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Found 5 results

  1. I'm going to use this opportunity to sneak in a recommendation for Rush, the only racing movie I've ever actually liked*. Although the writers played with some historical facts regarding the main characters**, the racing sequences are spot-on accurate and totally believable -none of this "can they really do that?!" Hollywood special effects bs. And, the racing sequences are mercifully short and serve to further the story, which is about a rivalry between two men. It's not a paean to F1 (that's a compliment, and it comes from an F1 fan). *aside from Senna, but that's a documentary **example: the reporter really was beaten up but no one ever found out who actually did it
  2. I've had this weird "thing" lately where I've been watching SE1 EP1 of classic American television shows - I guess I was so ignorant, for so long, that this is sort-of like taking a post-WWII pop culture course. *Everyone* but me at Clemson used to gather round the TV and watch "The Andy Griffith Show"; before last week, I had never before seen a single episode (my friends also called me a "Yankee"). The one thing that stood out to me in "The New Housekeeper" is six-year-old Ron Howard. I almost always find whiny children on TV to be incorrigible brats, but Howard - who was certainly whiny in this episode - somehow managed to be cute. I'm still not sure what it was about him that made me not detest him, but he was a real talent, even at age six.
  3. I was 12 years old when "American Graffiti" (1973) was released, and just like with "Animal House" (1978) when I was 17, I think both movies meant more to me then than they do now - they're both, in a sense, "coming-of-age" films, and I think coming-of-age films have a greater influence if you're about to go through that period in your life: With American Graffiti, I was 5-years away, with Animal House, I was only 1-2 years away, and that's probably why I loved both movies at the time. Like with "Blackboard Jungle," I didn't realize that "Rock Around the Clock" was the opening theme song of this film - it makes a lot more sense here than there, since American Graffiti is so gentrified and set up to be a movie for upper-middle-class white people - it's almost like you're watching the pilot episode of "Happy Days" (which *also* used it as its opening theme song for awhile). Is American Graffiti the first of the "50s retro-movies" to look back upon it tenderly, as an innocent era? I can't think of any that came before this, so maybe that was the appeal to society (likewise with Happy Days). It all seems so harmless and naive - I wonder if anyone can think of any pre-1973 films that gave the early Rock-n-Roll era the same, sanitized treatment? I guess there's nothing wrong with this; it just comes across to me as a little bit sappy right now, not that sappy is bad. Ha! 45-years later, I still remember laughing at the line, "File that under 'CS' over there" when John Milner (Paul Le Mat) gets a traffic ticket. Oh my goodness! I had no idea Debralee Scott (who played Rosalie "Hotsie" Totsie in "Welcome Back Kotter") was in this movie. Not to mention the fact that she's Bob Falfa's (Harrison Ford's) date. The number of famous people in this movie is absolutely incredible, and I think that, for the most part, it was the movie which made them famous, and not vice-versa. I remember so well the line when Steve Bolander (Ron Howard) is in the car with Laurie Henderson (Cindy Williams) trying to get one more session in before going off to college - she refuses him, and he arrogantly says, "You want it, and you know it." Even at a pre-pubescent age 12, I thought to myself how ridiculous it was for *Ron Howard* to be saying that to such a pretty girl - it's funny the things you remember (and the things you don't) after nearly 45 years. By the way, the leader of "The Pharaohs" - the physically intimidating Bo Hopkins - is someone I recognized, but didn't remember from where. If you've ever seen "Midnight Express" (1978), he plays Tex, who's the one who says to Brad Davis - after Davis tries to escape - "You seem like a nice enough kid to me, Billy, but try it and I'll blow your fucking brains out." With just over thirty minutes left in the movie, I'm finally getting into American Graffiti - with "slice-of-life" movies, you have to immerse yourself into their atmosphere to enjoy them (cf: "The Last Picture Show," the impossibly beautiful Cybill Shepherd on the diving board notwithstanding). Finally, I feel like I'm watching a longer, edgier version of "Happy Days," which I enjoyed as a teenager, so I've started to feel at home with American Graffiti - but I just can't get over how young Richard Dreyfuss looks, no matter how long the movie goes on. I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie with more famous people in it than American Graffiti.
  4. 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.
  5. I have been blissfully ignorant about "A Beautiful Mind" since its release (it was released at a time when I was too occupied to care about films), and other than that "it was about some smart guy and it starred Russell Crowe," I knew nothing about it - I didn't know it was directed by Ron Howard, and I didn't know it won four Academy Awards in 2001, including Best Picture. Seventy-five minutes into this movie, I was dismissing it as "Hollywood at its worst," and then I got sucker punched - I had *no idea* that what I had spent the past hour slowly stewing over had been sending me down the wrong path. And then, I had sixty more minutes to go of "Hollywood at its most typical." I've tended to watch (and write about) movies here that are, in a sense, pure Hollywood, but they also don't take themselves too seriously, and they're essentially cheap escapism; "A Beautiful Mind" acted like it wanted to be Big and Important, and that it tried to Teach me Something, and that annoys me to no end when it doesn't work. In over two hours, I learned two things from this film: John Nash was at Princeton and won a Nobel Prize for Economics, and Insulin Shock Therapy was a modality for treating schizophrenia in the 40s and 50s. That's it. While I won't come out and say this was a "bad" movie (it wasn't), I am astonished that it won "Best Picture," but then again, why would I be? I agree with the "Best Picture" choices about 20% of the time, and all the Academy Awards are, are a celebration of "Hollywood at its most typical," which is to say, "movies for the masses." I put "A Beautiful Mind" about where I put "The English Patient" and "Shine." Do I really need to expand on this statement?
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