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September Dawn (2007)
Remember September 11th.
Religious fanatics exist everywhere: Mormons in 1857, Christians in the Crusades, Irish Catholics & Protestants, Muslim fundamentalists; no time in history has been without the fanatics, and they exist today.
It has been said that more people have died in the name of religion than in all the wars. It should be obvious that that is, on it's face ridiculous. However, the fact is that many people have been killed in religious conflict as this case here that is documented in history. The fact that it is true should not mean it is not to be told. The fact that is is a church involved should not give a pass. Death is death and bigotry is bigotry. We see both here in spades.
Jon Voight and Terence Stamp portrayed the hatefulness of the fanatics better than anyone I could imagine. Trent Ford was excellent as the son who could not accept that death was the answer. Tamara Hope was also excellent as the "gentile" woman that Trent loved.
The was a beautiful film about love and gentleness amidst evil and hate. It is nothing new, but it was done beautifully.
The Birdcage (1996)
So this is Hell. And there's a crucifix in it.
This film probably had the greatest comedic cast ever assembled: Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, Dianne Wiest, Hank Azaria, Christine Baranski, and Dan Futterman.
In addition, the screenplay is by Elaine May, who also did Primary Colors and Heaven Can Wait.
Mike Nichols, who won an Oscar directing The Graduate, directs this film to perfection.
The lines in this movie are a hoot and a great improvement on the French film it is based upon.
Robin Williams shines.
At last! My arm is complete again!
It is a scene worthy of Charles Dickens: gray buildings, gray skies and gray-faced people, living and dead.
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter shine as Sweeney, the barber with a grudge, and Mrs. Lovett, who is in love with him.
Todd vows to have his pie in the form of revenge over the cruel Judge (Alan Rickman) who sent him to prison to steal his wife (Laura Michelle Kelly).
One can hear a socialist screed against those of privilege who will give to the poor for once, transforming Mrs. Lovett's pies from the worst to the best in London.
The singing, while not what one would expect on Broadway, was on-key and the songs ("The Worst Pies in London", "My Friends", "Johanna", "A Little Priest", and many more) were a pure delight.
Tim Burton's adaptation was absolutely marvelous with outstanding acting by Depp, Carter, and newcomer Ed Sanders. I even have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Sacha Baron Cohen. I really never thought I would say that! Timothy Spall was a delight with his rat face, and the only thing that detracted from perfection was the absence of Carter's meat pies in their full glory.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
I'm just a humble country lawyer trying to do the best I can against this brilliant prosecutor from the big city of Lansing.
Charlie Chaplin lost the Best Actor Oscar in 1941 to James Stewart. To see Stewart in action here will tell you why he won that Oscar and was nominated for four more.
This is probably the best courtroom action you will ever see with Ben Gazzara on trial for murder after his wife (Lee Remick) was supposedly raped. With Arthur O'Connell and Eve Arden assisting him, Stewart goes up against George C. Scott in the courtroom.
He does that "little country lawyer" bit so well and, in a fishing metaphor, gently trolls his fly to snare the opposition into doing exactly what he wants.
Plenty of laughs in the tale of a couple that deserve each other.
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Some people, they don't put things behind so easily.
Poor Jasmine (Cate Blanchett); she had a dream existence, luxury clothing, jewelry, an apartment on the 5th Avenue, a holiday home in the Hamptons, until her husband (Alec Baldwin)was arrested for fraud.
She has no alternative but to move to San Francisco, in the modest apartment of his adoptive sister (Sally Hawkins). Her upper class snobbishness does not mesh with her sister's life, and oh, the constant alcohol and pills do not help. The clash of cultures creates hilarious situations.
You cannot feel entirely sympathetic, as Jasmine was guilty of turning a blind eye, by pure selfishness.
Cate Blanchett commands admiration. She won an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and many other awards for her performance. Sally Hawkins was equally stunning as her sister, and receive an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
Remember Marine, ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die. Semper Fi. Over
John Woo (The Killer, Hard Boiled) has finally made "A John Woo Movie" in Hollywood. Finally, hyper-kinetic action and overwrought crises of friendship and conscience in a Hollywood movie.
Nicolas Cage's Sergeant Enders has a Navajo code talker to protect and kill, if necessary. Cage's vet is bitter, ferocious and merciless and some of the violence is truly sickening. Just as it should be.
The Marines are not perfect. Some are damaged, one is racist, and there is friendly fire.
Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers) does a good job as Private Ben Yahzee, the code-talker Enders has to protect.
Absolutely superlative stunt work.
Guns at Batasi (1964)
Mutiny? It's like the Loch Ness Monster. Heard of it but never actually ran across it!
Wow, a 19-year-old Mia Farrow in her first credited role.
But, eye-candy aside, the real stars are Richard Attenborough (Gandhi, Jurassic Park) as the Regimental Sergeant Major, and Flora Robson as MP Barker-Wise.
Upheaval in Africa as a newly independent country decides to change leadership, provides a backdrop for conflict between the RSM and the mutinous Lieutenant (Errol John) who supports the new government.
The stiff discipline of the British Army is on full display as the RSM tries to protect his charges.
The acting by all was excellent, and the story was both dramatic and funny at times.
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
We never get even for the wrong we done.
It may not be the best film about race relations in the South. Mississippi Burning and A Time To Kill have more intensity, but it is still compelling and worth watching for some great performances.
Alec Balwin (Bobby DeLaughter) turned in a fine performance. Personally, I feel it is the best he has ever done.
James Woods was perfect as Byron De La Beckwith. He channeled the venomous hatred and cocky arrogance so familiar in those who were consumed with their self-worth, gained by stomping on others. This performance resulted in an Oscar nomination in a year with many fine performances.
Dixie DeLaughter, played by Virginia Madsen, shows how ingrained racism is in the South, and how difficult, if not impossible, it is for a marriage to survive with a disparity in views, whether it be race or politics.
I also enjoyed seeing Wayne Rogers as Morris Dees, even if it was a small role.
This is an important film that should be seen by all who care about the state of race relations in this country.
It should also be see by all young people so they can see a sign at a gas station saying 22 cents a gallon. Those were the days.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Killin' generals could get to be a habit with me.
Another great film from 1967 that stands the test of time.
No one would ever believe in a story about a bunch of losers going into some German High Command and killing off Generals in exchange for their freedom. Pure fantasy! Yet, this is one of the greatest and most successful war movies ever made.
Robert Aldrich (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) directed a masterpiece written by Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath). The cast was outstanding with Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, John Cassavetes, Clint Walker, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, Ralph Meeker, Richard Jaeckel, Trini Lopez, and Robert Webber.
That's more testosterone than you find on a Super Bowl Team! Sensational.
The Green Berets (1968)
Why is the United States waging this ruthless war in Vietnam?
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that a Vietnam War movie starring and produced by John Wayne would be hugely pro war. Every time someone had anything to say, they came out in favor of the war.
Sure, Charlie was ruthless, and the boogieman (commies) was everywhere, but to produce a war movie that shed not one drop of blood is a real stretch. Everything is so nice and neat. All brutality takes place off camera, and we listen to the stories of Charlie's ruthlessness.
The one good thing about the film was seeing the versatility of the C-130.
1968 also gave us Lee Marvin and The Dirty Dozen, and much better acting, with back up by John Cassavetes and Jim Brown.