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A Christmas Story (1972)
Used to see this all the time at Christmas
I have fond memories of this. The friendly mouse and dog team up to deliver a letter to Santa. They go all over town but keep running into store Santas or Salvation Army types or whatever. There are the usual Hanna Barbara songs, voicers (Daws Butler and Paul Winchell), treacly images of an ideal Christmas, etc.
And know what, I loved every single second of it. They'd put this on about 7:30 pm in December back in the 70s, and I can remember playing outside in the snow as a kid, coming into the house and seeing this come on. It was a perfect tandem show w/ the Grinch/Rankin Bass/Peanuts stuff that is now better remembered.
It's not a classic per se, but its not that bad, and if you ever get a chance to watch it, do so. You gotta like H-B from the 70s though. Fair Warning.
Christmas Is (1970)
I remember this.
They showed it all the time back in the 70s, this and its counterpart 'Easter Is'. It was produced/backed by a Lutheran Church in St Louis Missouri. while the animation was limited and it was kinda treacly, the show's heart was in the right place. I well remember the kid winding up back in time as the 'second Shephard' during the Nativity. And how it made the Romans look like the baddies.
They also did a good job of showing the Christmas star, a silent night, small town of Bethleham, etc. It's reverent but done w/ some class.
Basically it's like a sawed off Peanuts special w/out the shine and panache, but it has its moments. Check it out if you are in the mood and you ever get a chance.
Yellow Sky (1948)
Interesting, moody western.
*Fine cast-Gregory Peck, Harry Morgan, Richard Widmark, Anne Baxter, etc.
*Beautifully filmed, stark Death Valley backdrops, shadows, lines over the sand and rocks. You can tell its a late 40's movie.
*Has a bit of a film noire look to it as well, especially during the shootout. Watch how the moonlight filters through the curtains onto Anne Baxter and Peck in one shot especially, almost like they were a part of them...yeah I know, sounds weird. But if you see it you'll know what I mean.
*Good to see John Russell in his Leo Gordon/Lee Van Cleef baddie phase. You can't miss those eagle like eyes.
*Plot is odd-the hidden stash of gold, the tomboyish gal w/ the gun protecting her grandfather, John Russell out to rape her(yes), Peck going over to their side, Sherman Potter switching sides (twice!), the return of the loot to the bank, etc. It plays well but takes a few turns you don't expect.
*Mass cameo of 100 Apaches. They fade out about as fast as the cavalry(!) does at the beginning.
*Do see this. Peck and Widmark play off one another well *** outta ****
Boom Town (1940)
Pretty good buddy movie of the times.
This one has it all-great cast(Spencer, Clark, Hedy, Claudette), rousing action(check that oil well fire scene), over-use of montages, boom and bust cycles, beautiful women(esp. Hedy), fistfights, etc. A typical big budget, big star feature of the times.
I donno how much I bought the soap opera angle-clearly Claudette and Spencer should have gotten back together at the end, w/ Gable taking off w/ Hedy. She was easily more his type. The movie is quite superficial-they gain and lose fortunes at a seeming moments notice, bounce back easily and keep on plowing ahead. Gable and Tracy carry this, esp. Gable. It's likable, somewhat overlong and tends to drag a bit in the second half. Frank Morgan and Chill Wills help keep it lively. Look out for a neato Curt Bois cameo too. Think 'Casablanca' and 'Vipers'.
*** outta ****, you will like it if you like the two leads.
True Grit (2010)
This is actually a remake of the orig movie. don't be fooled.
There is this strange insistence on the part of the Coens that this is not a remake of the '69 Duke film. HAW. This is SO much a remake of that movie it ain't funny. While it's not as slavish to it's source material as the '98 Psycho re-hash, it's right up there. I hadn't watched the Wayne vehicle in some years, and I could tell right away. Don't try so hard Coens. Nothing wrong w/ remaking True Grit-it's a good film.
Others have already expressed what works so well here-I just wanna say I agree. Jeff Bridges is terrific as Cogburn-by NO means is he 'better' that the Duke-he's essentially channelling Mitchum from 'El Dorado' by way of Wallace Beery as far's I'm concerned. And it works, rather well. You root for the man and buy into his toughness out on the trail after the baddies.
Loved Mattie here. Like watching a young Jody Foster at work. Self-assured, believable, steady, a little adult. You hope she has a great future ahead of her. I enjoyed her performance.
Good turns by Barry Pepper, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin too. Solid action, great scenery and cinematography.
I think as an overall film, it's better than the '69 Oscar winner, as two of the key roles here-Damon and Mattie> Campbell and Darby. No one is going to replace the Duke, and Bridges of all people, being part of Hollywood royalty, knows this better than anyone. He made the role his own and therefore the film is that much better for it.
***1/2 of *****. Yes go see it. Wayne wouldn't mind.
Good if inaccurate in places.
Just going to do some bullet points here...
*Sheen as Frost is pretty good. Had a Pythonish quality to him.
*Langella as Nixon is good/bad, fine actor but this was Richard Little in level at times-that bogus Nixon drunk-dial sequence, for example? Egads.
*The spinning of this at the end, where it's shown as being some Mano-a-mano bout, w/ Nixon clocking him first three rounds and then Frost getting him at the end, didn't quite ring true. There's a grossly false misrepresentation of how this interview affected Nixon afterwards. Frost is rightly shown as soaring career-wise from there on out, but Nixon? they make it out to be his failed last stab at rehab, and fading into the woodwork.
Where were these clowns during the Reagan years? Hello-?? Nixon as in Comeback Nixon was ALL you heard about there-he was the Foreign Policy Guru, esp. on China and Russia, he was on the cover of Newsweek-I think the headline was 'Nixon is BACK?!-Yes he is', of course he turned out the books and etc. as well.
I'm NOT a fan of the man, at least not the whole Nam/Watergate period-Nixon did some horrible things and is lucky he didn't wind up in jail. But to cling to some liberal wankjob of saying he never came back or whatever-that's a narrative that ain't gonna hunt. That's grossly, terribly, FALSE and wrong. He did. Period.
Try again Richie.
Northern Exposure (1990)
It holds up rather well.
Literate, quirky, endearing, filled to the brim w/ 'magical realism'. An artifact from the early '90's. All of those things are true.
I got the 3rd season DVD, and a few things I noticed after watching this series for the first time in a decade or so: *The DVD doesn't have the top 40 hits that were on the series at the time. Royalties snafu. You get a cheaper DVD this way I suppose. But you do lose something.
*It's right before we became swamped w/ cell phones and the Internet. The lack of both are very obvious. I think it's a welcome quality, too.
*The characters are great-Ed, Maggie, the Doc, the DJ, Maurice, Ruth-Anne, Marion, even Adam. You don't run into such a unique variety of people on series TV much, and as well-written, too.
*Joel gets on your nerves easily, sometimes it's like he's perennially new, always the Noo Yoiker outta his element. It did get contrived after awhile.
*I never honestly bought Cynthia Geary falling for Holling, just because. The age-gap etc was too much. But that's okay both are decent performers and it works. Kind of.
*The show could have ran longer.
*It's rewarding and not afraid of wearing its heart on its sleeve. It holds up and I recommend watching it to anyone who is interested.
**** outta ****
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Pretty good, not as good's the first one though.
I think this one falls into the Spidey II mold-mucho personal introspection on the part of the hero, his flaws come out in a big way, and there's a rather drawn out flat section of the movie where he's Not Iron Man, and it does drag things down some. They were going for more charcterization I realize, but-it's kinda slow.
What works? Downey Jr. as Iron Man is up to par as he was in the first, it's quite good. This is his role.
Paltrow as Potts is okay, but they did make her out to be a shrew.
I liked Scarlet as the Black Widow, not on screen all that much but what they do show is perfectly fine.
Baddie's plot-well the Crimson Dynamo(Rourke) teams up w/ a rival arms builder(Rockwell), to field an army of Iron Man-like Drones. Takes'em out w/ Cheadle's help. Mucho explosions, shooting and flying around. I would have liked a couple more scenes like that during the movie, honestly--just to help the pacing.
Roarke is okay as Vanko there you just don't see him doing that much save making Drones, hacking into networks and slicing up a couple Le Mans cars. That part was fine, by the way.
Check it out though, a good way to open up the summer--though you can be forgiven if you think you've seen parts of this before-Robocop or Transformers esp come to mind.
*** outta ****
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Okay video-game like re-hash of '81 film.
Good things/bad things about this: 1: Worthington is solid if not spectacular as Perseus. He gets the job done.
2: Gemma Aterton as Io the narrative Plot device is fine.
3: I liked the Kraken, scorpions, Medusa, harpies, etc.
4: Fiennes as Hades was fine save not on screen enough.
5: F/X are state of the art, no problem here.
What was bad: 1: Couldn't tell apart most of supporting cast.
2: Andromeda has a zero part. She is a big deal in the classic myth etc.
3: Zeus Neeson is no on screen enough, not much of a part either.
4: It plays like a video game. You have zero characterization, motivation, etc save for the fact that they go from A to B and fight things then go to C and fight some more, people die, etc. No real variety.
5: Kraken should have been on longer.
Kudos for the funny bits including Bubo, 'That doesn't inspire confidence', etc. And what was w/ the mummies? **1/2 outta ****, not bad but you won't remember much afterwards.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Fine card-shark McQueen vehicle.
Quite a fine movie. The cast is the best part-McQueen doing his uber-cool thing, Ann-Margret as the sultry decoration, Malden the jittery best friend, a youngish Rip Torn as the baddie, Edward G. as Minnesota Fats, more or less.
It's set in New Orleans in the thirties, it involves a killer marathon poker-showdown between the reigning champion of these events-Edward G. Robinson, and the local up and coming hotshot, Steve McQueen. Familiar faces such as Cab Calloway, Dub Taylor, Jeff Corey and Joan Blondell get into the action and help make this one even better me thinks just because.
Only real debits-slowish pacing in the middle, Malden too trusting w/ his gal A-M around McQueen, and it really doesn't have that authentic Sting/Thirties look to it. A-M and Weld could have walked in off the Viva Las Vegas sets, you know? The marathon poker match is the best part, certainly, keep an eye out for Jack Weston here-he certainly adds something to the preceedings.
I was surprised by Edward G winning by the way-it looked like a real set-up to have McQueen take him down at the end. No dice. I think Edward G also steals the show here, he's quite in his element and the camera just loves him.
Check it out, well worth your time. *** outta ****