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The Black Dahlia (2006)
Gets a 3 for visuals and period costumery, but this movie is a bore!
I don't get it. Maybe because I never read the Ellroy novel on which this is based. All I know is, I expected a movie about the short life (excuse pun) of Betty Short (Mia Kirshner who is one of my fave actresses ever) and her grisley death in Hollywood. All we get is a boring overlong bloated mess about 2 troubled cops. Boring dialogue, even more boring boxing match, and you don't even see anything of the title character until 25 mins. into the film. In short, (again with the pun) the life of Betty Short is hardly given more than a few scenes, reducing her to not much more than victim, and the emphasis on the "seedy" side of Hollywood is predictably provided with disturbing glee by director DePalma. The 4 main principal characters were completely UNinteresting, and the acting is pretty wooden overall. Sorry to say that other than Kirshner's scenes, along with some cool musical stuff by k.d. lang, this movie was as lackluster as a butterknife left in the dirt. Blech!
That '80s Show (2002)
I'm sorry, this has nothing to lure you in and keep you watching.
I tried on at least 3 occasions to watch this series. I really thought and hoped it would delight me at least half as much as THAT 70s SHOW did. But this show failed before the first scene was over. Where the 70s Show instantly showed you delightful characters with amazing personality and chemistry, the 80s Show was so busy trying to convince you that you were now in the candy colored, superficial, electronic, wealth-obsessed Reagan era that all you were given was boring mannequins, not people. THAT 70s SHOW wasn't "self aware" of the era it was set in. They were just people, living their lives in their orange, brown, gold and olive green living room. It seemed that THAT 80s SHOW tried too hard to get that 80s "vibe" flowing during the crucial "bonding time" when we could have known the people that populated it. We had the oddly bland "Dad" trying to fit in with a bad 80s hairdo, a wacky sister who spent way too long dancing to a Pat Benetar video on MTV, a boring bisexual who unrealistically dresses in those brightly colored asymmetric outfits as though she wants to live in a nightclub 24/7, an extremely boring and uninteresting girl who sports an extreme mohawk but has absolutely no punk charisma, the yuppie "best friend", and of course the central protagonist male, who is nowhere near as interesting as Eric Forman was.
The first episode is a bizarre bore...Yuppie best friend wants to listen to self help cassettes, then the 2 guys decide to sing along with the Talking Heads. "Hey! Do you realize this show is set in the 80s yet?" Bisexual chick tries to hit on daffy sister. Mohawk girl clashes with Main Protag for unknown reasons. No chemistry. Nobody is connecting. Nothing is happening. I've heard that subsequent episodes are better, but I actually watched 3, and I still felt nothing. So disappointed. For a better 80s vibe, just watch the Season 4 opener to THAT 70s SHOW, where Eric accompanies an angel to see how his life would have turned out had he never kissed Donna after that Todd Rundgren concert.
That '70s Show (1998)
A wonderful, sweet show that fizzled near the end
When the show first began with seasons 1 thru 3, it was an amazingly effective mixture of innocence and decadence. The characters were discovering themselves and we were discovering them simultaneously. The innocence was amazing to behold. Many of them were sexually active, yet so unknowing of the much more difficult and complex terrain of falling in love and committing to one another.
Each character brought something unique to the table. Certain shows are really successful because instead of one character in the center of attention while everyone else is sort of "reactionary", each character, whether adult or teen, commands attention. Two of my favorite characters are Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), the caring but overly authoritarian father and the nervous-natured, peacemaking mother of Eric Forman (Topher Grace), a sweet, slightly built boy who is falling in love with longtime neighbor and friend Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), a tall, athletic, beautiful redhead who loves and appreciates Eric as much as he does her, especially his understanding of her embarrassment about her parents, two sexually adventurous sometimes- swingers, the hilarious Bob (Don Stark), and the dizzy but very loving Midge (Tanya Roberts).
As Eric and Donna shyly tiptoe into a romantic association, they spend much of their time in Eric's basement hanging out, watching TV (and frequently indulging in smoking weed) with their childhood friends Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson) an intelligent but rebellious boy who habitually wears sunglasses indoors and often discusses conspiracy theories; Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a beautiful petite brunette who is self-centered and bitchy and starts out as an unwanted "Yoko" in the group; Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Jackie's boyfriend, who is just as beautiful as she is, but much less snobby, and unfortunately, a little light in the brain; and Fez aka F.E.S. (the Foreign Exchange Student)whose birth name and country of origin remain unknown (I'm currently watching season 8 and I'm not sure if these 2 items will ever be divulged :). It is a delight whenever Red Forman calls the boy "Sabu" or "Haji". Like Archie Bunker, Red Forman is a bit on the close-minded side, but he is still very lovable :D
This show was at its finest during the first 4-5 seasons, with genuinely funny and nostalgic story lines and storytelling styles. Around seasons 5-7 it began to lose steam. Eric Forman goes thru a transformation from a nervous wreck living in fear of the wrath of Red to a lazy and unfunny smart-mouth. In truth, Eric always had a "porky" mouth, but it was in a hilarious way in the early days. Red's "foot in your ass" liners became more and more infrequent. Kitty went through a disappointing change from a delightful basketcase with that unforgettable giggle to a rather mean, judgmental woman, drinking more and more and calling Donna a whore after Eric ends their longtime relationship and Donna begins dating Randy (the character meant to replace both Eric and Kelso after Grace and Kutcher left in season 8). No offense to the actor who plays Randy, but with Grace and Kutcher gone, there is just nothing much to be fired up about, and Randy is just annoying. His delivery of the lines seems more like those actual cheesy, unfunny 70s shows.
I didn't hate ALL of the story lines from the later seasons: Hyde's discovery that he is biracial; Hyde's competetive half sister Angie, Kelso fathering a baby, Fez and Kelso trying to share an apartment, and Hyde's drunken marriage to a Las Vegas stripper were all pretty decent. Still, without Eric's centering presence and Kelso's hilarious goofiness, it's just tolerable. I also greatly missed the hilarity that Lisa Robin Kelly (RIP) brought to this mix as the promiscuous and devilishly funny Laurie Forman.
If they are doing a reunion show or movie, it will be interesting to see what has transpired in the early 80s :D
World Trade Center (2006)
A great and reverent Oliver Stone movie
Stone is known for political button pushing, but in WORLD TRADE CENTER, starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as two NY port authority policemen who are literally buried alive beneath the wreckage of the WTC collapses, the director tells the story without any digressions. It's simply the true life story of John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, as well as the story of a horrible day that assaulted America and then brought us together.
When the Twin Towers are hit by the hijacked planes, the brave men and women of the FDNY and the NYPD, along with the PA police, risk their lives to try to save thousands of innocent lives. When Trade Center 2 (the south tower) collapses, McLoughlin, Jimeno, and a fellow PA named Pezzulo (Jay Hernandez) survive, but soon they are buried by tons more debris when Tower One falls. While they struggle to stay conscious through the excruciating pain of their injuries, their loved ones back home anxiously await word from them.
Jimeno was buried about 15 hours, McLoughlin about 22. Most of the movie is centered on them as they talk to each other and keep each other alive. It is quite dark on screen for a lot of the film and that kind of affects how much I enjoyed it, even though it's probably realistically presented. They were practically entombed.
Luckily, you get to know the wives of these 2 men: Allison Jimeno (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is pregnant with their second child. Donna McLoughlin (Maria Bello) is wondering if she'll ever get a chance to try to be close to her husband the way they once were.
The film also showcases Michael Shannon as a dedicated Marine who decides to go to New York and help in the rescue operation that saved the lives of the 2 PA policemen.
I like this film because it has no political subtext. It is what it is. A story of the real heroes of 9/11.
Worthy member of good 9/11 themed films
Spent the 12th anniversary of 9/11 watching or rewatching movies whose theme centers around it.
Let me first start by saying that this movie is a bit long. It drags just a bit in some places. But other than that, it's a wonderful story about "the worst day" in USA history. Up until Sept. 11, 2001, the worst day most Americans could recall was the day of the assassination of JFK. The whole nation grieved over this single death. Nearly 40 years passed before a day came when thousands were killed and maimed and scarred for life by an act of pure evil.
I also want to say that Thomas Horn is a very good young actor and I am not sure where the "hate" for his character is coming from. I didn't find the boy annoying or bratty in the least. Oskar is a child of above average intelligence and very fragile mental health after the trauma he suffered in losing his father (Tom Hanks). I thought Horn's performance was amazing!
I was unclear about the significance of falling. Obviously the father was still inside Trade Center 2 when it collapsed before Oskar's eyes on live television, but we see several sequences of his father "falling," first at the very beginning, and then in the middle, and represented within Oskar's log book of his recognizance mission to learn about the key his dad left behind.
Sandra Bullock, Jeffrey Wright, Max Von Sydow and Viola Davis give wonderful supporting roles.
A very beautiful and compelling portrait of lives forever changed by a tragic day.
Remember Me (2010)
How death impacts 2 NY families...
This is the first film I've seen Robert Pattinson in that I've really enjoyed. Sure he's a lovely creature and a good actor too, but not only am I not on board with the Twilight craze, I'm just not all that familiar with his work (though I went ahead and watched Little Ashes right after this one and really liked it).
Pattinson plays Tyler, a twenty-something kid in NYC whose older brother committed suicide a few years before. It is not explained why the brother killed himself, but his death has profoundly impacted Tyler's life. The surviving brother keeps a journal and uses it to communicate his grief.
Emilie de Ravin, who I know best as a very mean schoolgirl in a TV remake of "Carrie", is very sweet and effective as Ally, a girl who is in one of Tyler's classes. Ten years prior, her mother was murdered during a mugging at the subway station, and Ally has not been able to ride a subway since.
When Ally's troubled policeman father (good to see Chris Cooper back in action!) arrests Tyler and his best friend Aidan during a street brawl, it provides an opportunity for Tyler, who seems to have been admiring Ally from afar, to get to know the girl. Most of the film is dedicated to how their relationship changes both of them for the better. Ally's father has a violent temper, and has obviously not recovered emotionally from losing his wife to such violence, and Tyler's father (Pierce Brosnan is great here) is emotionally distant and busy working on Wall Street. Tyler's young sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins, a very good child actor), a prodigious artist, yearns for the father's attention. The relationship between Tyler and Caroline is very touching. I loved the scene where Tyler gets some revenge against a mean classmate who traumatizes Caroline.
The ending to this movie was shocking and very depressing. I didn't hate the ending itself, but it makes the movie into a downer overall. Not something you want to watch for a good laugh or to lift your mood. It makes for a great fictional story of a day of tragedy in US history and treats the day with respect. It also lends a wonderful humanity to a group of people we still mourn for even though most of us never met or knew them.
I'm not sure if this film is based on a novel. Either way, it is a wonderful, sincere romantic drama.
The Guru (2002)
I caught this one on Starz the other night and I remember I'd seen a piece on E! or something with an interview with Heather Graham and Jimi Mistry about it. I didn't expect such a delightful comedy!!! So what if it's predictable and light and fluffy???!!! After seeing a very disturbing documentary about female genital mutilation, I NEEDED this!!! After the atrocious images of that doc, the sight of beautiful Eastern Indian women dancing (choregraphically superb!!!) and being comfortable being sexual beings was a delight and a relief. The story of THE GURU, is about a handsome young East Indian man who joins his friends in the quest for fame and fortune in America. His friends are hilarious by the way!!! I don't know why some Eastern Indians got all offended. I love how these guys, with their heavy accents, could be as funny and horny as American guys!!! The scene where Rami catches them watching one of Sharonna's porno movies is hilarious!!! Heather Graham is very good playing the porno queen who is actually a "nice, normal" girl to Rami. The other cast is funny, Marisa Tomei, Christine Baranski, Michael McKean (howlingly deadpan funny), and Dash Mihok. The dance numbers are all great, especially the one in which the "guru" talks to Tomei's family about sex and then starts dancing. Mistry is so effervescent and so uninhibited that he steals the show from everyone else though. The Indian dance/Grease dance was my favorite scene I think, and I didn't even like the original Grease movie!!!
Star Trek (2009)
It took a while to warm up to it, but...
It's official. I like it. I'll give it an A- or 8/10 stars. I was proper mad when I found out they were going to rearrange the time-honored timeline...destroy planet Vulcan?! Kill off Spock's beloved human mother?! Have Uhura be Spock's girlfriend?!
BEWARE: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!!
Now I know what to do. Whenever I decide to have a Trek-a-thon of movies and shows, I'll watch the old stuff first, chronologically...Enterprise, TOS, TAS, and the first 6 films with the TOS cast. From there, I'll choose to either watch the Next Gen and its films, followed by DS9 and Voyager, or I'll insert these 2 JJ Abrams movies in right after THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY. Either way, all it is is an alternate timeline, alternate reality. In the future, Spock gets on the bad side of a "very disturbed Romulan" named Nero. Older Spock (Leonard Nimoy yay! :D ) ends up going back to the date of Kirk's birth where he witnesses Nero completely rearrange the original reality. Kirk's Dad is supposed to have lived to see his son's accomplishments in StarFleet, but instead he is killed just moments after baby Jim is born. In the new reality, Spock is the designer of the Kobayashi Maru test. (In THE WRATH OF KHAN, the dying Spock declares, "I never took the KM...what do you think of my solution?") In the new reality, we have a troubled, immature Kirk whose Dad was never in his life instead of the Kirk we're accustomed to. A little "Tom Cruise-ism" has been liberally applied. How many times has the Tomster played arrogant, childish twirps who have to overcome something and live up to Daddy's legacy? Even the APPLE during the simulation of the Kobayashi Maru...remember A FEW GOOD MEN????!!! LOL
Sure, I gripe. But I'm not a purist. I ended up really liking this new film in spite of being sure I'd hate it. Chris Pine's Kirk grows up fast, thank God, and becomes much more likable as the film progresses. Zachary Quinto (Is it KEEN-TO? Or QUINN-TO? Sorry if I've butchered it before!) makes a wonderful Spock, and has great chemistry with Pine. Both of them pay great homage to Shatner and Nimoy, and even though I didn't see it before, Pine has been able to channel Shatner's vibe. I'm on the Spirk bandwagon too. Now whenever I look at pictures of Pine and Quinto or the young Shatner and Nimoy, one word comes to mind: T'hy'la...Soul Mate :) Surely I'm not alone in believing that by the 23rd century, the New Civil Rights battle will have been resolved, and people will be evolved enough to accept same-sex relationships. One can hope!
I adore the new Bones (Karl Urban) and the new Sulu (John Cho) is very cool. The new Chekov is wonderful too...Anton Yelchin is one of the best actors out there...perfect choice! I'm sorry...I have no issue with Zoe Saldana, but the new Uhura was really dull compared with the original, and I'm not just saying that because a pairing between her and Spock is not only illogical but BORING! And speaking of boring, they really have gall when they say Nero was a better villain than Kruge, or Shinzon, or Ruafo, or Tolian Soran. Nero is BORING. The only thing that kept him afloat as a villain were the horrifying special effects (black hole eating Vulcan) and that huge, ugly ship of his! "It did happen! Don't tell me it didn't happen! I saw it happen! Don't tell me it didn't happen!" Oh puh-leeze! Nero is THE most forgettable villain.
Still sounds like I hated it? Nope, not even with the terribly borrowed concept of "parasitic creature who will make you talk!" Ripped right from WRATH OF KHAN. The story overall is very engaging (even when Kirk is ejected from the Enterprise and ends up on "Hoth" with the same crab creature who terrorized Anakin and Padme in ATTACK OF THE CLONES! LOL) and most of the cast are really great and give enthusiastic performances, including Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Pike. At the conclusion of this first foray into a new timeline, Kirk and Spock will begin their long friendship (and t'hy'la-ship too, if only in my imagination!) aboard the Enterprise. I am already 99.9999% sure I'll love Benedict Cumberbatch in the sequel to this film. Whether or not I love the film INTO DARKNESS remains to be seen. But I probably will. In spite of the dozens of complaints I've made about this prequel, I enjoy the crap out of it!!!
Gabby's Diner (1961)
Very few bright spots in these later cartoons
By the early 60s, Woody Woodpecker had been a cartoon icon for nearly 20 years. He had gone through several makeovers physically, audibly and personality wise. He had established a legacy of outwitting such antagonists as Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard, and had even gained a few family members (Splinter and Knothead as voiced by June Foray :)
Later, the studio phased out Wally and Buzz became more scarce. New antagonists weren't nearly as memorable (Dooley and Mrs. Meaney...yawn) but Gabby Gator (voiced by the great Daws Butler) was the one character who came along that brightened a few of the "Woody version 5.0" cartoons. In the late 50s, Woody's eyes stopped being green. It was a sign that the Golden Age of cartoons was beginning to end. Animation studios were looking for ways to save money, and cheapening the animation process was but one offense. Stories had once been clever and funny. Now they were dull and lackluster. Though I have never had anything against Gracie Stafford voicing Woody, by the time she took the job, WW cartoons had become really boring and unremarkable compared with their predecessors.
But in this short, the delightful presence of Gabby makes all the difference. It may not be a masterpiece cartoon, but it's fun, and funny, to watch Gabby try desperately to deceive the woodpecker into thinking he's staying in a posh resort. Carrot flavored soap chips LOL
A Fine Feathered Frenzy (1954)
One of the very best WW cartoons ever!
This is the creme de la creme of newer WW cartoons! In the timeline, we are at what I call Woody version 4.0. No longer a bird of few words, he is back to speaking regularly, voiced by Gracie Stafford. He still has the green eyes too, but not for much longer.
He's still a lovable never do well...thinking he can get away with sitting in an exclusive French restaurant with his own lunchbox and tipping nickels to those snooty waiters! When they bounce him, he finds a newspaper ad about a "Gorgeous Gal" who is rich and seeking to be a good looking young man's sugar mommy! If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. His mental picture of "Gorgeous Gal" is shot to pieces when he gets a look at her, and he spends the rest of the cartoon desperately trying to escape the love-sick old bird. The best moment is when he realizes she's on the TV. "How about a twosome hon?" The LOOK on his face is worth the entire cartoon!