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Mike Hammer (1958)
great show, but often not New York City
I really like the show and the virile "manliness" and cool humor exhibited by Darren Gavin. I'm sorry he has passed on. Some feminists might find the humor demeaning, but we have to remember it was mid-60s. My only criticism is that it was mainly filmed in Hollywood except for a very few exterior shots of New York. It is very Californiaish, particularly in some outdoors shots which are definitely not New York countryside. That's a failing if you really want authenticity about a New York detective, particularly when you compare it to "Naked City" which was filmed on the streets of the city. Luckily some of the episodes are now on DVD. (I wish there would be more of these classic series on TV.)
Naked City (1958)
Grab these DVDs if you can find them
This is the best of the realistic cop shows of the late 50's and 60's. Heart-wrenching episodes. Many of these episodes featured the debutes of bit actors who were later to become stars on TV and in the movies...you name 'em, they first appeared in Naked City. The two DVD's that are out (hopefully every one of the three years of the award-winning series will be released in the future) feature Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Sylvia Sidney, Walter Matthau, Eli Wallach, George Marahis and Lois Nettleton. Each of the one-hour episodes (four per DVD) are unforgettable. You'll also love the main characters, Paul Burke and Nancy Malone. If you think NYPD Blue and other dramas are good, you are in for a treat, as this series beats them all. Of course the main star is New York City in the late 1950's-early 60's. Gritty, smoggy, black and white, and absolutely gorgeous. Don't miss these DVD's if you believe in realistic drama and incredible performances by all the actors. (OK, and I don't even do PR for them...so trust me..this series is super!)
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Bjork is incredible in horribly sad/inspiring movie.
(Spoilers below) One of the most unusual and compelling movies I've ever seen over 50 years of movie watching. Never knew much about Bjork but after this movie I want to know more and hope she acts in many more movies. I had wondered about the song she sang at this year's Oscars and really thought her an ugly duckling and not the swan she was/is. Now I know and can appreciate the song...and her. An incredible performance in this movie which enlightened my spirit but was tough going as I watched the meek and continually smiling and trusting Bjork character slowly be destroyed by a promise she made to a "friend", that "friend," her unfailing love for her child, and the system. The movie is a great argument against capital punishment. The last scene was hard to survive as a viewer.
Eu Tu Eles (2000)
Enthralling and heart-warming, rent it ASAP!
While some have commented that Regina Case, the female lead, is ugly, that is not remotely so because of an inner (and very natural) radiance, happiness and joy that Regina projects in a fine performance that warms the heart and lifts the spirits. It, along with spectacular photography, other simple but very "real" performances, and a joyous soundtrack easily lifts the movie to a "10" rating. That such a liberated and brilliant movie should come out of Roman Catholic Brazil is surprising -- a woman who manages to satisfy three husbands with only a little "condemnation" registered by others. The movie also gives us a glimpse into how life somehow happily goes on in an unimaginably harsh environment. It makes for an engrossing and rewarding, yet very understated movie. No Hollywood bells and whistles here, thank goodness. It is real.
Cookie's Fortune (1999)
Land sakes, Robert Altman, this is an awful mess, you hear?
Cookie's Fortune is bad luck for anyone attempting to watch it. This is a cloying and boring seemingly endless movie with overdone Southern accents, hideous overacting, stale jokes, trite twangy slide-guitar music that is more annoying even than a hungry Southern mosquito, and a silly contrived script which at best could have been played out in 30 minutes but goes on and on and on and on for almost two plodding hours. With so much stale air pumped into it to extend its viewing time, it's the kind of movie you want to fast-forward through to the end, but then find the end, if there IS one, is confusing. Glenn Close in particular turns in an annoyingly overwrought performance as a Southern crazie -- she appears to have recreated the worst aspects of her earlier role as Norma Desmond and transposed it to the South. It is good to see Patricia Neal again, but her role as an eccentric old woman is just too cute and unrealistic. If you are a masochist with time on your hands who needs to suffer, rent this bit of tired Southern hogwash.
Left Behind (2000)
Absolutely awful....read your Bible instead.
This movie which was released directly on video should carry a warning label that it is dangerous to human health and may subject the viewer to terminal boredom. It is yet another thinly veiled, evangalizing "rapture" religious movie with the good guys (the believers) suddenly vanishing and the bad guys (the non-believers)left behind. It's an interesting concept, especially since we see it happen on a flight captained by a non-believer who is having a sinful affair with a stewardess aboard (needless to say that sinner doesn't disappear either!). Unhappily, with all the pilots being non-believers, the plane did not crash or the movie would have been mercifully over. Though this could have be interesting without the heavy religious browbeating, as a whole the plodding movie makes one gag, the acting is horrible and the obviously computer-generated simulations are very fake looking. Plus it's yet another movie shot in Canada that purports to be New York City. Spare me...I'll just read the Bible.