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I am still smiling
I first saw The Legend of the Lone Ranger with my then eleven year old daughter and have not seen it until this evening when I enjoyed a none to good DVD in a "FULL SCREEN"(i.e., butchered for 1.33:1 CRT TVs) format. I may never lose the idiot smile on my face. The music is what one can always expect from John Barry, one of the greatest composers to ever write for the movies. The details show a genuine effort to get things right: in the prologue set in 1854 cap-and-ball revolvers are used (1860 models but at least they tried); in the body of the motion picture Colt 1873s and Remington 1875s are used. The town and Indian village are beautifully realized while the gorgeous cinematography even survives FULL SCREEN. A pre-"Back to the Future" Christopher Lloyd is terrifying. It is redolent with references that only fans of the radio and Clayton Moore TV show would get: Detroit, John Hart, Striker. Somebody tried very hard! The Me generation's attempt to hold to the story and legend of what was entertainment and instruction for children required the blood and surfer hairdo (shudder) but such things do not detract from the Legend. I have yet to see the 2013 Lone Ranger but a friend has seen it and recommended it highly. We shall see but, for now, this 1981 movie, excoriated by critiques and shunned by North American audiences, can hold its head high.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)
Disgusting but Lincoln's finest days
I represent a sizable minority of motion picture viewers - until "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" I had never seen a zombie movie. I had caught the unavoidable snippets on television but that was all. It looked disgusting to me. It still does, but when a good friend loaned me "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" because of my odd interest in 19th century Noth American history I decided to watch it. This 'alternatative history' treatment of events is actually rather good and would have been better without the zombie gore but then it would have been a different movie. If I discount my disgust with zombies there was much to admire in this film. The actor playing Lincoln did an excellent job. The role of General Jackson caught the man's character and, while his death in our time line was sad in the movie's it was a credit the that devout Christian man. The surprising ending was quite superb but what most struck me was the unobtrusive and lovely music in the background. Of course the movie is flawed by it's low budget but it is far better than many more costly productions.
Triassic Attack (2010)
Appealing actors + preposterous premise = fun
One test for a good show of any type is a simple question: did you care about the characters? I cared about the sheriff (who reminded me a bit of the sheriff in "Eureka"), about his estranged wife and about his daughter. Three likable actors portrayed the parts and I thought did good solid work. I objected for a moment at the skeletons breathing and bellowing without lungs but they were animated by *magic* after all. This is not a National Geographics special; it is a daft little fantasy. With good supporting actors, a couple of imaginative twists and a minimum of gore "Triassic Attack" became a fine little movie. Low expectations and being ill may have had something to do with it but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I "wasted" on this. I am confused about the title: none of the bony critters looked to be from the Triassic to me!
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
What kind of a movie is this? A Western with care and attention paid to clothing (although I question a few things, one hat in particular) and firearms; a horror film with fearsome ugly monsters; a drama propelled by character development; a complex story of family relationships; a buddy cop movie; a science-fiction story; and possibly a few other things. Despite, or perhaps because, of this complexity "Cowboys and Aliens" is an amazingly satisfying cinema experience. Harrison Ford can do more good acting without lines than anyone in decades. He is a Westerner in a Western. Daniel Craig learned to be a Westerner; the scene when he and Ford are fleeing an explosion and Craig bends down to grab his hat on the run is not something an Easterner or a Brit would ever do. The effects are great too. I had been looking forward to seeing C&A for a long time but with low expectations. Can one really take that title seriously? What a pleasure to enjoy a big noisy motion picture more than anticipated. I loved this film! And I loved the hummingbird.
True Grit (2010)
A Western made with love
Finally! Not since "Appaloosa" has there been (in my experience) a Western made with love. Faithful to the time in details, within the limits of art, "True Grit" is a superb Western. It seems to be simple story telling but is nevertheless flavoured by the eccentricities of the Coen brothers: everyone speaks as though they are in a "penny dreadful"! I was reminded of Jack Webb's "Dragnet" when all the actors were supposedly instructed to act as though they were reading their lines. In "True Grit" it sounds as though the actors are not only reading from an 1880's dime novel but living it. Buffalo Bill Cody would have loved it! The cast is very, very good. There is nary a misstep by any actor and, as everyone has said, the young star is frankly amazing and well deserved her accolades. All in all a superb motion picture with a certain Coen quirkiness. But be warned: you may weep for a horse.
The Gathering (2003)
A rare motion picture in the 21st century
I caught this movie because my HDD recorder caught it. I began watching it and was quickly drawn in by the very British pace and editing, a flavour of times gone by juxtaposed with a mysterious contemporary horror film. It is far from conventional and not particularly caring about hiding any surprises - any twist that might have been expected is revealed to a careful viewer early on. "The Gathering" becomes an example of the most rare of stories in our time: an actual morality play. By setting the two millennium story in a place with genuinely ancient buildings and with a buried church, the writer creates a tale that holds almost mediaeval sensibilities. Flawless it is not, but a truly moral tale of repentance, heroism, self-sacrifice and redemption is unusual today, to say the least. A worthwhile motion picture.
Sweet, funny and loving look at the West
I had read about "Gunless" and had high expectations. When my wife and I watched the DVD, and laughed ourselves silly, my expectations were exceeded. So what is "Gunless"? First, it is a Western. It is a Western made by folks who love Westerns. The gorgeous BC border country is photographed lovingly (unlike the travesty of e.g. "Heaven's Gate"'s butchery of Montana). The plot is that of a classic Western - turned sideways. Second, the acting. Every actor does well and bounces off other actors with great skill. Characters are broadly played without going over the line. Third, the script is very fine: funny, tense at times, involving and with few anachronisms. A well written, well acted Western and totally hilarious. Paul Gross manages unselfconscious comedy as well as anyone. All the other characters are excellent. It seems from the DVD extras that the cast enjoyed themselves making this film; we enjoyed it even more. It is a sweet story with the cultural differences on the opposite sides of the 49th parallel well spoofed.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)
Enjoyable! Fun. Enjoyable! Imaginative! Enjoyable! ENJOYABLE!
I loved it! It is that simple. No, it may not be the "best" motion picture of the year - for me, "Inception" wins that ranking - but it is the most enjoyable film I have seen for a very long time. Just to let you know, I have a list of my four favourite "best" movies but now I must begin a list of my most enjoyable movies. This list must include such films as "The Halleluia Trail", "Cat Ballou", "Support Your Local Sheriff"(hmmm,I see a pattern here...), a few others, and now "SA". There is nothing objectionable for anyone save for a person who dislikes fantasies about magic and such should run away on seeing the title. Nicholas Cage does not overact; he actually gives a subtle performance. Jay Baruchel is perfectly cast and pulls it off perfectly as the brilliant but "dorky" student. The writing captures an extreme version of boy-girl psychology very well. Alfred Molina does what he always does: raises the quality of absolutely anything in which he appears; he is a class act as well as one of the finest actors alive today. Teresa Palmer is beautiful, vulnerable and spunky in a well-written role. Turteltaub does a commendable job directing and the effects are top notch. Besides, how can one not love a movie that includes a gargoyle from the Chrysler building? Lest you missed my summary, let me add that this is above all an *enjoyable* motion picture.
Under-rated, undeservedly forgotten and full of hope
When 2001 came out, my wife and I saw it. She slept; I was ambivalent. I certainly enjoyed the style of things and the use of music but was put off by the (as I thought then) great length and trumped up mysticism. Rather like "Grand Prix", and many sermons, it seemed a triumph of style over content. When 2010 came out, I missed it entirely. Years later I caught parts of it on television and was favourably impressed while,finally,today I saw the whole thing on DVD. I must be in the tiniest of minorities but I prefer 2010 to its overblown predecessor. (Recently I tried watching 2001 again but failed. Condemn me as a Philistine but 2001 has not stood the test of time.) Why, then, can I proclaim such an heretical opinion? First, 2010 is a film of hope. The detente, the second sun, the light symbolism, the redemption of HAL and his sacrifice, all these fit together as a satisfying and indeed touching story. Of course half the things mentioned in the movie no longer exist, from the CCCP to the airline but these things do not matter: hope persists. Second, the quality of the acting is inestimably above that of 2001. All, and I mean all, the actors are solid, believable, honest characters portrayed with a depth unseen in 2001. Schneider has never been better while Balaban is nothing less than superb. Hyams direction is both clear and touching. Thus I recommend 2010 to anyone who enjoys good science fiction.
Hawaii Five-0: Pilot (2010)
I watched this show with low expectations; I liked Jack Lord and Wo Fat and the theme song. The theme song made my day! The cast is amazing; great casting from the lead all the way through. Good solid character actors doing what they do best: act. The writing is perhaps a bit derivative but it rather has to be; there are only so many plots.but the cast and writers make the best of it. Sure it is an 'odd buddy' movie but also one mixed with a touch of "Magnificent Seven" or "Chichi no Samurai". The interaction between these folks and the rest of the cast, in fact all the interpersonal relations, are well written. Good human relations without soap opera. The sketching of what makes Hawaii different is very well done, much better indeed than what I recall of the Lord series. So it is a very promising beginning.