Reviews written by registered user

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63 reviews in total 
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Francis (1950)
satisfying comedy ++++, 2 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"I suppose in all of us there's a trace of a mother complex." These thoughtful words of U.S. Army mule Francis ("That's spelled with an 'i'.") are an example of the charm of this Hollywood concoction. The voice of Chill Wills is deep and warm, just as the equine star's voice should be, and is equal to the deep voice of the Commanding General. Their scenes together late in the film pack a real punch. But meanwhile you have the 2nd Lieutenant Donald O'Connor, making frequent trips to the "Neuropsychiatric Ward"--having been befriended by Francis, and compelled by higher authorities to disclose that his source of military intelligence is a mule that talks. The war story is actually a story-within-a-story,told by O'Connor's character to his post-war employer, as he tries to save his job at the bank. This movie is well-paced and full of cheerful surprises. Zasu Pitts appears as a psychiatric nurse holding her own in an environment of half-baked military psychiatry. Choreography of encounters in Burmese jungle and on the army base moves smoothly and too soon it's a wrap. Hence several sequels.

Prototype (1983) (TV)
well made, emotionally challenging, and thought-provoking, 21 April 2017

I am thinking of the 2016 "Arrival" as I watch this beautifully crafted story in which the military believes it is in charge of the "miraculous"--for the questioning mind of Michael, the laboratory-created being,is sensitive and creative. He processes both literature and experience, and asks questions. During his first venture into the world beyond the laboratory he is sensitive to expectations, and capable of wonder--seeing the toy train and being mesmerized by "the little puffs of smoke". The laboratory has produced something which is in fact a someone, a new person. And, as in "Arrival", the appearance of something not understood elicits two kind of response--the need to control it, and the need to understand it. I recognize that we are stuck with institutionalized fear in our military establishment--and by "we" I mean humans. Still crawling forward out of the primordial ooze. And now I'm going to finish watching the excellent movie which gave rise to this realization.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Starts with real class, and then poops out, 23 February 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just because the show poops out after a few episodes doesn't mean I'm not watching the whole series. Matt Murdoch is particularly charming and compelling as a blind man with extraordinary senses otherwise. His sometime friend Claire is first-rate. Seeing Scott Glenn show up a "Stick" is a real hoot, and clearly there are intelligent surprises in store--if you're patient. Meanwhile, the minute Vincent D'Onofrio finally showed his face, I can't help seeing Annoying Orange on the screen. This problem I am hoping to exorcise by writing this review and trying to append a relevant image from YouTube:

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
a writer's movie, 21 February 2017

So, you're still in bed at 1 p.m. composing comments on friends' FaceBook shares, eating the other half of a stevia-sweetened chocolate bar from the night before, and then you move on to Netflix to get further from reality--where you see the face of beloved Bob Odenkirk in a harmless sounding title: "Girlfriends Day". You give it a look-see. You don't turn from it in irritation or boredom--it's holding you with the inscrutable power of untapped human potential. Every character looking at Odenkirk seems to be waiting for "something" to happen. Then his landlord takes action. And then I'm clapping for a brilliant moment, and barking out loud with laughter from my unused vocal chords at another moment. I get comfortable. I know that I, too, like Odenkirk's character, will write again. This film is exquisite.

1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Helen Mirren's Hair Makes Bid for Top Billing, 12 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had a hard time getting into the theatre for a film with such an unappealing premise. HOWEVER, I had to see the beloved, now iconic, Alan Rickman give his last film performance. And, while glad I saw the movie, in honor of him, and because there were several deeply moving, excellent, spot-on performances (especially Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi), I was unnecessarily distracted, even irritated by Helen Mirren's dialed-in performance, which included a great deal of pushing back her stylish forelock. Her work worthy of an over-intense ingénue or a jaded veteran actress. All the inner strength of her Prospero absent. C'mon! Mirren aside, what was a great moment (of many, many great moments)? The tension of the situation has continued to build, and the clock is ticking, when Jeremy Northam, sitting with the Ministry for Defense, takes off his jacket and reveals dark sweat stains in the armpits of his gorgeously, almost laughably fashionable blue shirt. Real sweat. Real fear. Real pain.

Rendezvous (1935)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
off-base period piece, 6 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Other reviewers have covered the main points of this confused "comedy"/spy-mystery film very well. I would like to point out the particular insult to women and to the intelligence of both sexes in the Rosalind Russell role. It sapped the mystery of any believability--what War Department is the plaything of the daughter of its assistant secretary?? What woman could wander around in such self-centered oblivion to a war-time effort? William Powell is remarkable in his ability to carry off his role as her--huh?--husband-to-be. I mean, NOTHING bothers him. I am not so unflappable--Russell's character kept my teeth on edge throughout. Grrr. Why did I watch this chestnut? To see the beautiful Cesar Romero--that was the payoff. And the rip-off. In this movie the old saying is true: "The good die young." Virtually with the mention of his "mama" on his lips.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pulling a Prize out of the Crackerjacks, 26 June 2014

Accidentally erased my review again. Have to be succinct. Mesmerizing footage of the Glenn Miller orchestra. I watched this movie for the great Cesar Romero--didn't know I'd stumbled upon treasure beyond wildest dreams. Horn sections, drummer, the sax and trumpet solos, a French horn! Danced to Glenn Miller records in the junior high gym, but i wasn't hip to what i was listening to. So, taking the corny plot and script for what they are, I live for Cesar Romero delivering his lines, and then whoa! It's young Jackie Gleason and Harry Morgan--two more smart, cool actors. (George Montgomery not so bad either--given the silly plot.) And the music keeps coming--until, when I can hardly stand any more heat, The Nicholas Brothers!!!! Where did these guys come from? Where have I been all my life? So I said "8 stars" instead of 7. Just for these two gentlemen who get pulled out at the end--like magic.

Underdog (2007)
30 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
Film Tribute to a Humble Hero, 10 August 2007

I enjoyed this movie. Laughed, and yes, nearly cried. Wonderful to see the existential hero of a great film, "The Station Agent", playing Simon Bar Sinister to the hilt. Good acting. Human actors stood up well against the dog actors, who are known to upstage humans mercilessly. Also, one notable cat actor. Adequately plotted script, with hilarious dialogue. This movie is about a dog--a special dog. As if beagles weren't special enough without genetic enhancement, this beagle (voiced by Jason Lee with absolute sincerity, wit and insouciance) is burdened with super-hero gifts and responsibilities. Jim Belushi is the good dad, playing it straight and steady amidst general mayhem. Also nice examples of sensitive community police-work in this movie.

Probably the most memorable thing for me this viewing (oh yeah, I'm going to see it again!!) is the special puff-of-smoke pattern, true to the original cartoon, that Underdog generates when he accelerates into full flight after hovering in the sky.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
We're on this Earth for a short time, 6 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wonder what my late Pop would have said about this movie. He joined the Border Patrol in 1940. I wonder if he could've sat through it. Probably not, but he would have loved some of the scenes. He would have loved the Mexican villages, the desert, Barry Pepper's parade-rest stance in the background during a law-officer scene. I personally detest the new Border Patrol hats. I guess they're practical. Ditto helicopters.

Chiming patrol car doors. Musical cell phones. The crunch of zucchini after casual sex. A small herd of goats. The indignities inflicted on beef cattle. Guns. Mops. Twilight. The mule. The motor coach. Rattle snakes and fire ants. The cafe and the cantina. These are parts of the complete universe of director Tommy Lee Jones. He knits his film story with a Kurosawa-like care.

I know Jones is proud of his own spoken Spanish and his sound track. He should also be proud of his work with Barry Pepper. Pepper's character Mike Norton comes out of Cincinnati with 21st Century American plastic values, still a kid, and kind of a mean kid at that. Is the secret to changing chickenshit to gold included in this story? Yes it is. Exposure to earth, sun, pain, kindness--being able to accept all these things.

On the DVD commentary, Jones says, "The tears aren't real--" Why does he deny the power of his own film like that? But, my Pop would understand--you can make a song or story so very beautiful, and then never let on that it's absolutely real, that you felt and knew those tender and unspeakably holy things. But, dude, that's how the change comes and why we don't all quit even before our short time on Earth is over.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Opulent Tale of Timeless Emotional Struggle, 18 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mughal-e-Azam may represent history both of India and of film but, as in any good tale, the tensions within and between the characters surprised me by being fresh and immediate. The sheer visual beauty was worth the full-price theatre ticket at a special showing in Richmond. I was a little skeptical beforehand about the colorization--but this is done lovingly as an art in itself and fully supportive of the cinematographic effects of the original filming. Completely enjoyed it! Also a source of pleasure: the traditional figures come to life, and the actors are committed to their characters with depth of sincerity that insures integrity of the story. Now--questions that came out of the theatre with me regarding justice: was it "might makes right"? Was there another justice than this tyrannic "scale" of the Emperor's? Does the Emperor reward the Sculptor to acknowledge a higher Cause, the "Emperor of Emperors"? Is his fatal role the reason the Sculptor (creator of true images) has no name? It was he who brought Amarkali into the court with a prophesy of what would come of it. While the Sculptor seems to be an arm of Fate, so the courtesan Bahar (deliciously played by Nigar Sultana) also administers Fate as she manipulates actions and outcomes. What will her reward be? Is there any other Justice than the Emperor's? Is her self-seeking malice considered so inevitable that Fate does not touch her, in turn? If my answers lie in further reading into these histories, so be it . . . In the meantime, the scenes of the movie play out in my mind as I wonder about fate, justice, and--of course--human love. After the movie, in the theatre lobby, a young woman spotted a mouse skittering from the auditorium across the lobby into a closet. I believe it was Sri Ganesha's vehicle.

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