Reviews written by registered user
praxistens

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11 reviews in total 
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Spy Game (2001)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A game: that's exactly what it is!, 18 November 2010
7/10

When this was in the theaters, I declined an invitation to see it. Ironic, since I watch whenever it's on cable. Let's face it: Redford, Pitt are eminently watchable. The Harker character's a minor gem: a bean counter that's been Redford's foil thruout gets his.

The plot's been rehashed here @IMDb. The pace makes this a genuine thriller: Redford's the oldest guy in the class, but he stays 2 steps ahead of the (ultimately) risk averse Lumpencouncil. & As in all really good movies, a main character has a change of heart: whatever promise Redford's character made ages ago means nothing against bland accession of the senior staff to the global status quo. You're pleased that Redford slips into retirement while his colleagues will conduct damage control.

"We're gonna be together a long time.", 19 October 2010
9/10

When Barney bemoans the cost of keeping the house since Blanche left, Archie & Harry suggest Barney take in lodger to make ends meet.

Archie's choice of housemate?: Al Snyder ("semi-retired from the shoe business but very well heeled"), a first-order curmudgeon, played by Don Rickles.

It had to happen: Rickles's insult humor meets Archie's cockeyed political correctness. When Barney finds that Al's taken his steak from the fridge, Al assures him it's no loss: "It tasted like carpet!" But even Al's fatalism is no match for Archie's unpolished sincerity:

Al: You're always on the scene whenever ... there's a world disaster ...and you follow me to the ends of the earth!

Archie: I just met you!

This is an unheralded gem: when Barney implies that he wants the exacerbating Snyder out of his house ("I'm sorry."), Al fires back, "Why be sorry, Barney? I'm not going anywhere! ... I have a rental agreement!" But Rickles's Al is great just arguing with a TV games show:

Emcee (to blonde contestant): Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rickles: What's to tell: she's an imbecile!

Contestant: I have six beautiful children and one on the way!

Rickles: She's also a nymphomaniac!

Emcee: Do you have any hobbies?

Rickles: We know her hobby; let's start the game!

It's priceless!

13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Somewhere in dreamland ..., 18 February 2010
8/10

A few years ago, when we found that the "SyFy" channel had a Twilight Zone marathon, me & the missus sat down to watch. I'd seen many of these as a kid; she'd seen almost none.

This is one of her favorites: a dream of Willoughby is the ideal antidote to Mr. Misrell's (Mr. Miserable's?) relentless "push, push, push!" James Daly is outstanding as the exhausted & disillusioned ad manager, on the cusp of what they probably still call "a breakdown." Soon, there is nothing to separate the commuter train he rides each evening from the one his dreams.

Dozens of Twilight Zone episodes involved seeking solace in small towns (think: Of Late I Dream of Cliffordville, with Julie Newmar): this one of the best.

Winter Kill (1974) (TV)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A good 70s period piece, 16 June 2009
7/10

After Mayberry, producers plugged Andy Griffith back into a sheriff's role & transplanted him to the high country of N. California. The town (Eagle Lake) is a ski resort, where Nick Nolte, a year or so shy of his big break in "Rich Man, Poor Man," is an instructor. A sudden string of homicides has the town fathers eager for a resolution before the tourist season begins (a theme used a year later in the theatrical "Jaws").

TV movies were becoming the forum for the changing morality & formerly taboo topics (the sheriff has a live-in girl friend; the plot revolves around the locals that aided in a young woman's abortion), even moreso than theatrical flicks, & "Winter Kill" is a fine crucible of the kinds of things the networks were peddling in prime time back then. There @Eagle Lake, the adulterers probably outnumber the tourists.

Movie features a slew of familiar TV faces of the time: John Larch, Eugene Roche, Charles Tyner. Occasionally rebroadcast on TNT, altho it might be more @home on Lifetime. Some good suspense; definitely not for children.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Cinema inverite!, 11 April 2009
6/10

My dad seldom went to bed after 10 p.m., but one night we stayed up late to watch The Hideous Sun Demon: I was what, maybe 12? Dr. McKenna's exposed to radiation (back in the "duck'n cover" days), & sunlight turns him into a raving reptilian savage. Actor, writer, & director Robert Clarke gets lotsa mileage out of quick cuts, extreme closeups, & his in-laws, with three of them making their film debuts. (Clarke was married to one of the singing King Sisters.)

Nan Peterson as Trudy is Dr. McKenna's beachfront fling, & when I watch this now on DVD, the kissy scene where her blanket drops to expose her legs must've been highly erotic for a 12-yr-old in the early 60s. Eventually, Dr. McKenna, during his flight from his fate, spends the night at Trudy's apartment, so the censors must've been taking a welcome respite from their moral chores.

Sure, the acting is stiff & the premise absurd, but Hideous Sun Demon is a compendium of 1959 Los Angeles in a way that no public TV documentary could ever be.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
An original premise for reviewing really unoriginal movies, 19 June 2008
8/10

I was channel surfing one Sat. afternoon c. 1991 when I found MST3K @the high end of the cable dial.

Wasn't sure what I was seeing, & it was some time in the next half hour that I caught on to the premise: guys making fun of bad movies. The movie was unknown to me: guy crawling around a lamp cord; then motorcycles. Narrative allusions to the dialog, even older movies, & pop culture from the silhouettes @the bottom of the screen.

By this time, I could barely catch my breath, I was laughing so hard. I'd later know the movie as "Sidehackers." Soon I was so desperate for this show, I'd set the VCR to record episodes while I was outta town: lesser lights like Radar Secret Service & Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Then there were the shorts: often commercial films for industry or school. "Home Economics" & "A Date with Your Family" ("Dear, I'm moving to Fire Island"; "Emotions are for ethnic people"). If you'd seen an episode before, you laugh even harder just anticipating: from "Night of the Bloodbeast": Movie character: "We don't need to be heroes!" Tom Servo robot: "Wait a minute: who's Rose?" MST3K was truly an original show; in its last years the "host segments" got outta hand, & local cable kept changing the show times: midnight, evidently to placate people that didn't work. Episodes are available on DVD now, but I still enjoy watching my old tapes, with the commercials (remember Dennis "Woof Woof" Miller & the Acura?) & Penn Gillette announcing. The show's generally anesthetic effect was summed up by a soundbyte from "Attack of the Giant Leeches," when Yvette "Liz" Vickers is swooning in the cave: "Calgon, take me away!"

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Travel not so broadening., 9 February 2007
8/10

One of my favorites I saw as a kid (parents were big Hitchcock fans & didn't mind my being spooked): Sebastian Cabot is grumpy Mr. Foster, who doesn't share missus's (wonderfully ditsy Marion Lorne) enthusiasm for travel.

Prolonging departure on a cruise, the Mister charges back into the fancy apartment building (which, evidently, is occupied solely by the Fosters: to prep for the cruise, they've sent their staff away), only to get stuck in the elevator. Mrs. Foster discovers this; chooses to depart without the old man.

She returns some weeks later to find ... well, grumpy Mr. Foster's grumpy no more, & Mrs. contemplates another trip.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Stiff: as in lifeless, 13 October 2006
3/10

Saw this with my mom back when it was released: mom liked coming-of-age or these rite-of-passage flicks, & I'd been seeing Ms. Bisset's name in the papers lately (Bullitt).

Maybe back then I could imagine myself in these sticky situations, but this was on TV some time in the past year & barely tolerable. I guess most good movies have occasional deviations from their main point or plot, but this didn't, & the actors couldn't've been more stiff if they'd been embalmed. & Seems like Ms. Bisset's turned in the heart-of-gold hooker number more than once. She is a fox & a half, tho.

Don't remember what mom thought of this; but no matter, we did see more than enough "classics" (Last Summer, Alice Doesn't Live Here) to nullify the occasional turkey. This movie had to've been made under the delusion that Wes Stern was going to be the next Ben Gazzara or John Cassavetes: The First Time turned out to be more or less his last time. He was as ubiquitous as the county fair @Area 51.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
O. Henry & Full Star Power, 18 July 2006
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think my mom & I stayed up late one night years ago & watched this; thanks to TCM, I've seen it again & recorded it for posterity.

"Full House" is film versions of five O. Henry short stories & stars the top box office draws of the day. My favorite remains "The Last Leaf," a heart tugger about a love-torn woman (Anne Baxter) & the grumpy abstract artist (Gregory Ratoff) who rescues her from her near-death funk. Marilyn Monroe has a brief appearance as a prostitute who seeks momentary solace in Chas. Laughton's plight in the old chestnut, "The Cop & the Anthem." All five are turn-of-the-20th-century period pieces & are introduced & narrated by writer John "Grapes of Wrath" Steinbeck. I don't know what kind of business this movie did in theaters back in '52, but it probably didn't help that "The Ransom of Red Chief" starred two top radio wonks of the day, Fred Allen & Oscar Levant: Oscar did fare better on screen & on TV than poor old Mr. Allen, although neither could carry 15 to 20 minutes of film.

I've seen this available somewhere on VHS, but you might see it sooner on TCM or premium cable, so check your local listings.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Fine, sentimental favorite, 27 February 2006
7/10

Saw this on the late show when I was 12 or 13: I was moved, even scared, by scenes with Miracle Man, Christmas dinner, Quasimodo, & especially with the legless man in the alley ("Pick me up & knock me down again!") We know now that LC, Sr., was less than pleasant to be around & that LC, Jr., grew up to be miserable. But this was an early introduction to what I'd heard of as "vaudeville," & the transitional sequences with Cagney as a film lot extra (with a real silent flick star Marjorie Rambeau, as Gert) were fast-paced & convincing. It was a fair cultural shock to see Jim Backus (as agent Locan) in a dramatic role, since until then I'd seen him only on sitcoms & as Mister Magoo.

I have it on tape & watch it maybe once a year & have seen Cagney & co-stars in other vehicles since then: especially Jane Greer in her unsavory "Out of the Past" role. Dorothy Malone (whom I knew only from "Peyton Place") was a great, underrated actress.

Yes, the ending is slow & shmaltzy, & it was hard to imagine even back then (I'd already seen scary LC, Jr., in the teleplay, The Ballad of Jubal Pickett) that Jr. was ever as handsome as Roger Smith. But if nothing else you can get a fictional behind-the-scenes account of the making of two great silents & cultural icons: Phantom of the Opera & Hunchback of Notre Dame.


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