tmsindc-2

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Reviews

Hawaii
(1966)

Where Is The Rest......
After seeing the movie on cable a few months ago, I decided to read the book.

The movie is only about one-fifth of the whole book. Too bad. The movie leaves a lot of unresolved plot threads which are resolved later in the book. Subplots which seem inconsequential turn out to have major implications to the plot of the novel. Minor characters from the movie become more important as the story progresses. For example, Gene Hackman's Dr. John Whipple and Richard Harris' Raefer Hoxworth have only a few scenes in Hawaii, but their characters are perhaps the two most important characters in the book. Whipple and Hoxworth are the ones who challenge the authority of the missionaries and, in a sense, are the true foils to Abner Hale. They also are the ones who go into business.

As a result, the movie, standing by itself, tends to introduce characters and subplots with no relevancy to the main Abner-Jerusha-Malama-Keolo story line. Perhaps a sequel was planned? In short, Hawaii would have worked better as a mini-series.

********************* How the Novel Ends:

Abner Hale's son, Micah, who was last seen getting a boat to the mainland to attend Yale University, becomes a minister like his father. The sea captain, Raefer Hoxworth, marries Noelini, the daughter of the Alii Nui. Micah then meets and falls in love with Raefer's and Noelini's daughter. They get married. Abner Hale scorns Micha; claiming the Micah has gone "whoring with the heathens." Micah quits the ministry and becomes a partner in Raefer Hoxworth's shipping company - now called Hoxworth and Hale.

John Whipple and Retire Janders (the captain of the ship that brought the missionaries to Hawaii) are partners in Janders & Whipple. Initially a trading company, general store, and ship chandler, they start acquiring land and growing sugar. J&W eventually becomes a plantation company and needs cheap labor to work their fields. John Whipple imports Chinese workers.

A generation after the movie ends, the descendants of Hale, Whipple, Janders, Hewlett (the man who was kicked out of the church for marrying a Hawaiian woman) and the Hoxworth are the commercial, social, and political elite of Hawaii. Micah Hale leads the movement to have the United States annex Hawaii and serves as the first governor of the Territory of Hawaii.

The descendants of these families continue to build their businsses and develop the islands. In an ironic twist, the families, refusing to marry Hawaiians or Chinese, intermarry. Eventually cousins marry cousins - the very practices Abner Hale condemned from his puplit. You eventually get characters named: Whipple Hoxworth; Hoxworth Hale; Hewlett Janders; Bromley Hoxworth.

Finally, at the end of the novel the rich, post-WW II descendants of the missionaries talk about their "distinguished ancestors." Their descriptions and interpretation of events, differs from what it portrayed in the earlier chapters.

Orange County
(2002)

Better Than Expected.....
I was stuck on a 21 hour flight with a choice of 10 movies: Orange County, Shipping News, Charlotte Gray, Hart's War, My Life as A House, My Baby is Dying of Cancer (or something like that), some movie about a miner's wife; two Chinese action flicks and an utterly uncomprehensible Indian film......Suffice to say I wound-up watching Orange County six times on that flight.

This may not sound like a rining endorsement. However, had I not been forced to watch that movie, I would have ignored it on cable and on video. The trailers made it out to be some type of horny teenager movie and the cable-tv ads made it seem like Jack Black does a low-budget Tom Green.

What does this mean? Well, the movie is more entertaining than the marketing campaign makes you believe. There are some truly funny moments - the wrong candidate getting into Stanford ("Dude, I didn't even apply...this is scary man"); the stoned Dean of Admissions spouting statistical babble ("you are right, 92%......"); the Stanford girls shrieking over a then-popular rap song.

Not a reat movie.....but it does have it moments. Plus the soundtrack is really good!

Sweet Home Alabama
(2002)

Melanie Marries Andrew Cuomo?
This movie was obviously written and cast when it was assumed the Andrew Cuomo would be the next Governor of New York. The "Andrew" character was the son of an important New York politician - the Mayor of New York City - he was also the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - and sported a rather spiffy hairdoo. Andrew Cuomo was the son of an important New York politician - the former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo - he was also Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - and he sported a rather spifft hairdoo.

Well, Andrew Cuomo tried to run for Governor of New York and was so far behind in the polls that he quit the race before the primary. When he announced his candacy, it was assumed that he would win the nomination -he had the name, the famous father, the backing of Bill & Hillary and the Hollywood elite, and the looks.......

Ali G Indahouse
(2002)

Pleasant Surprise
As an American who is far too old for the MTV demographic and far too pale for the BET demographic, I never heard of the supposed Brit-T phenom "Ali G." In fact, when I saw the advertisement for "Ali G Indahouse" I thought it was "Ali G India House" and I had no idea what it was about.

Several days later it was playing on the TV in a restaurant where I had dinner. While waiting for my food, I started watching the movie. At first, I dismissed it as yet another crass, hand-job and hard-on teenage comedy. However, as the movie progressed I found myself laughing out loud! The scenes at the Cabinet Meetings and during the Prime Minister's Question Period are hysterical. Ali's "solution" to the refugee problem and his "fact finding tour" of H.M. Customs and Excise are brilliant parodies.

"Ali G" is not deep, meaningful cinema full of adolescent angst or award-winning performances. It is not even a classic comedy in the "Lavender Hill Mob" "A Fish Called Wanda" sense. It is, however, up there with the Austin Powers movies and the Zuker-Abraham films ("Airplane" "Naked Gun" etc.) as mindless movies that produce ample belly-laughs.

Since this movie is not - to my knowledge - available in the States, I bought it on DVD to show to my friends.

The Time Machine
(2002)

It is a Victorian Novel!!!
The 1960 George Pal version of the Time Machine is the definitive movie version of Well's 1896 novel. Like the 2002 re-make, it strays from the actual text of the novel. However, Pal and screen writer Dennis Duncan manage to cross-reference a fair number of Wells' later works and ideas. Wells was a true visionary. His novels include atomic bombs, aerial bombardment of cities, the near destruction of human civilization. Moreover, Wells was an idealist who turned pessimist as he grew older.

Now, the 2002 re-make of the "Time Machine" is even further from the text of the novel than the 1960 version. The divergence was not to "flesh out" the time traveller or to include other H.G. Wells references (aside from a picture of Wells in Hartgaerten's study and a mention by Vox).

I have read the "Time Machine." It is a wonderful book. It is also a novel written in the Victorian era. It was meant to be read; not scripted into a movie. A movie about a man contemplating human evolution and the class struggle would not be a big hit among mass audiences. Most of the novel is a narrative discription of London in the year 802701. How many Americans can identify Bermondsey? Hampstead Heath? Brompton? Fulham?

Why the changes? It was done to make the movie more marketable to modern audiences. Today's audiences would not relate to the 1960 version of the movie. I also wonder how may people would actually enjoy the novel that started it all. Besides, if Simon Wells just remade the 1960 version of the movie, then what would be his contribution to the Time Machine mythos?

On a final note, there is a 1979 movie called "Time After Time" that is an interesting twist on the whole H.G. Wells, time machine plot. In that move, H.G. Wells builds a time machine and travels to 1979 San Francisco. It is worth renting.

The Royal Tenenbaums
(2001)

Would Like to See Demographics of Commentors.....
No, I am not in the movie biz, advertising biz, marketing biz, or any other vocation where I have to sell something to the general public. However, I would be interested in knowing the demographics of the people who posted comments to The Royal Tenenbaums.

The comments are either "Wow, this is the best movie of the year" or "This is not funny. Go and see Joe Somebody / Joe Dirt." One commentor remarked that people in the audience "over 35" were laughing while the commentor and his/her friends were debating whether to leave early. Another commentor was perplexed that Bill Murray, who was so good in "Scrooged" and "What About Bob," was so dull in The Royal Tenenbaums. (No mention of "Stripes", "Ghostbusters," "Caddyshack" or "The Razor's Edge.") On the other hand, other commentators have compared the characters in The Royal Tenenbaums to characters in James Joyce novels.

My personal theory, is that people expecting a belly-laugh, situational comedy are going to be severely disappointed by The Royal Tenenbaums. There are no scenes where Gene Hackman has intercourse with an apple pie, where Gwenth Paltrow mistakes ejaculate for hair gel, where Ben Stiller slips on a banana peel and falls face first into a wedding cake, where Danny Glover falls into an open hole....wait, that does happen. In other words, The Royal Tenenbaums, is not the typical Hollywood, mass audience comedy. The demographic groups that see "American Pie," "Ace Ventura," "Something About Mary," and "King Pin" are not going to like The Royal Tenenbaums. NOTE: This is not to deride these films; they are funny. However it is a different style of humor.

People expecting to find humor in dialogue, plot, character, and in subtle interaction of script, director, and actor will find the Royal Tenenbaums sublimely satisfying. For example, the narrator's line, "Right after Royal said those words, he realized he meant them...." Is brilliant. Of course, people expecting to see Gene Hackman lust after a pie, may miss the joke......

The Dish
(2000)

Example of a "Good" Movie
Quite simply, "The Dish" is an example of a "good" movie. There is no sexual sitations, no violence, no profanity, no adult situations, etc. This is an entertaining movie that can be enjoyed by all ages and politico-religious-cultural sensitivities.

The next time Al Gore or Joe Liberman attend Hollywood a fundraiser and berate their campaign contributors for producing films that glorify violence, drugs, sex, and other "non-family" values, they should make a point of extolling "The Dish" as an example of a "good" film.

This is not to say that I am bible-thumper or other "wing-nut." I also enjoy well-written action flicks (e.g. Air Force Once, Die Hard), terse thrillers (e.g the re-make of The Thing), and laugh-out-loud, gross-out comedy (e.g Something About Mary, Austin Powers, American Pie). However, in all the rhetoric about Hollywood as a purveyor of filth, smut, and whatever word will win electoral vote, politicans overlook the "good" films that are also released released.

I realize that "The Dish" was not written, directed, or financed by the Hollywood studios. However, this does not detract from "The Dish" being a "good" movie.

The Scottish Tale
(1998)

Five Years Later
I find it odd that it is now five years after The Scottish Tale was first released and Mack Polhemus has not had another writing or directing credit. This can mean one of three things: 1) the folks at IMDB are not keeping up with Hollywood (unlikely); 2) Mack Polhemus has abandoned film making and screen writing); or 3) The Scottish Tale went completely under the Hollywood radar and Mack Polhemus is still waiting for his "big break."

This was obviously a low-budget first film. Remember a real low budget howler called "Duel" about a battle between a man and a truck? Even the director of that film got another chance. Know what he did? Made another big-budget howler called "1941"!

The low budget nature of the film shows in the poor film stock, limited locations, use of unknown actors, and, of course, the stuffed skunk. However, the parts of the film that are independent of the budget show that Polhemus has / had real talent. The movie is well written with clever dialogue and some interesting word play. The director also manages to make the most of the limited budget in terms of setting, camera angles, and cinematography.

A movie studio should definitely give Mack Polhemus a shot at a second movie.

The Lord of the Rings
(1978)

This movie killed my interest in "Lord of the Rings"
I saw this movie on cable sometime in the early 1980's. It was awful - boring, confusing, pointless, plotless. The movie was a mishmash of characters without any real plot or direction. The animation was enough to give a seven year old a headache.

As a result, I never had any interest in reading "The Hobbitt" "The Lord of the Rings" or any thing else by Tollkein. Whenever a friend recommended "The Hobbitt" - all the I could think of was this movie that could not even entertain a child.

Perhaps if the live action version is halfway decent, then I may actually attempt to read the books.

Cradle Will Rock
(1999)

Not Worth Renting......
I do not know where the problem in this movies lies. There must have been something in the script to get people like John & Joan Cusack, Reuben Blades, Bob Balaban and the rest involved in the project like this. However, from watching the final project I have no idea what it was.

The movie was poorly written. The characters were buffoonish stereotypes. The plot was a hodge-podge of storylines that lacked Robert Atlman's unifying touches. The direction was over the top. Was Tim Robbins trying to distract the audience from the weaknesses in the film?

In short, I would not recommend this movie to anyone. I can not believe I wasted money renting this.

I expected so much more. The subject matter and the historical characters deserve much better treatment.

The Deer Hunter
(1978)

And the big deal is......
Quite simply: I did not see what was so great about "The Deer Hunter." Some people go off to Vietnam. They come back. They are different. War changes people. The end. It is nothing that has not been done before in countless other films - some of them quite good.

Was "The Deer Hunter" the first movie to treat Vietnam in such a manner? Perhaps it is the "Psycho" of the genre. The film that did it first and then becomes a cliche.

All I can say about "The Deer Hunter" is that I can put a check mark next to one more movie on the AFI 100. Hoo Hum.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
(2001)

Film Critics?
Seeing this movie reinforced some of my beliefs about film critics and film writers....at least in second-tier and local papers. There are two types: one is overly pretentious and nothing is ever good enough; the other has no clue about what it going on. The first pan "Citizen Kane" for being cliche; the second give rave reviews to "Driven."

Why this pre-amble? It is an attempt at mocking Kubrick? No. Most of the reviews I read talked about the ending and how Spielberg had to resort to aliens. Well, I did not see any aliens in this film. There were some strange creatures in the final section of the film, but there was no indicator that they were aliens - no spaceship, no "when we came to this planet.." type dialogue. It is simple to assume that the strange creatures were aliens. However, there is another....and much more satisfying answer to the nature of the "strange creatures"

P.S. As a final note, I wonder whether Stephen Baxter is hiring a copyright lawyer. The whole final scene seems to be borrowed from "Time Ships." White Earth. Universal Constructors......

The Lavender Hill Mob
(1951)

Best Comedy Movie Ever.......
In my opinion - this is the best comedy movie ever made. There are few movies that can still generate belly laughs two or three years after their release. This movie is still funny after more than fifty years! Plus it has some of the greatest comedy scenes ever filmed: the "my safe is broken and I have the whole payroll in it" scene; the two small-time thieves comparing resumes; Alec Guiness blending into the crowd of City bankers; and, of course, the famous last scene.

The Shape of Things to Come
(1979)

What The?!
Absolutely Awful! This movie has nothing in common with the 1936 classic movie with a similar title. I wonder what the "pitch" was like, "Let's remake one of the most important early science fiction movies written by of the great early science fiction writers.....but we are going to change everything but the title." Think of it as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" remade and set in metropolitan Chicago about a young advertising executive, his hectic life, and a loveable dog named "Nemo"

Things to Come
(1936)

Interesting Historical Perspective
I know that H.G. Wells was known for his socialistic politics as well as his science fiction. However, I find some of the themes in this movie to be almost fascist. Cabal's speech about the how the Airmen will bring about a new world order sounds like the Nazi plan for the resettlement of territories captured from the Soviets in WWII. The new world order implies that the state can best organize and direct productive forces. There did not appear to be much in the way of market forces in the world of 2036.

What I find most interesting about this movie - and this is something that history has largely ignored - is that it shows how in the 1930's fascism was viewed as a viable means of social organization. Fascism was also intellectually appealing to large segments of the population - inspiring art, architecture, novels, etc. Of course, the Second World War showed the problems of fascism. Fascism lost its appeal and people denied ever flirting with fascism. However, the imagery in "Things to Come" reflects- in my opinion - the brief period when England and other countries contemplated following in the then-praised footsteps of Italy, Japan, and Germany.

Americathon
(1979)

Rent It
Do not watch this movie on television. Rent it! The jokes are too fast and too subtle to get in a single viewing with commerical interruptions and no ability to rewind and double-check a gag. Like the orginal "Airplane" the funniest parts of the movie take place in the background. If you blink or miss a phrase, then you will miss the joke.

For example by 1998:

Japan defeated and annexed the Soviet Union in nuclear war;

Britain became America's 42nd State;

the monarch formerly known as Prince Charles is the host at an amusement park called "Limeyland"

Isreal and Egypt (?) Saudi Arabia (?) are conspiring to rule the world; and

NIKE stands for "National Indian Knitting Enterprises"

In short, rent this movie but be quick with the rewind button.....

The Man in the White Suit
(1951)

Great Satire
This is one of my favorite movies of all time! It is a fantastic satire of industrial society. Sidney Stratton develops a revolutionary new fibre that will, in theory, never wear out and never get dirty. The owners of the textile mills wants to suppress this new invention because it will mean the end of their businesses. The workers want to suppress this new invention becuase it will mean the end of their jobs. However, the two groups do not trust each other. It is this distrust which drives the hysterical second half of the film.

One of the mill owners makes a funny speech about capital and labor working together.....working together to suppress advancement.

Perhaps given the state of British industry prior the mid 1980's, the author of the play on which the movie was based, was trying to warn British unions and management about the errors of their ways.....

Casino Royale
(1967)

Twisted
The first time I saw this movie I was drugged out of my mind. Not the illegal kind - I was coming out of surgery and was shot full of pain killers. I thought it was absolutely hysterical. Then again I would have thought a test pattern was funny...

Well, I recently saw the movie in an unaltered state and still found it to be hysterical. The plot makes no sense. Peter Sellers and David Niven never meet. The various part of the movie do not relate to one another. However, the dialog is some of the funniest I have heard in a long time: lots of puns, clever one-liners, and absurd conversations. For people used to the Austin Powers over-the-top type humor, Casino Royale might be to subtle to appreciate.

The William Holden character speaks only in letters. He introduces himself as "C.I.C. CIA DC USA" and inquires to the British counterpart, "A-OK N MI-6 M?" During the War Room scene when the Ameican and Soviet generals are ordering the "bombers scrambled" and the "missiles prepared for launch," the British general calls his wife to say he will be late for dinner and regrets that he will miss meatloaf night......

Cradle Will Rock
(1999)

Not Worth Renting......
I do not know where the problem in this movies lies. There must have been something in the script to get people like John & Joan Cusack, Reuben Blades, Bob Balaban and the rest involved in the project like this. However, from watching the final project I have no idea what it was.

The movie was poorly written. The characters were buffoonish stereotypes. The plot was a hodge-podge of storylines that lacked Robert Atlman's unifying touches. The direction was over the top. Was Tim Robbins trying to distract the audience from the weaknesses in the film?

In short, I would not recommend this movie to anyone. I can not believe I wasted money renting this.

I expected so much more. The subject matter and the historical characters deserve much better treatment.

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