"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, July 31, 2010

SNMR 8.17: "A League of Their Own"


It is 1943 and World War II is taking it's toll in the United States. With many of baseball's best players enlisting in the armed forces, the war is threatening to shut down the game for the duration of the war. Unless women could play baseball... Hmmmm, hey that's a great idea!!

Enter sisters Dottie Hindson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty), two Oregon farm girls recruited by scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) to play in a six team all girls league based near Chicago. Joining them are "All the Way" May Mordabito (Madonna) and Doris Murphy (Rosie O'Donnell in her movie debut). These four girls join the Rockford Peaches, managed by ex-alcoholic major leaguer Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).

To me, this movie is a classic, one that can be watched over many times. It is a tribute to the AAGPBL (All American Girls Professional Baseball League) which operated from 1943-1954. There are many great liners in this movie, a witty script despite a very predictable story, adapted excellently by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Director Penny Marshall, of Laverne & Shirley fame, reunites with Tom Hanks and the guy who played Squiggy (David L. Lander) as the (uncredited) radio announcer guy. Marshall does a good job keeping the story interesting, despite the story limitations.

The cast is fantastic. Tom Hanks is good in virtually every role he plays. I can't think of a better actress to have played Dottie Hinson than Geena Davis, even though she was not the first choice for the role. This was the signature role of Lori Petty's career. According to IMDb, Madonna, who was being a primadonna, didn't have fun filming this movie, having to learn to play baseball and filming in Chicago. Bill Pullman and David Straithairn are also good in their small roles. Even those actresses whom you may not have heard of are great in their complimentary ballplayer roles.

This is a feel good movie that even the non-sports fan should like.

The version I watched was the basic DVD, containing no extras whatsoever. I'll be looking to upgrade my copy when the budget allows.

****½ out of *****

A League of Their Own (1992, PG, 128 minutes), starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and David Strathairn. Written by Kim wilson and Kelly Candaele. Screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Directed by Penny Marshall.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Brother 12 tonight.

So far Annie and Monet have been evicted this season.

Matt is the HOH this week and has nominated Kathy and Andrew for eviction. I don't know what he's thinking this week. These two haven't done anything to him that I can see, so why put anyone up who is no threat? Even though he said that he wouldn't, I'd have put up Brendon and Rachel.

I will not be swayed. Kristen is definitely the hottest chick on the show this season. I'm a little repulsed that she has developed a romantic interest in Hayden, who I think is a punk but looks like the all-American boy.

I'm trying so hard to stay away from the spoiler web sites because I really don't need to spend more time on BB than the three weekly shows. I had the feeds for a bit at the end of last season and they were interesting but have the potential for way too much time consumption.

Oh, well. Let's see what happens on Wednesday night with the PoV competition.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

SNMR 8.16: "Wedding Crashers"


Longtime friends John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) have regular jobs as mediators in disputes such as divorce cases. In their spare time, these two seemingly normal guys love to crash weddings and wedding parties to meet girls & have sex. Not only are they good at it but have developed a list of "rules" that they use. The real challenge comes when they crash the wedding of the daughter of the US Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Cleary (Christopher Walken) and his wife (Jane Seymour). Unexpectedly, John & Jeremy each fall for another of the Secretary's daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher).

Believe it or not, I had never seen this movie before I watched it for this review. I had bought the DVD a while ago at a store I shop at frequently. I had heard about it before and bought it because I think Vince Vaughn is a funny guy and have enjoyed his other movies.

What I didn't realize then was that this movie has such a great supporting cast behind VV and Owen Wilson. I'm not a huge Owen Wilson fan but he definitely fits in playing a great straight man to VV's over the top acting. Rachel McAdams is a fantastic actress with great range. Isla Fisher has been adorable in every movie I've seen of hers. I was surprised to see Bradley Cooper in this movie. He was good as the "I'm better than you" boyfriend. Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour are just great.

I haven't seen either of the other big screen movies that David Dobkin has directed but he does a good job here of managing talent and keeping the story crisp. The screenplay by Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, two writers who I'd never heard of before, is excellent, though does get a bit predictable at times.

I watched the "uncorked" version of the movie, which adds 8½ minutes of footage to the theatrical release version. I like the fact that the theatrical version and the "uncorked" version were included on the DVD. The extra behind-the-scenes features and deleted scenes were good. Just the stuff I like. I also enjoyed reading the twenty-four still screens of the wedding crasher "rules."

Hysterical film. There were times that I was laughing so hard that I couldn't breathe and got all watery-eyed. It's well worth the $5 I paid..

***½ out of *****

Wedding Crashers (2005, R, 120 minutes), starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Christopher Walken, Bradley Cooper and Jane Seymour. Written by Steve Faber and Bob Fisher. Directed by David Dobkin.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

SNMR 8.15: "The Invention of Lying"


What would the world be like if no one knew how to tell a lie or even what a lie was? That's the world that Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) lives in. It's also a world where people are brutally honest about everything and where the world of movies and television show nothing but documentaries and bland commercials.

What do you do when you're also an unsuccessful, dumpy looking documentary screenwriter about to get fired, evicted and go on a date with Anna (Jennifer Garner)a woman on whom you've had a crush since before you can remember but who is totally out of your league - how do you change your life? What would you change if you could?

In a desperate situation, Mark comes up with the world's first lie and uses it to change the course of his life, but will he change it for the better?

There are many reasons why I liked this movie. First of all, the concept for the film is absolutely brilliant and as far as I can tell, totally original. Writers Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson have come up with a script that is nearly perfect.

Second, I've been a fan of Jennifer Garner for nearly ten years, as those of you who are regular readers here know.

Third, the movie is filmed in Massachusetts, mainly Lowell and Sudbury (near the end), in areas that I grew up near and have a level of familiarity with. And finally, the last part of the movie was filmed in the chapel where I got married once upon a lifetime ago (and is Jennifer Garner's second movie using that location.)

If those aren't enough reasons, the casting is excellent, from the main actors down through the cast. Each actor does a great job of deadpanning their individual performances.

Gervais and Robinson have no previous feature film directing credit. This is the first credit of any kind for Robinson, Gervais does have some experience directing television shows, which to an extent serves him well here. Because the writer/director tandem are the same, they know their material well and know what they are looking for and get the most out of their actors. I thought the cameos by Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Philip Seymour Hoffman were excellent.

The DVD extras were good, overall. The 'making of' featurette was well done as were the included outtakes & additional scenes. I thought the Prequel featurette was dumb and overdone and the bit about Karl Pilkington was a waste of disc space.

This was a movie that I wanted to see in its theatrical run but never got around to. I think this movie was a worthwhile addition to my DVD library and is definitely worth your time as a rental.

**** out of *****

The Invention of Lying (2009, PG-13, 99 minutes), starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Louis C.K., Jonah Hill and Rob Lowe. Written and Directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

SNMR 8.14: "The Lost World" (1960)


Professor George Edward Challenger (Claude Rains), an eccentric scientist, returns from the Amazon claiming the existence of an Amazonian plateau where dinosaurs still roam the earth. To prove that he's not lying, an expedition is organized to assess the validity of Challenger's claim. Consisting of a fellow scientist, a playboy-adventurer (Michael Rennie), a journalist (David Hedison), a beautiful socialite (Jill St. John) and a pilot (Fernando Lamas). Oh, can't forget the whiney yet ultimately sacrificial Mexican servant! An unexpected attack on their camp (by the dinosaurs we assume...) destroys their helicopter, leaving the group stranded in the prehistoric jungle where humans can be had for dinner.

This film was released 50 years ago this week (July 13, 1960). I had never seen it before but borrowed it from the library because of the interesting DVD cover art and becasue of the great Claude Rains, who starred in some of my favorite classic films.

I really am not familiar with any of the other actors in the cast. Michael Rennie nine years earlier starred in The Day the Earth Stood Still and Jill St. John, who serves no purpose in the film except to add a female presence to the cast, would gain fame eleven years after this film as the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. St. John and Vitina Marcus, the relatively silent 'native girl' provide good 1960's era eye candy.

However, this movie is cheese pure and simple. In this case that's not necessarily a good thing. The acting, like many movies of the 1960s, is flat and uninspiring. This may be Claude Rains' worst film in a long and excellent career.

I was also expecting to see some really cool 1960s era special effects dinosaurs, but instead got modern, prosthetically enhanced, super-sized, probably non-meat eating, lizards posing as the ferocious dinos. The ending is dumb. It's as if the writers forgot one major plot point and decided to go have a beer at the pub instead.

The screnplay is based on the novel by the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a remake of the 1925, pre King Kong, silent film. Because of the reputation of the source material's author, I had high hopes for this movie. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

The two disc DVD set comes with the 1960 color version and the 1925 silent film. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to watch the earlier version, so I may have to borrow this DVD again in order to remedy that.

*¾ out of *****

The Lost World (1960, NR, 97 minutes), starring Michael Rennie, Jill St. John, David Hedison, Claude Rains, Fernando Lamas, Richard Haydn and Vitina Marcus. Based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Screenplay by Irwin Allen and Charles Bennett. Directed by Irwin Allen.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

A new season of Big Brother starts tonight

A new season of Big Brother begins tonight on CBS, bringing thirteen strangers under one roof for three months, competing for $500,000. The show will once again be hosted by Julie Chen and will run three times a week, on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday at 20:00 EDT.

Occasionally I will provide my thoughts on the show, who I like, who I don't and who I think will be evicted from week to week. There are many Big Brother spoiler web sites online, if you want to know what is going on inside the house on a daily basis.

21:15 ~ Tonight's first episode was interesting, with the revelation that there is a saboteur in the house. A house guest who will disrupt everything and everyone. Who, if he/she lasts five weeks will win $50,000. The home crowd will find out who it is next Thursday, on the night of the first eviction.

As far as my favorite house guests so far, I like Kristen because she's the hottest woman this season and Annie, because she's from Tampa. I'm not sold on Rachel, because she's got an annoying laugh. Of the guys, I have no preference yet. Enzo is reminding me of my first impression of Russell last year.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

SNMR 8.13: "Back to the Future"


Yes, that's right. This movie was released twenty-five years ago today. Hard to believe for some of us. That's why I've decided to review this movie today of all days.

The film is about Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his accidental adventure back to 1955, after his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) gets shot by Libyan terrorists. Marty is chased by the terrorists and escapes in the time machine that the Doc made out of a DeLorean, which was programmed during the demonstration to go back to November 5, 1955, the day the doc discovers time travel.

When Marty finally realizes what has happened, he goes looking for the only person in 1955 who can help him - and coincidentally runs into both of his future parents (Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover) - interfering with their first meeting and subsequent relationship. While Marty has to fix this problem, it's up to the Doc to figure out how to get Marty back to 1985.

I still love movies that have to do with time travel and this is one of those benchmark movies that explores the possibility of time travel to some degree. At the same time, the movie only uses time travel as a device to get the main character back to when his parents were his age. I had just turned sixteen when this movie was released and I found it interesting that I was around the same age as the characters in the film.

Michael J. Fox may have established himself as a bonafide television star as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, which was on-air in the mid 1980's, but this movie made him a star on the big screen as well. It is interesting to note, from the extras on the DVD, that for a time Fox was filming his television series and this movie simultaneously, getting one or two hours of sleep a night. This lack of sleep, oddly enough I think, enhanced Fox's performance in the movie.

The script is superbly written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Act One of the story introduces us to elements in the story and effectively foreshadows events that will become important later in the story, based on these seemingly trivial opening scenes. Zemeckis does a wonderful job directing, getting strong performances from his young and relatively unknown cast.

Both the sets and the score are also brilliantly done. The sets provide, what seems to me as a realistic look back at small town American life in the mid 1950's contrasted with the same setting thirty years later. The score carries you emotionally through the film right from the get-go and is exciting and upbeat throughout. Huey Lewis and the News, one of my favorite 1980's bands, add to the film's soundtrack with two songs that still get radio airplay today. Look for Huey Lewis in a cameo role near the beginnig of the movie.

The extras on the DVD I watched were very well done, blending interviews done in 2002 with archival interviews and footage shot during filming in 1984.

You can tell a classic film that, even after multiple repeated viewings, remains fresh and doesn't get old and tired. Take a look back and revisit one of the defining and most endearing movies of the 1980's. Rent it if you haven't watched it in a while but own it if you can.

***** out of *****

Back to the Future (1985, PG, 116 minutes), starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Marc McClure and Wendy Jo Sperber. Written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.