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When You Remember Me (1990)
A Wonderful Film! With Some Thoughts on the Real Michael Patrick Smith Case
This is a dramatization of real life events in the case of Micheal Patrick Smith, a young adult who suffered the effects of Duchenne Muscular Distrophy and lived in several nursing homes through the coarse of his too-short life. The actual nursing home, on which this film is based, was called Heritage House, where Mike Smith resided in the early 1970's. The film chronicles the terrible conditions that Mike suffered, showing him at two facilities, the later one called Heritage House. (Named Hesperia House in the movie.) It also shows how Mike and a compassionate Recreational Director named Wade Blank, (In the movie called "Wade Black.") sought to bring about better living conditions for the disabled, as well as showing the patients how to advocate their rights to make their lives as comfortable and independent as possible. I found some real-life information below about the actual case doing on on-line Google Search about Wade Blank.
Wade Blank worked at the home from December of 1971 until 1975. When he went to the center for the first time, it was just before Christmas of 1971 and the place was in his words " A morgue." Wade remembered what they ate the first night. Scrambled Eggs, Baked Potato, and Applesauce. The food was cold. Other reports were that cockroaches were found in cereal bowls, Colostomy Bags were not changed regularly, flies buzzed constantly near a patient in a full body cast, patients were shoved into cold showers.
Wade worked for four years to help improve conditions at the home. I learned that he took the kids to a rock concert, just live in the movie. Wade sought to let the young residents have music, such as radios, stereos, and TV's in the rooms. They were allowed to have pets, they could evaluate the nurses. However, when Wade tried to help the kids move out of the home to become more independent, he was fired. All of the reforms that he put in place, such as animal control coming to take the pets away, no music in the rooms, was literally changed overnight. I also understand the abuses at Heritage House and the resulting lawsuit got the whole staff fired! This shows the amazing impact that Wade and Mike made to help the disabled lead better lives!
When You Remember Me is a composite of the above events, with some names changed and some of the above omitted from the movie for legal reasons and time constraints. In the movie, Micheal Patrick Smith, is Micheal Mills. Fred Savage plays Mike Mills and gives an amazing portray of him! Kevin Spacey is wonderful as Wade, and Ellen Burstyn is chilling as the insensitive and "By The Book" rule authoritarian head nurse, Mary Cooder. The best impression of Louse Fletcher's, Nurse Ratshit from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that you will ever see!
You feel the pain and agony that these patients endured in this movie, and see the darkness of the facility. It's amazing to observe the energy and feeling that Fred Savage puts into Michael's character, as he tries so much to help change an apathetic and abusive system. Sadly, despite the movie saying at the end that conditions have improved at institutions at this kind, in some regards that may be true. However, in other facilities, it is not. When You Remember Me will make you think about the struggles both physically and emotionally that disabled people experience each day. Highly recommended viewing!
The Odd Couple (2015)
Thomas Lennon is good Felix Unger, However, show is mediocre
There will never in the history of TV be another Felix like Tony Randall or Oscar like Jack Klugman. Furthermore, the Odd Couple movie with Jack Lemmon as Felix and Walter Matthau as Oscar was very good, the original series was golden. My take on the remake is below.
I think Thomas Lennon is a very good Felix. The voice, mannerisms, and personality reflect Tony Randall's legendary performance well. Matthew Perry, as other have stated, does not cut it as Oscar Madison. He's too nice. Matthew's not angry enough as Oscar, and sees Felix as more of a mild annoyance rather than the intensely disliked Felix that Jack Klugman as Oscar gave to Tony Randall's character, and especially Walter Matthau, showing Oscar's hate of Jack Lemmon's Felix in the Odd Couple movie.
Also, none of the names of the main supporting characters make it into this modernized version of the classic series. Too many episodes seem to focus more on the love interests of the roommates and not their annoying opposite personalities and habits that made the classic Odd Couple series and movie so memorable.
There's too many flaws and differences in the script for Thomas Lennon to carry this remake alone. He is really making a solid effort as Felix Unger. However, too many differences from the classic series, and Matthew Perry being miscast as Oscar will not likely improve this series remake to anything higher than an average rating.
I actually lowered my rating from five to four stars. Too many sexual innuendo jokes that are totally out of place for this show.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
One of The Most Beautiful, Inspirational, Films Ever Made!
I absolutely love this film! Everything from the beautiful cinematography, to the pacing and the directing is purely magical and awe inspiring! There are many powerful moments in this film. Dead Poets Society motivates me intensely, with its message that you have to have the courage to follow your dreams, to live your life the way you want. Be willing to stand up to authority, if that authority stifles your dreams.
Robin Williams is brilliant here, but so is Robert Sean Leonard! In fact, all of the young actors are outstanding! Especially for Robert Sean Leonard and Robin Williams, viewers are drawn into this film as if you knew the characters they play and the emotions they feel. You envision John Keating, (played by Robin Williams) as the inspirational teacher you once had, or wish had. You automatically empathize with Neil Perry (Played by Robert Sean Leonard) dreams of becoming an actor, against the wishes of his ultra-authoritarian father.
I indirectly know someone who had an ultra-strict father like Neil, and sought a free-spirited life away from his demanding father and his family's rigorous lifestyle and demands of academic success. This person devoted his life to reading, philosophy, the hippie movement, writing, and humanitarian efforts. He was troubled by inequities and hypocrisy in society. He loved to help people, everything he did was for humanity. Both Neil and Mr. Keating would move him to tears! They would understand this person I knew, and I think of him every time I see this movie. It moves me, deeply.
Dead Poets Society encourages others to become free, independent, thinkers. To believe in yourself, and to show how writing and the power of poetry can inspire you and others around you. The sensitivity that this film shows is stunning! This movie will make you think and melt your heart! It is very emotional! "Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! Make your lives extraordinary!" See this landmark film!
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Very Funny Movie With Wit and Insight!
I like Brighton Beach Memoirs very much. The pacing of the movie and the character's delivery really draws the viewers into the time period. While Johnathon Silverman's accent may be a bit forced at times, he reflections about growing up in a bitter dysfunctional family are very natural, honest, and direct.
Brighton Beach Memoirs balances comic wit with the trails and tribulations of family values without being overly sentimental or preachy. Some sensitive moments are lightened with Johnathon's character, "Eugene's" audience narration. However, the narratives are never forced nor overly done. They really help the viewer see the types of struggles that a depression-era/pre-World War II family might have seen, even if members of the audience might not have lived in that time period.
The only critique I have is that Eugene's "sex fetishes" were too overdone and brought the movie down a little bit. These suggested dialogs make the movie inappropriate for children under 13, (It's rated PG-13) I would probably wait until my kids were 15 before letting them see this movie for the suggestive sex dialogs. Note that some are strong, especially in many of the conversations with Johnathon and his brother, Stanly. If you're over 15 and aren't bothered by suggested sex dialog, you will find these scenes to be very funny, as is most of the movie! I enjoyed Brighton Beach Memoirs and would recommend it, even for repeated viewing.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
It's Good, But Not The Great Film That Has Been Believed
I have heard about Rebel Without a Cause for years. It was a cult classic that withstood the test of time and spoke to past and future generations about troubled youth. I also remember how James Dean was such an icon in pop culture, and I loved Blackboard Jungle, which came out about the same time, so I was hoping for a similar classic in Rebel Without a Cause. I prepared myself to be blown away.
Unfortunately, all I saw was a slightly above average movie that was not so much about rebellion but a failure between teens and parents to communicate. In Rebel Without a Case, each of the main protagonists has pain in his/her own family life, ranging from an abusive father,(the parent of Natalie Wood) a young teen (Sal Mineo) with no parents being raised by a housekeeper, and another teen who lives with an over-protective mother, and a hen-pecked apathetic father. (James Dean's parents.) The story involves Jim Stark (Dean) trying to fit in at school. A very difficult task as his family has constantly been moving from state to state because Jim can't seem to stay out of trouble. He quickly (almost too quickly) befriends several students at the school and also makes several enemies, all in a very short period of time.
Jim quickly becomes provoked into a knife fight by another group leader while on a class field trip to a planetarium. He retains his cool for the most part, but is goaded into another dare by some bad apples to participate in a car race known as the "Chickie Run." Each member of the group dares to risk death by speeding his car up to a cliff, stopping as close to the cliff as possible by jumping out. Whoever jumps last is "Chicken." The rival member "Buzz" gets his jacket caught in the car door and can not jump out as the car topples over the cliff and Buzz is killed. The rest of the movie involves Jim and his friends debating if they should go to the police, as well as the fears and repercussions faced by Buzz's friends who are out looking for Jim because they believe he is responsible for Buzz's death.
No one can talk to the parents so the group hides in an old abandoned mansion. Jim befriends, Plato, in an excellent performance by Sal Mineo who has a troubled past of his own. He was picked up by the police shooting puppies. (Thankfully not shown.) However, there is a certain empathy and sensitivity about Plato that makes him more empathetic as the movie goes on. Each of Jim's friends see the seriousness, lack of communication, and disconnection that their friends have with each one of their parents.
There are some good moments of suspense, but Jim's parents especially Mr. Stark, payed by Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island) display no solid acting qualities at all. It's almost like they were picked off the street, given a script to read for a week and just go through the motions. James Dean had the macho and charisma of a leading man actor who died in a horrible car accident before this movie was released. However, I think his Hollywood looks at the time were better than his acting. The talented Natalie Wood, as Dean's love interest has no time to develop because she jumps into his arms for support too fast. This quick timing renders their relationship to be unrealistic. Sal Mineo does the best acting job of the trio who shows the most believable actions and reactions to the movie's events and how they affect both his friends and him.
The problem is that Rebel Without a Cause has an interesting premise, but a muddied superficial story that needs better character development for the viewer to empathize with these troubled teens. Instead of being blown away by what this movie was supposed to represent, I got, at best, a strong breeze.
Rebel Without a Cause is a good movie for a one-time viewing. But for all-time classic repeated viewing status, it's just not there. Blackboard Jungle blows this movie away.
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love (1979)
A "Beautiful and Heartfelt" Movie!
The story of Raun Kaufman in Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love, is one of the most heartwarming and inspiration movies I have ever seen! In contrast, many other "Made For TV Movies" often rely on fake-emotions and soap opera themes to interest the viewer. There is nothing artificial about this movie! The parents, who overcome the cold, apathetic, professional staffers who say, "Your son will never be able to function on his own. He's too young, bring him back when he's older. He's going to need institutionalization for the rest of his life," don't want to hear any of this and set out to "home-school" Raun by creating a nurturing positive environment out of their home, through everything they do, and everyone who comes in contact with their son for three straight years.
The controversial methods that they used involved mimicking Raun's autistic behaviors in an attempt for go into his world to enable Ruan to communicate with them. Through movements, sounds, games, puzzles, and positive reinforcement, literally 24x7, Raun not only develops into someone who showed no traces of autism by the time he was about six years old, but the end of the movie goes on to say that he graduated from an Ivy League School! His parents and he have established clinics around the world to help autistic children through the program that they and Rawn inspired, "Son-Rise." The movie's ending scene in the park has a line that you will remember for the rest of your life! The same is true with the beautiful song that begins the film, "Is There Room in Your World For Me?" There were controversies about Raun's case in real-life. After reading father, Barry Kaufman's books and millions of viewers saw this movie, many tried the methods and the specific home-treatments on which the film was based. People looked for "Miracle Cures" and did not see the remarkable improvement that people saw in the movie. Further reading on the case showed a top-doctor had examined Raun before his parents began their "home training" program, and found him to be a slow-learner, who had problems with language development, but was not "autistic." The issue that the medical experts say is that there is no "base-line" for determining autism verses cognitive slow development. Other specialists, to this day, share concern about mimicking the autistic behavior to reach autistic children. There is no-question that what the Kaufman's did with Raun was remarkable! However, doctors have said that Raun's case is extremely A-typical of only about 4% of people diagnosed with autism.
In summation, the program for the most part works, but the degrees of success will certainly vary from child to child. It takes an incredible amount of time, money, patience, love and positive reinforcement to do what the Kaufman's did for Raun. The only flaw is that this movie seems to send a message that "Since the treatments worked for Raun, they will work for all autistic kids." And sadly, this is not the case.
There are very painful moments in the film when Raun's parents see the terrible way that kids are treated in the facilities, when they visit them. Set in the early to mid-70's, the Kaufman's observe that staffers are rough with them, kids are tied down, given shock-treatments to "quiet them down." Truly heartbreaking and upsetting, as the children were just treated like objects instead of nurturing, lovable human beings. The insensitivity toward the way professional staffers viewed their son's case and the questionable "treatments" used were the main reasons why the Kaufmen's chose the positive reinforcement environment and family members within their own home as Raun's intensive, learning and therapy sessions. This movie will move you to tears every time!
European Vacation (1985)
Proves That Sequels Never Equal Great Originals
I will never forget the wit and great comedy of the ORIGINAL Vacation movie! The lines, pacing, and timing of events in that film are outstanding! However, this European Vacation sequel is a major let down.
In this sequel, the Griswalds win a European Vacation on a game show. The problem is that many of the jokes in the film are little more than mild, "ha-ha" laughs. For example, a Flight Attendant on an airplane asks Clark, "Do you want your Coke in the Can?" Clark answers back, "No, I'll have it right here." A few other mildly funny bits put this movie, average at best. No where near the greatness of the original Vacation movie!
European Vacation's humor is strained. As if the writers borrowed all the jokes from the first movie, tried to re-hash a script that had been done before, and relied on a ridiculous slap-stick chase scene sequence toward the end of the picture just to kill time.
Worse, the natural comic standouts like Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie and the original kids who played Rusty and Audrey from the first movie so well are nowhere to be found. Their replacements are not funny, can't act, and just look like they are going through the motions most of the time. There are also a few crude sex jokes and comments that are not only not funny, they are in bad taste.
The Griswald's should have stayed in Wally World. The place that made them legends! Don't join them on this European dreadful adventure. Viewers should re-watch the original Vacation movie in place of this! You'll be glad you did.
The Shawshank Redemption For Its Time! Even Better! Unforgettable!
This moving is spell-bounding! It has an incredible effect on me to this day about the harsh realities and injustices of our criminal justice system. So many people are tempted to not watch this movie because "It's so old." Don't be fooled by it's age! I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is one of the most moving and heart-breaking prison pictures you will ever see! Paul Muni gives a landmark, jaw dropping, performance with great sensitivity and wit as one man's struggle against a criminal justice system gone insane.
You will not believe that a movie THIS GOOD goes back to 1932! I was blown away by the incredible realism of the prison scenes! The sadistic warden in this picture will send chills up your spine.
This is a landmark film that because of its age, does not get the treatment it deserves! See it! It is a gem! You will remember it for the rest of your life!
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Good Film. But Various Different Edits Taint its Enjoyment
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is often compared to Mary Poppins and rightfully so as both films have a similar story line. A magical nanny is sent to look after children, both have the same leading protagonist (David Tomlinson,) both feature live film and animation, with songs by the Sherman brothers, and both came out of the Walt Disney studio.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks involves an apprentice witch who wants to complete her correspondence course in beginning witchcraft, but to do this, she has to search for a magical spell called Subsitutiary Locomotion which will complete her training. The story involves Angela Lansbury, playing the witch, who flies on a magical bed with Tomlinson and her three caretakers, to an animated land attempting to retrieve the spell. In addition, the film is set in World War II, where a mixture of live Nazi's and animated creatures both try to help and hinder Lansbury, Tomlinson, and the children on their adventures. The five characters control the bed through a magical bedknob that transports them from a reality world to a fantasy world and back again.
Years ago, I had a record that had the Songs From Bedknobs and Broomsticks on it and loved it! However, when I saw the film on Turner Classic Movies and later researched it, sadly I learned that this film, which could have been a classic, suffers badly because of editing and failed restoration work.
The original release of the film played in limited areas and ran about two and a half hours. Disney decided to make its first cuts to the film several months later when it went into wide release. The wide release version is what I saw on Turner Classic Movies. While this film was trimmed by over twenty minutes, most likely to cater to the shorter attention spans of children at the time of wide release, you can easily spot the edits. The Eglantine number is shortened, only a few words of With a Flair remain, The Old Home Guard seems to start in the middle of the second verse of the song, and the wonderful perhaps best song in the film "A Step in The Right Direction" is not there. However, you can hear the instances of the instrumental on the soundtrack.
In 1979, the film was re-released again and ludicrously cut even more to about ninety five minutes. For years this is what was played on Standard Cable and Broadcast TV. Only two songs remain in this version. In 1996, Disney attempted to reconstruct the film, but were successful only in spots. About twenty minutes of footage was found and added back into the movie. However, the song "A Step in the Right Direction" was mysteriously not found and remains "Lost." The audio track for the song was recovered, and you can hear this on the Special Edition DVD, with still shots from the film showing what the scenes looked like as the song was song.
However, the discarded footage soundtrack was not recoverable, because it had been damaged or lost. Many actors were too old or had passed away and could not re-do their speaking and singing parts, so Disney had to hire extras to dub their voices over the restored footage. The dubbing is horribly bad, especially for the voice-over of one of the children, Charlie, and the voice-over for David Tomlinson, sounds nothing like him! You would think Disney could have at least found actors with voices that resembled the tones, accents, and pitches of the original dialog. It is great that several songs were recovered, but without "Step in the Right Direction," restored back to the film, which is such an uplifting and encouraging song, and the terrible dubbing, the film will be a mixed bag.
Why Disney cut "Step in the Right Direction" is criminal! I think Disney should have taken more time to look for it when they did the film restoration project for the 1996 DVD. What SHOULD have been shortened is the animated soccer match, which remains a sequence that does not help the film at all. The "With A Flair" song, as well as "Eglantine" are at their full lengths on the restored DVD, as is the Portobello Road dance sequence. However, some critics feel that the extended version of Portobello Road is too long. The restored DVD has a new song called "Nobody's Problems For Me." My vote would be a choice of versions on a double-sided DVD for future release. Side 1 would contain the widespread DVD release that Turner Classic Movies plays. Side 2 would be the extended version, but WITH the originally undubbed dialog found and remastered with "A Step in the Right Direction" added in if it is ever found! The loss of "Step in the Right Direction" and the bad dubbing in the extended version hurts what could have been a great film. Bedknobs and Broomsticks has the important plot of searching for a missing spell. Tragically ironic that Disney took out bits and pieces of this film that may never be recovered. It is sad to think what this film could have been if the limited release had been LEFT ALONE!
Born Free (1966)
Superbly Filmed and Acted! Very Moving Movie and Amazing Song!
Born Fee may be the greatest and most beautiful animal film ever created! It is the true story of Elsa, the lioness whom a Kenyan couple, George and Joy Adamson, raise as a cub, take in as a pet, when George is forced to shoot Elsa's Mother in self defense as she charges at him. Shortly afterword, George leans that the reason why the Mother lioness tried to attack him, she was protecting her cubs.
The Adamson's take in the entire liter of three cubs and grow very attached to them. When the cubs are on the screen, the emotional bond that the viewer feels is unforgettably blended with the beautiful backdrop of Africa scenery. Filmed in Kenya, where the real story happened, the Cinematography and music are spell-bounding! You really feel drawn into the lives of the couple and the lion cubs, and especially Elsa! Joy becomes most attached to Elsa, the smallest of the liter. When the other cubs become too difficult to manage, in a heartbreaking scene, they are sent to a zoo. George and Joy decide to keep Elsa. However, as she matures, the couple's friends and villagers become concerned, because Elsa has been frightening off villagers and livestock. The couple are dedicated and determined that Elsa would never be happy in a zoo or any other captivity environment, as Joy through tears says, "She was born free, she deserves to live free!" The couple than must do what has never been done before. Take Elsa from a domesticated pet and train her how to be wild. They spend hours, months, teaching her how to hunt, deal with conflict, and courtship. This film tags at the heartstrings big time, because there are scenes where she chases the truck after they are forced to leave her alone for the first time and she starts chasing the truck. Or the heartbreaking scene where she comes back to George and Joy's camp starving or hurt because she hasn't yet learned how to take care and hunt for herself.
Finally, after Elsa kills a warthog, the Adamson's learn that she can be on her own. The movie ends with George and Joy reuniting with Elsa and her own family of cubs in a beautiful mountainous, hillside view, with the unforgettable title tune by Matt Monro that will send emotional chills up your spine and bring tears to your eyes. This is a landmark film that is flawless! A beautiful film for families and children to learn about the importance of kindness to animals and the difficulty that it can take making a wild animal into a domestic pet.
Tragically, the real Elsa only lived about five years. She died of what appeared to be a severe tick disease similar to what is called "animal malaria." The work of Joy and George Adamson's devotion to protecting and preserving animal life remained for many years after Born Free. They showed that animals were just as important to be card for and loved as humans and that human contact and compassion with them can create a bond, lasting a lifetime.
However, in 1980, Joy Adamson who was known to be very forceful and demanding with her camp staff, was tragically found stabbed to death near her camp. Originally, authorities belied that she had been mauled by a lion, but the autopsy reports showed that her wounds were not consistent with an animal attack. The story is that a disgruntled worker, alleged that Joy had not paid him for two weeks, and they got into a fight. He alleges that Joy shot at him but no evidence has surfaced to support this. Angered over not being paid, he stabbed her to death and was sentenced to life in prison, escaping the death penalty by hanging,since Joy's attacker's age could not be proved, the judge sentenced him to life in prison.
George Adamson suffered a similar tragic fate when in 1989 he was shot to death by poachers who were attacking a tourist who had been visiting him. George was able to save the life of the tourist, in an incredible heroic effort for an over 80 year old man! However, George himself did not survive the shooting. In news that shattered hearts around the world, both he and Joy died terrible, painful, and senseless deaths.
However, their love and devotion to animal preservation and support was so internationally impacted, that many wildlife preservation societies today are a result of their work. Film stars Virgina McKernna and Bill Travers, the real-life British couple (the real life Adamson's were not British) who portrayed the Adamson's in the movie helped establish the Born Free Preservation Society in 1984. Working with the Adamson's on the set of Born Free so moved Virgina and Bill that they continued to work with helping wild animals. Bill did it for the remainder of his life and Virgina is still active in wildlife preservation to this day.
Born Free, is a movie, an experience, and a song, that will move you for the rest of your life!