LawrenceA

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Everything posted by LawrenceA

  1. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    MURDER BY DECREE (7/10) Christopher Plummer is Sherlock Holmes and James Mason is Dr. Watson in this smart, well-crafted mystery from director Bob Clark. The duo are hired by a cabal of local businessmen to investigate a series of grisly unsolved murders in the area of Whitechapel committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper! The trail takes many twists and turns, with Freemasonry, political radicals, insane asylums, psychics and even the royal family becoming involved. The excellent cast includes Susan Clark as Mary Kelly, Frank Finlay as Lestrade, David Hemmings, Anthony Quayle, Donald Sutherland, Genevieve Bujold and John Gielgud. There's lots of atmosphere here, with the sets being appropriately damp and foggy. Although the storyline is convoluted, it's still easy to follow if one pays attention. I make no claim as an expert on Holmes, although I have seen quite a few of the films. Rathbone will probably always be my favorite, but Plummer acquits himself nicely in the role, and Mason has a few really standout moments. This same basic version of the Ripper murders, minus Holmes-Watson, would serve as the basis of both the print and film versions of FROM HELL, the film starring Johnny Depp. Mystery fans should enjoy it.
  2. LawrenceA

    What do you think of Today's Schedule?

    FOUR DAUGHTERS is sappy, but it stuck with me for some reason. When I recently compiled my top ten for each year, it made it on the list for 1938.
  3. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    MR. MIKE'S MONDO VIDEO (7/10) Michael O'Donoghue was a writer at the "National Lampoon" before being recruited as one of the original scribes for "Saturday Night Live". The first person seen on-screen in the first sketch of the first episode, he quickly made a name for himself with his odd, dark sketches and occasional appearances, usually as the urbane dilettante "Mr. Mike". He also had a huge ego and a quick temper, and it wasn't long before he left the show. After signing a deal to create a one-off tv special, he submitted the original version of MONDO VIDEO, which was summarily rejected as being too outrageous for broadcast. He added more footage and eventually it saw a limited theatrical release, before appearing in edited form on Showtime and home video. This one will not appeal to most viewers. Consisting of filmed and videotaped sketches mixed with bizarre stock footage, bits include a Dutch swimming school for cats, a Hawaiian church dedicated to worshipping Jack Lord, a close-up of Dan Aykroyd's real webbed toes, old footage from Thomas Edison electrocuting an elephant, random topless native girls, old nudie film, ex-bassist of the Sex Pistols Sid Vicious performing "My Way" shortly before his infamous murder-suicide (the dvd omits the audio on the order of Paul Anka, who wrote the song), strange man-on-the-street interviews, and much, much more. Quite a few big names participate, including SNL friends Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner and Paul Shaffer, as well as Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Wendie Malick, Deborah Harry, Margot Kidder and a photo of Joan Hackett. I found it amusing, original, weird even by today's standards, and very uneven. Recommended for adventurous viewers, but not for the meek. Postscript: O'Donoghue returned to SNL as headwriter for a short time in the 80's before leaving again, eventually dying of cancer in 1994 at the age of 54. He was a fascinating character, and those interested should read the excellent book "Live from New York".
  4. LawrenceA

    Films of 2015

    Sad to hear that about BRIDGE OF SPIES. It looked like a good, grown-up movie for a change. Also surprised THE REVENANT wasn't on their list after all the awards hype it's been getting.
  5. LawrenceA

    Films of 2015

    You're absolutely right about the story. That really is all there is to it. And I saw it flat in the theater, I don't do 3-D. I liked it for what it was, an adrenaline blast. I liked the little character details and quirks, like the religion surrounding the villains. The costume and production design were top-notch, as was the score. I really expected mediocre-to-garbage quality going into the theater, so lowered expectations may be part of it. And as much as I liked it, I am genuinely surprised they picked as best picture. Not the kind of thing usually recognized in award season, outside of sound and fx.
  6. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    MEATBALLS (6/10) Seminal entry in the "slob comedy" subgenre that was popular from the late 70's thru the mid-80's. Bill Murray had his first starring role as a counselor at Camp North Star, a summer camp for kids. The film follows the various hijinks and sexcapades of the kids and their misfit counselors, as well as their rivalry with nearby rich-kid retreat Camp Mohawk. Early directing effort from Ivan Reitman, and with screenwriters including Harold Ramis. Drive-in sexpot Kristine DeBell appears as a counselor, as well as busy future movie and tv actor Matt Craven. Chris Makepeace plays the shy kid who provides a "heartwarming" sub plot. A cult favorite to a lot of people, this film spawned a series of increasingly terrible sequels, as well as a mini-boom of summer camp movies. While I'm a huge fan of Murray, I've never really warmed to this movie. Most of it is corny and obvious, and the after-school-special-type subplot grates. I much prefer WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, a much-later parody of the summer-camp genre.
  7. LawrenceA

    Films of 2015

    Haha, yes! I love it. From what I've read, I thought it would be SPOTLIGHT or THE REVENANT. But FURY ROAD was a lot of fun.
  8. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    MAD MONKEY KUNG FU (7/10) Silly, energetic kung fu action comedy directed by and starring Chia-Liang Liu. Liu plays a successful stage performer who, along with his beautiful sister, is invited for after show drinks by a local businessman. But the businessman is really a shady brothel keeper, and he has Liu framed for sexual assault and has his hands crushed, all to force Liu' s sister to work in his brothel! Some years pass, and Liu now works as a meager street performer with a small trained monkey. He meets up with a petty thief and layabout (Ho Hsiao), and the two team up to stop a group of low level street thugs that are terrorizing the district. Liu agrees to teach Hsiao the secrets of monkey kung fu. Eventually, they come into contact once again with the evil brothel keeper (Lo Lieh) and they become determined to set things right. More comedy than straight action, the monkey style, replete with lots of jumping and flipping and monkey noises, lends itself to slapstick. The fight scenes are well done, and the story moves along fairly well, even if, at just under 2 hours, it's a bit long. There's also a scene of only partially simulated animal cruelty that's unpleasant. For fans of funnier martial arts films, though it's not in the same league as Jackie Chan's best.
  9. LawrenceA

    Krampus

    And Sepia, there's a long tradition of Christmas horror flicks, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT series, CHRISTMAS EVIL, DON'T OPEN TIL CHRISTMAS, TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT, RARE EXPORTS, SANTA'S SLAY, and lots more, most of them garbage.
  10. LawrenceA

    Krampus

    I read they're making three or four Krampus-themed movies for release this and next year. Seems everyone read about the legend at the same time.
  11. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

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  12. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    LOVE AT FIRST BITE (5/10) Dopey, badly dated comedy was a big hit upon release but hasn't aged well. George Hamilton stars as Count Dracula who's battling loneliness and has become infatuated with an American model (Susan Saint James). After being evicted from his Transylvanian castle by the communist Romanian government, Drac and his bug-eating manservant Renfield (Arte Johnson) travel to NYC and the swinging disco scene to track down the model and consummate Dracula's undead love. However, the model's boyfriend (Richard Benjamin) happens to be the descendant of Van Helsing and he's determined to stake Dracula before he can transform her into his bride. Also with Dick Shawn, Sherman Hemsley, Eric Laneuville and Isabel Sanford. Arte Johnson's Dwight Frye impersonation is funny, but that's about all.
  13. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    Just forget it. I don't want an argument. I liked the movie, you didn't. I gave my reasons, you gave yours. Neither of us will convince the other that they're wrong, so what's the point? Let's move on.
  14. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    LOVE AND BULLETS (5/10) Subpar action film stars Charles Bronson as an Arizona-based FBI agent sent to Switzerland to bring back a gangster's moll to testify. The gangster learns this and sends a series of assassins to try and eliminate them. Bronson's real-life wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland plays the moll with an irritating southern accent. Rod Steiger chews the scenery as the mob boss with an unusual stuttering problem. Also with Bradford Dillman, Paul Koslo, Strother Martin, Michael V. Gazzo, Albert Salmi, Val Avery and Henry Silva as Vittorio. Stuart Rosenberg replaced original director John Huston. Rarely rising above the level of a mediocre tv movie, this one's probably best avoided by all but the most die-hard fans of the stars, although I did enjoy a brief bit near the end with a blowgun.
  15. LawrenceA

    Will Joan Bennett be SOTM in May?

    While I agree on the varying quality of Frank's movie output, they are showing quite a few I haven't seen. CAN-CAN, MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS, DOUBLE DYNAMITE and ASSAULT ON A QUEEN are all getting dvr'd.
  16. Very happy to finally get to see the second and third films. I found the vhs of PATHER PANCHALI at a flea market some years ago, and loved it. TCM has scheduled some or all of the trilogy in the past, and always had a schedule change before airdate.
  17. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    A LITTLE ROMANCE (7/10) Charming comedy-romance from director George Roy Hill featuring an Oscar-winning score by Georges Delerue. An American girl (Diane Lane) and a French boy (Thelonius Bernard) meet-cute and set off on a trans-European journey looking for love and adventure, accompanied by a crafty old pickpocket (Laurence Olivier). The cast includes Arthur Hill, Sally Kellerman, David Dukes as an obnoxious film director and Broderick Crawford as himself. This type of movie is generally not my cup of tea, but it manages to keep the amount of saccharine at an acceptable level. The youngsters are fine in their roles, and Olivier keeps his latter-period hamminess to a minimum. For romantics young and old, and fans of classic European scenery.
  18. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    Both excellent choices. My favorite in '06 was CHILDREN OF MEN followed by THE DEPARTED, '07 was NO COUNTRY, followed by THERE WILL BE BLOOD (sorry MissWonderly).
  19. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    That's the answer I expected.
  20. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    What films do you think should have won in those years?
  21. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    This most frustrating part of the film was carried over from the source novel by Cormac McCarthy, and I think it's integral to what the book and the movie were saying. When we, as the viewers, arrive at the scene, it's with Tommy Lee Jones, who, despite all his knowledge and experience, has managed to be one step behind. It goes to the meaning of the story at the end, illustrating that there are no heroes on white horses coming to save us, they are just as clueless as the rest of us. And upending the notion of the fantasy ideal of the law enforcer even went into the casting of the role, Tommy Lee Jones generally being thought of by audiences as a tough, no-nonsense Western-style hero. This movie was never meant to be a traditional thriller, with everything tied up neatly and laid out for the audience.
  22. Hahaha, I guess so! Poor Joker, he was my favorite character. I'd heard he'd had his face removed and wore it as a mask, but I didn't know about the invasive heart-ectomy.
  23. Forgive my lack of specifics, because it's been over 20 years since I was an active comic reader, but there was a major storyline in the books, some time in the late 80's or very early 90's, where Superman was forced to kill a Kryptonian criminal that had escaped the Phantom Zone. He was wreaking terrible destruction on Metropolis, and Superman felt he had no choice but to break the bad guy's neck.. It wasn't a decision made lightly, and the ramifications were dealt with over the next several issues, with Superman battling self-doubt and depression, even going into self-imposed exile off-Earth for a time. The villain wasn't Zod in the books, it was some other previously unmentioned Kryptonian villain. When I saw MAN OF STEEL, I just figured they mixed that old book storyline with the Zod storyline. Superman seemed to show anguish at having to kill Zod, and many lives were at risk. I didn't have a problem with it.
  24. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    Why does it matter what his job was? If you can't infer his job, it's not important to the story. Not everything needs to be detailed and explained on screen.
  25. LawrenceA

    No Country for Old Men is coming

    The point is we tend to think that there are heroes out there (law enforcement, military, whomever) that will protect us from the evil in the world while we safely sleep in our homes and go about happily with our lives, but in reality no one is ever safe, suffering and death can and will come for everyone, at any time, and our safety is a fairytale illusion. Thus the final statement of him waking up from his dream, this last case being the final realization that the myth of safety is just that, a myth. It's a dark, almost nihilistic, final note.

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