"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, September 25, 2010

SNMR 8.25: "Crocodile Dundee"

GREEN'S "THAT'S NOT A KNIFE..." REVIEW:

New York City newspaper reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) is in Australia covering a story for the newspaper but right before she is supposed to leave for home asks her editor (Mark Blum) if she can stay a bit longer and do a story on a local guy who was attacked by a crocodile.
Charlton then meets Walt (John Meillon) tour guide partner of the locally infamous Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee (Paul Hogan) and is introduced to life down under in the outback town called Walkabout Creek. After a few days Charlton asks Dundee if he'd like to experience New York City at her paper's expense so she can continue writing her stories. Reluctantly he agrees and the hilarity begins as small town Dundee visits his first city of any size. Is New York big enough to handle him?

Twenty-four years ago tomorrow, "Crocodile" Dundee was introduced to American film audiences. This was also the introduction of Paul Hogan to Hollywood, instead of just being the charming pitchman for Australian tourism. This movie is also the film debut of Linda Kozlowski but you'd never know it by her performance. Not unusually, a real life romance between co-stars followed. What is unusual is that Hogan and Kozlowski celebrated 20 years of marriage in 2010.

Director Peter Faiman does a remarkably good job with this film, one of his few feature directorial credits. The story was developed by Hogan and he co-wrote the screenplay with two others. It's a good story with plenty of laugh lines especially as Hogan's character slowly gets used to city life. However, what makes the story work better is the obvious on-screen chemistry between Hogan & Kozlowski.

This was one of those movies that came out in theaters when I worked at the cinema in the town I grew up in. Because of this, there are scenes in the film that I've seen hundreds of times. My favorites are near the beginning, the scene with the bull in the road and at the very end in the crowded subway station. Both still crack me up.

The DVD release has zero special features. For the twenty fifth anniversary edition, I would like to see a re-release of the DVD with the cast and crew looking back on the experience of making the film.


**** out of *****

Crocodile Dundee (1986, PG-13, 97 minutes), starring Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Blum, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil and John Meillon. Story by Paul Hogan. Screenplay by Paul Hogan, John Cornell and Ken Shadie. Directed by Peter Faiman.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumnal Equinox & full Harvest Moon

Today, officially, autumn begins at 11:09 PM EDT (23:09). Not that I'll be able to tell from where I am living at the moment.

According to the online version of the Old Farmers' Almanac, "the autumnal equinox is defined as the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth's equator projected out onto the sphere. Another definition of fall is nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The word equinox means "equal night"; night and day are the same length of time. The spring equinox is in late March. In addition to the equal hours of daylight and darkness, the equinoxes are times when the Sun's apparent motion undergoes the most rapid change. Around the time of the equinoxes, variations in the position on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets can be noticed from one day to the next by alert observers."

Tomorrow is the full moon known as the Harvest Moon. Hopefully I'll be able to see it without any cloud cover.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

SNMR 8.24: "Better Off Dead"

GREEN'S "HAVE YOU ANY IDEA WHAT THE STREET VALUE OF THIS MOUNTAIN IS?" REVIEW:

High school senior Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is contemplating suicide because his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss) has just dumped him in favor of the snobby ski team captain Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier in his only screen appearance). Lane's next door neighbor Ricky (Dan Schneider) and his obnoxious mother (Laura Waterbury) have taken in Monique (Diane Franklin), a beautiful French foreign exchange student who claims not to speak any English and whose lifelong dream is to see Dodger Stadium. Lane is also taunted by a goofy family, a neurotic paperboy and a pair of drag race loving Japanese brothers...

I'm still cracking up just thinking about scenes from this movie - and I've seen in about a gazillion times.

Writer/director "Savage" Steve Holland's screenwriting and directorial debut no doubt was a box office failure, grossing just over $10 million in its short lived US theatrical release, according to boxofficemojo.com. Over the years this film has become a cult classic and leaves a far greater legacy than box office dollars ~ especially for those of us who were high school age at the time of the film's release almost twenty-five years ago.

Holland's incredibly witty script has a host of quotable lines, memorable scenes and just as many wonderfully quirky and lovable characters, played beautifully by a mostly unknown character actor cast, except for David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H's incorrigible Major Charles Winchester.) Looking back, except for Stiers, star in the making John Cusack is really the only actor who has had a notable film career since.

The screenplay takes a page from John Hughes many high school age teen angst movies also made in the 1980's. He hits all the big teen issues: relationship problems and triumphs, a weird and wacky family, goofy best friends and hated rivals, your first car, and your first (unwanted) job.

I clearly remember pitching this movie to a friend of mine in college who had never heard of it. After seeing it told me that he was in hysterics while watching and couldn't believe he missed this.

What is sorely needed to do this film justice is a nice two disc DVD release with some retrospective interviews from cast and crew. The current DVD release has no special features at all, unless you count English subtitles as such.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while or happen to be among those who aren't familiar with it, you're seriously missing out on the fun.



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

Better Off Dead (1985, PG, 97 minutes), starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Diane Franklin, Curtis Armstrong, Amanda Wyss, Kim Darby, Dan Schneider and Aaron Dozier. Written and Directed by "Savage" Steve Holland.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

SNMR 8.23: "The Gift"

GREEN'S "MESSING WITH THE DEVIL IS GONNA GET YOU BURNED" REVIEW:

In a small southern town, Annie Wilson, a widow (Cate Blanchett) struggles to raise her three small sons, using her psychic abilities and a poor man's deck of tarot cards to help her friends and people who come to her. Some of those clients are everyday townsfolk, like Buddy (Giovanni Ribisi) the mechanic and Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank), the abused wife of Donnie (Keanu Reeves), the town bully. When a young socialite woman (Katie Holmes), the fiancee of the school principal (Greg Kinnear), turns up missing, the police chief (JK Simmons) reluctantly asks Annie for help. But how much does she see and know?

I bought this DVD a while ago because of the merits of the starring cast, not really knowing what to expect or what the movie was about, except that films Cate Blanchett are in are usually pretty darn good. Surprisingly, I liked this film better than I thought I would.

Simply, Cate Blanchett is amazing, with her southern accent and the way she looks so...plain and ordinary. She is clearly one of the top five actresses Hollywood has seen in the last fifty years. The supporting cast is also excellent. Keanu Reeves who I usually recall playing likable characters in his films is surprisingly good being bad. Giovanni Ribisi continues to prove versatile in the roles he plays and he does do a good job playing one who is a little loose upstairs. Greg Kinnear has never been one of my favorite actors but always seems to turn in a solid performance. I'm not sold as much on Katie Holmes and think you could have cast a number of other actresses in her part and wouldn't have missed a beat. And you can't even blame her casting on the fame of being Mrs. Tom Cruise because this film was five years in the can before that happened.

I was surprised to find out that Billy Bob Thornton was co-writer (along with Tom Epperson) of the screenplay. His writing skills, in my opinion, are questionable at best. That being said, the screenplay is decently workable. There was only one scene near the end that was missing that I thought would have closed the film nicely. If you've seen this movie you might understand what I'm thinking of but I'm not going to say in case you haven't watched this movie.

This is the project that director Sam Raimi worked on before turning his attention to the excellently done Peter Parker trilogy known as the Spiderman franchise. So you could legitimately say that Raimi, despite several credits on his resume, was still a relatively unheralded director at this time. What he was able to do here is take a decent script and guide it along to a better than average end result.

The main DVD extra is a short interview session with the actors and director which was good but could have been longer.

I don't put any stock into the whole psychic, tarot card reading thing, so it is a credit to this film that someone like me would enjoy it as much as I did.


***½ out of *****

The Gift (2000, R, 111 minutes), starring Cate Blanchett, Giovani Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Greg Kinnear and JK Simmons. Written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. Directed by Sam Raimi.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

SNMR 8.22: "The Other Boleyn Girl"

GREEN'S BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR REVIEW:

This movie is a period piece taking place in 16th century England that tells the story of the two Boleyn sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) and their dalliances with a certain King of England, Henry VIII (Eric Bana) and all of the familial and court intrigue that surrounds the British nobility.

Holy Cow!! What a dysfunctional family the 16th century English royal family was! Even the nobility was screwed up! Dysfunctional, screwy or both but still sickeningly and extremely fascinating.

I first borrowed this DVD from the library earlier this year and meant to review it then. But then something weird happened. When I returned some other DVD's, the library accidentally noted that I had returned this one as well when I had not. So it sat on my shelf for months while I signed out & returned other DVD's. Then at the end of May, I had to return it - still unwatched - to the library. Then I saw it at the store where I buy the majority of my DVD's and broke down and bought it, primarily because a) I hadn't watched it even after holding on to it for so long, and b) because of the two phenomenal female lead actresses. It didn't hurt that I have some interest in that period of English history.

As far as historical dramas go, you can't get much better than this. As I watched the film, I wondered how far from the actual written history the novel/screenplay went for dramatic effect. Apparently not far, as the novel's author, Philippa Gregory, admits to doing extensive research on the period and characters in one of the DVD extras. I also thought that at one time or another during the film either Anne or Mary could be considered 'the other Boleyn girl' and in fact are as confirmed by the screenwriter, Peter Morgan, also in a DVD extra. I think it would be fascinating to read the 600+ page novel and compare it to the movie, a roughly 120 page screenplay. I felt better about the movie after hearing Gregory praise the work that Morgan did in capturing the essence of the novel for the screen.

I had never heard of Justin Chadwick or what other films he may have directed and, as it turns out, rightly so. This appears to be his first big screen directorial effort amongst a resume of television show directing gigs. In other words, Chadwick did a good job with such a lavish production as this and has potential for other directing gigs.

The DVD extras include a short court biography of the historical figures portrayed in the film along with what it must have been like to be a lady in 16th century England and a short bit on bringing history to the screen.

This is an all around good movie and is worth your while to rent or own.


**** out of *****

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008, PG-13, 115 minutes), starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance and David Morrissey. Based on the novel by Philippa Gregory. Screenplay by Peter Morgan. Directed by Justin Chadwick.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Date in History

One notable event caught my eye.

Twenty-five years ago today, Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - and his joint U.S. & French crew discovered the wreckage site of the RMS Titanic, 73+ years after it sank in the north Atlantic Ocean, on April 12, 1912.

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