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The Best and the Brightest (2010)
The premise of this film had great promise, but it failed to be very amusing. Very little laughter in the audience (some folks walked out), undoubtedly due to the weak script and rather slow story line. The ending was predictable and old school. Evidently this was Michael Jaeger's first attempt at writing, but there was little that was clever or inventive. Some non sequiturs, such as when Clark texts Jeff while Jeff is standing at the podium: first we see Clark in the bar, and next he's riding comfortably in the back of a taxi or limo...all while Jeff reads his text aloud!
I adore Amy Sedaris, but her acting seemed forced, while Neil Patrick Harris was little more than one-dimensional.
All in all, a very disappointing movie.
Fruit Fly (2009)
Delightful and entertaining!
I just got back from seeing this film at the Montreal GLBT film festival and found it thoroughly delightful and entertaining. The multi-talented H.P. Mendoza is to be congratulated for his clever writing -- especially the songs! (I'm still laughing over "Fag Hag"!!) I missed the credits, so it was a surprise to see HP's head shot posted here at IMDb, and to realize that he also played one of the characters in the movie. Did I say "multi-talented" already? This man does it all...casting, music, lighting, editing, etc.
"Fruit Fly" has something for everyone. There are a lot of laughs and some very tender moments along the way. I would have given it a "10," but some of the acting was weak in parts.
Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1923)
Where to begin? Viewing clips of this time capsule gives me goose bumps every time I watch them. Here is a young, energetic band leader in his prime, obviously enjoying his role. He dances in place, he alternates from playing his violin to conducting with his bow; he is suave; he is charming. His band is so polished that they use no sheet music. The steady beat of the bass drum is hypnotic. The rhythm is so infectious that I defy you to listen without tapping your foot. Here is an audio quality unheard of on phonograph records until the introduction of electrical recording later in 1925. An added bonus is the occasional glimpse of the teen-aged Oscar Levant at the piano!
Furthermore, the clips show that De Forest knew what he was doing with sound-on-film, and his process was at least as good as the later Vitaphone shorts. Yes, there is some audio distortion, but other electronic devices, such as radio and loud-speaking systems, were still in their infancy.
Four complete musical selections from this Phonofilm session exist, totaling 13 minutes. This suggests that either the runtime shown here is incorrect, or that there were two short films made from this one session.
It has also been suggested that the 1923 date is wrong, and I concur. One of the tunes ("Craving") was a Bernie composition. Although he had been recording for the Vocalion label for well over two years, he did not make a record of the song until January, 1925. Other companies did not record the title until the spring of 1925. Therefore, it seems more probably that this film was made in either late 1924 or early 1925.
The four clips from this Phonofilm may be viewed at http://www.redhotjazz.com/berniephonofilm.html -- if you're an impatient sort and don't want to wait for them all to download, the best of the lot is the aforementioned "Craving." As I said, it's Bernie's own composition, and he gives it his all, including a Charleston rhythm for the last chorus. He ends this piece (as he does most) with a last-second ingratiating twirl towards the camera, a flourish with his bow, and a broad smile. Dare I say it? The man has sex appeal!
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
Boring and Unimaginative
There was virtually no plot, so basically what we have is a filmed version of the radio show. The writing was unimaginative and non-creative. Has Keillor completely lost it after thirty odd years? Does Robert Altman no longer have any standards?
If I wanted to watch a video of "A Prairie Home Companion," I'd watch Public Television. Garrison Keillor is no matinée idol, and it was painful to watch him "act." AND WHY MUST HE SING???? The man is sometimes humorous, but NOT a singer. The only redeeming feature I could find in this film was hearing Meryl Streep warble! What a treat.
After all the hype, I was surprised at how mediocre this film actually was.
The Aviator (2004)
All that money and so many errors
I loved it
I hated it! It was truly epic in the classic sense of film-making; no expense was spared to recreate the grandeur and lushness of the world in which Howard Hughes lived. Huge amounts of money were spent to insure historical accurateness. So what went wrong???
Anachronisms: Why would anyone in 1927 have wished for a date with Theda Bara? (Bara was at her prime between 1915 and 1919, and by 1927 she was a has-been in her early 40s!) Why would a posh nightclub feature a five year old song like "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise"? Why was there no washroom attendant in either lavatory scene? Did you catch the RED stop sign in the 1947 "newsreel"? Hughes and Hepburn evidently meet in 1935, and Kate mentions that she is "box office poison"; but this didn't come till after the making of "Holiday" in 1938, when she took a two-year break from making films. When Kate and Howard are dining at the Cocoanut Grove, circa 1935-36, the band plays & sings the 1930 Paul Whiteman arrangement of "Happy Feet"! Again, after the success of the Hercules flight in 1947, the soundtrack features Glenn Miller's 1939 recording of "Moonlight Serenade." And did people in 1927 actually do the "good news/bad news" routine? (I think this originated in the 1970s.) There's more
Editing: I was totally distracted by the dish of ice cream in the "ice cream" scene. First Miss Domergue's hands are in her lap, and flash, there's a spoon in her hand, and flash again, it's the first view, and then back to the spoon. And when Hughes takes the dish away from her, the cherry is on top, then it's on the side, and now it's on the top again! After the Hercules flight, Hughes has one of his "episodes," and assistants rush him outside. There's a great flourish as the tent door flap is drawn closed, but we look again and it's wide open. Again, there's more
Acting: A friend commented that Alec Baldwin can play no one other than Alec Baldwin. And DiCaprio is totally unconvincing as a captain of industry! He hardly ages, even though there's a 20 year time span, While the mustache adds a little age, he still has the voice and look of a boy, even though by now Hughes is in his 40s!!
By the way, what was with the blue grass and trees on the golf course?