Thursday, January 12, 2017

1957 - 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH on Blu Ray

Ray Harryhausen reworks King Kong again but this time the film is set in Rome and the monster climbs to the top of the Colosseum before it's shot down.

A B-movie for the most part. The film is enjoyable and doesn't push it's luck by running too long.

82 minutes.

1983 - SUPERMAN III. pretty bad

Christopher Reeve who did well in the first two Superman movies but he  really got taken to town when a 3rd film was produced. 

Richard Pryor had made it known he wanted to be in a Superman film, so a part was tailored for him.  It just completely threw the whole film off.  Pryor's humor just seemed out of place for a super hero film and it wasn't particularly funny to begin with.

The director was Richard Lester who was definitely on the downside of his career.  Lester was known for fitting anarchic sight gags in his films but he seems to have lost his touch.  The gags are still here but they just aren't funny.  It seemed like Lester was just going through the motions in this film.

The special effects which seemed so good in the first Reeve movie now look kind of crappy and the bottom line was that whole thing just turned out to be an unfunny mess.  Superman III is a warning sign to people who make these kinds of films.  There is a fine line between sincerity and camp with these kinds of films.

125 minutes.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 - LA LA LAND, a movie for people who haven't seen a musical

Well I have to give the director/writer Damien Chazelle some credit.  It takes some guts to film a live action musical in today's entertainment market.  Musicals only seem to exist in the movies if they are animated with lots of cartoon figures singing, singing singing.  

Chazelle says that he was inspired by Demy's Umbrellas of Cherborough and boy was he ever the ghost of that film hangs heavily over this one..  Chazelle strives for that magical quality Demy brought to that film but unfortunately it just seems beyond his grasp the story just didn't move me emotionally.

I think the chief problem here is that neither one of the leads are professional singers or dancers.  Sure they give it the old college try but they can't dance and Emma Stone just can't sing.  Ryan Gosling has a pretty thin voice but he seems to be able to pull off the singing part (barely.)

Chazelle wants to modernize the musical.  To this end he adds a downbeat ending to the film and then a fantasy ending sequence.  I just don't think this  comes off it just makes a long film even longer.    He just doesn't have the style and talent that Demy brought to the musical genre when Demy rethought and revised it in The Umbrellas of Cherborough.

128 minutes.

2016 - BRIGHT LIGHTS: STARRING CARRIE FISHER AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS - Carrie Fisher downer weekend part 2

Carrie Fisher downer weekend continues with this documentary on the relationship between Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds.  In a way this is almost a follow up to Wishful Drinking as it gets into more of Fisher's personal life but this time she throws into the mix  Fisher's aging mother Debbie Reynolds.  Reynolds was one of the last actors to go through the MGM star making factory.  She was definitely from the old school of Hollywood film making.

This film follows Fisher around as she takes care of her aged mother Debbie Reynolds, who is the real definition of an old trooper.  Reynolds continues to perform even though her health is slipping away from her as she entered into her mid 80's.

We get a look inside Fisher's home which it would be charitable to say reeks of someone who has become very eccentric.   The house is full of more weird junk and crap than is good for the soul.  Also of note is the proximity between the mother and daughter's homes.  Fisher is next door to her mother and appears to be her primary caregiver.  Watching this film one walks away with the uncomfortable thought that a mentally ill woman is taking care of her aged mother.

The film ends with Debbie Reynolds, with the aid of Fisher,  pulling it together to receive a life achievement award at the Screen Actors Guild.  It's tough to watch Reynolds the old movie star barely get through the ceremony but she does.

Overall this film has somewhat of a voyeuristic quality to it but since it was made with the cooperation of Fisher and Reynolds I guess they were OK with it.  However as a viewer, I'm not sure I needed to watching this depressing show.

95 minutes

2011 - WISHFUL DRINKING - Carrie Fisher bummer weekend part 1

Had an opportunity to watch a couple of personal films about the life of Carrie Fisher, actress/writer/Princess Leia.  First up is this autobiographical film, Wishful Drinking.  This show is based on a book that Carrie Fisher wrote which appears to be essentially a memoir of her growing up in Hollywood in a chemical haze.

Fisher was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher and while watching this film she sure doesn't let you forget it.  The show is basicall  a therapy session with Fisher recalling her apparently unhappy childhood.

I guess the theme of this film is that money and celebrity can't buy you happiness.  Fisher spends a lot time on her screwed up family and extended family tree.  Fisher suffered from mental illnesses and had a drug problem which she apparently was able to get a handle on which is no small feat.

Wishful Drinking is not exactly a fun hour sitting in front of the television set, it's kind of like hanging out with a friend who relates their personal problems in excruciating detail that after a while you want to yell "enough."

76 minutes

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

1988 - THE BOURNE IDENTITY, the first version

No this is not the Matt Damon version but a TV mini series which actually follows the plot of the Robert Ludum novel, something the Damon version never bothered with.

The film stars Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith.  Chamberlain had an OK film career but he was really big stuff on TV staring in such mini series as Shogun, The Thorn Birds and Centennial.
These were all big budget TV shows from the early 1980's.  The Bourne Identity is Chamberlain a little past his time, but an acting professional is an acting professional and he does pretty good playing the amnesiac spy.

Chamberlain's co-star is Jaclyn Smith who is chiefly remembered as one of the original Charlie's Angels from the campy old TV show.  She was never much of an actor but she looked great and was able to say her lines without bumping into the furniture when she was on set.  

The Bourne Identity is a film for people who prefer the Jason Bourne character with a plot and without all the spastic camera movement that the film series with Damon brought to the cinema.  The mini-series isn't bad but it definitely has that TV vibe to it.

185 minutes

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


The one man band of special effects movies in the 1950's.  Ray Harryhausen abandoned his fascination with monsters and knocked out this fabulous B movie about the United States Government vs invaders from another planet.

Using every low budget trick in the book like blending stock footage with his flying saucer animations, Harryhausen knocked out this fast moving and unpretentious film that gets the job done in under 90 minutes.

For better or worse special effects have come a long way since the Harryhausen days but modern effects have never been able to bring the amount of inventive and clever staging that Ray Harryhausen brought to his early black and white films.

A real entertaining film from the 1950's.

83 minutes.