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The Fantasticks

If You Want to See the Movie, Don't See the Play
So far, I have seen more than five stage productions of "the Fantasticks" including one at the Sullivan Street Playhouse back in 1962; and I am going to see another one at the Snapple Theater Center (Jerry Orbach Theater) in New York. Yes, folks, as of this date "The Fantasticks" is still playing. There was a short interim when the Sullivan Street Playhouse was torn down to make way for a high rise in 2002.

Most of the reviews of the movie are indicative of two views. If one hasn't seen "The Fantasticks" on stage or heard the original score in its entirety, the movie "ain't" that bad. However, after more than 50 years running, and after thousands of international and summer stock productions, the play has had a lot of critically biased audience when they view the film. It might have been better if the makers of the movie had just filmed a stage production. The results might have been the least expensive and longest running film ever produced.

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Best Science Fiction Film Ever ....if you don't get bored
It is difficult to critique 2001 in less than 2001 pages, e.g., read the over long comments on this site…and any one of them just scratches the surface. 2001 is more than a movie.

I have just viewed 2001 for the umpteenth time…and it just gets better and better. Those, who have deemed it to be the best science fiction movie ever, are probably correct. To describe it in one word, "STUNNING."…it is a work of everlasting art. 2001 has been called the number one movie that "shooked the world," and it still has tremendous impact for a production made over 35 years ago…ask NASA. Our space program has been developed using this movie as a model.

However, it is not for everyone. It is not for those who like "shoot'em ups, and it is not for those who have no patience, no open mind, and no intelligence save that of a stone. Like me, many of IMDb' commentators have rated 2001 as a 10; but I'll bet none of them, including me, can concisely tell you why. The experience of viewing this film can be compared to one's seeing Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" and trying to explain why the painting is so revered.

I did not have the time to read all the other commentators, but it is well-known that the main villainous character in the film is the computer, HAL…and if you go up one letter in our alphabet for each of the letters in HAL… H is I, A is B, and L is M….you get IBM (International Business Machines), which, in 1968, was the Microsoft of today.

The Producers

You Must Watch This Movie
The characters in "The Producers" are all over-acted, taking to the extreme what you see on a wacky afternoon soap opera or sit com. Take this (if you can) and add a plot that is preposterous (but convincing), offered to you on a silver platter by some of the best comedic personalities on the planet and what do you get? You get a classic comedy that invokes laughter from even the most stoic and sardonic. Not all the jokes work, but there is humor for everyone, humor that sometimes makes you question your sanity for laughing at it.

(e.g. No words can describe the reaction of the audience and the expression on their faces after having been subjected to the first act of "Springtime for Hitler")

There is no subject, not even evil, that can escape satire....and Mel Brooks does a great job at attacking our sensibilities.

This movie has its minor flaws, but it is near the top of the best ten comedies ever produced.

The Shawshank Redemption

When There is Life, There is Hope; When There is Hope, There is Life
Like many of the reviewers, I hate prison movies with all the clichés and stereotypes of innocent prisoners, nasty guards, and evil wardens; and upon first viewing, many years ago, I especially disliked being forced by this film to feel sympathy and empathy with murderers, rapists and the like.

Shawshank has somehow transcended the test of time; and I believe that it has endured, not because of the great performances (which don't seem to be acting at all, but real), not because of the simple, but multi-level, story line with its twists and turns, not because of its magnificent photography, not because of its score, and not because of any individual element that went into the making of this film. (Hence, the lack of academy awards.) However, when all those elements are combined, Shawshank becomes one of those masterpieces which is greater than the sum of its parts...and this film is so much greater that in the desperation of its characters, it invokes a multitude of good emotions in the viewer...that there is divine, poetic justice and hope in this hell of a world.

Shawshank has become my favorite film of all time, but it took a while. "When your're feeling down and out, watch Shawshank!" Raising my vote from 8/10 to 10/10 (however subjective that vote may be.)

The Constant Gardener

Political Leftist Agenda
I shall not delve into the plot details.

Movies with messages are fine as long as the messages do not gag you. Unfortunately, this movie, besides being boring, boring, boring, predictable, predictable, predictable, didactic, didactic, didactic made me not only wanting to throw up, but also throw my seat at the screen. Why I stayed for the conclusion, is beyond me.

The rave reviews by the NY Times, Los Angeles Times, and other media in the same class should have warned me. "The lady doth protest too much."

I have to admit that the acting was excellent; but the slanting of the subject matter was absolutely senseless and insane, making this a senseless and insane production. I would have to rate this movie below the rating of the "Left Behind" series, only in juxtaposition. The leftist Michael Moore crowd, which hates this country, seems to be the only faction that deems this atrocity worthy.

Do not waste your money or your time.

Bad News Bears

A Movie About Children That Shouldn't Be Seen By Children
I originally gave the original Bad News Bears a 6 and thought that I may have perhaps underscored it by a point. I'm giving this version a two in that that the only redeeming factor in it is Billy Bob Thornton, doing his same old thing (albeit pretty well-done). My fear is that I may have over-scored it by 1 or two points, but there isn't a zero. Maybe it was I, being on the upper side of the generation gap and literally dragged to the theatre by my 18 year old grand daughter (who judged the movie hilarious), but I did not find this "work of awful" very funny or very inspiring. It is a story about children that shouldn't be seen by children….or anyone, for that matter. Do not waste your money. This movie has very little merit.

Fact: In 1965, the U.S had a population of a little over 200 million people; and about 45 million people attended movie theatres every week. In the year 2005, the U.S has a population of almost 300 million people, but the movie theatre attendance is less than 25 million per week. If Hollywood keeps on producing this kind of movie and the formula shoot'em up-blow'em up stuff, and with ticket prices approaching the $10 mark, Hollywood will go the way of the Roman Empire.

The Jewel of the Nile

A Good Movie To Watch On A Boring Night
I have given this movie a 7/10 because, taken on its own merits, it is just a delightful movie to watch. It's funny, although the slapstick sometimes is a little over done; but good wins out over evil, and leaves you satisfied at its conclusion. It reminds me of the "On the Road" movies made by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour during the forties, but with better, if not sometimes outlandish, special effects and chases (e.g., the F-16 chase) and just as many, if not more, one liners.

However, the movie is more than just comedy. It pits secular evil against a spiritual goodness (the Jewel), albeit a spiritual goodness which on the surface seem naive and comic...but which, in reality, achieves its goals through that apparent naivty. That is a serious overtone which many of the previous comments on the movie seem to have overlooked. The Jewel does not perform miracles, but his presence and comic actions create an aura of the miraculous.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp - Quiet Burp
I just viewed this movie on the History Channel and the commercials were somewhat better than the movie. I couldn't wait for the breaks, but I kept on watching it anyway. That should tell you something. Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment.

You cannot rate this film as great, but it is rather interesting and intriguing. Rather than calling it an historical adult western, I would attach to it the description of dark, drawn-out,"Dancing with Wolves" type of Western. I will not say, as others have, that the film is boring. It can only be boring if you haven't had enough sleep. The film has much going for it, i.e., good acting (esp. Dennis Quaid as Doc Holiday), action, excellent photography, and philosophical dialog...probably too much of the latter.

The one memorable moment, that I can recall, is when young Wyatt (with his companion riding "shotgun", is driving a wagon at break-neck speed, trying to outrun a band of outlaws. As in real life, it is almost impossible to shoot a man off a galloping horse from a moving wagon, unless you happen to be an Annie Oakley. Wyatt, shouts to his companion something to the effect, "For crying out loud, shoot the lead horse. You can shoot a horse, can't you!" He does shoot the horse, and the chase abruptly ends. Think of all those old movies where the wagon or stage coach goes over the cliff when all you had to do was shoot the outlaws' horses...easy targets.

At any rate, all that was going through my mind during this entire movie was the the theme song from the 1950's Wyatt Earp TV series starring Hugh Obrien:

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,

Brave courageous and bold...

Long live his name and long live his glory

And long may his story be told.

Marvin Cohn

The Hebrew Hammer

If You Have A Heart Condition, Please Take Nitro Before Viewing This Film
If you laugh, you'll have to watch it again. This movie makes Mel Brook's 'Blazing Saddles' and other productions seem like serious and refined drama. If you cannot restrain your laughter, you will miss hearing the next line and have to watch it again. It is one of the most irreverent, politically incorrect, well produced and directed film in this genre I have ever seen...definitely not for kids, but then they wouldn't understand the jokes anyway...probably ruin it for you with their persistent questions. If you are Jewish, this film will rank among the best comedies you have ever watched. If you are not Jewish, this film will rank among the second best comedies you have ever watched...so check your lineage before you rate this film

The Wizard of Oz

Criticizing the Critics
Having read most of these reviews, I feel sorry for those few who, not necessarily for lack of intelligence, but for lack of imagination and the spirit of the human heart, cannot succumb to the uplifting enjoyment that this movie evokes. They have truly lost all innocence, replacing it totally with impenetrable walls of cynicism.

Then there are others whose critical ability lies in judging a work of art utilizing a ratio of mathematics, i.e., the greater the number of explosions and super-realistic special effects, the better the movie. These poor souls should not be allowed to reproduce.

The touchstone for a work of art is that it will survive the test of time. Thankfully, "The Wizard of Oz" will out-live us all.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

What is a wicket?
This is just a totally delightful production that's all Robert Morse, who is reminiscent of a toned down sophisticated Jim Carey (if you can imagine that). If you like fast paced frivolous satire that is just as pertinent today as it was back in the sixties, you've got to dig up a a dusty old copy of "How to Succeed..." and just enjoy the fun.

Does anyone out there know what a wicket is?

Left Behind II: Tribulation Force

Pseudo Science Fiction Laced With Unctuous Christianity
When are the makers of Christian films going to wake up to their lack of talent! They may be enlightened, but I am beginning to wonder by whom. With such great subject matter and even decent acting, they have still managed to produce dribble exceeded only by the artistic endeavor of an afternoon soap opera. After having watched this film, any desire for a second "leap of faith" was manifested in a desire to leap off a tall building. What a waste...but as long as they have a captive audience, why bother producing something significant.


Too Bad...
It is too bad that such a potentially good film with such a great plot has to be flawed by such poor talent in every other area. If only the production of this film, and others like it, would JUST TELL THE STORY with good acting and let the message be intuitively realized by the viewers instead of being rammed down their throats with soap operatic soliloquies and didactic preaching. Christian films, such as this one, tend to influence the viewer to seek salvation in other places than Christian Heaven.

However, with all its flaws, it may, for some, be worth watching and can even have you on the edge of your seat at times.

Romeo and Juliet

The Best Rendition Ever Put On The Screen
I caught this production on TV just now...saw it in the theatre years ago and have seen it many times since. I have no comment except for my summary: It is the best rendition of "Romeo and Juliet" ever put on the screen...period!...and one of the best movies directed and produced. By the way, I teach Shakespeare; and I believe the Bard would be impressed by this one.

La guerre du feu

Not For Everyone
If you do not have an insight into human nature or if you only have the mentality of a fourth grader, this movie is not for you; but if you have sensibility and introspect, then revel in it with this underrated masterpiece. Human nature has not changed since the beginning of man's existence....only gadgets have been added. "Quest For Fire" beats anything that has ever been produced in a "caveman" movie....and it doesn't matter what language you understand....and it doesn't matter what culture you are from....the themes are archetypic....and you won't even have to worry about subtitles.

Schindler's List

Audience Reaction
The first (and last) time I viewed this masterpiece in a theater, I could not help but notice the reaction of the audience upon their leaving. Some were crying or trying to hold back tears, some were stunned, some had completely blank faces, some showed signs of anger; but the overall atmosphere was one of utter silence. Never in the history of motion pictures has a film had such an emotional impact upon its constituents.


Great Movie, Lousy Music, Equestrianship Unexcelled
This movie, except for the "over-orchestration," deserves critical acclaim, as most of the comments have illustrated. However, no one seems to have addressed another element par excellence....the horses and equestrianship. Only one commentator made a cursory observation that Navarre's mount was a "farm horse." ... not so! That was a Fresian, one of the oldest breed of horse known and the one which the knights of old used for battle....try to train a "farm horse" to prance! Other breeds included the Lipizans, and it was the antagonists who rode them.

If one were to overlook the fine acting, the excellent storyline, the Romance (literary sense), and the romantic which tugs our heart strings in understatement, the appropriate comedy, the breath-taking camera work utilizing almost no special effects (but surpassing just about everything thrust upon us today), a horse-lover would revel in the production.

However, whoever (not the composers) was in charge of allowing the musical score, should have been barbecued at the stake for ruining an almost flawless classic. Never the less, this movie should not be missed...It will leave you in awe and wonder.

Marvin Cohn

Noah's Ark

This rendition of "Noah's Ark" has set Hallmark's (and Turner's) reputation back about 100 years. However, the production has it's bright side...a learning experience for neophyte movie entrepreneurs in "how not to make a movie"

Where in the annals of Biblical literature and common sense can one find these quotes and situations:

"Ok, boys, let's saddle up." "It's too bad that God created the sun to shine only during the day when we really needed it at night." "We're not kissing...we're only whispering in each others' mouths."

Lumber for building the Ark with "Georgia Pacific" stamped on it. Metal nails. Kids flying kites. A peddler (how can James Coburn sleep after this) selling Chinese hats. Pirates attacking a wooden Ark, which they wished to capture, with flaming tar balls of fire shot from catapults. Glass bottles of wine (Noah was in a continual state of inibriation. It was a miracle that he could see the Ark let alone build it.) Lady Godiva (Mary Steenberg in a blond wig tromping around the Ark on a white horse...still rated G) Warding off Biblical pirates with an iron (teflon-lined?) frying pan. Landing on Mount Ararat after having passed through the Straights of Hercules.

etc., etc., etc.

Special effects...you've got to see them in order not to believe them.

The list goes on. This movie must not be missed; but if you want the full TV version, you must call NBC for the screen version...but only if you agree to absolve NBC of all responsibility of ever having aired the thing in the first place. Only the expurgated version exists in video stores (no pirates, etc.)...that is, those video stores that dare to stock it.

Marvin Cohn

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