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Peter Gunn (1958)
Wonderful not out-dated and never predictable
I have been watching this show. I barely remember it from my childhood days due to it being a bit racy for its time. Mostly, I just remember the great Henry Mancini theme song. However, the plots are very entertaining even in today's time. In fact, unlike many of today's crime shows, which usually last an hour (including commercial time), most drag out showing parts of this and that which really do not move the plot along well, in Peter Gunn, the short 30 minute slot is generally packed with interesting scenes and is generally unpredictable until the very end. The acting is superb by nearly every cast member in every episode. Except for the cars on the street and the wonderful jazz scores and scenes, there is so little to make this show out-dated. Most of the actions that occur could still occur today (if you discount some technology like everyone having a cell phone and being to get information on the internet). The show is in B&W but the show is so gritty the lack of color actually gives it a good film noir feel. It is really a shame that Craig Stevens (Peter Gunn) has not even been given a Star on the Walk of Fame. If you are a fan of gritty crime shows and a lover of good jazz, this is a series you do not want to pass up.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
The "Best Picture" is not great
I have every Best Picture on DVD so was awaiting the release of "12 Years as a Slave" to disk. I had already seen how highly awarded this movie was, so expected great things from this film. OK, I'll give that the acting was superb, from the title character to the lowliest of bit players. The story was both compelling and horrific. So with great acting and story, how could this fail but to be superb. Well, it drug in places. I thought maybe the excruciation of having the story move along so slowly was intentional, to give one a sense of the passage of time under evil tyranny, but it didn't work. The 60ish, psychedelic scene transitions: the paddle wheel and water reflections quite nearly and literally gave me a headache. Am I glad I watched it? Yes! In portions, I both was entranced and wholly appalled at the brutal treatment of an enslaved group of humans. In other parts, I was so bored that I felt like turning it off. I hate to say it, but Steve McQueen is a great actor, but not such a great director. See it, but prepare to be somewhat disappointed at what was deemed as the best picture of 2013 by so very many.
Slam Bang Theater (1959)
A staple of afternoon entertainment for those in Dallas/Ft. Worth
One of the best things about growing up was when I spent the summers with my great-grandparents in Weatherford, just west of Ft. Worth and was able to watch Slam Bang Theater in the afternoons on their old black and white set. One staple of the show was "The Three Stooges." "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!" If my feeble mind is recollecting correctly, it seems that every once in awhile, there would be a "Felix the Cat" or "Popeye, the Sailor" cartoon.
Ah, the good life, being eight years old and watching all the hilarity available on Channel 11, one of the early independent stations that filled it hours with old movies and syndicated TV shows. Of course, there was only one show I couldn't miss each afternoon. "Slam Bang Theater," and the host "Icky Twerp!"
This Boy's Life (1993)
Much Overlooked and Under-rated
Had this movie not have come on TV via our satellite network, I might have never seen it. When I saw the names of the three main actors in this film, I expected a lot. I was not disappointed. DiCaprio, who has a real knack for picking great roles and acting well even when his characters are not all that great did a wonderful job. Ellen Barkin did well as the typical housewife of the era where man was still king and woman belonged in the kitchen. The biggest surprise, however, was De Niro, who has played some of the greatest characters of movie history, who showed a side not often seen, not that his character was over the edge and unlikable, but that it was an over the edge and unlikable character unlike those we have seen him play in movies such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull (but then this is not a Scorsese film). Barkin's character did not get enough screen time for my taste, as I have always found her crooked smile to be enchanting, but it was a biography and the central action was between the characters played by DiCaprio and De Niro. Barkin played her role well. DiCaprio and De Niro did likewise. Add in great support from Tobey Maguire and you have a delightful and interesting insight into the late 50s that was never seen on Leave it to Beaver.
The biggest surprise, however, was the lack of awards and award nominations. Although there were some great films made that year and the Best Picture Oscar actually went to the best picture, almost any really good film gets some sort of nomination from one of the many industry related societies. While the sound track was nostalgic, the sound was not phenomenal, but it was not that type of movie. Same with cinematography. However, the screen play was very well written, and as stated, the acting well done. The costumes were definitely period appropriate. Let's give it a satellite award, people. Give it to Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio for best kiss.
Alien Predator (1985)
A Bit Of Campy Enjoyment
The plot is a bit far-fetched, especially finding the three main characters were never infected despite having been in close contact with some many others that were, and badly dated. The characters are interesting but the actors were unseasoned and the performances were not worthy of Oscar contention. Some of the effects, both on-screen and on the soundtrack, were sometimes interesting and some of the scenes were very original, especially the opening scene involving the dogs. There was a lot of lag time in my opinion. In places, the movie could have moved on a little faster, but in others it was worthy of attention. I watched this movie as my attention was focused on a bit of paperwork, but at times, I was compelled to fix my eyes on the screen. It is not one I would suggest buying on DVD or even renting from Netflix, but it was showing on the MGMHD channel. If you run across it on your TV schedule and find there is nothing else to watch, you might find a bit of enjoyment in watching this film, but if CashCab is playing on the Discovery Channel, you should watch it instead. I'd put this one on the level with most of the movies you find premiering on the SciFi Channel.
The Palomino (1950)
Predictable but Fun
The acting in this movie is a bit wooden and the plot not all that deep, but was so much better than expected. One of the most delightful parts of the movie was the equine players. The palominos were beautiful and the acting of "The Duke" was almost on par with those of the "Smartest Horse in the Movies," Trigger himself.
A western it is, but a modern western. No gunfights in this one. The hero seems unlikely but works hard to be likable. This movie won no awards, which is understandable. It was below par on all fronts, but was not so bad that you wanted to turn it off. It reminded me of an old episode of "The Lone Ranger," or "The Cisco Kid," except for the lack of firearms.
I caught it on TCM. It was rated as one out four stars so I expected little. I was pleasantly surprised. It deserved at least a star and a half ... I gave it a six here.
Flash Gordon (2007)
It may take some time to develop its full potential
Critiquing a series after only seeing the pilot? I have been watching the series since the beginning, seeing the 5th episode yesterday. While I agree it is a low budget series, it is somewhat intriguing for someone who knows something about the history of the main characters in the story. While there are some changes in the original storyline, the changes were not as drastic as the changes in "Smallville" regarding how Superman grew up in the little Kansas town. As for the cast, I agree that I expected Ming to be older and have a more vicious look, but then Ma and Pa Kent were pretty old already by the time the found the little alien baby. Therefor, I suspect that the market group they are trying to find is closer the those in their late teens and early 20s and they are casting for that group.
As for the actual developing story line, I find that the character's traits are emerging episode by episode thereby allowing you to learn about them just as you would if you met someone and learned more and more about them as you spent time with them.
I am a bit fan of "Smallville," "Heroes," and "Greatest American Hero." Having been force fed the original Adam West "Batman" series, the very low budget "Spider-Man" and "Hulk" series, and the loathsome "Wonder Woman" fiasco, it is a pleasure to see someone making a realistic approach to making some Superhero series, even if they have to twist around the original concepts to make it believable.
run of the mill story in a beautiful setting
Although the screen was filled with elephants here and there, that is the best part of the movie. Seeing elephants in their natural surroundings was worth seeing. However, the plot line was pretty lame. Although, fairly well acted, none of the characters had much depth and were not developed much as the movie moved along.
While the movie might entertain small children who would be amazed by the elephant action, most adults would feel like they had seen this story too many times before. a trusted person is dealing from the bottom of the deck but gets caught in the end.
Watchable, but have a kid or two around if you do. They'll have a better time than you, but you might have fun watching them enjoy the pachyderm action.
overlong and predictable ... expected more
"The Most Powerful Film Ever Made" indeed! As if! I was so disappointed with this offering, having seen both Chopra penned delights "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." and "Khamosh," the later of which he directed as well, like this movie. This movie felt like a badly made combination of both, in style. Whereas the songs and the placement of such in "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." set a certain tone to the film and assisted in carrying the story along. In this film, they felt inappropriate to story's the flow, added absolutely nothing to the telling, and stretched it to an almost unbearable length.
There was a similarly tense style of dramatization in both this film and "Kamosh," but whereas "Kamosh" moved along at an appropriate speed, developed the characters and their motivations well, and was a novel tale with a constant barrage of twists, after a half hour of watching "Parinda," I started to get the feeling I was watching a badly made Bollywood version of "On the Waterfront," with no actor having the skill of a Malden, much less Brando. Oh, granted there were a few differences between the stories, but not enough to make a difference. The ending had been forecast so early that by the time the finale arrived, it was relief to see we had reached to end of this disappointing film The actors were flat, the characters were flat, all save Iqbal, who was the real hero of the movie ... Paro looked cute in her sari, but her character flipped and flopped without visible signs of whatever kind of conflict she had to have going on inside her. I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I searched it out having become convinced that Chopra was a cinematic genius and found his "Istar."
La mala educación (2004)
A mostly meaningless tale involving unlikeable people
Having watched this Pedro Almodóvar flick right on the heels of his "All About My Mother" might have been a bad idea. While both dealt with alternative lifestyle situations, where as "All About My Mother" did so with compassion, this movie did just the opposite.
None of the characters were likable nor even that interesting. The plot, while having great potential, revealed so much here and there that none of the plot twists were a surprise.
What was really disturbing was the use of feigned sexual acts between the characters. While there were a couple of good suggestive scenes involving the Juan/Angel character, such were enough to allow the reader to know what was likely going on behind closed doors and actually showing the action was redundant and did little to enhance the story. On the other hand, in the really disturbing scenes, involving what happened between Enrique and Fr. Manolo, no real interaction of any kind between such characters was shown.
As well, I found the ending to be very flat, as if I plodded through the whole tale to find nothing was really resolved for any of the characters.