Reviews

33 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
The Christmas Card (2006 TV Movie)
9/10
A standout in the crowd of contemporary Christmas movies
5 December 2017
I give this 9--highest I can give to a modern Christmas movie. Ten is still reserved for It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, and the original Miracle on 34th Street.

There are more low budget Christmas movies out there than anyone could try to watch. Most are clearly either Lifetime fare, kids' flicks, or just cheesy Christmas formula movies. This one stands out head and shoulders above those. Production values are somewhat higher than standard TV movie grade, and while the story is not really special, it's adult without needing an R or PG13 rating. What really makes this movie is the performances. The characters are all likable (or not), and they are believable. Performance kudos split 50/50 to the actors and the director.

If this shows up on your local station or cable, I think it's worth your time to give it a look. I think we first saw it maybe five years ago, then again a couple years later, and again last year. This year, I found myself searching for it on Netflix and Amazon and disappointed that it wasn't there. Still, it's early (Dec 5), so maybe it will show up. If so, we'll watch it again.
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Bokeh (I) (2017)
5/10
Disappointing, but still kept us awake to the end
2 October 2017
This reminds me of the old joke that the camel is a horse designed by a committee. I think the producers, writers, director couldn't agree on what kind of movie this would be. Religion (clearly a post-Rapture film)? Sci-Fi? Love story? Showcase for Iceland scenery (unnecessary as the place has had a tourism boom!) The actors deserve credit for playing the parts written for them...they just didn't have the right material to work with.

The movie starts out with some religious overtones, but I'm guessing the producer didn't want to offend anyone with religion. Then, the Rapture scene is followed with the story of an unbelievably immature man and his more mature but homesick girlfriend and their reaction to being the only ones left. Even that concept seems to fall apart, as these two become obsessive day-trippers, driving to one tourist spot after another.

All the while, Riley keeps taking pictures with his antiquated twin-lens reflex camera, without any possible way to get his film developed, I guess that was necessary to keep the movie's title relevant. Then Jenai--apparently overnight--develops his film and makes 16x20 prints of all the pictures of her (for him to remember her by.) How did she do that? He had even ripped the film from the camera earlier! The one thing the producers did right was to fall back on one formula element: Have an attractive young woman in nearly every scene. If she can act, and Maika Monroe seems capable here, that's a plus.

Location. Iceland is perfect. Beautiful and isolated. No way they could get back to America or anywhere else.

The ending. This was the movie counterpart to pop songs that, instead of ending, just fade out. A couple of formula possibilities come to mind. First the Twilight Zone version: Keep their names out of the film until in a last supermarket "apple" scene, their names are revealed as Adam and Eve. They both get smart, and the world is reborn. Alternative: The Jacobs Ladder version: After Riley finds Jenai drowned, he goes into the pool and, instead of changing his mind, dies too. Cut to ICU. The two of them were in a car accident on those narrow Iceland roads. She died but he clung to life while having one of those legendary "death dreams" which was the movie. Doctor comments about how pained he looked during that time before he finally passed on.
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Peter Gunn (1958–1961)
10/10
Film Noir for millennials
18 March 2017
Film noir was really a movie style until Peter Gunn. And PG brought it to the small screen. I was 11 when PG premiered and knew nothing of film noir. Our city had two broadcast channels and no cable TV. My friends and I in the school band mostly noted the Henry Mancini music. I transcribed a simple version of the theme, and our little Jr High talent show group won over a superior-but less pop musical group playing "Put Your Head on My Shoulder".

Now that I'm old but not dead, I've rediscovered Peter Gunn on Amazon. For years a fan of film noir, I was blown away by the pilot episode. Holy cow! 1958 was at or near the end of classic film noir, yet PG may be one of the best of the genre and probably the only film noir TV series. Unlike most TV and a lot of movies of the time, PG's outdoor night scenes were actually shot at night! Like others here, I think it could have been better as a one hour show, as it's a major challenge to tell a whole dramatic story in a half hour program. OTOH, this series is a great way to introduce your millennial friends to film noir. 25 minutes almost fits their attention span. Next thing you know, they'll be looking up The Big Sleep and the Maltese Falcon.
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Ghostbusters (2016)
3/10
Silly movie written for 10-year old girls
23 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Twin grandchildren had to see this. Their friend and her 12 year old brother came too. They laughed themselves silly over it. I laughed a few times, too, but not like they did. I wish the maker had left out the unnecessary adult material so that it could have been PG instead of PG13. At least then it would be suited to the audience who appreciated it. I would not have taken the girls to see it, but their mother was OK and went, too. She also laughed a lot.

So, who likes this movie? Ten year old girls, 12 year old boys, and mothers of those kids. For me, I would rather not have spent my money on it. Mildly entertaining but worth only seeing on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Unnecessarily anti-male, but that didn't bother me as much as some other people here. It just wasn't much of a story. I wonder how much they paid for the original Ghostbusters cameos, especially the 15 seconds of Sigourney Weaver.
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3/10
Very disappointing, again and again
22 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Great potential, wasted. I've not read the book, but I have read Bryson's first book, "The Lost Continent". I cannot believe that Bryson would be happy with this screenplay. Tedious, unbelievable, and not even a very good representation of the Trail.

The actors. I know I would not want to be either of the characters being portrayed by Redford and Nolte. Like someone else here, I cringed whenever Nolte spoke. Redford looks like his makeup was done by a mortician. These are two guys whose time in front of the camera should have ended several years ago.

If you are a TV network, you might do something with the AT as a backdrop for something like the old Route 66 or Then Came Bronson. Please get some younger guys than Redford and Nolte, though.
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Containment (I) (2015)
7/10
Looks like low budget made-for-SciFi Channel - in short, perfect
10 April 2016
I don't know what the appeal is of these low budget made for cable channel movies. Maybe it's that you can tell they're low budget, knockoffs of other movies, and therefore you owe them nothing and can watch while you're doing something else? Usually, though, they're made in eastern Europe, so this is a notch above the usual...but only a notch.

A couple of glaring flaws, I think. The characters are the usual types for this kind of movie, so you know right out what's going to happen to them. The virus? It's airborne yet contained to two apartment buildings? Next, do all apartment buildings in the UK have unbreakable windows? Finally, it's a good thing for the government people that this was the UK and not America. Here, there would have been some armed residents, and the government wouldn't be able to "contain" the citizens so easily.

Finally, though, I did like the ending. It left room for speculation about what has happened. A nice rainy Saturday afternoon movie.
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Damages (2007–2012)
8/10
Excellent series for three seasons
28 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If this ended after the 3rd season, I would rate it 9. Seasons four and five only added unnecessary nudity and language. If you want to like Damages and its cast (except for Patty, who you must hate), you'll stop at the end of the third season, which, by the way, ends like it is the end of the series.

Glenn Close is as good as I have ever seen her. Great performances throughout. Rose Byrne I had never seen before. Her acting seems to improve through the series, although it feels like she is avoiding extreme facial expressions for fear of stretching or wrinkling her face--a face worth preserving I must say. Tate Donovan, I think is underrated in this show. The ever loyal puppy dog who stays with his owner no matter how much she beats him.

The flash-forward writing works really well. It makes you want to come back to find out what really happens. Very effective teasers. I've not seen this done this well or this extensively. The grainy film look of the flash-forwards is a nice effect, too.

All things considered, there is very little I could complain about in the first three seasons. Stop there, and you'll totally impressed with this series.
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Boyhood (I) (2014)
10/10
Fantastic achievement
15 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie, because it was on Showtime, and my wife thought it sounded good, and it had 3 1/2 out of 4 stars rating on Showtime. I knew nothing about it other than it was long, and I recognized Patricia Arquette from Medium on TV and Ethan Hawke from elsewhere. I did not know it was filmed a few days at a time over 12 years with the same cast, a fairly remarkable feat. So here is my reaction to it without any background.

As a movie, it hit on so many aspects of my own life that it seemed real. My experiences as a child were there. My experiences as an adult and absentee parent were there. Patricia Arquette portrayed what I imagined my ex-wife might have gone through, as well as what I think my own mother did go through. Her performance was so believable that I really felt bad for her. Great acting. Great direction.

Ethan Hawke as the father. I was not one of those, but I have known a few of those weenie loser guys, and I think he nailed that character type. So much so, that it was such a relief when he finally straightened himself out. Makes you wonder if either he or the director may have been one of those guys at one time!

Ellar Coltrane. Starting the role at age 7 and managing to be the same character for a few days once a year during the ages spanned by the movie? Wow. A tribute to what must be natural acting ability and a very good director.

Lorelei Linklater. Director's daughter. Could there be a tougher job? Never good enough. Others whispering that she only got the job because of her father. 2nd tier supporting role. Etc. I thought she was good and believable, even though she doesn't look at all like her movie mother, father, or brother.

The most amazing part of this story though is the studio that produced this. What a leap of faith to put all the time and resources--and $4 million--into a production that would not yield a penny for over 12 years! What could go wrong? No contracts with the actors. No guarantee that Ellar wouldn't turn ugly or untalented or addicted to drugs as he grew up. 12 years of shooting on 35mm film with potentially very different film lots and while the industry was moving to digital (which they couldn't have known at the beginning.) Can you even get insurance for a project taking this long? Kudos to the studio for taking a chance.

I've seen it now on HD cable. I hope the Bluray disk has lots of extras on background and the making of. I bet they'll be studying this movie in film schools for a long time. Producers, directors, back office...everyone will want to know how they did it.
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9/10
Irresistible movie, again and again
2 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those movies that I can't pass up when it shows up on cable. I grew up in the 50's and 60's, so movies like this are also a bit of time travel. This time it was TCM. Saw it coming up and had to use the DVR.

It is not easy to make a novel into a movie. An average novel would require eight to ten hours of movie--so a mini series is the least. A childhood to maturity novel must be a real challenge. In this case, selecting just a portion of the novel and writing a screenplay around it, in my opinion, worked nicely. Here's what I like about it.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. They do good work separately and extraordinary work together. Woodward is believable, especially playing a southerner (which she is not here), but also playing a member of high society in New England. Paul Newman is just a good and versatile actor. The story moves slowly, but not too slowly, and the characters have enough interest to be savored in the quiet moments. Scenes with the early 1950's cars in the forest. Elmer Bernstein's score. The scene where the Eatons meet Natalie in New York. Mary Eaton is wearing a tiara (crown?). The king and queen meeting the king's courtesan. Mary, afterward: "She calls me Mrs. Eaton. You call her Natalie, but she doesn't call you anything."

Don't like. Glaring hole in the story. What happened to Eaton Steel and Martha Eaton. Big family owned business and only an alcoholic widow left, and Alfred just goes off to make airplanes? Clearly Samuel Eaton was a hands on manager. Did a middle manager pop in on Mrs. Eaton and say, "I'll take care of the company for you. Don't you worry. Just get a board resolution appointing me as CEO." Or did Alfred shut down the plant in his father's honor and to spite the striking union, with his mother just living off accumulated wealth?

And I wonder. Compare the last half of this movie with the AMC TV series "Mad Men", which starts out set at about the same time that this movie is set. Imagine MacHardie coming in to the Sterling Cooper conference room. Compare the morals and mores of Terrace with those of Mad Men. Considering that they were written in times 40 years apart, they fit surprisingly well, don't they?
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The Paper (1994)
10/10
Best newspaper movie ever
1 June 2015
I think this is another underrated and under-seen movie. Twenty years old now (2015) but it plays nearly as well now as 20 years ago.

This movie has it all. The writing is exceptional, with believable dialog and totally true to life little office stories going on in the background. Truly a cast of top actors. Michael McDougal might be Randy Quaid's best part. Also, Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei,plus the lesser supporting parts all written and acted well. I wonder what it would cost to get that cast together in a movie today!

And kudos to Ron Howard. Even in 1994, he had come a long way since Grand Theft Auto! He, may be the next Mike Nichols--a director who has as much ability to attract and audience as the actors.
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After Hours (1985)
9/10
What happened to the rest of the movie?
13 October 2014
Am I crazy, or did this movie run on cable back in the 1990's as a longer, maybe Director's cut, movie? I remembered the movie portraying Paul's adventure being longer, more convoluted, and that I could feel his desperation to get home. I just bought and watched the movie from Amazon, and this 97 minutes falls short of my recollection.

I read under trivia that the original cut was 45 minutes longer. While I don't recall it being 2 hours 22 minutes, I still think what I saw was longer than an hour and a half. Seems to me that 45 minutes of Scorsese's best work may have been "left on the cutting room floor!" I really would like to see a Director's Cut of this film. It is too good to have been cut back to TV length.
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8/10
Underrated. One of the best of the "New York" movies
25 May 2014
George C. Scott demonstrates once again that he is not a "type". Sherlock Holmes (Justin Playfair--what a great name), Buck Turgidson, Patton. Unlike some other big name actors, Scott IS the character he portrays, while other overrated actors take roles where they play themselves, and consequently, they always ARE themselves.

Joanne Woodward, in my opinion, is as good here as any role she's played. I'd rate this and "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds", as her best acting performances. Yes, others are more famous, but in those others, she's often playing herself or is a bit over acting.

This movie is full of familiar faces whose names we don't know. The ugly New York locations are great, too. All in all, it's worth 98 minutes of your viewing time!
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North of 36 (1924)
8/10
Time has been kinder to the movie than the shooting locale
23 March 2014
Considered for its time, this is not bad. TCM showed it just once as far as I know. Only the ranch and herd scenes were planned for the Blakely and LH7 ranches west of Houston, but the director was so impressed with the location and the people, that he shot almost the whole film there. LH7 was home to the largest herd of pure longhorns in the world.

20 years later, most of the ranch became part of the Barker Reservoir, a Corps of Engineers flood control project for the city of Houston and the industries on the Houston ship channel. When the family matriarch passed away, the remainder of the LH7 ranch was sold by the ne'er do well descendants to developers and the historic ranch buildings bulldozed in the middle of the night, so as to avoid those interested in preserving history.

So this movie deserves credit for its screenplay based on a novel and its place as a document of a place in history since wiped off the planet, not to mention that it was early "special effects". The crossing of the Red River was actually cattle crossing a pond.
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10/10
The BB Gun is as American as a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover
4 November 2013
I was not alive at the time this movie is set, but I can see that time moved more slowly in the mid 1900's than now, because in the 1950's where I grew up, there were two kinds of boys in the 9-11 year old range: those who wanted a Daisy air rifle...and those who had one.

Is there anyone from that era whose mother didn't warn, "You'll shoot your eye out!"? I never had the Red Ryder model, but my parents did finally get me one Christmas the less expensive basic model, which as I recall, sold for $6.95. The Red Ryder model was about $3 more. As a minor point of trivia/goof not mentioned here at IMDb, the Red Ryder Carbine with a compass in the stock and a thing to tell time, never existed. The Red Ryder Carbine did not have those features, although another model of Daisy air rifle did.

BTW, you can still by a Daisy Red Ryder Carbine many places including amazon.com. Yes, I bought one. The price has gone up.
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The Faculty (1998)
8/10
Teenage movies are forever
16 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I think back to when I was a kid, and we went to the second run movie theaters, we saw such forgettable gems as "The Giant Claw", "Monolith Monsters", "The Monster Than Challenged the World", "The Angry Red Planet", and...I could go on and on. Some real classics came out of the same era: "Day the Earth Stood Still", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Them", and a few others, but we're not talking about classic Sci-Fi here, this is cheap teen movies.

The Faculty is clearly a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Puppet Masters. Stokely even has a line that almost matches a Dana Wynter line from "..Body Snatchers", calling out to the other aliens, "He's here!" Of course, these days a movie has to have at least brief nudity and lots of censurable language in order to get the coveted "R" rating, but if it were edited for network TV, it would have the same charm, I think, as the old teen movies that were actually TV-Ready. Scary stuff to make your girlfriend cling. Happy ending for the attractive cast members.

So there you have it. Nostalgia, gore, and a decent music soundtrack (you can't go wrong with a Pink Floyd tune). Too bad I was so many years past teenager when this came out. The movie is full of future minor stars and other recognizable actors. Of course, as any movie centered around high school football needs to be, it was shot in Texas: Austin, Lockhart, and San Marcos.
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9/10
Still one of the best war movies ever
17 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Like any philosophically accurate war movie, FMJ does show the excesses of preparation followed by the hopelessness and insanity of war generally. The boot camp portion of the movie is not unlike Army basic training. "Drop and give me twenty!" is an order I'll never forget. There were a couple times, I was so tired, I'd rather have given the drill sergeant twenty dollars...even though I was making $78 per MONTH at the time.

Also, for being shot entirely in England, the similarity to and feel of Vietnam was captured, as far as I'm concerned, better than movies shot in the Philippines.

However... 1987 isn't the 1950's, and the suspension of disbelief that worked so well with never empty western six-shooters and machine guns that would fire forever and soldiers walking around with their fingers on the rifle triggers, just won't work in modern times. The Leave it to Beaver generation demands historical and technical accuracy. So, here we go.

Head scene with "Gomer Pyle" shooting the DI. NO WAY he could have gotten that rifle and ammo in the barracks. No way. In a real training base, you couldn't walk off the firing range with an expended cartridge case (I know. I saw a guy try!), much less live ammo. And rifles were controlled to an extent that even Bloomberg would have approved.

At the mass grave scene in VN. Saluting an officer in a combat area. Not done. Also a colonel would not have shiny metal insignia. And the end of that scene, the colonel salutes first. That is not military courtesy. The lower ranked person salutes, then holds until returned by the officer or superior officer. But again, they wouldn't salute at all. Two major gaffes. Also in that scene, the colonel refers to Joker's peace symbol on his "body armor". I never heard a flak jacket called "body armor" in Vietnam. I'm pretty sure that's a Gulf War era term.

Rifles. All the M-16's in this move look like the early XM16E1 or the Air Force model M-16 (three prong open flash suppressor, no forward assist). By 1968, all front line units would have had M-16A1's with the closed front flash suppressor and the forward assist.

A lot of the actors seemed to have remembered their orientation to gun handling--they carried their rifles correctly with their trigger finger in register--along the side of the lower receiver, NOT inside the trigger guard. Many others though were probably handling guns and rifles for the first time and forgot. Looks bad.

At one point, Cowboy ejects a magazine and inserts a new one, and that's it. When a mag empties, the bolt carrier locks back, and when you insert a new magazine, you have to either press the bolt catch or pull back and release the charging handle to chamber a round. He doesn't, but a moment later he starts firing again. Others, during lulls in the action, hit their mag release and let the mags fall to the ground. You don't do that unless you have to due to circumstances. Of course they do that "in the movies" because it looks cool.

End of rant. Still a good movie. 9/10. Without the technical goofs, it would be a ten.
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4/10
Just doesn't stand the test of time
16 May 2013
American Baby Boomers are known to be more nostalgic than other modern era generations. I guess that's because of being post Great Depression and post WWII, so our childhood memories are purely kids' experiences. When I was a kid the Bowery Boys (previously Dead End Kids, Eastside Kids, but all known to us as the Bowery Boys) were must see when on our one TV station or free Saturday morning theater movies. Now with grandchildren 4 and 7 years old, I thought they might enjoy the same simple movies I did. So confident was I that I bought a collection of 12 of them on DVD from Warner Archives.

I thought I'd watch them first, to be sure there wouldn't be too much that I had to explain or regret, so I started going through the DVDs. Well, like this one, they are seriously disappointing. The humor doesn't hold up. The stories are weak, even for kids' movies. The characters are not very likable. In short, I'm almost hesitant to admit I ever found them entertaining. Except for this one, I've not yet been able to watch a whole movie, in spite of their best attribute--they're generally only an hour or so running time.

So if you remember the Bowery Boys from your childhood, and you remember liking the movies, take my advice and just stick with your memories. The real thing will disappoint.
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House of Cards (2013– )
7/10
Excellent and then disappointing
15 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
For the first ten episodes, this series is tops. Kudos to the producer for not taking the popular Hollywood POV by making the bad people Republicans. If I had rated this show after ep.10, I'd have given it 10. The story is totally believable until ep. 11. I think I can understand the idea that Frank is so full of himself that he will behave unethically over and over. However, Frank committing murder changes the show's genre from political intrigue to a new "Columbo" murder mystery.

I can picture Peter Falk in Frank's office with his endless detail questions. "Excuse me, Congressman. We did not find your fingerprints on the steering wheel or door handle, but the funny thing is, we found no fingerprints at all. Why would a man about to kill himself stop to wipe off the steering wheel and door handle? And we have the car on several traffic cameras with two people inside. The driver in one of them looks a lot like you. Have you ever heard of DNA? Our lab found some on the top of the whiskey bottle that we can't identify."

Season two has to be the end, because Frank cannot get away with murder, and when he's gone, the series is over.
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The Walking Dead (2010– )
9/10
Surprisingly good...and it even keeps my wife awake!
1 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There are not many TV shows that will keep my wife awake at the end of a work day. She has seen the end of fairly few NCIS, Mentalist, Mad Men, Warehouse 13, or Psych episodes. This show keeps her awake to the end. And that's even when we've had to watch two or three in a row to catch up, since we just discovered TWD a few weeks ago and had to watch on Netflix and then Amazon to get current.

I think the writers have done a good job with character development, given the limitations of the story and having to keep up suspense. They've also managed to create character evolution in a very believable way. They even created one of the all time sad moments in TV history--as far as I'm concerned--when they had zombie Sophia walk out of that zombie barn, after the group, and especially Daryl (who endeared himself to the audience in the process), had spend days or weeks looking for her, and deputy Rick having to shoot her zombie body in the head. Yes, we get annoyed with the hesitation that so many of the characters demonstrate...but that helps keep the show going, doesn't it?

The thing I can't understand here at IMDb are the viewer complaints about how they don't see how this or that would be possible. Good grief, people. If you have sufficient suspension of disbelief to accept zombies, your "acceptance of the impossible" meter has already pegged! I have minor grievances with some of the group who can make one-hand zombie head shots with handguns (very difficult) but then can't even hit invading humans using rifles with scopes (much easier)! All in all, a highly entertaining show, and I congratulate AMC executives for seeing its possibilities. With this and Mad Men, we see the potential of TV being so far beyond what NBC, CBS, and ABC have delivered for years and years.
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The Silent Service (1957– )
9/10
An irresistible 50's TV show for young boys
24 June 2011
The thing that everyone remembers about the show was the opening credits with a film of the USS Pickerel, a late WWII diesel-electric boat, doing an emergency surface from 250 feet. How many of us young boys used to mimic that action at the City Park swimming pool! I wonder how many future submariners were inspired by this TV show, which was partially funded by the taxpayers (by virtue of the loaner submarine and crew provided by the Navy for some filming). I've spoken with a few veterans of the U.S. submarine service in WWII about sub movies and TV. Of all, they pick this TV series as head and shoulders above all others.

This series, plus Whirlybirds, Sea Hunt, Science Fiction Theater, and Range Rider were the prime time TV shows I couldn't miss. Add Saturday morning Mr. Wizard, Fury, and Sky King, and that is my entire recollection of TV from the 50's.

Clear the bridge. Dive, dive!
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3/10
It may be art...but I don't see it!
3 June 2011
I only recently saw the entire TP series, when it came to Netflix. Previously I think I had seen part of the pilot. I watched all 30 episodes over about five days, and I can see why it has a dedicated following...and also why it was canceled. Now I've seen the movie, and I can't begin to express my disappointment.

I had hoped for a movie that captured the best of the TV series, but what I got was another David Lynch film. Indeed, I couldn't sit through the whole thing at one time. I only watched it through to the end to be sure I was being fair, and in the end, the best part was putting it into the mail back to Netflix.

This movie was to me at once disturbing and tedious. It was like the worst of the TV episodes plus typical David Lynch "let me see how much I can get away with without getting an X rating" material. That's kind of a shame. Tempered by broadcast FCC rules, it seems Lynch can turn out pretty good work. Turned loose with a movie, he generates trash.

Just one opinion.
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Then Came Bronson: Pilot (1969)
Season 1, Episode 0
10/10
Bring it back, Warner Bros.
1 February 2011
I missed TCB in its original run. I was just out of the Army, going to college, and working evenings. I first saw the series when TBS ran it at 2am on Wednesdays around 1985 or '86. They also ran the pilot during normal hours--and they ran it with the reels out of sequence! Incredible. It jumped from reel 1 to reel 3, then back to 2, then the end. The regular series episodes ran properly, and I was hooked.

For several years, I had many of the episodes recorded on VHS still usable, but they deteriorated, and now I don't even have a VCR. Over the years since, I've encountered numerous TCB websites and a few "petitions" for TCB on DVD. Amazing for a one-season show. Today, though, I think there may be hope for us Bronson fans. I just purchased a download of the pilot feature length episode from the Warner Bros store for $15. It is also available as a "made to order" DVD on that site for $20 plus shipping.

Interesting the comparisons to "Route 66" and Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", both of which I know well. Indeed, Jack Kerouac even initiated a lawsuit against the producers of "Route 66". Route 66 from the beginning of the 60's and TCB from the end. In between there was Star Trek, and that's about it!
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Out There (1995 TV Movie)
9/10
The movie that reminded us who we are
3 October 2010
This is one of those movies that you're a little embarrassed to like and to watch, but you do. Your wife catches you with this playing, and you have to say, "I don't know what this is, it was just on." But every time you see it on the cable/satellite/uverse guide, you have to watch it. Maybe you even DVR it and keep it until you're out of space! Not me. I like this movie. Come on. Admit it. This is a scifi movie making fun of scifi movies and the people who watch them: us. In truth, this is no sillier than X-Files or Signs or Star Trek. It just doesn't pretend to be anything else. The Christmas tree lights in the alien tunnel, though, is my favorite subtle crossover reference.

Now that I've said all this, I've got to go look over at Netflix and see if it is available for streaming!
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Route 66 (1960–1964)
10/10
Must-see even if just for the cinematography
5 July 2010
As a 12 year-old boy in 1960, the appeal of this series was the Corvette. Period. Now, a few years later, I found the first half of the first season on Netflix. I watched the first episode and was blown away. Jack Marta's cinematography is startlingly good, and not just for TV. That first show was about 300 remarkable black and white still photos. At times, I was completely distracted from the show looking at the photography. I don't know if this is included in required watching in cinematography schools, but it probably should be.

The series in general seems to be a bit inspired by Kerouac's novels and a bit by the worst of Gunsmoke TV. Why, in the midst of great stories, was it necessary to have Buz in a fist fight with someone in what seemed like every episode (indeed, supposedly Jack Kerouac tried to sue the producer for stealing from "On the Road" and adding too much violence). Except for that one departure from reality (plus the fact that these guys with only occasional minimum wage jobs managed to get a new Corvette every year!), the writing is way above anything else of the era.

One other thing. Looking at the series' locations now, this show is also a mini historical look at America at that time. Since every show was shot on location, it doesn't suffer from every "place" looking like Los Angeles or the Universal back lot. Instead, it is a picture of the way things looked in 1960, so it triggers nostalgia among baby boomer like me, I think. Me for sure. Even some of the DVD episodes include the Chevrolet and Corvair commercials, which are fun to watch--particularly the "Unsafe at Any Speed" Corvair!
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9/10
And now there's a 'director's cut'?
15 December 2008
I've been seeing this movie on cable for several years...all the way through a couple times, but pieces many times. It seems like I can't pass it up when I'm flipping channels. And it happened again today, but to my surprise, it was a different, longer movie. I don't recall the original running time, but today's version must be 30 minutes or so longer than the one I've been seeing for years. At 2:35, it should have been too long, but it didn't seem like it.

Lots of times the director's cut is just a reattachment of footage from the cutting room floor, and sometimes it is footage that should have been left there. I can think of a few exceptions: Jacob's Ladder is one. Aliens is another. And as it turns out, That Thing You Do is still another. The extra scenes, which were cleverly edited out of the short version, add a great deal to the story. They help to fill out the characters and explain attitudes.

Some of the add-backs were no more than a few seconds, but those few seconds--like the cut to the "cootie" DJ playing the record after hearing it live--were like the end of a sentence. They made the first part make sense. Others, like the group nervous and suspicious about their new manager not coming through with with air play of their record, are doubtless part of the garage band routine. And more screen time for Liv Tyler can only be good.

All in all, I have to say the re-edit made it a better movie, at least for me.
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