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This film is a 10/10 turkey. The attempts to give it authenticity are in its favour (cameos from John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Pancho Gonzales playing the role of coach), but can't save it from the lame plot, and the laughable sense of unreality about how spectacularly successful Dean Martin Jr suddenly becomes. A sparsely populated and quiet Wimbledon Centre Court at the end only adds to the sense of unreality (anyone who knows anything about Wimbledon knows that Centre Court is packed and noisy an all days of The Championships, but especially the men's singles final). The other contributor spoke about the great Dan Maskell passing away "soon after". He actually lived for at least another 13 years, as his last commentary was in 1991, and he was a guest of honour the following year, the year in which I believe he died.
The proof of this film being pure fantasy was not so much that Dean Martin Jr's character reached the Wimbledon final. It was that the winner was Guillermo Vilas, who in reality only once got as far as the quarter-final!
Who Do You Think You Are? (2004)
Second series even better
The second series has been running for a few weeks. The series opened with Jeremy Paxman (for those who don't know him, he's very well known in Britain as the most hard-nosed, cynical, bullying, political interview around). He was most humbled by his family's less than spectacular background.
I am posting now because last night's show featured Stephen Fry (a highly intellectual speaker, presenter and comedian). He uncovered ancestors on his father's side who were in prison or a poorhouse, and probably dies of TB. Worse, he proved that some relatives on his mother's side had been murdered in Auschwitz, and that the only evidence of his family in Surany (now in Slovakia) is an old headstone in an often vandalised Jewish cemetery. This town was once a thriving Jewish community, but now has just one Jew, a remarkably upbeat old man.
Stephen Fry found a plaque an the wall outside a block of flats in Austria, which mentioned the names of former residents taken to Auschwitz. The plaque mentioned the names of members of Fry's family. This plaque, the run down cemetery, the discovery that his relatives had died in Auschwitz, and a letter written by the old man still living in Surany, all moved Stephen Fry (and me) to tears.
This was a brilliant programme.
Spice World (1997)
Not Citizen Kane, but so what.
Some of our American friends have made some quite OTT digs at this. Calm down, Guys! Does Spice World try to pierce your inner feelings with serious plots and depth of character? NO. Is it one of the best films ever made? Of course not! Does it have errors? YES. The bus chase at the end is funny for Londoners because when you've passed Buckingham Palace, you're only a couple of minutes drive away from the Albert Hall. You don't go via Tower Bridge! What the Hell, this film sets out to entertain, and does. There's a commercial in the UK with the catchphrase" It does exactly what it says on the tin". The same can be said of Spice World!
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Sappy this is NOT
I've just looked back at comments made by Becca37. I think she is completely off the mark. If this film can be criticised it is for espousing material values, ie owning your own house. Playing the sex and race cards misses the point completely, and bearing in mind that the main character is driven to the point of suicide, and is forced to realise that his brother would be dead without him should be enough to show that this is not a sappy film.
This is one of my favourite films of all time, and the ending is worth all the pain of getting there.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
This is a delightful, wistful film about someone having the chance to change their past. Kathleen Turner is excellent in the lead role, playing giggly drunk at seeing her father's new Edsel, and crying at the sound of her dead grandmother's voice. Unfortunately, the film has flaws. Nicolas Cage's portrayal of Charlie is a classic example of overacting, only outdone by the short appearance of an actor playing a friend of Peggy's grandfather, a fellow member of a secret society (like the Masons are portrayed in the UK). This actor's "Welcome Peggy Sue" speech is short, but grating. I also suspect that some editing was a bit of a hatchet job. All through we hear about Peggy Sue's TWO children, Scott and Beth. Yes, we see Helen Hunt as Beth, but the role of Scott ended up on the cutting room floor (if Scott was irrelevant, or the actor so bad, the story should have been re-written with Peggy Sue only having the daughter). This may seem like unfair carping, but what is a very enjoyable film could have been far better with a bit more thought.
The Pythons' finest
Whilst I like Life Of Brian, it looks like they had a big budget for it, and much of the humour is "orthodox". Here, much is made out of a "cast of dozens", where they had to make do with empty coconut shells for horses, and running gags about swallows. But the overall package is brilliantly surreal: the deadly rabbit, Tim the Enchanter, the Knights who say "Ni", and that ending. I am sorry that some feel short changed with the film's ending. I thought it was perfect, and defies all explanation and logic!
Field of Dreams (1989)
Not a baseball film
I can't stand baseball, and anyone who thinks this film is about baseball is mistaken. The sporting idea could just as easily be transferred for other countries, with Brits watching Stanley Matthews, or Aussies seeing Don Bradman. The point is that this film goes far beyond sport, to being about getting your heart's desire (if that's not too much of a cliche). I suspect that for men used to shoot-em-up films with the likes of Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger, the thought of an emotional experience for men is uncomfortable. I openly admit that I always cry unashamedly at the beautiful ending.
The film/plot is not without its flaws. The censorship debate at the school seems a rather convenient way for Ray Kinsella to realise that he should ease Terence Mann's pain. The character of Annie is a bit like a dope smoking student ("far out"), and her family are far too annoying for me. Nevertheless, this is one of my favourite films of all time.
Friends for adults
The idea of three boys and three girls may match Friends, but Coupling manages to be both rude and very funny. This week's episode (in the UK, that is) was (in very vague terms) about the embarrassments that go with an office romance between a junior ranking male and a female senior executive. The idea was carried to extremes, so it managed to be both touching, but also the funniest thing I have seen on TV this year (fans in the US may have to wait a while for the second series).
Warning: If you don't find sex funny, or at least the prospect of six people talking about it (with flashbacks and fantasies) without necessarily experiencing it, you may not be impressed by Coupling!