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Paternity Leave (2015)
Unfunny kinda gross comedy
This was a disappointment. Yes I know Arnold Schwartzneggar had already made a movie about a pregnant man. But this seemed like an opportunity to do an amusing updated version,especially one that might deal with changing gender roles.
In this iteration, a gay male couple finds themselves expecting a baby.
Apparently, there was a mutation in the human species and men can now give birth. That amazing bit of news is told to us in a throw away bit, by a newscaster on TV and the main reaction of one of the protagonists is incredibly- annoyance that he is not the first anymore and no longer "special".
The movie is poorly acted and not funny. Instead of emphasizing the humorous situation of a man confronting the problems that women have faced for millennia, the movie instead is obsessed with the gross details of exactly how the man got pregnant ( anal sex naturally!) and how he gives birth( a good bowel movement , of course). There are other unnecessary gross scenes- the pregnant man has morning sickness and vomits a lot. OK. we see that several times. Got it. Did we need a scene of him vomiting in the face of his partner as they make love? Aside from being visually disgusting and not remotely funny, it is illogical. One when is extremely nauseated, I doubt one feels like making love.
There are some nice performances by the actor playing the doula and the young ex boyfriend But that's about it.
The lead actors are occasionally wooden and mannered. The actresses who play the sister and the doctor are especially amateurish. Sorry. I know it's a low budget movie , shot on location and it's nice to support creative filmmakers trying for something original.. But this one doesn't work as a comedy or a relationship story.
Hateship Loveship (2013)
SPOILER-Compelling Story. Mostly well done in spite of slow style.
This contains spoilers: This obscure little movie boasts a fine cast, including Christine Lahti, Jennifer Jason Leigh,Nick Nolte, Hallie Steinfeld, Guy Pearce and Kristin Wiig in the lead. I guess they all saw something in the script that they liked. And truth be told, it is a fairly compelling story, although executed very slowly. I kept thinking, what a great yeasty drama this would have been if made in Old Hollywood with say Bette Davis or Greer Garson. The plot is a good one- meek, shy innocent one played by Wiig, is conned by two teen girls into corresponding via email with one of the girl's widowed father who is a drug user and ne'er do well.He is well played by Pearce with a characteristic withered handsomeness- a Lothario gone to seed. Wiig is so taken by the fake emails, she hops on a bus to join him.
When she realizes she has been duped, she decides to stay anyway. And here is the meat of the movie. She manages to redeem this lost man by her innocence, selflessness and purity. She even manages to chase out his slutty , druggie girlfriend played very well, as always, by Leigh.
See why this would have been perfect for Old Hollywood?
Pure innocent goodness redeems lost man with home cooked meals and fresh laundry. Lars Von Trier would hate it!
The plot is satisfying and works except for one major flaw near the end. The two teen girls get no comeuppance or punishment for their cruel prank. Wiig doesn't even get an apology. I think the movie suffers a bit for this. They were trying for something subtler , I guess.. Sometimes, though conventional melodrama is the way to go.It was invented for a reason, after all.It
I did like the suggestion at the end, that Pearce is not really cured of drug addiction and Wiig may end up running that motel by herself one day. Wiig is good in the role. It's a great part. I think a finer dramatic actress may have shown us more layers. But good to see, she is expanding her repertoire.
The movie is worth checking out.
Girl on a Bicycle (2013)
Queasy, slapstick- unsure if it's a sex romp or a family comedy.
The movie is sometimes a sex romp and sometimes a family comedy. But it made me kind of queasy, especially, with the gratuitous nude scene of the klutzy model is an unfunny bit of slapstick, filming a commercial where she is unable to hold onto a bar of soap and keeps hitting the director in the head with the soap. These sort of scenes are grafted onto a sentimental plot where a very horny tour guide operator discovers a love for young children and family. This plot is set in gear by a mom who somehow allows her children to be attended to by the male stranger. At one point, the tykes tell the guy whom they confuse with their dad, , "aren't you going to bathe us?" Luckily, we are spared seeing that unsettling moment actualized.
The movie has a cheesy Euro pop score that does it no favors as it floats in and out of the action.
This is one of those movies whose plot could have easily been resolved with an ordinary conversation between the characters. Instead they are forced to adhere to the inane storyline and come off as brain addled libertines. Even the sensible flight attendant Greta has to act like a moron allowing her fiancé to lock himself in the plane's bathroom until she capitulates. Of course, the plane load of passengers serenade the lovers as they make up...I was getting a little airsick during that scene.
While it has some pretty travelogue sections , the movie over all does not succeed.
Room for One More (1952)
Watchable,dated family comedy
This movie is watchable and engaging despite its flaws.its the sort of movie I wish I had seen as a child , I would have liked it a lot more then. The real life Mr. And Mrs. Cary Grant are the parents of three children plus two foster children. Both foster kids come to them as sullen, angry and disturbed , but in a short time, after being loved, mostly by the patient and kind Mother(Betsy Drake) , they transform into nice sitcom kids. Once Mom succeeds with Jane , there isn't much doubt or tension that orphan #2 will end up a conformist Eagle Scout.
The good stuff-the child actors are all good. Norman Taurog elicits good performances out of children. We hope he didn't need to threaten to kill the dog, this time, in order to motivate the kids(famous story told many times by Jackie Cooper). The not so good stuff- WB and Max Steiners decision to telegraph every emotion with the heavy score. I know it's a feature of its time, but really do we need another tinkly version of Row your boat,after we heard Grant and the family sing it ad nauseum.
Another possible negative-Cary Grant casting, in general..yes his performance is fine, but seeing him with his great tan ,great hair,Cary Grant voice playing a struggling municipal employee,just not real believable in this role. And this is not to say,Grant can't be great playing struggling, real people,just not in this movie..
There is a running gag that I did enjoy,that Grant is constantly sexually frustrated,with all of the kiddie interruptions. And there is one eye popping sight gag, that will go over every kids head, I am sure . Mom and Poppy are about to get it on, he has planned a romantic night with a bottle of champagne .They are interrupted again by crises de child. Grant accepts it as the bottle of champagne explodes and foams all over the bed.Probably the best moment in the movie. Some other strange bits-why did orphan #2,jimmy John sport a real New York-ese Brooklyn accent, when no one else did?
What about the extended scene of Grant in his white trunks and nothing else.? He looks trim and good for 50's standards,but why is he still clad in the trunks for the next ten minute scene? Over all, worth watching and engaging, but definitely dated and of its time.
They Had to See Paris (1929)
Good early talkie Will Rogers comedy
It starts out slow going and suffers from the early talkie stodginess. But once Will Rogers and family hit Paris, it picks up and has some genuinely funny moments. Example, Rogers sees his daughter and boyfriend clad in white fencing uniforms and says, "Ya got the Kulu Klux Klan here too?"
The humor is on the Beverly Hillbillies level of the clash between the crude if honest Americans vs. the effete French aristocracy. As another reviewer mentioned, the plot closely follows Dodsworth, which is a much finer film. Still it has its moments, mostly belonging to Will Rogers and Fifi D'Orsay who theater buffs will recall from the original cast of Sondheim's 1970's Follies.
Borzage does good work with the cast , especially Rogers from whom he coaxes some sensitive moments. Worth seeing for especially for Borzage or Rogers fans.
I Loved a Woman (1933)
Through the years Saga with EG Robinson
Forgotten epic of a meat packer played well by Edward G. Robinson who takes over his fathers business and becomes ruthless.
I agree with the previous reviewer who complained about the many holes in the plot and inconsistencies- Robinson is first presented as a lover of humanity and the arts. He has a complete personality switch and becomes a ruthless, amoral business man all because of a little Machiavellian advice from lover Francis.
That said, the movie is interesting, well produced, historically accurate in a lot of ways and finally quite moving as Robinson ends up alone, back in his beloved Greece but afflicted with dementia so the events of his life become momentary snapshots that come and go.
I also liked the portrayal of the deterioration of his marriage. As in many 30's movies, there is a lot of truth that is hinted at but not fully explored.Sometimes, this leads to a superficiality which is unsatisfying but sometimes it leads to motifs that suggest subtly the inner workings and leave it up to us to connect the dots.
Brief Moment (1933)
Good Lombard presents- Depression Era Values of Hard Work vs. The wastrel rich.
Surprisingly good Carole Lombard drama about a virtuous chanteuse who is eager to have her hard drinking, wastrel husband, embrace her middle class values of hard work instead of allowing himself to be supported by his stereotypically rich and stupid parents.
There is more going on here than appears on the surface and the themes
presented would be explored more fully in other plays, novels and movies.
Are Lombard's Depression Era values of meaningless hard work for pay really the key to achieving fulfillment in life?
Clearly, the job that Lombard forced Raymond to take is mind numbing and meaningless. After all,they don't really need the money. Why take that job away from somebody else who really needs it? Shouldn't Raymond find a job more suitable for his "talents" (if he has any..)
The movie shows us some of these issues but stacks the deck by making his parents so obtuse and snobbish that Lombard by contrast seems always correct. Other movies like You Can't Take It with You take an opposite tack- life is short, why waste it on empty labor unless you have to.
Anyway, Lombard looks beautiful and her performance is emotional and nakedly "out there" as the best of the 30's and 40's actors are. Raymond isn't bad - he refers to himself as a rotter and a drunkard. Today, we might say he is a potential alcoholic and his buddy Sig is his enabler. The movies production values are quite good for 30's Columbia. The movie worth catching and thought provoking
The Lion Roars Again (1975)
Pathetic,sad documentary on so many levels.This short purports to celebrate the MGM films of 1975. The film is inept and boring and has tacky scenes of audience members picking their noses and close ups of food on a buffet line. Who edited this thing?Is this worthy of a major film studio? Why are there scenes of Gene Kelly speaking silently?Why are there scenes of a producer's conversation that are unintelligible? And then the sad slate of movies that are being celebrated-Hearts of the West,Logans Run,The All American Girl starring a very butch looking Stockard Channing.Talk about a bunch of forgotten movies.This was the year of Jaws and Nashville!.The movie industry was reinventing itself but MGM was still looking to its past for inspiration and glory. In a few years, the famous lot would be part of the Sony lot and MGM would be sold,gutted and sold many more times.This short is just an example of an era fading right before our eyes.
Strangers May Kiss (1931)
Chic but skewed morality tale -pre code style.
As most other reviewers have pointed out-this woman's picture of 1931 has some very odd morality and that's what makes it a very interesting relic. Norma Shearer is a liberated young woman who allows her lover to have sex with her whenever he wants without his offering any sort of commitment. He even announces after they have run off together that he has a wife in Paris. Then he dumps her in Mexico. But she accepts all this abuse because she still loves him and believes that marriage is not necessary for happiness. However she is still so hurt by him, she becomes a super slut and becomes well known among the elite Eurotrash for her available sexuality. Then the lover sends her a telegram saying he is divorcing his wife and will agree to marry her. Shearer is thrilled until the lover finds out about her checkered European adventures and dumps her. There is a "happy" ending when the lover comes to his senses a year later and agrees to marry her.
Wow- talk about an abusive relationship, by todays standards.
All the while, Robert Montgomery as her best friend half heartedly offers to marry her whenever she gets upset. His character drinks throughout the movie. Montgomery gives the best performance and is quite charming. Today, we can interpret his actions as either deeply closeted or just someone who loves his liquor more than actively pursuing the love of his life.
Shearer has costume changes in nearly every scene. I am sure the female (and some male) audiences of the day loved it. As usual she is very chic. She has a tendency to pose, silent movie style occasionally- but I can fault the director . He should have reined her in. She didn't do that much when she worked with a stronger director like George Cukor. Shearer has loads of charisma that still come across today. The movie is worth checking out...
Love in the Rough (1930)
Early talkie musical comedy has its moments.
Early talkie musical comedy has its moments. Robert Montgomery is charming. The song "Go Home and Tell Your Mother" has an infectious melody,if an insipid lyric. Benny Rubin is occasionally hilarious (if not very P.C.) as Montgomery's Jewish sidekick. If you know a little Yiddish, his scene with a fellow" landsman" on the golf course is a riot. The location shooting is fluid and polished by the standards of the day.
The plot is silly and forgettable and the leading lady is pretty but not much of an actress. I read this was a flop. I guess by 1930, audiences were not in the mood for the super rich lording it over the working class and talk about " inexpensive" $50,000 apartments came off as elitist and offensive.
Still, for a not unpleasant time filler, you could do worse than Love in the Rough.
Some of the Best (1944)
great subject matter,presented poorly
Boy do we make better clip shows today! This is a shame because MGM had every right to pat itself on the back celebrating its 20th anniversary.Unfortunately,the clips are presented in a stodgy,old fashioned(in the worst sense) manner hosted by dull Lewis STone that makes you wonder what all the fuss was about. THe main interest is is for historical comparisons.THis represents the accepted opinions of the day.Forgotten box office smashes like Tell It To The Marines and Min and BIll are lauded along with genuine classics like Grand Hotel and Mutiny on the Bounty. One interesting bit-Stone makes a fuss over which films won Oscars.Yet he neglects mentioning The Great Ziegfelds Best Picture win.Maybe even then,MGM couldn't believe the overblown musical had actually won!
Child of Manhattan (1933)
far from classic pre-code has its moments
As other reviewers stated, this Columbia pre-code has some of Preston Sturges characteristic touches. But I especially enjoyed the dance hall matron and mentor "Aunt" Minnie, who is a salty, bawdy Jewish tough girl who curses in Yiddish,"mamzer"- bastard and steals every scene. The movie has its dull spots due probably to the unheralded director. It also suffers from Columbia's cheap budget. Although it does give us little luxe in one of the funniest scenes in an expensive dress shop . The owner/salesman makes no secret of his gay orientation as he says as he squeezes Nancy Carrols body,"Don't think of me as a man, think of me as an artiste!"
Nancy figures it out and minces, "Okay Dear!"
Nancy Carrol is pretty good in the leading role but the male actors are dull as dishwater. There are some interesting sociological/historical bits worth noting. A lot is made of Nancy's low class Brooklyn accent(she says apperntment and Greenpernt instead of appointment and Greenpoint). Archie Bunker spoke similarly. That pronunciation has practically vanished from New York of today. New Yorkers still have distinctive accents but some of the distinctions have disappeared over the years.
Also worth noting is the sexual attitudes. Nancy works in a dance hall but it is made clear that she is not a prostitute and she is told by her mother to try to refuse money if it offered to her. Her lazy brother calls her a tramp as soon as she moves in with her lover, without being married and she is soon punished with a dead baby for her sins. The sexual revolution of the 1960's changed attitudes and behaviors. But this movie is worth seeing for 1930's peak into the sexual attitudes of the day.
Half Nelson (2006)
contrived nonsense with a great performance by Ryan Gosling
Half Nelson is far from great. But it has a terrific performance by the very charismatic Ryan Gosling that make it worth a look.
Gosling plays a beloved teacher who is a total jerk who deserves to be fired. His most glaring offense is that he is a crack cocaine addict. He also beds a co-teacher then coldly kicks her out of his apartment and then shows up at 2 in the morning , drunk and attempts to rape her (lucky for him, the poor woman punches him and doesn't call the police) He is supposed to be teaching (mostly) African American kids 8th grade history. However, all he seems to be teaching is watered down Marxism 101 (the dialectic)and a litany of the worst offenses the American government has ever committed (the Chilean Allende coup and the Attica riots are two events the kids learn really well). I guess, all the history stuff like the Declaration of Independence,The Civil War-that's for rich white folks.His specialty is blame America first.
But that is the unpleasant main character and Gosling does a great job portraying him. The audience likes and sympathizes with him.
The movie itself is contrived nonsense. The plot gets into gear when Gosling makes a boneheaded and totally unbelievable decision to smoke crack in the girls locker room. Of course he has an apartment of his own and he could have easily gotten high in the privacy of his home- but the movie needs a plot, so he gets high at school. And then he gets caught by a student, who is a bright girl who happens to like him a lot. He had become a quasi father figure to her and the rest of the movie is mostly about her utter disappointment in him as his addiction gets worse and worse. The story is extremely depressing and I couldn't wait for it to end. Near the end of the movie, we are introduced to his family and I suppose we are supposed to see how he became who he is. It doesn't work. The parents are aging radicals, who drink a bit. Mom seems nice and she plays a song from Marlo Thomas's record from the 70's -Free to be You and Me about how it is okay to cry. I didn't get the point. Gosling's character certainly is no wuss ( he stands up to drug dealers)and he seems like he is in touch with his feelings... being okay with crying doesn't seem to be an issue....He is an addict. That's his issue!! His Dad makes a lame ,mildly racist joke about Ebonics. So does this mean Gosling is rebelling against Dad by teaching Black kids? Well maybe if Dad was Archie Bunker. But Dad is sort of pathetic and says to his son, "I love you" So none of this scene makes sense and you know the movie is in trouble when it introduces important characters in the last 15 minutes.
See this movie for Ryan Gosling. He deserves to be a big star. But that is the only reason to see Half Nelson.
The Right of Way (1931)
dull , badly acted talkie has one positive element-Loretta Young
Frank Lloyd , an early Oscar winning director has one classic to his name the 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. This one is deadly dull and sluggishly paced. It is quite different from the pre-codes we usually get from First National's sister company Warner Bros.
Conrad Nagel is way over the top and the rest of the cast is not far behind. Nagel's movie star career didn't last too long and based on this movie you can see why. The only virtue is the luminous Loretta Young from whom everyone in this cast should have taken lessons. She is a natural.And her undeniable beauty and charisma enliven every scene. The plot has one of those Random Harvest amnesia twists that might have worked with better acting or less stodgy direction. Here you can see the gears turn all the time as the hokey plot lurches to its' fake religious conclusion.
Skip this one.
Back Pay (1930)
preposterous early talkie with sound victim as star.
This early talkie is hampered by an inadequate cast. The story is similar to a lot of other precode movies- poor, small town girl leaves equally poor, small town, boy to go to big city to search for opportunities. She becomes a mistress of a rich man and part of a set of whore like gold-diggers. Her new life actually seems pretty good. She has a great apartment, her own stereotyped black maid to wait on her,lots of furs and jewelry. And her life back home was pretty dreary- she lived in a boring , small town. She had a dead end job in the local dept. store. And she lived with her aunt who ran a boarding house/brothel. The big city seems a huge step up. But of course, according to the morals of the film, she has erred.
The movie seems to take place in 1930-the cars are all late 20's vintage and the clothes are all stylish flapper stuff we are used to seeing in the movies of this time.
Then the movie turns totally preposterous- it seems there is a war going on. But where? in 1930? What war? Oh no. This is World War 1. So the movie pretends the year is 1917, even though we are clearly in 1928 or 1930.
The heroine's former small town beau is called to fight and he is wounded and she has to nurse him back... you get the idea. She learns and earns redemption.
She is played by Corrine Griffith who was a big silent star in her day. Her performance is inadequate at best. You can see why she failed in talkies. She speaks as if she has marbles in her mouth and the movie actually has the nerve to begin with her singing a song. As if she is showing us the breadth of her talent. The singing is so awful, that I can imagine, the audiences of the day, booing or laughing. I can't believe it wasn't cut. The male lead Grant Withers is also pretty bad,but unfortunately, the movie rests on Miss Griffiths shoulders and she can't make it work. This plot which was based on a Fanny Hurst story,was used in various forms in other pre codes and strong actresses like Barbara Stanwyck, Ann Harding, and many others, made them believable. Miss Griffith did not succeed here.
I Married a Doctor (1936)
defanged version of Sinclair Lewis classic Main Street
This is a watered down version of Sinclair Lewis's 1920's angry screed "Main Street" with an especially inane title- I Married a Doctor.The town is the villain in the novel. However, in the movie,Lewis's point is blunted, almost as if not to offend the moviegoers who might be denizens of small towns like the one described. Even the name of the town has been prettified. In the book the town is called Gophers Prairie- here it is called benignly-Williamsburgh.
The most important character change is the small town doctor. Dr. Will Kennicot, in the book, is a stolid, dense man who never seems to understand his wife Carol who is sinking under the weight of the hypocrisy and vapidity of small town life. In the movie, Pat O Brian plays the Doctor, very well , I might add, and he is a sensible hero who says- the town isn't the problem-it's human nature that's the problem.Lewis doesn't much agree. Carol is a bit of an idiot in the book, but Lewis's sympathies are clearly with her.
Casey Robinson is the credited screenwriter and as usual he does a good job with his dialogue, much of which sounds natural and human. The movie is fairly well directed and the story, what little there is moves along. However, Lewis dark vision of American life would not be accurately portrayed on the screen until 1960's Elmer Gantry.
The Matrimonial Bed (1930)
tres gay and sexy pre code farce
This entertaining and racy early talkie(1930) is a farce about a man with amnesia who thinks he is a chic hairdresser. He is hired to do the hair of a wealthy Paris matron, who it turns out is his actual wife who has since remarried, assuming her husband had been killed. The hairdresser's lost memory is easily recovered in an absurd hypnosis and he demands the restoration of his wife from her new husband. The movie has loads of gay jokes as the hairdresser/ husband played by Frank Fay camps up the hairdresser persona to differentiate himself from the personality of the husband.There are lines like- "I may be a hairdresser but that doesn't mean I hold men's hands" And when he asks what manner of person was he as the hairdresser, he is told, "You were gay, a bit dandified" This is the earliest use of the word gay, with its somewhat current meaning, in the movies, that I can recall, predating "Bringing Up Baby"'s famous line("I went gay all of a sudden") by eight years. There is also a farcical moment when the hairdressers new wife(who makes a belated and not too plausible appearance) catches her husband in bed with what she expects is another woman. She snatches off the covers and exposes her husband with a man. She wails,"What kind of house is this?" There are many entertaining moments with Lilyan Tashman as an aggressive family friend who openly lusts for the hairdresser and Beryl Mercer as the cook who worships her former "Master". The ending is less than satisfying but it is all so silly that it doesn't really matter. Frank Fay does well as the effeminate hairdresser but is less convincing as the rejected husband. He also sings, not very well, a pretty tune that the studio must have been plugging. Worth catching.
Divorce in the Family (1932)
Entertaining fast paced movie showcasing Jackie Cooper
Young Jackie Cooper does his shtick that will be familiar to anyone who has seen his Oscar nominated performance in The Champ.He summons up the emotion by grabbing the air with his fists and sobbing loudly,"Aw shucks, aw shucks."
Here Jackie is the younger brother in a family whose parents have divorced and his mother has remarried a well intentioned but rather cold man, who happens to be a doctor and whom everyone refers to as "the doctor" Jackie's teen age brother is well played by Maurice Murphy, whom I never heard of, but impersonates a teen rather well.The movie has plenty of phony bits including an emergency surgery for the teen brother by "the doctor" who also happens to be an expert surgeon. (he makes his considerable diagnosis by a quick wield of his trusty stethoscope) Up to this point in the movie, "the doctor" is sort of the villain. He even whips Jackie when Jackie is being his bratty self. But then "the doctor" performs the emergency surgery and to further canonize him,his blood is "the right kind" for a transfusion and soon enough Jackie realizes that it's okay to have two Pops. It's even better than okay. "It's slicko , " as Jackie says in his early 30's patois.
This is the kind of movie that I would have loved on the old Wonderful World of Disney Show that I watched when I was a kid. As it is, the movie is fast paced and entertaining in a junky way. And Jackie Cooper is fun to watch. So it's worth catching.
It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
Just to add to the previous comments who all noted how good this bittersweet mature musical is- I think it just missed being a classic , in spite of all of its fine attributes, because its score is on the ordinary side. That said-Gene Kelly's rollerskate number is as good as his famed soggy solo in Singing in the Rain-it is absolutely breathtaking. And the 3 friends dance with garbage cans on their feet is great. The most surprising is the heartbreaking solo of Dan Dailey. What a performance! He is supposed to be a self loathing ad exec who proceeds to get very drunk at a party and even dances with a cliched lampshade on his head. He never loses his dignity, as he dances with grace and agility ,all the while , convicing us that he's quite drunk. One thing I noticed in the plot. The old war buddies can only bond again after a huge brawl in which they relive their war days and beat up the gangsters. Then they can drink together and let their sensitive sides show and sing about old friendships. At the movies end, Dan Dailey is able to reunite with his unseen wife. He phones her and tells her that he loves her. Kelly is able to go off with Cyd Charisse and Michael Kidd goes back to the "sticks" and his big Italian family and his hamburger joint. The movie ends on a bittersweet note-the three pals go their separate ways. We don't hear them make any plans to meet again.Yet, we don't feel they need to-they still don't have anything in common in the real world. However, in the magical musical world they took from each other what they needed and are now able to accept their somewhat disapointing yet very human realities. They each have grown up and have found more mature relationships with their wives and with themselves. The movie's title is ironic- It isn't always fair weather and real life can be disappointing but we can still find contentment.
Are These Our Children (1931)
good Depression era teen age melodrama pre-code
This very obscure film turned up on Turner Classic movies at 6AM recently. It was definitely worth watching for it's fascinating portrait of bored, lower middle class, high school- juvenile delinquents. The plot itself is melodramatic and not too impressive: Eric Linden plays a 17 year old who is being raised by his loving but annoying,worry wart grandmother(whom he calls Ma in a thick Noo Yawk accent). Eric becomes a ringleader of a wild crowd who drink and party all night at local dance clubs.The movie is extremely frank in it's depiction of teen age sexuality. Arline Judge, who looks a bit like Winona Ryder, plays his trampy bed partner who is also screwing one of his buddies who is also one of the group. On one drunken spree, Eric murders his old family friend who is known as Hiney. A media circus ensues as Eric goes on trial and begins to believe all of the tabloid publicity. He does stupid,unbelievable things like dismiss his attorney in mid trial, but he almost gets away with murder until one of his pals betrays him.SPOILER_ SPOILER
The movie ends surprisingly with Eric's execution-perhaps this is a warning to the young audience-don't let this happen to you! I liked a lot of things in this movie: This is definitely a pre-code and the movie lets us know that these teens are all having sex with each other. Arline Judge is very sexy and charismatic. Why wasn't she a bigger star? There is a great scene of Eric looking down her blouse that leaves nothing to the imagination. I also appreciated the conclusion which is not a happy one. Linden, an actor who is often grating and weak here gives a super performance as the tough kid. In spite of his mistakes, you always like him. But most of all, I loved the depiction of the kids of the Depression. Aside from their choice of dance music and clothes, these kids are no different from today's kids or I suspect, will they be any different from kids of tomorrow.Their main activities are sex, drugs( alcohol) and dancing. The movie even has an adult cluck disapprovingly and mutter,"Kids today...!" This movie is a fascinating peek into Early Depression era life. It is a fast moving melodrama that is definitely worth watching.
Sidewalks of New York (2001)
endless supposed comedy is not a worthy tribute to New York.
Sidewalks of New York, is , as everyone has pointed out, an ersatz Woody Allenish comedy about a group of tangled relationships in New York. The only performances I enjoyed was Brittany Murphy whose wonderful guttural voice is always a joy to hear.The movie has the typical Ed Burns, slobby vulgarity(lots of talk about applying cologne to ones balls and not showering before dates..) Brothers McMullen had similar talk about defecating in front of other guys. The movie is murkily photographed with a jittery hand-held camera that succeeds in making New York look as jejune and unattractive as its characters. Most annoying was a long closeup of Mr.Burns hairy armpit. That shot seemed to go on forever! I guess if you are the star, writer and director no one is going to tell you where to put the camera and more importantly- that your characters bear little resemblance to actual flesh and blood New Yorkers. Disappointing.
Now, Voyager (1942)
Gripping,romantic classic has a cult following esp.among gay men.
Don't write this off as another Bette Davis,"chick flick" weepie, this is a powerful gripping tale of a woman who transforms herself and learns to free herself from her possessive mothers' grip. The romantic subplot, I have always regarded as unimportant;it is the scenes with Gladys Cooper that are the most moving. Perhaps that is why this movie has such a strong following among gay men. Many gay men who are repressed as young people, while growing up in the straight world, transform themselves-by discovering their sexuality. Davis transforms herself from a shy, ugly duckling to a confident beauty. How many gay men see their own transformation from closeted outcasts to "fabulous" , secure gay men in much the same way.One scene is especially moving and ultimately triumphant.It is the moment when Davis has transformed herself via therapy, diet , a good wardrobe and some make up tips. She goes back home and immediately her selfish mother mocks her and her new look and orders her to change back into her dowdy clothes. will Davis fall back? Will fear of her mothers power and money overcome her? But Davis stands up to her mother and refuses to be "closeted" anymore- the elation and relief for the audience is one of the most satisfying moments in movies.
Big 70's flop is not nearly as bad as its reputation
This expensive 70's flop is not nearly as bad as its reputation indicates. Leonard Maltin's review is pretty accurate. And it's got some fine performances by a good cast which includes- Ryan O'neal, Burt Reynolds, Tatum O neal, John Ritter, Stella Stevens and (especially) Brian Keith. Two highlights- Tatum's negotiating and Brian Keith's speech at the end. It's got some dull stretches and the slapstick gets wearying,overall not bad.
Bright Eyes (1934)
"good Ship Lollipop" Shirley Temple stolen by Jane Withers
One of Shirley Temple's best movies is stolen by an absolutely riotous performance by Jane Withers as Temple's bratty nemesis-the mean rich kid who picks on poor,noble motherless Shirley. This is the movie that boasts Temple's anthem- On the Good Ship Lollipop.Worth seeing if you haven't seen a Shirley Temple movie.And this was one of the major hits of the 1930's.
badly acted,hokey,early John Ford talkie,location shoot
Bad performances by George O Brian and William Janney as rival brothers who end up playing the big Army-Navy football game against each other. Steppin Fetchit is given a lot of screen time and his performance is embarrassing and racist by today's standards, but he might make you smile occasionally even while you wince;he is very charismatic.John Wayne has a few brief scenes as one of a trio of cadets who haze (very mildly) the hero.The best parts of the movie are the unusually crisp location filming of the real Annapolis circa 1929. The big football game is unexciting and has no surprises. There is one good performance by Frank Albertson whose spirited portrayal of the callow roommate who talks back to his C.O. is the film's highlight.No real John Ford touches in this programmer.