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The Marriage-Go-Round (1961)
I am a long-time James Mason fan, and he showed his comedic side in several films, this being one of them. The premise is sweet and this film is perfect for a rainy afternoon or for when you just want to watch an enjoyable movie that does not contain violence, objectionable language or loud special effects. If you are a James Mason fan, this is a must-see. He is handsome, suave and dashing in this film and his touch for light comedy is fun to watch and a nice change from his more typical serious roles. He is in "A Touch of Larceny" and "Tiara Tahiti" form here, and carries the light comedy very well. I recommend this film to everyone who enjoys a nice romantic comedy, and especially to those who appreciate Mr. Mason's considerable charm, talent and touch for comedy.
Chicago Hope (1994)
Good beginning, painfully slow death
I loved this show when it first began. I watched it over the more popular "ER" in the first season, when they were opposite each other on different networks, and I liked the complexity of the characters. Mandy Patinkin as Jeffrey Geiger made the show for me, but once his character left (after having a breakdown), the show gradually lost its luster for me. Bringing Mandy's character back towards the end was too little too late, and his character's edge had gone from a brilliant but difficult surgeon to just an angry man. It was hard to watch what began as a very good medical drama sink into evening soap opera melodrama. Peter MacNichol's character was killed off, Adam Arkin's character seemed more and more lost and confused, and I eventually stopped watching because the program lost its initial edge and direction. Mandy Patinkin doesn't seem to be able to start a television series and stay with it (he also left "Criminal Minds") and while I understand his personal reasons, it is frustrating because his talent is prodigious and his departures left both shows wanting in his absence. "Chicago Hope" had a marvelous beginning with a wonderful cast, but it became terminally ill and a shadow of its former self and gradually died a slow and painful death, which was sad because the potential which was evident in its early years was gradually lost and it limped off, a shadow of its former self, it its final season.
The Dish (2000)
"The Dish" is a wonderful movie
This is a lovely, warm and delightful movie based on the role of the Parkes Radio Telescope, aka "The Dish", in the televising of the 1969 Apollo 11 moonwalk. What makes the film so wonderful is the cast and the way they interact during both good times and when in crisis. Led by the wonderful New Zealander Sam Neill and supported by a great cast of Australian actors and American Patrick Warburton as NASA's representative in Parkes, the chemistry is just right. Enough warm, personal touches are included so that we feel as if we are there with them and I found myself rooting for Parkes and the crew of this large radio telescope located in a rural sheep paddock in the small town of Parkes, just outside of Sydney. Spoiler alert: I am an American scientist and astronomy buff who remembers vividly watching the moonwalk with awe while I was still in undergraduate studies at Penn State University, but until I saw this movie I never knew that the first moonwalk photos were indeed sent from Parkes and not from Goldstone, California. Not only that, I had no idea that the Australian crew together with their one NASA representative had to overcome gusts of gale force wind which were over 65 MPH during the moonwalk and which nearly cost the world the great privilege of seeing Armstrong and Aldrin first set their feet on the lunar surface because the dish was shaking so badly. I was very, very impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Parkes team for their role in this worldwide team effort and in their refusal to give up and take the safe way out and not move the dish in the wicked wind. This movie also has wonderful moments of small town pride that hits this Australian town as their roll in the Apollo 11 mission grows larger and larger, and in the coming together of the town, the various dignitaries and especially with the dish crew during a disastrous power failure that they decided to hide from NASA, even though the NASA representative tells them that it is OK to tell Houston about it. Their pride is at stake, and they are determined to solved the problem themselves, and the crew really gels as the American representative takes their side and helps them in all sorts of ways, some very humorous, to reacquire the signal from Apollo 11 which was lost when the power failure knocked out their computers. One of the funniest deals with faking their way through a visit to the dish from the US Ambassador, who wants to hear Armstrong talking with Houston. How they solve that little problem and still keep their situation a secret is a wonderful and lovely moment about international teamwork. This is a wonderful Australian film that Americans will also enjoy as we all root for the 4 men inside the Parkes Radio Telescope as they televise one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century to over 600 million human beings all over the world while still retaining a small-town feeling. I highly recommend this movie to all who enjoy NASA true stories, to those who love Australian film, to all fans of Sam Neill and the other wonderful cast members in this film, and to anyone who would like to see a family film with a happy ending that will make you cheer and cry with joy. Kudos to everyone involved!
The Karate Kid (2010)
I was blown away by this remake. Jaden Smith is excellent as both a young actor and as an athlete in this film, but it is the performance of Jackie Chan that really amazes. While there are a few small jokes in the movie, Chan plays this one straight, without his usual slapstick persona, and his dramatic ability as an actor in a serious role is touching and utterly believable. The chemistry between student and teacher is as good, if not better, than the 1984 original, perhaps because we're dealing with better actors this time out. Most of the time, remakes are not as good as the original but this was a pleasant surprise. It exceeds the original in every way, and I strongly recommend this movie. If you have not seen the original, don't bother..this movie stands alone and is a better movie in every way.
Les Miserables (1952)
This is my favorite version of this story, and Michael Rennie is wonderful as Jean Valjean. Robert Newton is also at his crusty best as Javert, his relentless pursuer. I have never seen Rennie give a bad performance and this movie was one of his best, made right as his film career in the US was taking off. The supporting cast is also excellent, and the conflict that arises within Valjean as his feelings of fatherly love for Cosette become romantic feelings that he cannot act upon add to the tension of the film and make for a very complex performance from a gifted actor.
I heartily recommend this movie to anyone, and if you are a fan of Michael Rennie and/or of Robert Newton, you won't be disappointed in either of them. ENJOY!!
Meet Joe Black (1998)
A lovely remake of "Death Takes A Holiday"
This movie is a remake of a classic '40's movie called "Death Takes A Holiday", and while remakes can be chancy, this one is sweet and fun to watch. My only quibble is that the movie is a bit long, but all the scenes are woven together so that the length of the movie (3 hours) pass by seamlessly. Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, especially, are wonderful together and it is very interesting to see the youthful Pitt be in the 'power' position with the far-more-established, older (and always superb) Anthony Hopkins. Pitt's portrayal of Death incarnate is delightful as he attempts to navigate the world of the living; his often naive but utterly honest character is delightful to watch and Hopkins carries off his role of guide to Pitt with his typical panache and elegance. The supporting cast of Claire Forlani, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Tambor and Jake Weber are all superb and perfectly cast in their roles. I would be remiss without mentioning the musical score by Thomas Newman. It is gorgeous, sumptuous and stunning in places.
In fact, the final scene (which I won't ruin here!) is made so much more poignant with the gorgeous music of the soundtrack adding to the emotion of the moment that the music is, as is often the case in movies, like another member of the cast. If you are a fan of any of these actors or just enjoy movies with a pleasant and/or slightly supernatural plot, this movie will not disappoint you. There is a touch of comedy, a lot of pathos and an offbeat love story all mixed into one, and if you can watch the last ten minutes of this movie without feeling moved to tears I would encourage you to check your pulse because, music included, it is a stunningly beautiful ending. Take a chance and get to know Mr Black..he and the Parrish family are worth it!
Predictable but enjoyable
I bought this DVD for two reasons. First, I'm a long-time fan of the Bridges acting family. Second, I was a huge fan of Steve Irwin and I thought that the combination of Bindi Irwin and Beau Bridges would be marvelous. For me, it was. I have read the negative reviews of this movie here and, while the plot is pretty predictable (what family-oriented film plot isn't?), I thought that the chemistry between the actors was wonderful and I disagree with the cynics, especially about Bindi's performance. I found Bindi Irwin's performance to be charming and Beau Bridges didn't disappoint either. Together, they are irresistible even in an obvious plot like this one, and the music is lovely as well.
I have no small children at this time and as yet I have no grandchildren. I bought this DVD for myself, and I would do it again. This film is fun and joyous and brought tears to my eyes at the same time. It is engaging and appealing on its own, even with the reference to the "Free Willy" franchise. This film could stand on its own without that title.
Australia should consider Bindi Irwin to be a national treasure, and I found this movie to be absolutely charming.
I buck the tide of negative opinions of this film. It is not as salacious as "The Exorcist", which was written based on this true incident from 1949 mid-west America, and because we've become so used to vivid violence in movies, perhaps this movie suffers for not making up the details or punching them up to be more shocking to viewers. At any rate, I found it to contain an excellent performance by Timothy Dalton in particular and by the entire cast in general. Casting a red-headed, freckled boy caused at least one reviewer to mock the choice for the possessed child, but I remind everyone that Linda Blair was a cute, sugary-sweet child in "The Exorcist" as well, so I don't agree that this boy was a bad choice. Something really happened to a young adolescent boy in 1949 that was seen by and chronicled by many; it's amazing to me that his true identity hasn't slipped out after 60 years, but how do we know that he was NOT a red-haired, freckled child? I found the movie to be interesting and believable. No, it is not the most graphic horror film I've ever seen but it doesn't have to be. All it needs to do is to tell it like it really was, not how some writer imagines it, and I think that it succeeded very well in that way.
Third Man on the Mountain (1959)
Excellent family film and a must for Michael Rennie fans
This visually stunning film about the true story in the mid-19th century of a young man's need to conquer a mountain in the Swiss Alps that claimed the life of his father 16 years before is an exciting, gripping story that the entire family can enjoy. Young Rudi Matt (James MacArthur) is helped in his quest by famed British climber Captain John Winter, played by Michael Rennie, and their easy, warm chemistry also helps to make this a delightful film for all ages. If you are a fan of Michael Rennie, this film is a must-have for your collection, as his role is large and he gives a wonderful performance. If you are a fan of family adventure films, I recommend this film to you as one that your children will undoubtedly find entrancing, as will you. "Third Man on the Mountain" is a heartwarming, emotionally satisfying journey of a youth into a young man as well as an exciting story of mountain climbing in the 1800's.
Remember the Titans (2000)
A true story of a high school football team and the city they helped unite
I am a football fan, especially of high school and college ball, so I came into this with positive expectations and I was not let down. The telling issue for me is that my son, who is not a football fan, also thinks that this is a great movie. That proves to me that this movie isn't really about football, but about overcoming racial bigotry and how the human spirit can be united regardless of the odds under the right conditions. This film features outstanding performances, especially from Denzel Washington and Will Patton as the black head coach and his white assistant, and wonderful performances from the boys on the 'team' also. The musical track, including the composed music and the songs selected for background music during games and at other times, adds to the power of the performances and lifts the story beyond just a sports analogy and makes it appealing to those like my own son who really don't care about football. He sat rapt, watching the story within the story of young men uniting against racial prejudice and taking an entire Southern town with them into a new age of tolerance and respect. I highly recommend this film to football fans, families looking for an uplifting and positive experience, and to those looking for a real-life example of how much better we are united as human beings than segregated as 'races'. Here's to the Titans of TC Williams High School, and to the movie that tells their story so beautifully!