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Dirty Pretty Things

An earnest crock, but still a crock.
SPOILERS? Maybe, but so what?

What started as a ridiculous urban legend (a black market in internal organs) has now been presented as fact in a movie, and judging from some of these reviews, a lot of gullible people have accepted the premise as true.

It's a crock from start to finish. The successful transplantation of organs involves careful genetic matching of donor and recipient, a complete operating theater and a whole crew of trained medical people. (Even then the organs are often rejected.) So who in his right mind would pay for a random kidney -- besides the fictional Hannibal Lector -- and he'd just eat it.

Nobody, that's who. It's never happened and never will.

The poor have REAL problems, and it just confuses the issues to invent fantasy ones for them.

Not that it matters, given the phoney premise, but why stuff the heart down the toilet? Where'd IT come from? They must of disposed of that "donor" some way, why not dispose of the heart along with it?

Totally without credibility and a waste of some pretty fair acting talent.

Bruce Almighty

Good news for whining, shallow boobs!
At last! A real "message" movie!

Forget about trying to be thoughtful, kind, responsible and God-fearing. All you have to do is act like a whining, shallow boob, and God will single you out and let YOU be God for a week or so.

I never realized before how EASY it is to attain grace!

(Who says movies aren't educational!)

The Wrong Guy

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I loved it.
I'd never heard of this one, and just sort of gathered it up on my way out of the video rental store. About twenty minutes in, I shut it off, called my mother and said; "I got this here really stupid movie and I'm laughing so hard I've got to share it with someone." I then drove fifty miles in order to do so. It had us both rolling on the floor.

Stupid stupid movie, about stupid, stupid people, produced, directed and acted by smart, smart people.

Too bad the distributors weren't all that smart, or more people would have heard of it. Thank God for videotape!

One Hour Photo

The point being?

I remarked to my date upon leaving "One Hour Photo" that it should win an Academy Award for "Best White Paint", including that used upon Robin Williams, who looked blank all through the picture.

Let me see now. This here guy who works as a photo developer in a (white) SavMart, has become fixated on what he perceives as a perfect family judging from the photos he develops. He then gets fired by his meany of a boss because he has been stupid enough to make extra copies of the family's photos to use as wallpaper in his (white) apartment without paying SavMart for them. (The boss, apparently, has taken twelve years or so to figure out that the books don't balance.)

Have I got it right so far?

Meanwhile, Sy has discovered that the husband in this perfect family has been having an affair. And not only THAT, the affair has been chronicled in detail in snapshots! (Taken by... who? Was it one of those manage-a-trois things? If so, is that what Sy is so upset about?)

Anyway, he decides to ruin the lives of his perfect family by making sure the wife learns of her husband's affair, and also decides to scare the bejesus out of his ex-boss by taking pictures of his daughter - and he makes sure the boss knows HE took the pictures so the cops will come after him. (Help! Stop me before I photograph again!)

He then terrorizes the errant husband and his girlfriend at knifepoint and makes them pose for dirty pictures, because... Oh! Of course! HE had had to do the same when he was a child. Which, of course, explains everything. At least for anybody under the age of five. Being over the age of five, my reaction was: "Jeez, talk about being Politically Correct!

OR--- The whole episode with the husband and girlfriend is something Sy made up. OR--- The whole episode with his boss was something Sy made up. OR--- The cops catching and interrogating him (in a dazzling white room) was something Sy made up. OR--- the whole movie was made up by someone who thought "Well, I'm writing about a psychotic, and psychotics are not rational, therefore my movie doesn't have to be rational either. I can't lose!"

And judging by some of the comments I've seen, he was right. Personally, if I want to puzzle out a puzzle, I'll get a puzzlebook. I go to movies in hopes of 1) being entertained, or 2) if I'm very lucky, being enlightened on some aspect of the human condition. (Doesn't happen often.)

But not puzzled. I can do without puzzled.

Lonesome Dove

Sorry, but I've got a problem with this one -
  • namely that "Lonesome Dove" made every other Western I've ever seen, even those I used to like, seem corny.

I loaned it out to a friend. "Six hours?" he said, "I haven't got six hours to waste watching a movie."

Two days later, I got a phone call. "Thanks a lot, buddy," my friend told me, "I watched it all the way through, then started from the beginning and watched it again. Twelve solid hours! And I had other things to do, too!"

It's that good!

How in the world did they do it? How did they fight off the "helpful" execs who must have told them things like: "NO NO NO!. Cowboys never wore hats like that, or carried guns like that. And why don't you shoot it in places with more spectacular scenery, like the National Parks? And why do you insist on taking all that time introducing the characters? And why isn't there more quick draws and fancy gunplay? And how come the good guys don't triumph in the end? And you can't just kill off sympathetic characters like that! Haven't you people ever seen a western movie? YOU JUST CAN'T DO IT THIS WAY!"

But by some miracle, they could, and did.

The fact that Gus and Call ride past the Alamo WITHOUT SAYING A SINGLE WORD ABOUT IT, just stunned me!

Top notch everything! Go anywhere in it, pause it, turn off the color and feast your eyes on the most convincing presentation of the West as it appeared in the 1870s you'll ever see outside a museum.

I am in awe of this masterpiece.

Don't rent it, BUY IT.

The King Is Alive

The king may be alive -
  • but the movie is deader'n a doornail. It reminded me of "The Claim", another darling of some of our local newspaper critics. Both films are pretentious and dull, with no characters to care about, and nothing much to say. ("The Claim", I guess, is saying that if you sell your wife and baby, you'll feel bad about it later even if you've made a lot of money in the interim. Well, duhhh!) "The King is Alive" is apparently saying that bus drivers not only navigate by compass in the desert, but are stupid enough not to notice that their compasses haven't moved a fraction of an inch over several score miles. It is also saying people waiting around for rescue on the desert are going to get dirty, grow beards and get upset, which I already knew. What I didn't know, was that people in such situations will engage in amateur theatrics. Really? Okay, but so what?

A camera placed within five inches of the character's face may be of interest to a dermatologist, but brother, dialogue and body language reveals character, not extreme close ups.

I couldn't make it to the end of "The King is Alive". I left as soon as one of the characters, presented as thirst-crazed and exhausted before he finds the body of the would be rescuer who set off several days before, manages to stroll back to the group somehow refreshed.

Neither film maker seems to have taken to heart the concept of shot-continuity. Come on guys, you MUST have heard of it in film-making 101. Or aren't they teaching that anymore?

If this is Danish Dagme, I'll take Dagmar.

The General

Wanna make a pile of bucks?
They made some great films before sound. Too bad they are treated as "quaint" by those who present them. Many of them deserve better.

I love Buster Keaton, and I love "The General". Unfortunately, the only version of it I've seen on videotape has rinky-dink generic piano music for a sound track, with no attempt whatsoever to match the music to the action.

But the thing about silent movies is that THEY WERE NOT SILENT! Even the smallest movie houses had a piano player who played along with them. Many of the big city houses had full orchestras, and the package they received from the studios often included not only the film itself, but a fully orchestrated musical score to be played along with it.

Somebody, sometime, will make a mint by taking some of these old gems and doing them justice with good music, sound effects and spoken dialogue and offering them to TV. (If you pay attention, you'll see that the actors in many of the silents are actually saying the lines. A little judicious dubbing and you've got a "sound" movie.)

Come on, one of you movie lovers in the business. Take a chance. I'd love to see "The General" with that kind of treatment, and I'll bet a lot of other people would too.

The Princess Bride

They tried, I guess...
Sorry, I found it pretty lackluster. The problem, I suppose, is that I made the mistake of reading the book first, and there were passages so brilliant I found myself jumping up and down at the sheer audacity of Goldman's prose and wanting to read it out loud to anyone who would listen. Wonderful and funny and wise and witty.

Goldman may have had a hand in the script, but I think some heavy handed clutz must have been guiding it. For instance, they missed the crucial point about Buttercup completely. Sure, she was the most beautiful girl in the world, but she was still just a young, silly girl, and a shallow one at that. I could go on, but let me just say that if you loved the movie, fine, but if you REALLY want to have a good time, go find the book. The story of Inigo and his father alone will be worth the search, and the description of the swordplay on top of the Cliffs of Insanity will knock your socks off!

God! I wish someone would remake this one and do it the way it deserves to be done!


No wonder we love it!
Rick loses the love of his life suddenly and without a comprehensible explanation from Elsa. If anything like that has ever happened to you, you know how devastating it can be. After you've walked around like a stunned ox for a time, you start to feel a need for revenge. "How could she leave me when I loved her so much?" followed by "she must have never loved me at all. She lied to me."

That, of course, makes her a terrible person, and terrible people should be made to suffer, right?

In real life, we seldom get the chance to make the one who rejected us suffer as we have. But that's only part of the dream. Underneath that is the fondest dream of all; that someday, somehow we will learn that they DID love us after all.

Rick gets both dreams fulfilled, and thus we who have been through what he has (and who hasn't to one degree or another) get a little of our own back through Rick.

No wonder we love it. Everyone we care about in it wins. Rick gets one last romp with Elsa, then gets to be the one who gives HER up. ("Closure" at last!) Elsa gets to explain that she isn't a bad person, Laslo gets his wife back, and just about everyone (except the Nazis) gets to feel noble. Even the womanizing Chief of police gets a new friend!

Don't think I'm putting it down, gang. I love it too.

The War Lover

They blew it.
Years ago, when I first heard they'd made John Hersey's superb novel into a movie, and that Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner were going to play the main roles, I thought; "Wow! What great casting!"; Wagner as the shallow, overly handsome, boastful swaggering pilot who ultimately breaks down, and McQueen as the quiet, thoughtful copilot who turns out to be the stronger man when the chips are down!

Imagine my surprise when I saw that they'd gotten it backward. McQueen turns out to be the pilot, and Wagner the copilot!

Bad enough, but the script also managed to turn the pilot's mental breakdown (in the book) into a cheap act of semi heroism in the movie.

Basically, I think the producers just plain chickened out, feeling that Hersey's character study would not be palatable for the "average" war-movie fan.

It could have been great. Producers who buy a book then change its basic meaning make me crazy. If you're going to buy the book, USE it!

Otherwise you come up with crap like this.

The Rockford Files

Maybe the best detective character ever conceived
What the hell kind of a detective is this? The guy's not strong jawed, self-righteous and brave, and he seldom even carries a gun, much less shoots anyone. Since he consistently gets stiffed by his clients, he has to live hand to mouth in a cheesy trailer in a parking lot. (The trailer, incidently, is only crummy on the outside. Inside, it's comfortable, well furnished and clean, much like Rockford's character.)

Even the cops in this excellent series are presented as human, not as cardboard heroes. They've got the same pecking order problems at work that most of us have. In fact, ALL of the characters in this series seem to have some depth.

One of the most amazing things about the show's plots is that they hardly ever had to be resolved by gunfire because the writers were too lazy to come up with anything else.

Jim Garner's charm was a big part of the show's success, but it was the superb writing that made "The Rockford Files" so consistently entertaining. Many of the stories would have made first rate movies, particularly some of the two parters.

I'll never forget Angel begging Rockford for help after getting himself thoroughly enmeshed with the mob through his own stupidity and greed. Rockford chews him out, explains exactly why he ought to let him go right down the drain, and challenges him to come up with one good reason he should help him.

"Because you're my friend," Angel says, leaving Rockford without a comeback.

A friend like that, I could use.

Rat Race

There's another version, right?
Judging from the comments above, there must have been two "Rat Race"'s released.

There were about forty people in the audience at the version I saw, and one person laughed once because his companion made a funny remark. There was nothing funny on the screen. Just actors trying to make lame, loud material interesting by chewing up the scenery.

I was never a big fan of "Mad Mad" etc, but at least you could KIND of understand why some of the characters did what they did.

Not so with this thing. Talk about an idiot plot - every twenty seconds I found myself asking why the heck did they do THAT, when the obvious thing would be to do something sensible. Like chartering a small plane. Oh! I forgot! The airport was shut down. But isn't there more than one airport in the Las Vegas area? Sure there is, you silly poo-poo heads. And that's only one of many many stupidities trying to masquerade as humor in this stinker.

So come on guys. Let me in on the joke. There are two versions of this movie out there, right? Please tell me I saw the wrong one, otherwise I'll lose all faith in democracy.

Hearts and Minds

Doesn't pull any punches
There are certain subjects so horrendous and so important that fictionalizing them, regardless of the good intentions of the film maker, can only trivialize them. "Schindler's List", "JFK" and "The Deer Hunter" come to mind.

Give me a good documentary any time, and this is one of the best.

It takes the silly rhetoric of our leaders and juxtaposes it with images showing the horrendous results of their short-sighted policies.

If you want to know what the VietNam war was really all about, (and why so many of us were against it,) skip "Apocalypse Now", "Go Tell the Spartans" and "Full Metal Jacket" and watch this one.

Women of the Prehistoric Planet

How could anyone not love this?
The chance to comment on this film(?) finally made me register.

I saw this late at night and watched with delight, wondering just how bad it could get. That was thirty years ago, so if you're looking for accurate scene descriptions and dialogue quotes, don't expect them here. But here's my hazy, loving memories.

1. Wendell Corey, playing the captain of the space ship, half plastered and obviously paying off a bet with a one afternoon performance, standing in front of a blank wall with a porthole in it while someone on the other side waves a sparkler.

Corey: "Looksh like another meteor shtorm..."

2. The spaceship crashing in the swamp... The miniature they used must hve been about the size of a pencil stub, since it went "bloop" and tossed up one single drop of water which on that scale would have been considerably bigger than a bungalow.

3. The prehistoric woman herself, a dark, hirsute beauty, wearing a bearskin teddy and looking hopefully at the director for direction after each line of dialogue.

4. One set, obviously built while they still had twenty seven dollars to burn, that consisted of a cave full of giant toadstools and human skeletons. After sneaking around outside for what seems to be several days, a patrol from the spaceship enters.

The patrol leader's perplexed comment: "There's something suspicious about this place..."

That's where I lost it completely and rolled around on the floor.

Well, you had to be there.

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