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We are at 7,800 feet in the high San Luis Valley at the foot of the Sangre de Christo range of the Southern Rocky Mountains.
We raise livestock, farm a little, hunt game and live life like it was years past. Some of my nieghbors have no telephone, electricity or indoor plumbing. The nearest doctor is fifty miles away as is the nearest movie theater. The nearest small grocery store is twenty miles although we do have a bar here that serves ugly whiskey to strong women.
There is no law and order here. People settle their own grievances for the most part. The State Police will come up here if a prisoner is being held at gun point.
Cattle rustlers and horse theives are still dipatched and buried out on the llano or in the mountains.
You don't have to be Spanish to live here but it helps. Anglos are tolerated provided they don't try to change things and respect tradition. The area was settled in the early 1800s. This was the land of what is now called the Jicarilla Apache and the Southern Utes. The Commanche also used to hunt these mountains.
Humboldt County (2008)
A Tree, a rock, a cloud.
The theme of a younger man or woman coming to terms with alternative lives which prompt him to examine his values has been with us for a long time. It is something I never tire of when it is done well. Hopefully, we have all been there. If not, there is still time. What are you waiting for? I grew up in and around Humbolt County before the counterculture arrived and remember Arcata and Eureka as logging and commercial fishing towns. I was there for some of the "cultural struggles" that followed. So, for me, this movie has multiple layers of nostalgia. Fortunately, the movie omitted the real weather, so I had no neuralgia.
Highway Patrol (1955)
Please stay seated inside your car!
Buddy Morrow composed and conducted this most effective theme music any TV show will ever have. I saw CHP officers in the 1960s rise from their seats when it was played over a public address system. It may be about as effective as the song "Dixie" in stirring emotions.
I was five years of age when this series hit the air. I watched as often as possible and through the entire series run. As a result I grew up to believe the California Highway Patrol was the finest law enforcement organization ever conceived; totally dedicated to preserving the peace and protecting honest citizens from predation and poor driving habits. Most importantly they accomplished this with an air of efficiency and natural superiority. You were lucky to have one pull you over on the highway to correct your aberrant road behavior. This they did with courtesy and ease. You left the encounter feeling the better for it.
Such is the power of myth.
The Lineup (1954)
Old San Francisco
I was raised in SF during the years of this TV series. The outdoor scenes of the old city before the high rise buildings, the 1950 Ford sedan the two detectives drove, the old SFPD telephone call boxes (two way radios in police cars were just coming in. Police cars had radio receivers but not a transmitter. They would receive a message over the radio and then hunt down a blue painted police telephone call box to reach HQs), the overcoats and hats, the old Hall of Justice building, the dignified and grave manner of Inspector Grebb and Lt. Guthrie, all of this is long gone and very nostalgic. The SFPD of Chiefs Ahern and Cahill is a long way from the multi-ethnic, multi-gendered SFPD pf today. When this TV series was filmed the SFPD was largely a club of Irish American gentlemen. And it was a good thing, too, to be sure! I am afraid the video masters of this show have long since decayed along with "Highway Patrol".
Fixed Bayonets! (1951)
Wish they could all be like this
Another Sam Fuller nitty gritty, down-to-earth where the rubber meets the road movie. There is nothing extra in this movie. Every word every action is meaningful. I wish more directors today would study Sam Fuller. It seems that only Quentin Tarantino ever heard of Sam.
The premise of this film is a little unlikely- Korea early in the war and one infantry platoon is assigned to hold off three Chinese and North Korean Divisions while the rest of the U.S. Division regroups. While it is more likely that a larger US force would have had such an assignment the small number of men comprising a single platoon makes for some real character development. There are some great characters here. Fuller wrote some real life into them. I believe Fuller was a combat vet from WWII so he knows what he writes- the fear, the rage, the fear again. There are lots of nice little bits here- the frozen foot while holding up in a cave. No one is sure whose foot it is that is being revived as all their feet are frozen. I had to throw another log in the woodstove after that scene.
If you are interested in war movies without flag waving and corny dialog this movie is for you.
Another Taut Masterpiece
Just another taut masterpiece from the dark cauldron known as "David Mamet". That is to ask is there really such a person. Given the intense quality of his total body of work, I suspect a writing guild in Prague. There is no corpus Mamet!!! Anyway, thanks for bringing Val Kilmer back in a role he could do something with- his best since Doc Holiday.
My wife and I came into this without knowing anything about the movie except for Val Klimer's presence. After ten minutes we looked at each other and whispered "Mamet!" only to be shoved by the people in the row behind and told "Shut-up!" What else should one say at a Mamet film? The signature dialogue is always a treat. I wish I could talk like that.
If one enjoys tense thrillers and is able to fill in the story's blank spaces with your own knowledge and experiences this is a must see.
They Were Expendable (1945)
More Feeling, Less Propaganda
POSSIBLE SPOILERS (especially if you who never heard of Bataan) I am an offspring of the WWII Generation. I have one uncle, a POW, buried in the Philipines. After December 7, 1941 he was left behind along with 69,999 other American and Philipino troops. My folks never let me forget and Memorial Day was his day, Uncle Austin.
"They Were Expendable" unlike the movies "Bataan" and "Wake Island" is more than a flag waving piece of propaganda. John Ford (Admiral USN, Deceased)invested a lot of emotion into this story. Clearly, he felt something real and powerful for the men and women left behind to face certain death at the hands of a barbarous and cruel enemy. The reverential pacing of the film, the closeups of the faces of these men, their quiet and heroic reaction to their doom, all of this is very moving. The last airplane boarding scene is a real tear jerker. I draw real comfort from the character of Brigadier General Martin (Jack Holt) left behind to fight on to the end. I like to think that my Uncle Austin was there with him, M1917 Enfield in hand.
The Last Samurai (2003)
What a Stinker!
The Last Samurai or "Shogun" meets "Dances with Wolves". There is absolutely nothing new in this movie. A veteran of the George Custer Indian campaigns goes to Japan and is co-opted by the "natives". Haven't we seen this before?
Sorry if this is reductionsit but I just did not find anything new in this movie. Can someone explain to me why in the year 1876 the Japanesearmy is using muzzle loading rifles when the armies of the world have been using metalic cartridge breech loader for ten years? Was this the director's paen to the AMerican Civil War film "Glory"? At least they have Mr, Ahlgren armed with the S&W .45 Scofield which was the correct Army pistol of the day.
I can't find much else to comment on because it has mostly gone before. Am I missing something???
The Bedford Incident (1965)
Good Ship Movie
I saw this film when it was released in the mid 1960s, again on VHS over the years and finally on satelite television. It holds up very well. The theme of obsession in the line of duty is as relevant today as it was when Melville wrote "Moby Dick". The acting is excellent. Hats off to Eric Portman as the West German Navy commodore advisor in submarine warfare. He sort of reprises his roles in the "49th Parallel" and "We Dive at Dawn". He is one Englishman who portrays a great German. Martin Balsam does his usual excellent work as the under appreciated ship's doctor. This also contains yet another of Sydney Poitier's race neutral rolls. Very revolutionary for the mid 1960s ("Lillies of the Field" being another).
The ship model and iceberg scenes seem a bit dated in this digital graphics era but I shudder with cold every time I there is an exterior scene. I sailed in Greenland waters once and I know what is feels like on that grey ocean under that grey sky.
Clearly, this is British production. One interior shot of the ship shows a rack of Enfield rifles, already obsolete by the time this film was made. Not a problem really.
The suspense and tesnion hold up well after several viewings and the inevitable ending is, well, inevitable.
If you did not grow up during the Cold War this film will have less impact than living with the bomb ("The bomb, Alexi, the Hydrogen bomb..." oh, that was another cold war film).
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Well Done (the Movie not the Meat Temperature)
I just saw this last night for th first time on AMC. It was the best of the series since "Alien". The story was intriging with had plenty of plot twists. The characters were well developed. The buff Ripley clone was a lot of fun. That is my kind of girl. Ms. Weaver really worked on this part. The basketball scene was a hoot. The scene of the Queen carrying Ripley was very touching prompting my wife to remark, "See, Aliens do care". The bad humans were real evil and the pirates really scuzzy. What more could one want? I really enjoyed the Aliens swimming in the flooded basement that will keep me out of pools and ponds for some time. Do you think they came from a watery planet? This might explain their slimmy exteriors. The ending was pleasent. Better writing than the previous two Alien films.
Survival Island (2002)
Candidate for the Edward D. Wood, Jr. Award???
This was the worst movie I have seen in years. Only a complete stone fool could have written and directed this picture. The opening narrative of people in some Central American tribe casting all there troubles in a clay figure and setting it adrift might have worked had it not been for some obvious inconsistencies. First, the last time I looked at a global topographic map or read "National Geographic" Central America was flat and covered with dense jungle. This sequence looked like the Sierra Madre of Northern Mexico. Second, just about all of the supposedly starving villagers who were facing famine were as fat as jelly doughnuts. Hello?
I will not even comment on the dopey Young Adults that arrive on the Island. IF they are our future please find me a "Wayback Machine".