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Flight That Disappeared (1961)
Pretty Good Morality Play
TV regularly questioned the ethics of building bigger and more deadly weapons during the 50s and 60s. The Twlight Zone seemed to tackle this subject best. This movie could have benefited greatly from a rewrite from Rod Serling.
Though released in 1961, the film has more of a mid-50s feel to it. The acting is B level but adequate. The message has a "preacher" feel to it but makes it's point. At first the movie looked like the entire story was a dream of one passenger but events following the plane landing proved that it actually happened.
Growing up in the 50s and 60s, we all lived with possibility of nuclear destruction. The US and USSR were in a contest to build and test larger and larger bombs. The year after the release of this film, the Cuban Missle Crisis brought us unbelievably close to nuclear war. Some forward writers tried to warn us of the dangers. The Flight That Disappeared isn't the best of this genre but it's far from the worst.
Strike Up the Band (1940)
Fun But Terribly Dated
The public wanted Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland so that's what MGM gave them. All of their movies together were variations of "let's put on a show." At least this one has Gershwin's music which I love.
The downside is Rooney has to be the center of attention. Yes, he was the star but you'd think he was the only boy in town.......leader of the he band, lead in the school play, boyfriend of the most popular girl. And meets Paul Whiteman at a dance. Was this once most popular band in the country reduced to playing one night stands at teenage dances?
You know he'll get the money for his band to compete in the national contest (during the depression) because they've got to win....they just GOTTA! So little Willie can have his operation and.......
Once Mickey's band wins the national contest (was there ever any doubt?) he gets to conduct all of the bands in an unrehearsed grand finale. In addition to conducting, Mickey solos on the drums, sings and dances with Judy and ends up dressed in a naval officer's uniform.
Did pre-war audiences really buy this?
Artists and Models (1955)
Great Movie From a Time When Hollywood was Great
I saw this movie for the first time just this week on Turner Classic Movies. Hard to believe that at age 65 there was a Martin & Lewis movie I hadn't seen. In widescreen and glorious Technicolor, this movie comes from a time when clean entertainment and spectacle mattered to Hollywood and the American public.
Martin and Lewis are in top form with a wonderful supporting cast. Eighteen year old Shirley MacLaine is a funny, sexy standout. Dino gets time away from Jerry to sing and dance on a classic American 1950s city street......kind of like Gene Kelly.
Why can't we get stand alone DVD and Blu-Ray of this film?
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Keeps You Guessing Until the End
This is a very well made (and inexpensive) movie for this genre. As you know by now, a young woman wakes up in a bomb shelter and seems to be kept prisoner by John Goodman along with a young man there of his own free will. Is Goodman's character crazy or not? Well, yes. And no. We hear he has a theory on mutant worms from outer space.
Things happen to both prove and disprove whatever you expect. This takes up about and hour and twenty minutes of the movie. Once Michelle, the woman, escapes, the plot takes a turn I never expected but enjoyed seeing. This is where the Cloverfield reference comes in.
During this final chapter there is a short sequence shot with a shaky hand held camera. Luckily it lasts only a few seconds.
As I moved into the lobby, couples were discussing the movie, what this and that meant. The ending was pretty straightforward really, if a bit short.
If you like the trailer, you'll enjoy the movie. Great orchestral soundtrack. One final thing: once the credits start, the movie is over. There is no final five second scene following the credits.
Better Than "San Andreas"
This is a Norwegian movie with English subtitles.
"The Wave" is better because it is on a more believable scale. Yes, there are clichés: one scientist no one will believe, birds flying from danger, the hero rescuing his family against incredible odds. People whose job is to monitor the geological causes of the wave can only watch their computer screens in helpless silence.
Still, it was well acted and the special effects were good, especially considering the low budget. The aftermath was typical post apocalyptic with stunned survivors unable to believe what happened. Our hero's family is reunited and closing credits remind us of how close this is to actually happening.
It DID happen to a part of Norway in 1906.
San Andreas (2015)
Good Popcorn Movie
Bottom line, this is a good action movie that happens to take place within the framework of a huge earthquake. Turn off your brain for a couple of hours and enjoy.
Plot: the Rock and his estranged wife struggle to rescue their daughter in San Francisco following The Big One. As in all action movies there are certain rules that don't apply in real life.
After the quake hits in San Francisco, the daughter is trapped in a car located in a garage two floors below street level. Her cell phone works! She is able to call daddy in his rescue helicopter over Los Angeles which has also been hit. (It is at this point where the audience began to laugh and make funny comments.) Daddy has just rescued his wife and though they are in a rescue helicopter and people in LA need saving, they take off for SF. We do get to see the obligatory destruction of the "Hollywood" sign.
Daughter is rescued by a young man she has just met. There is debris in the garage but no dust in the air. And though they are in a ruined garage beneath a ruined building, there is enough light to see what they are doing.
Daughter's new boy friend has a shard of glass embedded in his thigh. When Daughter pulls it out, I expected a geyser of blood but no. Nothing. She wraps a cloth bandage around it and off they go. Later, they kiss.
Fast forward. The Rock and wife are in a rubber pontoon boat in the bay when the tsunami hits. They are able to ride the boat up the crest of the wave and over to the other side just in time for the same wave to take out the Golden Gate Bridge. They easily maneuver the boat through the debris filled sea water which has covered the city. Funny how the boat is not shredded by the debris and nor is the propeller broken off.
Soon the Rock is swimming through tsunami water inside a building to find his daughter. There is plenty of light and they both hold their breath for a Very Long Time.
Once they are all safe and rescue operations are under way, someone asks "what do we do now?", the Rock says "now, we rebuild." This is how the 1936 movie "San Francisco" ended. "San Andreas" borrows parts of "Earthquake" (1974), "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004).....well, you get the idea.
The Movie You've Already Seen
It's the WWII blitz. Two women are sent to the countryside with a small group of children to remove them from the dangers of German bombs. I can't imagine the British government allowing children to inhabit a rundown house that has been deserted for 40 years. Besides being filthy, the house looks as if it's about to collapse.
When you have a sequel that takes place 40 years after the original, there is some repetition . We have the setup, mysterious and frightening scenes (that turn out to be dreams), denial, discovery of what came before and acceptance. Of course there are the obligatory "shock" shots when one character flashes into view to cause a jump from the audience.
Once trouble starts, there is a young, handsome Royal Air Force officer whose only purpose is to show up Just In Time. This happens throughout the movie. The Woman in Black is defeated of course and it seems our heroes are safe. But there is a final shot that suggests we can expect Woman in Black 3 in a few years.
M-G-M Jubilee Overture (1954)
When Hollywood Still Had Class
A full orchestra in formal attire plays a medley of songs made famous in MGM films through 1954. Oddly, there is no music from "Gone With the Wind." As shown on Turner Classic Movies, the music was in stereo and the picture in Cinerama but unrestored. Hopefully it will run again so I can record it. To my knowledge, this short has not been released on DVD or Blu-Ray as an extra with an MGM movie.
It remained me of the prologue to 20th Century Fox's "How to Marry a Millionaire" in which Alfred Newman led an orchestra playing "Street Scene." This came out the year before the MGM film and was also in stereo and Cinerama.
A Difficult Movie to Figure Out
On the positive side, the acting is superb. Michael Keaton was never better and Ed Norton also gave a brilliant performance. Oddly, Norton's role ended about 20 minutes before the end of the movie. The difficult part for me was determining what was real and what was in Keaton's demented brain.
At least twice before the movie ended, I thought that it was ending: first when Keaton jumped off the building and secondly when he shot himself on stage. But he just kept on going like the Energizer bunny. The ending was ambiguous. He jumped out of the hospital window. He had just shot himself in front of 800 people. Why was he left alone? His daughter comes in and looks down from the window. Not seeing him, she looks up and smiles. Fade to black. So Keaton is really Birdman? I doubt it. Maybe they were stuck for an ending.
Good But Confusing
Overall I enjoyed "Interstellar" but left the theater with major plot holes running through my head. Matthew McConaughey mumbled a bit so I lost a lot of his dialog. The soundtrack made great use of pipe organ music which reminded me of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" from "2001: A Space Odyssey." This may have been deliberate. Another feature from "2001" was the confusing, metaphysical ending.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Cooper passes out in some sort of 5th dimension and wakes up in a hospital bed. His daughter, who is now elderly and near death, is responsible for saving humanity. The human race lives in a space wheel (like in "Elysium") orbiting Saturn. Why not orbiting Earth? And HOW was Cooper's daughter responsible for this? Did these trips through the wormhole really accomplish anything?
Maybe other people in the audience caught something I missed or couldn't wrap my brain around. A group of people were discussing the movie in the lobby when I left.
In closing, "Interstellar" is worth your time and money. There really weren't any times when the movie lagged. It starts out at a moderate pace and doesn't let up. Be prepared to pay attention and think.