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Could Have Been So Much More
This movie started off well enough and showed promise of being an interesting movie about Appalachian music and culture. The discovery of English and Scots/Irish folksongs being preserved and sung in the mountains of the Appalachians had a lot of possibility. That is what should have been pursued instead of sinking into murky romance.
Since the story is entirely fictional anyway, why couldn't the circle of the story have been brought together by bringing Celtic musicians and these American musicians together? It would have been a better plot device if a romance developed between a Celtic musician and an American to illustrate the coming together of musical forms.
But what we have, as I said, starts off well enough, but forgets its direction and simply becomes a romance presented shakily at best. The fate of the work of Ms. Penlyric in the movie reflects the way the movie treats the music. Used for awhile and then destroyed.
The songs presented are the movies bright spots, I just wish there were more of them and the story might have stayed more on course.
Joe Dirt (2001)
For those not in touch with their inner eleven year old, I'd say pass on this one and maybe check out something by Merchant "The King Of Yuks" Ivory.
This is silly and unapologetically so. The comedy is broad, the jokes obvious and telegraphed from seven miles away. But it does work. Like "Little Nicky", you go in expecting to turn brain off and just enjoy.
The movie is the visual representation of what I picture whenever I dial the radio and come across one of those "Classic Rock" stations. Who listens to this stuff on a regular basis? Joe Dirt , who believes in the lyrics as gospel.
It's a take-off on the music, the hopefulness of the innocent (a real switch for David Spade, as he would normally be the detached smart-aleck we see the disk jockey Dennis Miller playing).
Some cameos to look for; Kevin Farley as a security guard , yep, it's Chris' brother and you'll recognize him along with the other Farley brother John as a cop. The three sorority girl radio listeners, one is Bree Turner, who has done a lot of stuff but will probably be more recognized for Hyundai commercials. Sopranos fans will appreciate a fun quickie cameo in this movie.
Lighten up, since when did we become a world of detached critics who can't just enjoy a movie anymore without disecting it to death. This movie never claimed to be a great film, just a fun one. Now a film like Mariah Carey's "Glitter" which claims to be great but ends up as garbage, that is a more worthy target.
Lady for a Day (1933)
Depression-Era Fairy Tale
This movie must have played very well to depression-era audiences. The story of an apple seller who has been lying to her daughter who has done well for herself in Europe is sweet, heart touching and funny.
Great, quotable lines in the script, well written. The outdoors night photography is luminous, everything seems to glow, a scene in an outdoor garden with the daughter and her fiancee kissing behind a glass water fountain is beautiful to this day.
The ideas of friends and strangers coming to a needy person's aid prefigures such later Capra classics as "It's A Wonderful Life". In fact, they would make an excellent double feature together.
In our cynical times, movies like this can be seen as hokey, in fact the name Capra was frequently turned into Capra-corn, even in his day. But the fact that his movies are still treasured and enjoyed today shows that goodness is still an enduring quality and that being drawn to goodness and fairy tales like this gives us hope that those feelings are still in us.
A Very Honorable Guy (1934)
A Very Forgettable Movie
The general impression I have of this movie is that it has a good cast but they are undercut by a script that seems wooden. As actors they either flew through this one without a second thought about it or they knew going in that the script was weak.
But they script has fun moments, enough to make this movie watchable, but it certainaly won't be one you will add to your list of favorites.
Some minor trivia on this movie, in the scene that shows a gossip column mention of Feet's attempt to sell his body to science, the by-line is by "Waldo Witchem", a sly take-off on real-life columnist Walter Winchell, who was a good friend of Damon Runyan, the man whos story this movie is based on. Winchell's name is mentioned in a few movies based on Runyon's stories. Alice White, who plays love interest Hortense was fresh from a major sex scandal that threatened her career. This movie was a come back attempt.
The story, as is the script is light. Feet Samuels is an honest man who loves to gamble. He ends of owing local mob boss, "The Brain" money and decides to sell his body to science to pay off his debt and also to impress his girl with material things. A mad doctor takes him up on the deal and in a month, Feet is to take a pill to end his life. Right after he makes the deal, his luck changes tremendously and he find himself in the predicament of going back on his word to the doctor and also the mob boss who underwrote his deal.
Again, this movie won't show up on any favorites list, but there are worse ways to waste an hour than by watching this.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Wonderful romantic fantasy
What a wonderfully romantic fantasy this is! Audrey Hepburn is so perfect in her role as a princess who would like to see what is beyond the walls of her gilded cage. Gregory Peck as the reporter who really needs a scoop, and stumbles upon the biggest story of his life.
Rome is beautifully presented and is an uncredited co-star in this movie, it makes me want to see it, although I do realize that the Rome of 1953 is mostly long gone. Still, I can dream, and isn't that what movies are? Celluloid dreams.
Emotionally engaging, you really feel with the characters although you realize it is a fantasy. But the best fairy tales are like that. Bette Davis once said in answering the charge that movie stories are not real " If you want real, just sit on a street corner and look at people and see how long that holds your attention." No, we go to movies to escape "real", for a little bit and this movie does just that.
A top romance film, highly recommended.
Midnight Shadow (1939)
This must have been a B-Movie
Another film from Sack Amusement Company, a distribution company that dealt with the black movie theatre circuit in the 30s and 40s.
A very forgettable mystery that had to have served as a B Movie, supporting a bigger name movie. The acting is generally of the obviously memorized and recited lines variety. By the time the mystery is solved most of the audience won't care, as the mystery has little suspense, the "comedy" falls flat and the ending is so lackluster.
A few notes on this one though. This kind of trivia is what maakes these movies interesting to me beyond the plots. John Criner, the man who played Prince Alihabad had a similar role as a travelling show Doctor in "The Duke Is Tops', he played Doctor Dorando there and it is a better showcase for his talent. Ruby Dandridge, who played Mrs. Lingley, was the mother of Dorothy Dandridge. This movie has the look of a mystery series, had "Lingley and Lightfoot" made a better movie, there may have been more. But Junior Lingley was little more than a bumbler mincing about, and Lightfoot's acting seemed to be majorly the wide-eyed scared black man role.
These "race" movies had such low budgets that it is amazing they did as much as they did with what they had to work with. There are other better movies out there in the genre, if this is the first movie you see of this type, don't be discouraged, there are more out there of far better quality.
Night Flight (1981)
Groundbreaking Cult TV
I realize it now. When it's 2am and I am flicking channels, skimming over the endless infomercials. I am looking for something, anything that might be as cool as Night Flight was. It was the most influential television show in my life, exposing me to so much that I am still interested in 20 years later.
This is the TV show that introduced so much of middle America to cult movies, punk rock, reggae, deconstructionist video, the Church of the Subgenius and so much more. Television had never been so anarchic and probably never will be again.
Highlights are showings of the silent short, "Mystery Of The Leaping Fish" with Douglas Fairbanks playing a drugged up detective named Coke Ennyday, showings of the reggae movie "Countryman" , Peter Ivers on "New Wave Theatre" presnting Punk bands from dingy clubs. Black & White cartoons, old commercials, showings of school films, atomic bomb scare films and anything they could find.
Sadly with the homogenization and demogrification of TV (as well as most media), we won't see a show like this again. Infomercials now rule the late-night landscape and it is apt to stay that way, informercials bring in income, shows like "Night Flight" only brought in viewers, and who cares about them anymore? And due to copyright infringements by the show, they were very casual about obtaining permission to air stuff on 'Night Flight' it will probably never be shown on repeats, not as it originally aired anyway. Those who saw it, enjoy your memories.
The Pig Keeper's Daughter (1972)
Country Lovin' Down In The Mud
This movie follows the basic porn movie formula of just using plot to get to the next sex scene. In this case, this is one of Novak's several "Hee Haw" influenced country sex romps.
This was just before hardcore porn was seen in movie theatres so there were definate limits as to what would be shown. No erections, certainly no visible penetration, no visible oral sex, no open crotch shots. But barring all that, this film shows just about everything else, really pushing the line of softcore. Everything is simulated but I think this would be a movie that cable companies would balk at showing.
I am very much attracted to movies like this, they turn me on to see them. In thinking about why, I have decided that part of it is the lure of the forbidden, knowing the conditions these movies were originally shown in. They were considered to be "dirty movies" and there were stigmas attached to admitting you watched films like this. Another reason is the natural bodies, the less-than-perfect looks of the women. These are women you are far more likely to meet on a daily basis than siliconed porn stars. That certainly helps the fantasy along. Part of it too is the ineptness and general sleaziness of productions like this. They were made for the quick buck with no concern for anything beside an hour and a half of stimulation of the male sexual center in the brain. It is unapologetic in it's purpose. Yes, the acting is horrible, but once they remove their tops you know exactly why they were hired and all is forgiven until they have to speak again. It's like the girl from the neighbourhood who "puts out", you tolerate her personality and quirks because you know at the end of the evening that odds are you will get lucky.
Terry Gibson as daughter Moonbeam is adequate to her role, requiring her to mainly lay around near a pig sty and be a recepticle for the men who come by. Her breasts are wonders. Peggy Church as Patty plays the virgin who eventually gives it up to Jasper as long as he promises to just "tap it around her maidenhood". She has very unusual conical shaped breasts that are interesting to look at. It all plays like a locker rroom joke brought to life and is just as absurd. Gina Palucci plays Mrs. Molly Swiner, Moonbeam's mother and she is plain to look at and seems to think that lolling your tongue around your mouth almost constantly is the height of sexiness, but her body more than makes up for anything else.
Yes, it's a guilty pleasure recommendation. You know what you are getting into here if you decide to see this.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
A thinking person's thriller.
I think I have probably seen one or two complete X-Files episodes and scattered snatches of several others as I have flicked by as it played on a channel.I say that because even as little exposure to the series as I have had, I recognize stylistic influences from the X-files on this movie.
That said, the film does stand on it's own as a supernatural thriller and I enjoyed watching it. I had read the John Keel book years ago and knew this film was "based" on the book so it would take what liberties it needed to to tell a good story.
I read here over and over again that a complaint is that the viewers never got to see the boogieman. I am perhaps old-fashioned in that I believe that less is more as far as horror movies go. My imagination is quite active enough to fill in the gaps if you give me enough clues to go by. This film provides amble glimpses and clues as to the nature of the mothman, I didn't need a lingering camera shot, I didn't need to count it's scales or feathers to know that it was scary enough in the little glances we got in the movie. But I do understand that some need their imagination spoon-fed.
All in all, a good movie. Filled with twists and confusion just as I am sure thae characters were in the story. It is not a story that is laid out in a very formulaic manner, you might have to think a bit to get this one. But if you are willing to sit with it, give your self over to it and go for the ride, it is very enjoyable and has a whole lot more to say than just scaring us.
Hee Haw Honeys (1978)
I remember this show being a favorite. Plenty to look at with the "Hee Haw Honeys" and, what really stands out in my mind are the antics of Gailard Sartain as Willie Billie. This series made me take notice of him from here on out.
Country corn-pone humor with plenty of 1978-era T & A, these shows ( along with the original "Hee Haw" ) were always an interesting dichotomy as they might do a gospel number and immediately follow that with a bouncy bimbo sketch borrowed from old burlesque routines. I suppose that is the whole spirit of country music itself and the contradictions that are in it as well.
Not complaining at all, mind you. It was an enjoyable show and one I wouldn't mind seeing again someday in reruns.