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Lost in Space

One of the Best Reboots of a TV Series
I am old enough to remember the original series. Perhaps some of you youngsters have seen it in syndication. I was just a little boy and like most boys at that age you imagined you were Will Robinson, the precocious ad hoc leader of the "Swiss Family Robinson" who are Lost in Space. The creators no doubt named the family Robinson after that. In TOS, Dr. Smith was an old dude, his character a master of manipulation and played very 'flamboyantly' (if you catch my drift). But in the reboot. Dr. Smith is reimagined as a female, even more conniving, self-interest obsessed but with a moral compass. She is played by "queen of the indies" actress Parker Posey who absolutely carries the show as the villain (whom you love to hate). Her performances are exquisite the way she uses her body movements, facial expressions and vocal intonations to portray a character who is fighting her inner demons, unable to control them but fully aware. She would like to do the right thing but due to her back story is simply unable to. Her counterpoint of course is the boy genius Will Robinson, also expertly portrayed by Mawell Jenkins. Noteworthy also is Will's older adopted sister, Judy (Taylor Russell) struggling with her transition to responsible adulthood. But hey, it's the robot stupid. Whereas the original show was overly campy and often silly, the robot here is not from earth but from a different planet and develops a relationship with Will nearly identical that of the Terminator and the Connor kid. Yes they make heavy use of the cliche "Danger, Will Robinson" (perhaps too much so). This show is definitely aimed as a family show with emphasis on a teen, pre-teen demographic but adults will find it fun for sure and likely addictive and a binge watch joy.

Another Life

In Defense of the Show
Katee is an awesome actress. Her emotional core as an actor is off the charts and she expresses it so much her brow appears to be permanently furrowed. True there are many similarities to her breakout role in Battlestar Galactica when she played Starbuck. Science fiction in space, on and FTL (faster than light) ship and they are looking for a planet and salvation. There is a sincere attempt to keep the science accurate. But of course "fiction" is part of the sci-fi scenario. In order to get to stars you would have to travel faster than light which according to all astrophysicists is simply impossible -- with the exception of the Big Bang. So there is fictional creative license there. One cannot have Star Wars, Star Trek or any outer space adventure without this "cheat". Also true about the criticism is the overindulgence on emotional characters. Yes we need characters with faults fighting their demons which all drama requires but it's simply too much here. Also, with younger writers these days, getting to say the F word repeatedly is like a kid playing with a new toy. Cable allows it. But it doesn't mean abuse it. Less is more in this case so when it is used it has more power. They might argue that it is realistic, that is how people talk. No. It is not -- which gets back to the valid point that if a star ship was sent out to save the world, the crew would have a scientific mindset, analytical and in control of themselves per rigorous years of training. So I beg the writers and producers to tone that way down for next season. A key ingredient that made BSG so great was it's underrated score (bg music). Hire the BSG scoring genius PLEASE. The score is what pounds the emotion into viewers brains so you can be more subtle with the characters without them having to 'scream' as they emote. I think there was dialogue where intergalactic space travel was mentioned. If so that is a definite no no. I do like the futurist projections re: artificial intelligence. The scientific community agrees that space travel in the future will likely be possible with sentient artificial life to "go where no human has gone before." So fingers crossed for next season. I just got Netflix so was able to binge watch and fast forward which was a blessing.

The Danish Girl

The Best Film on Subject of Transgender Since "Boys Don't Cry"
Well I finally saw it on cable, September 2019. When "Boys Don' Cry" was released in 1999, the film that exploded Hilary Swank's career, the word transgender and the subject matter was relatively new to the general public. "The Danish Girl" is a period piece which takes place in France at a time when it was so novel that most most doctors viewed it as a mental illness caused by an imbalance of hormones, often diagnosed as schizophrenia or insanity. Sure there have been many films that take the subject of crossdressing as farce and comedy, dating back to "Some Like it Hot". 'The Danish Girl" blew me away with it's sophisticated take on the subject and it is indeed painful to watch as we empathize with the tortured artist as he agonizingly accepts his true desire to be a woman after his wife playfully crossdresses him for a costume party which opens the floodgates to his self-realization he is a woman trapped in a man's body who goes by the name of Lili -- who does, admittedly, passes as a convincing cute lady. Equally painful is the agony his artist wife goes through during his mental and physical transformation. She loves her husband and he loves her, but as the plot progresses, physical intimacy between them slowly wanes. It is a tragic love story, often embarrassing, often erotic. I likely would have squirmed in my seat had I seen it in a theater audience. Though the artistry of this film and brilliant performances of the leads make this a must-see.

Alita: Battle Angel

James Cameron Creates Another Franchise
It's a special skill in La La Land to be able to interweave great storytelling with astounding visual effects. With Avatar, he created an astonishingly fresh and original world. And "Alita" accomplishes that too -- which is so challenging as every sci-fi realm seems to have been mined to the point where nothing seems new anymore. Back to the story with a few spoilers. It starts out like a Pixar movie allowing introducing the main characters, Alita, the cyborg with a heart of gold (and anti-matter powerful enough to run a power a whole city) goes from super vulnerable to a character the audience instantly identifies with and delight throughout the film as she evolves, discovering who she really is and her amazing powers that make Iron Man look like an antique by comparison. Yes cyborgs are a sci-fi staple but you will just have to see and judge for yourself how they are re-imagined here. I got the feeling as the layers of the onion began to peel along with the twists and turns and surprises that the movie would inevitably end which would be disappointing, that's how much this film grew on me. But I soon figured out this would have to be a franchise tent pole and there would have to be a cliff hangar at the end, which there is. Yes the bad guys are a little cookie-cutter evil. Alita's boyfriend is introduced to us as the perfect guy next door but we later learn he that's this "dreamboat" is more complex than he first appears. There is one big plot hole that I won't discuss here otherwise I'd have given this a 9, but I was happy to suspend my disbelief.


Fast-forwarding Makes This Dreck Semi-Tolerable.
Season 2 premiered tonight on National Geographic channel. Nat Geo of course is synonymous with hard science. The challenge is blending that with fictional drama. It certainly can be done.Not so much here sadly. In the premiere, drilling for water on Mars is tantamount to survival and human colonization. I was somewhat disappointed they chose the Avatar plot cliche -- big bad corporations mucking it up with the "profit at any cost" theme vs. the heart-of-gold astronaut/scientists. The biggest science goof?. People on mars walk around as if the gravity there is the same as earth. It's 62% less! What do viewers most want to see in a series called "Mars"? How about Mars? They spend very little time outside exploring and most of the time ensconced indoors acting out their soap operas. The last episode (is it a spoiler if it has already aired?) is a political statement about fracking causing environmental harm and a massive Martian earthquake. The USGS refutes the claim that hydraulic drilling creates earthquakes or at least is a very minor influence. With fast-forwarding you can get the gist in about 10 minutes. Yes wouldn't it be wonderful if there were underground lakes on Mars. Next stop, What's that planet up ahead? Next stop, The Twilight Zone (which would be a marked improvement).


The Finale -- SPOILERS
Perhaps they heeded my advice about the non-linear editing? The last episodes were linear thank G. I agree with previous posts it was too long. Too arty self-indulgent. The euphemism is "Like watching a train wreck. Tragic but you just can't turn away." This miniseries was an exercise in masochism with sadism thrown in. So perhaps Rome was the ideal setting. Kudos to Sutherland, the rock that held this together. Few characters I've seen engendered more hate in me, knowing he was portraying such an evil person who actually existed. No wonder the kid was F-ed up. Swank was fantastic as the alarmed loving mother. At the end of the final teaser I was tempted to see if he really died or not. Yay! Getty senior finally admits he was wrong! I did get emotional in the final scene during that sustained rapturous hug. So raising my rating from 5 to 7 since the non-linear editing was only abusive in that one episode.

Thor: Ragnarok

A Satirical Mythic Epic That Hits All the Right Notes
Ratings and reviews are subjective. Some prefer their coffee black. Others with cream and sugar. This adventure resonated with me on the never-a-dull-moment scale of entertainment. I have a female roommate who said it wasn't her cup of tea (to mix metaphors). For your average male, the muscular, masculine, handsome and charismatic Thor tickles our primal caveman id. For sure, he brings out the kid in us who always fantasizes about being Superman (to mix franchises). And for women ... do I really need to explain the appeal? But this is a love story between two brothers. Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki is simply mesmerizing. Most comic book characters tend to be, well, cartoony simplistic. Not here. Quite the opposite as we watch the myriad machinations of his internal struggle between good and evil. And Hemsworth's comedic turn here shows his growth as an actor, the dueling banter between Thor and Loki the magical thread that holds it all together. It is so easy to misstep the delicate balance between humor, farce and Marvel-esque SFX action plot -- here where two beguiling villains, evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and the acerbic sadist Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) vie for control of the universe. Blanchett hugs her narcissist role with obvious delight, getting the chance to play the villain of a lifetime as a black-haired amazon in skin tight spandex and a headdress that puts Maleficent to shame. "Bow to your queen!" She is the empowered female counterpart to Thor for the Me generation. Please note that was meant tongue-in-cheek. I seldom if ever give 9 stars. But the test for me is I watched it the 2nd time one day after and found it equally entertaining, that time analyzing why the film holds your attention nonstop, scene to scene from start to finish.


Master Craftsmen at Work. Applause Allowed.
"I wanted to retire with dignity," laments Reggie Paget, the famed opera singer who once received 9 curtain calls. Now after untold years, the living breathing reminder of his life's greatest wound is coming to Beecham House. If you like Maggie Smith in Downton Alley you will absolutely ADORE her as Jean Horton in "Quartet," a grand dame moving into a grand English estate. She staunchly guards her regal aplomb, flinging snappy barbs at will as the crusty old hen settles into her new nest. Yet, when the inevitable showdown with Reggie arrives, her true vulnerability pours out of her like a fine dessert wine. Drink it in. Savor it. Inhale the bouquet.

Having an HD big screen will help you appreciate the dreamy cinematography, golden hues of late afternoon sun bathing the bark of ancient trees, the lush gardens and countryside. But the light is best guided when hitting the faces of these seasoned actors, every wrinkle adding to the texture of their character.

Not a fan of opera? You will be, especially after Reggie's wonderful give-and-take lecture with a group of young music students more accustomed to rap, but finding a common chord between them.

This quartet of craftsmen know just how to pull on your heartstrings, all building to a wondrous crescendo. Bravo!

Stuck in Love.

You know, the kids are alright !
There are worse things than being "Stuck in Love," one of the many heartfelt revelations this engaging romantic dramady makes. For example, avoiding love all together. That's the choice Samantha makes (Lily Collins) a talented young writer following in her semi-famous father's footsteps. Her dad, writer's-blocked William Borgens (Greg Kinnear) can't wash his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) out of his hair. In fact, he's downright obsessed with her, snooping around her house and spying through the window. Dad's kids, Samantha and Rusty (Nat Wolff) both live with him at his idyllic beach house. Samantha gives the big sister talk to kid brother Rusty, illuminating the hopelessness of being a hopeless romantic. It's an illusion. Like God. You're forever doomed by a fantasy that can never be obtained and that can only bring misery. A tribute to Wolff's brilliance, he simultaneously exudes the pain of stunted withdrawal while somehow letting the audience know he's a tortured romantic to the core. Dad attempts to push him out of his nest, encouraging him to remove the safety net and take risks. At the same time, he laments that his daughter no longer believes 'father knows best.'

Is mom to blame? Did she break up the family? Does she deserve her daughter's ire?

it won't be easy cracking Samantha's rock hard exterior shell, a young woman eager to prove her "zipless sex" theory correct. She's a burgeoning ice queen ... until she meets Lou, a classmate and fellow writer armed with insight and maturity beyond his years, who pierces her armor to free her soul.

I was struck that this is the filmmaking debut of writer-director Josh Boone. Seldom does anyone acquire that hyphenate on their maiden voyage ... and deliver! Although not in the same echelon of "The Kids Are Alright", it's in the same milieu. Definitely worth seeing.

P.S. I Love You

A Cult Classic Destined for Classic
For those who shy away from sentimental romantic comedies with a pinch of schmaltz, this is not for you. You will need a heart to accompany your popcorn. Based on DVD sales, online rentals, personal conversations I've overheard at coffee shops and mentions on online dating sights ... this precious gem has garnered a loyal cult following. Time will tell whether "cult" will eventually be removed and it graduates into the "classic" category.

"P.S. I Love You" refers to the sign-off the recently deceased Gerry uses (Gerard Butler) when writing a series of love letters to his wife Holly (Swank), relatively speaking, from the grave. (That's where the spoiler alert comes in). The opening scene treats us to crackling dialogue between the two loving spouses in the form of playful fighting, rapier barbs flung rapid-fire at each other containing equal bits of tease and biting truths. In other words ... marriage. It's a genuine delight to see these two fine actors in action. The salvos feel so pure and real it recalls similar in-fighting from another classic film you may have heard of, "It Happened One Night," and the snappy duels between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

Indeed, the film pays direct homage to the romantic classics of yore, Holly a film buff watching Bette Davis films and singing aloud to the Judy Garland torch song "The Man That Got Away."

Back to the letters. You see, shortly after the introductory 'love fight' comes a jump cut to rival all jump cuts. Gerry's funeral. Here we meet Holly's friends, family and allies. Holly's mother (Kathy Bates), her two BFFs -- Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and Sharon (Gina Gershon) and John (James Marsters, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). Later during the extended healing process, Holly befriends Daniel, the male parallel to Holly who's heartbreak is played exquisitely on his sleeve by Harry Connick Jr. Holly prefers to mourn alone, sulking in her apartment where her grief borders on mental illness and Gerry is resurrected in her mind like Harvey the rabbit. When mom and friends surprise her with a birthday cake, the real-life Gerry comes back into her life, first in the form of a recording he made before he died to wish her a happy birthday, knowing he won't be there. Kleenex please. Only to be followed by the romantic whopper ... a series of letters written in the same vein to Holly, with instructions for her to follow, in his sincere heartfelt attempt to ease her pain as a young widow.

Forget the Kleenex, grab a roll of paper towels and prepare yourself for the Niagra Falls of happy tears in this romantic romp that will compel you to buy a nonstop flight to Ireland.

Cedar Rapids

A little film that could -- and did.
Ed Helms (The Office, Hangover) -- your star vehicle has come in. No doubt some may feel he is channeling Ben Stiller but Helms' Tim Lippe is very much his own creation here – the very personification of "white bread" forced to live in a world of confidently aggressive women, gay weddings, a hooker with a heart and ... you'll find out. Kudos to Phil Johnston's screenplay and the perfectly cast supporting players: Sigourney Weaver as Tim's motherly cougar, John C. Reilly as the polar-opposite cohort who forms the nucleus of the comedy, Isiah Whitlock Jr.'s dead on adoption of Family Guy's Cleveland that sets up a ROFL moment in the climax, Anne Heche's melding of Donna Reed and Shirley MacLaine of this rabid "rat pack" cast … and industry go-to-actor Kurtwood Smith as "borin' Orin", the revered "Mr. President" and judge of the prized 2-Diamond Award, the insurance industry's most hallowed trophy. This is the very definition of an ensemble gem, Helms the straight-man core to the spokes in the wheel … a wheel that begins to turn slowly, setting the stage and tone … before all Midwest, cliché shenanigans breaks loose and it careens into hysterical, bathroom slapstick and pies in the face. A little bit "40 Year Old Virgin," a little bit "Groundhog Day" and whole lot of love.

Love & Other Drugs

It blends genres and emotions and it works.
This is what happens when filmmakers ferment like a fine wine. They let their art breathe and only by doing so can it come to life, often in a form not originally envisioned. Ed Zwick knows how to ringmaster, in this case as insiders know, listening to Anne Hathaway's interpretation of her character and letting her run with it. As Maggie, a spunky-bright woman dealing with prescription drug addiction, she encounters Jamie (Gyllenhaal), a charismatic seductive salesman whom Maggie tags immediately ... and allows him to sell her -- mainly wild and vigorous sex. We soon learn her drugs are used not for recreation, but to subdue a serious condition we find out later. As a result, she has erected an emotional wall by using detached sex as cover ... insisting never to seriously get involved with Jamie. The supporting cast is flawless, zipping in and out as the film segues between slapstick comedy, light romantic comedy to drama ... organically interweaving plot and character twists and building to a walloping crescendo. For writers and directors, you know how delicate it is to balance light with darkness and these guys appear to do it effortlessly and at breakneck speed, the moment you feel a tear coming on ... boom, comic relief. There are some humdinger belly laughs and heartfelt speeches and they feel holistic to the script and film, unforced and brilliant, as is the supporting cast and score. My gosh, my first rave review since Temple Grandin!


Because comparisons to Sea Biscuit are inevitable ...
... the filmmakers had to be weary that they would be made. Their precaution may have actually hurt the film. "Sea Biscuit" was a masterpiece because of the way it got so inside the psyches of the horse and jockey, two great characters fused together. "Secretariat" does convey the steadfast resolve of the horse's owner played well by Diane Lane and it does capture the look and feel of the times and, most difficult, suspense ... when everyone knows the outcome (see "Titanic"). Sorry to say it's too bad writer-director Gary Ross wasn't at the helm. I happened to be sitting with the animal colorist of that film who cringed at the many different horses they used to play Secretariat but you don't have to be an expert to see they screwed up the most important part -- the horse's face -- sometimes with a large white diamond on the forehead, sometimes not. Sometimes a bold white line coming down from the diamond, sometimes a much thinner line. I saw a credit for horse continuity. Perhaps she didn't know about animal colorists. Or perhaps the filmmakers elected simply to focus on the human story of the owner, the horse itself, the very name of the film, more an afterthought. Nonetheless, I will recommend it as wholesome family entertainment that makes ya feel good.

(500) Days of Summer

Capturing the essence of a romantic dramady
Narrator: "If Tom had learned anything, it is that you cannot ascribe any cosmic significance to a simple earthly event. Coincidence. That's all anything really is. Tom had finally learned that there are no miracles. There is no such thing as fate. Nothing is meant to be. He was sure of it now. He was ... pretty sure."

A great premise for a romantic comedy. In fact, it is the very essence of an audience's expectation of a love story and the film constructs it and deconstructs it beautifully, the above narration summing the film up neatly in the end, where we are left to ponder whether or not it was a happy ending. Does the boy finally get the girl?

For pure inventiveness of plot for such an archetypical genre, 500 Days of Summer gets an A, as do the performances of the leads. No easy task to capture the ups and downs of a roller coaster romance, the subtle mental and emotional dramas within a drama, turning and twisting on a whim or the simplest of acts, such as rejecting a hand that wishes to be held. I have a problem with the character arc of Summer which has a little to much pretzel configuration for the sake of making the theme / premise fit, but her dialogue and actions are real enough to suspend disbelief ... barely. An exquisitely well-crafted film.


Great cerebral plotting, could use more heart and soul.
The writer is a master craftsman, no doubt, when it comes to the details in constructing a reality that works as suspension of disbelief -- because any major gaff, as the plot itself explains with the complexity of creating a dream within a dream within a dream -- would unravel the delicate tapestry. The "heart" is attempted with the obsessive love and guilt for the wife who died ... and for his children. But for me at least, it served only as the filmmakers' acknowledgment that the film, in order to work, needed heart or, as any screenwriter would know, a powerful desire line for the lead character -- the old "what he wants isn't necessarily what he needs and that is what he self-discovers, via the plot, in the climax." Parallels to The Matrix are obvious and Inception certainly expands the universe of the new, futurist sci-fi genre. The thought did occur (and probably to the writer) that a mind-popping ending could have revealed the entire film as a dream and that his wife was telling the truth. Ooooohhh! Maybe they tried that and an alternate ending will be revealed in the DVD. One big plot question remains, and that is the incredulous notion that America has immigration security so tight that it is impossible to get into the country without proper documentation. With current headlines re: this topic, perhaps more exposition could be given to how much that has changed from today. I'll never forget the story my dad told me when he attended the original premiere of "War of the Worlds" and in the lobby, the director asked him what he thought. Dad replied: "Fantastic special effects, but every kid knows when you go into space you have to wear a space suit."

The Kids Are All Right

This is why we go to movies.
Whether you're a working writer, director, actor or not here's how to make a movie. Of course it helps if the writer is beyond brilliant and can change hats and maximize her film's potential by directing it. I had to sit and compose myself when this ended, as did many in the audience because the experience reached Jungian levels of truth, the emotions cascading and oozing through you naturally, organically ... laughter, happiness, sadness, tears of pain and unbridled joy. And no matter how big home TV screens get, there is a communal sense of fellowship that great films such as this imbues to the audience and our culture at large. This is not a "message piece" promoting gay marriage. It's simply a plot point that allows the characters to breathe and dance their magic. To reflect life effectively on the screen, it's the little subtle things that count, tiny nuances that occur in real life spontaneously and incongruously that make it real. There is a scene where a devastating truth is revealed and the character goes from joy to shock to traumatized ... and the extraneous conversation of others dims as the revelation begins to take hold. To say it worked is an understatement. The film is chock full of tiny plums like that, true human interactions with all their twists and turns that flow so gracefully and realistically that it's hard to believe this was once a script. Thank you Lisa Cholodenko, cast, crew and green-lighters.

The Invention of Lying

Does the writer have a God complex?
Most film schools decry films that are too preachy. Certainly they may have a moral compass and a point of view. Scorsese has taught at length the ways in which a good film layers its message with subtle techniques. Rest assured and read no further if you don't want me to spoil the ending. This film is a blatant call to atheism. It's too bad because the premise of a world who can only tell the truth, no matter how brutal, is a good one and had not the propaganda of the writer's personal beliefs gotten in the way, insights and epiphanies into human nature may have produced a landmark film. It's ironic that the "hero" of the story learns to lie ... and the lie is that he makes up the notion of God. The great majority of the people on earth believe in a higher power on faith alone, ironically, a notion that the "hero" believes will benefit humankind. Yet at the same time, the film takes great glee to show that anyone who believes that is a moronic Neanderthal. Those who don't believe in the possibility of a higher spiritual purpose must thus believe in themselves and it is clear the writer here has a "God complex."

Inside Daisy Clover

One of the best films I hadn't seen until now ... a gem.
This is exactly the type of film that could never be made today. The artistic freedom on display here is breathtaking and achingly nostalgic. No Hollywood cookie-cutter, it crosses genres faster than multiplex ticket-crasher going from beatnik to "A Star is Born' to "Sunset Blvd." to "All That Jazz" to "I Could Go on Singing" -- and somehow it works! Natalie Wood plays teenager Daisy Clover who sends a 45 vinyl record (it's the '30s) to Swan Studios and soon becomes America's "Little Miss Valentine." And she pulls it off, even though we saw her at the same age 10 years earlier in "Rebel Without a Cause." For aspiring writers and directors -- and for working ones -- I challenge you to find a film where the absence of dialogue is used with more effectiveness, in this case, underrated Natalie Wood saying nothing as her world whirls aorund her with dizzying speed, romanced by Wade Lewis (Robert Redford), mentored by Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), befriended by Mrs. Swan (Katherine Bard in a transcendent performance). These were the days when the paparazzi were literally owned by the studios. FYI Angel Beach is Santa Monica beach and you'll recognize the pier and the most filmed merry-go-round in history. I was fascinated how, in 1965, so many taboo subjects got through the ratings board. Worth it just to see one of the greatest screen marriage proposals ever.

Temple Grandin

Why Temple Grandin deserved Oscar nominations.
There are some reviewers who will never award a 10 under the premise it is theoretically unattainable or lessens their credibility as a true auteur and critic of the filmmakers art. When I worked for MGM and the "Rain Man" campaign, I already had written hundreds of synopsis on the back of video boxes, including all the historic landmark films I studied in film school. It hurts to know this film is not nominated for a Best Picture Oscar nor Danes for Best Actress, for which I believe she would and should win -- the acting demands of her performance exceeding Dustin Hoffman's in "Rain Man." She had more emotional and intellectual notes to play and she played them to perfection. As for the film, it touches on the subject of life and death, not only for animals but humans as well in a searingly raw and truthful way, much as my own mother, suffering from dementia at her deathbed asked me, "After I die, then what?" Dane's performance reminded me of Patty Duke's in "Miracle Worker" in which the entire performance transcended the craft into pure belief. Acting is believing and you don't for a microsecond believe she is acting. As did her character Temple Grandin, Danes has "walked through another door into a whole new world" as an actress.

The Weather Man

Dysfunctional family - and movie
I rarely walk out of films and I never expected to walk out on this one I promote films for the studios for a living so I understand how trailers and advertising works, and I certainly was fooled into thinking this was a comedy -- so if you're expecting a comedy, wait for DVD or if you have a really really dark sense of humor and enjoy watching a clueless lead character doing clueless things one after another -- without being all that funny -- this is the film for you! Having not seen the ending -- and without breaking spoiler rules -- I can only guess that this schlub has some sort of revelation and character growth in the end, but it was just too long and protracted of a toothache to get there, despite the great performances by all involved


Jodie Foster's Performance. "So beautiful...I had no idea."
I was actually inspired to write this after seeing the AFI special on CBS, and their recognition of the top actors and actresses of our time -- prior to 1959 (I believe.) It got me thinking about current actors and who could possibly fill the shoes of those greats from the golden era of cinema. People like Judy Garland, Kathyrn Hepburn, Bette Davis, etc.

Jodie Foster. Definitely. And I didn't reach this conclusion based on her two previous Best Actress Academy Awards. "Contact" was not a landmark film with a boffo box office. But it was an extremely well made and provocative movie that I enjoyed immensely. And more than the film, I enjoyed Jodie Foster's performance. There are many in the industry who, hush hush, may think twice when casting her in a romantic role opposite a male lead, the thinking goes: everyone 'knows' ... and somehow that detracts from her believability ... that we are watching someone whom we know is acting, because she cannot possibly be feeling what she's is supposed to be feeling when she kisses an actor in a sensuous manner.

Painful for me to admit, but I used to be one of them ...

until I saw her in "Contact."

Foster's acting ... in two sequences in particular, transcended all of that for me: 1) the "Okay to go" sequence, and.... 2) "It's so beautiful, I had no idea" sequence.

When AFI does it's eventual salute to Jodie Foster, as will AMPAS -- those sequences will stand out and should be included in her body of work sampling, precisely because "Contact" was not a milestone film. Jodie carried that film, and single-handedly propelled it to where it had to go -- during the climax, acting against SFX without the benefit of playing off another actor. In the hands of a lesser performer, the magic and mystery and awe that Carl Sagan was trying to imbue into this film would not have been realized.

"I'm okay to go...okay to go... okay to go.." Simple words of dialogue, really. What the actress does with them is a revelation and tribute to her skill and God-given talent. The pod is about to descend into an unknown abyss and travel through another dimension. "I'm okay to go." Scientific words. But in her hands, and in the way she delivers them... she made me cry. They embodied the core desire of the main character with such realism, such raw emotion, made all the more so because they were tinged with a combination of fear, excitement, courage and the indomitable human spirit, HER spirit -- within context of the film and, somehow for me, within context of her life -- that I could only tear up and cry and love her.

Then again, when the character describes what she sees at the pivotal climax of "Contact" -- "A celestial event ... so beautiful ... so beautiful ... I had no idea ... words cannot describe ... I had no idea ..." Again, tears. As she emotes the words, I found myself thinking to myself, "Yes, Jodie ... such a beautiful performance ... such a beautiful actor. You could have only done this by digging deep into the essence of your soul. To pull that out... from the depths of your core ... you must be so beautiful too ... I had no idea. No idea."

I must add here that I'm from Los Angeles, in the entertainment industry and I'm jaded. I know several celebrities. These are not the words of a some gushing fan. This is not fawning. This is simply respect and admiration for a truly brilliant talent. Look again at those scenes and her acting -- and judge for yourself. I only wish I was a high-enough ranking mogul to cast her in the romance film I just wrote. What luck any writer or director or producer must feel.

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