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Found 25 results

  1. Trivia questions: 1) Which actor or actress in "Trading Places" got elected to the U.S. Senate? 2) Which actor or actress in "Trading Places" had a prominent role in "Breaking Bad?" Roll your cursor over the right of the pictures for the answers (or, click on the pictures first for strong hints): 1) Al Franken 2) Giancarlo Esposito
  2. I just finished watching "Psycho" for the third or fourth time - enough so that I was able to study details instead of worrying about the plot. People can talk about "Citizen Kane," or "Vertigo," or <pick your choice> as "Best Ever," but for me, personally, since "Psycho" scared the holy hell out of me when I was about twelve-years old (introduced by, of all people, Count Gore de Vol - I guess I first saw it in 1973), this is a film that has appealed to my most basal childhood terrors, and also still resonates with me as a 57-year-old man. I suppose the ending is now dated, since *everyone* knows about "what happened," and also the concepts are no longer novel with the audience - in that respect, I can see "Vertigo" remaining fresher in the public eye - but for me, I might have to pick "Psycho" as my all-time favorite movie. Maybe. Here are a couple of interesting details that are in no way spoilers: In Norman's bedroom, there sits on the turntable, of all things, Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Why? Maybe the proximity of the word, which actually means "Hero" and not "Erotica," but if anyone knows for sure, please chime in. When Norman first realizes "what happened," he recoils in horror, knocking a picture of a stuffed bird off the wall and onto the floor. The penultimate person you see in the film, opening and closing the door, is an uncredited Ted Knight: Blink, and you'll miss him:
  3. I have seen a lot of Alfred Hitchcock films, and "Vertigo" is one of my favorites. I can watch this movie over and over, and find something new and interesting each time. My most recent viewing was in the National Gallery of Art East building. I was delighted to see a restored version of this film on the big screen. "Vertigo" has everything I want in a Hitchcock film: suspense, romance, interesting cinematography and a fantastic score. Kim Novak beautifully embodies the iconic Hitchcock heroine--cool, blonde and sophisticated. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as Scottie, the retired police detective with a fear of heights. Critics have written that the way Scottie objectifies Novak's character is emblematic of the way Hitchcock viewed women, making this one of his most personal films. SPOILERS FOLLOW! I live in the San Francisco Bay area, so I also enjoyed seeing the City and surrounding areas depicted in "Vertigo." There is so much to appreciate in this film, but the heartbreaking ending is what resonates most with me. "Vertigo" depicts the objectification of a manipulative and manipulated woman who, in the end, becomes sympathetic and real. The viewer can't help but root for their fatally flawed love to succeed. It is heart-wrenching to watch these two people, who love each other so much, in unbearable pain over what cannot be, and what cannot be undone.
  4. "Sabrina" is often considered one of "My Two Favorite Audrey Hepburn Films" by devout Hepburn lovers (of which I am one - the other film being "Roman Holiday," debuting one-year earlier) - 1953-1954 could be considered a mini Golden Age of Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina (Hepburn) is the young daughter of a chauffeur (played by the eminently recognizable John Williams), who works for a mega-wealthy family living on the North Snore of Long Island (think: "The Great Gatsby"). The two sons in the family are played by Humphrey Bogart (the same year as his Oscar nomination for "The Caine Mutiny") and a very blonde William Holden (one year after his Oscar victory for "Stalag 17") - Hollywood must have spared no expense in getting these three leading actors. Early on, there's an amusing scene about a Parisian cooking school. Without issuing any spoilers for people who are going to watch this classic Romantic Comedy, all I'll say is that "Sabrina," in some small way, can be thought of as a sequel to "Casablanca."
  5. I didn't realize they just began serving breakfast at Tiffany's when I decided two days ago to watch this film for the first time. The timely, food-related connection eluded me. I watched the film because it was free with Amazon Prime AND as a self-professed Audrey Hepburn fanatic, I felt guilty that I hadn't seen it. As I began watching the film, parts seemed familiar (oddly enough, the scenes involving Holly Golightly's unnamed cat), so I think when I was younger it may have been shown on television and I half-watched some of it. This time, I gave "Breakfast at Tiffany's" my undivided attention, and I found it charming and fun. Hepburn is outstanding as party-girl Holly Golightly, and George Peppard is delightful as the struggling writer/gigolo. The movie is silly, stylish and sentimental. There is real chemistry between the stars, and a sweet love story unfolds amid the frenzy and fashion of life in the fast lane in the early '60s.
  6. Since I was a young girl, "Roman Holiday" has been one of my favorite films. It won three Academy Awards: best actress, costume design and screenwriting. I watched it again, and I still love it. It isn't the most complicated story. There aren't any special effects. But the chemistry between Peck and Hepburn is compelling, and the shots of Rome are delightful. The thing that makes this film a classic--the standard by which romantic comedies are judged, and often found lacking--is Audrey Hepburn.
  7. As I've been doing lately with these 2015 Academy Award nominees, I'm writing these posts as I watch the films on Amazon (using X-Ray to obtain some interesting trivia and factoids). So, as I write this about "The Big Short," I haven't even seen the opening credits. Note that Amazon gives you 30 days to begin watching your rental (which you can also cancel), but once you begin watching it, you only have 48 hours to finish - I guess this is reasonable to prevent multiple people from watching one film on one person's account, but sometimes I like to take a little longer - ah, well, compromises need to be made somewhere. Again, I recommend X-Ray for people interested in studying the film, but not for people who are easily distracted, as it could easily be a nuisance - you have your choice of pretending it's not there at all. *** SPOILERS ALERT *** You can probably assume that the rest of this post will contain various degrees of spoilers. I'll start by saying I *love* the film's opening quote by Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." While not entirely true, there is a ring of familiarity to it, I'm sure, affecting us all. Director Adam McKay was Head Writer for Saturday Night Live for two seasons, and has directed comedies in the past (e.g.. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which I'm ashamed to say I found to be quite amusing), but this is his first dramatic directorial debut. This is also the first movie of any kind that McKay has directed without Will Ferrell in the cast, which is surprising, but I really don't know much about McKay. Ferrell also co-wrote all but one of McKay's comedies, so there's definitely a close partnership here. When Dr. Burry went into Goldman Sachs and said he wanted to short the housing market, the song playing in the background was "Money Maker" by Ludacris. You will find multiple, almost random, cameos by some seriously famous people, including one very famous chef. The quote, "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry," is great (and written just for this movie). Boy, if this film doesn't make you want to vote for Bernie Sanders, nothing will. Here are some stats flashed at the end: * 5 trillion dollars disappeared * 8 million jobs were lost * 6 million people lost their homes * And that's just in the United States * 1 person went to jail from Credit Suisse And look where we are today in 2016. I have very strong feelings about whether or not the economy should have "recovered" so quickly after "the worst financial disaster since The Great Depression," but that's for another time, another thread - I pretty much said all I have to say right here.
  8. With Hollywood westerns, a little bit of research goes a long way - in my lifetime, I've had more success with this genre of movie than perhaps any other, all because I do a little research before choosing what to watch. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) is the twelfth of fourteen collaborative westerns with John Ford and John Wayne (the first and ninth, respectively, being "Stagecoach" (1939) and "The Searchers" (1956)). It is perhaps the most beautiful western I've ever seen. Loaded with famous actors, every single major and minor star outperforms in this deceptively sad meditation upon grief, love, and any of a half-dozen other basic human traits, all attending a costume party in what is most likely mid-19th-century Colorado, and cloaked as a moral dilemma involving the death of another human being. Never have I seen John Wayne play a more important part with less screen time than in this film. Jimmy Stewart is clearly the star - he has to be - but it's Wayne who completes this movie, and who transcends himself in a role so touching that you may feel your eyes moisten in what is one of the most poignant endings of any film I've ever seen. A death itself cannot be considered tragic (everyone who has ever lived, has died), but certain deaths are inherently more tragic than others, and when a piece of history is buried alongside an anonymous hero, lost forever to the earth, and made known only to an audience who desperately wants to jump inside the screen and construct a proper memorial - that cannot be considered a romance, or an action film, or even a western; it can only be classified as a full-blown tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. The next time you and your date are hunting around, looking for a movie to watch, remember this thread: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is required viewing for everyone who cares about great film.
  9. *** SPOILER ALERT *** --- Do not read past this point if you haven't seen the movie. In the scene which takes place in Jimmy Malone's (Sean Connery's) house (there's only one in the entire film), shortly before he winds up his Victrola, and the knife-man sneaks in, Amazon X-Ray says "References: 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971)," but it doesn't say how. Furthermore, a ten-minute internet search revealed absolutely no details of any reference to "A Clockwork Orange" during this scene, and I've seen A Clockwork Orange at least five times. Does anyone know what the reference is? Incidentally, this scene contains one of my all-time favorite movie lines - when Jimmy Malone looks up at Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), and with his final bit of energy, choking on his own blood, does his best to scream out (and it's the third time in the movie he says this), "What are you prepared to do?!" I believe it was this single line that might have put Sean Connery over-the-top for winning the Best Supporting Actor Award. Shortly afterwards, at the train station, the "other" scene that everyone remembers from this film is the baby carriage rolling down the stairs backwards. This is a direct homage to the legendary "Odessa Steps" scene from "The Battleship Potemkin" (I've started the video just before it occurs - feel free to rewind and watch the entire scene). Incidentally, even though nobody has picked up on this in twelve years, this post, too, was an homage to the same scene (if you watch to the end, you'll understand why). It was also an homage to bacon; just not that kind of bacon. It was also one of the best posts I've ever written, and can be found in "DonRocks' Greatest Hits."
  10. I feel like I just ate an entire box of Chips Ahoy! cookies. I am so ashamed that I have now watched - and enjoyed - "Jack Reacher," the Tom Cruise action thriller from 2012, but so I did. Sometimes, multiple external factors converge to make you want nothing but the cheapest, most escapist brand of diversion, and such was it with me, and the previews for the Reacher sequel which just came out were enough to reel me in for the most tawdry brand of entertainment there is. And I enjoyed it. This was my beach book, my Robert Ludlum, my Twilight Zone without the historical significance. I'd enter a spoiler alert, except there's nothing to spoil, any more than me taking pictures of the Domino's pizza that arrived, twenty minutes into the film. And I'm kidding about the pizza. But the movie was perfect within its genre, and I'm actually looking forward to the sequel.
  11. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** "True Grit" is a continuance of 'Hollywood Classics which I've never before seen.' It begins with a surprise murder by Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), then a distressingly *non*-surprising gathering at the Courthouse, where they're going to be hanging three men that day. Why people have always wished to gather to witness others being violently killed is beyond my capability of understanding. And in case you think our species has evolved since the days of the Wild West: Aug 14, 2014 - "20,000 Watched the Last Public Hanging 78 Years Ago" by Mark Murrmann on motherjones.com Hating human beings, but loving cats and dogs, is perfectly justified, don't you think? Hey, I have an idea! Let's all have a get-together, and push our kids on swings while three men await their deaths! Anyway, daughter Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) is understandably furious at the murder of her father, Frank Ross (John Pickard). Mattie is one of the witnesses to the public hanging, and thinks the cold-hearted judge (who "flips the switch") is *just* the man she needs to try the murderer of her daddy, and it's hard to blame her. Interestingly, Kim Darby was 21-years-old when she portrayed 14-year-old Mattie - she really does have a youthful appearance. Mattie reveals to us that she's from Dardenelle, in Yell County, Arkansas, establishing the setting of "True Grit." Frank Ross (Mattie's dad) was killed in Ft. Smith, just west of where the courthouse is, and one of the westernmost places in all of Arkansas. A pretty telling scene occurs when the Sheriff tells Mattie that Tom Chaney is now in "Indian Territory," which is out of his jurisdiction, and only U.S. Marshals can pursue him there. He names three of them for Mattie: the best tracker, the most merciless (Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne), and the straightest - Mattie immediately asks the Sheriff where she can find this "Rooster Cogburn" - she's out for vengeance, plain and simple. I'm very curious why Cogburn wears the eye-patch. This seems to have caught on as a generic "tough guy" symbol, and I wonder if this picture had anything to do with it - I suspect some older, pirate-based movie started it before this. Rrrrrrrrrr there any you can think of? Defense attorney Goudy (I didn't name these people) was played by Alfred Ryder, a character actor who was in many television shows, including "The Man Trap" - the first (non-pilot) episode of "Star Trek." (Darby, by the way, had the lead in the "Star Trek" episode "Miri" as the eponymous character - an important role.) In the same scene, there's a man sitting in the very front row of the courtroom, in what can only be described as a "bit part" - non-speaking, uncredited, and only on camera for maybe thirty seconds total. "True Grit," it turns out, was Wilfred Brimley's very first movie, and this is him - I think (but am not sure) that he's the somewhat stocky, somewhat balding man in the beige leather jacket towards the right of the photo: The only reason I even knew he was in here was because Amazon X-Ray listed him - there is *no way* I would have picked this up on my own. Brimley was personal friends with Robert Duvall - who plays Lucky Ned Pepper - and I strongly suspect that's how Brimley got the part - he was born in 1934, so he would have been only 35 when this was filmed. I'm not convinced this man is Brimley, but he's somewhere in the courtroom: When you see this film, concentrate on the initial, extended, one-on-one conversation between Mattie Ross and the Texas Ranger, Mr. La Boeuf (Glen Campbell). This conversation came across as stilted and poorly directed - essentially, an interplay between two inexperienced actors (which they both were) - nevertheless, this one falls on the Director, Henry Hathaway, and he didn't make it work. It didn't ruin the film, of course, but it was simply not a good scene. A very interesting note: I later read, long after I wrote the preceding sentences, in the "Trivia" section of the IMDB website, that Hathaway hated Campbell's performance, calling it "wooden," and only had him in the movie so he could have a hit song associated with it. If this *isn't* the worst scene in the movie, then that worries me. I. Do. Not. Like. Kim Darby in this role. I hope to God she gets better, because I have a feeling this film is going to hinge on her acting abilities. So far, Darby is every bit as "wooden" as Campbell - maybe more so. However, *this* gentleman, Chen Lee (H.W. Gim) knows how to slice bacon! As of right now, I'm 50 minutes into a 2'10" movie, and two of the three leads can't act worth a damn. I know that Duvall is going to show up soon, and so is Dennis Hopper - right now, I'm praying for a miracle, or at least that these two, along with Wayne, can act "louder" than Campbell and Darby - it must be so in order for this to be a good film: fingers, crossed. The film is half over, and we just met two horse thieves: Emmett Quincy (Jeremy Slate) and Moon Dennis Hopper (thank goodness - btw, when is the last time Dennis Hopper has been spotted in a role that involves being very "off?"): Maybe now, we won't have to watch Wayne attempt to carry the entire movie by himself - Wayne was a good actor, but he wasn't good enough to carry a film when he's handicapped with Campbell and and Darby. Well, five minutes later, so much for either Quincy or Moon possibly saving the film. Now, we have to hope for Pepper (Duvall), who will be along shortly. For those of you into biker flicks, Jeremy Slate played the leader of the gang, "The Born Losers," a sub-par but highly influential movie that was the first of the "Billy Jack" enterprise. For those few of you who saw the film, here's a little memory stimulant to help you remember Slate's role, that of gang leader and lead antagonist, Danny Carmody, Billy Jack's (Tom Laughlin's) nemesis and gadfly: With Quincy and Moon gone, and over halfway into "True Grit," I'm painfully reminded that - just as with all the other art forms including the culinary arts, wine, music, and sports - I don't like "movies" per se; I like *good* movies. And so far, this simply isn't one due to the sub-par acting and the plot, which is thus far moving at a snail's pace. Why have I heard so much about "True Grit" throughout my life? I refuse to look until it's over - I'm just going to try and enjoy it, or at least to glean whatever I can from it. The extended, character-developing dialogue that Darby and Cogburn had, about 1:15 into the film, was *so much better* than the dialogue that Darby and La Boeuf had early on, that maybe it was mostly Glen Campbell, and not as much Darby, who was completely devoid of acting talent. I really enjoyed listening to those two talk with each other, and the viewer really learned quite a bit about Cogburn in the process. This is a *very* imposing gang that Pepper has, and that Cogburn, La Boeuf, and Darby are going to have to face by themselves (Duvall is third from the right): The whole, extended attack scene, complete with rattlesnake pit, made up for a *lot* of the film's first half of ennui. It was exciting, dramatic, well-acted by everyone, and just plain fun to watch. In many ways, it might have been an inspiration for "Raiders of the Lost Ark." It is, by far, the high-point of the film, and enough on its own to make the movie arguably worth watching. Yes, it was a long, painful build-up, but it was one heck of an extended piece of suspense - even La Boeuf died a complete hero, winning over the hearts of all viewers. The near-mythical lawyer "Dagget" ended up being played by John Fielder, another famous character actor (who also played in "Star Trek," as Administer Hengst in "Wolf in the Fold.") He, too, deserves his own thread - he has done so much with his career, including being the voice of Piglet in "Winnie the Pooh." Dagget, to a much lesser degree, was to "True Grit" what "Keyser Söze" was to "The Usual Suspects." How do you not at least "like" a film that ends with such a sweet shot?
  12. "Harold and Maude" is not at all what I expected it to be. The film's opening sequence is shocking--dark, twisted and surprisingly funny--and it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Young Harold, brilliantly portrayed by Bud Cort, is an 18-year-old man obsessed with death, desperate for the affection of his self-absorbed mother. Vivian Pickles is wonderful as Harold's detached mom, and the scenes involving the two of them are laugh-out-loud funny. Harold's mother repeatedly tries to set him up on dates, with hilarious, disastrous results. While attending a stranger's funeral, Harold strikes up an unlikely friendship (and later, an even more unlikely romance) with Maude (portrayed by Ruth Gordon), a quirky, 79-year-old woman, who teaches Harold how to live life fully. The scenes portraying their blossoming relationship are well done, believable and touching. A good amount of madcap humor is thrown in, as well. "Harold and Maude" was written and produced by Colin Higgins and features the music of Cat Stevens. It was critically and commercially unsuccessful when it was released, but later developed a cult following, and in 1983 began making a profit. "Harold and Maude" is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute's List of the 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. I think this film was ahead of it's time when it was made. "Harold and Maude" is extremely amusing, but the funniest scenes are also the darkest. Perhaps film-goers and critics of the early '70s were not prepared to see campy humor arise from bleak sources, like attempted suicide. The humor is "Harold and Maude" is dark, rich and delightful. This film made me laugh, and it made me cry. It made me think, and it touched me deeply.
  13. I had never before seen "Ordinary People," a quadruple Oscar winner for 1980 which included the award for Best Picture. This was Timothy Hutton's first major role, and because of that, he was nominated for (and won) the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor even though, in my mind, he clearly had the lead role in this film. I'm not sure how nominees are made, but perhaps it's the motion-picture companies that submit entrants to the Academy for consideration, and Paramount neither billed, nor perhaps nominated, Timothy Hutton as a lead actor due to his inexperience - while Donald Sutherland was extremely strong, it was Hutton who made this film what it was. Mary Tyler Moore, to me, will always be Laura Petrie, and to some, she will always be Mary Richards, both slightly neurotic, but lovable, characters in polar opposite roles (the former, a homemaker; the latter, a career-oriented woman) - but in both cases, slightly neurotic and intentionally a bit silly. I have since seen her in two major roles in motion pictures ("Thoroughly Modern Millie" and now "Ordinary People"), and in both roles, she seemed completely out of her element - yes, she's typecast to me, and there's nothing I can do about it, just as Leonard Nimoy will always be Spock, and therein lies the difference between "bias" and "prejudice" - prejudice is something that is much, much more difficult to overcome, and goes deeper than a simple "preconceived notion." The music in Ordinary People was "composed" (more appropriately, "arranged") by Marvin Hamlisch, and aside from an extremely astute and clever use of Pachelbel's Canon, which clearly represented Timothy Hutton and Friends reliving the same agonies over, and over again, without a logical endpoint, there wasn't much "there" there - in fact, there was a particularly cloying violin solo during a sad moment to which I said, aloud, "They can lose the violin anytime now." Ordinary People is a great movie - whether or not it merits being named "Best Picture" is up for debate, as two of its competitors were, in my mind, *clearly* superior films: "Elephant Man" and "Raging Bull," both of which were not just "great," but transcendent.
  14. Fifteen years before "The War of the Worlds" was released, on Oct 30, 1938, Orson Welles scared the pants off of people with his now-infamous radio broadcast of H.G. Wells 1898 novel of the same name. How many of you knew that this book was actually written in the 19th century? I did not, and that makes me want to read it even more. The movie is available on Amazon Prime, as well as several other sources. Filmed in Technicolor, the film starred Gene Barry (Bat Masterson) and Ann Robinson (the film "Dragnet") as Dr. Clayton Forrester and Sylvia van Buren. The film was narrated by Sir Cedric Hardwicke whom we just saw in "The Lodger." Cecil B. DeMille's first choice to produce this film was Alfred Hitchcock, who declined, so he recruited George Pal ("The Time Machine") as Producer, who chose Byron Haskin ("Treasure Island") as Director, much to DeMille's approval. Hardwicke's opening commentary makes me want to do two things: it makes me want to re-memorize the ordering of our planets (it's ridiculous not to have this mentally available as instant recall (Remember: Outside of Mars, you have - in order of distance from the Sun - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, the #1, 2, 3, and 4 planets in diameter, and the only 4 planets bigger than Earth - if you remember that, everything else will fall into place), and it makes me appreciate how lucky we are to exist on planet Earth, with its optimal conditions for human beings. The fact that we're fucking everything up is a side issue which we can discuss in another thread. See this? One day, it isn't going to mean squat. Fifteen minutes into the movie, at the point where the "meteor" crashed, and its lid began unscrewing, revealing a cobra-shaped probe, the special effects of The War of the Worlds are believable and well-done - very impressive for a 1953 work. I guess we're going to see a lot more of them in the near future, so we'll see how that goes. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Well, so much for the three Earthlings' initial overtures of friendship. Mars draws first blood. And I *love* the juxtaposition of 1950's America with Martian technology when a local looked at the deadly Martian heat ray and exclaimed, "What *is* that gizmo?!" Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At 29:20, the town of Saint Julien is wiped out! No more Super Seconds! Léoville-Las Cases - gone! Ducru-Beaucaillou - gone! Gruaud Larose - gone! And I've invested so much time and money figuring out that Léoville-Poyferré is better than all of them. Oh, God! No Léoville-Barton, no Talbot, no Beychevelle, no Branaire-Ducru, no, no, no. Oh, God, I finally understand how Dustin Hoffman felt. No Saint Julien! Oh, Jesus God, NO! This is also how I feel after waiting for two hours at Lucky Strike, when one of the parties hogging the alleys finally leaves: A lane! A lane! 37 minutes into this 85-minute film, I remain impressed, almost dazzled with its 63-year-old special effects - I just now found out that, out of its $2 million budget, $1.4 million was spent on special effects - and it shows, too: They are outstanding. (I reiterate this is a *** SPOILERS *** section.) Boy, how many movies do you see, especially just eight years after it actually happened, when the U.S. President orders the use of the A-Bomb? And I had absolutely no idea there was even a concept of a "flying wing" in 1953, but the Northrup YB-35 began to be developed during World War II. <--- This is a picture from the movie. And the A-Bomb sequence is very, very well done. I'll tell you what: "Five" may have been the first-ever post-apocalyptic movie ever made, but considering that "The War of the Worlds" came only *two years* after that? Well, let's just say the progress made was remarkable: I'm no expert, but I cannot name an earlier film that I've ever seen that has better special effects than this. Today, special effects are generally to a film's detriment, but 63 years ago? They were SPECIAL effects, and these are magnificently done - I cannot think of a single film before "2001: A Space Odyssey" that has *better* special effects - and that came fifteen years later. Wow, what a surprise ending. I will only say that this *excellent* film was very much ahead of its time, and also very much a *product* of its time. Watch it - you'll not be disappointed unless you're an *extreme* cynic, in which case you *might* be disappointed at the ending, but only if you are, well, an extreme cynic.
  15. I wanted some comfort food last night, so I (re-)watched "Star Trek Generations." This movie has one of my personal-favorite openings of any movie I’ve ever seen (okay, okay, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” might be a tad better), but still: I’m surprised Captain Harriman didn’t offer Captain Kirk the helm when he gave the order to “Take us out” on the Enterprise B - it would have been touching, although the way Kirk is playing his role (at least initially), he’s being a bit aloof, and “touching” isn’t in keeping with his demeanor. Oh my goodness - when Kirk found out there were no photon topedoes, and just now said, “Don’t tell me … Tuesday,” I braced myself for what I fear is going to be some awful filmmaking and acting. This was not funny, it was not cute, it was … for children. (“Computer, remove the plank!” was pretty damned funny.) There is *no way* that Jordi (or Data) would implant the emotion chip without first consulting with Captain Picard. That said, Data “hating his beverage” was highly amusing, in an obvious kind-of way. Picard’s grief scene over the death of his brother and nephew was so well done that every other foible in this movie, at least up until this point, can be forgiven so far. Data’s amusing “Life Forms” song is performed in D-major. Unfortunately, it was negated by his stupid, “Oh, shit” comment. The extended saucer-crash scene was really well-done. I’m certainly no expert at being able to tell whether or not it was realistic, but to these layman’s eyes, it was very much so. I wasn’t even sure I’d seen this movie, but I remember Kirk’s “Oh my” scene like it was yesterday, so I’m certain I saw it upon release. As a film, there isn’t all that much here; as a bonus, extended, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode? I think it’s just keen.
  16. I did it. I rented "Saturday Night Fever." I hadn't seen the entire film since I was in high school, in the movie theater, and wanted to see it again - I remember I liked it more than I thought I would, but that was thirty-nine years ago. At the minimum, the film is an icon of the disco era - really, it's *the* icon of the disco era, and that - in-and-of-itself - is historically important enough to give it a second viewing. It goes hand-in-hand with an important, albeit banal, period of our country's history. I never knew (or didn't remember) that the sequel to "Saturday Night Fever" - "Staying Alive" - was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. Boy, I'll tell you what: Maybe some people can see through this dated, weary film as a "coming-of-age" drama wrapped in disco, but I see it as just plain weary. Yes, it's an icon of an era, but what era? - between "Welcome Back, Kotter," "Saturday Night Fever," "Grease," and "Urban Cowboy," John Travolta was arguably the hottest thing in the late 1970's, but this five-year period - which is when I graduated from high school - is probably *the worst* five-year-period I can think of when it comes to popular film and music. I've always thought that pop culture during my teen years was about as bad as it gets, and re-seeing "Saturday Night Fever" only confirms that. No, it wasn't worse than any other run-of-the-mill rom-com, but run-of-the-mill rom-coms are pretty awful. If *this* film is the cinematic and musical emblem of my high-school years, then that doesn't say much for my high-school years. And to think it took Quentin Tarantino to revive the man.
  17. *** SPOILER ALERT *** (Please do not read this if you're planning on watching the film for the first time.) I haven't seen "Rosemary's Baby" in decades - the only thing I remembered about it was that it starred Mia Farrow giving birth to the devil's spawn, and now that I'm prompted, that it was directed by Roman Polanski. The year that I've recently concentrated on was (coincidentally) Roger Ebert's first year as a critic, 1967, and Rosemary's Baby is from 1968, making it right after what I consider to be one of the most significant years for Hollywood. Incidentally, I've read Ebert more posthumously than I did when he was alive, and although I don't always agree with him, I consider him to be one of the greatest critics in any field that I've ever read. My father used to *love* "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" - "This is the best show on television," I remember him joyfully telling me, repeatedly - as my father became older and more feeble, he rented 2-3 movies a day, every day, for several years - besides my mom, movies were my father's great love when he got older, and he saw more of them than anyone I've ever known. As a second tangent, I remember very well Mad Magazine's movie satire, "Rosemia's Boo-boo" - not the details (I was only 7); just the fact that it existed - the cover is pretty funny: One amazing thing is that Rosemary's Baby only came out five years before "The Exorcist" - it seems like a *lot* longer to me. There are several movies I distinctly remember my parents making a big deal out of going to see: The Exorcist was one, and "The Godfather" was another, both being around the same time. I was "treated" to seeing "2001: A Space Odyssey" when it came out the same year as Rosemary's Baby - I didn't appreciate it at all, but I remember the usher selling pamphlets, walking around the theater before the film started, hawking, "2001: A Space Odyssey, 2001: A Space Odyssey - Get the official brochure for 2001: A Space Odyssey" - it's funny what kids remember, and what they don't, because that had - by far - the greatest impact on me. I don't remember another time when I've seen an usher hawking brochures in a theater before a movie like that, but my memory doesn't mean much. I love the subtlety of John Cassavetes in this film, although much of that was probably due to the screenplay of Polanski - he changed from being a completely human cynic, to an agent of the devil, and the viewer is unable to pinpoint exactly when this change happened - although in retrospect, it happened early on. Right when Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) reaches her breaking point about the quack, Dr. Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy), and the pain she's been in for an extended period of time, the pain instantly goes away - that's a brilliant ploy on the part of the Devil. This isn't the first film to juxtapose raw evil with a child (I can think of "The Bad Seed," and also "The Twilight Zone" episode, "It's a Good Life," both of which used pre-adolescents, but neither of which used a fetus or neonate) - so this might be one of the first-ever movies to impose Satanism on a pregnant woman, certainly running parallel (and opposite) to the Virgin Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus. I just now this afternoon had a piano lesson, and I mentioned to my teacher that I naturally think polyphonically, so the very second I heard "The name is an anagram," I was sure I knew what it meant: The "tanas" root would redirect as "Satan." - but, of course, I was wrong, as the root is spelled "tannis"; the real meaning of that cryptic instruction is much more clever. Rosemary also taught me a new word: "covens." Man, I hate to say this, but when Rosemary has sequestered herself in her apartment - attempting to flee her creep-o husband, Guy, and Dr. Sapirstein - when she's on the phone, and the two sneak by her in the background, they look *exactly* like something out of Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks." Now try and see that scene - supposedly fraught with tension - without laughing your ass off (the movie is free with a Hulu membership, and the scene takes place with 20:30 remaining in the film). Goodness, I'm at the part with the Asian gentleman with the camera. Ugh. I actually *still* don't know what's going to happen, although it has already been revealed who the baby's real father is; we just haven't seen "little Adrian" yet. Wow, I just finished the film: *Very* well-done ending. I was fearing that they'd show the baby, and that would have ruined everything - you can't show pure evil, but you can imagine it. I also thought Rosemary might have been carrying a second knife, and was going to kill the baby (without showing him), which would have been a brute-force outcome; as it turns out, maternal bond(age) wins out in the end - no matter what. In 2014, the Library of Congress selected Rosemary's Baby for preservation in the National Film Registry; I suspect if Rosemary had killed the baby at the end - which I believe would happen had it been filmed for today's audiences - the film would not be such a classic.
  18. After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
  19. After reading rave reviews from critics and seeing "Shane" listed as one of the best films ever made, I decided to watch it, with high expectations. I was disappointed. It seemed corny and dated, and several of the actors seemed miscast to me. Am I missing something? I realize it was filmed in 1953, and a lot of Westerns that have come along since may have been inspired by it, but I recently saw "Stagecoach," filmed 14 years earlier, and I think it is a much better film.
  20. Ah, the glorious 60s, where "The Brady Bunch" meets "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," all with a stupid title to boot. ''With Six You Get Eggroll" is certainly in the rom-com mold, but also contains enough screwball laughs where it's actually quite entertaining if you don't set your sights too high - it's a slice of life from a time of supposed innocence, mixed in with the beginning of our country's rebellious period. It's funny, when I grew up watching Brian Keith (who has the co-lead as Jake) playing "Uncle Beeel" on "Family "Affliction," I never thought of him as a handsome man because the show was so abysmally bad, and his role was that of a struggling widower; now that I'm older, I can see how Abby (Doris Day) could find him attractive. Alice Ghostley (Esmerelda on "Bewtiched") was a very good choice for Abby's extroverted (but not annoyingly over-the-top) maid, Molly - she plays her character with just the right amount of verve without becoming bothersome. It sounds odd, but some of the shots in this film are actually quite pleasing, for example this supermarket scene, with Abby and Jake marching down separate, parallel aisles with their carts, the viewer being fully aware of an impending bump-in: Shortly after this scene, the two go for coffee at the red-and-white striped "Ye Olde Drive Inn." How can you not love that name? And Holy Hell! I thought I recognized who the drive-inn attendant was, and I was right! Herbie, the drive-in order-taker was George Carlin in his first-ever movie! I didn't pick it up at first, but his facial expressions and voice gave him away. I *love* stumbling across things such as this! Brian Keith even had the best laugh-line of the scene! George Carlin is a mere baby of 31-years-old here: And how can you not at least smile at goofy shots like this, with Abby at her wit's end? So I've established Brian Keith as "handsome," George Carlin as "babyfaced," but what is Doris Day? Pretty? Maybe, but she's prettier than that - she has a special quality to her that makes her - not beautiful, not sexy, not cute, definitely in the "pretty" range of the spectrum, but she carries herself so well that she has something extra. Pretty plus, maybe? One thing I found a little shocking is a scene which approaches - and may cross into - frontal nudity when two boys are in the bathtub - they aren't quite pubescent, but they're probably pushing 12, and though innocent, it comes off as fairly risqué for 1968 (it happens shortly after the above picture, when the boys spill some sort of yellow dye in the tub). Jamie Farr (pre-M*A*S*H*) has a silly, intentionally overacted role as a good-natured druggy-hippy flower child who's in a similarly good-natured motorcycle gang (don't forget, 1968 is the same year as the much-more menacing "Born Losers," so motorcycle dramas were just coming into vogue), right at the same time as the Widowed Sit-Com (The Brady Bunch debuted in 1969) - this film foreshadows both. Here's a rather remarkable picture of Farr alongside William Christopher (Father Mulcahy in M*A*S*H*), both standing in front of Ye Olde Drive Inn - "MASH" the movie didn't come out until 1970, but M*A*S*H* the series didn't begin until 1972, so this still-shot is especially interesting: And, of course, this scene results in Doris Day crashing into a chicken truck, with everyone being hauled down to the precinct before the Sergeant (it's still raining chicken feathers at the station), with Farr peaceably addressing the Sergeant as "Your Royal Fuzz," and the Sergeant, by sheer coincidence, happening to be Allan Melvin: Abby's oldest son, Flip (John Findlater) sure looks a lot like Don Grady (Robbie, the oldest boy on "My Three Sons."), and Jake's daughter was played by Barbara Hershey in her cinematic debut. If you enjoyed The Brady Bunch - throw in a few million Hollywood dollars to expand production quality, and add a hint (just a hint - just the vaguest of G-rated hints) of Elizabeth Taylor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966), and you'll have "With Six You Get Eggroll" - a screwball comedy, with full comedic resolution in the final five minutes, that I'm embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed, but I did. This is exactly what I was in the mood for, and when you hear people today talking about "the way things used to be," what they really mean is "the way Hollywood made things *look* like they used to be," and this film is almost exactly what they're referring to - it's a fantasy every bit as unrealistic as the "fond memories" people have of America "back in the good old days" - it's also good, clean escapism, with nary a black person in sight to threaten the viewer. You do know there's going to be a second chicken-truck accident within five minutes, right? With chicken feathers flying everywhere? I wonder how tightly chicken's feathers are attached to their bodies, because if there's a crash, it's as if every feather on every chicken was being held on by a loose piece of tape. The poor driver of the chicken truck (which was remarkably undamaged from the first accident) was Vic Tayback whom you may recognize from "Alice": With Six You Get Eggroll is Doris Day's final film before beginning "The Doris Day Show" on television.
  21. A recent discussion about "Vertigo" on this website made me think about watching "Rear Window" again. I saw this film years ago, and I loved it. I watched it again last night with the same result. This film is regarded by many critics as one of Hitchcock's best. It stars James Stewart as a world famous photographer sidelined with a broken leg. As he sits in his apartment recovering from his injury, he becomes a voyuer, passing the hours watching the lives of his neighbors unfold through their rear windows. The result is a fascinating look at human nature, and our desire to watch. Like Stewart's character, Jeff, we are drawn into the lives of these strangers, without knowing their names or in some cases, ever hearing them speak. Love, marriage, fidelity, success, failure and of course (it is Hitchcock after all) murder--all of these subjects are put on display, simply by allowing us to sit and stare out of the window with Jeff. Grace Kelly is luminous as Jeff's girlfriend, Lisa Fremont. A successful fashion model who is madly in love with him, she appears in one gorgeous dress after another, begging for Jeff's attention, but failing to draw his gaze away from the window with her more than ample charms. Hitchcock films Lisa so that we are seduced by her, even when Jeff is not. She faces the camera as she kisses his neck, begging him to pay attention to her. Her Edith Head wardrobe is divine. Anyone remotely interested in 1950s fashions will love seeing the frocks Kelly so beautifully wears. Jeff ignoring Lisa for his voyeuristic pursuits makes this film feel relevant in 2016. Who hasn't seen groups of people sitting together, heads down, scrolling through their Facebook feeds or reading the news on their phones? Would they be happier if they looked up and talked to each other? Or, consider the concert-goers, taking endless photos and posting them on social media. Would they enjoy the performance more if they pocketed their phones and lost themselves in the music? In 1954, Hitchcock was making a statement about people watching films and, perhaps, TV. Think about how much more pervasive passive voyeurism has become in the past 60 years. "Rear Window" succeeds on many levels. It is a story of romance and mystery. There is a great deal of suspense in this film as it unfolds, all extremely well done by the master. If you haven't seen "Rear Window," I highly recommend that you do.
  22. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** In one of the very first scenes of "To Catch a Thief," a woman yells out her window that her jewels have been stolen, and you're immediately transported to Nice - this great webpage on the.hitchcock.zone has all the locations used in filming the movie. In that first scene, the use of the black cat going up-and-down, to-and-fro on the rooftop in the night is Alfred Hitchcock's tongue-in-cheek way of representing the cat burglar, John Robie (Cary Grant), who owns a black cat. When Robie visits his old acquaintance's restaurant, the restaurateur's daughter, Danielle (Brigitte Auber) motorboats him away to safety, all the while mocking him with allusions to cats ("rubbing his fur the wrong way," etc.). Grace Kelly can look rather fetching: <--- The filly from Philly, berried in Grant's tomb. And if you're wondering what that gorgeous car is they're driving, it's a 1955 Sunbeam Alpine Series III Classic Drive. At the end of this telephone call, Bertani (Charles Vanel) and Robie both say what sounds like "Bonjour," which I've never heard in my life as a way to say goodbye - I think this is a mistake, and a big one considering Vanel is French and would know better: Now, why would M. Foussard (Jean Martinelli) want to kill Robie, hmm? I think I've got this one figured out: A little *too* obvious at this point? Then again, there are only 17 minutes left in the movie. There's a *knee* that went up behind Robie at the climax! See that gray lump on the left? Surprisingly, this is not on the IMDB "Goofs" list. Very, very basic question (and I don't rule out the possibility that I'm missing something): If Robie wanted to prove his innocence, why didn't he simply confide in the chief of police, and agree to secretly leave the area for a week or two? If a crime happened during that time, he was, by definition, innocent (assuming he didn't have an accomplice).
  23. I'll admit it, Joe: "Roadhouse" (1989) is a guilty pleasure of mine. This was right around Patrick Swayze's prime, and as much derision as "Ghost gets from serious moviegoers, it was released just a year after "Roadhouse," and with a beautiful Demi Moore (I had forgotten how pretty she was), a surprisingly important role by Whoopi Goldberg, and Tony Goldwyn's perfect rendition of a slime-maggot, this annoyingly cloying rom-com had four strong parts. Even the murderer, Willie Lopez (Rick Aviles) was very well-played - this was a solid ensemble: I can see people being wildly irritated by the film, but does anyone have problems with its cast? Yes, I saw "Ghost" last night. I had just seen "Django Unchained" for some "mindless escapism" from a stressful week, and it was about as relaxing as visiting the U.S. Holocaust Museum - I needed escapism from my escapism. I didn't honestly think I'd watch more than ten minutes of the film, but I just kept watching, and before I knew it, I was well into it - I'd seen it once before in full, in the theater when it came out, so it had been over twenty-five years. With "Dirty Dancing" in 1987, "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993), "Pretty Woman" (1990), "When Harry Met Sally" (1989), "Groundhog Day" (1993), and numerous others, "Ghost" was dead-center in the tenderloin years of the saccharine rom-com (please forgive me for using that term, which is nearly as cloying as the movies are). The late 1980's and early 1990's had some major investment in these films, and they were immensely popular - for no good reason, I will add; meh, they're mindless entertainment, and sometimes you just need that, you know? There's very little point in rehashing the plot, or commenting on much of anything. I had completely forgotten what a major role Whoopi Goldberg played (and didn't realize she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). The demons are legitimately scary if you aren't ready for them - I had forgotten how disturbing they were. And I thought the acting was really good, pretty much all the way around - Patrick Swayze's look of sympathy when Carl died was incredibly convincing, for example, and he sustained it, completely setting aside what a first-class *jerk* the guy was, and knowing full well that he had an eternity of suffering ahead of him. You know what? Laugh at me if you will, but I think this movie is sweet. I don't love it, but I like it. That probably ratchets me down a few notches as a "film critic," but I'm not a film critic, so that's okay. Now, as to it's insane popularity, well, I guess I can see how it can appeal to the masses - in fact, sure I can. But for anyone to think this is more than "sweet," "well-acted," and "touching" would be a little bit much for me - those adjectives are about as much as I can muster, and if someone were to dismiss it entirely - in much the same way that theater critics dismissed "Cats," I could perfectly well understand. I might even say, "Ditto." I feel no need to watch this again anytime soon, but I have no regrets seeing it a second time. Thumbs up. Three stars. A solid "B"." A perfect date movie with a feel-good ending. It was my "mindless escapism," and it served its purpose - mock me if you wish, I will understand. And I think the "Get Off My Train!" scene with Vincent Schiavelli was excellent. *** SPOILER *** Why do I feel like I just wrote a positive review of Graffiato?
  24. The Shootist begins with a combination of montages and credits as follows: Dino De Laurentis Presents A Frankovich/Self Production The team of Mike Frankovich and William Self lasted just over a year, and produced only 2 movies, both in 1976: "The Shootist" (John Wayne's final film) and "From Noon Till Three" (with Charles Bronson). John Wayne [as J.B. Books: "The Shootist"] Lauren Bacall [as the widow Bond Rogers, The Innkeeper] "in a Siegel film" Don Siegel only worked on several major movies, and was the Director of "The Shootist" THE SHOOTIST The film starts with a montage of date-stamped shooting scenes, quickly taking you through the previous 20 years of John Wayne's life, and accompanied by brief narration: 1871 - Ron Howard narrating (amazing!) "His name was J.B. Books. He had a matching pair of "˜45s with antique ivory grips that were something to behold." 1880 - "He wasn't an outlaw. Fact is, for awhile, he was a lawman." 1885 - "Long before I met Mr. Books, he was a famous man. I guess his fame was why somebody-or-other was always after him." 1889 - "The Wild Country had taught him to survive. He lived his life, and herded by himself. 1895 - "He had a credo that went, "˜I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.'" The film then, somewhat surprisingly, switches from black-and-white to color. Co-Starring Ron Howard [as Gillom Rogers, Lauren Bacall's son] Bill McKinney [as Jay Cobb, a creamery owner (with the original food truck)] Guest-Stars James Stewart [as Dr. Hostetler, the town physician] Richard Boone [as Mike Sweeney, brother of one of Books' victims] John Carradine [as Hezekiah Beckum, the local undertaker] Scatman Crothers [as Moses, a stable keeper] Richard Lenz [as Dan Dobkins, a reporter with "The Morning Appeal"] Harry Morgan [(Colonel Potter on Mash) as Marshall Thibido, the town marshall] Sheree North [as Serepta, an old flame of Books Hugh O'Brian [as Jack Pulford, a professional gambler and marksman] Production Designer Robert Boyle Film Editor Douglas Stewart Music by Elmer Bernstein [unrelated to Leonard Bernstein, but the two were friends] Director of Photography Bruce Surtees, A.S.C. Based on the Novel by Glendon Swarthout Screenplay by Miles Hood Swarthout [son of Glendon Swarthout] and Scott Hale Produced by M.J. Frankovich and William Self Directed by Don Siegel MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR THE REST OF THE WRITE-UP [Plot summaries bore me to tears, and always have (unless you're cheating the night before a test in high school, reading the Cliff Notes for "Hamlet") - I figure if you're going to watch the movie, you'll do just fine learning the the plot on your own, so allow me to offer up pure commentary] The backbone of the movie now starts as Wayne rides up to a man standing on the other side of a creek. It's January 22, 1901, and the papers are reporting that Queen Victoria died. So, it's the end of the Victorian Era in the wild west of America. The opening scene establishes Wayne as a non-nonsense, "˜don't mess with me, leave me alone and I'll leave you alone' man in no uncertain terms. He then rides into Carson City, Nevada. If you don't remember what made Jimmy Stewart so popular and beloved, all you need to do is watch the brief scene in Dr. Hotstetler's office. Marshall Thibido enters Books' room, at first scared, but then irritatingly arrogant when he learns of Books' impending death. Obviously, Books is a man who is simultaneously feared, respected, and hated by many. The Marshall implied he would piss on Books' grave when he died. Gillom Rogers and Moses discovered Books' true identity from inspecting the brand on his horse - it turns out this man is a nationally famous gunman, and a celebrity. Gillom was eavesdropping, Books found out, and he yanked Gillom through a window (using an impressive, Data-like, one-armed body throw). The viewer starts to get worried when the words "Second Day," "Third Day," etc. occasionally flash up on the screen. Dr. Hotstetler told Books he only had a couple months left (he has "a cancer"), and here his days are numbered, literally. When Dan Dobkins, the mercenary reporter from the local daily newspaper, began intentionally overacting in seeking to write a series about Books, it was not difficult to know that when he left through the front door, it wouldn't be by walking. I understand this has some degree of comic relief to it (up until now, we've dealt with some pretty serious subject matter, without a whole lot of yucks), but I prefer my salve to either be subtle, or so outrageous that it causes belly laughs; this fell somewhere in-between, and didn't do much for me. The scene where Dr. Hotstetler gives Books his bottle of laudanum reminds me of how much I enjoy watching pretty much anything Jimmy Stewart does. He can be the very definition of "corny," but he plays the corn so naturally that it seems to permeate his inner fiber in real life. You know? There is something very Star Trek about this movie, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I know I've been intensely working my way through the first two Star Trek series lately, but the "feel" I get in the saloon scene (where Jack Pulford kills the man), for example, is similar to what I got in "The Royale" (The Next Generation, season 2, episode 12). There have been several moments in this film so far (and I'm only 38 minutes into it) where I've "felt" The Next Generation. Maybe it's because I've been *so* intensely involved with Star Trek that the smallest resemblance seems to scream loudly. Seeing Scatman Crothers haggling with Books over buying his horse made me realize how oddly these characters are cast. Lauren Bacall? Ron Howard? A smug-bordering-on-sadistic Harry Morgan? But it's all knit together beautifully - does anyone know who is responsible for putting together the ensemble, the producer, or the director? Amazingly John Wayne was not the first choice to play Books; Paul Newman was - it's a good thing Newman was committed to another project, because Wayne positively owned this role. The conversation Books and Gillom had about Bat Masterson was a nice touch, and really grounded the movie. This "shooting lesson" was a strong scene, and bonded the two lead characters nicely. Serepta probably reminds a lot of viewers about someone they know. There are a lot of Sereptas in this world. Picture Ron Howard and Lauren Bacall strolling to church in their Sunday finest, when Howard starts whistling Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." Bacall: "You know that kind of music gets on my nerves - especially on Sunday." Good thing you didn't make it to the 21st century, Mrs. Rogers. I'm 1:18 into a 1:37 movie, and I get a strong sense that this is going to have a "Gran Torino" finale. If that's the case, it's remarkable how much these two plots overlap. The Act that begins with "Last Day," and continues with Books looking at his own tombstone is somewhere between morbid and chilling. *Not* a Gran Torino finale! And "The Shootist" is a far superior movie, too. If anyone has seen Gran Torino and liked it, I suspect you'll love The Shootist. Thanks for the recommendation, Joe Riley.
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