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The Twilight Zone: The Grave (1961)
The Limits of Stoic Masculinity
This is one of the few Twilight Zone classics I didn't see as a small child. I only saw it in my early fifties when I got the FAN FAVORITES DVD collection from Target. Even so, at first I found it really hard to get the point. Usually in the Twilight Zone people are punished for what they do, like cruelty or racism or greed. Yet in this story the main character is punished -- this is not a spoiler -- for something he *didn't* do.
Two minutes into the story they say "the whole town" gunned down Pinto Sykes. Yet the only person who seems to get the blame is Connie Miller. Why? Why does everyone shy away from him, treating him in such a way that he's forced to rush towards his uncanny fate?
My theory is that the thing that makes Connie a marked man is not that he wanted to kill Pinto but that he's the only person in town who can't admit he's sorry about what happened. He says he was never "afraid" of Pinto Sykes, but I think there's a sense in which he is afraid. Like, he can't admit he's sad, or that he liked Pinto once, or that Pinto was his friend. Everyone else seems to have been sort of sad about the outlaw's death. They did it, but they can admit they were afraid, as well as sorry for his father and sister. Connie Miller can't show any emotion at all, and I think it's the effort of holding everything in that causes him to fall apart at the end. But that's not a spoiler because the way me meets his fate is most unexpected!
Slow Paced Sequel With Talking Trees
In the first movie, the director runs the material. In the second movie, the material runs the director. Twenty minutes with the talking trees. Twenty minutes that feel like a lifetime. And meanwhile, my man Ugluk gets stiffed. In the book he's got style. An attitude like Paulie Walnuts. Even Grishnakh knows not to push him too far. In the movie, forget it. Stupid dialogue. "Meat's back on the menu, boys!" And Liv Tyler looks bored to death. Which is just how I felt watching the talking trees.
More A Children's Movie Than Dark Science Fiction
You know, it's not really the low budget or the bad acting that ruin this movie for me, it's the fact that it's clearly aimed at children. Aimed at children! Think about Caesar's little boy, and how much of the movie is seen through his eyes. Think about how the gorillas are portrayed as grade school bullies. Think about how the lessons are all the kind of things you might learn from reading The Berenstein Bears. (Planet of the Berenstein Bears?)
But with all that, there are moments in this movie that still get to me. When that little guy falls out of the tree. And the way his father talks to him right before the end. And the way the mutant army shuffles along the road, like the battle is already lost and they've died long ago.
This series didn't end with a bang, really, but it was far from a whimper.
Fascinating Alternative View of Trek
Hated this episode fifty years ago, love it today. As a little kid I was freaked out by the scary silver eyes, but also I didn't like the unfamiliar uniforms and the unfamiliar faces or the way Kirk and Spock barely seem to know each other.
Today all the weak points seem like strong points to me. This is the one episode where Kirk and Spock actually relate like an earth man and an alien, with a wary distrust that gradually changes to grudging respect. I could do without Nimoy's SHOUTING his dialogue, though. "FULL power!"
The fact that the villain is an old friend of Kirk's makes it a lot more powerful, though they repeated this trope a little too often in later episodes. But Gary Lockwood really has a very Kirk like quality, and that strengthens the story as well as adding some unintentional humor. ("I'm not JOKING, Lee!")
But the best thing about this episode by far is Sally Kellerman, at the very height of her beauty, playing a woman who has dignity, integrity, compassion, and empathy -- and who falls head over heels for a man destined to destroy her. It's silly science fiction stuff, but when she cries out "a mutated man could also be a *WONDERFUL* thing" you are seeing right into her heart and soul, seeing how she's fallen and she doesn't even know it.
Oh, and don't forget pretty little Yeoman Smith -- I mean Jones! I really wish she had become a series regular.
Star Trek: The Apple (1967)
Not A Classic, But This IS The Definitive Original Series Episode
This is not the greatest episode of Star Trek, but I like it because it really has most of the classic Star Trek themes and situations. There's a landing party that gets mixed up with natives, and to save his crew Kirk has to take drastic steps to alter the course of their civilization. There's a lot of romance in the air, (though interestingly, no romance for Kirk.) There's plenty of time for Spock and McCoy to debate concepts like free will, change, and material comfort versus freedom. And of course, several red-shirt crew members are killed along the way. There's a big fight and plenty of storms and lightning.
As other reviewers have pointed out, this episode deals in themes that are handled much better in later episodes like "A Private Little War" and "The Paradise Syndrome." But this one is still a lot of fun -- have to love the albino Polynesians learning how to smash melons, and the stunning blonde showing off her long legs in those devastating karate kicks!
Star Trek: A Piece of the Action (1968)
I've Got A Grudge Against These Guys!
I can't say this is the worst Star Trek episode, not when there's stuff around like "The Squire of Gothos," "Shore Leave," and "I Mudd." But it's really bad. And I have a grudge against it that's hard to define.
STAR TREK was a show that dared to dream about the future . . . that dared to imagine an era when man overcame evil, greed, and corruption and set out to discover the galaxy in peace. Well, that's a wonderful vision, a wonderful achievement. But the drawback is that "evil" in these original episodes is either seen as a relic, or a joke. And that sometimes makes Star Trek itself seem shallow. Not often, but certainly this time around. And the irony is that the "evil" of the mob, of organized crime, proved to be a lot more resilient (at least in popular culture) than Star Trek ever suggested!
When this movie aired, mob movies had become a joke, and quality mob shows had disappeared from television. Yet less than five years later, THE GODFATHER began an extraordinary Renaissance for mob drama, a Renaissance that has lasted right down to the present day. In retrospect, playing the mob "for laughs" was tone deaf because there was still a lot more to say about what crime has meant, can mean, and will mean, in America and the world.
"Do I think that organized crime will pack it's bags and go the way of the Dodo?" No, I don't. I think this episode plays for cheap laughs, where a show like THE SOPRANOS provides plenty of laughs and still asks universal and uncomfortable questions about the nature of evil. What I'd really like is to see a piece of full-length fan fiction where James T. Kirk goes head to head with Tony Soprano, not in some campy goof but in deadly seriousness.
Because that's what fan fiction is for!
Mayans M.C.: Cuervo/Tz'ikb'uul (2018)
Solid Season, Spectacular Finale
MAYANS Season One ends on a powerful note, as young Prospect EZ Reyes crosses the line and makes an explosive decision to stand by his brother Angel. Is it the Reyes family against the world -- or just the US Government? One thing is for sure, EZ has come too far now too back out of the Mayans MC. "This is what I earned," he says, pointing to his prospect patch.
Can't wait for him to earn full membership in the MC!!
Mayans M.C.: Cucaracha/K'uruch (2018)
So Many Turning Points In One Mid-Season Episode!
This episode should have been called "Turning Points" or "Crossroads." Amidst all the brawling bikers, bold confrontations, and deadly drug deals, each of the characters has to make a crucial decision about where to go from here.
Aristocratic Miguel Galindo is thrown in jail, and the handsome drug lord has to prove to the dangerous lowlifes in the holding pen that he's not just another an easy mark. It's shocking to see just what he means by giving the other guy "the shirt off his back."
Crazy little Coco has to make a decision about how to deal with his no-good mama. The tough little biker (who wears a Marine rifleman's badge on his jacket) tramples all over Hamlet's warnings about not letting "the soul of Nero" get the best of him. "Now might I drink hot blood, and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on." Except Hamlet just talks about it. Coco does it right in the bath, and makes you want to stand up and cheer!
EZ makes a bold move to draw the heat away from his brothers, even as the men jerking his chain make a decision that may spell death for the handsome prospect. Everyone in and out of the M.C. is forced to take a stand in this episode, and the results range from shocking to heartbreaking.
I only have one more thing to say about Season One of MAYANS:
More! More! More!
Mayans M.C.: Perro/Oc (2018)
Explosive Series Opener Strikes Gold!
I always enjoyed Sons of Anarchy, but this "spin off" series actually improves on the winning formula in a number of ways. The Mayans' story actually has a better mix of the jarring elements that made SOA great. There's plenty of gunfire, fist fights, chase scenes, and the sacred brother hood of proven warriors.
But this time around, the romantic intrigue is woven much better into the plot. The main character, EZ Reyes, has the tough, clean-cut looks of a typical motorcycle gang prospect. But it becomes clear in the riveting pilot episode that he's much more than a young warrior looking to prove himself to his brothers. EZ was once a standout Stanford student -- and he's also done time in prison. EZ was framed and lost everything -- including the love of golden girl Emily, a deeply thoughtful and caring young woman who is now married to a suave, handsome drug lord named Miguel Galindo.
Can EZ earn his patch, bring down Galindo, and win back his golden girl, or all of the above? And can he do it without losing his freedom, his life or his family honor?
All that would be enough, but there's so much more. It would be so easy for drug lord Galindo to be an abusive creep, and for his stunning Anglo wife Emily to be nothing but a weak-willed punching bag. But Danny Pino and Sarah Bolger have an almost magnetic chemistry from the moment they're first introduced. EZ is going to have his hands full breaking up this marriage -- assuming that's really what he wants.
But what does he want? Where do the mysterious meetings fit in? What about those tunnels under the boarder? Who are all those little kids in mouse masks?
MAYANS succeeds at blending so many different classics, everything from THE GODFATHER to BREAKING BAD. And the mood can shift from crime drama to mystery to soap opera to comedy at any time. The cast is brilliant, the scenery is beautiful, and the camerawork never stops catching your eye.
MAYANS is off to a roaring start!
A Cure for Wellness (2016)
Striking and Bizarre, If Not Entirely Successful Horror Movie
The problem with this movie is that it wants to be classic horror, and it references everything from ZARDOZ to YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. But all of the ghoulish stuff is undercut by a lot of unintentional humor (weird looking people giving people weird looks) and shrill preaching about corporate greed that has no real relationship to the mood they're trying to create.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)
Messy, Depressing Film That Goes Nowhere
This is not a movie for children. It drags and drags and is very sad when it isn't boring as hell. It's not a movie for adults, either. None of the characters are real and none of the important issues are ever really resolved.
There's something really funny and yet deeply offensive about the way director Simon Curtis yanks the early part of the film back and forth between World War One "flashbacks" and incredibly stilted scenes from an upper class marriage. The word "perfunctory" comes to mind. Like, I don't know or care what combat is really like, or how men respond to it, but I suppose I must pretend to care, so -- cue the buzzing flies.
And then there's Margot Robbie as Daphne, aka the Ice Queen. Having just seen how phenomenal Margot Robbie can be in Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, I am shocked to see how bad she is without a director to provide guidance or a script that makes sense. Purely as a fashion model she really makes the most of the Twenties couture. She even looks stunning wearing a sleep mask in bed! But as far as making Daphne's cold, spoiled, selfish behavior seem believable, or convincing, well, forget it. This isn't a character, it's a bunch of jagged bits that don't fit together. And it's not Margot's fault!
If you want to see a good movie about World War One, watch ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. If you want to see a good movie about a famous English writer who loves his son, watch MY BOY JACK. If you want to learn about boys being bullied at public schools in England, read "Such, Such Were The Joys" by George Orwell. And if you want to learn more about Winnie the Pooh, read the original book!
This was a terrible, terrible move. But one star for Kelly Macdonald as she is the only actor who understands her character and delivers a completely credible performance.
Enchanting Fairy Tale Set In A Dark and Dirty World
This movie is powerful, and it's got a melancholy feel to it. Yet it's funny and romantic too!
Let me just say that Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have never been better, and that they are both powerful in their dramatic scenes, while in the lighter moments they form an unforgettable comedy duo. Margot Robie is radiant as Sharon Tate. And this is a movie that will leave you feeling good about Hollywood, the movies, and just being alive.
No, there are no spoilers here!
Pretty Flowers, Goofy Looking Monsters, and Chicks With Guns
I was nervous when I sat down to watch this movie last night. As an aging white male, was I ready to see a small band of young, sexy, bad-ass chicks fighting monsters and saving people while the men folk lie around looking weak and scared and confused? Could I handle an action packed adventure epic where tough, competent women pull off what the men folk can't?
But fear not! These chicks are not competent, let alone overpowering. They have no clear-cut mission, they don't work together as a team, and nothing is clearly resolved one way or the other. There's a lot of fuzzy talk as they lazily paddle their canoes, about "we're all searching for something," and "she's a lost child," and "she drinks," and "she's confused about her sexuality," but you'll find you can barely tell the five women apart, anyway.
Then the monsters attack, and it's like, instead of feeling terror you just sit there thinking, "okay, what's next? How about . . . a kangaroo covered with porcupine quills! A raccoon with the wings of a bat? Just how much COOLER can this story get?" And then our super sexy, brave chicks just put their M-16's on full automatic and blast forty or fifty rounds into the creature till it groans and falls over dead. Because women, you know, are more creative and sensitive than men. A male team wouldn't even think to shoot at the beasts, they'd just, I don't know, kill them with their bare hands. Or something. Don't imagine any of this has a point, because it doesn't!
Oh, because the jungle scenes aren't monotonous enough, every fifteen minutes or so we cut away to random scenes of Natalie Portman having sex with different guys. You can actually count every button in Natalie's spine! That's the kind of thing you notice when you're bored, and you'll notice it a lot. If you know what I mean.
So at the end, what did we learn, Charlie Brown? Girl power doesn't save the day. The girls are petulant, whiny, back-stabbing hoes, and they turn on each other within hours. They accomplish nothing, nothing is resolved, and at the end we're right back where we started.
On the plus side, those flower arrangements were really pretty. And there were some amazing glowing lights at the end!
Running from Crazy (2013)
Out Came The Sun Is Much Better
Everyone else is hating on Mariel -- you know, she's blonde, she's pretty, she must die -- but really I thought this documentary was pretty good. You can see how much she loves her daughters, Dree and Langley, and how they're working to build lives of their own outside the Hemingway curse.
What's missing is the wonderful self-knowledge and wry sense of humor Mariel shows as a writer, especially in Out Came the Sun. Read that if you really want to know how Mariel Hemingway looks at life.
Erasing The Beatles From History
Two stars for Lily James because . . . well, Lily James. One star for the odd bit of humor now and then, mostly very cozy British bits like the dad asking for a sandwich or someone stealing someone's crisps.
Other than that, this was a movie that left me feeling like Marlon Brando at the end of Apocalypse Now. The horror . .. the horror!
Please understand, I'm an American male and I've been listening to the Beatles for forty-three years. I remember what it was like when you could only buy their albums on vinyl and in America they were all different. We had Beatles 65 Beatles VI, and not Beatles for Sale. But I remember how good it felt on Sunday mornings at home, listening to songs like "Kansas City" and "Words of Love."
Funny thing is, both those songs are actually not Beatle originals. "Kansas City" was a Little Richard song. Richard was a gay black man from Macon, Georgia. "Words of Love" was written by a Texan named Buddy Holly. The Beatles learned a lot from those guys. Without them the Beatles really would not have existed. Without America the Beatles would not have existed.
Yet in this movie America is bad news, a joke, a put on. And the music of the Beatles is re-invented in a sort of painless virgin-birth that excludes any vision of change, conflict, or rebellion.
God knows the Beatles could be tough on America ("Rocky Raccoon" "Happiness Is A Warm Gun.") But they could also be hard on women. And old people. And England. And, well, everything. It's astonishing how the makers of this film want the Beatles to be remembered -- only the softest, soppiest ballads, and barely a nod to any of the mean, hard-rocking material they did almost as well as the Rolling Stones.
So getting down to the plot, such as it was. It's great fun to see Lily James, who soared playing unforgettable dream girls like Elizabeth Bennett and Natasha Rostov, playing a forgettable girl next door type. She just is so touching in all her scenes, especially when she hears "Yesterday" for the first time. But it's funny because when Jack leaves her to go on his first tour, I really expected him to start singing "If I Needed Someone." Because he's brushing her off for the money, and he's really ice cold about it! "If I had some more time to spend, then I guess I'd be with you my friend . . . if I needed someone!"
See how cold that song is? See how heartless? George Harrison wrote that. See, the Beatles could be cold. The Beatles could be mean. But they could also be brutally honest about their emotions. That's something this movie so does not get. Nor does it wish to!
Now look at the other side of the coin. In the oldest romantic movie cliche, when Jack is gone too long Ellie gets herself another man. Nothing wrong with that, good on her. But it's funny, when Jack sees the other guy I really expected him to get steaming mad and rush out on stage and start singing "I'll Cry Instead" How did John put it? "I've got every reason on earth to be mad, cause I've just lost the only girl I had. If I could see you now, I'd try to make you sad somehow. But I can't so I'll cry instead." See how direct that is? How it's brutally honest and direct and says what the man really feels, without any effort to act like a nice guy or leave everyone smiling? This movie so, so, does not get "I'll Cry Instead."
When I went to the movies yesterday to watch this yesterday, it was a big milestone in my life. All the other people in line were senior citizens, and when I said "one senior" the lad at the counter gave it to me without even asking my age. I felt kind of thrilled, yet sad. But this movie just made me sad. It's sad that the only people who want to see a movie about the Beatles are old people like me. It's even sadder that the vision this movie presents of the Beatles rigorously excludes about sixty percent of who they really were and what they had to say. Maybe it's just as well that young people are staying away in droves!
When I was a kid, forty years ago, there was a cheap made for TV movie in America about the Beatles' rise to fame. I'll never forget the scene at the Cavern Club, where the local kids are screaming and going crazy and the Beatles are about to go onstage for the first time with Ringo Starr as their Drummer. John Lennon is in command, and he looks out at the crowd with a cold, sneering look on his arrogant face. Then he shouts something like, "hello, you horrible lot. Welcome to the fabulous Apollo Theater in Harlem!"
Now what did he mean by that? What point was he trying to make? Figure it out and you'll understand why YESTERDAY is such an empty experience.
Star Trek: A Private Little War (1968)
More Than A Vietnam Allegory -- Coming of Age in a Fallen World
Fifty years ago this was one of my top ten episodes of Star Trek. As a six year old kid I wanted action, fist fights, gunfire, and adventure. I wanted Kirk in action with his fists, fighting the bad guys. I also loved the low-tech feel of the muskets and the powder horns. This episode to me has the perfect balance of action, adventure, romance, and heartbreak.
Now a lot of reviewers judge this episode solely on what it says (or fails to say) about the war in Vietnam. Certainly you can fault Gene Roddenberry for failing to take on the human cost of war -- this isn't Born On The Fourth of July. (Imagine a sequel where the Federation signs a peace treaty with the Klingons, and Kirk finds a wheelchair-bound Tyree in a bar, cursing Kirk for persuading him to enlist!)
But the thing is, this episode may not have the "answer" to what went wrong in Vietnam. But it raises a lot of timeless questions about loss of innocence, the end of childhood, and the price of change. Many, many Star Trek episodes show Kirk running across someone he liked or admired before his five-year mission with the Enterprise. Usually the other person fails Kirk in some way -- they've become corrupt, or crooked, or simply gone insane.
This time around, though, Kirk's friend Tyree is just as pure and just as innocent as Kirk remembered. The two of them were boys, once, hunting and fishing in the wilderness just like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. But now Tyree is a man, and a leader -- like Kirk. And that means he has to change in ways that are genuinely tragic. The arc of Tyree, from helpless and innocent to hardened and ruthless, really mirrors the price Kirk has paid to become a legendary star ship captain. And Kirk's sadness only makes the tragic journey more profound and meaningful.
Tyree is the most likable and sympathetic companion of Kirk's "younger days" that we ever meet in the original series. I would also argue that of all the deadly, seductive women Kirk ever encountered, Nona is the most alluring and the most memorable. She's initially presented as being much more strong-willed and street-smart than her husband, and it's hard not to admire her genuine outrage at the way Kirk puts the Prime Directive above her husband' s survival. ("Then he has the wrong friends -- and I have the wrong husband!") But the way she over-estimates her own charms and fatally under-estimates the brutal cruelty of the villagers makes for some of the most graphic and disturbing violence in the series. And watching Tyree deal with what follows is genuine drama.
Everything is great about this episode -- even the big and furry Mugatu adds just right unintentional comic relief, a touch of campy silliness to offset the genuine sadness and the explosive drama!
The Sopranos: The Happy Wanderer (2000)
Best of Season Two
In my opinion, the best episode of Season Two. The picture of gambling as an addiction is painfully real. The deadly tension between Richie and Chris at the poker game is suspenseful and powerful. Frank Sinatra Jr. is great as a man of enormous dignity who knows the rules.
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
This Movie Is Out of Gas
All through high school, the cool kids laughed at me for listening to the Beach Boys. Guys would come to my house, take girls away from me, and then laughingly ask to see my Beach Boys record collection. And I just took it. Because deep down I knew, the Beach Boys were special. Let the other kids listen to Blondie, and the Bee Gees, and Fleetwood Mac. I was with my boys. That's how loyal I was. So loyal that I read every book ever written about the band. So loyal that I waited years for a chance to watch this movie, certain it would be a classic like Easy Rider or the Wild Bunch.
I figured in the movie Dennis Wilson would play the coolest, toughest guy around, a hippie but with a cowboy's macho code of honor. I figured there'd be a creepy villain, like Charlie Manson, and a dream girl like Sharon Tate, innocent as a lamb with a body like Venus, tied up in a shack somewhere, helpless and afraid. And at the end of the movie Dennis would beat up Charlie Manson and Tex Watson and all those other dead-eyed hippy creeps and make it to the shack just in time in a bitching hot rod and save Sharon just in time.
But you know what actually happens in this movie? Nothing! Nothing actually happens in this movie. And boy, does it happen a lot. Warren Oates squeals "I'm not into that" when some guy puts a hand on his leg. James Taylor drives around looking for a parking space. The Doors sing "Moonlight Mile" while our heroes cruise past endless cars outside a diner. Dennis Wilson doesn't save anyone. He doesn't teach anyone how to be cool or stand up to other kids. He doesn't even smile!
I got more fun out of listening to "Heroes and Villains" in the car on the way to work this morning than I did watching this piece of crap. No wonder Charlie Manson figured Dennis Wilson for an easy mark!
And Now, A Word From Lady Lazarus
You know what I love about Hell? Arm-wrestling Ernest Hemingway. Playing "Go" with Yukio Mishima. You know what I hate about Hell? Watching movies about me, or more specifically, watching myself being portrayed by a fake-ass blonde Beverly Hills mannequin with a phony British accent. (New England girl here, folks. Born in Boston!)
May the Bull of Bendylaw trample your fake vegan-ass right into the sea!
The Chicken Chronicles (1977)
Paging Frank Dracman! Mr. Frank Dracman!
Saw this movie on HBO at the age of fourteen, almost right after it came out. Even at that age I could tell it was a real stinker, a lame attempt at a sexy teen comedy that was neither funny nor sexy.
Yet there was one part that always stuck with me. The lame hero's brother gets in an accident during some prank and lands in the hospital. The hero knows to look for him under the name "Frank Dracman," because his little brother's three greatest heroes are Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. That moment really rang true for me because at the time I was exactly that kind of kid, reading nothing but magazines like EERIE and CREEPY and watching Universal horror on late night TV.
If that was the high point of this movie . . . well, you figure it out.
Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow (1968)
Deeply Romantic, Dream Like, And Sensual
I saw many of the original series episodes when they came out in 1968 and 1969 -- but I was only six years old at the time! At that point I only liked the episodes where Kirk got into a lot of fistfights and fired his phaser. And especially the episodes where the Enterprise fired all its phasers at another ship!
Fifty years later . . .
This episode, which I hardly noticed as a little kid, is now a favorite. It's haunting, tragic, deeply romantic, dream like, and sensual. The idea that god like aliens long to be human, to have all the feelings and emotions we take for granted, is deeply inspiring. It's all the more poignant because they speak to us in the voices of people we already love, like Kirk and Spock and the incomparably lovely Ann Mulhall. I loved how the "temptation" of Thelessa was so Biblical, with the suave Henoch in the role of the serpent.
People joke about the plot, but from an acting perspective it must have been so liberating for William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy to take on these "dual" roles as aliens inhabiting the bodies of Kirk and Spock. Shatner gets to play a man who is quite different from James T. Kirk. Sargon is a great leader, a hero, but he's no playboy. He's dignified and caring and his scenes with his lost love are unbelievably touching. And for Nimoy to be able to step out from behind Spocks' shadow and play a truly Satanic villain must have been a real thrill. I think Henoch is one of the best Original Series villains and I think Leonard Nimoy deserves a lot of credit for bringing him to life!
Private joke: when Sargon talks about spending thousands of years searching the universe for passing ships to help, he says something like, "Always waiting, always probing, probing, waiting, probing." I wanted him to go the full Buddy Holly and say he was "crying, waiting, hoping" instead!
Vikings: Blood Eagle (2014)
Good Evening, and Welcome to the Northman's Hour. Tonight Ragnar's special guest is Jarl Borg!
"Good Evening, and Welcome to the Viking's Hour. Tonight Ragnar's special guest is Jarl Borg!"
Okay, that's a quote from DRIVE IN, a really cheesy Seventies comedy. The Texas hoods start their Drive In Rumble by announcing it like a daytime talk show. But it really describes this episode of VIKINGS as well. Basically it's just a snuff flick, where chump of the week Jarl Borg (a dead ringer for Beach Boys' singer Mike Love, by the way) makes one mistake after another and then literally staggers into a finale worthy of a cheap slasher movie.
Which is not to say that VIKINGS isn't a classic show or that this episode isn't gripping in parts. Watch the way the whole cast reacts to the blood and guts finale. It's almost dreamlike! But still, Enoch and the Widow Makers would have loved this.
The Departed (2006)
Nobody But Me!
Martin Scorsese is more sentimental about the mob than Margaret Mitchell ever was about the Ku Klux Klan. On the other hand, where else can you see Leonardo DiCaprio looking sexy and beating up on a helpless storekeeper while dancing to the sounds of "Nobody But Me" by the Human Beinz?
Eat your heart out, Malcolm McDowell!
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Maybe We All Look The Same -- But We Ain't The Same!
New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen once wrote that enlisting in the military was nothing but "a great American post-adolescence for some young men and women not smart, not rich, not directed enough for college."
This movie tells the story of those people. The unlucky ones who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. These are the people who don't matter. The people a modern feminist can safely dismiss with smug contempt. In the name of love and peace!
And do you know why Anna Quindlen hates us so much? Because she wants to be proper. She wants a proper home and a proper position with a proper husband who can give her proper children. And she's never going to apologize for any of her ignorance, cruelty or hypocrisy because having a college degree means . . . well, it means she's proper. And when you're proper your safe.
One final thought from Anna Quindlen. "We have become more complicated than the scripts of old movies." Baby, nothing you've ever felt, written, or thought is as complicated as this movie.
1st Radio Battalion 1987-1992
The Social Network (2010)
He's More Fred C. Dobbs or Charlie Kane than Daniel LaRusso!
Absolutely brilliant, and very hard to define. Is it a drama? A satire? A coming of age story?
I went to Columbia University in the Reagan Eighties, and I hated every minute of it. This movie captures the environment perfectly -- spoiled rich kids, binge-drinking, callous administrators, self-impressed instructors, hatefulness and evil triumphing over ideals and hope. Man, I hated Columbia. And I loved this movie for explaining why.
Yet at the same time I hated this movie, because it's so craven and so desperate to uphold the status quo. In terms of tone it's really not so much a modern KARATE KID as it is a mash-up of CITIZEN KANE and TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.
Except that John Huston treats his bums with a lot more compassion than this movie treats its heroes.