Reviews written by registered user
|34 reviews in total|
Measured, deliberately paced, slow-moving documentary about television in the late 50s and 60s. Very well-produced, it runs smoothly and looks really good, but production values can't save it from being basically a rehash of pleasant reminiscences by child stars. Filled with child stars from shows like "Father Knows Best", "Timmy And Lassie" and "Lost In Space", you've heard what they're going to tell you, before. Scenes of them tinkering in their gardens and workshops or playing music in the studio, isn't all that interesting. What is interesting, is seeing what they look like NOW, especially if you're only familiar with their early work. While watching this I made mental notes to buy moisturizer, and that made me sad. But if you're hankering for some formerly famous talking heads insisting that 'television just didn't mirror reality back then!!" you've found the mother-lode, with this. "On The Edge Of Black And White" is far too polite. Some of these guys have lead "colorful" lives, but you'll get none of that, here. Lisa Loring (Wednesday of "The Addams Family") has been involved with the porn industry in some capacity, for awhile; Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley, "The Addams Family") has been building movie sets for a lot of years, but he has very little to say about that or really anything. Don Grady ("My Three Sons") was an Italian American kid (nee Agrati) who was made to change his name to get roles, but there's nothing about that. And yeah, some of these actors are peeved, but those that are, are given limited screen time. This is an "affectionate" look back, and as phony as the shows these guys came from. Paul Petersen, for instance (Jeff Stone, the son on "The Donna Reed Show"), has spent most of his life fighting for residuals for child actors to be paid into escrow accounts so that an actor's parents can't squander their kids' income before they reach adulthood, but he's not even here at all. So, nice effort, but not anything I didn't already either know, or could have figured out, for myself.
They had a fine concept, good writers and a fine cast. The shows were crazy-popular, both, "Mr. Terrific" and "Captain Nice". This one was conceived FIRST, and if somebody hadn't leaked the concept to another network, it would have run at least a few seasons. Mr. Strimpell's work, in the title role (Mr. Terrific), is more than adequate, he does what he needs to do, within the confines of the script. "Captain Nice", was a carbon copy, except not as funny, and since they were on at the same time, on the same day, the public got worn out on the idea, pretty quickly. Lines became blurry as to which show was, "the funny one". Both series were very formulaic. This is the superhero version of, "Get Smart". Blaming Mr. Strimpell for the show's failure (and frankly, I believe the networks came to an agreement to pull the plugs of both series together and prematurely), is absurd. I, as everyone else here has said, was a kid when they were on, I loved them both, and they were the rage. Kids didn't count, back then, however, as the networks hadn't yet done the math on the amount of dollars children pulled in. It should also be noted, that although Buck Henry was the creator and head writer of the other show, the experience was such a negative one, that he seems to have expunged his name from the records.
"Leisurama" is the story of a little pre-fabricated house, stocked with everything a person could need (except light bulbs)to walk in and begin a happy life, which started out at the 1964 NY World's Fair, and was eventually sold at Macy's! Along the way, you'll find out about the cold war, the World's Fair, the struggles of architects to have their project taken seriously and the fates of those homeowners who invested in a Leisurama home. This is fascinating stuff-- it includes lots of vintage footage and tidbit such as the tale of a woman who went to Macy's to buy a bra and came back with a house. There's plenty to learn here, and if you already knew about this stuff, the film is still breezy, fast-paced and amusing. It's being shown currently on PBS, and I think it's terrific viewing.
I love Chinese food. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and have eaten the best Chinese food in the world. I have great respect for the good people who fed me all that delicious stuff. I wish I could still get cuisine that good today. And then, along comes Ming Tsai. This is an intelligent, talented, well-educated chef, who presents dishes which have little to do with real Chinese cooking most of the time. He began the series by presenting lazy haute cuisine recipes, most of which were impossible to reproduce in the home. He's evolved to an even lazier program now, which offers only a "master sauce", also impossible to reproduce, served over many impossible to obtain ingredients. Don't get me wrong, in theory, it all seems swell, but in watching the show, you've got to notice even Ming can't get his dishes made. He works sloppily and presents a finished dish obviously put together by some unnamed off-screen sous chef, somewhere. Halfway through, he brings out some quasi-super-chef or another, and they glad-hand and support each others' theories of fusion cooking, which, frankly, for me, the jury is still out on. The best shows are the ones with his likable parents, themselves past restaurant owners. They mug for the camera, embarrass their son and pull the most delicious-looking traditional Chinese fare seemingly out of thin air. The rest of the series is well-produced, but not all that interesting. If I ever get back to Boston, I'll give Ming's Blue Ginger restaurant a try. Until then though, this show just isn't convincing me, and it's a static view of mythic cooking.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was about 12 when I saw "Taste The Blood Of Dracula" at the late, lamented, Century's Brook theater in Brooklyn. It scared me so badly, I had to leave the place (albeit, looking over my shoulder all the while). Two short years later, Hammer studios (which, the more I read about, the more I dislike) executives forced both Roy Ward Baker (director) and Christopher Lee (who looks really annoyed here in the few scenes he does show up as Dracula) to make this, and just to be jerks about it, they gave them the slimmest of budgets with which to work. That meant, digging up Bram Stoker's original novel for material and slightly rewriting it; hilarious jumbo rubber bats; illogical nudity, tossed in just to make it watchable, and lots of shtick that flies in the face of the studio's own, stated, vampire legend. Few scenes have anything to do with anything else. Very short on dialog, much of the film involves climbing out of castle windows and down a wall, preparing to do so, failing to do so and/or being caught doing so. It's like a Dracula movie directed by Bob Vila. It never opened in New York (believe me, I would have known about it) and probably nowhere else in the US, either (one of the few Christopher Lee/ Dracula movies, Hammer or not, that didn't). It took until 1985 for me to even find out about it. Anyway.... it's a dud.
This is one of only a handful of this director's films that I haven't seen. I've had more than enough experience, however, with those that heap great praise over Mr. Corman's work, most of which is junk, and all of which is flawed, at best. Take for example a home movie called "Little Shop Of Horrors", the original, not the musical (which came later). Although it is remembered with saccharine fondness by many, the movie, which was entirely created in 3 days, on a set which was leftover by another project that wrapped early, is possibly the worst film ever made. As for 1963's "The Young Racers", I stopped in and managed to read a comment on it, under the title, "a great little film". First of all, I seriously doubt it. But everyone's entitled to their opinion. Where the writer of the comment lost me was towards the end, where they bemoaned Corman's having had to resort to making, 'grade Z porno flicks' in the 70's. I don't know what Roger Corman this person is talking about, but it wasn't the one that directed this movie. Roger Corman, despite my limited taste for his output, NEVER made a grade Z porno flick, EVER. Seriously, if you're going to make a comment, do the bloody legwork and research what the hell you're talking about! How many clicks would it have taken to correct your ignorant statement? Your love or hate of his films are your own affair, but get the facts straight.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you're Australian and this flick means something to you, i.e. you and the future love of your life enjoyed it together on a first date, forgive what I'm about to say. "Snapshot" is a huge snore. It should have been better, Simon Wincer is a director of talent and taste and Anthony Giname is an excellent producer. But the script was obviously written by a moron. Besides scenes like the usually wonderful Chantal Contouri explaining her lesbianism to the main character by telling her, "I bang a different gong", which you can at least laugh about, it has a totally confusing and ridiculous ending, preceded by about 90 minutes of snoozy dialog and cartoon cutout antagonists, none of which have anything to do with reality. Even the beautiful Sigrid Thornton being topless can't save it. She plays Angela, a hairdresser-cum-model who, the opening would have us believe, has been incinerated by someone. The remainder is a flashback. If the pacing and script don't reveal, after about 10 minutes, that she's not truly a corpse after all, then you may be able to actually get into this. I could not. It's a mess of 70's clichés, which, since it came out in 1981 (although it might have been on the shelf for a while), you've got to believe were stale, even then. The ending is a disagreeable mess. The person you were supposed to believe is a stalker, is not. The killer isn't the stalker either (or maybe he's a different stalker entirely). Contouri and Thornton happily wind up driving down the street in the ice cream truck owned by the stalker's (who isn't the stalker) ice cream truck, after running him over. Confused? Welcome to the club. At any rate, it's all wearing, inconsequential and ultimately anti-climactic. No scares, no thrills at all.
This half hour sketch comedy show was a 'family hour' syndicated entry in 1980, and lasted less than a season. Conceived as a breakout starring vehicle for SCTV's John Candy, the cast featured well-known comedians such as Tino Insana and SNL's Tim Kazurinsky. It was written, in part, by Martin Short's brother, Michael (supposedly also looking for a hit of his own). With all the talent and hype, it should have been a smash, except that being specifically created for 'family viewing', it had no edge whatsoever, and became a wasted effort. Candy returned to SCTV right after its demise. Insana continued doing stand-up, eventually becoming an extremely successful sitcom writer and producer. Tim Kazurinsky went back to Second City in Chicago for a time, running it, then directed some very successful features for Adam Sandler. He also turns up in ads and on television regularly. None of their careers were enhanced by their involvement with "Big City Comedy".
Stupid, silly, funny mockumentary about the Sports Action Team, their clueless producer and their dopey jock hosts. Bright cast, sharp writing, you'll definitely be able to put one of their jocks to a jock you know, no matter where you live or who you (or a loved one) watch. I, for one, easily found the Beesley Reese character and I'm not even into sports. At one point, the producer, who used to produce soap operas, insists the host ask a football player about tryouts, but she wants him to call them 'auditions' instead. She eventually winds up in a pool. The one problem the show has is that it's a little stiff and sometimes a little over the top. Personally, I believe these are growing pains, and eventually the kinks will get worked out. At it's best, it sometimes catches a "Mary Tyler Moore Show" vibe (that was another show that took a while to find it's groove). Not really about sports, it's about showbiz personalities wallowing in "the business", and if you're a football widow, you're bound to get more than a few laughs out it.
You should not take what I am about to say lightly. I've seen many, many films and have reviewed a great deal of them, in print. So when I tell you that this film has the single funniest scene I have ever seen in a movie, you might want to listen to me. There's a lot of diversity of opinion as to what makes this INCREDIBLY stupid movie as funny as it is. And to those who just didn't get, well, I can't blame them, too much. The scene I speak of, comes at about the 30 minute mark and involves a dead convict shackled to John Candy. Up until that point, I had found the film dumb, confusing and it was beginning to lose me. When this scene came up, I laughed so hard, I peed my pants. No movie has ever done that to me before. When the project began, "Going Berserk" was supposed to be the SCTV movie. I remember it being announced. As time went on, the cast was whittled down To John Candy, Joe Flaherty & Eugene Levy. There also must have been a regime change at Universal, while it was being shot, because upon being released, it was shown in nearly ZERO theaters. When watching this a second time, I listened to the theme song (which actually flaunts how incomprehensible the plot is, in the lyrics), relaxed my logic nerve and figured out what was going on. Aside from the aforementioned routine, "Going Berserk" has many other hilarious scenes to recommend it. This is almost a 3 Stooges flick, except it's much funnier. Director David Steinberg has razor sharp timing, and he must have been laughing all through this. As for Candy, who's basically in charge here, he has NEVER been funnier. With all the plot devices and explanatory scenes thrown out the window, he absolutely runs wild. Flaherty and Levy follow him effortlessly. There is a plot, but it's a plot like "Animal House" had a plot, and yeah, the script is uneven, and a little slow to start. Once you know this, however, you can well appreciate the full SCTV style craziness that transpires. It IS stupid, but it's stupid on purpose, and you need to remember that when you see it. DO see it, and discover for yourself, if it has the funniest scene of all time in it.
|Page 1 of 4:||   |