Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Starship Troopers

September 10, 2020

Last night we decided to watch a film that was dropping off of Netflix at the end of the month. The film was “Starship Troopers” starring Neil Patrick Harris, Casper Von Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meger and Jake Busey. Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

Usually, the Times does a piece about the movies that are aging out of streaming services to allow you a chance to watch before they are dropped. Here’s a quote from Wednesday’s New York Times (on 9/9/2020):

An astonishing (embarrassing, frankly) number of film critics blew the call entirely on Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, dismissing it as a dopey sci-fi-action-monster mess while missing its pointed indictments of “patriotic” militarism and government authoritarianism (and mainstream cinema’s frequent carrying of those messages). In retrospect, Verhoeven couldn’t have made his intentions clearer: From the flag-waving propaganda sequences to the purposefully plastic acting, this is political satire with real teeth.

If you want to watch this on Netflix, do it before Sept 30. Else see it on Amazon Prime for $4.

So here are few of my comments:

  • There are no ugly people in this film. The guys are hunks and the gals are beauties. Everyone is beautiful. I suppose this is a general rule on this type of movie.
  • The giant bugs are great. I don’t know who did the special effects, but I loved the bugs.
  • None of the good guys ever run out of ammo. Another general rule for shoot’em up films. James Bond doesn’t run out of ammo either.
  • I wonder if any of the veterans who managed to survive would have PTSD. The film ends before you see any of the survivors heading home.
  • There’s a great bit where the head bug gets his nose out (I guess it’s a nose) and sucks the brains out of one of the troopers. Delightfully icky.

We loved the film. It was so outrageously bad. It made it worth watching.

Annie

August 26, 2020
Kathy Bates, Victor Garner and Alicia Morton

We decided a couple of days ago to start watching some musicals on TV. So last night, we watched “Annie” on Disney +. There seems to be plenty of musicals available either on Netflix or Disney+. Also, there are some on Amazon, but I usually avoid Amazon because they typically charge $4 to watch.

I couldn’t find an IMDB entry for the 1999 version which is weird. I did find an extensive article in Wickipedia. Clicke here for more than you would ever want to know about “Little Orphan Annie”. The reason there was know IMDB for this version might be that is was made for TV.

There have been several movies made on Annie. First one was in 1982. Next one in 1999/ And one in 2014. We watched the 1999 version on Disney.

In the 1999 version, Annie is played by Alicia Morton. Daddy Warbucks played by Victor Garner and Kathy Bates played the evil Mrs Hannigan.

So the movie(s) Annie is based (of course) on the smash Broadway show of the same name. The Broadway show first premiered in 1977 and was based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”. It initially ran for about 6 years and won numerous awards. There have been numerous revivals and touring shows over the years.

And finally a little bit about the comic strip. First published in 1924 by Harold Gray. Gray died in 1964 but the strip continued until 2010.

Finally, here is a sample of the comic strip art work.

The Greatest Showman

August 21, 2020

Last night we watched “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman on Disney +. This is the story of Phineas T Barnum and his development of his circus. One can watch it on Amazon Prime for $3.99 but if you subscribe to Disney + you can watch for free.

It was a pleasant romp of Barnum’s band of talented misfits including the midget, the bearded lady, the acrobats, et al.

There was much singing and dancing. Somehow, I think that the real PT Barnum couldn’t dance like Hugh Jackman, No matter, still pleasant. Jackman looked quite spiffy in his bright red tails and top hat.

The film also talks about Jenny Lind who was a soprano, known as the Swedish Nightingale. Barnum discovered during a tour of Europe. He convinced her to do a tour of the USA. She was paid $1000 per night. Eventually, she tired of Barnum’s style and did her own tour of the US.

This wasn’t the first film about the circus. There was a film done in 1952 titled “The Greatest Show on Earth” starring Charlton Heston, James Stewart and Betty Hutton. This was more of a film about some of the stars of the show. It won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Writing.

So what about the real Phineas T Barnum? P.T. Barnum was born in 1810 in Bridgeport CT and died in 1891. He is widely credited with saying “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but there is no proof that he actually said that.

Barnum served for two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1861 for Fairfield CT. He spoke to the legislature supporting the ratification of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution. (Supporting abolishment of slavery.)

Aladdin (Live Action Remake)

August 5, 2020

Last night we watched “Aladdin” on Amazon Prime. This is the live action remake of the original Disney animated version of Aladdin. It stars Will Smith as the genie, Naomi Scott as the princess Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Ali/Aladdin.

I’ve got to say that this was better than I thought it would be. Will Smith does a great job as genie.

So here’s the story. Ali is a street urchin who lives in Agrabah. He is also a thief. He meets Jasmine (who is impersonating her handmaiden). They don’t let princesses out to wander around town.

So Ali finds the lamp and seeing it is rather dusty and gives it a rub. Thus, he discovers the genie who will grant him three wishes. Ali wishes to become a prince so that he can win the heart of Princess Jasmine.

So on the story goes. Ali is not very good at being a prince. He discovers that the Sultan’s trusted consultant Jafar is plotting the overthrow of the Sultanate. Ali and the genie save the day.

Ali’s last wish is to free the genie from curse of the lamp. Ali/Aladdin and Jasmine live happily ever after.

It was a fun romp. BTW, the original animated Aladdin was done in 1992 with Robin Williams as the genie.

Hamilton

July 23, 2020

Well, we finally watched “Hamilton” on Disney+. Actually, we have watched it twice. It is such an amazing production. We have been listening to the sound track while riding around in our car. Even our grandson, Jonathan, has heard some of the lyrics.

One of my favorite parts is toward the end of act one, where King George (played by Jonathan Groff) comes on the stage dressed in red velvet with white edging and a matching crown. He sings the piece “You’ll be Back”. Here’s the start of the lyrics:

You say, the price of love’s not a price you’re willing to pay. You cry in your tea which you hurl in the sea. When you you see me, why so sad? Remember, we had an arrangement when you went away. Now you’re making me mad...

I tried to find a video clip on IMDB but couldn’t find one. You’re just having to go out and sign up for Disney+ Well worth the money.

They say that after the pandemic is all done with us, they might do another road show up at the Pantages in Hollywood. We are eagerly awaiting the day. Though, we wouldn’t be able to do repeat views.

At any rate, sign up for Disney+. Once you’re done you can always cancel. You won’t be disappointed.

Fever Pitch

July 12, 2020

We watched another baseball movie last night. This time it was Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

So this is the story of a young man named Ben who has season tickets to Red Sox games that he inherited from his uncle. He is a super fervent fan. He doesn’t miss any games, ever.

So Ben has real good seats located between home plate and home dugout. The tickets would have needed to be owned by his family for decades.

So Ben meets a young lady named Lindsey (Barrymore) who he takes a liking to. Ben has plenty of time for Lindsey during the winter, but when summer rolls along he has to decide whether baseball games are more important than love.

Okay, this movie was filmed in 2004 when the Red Sox were heading towards the World Series. And the playoff series between the Yankees and Red Sox is prominent in the story.

There was produced an extended Red Sox edition of the film with additional scenes from the actual baseball games. Guess which one we watched?

Other baseball themed movies on my list include “Bull Durham” and
“The Natural”.

So baseball starts up again on July 26th. We should be able to get in one or two more baseball movies before opening day.

Flashdance

June 30, 2020

Last night was movie night, again. This time we went back to the “dancing” theme and watched “Flashdance” starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.

This is the story of a young woman named Alex (played by Jennifer Beals) who works as a welder during the day and dances in a bar/night club in the evening. Her dream is to become a professional ballet dancer. So the manager/owner of the construction business (played by Michael Nouri) recognizes her when he sees her perform in the bar.

So it is a simple story. He meets her and tries to ask her out. She initially refuses but eventually gives in. Then he uses his contacts to facilitate getting her an audition with the local ballet organization. So she eventually does the audition and nails it. She gets the ballet gig and they live happily ever after.

So here is a little that Roger Ebert has to say about Flashdance:

I have a friend who has a simple test for a movie: Is this movie as interesting as the same things would be, happening in real life? A lot of movies aren’t, and “Flashdance” sure isn’t. If this movie had spent just a little more effort getting to know the heroine of its story, and a little less time trying to rip off “Saturday Night Fever,” it might have been a much better film.

See RogerEbert.com

So a manager/owner dating one of his employees is a BAD thing. He shouldn’t have done it and she shouldn’t have agreed to go out with him. But that would have ended the story, wouldn’t it.

So the film runs for about 1 hour 35 minutes and is rated “R” for nudity. Once she gets the ballet gig the show is done. Not much else to say. In comparison with the other “dancing” movies that we’ve seen over the past weeks, Flashdance looks decidedly light weight. We enjoyed it but not the best we’ve seen recently

The movie won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song and had a few other Oscar nominations. The film was released in 1983. That being said, the movie has a fairly decent sound track. Click here for the Amazon entry.

So this was filmed in 1983. I was amused to see many articles of the time, like pay phones or desk phones. Like when was the last time you used a pay phone? Or not see someone with a cell phone in their hand? The film was filmed in Pittsburgh. Nothing much to say about that. Never been there. Not on my bucket list.

Back to baseball movies in a few days.

A League of Their Own

June 27, 2020

Okay, another baseball movie. Paula got her fix of dancing movies. So now we did another baseball movie. So last night we watched “A League of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell

It is the story of the AAGPBL, ie the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league was created during WW2 to fill the need for people wanting to watch baseball games while male players were serving overseas in the armed forces. The league eventually grew to sixteen teams, The league mostly operated in the Midwest where people hungered to watch baseball games.

One of the things that caused girl’s baseball to end was the development of TV coverage of baseball games. Ie. People no longer had to go to a ball park to see a game.

Tom Hanks plays the manager Jimmy Dugan who was a former pro ball player. Slowly he manages to get his life under control and stops drinking. Indeed, many of the managers were ex-professional ball players.

So Jimmy was the manager of the Rockford Peaches. He has one of my all time favorite quotes. One of the players started crying when she was coming off the field. Jimmy says to her “There’s no crying in baseball”. This is rated #54 out of the top 100 movie quotes.

Here’s the link to the American Film Institute’s top 100 movie quote list. No. 1 on the list is “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

Field of Dreams

June 25, 2020

So last night I was thinking about how I was missing baseball. So we figured that the next best thing would be a movie about baseball. There are plenty of “Baseball” movies. So we decided to start off with “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. The film was released in 1989.

We’ll probably watch a few more baseball movies during the next couple of weeks before the 2020 baseball season starts on July 24.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox were significant in that eight members of the team were accused of accepting bribes to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The occasion has been known as the “Chicago Black Sox” scandal.

So here is the story line. An Iowa farmer (Ray Kinsella, played by Costner) has a dream that he interprets to mean that he should build a baseball park on his corn field. Then the 1919 Chicago White Sox show up to play in the newly built park.

The players wander in from the corn field beyond left field area in the ball park. Ray Kinsella is nagged by his brother-in-law (Mark) to stop the lunacy. Ray stubbornly refuses to give it up.

The movie received three Oscar nominations but no wins. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing (screenplay based on another medium (book) and Best Music.

We watched the film on Amazon Prime.

Dances with Wolves

June 23, 2020

Last night we decided to catch up on some some movies that we’d seen a long time ago. We decided to watch “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner and Mary McDowell. This movie was released in 1990. It almost swept the Oscars that year, winning almost every award except for Best Actor and Actress.

One of the reasons that we decided to watch “Dances” was that we had plenty of time. The film runs a little over 3 hours and we had sat down to watch just a little after 8 PM. That’s 3 hours with no intermission. Luckily, we could pause the picture while we took bathroom breaks. When we watched Ben Hur last week, there was an actual intermission. With Wolves, no intermission. You have to make your own intermission.

So we got a new 43” TV last week that has built in ROKU support. That makes it easier to select any of the many streaming services. It’s so much nicer to watch the movie on a large screen. It’s not like a real theater, but it’s better than small screens.

One of the shows we are anxiously awaiting is “Hamilton” which will be July 3 on Disney +. Click here for the trailer. We actually had tickets to see Hamilton in LA in June, but got cancelled due to the COVID-19. This will be the next best thing.

So the story goes as follows. Lt. John Dunbar recovers from a leg wound in a battle in the Civil War. He then leads a charge that wins the skirmish. He is offered any post that he would like and he chooses to go a lonely outpost in the western wilderness.

Then he meets up with the local Sioux tribe and manages to make friends with them. And eventually is treated as a member of the tribe.

This movie was considered a personal triumph for Kevin Costner. We hope to see him again in an earlier film of his, “Field of Dreams

Then he discovers a white woman who was captured by the tribe when she was a young girl. The woman (”Stand with Fists”) becomes the avenue for Dunbar to learn the Sioux language and eventually become Dunbar’s love interest. What is a movie without love and sex?

So it’s streaming on Amazon Prime. Go watch.