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Spenser: Small Vices (1999)
Nice addition to the small Spenser TV collection
My dad and I are both huge fans of the Spenser novels, TV show, telepics, et al. Because we both agree, Robert Urich's cast a long shadow over the role of everyone's favorite Boston P.I., he (dad) didn't buy Joe Mantegna as Spenser at all - too ethnic, he said. "Small Vices" was the first of three TV movies with Mantegna. My dad couldn't get past it. I, though, think Mantegna nailed Spenser's dry wit and sense of humor. "Small Vices" certainly was the best of the A&E trilogy - just try watching Eric Roberts as Police Chief DeSpain in one of the others without cringing. But in a world where Warner Bros. has left "Spenser: For Hire" to languish on its AOL site, and all we have on DVD are the Lifetime TV movies, my investment in a region-free player has paid off again - "Small Vices" was released in Australia on home video and I picked up a copy from Amazon.
Strike Force (1981)
Whole Team of Dirty Harries
Made up of a half dozen of California's toughest law enforcement officers, the Strike Force handled those cases too difficult for mainstream justice to solve. I was 11 or 12 when "Strike Force" aired and loved it. After watching rather tame procedurals as "Emergency!" and "Adam-12," "SF" was the first cop show I watched that seemed "grown-up." The first episode had a mother and father decapitating members of the jury that sentenced their son to prison. Tough stuff. In fact, I remember "SF" being named one of the most violent shows on television by one of those citizen groups. Probably no money in it, but it'd be great to see this show's very few episodes on DVD. It was a Spelling Production, so maybe in the wake of Aaron's death ... but I doubt it.
PS - Yup, on Sunday nights, ABC also ran "Today's FBI," starring Mannix himself, Mike Connors.
PPS - I actually had a "SF" gun and target set, you know - with those plastic suction cups. And the gun was modeled after Stack's own hand cannon from the show. Wish I still had it ... hello, Ebay!! Oh well.
Love and Action in Chicago (1999)
Have to say that "L&A in C" is a charming independent. Courtney B. Vance and Regina King have unmistakable chemistry as the celibate hit-man and flighty-but-feisty femme. Yes, the bloom's off Kathleen Turner's rose and Jason Alexander will forever be George Costanza, but sharpen your focus on these two and you're missing the entire point of "L&A ..." It's about Vance and King as two people who haven't yet realized they're meant for each other. It's about their dance on the way to that realization and your jubilation once they get there. Class A stuff, probably not. Novice director Dwayne Johnson-Cochran hasn't helmed anything since, but his debut effort here proved he could write a come-hither B-flick that proves irresistible when HBO is airing "Bruce Almighty" for the umpteenth time.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
For me, the greatest achievement in filmmaking is when actor, director, and writer (along with supporting cast and crew) collaborate on a work that captivates the viewer for long after he leaves the theater. A BEAUTIFUL MIND is thoroughly-engrossing as it showcases one of our most versatile actors in the business today. Russell Crowe's range will never cease to amaze. He'll take a part in GLADIATOR, that 15 years ago would have been relegated to the likes of "Ahnuld," and breathe refreshing life into it. And here, as John Nash, Crowe transforms himself -- body, mind and manner -- into a mad genius. Director Ron Howard's swirling camera-work punctuates Nash's decline into schizophrenia. A BEAUTIFUL MIND is a must-see before Crowe snatches up his second Academy Award this spring.
The Nude Bomb (1980)
More bawdy spy spoof than true Get Smart
Okay, I was 11 when I first saw The Nude Bomb -- it was on HBO, I taped it and watched it over and over and over and over again. A huge fan of Get Smart, yes, I was disappointed Don Adams was the only original from the series. But I do remember enjoying the film's opening - a spoof of the Bond-films, with women fawning over Smart as a hokey ballad played over the credits. And of course, Sylvia Kristel ... need I say more.