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A Little Peace and Quiet is about responsibility
I think the moral of "A Little Peace and Quiet" is about using gifts responsibility. The harried housewife in this tale unearthed a gift ... one that could stop time. With the story about the deteriorating relations between the Soviets and Americans serving as the backdrop, our heroine had perhaps been given a new responsibility with the discovery of this watch. Instead because of her constantly being driven crazy by her family and others she decided to misuse the stopwatch ... all for obtaining a few fleeting moments of peace and quiet, to enjoy that quiet breakfast, read a novel, do gardening, steal from the supermarket, and so forth. The turning point comes when (unknown to the viewers, the world being on the brink of nuclear war) she throws out the peace activists trying to advertise for the emergency community meeting to mobilize a last-ditch effort to stop war from breaking out. Imagine if the woman cared about the Soviet-American relations, the real possibility of war ... and went to the meeting to talk about her stopwatch and force the two leaders to meet. She could have beaten them (figuratively speaking) into submission. Instead, she views these people as annoying, stops time, and throws them out. Only at the end, with air raid sirens wailing, the radio announcer panicking as he tries to alert listeners to the approaching nuclear missiles and her family crying does she maybe realize her misused gift. Now, with her having frozen time just milliseconds before a fireball envelops her town, it's too late. A well done story about power and responsibility.
Anatomy of an Accident (1961)
Good film, but unintended blame?
Not a bad safety short, but I'm thinking there may have been some unfair blame placed on the father who swerved to avoid one collision but it ended up resulting in an even worse accident. See below for more.
The father, John, is a lineman for a telephone company. He takes his family of four (wife Helen, son, Tommy, and daughter, Kathy) up to see the in-laws. Prior to the trip, he does a thorough inspection of the car, having his son help demonstrate. Later, the family passes the scene of a multi-car pileup, caused in part when an elderly woman (driving an olive green car) didn't stop at a stop sign and the driver who had the right-of-way had to stop suddenly; several cars were following too close behind and thus, the accident. All along the road, John explains the principles of safe driving.
Later, the family comes up on the same old woman and her friend in the green car are driving very slowly (well below the posted speed limit) along a busy road; there are few passing lanes on the winding road. The woman finally decides to pull onto a side road but changes her mind at the last moment (the side road was "too dusty"); John tries to swerve around the old woman's car as she is attempting to pull back onto the road, but winds up colliding head-on with a semitruck driver. John is killed instantly; Tommy is knocked unconscious, while Helen and Kathy are bruised but OK. Of course, the old woman driver is nowhere to be found (she had earlier refused to stop at the accident in the city).
Herein lies my complaint a post-moterm John blaming himself for the accident. However, I saw John as simply practicing defensive driving ... swerving to avoid one potential accident (with the inconsiderate woman, who probably should have pulled over when a line of cars formed behind her) but it didn't work out. He tells his son who lays dying in the final scene that his actions were too much of a gamble. Maybe, but in the age of two-lane roads, he had little choice to swerve to avoid one accident. Simply put, John was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Still, a very good safety film that should be re-made for modern audiences. Even this 1961 original would be a great teaching tool.
Last Date (1950)
The "shock" message is appropriate
Sure, the driver's education films used scare tactics to encourage young drivers to make wise driving decisions. That's how people learn sometimes ... scaring them straight. Remember, these are actors who are demonstrating the consequences of what not to do on the road. The film effectively contrasts Larry's safe driving habits (he took the "teenicide" message seriously) with Nick's reckless driving. The consequences of Nick's driving are predictable: He is involved in a head-on collision on a narrow curve and collides head-on with an oncoming car, killing several people in addition to himself. Jeanne's post-crash face is never seen on-camera, but viewers can imagine that it is horribly disfigured (from cuts apparently inflicted in the crash, hence Jeanne's cry, "My face!"). Tis the point: There are many victims of reckless driving besides the guilty motorist; plus, there may be serious social consequences (such as Jeanne now being ostracized for her disfigured face). Although nearly 60 years have passed since this film was made, the moral is still very much relevant today.
Good moral but cliched (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)
Alright, so we've seen this plot before girl has job, boy meets girl, girl has chance at a better job (thanks to boy's offer), girl takes job (and leaves those who really mean the world to her behind), boy reveals himself as a jerk, girl must decide on old way of life or new ... yup, we've seen it before.
The thing is, without giving too much more of the plot away, we need movies such as this, where the good guys win, that drugs can get you into a big mess of trouble, that material goods (money) are ends to a means (a better life), and through some creative thinking your dreams can come true.
Aside from the been there-done that plot, the acting surely is far from that you'd see in the truly great movies. Still, it works. The characters are believable and you find yourself wanting to cheer for the good guys, that the shady video producer "gets his" and that the most vulnerable will eventually catch on to the good way of life.
Still, this is only memorable for a little while, and that's why, on my scale of 0-5 stars, it gets a 2 1/2. It's alright, but cliched and forgettable.
The Bradys (1990)
Bless their hearts, they tried. They tried to put a situation comedy family, who is at the cornerstone of American pop culture, in a family drama. But it simply didn't work. It's just like trying to make a Cadillac out of a Volkswagen ... it ain't gonna happen! Assigning major problems to each of the family (e.g., Marcia's alcoholism, Bobby getting paralyzed), along with using a laugh track just didn't work. In hindsight, if the producers had gotten a decent writing staff and flexible directors, "The Bradys" might have worked. Unfortunately, it simply destroyed the Brady franchise. Fortunately, we still have the reruns of the original 1969-1974 ABC series, which will be around for a long time. So will, unfortunately, this show, which is bound to turn up in reruns at some point.
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
SPOILERS -- Disappointing sequel
This review contains SPOILERS!!!
After viewing the satisfactory TV remake of "Carrie," I decided to check out "Rage: Carrie 2," the sequel to the original 1976 movie.
Frankly, I was disappointed in what I saw.
Don't get me wrong; I think the concept was good. After all, the plot of "Rage" tackles a serious issue that has scandalized many high schools and communities, as seen on such news programs as "Dateline NBC" -- Teen-agers (usually horny male high school athletes) having sex with as many girls as possible, with the boys scoring points for their performances and the perceived "quality" of said girl.
Mix that in with a girl who uses her telekinesis for hellacious revenge, and we've got ourselves a film.
The acting wasn't even half bad. Emily Bergl brought something of a Sara Gilbert-esque (the Goth-like Darlene Conner) to her character of Rachael Lang. Amy Irving did a decent job reprising her role of Sue Snell, while Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor of "Home Improvement"-fame) was reliable as always.
My problem lies with the execution of "Rage." It was average at best. It had this plasticy feel that didn't make me really care after the movie ended. Rachael's foster parents just seemed tacked on after everything else was written (the scene where Rachael sneaks in and her foster father confronts her was poorly written).
And the revenge factor was less than satisfying. Sure, we know the oversexed jocks (who are at the center of the controversey) and the girls who lured Rachael to the party get it in the end. But one point that left a sore spot for me was killing off Sue Snell. To have the audience believe that Sue was finally paid back more than 20 years after her "crimes" against Carrie White is insulting, to say the least.
I mean, Sue was trying to HELP Rachael understand her grief (after her friend commits suicide) and who she is. But even if Rachael were uncooperative, as she often was, let the woman live. At least then Amy Irving can reprise Sue Snell in a better remake than this.
That's not all. First of all, the "wink-and-a-nod" attitudes from the judge (who happens to be friends with the attorney father of Zachery Ty Bryan's character) and the Bates football coach. Those characterizations are affronts to decent members of both the coaching and judicial professions. The jocks' attempt at payback on Rachael could have been much better written if they had been criminally charged AND dismissed from the football team.
Also, if one were to read the Stephen King novel, there's the matter of Ralph White, Carrie's father. We're to believe that he is also Rachel Lang's father, but this cannot be, since he died in February 1963 (before Carrie was even born). Sure, Ralph could have run off with another woman and his death was a story that went around to explain his absence, but I didn't see that even explained.
"Rage: Carrie 2" could have been a worthy sequel to the original, but too many flaws spoil this show. I give this a 5 out of 10.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS -- Good, but take more ideas from the book please -- POSSIBLE SPOILERS
This review contains POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!!
As any good movie based on a novel should do, the TV remake of "Carrie" inspired me to get ahold of Stephen King's original 1974 novel about this misfit teen-aged girl who has telekinetic powers.
The main elements from the novel re-appear here in the new movie: Girl from a small town in Maine (Chamberlin, to be exact) emotionally abused by her devoutly religious mother (who practiced a very base, hateful form of Christianity, if it can be called that); ridiculed at school by most of her classmates (e.g., the period incident in the shower); the nice boy asks her to the junior-senior prom, not knowing that he is a pawn in a game that will lead her into a humiliating experience; her telekinetic powers are revealed and leads to a night of terror for everyone involved and not involved with the prom incident.
I really enjoyed the special effects in the final 45 minutes or so. The police interviews were alright, but here's where we get into possibly more ideas for how "Carrie" could really have been an outstanding movie, and here's where we mention King's original novel. Softening Miss Desjarden's character when interacting with Carrie (sympathetic and helping break her out of her shell) was also a good touch; she's someone who roots for Carrie. And yes, it was fairly well acted, too.
Yup, it'd be the springboard for a number of ideas, which might include:
Witness depositions from the police investigation (as per the book) Material taken from the magazine and newspaper articles. One of the articles, said to be written four months after Prom Night focusing on the after-effects, was very sad.
New ideas might have included:
CNN/Fox News Network-style live update on the Prom Night disaster to start the film, and interspersed news reports after the disaster unfolds. The inclusion of characters from the "Law and Order" family of TV shows. I'm sure Jerry Orbach would do a fine job in his Lennie Briscoe character, as would Sam Waterston in his role as Assistant D.A. Jack McCoy. Focus on the innocent (and not-so-innocent) teen-agers and others who died in the Prom Night disaster at the school and elsewhere in Chamberlin. The ideas would make one emotional, so I won't go into them here, but they could be endless.
I might have even deviated a little from the book, just to make it a little more interesting. Example: Tommy Ross (Carrie's date for that fateful night) dies from a head injury when the pigs' blood buckets hit him. I might have had him regain consciousness outside the school (the people carrying him out would have also escaped), and then demand answers from Billy and Chris at Mr. Nolan's apartment. After Tommy and Billy get into a big fight, Chris sneaks away only to end up killed when she tries to confront Carrie. Mr. Nolan's would end up arrested by the "Law and Order" cops and having to pay big time.
The final idea: After months of despair in Chamberlin, show it on the rebound. You showed us the base, hateful form of Christianity in the character of Margaret White; now present the good side with people wanting to rebuild their burned out town.
But those are just my ideas. Again, a good movie, but you always can improve upon it. 7.5/10 stars.
Great remake of a classic
Alright, some people apparently believe "Whammy!" should be a carbon-copy remake of the original "Press Your Luck." I disagree. For instance, what would have happened had "The Price is Right" -- when it returned to TV in 1972 after a seven-year absence -- returned in an identical format as the original?
"Whammy!" adds some exciting twists and turns to the original game. In round one, you can keep spinning as long as you avoid hitting the Whammy, with the understanding there's increased odds in hitting the ol' red hedgehog! And yes, that 3-D computer-animated Whammy cartoons are quite funny. The questions are what you'd expect -- pop culture, basic general knowledge and surveys, but no worse than the original PYL. And the final round is just like the original (though there's fewer "plus one spin" spaces because of more chances to earn spins in the question round). The only disappointment is seeing your favorite contestant get four Whammys (and thus be eliminated from the game). Sure, the merchandise prizes are somewhat chintzy, but there's the traditional fare of trips and cruises, furniture and appliances that's decent enough.
I saw "Whammy" once or twice, and I think its rather promising. Plus, I've seen Todd Newton host before, and he did a great job on "Hollywood Showdown." He is a promising new host, and should help give "Whammy!" its own charm.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Terrific film and highly recommended (WARNING: Possible spoiler contained within)
It's funny how time changes your perception of things, such as "12 Angry Men." When I saw this magnificent movie oh so long ago, I thought this film was made by some bleeding-heart liberal who wrote about empathy for an obviously-guilty Latino murderer getting in the way of deciding the verdict.
But in watching it again and again, I saw that such was not the case. Rather, it was Juror No. 8 (Henry Fonda as Mr. Davis) who -- after deciding a thorough review of the evidence, even for argument's sake, was appropriate -- reveals holes in the prosecution's case. Today, I'm amazed still at how Mr. Davis manages to debate his cause against impossible odds. Slowly, but surely, he manages to sway the other jurors his way as he exposes what was thought to be an open-and-shut case.
In addition to the carefully crafted character study of the 12 jurors (which range from caring, intelligent, empathetic and responsible to egotistical, impatient, arrogant and merciless), there are other things about "12 Angry Men" that, though they don't seem to surface, it makes this marvelous film unique. For example, one may make the case that some prosecutors -- in a rush just to punish defendants coming from a minority, disadvantaged background -- sloppily and haphazardly assemble their case, while some defense attorneys take a lackadaisical attitude toward their client's case. One wonders how this case could have played out had Mr. Davis been the Latino's defense attorney, exposing seemingly inconsequential details -- such as the mechanics of knife-fighting and the poor eyesight of one of the witnesses.
This is simply one film you always look forward to seeing time and time again, whether in a classroom setting, a team-building seminar for work or just during a night of relaxation. Everyone plays their parts so brilliantly one has to wonder if they could ever play another type of character in other films. Simply put, the cast became the very characters they play, the very essence of this film.
Please, run -- don't walk -- to the video store to rent "12 Angry Men." It's near the top of my all-time favorite films' list, and I give this a perfect 10 out of 10.
"Must See TV" for me
I don't understand all the criticism about "The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour." The critics believed this show was an uneven marriage of two game shows that had been popular, that Bowzer wasn't good hosting his "Hollywood Squares" segment, etc.
I beg to differ. Sure, I was in sixth grade the year this program aired, and it's been 18 years since I've seen an episode, but I liked "The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour." It was a "must see" program for me, every afternoon after school.
I had enjoyed both "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares" as a younger child, and thought the two segments together made for the perfect marriage. I don't remember too much about how good the celebrities actually were playing the game, but the gameplay to me seemed to go off without a hitch.
What I enjoyed most was the "Super Match" segment, played at the end, for a possible $30,000 jackpot. All the contestant needed to do was choose the celebrity they believed had the elusive "30" multiplier (the others had either 10s or 20s, making for lower jackpots). That made for a lot more excitement than simply choosing a celebrity to play for a flat 10 times whatever they had won in the "Audience Match" half of the game, though it compares very favorably with the "Star Wheel" used on latter-day "Match Game" (where 20 times the stakes were possible).
The critics often cite the concept as to what led to the demise of "The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour" after just nine months. Others seem to think that viewers were still tuning into "General Hospital" in droves.
Say what you will about why this show didn't last, but I sure hope to be able to see it again sometime. I sure hope Game Show Network will acquire the rights to show this unique program, which died before its time.