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6-12-2014: "Kismet" just released on Blu-ray
6-12-2014: The Blu-ray of this film was released this week and I received mine today and watched it. Please allow me to share something that I just posted at FSM (Film Score Monthly), in a discussion about the Blu-ray release of this film (including thoughts on the Blu-ray of "Fame"):
I received my copy of the "Kismet" Blu-ray today, and almost immediately watched it. First, it's gorgeous, and the audio sounded quite good with my elaborate surround system. But I found myself getting impatient with the movie, and did feel that it hasn't aged well (despite looking gorgeous). Once I finished watching it, I felt a need to see a more contemporary musical, so I put on my Blu-ray of Alan Parker's "Fame," which has hardly aged at all in the 24 years since it was released, and what fun it was! I remember seeing the movie at the Picwood Theater on the west side of L.A. and being so thrilled by it that I returned a few days later with some of my best friends, who also loved it. Watching "Fame" today, I was reminded how wonderful it was, and during the big ("I Sing The Body Electric") musical number at the end, I was bawling my eyes out.
"Fame" looks and sounds wonderful, and, as I wrote, it has hardly aged a bit. Having bought too many Blu-rays (and DVDs!) I'll never watch more than once, "Fame" is an exception!
For fans of this version of "Kismet" (it was filmed before with Ronald Coleman), you're going to love the Blu-ray, which is quite crisp and sounds wonderful. But, for me, I just don't feel that it has aged well.
Please forgive my writing less about "Kismet" than the other movie!
A surprisingly good, character-driven, action movie
We're used to Jason Statham as the bad guy, but he's been taking on more sympathetic roles and while he remains occasionally stoic in his performances, there's usually a solid and believable foundation. And that seems to permeate his performance in this film. I want to make clear that I'm not a big action movie fan, but this film is so character-driven that, for me at least, it makes up for much of the violence. We see genuine growth in several of the characters, with some of it positive and, especially in the case of James Franco, some of it quite negative. Frankly, I felt that Jason Statham comes of age as a sympathetic good guy in this film and I hope to see what he does next. Incidentally, I want to applaud director Gary Fleder, who kept the actors grounded in reality and I never felt that any of the actors were just sleepwalking through their roles. Indeed, though his part is fairly small, James Franco does a very good job as a small time drug supplier who tries to seize an opportunity to expand his business. At first he comes across as sensible as he observes his sister's increasing problems with drugs, but then morphs into a very bad guy himself, and I love the way that director Fleder lingers on Franco's face as he watches his world collapsing right in front of him. And I'd also like to single out Mark Isham's very atmospheric music (mixed with a lot of appropriately noisy rock cues), and what we would call the "love theme," heard best near the end, is gorgeous. This film is unexpectedly satisfying, and, after it was over, I went back to re-watch a few crucial scenes. Did I mention that Sylvester Stallone is the lead writer of the screenplay (along with Chuck Logan, on whose novel it was based)?
"Herblock: The Black & the White" is fantastic!!!
I simply loved this and would like to make comment on the following from another otherwise excellent reviewer:
"Herblock - The Black & The White may be a little too long for its own good. At ninety-five minutes, I am saying the exact opposite of what I usually say about documentaries and that this one would've worked better as a fifty-minute exercise. After a while, it feels we're running a track in circles and arriving at the same point even though we began on a different one. However, this is still a strong piece of documentary cinema that again profiles a person many of us may need to do more research on. Start searching."
I totally disagree with that point, although I was probably lucky in that, because of scheduling, I watched about half of it one night and, a few days later, the other half, so I didn't have that problem and felt that it was ALL wonderful. And it has such relevance to what's happening today in New Jersey and elsewhere. I kept thinking how Herb would have been thrilled to have been able to make his incisive comments on what's happening there and the recent chilling revelations. We need more Herb Blocks (and Paul Conrads!) today.
And Alan Mandell is simply wonderful in his depiction of Herbert Block. I just love this and recommend it unreservedly.
Don't know why this movie didn't make it
I have now watched this movie 3 times, and each time have liked it more than I did the first time, and even then I still enjoyed it a lot. I look at the litany of trash on the screen that DOES make a profit and am dismayed that this one was so unsuccessful. First, it's a GORGEOUS movie, and it definitely has a beating heart. I found the acting quite good, the story involving, and was quite moved more than once. And the technical staff was amazing! I suspect that it will do well on home video and cable and that one day we'll look back on it and wonder why in the world it did so poorly in its initial run. I applaud director Kosinsky and his fine team of actors and the legion of other professionals involved in bringing this to the screen. I REALLY enjoyed this movie!
31Jan14: Months later and I've watched it at least once more from my Blu-ray plus find it almost impossible to NOT watch it when I stumble across it on HBO, and I continue to find it absorbing and I STILL can't watch the end of it without crying! I find it embarrassing to write this, but I think I love this movie.
Saturday Night Live (1975)
How did "Saturday Night Live" ever become so UNfunny?
I was a huge "SNL" fan back in the days of Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner and many other memorable stars. But every time I've tried to watch it in the past more than ten years I've been very disappointed and sometimes even disgusted with it. Ten years ago I believed the show couldn't possibly survive, since it had become so utterly bereft of the sort of humor I could understand, and yet it kept plugging along, which I've always found dismaying, wondering how in the world anyone could possibly find its lame humor at all funny. Whenever I've tuned in over the past decade I've never once been glad that I did. Indeed, I've always been annoyed at myself for staying up and wasting my time. For me, the absolute low point came several years ago when a popular young male actor I liked a lot was the guest host. At one point that night he played a big star, perhaps himself, and in the skit, the character "Mongo," I think, played by Chris Kattan, again I think, ended up in the backseat of a car with him. What followed was Mongo being forced up and down and up and down on the actor's lap, with him screaming hysterically as he was presumably sodomized. The audience was laughing their heads off and I'm shaking my head, amazed that they could find that remotely funny, amazed that NBC would even broadcast such a thing. In the years since then I've repeatedly tried to approach the show with an open mind, hoping that it might regain the sly sense of humor I adored for so many years. But, up until just a week ago, for me, it hasn't done so. Not even close. One exception: During the 2008 presidential campaign, I thought that Tina Fey was fantastic, and she was the one performer who kept me tuning in. But those Sarah Palin skits, while hysterical, were still not enough to save the rest of the 90 minutes and I would always regret not turning it off as soon as I heard the familiar "It's 'Saturday Night!!!'"
Inspiration for "Swim Fan"
I was startled that this film has been ripped so mercilessly apart here, because I've always found it quite engaging. Years after it was released another filmmaker liked it enough to put huge chunks of it in "Swim Fan," which doesn't hold a candle to this original. I found Molly Ringwald quite chilling and felt that Patrick McGaw, playing a true innocent, broke my heart. Indeed, I think that McGaw almost singlehandedly SAVES this movie, because at least SOME of us care about him and the mess he ends up in after having hot (but oh so foolish) sex in Ringwald's car with her. Alas, she's a master manipulator and knows precisely which buttons to press to get what she wants, and later when McGaw's character suddenly gets a spine and begins to fight back, it becomes a race to see if he and his sweet girlfriend will survive Ringwald's lethal lunacy. I jumped at the chance to replace my VHS copy of this with the DVD and have never regretted it.