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Great Blake Edwards farce, 29 July 2014

It's 1934 Paris. Carole "Toddy" Todd (Robert Preston) is a gay cabaret singer. Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews) is struggling to get a singing job and faints from starvation. Toddy is thrown out of his latest gig after starting a fight that trashes the club. Toddy comes up with an idea. Victoria pretends to be a man to get a job singing as a female impersonator with Toddy as her/his manager. Grant takes on the alter ego of gay Polish Count Victor Grazinski who was disowned by his family. Grant impresses leading agent Andre Cassell (John Rhys-Davies). King Marchand (James Garner) is the most successful nightclub owner in Chicago who finds Victor/Victoria irresistible. His girlfriend Norma Cassady (Lesley Ann Warren) is a real wildcat.

There are some fine comedy being played. There are some hilarious gags in the restaurant early on. Robert Preston plays a homosexual like a real person. Julie Andrews is her charming self and she plays a man with equal charm. Blake Edwards does some of his best work. It takes on some gender bending sex slapstick farce with such a deft touch. It's never mean-spirited and has such joyous fun. The key role is James Garner. He has to be a manly man but also has a believable sensitive side. He is definitely the man for the job. And Robert Preston has a hilarious song and dance at the end. There are some great funny moments.

Marlowe (1969)
Lots of little problems from TV director Bogart, 29 July 2014

Philip Marlowe (James Garner) is hired by Orfamay Quest (Sharon Farrell) to find her brother Orrin who had come to L.A. years ago. On the way, he finds a man murdered with an ice pick. Then he finds another body with an ice pick after getting knock down by a mysterious woman. Police detective Christy French (Carroll OConor) investigates. Marlowe discovers the mysterious woman is popular actress Mavis Wald (Gayle Hunnicut) and one of the dead man was developing compromising photos of her and Steelgrave. The ice pick stabbings are the trade mark of gangster Sonny Steelgrave (H.W. Wynant) and his men beats up Marlowe. Winslow Wong (Bruce Lee) comes in to rearrange Marlowe's office and keeps trying to buy him off for Steelgrave.

James Garner is a great actor. He does have the charm which he used to great effect in 'The Rockford Files' years later. That's what this movie feels like. It has the quality and the feel of a TV show. That's what director Paul Bogart is more known for. The one thing missing is a hard-boiled cinematic style. It may have been a mistake to place this in the modern swinging 60's. At least, this never takes advantage of the natural discrepancies. There are way too many little problems. There isn't the usual scene when Marlowe gets hired and introduced to the audience. Even Bruce Lee is wasted. He gets two scenes of jumping around but nothing is ever allowed to land on Marlowe. Sure he has a bit of fun trashing the office but he takes a ridiculous flying leap off of a building. It's a close call and this is a miss by a hair.

Full gratitude to Romero but he has declined as a filmmaker, 28 July 2014

Sarge Nicotine Crockett (Alan Van Sprang) is disillusioned with the military and the fight against the zombies. He leads a group of former military as bandits. Meanwhile six days after the dead started walking, Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) leads an effort to destroy the dead. The O'Flynns has a long feud with the Muldoons on Plum Island off the coast of Delaware. Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) leads his family keeping his undead relatives waiting for a cure. Seamus exiles Patrick and some of his men to the mainland. Then later, there is a battle between Crockett's men and the O'Flynns at the docks. Sole survivor Patrick goes back to the island with Crockett's group. There they find the island teeming with the undead and the Muldoons in charge.

The whole idea of family feud on an island is stupid. It feels like an idea from a century ago especially with all the Irish accents. The general quality is B-movie. Most disappointing is the quality of the CGI. If the CGI would be that bad, then I would rather have all real effects. There are so many ways to make this great and it does none of it. It starts with the bad writing. Of course, the budget is pretty low for a modern movie with that much ambition. There are some lame attempts to be funny. And it's not funny enough to be campy. It is a disappointment. Others have taken the genre to higher heights leaving Romero behind.

bland rom-com, 28 July 2014

Henry Tyroone (James Garner) is a Texas oilman with a few too many dry wells. He needs to go up north to raise money or else he's going broke. There isn't a complicated deal that he couldn't make or a scheme that he couldn't hustle. In NYC, Bullard Bear (Jim Backus) needs to cut one job and he sets his sights on the only woman stock analyst Molly Thatcher (Lee Remick). He gives her a really bad stock to sell. Nobody takes the women seriously. Tyroone comes in to do a deal and Bear pushes Molly out to sell the bad stock.

It's a bland rom-com. Lee Remick is really pretty but she doesn't have a comedic side. James Garner is a cad. They have limited chemistry. At least, he's playing his character with a smile and a giddy-up. He's the best thing in this movie. Everybody is lying, scheming and selling junk. The money grubbing isn't all that fun or that likable. Director Arthur Hiller has trouble bringing joy into this movie. There is nothing memorable or hilarious. The story throws around a lot of business deals but half of them don't make sense. I guess the writer hopes they go by so fast that the audience won't notice. More than anything, this is just bland.

Neither Bored nor Apathy, 28 July 2014

Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) is a gawky teen who idolizes Leon Trotsky and wants to unionize his father (Saul Rubinek)'s business. He hounds leftist lawyer Frank McGovern (Michael Murphy) unless he agrees to help. He meets older woman Alexandra Leith (Emily Hampshire). He is convinced that he is the reincarnation of Trotsky and she is Leon's first wife Aleksandra. Mocking his Trotsky reincarnation, his father takes him out of boarding school and put into a Montreal public high school. Principal Berkhoff (Colm Feore) runs a tight ship and they soon become adversaries. Leon needs to find his Lenin and joins the student union. He finds fascism in detention and tries to unionize his high school.

This is chalk full of charm. It's very cute with the awkward Jay Baruchel. He is adorably delusional. He's never annoying even though his character is stubbornly uncompromising. It could use a more comedic touch with the writing. The socialist references may go over most of the general public and it's not wacky enough for one of those crude teen comedies. It doesn't really fall into an easy category and it doesn't help that it is so laden with Canadiana. When it does go into wacky territories, it doesn't really do it in a LOL fashion. However its heart is in the right place and like Alexandra, one can't avoid the Leon storm and accept his insanity.

More than just the life., 28 July 2014

It's 1984 South Central Los Angeles. Tre Styles is an angry young boy in a tough neighborhood. His mother Reva (Angela Bassett) sends him to live with his father Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne) so he can teach him how to be a man. His fatherless friends don't have the same role model. Doughboy is arrested for stealing. Seven years later, Doughboy (Ice Cube) returns home as a tough gangster. His half-brother Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut) is an athlete chasing a football scholarship with a baby. Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) has to find his way in this tough world.

This movie broke new ground with its gritty portrayal of inner city life. It has the racist black cop. It has the collapse of the African American family. Writer/director John Singleton brings a new view of the ghetto life. This is definitely a message movie. It is more than just about gangbangers. It is about what it takes to be a proper black father. It's about things other than the usual ghetto talk. It's about black power. It's about life.

Interesting ideas with a twist ending, 28 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a post-apocalyptic desolate world, Eli (Denzel Washington) is traveling west in the bandit-filled wastelands with his book. Water is scarce. He arrives at a town run by the ruthless Carnegie (Gary Oldman). He sends his men out to find books. He's looking for a particular book and he burns the rest. Eli impresses Carnegie after he takes on his gang. Carnegie sends Solara (Mila Kunis) to entice him to stay. She sees Eli's book and Carnegie finds out. It's the book that Carnegie has been looking for all these years.

The world is compelling but it's a little unreal. Realism isn't really the point. It's a cross between a western, a biker gang movie, and Mad Max. The Hughes Brothers bring a violent graphic novel style to this. It's a lot of dust. Denzel Washington is solid as usual in his intensity. Mila Kunis is OK. Gary Oldman is a great bad buy. The central point of the movie is interesting but it doesn't work completely. The ending has an extra layer of shocking twist more than 'Fahrenheit 451' ending. It turns the movie upside down and makes it an even more interesting proposition.

Beethoven (1992)
Marginally funny laughing at Grodin, 27 July 2014

Beethoven is a St Bernard puppy who escapes from a couple of dog thieves (Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt). He follows George Newton (Charles Grodin) into his house. The kids fall in love with him and his wife Alice (Bonnie Hunt) wants to keep the puppy. It's a battle between George and Beethoven for the run of the house as he grows into a giant dog. He's trying to sell a business deal to Brad (David Duchovny) and Brie (Patricia Heaton). The dog is super smart and becomes the family's best friend. Evil vet Dr. Varnick (Dean Jones) has a sideline selling dogs for evil experiments while working with the dog thieves.

It's the grumpiness of Charles Grodin that makes this marginally funny. He allows the audience to laugh at him and there are some pretty good slapstick fun. It's mostly good family fare with a really evil villain. The bad guys are a little too ridiculous. That takes a little bit away from an otherwise fun family movie.

Interesting to see Aileen Quinn, 27 July 2014

In the Kingdom of Tartonia, Zora (Aileen Quinn) lives a carefree life except for her older mean-spirited sister Henrietta (Helen Hunt). The King (Clive Revill) receives a letter from Baron Von Whobble that he's coming to declare one of his two nieces Zora and Henrietta is going to be a true princess. After being ridiculed, Zora wishes for someone to talk to. The Frog Prince answers her wish.

Aileen Quinn has a great big voice for a little girl as she already shown in Annie. Her singing is the best thing about this musical. There isn't much else in this movie. The production value is pretty low. The sets are fairly fake. The dialog is pretty stiff. It feels more like a stage play. The direction, the staging, and the editing could definitely use a lot of help. The singing from the rest of the cast is reasonable but nothing great. The story is pretty thin. There is nothing here other than to see a slightly older Aileen Quinn singing her heart out and Helen Hunt playing the mean girl.

Plot way too ridiculous after some contemplation, 27 July 2014

Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) lost his family to two killers. The guys are caught but the case goes south. D.A., Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is a wheeler dealer who has a 96% success rate. When some evidences get thrown out, Rice decides to do a deal with one perpetrator to convict the other. Years later, the execution is tampered with and goes terribly wrong. The other killer with the deal is also brutally murdered. Rice suspects Shelton but he only has circumstantial evidences. Shelton wants to show the justice system as being too lenient and he's willing to kill everybody in the system to prove it.

There is a problem of where the rooting interest for the audience should lie. Also there is the insane convoluted plot. Obviously one should never root for the crazy guy but why would a selfish lawyer be a compelling protagonist. Butler needs to play his character descending into outlandish crazy lunacy. Then there are all the crazy ways that he kills. It seemed cool and clever on my first viewing. However it doesn't work with more than one viewing. It becomes ridiculous with more contemplation. It's stupider and stupider. It wants to say something profound but ends up making an idiotic action thriller.

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