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On the Road (2012)
Sex, Drugs & Jazz
"On The Road" is only the skeleton this film is fleshed out around. It is not simply the novel made into a movie. Director Walter Salles WAY expanded it. For starters, he used the scroll, not the '57 edition as the working blueprint. And a ton of the movie came from Neal, Jack & Allen's letters, Carolyn's book, the LuAnne interview, Jack's audio recordings in other words, there's a lot of stuff that's not in the novel. But it's all based on accounts, not solely Jack's account as told in that one book, scroll or not.
It's not the novel On The Road as a linear film. It's an interpretation based strongly ON that novel, but it ain't a literal filming of the storyline. It's a work of art, its own work of art, a new work of art based on an old work of art.
There's lots of cool things about it. I don't want to "spoil" it for you, but many of the specific scenes in the novel that always stood out for me are in the film. And since it's so non-linear, you don't know what's coming next. And it's, "Oh wow! It's this scene! No way!" It's so funny-cool that way. Something that Jack might spend a few paragraphs on in a 300-page novel could be 3 minutes of the 137 minute movie. And things he might cover over 20 pages aren't included at all. It's kind of a series of choice scenes portrayed.
And the cameos by Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi are to die for! That two of my favorite actors are in this in such weird and wonderful ways is just great.
And Viggo as Bill! Holy heck! Maybe the best part of the film.
And the music is GREAT. Yer gonna love it if ya love it.
There's loads of problems, big and small, but I'm not gonna mention 'em cuz maybe you won't even notice 'em. It's its own work of art, its own statement, its own piece. It's new and different and will stand (or fall) on its own. But the movie of "On The Road" now exists. And here it is 2 hours and 17 minutes. It's more large than small. It's more new than old. It's more timeless than dated.
How this is gonna play for other people will be interesting to see.
There's gonna be the Beat world's reaction, and then the non-Beat world's. Beat people in general are gonna like it cuz it's On The Road and so much more. People who have only read the one book and have it emblazoned in their brains may have trouble with how it's been expanded, or edited by the limitations of the medium. I have no idea how non-Beat-familiar people will respond. Not a clue. I think if you were predisposed this way, you'd already be there.
Oh, and there's a whole lotta sex in it. The things that are said and the things that are shown, for The Puritanical American Rating System, this is gonna be an "R" fer sure. I mean, there's hand-jobs, oral, gay, straight, three-ways, you name it and f-bombs, which actually were not in the casual vernacular of the time the way they're used in this film, and certainly not in the novel. This is definitely an adult movie. Which, if you know your On The Road, was a very G-rated book, other than the subject the sex is all off-page, and the language is clean. The movie not so much.
I look forward to experiencing this many more times, under many different circumstances, in many different mindframes, with many different people, and how it'll continue to reveal new colors and angles with each new Road adventure. It's a memorable, expansive dramatization. It's a helluva party condensed into 2 hours. It's a road trip with old friends to familiar places. But you better leave the book at home and be ready for anything.
Run Granny Run (2007)
Inspiring doc about an inspiring woman
This is an outstanding documentary about the American political process, as told through the story of a 94 year old woman from New Hampshire who ends up running for their U.S. Senate seat. It has echoes of The War Room about Bill Clinton's '92 campaign -- in that both are excellently made with rarely seen views behind the facade of a longshot campaign.
You'll love this film if you like The Candidate or Mr. Smith Goes To Washington or Primary Colors or Man Of The Year -- all fictional accounts of this same kinda story -- but this doesn't have the "happy" Hollywood ending -- just real life. But a real life inspiring story -- and any kind of whining you might have about your own diminishing abilities will be quickly wiped away when you see what this 90-something can still do. And the lady is a scream! Listen for her son's ".38 revolver" line! :-)
Watch for the Senate debate scene with her Simpsons-like cartoon character opponent Judd Gregg -- and also cameos by Russ Feingold, John McCain, Joe Trippi, Howard Dean and others!
Also, if you can find the smart Canadian TV sit-com called The Newsroom, they did a 2-part episode called "The Campaign" that's funny as heck about a grassroots no-budget campaign like Granny D's. But what's so great about this, after all the fabulous made-up stories of underdogs running, this is SO the real deal -- wrinkles, warts & all.
The Gates (2007)
Nature, Christo, Central Park and New York City!
This is SUCH a great documentary about New York City -- to me, that's what this brought home. Yes, it's about Christo and history and art and Central Park (my home away from home) but really it's a love poem to NYC and her inhabitants. The cranky old (and young) people, the curious ones, the playful ones . . . it has all the New York types.
I had no idea it was by a Maysles until I heard one of the Christo's greet a "Brother Maysles!" And you can hear him talking to Christo at one point, making a joke about, "If someone manages to steal one and takes it on the subway, make sure I'm there with a camera." It's yet another of their masterpieces.
And I just loved all the old footage from '79 or so, then got total goosebumps with the footage of the morning it opened. ahh, dawn in Central Park! snow in Central Park! night in Central Park. Christo in Central Park! and all caught by a cinematic master!
wow! this is a mind-blowing documentary! up with the best ever IMHO -- particularly Let It Be in its portrait of a great artist's demise; Lost In La Mancha in the disaster caught on film; Swear To Tell The Truth (about Lenny Bruce) in its common era and tragic hero; and Festival Express in its unreal footage that you never thought existed of masters in their prime. and make no mistake, this girl was still in her prime! she could be in a parka reading the newspaper with a three-ring circus beside her and Nobody would notice the circus!
how it portrayed the final hours without a conspiracy theory undertone. and Sinatra singing the theme song to her lost last movie?! huh!? and that Wally Cox shot two of the final scenes ever with Marilyn Monroe!? and that Steve Allen was also in the last movie? was there anything he didn't do!?
I remember hearing about this when it came out, and I just went, "Oh, some other stupid documentary on Marilyn," like there's been A Million of these already. but this is so serious, and real, and complete, and not just whoring her name and figure. it made me choked up in both her final performance in "Something's Got To Give" (another freakily ominous title, like that Beatles farewell), and in the recreation of her last night.
she is So transcendent! there aren't many humans captured on film as captivating as her. and What a portrait this is of her final reel!
I can't wait to see it again.
i've seen this about 7 or 8 times, could see it a lot more.
Movies are SO subjective, but i'm still surprised at the poo-pooers of this parody. Woody is perfect in the lead role, and for those who think he's too old, think about Grace Kelly's choice of men, or the much-lauded Vertigo, with an even more absurd male-female storyline.
a movie, like life, doesn't always make perfect sense. (it was Hitchcock who I first read say this) but if it's funny, there's love in the air, a babe, a great soundtrack, some hypnotic channeling, and a bit of a mystery, what the heck, eh? life's good. especially this two hour slice.
just about everything in this movie is on a 'masterpiece' level, IMHO.
the themes of: technology vs. intuition (or progress vs. tradition, modernity vs. classicism); plus the sexism, prejudice, and then role-reversal -- all fabulously and LOL explored.
and the music is to die for. all hail the banjo! best use EVER in a film. (see ya, Deliverance. -- like McCartney taking back Helter Skelter.)
the only casting i'm not crazy about is Aykroyd's bland toast, and I've never loved that guy from MASH, but this is my favorite single performance by Helen Hunt -- Mad About You with an edge -- over the top, laser-guided missile words. even Woody haters would have to love the scenes where she just rips his head off and spits it out. he's been put in his place by a lot of women in his 40-whatever movies, but i don't know if ever better than Hunt does it!
and the Woody character is just So over the top, and yet you know there were (are) men out there like C.W. and yet, he also has a good and honorable code despite his surface sleaziness. and funny!
I can't wait to see it again.
Witness to Murder (1954)
The Best non-Hitchcock Hitchcock! (spoilers)
besides the obvious Rear Window storyline, all of the following in this movie are also signature Hitchcockian themes or devices . . . the sudden overhead shots during interiors for dialog transitions; the use of shadows (the darkness and the light); the wrongly persecuted (Stanwyck) trying to prove the truth; the inept police wanting to incarcerate the innocent person; the average working-class Joe (or Josephine) getting thrown into a sinister web by no fault of their own; the dramatically different stories within each rear window, i mean each door in the apt. building where the victim lived; the stair-climbing climax to the top of the cloister tower, i mean State of Liberty, i mean skyscraper.
not to mention fellow Brit George Sanders who features prominently in some of Hitch's biggest pre-50s films. and Then! there's even a cameo by Hitch himself! or at least an effective stand-in -- the super in Sanders building baring an obvious resemblance to Hitch's profile.
This is Bizarroworld Hitchcock.
it's The Woman Who Knew Too Much. . . . The Wrong Woman. . . . Saboteur-ess -- withthe opening scene being the crime, and the only person who knows the truth being committed / convicted by the police, with no 'authority' to turn to (except, perhaps, the highest one), and the climax up a long flight of stairs (and then a ladder!), and evil (the bad guy) falling off to his death (down to hell) with a nice direct overhead shot.
It's the Spellbound amnesia, but instead of Dali, the lead character is a surrealist painter. It's Shadow of a Doubt with Sanders playing the suave and 'angelic' Uncle Charlie / Joseph Cotton role.
not to mention the whole anti-fascism angle that ran through most of Hitch's '30s and '40s films.
this has gotta be one of the most Hitchcockian movies ever made that wasn't made by Hitchcock. almost like a "lost Hitchcock".
i'd love to know the backstory on this film -- whether it was a cash-grab rip-off, or a loving homage. the script directly acknowledges the TV show Dragnet at one point, which makes me hope the portly superintendent was a nod to Sir Alfred.
this is either a heck of a forgery, or a heck of a tribute. but either way, it's a heck of a film.
total beauty, eh?
first caught snippets while flipping channels, each time watched a little more, knew i had to catch it from the start, and was just blown away when i did.
i loved the pacing, the development, the structure (especially how it starts as the Gamblers Anon meeting speech, which then catches up to itself mid-story). i loved the casting, the 4 buddies -- this is definitely "a guys movie" -- women were very secondary in the characters' lives -- that's why Shane doesn't have a clue what to do when he likes a girl. and the nerdy guy who keeps making the buzz-kill comments -- i love the way he was written into their crew. it always seemed like there was one of those guys around. and i love how the guys tell him to shut up & go away, but he keeps hanging around.
and Jed Rees! who is similarly great in Men With Brooms and the Chris Issac show -- i'm lovin' this guy more every time i see him. and he really goes for it in this one. he's got a Nicholson or Spader-like half-craziness in his characterizations -- but not sinister axe-murderer Jack, more self-destructive crazy, Canadian-crazy, half unhinged, but the worst thing he'll do is attack a table -- a Canadian crazy-Jack. love it. mesmerizing crazy eyes & face.
maybe it's cuz i lived thru that time, but it was all so real -- the first crummy house, typing in the kitchen, the ratty couch and TV, oh, and the stubbies!! props to the props peeps! and Shane's shyness around the girl. and all the twists at the end when Shane keeps losing it to this addiction of gambling, which i don't know much about, but this sure took me into that world -- how this non-gambling guy can fall so deep so quick.
and how the story is set around the '72 series -- i thought that was just great. somebody needed to do it. a real-world Shakespearian drama, and weaving all these different personalities into it.
it appears really low-budget/indi, but Real Well Done low-budget -- the way it should be.
The Last Waltz meets Paper Moon
I saw this in the theater in winter/spring on 1980 -- haven't seen it since (geez, 25 years!) until these showings on the Canadian movie station. a lot more risqué than i remembered it!
it's sure captivating,engrossing, hypnotic, alluring, inviting. jodie's in her young hottie period, and robbie's the eye candy for the girls. he's sort of playing a sequel to The Last Waltz's "it's a god-damn impossible way of life." busey's fabulously enraged and possessed -- pre-wacko period. the music and soundtrack is superb. and GREAT casting. Fred Ward's a great surprise! never seen him give a bad performance.
seems like the most real circus movie i've even. i remember these traveling ferris-wheel freak-show ball-toss circus from my childhood, and it looks exactly as i remember it. (also, Movie Connection! this real traveling midwestern circus is captured briefly in Festival Express, a documentary about a 1970 train trip across Canada with Janis Joplin as Jodie Foster, Rick Danko as Gary Busey, and Robbie Robertson in his other role as a band-leader! :-) i'm certainly not bothered by the "lack of a plot" or whatever people seem to complain about -- a lot of my favorite art is not plot driven. say, Catcher in The Rye, for another young runaway story.
Pull a string! Enjoy the ride!
West Wing meets Almost Famous
great film. surprised. well written, in a made-for-TV way. the bad-news TV report scene is particularly chilling.
good IL' Beau! funny prosthetic belly he sports! they make jim brady seem very lovable. i sure remember this. new york senator (than a representative) wrote the Brady Bill which is something good Congress has done.
the shooting occurs too early in the movie for me -- i was just getting into the life of the press secretary. it's kind of West Wing meets Almost Famous. except the characters and events are not fictional.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
i don't mean to be critical, and i tend not to post here when i don't like a movie, but this is the worst piece of crap i can remember sitting thru in years and years and years.
the acting makes daytime soap operas look like Shakespeare.
the plot is like a cartoon -- if you're over 4 years old, this will seem too stupid. i am just absolutely stunned that something like this could get made.
and what a cast! all of these major people -- bette midler!? how did she ever get involved in this?
and to think that this director made What About Bob?
i'm just speechless at how bad this is. in fact i'm angry that this was presented as a movie for adults and that they charged $10 or $15 to get into it.
just stunningly bad -- i didn't see that gigli, but from what i read, it must be it's stupid twin sister.
do NOT see this movie unless you are paid to, or have knocked unconscious.
0 out of 10
i want my money and two hours back.
movies like this make me not want to go to other movies.