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Columbo: Columbo Goes to College (1990)
Season 10, Episode 1
9/10
what brats
14 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this later episode of Columbo, "Columbo Goes to College" from 1990. Two obnoxious students (Stephen Caffrey and Gary Hershberger) caught cheating and about to be in big trouble with their families decide to kill their professor (James Sutorious) by an ingenious method.

Columbo is actually a guest teacher for the class and is with the students when they walk into the parking garage and find the body.

I'm not sure when Columbo realizes who the killers are -- I think it's early on, but he has to prove it. That's where some luck comes in.

The two students are so arrogant and think Columbo is a stupid slob - I realize that's what they are supposed to think but they were so obnoxious, I wanted to slap them. And Robert Culp as one of the kid's father was excellent as always, but patronizing. I couldn't wait for all of them to get their comeuppance,

Entertaining episode.
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10/10
uplifting, beautifully acted
11 December 2017
Mark Ruffalo stars in "Infinitely Polar Bear" along with Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, and Ashley Aufderheide, from 2014, directed by first-time director Maya Forbes. Forbes is a very talented woman I hope to be seeing more from as a director - she's already an established writer and producer.

The story takes place in Boston in the late 1970s, where Cam Stuart (Ruffalo) lives with his wife Maggie (Saldana) and their children, Amelia and Faith.

Cam is bipolar and job problems lead him to a nervous breakdown. He is institutionalized and then moved to a halfway house. Though he comes from a wealthy family, the money is in a trust. Maggie has a tough time making ends meet. She decides to get her MBA and wins a scholarship to Columbia.

Cam is doing okay on lithium and is more on an even keel, so Maggie has him move in with the kids while she goes to New York for eighteen months, returning home on weekends. Her plan is to return to Boston after school and get a good job, which has eluded her thus far.

It's a tough adjustment. The place is in disarray, Cam constantly embarrasses his kids for either being too friendly with the neighbors or hanging out with them and their friends, not to mention driving around in a pathetic car.

What a wonderful movie told with such warmth and humor. The acting is wonderful all around. Both Ruffalo and Saldana are totally likable, and the kids are great - not cloying at all. The title comes from the kids misunderstanding the term "bipolar."

Definitely worth viewing - a wonderful film.
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Columbo: Identity Crisis (1975)
Season 5, Episode 3
9/10
love this one
11 December 2017
Columbo does a great job unraveling this multilayered mystery in "Identity Crisis" from the fifth season. This episode starred Patrick McGoohan, who also directed.

McGoohan plays Nelson Brenner, who works for the CIA. He's a double agent but his front is being a speech-writing consultant. When another spy, known as Geronimo (Leslie Nielsen) wants money that is owed him from a scam, Brenner has to get rid of him. He makes it look like a mugging on the beach, and gives himself an alibi.

We all know he can't fool Columbo, and I loved the look on his face when he realizes that Columbo isn't going to give up on the case. The denouement is very well done.

A few people mentioned that Brenner, a tough, arrogant man, gave up too easily. I don't agree. He knew Columbo had him; also, I think he was fascinated by our sloppy police lieutenant and intellectually really wanted to know why he persisted on the case.

Truly excellent episode, with Columbo followed by agents and being taken to task by someone at the CIA. But he really nails it.
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10/10
positively brilliant
10 December 2017
If this shows up on public TV or somewhere in your area, definitely go and see it. It's amazing.

The documentary is the story of Hedy Lamarr, one of the most gorgeous women ever in Hollywood, and also the inventor of frequency hopping, which is still used today in everything - WiFi, Bluetooth, you name it.

Her story is inspirational and also extremely sad. Above all else, it is fascinating.

Her children are interviewed, as is Robert Osborne, and there are film clips from her career, and interview footage with Lamarr.

A few years ago on Jeopardy, there was a category called "Hedy Lamarr." Alex Trebeck wound up running the category himself, and asked, "Have none of you ever heard of Hedy Lamarr?" "Well," piped up one woman,"I know Hedly Lamarr from Blazing Saddles." A real pity, and it would be lovely if that were a thing of the past.
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Columbo: Last Salute to the Commodore (1976)
Season 5, Episode 6
5/10
awful
10 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Though the second half of this episode provided a nice twist and some clever work on Columbo's part, it wasn't worth getting through the first part.

First of all, this is one of the loudest episodes of anything ever done. I thought Diane Baker would never shut up.

There are all kinds of boring discussions about mizzens and booms on ships, etc.

The story concerns a very wealthy shipyard builder (John Dehner) who doesn't like the way his son-in-law (Robert Vaughan, married to the aforementioned drunk Diane Baker as his wife) is running things. Suddenly he's dead and Robert Vaughan is in a skin-diving outfit. The murder - in fact, two murders, are off-camera. I found the technical details surrounding the first murder preposterous.

Apparently, this was to be the last Columbo episode, and also it was highly improvised. Good thing it wasn't the last one, though at the end Columbo rows into the sunset by himself.

I love Columbo, it's probably my favorite show, but I could have done without this one.
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Columbo: A Case of Immunity (1975)
Season 5, Episode 2
8/10
a good one!
9 December 2017
Columbo really delivers a one-two punch in "A Case of Immunity" in this Columbo from season 5.

Hassan Salah (Hector Elizondo) is first secretary to the King of Suaria, and has a scheme for gaining power in his government. He convinces a young man working in the legation (Sal Mineo) to help him in the murder of a security officer and robbing the safe so that it looks like radicals (protesting outside) have broken in.

It doesn't take Columbo long to become suspicious of Salah, though having him arrested is going to be tough since he has diplomatic immunity.

Very good episode with Elizondo beautifully portraying a distinguished, proper Suarian interested in serving the visiting king (Barry Robins) and being gracious to Columbo. But Columbo wears out his welcome in a big way.

Really top notch.
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Mrs. Columbo: Caviar with Everything (1979)
Season 1, Episode 4
6/10
kind of dumb
9 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I never related "Mrs. Columbo" to "Columbo," which is one reason I watched it back in the '70s. I love mysteries, and Kate Mulgrew is a strong actress.

"Caviar with EVerything" concerns a catering company run by two women, Sybil (Claudette Nevins) and Patty (Trisha Noble). Patty wants Sybil to buy her out and also has plans of marrying...Sybil's ex-husband (Sam Groom). Sybil is not supposed to know about this, but she does, and she wants her husband back and Patty gone. Mrs. Columbo writes for her local community paper and is on hand doing a story about a huge party the women are catering and the firm itself.

If it hadn't been so ridiculous, the episode might have been good. Claudette Nevins is kind of Glenn Close-ish in the role of Sybil. Unfortunately you could drive a truck through the holes in the plot. The clues are so obvious. And the behavior of Sybil is dumb. She wants her husband back, apparently, until he wants to be part-owner of her business. Then every time he turns his back, she's got a fireplace poker in her hand and is trying to kill him, or push him off a railing. Mrs. C always interrupts her. But how stupid is it, after your partner dies, to knock off your ex-husband too?

Also, being someone highly allergic myself, Patty would have realized the absolute second that hors-d'oeuvres hit her mouth that it was lump fish -- and she would have spit it out.

As others have mentioned, the final scene was good. And that's it.
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Psych: The Movie (2017 TV Movie)
10/10
The boys are back, and they're crazier than ever
8 December 2017
It was such a delight to hear the Psych theme song again and see the wonderful cast, including James Roday, Dule Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kristen Nelson, Corbin Bernsen, and Kurt Fuller. The only one missing was Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) who actually did appear when Maggie contacted him by phone.

When the film begins, it is three years later, and the whole group is now working in San Francisco. Shawn (Roday) continues to search for the engagement ring he wanted to give Juliet (Lawson), Gus (Hill) has a beautiful stalker, and someone is out to get Maggie.

There are the usual one-liners, the singing in harmony, and some familiar villains, including a hilarious bit at the end of the film. There's a scene in a closed insane asylum and one in Alcatraz. All par for the course.

I really miss these guys. I think today we need to laugh more than we ever have, and the Psych group belongs on the landscape. Thankfully, I don't think this is the last time we'll see them.
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Columbo: Now You See Him (1976)
Season 5, Episode 5
10/10
Jack Cassidy was my favorite Columbo villain
7 December 2017
Of all of the repeat offenders who appeared on Columbo, I admit to liking Jack Cassidy the best. Handsome, charming, exuding great self-confidence, always immaculately dressed, he's one you just love to see Columbo drag off to prison, no matter what character he's playing.

Here's he's a well-known magician with a secret. Calling himself The Great Santini, he's known by the blackmailing club owner Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff) of the Magic nightclub where he performs as Stefan Mueller, former SS officer.

Jerome collects 50% of The Great Santini's earnings - he's a regular Tom Parker. Elvis may not have known any better, but Santini does, and he's sick of paying up. When he tries to pay just 10%, Jerome informs him that if he doesn't have the rest of the money by performance time, he'll be writing to the Israeli government and turning him in.

Santini doesn't appear with the rest of the money - he has other plans, which include shooting Jerome during the time when he has an excellent alibi, stuck on stage in a locked case submerged in a tank of water.

I always try to find the moment where Columbo knows the identity of the killer - this one didn't take him long. Bob Dishy is a riot as the officer assisting Columbo, constantly returning the new raincoat Mrs. Columbo gave her husband, which he is desperate to lose.

Fantastic episode, with the lovely Cynthia Sikes as The Great Santini's daughter. Sadly, it was Cassidy's last appearance - he died in a fire in December 1976, the year of this episode.
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8/10
Anger begets more anger
7 December 2017
Frances McDormand is a grieving mother who puts up "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri" in this 2017 black comedy directed by Martin McDonagh.

Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is disgusted that the police haven't found her daughter's rapist and killer, so she takes out billboards asking why the chief of police, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) hasn't done anything about the case.

The billboards set off anger, violence, and revenge motifs in this small town. Things become worse when a pent-up police officer, Dixon (Sam Rockwell) becomes enraged and starts acting out.

Lots of swearing, lots of violence, and lots of laughs to be had in this film. It was strange to watch as I had just seen another film, Past Life, that focused on the subject of anger and pain, and how it can eat a person up and destroy them. This film is yet another good illustration of that, as Mildred stops at nothing to make a point.

The one-liners are amazing, and Mildred's speech to the priest who comes by to ask her to remove the billboards is hilarious. The movie is filled with strong performances and equally well-developed characters. We see all of their sides - violent, kind, vengeful, angry, sad; we finally realize they're just people driven in some cases to extremes.

Harrelson's performance is touching -- we're prepared to dislike him but his sincerity and humanity come through. As Dixon, Rockwell seems like a monster, but once he acts out, he's able to focus his energy a little better.

And then there's McDormand, a powerhouse. She's not good ol' Marge in Fargo. She's a tough woman with a broken heart who takes out her anger any way she can. It's a beautiful, multilayered performance. Highly recommended, asking the questions of where revenge and hatred can take us, and deciding when and if it stops.
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