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Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)
Airplane! for Western fans, and...more!
For anyone who grew up on 1950s and '60s westerns (both TV shows and movies), this thing is a hoot. I know Roger Ebert in 1969 gave it a two out of four stars, and panned it for being what it quite precisely intended to be: spoof penance for all those old Western character actors...including Elam, Morgan, even star James Garner himself, being punished for Maverick (or reprising his best western role, take your pick). Even the over-the-top western music which critics deplored (a separate character unto itself, very much a part of the spoof and equally hilarious), was clearly intentional. But what this was for me (I just watched it after a few beers and several decades of avoidance), was a nostalgic laugh fest. And something else: This was James Garner at the top of his ironic game, preparing for his best and probably most popular role ever, two or three short years later: Jim Rockford. For Garner this was less a Maverick spoof retrospective, more like: What if Jim Rockford stepped through a time warp and arrived in an 1880s madcap western gold rush town? It's not Peckinpah or Eastwood or Leone, not even Mel Brooks slapstick. But it's good western comedy, nonetheless, and it is GREAT Garner.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Excellent example of the genre (action/comedy, people!)
I've read the reviews which panned this movie because it is unrealistic (as opposed to, say...Star Wars, the Bond franchise, the Bourne franchise, Dusk Till Dawn, Indiana Jones, Batman...you name it).
I've read that there's too much action, not enough plot (but Fast and Furious number X is knocking 'em dead at the box office--and the "plot" is...?) I've read that amnesia doesn't work that way (but Bourne and Memento were okay--how about the old B&W classic Random Harvest?). Me, I never watched the thing for a lesson in abnormal psychology or traumatic amnesia, and I didn't watch Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi fly out to an approaching asteroid to learn about space science or well drilling technology, or even Physics 101 (you want realism, the fragments would have destroyed planet Earth, The End).
I've read that our or our allied governments would never stage or allow a contract false flag or large scale pre-emptive attack as portrayed by Chapter, in TLKGN (but it was okay in Three Days of the Condor, or in the Tonkin Gulf and a dozen other more recent historical actual events, for that matter).
This is nonsense. Someone very high up didn't like the premise and Hollywood came down hard on Shane Black's story (perhaps because they were planning something very like that). It was action/comedy not dissimilar to the Die Hard, etc. franchise, but it was made an example of. If you want to watch a realistic documentary-style production featuring intelligence agencies, then watch The Company or a half-dozen other offerings, NOT an action/comedy romp full of explosions and some of the wittiest dialog since Gross Point Blank. I might just as well complain that documentaries and docu-dramas deserve a 1 out of 10 because they are not funny and move too slowly.
I give this movie (which I and my partner own and have watched many times just for the acting and darkly comedic dialog, timing, and delivery) a 10 on it's own merits. Not because some reviewers overseas found it too "Hollywood," or some thought it appealed to 14-year-olds (like 14-year-olds shouldn't be allowed movies aimed at them), or some refused to watch it yet still felt qualified to vote and express an opinion, all the other usual suspect reasons for panning a movie and trying to sound outraged or intelligent, or whatever. Even Ebert was upset that the hero and heroine outran a fireball--see, they never put that in action/comedy movies because everyone knows it's impossible to outrun a fireball. (So what do we do, Rog, just end the movie there? They blew up, The End.)
Please, reviewers, if escapist Hollywood action/comedies are not your thing, stop reviewing stuff which offends your literal sensibilities, or which you did not bother to watch. Go review Heidi, or Wuthering Heights, or A River Runs Through it. But what's the point in comparing this sort of thing to Hitchcock and Bergman all the time? This movie is older than the age-group it was written for, and still stands out as a classic of its type (which includes Die Hard and Lethal Weapon). Ten out of ten.
Man in the Wilderness (1971)
Don't knock it if you ain't tried it.
I'm re-watching this on my little TV screen (were I rich I'd get me one as big as one whole living room wall, for panoramic stuff like this).
I was in my early twenties when MITW hit the theaters. I must have seen it three times, maybe four, bringing friends, at a time when I could scarcely afford proper food and had to hand roll cigarettes from floor sweepings. Now I own the DVD (from the $5 bin at WalMart). On IMDb I often check out the critic and viewer reviews while watching the movie on my TV. IMDb defaults to the Best reviews (usually quite intelligent, even the ones who pan the movie under review), I then often click to the Hated Its, to get a sense of why the overall rating is what it is.
Here's the thing I'm thoroughly amazed by (and thoroughly sick of): idiots influencing the IMDb Richter Scale for no discernible purpose or reason. I mean, there are other people who might enjoy this fine 40-plus-year-old fabulously-acted, -written, and -directed film, who might decide to watch Gidget instead, because someone who walked in five minutes late or out the door 30 minutes into it gave Man in the Wilderness one star (I kid you not, go to the Hated Its right now and read a few...you want to talk "theatre of the absurd").
Why are such people, who didn't spend the time to watch and understand the film, spending the time to actually vote and even "review" a film they didn't watch? I've no objection to their uninformed opinion (I've lived in and extensively studied the history of the American west, I'm not uninformed, and this truly is a realistic portrayal of Hugh Glass's survival experience; this is not air-brushed, blow-dried Robert Redford--although I love Jeremiah Johnson--this is much closer to how raw history went down and, sorry people, it's not Breakfast at Tiffany's).
What the movie is about is not shooting bears or stumbling around torn up in the mud, unshaven, eating berries and raw animal meat, or not having humans to talk to. You want scintillating dialog and haute cuisine, tailored clothes and barbers, why even give us your opinion on a gritty movie about a man stranded in the western wilderness circa 1820? What were you expecting when you sat down to watch it? Witty repartee with squirrels in the frozen mountain passes? Little House on the Prairie? Grizzly Adams? Rather, it's a story about an abandoned solitary survivor's personal evolution from an isolated spiritual being (graphically depicted through the situation and setting) to a man who's found a reason to change, through his personal will to endure, and inner discovery of an interpersonal/inter human reason to survive, for the first time in his existence. Something his wife saw in him which he didn't see in himself, something the Rees Indians saw in him, something Huston/Henry feared: the awakening of the inner Zachary Bass (Hugh Glass). A "rite of passage" into, not adulthood (common enough Hollywood fare), but human-hood, by way of being deprived of it under the most severe imaginable conditions. Based on a true and well-reported story from multiple historical sources (including Jim Bridger, who was there).
This is not Hollywood Cowboy Fops and Mouthbreathing Painted Indians.
Hey, two of my other favorite 1970s movies were The Godfather and Apocalyse Now. And one of my favorite friends wouldn't watch the Godfather because she'd heard about the horse's head scene, and she liked horses. The other wouldn't watch Apocalypse because he didn't agree with the Viet Nam war. Fine. Ridiculous, but...okay, fine.
But they didn't write IMDb reviews about movies they hadn't even given a proper viewing to. And then vote their opinion about something they admitted, up front, to know next to nothing about.
I own and have many times re-watched The Mountain Men (Heston and Keith), Jeremiah Johnson (Redford and Geer), and Man in the Wilderness (Harris and Huston). Love them all. But if I had to give two away and keep but one for myself and for posterity, this would be the one, for both verisimilitude and underlying message.
But you can't show up late or leave 30 minutes in, or expect Cary Grant in a cravat on a beaver trapping expedition, and expect anyone to mistake you for the late Roger Ebert. Misguided though I often considered his opinions, at least ol' Rog watched the damn movie before he told us what he thought about it and put in his vote.
Too many here do not. I hope other readers are attuned to the absurdity of this superficial rating system (no fault of IMDb, great site, great communication vehicle). On many levels (and you the viewer may not get them all, at first, the next one floats up to haunt you, then the next), this is one of the finest movies I believe I've ever watched. The scenes may seem disjointed on first viewing, till something in the back of your mind begins to connect them, over time. As with all truly great art, MITW needs to be revisited from time to time.
Apparently even those who "get it" don't all get it, five points...
Confession up front: I read and loved Ayn Rand when I was 16, including "Atlas Shrugged." I am 63 now, American-born and -bred. Points-to-ponder for the uninitiated movie-goer:
1. Rand was a dystopian sci-fi writer with a pre- and post-Russian revolution Jewish political-victim background during the rise of Marxist-Leninist Communism.
2. She wrote "Atlas Shrugged" sometime within the seven-year period immediately following publication of George Orwell's socialism-gone-mad similarly dystopian sci-fi polemic "1984." (Her earlier short stories reflect direct inspirational influence.)
3. Despite English being her second language, her stuff was to her credit quite readable, though not necessarily politically correct. This is not a reference to our currently-in-vogue definition of "PC." I mean her political lenses were not fully aligned with American history, yet here she found herself in NYC among the rebellious Bohemian SoHo artist and intelligentsia crowd of the '30s, '40s, and '50s, trying to distinguish herself with her "original" Russian-Jewish root political insights.
4. Her historical background did not include a gut-grasp of our history of robber barons and corporations (as "legal entities" with the rights of individuals), opposing the rights of actual individuals (which began in America with the establishment of railroads--oddly enough, considering her choice of a major topic thread in "Atlas").
5. She was one of the first mid-century writers to sustainably create an attractive female lead character who could stand up in a cigar-choked man's world and not end up playing simpering games to get her way (Margaret Mitchell is the other one that comes to mind).
Ayn Rand was, in short, correct philosophically about the virtues of self-originated male and female creativity and individualism, yet Rand was full of sh*t when it came to the American history of human enslavement by industrial robber barons, those who formed and hid behind legal corporate rights over individual rights. (But again, she was spot-on about those politically-connected non-producing societal elements who destroy individual producers and creators, so maybe that was part of her underlying message. If so, she could've been more explicit.) She never separated out individually-owned and -operated companies from corporations (which are, perforce and by definition, political entities). She does not make clear that she was not supporting the evil Morgans, Rothschilds, Carnegies, Westinghouses, and Rockefellers (in fact, she appears to be supporting them, rather than the successful founder-owner of Mom's Cookies Company and Dad's Bicycle Shops). Perhaps she assumed her readers would see the apparatchiks and commissars of her childhood nightmares dressed in Saks and Brooks Brothers clothing.
Nevertheless, in short, she invented a whole class of heart-of-gold industrialist-individualists, virtuously selfish do-gooders, and she ran with it. Interesting concept. Never happened that way, ever, but, worth a "what-if?" thought or two.
She was writing science fiction with a decided political viewpoint. Perhaps a bad idea to try and put her stuff into movie form (seriously bad idea to make her heroes steel, oil, and coal magnates and the heroine the manager of a railroad empire), a near-impossible task, cinematically or politically, unless you're planning a kindergarten version of "Rollerball." Friendly Corporate Monsters, and so forth.
As mainstream motion picture fare, this trilogy sucks for many afore-stated reasons (by others more movie-eloquent than I), granted. Some "Atlas" fans love it (I do, in fact, as a forlorn art event, even where Hollywood screws it up), some hate it for not being true to the original.
Some Rand readers loved her stuff, many hated it fifty years ago (hell I loved her stuff as a teen, but it took me over 40 years to force myself through the many fewer pages of the last book Orwell wrote; I can see why it killed him--IT SUCKED and was the most depressing I ever finally forced myself through, really).
Apparently funding was (and still is?) an issue with this trilogy. Were it "Rich Man, Poor Man," keeping the same actors throughout, and were it not taboo to even try giving the fictional story justice in liberal Hollywood circles, this trilogy could have been at least a 7.0 on the IMDb Richter scale. I give it a 8.1 for even trying.
But, it's 1950's science fiction, people! Years beyond its Sell Date, but worth a serious sniff anyway. Goes down better if you've read the book, and read a little of Ayn Rand's bio, first.
Hollywood's never done well with so many others...Orwell, or Vonnegut, or Heller, either.
Guys in power ties never get how to deal with this Ice-9, John Galt, Bokononism, Catch 22 stuff, unless it's from outer space. (Even Joseph Heller included obvious anachronisms from future space/time.)
Good effort, here, despite obvious obstacles of every imaginable sort. Laudable and applaudable.
A Dark Truth (2012)
A Current Story Which Needs Telling
This is the first I've seen of movies on the particular subject of what major international corporations such as Bectel are doing to underdeveloped countries as regards their water. Well done treatment, great cast, excellent acting. No hamming or sensationalism, no gratuitous violence (not that there isn't enough to tell the story). Perhaps other reviewers don't consider water as exciting as blood diamonds or oil or uranium. Perhaps it's not. But it's certainly more important. This fictional presentation of the issue is a good start toward expanding popular awareness of one of the biggest problems facing us in this new century.
Not water shortages, critical though they are. Rather, soulless, nationless corporate greed. Seven out of ten.
Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)
Good stuff, all considered.
Perhaps you have to be an Ayn Randian, as I was at 15. I'm now 62, have long realized the world isn't that simple.
Doesn't make the book, or this movie, any less fun or thought provoking.
For the Ayn Rand naysayers, forgeddabowdit, give it a pass.
For movie-goers/renters who never heard of her, rate it six or so, for drama and good acting/directing.
For those who appreciate the message (however warped it is from current reality...mind you--she began writing as a sci-fi author--and this IS near-future sci-fi): Enjoy, as I did, giving it an eight out of ten. She copied Orwell with her early stories (yawn), hit her stride with Fountainhead, then with Atlas, then went over the top with her New Objectivism (which in my opinion at 17, was garbled nonsense). She should have stuck with fiction, so labeled, in my youthful opinion.
A good anti-communist sci-fi political-philosophy read, made into a surprisingly good film as our nation descends into a socialist miasma. The only reason it doesn't quite rival Orwell is that his stuff, most depressingly, is coming all too true. He wrote a playbook for modern world controllers (actually wrote himself to death doing it). Rand wrote an alternate future which didn't quite work out that way.
Still provocative and fun to watch on film. Rand probably would've bitched about it unless it sold more of her books, either way she'd have bought the first copy she saw and secretly stored it in her underwear drawer.
It's good cinema, from a political-philosophical-sci-fi legend's best work, and nicely done. Hoping the best for the rest (I want to see MORE).
The Perfect Score (2004)
So far, absolutely delightful!
Of COURSE this is not Gone With the Wind or The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, it's a teen flick and I find it absolutely hilarious, and vastly underrated by some very snobbish commentary I've read.
First, please understand that this reviewer is several things: A BIG movie buff capable of separating movies into genres and mental compartments rather than comparing apples to oranges in boneheaded fashion, I am not finished watching the DVD yet (it's on pause, but...I do that: watch and simultaneously check out IMDb, part of the fun), I'm utterly enamored of the freshness of this film. So far. But I've already had more laughs than I've had a long time (watching a slew of flicks where great actors were hired to do dreck with no apparent motivation).
I'm also a high school dropout, a college dropout (which means I've taken various tests of achievement and intelligence, the GED, the SATs and various other limiting, mind control efforts); fortunately I am now several decades old, and well beyond the reach of the academia nuts who currently crank our future fellow citizens out like Twinkies; i.e., old enough to have seen their results.
Hence, I get the premise, and I love these characters. I find this film vastly more entertaining than any Ocean's XX movie made after the Rat Pack got it right the first time. This is more fun than Hackers (and since I also spent years at IBM, yes, I loved that one, too; but I'm giving this a ten for the acting, the story, and the fresh handling of the genre).
If it disappoints in the end, I may come back and rate it again, but for now I'm laughing my ass off. Great commentary on our educational "bubble" system, great fun with each of the characters. (Especially Roy, I eagerly await his next scene. Though all these kids are good, and the dialog is exceptional.)
Okay, this previous post hasn't been posted yet, so now I can conclude: great stuff. I repeat, for the genre. Some of the best out there. And we'll see some of these kids later. But really, a great movie. Not necessarily a keeper, a watch again, for sure. Still a 10 for it's intended scope, and I'm still a critical bastard. Loved it.
The Brave One (2007)
To the naysayers? This isn't Chaucer.
I read some of the Hate It comments. Hmmm. It's a movie, folks. A movie? Called filmed theater. Displaying fantastic talents in a venue called movie theater. (Genre: action theater, but it's much more.) And I thought it very, very good. Jody's never been better, Terrence is solidly terrific, the filming and pacing were excellent for this kind of movie. Far better than average, what were some people expecting? "Out of Africa?" "The Lion in Winter?" perhaps? I watched it twice, just to be sure.
It kept moving, wasn't "Legends of the Fall" (which I also enjoyed) and the chemistry between the two split-mind Fosters kept it moving. This film obviously takes its roots from "Death Wish" originally (and even more from the the original novel, which this film is more honest to), but puts Jody Foster in the position of the NY vigilante going nuts between sanity, vengeance, and justice...and the law. Justice and the law possess similarities, but are not the same.
It's not basically a story about the politics of vigilantism or the law. That is merely the backdrop to a story about someone (and the law) seeking the meaning of justice within her own mind.
"We were looking for a man with a gun, turns out we were looking for a woman with a grudge." Or seeking actual justice in a city where little of either is to be found. There is, in fact, truth to be found here.
As a movie in the genre, a fabulous movie. As a take on psychology, culture, law and order: whatever you want, take it as you will. It works for me. It's still a fine movie, and yes, with a movie ending. Are opera endings any better? For those seeking true knowledge, I recommend a Swarzenegger flick. Love 'em, always find myself thinking long thoughts after. (Then, I might be kidding.) Or you can toss a log on the fire, read Robert Frost or Jane Austen, or order pizza and watch a movie. This one would be a good choice if you weren't expecting "Gone With the Wind" or "The Long Hot Summer." It's what it is, and it is very good at what it is. And I just talked myself into changing my vote from and 8 to a 10.
If you're a Foster fan, go for this. Beat's hell out of Maverick.
October Sky (1999)
They mostly left out the mother. Unfortunately.
I don't see how they could have put the whole of this fabulous reminiscence, "Rocket Boys," by a man close to my age, into a movie without making it into a mini-series for young-adults and above. Having just finally read it, I had to re-watch the film, which I'd seen over ten years ago. For those who don't like the movie, read the book, and watch the Bonus extras on the disk. You'll find they did an excellent job of extracting and displaying on screen perhaps 25% of this non-fiction story's elements. What you get is a sweet (not necessarily saccharin, rather "sweet" as in well-crafted), feel-good family fare flick, but not the gritty and far more real complete story, which included more characters and conflicts, and especially the interaction between the boy and his mother, and how she balanced out the tough-love family equation.
In real life Homer's mother did a lot more than cook, wash, and gripe a bit about the company coal mine as June Lockhart from "Lassie" might have done. She could be, and was, scathingly, bitterly, ironically funny in the face of the daily potential for disaster, of the mine killing her husband and setting the family adrift. If the father was a force to be reckoned with, wait'll you meet Homer's actual mother, not the Mrs. Cleaver version they depicted in "October Sky" the movie. This is one jumping off place requiring a mini-series, and where the incomparable Laura Dern could have really done some serious work, had they cast her in that role playing opposite Chris Cooper but, this is an inspirational family flick, not reality.
In the book, Elsie's got a husband devoted more to managing a deadly company town operation than his own family, an occupation thousands of feet underground, on call 24x7; an eldest son devoting himself to a potentially crippling sport which might or might not get him out of Coalwood WV and the inevitable life underground; and a youngest son who decides he wants to experiment in the basement with potentially deadly projectiles fueled by violently volatile chemical mixtures, testing them in the furnace of the coal-fired hot water heater and drying them out for days underneath it. Her sardonic, ironic response to him when he announces he wants to do this (and a few times thereafter): "Don't blow yourself up." As she continually paints an idyllic beach scene on a canvas hanging on the kitchen wall...for several years.
Homer could've blown the house up. Brother Jim could've been permanently disabled. Her husband faced death daily (either from black lung or a mine disaster) in which case the company would've given her two weeks to move the family out of Coalwood, who knows where.
They didn't hit that one hard enough in this Disney-like film. I give it an 8 for taking a far more serious work and pulling together enough elements to create a good family flick. A movie the whole family can watch together...just not Homer's real family, who were if anything, more dysfunctional than most. Fabulous job of autobiographical writing, great job of movie-making based on it. The one is not entirely the other. That's okay, the movie stands on its own.
For a TV pilot, not bad.
Kilmer and Ironside clearly had no interest in doing a TV series, but Gooding apparently did. And for TV, not so terribly bad. The concept just about carries it. As for the comments about clutzy props, TV show decider-suits love the idea that the thing won't cost them a bunch, yank some crap out of the warehouse and fake the rest.
I liked it for what it was. And for the ludicrous notion that higher powers would want to put chips into us. Wherever did they get that from?
Of course, this puppy won't see the light of day.