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Paint chips and power lines! My childhood rocks!
[uhoh]Santa Claus is watching you[fight10]
[party]Proud to be the Mole's last victim[fight4]
"A passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to."
Chasing our yesterdays, we sacrifice our tomorrows
"Telling her about the birds and the bees NOW is like giving ammunition to a sniper."
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
You spilled my egg. I needed that egg.
Sincerity? I could fake that.
[hairrise]I have clownophobia[hairrise]
Vader: No, Luke. Obi-Wan is your father. Luke: NOOOOOOOO!!!!
If you see a ninja [sword] he's not a ninja[fight4]
I almost forgot I had a grenade in my pocket
When I saw you across a crowded room, I decided not to shoot
I'm just an old fashioned cowboy
We'll be listening to you
We've met with a terrible fate http://www.mbulteau.com/majora
If you can't do something smart Do something right.
A proud resident of the Maison des Lunes - Party capital of France!
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
It's just like Chippendale's -- without the bowties or muscles. - Ziva David
"Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing." -- Jane Austen
There's a goat on the lam, sir!
See you, space cowboy
***NEW FEATURE*** I'm adding the library of laserdisc releases from Criterion as well. If it was only released as a laserdisc, I will make a note of it.
Recently added: Androcles and the Lion (1952) ** 1/2
A key to ratings: **** Brilliant, a must see *** 1/2 Despite some minor quibbles, this is a highly recommended film. *** A good movie. There are problems in some areas, but all in all I enjoyed the experience quite a bit. ** 1/2 Passable. ** Not quite up to snuff. Often mixes excellent ideas with shoddy execution. * 1/2 Just plain bad. There may be a sequence or two that belong to a better film, but in the end they can't come anywhere near saving the whole. * Terrible in every respect. 1/2 a star -- I reserve the zero star rating for Talladega Nights, because nothing else could possibly be that bad. But this is close. Very, very close.
Note: Not all of these are obviously "family" films, but every movie is here for a reason. I hope to be adding small write-ups to each movie on this list shortly.
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
Miss Beldon would have been so much greater
Mrs. Miniver (movie) - Plot: The lives of a middle class British family in the days before and during WW2.
This movie isn't really about Mrs. Miniver (Oscar winning Greer Garson) at all. She's a boring, flat stereotype of the dutiful wife. This movie is really about her son (Richard Ney) and his girlfriend (Oscar winning Teresa Wright), and how they attempt to survive the war together.
Their romance isn't much in the face of greater, later romance movies like The Village or Romeo and Juliet (1968), but it is the one high point to this picture. Teresa Wright is as perfect as always (a shame that she never became the star she deserved to be since her film debut in The Little Foxes) in the role of the woman who somehow knows her love is never going to come back from the war, and Ney is convincing as the dutiful soldier who isn't quite so stereotypically brave as one would expect. This relationship adds a level to the story that isn't achieved in the other subplots of the film.
Problem is, all the other subplots take up the time. There are scenes involving the Minivers spending too much money on trifling things, scenes about the flower judging competition in the village, scenes about everything but what really makes the story tick. If only the film had been entitled Miss Beldon, instead... 6/10
The Road to El Dorado (2000)
The Road to El Dorado (movie) - Plot: Two adventurers/con men (Kevin Kline & Kenneth Branagh) discover the city of El Dorado, where they are mistaken as gods by the locals.
This is supremely entertaining adventure fare in the tradition of The Mummy and Alladin. Written by swashbuckling kings Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio (Alladin, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek), this is more of what you should know to expect from them: Wonderfully funny jokes mixed in with plenty of exciting action. If you're not into any of the above mentioned films, you may have a hard time enjoying this -- or anything labeled as "light fare." I just know that I was laughing and cheering my way through this movie. That's not so bad, is it? 9/10
P.S. The songs by Elton John and Tim Rice were very forgettable, and they didn't really move the story forward, but the writing was so enjoyable that it didn't matter.
Corpse Bride (2005)
If I touch a burning candle
"If I touch a burning candle, I can feel no pain. If you cut me with a knife, it's still the same. And I know her heart is beating, and I know that I am dead; yet the pain here that I feel, try and tell me it's not real, and it seems that I still have a tear to shed."
This is Tim Burton's best film. Unlike his other endeavors, it mixes his peculiar sense of humor with an emotionally complex cast of characters.
The plot is roughly this: The night before his wedding day, Victor (Johnny Depp) accidentally awakens a corpse (Helena Bonham Carter) while practicing his marriage proposal, and she mistakenly believes it was for her.
What makes the film special is that none of the three central characters (the "living" bride, Victoria (Emily Watson) is the other one) live in a world of clear-cut right and wrong. Victor and Victoria are victims of an arranged marriage; his parents are rich fishmongers, hers are bankrupt aristocrats. With the marriage, his parents will get into the high society that they feel they have always deserved, and hers get to keep their titles. A win-win situation for everyone but the bride-and-groom to be.
But rather than take the usual view of an arranged marriage shown in films, it leaves open the possibility that maybe, just maybe they can be happy together. This sense of hope for their marriage is part of what makes the picture move so smoothly.
Yet the corpse bride isn't just some simple, evil woman either; she's a fully developed, unhappy young person who is every bit as sympathetic as the other leads. I excerpted part of her song earlier. She's conflicted, knowing that Victor doesn't love her, but still loving him with everything she has. This mature, moving love triangle is the focal point of this film; and it's a testament to the writers (John August, the always BRILLIANT Caroline Thompson, and Pamela Pettler) that it never falls into sentimentality or even predictability.
In the middle of all this, there's a flowing sense of humor that makes you laugh without ever stopping the dramatic story to do so. Using a variety of puns (a "second hande shoppe" that sells hands) and a handful of other jokes, it keeps the laughs fresh through most of the film (there is a section towards the end that loses the humorous edge a little, but I was enjoying the story so much already that I just didn't care).
The contrast of the two worlds is a good storytelling decision. The world of the "living" is gray, dreary, and, well, dead. On the other hand, when you're escorted to the land of the "dead" they're much more fun, exciting, and... hey, you know which word comes next.
One extra word before I end: I simply must mention the songs. While many have stated they aren't memorable and a little weak, I disagree. The lyrics are funny and engaging, and the music is catchy and enjoyable. Best of all, the story never stops simply so it can include a song, like so many other musicals. Rather, the songs facilitate the progress of the story, moving it forward. I'm glad that the filmmakers kept it down to four songs instead of including more that would clog up the movie.
In conclusion, this is a deep and moving romantic drama with large dashes of Burtonesque laughs thrown in. While I wouldn't bring the young kids (there are some scary things here), this is an enjoyable travel for an adult, and I recommend it. 10/10 Martin Stett
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
The idealist's Citizen Kane
The Great Ziegfeld (movie) - Plot: Biopic of the great showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (William Powell), ranging from the 1893 World's Fair (at which he exhibited "the world's strongest man") through the rest of his life, during which he created numerable Broadway sensations and the still widely known "Ziegfeld Follies."
This is the idealist's Citizen Kane.
Where that film is cynical, this is idealistic. Where CK is dark, TGZ is light. And though both films show very similar people, they put very different spins on each.
The fact is, I'm a cynic. So I prefer the cynical view of a guy that practically wasted his life. No matter how much the movie tries to butter him up, when it comes down to it, that is exactly what Ziegfeld did.
Now, (as portrayed in the film -- I know nothing about him outside of it) Ziegfeld is a very nice, enjoyable man. I liked watching Powell's exuberant performance, and the character is written in a very entertaining manner. The supporting cast is written with just that right touch of humor to keep them from being meaningless side characters that there is no point caring for.
There obviously was no expense spared to make this movie. The sets, gowns, everything is the very top quality. Which is fitting, unlike in many other films (Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet), where the story could benefit from being shown on a slightly smaller stage.
The only problem here (aside from one of personal taste) is that many of the song and dance numbers go on too long. I thought "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" would never end. However, for each boring dance, there's a good one (the delightful tap number), so I can't be too harsh on it.
But for me, it all comes down to style. I find this a little too optimistic, glorifying Ziegfeld where he shouldn't be glorified. It is not a bad movie by any means; I just think it could have been better. 8/10
Fun little screwball
Leatherheads (movie) - Plot: The wild and wacky world of 1920's professional football (American football, not real football).
This movie has modest goals. It simply wants to entertain you with a light, old-fashioned screwball style comedy similar to a Cary Grant romantic vehicle. It works as such, I suppose, though I can't say too much more in its favor than that.
What really makes the film work is the romantic chemistry of George Clooney and Renee Zellweger as an older football player and a news reporter slowly falling in love with him. These two are such great actors, that even with a script that is rather bland in most areas, their relationship sparkles with wit and joy. By two lesser actors, their scenes would have been acted in a more cynical and less fun fashion; but they just throw themselves into their roles and embrace the screwball sections of the film (such as the time when they're caught in a speakeasy; the Marxes would be proud) as well as the romantic -- but never more than PG rated -- interludes (Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn would be proud).
Too bad the movie loses its sparkle when they aren't on the screen together. They both do as well as they could when they're alone, but the problem is... well, they're alone. The supporting cast of characters is underdeveloped, bland, boring, tasteless, use whatever words you want, but they don't work. Not even the incredible acting skills of Jonathan Pryce could save a character lacking in just about any flavor.
Yet, even with the blandness of the supporting cast, Clooney and Zellweger bring out the best in their characters.
Extra note: I must also say that Clooney did a very good job of directing. The feel of the movie was definitely that of a 1930's screwballer. 7/10
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes (1965)
Good clean fuuuuuuuuuuun
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew From London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes (movie) - Plot: In 1910, aeroplane pilots across the world join together for the most fabulous aeroplane race ever done.
Good, old, clean fun. I emphasize fun. This is a lighthearted romp similar to Around the World in Eighty Days or even the more recent The Cannonball Run or Rat Race, with a cast of ridiculously zany characters and some of the wackiest airplanes you've ever seen.
Just take some of these guys. One pilot (Alberto Sordi) nearly dies in what should have been a fatal accident, and promises his family he'll never fly again. Less than ten seconds later, he hears of the race and promptly forgets the preceding conversation.
Then there's the amorous Frenchman (Jean-Pierre Cassel), who has hit his head one too many times, and now falls madly in love with every redheaded woman he sees. But that's understandable, since they're all played by Irina Demick.
Of course, there's also the German pilot (Gert Frobe of Goldfinger) who's literally learning to fly out of a book.
There are many others, including a fellow who insists on flying with his dog (can't place his name at the moment), the straight shooting, honest American (Stuart Whitmore), the scheming Englishman (Terry-Thomas) who spends all his time pre-race sabotaging the planes and the pilots, the Japanese pilot (Yujiro Ishihara) who definitely has the best plane of the group, the pilot who thought up the idea of having an international race (James Fox), even a nutty guy who is... well, he modeled his plane after his bathtub(can't place him either).
It's pure joy to see these ridiculous men in their flying machines. I admit that there are one or two slow points, but they're few and far between. Recommended. 9/10 Martin Stett
The Notebook (2004)
A formulaic romance
The Notebook (movie) - Plot: Two teenagers (Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams) share a summer romance, but soon must go their separate ways. Will love conquer all?
This is an exercise in formula. All the predictable steps are taken, all of it can be seen a mile away. On the bright side, at least there's some life to it.
Unlike so many romantic dramas, this one isn't unendingly solemn. There are fun bits and pieces here and there to lighten things up. In one of the first scenes in the film, Gosling, intent on going out with McAdams, jumps into a moving ferris wheel and hangs from the bars, attempting to force her into a date. In another, there's a rather fun scene in an abandoned street, as the two lie down and watch the streetlights change from green, to yellow, and red.
But these enjoyable bits are brought to naught by the predictable story arc. Of course there are the disapproving parents, of course there's the separation, of course there are the other people that come into their lives while they're away from each other, of course one or the other will fall in love with someone else, of course there will be the romantic meeting after years of silence.
If there was one original thought to this movie, I think I would have enjoyed it. But the plot is so predictable that it nearly murders the film. Anyone with a brain can tell that most of the movie doesn't matter in the slightest to the beginning or ending. And when your second act fails to compel, your movie fails to deliver. 5/10
Fun, but not as good as the others in the series
Gateway Shuffle, the fourth episode in the Cowboy Bebop series, is one of those fun episodes that adds nothing to the series as a whole, but is good in its own right.
When their bounty-head is killed right in front of them, Spike and Jet grab the murderer - the leader of an environmental terrorist organization worth 30 million wulongs. But before they can turn her in, the government takes the bounty off of her, leading to some rather uncomfortable situations.
The episode is fun and doesn't involve much thought, letting you enjoy the ride. In the end, one of the worst episodes in the series, but for Bebop, that's not saying much.