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Private Number (2014)
Okay ... so, I hated the first 1/3 of the movie ... boring ... tedious ... and I fell asleep, which is a first for me.
The acting is adequate ... and the further I got into the movie I found that I had two possible villains, and just when I thought I had the right person ... I switched to my second choice, which was actually my first choice! Bingo!
The two leads are actors (Nicholle Tom & Hal Ozsan) I would like to see more of, and Judd Nelson is usually a good choice as well. Which means I have no real complaints about the acting, or the special effects. However, what I do have a problem with is the ending ... can you say "overkill?" Towards the end, the screen goes black ... and this is where I would have made a change. I would have allowed the screen to remain black for two to three minutes ... then I would have let the credits roll. I believe my ending would have been a far better ending ... ?! For an audience to wait on the edge of their seats, then dropped, that would have been superb! But, with this film, the wait would have to be at least two minutes of cold, black, silence.
I'm not so sure I will watch this movie again, but if I do, I'll skip the first 1/3.
Sick Sick Sick
Did I say this was a sick film? Well, upgrading that opinion to total demented ... and that comes from a person that know the full definition of both those words! It takes a little while to catch on to what the writer has done ... but, the real tangible proof occurs in a graveyard ... but surprise turns into disgust once you witness the madness! And the deeper you go, the sicker this movie gets! And when you reach the final secret ... you want to slap the writer's face ... at least I did! This is a writer I never want to meet ... or even discover his/her name.
Okay ... the writer did a great job of bringing out the viewers worse moments, worse emotions, and that means the writer did exactly as planned. However ..... raping one of the world's greatest children's story is a pretty sick way of accomplishing his/her aims! The acting is quite good ... each actor accomplished their role with adequate precision! The talents in this film are quite remarkable ... except when it comes to the part of Olga ... nothing surprising there, her story was obvious from start to finish. Poor scripting? Possibly. But it could also be poor casting! She does come to fruition by the time the movie is in its final lap of the race ... unfortunately, she just isn't a thoroughbred ... not in this film anyway. The part of the father was played well ... but his part in this film was all too obvious! The ones that took their roles and ran away with it ... in other words, those that stole the film ... were the children, which includes the star role of Jenny! The bottom line ... the children made this film watchable ... but the story, itself, was totally demented! I will say this ... this is the first film I have reviewed that has said what needed to be said, without giving away any actual part, or plot, of the movie! Should you watch the movie? I think so ... but expect a whole lot of emotions to come pouring out of your mind!
Into the Woods (2014)
Good And Bad
I've read a few of the other reviewers views of this production, and though I agree with some points, I also disagree with others. Trashing a production that has such unbelievably wonderful talents that did far better than what was obviously badly written for them to work with. Yes, the problems are numerous ... so numerous that one wonders how this film made it to actually being viewed by an audience?! The answer is quite clear ... the casting director, the writers, and probably even the director, could not destroy the very fine and intricate talents of many of its all-star cast members. Unfortunately, miscasting was evident in a couple of the parts. One major mistake was Johnny Depp accepting the role of the wolf! I would have used Tony Todd in that role, at any age. No one wants to see Johnny Depp in a role where he's drooling over a little girl like some pedophile, and that is the exact image I got from the scenes with Johnny Depp! Tony Todd could get away with this role ... Johnny ... you can't!
Frankly, I preferred the movie to the play. The play goes on to ruin Snow White and Sleeping Beauty ... and we discover there aren't four Princes for four stories ... just the same two cads!
That said ... lets chat about Little Red Riding Hood ... is Uncle Walt churning in his grave over this one? He sure should be! Turning Red into an obnoxious little thief with no redeeming graces what-so-ever, shame on Disney. These characters have entertained children for a few hundred years, or more, and to take all the hard work of some of our greatest children's' writers and destroy it all in one movie. that sucks pimentos! However, given the part she had to deal with, Lilla Crawford did quite a good job in destroying Little Red Riding Hood's image. Too bad "Red" can't sue Disney! Hey, would that make an interesting movie? NOT!
Meryl Streep, absolutely wonderful, as usual. She brings the role to life like few others could, if any could! Meryl constantly proves to us that she is an actor/actress to be reckoned with ... to the point of being one of the best actresses in the world today! And so versatile! I love this woman's talent, and wonder if her friendship with Shirley Maclaine might not have helped her improve an already glorious talent. Can't wait to see what she tackles next! I will say this ... if the other reviewers keep you from viewing this production, you will miss a huge amount of talented actors/actresses that kept this film from being shredded for it poor writing and etc.! My favorite line of her's ... "I was just trying to be a good mother!"
Daniel Huttlestone, as Jack, is absolutely precious, and quite lovable in the part. Such a fine talent in one so young ... Patty Duke, eat your heart out! This young man has a wonderful future in films as long as he keeps on the straight and narrow. Daniel is a huge delight in this production, and should be enormously proud of the fantabulous job he did with this part. I should also say the same for Tracey Ullman in the role of Jack's mother ... such a surprising delight to see her in this role. Her part was not huge ... but she made it memorable indeed! I loved her choices of costumes, if they were her choice, and I think they had to be. I'd like to see more of Tracey in films, as well as Daniel Huttlestone.
Cinderella ... huge disappointment. She just didn't fit the image of a shabby girl covered in cinders becoming a beautiful Princess that no Prince could possibly let get away ... attractive, yes ... but Anna Kendrick is no iconic Cinderella! However, even with her limitations, she played her part quite well ... I have no criticisms about her acting, for she knows her craft quite well. She just didn't not fit into Cinderella's glass slippers. Which reminds me ... how arrogant of anyone to change the iconic "Glass Slipper" into gold fabric. Shame, shame, shame! What's next ... changing Dorothy's Ruby Slippers into burlap? The parts of the two Princes were perfect ... both being a banquet to the eyes of any woman, or gay, to feast upon! To miss their adorable number together at the waterfall would surely be a miss to be regretted! Prince's so seldom ever got the chance to have much of a role in thee fantasies, most of the story is usually about the girl.
The two roles that stole the show are those of the Baker and the Baker's wife ... righteously played by James Corden & Emily Blunt. No, they do not outshine Meryl or Daniel ... they match them perfectly! Not an easy task, especially when it comes to the likes of Meryl Streep ... but they were excellent in the roles, even though the writers went overboard and destroyed one of them completely! A very sick thing to do ... which shows the viewer why so many reviewers hated this film! One just must not ever mess with our heroes ... Americans can get quite mean and violent when you start tearing apart our childhood heroes! I once ended 13 year friendship over such a transgression ... and I do not regret it one bit! There are some things people must stand against, and there is plenty of it in this film! However, that does not mean that I will deny the fact that the actors did their jobs with perfection, and if there are people that cannot see that ... then those people are wrong! See the movie ... and make up your own mind.
P.S. The musical number "It's Your Fault!" is perfection!
Damn Yankees! (1958)
If you ever wonder where Jean Stapleton came up with the voice of Edith Bunker, in "All In The Family", watch this movie. She steals the show!
Tab Hunter was not the first choice to play Joe Hardy ... but the studio boss demanded he play the part! Frankly, though Tab was acceptable in the role ... I would have used a blond Elvis and Ann-Margret, in the lead roles ... however, Tab and Gwen did fine jobs, especially Gwen ... but neither were a huge box office draw, not compared to the alternatives. Now, I will admit that Gwen was excellent in the part ... but, if you are talking about a sexy woman that men cannot ignore ... you're talking Marilyn Monroe and/or Ann-Margret! Gwen's problem was that she was never a huge beauty ... and her body was rather boyish, compared to what the most desirable woman should look like! They actually did consider Marilyn Monroe for the part ... but Marilyn was not a dancer, and rehearsals would have been lengthy and strenuous! However ... Ann-Margret would have been a whole different story! Mitzi Gaynor was first choice, but Mitzi turned the role down. Mitzi would have been a hit in the part ... however, Mitzi was smart enough to know that playing the devil's stooge would not be good for her career as a wholesome girl next door ... whereas Ann-Margret could have cared less!
When it comes to Tab Hunter ... nice guy, but the director didn't like him in the part ... perhaps the director was homophobic, as he did complain that Tab was too "faggy!" I will agree that Tab was a bubblegum actor ... good looks, little talent. There are parts in the movie when he does become comfortable in the part ... but, those moments are far too little to make a huge difference. But lets talk about Gwen Vernon! This is a woman that had to wear corrective shoes, after a childhood accident, to straighten her legs, and she wound up with a pair of legs that could dance their way into the hearts of millions of fans! Unfortunately, her posture was a disaster area, even in this film. If you keep an eye out, you'll see what I mean when you see her profile ... her back was bowed, why no one let her know that is beyond me ... because it could have been corrected. Gwen hunched over quite a bit. Even so ... you will see some of the finest dancing ever in her three main numbers ... "Two Lost Souls", the Lola strip number, and her mambo number. By the way, most of the Broadway cast was used in the film, which was a great idea!
I've never cared much for Ray Walston ... excepting for his role in South Pacific, which was a memorable performance.
Someone I am always drawn to, when I see him in a movie, or on television, is James Komack (Rocky), this is a man with the "IT" factor that never became a legend. Having the "IT" factor is not a guarantee of success, unless you seek that type of success. Many of us are scared to death of that kind of success ... seriously, look what happened to Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, three tragic stories of three wonderfully talented people that are loved worldwide ... still ... but they all died young ... tragic!
Poor scripting ... poor lyrics ... were the downfall of this movie ... nut it is still fun to watch ... especially the "Two Lost Souls" production ... great number, with the exception of a couple of Tab Hunter moments that stunk!
Rumor has it that someone is talking about doing a remake ... sounds like a waste of time to me. However, if it is being thought of ... seriously ... some huge changes need to be made. Change the female leads first song ... change the devil's bedroom by removing the cherubs, they are everywhere in the movie ..... either make the newspaper woman an enemy of the team, or make her a supporter, she can't be both! Also ... a devil doesn't talk about the blessings in his life ... he is anti-everything good! Make some sense of the female lead wearing a costume that she never performs in. Create better backdrops. In the home scene, you can see that the walls are phony pieces, which also is evident in the devil's bedroom. Oh, and use Nicole Kidman in the lead (Gwen Vernon) female role! I'd like to see George Clooney as the devil, even better yet, John Leguizamo(?) ... and Ewan McGregor may make a good Joe?! He and Nicole have great chemistry.
Salem Witch Trials (2002)
I admit that I've never really given much thought to the career of Kirstie Alley ... as I've never really seen her do anything worth making note of ... until today. In the Salem Witch trial, she radiates a truthfulness that I have never seen in any of her past performances. She borders, at times, of overacting ... however, one wonders if this is due to the script, or did someone forget to tell us that she was playing the part of a woman bordering upon insanity? I prefer to think it was a problem with the script.
Shirley MacLaine ... OMG ... I have to say that I never ever thought I would see Shirley MacLaine in the all together, the all together as naked as the day that she was born ... and I'm not so sure I shall ever get over the experience! I can't believe that the script would call for her not to cry during this humiliating experience. But it is one heck of a soul baring scene. I do have to say that the prison scene "and I shall find GOD there" was sheer genius, and the acting made all the more memorable.
I, obviously, found the scripting to offer so much less than what this most talented cast brought forth out of the depths of their bowels ... EWWW ... sorry, got carried away. Its just that most of the acting in this movie was worthy to be shown in theaters, and not as a TV movie. And i can't believe that I have only just discovered this movie 12 years after it was made.
The Salem Witch Trials are true American horror stories that will never be forgotten, especially as it is a true testament to man's inhumanity to man ... for nothing more than the greed of man ... and, even more so, the church! More children of GOD have been tormented, tortured, and murdered, in the name of a false god that I pray I never come face to face with. Oh, that's right ... that god doesn't exist ... THANK GOD!
Update ... I have just discovered that the DVD of this movie has a problem to which I have only been watching the last half of the movie! For the first time I am watching the full movie and now it makes sense.
Pete's Dragon (1977)
Another classic from Disney ... this is a movie I actually find myself watching ... and smiling. The talent is a mixture of classic actors from an era long gone, and replaced, all too often, by actors that just don't have the magic needed to engulf us with a hundred and one emotions.
Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, Mickey Rooney, and many of the musical industries best dancers that have worked with stars like Jane Powell, Shirley Jones, and Kathryn Grayson. I did notice one of the male dancers that was also dancing up a storm in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.
Sean Marshall is the perfect Pete ... and it was refreshing to hear someone else say that entertaining is wonderful, but the fame is the pits! I often wonder how people like the stars of this little gem deal with the fame. Imagine having perfect strangers running up to you ... wanting autographs, and to just touch you, as if whatever you've got may rub-off on them.
Helen Reddy was excellent as Nora ... the entire cast was perfect casting. If you are into feel good musicals ... on one of those rainy blue Mondays ... this film is for you.The songs are catchy ... you'll have them roaming through the corridors of your mind for days! That's Entertainmant!
The Best Christmas Movie Ever
I fell in love with this movie back in 1970, when I saw it, numerous times, during the Christmas Holidays, at Radio City Music Hall. Truth is ... this movie was my Christmas for 1970.
Albert Finney should have received an Oscar for his performance in this wonderful movie. One thing that never ceases to amaze people is the fact that he plays the part of young Scrooge, as well as the part of old Scrooge ... the performances are so unique, and masterful, that people find it hard to believe he plays both these part ... but he does, and he does it to perfection! I know one person that literally hates musicals ... but he did like this movie! The sets are spot-on ... the costumes are extraordinarily realist for the period ... and the special effects are unbelievable when you realize that this film was made in 1970! My favorite part of the movie is when Scrooge meets the ghost of Christmas Present. The talent that went into this scene is absolute perfection ... which means that not only did this movie have perfect casting ... it had the perfect film crew as well.
The excellent casting includes Dame Edith Evans, whom plays the ghost of Christmas past like the quality actress she always has been. I think the greatest thing about this movie, and what makes it such a classic, is the choosing of just the right actors ... Shakepearian Actors! I know, hard to imagine such an actor singing and prancing around like a little kid ... but it is done in this film to, here comes that word again, perfection! Kenneth More makes the perfect ghost of Christmas present ... his acting, and costuming, were so well done that I had a hard time accepting the actor as being Kenneth More ... but, I guess, that was the whole point. By the way, don't get me wrong, Kenneth was a wonderful actor, I was just blown away that he didn't look, or act, like the Kenneth More audiences had become use to seeing.
Well, I shan't bore you with praises about all the other actors ... I will just say that if you never see this film, you will have missed my favorite Christmas movie ... and that certainly would be a pity ... because this movie will put practically anyone into the spirit of creating as wonderful a Christmas as is possible to make for all they know and love ... and a few they don't know as well! By the way ... it has always bugged me that this film has never become a Holiday regular, as has Miracle On 34th Street, and Its a Wonderful Life ... because it belongs right up there with those two sinalicious classics!
Live! From Death Row (1992)
an honest look into prisons around the world
"Live! From Death Row" is a movie that everyone that lives in, what we call, a civilized society ... should watch ... more than once! Most importantly it deals with the fact that many inmates, of prisons around the world, are mentally ill. Unfortunately, our system / our society is so riddled with hate, extreme hate, that few people, if any, actually receive justice. In many cases ... the criminal is the biggest victim in the court room, and, until we come to terms with this fact, we will continue to create monsters which become magnified year after year ... until they are put on death role, and murdered by our/the system, as well as the society, that created them! In the case of content, the talent is much less important than the message of/in this film. As usual, Bruce Davidson does himself proud with placing himself in the character's shoes ... and the quality of the film is rather like an afternoon soap ... you are sucked in, and the tentacles keep you from going anywhere else ... you need to know what happens next. I think someone other than Joanna Cassidy should have played the part of the reporter. Though she was not a huge mistake, she just doesn't quite reach her goal of believability. I would have sought someone closer to the quality of a Kate Hepburn, or a Maureen O'Hara, but this was not a big budget film, so funds must have been too short to get anyone better. Don't get me wrong, she was not bad, she just wasn't that good either. However, and as I have already said, the content makes up for the quality ... big time. If you want to read more about the content, I would suggest yo go to my facebook page billie.love.583.
Anyhoots ... as I said, this is a movie that should be seen by everyone, especially when it comes to the English speaking world.
Finian's Rainbow (1968)
Lots of Goofs
Where to start? Well, the answer to that question is usually ... The Beginning ... and that is where this film began going wrong! The opening shows stand-ins, for Fred and Petula, traveling across America on there way to Fort Knox! I have a feeling that the film cutters didn't get much schooling, because, in one shot you have them at The Golden Gate Bridge (will they ever paint it gold), in another shot you see them at Mount Rushmore, and in the very next shot they are at the Grand Canyon! Petty silly mistake that even the director never noticed! And, while mentioning the Director ... this movie could've done better with a better director ... talk about delusions of grandeur ... if it weren't for the great cast, this movie would have lost every penny that went into it! I got so tired of seeing the color of yellow everywhere! The sets ... some are good, some are pretty pathetic. At one point you can see the squares of grass used to represent a lush Irish setting! And did I see yellow daffodils growing in bushes and trees? I think I did! And what about when the pot of gold is buried, with dirt shoveled into the pot ... and when it is found, by the death mute, there is no dirt in the crock? There is also a part when Petula is laying in the grass and begins to sing, but all of the sudden she's sitting up, then she's laying down again in the next shot.
By the way ... there appears to be several sexual innuendos in the movie. One in the song about the mortgage, one during the first wedding scene ... plus a couple more.
Petula Clark is great in the film, and it surprises me that she didn't do much after this film ... perhaps because this movie was lacking the quality it should have had, and the actor's careers suffered do to that? Or was it a problem of not advertising the movie and its stars well enough? Because the songs, the singing, the star power, and the acting, was fabulous ... however, a major downer was the prejudice theme within the movie, which is something I have a problem with when it comes to using prejudices in any form of entertainment ... its extremely subliminal, brainwashing! True, the stars got angry about anyone being prejudice against someone just because they're black ... which was good ... but these problems should not find themselves in any of our forms of entertainment! And the part in regards to the Senators bromo was too long! Anyhoots ... basically, there are plenty of goofs in this movie, it should get an award for them all ... or at least be entered into The Guinness Book Of Records! But, guess what ... I actually liking listening to this movie ... I just don't like watching it!
By the way, I loved it when the deaf mute received her voice, and sang with everyone ... because she is no singer, but the realism of the moment was perfect directing ... it suited her part in the movie.
Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Jessie Martin steal the show, especially Wilson as the ever caring Angel ... the name suited the character perfectly, and Wilson's act was just as flawless! The only part of this movie that I hated was Idina Menzel's solo performance at Maureen's protest performance in the night ... the entire number was a waste of film, and I usually fast forward passed that portion of the film ... as her number at the engagement party was far better, I must assume the scripting was at fault ... that night performance was like nail on a blackboard for me ... like ... jump over the moon already! Quite the lame production.
The opening of the film is reminiscent of Chorus Line ... but sort of a waste of talent as not all the characters had even met yet ... so I think, that production would have better placed elsewhere in the movie.
The acting is superb on all counts ... as is the singing. There were a few obviously mistakes in filming ... like when our two main characters are walking through the village singing about them moving in together, a great number by the way ... the pass two policemen ... one black and one white, approach them, but they seem to become two white cops after they pass the couple. The subway routine was obviously shot in many takes as some of the scene were not cut properly, and just didn't match up.
However, when you take everything into consideration ... including Rosario Dawson's night club act which was totally outrageous and wonderful ... that whole section of the film is a well cut gem! Also need to note that Tracie Thoms' part in the film was just as great as the top two that stole the show! I do have one complaint ... why does it seem that these movies seem to always kill off the drag queen? Granted, they do make them out to be really wonderful people ... but they kill them all off ... makes no sense. Perhaps the writers are trying their best to make the world more acceptable to trans-genders? I can accept that ... I've met good and bad ones, just like every other category of human beings! The stigma should end ... afteral, they aren't just campy stage personalities is some run down gay club in the ghetto that everybody loves on-stage, but not off-stage. Listen to me, I'm always fighting for the rights of somebody! Anyhoots ... I shall enjoy this film again and again, for many years to come***!!!