Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
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I was actually acquainted with Margaret and Walter Keane at the height of their fame in 1963, when their daughter was a school friend and we were often in their home. I was naturally looking forward to this movie, and though there is much to be admired, there is so much more that is missing. The flaw begins with the writing and acting of the two principals, who have been drained of their interest and eccentricities. Margaret in reality is a lovely, fragile woman, given to magical thinking and was something of a "flower child" before the term was coined. As played by Amy Adams, however, she is a blank-faced cypher, dutifully painting waifs under her husband's tyrannical direction. No hint is given as to the haunted woman within, who is compelled to paint this same sad-eyed face, over and over and over again in various costumes and settings. Likewise, Christopher Waltz plays Walter as a loud-mouthed, self-promoting buffoon, giving a sort of Dick Van Dyke performance throughout. In reality, though Keane was smarmy and abrasive. Only one scary scene hints at the horrors of that household. (After a dinner party now-famous among my friends, our car stalled in the Keane driveway and we overheard a fight more horrific than anything in the movie.) An attempt is made to turn Margaret into a feminist hero when she at last stands up forself, but even that is passive. The Keane fad was strange, sudden, everywhere at once, and this film also fails to capture that Finally, the most famous scene in their story was the court trial where they were both directed by a judge to produce a Keane painting to determine which of them was the true artist. Too much this is taken up with Christopher Waltz doing a comic routine playing his own defense lawyer. As it turs out, the most dramatic moment of their lives appears to have been Margaret passively painting yet another sad eyed waif
This just isn't very good. A few film clips interrupted by period songs and Sharon Stone in various glamorous outfits give us the barest outline of Harlow's career. Any Hollywood film buff already knows her story, and there is not enough here to interest newcomers. Sharon Stone was obviously chosen to host because she was at the peak of her own career as the then-current "blonde bombshell", which did not necessarily make her a qualified narrator of Hollywood history.
This is a strange, sad movie, notable mostly for its historical significance. Poorly filmed and recorded, the all-Black cast enacts a sort of religious allegory featuring a woman of sin and fantasy sequences featuring such things as poorly-costumed angels and the figure of a plastic Jesus speaking from the cross. It's jumbled and incoherent, and there is much gospel singing that comes and goes without purpose. This film has been praised for accurately capturing the rituals of Southern Black religious services, so there's that. It depressed me because it came from Hollywood's golden age. and yet looks impoverished and cheap, demonstrating once again how little Black filmmakers had to work with at the time.
I thought this was a juvenile farce. Destroying the food and ripping up the decorations at a pretentious wedding is a child's fantasy. For the young at brain.
This is awful, predictable and illogical at every point. The adolescent boys speak stilted, awkward dialogue of the "hurry up!" and "hold on!" variety, never sounding the least bit natural. Awful, pointless plot. Annoying, blaring score of dancey pop numbers out in the wilderness, as if Kevin Bacon was expected to break into a "Footloose" number at some point. In the not-very-exciting climax, one boy is left alone with injured Kevin Bacon while the others go to find help. Not content to stay in a safe place where they can be found, boy takes Kevin on a reckless canoe trip where they nearly drown. Happily, the search helicopter finds them easily where the movie abruptly ends. Yawn.
I am among the few who admired Ms. Dunaway's performance. She claims it ruined her career, but it's hard to see why. She rings true for the most part, one diva quite convincingly playing another, but the movie is mostly about her home life, with little of her Hollywood stardom, which might have livened up the tale. The oddly under-populated scene where Joan visits her studio and Louie B. Mayer fires her is deadly dull, and pointless -- she asks him to escort her to her car so she can hold her head up high, which would have been the gracious thing for him to do, but he gives her the brush off for no reason that is explained. The main fault here is Diana Scarwind as Christina Crawford, giving an odd, spaced out performance. There is no "normal" person with whom we can identify. The movie is very slow and episodic, with a few famous scenes. I read "Mommie Dearest" in installments when it was first printed in "New York Magazine," and the story was never again so gripping. The movie seems to be presented in installments, too, but they are not so vivid as they were in the magazine, heightened and condensed. Christina Crawford's book was sharp and insightful, so why she is presented as a passive, mush-mouthed cypher is puzzling. This movie isn't as "campy" as people would like to think. But it is pretty dull.
You will definitely want to miss the ludicrously titled "Bridal Wave," which is afloat with every possible cliché of the bridal movie: Blue collar bride-to-be plans to marry into wealthy family. Groom's glamorous Jaclyn Smith mother disapproves. Very busy and important groom has little time for bride. Bride unhappy with opulent destination wedding at posh island resort. She feels out of place among snobbish socialites. Chance encounter takes place between bride and unemployed artist in island drugstore. They fight over the last bottle of aspirin, then agree to share it. (Cute.) We know they are soul mates. They keep running into each other at this island resort. The movie thinks these two are charming, but they are not. You'll love the scene where the artist happens to be available to stand in for the too-busy groom at the wedding rehearsal, and the rafters ring with ever so many ironies. Neither of the two leading men is particularly attractive, denying the entire point of this kind of escapist fare, which is aimed at aspiring brides everywhere. The scenes are slow, dull, unamusing, poorly written and utterly predictable. You'll never guess how it ends.
Self-destructive people -- don't you love 'em? In life and in movies, they frustrate us as we helplessly watch them throw away everything most of us would value. Jessica Lange is challenged with giving us some sort of understanding as to why the all-but-forgotten minor actress Frances Farmer chose to have a miserable life instead of a happy one. It's not clear what her problem is -- an overbearing mother? Hollywood? Liquor? Frances is pretentious in her aspirations and apparently hates stardom on Broadway and in Hollywood (she's better than that!). She also seems to hate the world at large, and treats decent people with contempt, so it's difficult to feel too much sympathy as she goes through the stages of career suicide and a complete breakdown. This is the film that showed us all that Jessica Lang could act, and all the performances by the entire cast are excellent. There are mad scenes galore, and a made- up love interest played by Sam Shepard. As these two characters plot various unlikely escapes from various mental institutions, they never seem bright enough to figure out that the best was to get out of a mental institution is to act sane, which Frances can't seem to pull off. She eventually gets the icepick and dwindles into sedated obscurity, a sad tale that perhaps had to be told.
This won raves from the critics, and who are we to argue with the critics? One might think there had never been a move made about a marriage falling apart before this one. Excellent performances by all do not necessarily add up to a great movie. This is depressing and predictable right down to the unsatisfying non-ending. This viewer was raised in the upscale suburbs of the 1950's, and doesn't recall such overwrought, passionately unhappy characters as this dreary husband and wife. The 50's were a quiet, sweet time. We've all heard there was suburban angst brewing beneath the surface, but few upscale ladies self-aborted. And who knew it was so easy? Leonardo gives a brilliant, subtle, warm performance. We didn't know he had it in him. Kate is stuck in a thankless role as a shallow, selfish,woman who doesn't know how good she has it,.She is the self-pitying sort who weeps while doing dishes. There is not a shred of humor or charm in this dark film. It's framed by Kathy Bates as a gossipy real estate dealer who tells the tale, an odd device with no payoff. Her mentally ill son is invited into the chaos as a sort of idiot savant who speaks the unspeakable truth. Didn't we all have neighbors like that?
Dark, creepy and unfunny. Belushi and Aykroyd go through the entire movie acting as if they are sharing some private joke. I wonder if an audience ever laughed. I watched it alone and certainly didn't. Belushi had already begun an attempt to turn himself into a more conventional leading man, losing in the process whatever it was he had. His performance here seems lifeless, played mostly straight. A scene near the end where he goes through elaborate beauty routines while preparing for a date is embarrassing. The air of mystery is never explained. The plot s never resolbved. Other than that, it's great.
Four little dramas of the English drawing room variety are presented herein. What they have in common are very fine country homes and little plots of upscale jealousies and petty events, starting with "The Facts of Life," about a young man who goes to the big city and learns the facts of life. In the second story, "The Alien Corn," the best performance in the film is given by Dirk Bogarde, who registers sheer jealousy without a word as a great pianist who has just rejected his talents demonstrates her own. "The Kite" is a bore about a shrill, selfish wife. A story called "The Colonel's Lady" tells about a neglected wife who writes a torrid book of poetry that embarrasses her belittling husband. It is the most captivating, story simply because it has a coherent plot we can all appreciate. Why this spawned a successful series of movies based on collections of short stories is a mystery. Perhaps the post war world was briefly shell-shocked and looking for quaint, familiar stories that evoked a gentler time.
This film is beloved by many, but it has yet to captivate me in spite of many viewings. The whole setup seems calculated, featuring a sort of non-plot cobbled together by Alan Jay Lerner. An American in Paris who is a struggling young artist has a wealthy patroness who wants more. His piano playing buddy Oscar Levant, whose charms have always escaped me, is on hand to crack wise. And then there is la petite gamine Leslie Caron, who may not be quite as charming as she thinks, along with a host of other colorful French characters. The Gershwin music is very American, so there's that. But there are so. . . many. . .dances. . . . The famous ballet in the style of many artists has always struck me as a pretentious and elongated interruption. For those who love la dance, this is your film, but it remains a little too impressionistic for me.
This is about as unfunny as a farce can get. The whole enterprise has a sour taste. I saw this when it first opened in 1981,and then again recently. The cast consists mostly of elderly male stars who play interchangeable characters like Hollywood producers, directors, etc. For complicated and unconvincing plot purposes, a wholesome Julie Andrews-like-star named Sally Miles must bare her breasts in her latest movie, a hastily-remade mishmash that tries to turn a family musical into a soft port epic. What fun! There is nothing inventive or theatrical in this enterprise, the making of the movie within the movie. Julie Andrews is surprisingly boyish and mostly absent. There are plenty of pratfalls and car chases, bumbling cops, Lesbian agents, and other cliché's that were already tired in 1981. A majority of the scenes are among the male actors, and take place in offices or living rooms. This film happened to have been made during a time I was living in Hollywood, and star-studded parties in Malibu beach houses are very familiar to me. It wasn't as thrilling as it sounds, and this film evokes that. Anyone who has lived in Hollywood knows that there is a stillness that hovers over the town, sometimes almost a deadness. This movie captures that.
This struck me as very slow and somber indeed. The set is crowded with many artworks related to Buddhist, Hindu and other Eastern religions, and writings from Eastern religious are routinely quoted. Why this is so is not made clear. Was it a passing fad? Dorian seems to live in an exquisite, vaguely Oriental funeral home. You wouldn't want to visit there. Angela Lansbury is charming but passive. She is, in fact, sort of like a wet mop, under Dorian's cruel spell. Along comes Donna Reed -- all these lovely ladies fall for this creepy, odd, supposedly "beautiful" man. Very strange,indeed. The famous portrait is the worst thing in the film, especially the supposedly "corrupted" version, which resembles the cover of Mad Magazine. I doubt if the same artist painted both, as they are in completely different styles. All sorts of sexual depravities are alluded to, but the movie remains oddly chaste. stiff and cold.
1952. How well I remember it! "Moulin Rouge" was the talk of my suburban town of Atherton, California, and the beautiful theme song was heard everywhere and became the top song of the year. Just hearing in brings back that golden time, but the movie, seen in 2016, does not seem all that inspired. The splotchy color and muddy photography are surely meant to emulate the work of the legendary painter, but they seem cheap and flashy surrounding the dull, predictable tale. Jose Ferrer was the ":serious" actor of the era, doing period and classic plays on film, He had won the Academy Award the year before for Cyrano, and here he was just doing his thing, overly made up and posturing. At one point, the artist compares himself to an ape, but Jose makes him a rather foolish and fussy ape, smartly dressed with too much black dye in his false beard. Zsa Zsa Gabor makes her appearance and is charming playing what turns out to be herself, as she will later demonstrate. The movie itself seems to be based n Latrec's famous posters, which is an odd if original way to structure a film. Interesting but hardly gripping.
As recently as the late 1960's, I had an actress friend in Hollywood who believed these famous "photographs" of fairies in Yorkshire were real, and she was truly annoyed by those who did not share her belief. The subject of this historic hoax might have made a charming movie, but this one is too heavy handed and slowly paced. The small matter is treated in epic proportions, and too much spiritual significance is stuffed into the screenplay, which is filled with unspoken things, hints and hesitations. The fairies are presented here as "real," but a hoax is intimated, which turns out, of course, to have been the case, since the girls confessed later in life. The evidence of the existence of fairies is presumed to give hope and faith to the population of England during World War I, though why that should be so is never made clear. As we all know, it is Guardian Angels who look after us, not fairies. The real star of this film is the English countryside, which has rarely looked so lush, lovely and green, with or without its fairies.
Here's a move we've all heard about but few of us have actually seen. It is mostly noteworthy for winning Luise Rainer her second Oscar, although it's hard to see why. Her small role as Ziegfeld's first wife Anna Held give her little to do except look self-pitying and weepy throughout. Her Oscar winning scene consists of a telephone conversation in which she bravely smiles through her tears. which may have wowed audiences in 1936 but looks pretty cheesy by today's acting standards. Otherwise, this Academy Award winning film is strangely lacking in excitement. Here is a movie about Broadway in which there is very little about the theater -- no backstage excitement, nothing of what it takes to put on a show. Most of the story takes place in living rooms and offices, interrupted too many times by endless, tedious "show girl" routines that add nothing. The introduction of a great song such as "Look For the Silver Lining" is tossed off and the song is not even fully performed, nor is the composer Jerome Kern even named. Most of Ziegfeld's legendary shows are presented as no more than passing theatre marquees, evoking nothing of the shows themselves. "Show Boat" comes and goes without a whisper of its importance, but we sure do get a lot of Christmas with the Ziegfelds in their luxurious home. After ditching Anna Held, Ziegfeld marries Billie Burke on her way to immortality as Glinda in "The Wizard of Oz," but otherwise forgettable as portrayed by Myrna Loy. William Powell ages nicely through the film, but there is nothing in the performance that suggest what made Ziegfeld "great," as the title promises.
Sorry, but the only Auntie Mame for me is Rosalind Russell, who starred in the original play and non-musical film version. That includes Angela Lansbury, whom I saw in the original stage production of this lame musical version. The episodic nature and weak plot of the play did not inspire much of a score, and there has never been anything particularly "musical" about "Mame." Casting Lucille Ball in the title role initially sounded like a brilliant idea, but the result is very depressing, since Ms. Ball completely lacks the sort of dry, stylish wit that is the essence of the character. Her line readings are embarrassing, and the performance comes off like Lucy pretending to be sophisticated. The pace throughout the film is unbearably slow. Didn't Director Gene Saks ever notice that the scenes lacked any spark of vitality? Beatrice Arthur as Vera Charles is the only cast member who comes close to the requisite style of the piece, and I might have enjoyed her performance more if I did not know that Ms. Arthur was every bit as bitchy in real life. Honey, that's not acting, that's Beatrice being Beatrice. In every other way, the cast of this musical version does not live up to the cast of the original movie. See "Auntie Mame" a tenth or twelfth time and you'll be far more entertained than by this monstrous bore.
I could never get into the tedious book, and the movie version of "Green Mansions" is even less enchanting than the book. Fresh, new Audrey Hepburn must have seemed like a Godsend to those who were attempting to cast Rima, the so-called "Bird Girl," but she is overly made up for the role and looks like a fashion model tip-toeing through the Amazon forest ballerina-style. If ever there was a movie that should have lilted and soared, this would have been it, but it remains strangely earthbound. Tribal sequences are laughable, with too many naked, muscular men performing a Martha Graham dance centered around a ridiculous straw "Bird Girl" effigy that eventually goes up in flames. Anthony Perkins was also young a new here, but he has little to do but look bewildered and fascinated other than get captured and tied up by the Indians in a very familiar sequence. Mel Ferrer, Audrey's husband at the time, directed, and it is all very stagey, which can happen when a husband directs a star.