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The January Man (1989)
Kevin Kline is pressed into action to find the January Man.
So finally, after 33 years, I was able to watch this movie. I found it on Amazon streaming movies. I was a bit skeptical because of its somewhat low IMDb rating but it is in fact a very good, entertaining movie. It is better than its rating would indicate. Kevin Kline plays the main character and, as he has done in a number of roles over the years, nails it.
The story takes place in Manhattan, New Year's Eve is upon them, there is what they believe a serial killer operating. There have been 11 similar murders in 11 months. Each time the perp picks a door lock and strangles a lady with blue ribbon material. Kevin Kline is the main character, he was working as a firefighter after being kicked off the police force over a scandal. But knowing he is an excellent detective he is brought back, specifically to solve the murders and capture the perp.
This was 1989, use of computers in everyday work was still relatively new and not embraced by all. So a computer plays a key role, using special graphics and a database to eventually predict where the next murder would be. Also the recognition that the dates of the 11 murders all represented prime numbers so they could predict when the January murder would happen.
In the end the identity of the serial killer is unimportant to the story, it is really about Kline's character and his relationships with others. The cast includes many fine actors of that time.
Allegory on how men treat women.
In the BluRay extra the writer-director explains that he doesn't want to say too much about his intent in various scenes, he wants the viewer to interpret the story in a way meaningful to them. So I will take this opportunity to interpret it as an allegory, a depiction from the woman's perspective of how men treat women.
My main reason to wanted to watch it is Jessie Buckley, I am a big fan, to me she is one of a very small handfull of superb actresses working today. Other then her lady friend that we see only briefly, Buckley's is the only female character. As the movie opens in London we see rain on the patio rail as she looks towards the outside. In slow motion we see what she sees, a man falling past her patio and down below to his death. It was her husband.
What all leads up to that we only gradually find out as the movie moves along but in essence it is his desire to control their relationship and her resisting that and he couldn't cope.
She rents an English country manor about four hours from London for two weeks, to clear her mind and get back on a good track. There she has a series of unpleasant encounters, each with a man who in one way or another ends up blaming her for her husband's death or for their bad behavior.
Frankly I didn't particularly like this movie, it is too strange and the last scenes are impossible to explain and get anything coherent from them, and I suppose that is what the filmmaker wanted. As I was watching it I was thinking "I hope I find out this is all a bad nightmare" because in dreams all kinds of weird things can happen.
Anyway I enjoyed Jessie Buckley, she gives a really fine performance. I also enjoyed the actor who played 6 or 8 different characters, each one unique, including the not-so-helpful Vicar and the scruffed up man who wanders about naked. But overall not a movie I'd recommend or want to watch again.
On BluRay from my public library, my wife skipped, not her kind of movie.
Jurassic World Dominion (2022)
What's the plan? Whatever happens, that's the plan!
We enjoyed this somewhat more than we expected to, considering the abundance of negative comments. This is an entertaining movie that never takes itself too seriously. Of course there are some scenes very reminiscent of prior Jurassic Park movies but that isn't a bad thing.
There are mainly three things going on and as the story develops they get tied together. One, a number of places where dinosaurs are being bred illegally, and we some involved in illegal fighting for sport. Second, the appearance of some really big bio-engineered locusts, maybe as long as 18 inches or so, and they are systematically devastating crops. If left unchecked it could lead to a worldwide food shortage.
And third, the little bio-engineered girl, a clone of her scientist mother is now a teenager and typically rebellious, but also figuring out how her DNA was engineered can be a critical link to solving other issues.
The movie has the mandatory manic action, most of it involving evading and fighting off dinosaurs that seem to want to eat people. The various stunt doubles get really good workouts. And there is the airplane, heavily damaged, when asked "What's the plan?" She responds, "Whatever happens, that's the plan." Fortunately for the story good things happen.
My wife and I watched it at home on BluRay from our public library. Great sound track also, gives the subwoofer a good workout. Also the BD has some interesting extras on making the movie and how they tied in characters from the older Jurassic Park movies. And how they were able to use so many different animatronic approaches rather than CGI for everything. A real treat for movie-making nerds like me.
Pam & Tommy (2022)
Lead actors are good, Pam and Tommy are barely interesting.
I found this 8-part limited series, each episode roughly 3/4 hour long, on a set of DVDs at my public library. I was curious because I remember Pam Anderson and her sexy look on the TV show "Baywatch" when she was about 30. She was never much of an actress but was good to look at. She is 55 now and still making movies, although they are not ones most of us will have watched. I have no idea what happened to drummer Tommy Lee.
This series has a strong focus on the infamous sex tape that Pam and Tommy made and was discovered and distributed. This is NOT a documentary, however it seems that most of what is depicted is fairly accurate. It is done mostly as a satire, the actress wears large fake breasts which are shown frequently. The actor wears a rather large prosthetic penis which, in some scenes looking into a mirror, is animated and talking to him. So we are not to take it too seriously, just be entertained.
I must admit I was frequently entertained but overall this is not a very good series. My wife chose to skip it all, probably the wiser choice.
Meet Cute (2022)
Cute concept, some interesting scenes, but overall not a very good movie.
We like Kaley Cuoco from her role on the long-running "Big Bang Theory" and that is the main reason we chose to watch this movie that runs just about 80 minutes. (Plus some out-takes at the end.) As we see from the end credits she and co-star Pete Davidson are Producers and that makes sense. Apparently they made the movie to sell to a streaming service and now it is a Peacock streaming movie.
The concept is interesting but has been done a number of times in different ways. If you could time-travel should you do so and change things to try to make the future better? She stumbles upon a time machine that looks a lot like a tanning bed in the back room of the nail salon she visits.
I think the script is just too mediocre, plus Cuoco's character tries too hard to be "edgy" and uses a lot of F-word language just because she can. Whether it was the script, or Cuoco's choice, it just doesn't ring true within the movie. It definitely takes away from the likability of her character.
So it has some interesting scenes but overall is very uneven and when it ends we were not quite sure what to make of it.
Stage Fright (2014)
Parody of "Phantom" and all the slasher movies.
Looking for a movie my wife would never want to see I came across this one on Amazon rime streaming movies. I really knew nothing about it but it seemed that it had a good chance of being entertaining. And it was!!
First there is Minnie Driver but she lasts only through the first couple of scenes as she is starring in a stage play that is a parody of "Phantom", complete with a bad guy wearing a mask. Her twins, a boy and a girl, are about 10 at that time.
Fast forward to 10 years later, the twins are working at a summer musical theater camp as the cooks. But when they decide to do a revival of their mother's fatal musical the daughter just has to try out for the lead, she has to honor her late mother.
It was good to see Meatloaf Aday as the camp director, he even has a couple of musical numbers. Man he was talented. But the biggest problem I had, even though this is a spoof movie, the young actress is not a particularly good singer. Pleasant, maybe, but nowhere near what would be required to do a Broadway role, which was the character's stated goal.
I enjoyed the movie, it has lots of gore and blood, in the spirit of a parody, but as something completely different I enjoyed it.
Goodnight Mommy (2022)
'She's our mother, she has to love us, it's her job.'
This is a very strange "Amazon Original" movie. I was anxious to see it because of Naomi Watts, I like her and she usually picks excellent projects. But my wife watched the trailer and decided she would skip.
Two boys, twins, are played by real-life identical twins, I figure they were about 10 or 11. Cute kids but pretty mediocre actors. Their father is bringing them back to mommy after a visit but she does not greet them on arrival. The boys go inside, the home is rural with a barn and fields, and eventually they find her with a full-face bandage-mask that closes in the back with Velcro. They are puzzled, they had no advance knowledge of this. And very soon, only about 17 minutes in, they see and hear things that make them suspect the woman isn't really their mother. And that is essentially what the movie is about, the boys trying to solve this riddle.
The last 20 minutes or so, and the ending, reveal a number of things, but not everything makes sense, when you think what was shown in the first half of the movie. When it ended I believe I figured out what was going on, a twist that seems to negate most of what was presented, but it is done in a way that isn't very clear.
So I can't rate this movie very high, the script and acting are just so-so, I watched the whole thing because I was curious to see where it was heading but when it was over I found it to be mostly unsatisfying. My wife made a good decision to skip.
At home, on Amazon Streaming movies.
One Summer (2021)
"Seas The Day."
My wife and I settled in after our usual Saturday evening wine and steak dinner, with chocolate cake for dessert. We found this movie on Amazon streaming. It seemed interesting but we had no idea it would be as good as it is.
Dad suffered bad after effects of serving in Iraq, the doctors thought he would die. Instead his wife was in an automobile accident going for his medicine, leaving their two children motherless. Dad gets better suddenly, seemingly miraculous, but he and the two kids, a teen daughter and a young boy, are having difficulty moving on with their lives after mom's death.
They travel from Ohio to the North Carolina coast in mom's old VW Mini Bus to spend the summer there. Dad is anxious to get back to where his wife had grown up, the kids less so and just wanted to go back to Ohio. Yet things had a way of getting better for all.
Without trying to describe any more of the story it is a good movie dealing with family values and the benefit of accepting others and getting involved in community activities. All the actors are very good in their roles.
The Graduate (1967)
Classic and the kickstart that Dustin Hoffman needed.
I know I had watched this movie over the years, probably a couple of times, but now in 2022 my wife and I were able to watch it at home on DVD from our public library. It is a copy of the Technicolor film, it even has the projectionist's reel-change cues in the upper right hand corner of the image. As such it isn't particularly detailed or sharp but still holds up well for such an old movie.
This came out in 1967 and ironically features part of the story at U Cal Berkeley, ironic because in early 1967, as a senior in college, I was trying to get into Berkeley for my graduate studies in Chemistry. However a hold in funding for out-of-state students had me go elsewhere. But it is great to see how Berkeley and the students looked back then.
Dustin Hoffman, almost 30, plays Ben, just graduated from college back East and about to turn 21. He has come home to the L. A. area to warm reception by family and friends but he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. So the story takes a turn when he is romanced by an older woman, Mrs Robinson, who is in a loveless marriage and just needs companionship.
This greatly complicates things when her daughter returns and Ben takes an interest in her, and of course the iconic final scene with Ben banging on the second floor church glass as a wedding is finishing up.
One can argue about the morality of the characters, and that is fair game, but I suspect there is more reality there than we wanted to believe in 1967. But for me the movie is a great one because of the script, it is very funny, the actors, all in top form, and some of the most interesting cinematography I have ever witnessed. The way scenes are composed and lit, it just is one of the best movies ever made.
Looking back now everyone knows Hoffman has a stellar career, one of the best actors of his time. This movie, followed soon by "Midnight Cowboy" and "Little Big Man", all gave him kick starts and he never looked back.
Frances Ferguson (2019)
Parody of "the system" as a substitute teacher gets busted.
Actress Kaley Wheless stars as Frances Ferguson, and also originated the story. It is a Nebraska town of about 8,000 and while not everybody knows everybody else, everybody is known by others. It is a small independent, low-budget film that mostly uses hand-held camera work.
Frances and her husband got married only three months after meeting, now that have a 3, or is it 4, year old daughter and a loveless relationship. Frances is working as a substitute teacher and just doesn't have self-control regarding a good looking student and goes the extra mile.
The whole movie is a quirky, droll look at what happens when someone like Frances gets into the system, the trial, the incarceration, the post-release probation, the mandatory therapy sessions. Frances never seems committed to any of it but doesn't rebel either. She just goes along with minimum resistance.
I enjoyed it as something completely different, my wife gave up after about 12 to 15 minutes and left the room. As the last 3 or 4 minutes were winding down I was hoping for some sort of revelation or resolution but there is none, just take Frances Ferguson for what she is, and take the "system" for what it is.
At home streaming on Amazon Prime movies.
How to Build a Girl (2019)
Teen girl writing and coming of age in England.
The movie is based on the semi-autobiographical novel written by Caitlin Moran. Her family in the early 1990s are hippies of sort, her dad is a second-tier drummer, her mom has just had twins and finds little time for her teenage children.
Beanie Feldstein, an actress from California, plays the British teen, just 16 here (even though Feldstein was in her mid-20s). She is ordinary and chubby and gets a lot of hazing from other students. But she has a passion for writing.
Through sheer willpower she gets a local publication to give her a chance, to write articles about up-and-coming rock musical groups. That turns out to be both good and bad, but she soon finds herself as the family's main breadwinner.
It is a coming-of-age story and apparently closely mirror's the author's life in many respects. She has a dirty mind and a dirty mouth which takes some of the enjoyment away. All in all it was an interesting viewing but I wouldn't want to watch it again.
At home on DVD from the public library, my wife skipped.
Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Sheep leave the farm for the big city.
I am not at all familiar with the TV series so my wife and I came into viewing this cold, we knew nothing about Shaun the Sheep. Except that it comes from the same studio that gave us Wallace and Grommet and Chicken Run, two that we have enjoyed.
The story starts very slow, the first 15 minutes or so are devoted to the sheep and dog on the farm with the man in charge. It isn't particularly entertaining, in fact my wife abandoned it during that time. However I kept watching, I was curious.
The story picks up greatly after that, as counting sheep gets the man to fall asleep. Through a convoluted series his little trailer starts rolling downhill and eventually into "The Big City." The man gets knocked unconscious and when he awakes he cannot remember who he is or what he does.
So most of the movie has the sheep and the dog trying to figure out how to get the man back home, while evading the animal control guy. The filmmakers came up with many original and funny sequences.
So after it got going the story is pretty good. But for me just the mastery of the claymation art is fascinating. The movements, the subtle things, just are so good. In fact the BluRay disc has an extra dealing with the "making of" aspects.
At home, on BluRay from my public library.
Visit to a Small Planet (1960)
Classic Jerry Lewis, physical comedy.
There is a story here but most of it seems to exist only to give Jerry Lewis a vehicle for his comedy. He is a member of a race on another planet, he says 8 million light years away, and for variety he decides to visit Earth.
Here he meets various people and settles in to a family that invites him to stay with them. Eventually they realize, because of his mysterious powers, that he is in fact an alien.
I enjoyed it because I sort of grew up in the 1960s and 1970s with Jerry Lewis, some of the best with his sidekick Dean Martin. I came across it on U-tube streaming movies.
So by now IMDb reviews require a minimum of 600 characters, I suppose that is good, it eliminates the meaningless, one-sentence reviews. So this last paragraph is added to comply.
The Final Girls (2015)
Novel spoof of slasher movies but with a family theme.
This movie should not be as good as it is. It borrows ideas from a number of different movies, perhaps the two most prominent to me are "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Pleasantville."
A teen girl has lost her mother, an actress, to an unfortunate car crash. Three years later she still misses mom, plays old videos of them together. Now however she has an invitation to attend a screening of a cult movie, a slasher movie at summer camp. Her mother has a role as one of the camp counselors.
As fate (and script) would have it a fire starts in the theater, the exit is blocked by flames, the girl takes a large knife and, while the movie is playing, slashes the projection screen so she and her friends can escape. However they don't go outside the theater, they end in in a strange place with brightly colored foliage and flowers. They quickly recognize that they are now on the campgrounds of the movie they were watching.
So the movie takes off from there, is very inventively done. The girl sort of meets her deceased mother, but it isn't really her mother, it is the character her mother was playing. Sort of like the characters in "Pleasantville" were not real people, just characters. Or the characters in "Purple Rose" only knew what was in the script.
Anyway I enjoyed it a lot, the cinematography is inventive, using slow motion to good effect at certain points. There is a good core story of relationships and family. I watched it at home on DVD from my public library. My wife skipped.
Destination Space (1959)
Early vision of how manned space exploration would work.
The consensus is this "movie" was actually a pilot for a TV series that was not pursued. Although rockets had been used for centuries in various peacetime and war applications, it was not until 1957 when Russia launched a Sputnik into Earth orbit, followed a few months later by a 1958 USA satellite in Earth orbit that actual space exploration began. So this pilot was made right on the heels of those two accomplishments.
A giant wheel-type, rotating space station is already in orbit 500 miles above the Earth. Routine travel between the station and Earth is already in practice, shuttling both astronauts and dignitaries as needed. Instead of putting a ship in orbit and gradually approaching the station, as we now know it works, they have the rocket just climbing directly to the station. They land on a terminal of sorts, just a few dozen yards away from the station, then with space suits on, push themselves off a platform, like you might dive off the edge of a pool, and float towards the space station. If only it were that easy!
Anyway the project at hand is to launch a rocket with crew to land on the Moon, a stated goal is to establish a Moon base. Ironically that is exactly what we are intending to do today, in 2022 and beyond, with the Artemis project. Also the SpaceX goal to travel to and settle of Mars. It is pretty interesting how closely a 60+ year old TV pilot mirrors what is going on now.
For a 1950s show the special effects are not that bad. However being the pilot for a TV series there is lots of dialog, including a congressional hearing to find out about some problems the mission are facing, including being hit by a meteoroid. Also some hint of a romance. Not a great film by any measure, it is great fun to see how they looked at possible space travel long before we actually had any human space travel.
I found it streaming on U-Tube.
The Duke (2020)
Based on real events, a stolen Goya in 1961 London.
All this happened for real in 1961, a man named Kempton Bunton, a Liberal activist for the downtrodden, went to trial for theft of a Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington. The museum had bought it for 140,000 pounds so he sought that amount to help elderly get TV licenses. He pretty well explained his approach and at trial the only defense was "He didn't steal it, he borrowed it and returned it late, like the neighbor who borrows a lawn mower and returns it late."
Any way it gets a bit complicated as we find out others were involved. One of my favorite actors over the years, Jim Broadbent is in the role of Kempton Bunton and he nails it. Another favorite, Helen Mirren, plays his wife of many years.
My wife and I watched it at home on DVD from our public library, and very nice and entertaining movie.
Blaze went crazy only once. He decided to stay.
Blaze Foley was a country singer-songwriter who was killed at age 39 during an argument. Many of his fans think he had great things ahead of him but didn't live long enough to realize it.
I probably would never have watched this movie had I not recently watched "Cedar Rapids" which featured Alia Shawkat as a young prostitute Bree. I was so taken with her easy and natural manner that I looked up other movies with her, and this one came up on DVD at my public library. She is really good.
Frankly I don't care for this movie. It is drab throughout and the character, Blaze, is very difficult to like and care about. And that about sums up my viewing, I didn't like him and I didn't care what happened to him. Watching the whole movie was a chore.
I did get to see my old motorcycle from the 1970s, a Honda 350 twin, in scenes near the end. Well it probably isn't my old Honda but it looks pretty much like it. Also much of the movie was shot where I used to live, in the river parishes between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
I watched ti at home, my wife skipped, not her kind of movie.
Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
This movie came out in 2006 and watching it just now I am amazed how insightful it is. It is crude and it would be easy to focus on that, but with a focus on the message you can't help but worry because it hits the nail right on the head.
Premise - the military are doing a top-secret experiment, to see if it will work, to put people in a state of hibernation so their high skills can be used at any time in the future with no additional training. They will evaluate the success after one year. One they pick is a military man (Luke Wilson) in a deadhead job, a man who tests perfectly average in everything. He has no outstanding attributes and an I. Q. of 100. The other is a prostitute (Maya Rudolph).
There is an economic upheaval, the facilities are bulldozed, the cryo crypts are forgotten. Until 500 years later when strictly by chance they are activated and opened. What the two people from 2006 find is a world where the I. Q. has steadily gone down as intelligent people have fewer children while the low I. Q. people facilitate a population explosion. Now the perfectly average man from 2006 is recognized as the smartest person in the world. He is chosen as the person to solve a myriad of problems.
The story is a crude and funny parody, but what makes it so hard-hitting is how much truth is in it. Now, 16 years later, if we look at our world critically we see those very things starting to happen. Crime and incarceration are on the rise, school test scores are going down, there is almost devastating political fighting going on everywhere, personal integrity is harder and harder to find. Russia has invaded Ukraine without provocation. We are getting over the COVID pandemic and now Monkey pox is spreading.
We can see our whole world caught in a downward spiral that we probably will not be able to correct. This movie is too true, I wish it had turned out just to be interesting entertainment.
At home on DVD from my public library, my wife skipped, not her kind of movie.
Billy the Kid Returns (1938)
Very early Roy Rogers movie, he plays two roles.
I was a boy back in the 1950s and went into town often to watch Roy Rogers movies. I found a DVD at my public library with five old, B&W Roy Rogers movies, this is the second one I watched, running under an hour.
The hook here is that Roy Rogers is a spitting image of Billy the Kid. Roy is riding west to try to find some work, the first place he stops he is mistaken for the outlaw. He is brought in, everyone thinks he is the outlaw, until he plays the guitar and sings a song. Then everyone says "We know for a fact that Billy the Kid can't sing or play music." So Roy manages to get a temporary assignment helping Sheriff Pat Garrett.
The story here is settlers from out East are having a hard time because of the cattle ranchers' meddling. They have to plow their land but the horses get stolen. Charging them locally wouldn't do any good, their friends on a jury would just acquit them. So Rogers and Garrett hatch a plan to have the US Cavalry catch the men with stolen US horses, that would require them to be in a federal trial.
As with most (or all) Roy Rogers movies he does some singing and he of course had a great, melodic baritone voice, as good a singer as any in those days. And he did find a girl to get sweet on him.
The Beatles: Get Back (2021)
The Beatles' unauthorized, impromptu rooftop concert.
This came available to me as a 3-disk DVD set from my public library, complete with Dolby soundtrack. The total running time is almost 8 hours and starting it I was very skeptical that I would view all of it. However as I got into it I was so fascinated with the content that I watched it all in several sessions over several days.
What is documented here took place in January of 1969. At that exact time I was a student in college and we were also preparing for a performance, a 4-week, 28-performance run of a musical to help commemorate Purdue's 100th anniversary. That connection in time stayed with me as I watched this film.
Although I never was a rabid Beatles fan I enjoyed their music. They changed the world of music but their prime concert run was rather short, from about 1961 through 1966. Then in 1969 they began preparation for a new album and a live performance. This documentary covers that month and is very frank, watching it you get the feel of being there. How the four invented lyrics, worked out chords, tried any number of different things.
Watching it I realized I had no clue what each of the four were really like. Ringo and George were pretty serious, not in a bad way, they went to rehearsals to work, to get on with their business. But John especially was a goofball, cutting up all the time, making silly voices into the microphone, in general seeming not to take any of it seriously. But once they recorded or performed live we see what a master of his craft he was. Paul seemed to be the glue that held everything together and had most input into how to move forward.
There is a day when George, perhaps feeling under appreciated, walks out and says he isn't coming back. The others don't panic, they even discuss who might replace him, "I guess we'll ask Clapton if George doesn't came back." But they all met and mended things.
The last 45 minutes or so of disk #3 is devoted to the unauthorized, impromptu, unannounced concert at the end of January. It was on the roof of the 5-story Apple Corps building in downtown London, around lunchtime. They were able to record enough for 5 songs on the eventual "Get Back" album before the cops shut them down for being too loud and for drawing too big a crowd that disrupted traffic. They had expected that.
So yes, it is long, but is a fascinating close look at the Beatles and what made them go.
Small gem of a movie, set and shot in Utah.
My wife and I were looking for a pleasant, happy movie after dinner on Amazon streaming. This one caught our attention. It is NOT a Hallmark movie but pretty much follows the Hallmark approach. Two single strangers meet by coincidence, they hit it off pretty quickly, seem ideal for each other. Then a big wedge crops up, it looks like it will spoil the relationship, until they figure out how to repair it.
He is a writer, he has had some success under his own name, but his biggest success has come from using the pen name Sally Carmichael. Under that moniker he writes romance books about a merman. He hates the books, he hates being associated with them, but no one other than his publisher knows the truth.
She is the owner of a bookstore, plus a small local newspaper hardly anyone reads. She asks him to write an article, that is how they meet. They hit it off immediately.
Then something happens, he is exposed, and that becomes the rest of the story. It is pleasant entertainment with attractive actors playing pleasant characters. We enjoyed it, good entertainment.
The Children's Hour (1961)
Hepburn, MacLaine, and Garner in a sad tale of lies.
Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine play old friends, together they run a boarding house school for young girls. James Garner is Dr. Joe Cardin and sweet on the Hepburn character, and also the local town doctor. The first part of the movie introduces the characters and especially the little girl Mary who has some serious issues with honesty and manipulation.
When little Mary (about 10 or 11) gets punished for good cause she retaliates, she observes something then makes false accusations of the two teachers, essentially accusing them of a lesbian relationship, very scandalous in those times. The townfolks are stunned, the students are all taken away, there is even eventually a trial.
Suffice to say several lives were ruined, some in more serious ways than others, all because of the lies of a little girl and the failure of the adults to sort out the truth. This is fiction but I suspect it it an accurate reflection of real life.
At home on Amazon streaming. The cinematography and final B&W print are excellent, the movie has several over-dramatic scenes, typical for a 1960s drama.
Hands Across the Border (1944)
Nostalgic look back at Roy Rogers.
I was a boy back in the 1950s and went into town often to watch Roy Rogers movies. I found a DVD at my public library with five old, B&W Roy Rogers movies, this is the first one I watched, running under an hour.
As an aside, I recently found out his horse Trigger started out as a rental horse called Golden Cloud and appeared in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" in 1938, ridden by Olivia de Havilland. Then in 1938 he was bought and became Roy's Trigger.
This movie is set in the 1800s and is about horses and competition for a military contract. As the movie starts Roy is in the brush and approached by a man intending to rob him. Roy smiles at the man, doesn't cooperate, basically says "You're not going to shoot me" and together they end up at a shindig where Roy sings.
In fact in many respects the movie is a musical with several production numbers, all light-hearted fun. The sound is excellent for a 1944 movie, the B&W picture is fine but not very sharp.
I enjoyed the viewing, as a nostalgic look back to my childhood activities.
Cedar Rapids (2011)
Entertaining caper, for mature audiences.
Anne Heche died earlier this month from injuries she received in a really bad crash and burn accident. I never really cared for her acting because of her very nasal delivery but decided to see if my public library had any of her movies I had NOT seen. This one came up, Cedar Rapids. I must say I mostly enjoyed her performance, playing off Ed Helms.
Helms, who also produced, plays a Wisconsin small community insurance salesman. He is sheltered, had never been on a plane nor ever checked into a motel, and seems to have the emotional maturity of a 12-yr-old. In fact his girlfriend is his former teacher, he was 12 when he was in her class.
Anyway after a tragedy, the salesman of choice was found dead, Helms was chosen to go to Cedar Rapids for the big convention. His job was to once again win the two diamond award for his agency. The several days are quite an adventure, he goes from just ordering root beer to crashing a wild booze and drug party with a young prostitute, Bree.
It is sort of a coming-of-age of the 30-something man who was totally naive to most of the world. And to how his agency really operated. Much of the humor is crude but also most of it is funny for a mature viewer. Ed Helms is perfect for this role.
At home on DVD, my wife skipped, not her kind of movie.
Lost Bayou (2019)
"No, no, I don't heal, sometimes God uses me as His instrument."
I was drawn to this mostly obscure movie because of my own Cajun background. It was shot in Lafayette, where I went to college all those years ago, and in the Henderson swamp, the Atchafalaya Basin. The lead actress, Teri Wyble who plays Gal, grew up in Arnaudville, just a few miles from Lafayette, and her Pop is played by Dane Rhodes, a New Orleanian who does a pretty legitimate Cajun accent.
She is stuck in a bad place, divorced with a young son that lives with his dad, she drinks too much and seems to be broke. She gets a call from Pop, come right now your mom is in a bad way.
Gal is a bit wary, seeing as Mom died a few years earlier, but she hitches a ride in a boat to get to Pop's houseboat in the swamp. Pop is something of a faith healer but his success is spotty. And maybe he has lost a bit of touch with reality.
(An aside, for those who don't know, a swamp is actually a very nice, clean area with few bugs because dragonflies eat everything. You may get alligators and snakes but you will not get bad smells, if it is a real swamp.)
So most of the movie involves the father-daughter relationship, he was far from perfect when she was growing up, she is far from perfect now, but they still have the family bond and each can look for a brighter future.
The movie-makers are for the most part inexperienced, it has a rather raw look and feel to it, the production values are not that high. But overall it is a worthwhile viewing for anyone who likes or is curious about the subject. A bonus is the background music is authentic Cajun music.
I found it on Amazon streaming movies.