Drug smuggling is a serious crime. However, this movie uses drug smuggling as the setting for comedy, and it works. The entire cast give excellent performances. Nick Offerman was especially funny. Jennifer Aniston delivers a strong performance. Excellent scrip. Movie is worth watching.
Knocked Up (2007)Surprisingly good movie.
15 June 2021
Movie deals with serious subjects. Seth Rogen and Catherine Heigl excel. Both give strong performances. This movie is worth watching. This movie shows how people who otherwise have nothing to do with each other form a bond and become the roles that they are playing. What begins as a charade becomes something real and strong. That makes the story not only humorous but meaningful. To me, that is excellent entertainment. Marginals become mainstream. Excellent.
The Campaign (2012)Hilarious treatment of politics
6 April 2020
This movie is hilarious. It is a great spoof on politics. Both Will F. and Zack G. are wonderful as two politicians who will do anything to get elected. This movie is about two politicians engaged in a contest over who can out-smear whom. The incumbent is jaded and the challenger responds by stopping even lower than his rival, producing genuine laughter. Both are phony, pompous, shallow buffoons who raise pandering to an art. The movie is so engaging because it is so plausible. It calls attention to the humorous aspects of politics. Politicians pander, posture, showcase and grandstand to win voters, at least in this movie. If you want to learn more about the nature of politics, watch this movie.
How to conduct an interrogation
6 April 2020
This episode depicts how to conduct and interrogation. The interrogators want the suspect to confess of his own free will. This episode shows how Friday and Gannon get this suspect to confess. They already know that the suspect is guilty and have a substantial amount of evidence to support their finding, but the investigation is not yet complete until the suspect admits his guilt. That;s what it's all about: getting the suspect to take responsibility for his crime. Mocking, berating and shaming the suspect does not work. The suspect couldn't care less what anyone thinks about him. He has no intention of admitting to anything other than he is law abiding citizen who is the police are harassing. If you want to find out how Friday and Gannon get this hard core cynical criminal to confess, wtach the show.
Another serious problem
3 April 2020
This episode forthrightly deal with a serious problem: someone impersonating a police officer. This kind of fraud can create a lot of havoc and put the entire community at risk. The episode suggests that in this case the perpetrator was a "nut." He was liked; didn't hurt anyone and seemed to do it to gain attention. The problem, of course, is that he had no authority to protect the public, so that in nay situation requiring a police officer, his presence would only make matters worse. Yet. there are people who simply don't care. They just want to act our and gratify their own selfish needs, as depicted in this episode.
Forthright dramatization of a serious problem
3 April 2020
This episode dramatizes a serious problem: child abuse. Child abuse is a crime. Although there are numerous psychosocial factors associated with child abuse, the bottom line is that it is ultimately a matter for the police and courts. Today, the case in this story would have been investigated not by the police but by a caseworker, who is not a specialist on law enforcement or collecting evidence. The episode also shows how difficult it is to prove child abuse. Unless someone witnesses the offender in the act or the offender confesses, most allegations of child abuse cannot be substantiated. And to treat it purely as a social problem denies justice to the victim of the abuse - the child.
Ben-Hur (2016)Weak remake of classic movie
22 February 2020
I watched this remake of the 1959 movie Ben Hur. This version was made in 2016. Unlike the 1959 movie which is considered one of best movies ever made, this recent remake is a weak albeit entertaining version of the earlier movie. The newer movie contains several changes in the storyline that simplifies the story. The movie also plays up the use of computerized special effects. The most astounding part of the movie was the ending, which could provoke unintended laughter. The idea of a Roman and Jew reconciling after they spent the entire movie maneuvering to kill each other was contrived and bordered on the ludicrous. I actually felt sorry for Messala. Indeed, as the movie shows he had cause to hate Judah. Judah wants revenge; instead he embraces the man who virtually destroyed Judah's enire family. While, I believe that putting aside enmity is a noble choice, that does not mean that one now must love one's former enemy. It is enough just to stop fighting, co-exist and let life go on.
The Ten Commandments (1956)Maybe the greatest movie ever made in American cinema
22 November 2019
The Ten Commandments is one of the greatest movies ever made in the history of American cinema. It has all the elements of a great movie: a great story, great acting, lots of action, lots of romance, lots of conflict, all tied into a coherent story that has a beginning, a middle and and end. The movie engages and then keeps the audience's attention. One cannot help but root for Moses to succeed. He is the symbol of righteousness and hope, and of a man who is chosen to do great things, not for material gain but for a much more sublime purpose: to liberate people from oppression, in this case real, grinding oppression. The movie contains many scenes that today are iconic: his service to Pharoah, his return to the Pharoah's court in chains, his love affair with Nefretiri, and most of all, the court scene with Rameses, the parting of the Red Sea and his return from atop Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. This movies succeeds in withstanding the test of time. It is either dated nor corny. The acting is superb. Every member of the cast, from top billed to the thousands of background extras, deliver powerful performances. In this movie the background extras play a prominent role. For this movie is not about a few persons. it is about a moment in history that affected and changed the whole world. Moses is on a mission and nothing will stop him from fulfilling what is his destiny. Moses forfeits all material wealth to serve a higher cause, the cause of freedom. The movie is over three and half hours long, but time flies when watching this movie. That is because there is nonstop action. Everything in this story is intense. People are being ruined but through faith attain salvation. In the movie, Moses was not a fraud. He is not a false prophet. He delivers on his promises. He is a hero, and who doesn't like watching someone be a hero?
The Godfather (1972)Michael as a prince charming?
1 October 2019
In a class I attended in college the instructor, a learned professor of classical literature, provided what was, to me, a novel interpretation of the movie and story The Godfather. He presented the story as a fairy tale. Now, every fairy tale must have its prince charming. In the case of The Godfather the prince charming is Michael Corleone. Michael is a cold-blooded mass murderer, woman abuser and cop killer. He physically beats his second wife who is the mother of his two children, kills his brother, and kills his brother-in-law thus making his sister a widow. Even his first wife, who he loved (proof that he is not completely depraved), dies violently because of her close proximity to him. He is a harbinger of death. So how can such a reprehensible and ugly character be a prince charming? Answer: By cloaking Michael in the trappings of middle class costumes and values. Outwardly, Michael is quiet, soft-spoken, well-mannered, self-controlled, well-dressed, and well-educated. He is, outwardly, a loyal citizen, a decorated war veteran, married, a father, a brother, a property owner, a businessman, and an obedient son. He has all the trappings of respectability. That sets him apart from everyone else in the story who, with one exception, are presented as being no more than a bunch of stupid crass thugs, including his two brothers, Freddie who is dumb and Sonny, who in addition to being dumb is hot-tempered. Compared to them Michael is a paragon of virtue. That makes him seem likeable, someone worthy of empathy. The only exception to the array of unsavory figures that populate this story and interact with Michael is Michael's father, Vito Corleone, the first Godfather, whose real name is Andolini. Vito was born in a part of the world still heavily influenced by feudalistic values in which vendatta and revenge-killings were the norm. If Michael is the prince charming, then Vito is the king. Despite being a premeditated murderer himself, Vito is a "good-guy" gangster. He resists pressure from the other gangs to get into the drug trade. A gang war ensues. Vito is shot, almost killing him. That makes Vito seem a martyr who is willing to sacrifice his life in defense of his beliefs and family. He is a king with courage and scruples. But with the king incapacitated, the survival of the family is placed at risk. Oldest son Freddie, being dumb, and second oldest son Sonny, being dead, are in no position to defend the family, leaving only Michael to take up the cause. Michael, who reveres his father, tries to conduct himself like his father, who is Michael's role model, but the norms and values that shaped his father's character are woefully out of place in the modern urban setting and applied by Michael come off as phony and contrived. As a result Michael becomes a twisted and sordid facsimile of his father. Whereas Vito was loved, admired and respected, Michael is despised, loathed and feared. Yet, he does the job of protecting the family, who are the "good guys" in this story, and by doing so fulfills his role as the prince charming who rescues his family when everything seemed all but lost. Michael is as phony as his family's last name. His pretensions of middle class respectability are a sham. His propensity for violence is driven by a depravity so deeply rooted in his mind and spirit that it gives cause to question whether he is still capable of showing any compassion. Yet he is the modern-day prince charming who is on a mission to protect what is his, even if it no longer exists except in his mind.
The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)First rate entertainment about an unlikely hero.
29 July 2019
First, a comment about Paul Muni. Today Paul Muni is virtually forgotten. However, in the 1930s he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and for good reason: he was one of its greatest and most talented actors, and proved in this movie, a bio-pic about a scientist who fought against institutional ignorance to save lives. The story is straight forward: women are dying from infection during child birth and the medical establishment refuses to believe that the infections are caused by "microbes." Louis Pasteur, who is not even a medical doctor, insists that microbes DO cause the infections and that the medical doctors are at fault for not disinfecting their hands and equipment before treating the women. The story then comes down to Pasteur trying to prove that he is right and the medical establishment wrong. Now, taking on the entire medical establishment was not easy to do, but Pasteur does it and prevails. To find out how he does it and the reaction of the medical establishment, watch the movie. It is first rate entertainment about an unlikely hero - a soldier for science.
Juarez (1939)Maximilian as a tragic fgure.
22 July 2019Warning: Spoilers
Misleading title. In this movie, Maximilian is the principal character. Paul Muni and Betty Davis receive top billing but Brian Aherne has the principal role as Maximilian. The movie depicts Juarez as a sinister master politician who will go to any lengths to keep power. Meanwhile, Maximilian is depicted as a well-meaning and benevolent ruler who is above politics and sincerely wants peace and act in the best interest of all the Mexican people. Maximilian goes to extraordinary length to try to arrive at an accommodation with Juarez, even offering Juarez the post of prime minister. Juarez refuses the offer and continues fighting. Juarez wins only because Napoleon III bails out on Maximilian, leaving Maximilian to fend fore himself. Although facing the possibility of being captured and killed, Maximilian still refuses to abdicate, and dies, a martyr for a lost cause. Hence, Maximilian is a tragic figure. Whether this movie bears any resemblance to the actual facts is beside the point. The more accurate title for this movie should have been, Maximilian, Misunderstood Monarch or Maximilian, the Monarch Who Cared. This is the problem with Hollywood docudramas. They are loose with the facts and put a spin on a story purely for dramatic purposes. According to historical evidence, Maximilian was anything but a benevolent man. He was part of an attempt by the French to establish a puppet government in Mexico and hostile to the United States and extend French influence in the Western Hemisphere. While Maximilian's personal motives may have been noble, the fact is that he was an interloper who had no business being in Mexico. To depict him as a martyr, which is what the movie does, may work dramatically but simply has no basis in fact. Anyway, Brian Aherne deserved top billing. He delivers an outstanding performance as the would-be emperor who is deceived by the French and is a victim of Mexican politics.
Paths of Glory (1957)Not that good. The movies fails to make a case against the general.
22 July 2019Warning: Spoilers
It is World War One. France is fighting Germany. The Germans occupy a certain hill. Higher command ordered Mireau to take the hill, Mireau obeys, devises a plan to take the hill, knowing that casualties will be high, and gives the order to move out. Some soldiers move out, then (without orders) retreat and some stay in the trenches. To get the soldiers to obey, Mireau even orders French artillery to deliberately shell the troops. What a mess. Of course, the attack fails. Mireau refuses to accept responsibility for the failed attack and blames the failure on the troops for refusing to obey orders. Mireau orders one hundred soldiers to be immediately executed for cowardice, but is persuaded to reduce that number to three. Three soldiers, each one an enlisted man, are selected. A court martial is quickly convened, finds the three soldiers guilty of cowardice in the face of the enemy. and sentence them to execution by firing squad. The next day the order os carried out. the movie attempts to depict the three soldiers as victims of an nasty and incompetent general who uses the court martial to cover his own incompetency. The movie tries to depict Mireau as the villain and the three soldiers as his hapless victims. Kirk Douglas stars as Colonel Dax, Mireau's chief of staff and the person responsible for leading the attack, who is the personification of righteous indignation. The movie fails to make a case against Mireau. At the court martial, one soldier admits that he never left the trench, another that he moved out only to the French barbed wire, and the third that he retreated without being ordered. The movie makes a case that the the three soldiers were afforded less than adequate due process but fails to make a case that Mireau was a villain. First, the troops refused to obey his orders. Second, selecting individual solders for collective punishment was standard practice at the time. Third. higher command knew that the attack would result in lots of casualties. Fourth, Colonel Dax, who was the officer placed in charge of the actual attack, failed to rally the troops. Fifth, Mireau was doing his job. Sixth, it was war. Seventh, Mireau's orders were lawful. Eighth, if anyone should have been assigned blame, it was Colonel Dax whoi harbored personal animus toward General Mireau. Kirk Douglas received top billing, but the principal character was General Mireau, played by George Macready. The movie was about injustice - against a General who was set up to fail and then take the blame. UNFAIR.
12 July 2019Warning: Spoilers
I watched the movie 8-1/2 directede by Federrico Fellini. This movie was made in 1963. Some of the principle actresses are still alive. It is amazing to see how beautiful and talented they were when they were young. Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale and others. They all give outstanding performances in a story about a man, a movie director played by Marcelo Mastroianni, who is finally forced to come to terms and confront the truth about himself. A very powerful and compelling movie. A great work of drama and cinema. The movie is filmed in black and white. It makes great use of shadows to produce somber effects. Fellini seems to borrow from the Orson Welles style of movie making which is the docudrama. What is a movie director, in the movie named Guido Ansalmi, who is responsible for directing a major motion picture to do when he realizes that what he is producing is not a profound work of art, but nothing but conventional junk meant to showcase the director? That's a bitter pill to swallow. His denial is so strong that it is sabotaging his own marriage by driving him to push away his wife, Luisa, who is warning him of his dishonesty. He doesn't want to hear that, especially from his wife, who he loves. So he involves himself with a mistress, another woman who also happens to be married, but has no problem cheating on her husband. What a mess. Thankfully, the movie ends on a positive note. Guido finally confronts the truth. It is liberating. He reunites with Luisa and I guess the both of them live happily ever after. Nice ending which contains a message of hope. The movie has a surrealistic quality that gives it the feeling of a fantasy. Guido engages heavily in fantasy. His recollections form much of the story and reveal a truly muddled character shaped by his parents and the Catholic Church. Guido wants women who admire him, but instead the women play with him, tease him and criticize him. The only person with a solid character is his wife Luisa. She is heroic. She refuses to play up to her egotistical husband. That take courage. She risks everything. She loves him. She wants him to stop living a lie and stop using his movies to showboat himself..
8½ (1963)Guido and Luisa find love.
11 July 2019
This movie could have been entitle Guido and Luisa find love. Guido is a burnt out director with a creative block and Luisa is his suffering wife who warns Guido that he is a a creative liar, which just drives Guido away. Instead of heeding his wife's warnings, Guido escapes into fantasy to try to find the cause of his creative block. All that does is reveal a bunch of jumbled thoughts which just confuse and frustrate him more, until he is forced to actually listen to his wife, who still loves him. The movie contains remarkable performances, most noteworthy being those of Marcelo Mastroianni as the movie director Guido and Anouk Aimee as his wife Louisa. Guido is in denial. He knows that something is wrong but avoids the truth, which is that he really has nothing profound to say. In fact, his movies are nothing more than conventional junk devoid of any truth or meaning. This realization forces Guido to have decide on whether he wants to continue his next project. For him, this is a huge and difficult decision. A lot of people are depending on Guido to make the movie, but the more they pressure him the more he tries to avoid making the decision, until he finally has the courage to listen to Luisa and do what is right and honest.
The Life of Emile Zola (1937)Outstanding Hollywood docudrama.
11 July 2019
This is a great movie. Although a work of fiction it is based on actual historical personages and events and has an authenticity which makes it even more compelling a drama. The movie deals forthrightly with the issues relating to the Dreyfus Affair, and shows how the military leaders of the French Army were willing to wrongly accuse and convict the wrong person purely for political reasons. Really disgraceful episode in French history. It also shows how Emile Zola bought into the Army's over story about Dreyfus and of his own initial resistance to take up the Dreyfus case. However, Zola emerges as a hero who comes to the defense of a man wrongly accused and terribly mistreated. Paul Muni gives an outstanding performance as Zola. In fact, his appearance id almost identical to that of the actual Emile Zola, which made his performance even more credible. The other members of the cast give powerful performances too, most noteworthy that of Joseph Schildkraut who plays Captain Dreyfus and his wife, played by Gale Sondergaard. If you want to learn about the Dreyfus Affair and at the same time be entertained this is the movie for you.
Be true to thyself
22 April 2019Warning: Spoilers
Great episode. Country bumpkin Rafe is a gifted singer. He has a chance to represent Mayberry in a state contest, but the mayor is interested in image, and in the mayor's opinion Rafe does not fit that image. What to do. What wins out: talent or image? No one doubts that Rafe can sing. it's just that he looks so scruffy that he could give Mayberry a bad name. Finally, it is Rafe who decides the matter. By being true to himself, he achieves a moment of greatness. Wonderful episode.
Excellent drama. How not to raise a child.
22 April 2019
Great episode. All about selfishness and misguided priorities. When a 10 year old boy admits that he valued his bike over his father, the father realizes that he has raised a monster. The camera work captures the moment when the father has his epiphany. Heretofore the father defended his son and excused away his obnoxious acting out behavior. But with Sheriff Taylor's help, the father realizes that his son is a mess and that it is time for corrective action. The episode also depicts the mindset of people who believe they need not obey the rules. That comes from selfishness created and nurtured by permissiveness. Technically a sitcom, the episode is actually drama.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Hero without a gun.
15 April 2019Warning: Spoilers
This is a good movie. A conscientious objector wins the Medal of Honor. Shows that one need not use a weapon to be a hero. It also shows the fanaticism of the Japanese troops who had zero chance of winning, yet would rather die than surrender. The movie would have been stronger if it had provided more historical context to the story. For instance, why the US found it necessary to invade Okinawa and why the Japanese fought fanatically to defend it. The movie presumes that the audience knows the history of the US-Japanese war in the Pacific. It also does not provide more depth into the characters and personalities of the Japanese soldiers who, without exception, are ALL depicted as mad, blood thirsty maniacs. Nevertheless, the movie succeeds in telling a story of one man who stayed true to his principles and emerged a hero.
Absurd ludicrous story
15 April 2019
This episode stretches the boundaries of credulity. The son of a Jewish shop owner contracts with a gangster to murder his father's partner because the business will go not to him but to another relative. Then it is revealed that the son actually is not Jewish, event though he was raised as a Jew and even bar mitvahed. All of a sudden the story shifts from being a murder mystery to a social commentary about who decides who is Jewish. Soon the story is a complete mess as three rabbis are asked to decide whether a man who is Jewish is in fact Jewish. If this isn't ridiculous enough, the director uses the story to denigrate Israel's right to return and even implies that Israel provides cover for murderers. Between the stereotypical depictions of Jews and the anti-Israel political message of the story, this is not drama at its best. Instead it is another example of Hollywood using the media to spin a political message.
Bloated story crammed with dramatic filler.
15 April 2019Warning: Spoilers
The show is trying to make a comment about police and racism, and fails. Too many dramatic contrivances. First, the dialog between the police and the woman who occupied the apartment where the shooting occurred. She denies knowing anything about the shooting. This was laughable. She says this despite the fact that a bullet slug and "size eleven shoes" were found in her apartment. Then the director injects racism into what was a basically a straight forward situation of self-defense. That was both pretentious and contrived. The episode ends with the district attorney offering a weak reply to the assistant DA's disgust with the not-guilty verdict for a case that was almost impossible for gain a conviction. This is another example of Hollywood using drama to spin a political message, which in this case gets lost in a bloated story crammed with dramatic filler.
Social connections do matter.
23 March 2019Warning: Spoilers
Lumpy. who is considered a jerk and a loser, gets a football scholarship. of course, Lumpy's father is elated, and everyone else in Lumpy's social circle are amazed. Yet they are happy for him. Wally explains that through hard work Lumpy became the best player on the team, so the scholarship is deserved. Then, disaster. Lumpy's father learns that the university will deny Lumpy the scholarship because Lumpy got a D in math. Lumpy is gloomy. In fact, he is depressed. Then Ward Cleaver enters the picture. In a magnanimous gesture, he says he will call someone he knows who works at the university to discuss Lumpy's scholarship. the next scene, Lumpy's father tells Ward that the school will defer denying the scholarship while Lumpy retakes the math class in summer school. The episode ends with everyone happy. Now, the theme of this episode: influence matters. Ward used his connection to help Lumpy keep a scholarship for which he was not qualified. If it were some other student other than Lumpy, the denial would have stuck. Who else does Ward Cleaver know? How extensive is his social connection network? Great episode.
The Death of Stalin (2017)Surprisingly entertaining treatment of a serious event.
20 February 2019
This movie is a surprise. Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev dominates this movie. Although the story is about a group of men vying to fill a power vacuum left by the death of Stalin, what it comes down to is a contest between two men: Khrushchev and Lavrenti Beria. Whoever can gain control of the Politburo will win the battle and therefore power Although we already know from the history who won, the story nevertheless is engaging. It dramatizes the all the maneuvering that goes on, capturing the essential banality of the process and the shallowness of the contestants in the process. The movie does deviate from the some historical facts, yet still accurately depicts the dynamics that produced a transfer of power. The entire cast is wonderful. They play their respective roles well, this made more remarkable that none of the actors are Russian. Excellent movie.
Excellent episode dealing with important themes
22 November 2018
Excellent episode featuring Dick York in a non-comedic role. George Macready also stars in this chilling story about a weak man who cannot say no to his boss, in this case, a criminal. In a way, it is study of the mentality of those who will commit murder on command. Now, Dick York's character has misgivings and even warns his next victim, in this case his own fiancé, but that does not stop him from obeying orders. The story has larger political implications. History is replete with those who will do the most awful things, commit the most heinous crimes, if ordered to do so. They will act without hesitation or regrets, based on the belief that they do not bear final responsibility. Well, that just does not wash. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes. Today the executioner, tomorrow the executed, while those in charge keep control. As this episode so explicitly dramatizes, the hitman is merely the agent and is not indispensable. Just the opposite is the case. The episode leaves us asking this question: why do such awful work?
22 November 2018
Such a beautiful story, and so well acted. It's about life as theater and about living in the present and not be stuck on the past. The mind can play tricks on us, especially when it comes to recalling the past. We are traveling on a continuum of time. This continuum is divided into discreet moments, each one separate. Together they form our life. Booth Templeton (played by Brian Aherne who gives a masterful performance),mixes those discreet moments, thus disrupting his life. Once he returns to the present, all is well again and he can go on with his life, secure in the knowledge that the past is gone and not to be relived but only to be remembered.
When black-and-white was the norm
17 November 2018
The plot is farfetched but amusing. It is noteworthy for who is in the cast. Sue Randall played the elementary school teacher in the classic sitcom Leave It to Beaver. This episode is perfect for those who study the history of television or are invested in nostalgia for a bygone era when shows were in back-and-white and plots were straightforward and devoid, at least overtly, of political spin. Also impressive is Louis Quinn's performance. He would have been perfect as Columbo. Timing.