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True to life
23 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film soon after it came out back in the 1990s. I had never seen a Bergman film, and it was by fate that I saw this one, the result of a hastily made decision to see another film when the one we had intended to see was sold out at the Innwood in Dallas Texas. I don't even recall what we had gone to see. Once inside, we found out it had subtitles, much to my consternation. Little did I know that I was going to possess one of my favorite films of all time.

Some have suggested that the title Best Intentions automatically implies that there will be disappointment. I couldn't disagree more. Perhaps it is because I grew up hearing this phrase 'good intentions' all of my life, indicative of some failures but not wholly lost or irredeemable. For this film, I entered with no prejudice, not knowing anything about it or its writer/director.

It is the story of two lovers in northern Sweden in the early 1900s. Henrik Bergman, a poor theology student who was befriended by Ernst Akerblom, was invited to dinner with the large family of Akerbloms. He is late and almost, but for the insistence of Anna, turns around to leave in embarrassment. She encouraged him to come in and he reluctantly obeys. Anna introduces him to the family one by one and he is seated to table for dinner. His discomfort is apparent as he, at first, began to tuck his napkin into his shirt collar, but notices everyone else keeping theirs in their laps. The family engages him in polite conversation, being quite welcoming in all. This is the first meeting of Anna Akerblom and Henrik Bergman, who would find love together.

Best intentions proliferate in the saga: Henrik is conflicted about his obligation to Frida. Anna's mother, Karin, dislikes Henrick and tries to prevent her daughter from pursuing this love. bAnna becomes ill with tuberculosis and goes to a sanitorium, but she never forgets Henrik. When she recovers Anna's mother takes her on a trip to Italy, thinking that she will forget Henrik. She even intercepts, reads and disposes of a letter Anna writes to Henrik, against her husband's advice. After weeks of being away, Anna longs for home, and for Henrik. A telegram arrives and announces to Karin, that her husband, Johan, Anna's father has died. In her grief Karin reveals to her daughter that she had taken the letter to Henrik and burned it and begs her forgiveness. Yet we know that she had good intentions for her daughter, even though she had hurt her deeply.

During the separation of Henrik and Anna, he becomes depressed misses Anna. Frida, proves a rare wise woman, knowing that Henrik loves Anna and will never be happy without her, meets secretly with Anna to implore her to rescue Ernst by taking him back.

Finally, the lovers, together again, visit the small parish that Henrik is being called to serve as minister. Anna is not deterred when she sees the state of quarters this church offers as the parsonage, in disrepair and inadequate. Together, she and Henrik visit the abandoned looking chapel where Henrik will preach, when it suddenly occurs to him that they could be married here, instead of the big wedding Anna had already planned. Anna objects, almost insulted that her fiancee would suggest such a thing and their worst argument ever ensues. They both say terrible things they quickly regret. Henrik realizes his error, and agrees once more to the wedding Anna had planned.

The remainder of the film continues to support the title. I highly recommend this film!
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Versailles (2015– )
The Music
9 March 2018
I am amazed by this series and so glad I found it on Netflix. I verified that Louis' brother Phillipe was openly gay. The men in this series are as pretty as the women! I am quite puzzled by the scoring however. It has an ethereal quality, almost as if it were a film of mystery, intrigue or horror. I am just on episode four of the series, and I will certainly continue watching, but I wondered if anyone else finds the score a bit misplaced.
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Last Tango in Halifax (2012–2016)
The plot doesn't thicken
12 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I've never seen a program with such frequent and sudden plot changes! The acting is most excellent however, I must say! Even in the very first episode, the actors seemed they had been playing the roles for years almost. Am I the only one who notices the sudden plot developments? I really would prefer to be able to savor the characters more if it slowed down just a few kilometers per hour. The players are most excellent and, even at the break-neck speed the plots are going, the characters are very believable, even likable. I suppose the pace has been set and will be maintained in this series. The one obvious theme in all this is that no one is to be trusted with any new information for more than five minutes. It does seem to be driving the plot along, however. I will keep watching this series as long as it is offered. The writers will be constantly challenged to keep this pace I do believe.
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Too Close for Comfort (1980–1987)
Local network DFW has nerve to air this again!
24 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I am not certain what sort of executive decision-making led to airing the poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly directed "comedy", Too Close for Comfort again in the DFW market in April of 2014. Obviously, it is the same sort of decision process that led them to include the equally bad, Three's Company to the lineup, but that is an entirely separate review. When I looked it up on this site, I found, in near disbelief, that it ran for about six seasons! To begin with, the premise of the show is weak. The "crisis" of two daughters moving away from home by renting the upstairs of the family home does not serve the show well. The two daughters, Jackie and Sarah Rush, played by Deborah Van Valkenburgh and Lydia Cornell, were apparently such weak characters on the show, they brought in a third girl in an attempt to liven up the girls lives. Their cousin, April, was played by Deena Freeman. Her character, with a high pitched whiny voice, added little to the interest of the program, although she added a bit of contrast to the blandness of her two girl cousins. But her attempts at overacting just add to the list of criticisms I have for the show. It seems the three girls were in training to be actors trying to get by on good looks! It was Ted Knight's departure from his previous roles, but it is uncomfortable watching him strain to refrain from falling into the Ted Baxter character in the Mary Tyler Moore show. I do think his effort to keep working is admirable considering he suffered for many years from cancer, from which eventually he died. His wife in the show, Muriel Rush was played by Nancy Dussault. I suppose her character was the stabilizing feature of this comedy gone wrong, in that she provided the voice of reason amid all the hysteria provided by the other characters. Monroe, played by the handsome Jim J Bullock, was a sort of "comic" relief character...on this purported comedy! He was a relief in that he distracted from the other shortcomings of Too Close For Comfort. Perhaps in the early 1980s, producers, directors and executives were straining to find new territory for the situation comedy, after the hugely successful years of the 1970s, with all of Norman Lear's comedies. This cast may have been mere "victims" of this search for new direction and new blood, so to speak. This viewer finds the entire series a miserable failure.
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Gay Cop
19 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Now that this series is being rerun in my local area for the first time, as far as I am aware, I have had opportunity to watch this "edgy-for-1970s series" perhaps for the first time. I don't recall watching the series on its first run, at least not as a devoted watcher. This episode in 1977 is an example of one that may not have aired in the local market for the outrage it may have brought the local station. The actor Barry Primus played the role very low key and calmly. It was a great performance in that it portrayed a guy in a suit who seemed just like everyone else, but kept it secret from his partner that he was gay. It is for a better TV historian than me to say if this is the best first example of modeling the type of behavior and reactions desired by the gay population. It parallels the same type of modeling that occurred in earlier television concerning racial discrimination. It's amazing that the subject was treated so even handedly in 1977 when later shows and movies depicted far more extreme emotion and reactions where gays were the subject. It would be interesting to know if this program actually aired in the Dallas Fort Worth market during its prime time scheduled spot. The gay-themed movie with Martin Sheen, That Certain Summer, did air in this market a few years earlier, but it ran in the wee hours, perhaps 2a.m. This episode of Streets of San Francisco is pretty amazing considering the year. The way it was handled actually makes it a timeless piece of drama, whether one agrees or disagrees with being gay.
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Ed vs. Spencer (2004–2005)
Reality TV at its worst AND best!
27 October 2006
Was I the only one viewing this kooky show? I absolutely adored these two guys! I discovered it channel surfing. The ideas that someone came up with for these guys to do were as entertaining as any episode of Jackass, which I also like. Was it my hopeful imagination, or was the sexual tension between these two palpable? It would almost seem that they were lovers or at least in love with each other without realizing it. They definitely wanted to play to a gay audience when one of their "humiliations" was to have a real tongue thrashing kiss that lasted more than a few seconds. Each of these guys is sexy in his own way. Even if it was a bit lopsided in that Ed was always the perpetrator of misdeeds toward Spencer, it was delightful because it revealed that Ed was deliciously evil, whilst Spenny was the ever-forbearing subject of Ed's delight. This difference in personality also contributed to the sexual tension between these two. Yet, the overarching theme of the show was the typical competitive nature of the male ego. Regardless of one's view of the sexual nature of the show, it was suspenseful and entertaining to see what would happen next, and both of them being attractive in different ways made the show delightful. An additional ironic twist is that Ed being the fairer haired, and Spenny being the dark haired, the "dark" role is assigned to Ed, whilst the kinder role is born by Spencer. I would love to see this show continued, but apparently it has reached its conclusion. I will happily search for these two boys in any other roles in which they may appear!
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23 September 2006
Since I saw only the first episode, I limit my comments to this one. The concept of the show or the premise is something that I thought deserving of the attention it could bring to modern day Christianity. However, for a first episode, I felt the writers failed miserably. Those of us who were raised attending church, at least in the South, might assume that troubled children of preachers or ministers are expected. Somehow the pressures of being the children of one who is considered above reproach, superior in spiritual ways, manifests itself as rebellion. It was common as I was growing up to refer to these kids as "PK's" or preacher's kids. The Book of Daniel portrayed in the very first episode this stereotype to the extreme. It would have benefited greatly by developing the characters over several episodes instead of splashing the evils of the PK's into our living-rooms. Reality is, yes, preacher's kids are involved in drugs, sexual activity, some are gay. And moms of these kids may cope by drinking or using prescription medications. Perhaps there was some reasoning for all the flaws of the family to be exposed on the very first show. It would have been much more realistic to have the kids be more secretive about their lives, and to reveal their characters as the parents became more aware the issues with their kids over time. A process of discovery, an unfolding, instead of a splat.

I love Aidan Quinn and his acting was superb. Again, the writing was to blame I think. His character as a minister approached these shocking behaviors with casual familiarity. Any parent, minister or not, should exhibit more concern than Quinn's character was allowed.

The network cheated itself of the opportunity to use this great cast just by splattering the entire episode with extremes. I am certain that taking the time for character development would have intrigued the viewers, and would have enticed me to be a devoted fan of the show. NBC blew it, and they won't get a second chance at a show with this subject matter, which could have opened many doors of communication about faith and worldly issues.
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Grey's Anatomy (2005– )
Last Episode Calls 'genre' of GA into Question
30 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have been watching faithfully this new series just out of curiosity at first, then out of a sort of devotion even. It really jumped out at me though on the last episode to question exactly what sort of category this program fits into. I felt mostly all along that it fit into the drama/comedy category, but a few things along the way and especially the season finale made me wonder if the show is not intended as a "farce" or "spoof" or at least leaning that direction in its comedic aspects. Consider all the professional lines the characters cross in every episode--easily several times each episode. Examples are obvious, such as talking about their personal business when patients are being treated (fully conscious patients too!); or the constant sexual involvements besides Meredith's and Dr. McDreamy. But the final episode bordered on hilarity with the conclusion of the interns being put on time-out, lined up in the hall like so many school children, and being put to task planning a PROM of all things, like any hospital could ever have time for THAT! The patient whose doctor had pledged to marry him but missed being at his death bed while trying on different prom dresses, and who ultimately lays in bed beside him after he died, was SO over the top, and so FAR across every boundary, I had to conclude that I was supposed to be laughing at this. In fact I did. My mother and sister, however, fell for it all and boo-hooed. I would be curious to know if anyone else thought the final episode was meant to be funny, or was I just in some strange state of mind? sawznhamrs@sbcglobal dot net to me! Dave
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Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995)
Origin of Pat Routledge's portrayal
1 April 2006
Today I woke early and caught a section of the Bette Davis movie, Watch on the Rhine made in 1943. The segment I watched did not even have Bette Davis but what struck me profoundly and immediately was the character named Fanny Farrelly played by Lucille Watson (born 27 May 1879 Québec, Canada - died 24 June 1962, New York). I don't recall ever seeing her before in any film, but, in this one, it was apparent that her portrayal of Fanny was the inspiration Patricia Routledge took for the character Hyacinth. The behavior and expressions were so similar, I first thought that it must be Patricia in this role, but I knew that it was made in 1943, so it was impossible for it to be her. I would love to see the entire movie, but, will have to wait to find it on again. Anyone who is a fan of Keep Up Appearances would get a kick out of seeing this film just to see this woman! The only difference was that Fanny had no obsession with how things "appeared" to other people. But the facial expressions and even the voice are astonishingly similar to Patricia's portrayal of Hyacinth. I would love to know if anyone else has ever seen this film. Also would love to find out from Pat herself if this film inspired her, but don't know any way of contacting her.
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I Like Mike (2004)
I LOVE "I Like Mike" !
21 November 2005
The other commentator has NO sense of humor. This short film is ADORABLE as it reveals gay guys being just like any other guys who play ball, chew tobacco, and horse around. It captures the camaraderie of team membership, the great American pass-time, baseball, in a wholesome harmless atmosphere. The absence of anything overtly sexual brings home the point that homosexual orientation is only a PART of life in being GAY. Every person would benefit from seeing this film short by being forced to consider being GAY is not all about naked male sexual activity! Jay Spears is a genius in capturing the spirit of this REALITY, whether anyone likes the reality or not! I would buy this "short" to have in my collection to enjoy again and again.
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Conrack (1974)
Never knew I needed this film
30 October 2005
This film had me spellbound this evening. Thanks to Fox Movie Classics for showing it uninterrupted. John Voight, this cast of little known black actresses and most of all, the children, made this a worthy way to spend a Sunday evening. How wonderful to see the early work of this seasoned actor, as well as Paul Winfield's excellent portrayal of Mad Billy. I can't see why anyone would say that Hume Cronyn is miscast in the role as superintendent. Who would they have chosen? The shrill character actor, Charles Lane? Although his career is laudable, an actor such as Lane would have cheapened the role. Cronyn was an excellent choice for the part. I will count this film as a true treasure to hold in memory.
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