Saturday, April 27, 2013

Les Miserables

Finally watched Les Miserables the film version. It's proof that big production style stage musicals don't work in movie format - especially when you watch them on a TV. It was pretty good, I guess, great songs, good story. Russell Crowe got A LOT of flack for being terrible in it, that was deserved, but I didn't think Hugh Jackman did that much better of a job; in fact pretty much every character was miscast, except of course Daniel Huttlestone and Isabelle Allen, that were both phenomenal. And, was that Borat I saw in there? If I had some kind of rating system, this would score a "not really worth writing a lengthy review about, see it if you've got nothing better to do."

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I can still remember seeing Ghostbusters when I was just a wee little guy, sitting on the floor at my dad's house on Stone St. in Oneida, watching it on VHS tape. The "State Puff" Marshmallow man (I erroneously thought it was State Puff until I was like thirteen or so) stepping on a church, the eggs popping out of the carton and frying, right there on the counter top! These scenes, and others, are burned into my memory.

Ghostbusters is easily one of, if not in fact the funniest movie ever made. (It's the SRFIAs #1 Comedy of All Time, and is in the top five Greatest Films of All Time.) There are so many comedic elements that came together to make this one perfect. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd alone could have been the only actors and it would have still been excellent. Add Harold Ramis and Aykroyd as writers? Well there are so many quotable one-liners in this movie it's ridiculous. And then put a slice of sassy black man (Ernie Hudson) in the mix, and a sprinkle of Rick Moranis and you've got legitimate comedy gold. (Trivia note: they were originally wanted to give the role of Luis Tully to John Candy!)

One of the greatest aspects of Ghostbusters is that it's not just a great comedy but also has a element of actual scary movie to it. Real ghosts doing scary things. The formula of having just enough scary to keep you on the edge of your seat makes the humor all that more enjoyable.

If I had some kind of a rating system this would easily be "You should already own it."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

I was 29 years old before I watched It's a Wonderful Life in it's entirety. Actually before I ever saw much more than the scene with the pool and that previously annoying little girl talking about bells ringing and angel's wings. I have no idea where I've been for all those years, I must have been under a rock, or maybe living in an Amish community (although I feel like if any Amish family saw this movie they might rethink the whole no TV thing).

My wife insisted that we watch it. I was certainly up for it, I like old movies, even if they are a little cheesy, and I really liked Jimmy Stewart in other movies that I had seen, AND after all, it's a timeless classic, right?

I can honestly say that this was one of the BEST movies I have ever seen. The story line is great. The acting was perfect. And the photography was incredible. To say that this movie is a "must see" would not only be an understatement, but would simply be stating something everyone else already knew. The roller-coaster ride of emotions is amazing as our hero goes from one disappointment in life to another, one more selfless, self-sacrificing choice to the next, only to realize what few of us ever really understand: Life is about more than money and sexy romances or even traveling the world over. Life is about relationships. Life is about doing what's right for people, even if it means you don't get to have all the fun adventures, because people are, well, people. And they're worth it. It reminds me of this thing a really smart guy once said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (But that's for a different blog)

In someways I am really glad that I hadn't watched It's a Wonderful Life until I was older. Although I feel like I missed out on a life time of family tradition watching it every year on Christmas, I'm happy that I got to watch it with my wife, with the perspective as a father, without the burdens of old memories affecting the way I think about it.

If you've never seen this movie, you are on a really short list (that's a little shorter now). If I had some kind of rating system, this would score a "go and buy this movie, you won't regret it, I promise."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading

Spoiler Alert: This movie is terrible! As my wife suggested this movie should have been entitled Burn Before Watching. This was just another typical Coen Bros. movie. Filled with every type of post-modern tripe that you have come to expect. Hint: if you've seen Fargo you've seen all of the Coen Bros. movies. They are all the same. At least O Brother, Where Art Thou? had a great soundtrack.

This film was allegedly a comedy. If adultery, very crude sexual references, the 'f' word, watching someone get beaten to death in the head with the blunt side of an axe and marriages falling apart is funny, the world is worse of than I thought. Burn spent so much time on character development I forgot what I was watching (and yet hated every minute of it, Coen magic!). By the time the plot finally rolled around I just didn't care, I just wanted it to be over.

There is one shining light to the movie, however! The acting. The cast was really phenomenal. George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, they all did a very fine job indeed! Especially given what they had to work with.

If I had some kind of rating system, this would score a "don't even bother."