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The Out-of-Towners (1999)
A cute and fun comedy
The 1999 remake of the 1970 Neil Simon wanna-be classic "The Out-of-Towners" is actually a more enjoyable and consistently funny movie. Pretty much the only thing I kinda liked about the original was its cruelty, as some one who lives in the NYC area theres nothing I hate more in the world than annoying tourists. However the original's cruelty got in the way of most of the comedy, this version doesnt have this problem. Also Martin and Hawn(2 great actors)are more believable than Lemmon and Dennis(neither of whom I mean to put down as wonderful actors)as naive and befuddled Ohio natives. Personally I could never picture Sandy Dennis outside of South Commack, LI. But anyway this version is just a nice(occasionally hilarious)fluffy piece of entertainment with John "I could be funny watching paint dry while gagged" Cleese added in for good measure. Just sit back, dont think too hard and laugh. Also notice that Martin and Hawn's daughter live's a few doors down from the best corned beef in town(at the 2nd ave deli of course).
Radio Days (1987)
Woody's best nostalgia trip
This is Woody Allen's best nostalgic film to date (even better than "Purple rose of Cairo"). There's really no plot to the film, just a series of little stories involving one 1940's family and a huge cast of radio celebrities. The film tells little stories about the family(young Woody, his parents, cousin, aunts and uncles)and the radio stars("Roger and Irene", "The Masked Avenger"). All in all it's just a perfectly constructed series of reminisces right up there with "Brighton Beach Memoirs". And wait till you see who "The Masked Avenger" is.
The Verdict (1982)
One of the best court room drama's ever
"The Verdict" is probably one of the top 5 legal drama's ever made. Newman is exceptional as a washed up, drunken attorney who's friend throws him one last case to redeem himself by, a medical malpractice suit. The film follows Newman from the beginning as an old drunk who visits funeral homes looking for clients in the dead's family to him rediscovering what he loves about the law. There's a terrific supporting cast including Jack Warden and James Mason. This film also accurately shows the frustration of a once great lawyer who lost all he had and his final chance to regain it.
A forgotten, but great "B"
Let me say this from the beginning, in the realm of serious film making "St Valentines day massacre" is not a great movie, but in the Corman realm, it is a masterpiece. It's a movie where the acting is so hammy half the actors are slowly rotating on a spit. George Segal is pretty much doing his worst impression of Jimmy Cagney, hell even the sets are from other movies(Hello Dolly!, Sound of music, Sand Pebbles) the climactic massacre isn't all that shocking since the movie is chock full of shootouts(good ones at that). But if you're in the mood for a good mob movie thats not exactly as heavy as "Godfather" or "Goodfellas" this is good, lite viewing.
Watchable but pretty weak stuff
This HBO biopic of Gambino family head John Gotti is a tolerable piece of junk. The performances are uniformly unremarkable, that includes the star(Assante)and the token "Veteran Star"(the formerly great Anthony Quinn). Second of all absolutely no-one in the cast looks like who they play,whats with Paul Castellano being 800 pounds?! The script is cardboard at best,"Mafia=Pure unadulterated evil, FBI=Living Saints". And just when you thought it could'nt get anymore third rate, the movie starts to think it's on the level of "Goodfellas", and at times "The Godfather". In the end the only thing that saves this thing from being a total waste is the fact that it tells a truly interesting story, although not well.
Shame on you for not saying a biopic could be a guilty pleasure
Because that's exactly what this is. Don't get me wrong, it's an awful movie and an insult to a comedic god. But I laughed harder at myself for paying attention to this movie than at anything in, say, "Night at the Roxbury" or "Manipulatively awful DR.Death -or- Patch Adams". Michael Chicklis(pretty good in "the commish")is absolutly terrible as Belushi, but he tries, JT Walsh a truly great actor is painfully bad as Bob Woodward(stick w/ Redford & that character), and then there's Sharkey as Angel the Puerto Rican cab driving guardian angel(nuff said there). The movie and skit recreations are slow and unfunny, but in the end we feel a little bit of sadness for our fallen clown.
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Terrific slice of life
This is without a doubt one of Neil Simon's best plays turned movies. It's full of great characters, and memorable dialog. Johnathan Silverman makes a great screen version of young Eugene(he was played by Matthew Broderick on stage).This is the first of Simon's autobiographical trilogy, its followed by the wonderful "Biloxi Blues", and closes with the TV movie "Broadway Bound". If I had to say the movie has any flaws it would maybe be that characters sometimes usually speak in obvious dialog, but that's alright because it's great dialog. Rent this little gem, you won't be sorry!
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Cant say it's not visual. . .
But that doesn't make it a great movie(e.g. 2001). The performances were great especially McGregor(who's pretty much good in everything)as an obvious play on Iggy Pop, and Izzard as a cross between the business savvy of Brian Epstein and the exploitation skills of Malcom McClaran. Meyers however as the Bowie-ish Brian Slade is far too distant a character to get really interested in. Great soundtrack however, Oscar nominated costumes, and a good sense of overall style keep things interesting if not completley fresh.
Storm of the Century (1999)
This is why King is the master
Although it was never a literary work this is Stephen King's second greatest achievement, his first being "The Stand". It shows how a town that doesn't right it's wrongs can very easily be torn apart by one moral question. Andre Linoge comes to Little Tall Island with control over the minds of it's residents and one simple request, "Give me what i want, and i'll go away". When you find out what he wants, and what the response is, you'll never look at small town morals the same way again.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998)
A different kind of biopic
"Why do fools fall in love" is the story of music legend Frankie Lymon, a 13 year old kid who brought Rock n' roll to middle America before anyone else in the 50's, and then as his voice changed he vanished from public life and into a world of junkies and has-beens. Several years after his death when the song he made famous, "Why do fools fall in love", became popular again 3 women all claiming to be his wife fought for the royalties. This is different from the standard rock biopic. It's told from 3 different perspectives, hence we see 3 different Frankies, all charming and talented, none satisfied or honest. You might keep away from this movie because it's from the director of the awful Selena, but dont. It's a little glossy but all honestly told and very well played, especially by Vivica A. Fox. Great twist ending too.