Classic of the Week: The Cat from Outer Space (1978)

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The Cat from Outer Space is a 1978 science fiction film directed by Norman Tokar and starring Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, Ronnie Schell, Roddy McDowall and McLean Stevenson. The film was produced by Walt Disney Studios.

The story follows an unidentified flying object that makes a landing on Earth and is taken into protection by The a United States Government. The inhabitant of the UFO is a cat like alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7. Because the Mother Ship cannot send for a helping team, before it leaves the solar system, the cat decides to research how to repair the ship himself. Using a collar that is special and amplifies telekinetic and telepathic powers, he follows the military to the Energy Research Laboratory, where they want to learn how the UFO’s power source works.

This is quite a strange children’s film, very different from other classic live action Disney productions. It is one that young children may find a bit scary. It is not one of Disney’s best science fiction pictures, but it’s not plain awful either. I enjoyed this film a lot when I was a kid and still do, although it is such a silly story, with pretty bad effects.

The acting is not that great, but what do you expect from a film like this? It is still very fun, yet strange at the same time. I remember watching this on TV when Disney Channel did Vault Disney late at night, when I was allowed to stay up late. Is this a Disney movie I could watch over and over without getting tired of it? No, but when I do watch as an adult, I still enjoy it just as much as I did when I was a kid.

This is quite a good film, but not nearly as good as other Disney sci-fi films like Flight of the Navigator and Escape to Witch Mountain. This one is still very entertaining. It is a bit cheesy, but not Mystery Science Theater cheesy, but just enough to intrigue older children and adults. 8+ 3.5/5

La Vie en rose (2007)

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La Vie en rose is a 2007 French biographical musical film about the life of singer Édith Piaf. It was directed by Olivier Dahan and starred Marion Cotillard as Piaf. The film begins with segments from Edith’s childhood and ends with circumstances surrounding her death.

Piaf was and has become of the most celebrated singers of all time. She is known for her torch ballads about love, loss and sadness. Her most well known songs are, Le Vie en rose, Non je ne regrette rien, Hymne à l’amour, La Foule, L’Accordéoniste, Padam, Padam… 

Although, most of the songs weren’t sung by Cotillard, she did wonderfully as Piaf. I can’t think of anyone else that would have come even close to the Édith-ness as her. Marion had the look and mannerisms down perfectly. If you’ve actually seen videos or documentaries on Piaf, you’d agree. I just wish Marion could’ve have had the singing part down too, but not every actor or actress is musically gifted. She brings back one of the most well known and extraordinary, yet tragic French singers of all time. We get to learn about the life of Édith from childhood to her devastating death.

Gerard Depardieu is also great as Louis Leplée, the French nightclub owner who discovered Édith in Paris on a street corner. Jean Pierre Martins does a fine job as Marcel Cerdan, who was a French Pied-Noir world boxing champion. Marie Armelle Deguy does a fairly good job as Marguerite Monnot, a French songwriter and composer, who wrote many of Édith’s songs. Caroline Sihol is really good as German singer and actress Marlene Dietrich.

If you don’t know much or anything about Édith Piaf and want to, then watch this film, because you learn so much about her, also her family, friends and the people she worked with. She was a remarkable woman, struck by tragedy, that ended her life too soon, but she left behind a legacy, becoming an inspiration, not just for other French singers like Carla Bruni and Serge Gainsbourg, but singers around the world. Her music is still enjoyed to this day. La Vie en rose is sung by Lady Gaga’s character in the 2018 A Star is Born and Non je ne regrette rien was used in a 2016 commercial for Dove Chocolate.

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful film. I learned so much about Édith Piaf, that I found it fascinating. A stunning, yet depressing story, about one of the most beautiful, not just French voices, but voices ever. I loved it from beginning to end. 13+ 4.5/5

A Star is Born (2018)

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A Star is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama film produced and directed by Bradley Cooper in his directorial debut. The film is a remake of the 1937 film of the same name and stars Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle and Sam Elliott. The story is about a musician with a really bad drinking problem (Cooper) who falls in love with a younger singer (Gaga) that he discovers while preforming at a drag bar. It is the fourth remake of the original 1937 film, which starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, after the 1954 musical that starred Judy Garland and James Mason and the 1976 rock musical version that starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. This version is closer to the 1976 one.

Although, we really didn’t need another remake of A Star is Born, this one is surprisingly very good. If you haven’t seen the other three, you must watch them, before or after this one, to compare them. Even though this version follows the Streisand version rather closely, I still find it MUCH BETTER. The 70s one is definitely the worst one out of them all. I love Barbra Streisand and she did a great job, but it was Kris Kristofferson’s acting that made it bad. His music was fantastic and that was all the good he did for it.

Bradley Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, closely resembles Kristofferson’s John Norman Howard and Lady Gaga’s character is much like Streisand’s Esther Hoffman Howard. But Cooper, unlike Kristofferson, does outstanding in both acting and performing. Gaga (as Ally) is great in her performing, but her acting could use a little polishing up at times. She isn’t a terrible actress, but I only see her winning awards for the music she sang. Cooper put on an Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy worthy performance.

Both this version and the 70s one, are different from the 1937 and 1954 versions, because they focus on music, unlike the first two that focus on acting. Either way, they are all about performing, fame, love, loss, marriage and substance abuse. They are also all heartwarming, make you angry at times and tragic.

Sam Elliott, who plays Jackson’s older brother and manager Bobby Maine, does a great job. Andrew Dice Clay, who portrays Ally’s father Lorenzo, does splendidly in his role. Dave Chappelle, in his role as George Stone, Jackson’s best friend, did good, but his character was too short lived.

All the music in this film (except for the pop star stuff) is wonderful and deserving of Oscar and Grammy nominations. The songs are extremely well written and performed, definitely one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Bradley Cooper portrays the alcoholic and drug addict musician perfectly. It is hard to believe he only took voice and guitar lessons for several months. Gaga’s portrayal as a waitress and Piaf/Dietrich style performer, dreaming of becoming a real singer, was good, not great, but she was better in the acting then I expected. She looked stunning without all the makeup, wigs and wild costumes. It made me take back everything negative I’ve said about her. I think this film changed her for the better.

This is definitely one of the best musicals I’ve seen in years. 18+ 4.5

Greatest Thriller Films of All Time

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  1. Phantasm – 1978
  2. You’re Next – 2013
  3. Sisters – 1973
  4. Scream – 1996
  5. A Tale of Two Sisters – 2003
  6. The Others – 2001
  7. Carnival of Souls – 1962
  8. Scream 2 – 1997
  9. Dead Ringers – 1988
  10. [Rec] – 2007
  11. Wait Until Dark – 1967
  12. The Devil’s Backbone – 2001
  13. Peeping Tom – 1960
  14. Audition – 1999
  15. The Omen – 1976
  16. The Birds – 1963
  17. Poltergeist – 1982
  18. Freaks – 1932
  19. Se7ven – 1995
  20. A Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984
  21. The Wicker Man – 1973
  22. Susperia -1977
  23. The Shining – 1980
  24. Jaws -1975
  25. Rosemary’s Baby – 1968
  26. Nosferatu – 1922
  27. The Bride of Frankenstein – 1935
  28. Night of the Living Dead – 1968
  29. Halloween – 1978
  30. The Exorcist – 1973
  31. Psycho – 1960
  32. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1974
  33. Get Out – 2017
  34. Eraserhead – 1977
  35. The Silence of the Lambs – 1991
  36. The Innocents – 1961
  37. Let the Right One In – 2008
  38. Carrie – 1976
  39. M – 1931
  40. Deep Red – 1975
  41. Frankenstein – 1931
  42. Eyes Without a Face – 1960
  43. Don’t Look Now – 1973
  44. Repulsion – 1965
  45. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – 1975
  46. The Night of the Hunter – 1955
  47. The House on Haunted Hill – 1959
  48. The Sixth Sense – 1999
  49. Vertigo – 1958
  50. Anatomy of a Murder – 1959
  51. The 39 Steps – 1935
  52. Charade – 1963
  53. Diabolique – 1955
  54. Blood Simple – 1984
  55. Blow Out – 1981
  56. House of Games – 1987
  57. Straw Dogs – 1971
  58. The Fall of the House of Usher – 1960
  59. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – 1920
  60. The Hands of Orlac – 1924
  61. Dracula – 1931
  62. Throne of Blood – 1957
  63. Rebecca – 1940
  64. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? – 1962
  65. Cape Fear – 1962
  66. Sabotage – 1936
  67. The Third Man – 1949
  68. On the Waterfront – 1954
  69. Fail Safe – 1964
  70. Black Swan – 2010
  71. Memento – 2000
  72. Primal Fear – 1996
  73. Mystic River – 2003
  74. Affliction – 1997
  75. Martha Marcy May Marlene – 2011
  76. The Gift – 2015
  77. Misery – 1990
  78. American Psycho – 2000
  79. Mulholland – 2001
  80. Panic Room – 2002
  81. Blue Velvet – 1986
  82. The Vanishing – 1988
  83. The Skin I Live in – 2011
  84. Play Misty For Me – 1971
  85. A History of Violence – 2005
  86. Strangers on a Train – 1951
  87. M – 1931
  88. Shadow of a Doubt – 1943
  89. Zodiac – 2007
  90. The Departed – 2006
  91. No Country for Old Men – 2007
  92. Amores Perros – 2000
  93. Straw Dogs – 1971
  94. The Virgin Spring- 1960
  95. The Lives of Others – 2006
  96. Blood Diamond – 2006
  97. Persona – 1966
  98. Marnie – 1964
  99. 99 River Streeet – 1953
  100. Pi – 1988

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

 

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a 2018 historical romantic drama directed by Mike Newell, based off the novel of the same name written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The film stars Lily James, Matthew Goode. Michael Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton.

The film is set in 1946 and follows a London based writer as she begins exchanging letters with people from the island of Guernsey, which was under German occupation during World War II. After getting engaged to her American boyfriend of six months, Juliet Ashton travels to Guernsey to meet the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, with whom she had been keeping in touch with through letters.

After spending several months there, getting to know the literary group, the island and other residents, Dawsey Adams, Juliet’s first Guernsey correspondent, starts falling in love with her. He learns she is engaged when her fiancé Mark Reynolds visits her on the island. After flying back with Mark to London, Juliet tells him that she doesn’t want to marry him, because she loves someone else and gives him the engagement ring back. She goes back to Guernsey to ask Dawsey to marry her.

This is a cute, sweet film, one that lovers of period dramas, romance and literature will very much enjoy. It is not the most exciting romantic period drama, but it is still quite enjoyable throughout. It does have a more PBS and BBC Films feel to it, than Netflix.

Lily James is wonderful as Juliet Ashton. She brings her usual period drama greatness to this film, like she did in the show Downton Abbey. Glen Powell does a pretty good job as Mark Reynolds and his character isn’t the film as much as he is in the book. Mark Huisman is equally as wonderful as James as the character Dawsey Adams. Matthew Goode is great as Sidney Stark, Juliet’s publisher from London.

Overall, this film is lovely at times, has the right amount of tragedy, romance and literature and the scenery and costumes are fabulous. The only complaint I have is that this film could have been a bit shorter, two hours and four minutes is far too long for such a story, but I still enjoyed it thoroughly. 13+ 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: Lenny (1974)

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Lenny is a 1974 American biographical film about the life of controversial comedian Lenny Bruce, directed by Bob Fosse, starring Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine and Jan Miner.

The film covers various parts of Bruce’s life from his prime to his arrests for obscene language and using nightclubs to let out his frustrations, to his addictions and his death.

Lenny Bruce, although he was extremely controversial, he ended up influencing other comedians. He was never afraid of ruffling feathers. Dustin Hoffman is outstanding as Bruce, the role seems tailored for him. He did the voice, mannerisms and jokes spot on. If you’ve seen the real Lenny, you’ll agree. Although he doesn’t look exactly like him, everything else Hoffman does makes up for it.

In this film, you learn about Lenny’s rise to fame, his troubles with authorities, his bankruptcy and his death. You also learn about his extreme addictions. All of this is portrayed fantastically. You see that Lenny was both loved and hated and was very troubled. You also learn about the custody battle of Lenny and his ex-wife Honey’s daughter Kitty.

Valerie Perrine is fabulous as Honey Bruce. You learn in the film about Honey and Lenny’s relationship, their divorce and her criminal history and time in jail. Although she didn’t look that much like the real Honey, her acting skills in this film make up for it. Jan Miner does a great job as Sally Marr, Lenny’s mother, a stand up comedian, dancer and actress.

Overall, this is an extraordinary film, one that definitely should be seen at least once in your life. Everything about it, apart from looks, is sensational. This is one of the greatest films I have ever seen. 18+ 5/5

A Simple Favor (2018)

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A Simple Favor is a 2018 American mystery thriller directed by Paul Feig, based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The film stars Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend and Jean Smart. The story is about a vlogger from a small town who tries to decipher the disappearance of her rich and mysterious friend.

The film starts out with Stephanie Smothers (Kendrick) and Emily Nelson (Lively) getting to know each other by planning play dates for their sons and helping pick them up, babysit, etc. After Emily goes missing and while Stephanie is trying to find her, she discovers that Emily is not her real name, she is really Faith McLanden who has a twin sister named Hope.

Faith fakes her own death by drowning her sister at a camp they grew up going to. She also turns up in unexpected places, revealing she is still alive. She plays tricks on Stephanie, her husband, son and coworkers.

This film to me, would have been a lot better if Lively’s character wasn’t so over the top mysterious, jealous, violent or sneaky. The entire film seemed to be about her, not much about the other characters, even the main ones.

I love a good mystery from to time and judging by the trailer, I thought this film was going to have Hitchcock feel to it. It starts out that way, then is stretched too far, making a lot the story so far fetched, it was hard to follow.  Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are both equally great in the film. Henry Golding does a fine job as Sean Nelson, Emily’s husband.

Overall the film started out really good, then became so stretched out and unrealistic and a little gory. Blake Lively’s Emily character was an over the top sick and twisted rich mother in Katherine Hepburn attire. Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie character was really just a sweet, somewhat naive, cute single mother, just needing a friend. The two of them clashed from the get go. Emily took advantage of Stephanie, her husband and son.

This is not your modern day Hitchcock mystery thriller. The director took what could have been a really good film and just added and added, trying to get nearly everything from the book, plus original things in it. The acting is great from the main characters, but this story is far too long, it’s two hours I won’t be getting back. 18+ 3/5

Classicof the Week: Léon: The Professional (1994)

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Léon: The Professional is a 1994 English language French thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman in her acting debut. The story is about Léon (Reno), a professional hitman, that unwillingly takes in a 12 year old girl named Mathilda (Portman), after her parents are murdered by extreme Drug Enforcement Administration, Norman Stansfield (Oldman). Mathilda becomes Leon’s partner after learning the ways of a hitman.

This film has become a cult classic and is one of Luc Besson’s most, if not the most well known films. Despite the fact that this film was (and still is) highly controversial because of Natalie Portman’s character and the over-the-top violence, and despite the fact that many movie theaters refused to show it and the ones that did, cut out most of the film, it was still critically acclaimed. Portman, Reno and Oldman are all equally outstanding in their roles.

The film is extremely violent, just like the other cult classic of 1994, Pulp Fiction. Besson could have toned down the violence and not made Mathilda so “lolita” like. He also could have made her parents not abusive to her. There is far too much shooting, lots of foul language (even used by Mathilda) and abuse. The film is very dark, even in sunny scenes, like many cult classics. It has a sort of Taxi Driver meets Lolita feel to it.

Is this one of the best dark dramas and cult films I’ve ever seen? Yes and no. Acting wise, fantastic, but far too violent and dark. So I have a love- hate relationship with this one. It is not outstanding, but not plain awful either. I just wish there had been more light and less gore. 18+ 3/5

Greatest American Film Songs

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  1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz
  2. Moon River – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  3. The Man That Got Away – A Star is Born (1959)
  4. The Way We Were – The Way We Were
  5. People – Funny Girl
  6. Singin’ in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain
  7. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – The Lion King
  8. Mrs. Robinson – The Graduate
  9. As Time Goes By – Casablanca
  10. Stayin’ Alive – Saturday Night Fever
  11. White Christmas – Holiday Inn
  12. Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  13. When You Wish Upon a Star – Pinocchio
  14. Cheek to Cheek – Top Hat
  15. Smile – Modern Times
  16. My Heart Will Go On – Titanic
  17. I Could Have Danced All Night – My Fair Lady
  18. Somewhere – West Side Story
  19. Someday My Prince Will Come – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  20. Cabaret – Cabaret
  21. The Sound of Music – The Sound of Music
  22. The Way You Look Tonight – Swing Time
  23. You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Toy Story
  24. Let’s Get Together – The Parent Trap (1961)
  25. Everybody’s Talkin’ – Midnight Cowboy
  26. Unchained Melody – Ghost
  27. Ol’ Man River – Show Boat
  28. The Trolley Song – Meet Me in St. Louis
  29. Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off – Shall We Dance
  30. High Noon (Don’t Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin) – High Noon
  31. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  32. Born to be Wild – Easy Rider
  33. Some Enchanted Evening – South Pacific
  34. America – West Side Story
  35. Stormy Weather – Stormy Weather
  36. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins
  37. New York, New York – On the Town
  38. Fight the Power – Do the Right Thing
  39. I Got Rhythm – An American in Paris
  40. Theme From Shaft – Shaft
  41. Superfly – Superfly
  42. Days of Wine and Roses – Days of Wine and Roses
  43. Swinging on a Star – Going My Way
  44. That’s Entertainment – The Band Wagon
  45. What Ever Will Be, Will Be ( Que Sera, Sera) – The Man Who Knew Too Much
  46. Wind Beneath My Wings – Beaches
  47. Hopelessly Devoted – Grease
  48. Luck Be a Lady – Guys and Dolls
  49. Don’t Rain on My Parade – Funny Girl
  50. Rock Around the Clock – Blackboard Jungle
  51. Goldfinger – Goldfinger
  52. Thank Heaven for Little Girls – Gigi
  53. Gonna Fly Now – Rocky
  54. Shall We Dance – The King and I
  55. Summertime – Porgy Andy Bess
  56. Make ‘Em Laugh – Singin’ in the Rain
  57. Tonight – West Side Story
  58. Get Happy – Summer Stock
  59. It Had To Be You – When Harry Met Sally…
  60. My Favorite Things – The Sound of Music
  61. Thanks for the Memories – The Big Broadcast of 1938
  62. Suicide is Painless – M*A*S*H
  63. Streets of Philadelphia – Philadelphia
  64. Summer Nights – Grease
  65. Good Morning – Singin’ in the Rain
  66. Rainbow Connection – The Muppet Movie
  67. On the Good Ship Lollipop – Bright Eyes
  68. 9 to 5 – 9 to 5
  69. Isn’t it Romantic? – Love Me Tonight
  70. City of Stars – La La Land
  71. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) – Arthur (1981)
  72. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Dirty Dancing
  73. I’m Easy – Nashville
  74. Seems Like Old Times – Annie Hall
  75. Long Ago and Far Away – Cover Girl
  76. Footloose – Footloose
  77. Lose Yourself – 8 Mile
  78. 42nd Street – 42nd Street
  79. The Rose – The Rose
  80. Old Time Rock and Roll – Risky Business
  81. All That Jazz – Chicago
  82. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – The Breakfast Club
  83. A Whole New World – Aladdin
  84. Charade – Charade
  85. The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  86. Tomorrow – Annie
  87. Man of Constant Sorrow – O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  88. I Wanna Be Loved by You – Some Like It Hot
  89. I Enjoy Being a Girl – Flower Drum Song
  90. I Won’t Dance – Lovely to Look At
  91. It Takes a Woman – Hello, Dolly!
  92. It Might As Well Be Spring – State Fair
  93. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning – Oklahoma!
  94. Till the Clouds Roll By – Till the Clouds Roll By
  95. Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast
  96. Too Darn Hot – Kiss Me Kate
  97. Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty
  98. Rhapsody in Blue – Manhattan
  99. Whatever Lola Wants – Damn Yankees
  100. Anything You Can Do/ There’s No Business Like Show Business – Annie Get Your Gun (tie)

Tag (2018)

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Tag is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Jeff Tomsic, starring Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner. The film is based on a true story that published in The New York Times about a group of men that have been playing tag together since they were kids. They spend one month a year playing it.

After watching an interview with the real men of this story on Megyn Kelly, I knew I had to this movie. This film is very likely exaggerated, since there is a lot of violence and foul language. The characters in the film look different from the real guys as well.

Every actor in this film does a great job as their character.  The violence and adult language could have been toned done a bit and Renner’s character much less of a selfish jerk and Johnson’s character less of a dope head.

This film is still very funny, yet offensive at times, like when Jerry’s fiancé Susan fakes being pregnant and having a miscarriage. Despite the offensive scenes, it still manages to make you laugh out loud. Some scenes are drawn out, some are too short and some the film could’ve done without. Most of the actors are normally in humorous roles, except Jon Hamm, Leslie Bibb and Jeremy Renner, but it was great to see them in serious and comedic roles.

The story itself is clever, fun, funny and not just about having fun, but bringing friends together, since they all live long distances from each other. The game brings out the kid every friend, while allowing them to be with their best friends.

This is definitely not fir kids, but still a pretty fun film overall. It’s not outstanding, but horrible either. 18+ 3/5