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Occasional Wife

Funny was different back then... and why not?
When this show debuted, I was all of 8 years old. I loved it! Firstly, I would've married Michael Callan in 1966, if he'd only asked! I thought he was gorgeous. And Patricia Harty? Adorable.

The premise of the show sounds ridiculous now, but back then, there really wasn't any fuss and bother about discrimination in the workplace (or sexual harassment - just watch "Mad Men"!). If a boss said you had to be married to receive a promotion in his company, then you had to be married. Now, of course, if your boss laid down such a condition, you'd engage a lawyer and sue. But in 1966, you couldn't. What you could do was find a female friend, and pretend to be married, as far as your boss was concerned.

Luckily for Callan's character, he earned enough money to pay for an apartment in his building to house his "occasional wife". This not only helped to seal the deal - it also ensured that she was close at hand when needed. And having the apartments two floors apart gave us the opportunity to see the comic facial expressions of the guy who lived in between, as the Occasional Spouses ran up and down the fire escape.

The show was pretty racy for its time. The characters appeared to have sexual relationships without intending for them to end in marriage. Woooooooo....

In the pilot, Callan's mother nagged him about still not being married. She said, "You're not... 'eccentric'... are you?" (what a funny way of enquiring about his sexuality!), which he exasperatedly and quickly denied. It cracked me up.

I wouldn't mind seeing more episodes of this show, but I think it really was a bit of a one-trick-pony. There would've been only so many times where the boss showed up uninvited, or one or the other partner was seen with someone else... I don't see how it could've gone on longer than a year, now that I think about it.

Still, I thought it was a fun show to watch, and enjoyed seeing the pilot again.

Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III

Don't bother.
I bought the box set and watched the first two books over the last couple of days. Today, I loaded the first disc of Heaven and Hell and gave up shortly thereafter.

In a word, awful. In four words, "Movie of the week".

The first two books reeked of quality. They were more along the lines of a motion picture, than something made-for-TV. This outing, however, appears to have been done solely for a buck, riding the coattails of books 1 and 2.

The first "uh oh..." moment came when Philip Casnoff's name was listed in the credits - a man who was blown to bits in Book 2. Then, there was no Patrick Swayze... And when they showed his character in shadow at the beginning, no face, well, that kind of said it all about Orry.

Elkanah Bent (played as a cartoon villain by Philip Casnoff) turns up again as a 19th century Snidely Whiplash (John Jakes' narration at the opening of the show tells us Bent died in an expolosion, then explains shortly thereafter that through a "quirk of fate, he survived"). Huh? As I'd just watched the episode where the explosion occurred, it was amazing to see Bent still walking around with his pretty face. Not even his eyebrows were burnt off! While he had some serious scarring on part of one shoulder, that wasn't bad for having been in the centre of a catastrophic explosion and huge fireball reminiscent of a mini-Hiroshima.

I'm assuming Bent's "resurrection" was only a plot device to deal with Orry and the absence of Patrick Swayze.

If this is supposed to follow on immediately after Book 2, then George must've done some serious pigging out in a few weeks, as his face appeared to be quite bloated.

Terri Garber (Ashton) did a great job with her character throughout. However, she looked "different" in this installement. I think this was made around the time when the pressure was beginning to be put on actresses to be stick-thin, and it showed in her face.

The Characters of Charles Main and Billy Hazard were played by different actors (this makes 3 Billys - was it that bad a part to play - or did Parker Stevenson wisely want no part of this stinker?).

The new Charles looks to be the same age as when he first came to Mont Royal. He didn't have the rakish charm of the original, nor did he wear the "life experience".

Again, I believe most strongly that this thing was thrown together for the money, and was not about continuity, or putting out a quality product.

Watch, if you're really bored with life in general. But you're better off to read the books.

Come Fly with Me

Oh, brother, 109 minutes of my life lost, forever...
This will definitely contain SPOILERS below, so be warned if you have not yet seen this film. Or read on if you want to use your valuable time on something more worthy that this excuse for a film.

Firstly, I'll begin by saying that I do enjoy a good piece of vintage romantic fluff (Doris Day with Rock Hudson or James Garner, for example). Of course, times have changed since those old films were made. So anyone who'd take offense at women whose main aspirations in life were to catch a man and clean his house, skip all of these films. Personally, I enjoy them in the context of their times - mostly.

I recorded it from TV one night, and looked forward to sitting down and watching it while my husband was away (he hates these corny old movies). So I sat down, got comfortable, and pressed "Play".

The premise was fine - three pretty young stewardesses, looking for love and all that stuff. But my word, how desperate were these women?

Pamela Tiffin was good in her role as the annoying, naive young "newbie", but jeez, all that swooning over the first officer was ridiculous! And when he later condescendingly stuck a handkerchief in her mouth to shut her up, in front of his colleagues, she didn't even attempt to remove it, just sat there with it between her lips!

Lois Nettleton, again, very good as the once-bitten and love-shy "Bergie". The fact that she ended up with a man who was essentially a bully used to getting what he wanted, who chose her because she reminded him of his late wife, I didn't get. She was so put off by him shouting at her, calling her by the wife's name and being used as a substitute - then she suddenly had a change of heart when he continued to throw his money around to pursue her? That would be OK if she were a status-and-money-hungry person like Dolores Hart's "Donna", but she wasn't.

As for "Donna", it's not hard to work out why Dolores Hart became a nun, after films like this.

Her character first rebuffed a flirty 1st Class passenger, then did a 180 degree turn on butt kissing when she discovered he was a baron (an impoverished one, but she didn't know that). I'll make a long story short by saying that he used her for something unsavoury and illegal, without her knowledge, which could have cost her many years in prison. During this, he supposedly fell for her (yet continued to use her) - and this was enough "devotion" for her. When he was caught, she decided that she would wait the years for him to get out of prison. How the most "hard boiled" of the three women could fall for someone like this, I have no idea. How did she suddenly become so weak?

As I said to begin with, times were different and most women had different expectations of life than they do now. But even back then, these three characters lacked any self-respect, and were weak and sappy enough to really annoy me.

Star Trek

Doesn't live up to the hype
The guy who plays Kirk kind of looks like James Dean. He is brash and cocky, as you'd expect, and annoyingly arrogant (but that's his character). Zachary Quinto makes a good Spock. Leonard Nimoy seems to use the same dentist as Mr Ed did.

Naturally, there are lots of very good special effects. Uhura still dresses like a go-go dancer, and the men still wear those shirts with the padded shoulders (a la STTNG). Eddie Murphy will be amused to know that Kirk still doesn't get to ravish the green alien. Red shirts are still unsafe to wear.

At one stage, the Captain handed off command to Spock, who handed off to Kirk, who handed off to Uhura, who handed off to someone else, to sit in the Captain's chair. I was half-expecting to see the cleaning lady end up there.

I guess it was their attempt at humour to have a red-shirt die.

It always amused me how these kind of films have characters who are fascinated with our particular time in history and its accoutrements. Someone from hundreds of years in the future driving one of our cars would be kind of like us riding around in chariots. Kirk the kid driving around was simply a brat.

The concept of someone in their 20s becoming captain of a ship after a single mission, is something right out of The Young and the Restless (where the gardener can become CEO of a conglomerate in a short span of time).

I've gone to see other movies that I wasn't looking forward to - Start Trek IV rings a bell - and ended up enjoying it. This one, full of ST clichés, doesn't fall into that category at all. This film is not "great", as some have claimed, if you look at it as a non-Trekkie with your blinders off. In fact, I struggled to recall details to write this. It's that forgettable.

However, those who blindly love ST no matter what, should be pleased that Paramount has found yet another ST franchise with which to part them and their cash.

The Second Hundred Years

One of the unsung gems of 1967! I'd love to see it again!
I remember the promos for this show, which I believe was on the ABC network, being shown in the summer of 1967. I couldn't wait to see it!

Some have commented on the poor scripts. I guess being a kid at the time, I wasn't very discerning when it came to script quality (but maybe my parents were, as they didn't particularly care for the show!). I can't really comment on the quality of the writing, but "It's About Time", and "The Second Hundred Years", were two big favourites from my childhood.

Whether it was a couple of astronauts going back to live among cave people, or this show's post-civil-war prairie man suddenly living in "swinging" 1967, I found the "fish out of water" concept very appealing, and I guess, still do. I'm obviously not alone in this, as it continues to be a popular theme.

Arthur O'Connell was great as the poor, exasperated guy who was always the "meat in the sandwich" between his young father and son. And Monte Markham was wonderful in his dual roles. He played "Luke" as a man possessed of folksy charm and naiveté, with a zest for life. Ken, on the other hand, was a stick-in-the-mud conservative, and Markham's contrast between the two characters was impressive.

Like "It's About Time", this show disappeared too soon for my liking. I would love to see it again! Too many modern shows get their laughs by using "put-down" humour. This show didn't need to do that. It put its main character in funny situations, instead. I still remember Luke's incredulous reaction to seeing a woman in a miniskirt - and his elderly son simply said, "That's 1967!". We laughed at that because the way they did it, it was funny. And we weren't jaded, then.

With the exception of seeing Don Rickels' routine on a variety show or fat jokes directed at Ralph Kramden, nasty insult-humour wasn't terribly common on TV back then. And when a put-down was used, it wasn't anywhere near in the same league as that which takes place on something like "The Drew Carey Show". I miss those days, when it didn't require being cruel and vicious to get a laugh.

There may not be enough general interest to release a boxed-set of this show on DVD, but it would be great if someone would release some sort of anthology of past TV shows for each year. I'd like to see a scenario where we could buy DVDs containing at least one episode of shows that were shown in prime time for every year - in this case, "Prime Time 1967", for example.

Then, we'd get to see our favourite long-lost shows again (like Michael Callan's "Occasional Wife"), even if only one episode! These shows have been long-buried, so I can't see license fees for them being horrendous.

ADDENDUM: I finally got to see the pilot for this show again on YouTube! Yay!

A couple of notes on it:

1) Luke just "woke up" after years of suspended animation, so to him, decades-ago is like yesterday... However, he didn't seem to grieve for (or even inquire about) his wife!

2) Luke can't seem to keep even the most menial jobs. He was hired to push a broom in a warehouse which stores bags of quick-setting cement. In an effort to keep the dust down, Luke sprays the bags with a hose - causing all the bags to set like (what else?) concrete. Offensive - for cryin' out loud, the ancient Romans knew that concrete is set with water. I'm sure a man in his 30s, even a travellin' prairie guy, would've known this, as concrete or mortar was used for lots of things, including wells in cities and private land. The writers made him look stupid.

I still think the actors were great, though!

Inside Daisy Clover

Like the cheese you squirt out of a can
There are many films out there which depict Hollywood "from the inside". This one falls somewhere in the lower-middle of the pack.

I first saw "Inside Daisy Clover" on TV as a teenager (around Daisy's age), and thought it was great. I waited years to see it again. Now that I've seen it as an adult, I feel the same way about it as I did when I saw the show "Lost in Space" as an adult. Both are utterly cheesy - and not a nice, ripened Brie, but more like Kraft's "Easy Cheese" in a spray can.

As a teenager, I wasn't really convinced about Natalie Wood as a teenager in this film. Her attempts to come off as what we'd call "street smart" today, look silly. Tommy Bond as "Butch" in the "Our Gang" shorts did it more convincingly! Still, I am a Natalie Wood fan, and for the most part, she was OK in this film - she did a great job in the musical sequences (my least favourite parts, I'll admit. This time, I was able to fast forward through some of them). I know she didn't do all of her own singing - I was referring to the physical performances in those scenes when I said she did a great job.

I enjoyed the dubbing scenes, where Daisy was essentially trapped in the iso booth while being forced to sing along to her happy, smiling self on-screen in front of her. And she had to do so at the behest of her lover, the producer, in spite of her mother's very recent death! Watching Daisy unravel as the film's count-in would beep, beep, beep, beep, over and over again, was creepy.

There have been a number of comments about Natalie's age relative to the character's age, but no one seems to have mentioned Ruth Gordon in that context.

While watching the film again tonight, I wondered if Daisy was a post-menopausal baby, as Ruth Gordon was nearly 70 when the film was made - 70 with a 15 year old child! And the sister Gloria - she looked to be in her mid 30s at least! Who did the casting on this film? And were they employed for another film? I don't know why they even bothered to go with the story being set in 1936 - perhaps because that kind of "musical star" didn't exist in the Vietnam era? They may have opted for "modern" styles perhaps, because young people would not have wanted to see a film that was set in the 1930s? While watching the film, it occurred to me that the only things that would make it a period film seem to be the cars, and the kitchen in the beach house, for the most part. Why didn't they simply make the film set in 1965, about an actress? I didn't realise that Ruth Gordon was nominated for this film. I think that by then, she had that character down-pat. She seemed to play it in so many films. Whenever her name was listed in a cast, I expected to see a wacky, eccentric grandmotherly type in the cast, and was never disappointed.

Christopher Plummer was fantastic, as always. He was a perfect mix of smarmy charm with menacing undertones. He is good at playing someone who can say, "Your mother is dead" and follow that up almost immediately with "Smile. Smile bigger... Smile BIGGER...." Robert Redford did a great job as the charming, self-absorbed, alcoholic, bi-sexual "heart throb". If I heard him use the phrase "Dear Heart" once more, though, I would've taken a page out of Daisy's book and stuck MY head in the oven (even though my oven's electric!).

Why was Roddy McDowall in this film at all? He didn't get to show off any of his great talents. Surely an unknown would've worked cheaper? It seemed to be hinted at that there was, or had been, something between his and Robert Redford's characters. I couldn't help feeling that perhaps some of his scenes were left out of the finished film.

Anyway, to sum up, this isn't a horrible film. It's worth a look, if there's nothing better on!

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie

I was really looking forward to this movie, and it was a big letdown

As someone else else said, this movie was probably a marketing tool to get Americans into the show. Maybe see the movie, buy a few DVDs, whatever. But it certainly wasn't meant for the real fans of the show, who were simply blown off.

Too many bits and pieces from various episodes were recycled for the movie. Given that I own all the available DVDs and still laugh at the episodes after several viewings, that in itself shouldn't have been a problem. However, the way it was done here, it didn't have a 'natural' feel, the way the TV show does. It felt stilted and forced.

Can this movie possibly have been done by the same people who brought us "I've Met Cats and Dogs Smarter Than Trevor and Cory", "Mr Lahey's Got My Porno Tape", and "Rub n Tiz'zug"? Does it come anywhere near close to the hilarity of those episodes? "NO WAY!", in my opinion! While there were a couple of small funny bits, I think that those who say this movie was hilarious may be trying to convince themselves that it was.

To be fair, it has always been necessary to overlook little bits and pieces, to suspend disbelief, if you will, while watching the show. For one thing, you'd have to wonder how Ricky continues to park his car/home free-of-charge at Sunnyvale, which is private property, when he is clearly not wanted there by management. ;)

I know TPBs isn't Shakespeare, but elements of the plot in this movie were completely stupid. For example, Julian and Ricky have been in jail how many times? Lots, and that's even reiterated for the newbies. Yet, for some reason, we're supposed to believe that these "con college alumni" never heard of "the big dirty" concept until this time around! Sure...

Later, when Julian and Ricky are stopped by the cops, Julian turns into a quivering wreck who is so scared, he is unable to speak. This is not the Julian we know and love. Julian has always been the cool guy, 'the smart one', the man with the plan, and his character has really been dumbed down in this film (John Paul Tremblay does not have any writing credits in this movie, unlike Robb Wells (Ricky). I wonder if that has anything to do with it).

The heist that "Movie Julian" comes up with to set the boys up financially, is utterly stupid. The "real" Julian would not commit armed robbery and risk jail for a container of coins that are mostly pennies, anyway.

I was glad to see Corey and Trevor included in the movie (and boy, do we see Corey!), but the part where they go on about how they pretend to be Ricky because that's the only way they can feel cool, was truly cringe-worthy dialog. While Corey and Trevor are sycophantic burnouts, even they wouldn't have been this uncool.

Randy and Leahy were Randy and Leahy. No surprises there, both were good as always, although Randy really didn't get to do much. His "physique" was used to frame a couple of shots, as has been done in the show, with amusing results. Cinematography Oscars have been given for less, IMHO. :)

Bubbles, the "heart" of the show, was his usual self in the movie. I did wonder, however, if the "real" Bubbles would've believed that silly heist was a worthwhile haul for five people, and worth risking a jail term for. Maybe I'm giving Bubbles credit for being too smart.

The characters J-Roc and Ray didn't have much to do at all, and that was a shame. J-Roc, the blue-eyed blonde rapper who truly believes that he is black, is a very funny character.

I enjoyed Lucy's tale of her first date with Ricky. Ah, the memories of romantic bliss... ;)

I can't be objective about this film, because of my familiarity with the characters and the story lines (by objective, I mean I can't see it through new eyes, and so I can't guess what a newbie would think of it). They haven't seen all the jokes before, so maybe they'll think the movie is hysterically funny. Who knows?

My fear is that they won't think it's funny, and that rather than introduce the franchise to new people, it will kill it.

Alternatively, if everyone in America sees this film and thinks it's great, we could be up for a future of more movies like this one.

I'm not sure which scenario would be worse for the real fans.

The Da Vinci Code

An OK chase movie
There's been so much hype about The DaVinci Code... That itself usually puts me off, but my friends prevailed, and we went to see it today on its opening day.

I've never read "The DaVinci Code". However, years ago, I'd read the books which were the subject of the lawsuit against Dan Brown ("The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", "The Messianic Legacy"), so I am certainly familiar with the concepts upon which it was built.

The movie's hype extended to TV news coverage today - exit polls at the cinema... And all said, "It was very faithful to the book", which may have been comforting to those who read it, but meant nothing to me.

In watching the film, it took quite some time to figure out what was what, who was who, though some things in the plot were rather predictable.

Audrey Tatou was wonderful and Jean Reno is always great to watch. Tom Hanks, however, in my opinion, was miscast. He was less an adventurous "Indiana Jones" type, than he was like the TV character, "Monk". There was no real intensity there, and the way he would wince uncomfortably when placed in a confined space, did indeed remind me of Adrian Monk when faced with germs.

I found "The DaVinci Code" to be an OK "chase" movie, which is essentially what it was, but it was a butt-numbing 2 1/2 hours long (and those seats aren't as comfortable as they used to be!). I have very definitive views about religion and the church, but this movie didn't really arouse anything in me for the first 2 hours or so.

One thing I found offensive was the 'dumbing down' of the lead female character, Sophie. I know that she (and her ignorance) was used as a device to let the audience know what was going on, but it demeaned the character, just as what was allegedly done to Mary Magdalene. Ironic.

Had I known then, when I booked ahead at $14.50 a seat, what I know now, I would've waited for the DVD (I guess I'm also annoyed at myself for getting sucked into the hype).

I rate this film "Three Wristwatches", because that's how many times I checked my watch while watching the film. Not a compliment.

The Philadelphia Experiment

It could've been a really good film...
I think we can dispense with the "based on a true event" thing. The event this film was based upon is as true as the events that inspired another "true" film, "The Amityville Horror". In other words, it's all pure fiction. This story has been traced back to one man, an alleged "witness". The men who actually served aboard the Eldridge laugh at the premise, and flatly deny that the ship was anywhere near Philadelphia at that time.

That aside, this could've been a very good sci-fi film. It was such a great idea, and it's too bad that the execution of it was so sloppy. I won't bother rehashing the whole plot, as others have done so already. Nor will I even bother to tackle the 'anomalies' of time travel.

What bugged me was the sloppiness/laziness of the writers.

For example, our hero, David, and his new girlfriend, are being chased in 1984 by Naval personnel. He manages to out-drive the navy guys, causing a navy jeep to roll over (of course, it burst into flames).

David stops, runs to the flaming jeep, and removes a bunch of "top secret" papers - which reveal details about the current experiment being conducted by the scientist who was responsible for the mess which sent David and his friend to 1984. Why were such sensitive papers being carried around in a jeep? Did the Navy officials in the jeep need them to remind themselves of their mission?! How did David know they'd be carrying these papers (why else would he run to the jeep of the guys who were trying to kill him?). More amazingly, the papers were not even burnt around the edges.

When David returned to 1943 to "fix" history, he was able to return to 1984 (and his girlfriend) by simply jumping over the ship's rail. And somehow, he made it gently onto the ground.

I love a good time travel/alternate reality story, so I sincerely hope that someone remakes The Philadelphia Experiment, and does a better job than was done the last time around. Oh, and please, don't let it star Tom Cruise! :-)

Buffalo '66

"Bleack" Comedy in Gloomy Buffalo
No, I didn't misspell that. It stands for "black" and "bleak".

Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) is released from prison, but hours later has not left the bench outside the prison gate. It seems as though he has no place to go - that is, until he has to pee. He is grubby looking, in tatty clothes and pants that are too short. His look screams, "low budget".

He meets Christina Ricci's character, Layla, in town. He is nasty to her, yet she gives him a quarter for the phone when asked. She overhears him talking to his mother. He keeps repeating who he is, and it gives the impression that he's been away for a while, or maybe Mom's feeble-minded. Layla overhears him telling her grandiose lies.

His lies include a wife, whom he's goaded to produce. After he hangs up, he grabs Layla in desperation and off they go, in her car. He tells her that she will pose as his "wife", and is to make him "look good", under threats. She has chances to escape but chooses not to.

While Billy was in prison, he got his friend "Goon", who is slow but loyal, to visit and agree to send Billy's pre-written letters to his parents on a monthly basis. These included stories of his "successful, jet-setting life" (it's not made clear how the locally-postmarked letters are meant to fool his parents).

Billy and Layla arrive at the parents' house and Billy's father is not fooled. The parents are cold and selfish. It becomes clear that Billy's mother remembers little or nothing of his life's details. He is simply not important to her. Only football is, and at one point, she absentmindedly comments that she regretted Billy's birth because it kept her from seeing the Buffalo Bills play in the Championship that year (I assume she named her son after the team). The father is a lecherous slime-bag who looks for any excuse to play "motorboat" with Layla's boobs while telling her, "Daddy loves you".

Daddy didn't make it as a singer, and when Layla asks if he has any recordings of himself, he takes her to a bedroom and sings to her over a prerecorded backing record, under a spotlight, while she sits, Baby Doll-like, on the bed. Creepy.

Layla later asks to see Billy's childhood pictures, but there is only one! It's of him with his puppy. She asks what became of the pup, and we see a flashback that shows Daddy killing it in front of Billy, because it peed in the house. Daddy tells her, "It ran away".

With dinner over, they leave. Layla chooses to remain with Billy after leaving his parents' house. They get a room. She wants him. He recoils. We discover how emotionally isolated he is. We find out that his only relationship with a girl was fantasised. I suppose that brings out that thing that some women seem to enjoy doing, where she makes him her Personal Reclaimation Project. She tries to break down his resistance to human contact and tenderness. She barely breaks through at all. They fall asleep, with him close to her. Billy intends to stay only until 2am, when Scott Woods is due to be at his strip club.

Woods, a former Bills player, missed the potential game-winning kick in a game upon which Billy had bet heavily. Billy couldn't cover the bet, and the bookie let him off by having Billy take the 5 year rap for a crime committed by a friend of the bookie. Billy believes Woods took a bribe to lose, and blames Woods for ruining his life.

When Billy says he has to go out, she has the feeling that he won't be back, and ends up telling him she loves him. He promises to return, but his real plan is to go to Scott Woods' strip club and kill him, then kill himself.

Before entering the club, he calls Goon, makes a bequest, and apologises to Goon for being mean and nasty to him all the time. Goon suspects Billy's going to do "something bad".

In the club, Billy comes face-to-face with Scott Woods, a fat, slobbering drunk with naked girls hanging off of him. Woods offers Billy a drink. During this exchange, Billy fantasises pulling out the gun and through some nice f/x, we see frozen shots of the homicide and the suicide, along with a scene of Billy's parents at his grave, listening to football on the radio until the father wants to leave to eat.

All of that brings on an epiphany for Billy, and he decides that life is worth living. He leaves, and on the outside payphone, calls Goon back and tells him that he can't have his stuff after all, and that he met a girl who loves him. He goes back to treating Goon like crap (which shows that love hasn't turned Billy into a complete sap). He also says that he couldn't kill Woods because, "he seemed like a nice guy" (how he came to that conclusion, I have no idea. Offering a drink seems a gesture too feeble to resolve years of hatred). In any case, his new plan is to get back to Layla.

I thought the "epiphany" came out of the blue. Surely Billy would've realised long before that moment, that his parents wouldn't have missed him. But I suppose he so desperately craved their approval, that he was in complete denial about their utter indifference to him. Who knows? What was really missing was any information about Layla. Who was she? And why did she behave the way she did?

I felt that the wrap-up was too quick, and pat.

Drugstore Cowboy

One of my all-time top fives
I went to see this film when it first came out, and recently bought the DVD, which I've watched twice.

What I most admire about this film is its lack of preachiness, as so many American films tend to do (in fact, the only preachiness, if it can be called that, comes from the junkie ex-priest). This film gives us more of a 'fly on the wall' perspective of how these characters live.

One thing it tells us is that not all drug addicts are sick-looking, pus-oozing, rotten-toothed, incoherent, granny-mugging gutter-dwellers. Some drug addicts actually function in society, and some people actually *like* living the junkie lifestyle. They get off on the adrenaline rush of the robberies, burglaries, the whole thing of planning and executing the caper. Sure, the drugs they score are supposed to be the reward, but the satisfaction of "a job well done" is nearly right up there with the drugs.

To look at any of the main characters would not cause "drug addict" to leap into your head. And that's not because it's a film and they're actors. People like this actually exist. Look at how many famous people seek treatment for drug addiction to prescription drugs (drugs are drugs, prescription or not). You wouldn't pick them as junkies, would you? Probably not.

Bob, the "patriarch" of this little "family" of druggies, is very street smart. He is 26. He is highly intelligent, plans meticulously, and is very authoritative in the way he runs things. Bob could've "been somebody", if he'd have used his planning and management skills for a 'straight life'. He loves his wife, Diane, whom he's know since childhood, and the fact that they are married, being druggies in the 'free love' days, says to me that they are traditionalists, in some weird way. But despite Bob's intelligence, he is very superstitious and believes in hexes - so much so, that he plans his jobs around superstitious events.

Bob and Diane have no children, but have two other young addicts living with them, who function as the "children" in this "family". Through the course of the film, they live in various apartments or houses, much better than you'd expect of a group of junkies. And Diane always looks nice, stylish and clean.

In order for us to view Bob as a sympathetic character, he can't go out with a gun or a knife, robbing gas stations and convenience stores. So to keep the group in drugs, lodging, and food, Bob does all the planning for their livelihood - ripping off drug stores, and hospital pharmacies (the Holy Grail, in Bob's way of looking at things). Everyone in the family has a role to play - driver, diversion, thief (Bob's job). While the pharmacist is distracted, Bob grabs anything he can get his hands on. The good stuff gets sorted from the bad stuff (eg laxatives), as soon as they get back to their rented digs. No violence is involved.

It's not really shown, only briefly touched upon in one scene with a rat-like neighbor, but they have to be doing a decent trade selling this stuff, to pay the rent and buy food (no supermarket I've ever heard of allows people pay for groceries with Dilaudid or 'ludes).

And, although it's referred to once, the film doesn't show the nausea and vomiting, and other side-effects (intestinal problems like severe constipation) that can be associated with IV drug use (Heather Graham's character, a drugs "newbie", is told to go take her hit, puke for a while, and enjoy the high). For the majority of the time, we see the characters as clear-eyed and lucid. They appear to be quite healthy.

The police know that Bob is involved in the pharmacy thefts, but cannot seem to pin him down (James Remar is very good here as the detective who's got Bob's number).

Throughout this film, we watch this group of addicts go about their everyday business. We see them hit the road when the heat is on, with Bob and Diane making meticulous plans to send the drugs ahead so that they have drugs waiting for them in every city (thus eliminating the risk of being caught travelling with a big stash).

Despite all of Bob's "smarts", he is ultimately undone by a superstition, which seems to set a chain of events in motion. Through these events, the lives of everyone in the household are changed forever.

The film may gloss over some of the "ugly" aspect of the druggie lifestyle, which can make it appear more like an "alternative lifestyle", than what most would consider a deviant one (this is why I gave it a 9 instead of a 10). Yet despite that, it is not a film that celebrates the druggie lifestyle. It just portrays it as it is, for the most part. The moral judgment is not made by the film, but is left to the viewer (as is Bob's fate, I believe).

Sin City

A Stylish Hell
The visuals alone kept me glued to the screen.

Basin City is the bleakest place on earth, and although the city itself is black and white, the characters exhibit many shades of gray.

Make no mistake, this is a guy movie. As much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't escape that fact. But then again, it's a moving comic book, and who are the biggest readers of comic books? Yup, guys.

While watching it, I realised that of the female characters, those who weren't helpless victims, were whores (the whores represented the "strong" female characters in the film). And of the whores, one was a traitor! I couldn't help but feel that the writer didn't like women very much.

There were a lot of noir elements. Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade wouldn't have looked out of place here. The film had a very 1940s look and feel. Police drove around in old cars, as did many characters, yet the characters looked essentially "modern".

If this film was done as a purely live action film, it probably would've been the goriest one of the year. They get around this by having the violence look "cartooney", and by having the blood run in odd colors.

Mickey Rourke was a knockout. For his performance, he earned every cent. He was a thug, maybe an ex-pug, a legbreaker, who knows? He was, in any case, an outcast, a fringe-dweller, who had a sweet side, and an incredible loyalty to a woman he'd only known for hours before her death.

Benicio Del Toro was excellent. He does great "sleaze". I didn't even realise it was him! One thing that bugged me, though, is that both he and Mickey Rourke seemed to speak in the same voice, which was a bit odd, especially as their 'bits' came one after the other.

Bruce Willis did a good job with his part, but he simply didn't appear to be old enough. Where were the makeup people with the latex stipple, who could've made him look over 60, as his character was meant to be? I found it laughable when, (unlike a "real" sixty-something unattached guy - or even the real Bruce Willis!), he kept rebuffing the advances of a hot, young blonde babe, who adored him.

In any case, this movie moved along pretty well, so that I was never bored. Perhaps it was the stunning visuals, with the occasional flashes of vivid color, that kept my attention.

Best viewed on the big screen, I think.


A Little Gem
This is a film I'd often heard about, but it was never on where I live. In the end, I had to buy the DVD - and I'm glad I did!

"Marty" is the eponymously named story of a Bronx butcher.

Marty did not set out to be a butcher - he was to attend university - but his father's untimely death sealed his fate. Now, he has ambitions to buy the shop in which he has worked for many years.

Poor Marty - he's 34, his parents' first-born, and (shock, horror!) the only one of the brood who remains unattached. It seems not a day goes by without his widowed mother, or some other neighbourhood busybody, bugging him about when he's going to get married. They tell him, "You should be ashamed of yourself!" for still being single. It must've been quite a cross to bear, being over 30 and single in a 1950s Italian-American family!

Marty supports himself and his mother. They live in the family home, where Marty grew up. He is a gentle soul, who has not had a lot of luck with the opposite sex. He doesn't have a great deal of confidence in himself, and believes himself to be ugly.

Life is pretty ho-hum in Marty's world. He always meets the same group of friends, "the guys", all of whom are single and in pretty much the same rut as Marty. They have conversations like, "What do you want to do tonight?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?", back and forth. Each suggestion of something to do is met with disdain.

Marty's friends extol the virtues of the pulp writing of the most macho writer of macho stories, Mickey Spillane ("That Mickey Spillane, he sure can write"). Marty's friends are all going nowhere, fast. If those guys were around today, they might be talking instead about the latest Xbox and PlayStation games.

Marty meets a plain-looking woman, Clara (who had been dumped by her own date) when he and his best friend Angie (short for Angelo?) go to the Stardust Ballroom, looking to meet "tomatoes". Marty and Clara seem to hit it off and talk for hours, stopping at various other spots after leaving the Stardust (in Marty's excitement, he forgets to tell Angie he's leaving). Marty and Clara stop back at his house for something, where Clara briefly meets Marty's mother.

When Marty's walking Clara home shortly thereafter, they run into Angie, who is very rude to Clara when Marty introduces her to him. Angie is peeved that Marty left him behind for her.

The next day, Marty is flying on cloud 9, but his mother, after interference from her fatalistic sister, now believes that she will end up out in the cold because of Clara. She tells Marty that she doesn't like Clara, and forbids Marty from ever bringing her to their home again.

Later in conversation, Angie dismisses Clara as a dog, and that, plus his mother's feelings, causes Marty to reconsider his feelings for Clara.

Ernest Borgnine was superb in this film. I know it was based on a tele-play with Rod Steiger in the role, but I've never seen that version. I cannot picture anyone doing it as well as Borgnine did.

I believe this film was well-cast all around, and cannot think of a single actor who did not acquit himself/herself well.

At first glance, I thought the characters of the mother and the aunt were rather stereotypical "old Italian ladies". However, remembering the older women in my own Italian-American family, those characters do ring true. There was not a lot left for older widowed ladies back then, because all they'd ever known was husband, house, and children. They'd never had to earn a paid living. When the husband died and the children grew up, they were often at a loss as to what to do with themselves. They usually did end up living with one of their children's families, though not always happily-ever-after.

The film was shot in black and white, which gave it a stark moodiness that color couldn't have provided nearly as well. It helps to convey the almost claustrophobic, brooding feeling in Marty's house, and to highlight its physical decline - letting us (and Marty) know that maybe it's time to move on to something new?

Days of Heaven

Breathtakingly Beautiful
First off, I have to say that this film is like a painting in motion. The visuals are absolutely stunning.

It's one thing to show a locust plague - the noise as a dark cloud of locusts swarms above its prey, the carefully-tended wheat crop - and it's another to have tight close-up shots of locusts eating the wheat. Locusts can actually be seen chewing on individual grains! It was positively brilliant.

How I wish I'd seen this film on the big screen, but I have to make do with DVD. I think the lush cinematography would have been unbelievable when seen at the cinema.

At the heart of the story is a trio of vagabonds, riding the rails in search of something better than what they've got (which is nothing). The story is set in 1916, at a time when American industry was really getting into gear.

Young Linda is in the care of her older brother Bill (Richard Gere), a laborer in a steel mill. Bill is all that Linda has in the world.

Bill's hot-headed impulsiveness sees him commit a violent act, which forces him to become a fugitive. He takes Linda and his girlfriend Abby with him. They begin hopping freight trains, heading south.

Bill has to keep his love for Abby hidden, as they have been posing as brother and sister ("It's easier that way").

Bill and Abby find work, along with many other migrants like themselves, at a large wheat plantation owned by a man listed only as "The Farmer" (Sam Shepard). The three live on the farm with the other seasonal workers.

Life on the farm was hard - nearly everything was done manually back then. The labor was backbreaking, enough to rub the hands of the workers raw. And while toiling in the fields, workers could look up to see The Farmer's home, a lovely, stately, 3-storey Victorian farmhouse. It stood out, alone, on the rise of the barren landscape. In the evening, its windows glowed with the warm amber light of the kerosene lamps, giving it an inviting, homey look. And to those in the fields, it was a constant reminder of what they'd never have. It was as unattainable, to them, as the glittering diamonds in the window of Tiffany's.

Sick of trying to scratch out a hard living working on the land and having nothing, Bill comes up with a way to use Abby to score big-time, but it doesn't exactly go according to his plan.

The film is narrated by the child, Linda, in a tone that is very world-weary/wise for someone so young, though at times it does contain touches of childhood naiveté. But that notwithstanding, this is a child who didn't really have the luxury of a childhood, as most would know it.

This film takes place decades before the days of "The New Deal" - well before there were social programs in place to look after families and children, as there are today. Desperate families followed the harvest for work, with the children working alongside their parents in the fields. There were no food stamps in 1916, and there was especially nothing available to a child in the custody of a sole guardian who was on the run from the law.

This film gives us a brief glimpse into what life was like for these people, but mostly, shows us the consequences of greed, especially when looking for the easy-way-out. It is also a lesson in taking for granted what you actually do have, even when you think you have nothing.

The Long, Long Trailer

A Nice Bit of Nostalgic Americana
Firstly, let me say that I am a great fan of Lucy and Desi.

While they did a great job in their roles in this film, which I felt essentially reprised their roles from the show, I believe that Lucy was a bit old to be playing a newlywed. If she had been widowed from the war, it would've been different. But while Miss Ball looked great for someone who was actually in her mid 40s at the time, Tacy still looked well over 30. It is hard to believe that someone so attractive would've sat on the shelf for that long, in the culture of the 50s, unless she was a dedicated career woman (and we never get that impression from the film). Were we to assume that their wedding night would've been her "first time", at thirty-something?

We know that Nicky is an engineer, even if we know nothing else about him. But what did Tacy (short for Anastasia, as she is her Aunt Anastasia's namesake) do with herself before marrying Nicky? Did she just hang out at home for thirty-something years? We know nothing about her character, except for what we see - she is willful, childish, and selfish. Nicky had the patience of a saint, especially after the stunt with the hidden rocks (which may well have put their lives in danger). For her to have put getting her own way ahead of their very lives, was nothing less than despicable!

I recall reading in Desi Arnaz' biography, "A Book" (highly recommended!), that during the run of "I Love Lucy", Desi would receive fan mail, saying, "Lucy must be great in bed for you to put up with all the stupid things she does!" Obviously, whoever wrote that could not distinguish between the show and real life, but that little anecdote came back to me while watching this film. There had to be SOME reason why Nicky stuck with Tacy! :-)

Why did it take until their first meal in the trailer for Nicky to know that Tacy could cook? For whom did she cook before? And why never for Nicky?

In any case, if you can get past the fact that Lucy's character should have been in her 20s and behaves like a willful child, this is an enjoyable little film. The scene of her trying to prepare dinner in the trailer while it was being towed is a gem - classic Lucy.

The cinematography is stunning, and having been shot in Yosemite National Park, there is plenty of beautiful scenery to look at. I would imagine, given the car culture of the 50s, that this film may have inspired quite a few Americans to drive out to Yosemite. I won't hazard a guess as to what this film did for the sales of huge trailers.

The tension was palpable while Nicky was attempting to tow that monster up a steep and winding mountain road. It was easy to feel their nervousness as they tried desperately to make conversation to keep their minds off of the gravity of their situation. The shots of the view down the side of the mountain, with the rocks tumbling down as they were dislodged by the trailer's wheels, made their nervousness perfectly understandable.

I don't know whether this film was created as a vehicle for Lucy and Desi, or if Vincente Minelli jumped at the chance to cast the very popular Arnazes. I could've pictured Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee doing it, a few more years down the track, and they would've been about the right age to play newlyweds. While Lucy and Desi did a fine job, they were a bit long-in-the-tooth for this scenario.

After seeing this film, I couldn't help but wonder about what else poor Nicky would have to endure in this marriage. :-)

Before Sunset

Oh, the pain...
This is among the talkiest films I've ever seen.

We meet, once again, the characters from "Before Sunrise", after several years have elapsed.

Celine still talks at an astonishing pace. Whatever annoying drivel pops into her head, just runs right from her mouth. She reminds me of a Chatty Patty doll of old - pull the string and yak, yak, yak. Jessie appears to love the sound of his own voice, while he speaks in platitudes that to him, must be very profound indeed.

In this film, the characters meet up again for the first time after the one night of passion they shared several years ago.

You'd expect them to be awkward with each other when they get together, given their circumstances. But despite the endless talking and reminiscing they did as the film went on, I never felt that awkwardness dissipate. Their relationship felt stilted throughout, especially when it seemed like he was trying to sleaze on to her. Where was this 'connection' that they allegedly shared?

In one scene, Celine and Jessie are being driven in a car. She is emoting heavily to Jessie about her post one-night-of-passion life, finally yelling at the driver to stop the car and let her out. I was hoping he would pull up on a bridge and toss her in the River Seine!

The only thing I was grateful for while watching this film was that there weren't any cyanide capsules nearby.

Before Sunrise

Talk, talk, more talk, and then some talking
I bought this movie as a double feature with its sequel, "Before Sunset", because my sister told me that I'd like them.

Not knowing what to expect, I put the disc in... and waited... and waited... and waited, as the actors did a lot of talking.

The central characters met by chance on a train, and spent a night together in Vienna before each had to move on to separate destinations. From my perspective, it felt like a thousand and one nights.

The character of Celine was what you'd expect a stereotypical young Parisienne to be - stars in her eyes, dreamily romantic, believing in things mystical, while he was the cynical American who shot down everything she found special. So what did she see in him, I ask? They talked about how they 'connected', but they didn't appear, to me, to be connected at all. I didn't see two characters into whom I could become immersed, or believe their developing passion. All I saw were two actors.

As a general rule, I wouldn't go out of my way to watch romance movies. That is not to say that I am not capable of being moved by one that is well-cast and well-made. There are many that have stirred my emotions, some even to the point of tears ("An Affair to Remember", for example, which this kind of takes a page from). But not this one. The Kleenex was left undisturbed in its little box, this time.

Maybe the other users who've given this movie its high rating are hopeless romantics who'd cry over a sentimental TV commercial. I don't know. I don't mean to demean them in any way, but maybe some people have a lower 'romance' threshold than others...

I simply could not get involved with the characters. They didn't do anything for me but leave me cold.

The reason I gave this a 4 out of 10 instead of a 3, is for the Viennese scenery.

Watch this if there's nothing else on, and if you're doing something else at the same time so that you're not too bored.

Exorcist: The Beginning

Better than a sleeping pill
"The Exorcist", it its day, was truly shocking. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.

I watched the original recently with a friend. It's a well-crafted film, based on a great story. So, with that in mind, when this DVD 'prequel' popped up in the local video store, we rented it.

About half-an-hour into this film, we were still waiting for it to happen...

The central character is a former priest who was allegedly traumatised enough to have lost his faith. He comes across more as a somnambulist, than anything else.

At one stage, I did feel a little sympathy for the priest. This was due only to the war-time flashbacks, but they were repeated too much and lost their impact. It was very difficult to become involved with the characters, or care much about them.

I had a bit of a laugh when the ex-priest was outdoors talking to an army officer in sunny Africa, with vapor coming from their mouths (as it does in cold weather). They must've been freezing, dressed in hot-weather clothing in chilly Italy (where the film was actually shot).

More than an hour into the film, we paused to get a snack from the kitchen. When we came back, we accidentally hit the 'stop' button twice, taking us back to the beginning. We decided it wasn't worth skipping forward to see the end.

I cannot remember when I've watched a film for more than an hour, and just gave up on it! In fact, I think that was a first for me.

Renny Harlin does not have Bill Friedkin's deft touch for this kind of film, and should stick to action and swashbuckling movies.

I'd give this film a wide berth, unless you're an incurable insomniac and really need something to help you sleep.

It's About Time

I loved this show when I was 8!
I really enjoyed this show when I was 8 years old! And as someone mentioned, one day it simply disappeared, without a trace.

Would I still love it now? Who knows? Time travel is always an interesting concept (even as goofy at it is here), and transporting cave people (who speak English!) to "modern" times would probably still be funny... But I used to love "Gilligan's Island" back then, and can't stand it now, so it's hard to say.

Still, it brings back good memories.

I have never seen reruns of it, but it wasn't even a full 'season' worth of shows (back then, 39 episodes a year was the norm, leaving 13 weeks open for "summer replacement" shows). I don't know why only 26 episodes were made. It must've rated pretty poorly at the time.

Here are the original, and amended, theme songs:

It's about time, it's about space, About two men in the strangest place. It's about time, it's about flight - Traveling faster than the speed of light. This is the tale of the brave crew As through the barrier of time they flew. Past a fighting minuteman, Past an armored knight, Past a Roman warrior, To this ancient site. It's about caves, cavemen too, About a time when the earth was new. Wait'll they see what is in sight! Is it good luck or is it good night? It's about two astronauts, it's about their fate, It's about a woman and her prehistoric mate.

It's about time, it's about space, About two men in the strangest place. They will be here right on this spot No matter if they like it or not. How will they live in this primitive state? Will help ever come before it is too late? Will they ever get away? Watch each week and see! Will they be returning to the 20th Century? It's about time for our goodbyes To all these prehistoric gals and guys. IT'S ABOUT TIME!

When the show's concept changed mid-season and the cave people moved to 20th century New York, the theme song changed as well:

It's about time, it's about space, About cave-people in the strangest place. It's about time, it's about flight- Traveling faster than the speed of light. About cave-people and the brave crew As through the barrier of time they flew. Past a Roman warrior, past an armored knight, Past a fighting minuteman to this modern site. It's about time for you and me To meet these people from 1,000,000 BC. It's about two astronauts and how they educate A prehistoric woman and her prehistoric mate.

It's about time, it's about space, About cave-people in the strangest place.

They will be here with all of us, dodging a taxi, car or bus. Where will they go? What will they do In this strange place where everything is new? Will they manage to survive? Watch each week and see. Will they get accustomed to the 20th Century? It's about time for our goodbyes To all these prehistoric gals and guys. IT'S ABOUT TIME!

Girl for Girl

For horny guys only
Showtime is doing a free trial with my cable company, and thank god, because I wouldn't have paid a cent to see this movie!

The acting was pretty horrible (especially the people who played Ben and Caitlin - more wooden than my dining room table), the dialog ridiculous. I felt like I was watching the movie version of "Men's Sexual Fantasies".

Example: A guy goes to a woman's house to hit on her, but she's not interested and walks out the door, leaving him there... And her sexy roommate calls him out to the patio, where she's lounging by the pool with another hot chick. She wants to know, if he's not busy, would he mind filming her and her girlfriend having sex? Yeah, I know lots of guys would get off on that scene. And it happens so often in real life, too...

I wouldn't have been so hard on this if it were a regular porn flick. Then I'd have no expectations about the acting or the script... But this thing tries to sell itself as a movie, and it comes up way short.

This would probably be very entertaining for lonely guys who are home alone, who haven't had a date in a long time. Teenage boys will love it.

Ratings-wise, I'd give it a -5.

The Bourne Supremacy

Pure Escapist Entertainment, Worth a Look
I didn't see "The Bourne Identity", so this film had to 'stand alone' for me, and it did.

The comments by others about the camera work making them nauseous did not apply to me, though some of the quick edits were rather annoying (particularly the film's opening).

That aside, I enjoyed this film very much - I give it my Supreme rating of "0 Wristwatches" - I was not tempted to look at my watch once while in the theatre!

It had suspense, action, and even a few minutes of love.

OK, a couple of things went on for too long - the fight with the ex agent (from which Bourne walked away remarkably intact, given the beating he took), and the obligatory car chase. That car took a lickin', but kept on tickin'!

In some instances, you'll have to suspend disbelief to get the most enjoyment from this film, but it's not hard to do, once it sucks you in.

Matt Damon and supporting cast were well-cast in their roles, and performed admirably.

Get some popcorn and see this one.

Van Helsing

A comic book comes to life
The trailers had me practically drooling to see this film - look at the cast! But alas...

OK, it's supposed to be over-the-top... just not this much.

I laughed out loud when Kate Beckinsdale first appeared, in makeup that wouldn't look out of place in a modern nightclub, gel curls, black leather corset, black pants, and high-heeled boots that can probably be seen on many women who walk down fashionable city streets today. Not very 1870s-ish, IMHO...

The stunts in this film were, in a word, ridiculous. A stunt should not LOOK so much like a stunt, that it detracts from the scene. That, unfortunately, happens a lot in this film.

The violence is very cartoon-like. The way our heroes would be thrown at high velocity and slammed into rooftops, beams, solid stone walls, etc, and get up without so much as a broken nail, reminded me of Looney Tunes characters Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote (remember how the Coyote could be flattened under a steamroller, but get up with a couple of bandaids on, and be in perfect health for the next scene? It's like that, minus the bandaids).

Something else which made me laugh was a scene in which a horse-drawn wagon became detached from its horses, and crashed in a huge explosion as if its fuel tank had ruptured. I guess Transylvanian wood must've been some volatile stuff, back then.

The plot? Well, it was silly. They managed to get in just about every monster they could. But not giving us the alluded-to background between Dracula and Van Helsing, which so obviously screams, "Prequel!", irritated me and left me feeling ripped off.

The special effects were very good. The vampires flying around were a treat to watch, but the 'wolfman' behaved more like a mad ape than a wolf, swinging from beam to beam. Come to think of it, Mr Hyde did the same thing... the 1870s must've been a real swingin' time for monsters.

The cast made a noble effort with what they were given, but it was a shame to waste such a good cast this way.

I give this film 2 wristwatches - that's how many times I looked at my watch in the theatre.

And I'd give it 5 out of 10, only for the actors and special effects.

Wait for the DVD - and then wait for it to become a weekly rental, so you get it even cheaper.

Secret Window

I guess you had to read the book...
...but I didn't. Perhaps if I had, things would've made more sense to me.

After all, lots of people get cheated on... how many of them develop Multiple Personality Disorder as a result?

I have to say that I thought that the cast did a great job with the material given to them, (kudos to Johnny Depp and John Turturro, especially, even if Turturro's character was a caricature). However, there was not enough in the writing to make me feel a great deal for the characters.

OK, I felt Mort's depression, living a hermit's life... He was unable to write because of the trauma he'd suffered due to his wife's infidelity (In fact, I was disgusted with the wife for taking up with a buffoon like Ted!).

Later on, during the 'big scene' between Mort and his wife, my companion leaned over and whispered, "Scared?" It dawned on me that I did not feel a lot for the character of the wife, so I didn't care a great deal about what happened to her. Thus, my answer was, "No" (I realise they tried to inject something about 'the baby' (which felt like an afterthought) to make the wife's character more deserving of sympathy. But it wasn't enough).

One symbol I use to rate a film is 'wristwatches' - the more I look at my watch during a movie, the less I'm enjoying it. I did look at my watch once while watching this film, but that was just before 'all hell broke loose', so to speak. That says to me that things could've been tightened up a bit before that point.

Overall, I did enjoy this movie. It did contain suspense, good camerawork, the acting was top-notch, and it gave me an excuse to get out of the house for 2 hours (and to eat Peanut M&Ms). But as I was leaving the theatre, I didn't say (as I have with other films), "I'm gonna buy this when it comes out on DVD!".

The Thorn Birds

Great story, but they could've done better
We were watching The Thorn Birds (Pt 1) tonight - I haven't seen it since it originally aired back in '83. Thus, I had forgotten some of the characters' backgrounds.

I found it confusing trying to work out who was from where. It seemed odd to me that two Americans (Mary, and Ralph) should end up in New South Wales. When each revealed that they'd come from Ireland, it was a bit of a surprise... Maybe there was no money in the budget for dialogue coaches, but they could have made at least a token effort at getting the accents right in this series. No effort was made at all, yet I keep reading how great the acting was. The story may as well have taken place in Montana!

Fiona Cleary didn't sound as if she'd ever even visited New Zealand, let alone having been born and reared there! Her son Frank spoke with an Irish brogue, though he was supposed to have been New Zealand born as well.

Odd that while "Irish" Mary Carson sounded like she'd just gotten off the boat from Brooklyn, NY, her brother Paddy seemed to retain his Irish brogue...

At least Meggie shed her American accent when she grew up!

If they could've just sorted out the accent thing, a good mini-series could've been great.

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