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Star Trek (2009)
Ladies and gentlemen, it's a comedy!
Thank 'Galaxy Quest'!
The previous Star Dreck movies and shows were so straight they were funny only in a forced manner or accidentally. I really liked the spatula on the holo-deck circuit in DS9 and Data's cat in Star Dreck: The next regurgitation, but those were few and far between. The new Star Trek movie does not take itself seriously. It avoids self-parody because it has an internal logic that this pile of children are not normal. Not a single one of them. They are the misfits of the Academy. Stuck on a normal ship, they would be bored or court-martialed. With Captain Jerk as their boss, they have room to breath and all of space to goof off in. It is a winner because it is not afraid to lose a few points in the seriousness category. "Star Wars: The beginning of the agony" had all those wonderful toys and a buncha characters who looked like they just got them for Christmas and couldn't read the manual. Each episode in the canon became more and more dire in it's seriousness, with even Yoda finally looking like he really needed a bong hit. The Mattress movies with Keanu whats-his-face had a deadly morose quality to them that made you want to view any landline phones with suspicion and guys with suits and sunglasses with fear, as well as your own computer with paranoia. "Star Trek" treats "future" technology as just one more gag. Even when Spork mark 2 has to fly Spork Prime's fancy gyro-ship, it is with a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face, not to mention a cock of the eyebrow as he utters,"Fascinating!"
"Galaxy Quest" took the mickey out of all that bombast and circumstance, including the fanboy mania. "Fifth Element" made space fun again and a fast-paced, multi-location narrative something to enjoy. "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" set up a series of gags and knocked them down like dominoes, including it's own iconic usefulness. "Star Trek" deals with death, sex, birth, planetary destruction and personality conflicts as just part of life, instead of making an Ibsen play out of them. Shakespeare would love the way dire consequences that would cause normal people to fall back on tradition and training instead inspire this group of geniuses to improvise and hang the consequences.
This "Star Trek" hasn't seen the limits of its stars or its scriptwriters. They are nascent, ripe for further silliness. I hope the next film is called "Star Trek: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet".
Light's Diamond Jubilee (1954)
Light's Diamond Jubilee
And the 1954 edition was created by producer David O. Selznick.
I wonder where one can find this on VHS or DVD.
It sounds like the other poster saw it on 16mm or some other ancient format. But that could just be my imagination.
If it were available, it would be a fascinating watch. One rarely sees George Gobel these days and the media at the time thought his monologue on 'Electronic Brains' was entertaining. In George's opening remarks, there was also a bon mot that has since become famous, "If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candle light."
The production involved weeks of rehearsal and the General Electric company tied in as much advertising as they could to the effort, including print ads, contests, and in-store product promotions.
Getting all four networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, and Dumont, to engage in a simulcast was a major PR accomplishment involving a lot of money. It would be hard to imagine a commercial concern being able to dominate all available broadcasting at the same time these days, but I suppose it's possible.
They killed his dog.
I really liked that dog. He could open a fridge and bring you a beer, only if you would give him a drink. He could also eat carrots from your mouth, like a horse. He would lay there without earplugs while you shot off a large caliber weapon into a ravine.
I know it's only a movie, but I really liked that dog. I would like to thank the casting director and the animal handler for selecting that particular animal. I didn't scan the credits to see what his name was, but I will later.
I hope Bob Lee can find it in his heart to love another one.
I also have enormous amount of respect for the Alsatian they used as a police dog. He did his job very well and according to the director's commentary on the DVD, he thoroughly enjoyed being tossed around while being covered in padding.
There were no cats in this movie, but I will give them another chance in the sequel.
I really think all FBI and CIA offices in movies should have cats. It's good for the morale and the heart.
Dead Center (1993)
mindless piece of boring crap
It kind of sits there, quivering. It lacks editing, acting or purpose. A rather typical piece of straight to cable low rotation trash from the 90s, it is long at 90 minutes. The production gave a lot of union personnel a paycheck. Terrible by even Menahem Golan's lax production standards, most of the actors involved probably paid to keep this off their resumes. The R rating is about the only reason a bored person would watch this thing, as there are dozens of unnecessary sexual situations. Any suggestion of a plot is destroyed by tons of foreshadowing. Any suggestion that this collection of of images has any relation to La Femme Nakita or the American version, whose title I forgets, is like saying that Kurt Russell movies and Lawrence Olivier movies were made on the same planet. Do yourself a favor. If you find it on tape, use it for a blank.
Simply Irresistible (1999)
An open letter to the cast, writers, crew, director and caterers....
Dear Folks, Thank You for the movie. It is so well-destructed that it holds no pretensions from the very beginning. The soundtrack alone was marvelous. The costumes beautiful. Even the food was pretty. My daughter introduced me to this film. She watches it at least once a month, usually on the same evening as "Happily Ever After". I liked the crab. I liked the department store. The sex comment was a bit much, but it did remind me a little of the Jack Lemmon or Doris Day movies of the sixties. Anyway, thanks for the movie. It did what it was supposed to do, and then stopped.
Write if you find work,
your affectionate correspondent,
You Stupid Man (2002)
Almost as bad as "Kissing Jessica Stein"
Milla stands out in this movie because of her personal sense of style and the way the clothes hang on her. I have learned to hate that crumpled little three-year-old face she makes whenever she pretends to cry. It makes any points she is trying to make as a serious actress drop off quickly. Of course, in a movie with a BALDWIN and Denise, she still shines as a mature actor person. David seemed to be doing Woody Allen by way of Howdy Doody. Not a single word or gesture in the entire movie seemed sincere or even sincerely acted. "How Harry Met Sally" and "Two Weddings and Funeral", even "Sleepless In Seattle" had scripts, locations and ACTORS. The script seemed to be a string of bad and crude gags separated by a LOT OF TALKING. The locations seemed to be within a few blocks of each other. There are only two actors in this dishrag of an indie flick, Milla and the lady who played the chick who was into the stars. I watched most of this through the first time with the sound off, just watching Milla. That subscript gag was old the first time I saw it and it's a silly rip off of a song in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying".
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
I couldn't watch all the way through
I watched all the extras on the DVD before I watched the movie. I sensed an odd tone to the comments of the actresses and the producers, including the director. They didn't seem to understand that they were looking at the early fifties through the combined lenses of the eighties and the seventies. They didn't seem to realize how biased they were. The archival footage they showed the actresses as part of their homework was highly selective. No mention of the first round of the fun in Vietnam or the still smouldering Korean action. They didn't deal with the fact that the effects of WWII and the depression were still part of the experiences of the teachers and students. The eighteen, nineteen, twenty-year old girls just didn't pop into existence ten minutes before the film began. Their back story ten years before was WORLD WAR II! Somebody wasn't paying attention. It is not a period piece. It is a time of the month piece. I thought of "Dead Poet's Society for girls" all on my own while trying to struggle not to use the DVD for a target after I began to watch the film. On the other hand, I hated "Dead Poet's Society" for what it promised and failed to deliver. I cannot hate this film because I will never finish watching it. Why? Because it is not a movie. It is a collection of scenes that a writer sat down at the word processor and typed. It is a rehearsal for a movie, a promise of a movie, but there is no movie here.
The Laughing Policeman (1973)
More of a documentary than an action film
Police procedurals have always been a staple of fiction, film and TV in the US and Europe. There are many stand outs in the genre and this isn't one of them. Having said that, I will say that this movie is full of surprises and interesting directing and cinematography. The technical assistance provided by the San Francisco police department seems to have been tremendous, particularly in the scenes demonstrating evidence collection and the then-unfamiliar SWAT team. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of the stunts and extra work were performed by serving officers. The original novel took place in Sweden and only two items in the film reference that origin, one submachine gun and one Volvo. The title refers to an antique novelty record that has a bit part in the novel but doesn't appear anywhere in the movie, unless it was included in the Muzak that Matthau's detective seems addicted to throughout the movie. Predating Kojak by a few months, Matthau's character is chewing gum and sucking on suckers throughout the movie in an attempt to keep from smoking. He almost gives in at one point, but tosses the pack back on the table in the den. This movie is significant in that it features sex throughout. Prostitutes, live nude performers, gay go-go boys, rough trade and cross-dressers and a token lesbian in knee-length clown socks and sandals who works as a nurse and lost her partner to the crime, just as Matthau's partner died. His dead partner also used his girlfriend to enact murderous bondage scenes which he photographed as part of his crime fetish. Matthau's character apparently has a sexless marriage while his daughter is wandering around braless in thin sweaters and his son is hanging around with the sticky raincoat crowd in a nudie "burlesque" theater. One of the victims in the film is found dead in her apartment sans clothing and Dern's character trips and almost does a push up off her body, her face just inches from his. Matthau's character wanders through it all, chewing gum and viewing it all almost impassively, with only a few moments of verbal indignation and frustration. The scenery is magnificent and cars alone are worth the price of admission. The fashions are irritating, as they were at the time and it is simply amazing how few people use seat belts. The plot is thin, and the denouement is silly, but in the end you could do worse for a couple of hours.
Monk in Oslo (1966)
A wonderful few moments in time
Four grown men on a stark stage playing odd jazz. Apparently video-taped with the best equipment available at the time, the transfer is crystal clear and the audio better than could be expected at this remove in time.
The drummer works wonders with the most minimal drum kit and the stand-up bass player is phenomenal. The saxophonist is so-so, but in context, maybe that was all he was allowed. The three
Monk rules, his crown a fur hat with ear flaps. He stands, looks at his watch or walks off the stage when it isn't his turn to play. As he solos, the mic picks up his mouth murmuring along.
The performance, short as it is, is tremendous.
The show finishes with Monk's signature composition, 'Round Midnight'. I have heard it played by orchestras and bands, often with Monk himself at the piano. This rendition rocks.
Casino Royale (2006)
One of the best movies I have ever seen in the cinema
I couldn't get this movie out of my head for a week after I saw it. It had it's silly moments, it had it's stupid moments. It had unnecessary plot elements. It had unnecessary characters. Yet, this is the first Bond movie that I have ever seen that wasn't a BOND movie. It was a movie that just happened to have a character named BOND in it. Just like the Dr. Who series, it doesn't matter who's playing the part if the story sucks and the production values are crap.
I would have preferred some of the trappings of the first novel to replace the junk that had accreted on the franchise like barnacles over the decades, but I was perfectly happy to find that with the exception of a couple of gadgets (I mean, not everybody carries a recirculating defib unit in their car) this movie could have taken place practically any time and this BOND could have been wandering through practically any era since the tuxedo was invented.
I think it is kinda cute that instead of being "Commander" Bond of the Royal Navy, at one point in the new movie it is suggested or hinted that he is a veteran of the SAS. I can't think of another fellow who has played Bond who could be visualized pounding down a beach with a rucksack filled with an 100 pounds of sand on his back.
If it were truly a "Fleming" movie, it would have all been in B&W and Bond would have driven a Buick or a Bentley, or Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang... And it would have been a humongous car, with a .45 Colt New Service revolver in the glove box. If it were truly a "Fleming" movie, the bond fellow would look like the Superman in the early comics, spit curl and all, but with a scar on his face. If it were truly a "Fleming" movie, there would be cigars and pipes and cigarettes everywhere. Bond would have his own brand of cigarette, with three gold rings on the end, kept in a gunmetal cigarette case. Bond would have a slight French accent, since he grew up in Switzerland and spent time behind the lines in WWII. If the producers wanted to do a "retro" Bond, I think that would be pretty cool, but it would probably rapidly descend into clichés since Fleming himself had no problem engaging in self-parody, particularly since the first book wasn't even written with the reading public in mind.
If "Fleming" were able to see this version of "Casino Royale", I don't think he'd understand it, but I think he'd like the film.