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Duplicity (2009)
4/10
Stealing trade secrets
16 June 2019
I was expecting a lot better from folks like Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. But Duplicity had me thinking that it was the audience that was taken for a ride.

Roberts and Owen play rival industrial spies and they have some bad history between them. Back when they were real secret agents Roberts got Owen burned and he lost his job with MI6. She too leaves the CIA under a bit of a cloud. I thought at least back then our countries were allies.

Post the real spy game these two are now industrial spies stealing trade secrets from competitors. In the end they team up professionally looking for a trade secret that man has been looking for since the dawn of time.

I never felt Roberts and Owen had any real chemistry between them in this movie. Looked a lot like they were going through the motions.

Duplicity drags in spots could have used a half hour less at least. And it would be nice if this secret they were after comes out for real. Folks in my family could use it.
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3/10
We should all have such problems
16 June 2019
Young Aaron Mees is a football star who gets on the bad side of his coach who because of his attitude benches him. Not to be sidelined Mees merely transfers schools where he gets on bad with some of his would be teammates. They 'bully' him, but he meets up with a nice group of Christian kids, joins a church and finds that life ain't so bad.

It usually isn't for folks as good looking and hunky as Mees. To say the least he's not your typical bullied teen. The main thing kids are bullied for is not being heterosexual, but you will not see a Christian movie going in that direction.

Shake Off The World will not be making it out of church basements. We should all have such problems as Mees.
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Bonanza: Enter Thomas Bowers (1964)
Season 5, Episode 30
8/10
Singer or slave
15 June 2019
The civil rights revolution enters this Bonanza story as real life concert singer Thomas Bowers played by William Marshall arrives in Virginia City for a concert. What a surprise it was when he gets off the stagecoach and his race is discovered.

The Cartwrights especially Dan Blocker make him feel welcome but many do not. And one of them Kelly Thordsen hears rumors of a runaway slave in the area and reports same to Ray Teal the sheriff.

William Marshall best known as Blacula on the big screen and Dr. Denkstrom from Star Trek prime really delivers as singer and actor in this episode. It's one of the best Bonanza episodes ever done.
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5/10
Stuck with hot money
15 June 2019
A gang of modern bank robbers has a hideout in a western state which is pretty remote and generally inaccessible due to an earthquake. But it's the bad luck of Ralph Ince's men that in the last job all they got away with large denomination bills, thousand dollar bills to be exact. Hard to spend and easily traceable.

So Ince and his guys have to resort to a lot of petty thievery in the area just to eat. For reasons I'm still not clear about suspicion falls on our hero William Boyd, the future Hopalong Cassidy. But Italian immigrant farmer Henry Armetta gets wise to the gang and dies for his trouble. Armetta has his usual gang of kids left without a dad.

This is a remote region and apparently has a sheriff that doesn't give it that much attention. So it's up to the folks living there to face down the city gangsters who have tommy guns and they have hunting rifles.

The NRA is certainly going to love this film.

Men Of America is a scant 58 minutes running time but it does pack a lot of plot into it. It's an average B programmer and the cast does well by the material.
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Blue Bloods: Ripple Effect (2019)
Season 9, Episode 13
7/10
Altruism?
15 June 2019
As Vanessa Ray gets closer to her wedding with Will Estes, all the Reagans get into situations where motives and altruism are questioned.

The archbishop himself when he learns that a certain charity he's enthusiastic about is cutting a few corners in its fund raising he goes to Tom Selleck to personally investigate. Selleck does investigate with some surprising results.

Donnie Wahlberg gets a case where a psychic medium gets involved in a case originally thought to be a suicide where a young woman is thought to have hanged herself. Her observations are unnervingly accurate for one who is a complete outsider.

Bridget Moynahan looks into a case for her ex and the ever cynical Steven Schirippa questions his motives and the Reagan sister starts questioning also.

As for Estes and Ray, they help save a life and Vanessa does a truly nice thing for the mother of the little boy they save.

There are some who do good in this world after all.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Wannabe (2010)
Season 11, Episode 23
5/10
Imposter
14 June 2019
In this SVU story a young officer who is part of a task force patrolling Central Park looking for a serial rapist. Young Graham Davie tackles and arrests Raphael Sbarge and while he looks and acts real green he's congratulated all around.

Only problem is that Davie is not a policeman. He's a wannabe who can't wait for the minmum age to enter the Academy. When the squad discovers the deception they find Davie at his midtown Catholic High School.

This kid was really too much. He keeps insisting on involving himself and it puts him and the squad in danger as they try to salvage the bogus arrest.

Nice story, but hard to believe this kid could be such a jerk.
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Notting Hill (1999)
7/10
Media goldfish bowl
14 June 2019
Notting Hill is a neighborhood in London and it's the title of a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Two of the most unlikely lovers you could ever imagine get together here.

Grant is the respectable, but somewhat dull proprietor of a bookstore in Notting Hill which specializes in travel books. It looks like he's getting by, but truth be told Grant's perfectly happy with just making enough to pay the bills and a little extra.

Back in the day after she retired from the screen for almost 50 years it was one of those urban legends in New York City to spot Greta Garbo out and about and you'd never know but when she might get a notion to stop into a bookstore like Grant's. In this case Julia Roberts plays a movie star not unlike the real Julia Roberts. Garbo mysterious she's not.

For if she was I doubt Hugh Grant would have considered approaching her. As for Roberts she's looking at Grant as a bit of respite from her life in the media goldfish bowl. When she's discovered it's disaster for both of them.

Notting Hill is a nice romantic comedy with very believable leads in a fairy tale fantasy. I mean who doesn't have a fantasy of wooing and winning some celebrity you might admire or be crushing out on. In that sense Notting Hill has a universal appeal.

In an unbilled part Alec Baldwin plays her boyfriend whom we learn little about factually. But he comes across as an egotistical fathead. One thing you're certain of, no matter what happens with Grant, Roberts and Baldwin won't be an item much longer.

Notting Hill, a nice romantic comedy/fantasy. May you win the celebrity of your desires.
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Proximity (2001)
5/10
Free and looking for answers
13 June 2019
Prisoner Rob Lowe in the Ohio State prison system for a vehicular manslaughter charge overhears a murder plot being hatched by a pair of prison guards. Little does he realize he's next on the list and the prison warden has a nice side business in getting rid of prisoners that should have gotten capital punishment.

Lowe was a professor carrying on with one of his teenage students some years back and he was intoxicated and killed her in the crash. When his wife left him after that and he went to jail he got a chance to take a good look at himself.

Still some wanted him dead and guards Jonathan Banks and Terrence Carson and fellow inmate David Flynn are ready to do the deed. But a freak mishap leaves Lowe free and looking for answers.

In this minor thriller Lowe does a good job as an almost Hitchcock like protagonist with forces arrayed against him whom he does not know and their reasons. Joe Santos is the malevolent warden and James Coburn plays a victim's rights advocate to whom this all traces back.

A decent enough if not outstanding thriller.
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Breakaway (2011)
6/10
An unusual hockey team
13 June 2019
Back in his salad Brat Pack days Rob Lowe played in Youngblood where he played a young hockey star with the name of the title on that film. Almost 30 years later and looking good for his age Lowe is the coach of an amateur hockey team.

It's composed of young Sikh immigrants seeking acceptance in Canada and they play their national sport quite well. One of them is Vinay Virmani who has really rebelled against the Sikh tradition by getting rid of the turban and shaving off the beard.

This is a theme going back to Golden Boy in film, the son who wants to please his parents but also sees the need to adjust to the new surroundings that immigrant kids face.

A lot of Indian/Sikh players got some work in this Canadian production. It's a nice film and I highly recommend it especially to young people to learn about a different culture.

This team composed of Sikhs are classic film heroes in the best tradition.
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Bonanza: The Saga of Muley Jones (1964)
Season 5, Episode 26
7/10
One powerful baritone
12 June 2019
Bruce Yarnell playing Cartwright cousin Muley Jones comes to Virginia City to visit his relations. The man has one powerful baritone singing voice and he's not making friends busting all the glass in town when he clears those high notes.

But Yarnell proves quite useful in discovering the identity of some folks making illegal whiskey. His discovery scene at the climax of the episode is quite amusing.

Besides Yarnell who is best known for starring opposite Ethel Merman in a 1968 Lincoln Center revival of Annie Get Your Gun the cast includes Jerome Cowan as an Indian agent, Strother Martin and Jesse White as the still operators and Ralph Moody as an Indian chief.

One of Bonanza's best comic episodes.
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The Fugitive (1993)
8/10
The premises of the TV series
11 June 2019
Back in the 60s I tuned into ABC TV on Tuesday night to see how David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble would once again escape the clutches of the law. Kimble was a convicted murderer who escaped execution in a train wreck. Once out Kimble searches for a one armed man he saw leaving his home where his dead wife was who can clear him. Searching for single wing and avoiding the cops was what was behind every episode for four years.

That's still in the film, but it's a more complex motive behind the killing and it involves Kimble's colleagues in the medical field. Harrison Ford who is now Richard Kimble is as resourceful as Janssen was on television. What is a change is instead of the very dour Barry Morse as Lt.Gerard the pursuer and a lone hand pursuer we have good old boy Tommy Lee Jones who is in command of a unit of Fugitive chasers. The voluble and quotable Jones earned himself a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for what he did here.

The tension is good and crackling throughout and both Ford and Jones have their moments. Ford and Jones are evenly matched as adversaries. As the pursuer Jones could easily have been made to look like Wile E. Coyote as Morse was sometimes over the run of the TV series.

Also Joe Pantoliano has some good moments as Jones's 2nd in command. He has some droll lines.

This is one case where a movie adaption of a classic television series did not make you wax nostalgic for the series.
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Bonanza: No Less a Man (1964)
Season 5, Episode 24
6/10
Time for Sheriff Coffee to go?
10 June 2019
Ray Teal who was for so many years a semi-regular on Bonanza as sheriff Roy Coffee he was like a piece of furniture from the Ponderosa house gets center stage in this episode.

Some folks on the Virginia City Town Council think that Teal has seen his best days especially since he was wounded dealing with a drunk. Also the notorious Wagner gang is in the area robbing banks and spreading a lot of mayhem. Some citizens wonder if Teal can still cut it.

Pernell Roberts who is on the town council offers to help Teal out. For the only time in Bonanza's run, Sheriff Coffee opens up about himself. We learn he's a widower with no children and he looks on the citizens of Virginia City as kind of his children. The job is his life.

All I'll say is that in the end it's proved the man still has what it takes to get the job done.

Nice to see Ray Teal get center stage in an episode.
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Law & Order: Venom (1998)
Season 9, Episode 7
8/10
What a trio
10 June 2019
After a concert attended by society folks in tuxedos a man and woman were hit with the same bullet fired from about 20 feet away. The man who is described as a professional escort is killed, the woman Laila Robbins is wounded.

The investigation by Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt leads to Matt Keeslar who is the young husband of another society grande dame Penny Fuller.

I won't say any more other than information develops that puts none pf the principals in a decent light. I'm in agreement with Angie Harmon when she says let it all go before a jury and see who nauseates them the least.

They all may get justice, but not necessarily in New York County.

Law And Order regulars take a back seat to the trio of guest stars.
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Law & Order: Scrambled (1998)
Season 9, Episode 6
6/10
The wisdom of Solomon
10 June 2019
The murder in this episode of Law And Order concerns that of an employee at a fertility clinic. There was a break-in and stored embryos were destroyed.

The embryos targeted although there was collateral destruction to others were that of Lisa Eichhorn former wife of a deceased man who had married Jean Louise Kelly. The embryos of the ex-wife are according to the husband's will the property of the new wife.

Not a situation that the wife 1 likes so her personal chauffeur who is an ex-cop does the break-in and kills the employee. More collateral destruction.

The civil aspects as to owns the embryos would stump Solomon, but the fact is there is a homicide involved and that brings in law enforcement.

Lennie Briscoe and Rey Curtis get a bit testy on this one. Benjamin Bratt could be so terribly self-righteous never more so than in this episode.
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Summer Playhouse: The Jimmy Durante Show (1964)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
6/10
Looking for a partner
9 June 2019
This half hour teleplay stars Jimmy Durante as an old time song and dance man who is also guardian of his grandson Eddie Hodges. Durante is thinking of bringing the young man into doing a duo act. But his sister Audrey Christie wants young Hodges to go to John McIntire's posh prep school.

The song and dance numbers with Durante and Hodges are nicely staged. But I really liked when Durante is trying out other kids in case Eddie is committed to the prep school. The audition with Barry Gordon is nicely staged.

But Jimmy and Eddie have a nice chemistry between them. It's a thoroughly enjoyable half hour.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Fault (2006)
Season 7, Episode 19
7/10
Total sociopath
9 June 2019
Lou Diamond Phillips makes a guest star appearance in this SVU story and it's the tale of a total sociopath who slaughtered 3 family members and kidnapped two young children for an evening's fun at sadism before killing them. That's his disturbing pattern and the squad is in a race against time.

In the history of the show Phillips might well be the most evil perpetrator the squad ever came up against. Totally amoral he fits at least the concept I have that there are folks in this world who are pure evil. The last half of the show is the squad on the hunt and then it's just Lou and Christopher Meloni.

One not to miss.
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Lethal Orbit (1996 TV Movie)
2/10
Mitchum family project.
8 June 2019
At the time Lethal Orbit was made Robert Mitchum was dealing with the cancer that eventually killed him. If he had been healthy he might have joined in this gobbler of a TV film that involved some of his family.

Chris Mitchum and Jan-Michael Vincent are a pair of militia leaders who are convinced a new NASA spy satellite is spying on them. They've recruited NASA computer technician Bentley Mitchum to join them and screw up the programming. But this will have the effect of stranding three astronauts out in space. One of them is Casper Van Dien married here and in real life to Carrie Mitchum at the time.

That's the plot points what follows next is poorly told and dull. And the ending is just plain off the wall. All I'll say is that Vincent's and Chris Mitchum's plans get screwed nicely by outside interference.

Bob Mitchum who did a few dog films must have shuddered when he saw this one.
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Rawhide: Incident of the Painted Lady (1961)
Season 3, Episode 26
4/10
These three deserve better
8 June 2019
With three good guest stars like David Brian, Marie Windsor, and Ed Nelson I would normally be looking forward to a good film. Too bad that a better story was not found.

Brian has taken the herds of several small ranchers and they in turn lay claim to Gil Favor's herd, a fact that is doesn't please him one bit. But he has a wastrel son in Nelson and Nelson wastes a lot of time over at Windsor's saloon.

Knowing these three it's not quite what you think. But if stricter typecasting rules had been observed it might have been a much better episode.
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5/10
Same old monster mash
8 June 2019
Dressed up with an awesome budget and 3-D which version I saw, Godzilla King Of Monsters is a throwback to those old Japanese monster fests when Godzilla and all his pals were laying waste to most of urban Japan. Godzilla originally a villain monster became a leader to other of these titanic creatures as they battled Ghidrah the hydra head bad guy from outer space.

Ghidrah's back too and he and Godzilla slug it out in of all places Boston with Fenway Park as ground zero.

There's a human cast too, but like in the Japanese films they take second place to the computer graphic generated big guys.

It's big and it's awesome, but doesn't have the same sense of fun as the Japanese created creatures destroying those cardboard sets.
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Road Agent (1952)
6/10
More plot than usual
8 June 2019
In this western Tim Holt and Richard Martin are forced to turn into Robin Hood like outlaws when they see town boss Mauritz Hugo extorts money out of all the ranchers and others with his toll road. But things do get complicated in this film which has a bit more plot to it than the usual Tim Holt westerns.

Two women figure prominently in this film. Noreen Nash plays the cowgirl daughter of one of the extorted ranchers and Dorothy Patrick is a saloon girl and one of Chito's old flames. She's one smart cookie.

One of Hugo henchmen Robert J. Wilkie has an interesting part.. He's fired for incompetence by Hugo and before the film is over Hugo wishes he hadn't done it. You'll have to see the film to find out the what and why.

Tim Holt fans won't be disappointed.
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5/10
Hit and run
6 June 2019
In this New Zealand Christian film produced by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association the players are all Kiwis and not known to American audiences. But the protagonist Joe Manning looks like a young Matt Damon.

He's feeling pretty low, his mom ran away when he was a young kid, his father just committed suicide. He's a promising saxophone player but he kicks away a music scholarship. Later on he and a friend with the friend driving his stepmother's car run down a 12 year old kid and leave the scene.

As this is a Christian film you know how it will go. Not a bad production, but the attitude of the victim's family is a bit much to swallow.
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Law & Order: Damaged (1998)
Season 8, Episode 22
7/10
Can she give consent
6 June 2019
The premise of this show is that Down's Syndrome kids while they are challenged intellectually that has nothing to do with sex drives. Having some among my family and my brother's in-laws I can testify to that in my own experience.

The sister of a mentally retarded girl who is being mainstreamed in the public school system shoots at some teens who return fire and a teacher is hit.

These three boys are real winners taking advantage of a retarded kid, but the issue is can she give consent? Judge Ron McLarty is dubious about the whole case.

Credit goes to Lauren Ambrose for a fine performance as Down's Syndrome teen. She steals the episode.
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The Virginian: Long Ride to Wind River (1966)
Season 4, Episode 18
5/10
A labyrinth to justice
5 June 2019
This episode of The Virginian has James Drury looking for an alibi witness to clear a friend of a murder charge. The witness is mountain man John Cassavetes who has a clan of relations living on a mountain who don't take to outsiders.

Getting Cassavetes back to Medicine Bow will be a chore because Cassavetes ain't willing. It's a tricky and convoluted plot that involves Drury getting robbed by another mountain man Dub Taylor and captured by Indians where a squaw Pilar Seurat falls for Drury. It's a labyrinth to justice.

The story was too complex and involved. The story is stolen by Dub Taylor when he's on the screen.
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3/10
Ray gun for hire
5 June 2019
Somehow I doubt that Casper Van Dien will be doing a sequel of his Saber Raine character. Then again look at how many Sharknado movies were made.

Van Dien's character is an intergalactic gun for hire. At one time a decorated war hero on earth he's an exile now, willing to sell his ray gun and fighting skills to the highest bidder.

His mission here is to rescue a brother and sister heirs to a planetary throne. But things get complicated when it turns out that sister is in league with the" bad guys.

Casper must really miss those glory days of Starship Troopers. This film doesn't come close in any category you care to name.

If you like cheesy sci-fi than this is your movie.
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4/10
Lack of confidence
4 June 2019
After a very promising start Confidence Girl goes haywire as our title character Hillary Brooke develops a conscience from out of nowhere. You wouldn't see this in either The Grifters or The Sting.

Tom Conway formerly The Falcon is her partner in crime. Chutzpah Conway has in abundance as he both plays a private detective and works the cons with her. Has the real cops fooled completely for quite a long time.

They and the film are at its best when they take pawnbroker Walter Kingsford. The film goes wrong when Brooke and Conway do a phony psychic act.

Nice documentary style and Conway is brazen to the end. But it also folds in the latter half.

Falcon fans might like seeing Conway on the other side of the law.
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