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NBC's Holocaust is perhaps the finest miniseries I've seen on television. I purchased the two VHS set several years ago and watch it at least once a year over several nights. Holocaust features a large, excellent cast, which make up for emotion which they lack in depth. Sadly, the stories are all too familiar and have presented in one form or another, but what makes this series stand out is the fact that it was able to compress time and feature some of the best known events of the holocaust, such as Babi Yar, Sobibor and Warsaw Ghetto, seamlessly. The dual story lines tracking the Jewish Weiss family and the German Dorff family intertwine believably, and the graphic violence is appropriate for this production. Michael Moriarty was excellent as the meek lawyer who became a cold calculator and Rosemary Harris was memorable as the proud but stubborn Berta Weiss. Meryl Streep and James Woods also are noteworthy, and it's a delight to see both actors in early roles. I recall when Holocaust debuted it became a media event and school project, with study guides for classroom discussion. I wonder if some of the material was appropriate for some young audiences.
A disaster of its own making
I hate to say I enjoy disaster movies; I like to see special effects and Ii find stories of survival uplifting. But sometimes it's not enough to make a great movie.Perhaps in its day, the special effects in "Earthquake" were something special, but the movie is full of miscasting and bad acting. Probably the worst miscasting was Ava Gardner as the spoiled daughter of architecture mogul played by Lorne Greene. She hardly looks young enough to be his daughter and her behavior makes her so unlikeable. Genevieve Bujold, pretty though she is, had a nothing part. Charlton Heston as a hero is no Moses here, and some of them, like Marjoe Gortner, as the psycho store manager/national guard (??) was just creepy. The special effects were the best part of Earthquake, and when it comes to survival, other disaster movies, such as Towering Inferno and Poseidon Adventure were far superior, and that isn't saying much.
I loved this movie!
Ron Howard did an amazing job with Parenthood. It's a movie I would consider allowing my kids to watch were it not for the sexual innuendos and suggestive scenes, but as adult-type entertainment, it never fails to entertain. The screenplay is witty and there probably isn't a family in America that could not identify with at least some aspects of the film, marriage, child rearing, career issues, etc. Steve Martin in a way reprises his role in Father of the Bride, but here he reveals more depth and generates more sympathy for his predicament. Mary Steenburgen as his wife and Dianne Wiest as his sister were standouts, as were Jason Robards as his father. Helen Shaw as the grandmother was a delight, and Rick Moranis was very much in character from his "Blew Up..." series. Oddly enough, in a movie about parenthood, other than mostly all the kids having some sort of problems, I didn't find them particularly lovable. Though the end has been called syrupy or corny, I loved it.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
One of the Finest
After watching the 1962 Manchurian Candidate on video again, I am once again puzzled why anyone would back a remake of an outstanding movie that got it right the first time. This is clearly a "10" among movies, with amazing performances from Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and especially Angela Lansbury. I must admit, however, that the "dream' sequences are a little confusing for a first-time viewer (my wife), but that's the beauty of video, and the chance to watch it again. Even I knew what was going to happen next, it never failed to grab me with its high level of tension. What is even more amazing, is how this movie is clearly best in black and white. For those of use who grew up before color television, it's a reminder of the effect black and white can have on a production.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
Tastes certainly have changed. A half century ago the Snows of Kilaminjaro was considered a romantic hit, maybe because of its all-star cast. But for all its classy cast and classic origins, one wonder why anyone -- producers included -- thought this was a great idea for a movie. With so little action, it would have been better as a stage production. As a person who views a movie solely for its entertainment value, I must admit I was drawn in -- but mainly in the hopes for some drama that would grab me. The message of the successful writer who views his life as a failure could be told in 15 minutes or less. I don't know if there is anything here that in the hands of a better screenplay and director could make this story worthwhile for the screen. Let's hope no one decides it's worthy of a remake.
King Kong (2005)
A Classic reborn
First let me say that some of the comments I've read here are as overly long and redundant as the movie they criticize. I am certain that people's impressions are colored by the amount they pay for admission. So, I am commenting this after viewing the video.
Simply put, I loved this movie. Despite its length, the time passed swiftly. While some judicious editing may have streamlined it, these passages did not detract from the full enjoyment of the epic. Jackson captured the essence of his main characters, and by the end, I found my self rooting for Kong over the planes trying to kill him.
Suffice it to say, that it was a well-spent 3 hours of escapism that only mean-spirited would pick apart for the sheer pleasure they get from doing so. Peter Jackson's King Kong is a giant of film and has zoomed into my personal top 10.