Must -see TV for Film Fans!

One of my favorite Noir actors is featured on Turner Classic tomorrow. Robert Ryan will star in several Film Noir features but probably the best of the films being shown is “On Dangerous Ground” with Ida Lupino. Ryan was not a conventionally handsome actor and later played hardened characters in films like Bad Day at Black Rock, but in the late forties and early fifties, he starred in some of the great “Film Noir” classics.

Robert Ryan had this craggy face and deep voice with a dull and kind of plodding honesty in his delivery that never wavered. His was the type of character that was often seen as the second banana. He was one of the protagonist’s buddies who always backed him up in battles of the Old West or World War II.

Set your “Tivo’s” to record if you are a fan of ‘Noir films” because there are quite a few featured including “Clash by Night” with Marilyn Monroe, “The Racket” with Robert Mitchum and “Born to be Bad”, also directed by Nicholas Ray.

Tomorrow evening on Turner Classic they are going to feature one of the best pairings of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the Shakespearean comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew.” And later that night they are airing a very rarely seen but wonderful film with Burton and one of the greatest actors of all time, Peter O’Toole called “Becket.” Must-see for all serious film buffs!

Capsule Review: Law Abiding Citizen

This latest offering to come down the pike brings back memories of the old “Death Wish” series with Charles Bronson. Here is a vigilante movie made for our time. Which speaks very ill of the times we live in. Mainly because there is so little that is new here and the six-degrees element of sameness in this film makes for a disjointed mish-mash of ideas from the production all the way through to the direction and execution in this film project. My thoughts were basically why did they make this movie where we cannot root for any one person and there is no hero or anti-hero worth caring about?

This film is one where the dialogue was so inane at one point it became laughable when the mayor was talking facetiously about handing out guns to the meter-maids to stop the crime spree. I agree with most of the film critics who have reviewed this. The movie seems pointless and there ain’t much more to be said about it.

Capsule Review: Capitalism

What to say about Moore’s latest film? He is a master at marketing his work and the subject is so vast that no one could come close to pinning down the true causes of our economic downturn in a two-hour (plus) documentary. This film is tiring partly because the editing needed to be much tighter and more concise to get the point across. Moore saves some of his best footage for the final half hour and by this point we are spent from going through foreclosures and listening to stories of pay inequality for pilots, and then listening to a type of scam the banks have perpetrated with life insurance policies and then watching Moore being kicked out of various and sundry Wall Street banks.

He includes a scene where his own father is shown the remains of the building where he once worked in Flint. This is a poignant moment best edited out or kept as an outtake or a podcast on his web site. I’ll state again, the editing should have been tighter and more precise. Someone should have told him to lose his“babies” as they say in writer’s jargon. The babies in this case being the extraneous elements in the storyline of film or words you fall in love with that the editor has ruthlessly cut in order to make a story flow.

At times when someone has a great deal of success, (Woody Allen comes to mind), the film does not flow when the ego gets in the way and in this case, the work suffers (along with the audience).

Mr. Moore has some very good points to make and I would recommend this film as a rental to anyone who would like a better understanding of “what went wrong.” Where I diverge from his thinking is when Michael Moore equates capitalism with all that is evil. As a friend who is a devout Christian once pointed out to me, the problem is not with the acquisition of money, it is the LOVE of money.

Greed and the love of money are at the root of the evil found in some of the people shown. But calling for the abolishment of the capitalist system of government seems to be a bit off the mark. At any rate, this is not Michael Moore’s best film but it is his longest film and it is worth viewing on the small screen but not worth a trip to the theatre.

Friday Night Fright Films

Does anyone remember a TV program called, “Shock Theatre” where they would show classic horror films? That was a great Friday Night Fright show, but my favorite was a program (actually I think this was on Saturday afternoons) hosted by Dr. Paul Bearer. He dressed like an undertaker and made personal appearances in a black hearse, usually coming out of an open coffin. He always opened his show with a pun on some product with a ghoulish twist (Example-…Bore-a-team would show a team of horses bored to death or some such twist.)
And then he would qualify his showing of a bad-B horror movie by saying, ‘This is a really horrible movie” and laugh in glee. I suppose there are still characters out there who dress up in weird costumes like Vampira but there has been no-one to take the place of Dr. Paul Bearer. He was one-of-a kind in his field.

The Friday Night Fright Theater is kind of a lost art. With so many things for kids to do and so many sports and video games, the world of Fright Night is lost in the shuffle. But certain times of the year such as Halloween bring back vivid memories of watching some really horrible old movie while eating popcorn and lying on my favorite pillow as we, my brothers and I, sat glued to the TV waiting to be scared out of our minds. That was the fun of Friday Night “Fright Night.”

Capsule review for Surrogates

Overall, this movie was disappointing. The idea is interesting. It’s the same basic idea as the Matrix where virtual reality is taking over the “real” world and surrogates are the ones who actually act out the fantasy of living everyday life.

The idea is a good one but it doesn’t ever take off. They never go anywhere with it and the actors such as James Cromwell (from Babe and LA Confidential) are wasted in their parts.

Bruce Willis has a few funny lines but the plot just doesn’t pick up the pace and we’re left wondering if this is an action-adventure film, a thriller, a sci-fi commentary or something else. It is definitely bland if it’s meant to be any of the afore-mentioned things.

Can’t say I would recommend this to any but the most die-hard (no pun intended) Bruce Willis fans or sci-fi buffs.

Capsule Review: The Informant

The Informant: This film looked really funny. The plot surrounds an executive at ADM who becomes a whistle-blower in a major sting operation. His inept and bumbling style paired with the earnest eye-rolling coming from the Feds, with Scott Bakula in an integral small part, makes this one you might look forward to in the Fall.

However, this film is another one of those ill-advised adventures that mistakenly portrays itself as a comedy. The music and the scenery are so disjointed that one almost has to wonder what time period this film is set in, the 1970’s or the 90’s?

The main character is unstable, and without giving too much away, the type of movie this reminds me of is “A Beautiful Mind.” This movie should never have been billed as a comedy, and yet you find commercials for this and other films advertising particular scenes with quotes of “hilarious” and “funny” and then come to find out there is nothing slightly comedic in the execution or the characters.

This is a serious subject and could have become more like “Dr. Strangelove” if the irony was heavy. One of the problems is the film is narrated by an unstable character and the rambling musings of his mind wander in and out leaving the audience at all times up in the air as to where the narrative is going. There is not a stabilizing character to counter-balance the quirky dialogue coming from Damon and at times we are left hanging.
In short, a disappointing film with a lot of promise and little enjoyment in the long run.

The Great Clive Owen

A word about the Greatly Talented Clive Owen: Clive Owen is back on the screen this month playing a widower raising two sons in “The Boys are Back.” He has played every character imaginable from a gay concentration camp prisoner in WWII Germany to the mythical King Arthur. His acting style has been compared to Bogart or Peter O’Toole yet his is a much more contemporary and “edgier” style tailored for a New Age. Clive Owen is far more foul-mouthed than Bogart could ever behave onscreen. He has a type of personality running “cool” with a distinct air of Cockney working-class temperament that can run excessively hot when he delivers his lines. When and if they ever put together a Film Noir project for Owen, he may own the part as well as Brando once did in “Streetcar” or Bogart did in “The Big Sleep.”