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I'm a computer programmer by profession. Hobbies include music: drum set, piano, composition, bass guitar, singing, guitar, and harmonica, (in that order), having been inspired by "The Gene Krupa Story." Magic, having been inspired by Bill Bixby in "The Magician."
Best TV Magic show ever!
New Year's Eve style partiers are enjoying an evening of magic at The Magic Castle as our butler, a distinguished gentleman in tails introduces each act. Tom Hanks' old partner from "Bosom Buddies," Peter Scolari comes off well as an invisible ghost haunting The Magic Castle and serving as our co-host and comedy relief. He wants to show us some magic tricks but bungles them all, alternately dousing himself with vanished milk or setting himself on fire while in a straight-jacket and turning himself into "barbecued meat on nails." The magic is all legit.
FOLKS, IT'S GONNA GET HOT IN HERE! Exclaims Paul Kozak while tossing a giant fireball into the air. Keeping up a stream of wisecracks, mysterious fire burns like a fuse, giant fireballs appear from thin air, his torch instantly transforms into a cane, streamers fly from his hands, he holds fire in the palms of his hands. All done with silky smooth, lightning fast and skillful movements. This guy's good, and he demands the applause that he deserves. "C'mon folks, I'm WORKIN' here." Torn paper is placed into an empty wine goblet where it visually and gradually transforms into an egg which is then broken. Perrier water is poured into a Styrofoam cup only to find that the water has vanished and the cup is pierced with a switchblade to show it empty. An endless stream of paper falls from his fist, and finally a giant snowstorm erupts from his empty hand including beautiful flecks of artsy embellishments. The egg is done with difficult to get prestidigitation paraphernalia from a former meticulously handcrafted era, it's a privilege to see this fine effect in action. One of my favorite magic acts ever.
Rudy Kobe does his signature four legged creature act. I've seen this act in person at Astroworld in Houston. He struts on stage to techno music and does a magical quick change into his lab coat. Walking behind his magic table he sprouts two extra legs and does hip-hop around the stage. After starting and holding a cloth in front of it, the chainsaw magically begins to fly around on its own and, what's this? Cuts off one of Rudy's four legs!!!! Rudy then repeats his hip-hop dance but with only three legs it's a little lame, hahaha, see what I did there? Returning to his table the chain saw again magically levitates and, oh no! Cuts off another one of Rudy's three remaining legs! Rudy puts down the cloth but then for reasons known only to him he picks it up again - will he lose one more of his two remaining legs??? No! Instead the chain saw appears to have cut his torso in two because while Rudy's two legs continue to dance to the new wave music and his two hands continue to hold the cloth, his head now magically levitates high above the stage while peering down on us from over the cloth with a stoic expression (how much emotion would your face show if your head was cut off?). Youtube it and you will see that someone back in the 60s was already doing this act.
Tina Lennert does an incredible mime/magic act. She plays a cleaning lady as she glumly reflects upon her lonely life suddenly her coat and mop come to life and turn into an imaginary debonair gentleman! He cheers her up by fixing her hair, transforming fire to a beautiful bracelet, and dressing her up with a beautiful magically produced scarf. She ends up blissfully hugging her coat and mop, a bittersweet and moving dramatic piece and I'd like to see someone show me any other magic act that is done with only one real hand.
Kevin James pulls out of a box a dismembered hand that looks like "Thing" from the Addam's Family. After putting the living hand away back in the box, Kevin segues into his centerpiece, a custom one-of-a-kind magic trick that is truly astonishing. It's hard to feel bad about spoiling a 25 year old magic show but I won't reveal this one, but it's worth the trouble of locating and viewing this show.
Lance Burton closes the show with the act that made him famous. This is a young and gorgeous Lance Burton. Suddenly a flash of fire and a dove appears. He produces fire and doves with a variety of super smooth moves. After about ten doves and bemusedly watching them fly around the theater he rolls up his sleeves and gets down to some serious magic. He magically produces a white silk handkerchief and flops it around uselessly when, hold on, suddenly a tall white candle appears from nowhere, with his sleeves rolled up? He magically produces a lit match and lights the candle, only to wrap the silk loosely around it and it vanishes. He continues producing and vanishing candles at will until he's left with three lit candles and a silk around his neck. Lance blows out the candles by one and deposits them into a waste container at the foot of a Paris inspired gas lamp where he apparently expected to find his "escort" for the evening. Too bad, she must have been "busy," so he'll just have to entertain us with excellent magic. Lance brings out his centerpiece and cements the suspicion that he is destined for stardom. He holds up a birdcage. Lance removes his hands and it floats. With mystical gestures Lance causes it to float around. Finally Lance tosses the ball far away from him and motions for it to return to him, whereupon the ball floats lazily back to him and Lance removes a wire hoop from around his neck and the ball floats right through it to Lance's waiting hand. Lance gives us about a 3 million dollar smile, or probably much more than that, and accepts his applause, although there really isn't any because we are totally mesmerized by his smile.
African Cats (2011)
Horrible. Imagine Bambi where not just mother, but *everyone* dies
We walked out of this movie at the 3/4 mark because it was just the same old thing the entire movie. Cute cubs get eaten by hyenas. Old noble lioness can't keep up with pride & she & cub are left to die. Old lioness abandons cub & dies alone. Cheetah mom has to fight male lions. Male lions gang up on cute cheetah cubs. Male lions gang up on old male & drive him to his lonely death. Cheetah kills adorable gazelle. Crocs threaten lions. Just on and on. The fabricated script is laser focused on death, dying, injury, pain, suffering, and fighting.
Remember when Bambi's mother got killed? Well in this movie it's more like mother, father, aunt, Thumper, & a few assorted birds & rodents all get killed.
The writers concocted a simplistic dramatic story that's focused on death & struggle, & the movie strictly follows that, ignoring other aspects of feline life that might have been explored. You don't get much insight into cat behavior other than fighting, hunting, & dying. In spite of the "Cats" in the title, there are not many cats in the movie. 1 cheetah, 5 cheetah cubs, 5 male lions, 4 female lions, & 10 or so lion cubs, & that's it. No puma, jaguar, lynx, tiger, cougar, mountain lion, or any other cat.
Great photography of cats, animals, landscape, & weather, but u can't enjoy it. How can you enjoy great photography of an African thunderstorm when they carefully point out t you the cold, wet, shivering cheetah & cubs?
It's not really a documentary. There isn't much educational content. It's more a creative effort of storytelling. They needed to balance it. Maybe 70% cute cubs playing & exploring cat behavior & thought with only 30% harsh reality. Instead it's 90% depressing.
The Family Man (2000)
Typical schlock chick-flick. Horrible unless you enjoy bad chick flicks, which obviously lots of people do.
I agree with the other 60+ reviewers here that think this movie is horrible. Obviously contrived plot, ludicrous dialog, over the top direction, and just a bad movie. It's like so many other lame chick flicks that you've seen, that give chick flicks a bad reputation and ruin the box office for good chick flicks (like "You've Got Mail" or "The Time Traveler's Wife").
I probably can't add much over the wrath already poured out by the other reviewers, but I can add this odd insight. Somehow the title of this movie and the banal DVD spine (plain white with the title in blue and Cage's picture) seem to attract chicks. I have an entire book shelf of DVDs and when chicks look them over, they always pick this one out. It's so odd. I have other chick flicks on the shelf, and I have other Nicolas Cage movies, but they consistently pick this one out. I also get many chicks that pick the movie out and then tell me how much they love it (just like the many reviewers here that rate this movie highly, even rating it a 10!!!). I have watched the movie twice (first by choice, then by force), and I refuse to watch it ever again. So, I just punched up my DVD database and changed the DVD number for this one (I have all my DVDs numbered) so that the DVD will sit on the back of my bookshelf out of plain site. Hopefully that will cut down on the number of chicks that see and select this movie.
That Funny Feeling (1965)
Funny movie and I don't usually like this type of movie.
The movie starts off great but then runs out of gas about halfway through and never comes back. That, coupled with a weak ending makes a disappointing final product. The first half is funny with a lot of funny dialog. The plot is a little one-dimensional and that's OK as long as the script is working, but in the second half the straightforward plot starts to get tiresome.
Watch for many cameos and bit parts from actors you know...that helps to carry the movie. Arte Johnson succeeds in making an impression with just one minute of screen time and only a few lines, they should have given him more. Donald O'Conner has a large part but it's unsatisfying. He's too much bluster all the way through, his role is too much a single note. He does play a role in the plot it's not important enough and his character is too thin. He has one great joke ("teach her to walk") but other than that his presence fails to gel. He's so talented but you don't see that here. I think it would have been better if his part had been sillier, but of course I realize that it's a fine line between too straight and too silly.
The style is the same type of sex comedy we know so well, everything seems innocent on the surface but the script is constantly spinning out suggestive jokes that can be interpreted in a sexual way. Since it's hard for any 1960s era movie to shock me, this style of script doesn't work very well and I usually find them juvenile, boring, and trite. But this one works better for at least two reasons: 1: it's funny stuff and B: it's pretty x-rated, helping it to retain its shock value.
The first part of the script is full of great jokes and ambitious scenes with crowds of people, but at the half way mark that just stops. The funny dialog stops, the silly and ambitious scenes stop and the straight-forward plot is allowed to just run its course. Then there is one more huge joke (the phone booth) and that's it, the rest of the movie is flat. Then they do a big ambitious production piece for the climax but they don't do much with it and then the final climax is weak. Of course in any romantic film you need that final climactic kiss. It's usually boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl get back together, climactic kiss...we all cry and go home fulfilled. In this movie they choose not to do that. They don't build the movie up to that final climactic kiss and in fact there is no kiss there. That's an odd choice and what they have there instead is weak.
The Munsters: Movie Star Munster (1965)
Classic-full of great scenes and laugh out loud lines.
WARNING - SPOILERS HERE WILL REDUCE YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THE SURPRISES THIS EPISODE HAS TO OFFER!
This is a fantastic episode. Two con-men recruit Herman to be the victim in a fake accident so they can collect the insurance payment. They do this under the guise of filming Herman in a movie, planning to injure him as he's doing a stunt.
It features several great lines, a great sight gag (Herman dressed as a big movie star), one long and funny scene (where the scammers try to get Herman to jump out of a 4th story door), some stunts and location footage.
Some great stuff: Herman comes out dressed as a big movie star. Lily and Grandpa fret about Herman's safety and Spot lets out a burst of flame prompting Lily to deliver this great line: "Don't panic, Spot. Turn down your burner, give us a chance to think!" Herman reads a book on acting and then starts arguing with his supposed movie directors over motivations and contrived plot lines. When Herman starts go get wise to the con, he delivers this great line while towering over one of the con-men in a menacing manner: "I think you guys are trying to hurt me. I might get very angry! I might just call the Better Business Buerau on you....so there!" When a stunt backfires and buries one of the "movie directors" in bricks (similar to the way John Belushi and Dan Akroyd get buried in bricks when Carrie Fisher torches their apartment with a rocket propelled grenade (RPG)), Herman looks on sympathetically and muses: "I never knew making pictures was so hard on writers and directors."
Ambitious musical score synchronized with live unpredictable events makes this above average
A sleazy real estate salesman targets Mrs. Brown and seduces her into listing her house for sale by tempting her to squander the proceeds on an expensive vacation. Tim and Uncle Martin must scramble to avoid being evicted and also to prevent Mrs. Brown from making a foolish financial decision.
Another average episode, which means pretty good. This series is very consistent. 26 episodes in and we have only one boner, two classics, and the rest of similar (pretty good) quality. This episode features Mrs. Brown in a bigger role than usual, a good guest star (Allan Melvin, whom you may remember from several episodes of Gomer Pyle and The Brady Bunch), and two production pieces including a climax built, yet again, around the sound track.
Mrs. Brown gets a big role this time, with lot of lines and screen time and we learn for the first time that her name is Lorelei. She plays a pivotal role in the story and the series begins to build a love tension between her and Uncle Martin, greatly increasing the importance of the Mrs. Brown character.
In the first production piece Uncle Martin must hide his spaceship while prospective buyers are viewing the house. He hides it by levitating it with his magic finger. The special effect of the ship levitating out into the atmosphere is neat and they repeat it several times but it doesn't get old. There is some silly Marx brothers style content of the buyers bumbling around the area while Uncle Martin gets more and more tired of holding up his finger. The end result is just OK. In the big climactic production piece Uncle Martin uses his magic to make the house seem as if it is in poor repair while the prospective buyers are viewing it. He causes the faucets to drip and in this segment is the main point of the episode. The film editor, music composer, and music conductor work together to deliver a music video of various faucets dripping in time to the amusing symphonic music. Viewed at this late date the end result is not all that impressive, but it seems ambitious for a sitcom, let alone a sitcom from 1964. Because neither of the production pieces come off very well the episode just reaches a little above average because of the ambitious musical score.
The director of this episode takes care to frame a lot of reaction shots from the characters. Some actors in the cast are better at this than others with, of course, Bixby and Walston being the best. Reaction shots can be great fun, however the director makes a critical mistake and usually includes the reacting actor in the shot after the reaction shot. The actors fail to match their expressions between shots and the result is an embarrassing and distracting lack of continuity.
Decent episode pushed into outer space by a phenomenal soundtrack
My Favorite Martian: The Atom Misers (#1.11)" (1963)
Decent episode pushed into outer space by a phenomenal soundtrack
This review includes an important spoiler. If you are going to watch this episode in the near future, I suggest that you skip my review, or at least skip the end of it.
This is a cute episode with a few funny moments and at least two laugh out louds for me. Further fun is provided by Tim putting his hands all over a babe that he barely knows. In my viewing I've got one classic, one boner, and the rest average, with average for this series being a pretty good show. This episode again falls in the average range, but it's got an ace in hole.
That ace is an incredible soundtrack! The main portion of this episode is an extended exercise in Uncle Martin's levitation, with the accompanying signature theremin sound. The music during this entire segment is like listening to a concert. It's really good and the synchronization between the on-screen action and the music is great. You get treated to a long, extended theremin (actually electro-theremin) performance. I've noticed previously that the music for this series is custom written to each episode, with various on-screen actions happening in sync to musical prompts. Several previous episodes feature this type of interplay, but this one takes it to a new level. This earns this episode a 10 rating for me, in comparison only with other episodes of this series.
Trivia: The theremin is an electronic instrument that provides the sliding sounds when Uncle Martin's antenna go up and down, as well as when he levitates objects. It's also heard during the closing theme song. It's played by waving your hand closer or further from an antenna to raise or lower the pitch, that's why the sound slides around. You don't actually touch the instrument, you just hold your hands near it and it picks up your motions with a type of capacitance field. A theremin is intensely difficult to play well because you have no way of judging where to hold your hands. It's similar to the slide on a trombone, but the trombonist has two reference points, one being the slide's home position and one being the bell of the trombone, making it possible (but still challenging) to judge where to place the slide. The theremin has no such reference points. To partially solve this problem, trombonist Paul Tanner invented the "Electro-Theremin," aka "The Tannerin" which was then used on "My Favorite Martian" as well as other TV shows. This instrument uses a pointer that slides over a diagram of a keyboard, making it easier to hit desired pitches.
************************************* ************************************* SPOILER HERE************************* ************************************* ************************************* The big laugh out loud moment for me came when the clarinet comes on screen. As the music is going along, at a certain point a beautiful clarinet enters the score. It starts playing along. You don't notice it, you don't think anything of it. Then the camera cuts to a guy practicing clarinet at the university and you realize that the clarinet you have been hearing is not part of the score but rather part of the on-screen action, or somewhere between the two, really. It's a laugh out moment and a clever break of the dramatic fourth wall in an unusual way.
Weak. Worst of the 1st 12 episodes.
This episode is concerned with matchmaking between a dog and the dog next door. There are a few subplots thrown in, but the bulk of the story really is about the dogs. The dog is sad and won't eat. The dog is happy and eats. The dog is sad again and won't eat. Too many scenes return to Tim pleading with the dog to eat. The final impression is that the entire episode was about dog romance and that's just too silly to swallow.
Couple that with too much lame, generic dialog, none or only a few laughs, and way too much dog licking of face, and you have a really lousy episode.
Classic. The only classic in the first 12 episodes.
The first 75% of this episode is 100% excellent. The opening scene is belly-laughable, and gets even more bonus points for using the word "miasma." The chemistry between Bixby & Walston is history in the making. The rest of it continues to sparkle and generate laugh out louds.
The voltage gets kicked up yet another notch when guest star Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley from the Dick Van Dyke Show) shows up.
Unfortunately the climax falters a little and waters down what otherwise is a truly great show.
The end result is a little unsatisfying since such great early promise was not fully realized, but after watching the first 12 episodes I can say this one is by far the best, so I give it a 10 (comparing it only to other Martian episodes).
Road to Morocco (1942)
It's not funny, but has a lot of music.
I'll give it a two because it has a lot of music, otherwise it would be a one.
I saw this movie for the first time tonight and it's the first "Road" picture I've seen. I was expecting waaaaay better. Robert Osborn says this is the best of the Road movies. If that's true I needn't bother to see the others. The best thing about this movie is that it has a lot of songs in the first half, but that's balanced out by only one production number with dancing in the entire movie.
I didn't like the movie. Neither Hope nor Crosby came across all that well, their characters weren't very charming, the movie was not funny at all, most of the dialog was just lame filler, there wasn't much action, there wasn't much spectacle.
The movie wasn't what I expected. I was expecting more "Road," but there isn't much. They quickly make it to the palace and then most of the movie takes place there, until the end. I was also expecting a lot more of the famous "road" style of breaking the fourth wall, wherein the characters talk directly to the audience or comment on the plot. There was only about 4 instances of that. One of those is an example of the non-funny humor of this script:
(Hope recaps the plot up to now to Crosby) Crosby: I know all that! Hope: Yeah but the people that came in half-way through the picture don't. Crosby: You mean they missed my song?
Those are two weak punchlines, but at least they are actually jokes. Much of the rest of the script doesn't even have any jokes. An example is:
Crosby: Remind me to throw you a piece of cheese in the morning. (Indirectly calling Hope a rat).
That's not funny at all, it barely even qualifies as a joke, but that's the kind of non-joke dialog that carries most of the movie. Many of the scenes don't even come that close to a joke, just using generic uninteresting dialog like:
Crosby: Hey, whadda ya' take me for? You think that you can just throw me to the dogs? Hope: Well why not, you did it to me didn't you? Crosby: Yeah but that's because I was lookin' out for us. You're not lookin' out for nobody. Hope: Oh yeah? Well then why did I pay the check?
(the above is just from my memory. It's not exact but it illustrates to you what I mean).
And so on....just generic dialog with no jokes at all.
My grade: A waste of time.