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Monthly Archives: November 2011

TV Shows that may be lost and forgotten–Part 1 of 3.

Let’s take a look at some TV shows that may be lost and forgotten. Obviously, these shows may not be lost and forgotten to all of our readers here at JPFmovies, but my guess is that at least two out of the three of the shows I’ve picked probably were lost, forgotten or maybe never heard of. The three lost and forgotten shows are: Love American Style, The John Laroquette Show and The Ropers. When I was thinking about the trio of TV for this post, I wanted some shows that had character but were not terribly popular and easily forgotten. I think each of these series fits the bill.

First Love American Style.

This gem aired from 1969 to 1974. Each show featured several vignettes each lasting about 10-15 minutes of unrelated stories of comedy & romance. The episodes featured different characters, stories, and locations and often featured the same actors playing different characters in several other episodes.

The show introduced the “mini comedic soap opera” form used later by Aaron Spelling for The Love Boat. In contrast to the The Love Boat, Love American Style’s episodes within the show had no connection to each other but told the same predictable light, emotional stories about love, romance, and relationships.

Garry Marshall (creator of Happy Days) said that Love, American Style was “where failed sitcom pilots went to die,” a theory that was true. If a TV producer could not sell a pilot, they would instead sell the script to Spelling, who took the best parts of the pilot and recast them as a segment on Love, American Style.

The series also used 10–20-second “joke clips” between the highlighted segments, which allowed the show to be padded to the required length without altering the main skits. These joke clips were considered then “risqué,” burlesque- comedy of visual jokes.

After the Show was canceled it became standard in syndication as the stations could edit the show to a half-hour by linking the clips with a main segment, successfully making ten seasons out of five.

They just don’t make them like Love American Style anymore. Some say that is good thing, but I disagree—the show is a fun look back into the campy humor of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. And of course there is the famous theme song that is tough to get out of your head once it is in there.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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Retraction on WordPress Sucking

Yesterday I posted a bit of a rant complaining about wordpress sucking because I have been trying to implement a great idea I got from the LAMB website about having an index of my reviews for others to simply go to and check out at their leisure. Well I’ve been trying to implement that idea for about a week and was at the end of my rope when I posted that rant.

It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong and I am not a big man. But in this case I owe wordpress an apology. Except for this particular issue wordpress has been pretty good to me. So here it is (and I hope I never have to do this again) to WordPress, I apologize. While the post was written by Bonnie while she was trying to implement this index idea, it is my site and I take full responsibility for the post.

To those at wordpress, savor this moment because the last time I publicly apologized was in the previous millennium.

JPFmovies

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

You know what sucks? WordPress

I am trying to find a way to create a page for my site that will display all my post titles in alphabetical order. Sounds simple, right? Seems like there should be a plugin for that — and there are, several of them. But here’s the thing. My Dashboard in WordPress doesn’t include the plugin tab. Why? I can’t imagine.

Has anyone else out there experienced this kind of problem? Does anyone know how to get the WordPress Plugins tab to show its lovely face?

I know where the tab should be.
I know how to change the “screen options” in the upper right corner — that doesn’t give me a plugin tab option either.
I know where to find the tools and settings tabs — no dice there either.

Do I have to give up, and fail to give my readership what they are clearly asking for, a page with an alphabetized listing of all my posts? Do I have to create such a page by hand?

What gives?

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945) Censored by the Freedom of Speech Advocates (the United States) until 1952.

Here is a Kurasowa film that was made in 1945 during the final days of WWII, but prevented from general release by American censors until 1952 when the U.S. forces essentially withdrew from Japan ostensibly because the film contained elements of the bushido code.

This is not your run of the mill movie in the eyes of most westerners.  It is less than an hour long and filmed against what is clearly a painted set meant to be the mountainous horizon of Japan.  In addition, half of the dialogue is poetry that is sung making it more of a narrative now that I think about it.  People attribute these cinematic devices to director Kurasowa’s faithfulness to the “noh” style play upon which the story is based.  If, like me, you have no idea what that is, noh is a genre of classical Japanese musical dramas that has been performed since the 14th century.  Apparently, the plays focus on technical form rather than creativity and what we would call traditional “acting today.”

While researching this review I noticed something; that is, people either loved this film or hated it.  Very few opinions were “middle of the road” when discussing the merits of the movie with some going so far as to say “well it left me feeling that the best part of this film was its short 58 minutes.”  Something I’ve never heard or read about a Kurasowa film until now.

The film follows the Japanese jidaigeki or “period drama” telling the story of The Gempei War, which has just ended and now, two brothers – allies of that war – have turned into enemies.  Yoshitsune, a victorious general in the War, is being hunted by his brother, Yoritomo. Yoshitsune, along with six men, attempt to reach Hidehira Fujiwara, who may offer Yoshitsune safety. To do so, they have to pass through a barrier in the Kaga Province, under the command of its magistrate, Saemon Togashi.  The film is how are they going to get through the barrier.

Getting through the checkpoint is not going to be as easy as passing through a tollbooth.  With Yoshitsune’s right hand man, Benkei (a formidable historical figure in his own right), leading the way, the six men, disguised as monks, with Yoshitsune disguised as a porter and another real porter providing comedy relief (and in my opinion helping to save their skin in the end), travel to the barrier, but word has already reached the officials that the fugitives are moving incognito as wandering ascetic priests.  Naturally, they are stopped at the checkpoint since they fit the description of (and are in fact) the wanted men.

Since all of the fugitives have been trained in ritual, their show is very convincing.  Togashi proceeds to ask a number of questions designed to prove their priesthood.  As a real priest, Benkei has been steeped in the traditions of the Buddha and he alone speaks, and he does so convincingly.  Togashi’s final test requires Benkei to recite his mission for the temple he claims to be collecting donations for.  He famously takes up a blank scroll and recites, partially from memory and partially improvisational, in typical Buddhist fashion.  Togashi’s suspicions ostensibly assuaged, the band of merry men are allowed to pass, but as they depart, Togashi’s right-hand believes he recognizes the one of their number as Yoshitsune.  Benkei thinking on his feet, beats the heck out of his lord Yoshitsune with his staff.  In Japan during that time, no retainer would ever lay a hand upon his master, and thus the guards are convinced of their authenticity.

The best part of this movie is not the dialogue in and of its self, but the psychological questions hanging out there.  Does Togashi know that it is indeed Yoshitsune’s band and therefore allow them to pass out of some admiration for their performance?  Or has Benkei truly succeeded in fooling them?  Other versions of the story try to leave their audience hanging by making them try to guess what he knew and when did he know it.  In this film, it is clear that Togashi knows and that Benkei knows that he knows.  This may not be so easily diffused from a single viewing.  Kurosawa himself, it could be argued, winks and nods at this reading, but he never spells it out in the final product (through montage, composition or otherwise).  Instead, he leaves it to the cunning of his actors who make these points.

So here are my middle of the road thoughts on The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail the film’s narrative singing gets a little annoying after the first song, but the tension described in the preceding paragraph add significantly to the merits of this movie.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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Back by Popular Demand: Emma and Sally Review Monk While JPFMovies Slumbers at his Post (with input from Dr. H and Hank)

Because audiences have been clamoring for another review from Emma (age 13) and Sally (age 8), the girls have agreed to review Monk, USA’s long running series about OCD suffering detective Adrian Monk (starring and produced by Tony Shalhoub) and his assistant, single mom Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard).

What do you think of Monk?

Sally: It’s great.  It’s funny.  Because Mr. Monk is afraid of ladybugs, and harmonicas, and milk, and heights, and germs, and a hundred and something other things.

What about you, Emma?

Emma: It’s funny.  Because.

Because why?

Emma: Her answer applies to my answer too.

Which assistant do you like best?

Emma: Natalie.

Sally: Natalie.

Why not Sharona?

Sally: She just—I don’t know.

Emma: I think Natalie’s better at dealing with Mr. Monk.

Sally: Because she’s used to dealing with her daughter.  She has better ideas.  And she doesn’t quit.  I also like the theme song!!

Emma: It’s better than the old one.

How about the rapper theme song?

Emma: Oh, that was a good one too.

What’s your favorite Monk episode?

Emma: Umm…well, the garbage one was pretty good.

Sally: I didn’t see all of that. They’re basically all equal.  I think the ones where he gets drunk or sick are best because he does funnier things.

 

What do you think of the doctor?

Emma: Oh, the one where Dr. Kroger quits is a funny one.

Sally: The ones with Harold are good too.

Who’s Harold?

Emma: He’s his rival.  He’s also Natalie’s rival in the school board election in that one episode.

Does Monk remind you of any other television detectives?

JPFMovies (talking in his sleep): Sherlock Holmes with a germ phobia.

Emma: Hercule Poirot. He likes everything to be very neat and orderly.

Dr. H: Columbo.

Hank: He is quirky like Columbo.

Sally: Who’s Columbo?

Hank: He was an old time detective.

What would you tell Monk if you were his doctor?

Sally: I would bring my harmonica and tell him to play it.  And tell him that ladybugs are harmless.

Emma: We’re trying to watch an episode.

Well, I’m trying to compile a movie review.

Do you think Monk is ready to be back on the police force?

Sally: Yes, I do.

Emma: No.

Sally: What?! What are you talking about, Emma?

Emma: Well, his phobias would get in the way of his police work.

Sally: Yes, but he’s a great detective!

Which phobias would be a problem for a police officer?

Emma: Well, just about all of them. I mean, there’s heights, germs.

Sally: Afraid of frogs, ladybugs.

Emma: Yeah, but that’s not so much of a big deal.

Sally: But what if someone framed a ladybug?

Emma: How would you frame a ladybug?

Somebody framed a monkey once, right?

Emma/Sally: Yes.

Would you like to meet Monk in real life? What if he could come and stay with us for a week?

Sally: Yes.

Emma: That would be…

Sally: It would be weird, but yes.  But we would have to REALLY clean up.

Emma: HE would clean up.

Sally: I mean before he came.  He would put stuff in places where we couldn’t find them.

What would be Monk’s least favorite room while visiting us?

Emma: The kitchen, probably. Or Sally’s room!

Sally: My room!

How would JPFMovies and Monk get along?

Sally: Well, not so great.

Emma: Well…

Sally: Well, not so great.

 

What do you think Monk would do to the DVD collection?

Sally: Uh…organize it.  Why are you doing this instead of JPFMovies?

Because JPFMovies is snoring.

JPFMovies: zzzzz………..What are you doing? ….zzzzzzzz

 

What would you rather watch, Monk or Malcolm in the Middle?

Emma/Sally: MONK!!!!

Sally: What a question.

 

On another note, what do you two think of the allegations that we snuck the My Fair Lady review into the coveted position of 150th post?

Emma: I deny those allegations.

Sally: I don’t really know what you mean.

JPFMovies: zzzzzzz

 

JPFMovies could not be reached for comment.

*Note JPFmovies was NOT provided an opportunity to respond to these scurrilous accusations.  JPFmovies denies any lack of diligence on the part of the site and/or any claims that JPFmovies “fell asleep at the switch” so-to-speak.  Furthermore JPFmovies maintains the position that it was scammed out of its 150th review extravaganza by the treacherous trio. 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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I think we discovered what happened to Mario Van Peebles: Posse (1993)

As you know, in my last post, I asked the question, what the hell happened to Mario Van Peebles?  Well, after he directed and starred in Posse (1993) we now know where he went—into the can.

Obviously, this is my humble opinion.  After Van Peebles costarred in Heartbreak Ridge (1986) with Eastwood, he then costarred with Wesley Snipes and others in New Jack City (1991) which was probably the best film Van Peebles has been in.  So a couple of years after New Jack City, a screw must have come loose when Van Peebles decided to direct and star in Posse.  As my regular visitors know, I have a very high threshold for bad movie pain but Posse took me to the limits.

Where to start.  Well, the story is presented as a flashback told by an unnamed Old Man with a Cuban prologue during the Spanish American War—one of the most cliché devices I think film makers use.  Jesse Lee (Mario Van Peebles) leads the US Army 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers who are fighting in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.  The 10th is barely holding its own and is under constant attack from enemy troops.  Jesse Lee runs back to the command post of the corrupt and racist Colonel Graham (Billy Zane) asking that the 10th Cavalry be allowed to pull back and regroup.  The crooked Colonel offers him a deal: in exchange for shooting a deserter he will permit the retreat.  Instead of killing the man in cold blood, Lee shoots a cigar out of his mouth.  After killing the deserter himself, the Colonel offers Jesse Lee’s command of the 10th to another prisoner called “Little J” (Stephen Baldwin) (the alternative is a firing squad). Graham then orders the 10th to fall back in order to begin another mission that will require them to wear civilian clothing, as opposed to their Cavalry uniforms, making them spies under the rules of war and deserters under the U.S. Army code of military justice.  The 10th is ordered to rob a Spanish gold shipment, which is really a setup to give the Colonel an excuse to execute the entire 10th Cavalry as deserters. 

The 10th get the gold and begin to run somewhere as a newly formed “Posse,” always just one step ahead of the evil Colonel.  After a number of chase scenes and close encounters, we discover that Jesse is really seeking revenge for the hanging of his father.  The run takes the Posse to some small towns where Jesse is known, respected and feared.  Eventually there is  about a 30 minute battle royale between the Posse and the white town folks and the evil Colonel.  Some of the Posse is killed (except of course for Jesse and his Indian squaw) and all of the white folks and soldiers either flee or die a loud death.  Then of course there is the climactic battle between Jesse and his arch nemesis the Colonel.  Well, I don’t think I need to tell you how that comes out. 

Finally, after the bloodshed, the gold and riding off into the sunset, we flash forward to the narrator who is now an old man telling the tale to some journalists and even has a book that Jesse’s father had given him somewhere along the way.

This move is bad on so many levels I hardly know where to start.  The film starts out looking good until the characters open their mouths, then it becomes clear that they are so flat, so comic book, so ‘much’, both the good and the bad guys are just over the top bad; I would try to describe them further but my fingers might turn to rust as if a pox were put on my computer.  Every stereotype imaginable manages to get a role in this one—right down to their names, like “Father Time” or “King David.”  Moreover, throughout the movie we are presented with an in-your-face history lesson of whitey’s oppression of everyone.  True or not: save it for the PBS documentaries. 

Now here is the worst part: the talent.  This movie had a formidable cast. Just look at this list:

Mario Van Peebles – as Jesse Lee

Stephen Baldwin – as Little J

Billy Zane – as Colonel Graham

Melvin Van Peebles – as Papa Joe

Big Daddy Kane – as Father Time

Blair Underwood – as Carver

Isaac Hayes – as Cable

Charles Lane – as Weezie

Robert Hooks – as King David

Richard Jordan – as Sheriff Bates

Pam Grier – as Phoebe

Aaron Neville – as Railroad Singer

Stephen J. Cannell (yes the TV & film writer who recently died of skin cancer)- as Jimmy Love

I mean come on, Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes, Blair Underwood (L.A. Law)!  Van Peebles managed to take a great cast, lots of money and a potential story and create something unbearable to watch.  Unfortunately, Posse is yet another classic example of what Hollywood considers its audiences to be—simple minded.  I don’t know, maybe they are, but that does not mean I have to like it.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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