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vpadgett

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17 reviews in total 
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Firewall (2006)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
High on the Lame Scale, and, Insulting to women, 27 January 2007
5/10

I am a big fan of Harrison Ford. But watch Witness, Mosquito Coast, Presumed Innocent, or Air Force One, before this one.

The DVD Special Features are worth watching, and thankfully short: Firewal Decoded, and, Firewall: Writing a Thriller. There is no commentary by director or writer or producer or set designer or whoever, but, you probably won't want to see it if you sit through all the film.

If you cut out the middle hour it should be more watcheable.

Specific problems for me:

That annoying dog. Would an annoying ugly yapping dog make it through the first evening, much less several days?

And how is it that the darling little boy is subjected to mistreatment through the film, but the wife and daughter character have status that prevents them from comparable threat? Does anyone find it believable that the wife and teenage daughter would sit around day after day in the house, captive with 4 or 5 men, and it would be the little boy who is the victim of mistreatment--"take him downstairs and break his knee," &c. Feed him allergenic foods so he almost dies, and so forth.

I took my daughter to karate twice a week for 5 years. I taught her to shoot rifle, shotgun, revolver, and auto pistol. If she were in this situation, I am sure she could do more than whine, ask her mom what is going on, stuff Trix in her mouth, and act helpless.

Next, those dopey gun-to-the-head scenes. OK I have never had a gun to my head and hope I don't in the near term, but how is it than when a movie character has a gun to their head they just fall apart and do whatever is asked? Might one not think-- So if he shoots me, then he can't get what he wants-- so where is the threat in the gun to my head ... Am I the only one to think of this?

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Pour a glass of wine, build a fire, and enjoy., 14 January 2007
7/10

Filmed in Little Rock, Arkansas, this film is a languid telling of a Southern family's domestic travails. All the characters appear to be enjoying themselves most of the time, except Ben Affleck and Jamie Lee Curtis. And John Prine, who seems to be enjoying himself all the time.

Prine's gravelly voice is a treat. Wait for the credits to roll and you will finally get to hear him sing ("In Spite of Ourselves"—just right for this film).

The soundtrack is stunning, especially the acoustic "Dixie," soft and reflective, strummed while Billy Bob reflects on himself.

Don't miss the director's commentary. Billy Bob Thornton adds quite a bit of insight and detail to each scene.

Pour a glass of wine, build a fire, and enjoy.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"I Ain't Even Seen the Old Moses!", 14 January 2007
8/10

Steamboat Round the Bend is one of 3 collaborations between director John Ford and actor Will Rogers, and was shot in 6 weeks in the Sacramento River Delta.

The commentary by Scott Eyman, on the 2006 DVD, is worth having apart from the film. Eyman is author of two books on director John Ford: Print the Legend, and John Ford: The Complete Films. His commentary is among the very best I have ever heard.

Standout scenes: An exquisite wedding ceremony brings tears even to Will Rogers's eyes, and he is not acting. Anne Shirley as Fleety Belle is stunning in her delicate beauty throughout. The "New Moses," Berton Churchill, is memorable in his role as a full-of-himself blowhard, as he was playing the prosecuting attorney in the 1934 "Judge Priest," another Ford-Rogers collaboration. Another reprise from Judge Priest is John Ford's brother Francis, again playing a drunk with amazing aim when he spits. A final highlight is supercharging the Claremore Queen firebox with the Pocahontas Remedy.

Some viewers are disturbed by Lincoln Perry's (Stepin Fetchit) character, but more disturbing to me was the lassoing of Moses! Scott Eyman gives a superb analysis of the dull and slow character played by Stepin Fetchit—transcending the kneejerk politically-correct reaction of today, and placing Fetchit's characterization (and that of Hattie McDaniel in other films) in a larger context. He says "might I offer a modest proposal: Is it not now time to look past the stereotypes these actors portrayed-- and look at the art, and the warmth, with which they played them." Two other films with Rogers have the same charm and image of 19th Century American values; one is the Ford– Rogers collaboration Judge Priest, and the other, also released in 1935, is In Old Kentucky.

Commentator Eyman says "taken together, the 3 Ford-Rogers films (Judge Priest, Dr. Boles, and Steamboat) rank with Ford's finest achievements." After Rogers's tragic death, 50,000 people filed by his closed casket, and 12,000 movie theaters went dark for two minutes.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
You will be delighted by his warm wit and wry humor., 11 January 2007
8/10

In Old Kentucky was released shortly after Rogers's death, and is his last-released film, though not the last film he starred in. Steamboat Round the Bend was filmed earlier, but released first, as it was thought to be the stronger work. Fox Films and 20th Century Fox produced this piece of warm Americana set in the 1920s.

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, known for a similar dance performance with Shirley Temple in "The Little Colonel," appears throughout. His role in was intended for Stepin Fetchit, but that actor was working on another film and his role was rewritten to allow Robinson to show off his famous dancing.

The DVD 2006 release includes a critical commentary by Anthony Slide. It is worthwhile, despite his lisp-- "I have a bwidge in Bwooklyn," reminiscent of the "Woger" and "Weginald" of "Life of Brian." Slide is more critical than warranted-- for example: "another weak sight gag, and equally weak as the first sight gag at the beginning of the film." Charlie Chaplin this isn't - if you want brilliant sight gags, rent Chaplin or Keaton instead! Slide's pointing out stunt doubles didn't add to my appreciation of the film, but his commentary on the careers of the players, many from vaudeville, was valuable.

More annoying is Slide's obsession with every instance of perceived racism. It is difficult to review a film released 72 years ago and not apply today's standards. On the other hand, Slide gives a good discussion on blackface-- white actors portraying black actors, wearing black face makeup, without turning that discussion into another political diatribe. Listen for it during Rogers's blackface dance scene.

Is the DVD release in Mono or Stereo? From the Menu, choose Language Selection and then English Stereo, as the program defaults to Mono. (I think you will hear Mono anyway.)

Rogers's fly medicine monologue was a high point in the film, as were all the scenes with Rogers dancing. The second half of the film picks up speed through the end, which had me laughing out loud. While this may not be Rogers's best work, you will be delighted by his warm wit and wry humor.

Will Rogers has been compared to Mark Twain for his humor. After Rogers's tragic death in 1935, people in 12,000 theaters observed two minutes of silence.

12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Timeless Commentary on Nature of War, 11 November 2004
9/10

This film stands in its caliber up there with Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), and Johnny Got his Gun. It is World War in a microcosm.

The film is not dated, nor will it ever be. All long as men fight for territory or for ideals, this film will stand among the top few as a testament to the idiocy and pettiness of war. Was not available for many years.

"Ich auch"-- closing line -- as the two lieutenants walk together off set-- burned in my memory from one viewing nearly 30 years ago. If you saw it you will remember.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Lasting Comment on Human Conflict, 11 November 2004
10/10

Walking in fields of red poppies. Singing "We're here-- because we're here-- because we're here because ... " John Mills as the British Field Marshall war criminal General Haig, walking thoughtfully in those graveyards; whatever was he thinking-- if anything? Today is Armistice Day, 11 November 2004. I think of this film as one of the top film monuments in Western film-making. It captures the meaning of War, in a way in which few other films capture it-- I'm Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930 version); Black and White in Color (French/African, 1969), and a very few others. The songs resonate, even in 2004-- "There's a silver lining, 'neath this dark cloud shining ... turn the darkness inside out, 'til the boys come home." Tonight I watched on PBS the faces and names, in silence, of 20 more dead in Iraq. Have you seen the film or read the book, Johnny Got His Gun? The only books whose plates were seized by the FBI, in 1939? The War goes on (Herman Hesse, 1916). And so it goes (Kurt Vonnegut, 1969).

22 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
Lasting Comment on Human Conflict, 11 November 2004
10/10

Walking in fields of red poppies. Singing "We're here-- because we're here-- because we're here because ... " John Mills as the British Field Marshall war criminal General Haig, walking thoughtfully in those graveyards; whatever was he thinking-- if anything? Today is Armistice Day, 11 November 2004. I think of this film as one of the top film monuments in Western film-making. It captures the meaning of War, in a way in which few other films capture it-- I'm Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930 version); Black and White in Color (French/African, 1969), and a very few others. The songs resonate, even in 2004-- "There's a silver lining, 'neath this dark cloud shining ... turn the darkness inside out, 'til the boys come home." Tonight I watched on PBS the faces and names, in silence, of 20 more dead in Iraq. Have you seen the film or read the book, Johnny Got His Gun? The only books whose plates were seized by the FBI, in 1939? The War goes on (Herman Hesse, 1916). And so it goes (Kurt Vonnegut, 1969).

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Incredible, 24 January 2004

Incredible. I need to see it again. Mississippi, Faulkner, searching for redemption, crying out "corpsman" in his sleep ... there is a very lot packed into this film. Arliss Howard is perfect for this role. Did the boxcar have to roll off at the end?

14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Another mystery thriller from the master sleuth, 24 November 2001
8/10

This episode has all the trademarks: Guest appearances by Hollywood notables; memorable one-line throwaway gags; a baffling mystery; familiar L.A. locations; problems with the car ("there's only three like this in the country" he says; and Columbo's tying things together by staying on that one thing that doesn't make sense.

Guest was Leslie Nielsen, looking younger and much more serious than in the other roles I've seen him in.

Can we catalog the great one-liners in these 68 movies? Here are two from this episode: Columbo: "Do you have any wine?" McGoohan: "I have a whole cellar full." Columbo (waving his hand) "Oh, I'll just have a glass." Another classic: McGoohan: "Do you like music?" Columbo: "Oh, I hear it all the time."

Seeing the action at Travel Town, where I took my daughter 10 years ago, added to my enjoyment of this episode.

Maybe it's my tv adjustment, but the clash is getting greater between the color of Columbo's suit and his raincoat ...

Stay the course, Lieutenant Columbo, stay the course.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Best film on Chess, 20 October 2001
10/10

This is a brilliant film, and captures the combat and obsession of chess. Bruno Ganz plays an amalgamation of Steinitz, Morphy, and Fischer. One great line is his sister's: "Ha Ha, Mom took your board way and you can't play anymore!" The scene has the young future GM staring at the floor blankly, after his parents decided he was obsessed and hid his board. He looks up at says simply "I don't need a board."


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