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It is too bad really that American film and television has gone to pot and has lost its artistic view. The good news is that British film and television tends to remain incredibly artistic. I watch more British television than I do American and I'm a seriously conservative American, too.
I do not have a favorite genre. I love all kinds of movies, though I will admit I don't much care for westerns and war films, but I do like action films. I will watch most anything, so long as it has some sort of artistic value and does not push off their politics to me. I hate preachy films and films that twist the truth. Don't even get me started on Michael Moore's slanderous propaganda!
Since I've brought it up, I should say that I cannot stand how Hollywood is so presumptive. They stupidly assume that their political opinions matter to me. If there is a movie which stirs political controversy, then I'll never EVER see it. Movies such as Brokeback Mountain, Milk and the like were only really made for political purposes (and personal gain; after all, they KNOW they will win an Oscar if it lands in Hollywood's political agenda) and thus are not truly art... in my opinion, which as far as I know, I still have a right to have.
Actors such as Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, et al, are all stars I refuse to watch, even in movies that are not politically motivated. It is their attitudes I do not like, so I'll just skip them on the big screen (and the little one too) all together. I have to like an actor in order to watch them and enjoy it.
Other than all of that, anything is game.
There is one more thing. I have a very special affinity for Alfred Hitchcock. I'm by no means and expert, but I've seen most of his films over the years and cannot find much fault (if any) in all of them. There is always a new jewel to be found in his work. There is a reason that his films are taught in film school and there is a reason why Michael Moore's is not.
Too Close to Home (2016)
Maybe it'll get better. *possible spoilers*
As much as I like Tyler Perry, I cannot say that this was any good. From bad acting, to seriously fake green screening this was unbelievably bad. I only give it the five stars because the idea is halfway good.
If I had a dollar for every cliché about Alabama, I saw in just the first episode alone, I'd be a rich woman. Alabamans are portrayed as trashy trailer park wh*res who have sex for drugs and money. They have boyfriends that beat them up and drive trucks. They have beefy men with long hair, and on, and on, and on. Oh they're waitresses at diners too. Evidently, there isn't a good job in Alabama and to add insult to injury, they actually call the town "Happy, Alabama". Yes, it's clichéd name is happy.
I mean, was Mr. Tyler stoned when he wrote this? TLC touted this as Tyler Perry's first scripted anything whose primary cast is white. It's very clear that Perry doesn't like white southerners. Okay yes, those people do exist, but they exist in New York, they exist in California and they exist all across this great diverse nation of ours. Why did he pick a stupid place like Happy, Alabama?
Maybe he's jabbing at Monica Lewinsky and that's fine. It's just that why does the girl who had an affair with a US President have to be from white trash? Why can't she be middle class? Or upper middle class?
All that said, there is one thing I do like. I like the generalized family problems that are closer to real life. One man has a father with dementia and he is struggling to cope. The sisters have a mother who is sick and caring for her is also difficult, but I thought the visitor of her grandson whose reaction was vomiting upon entry just another cliché.
Here is my advice to Tyler: scrap it and start over. That or fix what is broken here. I don't know how you can fix the town's name of Happy but I'm sure you can figure out a way. Clean up the garbage and show us life's difficulty without the clichés. It can be done. Really though, two guns pointing at the same guy by two very unlikely people from one scene to the next made me actually think this was supposed to be a comedy.
Please fix it Mr. Perry. I really want to like it. I do.
The Convenient Groom (2016)
Just... no. (possible spoilers)
This had potential, but didn't work.
Let me start it this way, if I had a dollar for every time Vanessa Marcil flipped her hair, I could retire. That is a total fail on the director's part. Add to that Marcil's lack of looking sad, she smiled throughout the entire thing that she practically made my face hurt.
Another problem was the makeup. It looked very caked and forcing the always adorable David Sutcliffe to wear that horrible pink color on his lips throughout the episode was weird to say the least. Another fail on the director's part and definitely for the makeup department. I mean, I know this is a B made-for-TV film but of all the Hallmark movies I've seen so far, and I've seen quite a few, this one is hard to take. Marcil's makeup was so thick it only enhanced the lines on her face making her look almost 10 years older than Sutcliffe.
The story though was cute enough. My only beef with it is what I have with a lot of romances. Why are the families so wealthy? I mean, a guy who went to Princeton and a woman who is a psychologist with a Ph.D.
I have seen some where one of them is supposedly broke, but they still had the money to go to Paris and Italy. I'm speaking specifically of Elevator Girl (2010) but there are plenty more where those come from.
All in all, if you can get past the bad makeup, the bad acting (Marcil) and the seriously annoying hair flipping (I cannot tell you how much I hate that) then it's cute enough. I won't be watching this one again, but at least the story made me feel like I didn't waste my time.
Oh and one more thing, which is why this didn't get one star. They used a very old Golden Retriever and kudos to them for that. Aging dogs need more recognition.
The House Across the Bay (1940)
Worth the watch at least once.
Warning possible spoilers, so don't read if you care about that.
Though not as delicious as Man Hunt (1941) story-wise, it's still an interesting story. It has a great moral lesson: you may be willing to go far to protect the one you love, but what if the plan failed and turned out worse?
Though the stories are completely different. The moral reminds me of A Simple Plan (1998). You plan something that you are sure will go well, but then it just doesn't.
Alfred Hitchcock directed some scenes in this film because of his familiarity of the type of scene, in this case it was filming in a plane. In A Simple Plan, the director of Fargo (1996) also assisted because of his familiarity of filming in the snow. However, I digress...
The thing that bothered me most about this one, was Bennett's flat lip syncing. She didn't even look as though she was mouthing words, much less singing. She did better in earlier scenes, but the later ones were simply bad. Acting wise though, she was better in this than in Man Hunt, where she seemed too childish. She was truly beautiful here.
One thing is for certain, Pidgeon plays a much better American than he does an Englishman, as he did in Manhunt (I've yet to meet an Englishman, who was born and raised in England with an American accent; he did the Kevin Costner thing in Man Hunt). In this film though, I did like his quiet and incredibly patient character. He did really good here, even though his stint was short.
Lloyd Nolan, as always, stole the movie and in this instance he did so with superb casual malevolence. He and Hume Cronyn are simply amazing to watch (no, Hume isn't in this, I'm just comparing). Like George Saunders in Man Hunt, Nolan owned this one.
George Raft was okay, but honestly he didn't have much of a chance to branch out in this. He was a bit stiff and not as impressive as usual. He definitely was not nearly as good as Nolan. I don't think it was a directional problem either. He just wasn't as relaxed looking as he should have been. Love isn't stiff.
The set, costumes and make-up were definitely very well done. The views of Alcatraz were excellent cinematography and I loved her "house across the bay" set. If only apartments there looked like that today!
I really did like this film. No, really. It's just that it wasn't what I'd consider an A-lister. It felt very B-movie-ish in a lot of ways.
Again, I really believe that it should be watched at least once. Keeping in mind what I've said here, you'll probably be surprised at how good it is. :)
A life lesson, rather than suspense.
The reviews here speak of this episode as sub-par. Well, perhaps. Ed Gwynn is always fun to watch and his versatility always amazes me. From hit man to Santa, he can do it all.
I think what everyone is forgetting is the social aspect of the day in America, where the series was being originally aired. This was mid-1957. Children during WWII were becoming adults. They were not aware of the hardships their parents went through here (and England for that matter). First was the crash of 1929, unemployment soared then add to that the midwestern Dust Bowl which reduced farmland to wasteland. Not only did they become unemployed but now fresh food was no longer affordable. To add insult to injury, they next had to deal with an atrocious war and raise kids to boot.
These kids were raised outside of hardship, or had very little of it. A 2-year-old in 1941 would be 18. These kids needed to learn to be responsible for themselves and not rely on others. It's a lesson this generation needs too, for that matter.
The end shows us that he really does love his son, even after what the young man had done. I think for this reason it's a very good episode. It's just surprising because when we hear Hitchcock, we expect suspense. As long as you go into this knowing this episode hasn't any suspense, then you'll be good to go.
Evelyn Prentice (1934)
Tolerable film, but not the best of the Loy and Powell pairings.
I disagree with planktonrules's review for a variety of reasons. While it is true that this was obviously not a grand film, it is still worthy of a casual peek. After all, Loy and Powell fans will always appreciate seeing them together on the screen, even if it is not perfection.
The plot does sound interesting. John Prentice (William Powell) is an affluent lawyer who not only neglects his wife Evelyn (Myrna Loy) but has an affair with a client. In the mean time lonely Evelyn meets an apparently charming Lawrence Kennard who, unbeknownst to her, has only one motive: money.
Evelyn Prentice innocently corresponds with Mr. Kennard who uses the letters as leverage for his blackmail. While the letters are innocuous, the wording can be understood as either confirming an affair or only confirming a friendship. Naturally Mr. Kennard plans are to use them to confirm a non-existent affair.
When John wishes to reconcile with his wife, Evelyn notifies Mr. Kennard that their friendship is over. Infuriated, Mr. Kennard says he wants money in exchange for the letters; an amount that Evelyn cannot possibly pay. Grabbing a gun from an open drawer, Evelyn demands the letters. When he refuses, a gun shot is heard and Evelyn is seen leaving Mr. Kennard's apartment.
Guilt ridden after hearing that a woman has been accused of Kennard's murder, Evelyn asks her husband to take her case and even more twists are to come.
Unlike what planktonrules claims, it is entirely believable for that day in age. While overdone, perhaps, the plot is neat and does work.
I don't give it a terribly high grade, but I do feel that the acting was very well done, the plot was clear and the ending was satisfying. That makes it a sufficient film, deserving any time spent viewing it.
Valentine's Day (2010)
Cute, but overshadowed.
I'm not going to go into a long spiel about the movie, nor am I going to bore you with a synopsis that so many do instead of actually reviewing the movie.
Overall it was a really cute movie. I laughed, I cried. It moved quickly without speeding through, but also didn't drag. It's a great date movie and I like the fact that sex wasn't in your face even though it was a romantic movie.
That said, it is way too Hollywood for me. I don't mean too many stars because let us be fair, most of those were not real stars but just trendy attractive actors. In 10 years we'll see who is still around.
Instead I'm talking about the typical Hollywood in-your-face social issues parade. We've got homosexuality, inter-racial marriage, cultural diversity ... and the list goes on. Puh-leez! We want a great story, not someone's politically correct agenda here.
I'm not saying that I'm against all of that, I'm just against forcing it into a film where it doesn't fit properly. A story is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to put the pieces together neatly. However this story seems to just throw it all together without making it sensible, like forcing the pieces in there when the fit isn't really right to begin with.
Nope. It's a cute film, but not a great one. Love Actually, even with it's "I hate America" speech, was done so much better. It had moments that were just amazing; the Colin Firth restaurant scene simply cannot be competed with.
All in all, I give it 5 of 10.
Rear Window for television?
I'm not going to give a synopsis because goodness knows you can find that anywhere.
As I watched this episode, I was struck by the familiarity I sensed without ever actually viewing it before. It was only a few minutes in before I realized why. This is basically a condensed televised version of Rear Window (though obviously not exact and with an interesting twist at the end, as Hitch is so infamous for). I am not disappointed by that at all but find it quite delightful instead. Rear Window is, by far, my most favored Alfred Hitchcock film. To see it used so cleverly here was an engaging surprise. It's also worth noting, perhaps, that Rear Window had premiered only eleven months before the first airing of this episode.
I also want to briefly touch on my disagreement with a couple of points that previous reviewer posted.
The first point is about there being evidential delusions. I think it's fairly clear, from the title alone, that there were no delusions here. That is what makes the final twist so amazing.
Secondly, to criticize an episode on the "believability" is to criticize classic film and television. Life was different back then, and everyone knows that. It's not even worth mentioning in my opinion, as the reviewer did. However I will say that no matter what era, the movement of a dead body is the hardest part of the crime. Watch TruTV's Forensic File's (think real life CSI) if you want to learn more about that. This episode clearly reinforces that well-known fact.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one as I do so many of Hitchcock's. The acting was superb, the plot interesting and the twist intense. It's worth the few minutes it takes to watch, I have no shadow of a doubt.
Yes, stupid pun intended.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Fairly good movie. 7 out of 10.
First off, this is a fairly good movie. I'm not going to say it's the best of 2008 by any means, as I can think of many others that are better, but it is a good movie. Most of the performances were great and the action was good. The problem I had with it was the length and the dark theme. My understanding however is that it's closer to the original theme of the comics, so I suppose that's the way it's supposed to be, but personally I don't care for that.
Speaking of the dark theme... if you have kids, this is probably not a movie you'd want them to see. It's a bit graphic and the whole beating up the dogs thing was a serious turn off. Not to mention Two Face's faceless side. It was just a bit much.
One thing I have to say is something that is a bit touchy. Prior to seeing this movie, I had read the reviews of how "amazing" Heath Ledger's performance was and I thought to myself that this was an insult to him. I mean everyone only begins to rave about his performance only after he dies and not before. I felt that they were only saying it because he did in fact die.
I'm happy to say that I was very wrong and believe me, I wouldn't say this if I didn't feel this way. Personally I think Heath was obviously not the least bit intelligent for dying the way he did. It's unfortunate that stupidity caused his death, as so many before him. I cannot possibly admire anyone like that and they never learn, do they? In any case, Ledger's performance was indeed amazing. He owned the movie and it's a shame that we'll not see him reprise the role. Oh well, life is hard and it's too bad some don't know how to keep it.
I do have another gripe too. I understand that in order to make things realistic, they have to make Wayne's voice disguised, but does Bale have to sound like he's gritting his teeth when he's speaking every single time Batman opens his mouth? Surely there was a better way of disguising his voice.
Finally, as I mentioned above the movie was just way too long. I found myself wishing that it would simply end, only to be disappointed that it was still going on like the Energizer Bunny.
Aside from those things, it was an okay movie. I can only give it a 7 out of 10, but I'm not a big super hero fan so that's probably why. My husband thinks it's a 10 so he should probably be writing a review. He says it's very true to the comics and is a great depiction. I'll just have to trust his word on that.
Cool concept for a film but fails through bad direction.
I'm not going to write a detailed synopsis of the film; you can get that anywhere online. This "comment" is to illustrate what I think about the movie, so you can better decide if you want to see it.
The idea is actually a good one and an alternative title such as, "A Day in a Café," really describes it better. I like that it's all based in one general location - similar to a play - and that it all occurs within a short time period of one day. It's just about in real time. I also like that almost everyone has a secret of some sort, that eventually comes out.
One thing this movie does, that I think is really creative (though isn't a new concept by any means), is it displays for us the mental picture one gets as a secret is uncovered. To understand this, imagine for a moment that your best male friend is wearing a dress and an old lady's hat. That mental image in your mind is the same image that we get to see through the character's eyes as they find out someone else's secret.
It's all slapstick comedy to the extreme, so it's all in fun. One reviewer here worried that all Americans would think all the English really act like that. That's the silliest notion in the world. Slapstick comedy is one of the oldest and best types of comedy and is familiar to us all.
Now for the not-so-great parts.
I have no problems with Americans portraying the English and vice versa, so long as its done well. Unfortunately for us though, it is not. Both Katherine Heigl and Mike Vogel need to stick to American roles. Imagine an American actor switching throughout the film between both a regional southern American dialect and one from the Bronx. Can you imagine such a horror? Well put that into British terms and this is what you get from Vogel. I never could figure out what region he was supposed to be from. There were even moments where he sounded Scottish! Heigl on the other hand lapsed between American and British, making her nationality questionable. Because of this, I kept expecting to find out that being an American schizophrenic was her secret. I'm not saying that their acting abilities were the problem, it was just their linguistic abilities.
I've also no problems with boisterous comedy either, but the comedy in this film was (for a lack of a better word) incongruent. The writing was fine and the jokes worked some of the time, but the timing was off or something. I don't believe that it was the actors or the writing at fault, but the director. Whatever it was, it made it very uneven.
I was telling my husband about it this morning. The interesting thing about this is that the movie came off funnier in my retelling of the story, then it actually was. My 19-year-old daughter entered the room to hear us laughing about the story. She asked what movie we were talking about and my husband promptly replied, "She's been laughing (very hard I might add), telling me about this movie that she supposedly didn't like for the past twenty-five minutes." Indeed!
To sum it up; if you know in advance that it's crass, off-beat, has bad timing and bad direction then you might actually enjoy it. Just keep in mind that it is loaded with errors and don't have a high expectation. Would I watch it again? Maybe, if nothing else is on. Would I buy it on DVD? Absolutely not.
The Howard the Duck of the New Millennium
Despite the overwhelming bad critical reviews, I thought I'd watch this movie. I'm not one to agree with what critics have to say, as I've enjoyed many a movie that they haven't. However they are on the mark with this one.
The first problem I have with this film is the casting. Just because Jolie lends a pretty face and is probably the only actor in the movie who played her part well, doesn't mean that she still fit into the part. The fact that she's only one year older than her on screen "son" is a major problem. She should have never made it to the screen as Olympias. On the other hand, she is the one person in the film that seemed to have any real passion on the screen. She did very well, though she was the wrong choice. As for the others, a blond Colin Farrell is just wrong in any film, a tired - and overly verbal - Anthony Hopkins is an incredible disappointment and Val Kilmer left no lasting impression at all.
Next we move on to the writing. The infinite, and so very dragging, dialog is just too much to try and sit through. Seconds began to tick by like minutes and minutes like hours. Most of the dialog throughout the film could have safely been edited out, without losing the direction the film was going. The extensive Braveheart-ish freedom speech, I'm sure, was a bore for those soldiers to have to sit through. Braveheart did it amazingly well and now everyone wants to do it. Unfortunately only Braveheart is capable of such a good thing.
The direction of the film (and I don't mean the point of it this time) was severely lacking. This is evidenced by the horrible casting, the writing and all other aspects of the film. Take the cinematography for example. This was a perfect opportunity to capture the incredible beauty of the spacious and exotic landscapes, in ways not ever seen before. Instead we are treated to photographic shots that I can do with my old 110 camera. The landscape subjects were good choices, but badly done.
Then there is the homosexuality that is badly portrayed. This subject is still in it's infancy on screen for many viewers, but it can and has been - done respectfully and tastefully. In this instance however, it fails on several points. To say that it was markedly pretentious and overly melodramatic is putting it lightly. Were I a homosexual, I would find it personally offensive.
As for it's historical value, that is not something I can determine easily. I'm no scholar of Alexander and his time period. For example I'm well aware of the frequency of homosexuality in ancient Greece, but I am curious as to how much conjecture this film presents to us when it comes to Alexander's feelings. I prefer films that stick to the facts and not films that try to appeal to today's political ideas. HBO's Rome is a good example of this.
There was one thing though, on this very point, that I was pleased about. I was delighted with the inclusion of the near mystical story of Bucephalus, Alexander's beloved horse. On the other hand, I was disappointed in the follow up of that story. We get to see how Bucephalus came to Alexander (probably the best scene in the film), we see him riding him throughout the film, then... nothing. A little display of affection between the two here and there was warranted, but unfortunately was not provided.
I also liked the costume designs. Again, I don't know how historically accurate they are, but the message was clear and well done. That is except for Val Kilmer's polyester sheepskin rug he wore over his clothing. Had it looked more like real fur, it would have been completely acceptable, but I had a hard time believing it was.
All in all, and I'm very sad to say this, but this movie was a real time waster. It could've been cut to about forty-five minutes and it would've done well. I wouldn't suggest you watch it, unless you are like me and are curious.
I give it one star for the idea of a film about Alexander, one star for Jolie's performance and one star for the beginning of the Bucephalus story. That's all I can give it, which is sad to be sure.