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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Whiskey in the morning, whiskey in the evening, and whiskey at gunfight time.
Man, they drank a lot of whiskey in the 1880s. I caught this movie on the 'Movies!' TV network. I probably have seen parts of it over the years but today I saw all of it, beginning to end.
The basic story and characters are all based on fact, but there are some liberties taken with the timeline and how certain events went down. Still it is a very good old 'western' that holds up well almost 60 years alter.
Burt Lancaster, in his early 40s, is Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas, just about 40, is Doc Holliday. In real life they became friends when Holliday saved Earp's life in a saloon confrontation, and that scene is depicted in the movie.
From the title we know exactly where the story arc will end up, but there is a lot of good movie leading up to it. Earp is portrayed as an honest, dedicated lawman, some even call him "preacher." In real life he probably wasn't quite as awesome as the movies make him out to be. Holliday was a dentist turned gambler, a shady character to be sure, but he ended up assisting Earp.
Beautiful Rhonda Fleming, in her early 30s here, plays a fictional character Laura Denbow, a traveling gambler, that Earp falls for and has to decide whether to stick with her or follow his duty to get the outlaws, commonly called "cowboys" in that era.
The big gunfight at OK Corral in Tombstone involved the Clanton gang. It was actually a 30-second fight but the movie makes it much more drawn out than that. Lyle Bettger is Ike Clanton, the leader of the cattle-rustling gang. His younger brother is a very young Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton who dies at OK Corral, his only gunfight. The movie has Ike dying there also but in fact he died 6 years later in a different altercation.
It is a movie so the excursions away from historical fact are minor and fine, it is a very fine movie and both Lancaster and Douglas are in great form.
Veronica Mars: Pilot (2004)
Fitting intro to the Veronica Mars TV series.
I missed the Veronica Mars TV series when it was on a few years back. However I recently saw the Veronica Mars movie which was partly financed by fans, and made to give them another dose of the characters.
So, being the curious type, I went to my public library and checked out the 6-disk set of DVDs containing the first season.
This is the pilot episode, 41 minutes long (not having commercial breaks sure is nice) and it introduces us to the locale and the characters. Kristen Bell, who was already well into her 20s, is high schooler Veronica Mars. Her dad, Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars, formerly was the sheriff but was ousted in a recall after a notorious local murder he was blamed for NOT stopping. Now he is a private investigator, and Veronica is his receptionist. But she is a budding PI herself.
This episode also introduces us to Neptune High and the student body, and how it seems that Veronica has no friends. But one of her friends had been Amanda Seyfried as Lilly Kane, daughter of the wealthiest man in town. Even though it was her murder, we know that she appears in a number of additional episodes, likely in flashback.
This episode deals with Mr Kane's wife hiring the Mars agency to spy on her husband, she thinks he is having an affair. Veronica goes on an overnight stake-out and, even though she misses photos of the women, she gets a photo of the license plate. Her dad sees it and says they are going to "drop it", but then Veronica finds out it is in fact her estranged mother's car from out of state. And, she finds something that makes it appear like she is somehow tied into the case of Lilly's death.
To be continued...
Not all the jokes worked, but enough did to make this a very entertaining rom-com.
Saw it on BluRay from my public library. Excellent picture and sound, of course, and a few nice extras.
The story starts with the two 40-ish single people on a blind date. He took her to Hooters, which seemed strange, until we later learn why it made perfect sense. But they didn't get on very well, he was somewhat of a jerk, and they parted confident that they would never see each other again. But in a rom-com movie that usually means that they will get together in a most unlikely way then fall in love, real love.
The couple are Adam Sandler as Jim, whose loving wife, with a job as a Hooters location manager, died and left him with three adorable daughters. Drew Barrymore is Lauren, whose husband was a serial cheater, she divorced him and kept the two "challenging" boys.
The movie has quite a good cast, and also with a bunch of quirky cast members. Shaq O'Neal, who seems a born actor. Terry Crews, who in my mind steals the show with his impression of a black South African answer to Tom Jones. But it also has all of Sandler's family members in small roles, his wife, his mother, and his two daughters.
Many people don't like Sandler but I have always enjoyed his movies, "Happy Gilmore" being one of my favorites. Barrymore is always good and she doesn't let us down here. The basic story is the two in an unlikely development both take their kids to South Africa for what turns out to be a "blended family" getaway, and after a few bumps in the road everyone starts appreciating each other and a real blended family results.
Good movie, there were a few overly silly scenes but we enjoyed it overall.
A person with a great burden is said to have "an albatross around their neck".
Thus it is in this story. Jessica Brown Findlay is Emelia, and her last name is Conan Doyle. She fancies herself as the great granddaughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes character. This is her albatross, she expects great things of herself as a writer, but at 17 (actually in her 20s) she seems to be out of sorts, not happy with her writing or where her life is taking her.
She needs to earn a living. Both her parents have died, she stays with her nice older grandparents. So she takes a menial job cleaning rooms at a local inn owned by a writer who once had a famous book some 20 years earlier.
But there she meets the daughter of that family, Felicity Jones (actually in her 20s also) as 17-yr-old Beth, who is a rules- follower, unlike Emelia who knows no rule. They form a bond of sorts which eventually is strained when Emelia flirts with then begins an affair with Beth's author dad. Conveniently for this film, the age of consent in England is 16. Also the Isle of Man, where this was filmed.
So the arc of the story involves Emelia getting the albatross off her neck, and the start was finding out her real last name was Doyle, and not actually related to the famous author.
Interesting and often funny movie. I found it on Netflix streaming movies.
Expected to NOT like it but was surprised at how entertaining it is.
I watch pretty much everything my public library gets on DVD. I am a big fan of the original movie and was curious about this one, but being animated thought it would be boring. Still, I felt obligated to watch at least 15 minutes of it.
Well I was surprised at how engaging it is. The voice acting has some of the best in the business and young Lea Michelle (of Glee fame) does a great job voicing Dorothy Gale, including a few nice songs. I was also surprised at Martin Short, who plays the bad guy, the Jester. We all know he is a fine actor, but his marvelous singing was a pleasant surprise.
The story starts right when Dorothy is waking up after the tornado shook everything up at home. Recall that the original movie was all a dream, while Dorothy was knocked out. But this story is done not as a dream, but as Dorothy really being brought back to Oz, by a rainbow transporter, to save Oz from the Jester.
The story of course is inconsequential, it is just animated fun with a few songs thrown in. But good songs. When Dorothy gets back to Kansas, she also exposes the fraud being perpetrated to steal everyone's damaged property.
Other voice actors included Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Kelsey Grammar, Bernadette Peters, Oliver Platt, and Hugh Dancy.
Draft Day (2014)
NFL draft day, Costner is the GM facing difficult choices.
This movie depicts one day, NFL draft day. This is where each team hopes to get the one or two college players that will help them get to the Superbowl, and where the top college prospects hole to become instant multi-millionaires. The movie includes many who really are in football, including the NFL commissioner playing himself, so I choose to believe that what it portrays, while fictional is also plausible.
Kevin Costner is Sonny Weaver Jr., his father the former Cleveland Browns coach died very recently, and as Browns General Manager is faced with the #1 pick resulting from their dismal record the season before. The Heisman winner is quarterback "Bo" and everyone, including the owner, assumes that Sonny will pick him.
But as anyone who follows pro football knows, many trades are made on draft day, sometimes just minutes before a pick needs to be made, and that is largely what is depicted here. Sonny is not sure that "Bo" is the best pick for Cleveland, they have a good QB (Tom Welling of Smallville fame) that was injured last year and he seems to be stronger than ever after recuperation.
The other key character is Jennifer Garner who, in spite of the 17- yr age difference in real life, is Sonny's love interest. But also the person who looks after the Browns payroll and balances salaries so as not to exceed the salary cap.
Also Dennis Leary is good as the coach. But this is a Costner movie all the way and he is good in his role as the GM with his own view of the draft day scene, who gets what he wants and what his team needs, but has to do it with a series of unexpected trades.
A Year in Burgundy (2013)
The magic and mystery of Burgundy wines.
Just over 20 years ago a miniseries was made called "A Year in Provence", chronicling the first year of a British couple when they moved to that region of France. I suspect the title of this documentary was at least in part inspired by that earlier title. But this one focuses exclusively on the wine industry of the Burgundy region of France, the source of some of the best and most expensive wines in the world.
The documentary is produced by a French lady living in California who is also in the wine merchant business. As such she visits all her producers in France several times a year, so her making this documentary was straightforward and natural. As they mention, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, the two prominent wines of Burgundy, are native to that area. What fortune!
It is divided into the 4 seasons, starting with spring when the vines awaken from their winter sleep and bud out. The year was 2011 and the weather warmed up unusually early. The worry was that a late frost would damage the fresh buds, but all turned out well.
The film shows what is done in the summer, to care for and prune the vines, and the worry about drought. Watering the vines is strictly prohibited by French law, only natural rainfall. Then the harvest, picking just the right day where the juice has the right balance of acid, sugar, and other characteristics essential to making fine wine. And before the next bad weather comes through.
Then the crush, the fermentation, the wintertime work in the cellar. A point is made that Burgundy has hundreds of winemakers and each has his or her own technique, not shared among winemakers. So each wine turns out to have its own characteristic.
Back in 1998 a few of us spent a couple of weeks in the Provence region of France and while we were there a traveling wine salesman brought wines from Burgundy and we had an impromptu tasting right there outside the country house we were renting on the river Sorgue. The wines were "heavenly" and several of us bought a case each. When we got home back in the states and opened them, the wine was good, but not heavenly as during the testing. I suspect we were victims of "bait and switch", still it is a good memory of that September in the French wine country.
Ride the Divide (2010)
Very tough bicycle ride from Canada to Mexico.
Until I came across this film on Netflix streaming movies I had no clue that this "race" was even held. Seeing the film apparently it is held every year, for how long I don't know. This one is the 2010 competition.
Sixteen riders, 15 men and 1 woman, left Banff and headed to Mexico along the Continental Divide. For those who may not know the significance of the "divide", it represents the very jagged north- south line where water on the east side flows eventually to the Atlantic and water on the west side flows to the Pacific. The highest peaks in the USA, mostly in Colorado, are along the Divide.
But there is no road or trail for bicycles that actually runs on the Divide, so what they really are doing is traveling a path that follows the Divide and at times crossing the Divide.
The film is done well and is interesting, but I feel it has one big flaw ... it never focuses on some of the key landmarks along the way. For examples Waterton in Canada and Glacier in Montana. Where did they cross the Divide? What elevations? Also in Colorado, did they go through Rocky Mountain Park and ride the trail ridge road, or did they have to bypass it? Did they ride over Independence Pass, or bypass it? I know they went through Salida, but overall I would have found the film even more interesting if they had focused a bit more on the actual route.
But the film shows how difficult the "race" is. Many of them dropped out, by the end probably over half although the film doesn't make that very clear. Some had injuries and couldn't continue, some couldn't take the loneliness, or just the effort required each day for about 3 weeks.
But the hero of the film is Matthew Lee who went on to win. (He also won in other years.) Matthew is just the perfect type of person for this kind of adventure. Even though his wife was due to have a baby shortly, and he was clearly a family man, he also relished the challenge and being out there, by himself, with time to reflect on life, he started each day with a smile and just pedalled on. And he mused, as hard as the "Ride the Divide" race is, it likely doesn't compete with the task of being a parent.
I enjoyed following Matthew's trek along the Divide. Also the lady who had swelling in her legs, actually dropped out, but after talking with her husband went back and finished the race, I believe 9 days after Matthew.
The LAPD put the "heat" on a group of professional robbers.
I somehow missed this movie back in the 1990s when it was popular. Recently my public library bought the BluRay version and that is what I watched. It is filled with first-rate actors and for the most part is a very gripping police and crime drama.
Al Pacino is Lt. Vincent Hanna, very dedicated and focused on catching crooks and putting them away. His main nemesis is Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley, the leader of a well-organized band of big- time robbers. Among his gang are Val Kilmer as Chris Shiherlis, and Tom Sizemore as Michael Cheritto. A fixer, the kind of person who can make connections and get fake credentials is Jon Voight as Nate.
All of them are good but the real focus of the movie are the Pacino and De Niro characters. In fact about half-way they meet face-to- face in a restaurant, each makes it known to the other that they intend to accomplish their missions, and we know both can't succeed.
Also good are the ladies, Diane Venora as Justine Hanna, the wife who has a hard time coping with her husband's duties. And Amy Brenneman as Eady, who McCauley falls for, making his exit more difficult.
SPOILERS: The big bank heist at the end, where the robbers carry out several large cases of paper money, is almost foiled but in a massive (and unrealistic) shootout in the street the robbers manage to get away. But Hanna is still looking to find an informant, he is certain that the crooks have a plan to leave L.A. for parts unknown. But when he gets the clue there is a showdown at the LAX airport, as a plane is landing shadows reveal McCauley allowing Hanna to shoot him. His vow of never going back to prison comes true.
The Machine (2013)
Futuristic android with a real person's mind.
I came across this movie on Netflix streaming movies. I enjoyed the futuristic theme but much of the story seems disjointed. I never was quite sure why the characters were doing what they were doing.
But one really bright spot for me is Caity Lotz as Ava, who is helping the team with their studies, but then her mind is somehow copied and transplanted into a super strong, indestructible android that looks just like her.
But in fact Caity is required to play two different roles. Her real human character acts and speaks in one way, her android character quite different. I was familiar with her from her role on the TV series "Arrow", distinctive with her deeply dimpled chin. This is the only other acting I have seen her in and she is quite good.
The movie also has quite a bit of violence, including many killed with guns. When I see that much killing in a movie I wonder if a segment of the audience really enjoys that, because to me it detracts from the story.
SPOILER: The way they use Ava is after they have copied her brain and mind they kill her, then they use what they copied for the android which had human-type learning abilities.