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GRADUATE OF ERASMUS HALL HIGH SCHOOL
Unforgettable: The Island (2014)
When a young man, a recent college dropout, is murdered our team steps in to find the guilty person.
Suspicion immediately comes upon the young man's father, a supermarket magnate, who frequently argued with the boy, causing the latter to leave home for the last time. Everyone correctly wonders why the mother waited for 3 weeks until she reported her son missing.
Naturally, fatherly love wins out in the end, as the team shifts concentration to a cave and a group of people our victim hung out with. It's sort of a cult swept up in environmental protection. The story does begin to lag here. You know that there is always one in the group who is culpable and another who loved the victim dearly.
The Memory Book (2014)
Beautiful Memories ***1/2
"Memories may be beautiful and yet, what's too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget." Those haunting words sung beautifully by Barbra Streisand come to best summarize this wonderful Hallmark film.
A woman buys a memory book and pursues the pictures to discover the identities of the people involved. Along the way, she finds love and the help of a guy in pursuit of the story behind the book.
Adrienne Barbeau is appealing in the role of the woman who the book is all about. It is interesting to see the change in her character from a cold indifferent person to a loving one who sees the errors she made in a long lost relationship.
Good detective work uncovers who the people really are that are represented in the picture.
Madame X (1937)
X for Extra Wonderful ****
This film was made over in 1966 with Lana Turner in the leading role and Constance Bennett as her scheming mother-in-law. The latter part was dropped for the original with Gladys George turning in a riveting performance in the Turner role, as the woman who fell into utter despair when her husband refused to forgive her for her infidelity.
George, who could always be gritty, the tough-minded dame in all her roles, shows no exception here by her wonderful performance. Degraded and forced into living a life of hell, she meets up with the son who thought she was dead, when 20 years later as a new attorney, he defends her for killing a man, Henry Danielle, who threatened to expose her identity. As the son-lawyer, John Beal is excellent in pleading the case, never knowing that the woman he is defending is his mother.
The Landlord (1970)
Evict this Landlord *1/2
The lighter side of the wealthy white on Long Island versus a black Brooklyn ghetto is depicted in this 1970 film.
The Jeff Bridges character isn't as fair as you would think a 29 year old liberal would be. He buys a building in the ghetto with the idea of forcing out the tenants living there and making it a luxury house.
It is true that Lee Grant steals the film and received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination. She deservedly lost out to Helen Hayes in "Airport" that year.
Prejudice is viewed here in a comic way. pearl Bailey shows up in the film as a tenant in the building. A scene with a drunken Lee Grant is funny.
With all this said, the writing of the film is inane.
For Love or Money (1963)
Kirk Douglas playing matchmaker for the 3 daughters of Thelma Ritter? That's what we exactly have here in this 1963 comedy that often becomes very inane at times.
Yes, the part was written for a Cary Grant type, but the foolishness does the picture in with the falls, inability to meet on time and other mayhem. What a perfect name for the wealthy dowager Ritter, Brasher; since she can be quite that at times during the film.
Gig Young falls in true to form in the movie as he winds up losing the girl-Mitzi Gaynor, a psychologist who needs plenty of therapy during this nonsense.
Spencer's Mountain (1963)
When you see Donald Crisp sitting at the head of the table, you immediately think of the strong family ties shown in his memorable "How Green Was My Valley," which also starred Maureen O'Hara. Yes, we have a loving family with strong ties here in this film, but the characters are so stilted.
The story almost boils down to a similar 1945's "The Corn is Green," a memorable Bette Davis and John Dall film depicting a brilliant student facing hurdles to pursue a higher education. Ditto here with James MacArthur as such another student with the same problem- poverty. His dedicated teacher, Virginia Gregg, the "nurse" in I'll Cry Tomorrow, who gave Susan Hayward her first drink.
Henry Fonda heads a fine cast but the writing is of lackluster quality. Imagine, MacArthur learns sufficient Latin to gain admission to college over a summer period. Please.
The Rain People (1969)
The Cloud Bursts on The Rain People ***1/2
Quirky drama with three people with severe emotional problems are drawn together with tragedy occurring at film's end.
Shirley Knight, much thinner, turns in a wonderful performance as the unbalanced Long Island housewife who leaves her husband when she finds out that she is pregnant. A totally unfulfilled, distraught woman, she tries to search out life's meaning when she picks up James Caan, an injured football college student, left as a mental vegetable by the accident, and summarily dismissed by the college. The film has a lot to say about how mentally challenged people are treated by society. Robert Duvall is the cop with much more on his mind than just giving the Knight character a speeding ticket.
The performances are excellent by the repressed Knight, the slow Caan and the miserably unhappy widowed Duvall with a problem child daughter.
Unforgettable: Throwing Shade (2014)
Eliot's character assumes a major part in this episode when a friend of his is murdered and he discovers that the victim may have been having an affair with his wife. Eliot, with that moody, suspicious face really comes through here by delivering a masterful performance.
As always, we see corruption coming forth here all the way up to a man running for mayor of the city. Greed is commonplace with a possible scandal involving a real estate lady. Was our victim done away with because he would no longer play ball?
Carrie and Al are reduced here to playing subordinate parts as the usually reliable Jay comes through with valuable information from the computer.
American Hustle (2013)
Con Artists Don't Get Better Than This ****
Director David Russell has crafted a wonderful scam artist film in "American Hustle."
Amy Adams with her on again off again phony British accent as Christian Bale, as Irving Rosenfeld, are two hustlers of the finest order who are finally taken down by a federal agent, Bradley Cooper, who is extremely ambitious and forces the pair to work for him in order to bring down government officials and even the mob as the web of influence greatly expands during the course of the film.
As Irving's wife, Jennifer Lawrence, steals every scene that she is in. She may be described as a try-to-be intellect who is really an idiot in her pursuit for happiness.
The action is real and it is refreshing that there is little to no violence in a film whose subject matter would make you think that the guns would be going off constantly.
Evil Under the Sun (1982)
1982 Agatha Christie is just that. What makes this film so engaging is that everyone has an alibi in the murder of Diana Rigg, a woman you just love to hate for her apparent abusiveness and disdain for others.
The film is made even better by Cole Porter's songs which are so appropriately used in the various situations. Examples of this would be I Concentrate on You, as Inspector Poirot zooms in on all the likely suspects.
Sylvia Miles, a grand dame in the film is married to James Mason. With her flashy outfits and memorable Brooklyn-Bronx accent, she shows us a memorable character. Ditto for Maggie Smith with her swaggering walk from Jean Brodie.
You're wondering to the last minute how Hercule will get the proof he needs on our suspecting villains. The wait is worth it.