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I'm older than sin and ornery as hell.That sentence does not describe me. It's true I'm older than about 90 percent of the US population, but sin has been around for thousands of years. Plus, I'm generally called &nice& by people who know me. They also say I'm very intelligent, but if I am so intelligent why am I trading messages on a chat board? The curse of being nice is that it doesn't promise excitement and edginess that the women, I crave, crave. But I have had an interesting, if safe, life as an analyst at the old McDonnell Douglas Astronautic and nuclear energy regulation.
Enjoyable character study
Very enjoyable and engrossing small film with a well thought out plot and interesting characters. Walter (Andrew J. West) is a young adult who lives an overly-obsessive ordered life. He also believes his father is God and his mission in life is to pass judgment on everyone he meets as to whether that person will go to heaven or hell in the afterlife. He lives at home with a widowed mother (Virginia Madsen) who has her own peculiar behavior pattern. She is unaware of Walter's beliefs but is distressed that Walter is not healthier.
Walter's life is abruptly disrupted by the sudden appearance of a ghost (Justin Kirk, who played Andy Botwin in the TV series "Weeds") who demands Walter send him to either heaven or hell already because he's been on earth as a ghost for 10 years now. Without giving the story away, I can say I felt the author very nicely tied everything together in the end.
Walter H. Macy plays a very unusual psychologist, whose personality is pretty similar to what Macy portrays on the US version of "Shameless."
Neve Campbell has a small but critical role as a nurse.
Jim Gaffigan does an excellent job as the theater manager who doesn't take his own job too seriously but is a good boss.
I watched the film on TV. Perhaps it works better in an intimate setting than in a theater, but I really found it engrossing, enjoyable and worthwhile.
Up in the Air (2009)
Yes, the other reviewers are right about what the film is about, how well its acted, etc. I mean it WAS nominated for best picture, best actor in a leading role,best actress in a leading role, best supporting actress, best director, and best adapted screenplay. George Clooney was absolutely terrific, as was Vera Farmiga as people whose jobs keep them flying about the country like old-time traveling salesmen. I wasn't thrilled by the ending, but I really enjoyed the story.
But I wanted to add that the cinematography, particularly the attention grabbing opening montage, was filmed and edited so beautifully that I thought it added much to my fascination with this film.
The White Countess (2005)
Far better than the 2-star rating Comcast Xfinity TV lists it as
I found this film on the MPLEX Chanel TV listings of Comcast Xfinity. The listing gave it just 2 of 4 stars, but as a history buff I found the description blurb compelling: "Intriguing love story, set in 1936 Shanghai, in which a disillusioned blind diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) falls for a ruined Russian royal (Natasha Richardson) working as a B-girl. Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and aunt, Lynn Redgrave, costar."
I set my DVR to record it a while back but just got around to watching it I am writing this review to protest the 2-star rating of the listing. Maybe its not 4-star, but it deserves at least 3-star.
Richardson's Countess' job is more correctly labeled as a "taxi dancer" in a cabaret-bar, not a "bar girl." But in 1936 it is still a disgraceful job in the minds of her mother, aunt and sister-in-law, who live with her and are supported by her earnings, but still pretend their royal birth entitles them to a better life. This becomes significant late in the film.
Fiennes' character has given up any pretense of using his reputation as a top American diplomat for the stodgy respectable company that pays his salary, and dreams of one-day owning a cabaret of his own with just the right amount of tension between internationally diverse clientèle, a select group of bouncers, the right entertainment, and the ideal elegant but sad woman to set the sexual atmosphere. He wants to live in his dream bar and shut out the messy real world outside.
Dom Hemingway (2013)
I had not intended to watch Dom Hemingway. I never heard about it before it came on while I was tuned to HBO. But its opening scene is hard to ignore. A man in a prison is standing naked while someone (out of the camera view) is giving him a blow job, while the prisoner, who announces that he is the great Dom Hemingway, waxes poetically about the greatness of his cock. Once hooked I couldn't stop watching. Throughout the film Dom speeches have a Shakespeare-like quality about them, not realistic perhaps but fascinating language. I was mesmerized by Jude Law's performance.
The plot involves Dom serving 12 years in prison to protect his crime boss, and his odyssey in pursuit of the reward he feels is his due. Dom has anger management issues and is clearly admired by his fellow prisoners and feared by the civilians who know him. Melody is one of the hookers the crime boss rewards Dom with. Later in the film she reappears as a sort of angelic seer who helps him change his life and his luck.
On his release from prison Dom meets up with an old friend, a criminal named Dickie, who sticks with Dom on his crusade to get his reward for his 12 year sacrifice. Dickie is played magnificently by Richard E. Grant, a British actor who looks a bit like a young Max von Sydow.
Making Mr. Right (1987)
Ann Magnuson reminded me of a young Shirley MacLaine
The two stars of the film are John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson. John Malkovich is now renowned as a consummate actor, and in this film he has a tour de force in a dual role playing Dr. Jeff Peters, an all-serious engineer/scientist and the look-alike android he created for a one-person multi-year deep space mission which the characters believe would be too lonely for a human to endure.
Unfortunately, Ann Magnuson did not enjoy similar success as a film actress following this part. I found that surprising because she was truly excellent as Frankie Stone, a respected publicist hired to convince the government to provide funds for continuation of Dr. Peters' deep space project. Frankie's approach is to make the android (named Ulysses) more engaging and interesting to the general public during interviews. That is, to make it more human-like. Magnuson, a red-head, was around 30 years old when the film was made, and I thought at times that I was watching a 30 year old Shirley MacLaine.
The style of the film as a whole seemed to me to belong to an earlier time in the film industry, more like 1950s era romantic comedies. I checked to see if the film had been made earlier and not released until 1987, but found nothing to indicate that. Perhaps I'm just not remembering that time period accurately.
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Cynical, depressing, but glad I finished it
Comcast/Xfinity: "In this thrilling crime drama, a professional enforcer (Brad Pitt*) probes the robbery of a mob poker game by three low-level thieves, but his investigation is complicated by an alcoholic hit man (a world-weary looking James Gandolfini*), incompetent gangsters, and the playboy host of the game (a corpulent Ray Liotta*)."
* - text in parentheses are my additions -
From that description, despite the phrase "thrilling crime drama," I was expecting a "The Ladykillers" or "Lavender Hill Mob" comedy. That turned out to be completely wrong. There is ZERO humor in this film. I also wouldn't call it thrilling, since its obvious the mob wants those involved to be killed.
Instead the film is a character study. We get to know the motives, fears, desires of the players. In the background are snipers of TV coverage of the 2008 presidential race between Bush and Obama, a time when the economy was in a state of near collapse later called the Great Recession. Crime, too, is in a depression. Basically the film delivers a depressingly cynical message that Jefferson's vision of democracy is a lie, that America is a business, and that way to live life is take what you can.
I watched this on a Comcast/Xfinity cable TV digital recording device. Half-way through I decided that I wasn't enjoying it and turned it off. But several days later I went back and finished it. I'm glad I did.
The Object of Beauty (1991)
Definitely worth more than the 2 star rating given on Comcast Xfinity
John Malkovich (Jake) was really good looking in 1991 when he was 38. Andie MacDowell (Tina)was 33. In a nude scene from the rear and partial side she is drop dead gorgeous.
Jake and Tina are stylish, selfish and broke. He is a wheeler dealer who's latest gamble on a shipment of cocoa is a disaster, and his credit is maxed out. She owns, and adores, a small Henry Moore bronze figure of which only 9 were cast and then the mold was broken. It is their only thing of monetary value. She muses about reporting it stolen to collect on its insurance, but he says it is too risky. The sculpture goes missing. A deaf-mute hotel maid admired the sculpture for its beauty rather than its value. The plot thread about her is perhaps the heart of the film, but I enjoyed most of all the character development of Jake and Tina.
The film is a delightful exploration of how the two lovers deal with the disappearance. Spot on acting and directing. I loved it.
Stay Hungry (1976)
See famous movie actors in early roles
Jeff Bridges as born into southern gentry but trying to find what he wants to do in life after his parents leave him the family mansion. I loved the part where he dances a jig at a blue grass music hootenanny. This film introduced a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in a role where he is a body builder who also plays a country fiddle. Sally Field plays a country girl out of place among the southern aristocracy Jeff's character belongs to.
Scatman Crothers has a small part as the faithful family retainer. Fannie Flagg and Joanna Cassidy are gentry acquaintances of Bridge's character. "
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Better than just great battle scenes.
I'm not a fan of action movies that spend heavily on crashes, fires, and other special effects, but skimp on the screenplay. Kingdom of Heaven, however, is an action epic about who rules Jerusalem at the time of the first Crusades, but with a decent and interesting plot.
While it contains some historical characters, it is a fictionalized account. One of the things that is historically correct is that King Baldwin (actually Baldwin IV) did have leprosy, was retained as king despite that, led troops in battle and even defeated Saladin in one. Also, when the King was still young, he did have a regent, Raymond III (1140-1187), Prince of Galilee and Tiberias, who the film only calls Tiberius (Jeremy Irons). Also, princess Sibylla (Eva Green), sister of Baldwin IV, did marry Guy of Lusignan and there is some historical claims about her involvement with Baldwin of Ibelin, but not Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), who actually was a younger brother of, and vassal to, Baldwin of Ibelin. But there isn't anything in the few historical sites I looked at about Balian ever being blacksmith.
Liam Neeson, as usual, impresses, although in relatively short part, as Godfrey of Ibelin. (The actual name of the historical father of Balian of Ibelin is not Godfrey but Barisan.)
What makes the plot interesting is the moral code of the hero, (played by Orlando Bloom) and his father. It gives a morally sympathetic treatment of Saladin and Islam; its treatment of Christianity favors Christ's teachings about doing good being more important than rituals, and mocks false piety of a medieval Christian priest and bishop.
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Pretty bad, except for special effects
The film starts by telling us how beautiful is the young princess, Snow White, but while the young actress is pretty enough, she isn't prettier than other young girls. She doesn't resemble a pageant winner. Kristen Stewart, who plays the mature Snow White, seems to me to have 2 unusually large front teeth. She never in this film has "skin as white as snow" except when she is supposedly dead, and never has "lips as red as blood (or lips as red as rose, depending on the story version). The evil queen (Charlize Theron) is more beautiful except when she is shown as aging. The Queen's aging in this film is supposedly reversed by her sucking the beauty out of young girls, who then become old hags. But in the film she is rapidly aging in some scenes while in the next scene she is back to her original beauty, with no explanation.
Snow White escapes from the cell in a tower where she has been kept for years. The Queen is distraught and orders her evil brother to find her and bring her back. But in a later scene the Queen has used magic to locate and poison Snow White all be herself. Why then did she need to send her brother and a small army to find her?
Part of the story has the animal world enchanted by her, but some in the "dark forest" frighten her and definitely seem unfriendly, with the exception of a science fiction beast that fights Snow White's escort but then becomes docile when it approaches Snow White.
While the story line is inconsistent, the special effects are very good, if unnecessary and not all particularly original. In most Snow White stories the magic mirror displays a face in the mirror that answers the "who's the fairest in the land" question. In this version of Snow White the mirror melts into a liquid mass that forms a man-like 3-D figure to answer the question. Clearly this was done just to demonstrate that the special effects crew knows how to do that. (The same kind of liquid metal effect was first done in Terminator-2 way back in 1991.)