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Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Confessor–I can’t believe I am confessing that I watched this movie.

The Confessor staring Christian Slater is flat out Crap.

It is clear to me that the cast and crew were suffering from dementia before they made this piece of work.  I didn’t think the film would ever end.  This movie had a decent cast that was totally wasted.  Frankly I expect more from Christian Slater.  He has made some great movies: Pump Up The Volume, Heathers, Wind Talkers, Broken Arrow (a John Woo Flick) and Murder in the First.  Why Christian, oh why would you make such crap?  I can understand if you needed the money, but that is about the only excuse I’ll accept.

Slater plays a worldly and urbane priest who can raise money like a demon.  That said, there is no way the viewer for even a second believes that Slater is a priest.  What ever his other talents are they don’t involve him playing a holy man.  Another priest is involved in a murder and accused of the crime.  Slater’s character is asked by the church’s big cheese to find out what went on and minimize the damage to the church.  Slater even gets the help from his former journalist girl friend, Madeline Finney, (Molly Parker) who works at a TV station.  Naturally there has to be some sexual tension when a priest and a woman are involved so Slater has to stay at her apartment overnight where he “accidentally” sees her in her birthday suit while she is taking a shower.  Oh the drama–a chimp chained to a typewriter could write this stuff.

To anyone with half a brain, this movie is solved when the co-star is late for dinner as there was no doubt where he was and that he had just murdered someone.  After that there was no suspense and it takes about 85 minutes of your life away that you will never get back before the “mystery” is solved.  Speaking of confessions, I must confess that the weaknesses in the plot makes me wonder just how dumb the screenwriters, the director, Christian Slater, Molly Parker, and Stephen Rea were when putting this abortion together.  Perhaps it was a comedy and I forgot to laugh.

The film is a load of muddled and pointless Crap.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dr. H & JP Collaborate Again on “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is not about finding a candy bar.

Diane Keaton gives us an outstanding, fearless performance.  Remember  Mr. Goodbar was released the same year Keaton won an Oscar for her role in “Annie Hall.” I find it difficult to believe that Keaton was the same actress in both Mr. Goodbar and in Annie Hall.  She pulls off a multi-layered, charismatic performance that you don’t see often in an adult movie.
By day Keaton plays an affectionate teacher with her deaf kids.  At night, however, she turns into the proverbial Mr. Hyde, cruising bars, having sex with many different types of men, leading a promiscuous and seedy life which ends violently.  Indeed, one gets the sense that she actually derives more and more pleasure as the sex-act, the drugs, or the situations become more and more dangerous.
Mr. Goodbar also features early performances by Tom Berringer and Richard Gere–who plays similar characters in the classics “American Gigolo” and “Breathless.”

It would be a crude oversimplification to regard this movie as a romanticized walk down memory lane for the wild 1970’s.  It is a much more complex insight into various characters against the backdrop of the disco era.  At the time, the country was in a transitional phase where the Vietnam war had just ended and the momentum of the 1960’s had faded away.  It was a time of high unemployment, rampant drugs and not enough social support for the needy.  For better or for worse, a new reality was right around the corner as the Reagan era would be born taking the country in a whole different direction and this movie captures it perfectly.

This is a Rose for the ages.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Kung Fu: One of The Great T.V. Series of All Time

Kung Fu: One of The Great T.V. Series of All Time

Kung Fu starring the late David Carradine

Given the recent and unusual circumstances surrounding David Carradine’s death, I thought it only appropriate to let some time pass between his untimely demise and reviewing his trademark character Kwai Chang Kaine in one of the greatest T.V. series ever made: Kung Fu.

Kung Fu lore has it that Bruce Lee originally conceived of the idea for the show and had wanted it to feature Lee as the star.  Carradine, however, pulls it off and would be known for the rest of his life as Kaine.  Kaine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks, was forced to flee China after killing the emperor’s nephew in retaliation for the murder of his kung fu master Po (played by Keye Luke).  Constantly on the run from bounty hunters and assassins from China, Kaine wanders the American West in search of his half-brother Danny.  His conscience forces him to fight injustice wherever he encounters it, fueled by flashbacks of training during which his master famously referred to him as “Grasshopper.” Also dispensing wisdom is the head monk Master Kahn (played by Phillip Ahn).  This show has a very mystical quality and when combined with the eerie music of Jim Helms, that mystic quality is even more fully fleshed-out.

It’s detestable that anyone who hasn’t seen the show often lumps it in with the group of old, campy television shows like “The A-Team” or “Charlie’s Angels” or others similar shows of that ilk. To those Philistines I would like to say that any given, hour-long episode of “Kung Fu” probably contained only about 45 to 60 seconds of actual action–if not less even less. The fact is, David Carradine was as good a leading man and true actor as any TV drama has ever featured.

Caine was a true iconoclast (in the best sense of the word) within the world of mainstream network television–a complete reversal of nearly every American screen hero who came before.  He was not just peaceful–but passive and serene.  As Caine described it–“Kung Fu” was an “anti-revenge television show”–an astonishing premise for a show given the norm of the day.

It certainly could be argued that T.V. was just as much of a wasteland in the ’70s as it is today, but I long for the day when we will be able to view something as good as this again on broadcast television.

As Martin Scorsese (who gave Carradine’s eulogy) said, and with whom I completely agree, “We’re going to miss you Kawai Chang Kaine.”

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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The Final Installment of Our Oliver Platt Tribute: Frost/Nixon

Frost-Nixon:  Nice Work Oliver.

Well, we have come a long way on our tribute to Oliver Platt.  First, we took a look at Lake Placid, one that belongs in the dung heap.  Then, at Liberty Standstill, a more controversial movie from a reviewer’s perspective, as many people either loved it or hated it—I loved it, and here is Part III:  Frost-Nixon.

Only once would Nixon talk about his presidency and Watergate in such an open forum as in his interviews with David Frost.  Ron Howard (Opie Taylor from the Andy Griffith show) decided to make a movie about it, (adapted from the play), and he did a damn fine job of it too.

Oliver Platt plays Robert Zelnick, an out-of-work radio reporter with a law degree, who signed on as executive editor for the Frost/Nixon interviews.  Zelnick, along with the rest of the country, had reservations: many thought that Nixon saw Frost as a hard-living, halfhearted interviewer through whom Nixon could rectify his image and legacy. The reporters, however, were determined to deliver to the country, as Zelnick told a journalist at the time, “the trial that Richard Nixon never had.”

The real Zelnick said in an interview that his role was “to converge on Beverly Hills and help David organize for the interviews. Before each one of them, I would marshal all the material we had, digest it, and try and anticipate the way Nixon would respond. After briefing David, I would sit in the chair and pretend to be Nixon, and he would ask me exactly the questions we had in mind for the next day.”  This is exactly how Oliver Platt played it in the movie.

Platt gives a great performance and has some great scenes when he is playing his role as Nixon.  One line that is particularly memorable:  “That Jack Kennedy, he screwed anything that moved. He had a go at Checkers once, and that poor bitch was never the same after that.”

This was a great movie, so great that I am providing three clips each from three different sources.  The first is from the real Frost-Nixon interviews.  The second is from a Saturday Night Live spoof of the interviews, and third is from the movie itself.  When I saw the Saturday Night Live skit, I was 7 or 8 years old and obviously had no idea what they were talking about, so I didn’t find it funny.  Now I can really appreciate it.

In clip one, Frost is going after Nixon about his role in Watergate stating that his conduct amounted to an obstruction of justice.

Clip 2 is the SNL satire of the Frost-Nixon interviews.  What I love about this parody is that Gilda Radner plays Julie Nixon and Jane Curtin plays Pat Nixon.

An finally, here is a clip from Frost-Nixon the movie.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Let’s Talk About Double Indemnity (1944).

Don’t get me wrong, Double Indemnity is a good film, it’s just not a sacred cow to me. My stance on the movie is due in part because the movie simply isn’t good enough to live up to its own reputation.  Yes it is the quintessential film noir: low-key lighting, people caught in the crossfire between good and evil, and of course, a femme fatale. However (and I know this is going to sting) we have to face the fact that Barbara Stanwyck was miscast, she simply doesn’t sell as the kind of woman you’d kill for.  She doesn’t give a bad performance, just not a great one.  Stanwyck is the wrong actress in the wrong movie. Fred McMurray is not flawlessly cast either as the shady insurance man behind the plot, but McMurray is at least able to change his image enough to sort of get away with it, though at times it does make you feel like you’re watching a local theater troop’s production of a Streetcar Named Desire.  Hey it could be worse, it could make you feel like you are watching high-school Shakespeare.

What do we have here: a $50,000 insurance policy, some double crossing, some adultery and murder–the usual noir ingredients. Watching Double Indemnity sixty years later with Mac Murray and Stanwyck prancing their way through the now a tired noir plot line is not too exciting anymore and anyone getting really excited over the plot hasn’t lived the last sixty years.

I’ll take one of its descendants–Body Heat.  This one is tough to call–it sits in the fence between crap and not crap.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dr. H & J.P. Collaborate On Idiocracy.

A must see film for almost every 2nd person you run into on a daily basis.  Forget all of the post apocalyptic movies, this one stands out for its sheer brilliance and in all probability that is how the world just might end with our Idiocracy.  It is the drama of the absurd at is best.  The comic timing is flawless.  It might not have won any awards for its visual effects or the sound track, but the editing was slick and the screen play was nearly perfect.

Joe Bauer’s (Luke Wilson) is frozen for 500 years and wakes up to a moronic world where even the simplest tasks are nearly impossible for the devolving population.  A world where people are named after products like his attorney “Frito” and “Braundo” (a form of Gatorade) is used to water crops.  Joe, when frozen in today’s world a totally average person, is suddenly thrust into being the smartest person in the world.  He gets into trouble and becomes a fugitive, but when the President discovers how smart he is, Joe is offered a pardon if he solves the world’s problems.  Eventually he earns his pardon and becomes President by showing the world that plants require water not Braundo to grow.

This is a great movie and I can’t for the life of me discern why Fox executives did not do anything to market this movie—it’s almost like it went straight to DVD.  Mike Judge (creator of the legendary film Office Space) should have been up in arms the way the studio hung him out to dry on this one.

All in all a rose.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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