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The Hustle

Can be entertaining for viewers who haven't seen "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library, my wife skipped, she had a good e-book.

In a brief review, this same story, with a few changes, was the 1964 movie "Bedtime Story" with Marlon Brando and David Niven. Then the 1988 movie "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" with Steve Martin and Michael Caine. And now in 2019 "The Hustle", the biggest change being two female characters as the scoundrels, the hustlers.

"Scoundrels" is one of my favorite movies, I have watched it at least a dozen times over the years, so for me watching "The Hustle" was mostly to compare how they handled similar scenes. While I like both Wilson and Hathaway their characterizations are clearly inferior to the analogous roles created by Martin and Caine. The biggest thing this movie does for me is reinforce how good "Scoundrels" is.

For anyone who has never seen "Scoundrels" this will likely be a good watch, suitably entertaining. For all who have seen "Scoundrels" this remake offers very little.


Very entertaining as a "guilty pleasure."
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. My wife skipped, not her type of movie.

While there are several other effective actors, the movie rides on the performance of Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann. She is still living in the town she grew up in, as are several of her old classmates, all graduated from high school some years earlier, many of them have sons or daughters who now are in high school.

Sue Ann is approached by a group of teenagers who want an adult to buy some beer and whiskey for them. At first she is reluctant, but when she notices the van the boy is driving, and realizes he is the son of an old boyfriend, she decides to help them. And further, convinces them to party in her basement out in the country, it would be safer than riding around. The kids resort to calling her "Ma".

But we sense very early, and is later confirmed, that her intentions are not for the good. It turns out she was humiliated in high school, there is a flashback scene, and now sees this as a way to get back at the parents, to get her revenge in a very twisted manner.

For what it is, a twisted psychological thriller, it works very well. There isn't anything I would change about it.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Always will be King of Late Night talk shows.
When I was a young working professional I often stayed up late to see this show, at a minimum the monolog. Johnny Carson had a charm that none before or after him had or have.

You see Carson knew that he wasn't really special and he didn't act like he was special. He kicked around on various TV shows with moderate success but getting this long-running gig was his "holy grail" and he stuck with it.

What made Carson so effective was his interviewing technique. He would ask a question or introduce a topic and mostly sit back and let the guests talk. He rarely interrupted, he rarely tried to make a joke while they were talking, in other words he was a gracious host and it was very effective.

All those who have come after in similar shows pale in comparison.

Late Show with David Letterman

David Letterman, master of self-promotion.
I never liked David letterman or his shows. Back when I frequently stayed up late I tried several times to watch his shows, he must be doing something right I thought, he had many fans.

But NO, I never could tolerate him, I could never watch more than a few minutes.

Today in 2019 I realized why. I was watching an old clip where he had a 14-yr-old Natalie Portman on, not long after she was in "Beautiful Girls". When Portman would start to explain something Letterman just wouldn't shut up. He would interrupt, he would ask useless questions, try to make unneeded jokes. He was the worst interviewer in the world. To me he was (is) totally useless as an entertainer. I loathe David Letterman.

So, who was a good interviewer, you might ask? Johnny Carson. He would ask a question or introduce a topic then sit back and let the guest talk, letting the discourse go where the guest would lead it. That is the good and respectful way to treat a guest, Letterman never did that, he was incapable. He was too much about self-promotion.


Good, inspiring true story, boy drowns but survives.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. It is a true story of a 14-yr-old boy doing something stupid - playing on thin ice in January in St Charles Missouri - and drowning. The best specialists in St Louis give the parents little hope but they have faith, especially the mom. It is a story of faith, love, and doing what matters most in life. It is as much a story of the mom's redemption as it is the son's survival.

The boy has entered puberty and is now dwelling on the fact that he was adopted as an infant from Central America. He is bitter that his birth mom discarded him. He is cocky and often disrespectful. After his death experience and a new lease on life, and realizing all those who helped him and prayed for him, his attitude has shifted for the better. At the end we meet the real boy, now headed for a life in ministry and coaching basketball.

I must address the current 13% of "1" votes here on IMDb. There is no way in heaven or h3LL that this is a "1" movie, those who voted that way just did so out of meanness and disrespect. It probably isn't a "10" movie either, although the actual story is. For those who have a heart this is a fine, inspiring movie. Even if you happen not to believe in God and prayer it shows how one must never give up on the things worthwhile, especially family and friends.

Mary Magdalene

Well-made movie featuring Mary Magdalene's point of view.
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. My wife was in Portland. I think she got the better of the deal.

But seriously, this is a good movie, not a great movie, and not for everyone. Only those curious of how it MIGHT have been during Jesus' end times. Rooney Mara does very well in the title role of Mary Magdalene. She is depicted as a young woman who is trying to be married off by her family and instead she learns of Jesus and follows Him. She becomes one of His disciples, the only female one.

Because this is about Mary primarily they skip over most of Jesus' teachings and the trial and crucifixion, but they do depict Mary attending to Him and seeing Him after his resurrection. Joaquin Phoenix, who is an atheist, in an interesting turn as Jesus, he plays him a bit differently from most of the movie depictions.

So what we have here is a mostly, nice, quiet movie that comes across pretty faithful to what we know about Mary Magdalene. Good movie for anyone interested in the subject.

Wild Rose

We all struggle to make our own way through life. Some struggle more than others.
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library.

I didn't know of Jessie Buckley before I saw this movie but I quickly became a fan. She is a wonderful, convincing actress and has a really beautiful singing voice, the kind you just want to listen to. She could also make a good Janis Joplin, she has the looks, sassiness, and can sing in that raspy style.

Here she is Rose-Lynn who has, at her early 20s age, already made her life very difficult for herself. She had two children by the time she was 18 and, as the movie starts she is just getting out of 12 months in jail for a failed drug delivery which involved trying to throw it over a prison wall. Her mother has been caring for her girl and her boy.

We see right away she is very carefree and mostly irresponsible. She feels entitled, she wants to sing country in Nashville, she doesn't want her children or anything else to block her path. She has performed regularly at the Glasgow (Scotland) Grand Ole Opry.

While this appears to mostly a movie about an aspiring singer getting to Nashville, it is more a character study about this young woman who needs to dig deep and get her priorities straight, and to be a responsible mother to her two children. She does get to Nashville, in a peculiar twist of fate, but in the end she discovers that there's no place like home.

There's an abundance of very salty language, as seems to be common for many British movies, but if one can get past that then it is a really good movie, Jessie Buckley really shines. I want to see her in additional lead roles. Her interview on the DVD "extras" is really delightful and also serves to show how much the character Rose-Lynn is unlike her.

Loving Pablo

The wild, wild drug business in Columbia.
I managed to view this movie on Amazon streaming movies.

Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz are both very good here, respectively as drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar and TV personality Virginia Vallejo. It is based on her own memoirs as Pablo's mistress, eventually forced to leave her own country for safety. The very end credit says it was "inspired by" with some fictional elements, but I suspect it is pretty accurate.

The story spans the approximate 12-year period from 1981 to 1993. It shows the general methods of smuggling large amounts of drugs into the USA and how Escobar demanded absolute loyalty, like a mob boss would, otherwise be killed. It doesn't end well for him and his men. In 1993 his estimated net worth was US$30Billion.

Really good movie to provide a good glimpse of who this famous drug lord was and the brutality that goes along with that business.


Inventive story and a very entertaining evening of Beatles music.
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our public library. We enjoyed it very much, it is one of the better movies we have seen in recent months.

Set and filmed in England, British actor Himesh Patel as Jack Malik is a teacher but an aspiring songwriter. The problem is his songs aren't very good. He has a long-time friend, also a teacher, Lily James as Ellie Appleton, who actually serves as his manager although he doesn't get much work as an entertainer.

Then something very unusual happens, the result is that Jack seems to be the only one who knows who the Beatles are. When he starts to play and sing "Yesterday" for his friends they love his song. Same with all the other Beatles songs that he can remember. His career takes off.

It was nice to hear all the Beatles music but the thrust of the story is mostly his coming to terms with his guilt in having everyone think he is a great songwriter. Also coming to realize that maybe he and Ellie have much more than just a "friendship."

Even Ed Sheeran has a role, not just a one-scene cameo. Good movie and the acting is very appropriate.


A take on the "anti-superhero" genre, chilling.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. My wife skipped.

This is a very interesting take on the "alien baby survives crash on Earth", very similar to the stories that spawned characters like Superboy and Supergirl. The baby grows up to have super powers in our world. One TV series about this was called Smallville for its location.

Before this movie, "Brightburn", referring to the town, Brightburn, Kansas, the usual super person had a sound moral compass, avoided killing people, and in general worked for the good of humanity, rescuing people and helping to prevent large-scale disasters.

What if an alien baby grew up just the opposite? Smart, strong, and fast but with a faulty moral compass. Killing those who got in his way. Creating disasters instead of preventing them.

That is what "Brightburn" is all about and for what it is done very well. It is chilling at times and there are some gruesome scenes. Not everyone's type of movie but it does make you think. I found it a good watch.

Suppose a country elected a leader who, instead of working for the common good, becomes bent on destroying institutions and people who disagree with him?

It makes you think.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Has it really been 5 years since the last Godzilla movie?
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our public library.

To me when you watch a movie like this, any "Godzilla" movie, you don't intend to take it too seriously. It is all fantasy, the best that I can hope is to be entertained.

I was entertained! But not as much as the one 5 years ago.

Still, part of the entertainment for me is the soundtrack and having a good powered subwoofer at home, it really feels at times like you are in the action.

The movie itself? It plays off the last Godzilla movie where nuclear energy keeps Godzilla strong. Several other giants are involved, including Mothra, who ends up working with Godzilla to protect humankind.

In this kind of fantasy action movie the human characters hardly matter. The actors are all capable but that is all they need to be, Godzilla, Mothra, and the other giants are the real stars. Want action? This one has lots of action.

Jeremiah Johnson

Becoming a "mountain man" in the 1800s is a chancy proposition.
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. Colorado and Canada are mentioned in the script but most of it was filmed in various parts of Utah, including Redford's own Utah land.

Robert Redford is Jeremiah Johnson, we don't learn a lot about his backstory but he seems tired of city life and decides to go out west and become a mountain man, living off the land by his wits.

He shows up in a settler town and asks where the animals are for trapping. He is told, go west towards the setting sun then turn left at the Rocky Mountains.

This is a good movie for Redford fans, in his mid-30s here and just a few years after "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." There are many close-up shots and long pauses. There also is some action, mainly him fighting off various rogue native Americans, usually referred to as Indians.

He is given a squaw after some good deeds, he assumes responsibility for a young boy, the three of them make a life together until another tragedy strikes.

In the end Jeremiah survives, he has turned himself into a Mountain Man. Good Redford movie.

Echo in the Canyon

Often frustratingly self-centered, the documentary offers a great glimpse back to the music innovations of the 1960s.
Laurel Canyon, a section in the L.A. area, produced lots of lasting hit music back in the 1960s. This documentary is produced by and stars Jakob Dylan who is only famous because he is the son of Bob. Thank goodness for the second most important invention in the world, the fast-forward button on the DVD player remote. I saw it on DVD from my public library, I skipped over the boring parts.

I have nothing against Jakob, he seems like a nice fellow, but every, and I mean EVERY, interview where a famous musician of the 1960s is recalling that time, with very interesting comments, the camera ALWAYS cuts to a full face shot of Jakob smiling or nodding knowingly. By about 15 minutes it became very, very annoying. It added nothing, we don't need to see Jakob nodding knowingly after the first 2 or 3 times he does it. We only need to see and hear the famous musician.

The second annoying thing are the "tribute" recording sessions and "tribute" performances. The groups of the 1960s seldom had great singers with memorable vocal styles. Their popularity was a result of the sound, the harmonies, and the lyrics which reflected the times. Modern tributes to the songs of the 1960s are mostly a waste of time.

All the negative being said, I really enjoyed seeing old clips of some groups, and hearing the recollections of the now very old guys who still survive. It brought back good memories.

A World Away

Very bad, surprisingly bad.
No, not the movie. It is not that bad, but neither is it that good. What is "very bad, surprisingly bad" are the several glowing "10" reviews by people who only established their accounts recently to try to prop up this movie. Its IMDb rating is unrealistically high, for what it is.

This is a Mark Blanchard movie, written and directed by, and using his young children, two daughters and a son, as actors. In truth his kids are credible actors but the script is so juvenile most of the time that it comes across as a movie for very young kids. The "sci fi" aspect of it reminded me of 1950s "B" movies but with better color. The special effects are hokey.

It starts off with and ends with very silly scenes of aliens arguing with each other, and poking each other, looking like something out of Power Rangers. The middle is a flight to the Grand Canyon which goes off the radar as the small jet travels through a type of interdimensional effect where they end up in a different world that, incidentally, has two suns. Most of the kids are overly bratty and annoying, and if they are told to do something they do the exact opposite. There is an overarching message of "love being the only constant in life" but the message gets muddled by the overly silly script and silly action that pervades most of the movie.

In truth, I was somewhat entertained, some of the situations were interesting. But calling this "an award winning film" is very misleading, it is very juvenile in its approach and execution.

I watched it on Amazon streaming.

I Love Melvin

A very young Debbie Reynolds.
I wish I had access to this movie, it seems very entertaining.

I caught a 5-minute clip online, the scene where Debbie Reynolds is a football and is being kicked and thrown, including into the arms of Donald O'connor who was just spectating. It reminded me a lot of the musical "Leave it to Jane" where actors dress up as football players and have a scrimmage onstage with a painted backdrop as the stadium and crowd.

I was in that play, at Purdue, in 1969 as part of the centennial celebration. We did 28 performances over 4 weeks and we were all about the same age as Reynolds was here.

Fun memories.

The Genius of George Boole

Sometimes real genius isn't recognized right away.
I managed to come across this program on Amazon streaming, which ironically would never have been possible without Boolean Logic that self-taught Irish mathematician George Boole developed in the early 1800s.

You see the system of logic he developed is the direct forerunner of the binary approach that all electronic computers and computer systems run on. His ideas and findings were published but lay dormant for some 80 years because he was so far ahead of the times. His ideas were strictly academic, in that there was no application for it almost 200 years ago.

But in the 1900s, as electronics advanced, a key scientist in the field discovered Boole's work and recognized that it would enable the computational techniques that revolutionized our world and led to digital computing. Sure, it is possible that had Boole never existed someone else might have independently come up with the same ideas. Yet maybe not, and who knows how long, and if not then our world with cell phones, digital TV, space travel, the internet, online purchasing, credit cards, virtually everything we depend on in our modern world would never have been possible.

That's the beauty of science and mathematics, guys like Newton, Einstein, Boole, and many others crop up randomly, get interested in the world around them and make discoveries with no end in mind other than to better understand what is going on. And in each case our world would be quite different if those great minds did not in fact crop up randomly and make their discoveries.

"The Genius of George Boole" is interesting and valuable for much more than just a glimpse at his life. Very nice program. It does help to be a math and science person.

The Biggest Little Farm

The first 8 years of starting a big little farm in California.
My wife and I watched this documentary movie at home on DVD from our public library.

So John Chester, a documentary filmmaker, and his wife Molly Chester, a chef, got a dog that just barked all day when they were gone from their Los Angeles apartment. Forced to either get rid of the dog or vacate the apartment, they chose to buy a dilapidated farm north of L.A. It was dilapidated, broken hives with dead bees, dry soil and pond. It looked impossible. But the dog was very happy there.

With the help of a consultant whose approach was to restore a natural balance, to achieve a state of equilibration among various plant and animal species, this was the 8-year conversion documented in this movie. What makes the movie so interesting is the way it was photographed and scripted, you can tell it comes from an experienced, award-winning filmmaker. Plus John and Molly seem like a really nice couple.

If you go to their website you see a photo of their "team" of over 30 people. A reference I found claims that they actually employ about 60, so regardless of the actual number it has turned into a big operation. Plus it seems they have grossed, so far, over $40Million worldwide from the documentary.

So yes, the farm was a very good idea and the documentary is very interesting and entertaining.

Coal Miner's Daughter

"Patsy said to take control of my life but it seems that my life is taking control of me."
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. I know I saw it back in the 1980s, probably on VHS, but watching it now it seemed totally fresh. A remarkably good movie and of course Spacek won the Oscar for best actress in her portrayal of Loretta Lynn. Add to the fact she does all her own singing and shows she could have had a singing career if she had wanted to.

Sissy Spacek is Loretta Lynn, married at only 14 or 15 to Doolittle "Doo" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) after knowing him for a month then having children right away. They had a rocky relationship but stayed married until he died almost 50 years later. In her own words,

"I married Doo when I wasn't but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there's something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net."

Doo was the one who bought her a guitar and told her "No one knows how to play a guitar until they learn", and she taught herself. She began her singing career in Washington state where they had moved to escape the coal mining country, but she ultimately migrated back to the south and Nashville.

Really good movie and the singing of Beverly D'Angelo, who plays Loretta's close friend, Patsy Cline, is also a nice revelation.


High school lovers and the tragedy that separates them.
I was looking for something interesting to watch and found this "indie" movie on Amazon streaming. The IMDb "user reviews" have become a wild, untrustworthy place over the past few years and there are many glowing reviews of this movie. While it is OK it really isn't that good. But interesting enough for an 80-minute viewing.

The kids start off in Colorado where they live and go to high school. Valentina de Angelis is pretty girl Jessie who has hopes of becoming a model. She contacts an agency in L.A. and they are receptive.

Adam Perez (as Adam David) is her boyfriend Matt. While he doesn't really want her to leave town he also wants her to be happy and successful, so they drive together to California.

The meat of the story is Jessie is found murdered and discarded in a Los Angeles ravine only a few months later. The police don't make any progress and Matt becomes determined to solve the mystery, find the killer and bring him or her to justice. He gets a mysterious package with a DV movie tape, he uses these as clues.

The scenes of Jessie and Matt together are mostly interesting. Frankly the middle of the story and its final resolution just don't flow well and the end seems pretty odd to me. But hey, it's an indie movie and for what it is, could have been worse.

Mork & Mindy

Revisiting after 40 years. Great, entertaining series.
I managed to find a set of DVDs of the first season of "Mork and Mindy" at my public library. I clearly remember watching this on TV back in the late 1970s but am revisiting it now, after seeing Robin Williams in his last role, in the movie "Boulevard". It is nice to bookend his career, just starting and then ending when he took his own life at age 63.

"Mork and Mindy" was brought to us by Garry Marshall, who just earlier had given us "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley", which featured his sister, Penny Marshall. Both Penny and Henry Winkler had featured guest roles in this first season of "Mork and Mindy."

The simple premise is Robin Williams as Mork is sent from his home planet Ork, on the other side of the galaxy, to study the inhabitants of Earth and report back at the end of each day. He encounters kindly Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnell in Boulder, Colorado. After he convinces her that he is an alien she lets him stay at her place.

Because of the writing this would have been at least a moderately funny TV show even without Williams. But his inventiveness and comedic timing as Mork elevate it to another level. Many skits within each 25-minute episode are really funny, "next level" funny.

Watching it now, after 40+ years, it doesn't seem as fantastic as I remember it but is still a very entertaining show.


Hits all the right notes, Elton John in his early career years.
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our local library. Not only are the picture and sound great, the disc also has a series of very interesting "extras."

I didn't pay too much attention to Reginald Dwight, aka Elton John, during his early years but have eventually become a fan of his. Some of the music I listen to is his live concert in Australia. But frankly I knew little of the man beyond a few glimpses on TV. This Biopic is done as a musical, which is appropriate, considering the subject, but also contains some whimsical, fantastic elements.

Taron Egerton is just so good as Elton John, doing all his own singing. Elton John is a producer and had an active role in making sure the story was true to how his life before about 1990 unfolded. However he avoided attending any recording sessions, he didn't want to be a distraction or have Egerton feel any pressure to sound like Elton. So what we get is what really happened during Elton John's approximate first 40 years.

The first half of the movie is mostly light and entertaining, the second half more dark and tragic, as we see Elton John spiral into a drug and alcohol use that could have killed him. In a relatively recent interview he said, "This is how bleak it was: I'd stay up, I'd smoke joints, I'd drink a bottle of Johnnie Walker and then I'd stay up for three days and then I'd go to sleep for a day and half, get up, and because I was so hungry, because I hadn't eaten anything, I'd binge and have like three bacon sandwiches, a pot of ice cream and then I'd throw it up, because I became bulimic and then go and do the whole thing all over again." But in 1990 he admitted to his addictions and a note at the end of the film states that he has been sober 28 years. I believe that now, in 2019, it is 29 years.

While a few scenes are hard to watch overall this is a highly interesting and entertaining account of Elton John's life, and Egerton is superb, what I will call a "Best Actor" quality of performance.


Brief glimpse at some very bad young people.
I watched this at home on a Criterion Collection DVD in beautiful mono Dolby sound, borrowed from my public library. I had never seen this movie and when watching a more recent online video of Sissy Spacek commenting on her most memorable roles, this movie "Badlands" was one of them.

While it is strongly inspired by a real teenage boy and girl who went on a short but vicious killing spree, the characters and story in the movie are fiction, but there are many close parallels.

Martin Sheen (about 32) is Kit, a 25-yr-old working as a garbage man and not liking it one bit. Kit's main "claim to fame" is that he resembles actor James dean who died in 1955 in a car accident at the age of 24. He has a kind demeanor most of the time but also has a hot streak and doesn't tolerate anything getting in the way of what he wants.

Sissy Spacek (about 23) is Holly, a 15-yr-old schoolgirl who plays clarinet and twirls a baton. She is naive and not particularly popular and is flattered when cool guy Kit takes an interest in her.

The killings start and they go on the run, often driving across the state through featureless plains rather than chance being stopped on a highway. This movie, Malick's first feature film, is a good character study of a troubled young man and the naive girlfriend who is too young to process what is right and what is wrong.

Sheen and Spacek are both very good in their roles.

The Best of Enemies

School desegregation, 1971 Durham, N.C.
My wife and I watched this movie at home on BluRay from our public library. The disc has some interesting "extras" including taped interviews of each of the two main characters in their later years.

This story is factual, about real people. It was an important chapter in the long road towards eliminating discrimination based on skin color, a journey far from being completed. It was 1971 in Durham, N.C. and even though laws had already been implemented to eliminate desegregation in schools the city officials and the KKK had thus far prevented it. When a fire at the all-black middle school caused a big problem the issue came to a head.

The two main characters, two people who initially despised each other, are Taraji P. Henson as black activist Ann Atwater and Sam Rockwell as local businessman and KKK leader C.P. Ellis. An interesting outfall of the events in 1971 was their becoming good friends for the rest of their lives.

The movie is uncomfortable most of the time, as it should be. This was a very serious time, but in the end it shows that hatred and prejudice is a result of fear and lack of understanding, usually on all sides.

A very well made and well acted story.

American Experience: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Episode 4, Season 26

Revealing the true story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a PBS program.
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. I actually thought I had requested the 1969 movie with Redford and Newman, I was anxious to see it again after 14 years and was surprised when this came on. As it turns out pleasantly surprised.

The program takes us first to Butch Cassidy's (not his real name) strict religious childhood. When he got older he traveled into the Wild West and experienced the "other side" of life. He was influenced by a Cassidy who was a cowboy adept at skimming cows and horses off large herds, to that is attributed his decision that robbing banks and trains was a much easier way to make a living. And taking on the name Butch Cassidy.

He later met up with the Sundance Kid (not his real name either) and they added many others to form what became of their notorious gang. They were pretty successful until the railroad hired the Pinkertons ("We never sleep") to put a stop to it. Systematically they were all tracked down until Butch and Sundance skipped out to Argentina on a ship sailing from New York. They might have made it OK there if their money had not run out but they met their end in Bolivia.

A really well made documentary with many interviews of historical experts plus good, old photos. Now I will see the Newman and Redford movie again, this time with the real history in mind.


Quite a nice watch, but very unconventional, mixing comedy and tragedy.
I watched this movie at home on DVD from my public library. Characters speak in English, Korean, Chinese, and perhaps one or two other languages, but there are English subtitles. My wife doesn't watch movies with subtitles.

I can identify, sort of, with this subject set in early 1950s Korea during the war because my older brother-in-law was stationed there in the 1950s. It is mostly in a prison camp on a S. Korean island, where fenced yards separate the avowed Communist prisoners from those who intend to defect.

For me the star is Jared Grimes as Sergeant Jackson, in the 1950s black men got even less respect than they do now, but he has a calm demeanor and does what he has to. Part of his motivation is his woman and small child in Japan that he wants to get back to.

Jared Grimes in real life is an accomplished dancer, including being a very accomplished tap dancer. He also teaches at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. So his dancing in this movie is totally authentic, and it features him a lot, along with several young Asian actors mostly unknown to audiences outside their home countries.

The General in charge wants to find ways to improve morale so one thing he does is allow Jackson to start some dancing and with the small number of volunteers they decide to call themselves the "swing kids." All four of them, one a girl, appear to be accomplished tap dancers, judging by some of the performances near the end.

There is a lot of comedy but the movie isn't always entertaining to watch, because it includes some brutality where soldiers hunt down and kill Communist Koreans who are plotting to destroy the Allies.

Overall a very nice movie, done in what I find to be a very quirky style. An unusual "war" movie, but I enjoyed the viewing experience.

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