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The Simple Life (2003)
A missed opportunity
Having seen the first episode, I think the creators are missing an opportunity to make this more than a smutty freak show. First, they wasted way too much time in setting up an obvious premise. Paris and Nicole are spoiled jet-setters who will be spending a month in the sticks. We get it.
The indulgent shopping spree and send-off party were really not crucial to the show. Brief in and out. The condescendingly hick announcer's voice-overs are indeed reminiscent of "The Beverly Hillbillies." The comparison is not necessary. Leaving the pickup with the keys and instructions was obviously unrealistic. Who does that? And with a camera crew, to boot. Sending them to the store as soon as they got there? What host does that to their guests?
A big help to make this work would be to apply leverage to the plot. In the first episode, the girls refused to involve themselves in chicken plucking. The results? Nothing. When they DID go to the store, for instance - nothing.
How about this:
If the girls refuse to perform a chore, they forfeit an item or privilege. Won't pluck a chicken? Say goodbye to the pooch, or a couple of pairs to shoes.
If they behave themselves and play along, they get to call Mommy, Daddy, friend, etc., and they get one item of their choice.
Now you've got a chance at a decent show.
Tune in Tomorrow... (1990)
A sometimes uneven romp is overtaken by a simply brilliant performance by Peter Falk. Don't miss this overlooked jewel. Falk stars as a writer of radio serials who has been both a success, and ridden out of town, from every decent station in the country. Now in New Orleans, we discover his secret for success, and his hysterical passion to pull everything together.
Nurse Betty (2000)
Love this movie!
Nothing amuses me more than a quirky little wink at real life, and that's what this one is. Add two exceptional performances by Zelweggar and Freeman and you've got a little gem here.
Betty Sizemore's (Renee Zelweggar) only escape from her humdrum existence as the waitress wife of a sleazy, philandering car salesman is through her fascination with her favorite soap - a hospital show. Add her infatuation with the lead character (Greg Kinnear) to a dream of nursing, and Betty is barely in touch with reality. When viewing the bizarre death of her husband at the hands of hit men (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock) puts her over that edge, she sets out to correct the errors of her fantasy past - traveling to Hollywood to patch things up with her true love, that dashing doctor. With the hit men on her heels trying to tie up loose ends, retrieve stolen drugs, plus realize Freeman's ever-growing fantasy romance with Betty, she heads West.
Betty's fascination proves fascinating to the Soap folk who assume she is nothing more or less than the perfect new love-interest for the show. Only by grasping Betty's lack of grasp on reality allow the hitmen, the local newspaperman (Crispin Glover) and Sheriff (Pruitt Taylor-Vince) to converge on Betty at the exact moment that she has relit in reality.
Zelweggar and Freeman show major chops in this one.
A Simple Plan (1998)
Can you spell "trapped"?
We have all heard the saying, "honesty is the best policy." Nothing drives it home quite like watching Hank Mitchell try to squirm his way out of the ever-deepening pit of despair his actions have gotten him into.
Hank (Bill Paxton), his dullard brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), and Jacob's friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) accidentally stumble across an opportunity to do right - and a temptation to do wrong. Finding a wrecked plane in a deserted location, they must decide what to do with the $4.4 million in unmarked hundreds they find aboard. Although the intelligent Hank counsels for taking the money to the police, his two slower partners want to take the money and run. Hank yields on two provisions: 1) he holds the money until they can determine that there is nobody looking for it, and 2) when they split the money they must also split the town.
Hank's situation draws advice from his pregnant wife, Sarah (Bridget Fonda), whose every recommendation leads him into deeper desperation. Jacob's slow wit and open mouth continue to create new problems, and the drunken, bullying Lou proves ruthless about keeping to the plan. At every turn in the plot, poor Hank must make another fatal error to cover up the last one.
The desperation that the simple plan throws into the lives of Jacob and Hank soon make them rue the day they ever saw the money.
A compelling story and great performances make for a wonderful, yet painful two hours.
All the possibilities in the world!
With all of the predictable and formulaic sitcoms on TV, what a refreshing joy it was to see something that dared to be different, to set its own course, to go its own way.
"Ed" is the charming account of a man's search for personal redemption by not looking where everyone's head says to go, but where his heart says. Ed Stevens has the day of his life when he is fired from his job as an NYC contract attorney and finds his wife with another man. He uses this as the opportunity to overcome his fears and pursue his dreams.
Returning to his home town of Stuckyville, he pursues his highschool crush, buys the local bowling alley and practices small town law.
A delight for dreamers and romantics of all ages and genders!
Rear Window (1954)
A truly astonishing accomplishment! Even if one were to remove the gritty performance of Jimmy Stewart, the beauty of Grace Kelly, and the comedy of Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey, one is left with a most compelling story. If one removes the story line, one is left with stark physical beauty, and superb photography. If one removes those, one is still left with an incredible juggling of multiple agendas in multiple locales at one!
I watched this movie again for probably the 50th time, and was again spellbound by the physical layering of the filmmaking. Alfred Hitchcock balances action within Stewart's apartment, in the outside courtyard, in several apartments surrounding the courtyard, in hallways leading to those apartments, in an alley leading to the street, on the sidewalk, on the street, to the sidewalk across that street and in the cafe beyond that. An unbelievable logistical accomplishment. How very much that personifies the same layering within one of the most superlative scripts ever written. Hitch, Stewart and the rest of the cast are up to every single demand.
One of the greats. Do not miss it!
Bill Wilder + Jack Lemmon = Wonderful
Has their ever been a better pairing than writer/director Billy Wilder and star Jack Lemmon. From "The Apartment", "Irma La Deuce", and "Some Like it Hot" to the beautiful and charming "Avanti" they work every time.
This wondrously insightful tale presents a hard-edged realist (Lemmon) meeting and falling for a true romantic (Juliet Mills) as the two visit the isle of Iscia to pick up the bodies of their recently deceased parents - and secret lovers. Lemmon and Mills are wonderful together.
Add a hysterical performance from Clive Revill as the hotel manager Carlo Carlucci and you get one of the most romantic and fun experiences available on film.
For lovers everywhere!
Say Anything... (1989)
I'm Lloyd Dobbler.
Teen angst movies don't get any better. Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) is everyman. Everyman on a mission, that is. That mission is everyman's dream - a brain trapped inside the body of a gameshow hostess - Diane Court (Ione Skye). With superb performances by the leads, John Mahoney and Lilly Taylor, "Say Anything" never lets its audience guess where it is going next, nor does it disappoint them when it gets there.
Teen age love with grown up brains. Check it out.
The Man in the Moon (1991)
"The Man in the Moon" is a sweet and heartwrenching look at first love through the eyes of a 14 year girl in the South. When I first saw this film, I was astonished by the performance of first time actress Reece Witherspoon. My reaction was she's going to be a great actress, and she's going to be a stunner.
Boy was I right or what!
This weird and wonderful film works on level after level after level. By examining our views of ourselves and our society, it bowls over common perceptions and cautions. It takes on nostalgia, censorship and self examination in a new and wonderful way.
Kudos to Reese Witherspoon and Toby McGwire in the major roles, Joan Allen and William H. Macy in the "show within a show" roles. An excellent supporting performance is provided by the late J. T. Walsh. Jeff Daniels character and performance bring everything together.
But the show is stolen by Don Knotts. Citizens arrest, Barney!