. And Margot Kidder nearly steals the film in her film debut as the prostitute who guides Bridges on his journey to manhood.
FYI -- another reviewer mistakenly referred to this as Beau Bridges' first movie, but he was only 20 years off. As a juvenile Bridges appeaed in 3 films -- most notably The Red Pony. As a teen, he was marvelous in the Explosive Generation as high school sex-ed teacher William Shatner's classroom nemesis. In 1967, he was riveting as the crippled hero in Larry Peerce's classic, The Incident.
Dangerous Crossing (1953)
This taut atmospheric mystery-at-sea gets great performances by Jeanne Crain, Michael Rennie, Max Showalter, and Carl Betz. The pacing is fast, and the characterizations are well-crafted. I have seen this movie six times, and I never tire of it. Everything is handled so professionally. I highly recommend it.
So Long at the Fair (1950)
This is an unsung masterpiece. The atmosphere of the 1896 Paris Exhibition is superbly recreated. Jean Simmons is magnificent as the heroine, and Dirk Bogarde has genuine chemistry with her as an aspiring artist who is the only one who believes her. Cathleen Nesbitt is perfection itself in her role, and a young Honor Blackman scores points in an important bit part. And David Tomlinson (later George Banks of Mary Poppins fame) is memorable as Simmons' brother. The sound track and art direction are also terrific. The script is taut and the dialogue crisp. All this and perfect pacing too. I've seen this five times and still look for it whenever it is on. Most highly recommended.
By the way, another reviewer thought this was some sort of re-working of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Aside from the fact that someone vanishes (a man), not much else relates. This is much closer to a Jeanne Crain B-movie that came out a few years later called Dangerous Crossing.
Map of the Human Heart (1992)
Bad art house film
If your gig is imagery and art direction, you may find this opus fascinating.
But, if you care one iota about plot, consistent and or logical character motivation, and pacing, avoid this never-ending series of outrageous vignettes masquerading as a movie. To be certain, there are a number of vividly memorable scenes, but the characters played by the actors in one scene are completely inconsistent with what they do in the next scene.
The one thing the three leads do have in common is that they all act masochistically at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. This is not my idea of a good time or good film making.
Warm, sentimental and winning
This is a sweet old-fashioned and knowing valentine to Chinese American family life in San Francisco. In many ways, it seems like a predecessor to the Joy Luck Club, complete with Joan Chen as a young Mah Jongg player. The pace here is somewhat leisurely, but the vignettes are warm and satisfying enough to sustain interest throughout.
Hec Ramsey: The Century Turns (1972)
Above average pilot for western mystery movie series
Richard Boone is superior as aging Hec Ramsey. Rick Lenz is fascinating in a character that provides a modern-leaning counterpoint to Ramsey's set ways. The always-resilient Sharon Acker is on hand to provide character. And, the ubiquitous Harry Morgan contributes his special brand of cynicism to a well-crafted, if somewhat leisurely paced, western mystery.
The Incident (1967)
The narrative grimly details the emptiness of daily life and marriage in the living cesspool we euphemistically call New York. The acting is first rate with an excellent performance by Mike Kellin. Young Beau Bridges is especially good in a poignant role, and Martin Sheen and Tony Musante are brilliant as the two punks. The real star is the subway train itself.
Die 3 Groschen-Oper (1931)
The duality of the classic opus is magnificently captured by G. W. Pabst. As the street singer, Ernst Busch perfectly captures the cynicism of the day and Pabst's filming of his songs falling on deaf ears precisely captures the fascination of the Germans with the hypocracy and corruption of the British. If you wish to attempt to understand what made Hitler's rise to power possible, the bitterness and hopelessness captured vividly, cynically, and oh-so-lyrically by this timeless classic provides an unparalleled perspective. Lotte Lenya show-stopping "Pirate Jenny" not only captures up the bitterness and thirst for revenge, but 70 years later still stands as the most memorable song in a movie ever.
More style than substance...
But that is not necessarily a bad thing because the style goes a long way in holding interest. Ford is at his best here as the concerned, frustrated, confused, and finally frantic husband. The camera work is outstanding and the eerie yet irresistible score sets the moods perfectly. The plot is slight and fragile but is so professionally handled, it not only survives but satisfies.
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Excellently crafted - painful to watch
Some of the other reviews summarize this pretty well. The Mosquito Coast details flawlessly the grotesque decomposition of a good and true man. Harrison Ford's Allie is driven insane by his own intelligence and inability to control his ego. Even more remarkable and disquieting is the fact that this is based on a true story. In some ways, Allie reminds me of Dr. Mobius from Forbidden Planet. But the demons Allie conjures up are far more grotesque and deadly than anything from even Mobius' warped imagination. I conclude that this is a true piece of art and science -- magnificently crafted from beginning to end -- and I will NEVER voluntarily watch it again.
Above-average TV Western
Ernest Borgnine does a marvelous job of establishing the character of dried-out Marshal Sam Hill in this failed pilot. The vehicle holds up better than its timing as Westerns were being phased out just as this was completed. Nevertheless, a veteran cast brings wit and believability to a bizarre situation. And, the script is well-above average for a TV-movie. Worth watching.
Complex mystery improves with time
Given that this movie takes place in Mid-60's San Francisco, even though I had remembered loving it many years ago, i thought it would probably seem dated now. Instead, it seems more relevant than ever. The characterizations of ever major and minor character are outstanding. Raymond Burr is masterful as Chief Robert T. Ironside. But even characters who have four lines have dimension, are well-acted, and memorable. This is as good a mystery as has ever been made for TV. If you get to see it, you are in for a real treat.
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Overblown, but fun
This leisurely paced epic is jocular and is a cameo-appearance-watcher's heaven. It's all a bit too top-heavy to support a rather simple story. But Cantinflas is a lot of fun as Passepartout, and Robert Newton is marvelous as Niven's nemesis, Fix. Shirley MacLaine lends her beauty and wit to the proceedings as Princess Aouda. The film seems to stop for spectacular cinematography and the cameos at times. But, it is still beautiful and enjoyable.
But, speaking of Newton and MacLaine, I must take IMDB to task for this one although I recognize they are merely copying from the film's cast list. Still, when one transforms from one medium to another, some judgment must be exercised. In order for the uninitiated to find out that Newton and MacLaine (two of the film's four major characters) are even in the film, one must click on the blue more button for additional cast members, One normally does not bother to do this because all one normally sees are credits for the likes of Jennifer Baliniczewski, Haley Tiresius, Forrest J. Ackerman, Zvi Frischman, and Skip Jackson.
Please IMDB, bring Newton and MacLaine up front with Niven and Cantinflas. The movie's top stars should be featured at the top. Then the rest can be listed alphabetically.
Where the Money Is (2000)
Hysterically funny and successful on many levels
I thought this film was a perfect 10. Linda Fiorentino's offbeat screwball ex-prom-queen nurse was 50 times funnier, better-acted, and more interesting than Renee Zellweger's Nurse Betty. This movie was also more true to its own world. It also is a delightful throwback with no cursing, no nudity (although some very perverse sex with clothes on), and minimal violence.
The triangular chemistry, repartee, and interactions between the three stars was marvelous. Newman was brilliant as the zen-like bank robber. But, Mulroney more than held his own as the small-town loser husband, and was excellent in his relationship with Newman. I saw a couple of reviewers call this slow. I found it very fast, snappy, and whimsical. And, the sound-track was great too. All in all, this is one of the best caper films to hit the big screen since "The Sting."
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Keep on playing those mind games forever! What a wasted of a talented cast giving their all from top to bottom. But this that wants to prove how hip it is by plotting the most senses-assaulting grizzly death possible for its characters, and the drug trips the audiences are put through are all bad. So, in the end, all this talent is wasted.
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Loses its way
Disappointing because it starts off reasonably well. When it sticks to satire, it does very well, and Drew Barrymore is excellent in her part. But someone lost faith in the satire concept and mixed in characters that do NOT belong, such as Tom Green's "Chad" and Matt Le Blanc's standard dope. They turn the tone from satiric to spoof to silly lower case Saturday night Live skits -- a feeling capped off by Bill Murray's lounge-lizard performance as "Bosley." Too bad.
Showcase for Stowe
Madeleine Stowe gets a rare opportunity to carry a film and she makes the most of it. She is crisp, intelligent, vulnerable, and thoroughly believable. And sparks fly between her and Aidan Quinn who is excellent in an offbeat role. This is a tight little thriller with its share of red herrings and twists.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
By-the-numbers mechanical comedy
Sally Field is totally wasted in this by-the-numbers comedy. Williams has fun in drag, but he thinks out loud, painstakingly, and much slower that the audience. Everybody in the movie is immature, and everyone but the children are stereotypes. Pierce Brosnan is perfectly at home, and perfect in this environment. Harvey Fierstein has a nice supporting bit, but overall, I was disappointed in this one.
Fast Break (1979)
Kaplan at his zenith in perfect video movie
This is the perfect role for Gabe Kaplan and he makes the most of it as a wise-guy citified coach coming to an Oral-Roberts-like white-bread evangelical university to bring a winning basketball coach. Every body has a lot of fun all around and things move rather quickly. Bernard King has astonishingly good coming timing and acts well too.
El último día de la guerra (1970)
Okay WWII effort
George Maharis and a Spanish-Italian cast don't inspire confidence, but for a low-budget international effort, this is actually poignant and insightful in spots. The dubbing is inconsistent and annoying however, so any one who has the option of watching and understanding the Spanish-language version should do so.
An Inspector Calls (1954)
Brilliant, whimsical, and unsettling
Alistair Sim is brilliant in the title role. This is a filmed stage play, but in absolutely the best possible connotations of the phrase; it gives the viewer the sense of intimacy and participation one gets from watching live theater. The tale itself basically combines a bit of "Tales From The Unexplained" with Noel Coward and Aesop's Fables with a dash of Hitchcock for good measure. More than that I shall not say except all four of the family members' supporting performances are excellent. When this inspector calls, he is not soon forgotten.
And Then There Were None (1945)
Masterpiece by Rene Clair
Rene Clair weaves the quintessential spider web with brilliant camera work including unusual but effective angles, snappy dialogue, and magnificent performances by ten impeccably cast artists. The viewer is drawn into the anxiety, claustrophobia, terror, and resignation felt one-by-one by each of the twelve weekend "guests" of Mr. Owen. Any mystery, suspense or thriller fan will be incomplete without seeing this work of absolute genius. My score: 10+/10.
Our Town (1940)
Beautiful and poetic movie blends great score, direction and acting into a symphonic ode to small-town life in turn-of-the-century America. This movie is purely about the poetry behind human trials and tribulations. It is also a marvelous time capsule that should be shown to any literature class transmitting perfectly the soul of pre-war America. I recommend it as a family movie to all.
The rest of this review deals with the other reviewers since it has been made clear by what I have read that the IMDB "no spoilers" rule strangely does not apply to Our Town. True, the movie was no more Thornton Wilder's play than Yentl was Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story or Educating Rita was Willy Russell's play or Christine was Steven King's book to name just three which were radically changed to accommodate the director's vision of what a movie based on these materials should say to the moviegoing audience. King has said words to the effect that, "(paraphrasing...) My book is my book. When I sell my rights to the movie-makers to use my book as a platform for a film, it is precisely that which I do. The movie is not my book any more than How The West Was Won is history. It is merely the participating artists' vision of the source material." The late James Michener has voiced similar opinions.
Admittedly, others like Gore Vidal have felt damaged when three lines were omitted. They view their text as sacrosanct. My suggestion to them is to emulate J. D. Salinger. If you don't want your work changed, do not sell the rights; a movie is not a book or a play; it is a movie.
For what it is worth, I had read the play first, was depressed by it, and was personally surprised, delighted, and enraptured by the lyrical ending which, to me, remained more true to the entire spirit of the movie (a la Sam Wood's Goodbye Mr. Chips -- still one of my all-time favorites, also not 100% true to James Hilton's book)than the original bummer ending would have, since the tone had been lightened and lyricized throughout. But, this is what artistic expression and interpretation is all about. Different eyes, minds, and hearts see and interpret the same things differently. Sam Wood, like Thornton Wilder, was an artist, not a mechanic, as were the other artists involved in the movie. What lives is their interpretation of the source material to make a movie that is an ode to small-town American life rather than Wilder's essay on the unbearable lightness of being, as it were.