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A simple but touching soap opera
This series is about how religious Jewish young people in Israel go about trying to find their partner within the limits of the Orthodox Jewish Community. The Israeli Jewish men and the women are concerned with keeping Jewish Law and at the same trying to achieve the happiness, love, marriage, and family which lie at the very core of religious Jewish marriage. The acting is surprisingly good, the women dress modestly, are tastefully submissive while remaining very feminine. The men are men I am familiar with, sensitive, supportive, very observant of Jewish Law, and again very modest in terms of their interactions with their women friends. Much of the story appeals to me because I know and understand religious men and women like these, and the local scenery I know very well. In this series, the single women and men are older than is common in the Jewish religious community, that is, they are approaching thirty and have not yet found the love of their lives. This means that they are getting sort of desperate, after all, in this community by the time a woman or man is twenty eight, they have been married for seven or eight years and have several children. The characters are very likable, and they are all quite attractive physically and socially, which would normally lead me to wonder how they avoided marriage and family for so long. But that is the point, and these actors do an excellent job portraying the pathos, the longing, and the real pain that older unmarried Israeli Jewish religious men and women feel.
Cold Case (2003)
Now they smear Viet Nam veterans
So now the old slanders are dragged out, Viet Nam veterans as rapists, baby killers, and the murderers of mothers, grandmothers, and little girls. And of course, when a Viet vet fails to show enough patriotism, well another Viet vet murders him! Well folks, I am a Viet Nam War veteran and I never saw American soldiers commit a single atrocity, but I have seen the innumerable atrocities and war crimes committed by North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong. And on this ridiculous show, Cold Case, I have seen political atrocities carried out on American TV against brave and heroic Viet Nam War veterans like myself and my fellow vets for no other reason than to pump a TV show and perpetuate the vicious libels and slanders that have plagued American Viet Nam War veterans by empty headed liberals who happen to have a public TV platform. This episode about the Viet Nam veterans sickened me, and should disgust any decent and moral American citizen.
A thoughtful prequel
This was at least as good as Alien and it was visually more compelling. The story line was obvious to anyone who had seen Alien and all the more enjoyable because of it's predictability. Every generation should have it's own version of Alien, and I feel that this version was perfectly suited to the present generation. This film had really excellent CGI and it attempted, largely successfully in my opinion, to put the human experience into a specific perspective. That is to say, where did we originate and what might be the consequences of our trying to find out. Ridley Scott managed to include a religious perspective effectively without becoming mawkish or overbearing. This film was easy to watch, exciting, and sufficiently suspenseful to keep my attention.
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Another excellent rendition of the Conan legend
To me there is no such thing as a bad or even mediocre Conan movie, they are all great because as an adventurer/hero there is no one to hold a candle to Conan! Conan is the archetype, the Gold standard if you will, against which all mythical heroes are measured. Of course, my acquaintance with Conan began when I was a teenager back in the 1960's and I had occasion to actually read the Robert E. Howard Conan stories. No movie, version, or modern rendition of Conan can ever measure up to the Conan vision I enjoyed as a kid in my mind's eye, but Conan is such a powerful, charismatic, and decisive hero that no matter who portrays him or what avenue he appears in, Conan always stands head and shoulders above the rest. Try not to over think Conan or attempt to make him into something he is not, Conan is a direct action problem solver, usually using the point of his sword or poniard.
This movie may be just a ripoff of a science fiction novella by Poul Anderson
Many years ago a rather obscure science fiction writer, Poul Anderson, wrote a seminal science fiction novella entitled "Call Me Joe." In this novella, the main character is a bitterly unhappy paraplegic who is given the job of mentally synthesizing with an artificially created being in order to settle and develop a planet rich in resources but otherwise dangerous, poisonous, and violent. At the end of the novella, Mr. Anderson posits that science has now found a place and a job for otherwise unusable cripples which gives them new bodies and new lives, and thus a valuable place in society. While Avatar takes this particular concept to a different place from a slightly different angle, the basic idea of paraplegics or other types of cripples being given a new lease on life by synthesizing their mental capabilities with those of another creature, whether Mr. Cameron admits it or not, is Poul Anderson's, and for Mr. Cameron not to acknowledge his debt to this outstanding writer is immoral. I would expect as a minimum that Mr. Cameron would let his admirers know that while he is a great director, he took his idea from an even greater and more creative source.
A truly miserable mess
Yes I have read the Clive Cussler novel Sahara, indeed several times, and I have read and enjoyed all the rest of Clive's action adventures. NO, I did not expect the movie Sahara to be an accurate film version of the novel but I hardly expected it to be so completely different from the novel. The whole point of the novel, the tracking of a dangerous waste toxin, was almost ignored by the movie, and replaced by the search for the Confederate gold. But worse, while the novel followed a logical progression and led inevitably to various plot complications, like the encounter with the various West Africa navies, or the discovery of Kitty Mannock's lost airplane, the movie plot just sort of pulled these encounters off the shelf and shoved them in. I felt the acting was just pitiful and brought to mind the other Clive Cussler novel which had been produced as a movie, a bad truly awful movie, called Raise the Titanic! I cannot help but think that the producers of this turkey simply bit off more than they could ever hope to chew. All the subplots in the novel Sahara combined to produce a really interesting story. In the movie all the subplots just couldn't be effectively fitted in and the movie was just wasn't big enough to contain them.
I think I saw this on the old Twilight Zone TV show in the Sixties
I think I saw this idea of time travel in the old Twilight Zone Rod Serling show in the Sixties. In the Serling version, the lead character has a rather magical stop watch which he uses to stop time and action so he can actually carry out a bank robbery and not get caught. Unfortunately for him, he accidentally drops the stop watch and breaks it, thus imprisoning himself in a time and place where everything but him has been stopped. Your typical Twilight Zone ending. Indeed, this movie "Slipstream" incorporates so much of the Rod Serling story, albeit in a different mix, that I half expected to see some sort of thanks to good 'ol Rod in the credits. The idea of messing with time for personal gain is not a bad one, Bill Murray in Groundhog Day managed to do it quite well. But with Shawn Astin as the lead it is just too small for this particular two hour movie. As a twenty minute, thirty with commercials, TV show, it would have been a lot leaner, and perhaps a lot meaner.
Live in Georgia for a while
As a native Georgian, I can relate to the horror that the Prisoner From a Chain Gang experiences. Although I left Atlanta, Georgia around thirty years ago, I can still recall the wanton cruelty and excessive violence towards both poor whites, middle class whites, and Negroes by the Georgia State Police, the Atlanta Police Department, and the Marietta Police. I can only imagine, by way of this horrifying film, just how awful things were back in the Thirty's, inside the Talmadge dominated Georgia prisons, with prison guards whipping and beating, and even killing prisoners,
for little or no reason. It is too bad that so many Americans are insulated from the horror of the American penal system that they no longer understand just how destructive any prison sentence can be for their children and friends, or their friends children.
Rio Bravo (1959)
The American Western the way it ought to be done
I had not seen El Dorado for several years but I had seen and enjoyed The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Alamo, and El Dorado's template, Rio Bravo several times. In a very concrete sense these are all the same movies, and could well be considered to be the godfather of the series, Deadwood. All the films include a very specific use of a broken down alcoholic, apparently not an unusual feature of the real Wild West, usually a good guy, or like in Liberty Valance, Lee Marvin, a quintessential bad guy, or as in the Alamo, well they were all drunks there apparently. John Wayne, a fine if underrated actor, of course sets the pace in all these films, even when surrounded by such excellent actors like Jimmy Stewart, Richard Widmark,Lee Marvin, Ed Asner, Woody Strode, Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, and Walter Brennan. These movies were morality plays in the finest sense of that genre. We all know that the good gunfighters, led by Big John, will save the day, except at the Alamo where only honor was won, and they will save the day against insurmountable, almost unbelievable odds, but the action and the acting is so extraordinarily convincing that we suspend our cynicism and eagerly and breathlessly follow the action. Unfortunately, the bad gunfighters, and their leaders, are all too one dimensional, so thoroughly evil that the viewer practically prays for their demise. But except in the case of Lee Marvin's portrayal of Liberty Valance, even Ed Asner, or Claude Akins, or Santa Anna had some good qualities, or were at least fighting for a cause of some sort. It might have been more interesting, at least, to show these men as characters and not just cardboard cutouts. In the end, however, all these movies stand out from the many badly done and sadly done westerns were made around the same time. My personal belief is that John Wayne is the main reason. His drawl, his understated and yet strong, manly, and courteous character, and his exemplary behavior both on and off the screen is what made and makes him an enduring role model, and real Hollywood star, even now in our jaded and tawdry times.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
A wonderful surprise
The Shop Around the Corner was a wonderful and unexpected surprise. The main plot between Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan was overtaken by the apparent subplot between and among the manager of the shop and his workers. This movie was produced in a more tender and sweeter time, with a much gentler sense of comedy, and the actors even seemed to be really participating in the show, not just acting like it. The choice of an Eastern European setting was very effective, especially the Budapest locale, a Hollywood version of Budapest it is true, but one which had not yet been ravaged and twisted by the horrors of World War II. The black and white format again helped in that the viewer wasn't distracted by the beauty or the color of the scenery, and could focus on the brilliance of the acting, which by the way, was evident among all the actors, not just the ones in the starring roles. I too fail to see much in common with the 1998 production of You've Got Mail, except for the actual mail element. Also, this movie was a much better and far more involved movie, with really credible acting.