Movie reviews

Robert Frank’s classic Beat Generation short, PULL MY DAISY (1959)

A short film that captures the brilliance and madness of writers and their lovers and friends. A film that is equal parts random, crazy and genius. No other film about The Beats, portrayed by them or not, compare to the originality that this does. It brings them back for just a little while, although it feels MUCH longer. Meet The Beats.

Source: Robert Frank’s classic Beat Generation short, PULL MY DAISY (1959)

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Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

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When Harry Met Sally… is 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The story is about the titles characters meeting, taking a cross  country trip and the 12 years of likelihood meetings in New York City.

This film is definitely of Reiner’s best, if not the best work(s). It is filled with joy, humor and heart wrenching. Never a dull moment in this film. Billy Crystal is outstanding as Harry Burns and Meg Ryan is fabulous as Sally Albright. They are a that’s meant to be together, but they don’t realize it until much further in the film.

The two characters fight, leave, bump into each other and do some fun things together like singing karaoke in a pawn shop. They start as friends in 1977 after graduating from the University of Chicago, they part on unfriendly terms when Sally accuses Harry of making a pass at her after he tells her she’s attractive. They meet again five years later they meet again on the same flight. Sally is dating Harry’s neighbor Joe and Harry is engaged and he suggests they become friends. They run into each other again at a bookstore, Harry’s wife left him and Sally and Joe broke up.

Though I enjoy this film every time I watch it, it does seem to have a bit of a Woody Allen feel. Not that I dislike most of Allen’s work, it just comes off as surprisingly as Rob Reiner film, although most would probably think it’s a Woody film. There is not much I don’t like about this film, except I wish they could have remained friends until they realized that they are in love with each other. There are times in this film when one of the main characters is a bit too harsh to the other. When they fight it’s like a cross between the Odd Couple and a married couple. But thankfully they make up.

Truly a great film that will not only make you laugh, it will make you cry, but warm your heart as well. It captures the dysfunctional-ness between the two, as well as the friendship, then love. This is not a mushy gushy rom-com, like anything from today that’s based off a Nicholas Sparks book. It has the right amount of wrong and right. The film takes you on a journey throughout Harry and Sally’s lives until they come to the conclusion that they should be together.

Most romantic comedies these days are filled with the same Sparks type story, boy and girl meet, a life event tears them apart, then chance brings them back together where they realize they are meant for each other. This film is different because it shows how people can lose each other, come together, lose again, then win each other’s hearts. This is a film both men and women can enjoy, because like I said, it’s not mushy gushy. It has the right amounts of humor, tragedy and love. You will Laugh out loud and maybe get a little angry and then cry. This film that will never cease to be anything but truly wonderful. 18+ 5/5

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

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The Big Chill is a 1983 comedy drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Mg Tiller and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of friends who attended The University of Michigan that reunite 15 years later after their friend Alex commits suicide. The film features music of the 60’s and 70’s, because two of the main characters that are married and own the house where the film takes place, prefer older music,

The film is rather depressing at times, funny at times and romantic and sweet at other times. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but more of a little chuckling funny at certain moments.

The characters are all very different in ways, each with a different personality, but they have things in common like their friendship, their school spirit and their love they have for Alex and they share their memories, good and bad about him and their college days, their current lives and their personal problems.

The film is filled with lots of drinking, drugs, sex, laughter and love. Every actor and actress in this film does an excellent job as their character, making each one unique. There were times when I did get a bit bored when there was little dialog or much going on certain scenes. Parts of the film where very dark, as in not much lighting or any at all. A big part of the film seemed like it was just early morning for like a week,even though the story took place over a weekend.

The soundtrack was great, although some songs didn’t fit the scene they played in. I prefer the old stuff myself as well, so this was right up my alley.

I’d never seen Jeff Goldblum in a serious and funny role before and he was outstanding, just like everyone else. No two characters are alike making this a truly special film, that I don’t understand why it has ggotten rough reviews. Sure at times, it’s rather slow, but it does pick up. Was I ever bored? Maybe a tiny bit, but not enough to complain and complain about.

This film is about friends coming together in a time of need, after having been apart for a long time and their best friend’s death. It is about celebrating and mourning and sharing differences and alikes. It is also about death, friendship, happiness, sadness, love and life. Not many films today cover all these subjects and this one does it spectacularly. Wonderful! Truly wonderful! 18+ 4.5/5

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: The Boyfriend (1971)

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The Boyfriend is a 1971 British-American comedy musical film directed by Ken Russell an starring Twiggy, Christopher Gale, Tommy Tune and Max Adrian. It is an adaptation of the Sandy Wilson musical of the same name. In the 1920’s, after the lead star sprains her ankle, the assistant stage manager is forced to become the understudy, but while taking on the leading lady’s role, she becomes a huge star and finds love a long the way.

Twiggy, who was originally a model and fashion icon of the sixties, became a stage, screen and television actress in the early seventies. Maybe she should have just stuck to modeling or done something else altogether. She was not glamorous, by any means, but rather androgynous, thin and sometimes just cute. She was very thin like Audrey Hepburn, but lacked the elegance and grace and often times in this film, she came off as very awkward, a little mean at times and just okay at the singing and dancing.

The film features a lot of silly and cheesy songs and choreography, but some great costumes. It should’ve been shorter, being over two hours long is just plain torture, to have to sit and watch such a tawdry musical that is nowhere as good as more well known musicals. The entire film seemed like one big cheese fest taking place in the roaring twenties, set to song and dance.

I like Twiggy, I always have since a teenager, but she should have shied away from doing musicals, or just movies in general. She should have never been cast as the love interest of Tony Brockhurst, she was not ideal in any way for that kind of role. Christopher Gale did a fine job as Tony. Yes, he had some rather cheesy lines and choreography himself, but he outshined Twiggy (Polly Browne).

Normally, I love musicals, but this one far being anything great, even though it won numerous awards. Twiggy to me, brought the film down, along with the gaudiness of the entire film. The only good thing about this film, is the romanc and the dancing, everything else was like a broadway disaster The singing and dancing was far too much and there needed to more acting. No they didn’t sing everything instead of talk like a Jacques Demy musical, thank goodness, but there was two much “Broadway” and not enough drama and story.

The scenery and romance where by far the best things about this film. Sure it’s fun two watch Twiggy and Tony sing and dance, but this film lacks in drama and and it seems to be one performance after an other, with no real story, except Twiggy and Tony’s romance and she becoming a stage star. Not every musical is all performance after another, most Have drama that explains the story.

A great film for older kids and teenagers and families that like musicals. 8+ 3/5

Movie reviews

Are Art Films an Acquired Taste?

An art film is usually a serious independent film, that is marketed at a specific type, or a niche market, rather than a mass market audience.  It is aimed serious and artistic work. They are often experimental and generally made for artful reasons, rather than appealing to mass media for profit.

Art films are not like mainstream Hollywood films with many different qualities like, the thoughts and expressiveness of the director, social realism, or the dreams and motivation of the character.

Art films are usually presented at special theaters called art house theaters and at film festivals. Because art films are targeted at small niche-market audiences, they rarely obtain the financial circumstances that would allow such big budgets like wide released films. They are almost always produced on a much smaller budget, with usually lesser known actors and actresses and focus on the different ideas and looking for different techniques.

These films go against popular blockbusters, which are aimed more at daily life and pure entertainment. They have small investment costs and only need the appeal of a small percentage of mainstream audiences to be financially feasible.

Is the art film genre dying? Not necessarily thanks to FilmStruck, The Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies. But who knows if those platforms will eventually be phased out. While TCM comes with most cable and satellite television services, FilmStruck does not and do you really want to pay up to $10.99 a month or buy expensive Criterion DVDs just watch these films? I don’t, unless I were rich. Sure, you can find some cheap Criterion DVDs used online, but does having that seal on the cover make them even cooler or more collectible? Some come with special features, which is nice if you care about that.

Art films are often obscure, strange and disturbing. Some people get or would be confused with these. Yes, I agree the plot in some can be quite hard to follow, because it either doesn’t explain it in the beginning, goes from scene to scene, or is so bizarre and/or disturbing. There are non film scholars that can follow any movie’s plot and can explain them well.

Art films are getting more recognition these days from critics, festivals, award ceremonies and trailers as well as Pay-Per-View, streaming platforms and Redbox. But the latest Star Wars film will always out rule David Lynch’s latest production. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, because there will always be an audience for both genres.

Many people when hearing the term “art film,” they shove them away, not giving them a chance. They would rather watch the newest bad Adam Sandler movie, which to each their own. People often want nothing to do these kind of films, but there are those that love the obscure.

Early art film directors have influenced other directors. Woody Allen quoted both Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini in his film Manhattan. He also stated his film Stardust Memories was inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2. Although not a director but a singer, Lana Del Rey has stated that Fellini is one of her inspirations.

Avant garde films used to pretty overlooked years ago. It wasn’t until directors like Bergman, Fellini, Jean Luc Godard and Francoise Trouffaut started winning awards, that they really gained an audience. Nowadays we have televised award shows streaming platforms and The Criterion Collection to get more fans. Sure the genre will never be as popular as big blockbuster genres. To me if you want to do anything in the film industry or film related, you have to learn to appreciate all genres (except pornos of course), including art films.

These directors go beyond want is considered “normal” in the film world. They use different types of techniques, music and often times cameras. Director Wes Anderson stated he used to hate art and independent films until he watched Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. You get far in this industry only working with one or two categories of movies. A true movie loves movies of types, such as myself. I learned to love the obscure, the sometimes disturbing and just plain weird. So are art films an acquired taste? I’d say yes and that is okay, because art is art and there will always be fans.

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: City Lights (1931)

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City Lights is a 1931 American pre-code silent romantic comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. The film is about Charlie’s Tramp that falls in love with a poor blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) and forms a chaotic friendship with an alcoholic millionaire (Harry Myers).

This is probably one of the funniest, yet sweetest films I have ever seen and definitely my favorite silent one. Charlie, or should I say, Sir Charles Chaplin, is one of the most entertaining not just actors, but people in film history. His clever character that he created after being told his handsomeness wouldn’t make it in comedy, is a true icon, one that most everyone knows, or at least has seen. He is still today a true comedy icon along with Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

This film has been one of my favorites for years now. I have tried watching silent films a long time ago and got instantly bored. Now I have a huge love and appreciation for them and I wish more of today’s people felt the same. This a gem of a film, a true masterpiece, bursting with originality, cleverness, humor and passion.

Charlie goes from funny to mischievous to endearing. Everything he does for the blind girl is so sweet, because it’s all done with love. He doesn’t mind having to face challenges or bump his head to please the girl of his dreams, which makes this film very heartwarming as well as hilarious. It’s full of not just preciousness, but also Charlie’s trademark slapstick humor.

This film soars above the idiotic and crude humor of today’s films. It is one that both children and adults alike will enjoy, although the Millionaire’s drinking problem and Charlie nearly being shot in one scene would have to be explained to small kids. Other than that, this is still a family film. It has quirky humor and a boxing scene  that work well the usual silent film type music. It has only a few words on the screen in certain parts, but has zero dialogue and doesn’t need any to tell the story.

This film is as lovely as it is funny. This is the first movie that I actually cried watching. Charlie plays his sweetest character and does it with charm, cleverness and hilarity. Never do I ever get tired of this film and yes, I still tear up every time. Outstanding, outstanding, outstanding! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Enough with adult humor and sexual innuendos, we need movies like this today. Charlie Chaplin will always be a true star and inspiration, even Scorsese can’t argue with that. 7+ 5/5

Movie reviews

Why Humor is Necessary in Your Suspense Fiction —

Watching Like a Writer is a movie review series that looks at films from the perspective of a fiction writer, complete with one writing takeaway, and an exercise that will help better your fiction! Review Producer Debra Hill, who passed away in 2005 at age 54, left a legacy of such notable classics as The […]

via Why Humor is Necessary in Your Suspense Fiction —

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: Tootsie (1982)

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Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman, Geena Davis, Charles Durning and Doris Belack. The story is about a talented but erratic actor who is forced by his reputation to change his appearance and identity as a woman to land a job.

This film is filled with clever humor mixed with absurdity and some tenderness, with the feel of a classic comedy film like Some Like it Hot. It is one that can make a person laugh every time they watch it, because it’s that darn funny. Dustin Hoffman should have won an Oscar for this film, because he is outstanding as both Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels. No other actor would have come close to being as good as Dustin, he is truly one of the greatest in film history.

Can a middle-aged actor living in New York City find real romance and happiness as an actress? Well, Hoffman does a quite a great job as Dorothy, using an imperfect Southern accent, big “grandma” glasses, long dresses, stockings, lipstick and a short brown curly wig to convince people. I might have thought Dorothy Michaels was actually a woman if I hadn’t known before hand, but that is what makes this film so great. Michael throws fits and has a bad reputation and goes against the roles he is given.

Yes, the “get up” is a bit much, but the character of Dorothy Michaels looks like a man in old lady drag, with Sophia Pertillo’s glasses. The character certainly has the Golden Girl meets drag look nailed. Sure the look could’ve been toned down, but that still doesn’t bring this film any negativity. To me, it just makes the film more original. Michael does become extremely absorbed in Dorothy, taking the character to the extremes by bossing people around on sets, even going on dates with men, knowing that they can’t get further than kissing.

This film has the humor like Some Like it Hot and The Birdcage, but is also more serious when Dorothy and Michael get furious and when Dorothy reveals that she is actually Michael Dorsey by yelling and removing the wig and glasses. It is one of the most famous movie scenes of all time and Dustin Hoffman is absolutely perfect.

What I love about Tootsie is the real versus fake worlds of both of the main characters. Dorothy becomes a celebrity and all for faking it. But in the end, Michael learns that being himself is more important, what a great message. A truly wonderful film. 13+ 5/5

Movie reviews

The Greatest Showman (2017)

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The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American musical film directed by Michael Gracey. It stars Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya. This film follows the story of P.T. Barnum’s creation of Barnum & Bailey and the lives of the circus stars.

This film is filled with fun songs and choreography. Although a few of the songs are repeated throughout the film and a few are a bit cheesy in my opinion, they are all exciting, catchy, and easy to learn and several are accompanied by wonderful dance routines. Every single person in the film is outstanding. They all really bring the story to life.

Although, personally I condemn animal entertainment, so I was hesitant to see this film at first, but I’m very glad I gave in and gave this one a shot, because it is a very good film. It is wildly entertaining, funny at times and romantic. You let out every emotion watching this film. Is it a family movie? Somewhat, it does have kissing, abuse, drinking, some foul language and racism. So, I would say this film is better suited for older kids, because younger ones might get frightened by some of the scenes and/or question some of the subject matter.

Being a huge fan of musicals, I wish I would have been more excited to see this one and concentrate more on the story and singing and dancing, than the animal stuff. Despite all that, I really did enjoy this film a lot. The only negatives I have are, I wish that songs weren’t repeated so much, there was more acting and a few of the songs a little less cheesy.

Is this one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen? Sort of. But it is still a fun-filled film, that any musical lover will enjoy. You never get bored, because you find yourself tapping your feet to the music. The scenery, choreography and costumes and makeup are extraordinary. But this film is quite far from being as good as old musicals like Singin’ in the Rain. It does uphold in bringing a smile at times. You may cry as well during some parts and laugh at other times. Never a dull moment in this entire film. Even the president himself Mr. Trump, enjoyed this film, giving it two thumbs up.

This film would make a great Broadway production, although I can’t see actual animals on stage. Overall this a well done and fascinating picture. 3.5/5

Movie reviews

Crazy, Are All Geniuses?

When we talk about Geniuses in our society, we generally talk about the best of us. The most influential. We typically reserve this prestigious title for people that display exceptional intelligence or skill in a certain field- these are the people that leave a mark from whence they came, the people that elevate their subject […]

via Name a Genius that Ain’t Crazy — The Green Rover