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Smart People (2008)
Smart movie, nice dialogue
Smart People is the type of movie I enjoy, that is, a small movie with excellent dialogue and interpersonal relationships. Dennis Quaid has one of his best roles in years and Sarah Jessica Parker does her usual excellent job in this type of role.
Ellen Page as Vanessa, the Dennis Quaid character's daughter does a terrific job and is excellent with her cutting remarks on the situations that she and her family get into. Also Thomas Hayden Church does a great job in a role he was made for.
If you want a nice film about dysfunctional relationship I highly recommend this movie.
Just on a different note, the thought occurs that Dennis Quaid's ex-wife Meg Ryan and Sarah Jessica Parker's husband did a movie several years ago call "Addicted to Love."
The Bronx Is Burning (2007)
Excellent series but no series can capture the real drama that year
I watched "Bronx is Burning" with great interest considering I was a huge fan of the 1977 Yankees. The book was excellent and the way Jonathan Mahler interwove the drama of the 1977 Yankees, politics and the Son of Sam killings was terrific.
Since it was an ESPN production this series focuses mainly on the 1977 Yankees and on the central characters on that team, Reggie Jackson, the egotistical right fielder of the Yankees, Billy Martin, the maniacal and self destructive manager and George Steinbrenner, the owner who also had a huge ego.
I thought John Turturro, Daniel Sunjata and Oliver Platt did excellent jobs as respectively Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner. Turturro does an excellent job of conveying the tortured sole of Billy Martin. Sunjata also does a terrific job of handling the mannerisms of Reggie Jackson and what Reggie was all about.
I enjoy the way the series showed what was going on in New York in 1977 and the way they were able to switch back and forth between sports, politics and the scary atmosphere at that time because of "Son of Sam." Strangely enough while I thought they did a great job I think it is virtually impossible to understand the amazing drama that was the Yankees of the late 1970's. It was a soap opera and a baseball team rolled into one. A group of amazing talents and perhaps even more amazing egos.
In 1977 you wondered if the team would be more exciting on the field or off the field. Sometimes you would get both as shown by the near fight that Reggie Jackson almost had with Billy Martin in Fenway Park during that season. There were the incredible comebacks during the games, comebacks from relatively far behind in the standings, comebacks from trailing in the 9th inning in the last game to the Royals. The drama of the Jackson benching in the final game of that playoff series and Reggie redeeming himself with a clutch hit late that game.
There seemed to be a major controversy every day and you had to check out several newspapers to get the stories of what was going on with that year.
The ending that year of the 1977 Yankees and Reggie Jackson was so stunning that if it was a fictional story I would not have believed it because it was so corny! In possibly the greatest single game performance in baseball history Reggie Jackson hit 3 home runs on only 3 swings to win the World Series for the Yankees for the Yankees first title in 15 years. This was the signature game for Reggie and the game that people always think of when they think of "Mr. October" aka Reggie Jackson.
Strangely enough the following year may have been every bit as exciting if not more so. The 1978 Yankees wouldn't be a bad mini-series either.
A Twist on the Legendary Tales of Camelot
I have to admit that I've always been a huge fan of the tales of the Knights of Camelot and when I read the television listing about "The Last Defender of Camelot" I was anxiously awaiting watching it on television. To my surprise it exceeded my expectations! Warning-Possible spoilers.
The plot begins with a group of young thugs in London in 1986 attacking an apparently helpless older man. Well to the youth's astonishment, the so called helpless man overpowers all of them and demands that the one unharmed one takes him to the one who ordered the attack.
We soon learn that the old man is the great Sir Lancelot, still alive and well and the one who ordered Lancelot taken to her is none other than the so called "evil" witch Morgan Le Fay. Morgan Le Fay is here to warn Lance, as she calls him that Merlin has summoned Lancelot to Cornwall to revive him from his centuries old sleep.
The major twist here is that Merlin, normally written in books as a hero is revealed to be the villain in this episode and Morgan Le Fay, thought to be normally the villainess is a heroine.
I won't reveal the rest but I will reveal the ending narration: "Once upon a time there was a realm of myth and magic, a high bright dream that shimmered briefly and then was gone, leaving only memories and one ageless, weary, slightly tarnished hero, who proved at last that wisdom and valor go hand in hand - on Earth, in Camelot, and in the Twilight Zone." I have a DVD of this show and I still get chills when I hear that final narration. I believe this show and "Message from Charity" were the best two shows of this incarnation of the "Twilight Zone."
Blue's Clues (1996)
A Delightful Children's Show
The first time I saw Blue's Clues was in 1997 with my daughter who was two at the time. A friend of mine raved about the show so I decided to tune in. After watching several shows I found it to be delightful and charming. Steve Burns was a great host for the show that was wonderful in the way it taught and entertained children. With the stuffed Blue my daughter had, the games and of course watching the show every day Steve and Blue almost seemed like members of our family! Several years later, on a personal note, on 9/12/01 (everyone knows what happened on 9/11/01)my two daughters had a doctor's check up to go to. Since we lived in the New York Area, we were all on edge, to understate things. As I took my children to the doctor's office, the office had Blue's Clues on, for some reason, watching Blue's Clues actually gave me and my children a sense of calm.
Less than a year later, we met Donovan Patton (aka Joe) at the Toys R Us on Broadway in Manhattan. My daughters always wanted to met Steve but while I couldn't do that I had to take them to at least meet the new host of Blue's Clues. Mr. Patton was charming and it was an experience my children will never forget.
I can truly say I love that show because it will always remind me of the times when my children were young.
Sandra Bullock's signature role
The original Miss Congeniality was one of my favorite movies and clearly my favorite Sandra Bullock movie by far. I have been looking forward to a sequel to it for years.
The original was a wonderful film that was a romantic comedy, something that Miss Bullock is great at. I was wondering how they would handle the second film, after all it would be hard to have a romantic comedy with the same character again. The answer is that they switched it to a buddy flick, with Miss Bullock as Gracie Hart and Regina King as Sam Fuller as the mismatched partners.
When I heard about this I was skeptical of how entertaining this film would be. Turns out it is quite an entertaining film with excellent comedic acting by Sandra Bullock, Regina King, Heather Burns (Isn't she in every Sandra Bullock film?), William Shatner and Enrique Murciano as the over the top beauty and style specialist Jeff Foreman.
The core of the film is of course Sandra Bullock as the Gracie Hart character. I believe Gracie Hart is one of the true original characters in movie history. We all can identify with Gracie. She is a wonderful original and likable character that we all can identify with. Is that often the key to liking any movie, i.e. liking the main character and rooting for that character to overcome all and succeed in the end? Don't expect it to be similar to the first movie but expect to have an enjoyable time watching Miss Bullock as Gracie Hart. I for one hope they will have a third Miss Congeniality film.
The Quality of the Show was Amazing
Warning possible spoilers.
In watching "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" I was thinking that despite the excellent quality of the miniseries, it wasn't much above the great average level of the regular series. Farscape was a tremendous Sci-Fi series that was overshadowed by some of the Star Trek shows but usually surpassed them in quality.
The Peacekeeper Wars continues the saga of John Crichton, Aeryn Sun, Chiana and the rest of people on the living ship Moya as they go through their incredible adventures. When last we heard Crichton and the love of his life Aeryn Sun seemed to be destroyed by a weapon that turned them to dust. Obviously it did not.
The story tell of the war between the Hynerians and the Peacekeepers and how both sides want John Crichton because he has the knowledge to build the ultimate weapon. It seems like a typical Sci-Fi movie but Farscape is never typical. It always has twists and turns. It has always been a show driven by the characters, not just by the special effect, which are excellent I might add.
Farscape has always been a show that was tough to follow if you were not watching the previous shows but the mini-series explains the basic plot quickly. You don't have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this mini-series. Farscape was one the great television shows, not just a great Sci-Fi show. It was a fitting ending.
Pipe Dream (2002)
A sweet romantic comedy-Warning-May be some spoilers
I was switching channels late one night when I came around "Pipe Dream" with Mary-Louise Parker and Martin Donovan. The plot, frankly is just a little out of the ordinary. Donovan plays a plumber who poses as a director to meet woman and Parker plays the writer who script he steals to help make the movie. It's an good plot but what puts it into another level is the amazing chemistry between Mary-Louise Parker and Martin Donovan. They work so seamlessly together that I wondered if they had a relationship in real life!
It's a very sweet understated comedy with excellent performances by the leads. If you want to see these two in another comedy, watch the movie "Saved."
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 is great!
One of the major reasons Spider-Man has been so beloved with his fans is that he is a regular guy first, a superhero second. He's a regular person with problems like any other human being, except for the fact that he has super powers.
When I used to read comic books when I was a child I could not identify with superheroes like Superman, who even with his supposed mild mannered secret identity of Clark Kent really didn't have any major problems and seemed to come out on top all the time. Enter Spider-Man and his true identity of Peter Parker. Peter was an ordinary guy and had problems we all could identify with. He's first Peter Parker and Spider-Man second. We could look at the depth of the character.
In Spider-Man 2 we understand what makes Peter tick. The development of the characters is first and foremost and the action sequences are secondary to the story, fabulous as they may be. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco do an excellent job and Alfred Molina is terrific as Dr. Octopus.
The Wayne Brady Show (2002)
A terrific show that had a great, great host.
The Wayne Brady Show was one of the best talk shows to ever appear on television. Wayne is one of those rare hosts that has exceptional talent and ability with the added fact that he actually listens to his guests and was extremely prepared for the show. If memory serves, I believe he won 2 daytime emmys as outstanding daytime talk show host. It was well deserved.
Yet despite the excellence of the show and of the host it was canceled after only a couple of seasons. I will miss the show. It was a pleasure to watch it.
I look forward to any endeavor that Wayne has in the future.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray's greatest movie and one of the greatest comedies, no, one of the great movies of all time.
Two clues to tell if a movie is great is how often it is copied and how it has become a part of American slang. Groundhog Day has had both happen to it. Warning: POSSIBLE SPOILERS. Bill Murray played Phil Connors, a egocentric and grumpy weatherman in Pennsylvania who goes to Punxsutawny, Pa every year to see if the groundhog sees his shadow for the local television station with his producer, played by the wonderful Andie MacDowell, and his cameraman, played by a low keyed Chris Elliot.
Everything goes as Phil expects on the first day, except he is caught in a blizzard and has to stay the night. The next morning he awakes and it's Groundhog Day again! This pattern happens over and over again until he realizes he cannot escape Groundhog Day. In time Phil realizes the advantages of knowing what's going to happen before it happens and Murray takes full comic advantage of it.
However if this film was just that, it would be just a normal run of the mill comedy. Murray's character Phil learns and grows and becomes a better person during the course of the film and learns to love the town in which he felt he was trapped in. The chemistry with MacDowell's character of Rita is wonderful. It's a great film and to my mind the best comedy, no perhaps the best movie I have ever seen.