Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z = Zorro

Zorro: The Mask of Zorro
Directed: Martin Campbell
Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta
Anthony Hopkins as Don Diego De La Vega
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Elena De La Vega Montero

Action packed variation on the Zorro story. The aging Zorro finds an apprentice who coincidentally is interested in his daughter. It seems Zorro was meant to be a family franchise. The good-rich man who fights for the rights of the populous continues to excite the imaginations of the hopeful.

I loved this movie for several reasons:

Action was reaching but the stunts were amazing. Any regular person would have munched but Zorro prevails. Much to Martin Campbell’s credit, his perfectionism really worked well in this film.

Antonio Banderas plays the poor boy and the amazing Zorro equally as well. Zorro is a continuation of the good bad guy theme like in the film Desperado.

What can be said about Sir Anthony Hopkins? He’s amazing as Don De La Vega. The Englishman playing the Mexican Don works for me. But I’ve admired his work since Magic.

Catherine Zeta Jones rises to the level of the actors around her. She is particularly interesting in this role when she discovers her identify. Raised with one father, she accepts her true identity with grace.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y = Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy

James Cagney as George M Cohan

Irish-American Cagney played the Irish-American Cohan, singing in a half-sing/half-reciting style. The songwriter leaves the family act, is black-listed and had difficulty. Until he teams up with a new producer and he becomes a success.

In the scene where Cohan dances down the stairs, Cagney performed the step down dance with no rehearsal and completed in one take.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

X = X-File

Director: Rob Bowman

David Duchovny as Mulder
Gillian Anderson as Scully

The best of ET meets crime drama comes together in X-files the movie. Mulder follows leads that seem to always go to the Cigarette Smoking Man. From the laboratory of the cigarette Smoking Man, Mulder saves Scully but is just too late to document the space ship that flies over him and away.
X-files asks the questions about eternal possibilities, are we alone in the universe? It also provides the moral compass through Mulder to follow your heart, save the one you love, Scully.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

W = Wizard of OZ

Wizard of Oz
Director: Victor Fleming

Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
Billie Burke as Glinda
Ray Bolger as Scarecrow
Bert Lahr as Lion
Jack Haley as Tin Man

A most beloved story written by L Frank Baum, the Wizard of Oz was the first film to be both black & white and color film. 

The dull Kansas prairie offers little to the imagination of young Dorothy Gale. But following a cyclone, the girl travels to the colorful place called Oz. She becomes obsessed with going home.

Dorothy Gale meets Glinda the Good who recommends the girl travel on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. Along the way, Dorothy finds help in the form of a Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion. The foursome battles the Wicked Witch of the West to find their way to their hearts desire. In Dorothy’s case, she returns home.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

V = Van Helsing

Van Helsing

Hugh Jackman as Gabriel Van Helsing
Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious

Continuing on the monster movie theme, Van Helsing brings Doctor Frankenstein, werewolves and Count Dracula together with a new tale of from the crypts.

When Count Dracula’s brides torment a town, Van Helsing comes to save the day. He’s bitten by a werewolf but uses the new situation to his advantage to defeat Dracula and his offspring.

If you like B movies and comic books, you’ll love Van Helsing.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

U = Unforgiven

Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood as William Munny
Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett

Morgan Freeman as Ned Logan
Unforgiven tells the western tale of a killer who mended his ways when he married a good woman. However, times being what they are after the death of his beloved wife, he returns to his old skill set for the money offered, in hopes of starting a new life elsewhere.

William Munny isn’t a sympathetic character but we find that he tells the truth and keeps his word. Little Bill on the other hand, while a law-man, he’s less likable and we’re not unhappy when he meets his end.

Epilogue to the movie says that William Munny moved, changed his name and after a new start, became an upstanding citizen, selling dry goods in San Francisco.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T = Training Day

Training Day
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Denzel Washington as Alonzo Harris
Ethan Hawke as Jake Hoyt

Training Day is the first day in the narcotics division for a young officer in the LAPD. A day in the life of a rookie cop should be enough to dissuade most anyone from getting involved with narcotics. In simple terms, the bad guys are bad guys and the good guys are bad guys. And Jake wants to be a good guy.

Training Day is a highly acclaimed, very violent movie about the dangerous lifestyle of undercover police.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S - Sunset Boulevald

Sunset Boulevard
Director: Billy Wilder

William Holden as Joe Gillis
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond

Sunset Boulevard is the tragic story of a writer who feeling down and out became a gigolo of the former film star Norma Desmond.

Norma Desmond first hires Joe as a script doctor. She wants him to help her write a script. She dreams of working with her friend Cecil B DeMille again. But Norma is increasingly needy. She depends upon Joe too much. She convinces herself she’s in love. Then she convinces Joe by showering him with gifts that he wants what she has to offer.

Ultimately, Joe comes to his senses and decides to leave Norma. Norma suffers a break with reality, shoots Joe in the back and returns to her dressing room to wait for her closing scene, ‘I’m ready for my close-up.’

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Monday, April 21, 2014

R = Rebecca

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter
Joan Fontaine as the new Mrs. De Winter

The new young Mrs. de Winter is brought to Manderley by her husband and the master of the house Mr. de Winter. Little does she realize she’s up against the ghost of Rebecca and the crazy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.

Maxim’s first wife was horrible but the way people speak of her, his new wife things she was perfect and well loved. Rebecca was anything but nice. She had multiple affairs, even with her cousin. 

Ultimately, her bad health got her, as she became filled with cancer. She wanted to die and ruin Maxim too. She almost got her last wish.
Mr. de Winter’s secrets keep him from being honest with his new bride. The tale becomes ever more twisted as the truth rises to the surface. The crazy housekeeper still loyal to the despicable Rebecca comes to her end.

We’re led to believe that the de Winters find happiness elsewhere.
Moral of the story: be honest with your spouse.

The performances are wonderful. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards. Rebecca  is a wonderful movie to watch on a rainy day.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q = Quest for Camelot

Quest for Camelot
Director: Frederik Du Chau 

Sarah Freeman and Jessalyn Gelsig as Kayley
Cary Elwes as Garrett
Gary Oldman as Ruber
Eric Idle and Don Rickles as Devon and Cornwall, the two headed dragon

Quest for Camelot is about a teenage girl who wants to be a knight. Kayley finds her chance to fulfill her dreams when Arthur’s sword is stolen then lost in the forbidden forest.

Garrett and Kayley team up to journey through forbidden territories, conquering tremendous obstacles, then befriending the friendless on their way to destroying the villain Ruber. As payment for their loyal service, Garrett and Kayley ride off together ‘Just Knighted.’

My kids loved this movie, so they watched it many times. Despite the great cast, I didn’t really like it with the exception of the two-headed dragon. But Devon and Cornwall were so ridiculous that I too, watched Quest of Camelot, many times.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

P = Princess Bride

Princess Bride
Director: Rob Reiner

Cary Elwes as Westley
Robin Wright as Buttercup

Young lovers realize that they can’t be together until Westley can support them. He leaves to find his fortune. When she’s waited five years for Westley’s return, Buttercup thinks Westley has died. She agrees to marry the prince.

The prince is a scoundrel. He wants to go to war with a neighboring state. He decides to sacrifice Buttercup by having her kidnapped and killed. He will take his revenge by invading the neighboring kingdom.

Thankfully, the prince hired low-cost bad-guys Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya. He gets what he paid for, they fail in the plot. Westley, now known as the Dread Pirate Roberts saves the Princess as well as the day. Almost everyone lives happily ever after.

More Information:

My Name is Inigo Montoya

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O = Othello

Director: Oliver Parker

Lawrence Fishburne as Othello
Irene Jacob as Desdemona
Kenneth Branagh as Iago

The film is a very watchable version of William Shakespeare’s play Othello.  It was filmed in Italy.

A story of love, hatred and racism, Othello is a Moorish general in the army. He marries Desdemona which creates ill-will between the soldiers. With malice Iago creates the illusion that Desdemona is unfaithful. Othello kills his wife before he discovers to lie. Once he realizes that he killed his innocent wife, he kills himself.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N = Ninth Gate

Ninth Gate
Director: Roman Polanski

Johnny Depp as Dean Corso
Frank Langella as Balkan
Emmanuelle Seigner as the girl

Balkan, a rich and twisted book collector hires Corso to authenticate a rare book. The book: ‘The Nine Gates’ is the key to calling the Devil. Many of the characters are Satanists who find their own grisly end.

As Corso tracks the origins of the book he discovers that he has become fascinated, maybe even obsessed by the book. He doesn’t seem to have a sane response to the fact that everyone associated with the book dies horrible deaths.In the end, he wants to understand the book and find what it can give.

The film did make some money when it was release but was criticized as a remake of the director’s most popular film, Rosemary’s Baby.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M = Merlin

Director: Steve Barron

Sam Neil as Merlin
Isabella Rossellini as Nimue
Miranda Richardson as Queen Mab

Not the standard story about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin is the story of the force behind the crown. The mystical man who helped men become kings of many had his reasons to turning his back on his past.

In the beginning, Merlin was much like other children who were raised in the woods. But as he grew, he discovered his magical talent. With the magical talent came whimsical creatures and the powerful Queen Mab.

Merlin finds love with the Lady Nimue but his plans for happily ever after are thwarted by Queen Mab who has other plans for him. Merlin and Mab fight to find who is in control of Merlin’s life.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

L = Labryth

Director: Jim Henson

David Bowie as Jareth
Jennifer Connelly as Sarah

Sarah escapes life with her father and step-mother to another place, the Labrynth. She discovers that she truly loves her half-brother and sets out to save him from the goblin king.

The goblin king, played by David Bowie points out the trouble with her argument about life being unfair and how much of what we see and experience is all about our point of view.

With the help of fanciful friends, Sarah saves her brother and returns home.

The final feature film Jim Henson made before his death, it was deemed a failure at the time. Since the film has found its niche audience and is considered a children’s classic film.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

K = Kill Bill

Kill Bill
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Uma Thurman as the Bride
David Carradine as Bill

The original concept of Kill Bill was one film but was cut in half when the finished product was four hours long. The first part tells the tale of the Bride who was a member of an all-girl assassin team tries to leave her murderous life behind. She is attacked at her wedding, the wedding party is killed. The Bride seeks revenge on her former co-killers and ultimate revenge on their leader Bill.

It isn’t until volume two that we come to know an enjoy Bill’s warped sense of reality. In the middle of running a death squad, Bill manages to find his paternal instincts, raising and loving his daughter.

Violence and secrets bring the story together with horrific anticipation of the next bloody mess.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

J = Judas Kiss

Judas Kiss
Director: Sebastian Guiterrez

Carla Gugino as Coco Chavez
Simon Baker-Denny as Junior Armstrong
Alan Rickman as Detective Friedman
Emma Thompson as FBI Agent Sadie  Hawkins

Just two con-kids making a living, Coco and Junior come up with a new plan to make some real money. No one is supposed to get hurt. It’s just a little kidnapping, right?

Things get out of control and a senator’s wife is killed. It gets increasingly intense for Coco when Junior is missing and her other accomplices die.

The detective and FBI agent start out disliking each other but come around to work well together.

Things aren’t what you may think but in the end, the police make arrests, the victim is released and Coco figures it out.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

I = Ideal Husband

Ideal Husband
Director: Oliver Parker

Rupert Everett as Lord Arthur Goring
Cate Blanchett as Lady Gertrude Chiltern
Minnie Driver as Miss Mabel Chiltern

When political intrigue and family life mix, the result is hilarious moments of life as written by Oscar Wilde. Can the rich politician survive potential blackmail? Should evidence of a misdeed do him in? Can a perfect man survive imperfection? Can the past be set right?

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H = Highlander

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Christopher Lambert as MacLeod
Sean Connery as Ramirez

Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is an immortal. He discovers this after being mortally wounded in the clan battle of 1536. After being driven from his homeland he comes across his immortal tutor, Ramirez who explains the unusual situation they find themselves in.

Flash forward to 1985, MacLeod now called Nash, has more explaining to do when beheaded bodies start turning up in New York City. He is implicated in some of the murders. The police investigation gets muddled by his love for the expert and police consultant in ancient weapons.

When it comes to Highlander: There can be only one.

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Who Wants to Live Forever

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G = Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz

Rex Harrison as Captain Daniel Gregg
Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir

Based on RA Dick’s novel, the romantic movie tells the tale of a widow, Lucy Muir and a ghostly sea captain, Daniel Gregg who through the uncommon living arrangement become increasingly fond of each other. 

When Lucy Muir becomes enamored with a man, Captain Gregg bows out of the house. He sacrifices his feelings to give Lucy a chance to live a normal life. However, just after the Captain departs, Lucy discovers that her suitor is a married man. She lives the rest of her life thinking she had imagined the Captain. Only after she dies does she rediscover the truth about life. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

F = Fantasia

Director: Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Ben Sharpsteen

Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Orchestral music conducted by Leopold Stokowski is featured as the main focus of the 125 minute film. Each piece is accompanied by intense imagery. 

The music includes: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas, Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, a jazz session, The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig von Beethoven, Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and Ave Maria by Franz Shubert.

The innovative Walt Disney developed the idea with Leopold Stokowski to show imagery to go with classical music. The critics hated the idea. The Fantasia Road Show, as it was dubbed was well received by the audiences and has made the TOP 50 list of all time high-grossing films.

Fantasia received an Academy Honorary Award in 1942.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

E = Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Tom Cruise as Dr. Bill Harford
Nicole Kidman as Alice

An adaptation of the German novel: Dream Story. The controversial film was released months after Stanley Kubrick’s death. The film is strongly sexual in nature. It’s not for the faint at heart.

Issues within the context of the film include marital sex, adultery, sexually transmitted diseases. Be prepared to question morality, safety, truth and love within relationships.

Tom Cruise
Nicole Kidman

Friday, April 4, 2014

D = Double Whammy

Double Whammy
Director: Tom DiCillo

Denis Leary as Ray Pluto
Elizabeth Hurley as Dr Ann Beamer
Steve Buscemi as Jerry Cubbins

Ray Pluto suffered psychological trauma which affects him physically and emotionally. The impact of his past is hurting his career as a New York City cop. With the help of his chiropractor, Dr Ann Beamer and his partner Jerry Cubbins he saves his job and makes his apartment building a nicer place to live.

As with anything Denis Leary, chaos reigns throughout the film. There’s a little bit of everything: a little violence, a little language, a little sex and it’s all hysterical. Looking for a laugh at some silly stuff? Double Whammy makes the list.

Denis Leary
Elizabeth Hurley

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C = Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane
Directed by Orson Welles

Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander

Eveybody’s talking about Citizen Kane. It was true in 1941 and still true among film lovers today. The remarkable film was innovative and a show piece for the then new director Orson Welles.

Citizen Kane tells the tale of a media mogul’s life.  At the time, William Randolph Hearst was the largest newspaper magnate. He was so offended by the references and similarities to the Kane character that he prohibited mention of the film in any of his papers. 

Today, one could use the name Rupert Murdock and tell a similar tale.

More about Citizen Kane 
Orson Welles

Dorothy Comingore

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B = Boondock Saints

Boondock Saints
Directed by Troy Duffy

Willem Dafoe as Paul Smecker FBI Agent
Sean Patrick Flanery as Connor MacManus
Norman Reedus as Murphy McManus
Billy Connolly as Noah MacManus
David Della Rocco as David Della Rocco

Fraternal twins come up against it after immigrating to the US and finding themselves in the muck of the city. Just being ‘good’ they find they have a knack and luck at vigilantism which is also profitable.

Troy Duffy keeps the moments moving along at a quick pace. If you’re slow, you’ll miss half the hilarious dialogue. The shoot scenes are played in regular motion and slow motion with an investigative feel that allows for extreme violence with pseudo-scientific analysis.

Lots of violence, even more language, Boondock Saints isn’t for everyone but it is a great action film regardless of how you shoot it.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A = Affair To Remember

Affair to Remember
Director: Leo McCarey

Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante
Deborah Kerr as Terry McKay

An Affair to Remember is just a feel good film. The playboy, Nickie meets his match on a cruise ship. He finally finds the love of his life, only to be disappointed when she doesn’t show up at the rendezvous.

Of course, Terry wanted to meet him but was seriously injured on the way to the Empire State Building. Sadly, we hear the sirens of the ambulance in the background as Nickie fades into disappointment.

The movie follows the plot of misunderstanding but redeems with true love’s triumph and plenty of ‘Darling’, ‘oh, Darling.’

An Affair to Remember is not for the squeamish and is clearly a chick flick from the 1950s.