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One of the funniest sitcom episodes I've ever seen
Thank heavens for IMDb. I have been trying for 43 years to remember the details of this episode, and IMDb has found it. This was really a great series. It was not one of those "message" shows like "Julia" or "Room 222". It was often hilarious, sometimes poignant, but never boring.
I watched a lot of TV in the 1960s/70s (there wasn't much else to do then when you were 10 years old), and I never remember laughing as hard as I did with this episode. I don't remember a lot of the plot details, but I particularly remember Chet laying awake ranting while his brother was making some kind of noise snoring, I think). Hilarious! Now I'm off to see if I can find it on YouTube...
56 Up (2012)
Fascinating, poignant, frightening
56 Up - hard to believe. I've watched 3 or 4 of these over my 53 years, and each one becomes harder for me to watch as I get older. I was suddenly a little scared when the titles for this one started; I almost walked out of the theater. What has become of this group of kids that director Apted has been following since he was 22 years old? What new tragedies had befallen them? Whatever became of the homeless guy? Would any of them finally blow up at Apted on-camera?
Probably the most unnerving thing for me was that the film would just be unbearably poignant. It seems almost god-like to be able to see how a group of 14 people's lives have progressed over a 49-year period. (Yet, as one of the men complains, viewers can't possibly know these people, even though many in Britain presume to (since this was shown on TV there, many British people have watched all 8 films).
Fortunately, however, the film isn't overly sentimental or maudlin. Still, the film is very touching and can't help but make you think about your own life and trials, what advantages you may or may not have had compared to these people, and how you would have fared given their circumstances.
One of the sadder aspects of these films is to see how life seems to have "beaten down" so many of these people. Some of the kids with bright, shiny eyes who seemed to have so much energy and hope now seem to be dejected and defeated adults. Yet this isn't true for all of them - some of the reserved, quiet kids turned out to be reserved, quiet adults. And it's not all sad - there are some good laughs and some inspiring successes. And two subjects who had dropped out returned for this segment - one to promote his band!
There are plenty of clips from earlier segments, so you don't need to rent any of the earlier ones, but I'd recommend it. You get a more profound sense of the flow of their lives by seeing at least one other one. But whatever you do, see this one.
The Tree of Life (2011)
I really wanted to love this - I really did.
There is much in this film that is beautiful, but as a two-hour-plus experience, it's like watching a beautiful painting dry. I loved all of Malick's previous films and wanted to love this one, but it was one of the most boring, pretentious films I've ever seen. As it dragged on, I prayed ever more fervently that it would get better, but...
Most of the first third of the film consists of random images, some lifted almost directly from "2001". Picture the Stargate sequence, only with no thematic context or introduction. This just drags on and on and on, with audible sighs of frustration from the small audience and several people walking out. I was begging Malick to make this end.
The rest of the film is slightly more interesting, but Malick never connects the "real world" events effectively with the metaphysical junk that precedes them. When I read in the Trivia section that an Italian cinema mixed up the first two reels for a week and no one noticed, I had to laugh. There is no structure of any kind. This mad it impossible to relate to any of the characters, adding to the waste of time.
Just awful - recommendation is to stay home and rent Badlands or Days of Heaven.
Forgotten Babies (1933)
Absolute classic short
The greatest Our Gang short ever. 4 year old Spanky gets stuck babysitting with 6 toddlers - need I say more? It's nothing short of miraculous how Robert McGowan was able to get this on film. Included are scenes like a two-year-old standing on a table between two teetering towers of china, putting a china cup on one, watching it fall, then saying "Remarkable" on cue as the other one falls. This all in one take without any special effects or trick photography. Or how about Spanky's near-perfect retelling of a Tarzan movie, with one baby's random reaction of falling head-first off a chair and getting up unfazed. You couldn't film this today even if you had McGowan's genius. Remarkable!!
Sweet, but a 10?
This is a sweet, small film, but there is no way it deserves the number of 10s it has received. A 10 should go to a film that, if it's trying to tell a story, has at least a semi-credible storyline. A 10 should go to a film that still tugs your heart a little after you leave the theater. To be invested in the characters in this kind of film, you at least need to be able to believe in them.
I began rolling my eyes about halfway through. Jose (I want to call him Jesus since that's obviously whom he's supposed to resemble) has a beard that almost completely obscures any facial expression. All his friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. treat him like the life of the party. Yet he practically never smiles, and even though we discover why that might be, it doesn't seem in character for him. The decisions he and others make are also out of character and, worse, unexplained (particularly his decision to adopt the girl at the end).
Also, this film is full of theatrical speeches that are unimaginable in real life. More eye-rollers.
Now I read on this page that the producers urged people to write positive reviews to help this "pro-life"/anti-abortion film. Hence all the 10s. It's well and good to support a film you like, but it doesn't deserve a 10 just for the message.
Wait for the DVD on this one.
Quasi at the Quackadero (1976)
Wonderful, psychedelic short film about a lazy guy (Quasi) who fritters his time away at the Quackadero, which is a kind of crazy carnival. I last saw it in Cambridge at a little place called Off the Wall that showed really obscure short films. As I remember it, the animation is reminiscent of The Simpsons or Jonathan Katz - sort of shaky lines. The film was very atmospheric and kind of took you back to the early 70s. One of the funnier "exhibits" was the Past Lives Pavilion, where people could go to relive things that supposedly happened to them in earlier lives. I remember one poor guy with his wife watching himself in some kinky hotel room or something and saying at the end, "That never happened to me!" And yes, Sally did make several of the Sesame Street cel animated shorts. You can get her other films on a DVD from her website, funonmars.
Still the Beaver (1983)
Not Citizen Kane, but gave me a warm feeling
I grew up with LITB in the 60s, and I always thought it was a great show. I never thought it was supposed to represent some kind of typical American family. In fact, the characters themselves said this more than once; e.g. "A lotta the guys say they wish their Moms and Dads were more like you guys", or something like it.
Anyway, this movie was a very sincere and heartfelt effort, even if it wasn't very funny. All the actors tried hard, and nobody mugged, etc. In fact, they were surprisingly restrained. I was truly moved by the flashback to Ward's funeral, shot from a distance, with Beaver's voice from an early episode praising his dad. I still get choked up just thinking about it!
After Hours (1985)
Most atmospheric NYC movie ever
This one of the most evocative films I've ever seen. Martin Scorsese's love of NY truly shines through here. Just thinking about the film, which I last saw about 10 years ago, gives me a feeling of longing in the pit of my stomach. I've never lived in NYC, but I often thought of moving there in my younger days, and this film really captures the reason why.
Griffin Dunne sort of reminds me of myself in those days. He is a typical young guy, out for a night, sampling the city. It's easy to relate to him, and we really feel for him, worry about him, and laugh at and with him. His performance is superb. Ditto Rosanna Arquette in one of her first major film roles. Even though she's not on screen for long, her performance is so memorable that you feel she was in every scene.
Do yourself a big favor and see this one. You'll never forget it.
Why haven't I heard of him before?
Just saw this on TCM and was very impressed. Apollon was multi talented. He played the mandolin flawlessly. I am a longtime bluegrass fan and don't think I've every heard anybody play that fast without a single mistake. His tap-dancing was pretty fair, too, though we didn't get to see too much of it in this one-reeler.
How do these guys not get noticed, but others with no obvious talent seem to go much further? Judging from this flick, it must have a lot to do with personality. He seems very arrogant, and I assume he was as he did not seem like much of an actor.
Thanks to Ted Turner for unearthing this and so many other interesting if not classic pictures. I can almost forgive you for the whole colorization thing.