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One of most memorable characters in TV history
I just purchased the complete series DVDs and have begun watching. I had forgotten what a great show this is. It's quite interesting to watch as Falk develops the character over time into the iconic Columbo we all remember. In the earliest shows he not as much the sly and subtle adversary lulling the suspect into feeling he can evade justice by outsmarting him.

The "how's he going to nail him" rather whodunit approach also makes the show more watchable multiple times than many mysteries where if you remember the culprit it spoils things. It's a lot more difficult to remember how he figure it out and confronted the killer than it is with other shows to remember who did it.

Wild Orchid

if zero was an option....
Everything about this movie is awful. Otis may have been the worst actress of all time and casting her as a shrewd young lawyer was just over the top; she'd be over her head intellectually as a model (although she is hot). I'd peg her for real porn but I seriously doubt she could moan convincingly on cue. Mickey Rourke is a weird shade of orange (Tan or jungle fever? Not sure.) but he delivers his purple prose as though he was reading the lines off a teleprompter. The dialogue is insipid and and the "plot" worse.

The idea that this film was daring or erotic for 1990 is laughable. 1890 yes, but by 1990 the concept of people having sex in movies was no longer a novelty.


Entertaining but not for the reasons intended
This movie represents the beginning of Pacino's slide from important actor to self-parodizing caricature. If his performance was deliberately so awful because it was meant to be a metaphor for the way cocaine can destroy self-awareness and render one a manic self-absorbed fool, it would be justifiable but clearly that is not the intent of his performance (which must be distinguished from the Montana character). There can be no question that Pacino thinks he is giving a great performance.

This is basically a comic book level effort except the acting and story is not as subtle as comic book characterizations.

That said this movie is entertaining and one of the all-time classics of the "unintentionally hilarious" genre. That pretty much the same movie has been made hundreds of times on 3% of the budget and with .0001% of the pretension is besides the point.

If you love bad movies with formulaic and unoriginal stories, sublimely awful dialogue mouthed by actors who equate histrionics with art and are punctuated with plenty of gratuitous blood and gore for shock value then you can hardly do better than this. If you REALLY like them when they are grandiose big budget flicks with writers, directors and actors who have egos the size of Jupiter then this will be one of your favorites ever.

They Call It Murder

Well done period piece
This 1971 TV movie appears to have been a pilot for a proposed series based on "Perry Mason" creator Erle Stanley Gardner's much lesser known "Doug Selby D.A." novels. It's a shame this never made it because "They Call It Murder" shows a good bit of promise. Jim Hutton is excellent in the title role as the earnest young D.A. (His son Timothy's resemblance is remarkable) and he was always an underrated actor.

The supporting cast is also strong an notably features Ed Asner as a bumbling and blustering small town chief of police. In this episode the "guest stars" are Jessica Walter (who was intriguingly distant yet seductive) and Leslie Nielsen (was this guy EVER young?) and while it wasn't real difficult to finger the culprits the motive and means were creative yet not so far-fetched as to be beyond the rules of "fair play."

TCIM, of course, appears dated now with a very early 70s look (and outlook)and pacing that is several gears slower than contemporary mystery/suspense. It could be said that the movie drags in places but it could also be argued that that the languid pace adds to the atmosphere. . As with all mysteries it is a formula driven show but it is a well done one. This has more in common with 40s film noir than formula dramas of today such as the L&O faux realism template.

TCIM relies more on plotting and character psychology and less on fist fights and car chases than the typical 60s/70s era shows of this genre did. (Although there is a little of that it appears superfluous and forced; that would be my only complaint.)

I came across this in a $1 bin of overstock DVDs. It's a very low budget DVD that appears to have been transferred from second generation (or worse) tape and has uneven sound and almost no packaging but it's well worth the dollar.

Evil Angels

It's a real challenge to make a movie about a baby being devoured by wild canines and the mother being wrongly accused of murder funny but against all odds this one succeeds. Meryl Streep gives the performance of her life, melodramatic, overwrought but with that comic genius that keeps you laughing even as a mother struggles with the ultimate horror.

If comedies about the infants being eaten by dogs are not your cup of tea you might be uncomfortable watching this and, yes, it is an odd choice of topic for a farce but really very little of the movie has anything to do with that as it focuses on giving Streep a showcase for her Aussie accent and facial contortions.

Throwing in a slam at media bias and sensationalism and disregard for either the truth or ethics gives the movie the chance to make the daring point that those things are bad.

The Brady Bunch

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia
If you were born between, say, 1958 and 1962, and did not have impure thoughts about Marcia you must be either Amish or gay. She was a few years older than me (I'm more Jan's age) and have to say she was every boy's ideal of the girl next door. Sure, the show was totally uncool and square, but Marcia was IT. Nowadays I notice that mom was quite a dish herself but at the time she was, well, old enough to be my mother.

Criticizing the Brady Bunch for being unrealistic makes no more sense than criticizing candy for being sweet. It was a show for kids and why on Earth would anyone think children need to be exposed to the harsher realities of life in a freaking sitcom. I think that criticism is motivated by envy and being envious of make-believe characters is not healthy. Relax.

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand

Are the talkies new to Australia?
A movie that comes across as one "written" as though it was discovered only in mid-production that dialogue is important to a film. Interestingly, if one turns off the sound and just watches "Felafel" it is mildly engaging. The cinematography is fine and the film has a cool "look" but the dialogue is just so bloody awful it makes one laugh for all the wrong reasons. As there is really no plot beyond quirky loser moves around meeting even quirkier losers the movie is really just as easy to follow without any sound.

The only conceivable reason to endure the dialogue is some fairly decent music in the soundtrack but it would be better just to get hold of the songs because while strong they really don't seem to have any particular relationship to the movie either.

Boat Trip

Classic of our times! 11stars
Boat Trip succeeds where countless films have failed in providing insight into the multi-leveled complexity, ambiguity and tension inherent in gay/straight social interactions. Moreover, it brashly implies such interactions should be encouraged and even celebrated.

Boat Trip is both more and less than a sensitive but hilarious portrayal of the gay sex cruise industry. It must be recognized as a clever commentary on the often overlooked fact that gay men and straight men differ in sexual preference but are similar in some other respects.

The subtlety in the pretense of presenting what superficially appears to be a dreadfully juvenile and unfunny film as a means of illuminating the prejudices of the audience is utterly brilliant. So brilliant in fact that many of the more literal minded among us might leave the theater unaware of the profundity of the film and think they just endured one of the worst movies ever produced.

That would be their loss. Approached on a more open-minded level this film will reveal startling truths such as the little recognized tendency for some gay men to behave in an effeminate manner and the even less explored reality that such behavior makes many straight men uncomfortable. Even more revealing is the film's shocking premise that being in the company of gays does not inevitably cause a straight man to desire to perform fellatio. By exploding this myth this film may do more to strengthen the ties between straight and gay men than any development since the advent of unisex hair styling salons.

Most movingly, but with adroitly comedic undertones, this movie boldly suggests that, despite these hidden truths, gay and straight men can co-exist even within the confining environment of a seafaring vessel. Of course, the cruise liner is itself not merely the setting or "environment" in which this cinematic exploration occurs but indeed a metaphor for our ever more crowded society and the ultimate verity that we are all adrift in this mad world together.

The failure of this film to receive its due from critics only shows the dangers of daring to break new ground in Hollywood.

Masked and Anonymous

To comprehend is to compromise
First it must be understood that this "movie" is not intended to be a "movie." M&A is cinematic metaphor intended to illustrate that the pointlessness of human existence is actually just a display of God's irreverent, if cruel, sense of humor. Approached from the perspective that humanity exists solely to amuse a shallow and thoughtless Creator M&A is truly revelatory. The inanity is indeed profound in its meaningfulness.

Think of Sartre collaborating with Sherwood Schwartz to write a script melding classic era Chaplin with Shakespeare's mid-period sonnets acted by a cast of vaudevillians under the influence of absinthe freed from the dictatorial demands of direction. Such is the mystery of inspiration and inspiration is the mystery of fate-- is it not?

Conceited, you say? Perhaps, but a brilliant conceit on a par with the classics of the post-war Armenian Reconciliators. One might quibble with the decision to shoot this film in color when, arguably, it verily screams for monochromatic splendor-- but would that not be our own conceit?

Stars and rating are far too banal a concept for evaluating a work of erudite obliviousness and lucid opaqueness. One must free his soul from his intellect and his intellect from his heart and his heart from his being and his being from his essence to truly appreciate the truest forms of artistic expression. I can but pity those of you incapable of such transcendence.

Scent of a Woman

Masochist's wet dream
Did you ever singe your nose hair just for kicks? If so, this movie provides twice as much pleasure. Why waste time in emergency rooms and incur costly deductibles and co-payments when Scent Of A Woman is available at the local Blockbuster and provides over two hours of sublime pain that seems to drag on even longer than that. Watching Pacino ham his way through a trite tribute to a wretchedly annoying character is more fun than self-mutilation and far less messy.

Only if one perceives this as brilliant self-parody can one not cringe every time Pacino appears on the screen, which thankfully is each and every indescribably revolting scene.

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