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It's the truth that you should never trust anybody who wears a bow tie. Cravat's supposed to point down to accentuate the genitals. Why'd you wanna trust somebody whose tie points out to accentuate his ears?
I have really gotten into Akira Kurosawa lately. His early movies with Toshiro Mifune and more:
favs: Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Red Beard, the Hidden Fortress, Stray Dog...great movies one and all!
Table 19 (2017)
I really enjoyed this movie!
Sure the plot and script might have been a tad predictable, but, it was an unexpected charmer. A wonderful cast and fun script with many chuckles. It is NOT Separate Tables but it certainly was worthwhile viewing a nice little light comedy that is perfect on a summers night. Table 19 contained the misfits of a wedding but eventually had the most fun and impact on their wedding they were the last to be invited at.
Air Patrol (1962)
Poor Douglas Dumbrille!
I just caught the end of this movie today. With a mind numbing chase between a car driving in the sewers of LA being chased by a police helicopter. In the movie, Grease, we had the same sewers used for a drag race...sans water. This time, poor Doug is driving a big old station wagon..with a ton of water..how is the car not flooded out because it was up to the door panel and over. Then Doug gets out of the car and climbs into the Sepulveda dam from the sewers leaving his car for some crazy teens to steal. The chopper lands on the dam...and the cop runs inside to immediately run into Doug with his booty from a kidnapping. So, Dumbrille, who is about 100 yrs old..actually 73, outruns the flatfoot cop who is in his twenty's. They make DD climb a ladder to try to escape after running lugging the briefcase with the dough. The cop chases him up the ladder and outside where DD is trapped..no where to go and no gun...the cop then plugs DD who then falls back into the sewer..in a death defying stunt. Another cop shows up and the shooter says lamenting..'he wouldn't stop'. He was a thousand years old for godsakes! Then he shoots him!!! Great fun, wish I had dvr'd it, worthy of the old MST3000!
The Pacific (2010)
I suppose we can't please everyone but I thought it lacked...
cohesion and purpose. Why did they go to Guadalcanal? Why did they go to Pelielu? What were the importance of those/all of those island invasions where so many men lost their lives? Instead, we see time spent on the soldiers private lives, shagging Ozzie girls and women, shagging Hollywood stars,..not sure, that should have been the focus or why not having them shag natives and getting diseases that would impact the rest of their lives? I just thought 'some' time should have been given to explaining the reason for the seasons. Certainly, the grunts didn't know where or why they were going, they certainly knew WHAT they were to do.
That being said, I did like the program, I just thought some strategy should have been given to the viewers, so they could understand WHY these islands were important. In fact, it has been debated that Peleilu was a battle that needn't have been fought and that taking that island was a MacArthur decision that over-rided the Navy's game plan for not taking Pelielu and taking back the Pacific.
Discussing something along those lines would have been very informative to the viewer. I'm just saying.
Gold of the Seven Saints (1961)
I think I am really a Gordon Douglas fan!
Too bad this movie was filmed in color. I think the visuals would have been magnificent and improved the overall acceptance of this movie. Basically, it's a poor man's version of The Treasure of Sierra Madre. The movie has a fine cast that features Clint Walker, a very young Roger Moore, Chill Wills, the venerable Joe Fuller company actor: Gene Evans, and the always first rate: Robert Middleton...who was really kind of wasted in this one. Walker and Moore are fur traders turned gold miners...that strike the big one. They need another pack horse to lug in their haul...and this is how the trouble starts when Moore pays with a gold nugget as he is caught trying to steal a horse. What then happens the boys try to bring in their haul...followed by some ominous characters led by Evans. The two are trapped and attacked by Evans crew..when Wills enters to save the day as a doctor, gunslinger, gun for hire...
If you could put things in perspective for the comparative between Treasure: Clint would be the Tim Holt character Moore, Bogey's Fred C Dobbs...with less psychological traits...you could tell they wanted to play that paranoid card with Moore but Douglas must have decided to downscale that angle. Wills would be the Walter Huston character Middleton the Mexican bandito...and Evans the more deceptive, murderous twist on the theme.
Anyway, the movie was very good and worthwhile viewing. The location shooting added to the movie and in color would have been glorious. For a Warner Bros movie that often reeked of other films footage spliced in to cut costs, this was a darn good western. Highly recommend seeing. I gave it a 7/10
Let It Ride (1989)
This movie is one of my guilty pleasures
You know it never ceases to amuse me. The character development, or lack there of, isn't deep, but, it is thorough enough that we have an empathy for the characters. This is one of Dreyfuss' better roles and he plays it with aplomb. The other Runyanesque cast of characters we find at the track are colorful and charming, with excellent performances by Robbie Coltrane, Terri Garr, Jennifer Tilly, David Johansen and Joe Roselius, among others.
I think what appeals to me about this film is that the good guy 'wins'. As American's it is our nature to 'love' winners and when we find a sympathetic nice guy who is having 'a very good day'. Well, we root for him and wish him well.
This is a fun little movie that I strongly recommend if your looking for some light fair to enjoy a few smiles.
Ride the High Country (1962)
One of the greatest Westerns ever made...period.
I have always liked this movie from the very first time I watched it at the Killearny Drive In back in the summer of 62. It starred two of my favorite cowboy stars...Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea.
Today, for the umpteenth time, I watched it again. It keeps getting BETTER and BETTER with each viewing. Today's viewing had me blown away by the incredible script. The dialog in this movie...is INCREDIBLE. The scenes and plot are so beautifully meshed it astounds. Peckinpah deals with honor and ideals compromised by circumstance, loyalty, the difficulties of doing the right thing in an unjust world AND redemption. Well, it is not only a great western but a great MOVIE. The script was written by two journeyman, hack if you will, screen writers N.B. Stone and Bob Williams, whose credits were mainly TV scripts and Peckinpah himself. Listen to that script and you will be enriched by literate, logical and intelligent conversations.
The box office for this movie: was modest at best and got no build up from the studio. One studio exec fell asleep during the initial screening then promptly stated the movie was not only boring but the worst movie he had ever seen or slept through. So the film was released with little fanfare. However, the movie in Europe not only got it's proper reception it killed at the box office and one numerous best picture credits at film festivals ahead of films like Fellini's 8 1/2.
In today's viewing I especially liked the showdown between McCrea and Scott as Scott's Gil character try to rob the money that McCrea had sworn to bring back. McCrea orders the kid, played by Ron Starr..whose career fizzled sadly after this movie, to drop his gun...then he walks up into Scott's face and backhands him...then steps back and challenges him: You always fancied yourself faster than me...well now is your chance...Draw...Draw you tin horn. Scott, either won't shoot his friend or was intimidated by the righteousness of McCrea...unbuckles his belt. McCrea: Thats' the second mistake you made tonight Gil, there won't be another. It was AWESOME!
I am watching this movie and I am thinking these writers had to read Tolkien because it just kept getting better and better with the battles and crisis that kept coming...first it's the girl, then her wedding, then the Scott..Edgar Buchanon confrontation...another jewel of a scene; then Scott and the kid against Steve, then its the Hammonds, then its the Kid and Steve; the Hammonds again...then Gil and Steve vs the Hammonds...it was FANTASTIC...this beautifully scripted movie was then painted on a canvas of fall colors in the Mountains of the Old West..or near dying Old West.
If you haven't seen this movie, then do yourself a favor and rent it, buy it, steal it...it is not only one of the great westerns ever made but one of the great movies ever made too. I gave this film a 10/10...right now it is rubbing shoulders with The Searchers as one of the greatest westerns ever made for my money. It is, for my money, Peckinpah's greatest film, Ride the High Country was/is a masterpiece.
Filmed in: California...Inyo National Forest, Bishop, CA along with other California locales.
The Outstanding Cast consisted of:
L.Q. Jones John Anderson
John Davis Chandler Warren Oates
Trivia: the movie was initially intended to star John Wayne and Gary Cooper..with Cooper playing the McCrea character. Cooper died before filming began. A remake was intended with Charlton Heston and Clint Eastwood but that remake never came to fruition.
I really enjoyed this coming of age movie, set in WWII Italy.
It is quite similar to the fantastic Summer of '42, that starred Jennifer ONeill. This Italian coast version starred the stunning Monica Bellucci, as the object of the local teens and adult males fantasies. If god placed a more beautiful woman on this earth, mine eyes have yet to see her! Poor Malena, first her husband, a lieutenant in the Italian Army is lost and presumed dead. She is the object of much scandal from the local townspeople and when the poor girl needed their help the most they turned their collective backs on her. Every male sexual predator in the town did favors for her...for her favors. Some she gave, some were taken without her consent. The young boy that witnesses all this, Renato, sees how all fortunes has dealt the woman is bad luck and heartbreak, ending in humiliation for being a Nazi lover. The girl had to do something to eat. Renato character was excellent and showed the proper lust and compassion for the woman of his fantasies and dreams. When the MIA husband returns to find his family home a refugee shelter and no Malena, the boy as delicately as he could word it, told the news to the husband that his wife had HAD to do what she did to survive. That the towns people were all jealous and liars about her. I gave the film a 7-10, I would have liked to have given it a higher mark but it was never quite readily explained WHY the village women had hated Malena before tragedy had struck her. They acted like she wasn't one of them, yet, her father was a teacher in the town's school? Otherwise, a charming, sensual story well told, acted and equally photographed. If you want a meatier, Summer of 42 melodrama this is your movie.
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
I REALLY wanted to like this movie...spoiler
The cast was promising, John Payne, Preston Foster, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Jack Elam and Coleen Gray. But, I am afraid the script and the direction, Phil Karlson, just dropped the ball for me. I know that certain movies overlook plot failures, which some people think add to a movie's allure, but not me. It just reeks of amateurism and dilutes the quality of real craftsmanship when we accept blunders as 'uniqueness' rather than what they are.
First, the case of the missing driver? there are four men involved in a bank robbery. FOUR...yet, when they drive their getaway truck into a semi-tractor trailer...the four...FOUR are all in the trailer as the brains of the operation gives each some dough to tied them over until they split up the loot...then, has one of the gang(Elam)..jump off the moving truck...Ah, whose driving the tractor trailer...automatic pilot? Second, the case of the open and shut door?
when Elam's character meets the boss in his hotel room. The boss sees him in the mirror of his dresser, as he puts on his mask. Yet, has to open the bedroom door to enter the room with Elam? How did we see Elam enter the room? Third, the case of the missing boat captain? When Foster's character meets his buddy on the dock...Foster is seen jumping off his boat to tie it to the dock. You hear in the background the motor revving up and shutting down by itself? Four, I meet you in Mexico? Foster writes his buddy in KC to come down to Mexico. When he arrives he tells him he is about to break the KC bank job. I contact you when I have them all set up...okay, I am Foster's best friend, he invites me to Mexico..which, I immediately drop what I am doing and go down to visit...then we don't hang around with each other? sure... Five: I think he is in TJ? Elam's character literally jumps off a moving tractor trailer, with secret instructions and money to stay in TJ. But, Payne's war buddy, brother...KNOWS were Elam is and just follow the crap games and chain smokers and you'll find him? Why didn't the cops figure that one out..follow the cigarette butts to Elam?
I like John Payne, but when he tries to act tough, he always speaks under his breathe and it got annoying. Elam and Van Cleef were Payne's punching bags in this movie. Only, Foster, Gray-under utilized and Brand came out of this one with some distinction.
So, I am sorry but this movie really sucks and should be on MST3000 instead of having some pretty prestigious grade by IMDb. I prefer to honor films that deserve more distinction than this one.
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Narrow Margin, film noire at it's rock bottom BEST!
I wanted to watch this movie because it starred Charles McGraw. McGraw, the granite jawed, raspy voiced actor who starred and co-starred in crime dramas in the forties and fifties. It was McGraw's star vehicle but the real star was the script, cast and direction in one of the best film noires ever made. The movie might have been cheap to make but the script won't betray the economy of making the movie. The audience is taken through a roller-coaster ride of plot twists, betrayals, and murder, within the first fifteen minutes of the show, McGraw's sidekick, Forbes', is shot to death. The storyline is basically, two LA detectives are sent east to Chicago, to escort a witness for the prosecution. The witness, a dead crime lords wife, the woman played by Marie Windsor, is a hard boiled dame that is scared for her life. With partner killed, McGraw gets the dame on-board a train to LA. The gist of the movie takes place upon this train, as the gang of criminals are trying to kill the woman before she can testify. What was really cool about this movie was the black and white film and the various camera angles and shadows that give film noire it's name. If Marie Windsor is not on your all-time list of Film Noire Queen's she had better be soon. Not only does she fit the requirements when it comes to a figure and face, but the little gal can act too! If you want to see a perfect example of what a smallish budget, clever direction and topflight script can do, run do not walk to the nearest DVD stand and watch: The Narrow Margin!
I cannot give this movie the high rating IMDb has given it for many reasons.
First and foremost, I love Kurosawa films. He is in my opinion one of the world's greatest film makers, bar none. His ability to tell compelling stories is legendary. So, when I rate this movie a 5, I do so only because of respect to Kurosawa, if it were someone else I would rate it even lower. The reason I am disappointed with this movie is because of the horrendous editing that left the viewer, me, wondering why so many characters reacted to different situations. I think a person who understands this film has had to have read Dostevyski's novel because he certainly didn't 'get it' from viewing the film. I have been told that the studio whacked half of the film on the editing room floor. In so doing, the studio left the viewer in a lurch as to why things happened, more-so in the beginning of the movie than the end...but, it requires too much to ask of an audience to understand or infer what is going on with the movie when it should be crystal clearly developed and the audience should KNOW why things happen, rather than guess. Kurosawa is by far too good a communicator to have knowingly allowed or directed this in a fashion that the audience is lost, which is exactly how I felt after viewing this movie...lost, lost in translation, lost on the editing room floor.
A great story that a Mayan historian would appreciate!
Mel Gibson is fast becoming one of the great cinematic storytellers of our generation. In Apocalypto he recreated a jungle Mayan tribe. With an exquisite eye for detail and a fantastic camera work. We go hunting with our idyllic tribe and meet the various hunters and their families. One hunter, Jaguar's Paw, has a spiritualness about him, its this inner-sense that will later save his life. Gibson's tribe is pillaged by Mayan's from the city on a slaver/sacrifice raid. Jaguar Paw is the first to sense something was wrong. He saves his own family but goes back to help his family and friends. In that effort he is captured. Gibson takes us through the jungle to a huge Mayan city. Where we come upon limestone mines. The Mayans used limestone to path their streets and to use on their great buildings. At first, we think our tribe is going to be used for slave labor. But, no, the actual mining for limestone has corrupted the soil and the Mayan city is starving.
Our tribe is brought to a sacrificial temple where they are offered to the gods as sacrifice to get their crops to grow. There are graphic scenes of organs being pulled from bodies and beheadings. But, in the true Mayan and Aztec societies, these rituals could have been even more barbaric. So, Gibson could have went even further and been historically accurate but, he didn't, and we got the message.
When our friend, Jaguar's Paw, is brought to the sacrificial altar a total solar eclipse happens and our tribe is seemingly spared from the altar. Only to be used as target practice for the Mayan warriors. This too, is another historically correct sequence, where warriors honed their craft on captured Indians. Our surviving tribe members are told that if they get past the cornfield at the end of the stadium, they are only moments from the jungle and their freedom. Reminiscent of the great Cornell Wilde's Naked Prey.
I strongly recommend you watch this film. It's an amazing story told by Gibson with a surprise ending in keeping with our historical theme!
Julius Caesar (1953)
Marlon Brando was amazing
When I first started to pay attention to movies. Marlon Brando was NOT the most popular actor around. I saw him in Mutiny on the Bounty and later in One Eyed Jacks, neither of which were anything more than longwinded melodramas to a kid in his early teens. I had not seen Brando as a must see actor, like John Wayne or even Elvis Presley for that matter. Then I discovered On the Waterfront and was amazed at his emotional talent. This month was Marlon Brando month on Turner Classic Movies. Martin Scorcese, in a related interview to the Brando special feature, recommmended that you should watch Brando in his first five films to get an idea of how talented he really was. I watched, The Men, and was mesmerized by his ability to show passion, especially, anger and I mean anger! You can see his face and voice and body contort when he is at a loss for a word and erupts in physical anger and lashes out, unlike anything I had ever seen before on the screen. I watched him play Stanley Kowalski, in Streetcar Named Desire. A movie I had not really watched before and had not taken its turn on late night TV due to its subject matter. He was Stanley Kowalski, an animal of base instincts and passions. He chewed the scenery, he was a timebomb, ticking with the basic tenets of eat when your hungry, sleep when your tired, drink, bowl and play cards with your buddies, have sex when you want it. I have never seen a performance like that on screen, EVER. I have been watching movies for fifty something years.
I had seen previously, On the Waterfront and the Wild One, both tour de force Brando films. Then, I just watched Julius Caesar, and it completely blew me away...completely. My Stanley Kowalski, Terry Malloy, et al was not spouting the Bard of Avon, and not just reading the lines...he was Marc Antony. In the great eulogy of Caesar...friends , Romans, Countryman, lend me your ear. He was talking to the crowd in this brilliant interpretation of Shakespeare, where he not speaking these great lines, like a puppet, he was speaking to his audience and communicating. He diction and speech were impeccable. His mumbling was non-existent. I was and still am in AWE of his performance. It was BRILLIANT. I am awaiting Viva Zapata to complete my quest. I cant wait to see what Brando has in store for me! Do yourself a favor. To get the full impact of this fellow, Marlon Brando, watch his performances in chronological order, starting with The Men. You will then know why Brando was America's greatest film actor. # On the Waterfront (1954) .... Terry Malloy # The Wild One (1953) .... Johnny Strabler/Narrator # Julius Caesar (1953) .... Mark Antony ... aka William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar # Viva Zapata! (1952) .... Emiliano Zapata # A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) .... Stanley Kowalski # The Men (1950) .... Kenneth 'Ken' Wilcheck/'Bud'
Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938)
Mr. Moto is one bad hombre!
I have recently gotten into watching the Mr. Moto series and what a treat I have discovered. Peter Lorre's diminutive Mr. Moto was an exceptional series. The series was created by the studio to compete with the Charlie Chan series and compete it did even gaining as much popularity as Oland's Charlie Chan. Now, you can't really call Kenjaro Moto, a detective,because, he is an art collector, an archaeologist, an international police person, he is what ever the episode has him being. What he is is entertaining. The soft spoken Moto, has a mean streak in him a mile wide too. No shooting the gun out of the hand of the villain...he shoots to kill. If guy comes at him with a knife...they get it back..MULTIPLE times. Shocking, really, in his ruthlessness and overt violence when dealing with crooks. This particular film has him playing a Nippon Indiana Jones type on a dig. When a female aviator, an Amelia Earhart type, whose a spy, on an around the world trek, deliberately crashes her plane near Moto's Tell. A film crew captures the plane crash on film...while shooting crocodiles in the nearby river. Kind of an interesting scene, rather unique too, one of the characters falls out of the boat in the crocodile infested waters. Of course, they were alligators, but the stunt man was at one end of the canoe and two 'live' alligators were at the other, those bad boys can fly in the water and it took some brave stunt man to hop in there with them.
Anyway, the plot involves a revolution in a tiny Asian..Siamish type country that was French controlled. Moto disguises himself as a Tibetan monk guru...and when you see him...you will know, where they came up with the character...Yoda, in the Star Wars series. There was some similarities to the Indiana Jones..Temple of Doom too. Lucas and Spielberg HAD to be watching Mr. Moto sometime. Of course, Moto puts out the mini revolt before it starts, blows up the ammunition dump...after throwing the Rajah down into the powder room..head first. The good guy gets the girl. Moto diffuses a revolution and all live happily ever after. Good cast, crisp direction, back lot adventure of the highest quality. The Mr. Moto series was as popular as Charlie Chan back in the thirties and I can see why. I think Lorre's mean streak, flipping guys all over the place, then killing when he had to was more entertaining than the cerebral Charlie Chan, at times. There was also a nice added feature on the life of Peter Lorre. It also stated why he quit the series...to avoid type casting, to get more and better parts AND get more money. He only was paid $10,000 per episode and there were 8 in all. When he found out Warner Oland was making $40,000 per and they were on par, popularity wise...well...Mr. Moto left to all of our losses. Don't miss any of the Mr. Moto series they are fun viewing and Lorre is a real charmer!
WC Fields, Joan Bennett and Der Binger, what a combination for fun!
One of Field's finer cinematic moments as Commodore Jackson, Mississippi Riverboat Pilot. In the first twenty minutes he regales his adoring lady riverboat traveler on his younger days as an Indian fighter of the infamous 'Shug' Indian tribe. When he happened upon a tribe of these fierce Shugs' while portaging his canoe in one hand and carrying a rocky mountain goat in the other. He unsheathed his Bowie knife and drew his revolver...which hadn't been invented yet, but the Shugs' didn't know that, then 'carved his way through a wall of human flesh, dragging his canoe behind him!' The elderly widow said: Commodore you must have been full of fire in your youth!---Fields replies: Why I had to carry fire insurance until I was forty! Funny Fieldsian humor... Bing makes his appearance as a scorned suitor who was sent packing from his fiancée's house because he wouldn't fight a duel over her. He takes a job on the Riverboat as a singer, where he gets into a fight to the death of a rival riverboat pilot, Capt Blackie. Whence Fields now renames Bing...Colonel Steele, the Singing Killah! Bing sings some great songs...Old Folks Home, Me and the River, Easy to Remember, so very hard to forget...music from Rodgers and Hart.
Joan Bennett plays the younger sister of the fiancée, who is in love for Bing/Tom/Col Steele for what he truly is, not what people think he should be. Gail Patrick, plays Elvira, Bings fiancée, who is one gorgeous woman. I believe she played Carole Lombard's older sister in My Man Godfrey...just a beautiful face.
Fun movie, but some objectionable material referring to slaves, lyrics in the song The Old Folks Home, the film was set in the Pre-Civil war south. In one scene, Fields pushes a black carriage driver by mistake. In practice he treated all races the same, and several times he publicly added his voice to the call for racial equality.
Planet Terror--rocked! Death Proof...needs some work!
As promised, Grindhouse delivers the goods with bawdy 60's and 70's flair! Planet Terror was a gore fest of fun! Showing enough T&A spiced with some gruesome horror, action and comedy! Rodgriguez movie worked, it was a thrill a second. Rose McGowan, where have you been?!! The previews were hilarious and promised some great grindhouse coming attractions! Death Proof didn't work quite as well for me. After the first bloody carnage, rather the second bloody carnage, perped by Stuntman Mike, the movie dragged endlessly. Why? Well, this was the reason for me: Hitchcock once stated that you make your audience feel uncomfortable when you place someone in harms way. For instance, a beautiful woman sits down on a park bench. Someone places a bomb underneath the bench, unbeknownst to the beautiful woman. The audience sits, anxiously, in their seats awaiting for the hero or someone or her to find the bomb.' The woman could strip, could do a lap dance, could recite poetry...anything...but the audience won't pay any attention because they are mesmerized by the ticking bomb. Stuntman Mike was that ticking bomb and all the while Tarantino sets up the scene with the second group of girls, in the cafe, in their car...you are waiting for the ticking bomb...Stuntman Mike to appear with another gruesome display of madcap, brutal and gruesome carnage. So, all the while the gals are talking, I am not paying any attention to those scenes and the movie appears to drag.
All in all, I would say this was a fun movie to go see. Though, be leery of the length of this movie. I missed one of the prevues because I HAD to dash to the restroom so I wouldn't miss any of the full second feature. I paid $9 bucks to see this flick...which I thought was dreadful...like paying huge dough to see the Stones or some other old group ripping off its fans.
The Black Dahlia (2006)
I really wanted to like this movie, but I just couldn't, it was far too slow
there was little character development that made any sense and you didn't really feel any compassion for the characters, in one way or the other. The story moved at a snails pace which is a huge problem for me. Elroy's LA Confidential, another 'great period piece' for post war LA was far more entertaining. This could have been also but I fear DePalma's direction was the problem as the storyline just floated along. Here is one thing that really bugged me too: Hartnett's haircut..why didn't he cut his hair according to the style of the times..it looked completely out of place. I did like the cinematography, the sound effects gave it a certain edginess too that gave it some charm. But for some reason, I missed the point where Hartnett's sidekick became obsessed with the Black Dahlia. Probably, because I couldn't sit in my seat any longer and had to go to the lavatory. If your going to have an epic flick...how about an intermission for the audience!
Lonesome Dove (1989)
For my money, Lonesome Dove, was the greatest TV mini-series of all time!
I have avoided regular network television like the plague, since I first discovered cable TV and now satellite. I worked for a newspaper back when LD was first coming to TV. I happened to read a review by our local TV critic. I called him and asked him...how good is this series...he said...it was an epic! So for the four or five nights that the Dove was on...I watched as true to life a story of the American west that I have ever seen. The characters of Gus and Coll were larger than life and conveyed the toughness and the kindness you had to exhibit to live in those rugged years. I have read here on IMDb that the script was written for John Wayne and James Stewart..and Henry Fonda. But, neither Wayne nor Stewart liked it. Then it was decided to be a TV mini series and Duvall was initially supposed to play Coll...then James Garner came on board and the roles were reversed. Then Garner became ill...then Jon Voigt was signed then backed out...and finally...Coll was to be played by Jones. In my estimation, they could not have come up with a better cast of characters television can convey. As a historian of Plains Indians and the West, I found the true to life saga of Lonesome Dove, to be equal to the greatest western film ever made: The Searchers. Life was simple and the scales of justice were indeed blind...simple..if you road with an outlaw, you died with an outlaw. No judge, jury or prison...it was to the strongest tree and matters were settled post haste. I strongly recommend this TV series for both educational and entertainment purposes for the whole family. Though the scenes are too graphic for little ones and the subject matter of 'pokes' aren't for the prurient. I believe when you watch this series you will discover how a great storyteller like Larry McMurtry paints a picture of the old west..with the gang from the Hat Creek Cattle Company. Based on true characters. It galvanized the positon of Robert Duvall as one of American theaters finest actors. It rejuvenated the career of Tommie Lee Jones; gave some acting chops to Ricky Shroeder; Danny Glover as Dietz was saintly. The Hat Creek Cattle Company shall never die..as long as we continue to share: Lonesome Dove. Television at it's finest.
Cinderella Man (2005)
I just watched a sneak preview of CM...and I: Loved it!
If you think your going to just a boxing movie you have underestimated the story of James J. Braddock. Damon Runyan, the great scribe who specialized in writing about the unusual characters that spiced the stories of life in New York, thought the true story of James J. Braddock...the Jersey fighter with a heart that wouldn't quit...to be that of a Cinderella story. Braddock, a successful light heavyweight fighter in the late 20's career took a dive with the stock market...and soon, instead of leading the fat life of a successful professional boxer...lost his skills due to injury and his money to the depression. So, we see the beginning of the movie with Braddock, a dedicated family man...knocking out Tuffy Griffith, ironically, I almost jumped out of my theater chair...for Mr Griffith was in my fathers Marine Corps outfit in WWII. As Braddock returns home to his lovely wife, finely portrayed by Rene Zellwiger, he is seen taking off his watch, after the 1929 fight. We are transported in time to four years later...and the suburban home is replaced by a shanty tenement in Jersey, where Braddock and family are faced with the harsh reality of living in depression era America. Not enough food for his family or enough milk for them to drink...Braddock is now a club fighter...routinely getting beaten by lesser opponents for fifty dollar purses. His last fight was deemed no contest as Braddock breaks his hand in three places but continues to fight on..until the ref stops the contest. Braddock's purse was withheld and his hand placed in a cast...with no money or steady work...services are disconnected and the final humiliation, his wife has to send their children to other family members to survive. The harsh reality of depression pulls no punches and Braddock and his family and religion/faith, is ultimately put to the test. Forced to beg in the club at Madison Square Garden..he needed forty dollars to get his electricity turned on and have his family returned. Crowe, one of the finest actors around to day...was again magnificent as the genuinely honest and modest Braddock. Whose Cinderella story is a remarkable tale told masterfully by Ron Howard. Go see it and see it often... I just watched the actual Baer vs Braddock heavyweight championship fight and the clowning, talkative Baer did just that...he was penalized for low blows and backhanding tactics in the fight...Baer took Braddock for granted and paid the price with his title. Also note, that Braddock lost his title to Joe Louis. For Louis to get the fight he had to give 10% of all his future fight earnings to Braddock. I don't think that deal was arranged by Braddock...but more his manager.
The Black Camel (1931)
I loved 'The Black Camel'
I must forewarn, one and all, I love murder mysteries. I am also a huge fan of the Earl der Biggers character, Charlie Chan. They are rather formulaic with their always being a young lovebirds involved in each case. The handsome young man in this one...was Robert Young's first starring role. The cast included Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye, apparently they had become a tagteam of sorts. Their movie Dracula had come out earlier that year. Bela played a famous mind reader that was in Hawaii on business. We meet Warner Oland, my personal favorite Charlie Chan, casing the mind reader, trying to disguise himself as a Chinese business man. Of course, Bela sees right through the charade and deduces that Charlie is really a policeman...Charlie warns Bela that they don't care for ripoff artists on the islands. Bela tells Charlie that they are both mystics...Chan investigates the past, while he investigates the future. The movie was full of plot twists and red herrings. The direction was crisp and the acting first rate. Though, in today's world of political correctness, the Asian stereotypes would be and are inappropriate...if one can overlook accepted bias' from eons ago...you can enjoy one of the first Charlie Chan's ever made. I believe Charlie Chan Carries On is the first episode of Charlie Chan, portrayed by Warner Oland...this is the second episode and one well worth your time to watch.
Sin City (2005)
Sin City a grand tour de force of violence and mayhem..and great viewing.
I should preface that I love film moire and this genre. So, when I saw it the other day I was really struck by Mickey Roarke's performance. He played one mean s.o.b. and when he promised toughness, he delivered with style. If ever a movie role was specifically geared for an individual Marv = Mickey Roarke were born to play each other. The movie, itself, was fast paced and action packed. There were some nice performances turned in by Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Benedicio del Toro, Nick Stahl and Jessica Alba...who is one sensual young woman.
The story involves a couple cops trying to stop a serial child rapist and murderer, who happens to be the Senator's son. The Senator is brother of the real crime lord of Sin City...the Catholic bishop who has his fingers and tongue on all things evil in Sin City. This crime lord..literally, is played by the venerable Rutger Hauer whose pet friend is the mute Elijah Wood...Frodo freaks out in this movie and plays this bizarre, mute killer that cooks his victims and shares his meals with Rutger...
There is definitely a battle between evil and eviler in this movie. The protagonists all have their flaws but they all have character and all take turns shining in this unusual movie.
I gave it a strong 8 stars and definitely worth seeing but NOT with the little kiddies or the squeamish...enjoy
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
This movie could have been spectacular!
I really don't think this critique is a spoiler, but rather a bitter disappointment. This movie had all the earmarks of being another Rocky or even BETTER. But, somewhere Clint lost his vision on this movie. This film started out as an insiders look into the goings on of professional boxing. It was really interesting to see the skill and technical aspects of boxing brought out by an interesting storyline of a young girl, who is literally fighting her way out of poverty and trying to make a place for herself. Hilary Swank was fantastic in this movie, though most of her lines were standard Hollywood fair...she did the best she could with the script presented her. Her physical prowess was and is unbelievable...she really is a knockout. Morgan Freeman turned in one of his finest performances to date. His repartees with Clint were special. His compassion for the plight of his fellow boxers was special. He is totally deserving of an Oscar nod for this performance. Clint Eastwood as actor/director turned in his now stock old tough guy performance...Gunny Hightower goes boxing...same gruff voice that is supposed to have one believe he is an old lion, still ready to bite. Though his ongoing debate with the local parish priest was humorous. I didn't see anything special from his performance and found the Hightower experience annoying. Clint as director...oh my god. Your filming a boxing movie, that is really interesting, informative and realistic. Your in the squared circle, describing to those who are unaware, the sweet science of boxing, the subtleties and the nuances of balance, grace, defense, footwork, training, the usage of speed bags, the heavy bag...etc..then you tell the story of a women in boxing, a true advent of the awakening of the woman as athlete, in sports that were deemed for men only, and you tell it well. But, the dreaded 'but' word, you take a carnival, cheesy Hollywood spin on the sport you are so compellingly telling. WHY? WHY? WHY? Instead of showing a championship fight where a fighter can and DO get hurt, unfortunately, you disgrace the sport with a comedic mockery that is something you might see from a Hollywood B minus movie. What a schlockfest. Then the hospital scenes should have been saved for 'Snow White Goes to the Snake Pit'. Have you know shame? The despicable scenes in the hospital are too felonious to mention. All I can say is for the traumatized paraplegics that fight for their breathes every single second of every day. Praying for a miracle and that modern science can one day help them. For them you should be ashamed of your ending. I was sickened by this cheap, lowbridge schlockfestival. If ever you could wish for a Hays Commission...or someone to put smelling salts under Eastwoods nose...this would have been it. I don't normally write bad reviews for a movie, but one piece of cow manure like this is hoisted up as some pretense to wave the Clint Eastwood flag...shame on you. For this film to be placed in contention for an Oscar is a disgrace to the Academy and the awards they represent.
The Aviator (2004)
In a virtual drought of good movies for 2004---this is the best I've seen this year!
It is always a difficult thing to film a biography without beatifying the subject. In this movie, Scorcese shows us the Howard Hughes, the charmer, the Hollywood maverick, the Aviator. He also shows the demons that haunted and eventually possessed this great maverick! What Hughes accomplished was only overshadowed by what he could have been if he were able to control his neurosis that eventually overwhelmed him. I thought Leonardo gave one of his finest performances of his young career. The Aviator is a case study of one of the 20th Centuries most influential and most powerful men in this country. It also provides a snapshot into his personal life that shows him as a Hollywood playboy and publicity hound, but only to eventually promote his beloved Hughes Air/TWA. But, it truly conveys his real passion for flying and aviation. I strongly recommend this film as one of the better films of the year...if not the best, that I have personally seen! Its a little longish so don't drink too much soda.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
I was hoping for more...
This was an oddly told story. That narrowly missed being a memorable Christmas movie. Somehow, this movie didn't work for me and I wanted it to work. The premise is how could the Kranks' misread their neighbors so greatly? How could they live next to people for so long and not really know them? Ackroyd's character, the neighborhood busy body...and his son, virtually steal the show from the Kranks'. It was a crime to see so much talent wasted on this movie. It could have been so much better. But, either so much was cutout of the movie or never written in...the losers were the audience. There was no compassion developed between the Kranks and the audience. Only Ms Curtis' character showed any warmth or compassion. Tim Allen seemed to sleepwalk through this movie and called one in.
A fitting conclusion to a wonderful Tolkien story, that Philip Jackson brought to life!
What a grand conclusion to this wonderful story...told to us by Philip Jackson. Three and half hours worth of pure enjoyment. I am not a huge fan of computer enhancements, but in this case, without question, brought to life the dreams of J.R.R. Tolkien. Just a wonderful work, powerfully told and acted. Bravo.
ps..the only complaint I might have is that the length of the film should necessitate a five minute intermission...to allow nature to take her due...and maybe reload on the necessary popcorn and soda, which you SHOULD be reluctant to purchase if your doing a three and half hour marathon!
I really enjoyed this movie.
I must preface that I majored in History, so I am always compelled by an inner drive to watch period pieces. I found this movie to be above the standard old sea battle period piece...in fact, I found this movie to be outstanding at presenting life aboard an HMS at the turn of the 19th Century. I found the sea battles extraordinary in their accuracy and the storyline of Lucky Jack to be very interesting telling, indeed. This movie will play on the small screen as well as the theater..but I recommend catching it in the theaters if you can to get the grand scope. I give this movie 4 1/2 out of a possible five broadsides!!