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La La Land (2016/I)
*1/2, 16 September 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Had this musical won the Oscar for best picture of the year, there would have been an outcry far greater than when An American in Paris won in 1951. Both these musicals suffered from a complete lack of plot.

The first 90 minutes of this film is a complete waste. Gosling and Stone even killed the Oscar winning song when they sang it. Their dancing was no Fred and Ginger either.

The story might have taken off once they attained success but their careers would separate them.

The film by itself could put you in la-la land. This was a real sleeper of major proportions. The Academy must have been in la-la land when they were voting Stone as best actress and other awards. Warren Beatty, you're certainly vindicated for naming the wrong film, this one, as the best picture. Film needs to be put asleep.

**, 16 September 2017

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An absolute ridiculous farce. It's a good thing that Robert De Niro stuck to dramatic acting for most of his career.

Of course, it was unusual to see Jerry Lewis in a rather serious part and he came through nicely as the kidnapped victim.

The picture tried to bring out what the American people will accept as success, no matter how preposterous and asinine.

De Niro comes across as a real nuisance as he sets out to literally hound the Lewis character to recognize him. Ignored at every turn, he resorts to the ultimate kidnapping and is able to go on television with his ridiculous monologue.

Inane, that's really foolish.

***1/2, 14 September 2017

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I realize that the years pass and we all get older, but by film's end Betty Grable looked like an old has-been up against John Payne who aged properly for film purposes.

This being said, we have an endearing fictional biography of the Dolly Sisters who made it so big in revue's and vaudeville in the 1900s, but their devotion to each other just about wrecked Grable's relations with her husband, Harry Fox, played amicably by John Payne, who belts out I'm Always Chasing Rainbows and ditties with pleasure.

How come June Haver, as the other sister, never ages in the film?

The music and dancing here are wonderful and the story line, though so familiar in Hollywood land, is done well.

As the uncle, S.Z. Sakall is given little to do here and doesn't do his usual fracturing of the English language.

With that feel good ending, the beautiful set decorations just add to this tuneful rendition.

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***, 12 September 2017

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The common denominator holds of entering someone's life and then creating havoc. I have to admit that the conditions that led to this psycho's entrance was way off, but yet quite effective to the story.

With her EMT's husband sidelined by a car accident, they decide to rent the room and in the process discover some character, who had the beginning is a delight to have around. Go know that her secret life is that of a go-go dancer and she has evil intentions of entering their lives.

Go know that the EMT's mother who was thought to have committed suicide was also the mother of our psycho and she flatly refused to acknowledge the daughter she had given up years before.

The evil daughter Miranda has that evil eye about her. Anyone coming into her orbit, including the other renter, is doomed.

She even tries to make this a family affair by falling for her brother-in-law's brother.

Committing identity theft is another of her measures used to get even with the half-sister who obviously was the favorite of the dead mother. Of course, suicide was not the reason for the latter's demise.

***, 9 September 2017

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One basic flaw of this otherwise good film was the way the characters were written. At the beginning, when their car breaks down, these 3 employees of NASA sound like they're coming out of "Gone With the Wind," and I expected to hear any minute that they're not burping babies.

Octavia Spencer received a supporting Oscar nomination for her performance as the NASA expert in computers denied a supervisory position because of race. Supporting division? She was in nearly every scene.

The film brought out that even NASA was a victim of racial bias with denying promotions, separate bathroom facilities and creating a hostile and totally separate of space for its African American employees.

Jim Parsons, as a rather bigoted assistant to Kevin Costner, was very good and shows his versatility as an actor.

Taranji P. Henson is marvelous as the calculator, a brilliant woman who had to run back and forth to use a segregated bathroom.

Kevin Costner was appealing as the hard-nosed supervisor who becomes sympathetic to his brilliant African American employee. His removing the separate bathroom signs was memorable in the picture.

Kirsten Dunst, as Mrs. Mitchell, succeeds in giving the feeling that she is a racist by her attitude, only to be accepting by film's end.

***, 6 September 2017

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I was all set to rate this excellent film **** but due to the writing of the end of the story, I found this to be a major disappointment and therefore dropped one-star from my ultimate rating.

The ending to me was the personification of the status quo in society.

When Claude Rains suddenly reappears to Faye Bainter and their 4 daughters after abandoning them 20 years before, you have immediate disdain for his character.

He suffered from the wandering lust, not with other women, but as a care-free adventurer ready to tour the world.

Through his actions at home, his children grow to love and respect him, but to Bainter and her new beau of 12 years, Donald Crisp, who is she is about to marry, he poses a definite threat.

This almost passes on to the next generation as one of the daughters falls for rebel John Garfield, who epitomizes a care free, if not necessarily an honest life style.

Rejected at the end, both guys team up and leave. The ending was gut-wrenching, the performances were fabulous, especially that of May Robson, as the maid, and Rains and Garfield as the two very unconventional men. Priscilla Lane does well here and Donald Crisp, as Bainter's suitor and ultimate second husband, is a conventional man.

Sorry that I couldn't give this outstanding film **** but the end's writing makes me stick to my principles.

***, 3 September 2017

I have seen better but this is somewhat of an energetic spy film where inspector James Mason comes away from an interview with a man in his security department suspected of being a Communist, fully contented with the interview, only to have the man commit suicide later.

Mason is immediately suspicious that this was not exactly murder and interviews the grieving widow, Simone Signoret, who portrays a holocaust survivor. When her story has cracks in it, Mason and others come to a surprising revelation.

While this is going on, Mason's marriage to a much younger woman seems to be deteriorating and when Maximilian Schell, an old friend of his from the war years, enters, Schell confesses his love for Mason's wife.

Wait until you see who the real culprit is as the bodies begin to pile up.

Mason is his usual stand-offish self which he was so good at and Signoret sets the mood of a grieving holocaust survivor wishing to make the world a better place.

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*, 2 September 2017

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Seemingly dreadful film with Elizabeth Taylor seeing a murder committed in the house next to her. Laurence Harvey, as her husband, spends the movie trying to get her under control and Billie Whitelaw is their house guest ready to embark upon a position in Scotland.

Then there is the eerie Mr. Appleby who lives next door and the Taylor character is suspicious of him from the very beginning of this very weird film.

We see scenes of murder taking place and the local police refusing to believe what Taylor claims she is seeing.

The ending is most gory with Miss Taylor on the rampage and no one is really left after her murder spree. She invites Applebee over to watch the house and says good bye to him as the film mercifully ends.

What a way to get away with murder!

*, 31 August 2017

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You see a movie with James Mason, Vera Miles and George Sanders. You would think you're in for a great drama with possible murder, mayhem and anything else ensuing. Instead, you have been subjected to pure rubbish. A ridiculous film where womanizer James Mason meets by chance a guy who saved his life during the war and the woman the guy is about to marry.

Mason falls for her and to really woo her,he fakes his disappearance leaving evidence that he may have very well defected.

There is absolutely no excitement here. It's tedious just looking at Mason on the beach drinking and growing his beard. The lady, Vera Miles, throws ashore a bottle revealing where he can be found. The intent is that Mason will sue the newspapers for slandering him during his disappearance.

We know how the love story will end because George Sanders was never made to be a love interest in film.

A miserable film that needs to be shelved permanently.

***, 30 August 2017

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William Holden as Captain Roper in this 1953 film comes across as a hard-nosed military man, who inflicts bitter punishment against a rebel soldier who dared to escape.

Where are the southern accents from the Confederate soldiers? They sounded like real Yankee soldiers to me. How could William Demarest be a Confederate soldier here? Weren't their age restrictions even during the civil war?

Animosity abounds by the Confederate soldiers who are forced into miserable treatment by the Union soldiers; although, they have free access to wander about since the surrounding hills are filled with Indians.

Eleanor Parker comes to her friend's wedding but secretly she is a southern spy who shall use the occasion to help some of the Confederate soldiers to escape.

As the bride, Polly Bergen had practically nothing to say and ditto for General Carl Benton Reid.

While the escape succeeds, Holden and his men along with the Confederate escapees are trapped by the Indians and a new camaraderie forms. Parker who loved Confederate Forsyth is drawn to Holden and we see an ending almost reminiscent of Gary Cooper's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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