inkblot11

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Centurion
(2010)

Violent but mesmerizing tale of Roman Britain
Quintus Dias - Michael Fassbender - is a Roman commander at an English fort on the northern border of territory conquered by Rome. In truth, they have tried to subdue the Picts who live directly north. But, its proved futile. The Picts are fearless fighters who dont engage in combat Roman style. As Dias admits, they attack and kill at unexpected times and places then retreat to hideaways. One day, they do attack the fort and kill everyone but Quintus. He escapes by startling the Picts in speaking their language. He is taken prisoner and tortured but escapes. He runs shirtless in the snow and miraculously meets a Roman party. They head to the nearest fort commanded by General Virulus - Dominic West. After hearing his story, they consult with the old leader of all Roman Britain, Agricola. This leader still wants glory and accolades for himself and Rome. Therefore, a legion of 3000 Roman soldiers will go and " subdue the Picts " once and for all. Helping them will be a Pict warrior and tracker lady Etain who has changed her allegiance to Rome. Off they go. Yet, has arrogance lead Rome to a dangerous reckoning? This violent but terrific film is not for the faint of heart. The swords, axes, spears and arrows are seldom put down so be prepared. Nevertheless, this historical depiction of what may have happened to the 9th Roman legion in Britain is a tale well told. It is enthralling fare. Fassbender and West do great work as do all of the other actors. Scenery, costumes and cinematography will dazzle the eyes and send one scurrying to find out more on Roman Britain and the Picts, who eventually disappear from history. If you can handle bloody combat, Centurion is a film to pursue as soon as you can.

Petulia
(1968)

Sad but fascinating exploration of the human condition
Dr. Archie Bollen - played by George C. Scott - is a freshly divorced SF orthopedist with no direction. He attends a fund raising party for the Medical community and feels awkward as a single. All at once, a beautiful young married socialite named Petulia - Julie Christie - comes near and makes a play for him. She insists they meet later. They do but they have a strange and unconsummated encounter. The next day, Petulia shows up at Archies apartment wearing a tuba as a private joke. Sadly one of her ribs is broken. How? As Archie does become involved with P while juggling visits with his ex wife and two sons, it becomes plain that her marriage to wealthy David - Richard Chamberlain - is beset with serious problems. Will Archie and Petulia stay a couple? This enormously sad film is also comical thanks to the zany but tragic Petulia. Christie and Scott are terrific together while Chamberlain shows his dark side. The script sets costumes and direction are top flight. Do view Petulia soon.

The Hospital
(1971)

Funnier than funny in a sick sick way
Poor Dr. Bock, played by George C. Scott. He's Chief of staff at Memorial Hospital in NYC. But, personally, he's in crisis mode. He's separated from his wife, his 2 children are young adult misfits and he's impotent. Suicide is on his mind. Yet, coming in to work on one special day, things are worse and batty as all get out. It seems their randy intern used a vacant bed for a tryst but received an IV while asleep. He's dead. Then, swarms of demonstrators are outside because the hospital bought a decrepit apartment building to expand their grounds, evicting 14 people. The hospital administrator suspects Dr Bock is drinking and begs him to get help. Then, things get worse. An elderly patient is in a coma as a result of botched surgery. His gorgeous daughter, Barbara ( Diana Rigg ) wants to take him home to their Indian reservation in New Mexico. Can Dr Bock release him? Gazooks! Doc Bock sure likes the looks of Barb. Meanwhile, another Doctor and Nurse pass away mysteriously. What in Petes Sake is going on in this nutty hospital! Chayefsky's script here is peerless in the realm of dark comedy. The laughs keep coming amidst the tragic circumstances of a major hospital in dire straits. Scott, Ring, and the entire cast are likewise terrific. No, you don't want to see this one if your surgery date is around the corner. Otherwise, view it Doctor's orders!

The Sign of Four
(1983)

Fine adaption of Doyles great novella, Richardson is wonderful
In London, an older man named Sholto, is having dinner with his 2 adult sons. Once a Major in the British Army, John Sholto was stationed in India's Andaman islands. Outside his house in the rain we see a wooden legged man approached the house. There's a knock. The servant brings in a letter but reports no one was at the door. After Sholto opens the envelope, he goes into a frenzy of fear, taking to his bed. Later, he is found murdered but not before telling the sons the secret of the letter. It involves a massive treasure. After finding a box of fabulous gems in an attic hiding place, one of the Sholto sons is also murdered. Shortly after, a sweet pretty young woman named Miss Morstan visits Sherlock Holmes ( Ian Richardson ). Dr Watson ( David Healy ) is there, too. She has received a strange package with a very valuable jewel and a summons to meet near a theater. Since her missing father was a close friend of Major Sholto, the invitation to meet may also involve the Treasure. Can our hero Sherlock unravel the mystery, find the treasure and stop the killings ? This is a fine adaption of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fabulous novella of the same name. Richardson is most impressive as the brilliant Holmes and Healy compliments him well as Doc Watson. Most of Doyles elements are intact which will please fans. A nice twist at the end will also find fans. If you know nothing or everything about this most renowned fictional detective, you will like this movie.

Boris and Natasha
(1992)

Sillier than putty but certainly brings smiles and laughs
Boris ( Dave Thomas ) and Natasha ( Sally Kellerman) are in a small country that was once part of Yugoslavia. Russia is also liberated but Fearless Leader is still sending out spies to meddle in world affairs. On this day, he asks B + N to " defect " to America in order to find a miraculous new microchip. Very special, this chip alters time back to 20 seconds before, thereby reversing catastrophes like crashes and gunshot killings. BUT BUT WAIT! What the dynamic duo doesn't know is that they will be the decoy to find the chip but then be eliminated as a more worthy spy will bring the invention back to FL. Off they go. When they land, the CIA captures them immediately and interrogates them to find their true purpose. Finding the twosome to be clueless and dim, they let them go. But, an agent named Willie will follow closely behind. In fact, W brings Boris and Natasha to a smart high rise apartment with every amenity. Natasha becomes a sensational new model after being discovered. But between photoshoot, our heroes still hunt for the microchip and the man who invented it. Will they locate it only to perish? This film , taken from the 60s cartoon characters, is sillier than putty but will still plaster a grin on one's face. Thomas and Kellerman are great as the rather not-so-bright spies and the other cast members are fine, also. What fun to see Natasha empty a frozen can of orange juice into a glass for Boris or a fellow spy, dying, knock over a bowl of potato chips as a "clue". The zany plot takes the viewers to many settings while costumes are terrific. Laughs ensue time and again. So, do you seek a flick to lift your spirits? Spend time with Boris and Natasha!

The Drop
(2014)

Lehane's great story brought to the screen in a dark, compelling way
Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) is a lonely bartender in Brooklyn NY. His parents are deceased and his boss is his cousin, Marv (James Gandolfini ). But, even though the sign says Cousin Marv's Place, the Chechen mafia owns it now. Marv lost it by his own misguided schemes. One day, Bob hears whimpering in a trash can and finds a wounded puppy. A lady named Nadia (Noomi Rapace) lives in the building and convinces Bob to adopt the dog he names Rocco. A three way friendship begins. Then the bar gets robbed just as Marv learns he will be "the drop bar" for illegal money transactions on Super Bowl night. Could Marv be scheming against the brutal Chechen mob? Will Bob be an unwitting partner in crime? This fine film, based on the terrific book by Dennis Lehane , is darkly compelling fare. All of the cast is terrific, especially Gandolfini in his last role. The sets are well chosen while the story delves deep into the underworld of crime. Those who prefer uplifting movies should steer clear but for those loving thrillers, they will be , hey, thrilled.

Dune: Part One
(2021)

Certain to be a classic, just like the novel, SUPERB!
Based on the elaborate, spellbinding novel by Frank Herbert, Dune tells the tale of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) far into the future. Born into a royal family who has ruled the planet Caladan for 26 generations, Paul expects to follow the same path as his noble father, Leto (Oscar Isaac). Paul's Mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is a well known member of the Bene Gesserit, powerful and magical sisters. However, the Universe is ruled by a capricious Emperor who has become jealous of the Atreides. Therefore he allows the Atreides arch enemy the Harkonnens to plot to bring them down. This is disguised as an offer to rule a different planet Arrakis aka Dune. The most valuable element in the galaxies, Melange is only found on Dune. The Natives of Arrakis called the Fremen have been suffering for years under Harkonnen rule. To be sure, the Duke and his trusted staff and fighters guess there will be a trap somewhere. What they don't anticipate is betrayal by one of their own. Pretty soon, Paul and all those he loves are in mortal danger. Yet, Dune has legends about a "chosen one" to lead the Fremen to defeat all their enemies. Is Paul this person? It's very hard to give a decent summary of the story's many layered tale. But Villeneuve the director does a grand job in staying faithful to the book while covering all the major plot elements. The cast is terrific, with Isaac, Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård and so many others. But, Chalamet is especially fine and should get an Oscar nod. Then, the scope and magnitude of the visual effects and fabulous settings are worthy of the highest honors also. Dune is the type of towering spectacle that is rare to behold. Don't wait.

My Favorite Martian
(1963)

Just out of this world in humor and hijinks
Tim O'Hara, played by Bill Bixby, sees an object crash while he is driving down a winding road in LA. Going down a ravine, Tim finds a flying saucer and a human unconscious. Ah, but that's no human; it's a Martian! Played by Ray Walton, he tells Tim he's been to earth many times over the last 600 years... Haha. This is the first time he's been shot down. Could Tim please take him to rest at the reporters home and hide his spaceship while it's being repaired? Yes! But, as a lowly reporter for the LA Sun, Tim lives in apartment above a garage where the landlady lives right next door with 2 other nosey females. Calling him his Uncle Martin, Tim soon has the alien feeling better but parts for the ship may take awhile. So, Martin is here on earth to put up with a landladys crush, scientists who get space wrong, the FBI, hot LA weather and more. Only Tim knows Martin can become invisible at times, move objects with his mind, talk to animals and more. Can they keep their big secret from the world? This charming sitcom features 2 fine foils in Walston and Bixby and a fun premise. Created at a time when Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Mr. Ed and other fantasy comedies were in vogue, it still charms with its unique take on a Stranger in a strange land. I started from Episode One on the wonderful Tubi and I'm not stopping until I reach the end! You should do the same.

Prisoners of the Ghostland
(2021)

Wild and Weird, with great visuals; first half is better
The Hero (Nicolas Cage) is anything but heroic at the start. He and a scummy pal Psycho are bank robbers. But, their last attempt goes sour when Psycho shoots the entire bank staff and the customers. This includes a small smiling boy who loves the banks gumball machine. While Hero is a prisoner of "The Governor" , Psycho is transported by bus when the vehicle crashes with a truck of nuclear waste. This makes a Ghostland where people go to never return. Meanwhile, the evil Governor is incensed when his granddaughter Bernice ( Sofia Butera) - in fact his courtesan - runs away into the Ghostland. He springs Hero and dresses him in a suit equipped with explosives. His order? Go into the Ghostland, bring back Bernice in 5 days or you will blow yourself up. My oh my isn't that special! Hero has no choice. Out-of the safe city gates he goes. He will meet ghosts, clock towers, mannequins, sword fighters and more on his quest. Will Hero bring back the girl? This is one wild and weird film which is an amalgam of other movies, including The Road Warrior, Robin Hood, Waterworld, Westworld, Johnny Mnemonic and more. Much is in Japanese with subtitles truly adding to the enjoyment. It's biggest asset is it's art direction, which is truly breathtaking. Here is a new world, part Wild West and part Samurai, which will amaze and delight. No, it doesn't always make any sense and it loses some steam midway. But, with Cage as the never predictable Hero, many will want to tune in.

Nicholas and Alexandra
(1971)

Magnificent but tragic tale of the last Tsar of Russia and his wife
Nicholas II (Michael Jayson) is Tsar of Russia, from the Romanov family who has ruled the country for 300 years. As the film opens, his German born wife Alexandra ( Janet Suzman) has just given birth to the longed-for son and heir Alexei. The baby has four older sisters, beautiful intelligent girls. Yet, amidst the joy, the Tsar is not well liked by the Russian common folk. First, he started a war with Japan that has killed many soldiers and cost a great deal of money. But, he refuses to concede. Then, while his family lives an opulent life, Nicholas ignores the growing poverty of most citizens. In truth, the Tsar lives in the past where traditions are to be honored and turns a blind eye to Russians suffering. This becomes even more so when Alexei is diagnosed as a hemophiliac and needs attention every day. Alexandra, too, is oblivious to anything other than family and preserving their sick child. Thus, a communist movement grows even as demonstrators are sent to Siberia or killed. When World War I erupts and Nicholas chooses to involve his country without adequate supplies and boots, the Tsar is headed for disaster. This magnificent but tragic film is the kind of film rarely made today: an historical spectacle. The cast, costumes, sets and all else are quite fine. Viewers truly feel transported back in time to see the tragic downfall of an inept and self centered ruler. If this sounds like a place you want to visit, park yourself in an easy chair and watch the happenings.

You Belong to Me
(2002)

Strong adaptation of a wonderful Clark novel; Down is enchanting
Dr Susan (Lesley Anne Down) is a practicing psychologist who also hosts a radio program. Naturally, the talk show tries to help listeners with personal problems. One day, Dr Susie hosts an author who has written a book on women who disappear. Also a doctor, this man talks of lonely women who are vulnerable to preying gentlemen. As a part of the show, a lady calls in and relates a story from a cruise she took. Separated from her husband at the time, "Karen" says a handsome man romanced her at various departure stops along the cruise and gave her a ring inscribed with the words YOU BELONG TO ME. In secret, she was supposed to leave the cruise and meet him in Algiers. However, her husband called and begged her to return. So Karen never went to Algiers. BUT, Dr Susan is also counseling a mother whose daughter disappeared from a cruise and who received the same ring, found with her luggage. Wow! Could Karen meet the Dr and bring the ring? She tries, but is pushed into traffic, envelope snatched from her hands, and is in a coma. More witnesses bring more death. Dr Susan works hard with Detective Tom to find the killer. Among the suspects are the author, the grieving mother's lawyer and the husband of Karen. Meanwhile, a rich philanthropist takes an interest in beautiful Susan. Will they find the evil man? This strong film version of Clark's great novel has great suspense, fine performances and lovely scenery. Best of all is Down who is enchanting as the leading lady. You belong in front of the screen so arrange to view this fine mystery flick fans!

Loves Music, Loves to Dance
(2001)

Not as intriguing as the great book by Clark but not bad
Darcy Scott ( Patsy Kensit ) works as a producer of a daytime reality show. As such, she sometimes clashes on story ideas with the Diva lady who hosts. Nevertheless, one idea pleases them both. Darcy's best friend Erin goes on multiple dates with beaux she meets on a dating website and then tells all. Unhappily, on date 7 Erin never comes back home. She has been murdered and her body dumped in a dead end alley. What is startling is her shoes when found. One foot has a snug boot and the other, a dancing shoe. Research shows this was a matching method to another beautiful lady killed seven years ago. Was it the same killer or a copycat? The police start investigating but won't listen when she tells them it was one of the Internet dates. So, Darcy, having Erin's file, decides to go meet all the same men and nab the killer herself. BAD IDEA. Clark is one of my favorite authors and this title one of her best. If you love thrillers, go find the book. However, this adaptation is not awful and has some good moments. Kensit looks beautiful and performs well in the leading role. The story has been truncated while still retaining the most vital elements. By all means, view it if you love mysteries or the incomparable MHC!

Memento
(2000)

Finally saw this gem of an enigmatic film!
Leonard (Guy Pearce) has a terrible problem. After his wife was murdered and presumably he was beaten, he has no short term memory. His last recollection is the moments before his wife's demise. Now, he is determined to track down the killer the police couldn't find. Yet, everyday he must read his notes and gaze at the many tattooed phrases on his body so that he can continue. Two people appear to be helping him in his quest. One is a man named Teddy, who pops around all the time but seems rather shady. Equally so is a Natalie (Carrie Anne Moss) who is sleeping with Leonard but may have ulterior motives. Meanwhile, Leonard stays at a cheap Los Angeles Hotel where the manager introduces himself every day and, underhandedly, adds to Leonard's bill. As he crisscrosses the city looking for the murderer, the film also flashes back to his time as an insurance investigator to give us more clues. For you see, this film is designed to force the viewer to piece together the plot, bit by bit! Are you game? I finally saw this fantastic Nolan film that everyone raves about incessantly. Its worthy of the highest praise as the plot travels backwards, forwards, and sideways. Pearce is wonderful as the main character, but, one quibble, I'm not fond of him as a blonde. The supporting cast is also superb with few big names except Moss. The setting in Los Angeles has its splendors and its dives. Memento is a huge cut above most other film experiences. While you are guaranteed to be confused at times, the whole experience is very, very rewarding.

Alien
(1979)

Fantastic film experience, now as when it was released over 40 years ago
The Nostromo ( a sly reference to Conrad) is a spaceship with one goal. None of this to boldly go where no one has before. It is strictly a commercial vessel, traveling to planets to receive mining cargo and then returning to Earth and the USA. Pilot Dallas (Tom Skerrit) has a crew of seven, including engineers to make repairs if the ship is damaged. They are at present going back to Earth with their booty and, as it is a long journey, the crew is sleeping in hibernation. Suddenly there is a change. Mother the computer wakes them and they amble to breakfast as they believe they are almost home. But, no, they are only halfway there. They were awakened because Interstellar space law demands them to investigate if another ship sends an SOS. On a nearby planet, a signal is registered. Reluctantly, Dallas and 2 other crew members suit up after a rocky landing, to locate the distressed party. In a cave, the trio finds a long deceased pilot but other living organisms. Without warning, one such small creature attaches to crew member Kane's face, breaking his glass helmet in the process. At once, the 3 return to the ship to try to save his life. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) third in command refuses to let them in, as protocol demands foreign substances from contaminating the ship. She is overridden when science officer Ash opens the doors himself. Now, Kane goes to the infirmary where he is still breathing but the organism cannot be cut off. Eventually, the creature falls away itself, dead. Kane seems OK. They have a meal before going back to sleep. But, horrors, the meal is cut short when a new alien tears through Kane's chest, killing him and still small, running away. Away from the rest, the alien grows and grows. Suddenly the now HUGE RAZOR TOOTHED ALIEN starts attacking the crew. Will they be able to destroy it or will it destroy them? This fantastic film stands the time test and remains a thriller of epic proportions. The sets are a technological wonder and the story is riveting. Weaver, in her first big role, is one gutsy heroine who uses all of her powers to fight back. As for the Alien, it is scary to the max! First time or twentieth time, Ridley Scott's Alien is king of the Universe.

Joker
(2019)

Darker than dark, almost pitch black, but riveting; Phoenix is magnificent
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a troubled soul in Gotham City, a large metropolis similar to NYC. For one, he lives in a tenement with his equally troubled mother, Penny (Frances Conroy). From the subway, it is quite a trek up and down stairs to reach the place. Mentally unstable, with a raucous laugh which emerges like one with Tourette's Syndrome, Arthur regularly sees a counselor. A cocktail of pills helps him keep a part time job as a clown from an agency. One day, advertising a business on the sidewalk in his clown costume, teens steal his sign and subsequently beat him. Very upset, Arthur now "borrows" a gun from a fellow clown. Then, as a garbage strike continues and Gotham has to cut costs, Arthur's sessions are eliminated and he has no access to his medicines. All of this leads to Arthur dispensing "vigilante justice" on yuppies who mock and beat him on the subway. Suddenly, Arthur is famous, although his identity is not known. This leads Arthur to sink further into instability, trying to discover the identity of his father who Penny has hinted is a wealthy Mr. Wayne. More digging into his childhood history makes Arthur go full blown into vengeance and chaos. What will be the final result? This brilliant film is dark, almost pitch black, and bleak. Nevertheless, most will be unable to stop watching as its riveting story is played out. Phoenix is magnificent as the Joker, which very rightly earned him an Oscar. Robert De Niro is quite nice as a smug talk show host and the other performers compliment these two. The sets and art direction are also top flight wonderful, making the movie a wild landscape of chaos and sadness. Don't joke around and miss The Joker.

The Boys from Brazil
(1978)

Harrowing story with great turns by Peck and Olivier
In the late 70's in Paraguay, a young adult male Barry (Steve Guttenberg) has found Nazis hiding in plain sight. Wanting to alert the best, he sends a package to reknowned Nazi Hunter Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), in Austria. But, alas, this package is lost in a pile of mail. Soon after, Barry calls Mr. Lieberman but the connection is bad. He will try again later. Using the help of a servant boy, Barry tapes a meeting at the house of one of the Nazis and learns the evil Dr. Joseph Mengele (Gregory Peck) is in attendance. The doctor has directed his team of assassins to kill 94 sixtyish men around Europe and the States. Why? On a second call to Lieberman, Barry tells the news of Mengele but is killed himself while Ezra is on the line. Dr. Mengele takes the servant boy prisoner. Soon, Mr. Lieberman is searching for "murdered" civil servants in order to find the reason for the killings. What he discovers is the most horrendous plot to revive the Third Reich into the Fourth Reich. Can Dr. Mengele be STOPPED? This classic movie features the amazing talent of Peck and Olivier in roles of a lifetime, especially Peck as a bad, bad guy. Then, the plot of the film is ingenious and malevolent, taken from the book by Ira Levin. All other supporting actors are also wonderful while the jump from continent to continent is visually terrific, as in the frozen Norway on a bridge. Yes, there is a bit of violence but don't let that keep from sitting down with The Boys!

Dirty Harry
(1971)

Eastwood shines as the soft-spoken but deadly serious detective Harry Callahan
In the opening scene of the film, a beautiful young woman swims in a rooftop pool. Poor gal. A shooter (Andrew Robinson) from a nearby building kills her with one shot. Soon, the SFPD will send detective Harry Callahan to investigate the happening. As "Dirty Harry" discovers the place where the shooter did his deed, Harry finds a note. Calling himself Scorpio, the assassin insists the city pay him big bucks or he will kill again; the victim will be a priest or a black American. Pulling his hair out, the mayor decides they should pay but Harry is adamant they should NOT. A compromise posting in the SF Chronicle says they will pay but need more time. Meanwhile, Harry goes to lunch but can't even digest his food without needing to stop a bank robbery nearby! Harry is one cool cop. The top police brass give Harry a new partner named Chico (Reni Santori) but he's rather green. Nevertheless, together these two hatch plans to "catch" Scorpio without paying big money. Unhappily, Scorpio matches them with tricky escapes. Now, a school bus full of children may be in danger! What can Harry do? This gritty, somewhat violent film is taken from the story of the real Zodiac killer. Its a sick, twisted tale but Harry is one admirable detective, played to understated perfection by Eastwood. Santori is quite likeable, Robinson is great as the loathsome killer and other cast members quite fine. Add on good cinematography and a tense, inventive plot and the movie is quite compelling. Its a classic folks! Don't delay in viewing it.

News of the World
(2020)

Beautiful touching film of a child "lost" between two worlds and the gentleman who meetss her
In post Civil War Texas, Captain Jefferson Kidd wanders from town to town reading the news of the country and the world to folks who can't read. Its a tent gathering, with everyone paying a dime to learn and to be entertained with Kidd's winning style. In truth, Kidd is a lost soul who has horrific memories of the war and the wife he left behind in San Antonio. One day, after a performance in North Texas, Kidd enters a woods and finds a child left on her own; her escort is dead nearby. This is Johanna (Helena Zengel) , once a child of German immigrants in Texas but captive four years with the Kiowa Native Americans. She calls herself Cicada and only speaks her adopted language, although she has papers which identify her. Most of all, she wants to return to the Kiowa but the US Army demanded all white captives be released before leaving the Kiowa alone. Thus, she's a lost, lonely, scared, angry little girl. Hanks is forced to be the one who is in charge of her safe return to an aunt and uncle in Castroville Texas, far to the South. They start out in a wagon with supplies and a single horse. Slowly, Johanna gets used to her new dress and boots, coffee, and learning English. Not liking each other at first, Kidd and Johanna bond well. But, there are perils on the journey such as dust storms and steep trails. The most horrible peril involves three men who want to "buy" Johanna to sell her into the sex trade (yes even back then!). Will they fight back against these dangers and make it to Castroville? This beautiful touching film has an abundance of assets. Hanks, of course, is always a fine performer but, here, even he is upstaged by Zengel. What a wonder this German child star is! Her eyes are big and expressive and she speaks Kiowa like she was born to it! In fact, her performance gives the film its ten rating as she is amazing. Also nice, however, is the sweeping cinematography, the wonderful creations of the towns and costumes, and the haunting musical score. The NEWS today is DON'T MISS THIS FILM!

Dial M for Murder
(1954)

Intriguing story but, as based on a play, difficult to bring to "motion" pictures
Tony (Ray Milland) is a former tennis star who, quite fortunately, married an heiress named Margot (Grace Kelly). Until a year ago, Tony was still on the circuit and often away from home. As Margot felt deservedly neglected, she turned to another gentleman, Mark (Robert Cummings) for love and affection. Quite by accident, Tony found this out. At once, he changed his schedule and stayed in London most days. Also, he started paying more attention to Margot and she is grateful. But, to what purpose? In his heart of hearts, Tony is SEETHING with rage and is plotting revenge in a big way. First, he is confusing Margot about who she loves and, also, has underhandedly taken a love letter from Mark and returned it. She is very alarmed that someone knows of her affair but she doesn't guess its Tony. More importantly, Tony has found a two-bit criminal to blackmail into bumping Margot off; this man has been cornered and will follow Tony's directions. Its quite an elaborate plot to get to Margot at just the right moment. But, as mystery writer Mark attests, "perfect" murders only happen in books. Sure enough, the plan goes off the rails. Now, Tony must cover his tracks and make sure HE doesn't get the blame! Is Tony smart enough to defeat the local detectives and, worse, turn the tables on Margot for her money? This fine Hitchcock film has great performances, especially by Milland as a suave, smiling killer. Sets are nice, costumes are lovely and production values are high. The main problem with the film is that it started as a play and the change in settings is very minimal, with most of the action taking place at Tony and Margot's house in London. Naturally, Hitchcock mixes up the camera work and tries valiantly to keep the viewers' attention. But, at least for this viewer, the mostly "talk" and lack of action becomes a bit boring. Nevertheless, just to see Milland work his evil ways as a "gentleman murderer" is worth the watch.

Love on a Leash
(2011)

Totally inept film, despite an attractive lady and cute dog
Jana (Jana Parker) works in a clothing store in her town, where she is an attentive employee. Having a nice best friend, she confides she would like to find her "perfect love". Until then, she is not dating very much and is quite wary of men. At the store, a kind fellow employee seems to be attempting to work up the courage to ask her for a date while the boss, secretly, wants to force unwanted attentions on Jana. One day, a dog follows Jana home. Ah, but this isn't an ordinary homeless dog. This canine is REALLY a prince under an evil spell until he finds a woman to kiss and declare true love. How about them apples? So, first Jana adopts the dog, Another friend tries to fix Jana up with a widower with one son and an extremely overbearing Mother. This does not go well at all. After many tears over dates "gone wrong", she says the magic words to Prince the dog and POOF! He becomes a man. But, what the heck, now he's only a man at night and a dog by day. Jana is too confused to handle the situation. How will it end? All I can say is: Stay away! Despite the leading lady's winning ways, the production is awful. Camera work is amateurish, the story goes on far too long and at a snail's pace while the man playing Prince is totally ridiculous. Seeing Love on a Leash is like having the leash wrapped around your neck and getting tighter with no end in sight!

Dog Gone
(2008)

French Stewart is funny funny; Benward and the darling dog will capture your heart
Owen (Luke Benward) is just-about-a teenager and is a wizard at invention. He has perfected a way to catapault papers on his paper route right into the hands or the porches of his customers. In addition, he has a secret hideaway tree house in the woods nearby, with many booby traps set to keep unwanted visitors out. Rumor has it that there is a hermit in the woods but only Owen truly believes this. One day, the boy's parents go away to a convention and Owen's older sister Lily is in charge. The two siblings get along in most respects, although they trade barbs now and then. Meanwhile, three thieves have abducted some diamonds and hidden them somewhere in a dog's collar while they travel miles and miles to meet their "buyer". Leader Blackie (French Stewart) has dressed in an Nun's habit to be "incognito" while his co-horts rent a conspicuous pink and white 50's car for their travels. Naturally, these men pass through Owen territory. Owen guesses at once that the dog is dognapped and he manages to lure him away from the three dimwits. Now, the trio is after Owen but they are up for the fight of their lives! Remember, Owen has the inventions to make these guys suffer boings on the head and many, many mishaps. Who will end up with the dog? This adorable family film has high production qualities, an engaging cast and darling dog, wonderful sets near Cheney, Washington and more. Most of all, it has French Stewart who is one of the funniest actors on the planet and will delight audiences with his comic delivery. Anyone searching for the next family night happening with do well to chose Dog Gone.

A Rainy Day in New York
(2019)

Finally I saw the film I have waited for and, if its Woody's last, its a walkoff winner!
Gatsby (what a great character name and played by Timothee Chalamet) is a student at Yardley College in upstate New York. Its a compromise between him and his parents, as Gatsby's main interests are card games and piano bars. Happily, Gatsby has a beautiful girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) who is a journalism student and writer for the college paper. Its Ashleigh's good fortune to snag an interview with a famous movie director, Pollard (Liev Schrieber) but must travel to Manhattan to meet this man. As this is Gatsby's home city, he is excited to come along and show her his favorite sights and the bar where they play the music he loves. So, off they go. After arrival, the two part, agreeing to meet for lunch after the Pollard meeting. But, things go off kilter. The director is in despair over the film he has just finished and, enchanted by Ashleigh's pretty face and winning ways, he insists she screen it with him. This will take hours and Gatsby gets the call she will be later than she expects. Annoying! Thus, Gatsby goes to visit his brother, who if about to be married. Horrors, this sibling tells Gatsby he can't go through with it, due to his fiancees screeching laugh. Having no advice, Gatsby then visits the set of an indie film being shot by an old friend where he runs into Chan (Selena Gomez) the younger sis of an old Gatsby girlfriend. She has agreed to be in the movie where she is to receive a passionate kiss in a convertible! All too soon, Gatsby gets persuaded to be in the movie and bestow this lip clencher. Ho ho ho. Although they trade barbs and insults, the kiss has rattled them both. As Ashleigh is still busy, Chan and Gatsby go visit a museum as rain is pouring. Wait, what's going on? Tihs enchanting film has all of Woody Allen's fabulous ingredients. The cast is great, with Chalamet shining brightly; all of the others, Fanning, Schieber, Jude Law, Rebecca Hall and the rest, do fine work, too. The sets are wonderful and the costumes snazzy. Most of all, the script is full of humor, pathos, and charm while the direction never falters. Yes, as stated many times, I am Allen's biggest fan living in Toledo, Ohio, which is nowhere at all. But, this film is superlative, matchless, everlasting and magical.

Sonic the Hedgehog
(2020)

SuperSonic Fun, what else?
Poor Sonic the alien hedgehog (voiced wonderfully by Ben Schwarz) ! He lived on a planet rather peacefully, with a protector owl named Claw. But, alas, Sonic went out of bounds and ended up putting his life in danger. Claw, in sacrifice, sent him to planet Earth, with more "stargate" rings if he should need them. Now, Sonic lives in small city Montana in his own cave where he watches his neighbors in secret. His favorite is Donut Man, who happens to be Sheriff Tom (James Marsden). Tom is married to beautiful Maddie (Tika Sumpter), a veterinarian and is loved by the town. But, Tom thinks he wants more action and has applied to work for the San Francisco police department. Maddie wants what is best for both of them and her sister lives in SF, too. One day, Sonic watches the little league baseball game and loves it. After everyone has gone home, the little hedgehog goes wild playing his own game, for he is fast enough to pitch, hit, and catch all at once. Nevertheless, he runs so fast he ends up crashing and knocking out power to the town. And the entire western Montana. This brings in the Feds, including Dr. Robotic (Jim Carrey) who finds a blue quill, analyzes it and knows he's dealing with something that needs to be CAUGHT! Thus a chase begins with the looney Doctor pursuing the little hedgehog, who accidentally sent his special "rings" to a tower in SF. Sheriff Tom is the one who drives Sonic just ahead of the Doctor, stopping for a bit of fun at a country western drinking establishment. Will Tom and Sonic be able to outwit Robotic with his bag of cool gadgets? This film is SuperSonic fun and will delight many audiences, including older children. How wonderful to see Carrey on screen again, with his high octane humor, while Marsden, Sumpter, Schwartz, and the rest of the cast is great as well. Add on terrific animation, scenery, costumes, and wit and what, what is not to like? Speed over to grab Sonic wherever you can.

Feed the Fish
(2010)

Feed your funny bone with this enjoyable comedy with great scenery and romance
Ross (Joe Pedersen) has written and illustrated a successful children's book, Mr. Kitty Feeds the Fish. As such, his publishers gave him a rather large advance to write a follow-up. But, alas, Ross has writer's block and his live-in galpal in Venice CA is peeved. Happily, her brother comes to the rescue by suggesting a change in venue. This J.P. (a hilarious Michael Chernis) takes Ross far, far away to upper Wisconsin, where the duo will participate in the annual polar plunge into lake Michigan. But, horrors! J.P. gets badly injured by a badger and ends up in the small town hospital. Poor Ross, who doesn't even know how to turn up the heat in their house, has to fend for himself. The sheriff (Tony Shaloub) is mighty miffed when another gentleman, a hunter, gets injured at the same place as J.P., albeit by a bullet fired by mistake. But, there is a lovely lady Sif (Katie Asleton) who catches Ross' eye and makes his heart flutter while her very grandfather helps Ross learn how to ice fish and adjust to the freezing climate. Will Ross indeed be inspired to finish his book? This darling movie, written and direction by Michael Matzdorff, is true delight. There are many humorous new takes on a California guy getting his first taste of the Arctic atmosphere and the locals of the town are hilariously quirky. Meanwhile, the scenery is harsh but beautiful, complete with a real badger! Do you want to feed your funny bone and laugh laugh laugh? Go fishing for Feed the Fish!

Babe: Pig in the City
(1998)

Much darker than the spirit lifting original Babe; nevertheless it is intiguing
Babe the pig (voiced beautifully by Elizabeth Daily) has returned to the farm with the Hoggetts. He has his great trophy for being the top sheep herder in tow. But, one unhappy day, he tries to help the farmer with a task, which ends with a severe injury to Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). The farmer is in traction, in bed. Now, Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) is having a hard time keeping up with all of the tasks. On top of this, two bankers arrive and inform her that a big payment is due or they will lose the farm. Horrors! Remembering the offers that flooded in, if Babe would make an appearance, she and Babe set off for the "City" to earn money. All too soon they lose their chance to meet the first showing engagement and end up at a hostel for animals and their owners. Then, even more sadly, Babe is hognapped by a street performer (Mickey Rooney!) and his monkey showstoppers. Esme Hoggett is frantic to find Babe but ends up in trouble with the law. Babe descends into further depths when he accidentally sets a place on fire. Running away, he ends up on the street being chased by viscious dogs. Nearly drowning, Babe saves one of his tormentors. In return, this pitbull leads all sorts of alley cats and stray dogs back to the hostel, believing they will be safe. Think again, more perils await! Will Esme Hoggett and Babe ever get the money to save the farm? This second film about the loveable Babe is beautiful to watch, with fantastic sets and a great cast. Many animals performers delight as well. However, the story is dark with the "City" being a place where dangers lurk at every hour and every turn. For this reason, the littlest viewers might get a wee bit scared but older children and their families will be intrigued. Please note, Crowwell has a very small role and Szubanski is the human star! But, naturally, Babe the pig is the main attraction and she is the embodiement of all that is good and kind, a great example. Dear families, do visit with Babe a second time around.

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