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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hanging Around

Clicking 122 channels with nothing to watch I caught a few moments of Criminal Minds (TV,CBS, 2005-present) a show I have watched because who couldn't love Mandy Patinkin (2005 -2007) and Joe Mantegna (2008-2011) ? Usually I drift away during a commercial and don't remember what happened nor care that I don't have the solution. The acting is terrific but the stories are repetitious and not in a good way like ABC's Castle or FOX's Bones .......who are more like Matlock in their soft core murder cozies. 

Anyway, I digress. A glimpse of Beth Grant being her best at matronly evil was enough to catch my attention for a moment. In the closing scenes of the show I seriously had a LMAO as Bud Cort was found hanging from a bathroom ceiling fixture. How odd that a few seconds of homage to a 70's cult film would bring such joy to my heart.....

With Love For Bud and Ruth 

"Harold and Maude" (1971)- A iconic 70's cult film once shown for matinee's and midnight movies, now available on DVD...a film that epitomizes the fight between modernity and postmodernism through out the 20th century. Maude is modernity, a woman of great narrative who has collected all the symbols (smell machine, sculpture, musical instruments) of an age. She has fought for human rights, created art, loved strongly and with a Victorian era calm knows when her time is up. Harold is young, vibrant and missing parts. He has no story, no future and no cause to fight for. His only action is to fight against the past and its conventions. He is not of this time but can't envision a future. He is the image of an image that is fading and can only be seen its momentary phases as he captures death. Don't watch this the first few dozen times for its battle of modern vs postmodern, but for the tree that is rescued, the pastor who is rattled,  and the car that is sent over the cliff. And mostly for Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort who create with laughter, dance and love. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just a Bit on the Dreamy side ......

Day dreams, fright night mares, long shiftless naps with quiet undertones - the sensory oddity of the brains pictures, sounds and scents meant to make sense of and sort through the vast undertaking of a day or a life..........and then they grasp it in images and words that help it all seem weirder than we thought......

"The Cell" (2000) - Ugh, it doesn't work. Jennifer Lopez is a decent actress, Vincent D'Ofrino is okay and the sets, costumes and most of the music are fair to midland. Yet, this just falls apart- while watching, you will keep asking yourself, Why you've bothered. 

"The Never Ending Story" ( 1984) - Delightful if overly sweet. A definite rewatchable- you'll notice something different with each viewing.  

"Office Space" (1999) - A dream that shouldn't have been put on film and now can't get out of your head. Ick. But so worth it for this otherwise terrific odd film. Yay to Stephen Root!! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Film Maven's Dad Day Tribute

Scott's Favorite Movies and why you should watch them too: 

"Gunga Din"  (1939) - When a young and emo Rudyard Kipling was hanging out in India under British rule writing poetry he probably didn't consider the impact it would have on the world of film-making. "Gunga Din" is a superb film connecting all the elements of charm, comedic timing, brotherhood, drama and romance. From the cinema-photography to the costumes and on through the direction and editing- this film fits equally with the other major productions of 1939, a year filled with unmatched film quality. 

"Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939) - Somewhat forgotten character actors like Edna May Oliver and John Carradine help build a production through the direction of John Ford that stands up against the creations of 1939 (as you may know, is the best year for films). Vistas spend equal time with emotional story telling. A true blue American myth building romantic epic.

"Northwest Passage" (1940) - Visually pretty, action sequences to rival any - One of those films that little boys play act in various forms on sandy hills and cardboard boxes using the dog, their sisters dolls and anything that is remotely shaped like a gun...Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan and Robert Young forge a new world in another myth-building love affair with American history.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Your Dad is secretly a Monster Kid

Its true - While there is a child in all of us over one thing or another, its a fairly certain bet that your Dad has a monster movie memory that he would love to relive.....You are always safe with the obvious beloved epics, "King Kong", "Godzilla" and "Frankenstein" but be sure to explore a little deeper and perhaps choose: 

"The Day of the Triffids" (1962) - Is there anything more frightening than imagining what comes AFTER.......the fear that brought out Triffids stems from a cold war or from reading to much HG Wells...This is a really bad bad movie and when you saw it as a little kid in the sixties it has never left your late night thoughts....

"Tremors" -(1990) - The best of horror is the thinking what it might be...Tremors keeps that going through out and becomes a classic on the edge of your seat movie. Plus, you get Kevin Bacon before he was KEVIN Bacon. Nice.

"Jurassic Park" (1993) - This is one of those films that should be viewed on the big screen in complete darkness. If you happen to have one of those in your house, YAYA! But, maybe, if you know a small one screen theater owner you could do your town a favor and ask for it to be played. 

Last Minute Awesome Movie Choices for Dad

Inspiration is often found in the wee hours of the morning when the brain is awake and asleep at the same time....When a James Bond marathon sounds like the best idea ever thought of ...quick before you begin to doubt yourself, get thee to a video store! 

A complete package of Dad's favorite Bond (Sean Connery) or a mix of the three pretty good ones (Connery, Pierce and Craig) or be extremely funny and just get a collection Bonds with a premiere choice of Bond girls (Basinger, Janssen and Blackman) 

We wont' go into the obvious misogynist tendencies in a character like Bond or the men who glorify him.....but just say that the success of such films means they have a clue on the filmgoers need to see a man's man (Connery) do the things we want them to be doing.....

As films the best choices: 

"Casino Royale" (1967)- A terrific choice for anyone not familiar with the Bond films and for the Bond fanatic. David Niven is a fabulous Bond in an ensemble work - smooth, snide and sophisticated. Everything works together nicely here, storyline, acting, music. The cast is a parade of names and faces that is more fascinating than the film itself..

"Goldfinger" (1964) - Connery is the best Bond. Go ahead, argue with that....Taking a decidedly dark action picture turn,  this one is bold, stylistic and probably one of the films to inspire music videos. It flashes from day to night, from sophisticated to trashy, from action / tragedy to drama / comedy in only seconds. 

"Diamonds are Forever" (1971) - The return of Connery as Bond and Guy Hamilton as director did the franchise a great service. There is an over the top even for a Bond picture about this one that is only picked up in a few of the more recent attempts. Not as darkly juxtaposed as "Goldfinger" - this choice is lighter, faster, and brighter.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Only Two More Shopping Days Left....

for Father's day....yikes! Let's make sure we have a variety of Dads covered here. Since we are all so different and its difficult to put Dads into one formulaic box - we will err on the side of DIVERSITY!!

oh my yes.....

If your Dad is Two Dads.....

and Loves Musicals: 

"The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
(1994) - The Australians do camp so well! Here we have three amazing actors creating a tour de force of emotional ups and downs in a gorgeous setting. If you are a TV fan, you know the battle between Rocky Horror and Priscilla was never really concluded on the Drew Carey show - you might want to buy RH as well, just in case. 

If your Dad is a total sports nut and is really sad because Hockey just ended: 

"Mystery Alaska"  (1999) -  Not a huge Russel Crowe fan, but he is more than just tolerable in this cute lower end Hockey comedy/romance. Its got enough Hockey/ guy stuff to make it interesting & this time of year you don't really mind all the icy white vistas.

IF your Dad is a total and complete movie geek, likes hockey has a sick sense of humor and approves of bromances:

"Clerks" (1994)  - Ah, the action adventure of rooftop hockey when you should be working ....the true independent film required by off beat cinemaphiles to adore & revere. Plus its  a guy based sense of structure and humor with lots of high school immaturity thrown in. But more than anything its a iconic first film and a strong start for director / writer Kevin Smith. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Action Road Pictures You might not have heard of......

Now, a quick jot of a few off the map action / road pictures that Dad will enjoy but you might not know about .....

"Truth or Consequences New Mexico" (1997) - Described elsewheres as an "American Neo-Noir" This choppy crime road trip goes by fast and you might need to watch it again because at the end you are asking yourself..."What just happened?" First time director Kiefer Sutherland goes for gritty realism mixed with campy parody.

"Lewis and Clark and George" (1997) - A mediocre indie road film, its interesting to watch as it moves from decent to bad to okay with every scene. Rose McGowan steals the picture one minute and looses you completely the next....

"Smoke Signals" (1998) - Based on a story by Sherman Alexie, a road picture with a funny twist, keeping a light airy feel while dealing with intense emotional subjects. A Great movie with road trip self discovery at its best. 

Action Pack

Is your Dad an Arm Chair Cop Hero? Here are several sets of action filled flicks, pick a trilogy or gather one from each - be sure to take him some water and a meal, he'll be glued to that chair for the duration! 

"The Transporter" (2002) - This is a good choice because it offers a little something for everyone- technically its a Foreign film and stars Jason Statham, so there's a gift for mom. Its also fully action packed and has a decent story line -so there's the angle for Dad. Plus it has terrific cinematography and complicated road scenes- so everyone who is a film geek will love it. Transporter's 2 & 3 are basically the same flick, with even more complicated road race scenes but well worth watching. 

"Die Hard" (1988) - Some of Bruce Willis' best work, plus a bit of a love story with touching scenes- once again, everyone is covered here AND you get Alan Rickman. Die Hard the first and second are good- then we get seriously repetitive for 3 and 4 - Plus you can count "16 Blocks" as a horizontal version therefore number'd better get them all, cus once he gets started Dad will want them all.

"Terminator" (1984) - The films listed here are not in order of importance. That would definitely depend on Dad's age and preferences. If he is a sci fi nerd or a film geek he will already own "The Terminator" then you are absolutely safe in getting any of the next films in the series because he will have strong opinions about each successive movie and that will be so much fun to hear aaalllll about. Even the melty one with Robert Patrick is well worth watching. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Easy Gift Ideas for Dad

If your Dad is a golf fanatic: 

Forget Adam Sandler, go old school with 

"Caddyshack" ( 1980) - Don't bother trying to improve on this - its LOL funny, has interesting guest stars and a quotable script. 

If your Dad loves bowling: 

Ignore the strange wigs,

"Kingpin" (1996) - Over the top stupid concept works because Woody Harrelson and Dennis Quaid are just plain funny guys. 

If your Dad loves bowling, gangsters, cowboys and irony: 

Just don't try to harsh his buzz,

"The Big Lebowski" (1998) - Amazingly well written road romp, pot head gangster movie with for those acting moments with Goodman, Turturro, Moore and some surprises. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do you sometimes feel your Dad is a creature from another planet?

Oh yes, sometimes those weird little quirks that your mom finds SO SO amusing, well, they are just wrong. Dad, just get a grip. Either take off in a space ship or try not talking to my friends.......

3 Movies so Dad will hide in his cave when your friends come over. 

"Forbidden Planet" (1956) - Leslie Nielsen's best film, he shows great potential here for real acting. Treating the content like a natural movie script creates a tense and enjoyable foray into the unknown universe. 

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) - A classic - its your mission to make sure Dad has this in his movie collection. Do not fail. A smidge cheesy but so well done. 

"A Space Odyessy" (1968) - No Hal will not help you send Dad into space. While we could go on and on debating Stanley Kubrick and why "Paths of Glory" is his only really good film.....its best to say that Dad will enjoy this - its a must own movie. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

o m g You are SOOO Embarrassing

YAY!! Only a week to go until Father's Day! 

Now we have forgiven him for being uncool, started to appreciate how many times he said 'be careful', and stopped wishing he was secretly a wizard or a spy. Its time to show all that new found appreciation and get him something he would really really enjoy. A movie ticket? a framed piece of his favorite movie memorabilia? Those speakers for his man cave?    
Or simply a few choice films for his collection- something that says, "Hey Dad, lets watch a movie!" 

"Dan In Real Life" (2007)- Dan is a dork. As with most Steve Carell movies there are silly moments that you laugh at but aren't like, funny..... But then there are serene, thoughtful moments that are incredibly funny - he carries them off with graceful slapstick. A sort of chick flick that Dad will like. 

"The Incredibles" (2004) - okay - this one is for the whole family but we know Dad will watch it on his own. A great Dad superhero like no other - he'll be super impressed that you thought of him while buying this one.  

"The Addams Family" (1991) - Who could be a better Dad than Gomez? Self-absorbed, cruel, smoker - Raul Julia does credit to the role. A rare almost as good as the TV show film. Interesting depth to the parent - child relationships.....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some quiet French Village or an Island Hideaway ??

Where do we guess that Tennessee boy Johnny Depp spent his birthday? I say the island .....The best advice ever given by Marlon Brando - when he told Johnny to keep his money invested in land, but more specifically BUY A TROPICAL ISLAND....oh what a good friend! 

Makes you wonder what other pearls were dropped on the set of "Don Juan DeMarco" ......and what advice Iggy Pop gave Johnny when filming "Cry Baby" ......

3 of the worst Johnny Depp films - but you'll still watch them:

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998) - Perhaps its just that 'Hell's Angels' is the only Hunter S. Thompson book worth reading ....or maybe its a female/male thing - Guys love this movie....its awful 

"Secret Window" (2004) - So predictable and fashioned more like a TV movie of the week (if you're too young to know what that is, ask your G'ma). And whats with the hat?

"Alice in Wonderland" (2010) - so many great scenes and interesting details strung together with such a great story line .....but not ever really connecting ....What was up with Anne Hathaway's arms? You gotta love Helene's head....okay, watch it but realize, its just not good. 

Cowboy Pitchers - just not what they used to be?

No offense to all the good ol' boys tryn' to be rough hands and rustlers but cowboy pictures just ain't the same no more. Perhaps John Ford was just one in a million, perhaps John Wayne can't be replaced - but really? Can anything new compare? 

"High Noon" (1952) - Mr. Gary Cooper is a suit makers dream, all clean lines and sharpness...but give him a gun belt and some dust, the man was made for it. Delivering lines as snappy as bullets- a must view movie. 

"The Searchers" (1956) -  No one can be tough, mean and full of spite while pulling at your heart strings like John Wayne. Ford does his best work making Wayne and Hunter into believable, hard bitten characters. Cinematography to envy. 

"Destry Rides Again" (1932, 1939) - Every rule has its exception....the usual rant against remakes is all mixed up here, because both films are well worth watching and keeping on your rewatchable list. Tom Mix covers anger and emotes undercurrents in the original 1932 version. Meanwhile, Jimmy Stewart smolders along side Marlene Dietrich in the 1939 remake. The first might be difficult to locate, maybe Netflix? but make the effort. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gossip part one appendix A

Giovanni Ribisi's twin sister is married to Beck who's mom was involved with the Andy Warhol factory, which makes all of them a cult classic by association. There should be a Ribisi game of separations because he was in "Lost in Translation" with Scarlett Johansson who was married to Ryan Reynolds who was in "Smokin' Aces" with Jeremy Piven who was in 
"Family Man" with Nicolas Cage who was in "Gone in "60 Seconds" with Giovanni. 

"I love your Work" (2003) - its difficult to have any sympathy for a character who is shallow and ungrateful but expects others to be deep and understanding....Ribisi is outstanding as usual. 

"Mod Squad" (1999) - Don't often care for remakes and updates, but this one comes as close as possible to being really good. Dark, joyless, a little grimy - Giovanni and crew take themselves way too seriously and its fun to watch. 

"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" (2010) - the movie is hot fun mess and the soundtrack (Sex-bob-omb music by Beck) is terrific and really the best part of the film. Great silly fun! 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Rebecca Miller is the daughter of Arthur Miller and Inge Morath (his third wife, his second was Marilyn). Miller is married to Daniel Day Lewis. 

"Personal Velocity" (2002) - A strong female vehicle, writer / director Rebecca Miller gives this film strength and insight with out compromising character events. Starring the amazing Parker Posey and the equally wow Fairuza Balk. Not given the theater push it deserved, available on DVD.

"The Crucible" (1996) - This okay version of Arthur Miller's play offers incredible performances by Wyonna Ryder & Daniel Day Lewis. Intense, in the moment look at the emotional side of witch hunts. 

Sofia Coppola is cousin to Nicolas Cage (who was married to Elvis's daughter, Lisa Marie and  Patricia Arquette, sister to David and Rosanne)AND Jason Schwartzmann,(Who's mother is Talia Shire of "Rocky" Fame). Sofia's Father, the infamous Francis Ford Coppola and Ex-Husband Spike Jonze are also writer directors. 

"Lost in Translation" (2003)- Beautifully written and filmed, by far one of Bill Murray's best performances. Coppola pulls Scarlett down to her most inner depths of acting. 

"Being John Malkovich" (1999)- This could have been a horrible farce, instead Director Spike Jonze captures the serious side of the silliest of concepts and turns Kaufman's insanity into a perfectly understandable and reasonable rant. Wonderful!! 


Buscemi is not just a Sandwich

Slightly creepy, slightly sexy, just a pinch of smirky bad boy and an occasional peek of innocent dumb ass .....The many sides of Steve Buscemi: 

"Reservoir Dogs"(1992) - The first time watching all that stands out is the ear ....but watch it again and all the subtle aspects of Tarantino's script become more than the blood bath he hides behind.Then we can argue about the best character - which by the way is Mr. Pink, take that Harvey Keitel.  

"Trees Lounge" (1996)- So perfect a vehicle for Steve Buscemi (Write, Director and Star) - this character study is a quiet simple film with a stellar cast.  

"Ghost World" (2001) - There is always a few hesitations when seeing a comic book come to life...this time they did okay. We have to wonder if 'Seymour' was written with Buscemi in mind? Thora Birch is amazing, Scarlett Johansson gives a us a look at building into a great actress...Again, a quiet, uneventful film built on character study and life experiences that shape us (not appropriate for younger audiences). The wonderful Illeana Douglas and the late Brad Renfro also show up with incredible moments. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

When you Wish Upon a Star ....

Ooops, Will I have to pay Disney for comping part of their song? 

We head now stumbling into a topic that honestly, has no beginning and no end and offers so many angles its difficult to settle the brain on one portion. The only choice is to begin....June 1, 1926 Norma Jeane Mortenson (or Baker if you prefer) enters the world. An unstable mother, an absent (questionable) father welcome Norma Jeane to flutter aimlessly from rock to rock. Later becoming Marilyn it is conceptualized by a fan base that she is two people,never reconciling one or the other. While no doubt some emotional and psychological issues exist (hello, don't we all?) the binding of Norma vs. Marilyn is hardly one of them. The perfect blend of naught/nice and childlike/sophisticated Norma was no victim not even to herself. Jogging the alleyways of Hollywood, claiming a town (and a country) as her own - the strength, focus and determination are obvious. 

As a Happy (Belated) Birthday tribute - 3 films that still cling to my mind as they did when viewing them in my preteen years: 

"The Asphalt Jungle" (1950) - One can't imagine the thrill for a young woman who craved becoming more than a movie star to work with Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen and John Houston. In a simple yet intriguing role, Norma really becomes Marilyn for the first time on film- her mild yet firm delivery offers a new level of Noir to this crime caper. 

"Don't Bother to Knock" (1952) - With incredible skill and conviction Marilyn plays this role with such intensity it has become associated as part of her real life character. The impressions of her delicacy are so true to life it carried itself with her through out her career. oh- right...its a terrific creepy film - another rewatchable. 

"Bus Stop" (1956) - Over the top play rather than film- big on PERFORMANCE rather than to watch. Marilyn appears to be acting alone, other than her few delightful scenes with Eileen Heckart the others seem to be acting at her instead of with her.......(?)  a classic must view movie.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blazing Sun

A good story thrives on isolation, desperation and the building up to a good explosive emotional catharsis add to that the never ending overwhelming heat of sun, an emptiness of landscape and creation of empathy for Why don't the GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE?......and you have: 

"Gas, Food, Lodging" (1992) - Fairuza Balk, Ione Skye and Brooke Adams all carry the load of desperation and cantankerousness to a new level. A terrific study of love, loneliness and search for identity. 

"Bagdad Cafe" (1987) - Such incredible performances, Jack Palance is both endearing and creepy, CCH Pounder is frighteningly lovable and Marianne Sagebrecht is both incredibly sensual and stiffly remote while maintaining a ladylike wisdom. 

"Tremors" (1990) - Kevin Bacons stars with Fred Ward who was in "The Player" with Tim Robbins who was in .....oh, wait, thats a different thing all together....This is one of those silly but exciting films that everyone needs to see. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Got that Ol' Time Feelin'

Overcome with nostalgia for Drive in movie theaters....the past few days have been more than perfect weather here in the midwest...with that slight breeze and freshness to the air...there was a scent so familiar, so steel, warm blanket, buttery popcorn, the wooshclank of a metal top off of a glass bottle, squeaky last swish of a swing abandoned, then the sudden brightness and mechanical creeeeaak of speakers one by one coming to life......a dancing candy bar...2 movies for one price.....

"Attack of the 50ft Woman" (1958) - Terrible editing, some terrific effects, decent emotional drama and laughable dialogue..what more can you ask for in Drive in science fiction? 

"The Fly" (1958) - oh dear, what can go wrong when you mess with the transportation of molecules? Only Vincent Price could play this out in all seriousness and make you want to watch....

"The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming" (1966) - One of the first in a long long line of throw everyone you can think of into a film and make them do and say silly things even if there is no continuity ... 

"How to Steal a Million" (1966) - The kids a are falling asleep in the back of the station wagon, now parents can enjoy a comedy romp about theft, true love and everything comes out perfectly. A very cute Peter O Toole and Audrey Hepburn nonsensical feature. 

"Billy Jack" (1971) - oddly dubbed, but compelling film. Socially conscious and wickedly violent.

"Dirty Harry" (1971) - A classic Clint Eastwood fantasy cop film about an over burdened police detective who is judge, jury and ..... 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Eclectic Film Career

Considering the idea of a true ACTOR since blurbing a snippet about Leo G. Carroll - it comes to mind that being an actor, developing characters and only performing for the love of the work is much more pervasive than we can imagine. The recent loss of the lovely Clarice Taylor (September 20, 1917-May 30, 2011) brings this idea to fruition.......

"Play Misty For me" (1971) - Intelligently creepy, Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this stalking film. Clarice Taylor plays her small role with a sense of humor. 

 "Sommersby" (1993) - What is with Richard Gere remaking incredible French films? The story of Martin Guerre is compelling because its true...I'm not sure a translation to the American Civil War does it justice........Clarice Taylor has only moments,  I don't think it does her justice either....

"Smoke" (1995) - Based on a novelette by Paul Auster, this quirky major actor film is fun and just weird enough to remind you of characters from your own childhood neighborhood.........Clarice is delightfully well placed with this group. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leo G.Carroll is a spy and I dream about Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan, top of the line in hardboiled private eyes and stern but fatherly Military men, was in my dream. One of those that leaves such a spooky yet comforting effect that pictures of it linger through your brain for days. Now I can't shake him off because I saw him in at least 3 films over the weekend just by flipping channels. 

Leo G. Carroll turned up in this weird documentary style mystery about spies, the FBI and telegrams from J.Edgar Hoover.......(who is being played by Leo DiCaprio in a new film, now why couldn't I have dreamed about Leos???) ......But now the song, "Science Fiction, Double Feature" won't leave my head  because there is a line about Leo G. Carroll in it......I'm listening to it through head phones trying to dispel the spell....

"Clash by Night" (1941) - oh its a good day when you can write about a movie and slip in a Marilyn Monroe moment ..Interesting character study about seriously dysfunctional relationships, with Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Marilyn and Paul Douglas.....Robert is especially smarmy in this one. 

"The Bad and The Beautiful" (1952) - Leo G. Carroll is the character you are waiting for when you don't even know you are waiting for some one.......As he enters the scene its like a tiny breeze of fresh cool air on still humid night....just for a few moments there is something refreshing you think has passed by ....

"Tarantula" (1955) - This is a must see movie for many reasons, now I've added an extra- Leo G. Carroll...have fun!