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This film should be restored
5 March 2019
This was Fox Studios' lowest-grossing film of its year (Fox merged with 20th Century only months later) and I can see why. It's not bad; it's just not all that good. This might explain why it hasn't been restored. At minimum, a cleaning of the monophonic soundtrack, especially in the crowd scenes, and the addition of subtitles, would certainly improve it.

This film was based on a very successful Broadway musical which ran for nearly 350 performances, but even the score by Kern & Hammerstein couldn't save the film. Its hit song, "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star," is still recognizable today.

I can't blame the actors, even though the ensemble might have been better-cast. Only one lead actor, Al Shean as Dr. Walter Lessing, was carried over from the play to the film, and one minor (non-speaking in the film), Marjorie Main as Frieda's maid, Anna. All were very good in their roles, but they didn't all "click" together, so I have nobody to blame but the script adapters and/or the directors, both main and casting (whoever the latter may have been).

This was one of nine John Boles films made that year. (Wow!) Gloria Swanson was a silent film star, but not one of several who failed the transition into sound films. As evidenced by her performance here, she not only spoke well, but she also had a fine singing voice. Nevertheless, after about a half dozen sound films, this was her last film for seven more years, and then another nine before her classic, "Sunset Boulevard," which earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress. "Sunset Boulevard" also earned her her third Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but she lost out on all three to others.
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Street Angel (1928)
This is a most intriguing film.
2 February 2019
Starring Janet Gaynor, once known as "the World's Sweetheart" (and a sweetheart she was - it's easy to see why audiences loved her), this is one of eleven (some say 12 - I didn't take time to check) films in which she was teamed with Charles Farrell, a matinée idol of the late 1920s and early 1930s. I first encountered him in my youth as Gale Storm's gray-haired widower dad in the television series, My Little Margie (1952). When I later saw him in one of his early movies, I couldn't believe it was the same guy.

Besides its attractive stars, for me there were two other stars of this film. 1. The deep focus photography. 2. The irregular, expansive sets, reminiscent of those I've seen in several films from the German Expressionist era. No shooting location is given, so presumably they were constructed in a Hollywood studio. ("On a Hollywood sound stage" would not be the proper phrase to use here, would it?)

There are a few parts of this film I could question, but why bother? This film is good enough for them to be overlooked. One thing I will say, though, is that along with the Neapolitan /poliziotto/, I was growing impatient during the drawn-out (but temporary) farewell scene. As one who's been lovestruck a few times in my life, however, I could easily empathize with Gino's (Farrell's character's) amatory behavior. Indeed, the title cards during that scene read like opera surtitles.
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Dear Secret Santa (2013 TV Movie)
Who copied whom?
8 January 2017
Much has been made in previous reviews (from 5 users and 1 critic) of this film being a rip-off or a sequel of "The Lake House" (2006) (which I haven't seen).

If that's the case, I would submit then so is "The Edge of the Garden," a TV Movie from 2011.

On the other hand, however, I would further suggest that "The Lake House" and the others could all be copies of sorts of "The Love Letter," a TV movie from 1998, or who knows what before that?

In any event, I liked it, especially that it employed several actors who are familiar to me.
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The Grim Game (1919)
Restored film — two scores
24 October 2015
With financing from TCM, the only known print of Houdini's first film was restored to near-perfect condition (except for some deterioration damage toward the end) and found its television premiere on TCM on Sunday, October 18, 2015. A recap of the finding and restoring of the film can be found in ellebrennan's review here of October 20.

Although Brennan's recap (excerpted from Houdini.org) credits renowned composer Brane Živković with having created a new score for the restoration, what neither hers nor any other review here to date of the restored film mentions is that TCM showed the film twice that night, first with Živković's score, then again later with a more traditional silent film score by Steve Sterner.

Unfortunately, I missed what host Robert Osborne may or may not have said about the Sterner score, but in my estimation, although less innovative, it may in some way be preferable.

Živković's score is thematically more operatic in that characters have their own themes assigned to them. Since Houdini (and his character) is on the screen so much throughout the film, his theme eventually becomes monotonous. Variations of his theme would be highly appreciated.

Sterner's score, being more traditional as silent film scores go, does not vary with the characters, per se, but if with anything, the action.

Let the discussion begin.
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Varda's first film launches the French New Wave
6 January 2014
La Pointe Courte is a small jut of land on the east side of Le Canal de Sète, which connects L'Étang de Thau to the Mediterranean Sea. In the mid-1950s, it harbored a small fishing village (perhaps it still does, for all I know) which provides the setting for this film. Written and directed by 26-year old Agnès (née Arlette) Varda, this, her first and perhaps her best film, is credited by some film critics and historians as the first in the French New Wave.

A young (24) Philippe Noiret plays a native of the village who returns from Paris after many years for a short vacation. Heretofore, I was familiar with Noiret only with some of his much later films. Silvia Monfort, with whom I was previously unfamiliar, and who had one of the most unusual faces I've seen on film, plays the disillusioned Parisian wife who joins him five days later to discuss their marriage.

What's interesting about this film are its two intertwining parts. One part, shot in a familiar narrative style, concerns the everyday life and concerns of the villagers. The other part depicts the conversations of the couple in an artistic style full of fascinating images and interesting camera angles, a style which takes full advantage of Varda's photographer's eye. (Varda used three different cinematographers on this shoot, but I don't know which of them photographed which scenes.)

Varda chose the location for the film after a visit there for an assignment as a still photographer. What I liked best about the part involving just the couple were the slow pans of the environments, almost as if Varda were trying to capture the characters' surroundings in a series of stills. On the other hand, I found somewhat disturbing the obtrusive soundtrack of a clarinet, which went counter to the notion that a soundtrack is supposed to enhance the mood of the scene, not play against it as I found this to do. Perhaps that is part of what accounts for this being credited as a New Wave film.
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Star Spangled Banners (2013 TV Movie)
A musical 4th
7 July 2013
In typical Hallmark movie fashion, there's conflict followed by redemption. Here, Mayor Mom (Mercedes Ruehl) pulls a fast one in an attempt to prevail upon her children, a former music trio known as the Banner Project, but now estranged for a decade, to save their hometown, along with the family's relationships.

Christian Campbell is given top billing, but Brooke White, insofar as one can discover, is the only professional musician in the group, having been a fifth place finalist on American Idol, now with several albums under her belt.

I enjoyed the music enough that I bumped my rating of the move up one notch, and even bought the 4-track soundtrack EP (released under the U.S. title for the movie, "Banner 4th of July".)
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Barnstorming (2009)
A wonderful, heartwarming family documentary
23 March 2013
This is a family film in more ways than one.

The Dirksens are dairy farmers in Indiana. Dairy farming is a family affair, a year-round, never-a-day-off occupation. Dairy farmers get no vacation.

Imagine if one day you found a couple small airplanes had landed in your alfalfa field. Alfalfa is a cash crop in the sense that it's feed for your dairy cattle, and alfalfa doesn't abide traffic. Two pilots, Andrew King and Frank Pavliga, who like to perpetuate the barnstorming tradition, and who landed merely to take photographs, might have had reason to be apprehensive when they spied the farmer's pick-up coming toward them.

But Farmer Dirksen was not upset. He, and the two young sons with him, were intrigued by the airplanes. The barnstormers relaxed. They gave the boys rides. It turned into an annual affair, and the barnstormers became like family to the Dirksens.

As the family grew, so did the annual air show. By the time this documentary was made, nine years later, antique cars were added, with food and entertainment; and the event became a town picnic with a crowd in the hundreds...and still on the Dirksen farm.

For the children, the anticipation of airplanes landing in your field once each summer to put on a show and give you rides just might be bigger than anticipating Santa Claus.

Americana survives!
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A Halloween Treat
26 December 2012
The Secret of Crickley Hall

This ghost story from beyond the pond toggles regularly and frequently, without notice, across the pale between Then and Now. (Mixed idioms are intentional.)

Then is at a private orphanage in 1943 Devon, at a time when children were bused from London to escape The Blitz. Primeval's Douglas Henshall plays the evil headmaster.

We start out, however, in the Now. Mother ("Eve Caleigh", played by Suranne Jones) and her five-year old Son have a special, even psychic, connection. Son disappears from the playground when Mother falls momentarily asleep. Mother is disconsolate for months thereafter.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of Son's disappearance, Father ("Gabe Caleigh", played by Tom Ellis) gets a job out west (in the aforementioned Devon of the novel), and the family takes the opportunity to move, in hopes of escaping the sad memories at home. The house they choose is the now-abandoned orphanage of Then; and Now, of course, it's haunted…by ghosts of children and staff who died in a long-ago "flood".

(The couple have two other children, both girls, one preschool; and the school bus which collects the older one for classes is labeled, "Manchester", per the location of filming.)

Once ensconced in the haunted house, Mother finds and reassembles a screw-driven toy top – like one I had as a child, but mine was less fancy than the one used here – and she uses it to reconnect psychically with her lost son, believing him to be still alive. From here, she employs extraordinary means to find him, beset all the while by Henshall's haunting.

This U.K. miniseries is an enjoyable Halloween treat, and I was happy to be able to watch the entire thing as a three-hour TV movie on BBC America the day before its scheduled U.K. broadcast.

(Note: This review is dated October 29 in my files, indicating the original scheduled airing in the U.K. It was not yet available for voting on IMDb then, hence my tardiness in submitting this review. December dates on previous reviews suggest that the U.K. presentation may have been delayed a month beyond the original scheduling.)
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The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009 TV Movie)
Oy, vey! Another talking dog movie!
20 December 2012
Oy, vey! Another talking dog movie!

At least, except for the scenes in the pound, there's only one of them.

Lana, as barkless K-9 certified Zeus, has to be one of the most docile dogs in the business. Her main talents seem to be the ability to open unlocked doors (while the family is away) and to stick her head under a closed toilet lid to drink from the commode.

On the plus side, the human stars include one of my favorite TV-movie actors, Elisa Donovan, married here to Kevin James' look-alike and "King of Queens" brother, Gary Valentine. TV's Superman, Dean Cain, plays the head crook, while forever-sexy Adrienne Barbeau is the neighbor lady with, OMG, a talking cat!

Oh, and have I mentioned the talking mice?
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All About Christmas Eve (2012 TV Movie)
All About Aiden & Eve
16 December 2012
The two previous reviewers have already pointed out features I would have mentioned:

• The "Sliding Doors" plot parallel

• Diana DeGarmo appearing as herself, singing "Cantique de Noël" in English (i.e., "O Holy Night")

In addition, I would note that this is Chris Carmack's second appearance this season as the leading man in a Christmas movie, along with "A Christmas Wedding Date". So far, this is the more highly-rated of the two (and rightfully so, in my opinion). Previously, I'd seen him only as "the other guy," or in some other minor role.

Finally, here are some things you might not have seen if this had been a Hallmark movie:

• The cheating boyfriend in bed with another woman

• Two drag queen barflies (also mentioned previously)

• Haylie Duff's cleavage (I don't remember that from 7th Heaven!)

In short, here's a different bit of fun from the "typical" Christmas tale.

Note: Carmack's character's name is spelled Aidan in the IMDb credits, but that came up with a spelling alert when I typed it, so in my summary, I used the "corrected" form, Aiden, since I never saw the spelling on the screen. Eve's full name, however, appears both spoken and in print in the film; her fist name is Evelyn, but unfortunately, I can't remember the surnames of either lead character.
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Naughty or Nice (2012 TV Movie)
My Christmas movie recommendation for 2012
1 December 2012
Even though I judge TV movies on a more lenient scale than theatrical movies, I don't know how IMDb gets a weighted average of only 5.9 for this when the arithmetic mean = 7.8, and the median = 8 (after 88 viewer votes). Whatever! This was my most-anticipated, and the best Christmas movie I expect to see, this season.

Why was this my most-anticipated movie of the season? Simply because it stars one of my favorite actors, Hilarie Burton (okay, I'll admit it: I think she's hot — she's not only a good actor and nice to look at, but she also has attitude, self-confidence, and a sparkle in her eye), as Krissy Kringle (of Candy Cane Lane, no less…don't worry, it's explained in the movie). And, no, she's not Santa's daughter, as one might expect, if you've watched as many of these Christmas movies as I have.

In all my reviews, I have never given the producers due credit, but in my honest opinion, they deserve it here.

1. They got Rickie Castaneda, who gained experience writing three of last year's Christmas movies (two sixes and a seven on a scale of ten, in my opinion) to write a relatively non-formulaic, more-clever-than-usual script, both in structure and lines.

2. They hired Lindsay Chag as casting director, whose list of credits is longer than your arm, and who assembled a wide cast of well-known actors, including for supporting roles; and in a special case of inspiration, got "Alex Keaton's" parents from TV's "Family Ties" to play Krissy's here.

3. Finally, they had David Mackay, a veteran of mostly theatrical films, direct. The result is pitch-perfect performances, with nary a hint of overplay.

In short, even though I haven't yet seen all of this year's offerings, this is the one I recommend.
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How to Fall in Love (2012 TV Movie)
Rated +1 for the instruction manual
2 September 2012
Why is the teenage dork always named "Harold" (who grows up to be an accountant)? Talk about Hollywood stereotypes!

"Ugly Betty's" Eric Mabius, playing a grown-up Harold White, finds that Annie Hayes, his homecoming dance date when they were freshmen in high school, has returned to town, and is unable to find employment in her chosen profession as party planner. Annie is played by Brooke D'Orsay, of "Royal Pains" and "Drop Dead Diva" fame.

At the prodding of a buddy, Harold tries to hire a dating coach, but it doesn't work out. Instead, he hires Annie to become his coach (it helps to supplement her waitress income), and she does such a good job that at one point, the student winds up teaching the teacher.

The ending of this movie is preordained from the outset, but it gives the viewer a nice ride along the way. It also works as a decent how-to dating guide for nerds everywhere.

A slimmed-down Kathy Najimy plays Brooke's co-worker; and prospective first date, Gina Holden, never looked better.
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Ashes to Ashes: Episode #2.1 (2009)
Season 2, Episode 1
Series 2 vs. Series 1
8 May 2012
This is not a review in the usual sense. It is rather a comment on certain improvements in the look of the show, particularly in certain members of the cast, from season one to season two; and here under the first episode of season two seems the most likely place to place it.

The reasons for these changes cannot be known definitively by an average viewer removed in space and time from the making and the original showing of the episodes, but possibilities could be a better budget, personnel changes in the crew, or makeovers by cast members themselves.

Of these three, the only one we can pin down for sure are crew changes documented here, i.e., the addition of Nat Turner as co-costume designer (with season one's Rosie Hackett), and an entirely new makeup department.

So, for example, is Chris Skelton's lighter hair in season two a make-up change to make him more attractive to Shaz Granger (Montserrat Lombard), or merely a new look for the actor himself (Marshall Lancaster)?

Be that as it may, the most striking upgrade is the costumes for our heroine, Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes).

In season one, Alex would wear the same clothes throughout an episode, for "days" on end. In season two, not only are her clothes a step up in style and quality, but she actually changes them from "day" to "day" (i.e., she wears a nightgown to bed instead of crashing on her couch).

If this program is new to you, you might have fun seeing what other differences or costume anomalies you can spot.
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Playdate (2012 TV Movie)
Victims and good guys are stupid, perps are whacko
29 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This review is full of spoilers, so if you don't want to read spoilers, stop now.

Not all "Lifetime movies" are bad, but this one is a "perfect" example of why movies of this genre are often frustrating and annoying.

Our heroine (Marguerite Moreau) holds a doctorate, but wanders alone into places she doesn't belong and into obviously dangerous situations, without backup.

Her husband (Richard Ruccolo) remains in a precarious spot he could have easily escaped, even after the movie's whacko starts talking crazy.

Even the detective goes looking for the perp unprotected. Doesn't he own a gun?

The only mystery here is whether the killer is the mother (Abby Brammell) or the son. The mystery is gone in time for us to see the killer's final attempt.

Good actors do their best, but are wasted on a script demanding illogical behavior.
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Burden of Evil (2012 TV Movie)
Natalie Zea in form-fitting attire
26 April 2012
Natalie Zea's movie career appears to be taking off, this being one of several that would seem to explain her absence from most of season 3 of TV's "Justified," a series in which she gets above-the-title billing. Still, it's not a tough choice between playing the ex-wife on a TV series vs. the chance to star in your own movie, even if it's a made-for-TV one.

BURDEN OF EVIL is a mostly run-of-the-mill thriller. What distinguishes it from others is its star, Natalie Zea, who's always a ten (okay, maybe a nine) in my book, along with a few (okay, maybe a couple) surprise twists in the plot. (The identity of the perp is not one of them.)

Zea plays Caitlyn Conner, the distaff half of a married couple, both detectives. Caitlyn has clearly had martial arts training, apparent by the way she handles two overly-aggressive drunks, in separate scenes.

The basic plot is outlined in the Storyline section on the front page of this title. The main deficiency, in my opinion, is the inter-agency tension between the FBI and local police, a device used in way too many cop stories.

Without giving anything away, I'll say that, despite some unsatisfactory directions taken along the way, thanks to the aforementioned plot twists, the tale comes to a satisfying conclusion.
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The Wish List (2010 TV Movie)
Perfection is not normal
21 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm so used to seeing Jennifer Esposito as a New York City cop and in other "tough" roles that it's hard to picture her in this one as a sappy romantic comedy lead.

Between that, and the too-perfect romantic male character, Erik (Mark Deklin, who currently plays GCB's bisexual husband, Blake Reilly), I was prepared throughout to rate this movie "below average," until it was redeemed back to "average" by Fred's (David Sutcliffe) winning revelation at the baristas' competition.

Would I recommend this mostly sub-par film for five minutes of brilliance near the end? Nupe, not while there are so many others available more worth your time.
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The Good Witch's Family (2011 TV Movie)
Mayor Mom?
21 April 2012
Every Good Witch movie introduces a new stranger in town to stir things up. In this case, it's Cassie's heretofore unknown cousin, Abigail.

Cassie and Jake are now married, and Cassie is stepmother to Jake's two teenagers.

The town is divided over a proposed bridge, which the men (particularly Mayor Tinsdale) favor, expecting it to bring prosperity, and the women (led by Martha Tinsdale) oppose, fearing it will bring destruction (of the town's old-style charm). As the mayor's term in office is expiring, the women prevail upon Cassie to run for mayor, and with Martha's support, to lead the opposition to the bridge.

Cousin Abigail's particular witchy talent is in the casting of spells. Deserted by her father when she was just 13, she seems determined to hex the Russell household by whatever means possible, for reasons known but to her, including charming Deputy Derek Sanders to run for mayor against Cassie. (Derek's baker girlfriend from the previous movie has mysteriously moved out of town, leaving him susceptible to Abigail's bewitching influence.)

Of the four movies in the series to date, this is the edgiest and most threatening in terms of conflict, and viewers' displeasure is reflected (as of this writing) in a marginally lower average rating than all previous installments.

So, who will win the mayoral race? And will the bridge be built, or not? What is Abigail's motive? And after all this turmoil, will Middleton ever be peaceful again?

But more importantly, will there be another Good Witch movie? If so, what will be in store for "The Good Witch's Family"? Have we seen the last of the Tinsdales? And what new stranger will bring trouble to the town?
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Cupid, Inc. (2012 TV Movie)
Who's Your Valentine?
12 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I became a fan of Joely Fisher from her 2003—2005 television series, Wild Card, but I have to admit to having encountered very little of her work since.

In this Valentine-themed vehicle, Ms. Fisher's character is Eve Lovett (get it?), a hard- and Mercedes-driving, love-deprived talk show host. The "head office" (a.k.a. "Cupid, Inc.") takes notice of her advancement toward middle age, along with her loveless state, and sends a representative (the Ghost Whisperer's Jamie Kennedy) to offer her a deal: successfully set up another couple by Valentine's Day, and her own true love will be revealed. Naturally, not all of Eve's attempts at matchmaking are successful (nor a total failure, either), but who said love is easy?

Debra Messing is sometimes credited with being the one to have inherited Lucille Ball's talent for physical comedy, but while most of her work here is dramatic comedy, Joely Fisher isn't so bad in that department, either. Here, she has a subtly humorous "spy scene" involving a friendly plant. (Later, she channels Mary Martin's Peter Pan to somewhat lesser effect.)

About halfway through our movie, it threatens to become sappy and trite; but it is quickly redeemed from this (in the words of our star) "technical mistake" by a surprise plot twist. Indeed, this is but one example of the clever elevation of dialog and plot above the ordinary by our scriptwriter, yet unidentified in these IMDb pages (as of this writing).

The first half of many TV movies these days seems to drag, whether due to some attempt at character development or just plain filler, leaving all the fun to the climax and conclusion. Not here. The energy grabs one's attention from the outset and sustains throughout the film, making this an effective and engaging flick for cozying up to one's valentine (be it dog or man).
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A Holiday to Remember (1995 TV Movie)
18 December 2011
Connie Sellecca plays a PhD.-holding psychiatrist who divorces her philandering husband and moves with her daughter to her family homestead in South Carolina, which has been sitting abandoned, presumably for years. Naturally, she encounters the boy next door (Randy Travis, from the next farm over), whom she left standing at the altar nearly two decades before.

There's nothing particularly wrong with the script or the acting. The faults of this film are in the casting and execution. I like both Travis and Sellecca, but have trouble seeing them as a couple. Indeed, Ms. Sellecca's appearance in this film was a prime reason for watching, but what we have here constitutes a serious flaw in the pairing of romantic leads.

Given that the rest of the cast seems fine for a film that is set in the rural south, one is sad to report that Ms. Sellecca seems to be the one miscast, as throughout the film, she appears from both nature and design to have just stepped off the pages of Vogue. Can you picture a high-tone model or a society chic, dressed in fashions and jewels, functioning comfortably in a dilapidated house in farmland?

And then there are the little things. Once a major flaw appears, one goes on alert looking for others. Start with the farmhouse.

When Sellecca's character and her daughter arrive, the first thing we see on a clear day is water dripping from a leaky roof into a half-full washtub. So who's been in there recently to manage the tub?

Next we have a working wall phone. Who bothers to pay monthly phone bills for an abandoned house? Or maybe she called ahead to have it hooked up…we don't know.

But wait, there's hope. Mr. Travis, whose character is now the local sheriff, mayor, and all-around Mr. Fixit, has been dating a local social worker who wants to marry him. They appear to be well-matched. In the end, will he do the right thing and make her an honest woman, or will he jump the shark to hook back up with his long-lost love? The 90 minutes of suspense killed my rating of this supposed-to-be feel-good film. To me, this was a holiday movie to forget.
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Diary of a Bored Housewife
4 December 2011
An American actress (Rhonda Fleming) visits a college chum in Brazil, meets a wealthy coffee-grower (Rossano Brazzi), and marries him before the visit is over. Envisioning him as a Latin lover, she finds herself married instead to a workaholic with an old-world point of view. But as a modern woman used to working for a living, whose every need is now supplied by a household full of servants, she struggles to adjust to the cultural differences and to fill her days with useful activity.

Enter an oily American (William Redfield), a U.S. government efficiency expert in Brazil on assignment, who pursues our heroine at every opportunity. Eventually, she turns his relentless advances to her own advantage in a desperate attempt to resolve her situation.

Burdened by a trite script and at times seemingly ponderous proceedings, Pão de Açúcar is saved by lush photography, gorgeous costumes, a brilliant orchestral score (mid-20th century European style), and the efforts of its stars.

What is truly remarkable, however, is the near-seamless continuity in the final edit of this film that the stars and others associated with it thought was never finished due to financial insufficiencies.
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Lying to Be Perfect (2010 TV Movie)
Women in fat suits
13 November 2011
While watching this movie, I heard the term "Cinderella Pact" so often that I wondered why that wasn't the film's title. As it turns out, that is the title of the book on which the film is based. But since the book's title is so much better than the one that the movie wound up with -- after all, this is a variation on the age-old Cinderella story -- why *was* the title changed? Did the author disown the movie, or what?

It's hard to complain that more "weight-appropriate" actresses weren't hired to play the three members of the Cinderella Pact because, honestly, how else could they have lost the weight called for in the script without stretching the filming out long enough to break the budget?

To me, the best things in this work are 1) "Cinderella's" gown and slippers, and 2) my discovery of Chelah Horsdal, who plays her best friend.

In closing, I have but one question: has our heroine, who after all is a writer by trade, never heard the term "nom de plume"? Watch the movie to the end, and you'll understand why I ask.
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Last Man Standing (2011 TV Movie)
Hotrod Housewife
28 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Like "eldorado80" (reviewer #2 on this film), I, too, am a fan of Catherine Bell, and as such, I made a point to catch this film's last scheduled showing on the Lifetime channel in its initial run there simply because Ms. Bell starred in it. The title of these comments arises from Bell's stunt driving to escape the police in one scene from the film.

eldorado80 cited four presumed holes in the script. I would add a fifth. Early in the film, Abby Collins (Bell's character) receives a phone call from her war buddy, Jeremy Davis (Mekhi Phifer) that the other member of their three-person team in Afghanistan back in 2002 has committed suicide, and that the funeral will be two days hence.

Later that evening, as they are preparing to retire for the night, Abby's husband Nick (Anthony Michael Hall) asks her who called her earlier that day, so she gives him the lowdown on the call.

The next scene we see is Abby at the grave site. As the funeral ends, Abby calls Nick to tell him it's over, and apologizes for some unspecified behavior "last night." But there is no "last night" in the film, as the previous action occurred two days earlier.

As an aside, am I the only viewer who finds it curious that Bell's 2002 Afghanistan colleague here, the aforementioned Jeremy Davis, has the same first name as her son who died in today's Afghanistan war in her current "day job," TV's "Army Wives"?

Bottom line: despite any real or perceived flaws, "Last Man Standing" is an exciting, suspenseful thriller wherein our girl Cat gets to kick butt. I loved it, despite the fact that I figured out the bad guy very early on.
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Supergirl (1984)
European version
2 July 2011
Supergirl, the movie (as opposed to the character), is fantastic, unbelievable, and relatively unexciting. Except for the absolutely, fabulously beautiful Helen Slater, her name-brand cast mates, the energetic score, and the high-flying photography, the movie is rather ho-hum, compared to other movies featuring DC superheroes.

The movie's elements are wide-ranging in terms of quality, so here are some candidates for each possible score, from one to ten.

Score / Element(s)

1. story / execution

2. script (dialog & plot holes)

3. direction (nonsensical visuals and transitions)

4. dated special effects

5. Peter O'Toole, in a supporting role

6. aerial and wide-screen photography

7. Faye Dunaway, for playing her part without smirking

8. director's audio commentary (on DVD)

9. Jerry Goldsmith's score

10. the stunning Helen Slater, a perfect ten (still beautiful today)

Perhaps some day I'll get to see the director's cut and be able to rate this film more highly.
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Mystery Girl (2011 TV Movie)
24 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to watch this movie because I'm a Brigid Brannagh fan.

My first thought upon seeing Brannagh, playing the somewhat frumpy working mom, Charley, enter the picture frame was, "Boy, they sure dressed her down for this part," a move which was necessary, no doubt, in order for Ben (Sean Patrick Flanery), who falls at first sight for the "outer beauty" of Chloe (Christine Scott Bennett), first seen floating in the distance like an "angel" with her blonde hair and white dress, to eventually discover the "inner beauty" of his "true love," Charley.

I didn't mean to encapsulate the movie in a one-sentence paragraph, but there you have it.

But, really, the whole thing is based on a highly unlikely premise, i.e., the difference of one letter in an email address. I mean, what are the chances of ALL of the following coming together at once?

1) Two people have the same last name except for one letter (Anderson/Andersen), AND

2) Those same two people have the same first initial ("C"), AND

3) Those same two people are both women, AND

4) Those same two women are co-workers (and sit next to one another in the office, no less), AND

5) Working for the same company, their email addresses therefore end with the same domain name, AND therefore, their email addresses are identical except for one letter, AND

6) Having such nearly identical email addresses, they NEVER BEFORE RECEIVED ONE ANOTHER'S EMAIL?!

If you can suspend your disbelief and go along with the joke, you'll find a typically good Hallmark Channel movie to satisfy your inner comfort.

My only problem with this one was that, having first seen and liked Flannery as the Young Indiana Jones on TV in the 1990s, I've seen him play a fair number of bad guys since (most notably, Vice President Greg Stillson in TV's "Dead Zone," as well as other undesirables in several supporting roles), it was hard for me to see him convincingly as the good guy he plays here. But that's just me; don't let it deter you.
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Sorry, Thanks (2009)
Appeals mainly to those whose lives it mirrors
30 May 2011
I don't usually waste my time commenting on below-average (i.e., rated under five on a scale of ten) films, but I do so here – "Sorry, Thanks" is rated as I write at 4.2, with 93 votes on this forum – only to contrast it to a twice-better film that I watched yesterday, also on the Sundance Channel.

"Man in the Chair" (2007) is a professional film about the making of a film for a student movie competition. It's professional in the sense that it employed more than half a dozen well-known, established actors, used interesting and semi-innovative film techniques, relied on a large network of outside sources in its production, and so on.

"Sorry, Thanks," on the other hand, simply looks like an actual student production, with its sub-par acting, ordinary but competent photography, minimal plot line, and the apparent sketchiest of scripts.

This movie is classified as a "comedy," with a tag line of "An unromantic comedy." It seems to me that there ought to be a sub-classification for "unfunny comedies," since there are so many of them on the market. Whether this movie is a comedy or a drama (or a dramedy, in popular parlance), to this viewer is debatable.

The following line from the movie seems to sum up this entire amateurish effort: "You make a great grade school student."
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