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Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
An Author's Rare Insight Into "The Disney Touch".
This film, and it's historical footnote, are the first time we've ever really heard a author's view and feelings about the legendary Disney treatment or "Disney touch". Most of the famous stories Disney made into movies are by authors who have long been dead and have never been able to express their opinion about what Disney did with their works. One can easily imagine that J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll, and Collodi, would all have some complaint with Disney's pop culture, Hollywood approach.
In 'Saving Mr.Banks' we get a first hand account of how 'Mary popping's' author P.L. Travers felt about Disney and his liberties with her stories. Travers was alive and well at the time and Disney had to face up to the author face to face. This movie does not exaggerate much. There are endless recording sessions that were made during the creative process and Travers can constantly be heard groaning "no, no, no". It was no inside secret that Travers was highly critical of the Disney machine.
There are a few anachronisms here but basically this film sticks close to the facts and the truth. At least about her involvement with the Disney studio. Her personal life I know little about.
There is so much in this film that is impeccable, but for me, it was the depiction of Walt Disney by an actor, and wow was Tom Hanks uncanny in resemblance, and the depiction of the Sherman brothers. For any die hard Disney fan, these performances are pure gold, especially Hanks.
I've always loved Disney and have a real fondness for his musical 'Poppins'. Disney felt is was his crowning achievement and one of his greatest works. 'Poppins' is perfect subject matter for a film that pays homage to one of the most talked about men of our time.
Victory Through Air Power (1943)
whoa. animated explosions. cool. i only gave this film a nine because i hate war. but the animation is way cool.
this film is filled with one explosion after another. it becomes almost numbing watching submarine torpedoes slam into battleships and blow up. my favorite scene was the one that had the aircraft carrier being assaulted from above.
militarily this film seems like common sense military strategy. it's pretty much explained in layman terms through the magic of Disney cartoon storytelling.
the best sequences by far are the ones that take you through aviation history. the animation is terrific.
it's a strange film though, and it gives a eerie feeling like you are seeing top secret information or something.
mostly i found this film kind of funny because it was so noisy and hawkish. normally i find Disney good natured family fare, this film makes you wonder about the mind of the man.
this film is testosteroned and noisy and fanatical about war. makes it even more funny.
the military industrial complex is by no means cause for amusement. unless it's done by Disney.
Today's Special (2009)
Director David Kaplan Is The Special Of The Day
i love having recently discovered director David Kaplan and this movie only confirmed my belief that he is one of the best film directors in today's cinema.
this film is as appealing and as fun as a visit to a trendy new Indian cuisine restaurant. it's one of those kind of low budget, feel good movies about overcoming obstacles much the way the original 'Rocky' was some thirty or more years ago. 'Rocky' was thought highly enough to be best picture material and i don't find this movie any less notable. it's definitely top ten, best film material and a must see for feeling good and thinking smart.
David Kaplan is truly a "top chef" filmmaker with a real gift for traditions and folklore and he explores ethnic themes in America quite well as he did in this film and in his Asian American fantasy "Year of the Fish".
i would recommend this culinary delight to everyone and couldn't imagine anyone not liking it, but then again there are always those with permanent indigestion. fun and smart movie.
A Different Story (1978)
A True Exploration Of Alternative Lifestyles
as a gay male i don't like being pigeon holed into any particular category. it's funny how the gay community loves to claim alternative lifestyle status but very rarely likes any one in their own community to step out of the prescribed mold. if you are gay, that's it, bottom line, and any diversity of your sexuality is discarded or questioned. if you're heterosexual you're allowed to be Bi or experiment. it often seems that in the gay community experimenting outside of your gay sexuality is frowned on.
that's why 'A Different Story' still remains a breath of something different decades later. it explores sexual themes that a lot of gay movies don't like to touch on. i mean if you can be latently gay you can probably be latently heterosexual too. and contrary to criticism of the movie, lots of gay people have been married or attracted to the opposite sex.
at the time of release in 1978, a lot of people thought this film wasn't daring enough or too afraid to break convention and be a "all gay" movie. now with the gay network Logo and gay movies more common, the outlook of this movie now seems to be less conventional and breaks a standard mold. the two main character seem very unconventional by current gay standards.
it's very easy to relate to the main protagonist in this story thanks to to very fine performances by Perry King and Meg foster who are both excellent and radiate warmth and depth which helps to make their characters seem human and very fallible.
this is a excellent movie for everyone as long as prejudice doesn't interfere with your viewing. prejudice from both sides, straight and gay which this movie is vulnerable to, unfortunately.
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
Excellent Disney, Excellent Sci Fi/Horror
when Disney made 'WITW', they were investigating the genres of Sci Fi and horror, and like the studio's other attempts, 'Something Wicked', 'The Black Hole' and 'Tron', this was all relatively new for them. it's always been asserted that most of these attempts failed but i disagree. i think they are some of the most strikingly original ventures in the Burbank studio's history.
the most criticized of these films is 'Watcher'. because of the difficulty in approaching the ending it's been said the whole film is a muddle. to the contrary it's unique and original as well as being true to the Disney family formula despite it's spooky premise. and it's very well directed by Disney director John Hough who directed the original 'Witch Mountain' films.
'WITW' is a good, eerie supernatural thriller that is suitable for the whole family. there is no sex, violence or profanity. it is also filled with Disney's particular brand of imagination.
interesting note; the movie features some motocross sequences for young people. who would've ever figured they had motocross in England.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Very Contemporary. Great Modern Horror And Great Rock Opera
this is a excellent horror musical that blends Gothic and modern themes together with stunning effect. it makes the current rock scene and music industry appear like something out of a Gothic novel.
the music is just great. i've always felt that Paul Williams was a underrated music genius. the music he's done for cinema is memorable and this work in particular smacks of brilliance. it's too bad it wasn't better appreciated and Williams might have written more ambitious musicals like this one.
i also think that Williams is underrated as a actor too. he may be of small stature, but he is very suave and his performance generates a debonair sophistication. his vocal talent is also effective and top notch.
the rest of the cast is also swinging and gives off excellent vibes with their rock abilities. Depalma's direction is also hilariously theatrical and fun and lively.
a definite must for fans of rock and classic rock in particular, as well as lots to appease fans in the horror genre. a true classic and wickedly gleeful fun.
Meeting Of The Minds
by 1983 a collaboration between Disney and author Ray Bradbury was long overdue. Bradbury had admired Disney for decades and even had a few personal meetings with Disney. since both were highly respected you would think they would have been paired earlier cinematically but it was probably felt that Bradbury wouldn't make for a family film or good Disney. Disney seldom did horror or sci fi, so exploring author Bradbury would make for a whole new venture.
1983 was probably when the Disney studios was mature and ready but ironically they were cutting back on Disney live action releases and were in the process of shutting down the Disney back lot in Burbank. 'Something Wicked' was one of the last live action films to be filmed on the Burbank backlot and Disney ranch using the same techniques for production as the old school live action films produced by Walt himself. it was lucky that they got to film a Bradbury movie on the original lot and the way Walt did and under the Disney production banner.
not only was it a good thing that the Bradbury film got to be conceived by the Disney old school but it also turned out wonderfully and was a excellent adaptation of the book, and yes, i have read the book.
knowing the book i'm sure it wasn't a easy task to bring off. the book is not only too dark for a Disney film, but it is also very descriptive with over half of it being description and literary prose. what works well in descriptive form doesn't always easily translate to quick, precise visuals that move a film along as cinema. the finished result here is so good because it manages to convey the literary importance of the book without compromising itself as quick moving cinema. the literary aspect is well preserved but the film also moves fast enough as not to be too long for cinema audiences and not too long for children and the family viewers which should be Disney's target audience.
the film is beautifully atmospheric which gives homage to the literary element as well as elegantly photographed and directed. it is a class act all the way.
is it scary? well yes, i think so. it's not too scary for kids or Disney, but scary enough to justify itself as horror. things also move quicker and are less subtle than the book so the Dark circus itself comes off as more homicidal and aggressive in snatching away it's woeful victims than even the book described.
excellent adaptation of a difficult source as well as classic Disney and very good cinema. a must for anyone interested in the final films from the original Burbank studio and the old school staff.
The Shaggy Dog (1959)
Weird and Funny "Shaggy Dog" Story Of Teen Age Lycanthropy
this is a hoot for anyone who understands the term " a shaggy dog story" or anyone who knows folklore. first off the term "shaggy dog", means a ridiculous or exaggerated story so even the title is imaginative and clever. anyone who has delved into folklore knows all about stories of lycanthropy or the legend of the Borgia family. all of this mixed into the whole fifties "i was a teen age..." formula. the film is good laughs and not a bad excursion into contemporary folklore.
i've always felt that Disney comedies like this are often underrated for their cleverness. i guess because so much of the comedy is played for dumb laughs it's hard to take it all seriously, which you're not supposed to really, because it's Disney you're supposed to enjoy and have fun.
this is a great comedy, semi-horror, teen flick that actually holds up well to sophisticated screw ball comedies. a genuine argument can be made for this film that it is one of cinema's better comedies. certainly with all of it's gimmicks and effects, it's very cinematic.
one major note here for viewers. this film was originally filmed in glorious B&W and is most effective when viewed in B&W. avoid the horrible colorized, tinted versions which disarm the effectiveness of it's nostalgia and photography.
A Very Controversial Nude Scene By Foster At Thirteen
i had the privilege of seeing this great movie again the other night and was happy to see it stood the test of time and was even better than i remembered it. it was also more intense than i had remembered.
first of all i had forgotten that Foster did a nude scene in this film that was every bit as controversial as Brooke Sheilds in Louis Malle's 'Pretty Baby'. the scene wasn't exploitive or dirty and wasn't even all that eroticized. it was used for character development and realism. she is also having relations with a boy named Mario who is more or less her own age.
the whole film as a matter, is handled with good taste and restraint. nothing, including the nudity and violence are done in a cheap or crassly exploitive way. doesn't mean the film is a crashing bore either, on the contrary it's still thrilling and suspenseful and probably more believable than more over the top approaches in other thrillers.
everything about this movie is well made and done with excellence. it is more about it's acting and screen story than tricky camera angles or cheesy FX. there is very little bloodshed but the morbid events still send eerie chills and manage to shock you.
of course one of the best things about this is Jodie Foster's thoughtfully deep performance. even at the age of thirteen, Foster was giving performances that were way beyond her years and of the same caliber or even better than her adult contemporaries.
this is a excellent film for thrillers fans and of course a must see for Jodie Foster fans. though little or no bloodshed occurs, i can guarantee that thriller fans won't be bored or disappointed.
The Loved One (1965)
Even Cooler Than 'Strangelove', It Has Paul Williams And Liberace
this is practically a companion film to Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove'. anyone looking for more of the same and couldn't get enough of Terry Southern's brilliant screen writing, this movie offers up more of Southern and a uncannily similar experience although it's not by director Kubrick.
although i think 'Strangelove' to be the better film, in someways this movie is even hipper and more cutting edge. it's satire of the funeral industry is probably more original than satire of the atomic age and limited nuclear warfare. 'Strangelove' was right on the mark, but it's parody of the bomb and the nukes age was nothing new and had been explored heavily in the previous decade.
'The Loved One' follows a similar formula to 'Strangelove', it satirizes the establishment, it's filmed in artsy, avant garde B&W, and it features a actor (Johnathan Winters) playing multiple roles. but it is a little more quirky than Kubrick's film because it offers off the wall celebrity cameos and a sense of humour that proceeded John Waters by a decade. definitely the roles of Rod Steiger and his mother are characters straight out of 'Pink Flamingos' or 'Desperate Living'.
it is also notable for a outstanding cameo performance by legend Liberace who rarely made appearances as a actor which was too bad because he was considerably more talented as a actor than given credit for. this film also has a ultra cool juvenile role played by Paul Williams. even though Williams was twenty here, his character Gunther is only fifteen. the character Gunther is such a ultra cool teen because Williams gives the role his usual debonair sophistication with that certain touch of mystery that Williams is known for. not to mention director Tony Richardson has Gunther often dressed like someone out of a Tarantino film like 'Reservoir Dogs'.
this is probably one of Hollywood's smartest and most effective comedies. it has brilliant insights into life and possibly the hereafter.
Murder by Death (1976)
Sophisticated, But Broad And Accessible For All Audiences
this has to be one of the funniest movie comedies made. it has a high level of sophistication but is also played broad enough to feel accessible to taste held to a slightly lower standard. it's goofy enough as not to be pretentious although it's spoofs mostly esoteric mystery novels by Chandler and Christie.
the direction and photography are both stylish and polished, but that doesn't slow or hinder the film's funny bone sense of humour. there is a intellectual quality that is perfectly blended with it's go-for-the-gut, zany comedy. it's a perfected marriage of both high wit and low brow guffaws.
a very polished and eloquently concocted farce that is true to the very nature of what farces and spoofs are supposed to be. brilliantly (hah) executed.
Classic Study Of Paraphilias And It's Consequence In Society
first let's point out that Peter Lorre gives a brilliant and very daring performance as a pedophile child murderer. the performance is daring because few actors would choose to play such a squeamish role. secondly i must note that director Fritz Lang must have been a born sociologist and psychologist.
i've seen few films that deal with deviancy and it's consequence in society with this kind of natural insight. the insight here is both intuitive and instinctive obviously because it doesn't deal with the subject in dry text form.
it's chilling to hear Lorre's pedophile scream out in agony "i can't stop", and "i don't know what i'm doing". the kangaroo court by underworld criminals desperate to put a end to the rampage of terror is all to real when studying the treatment of pedophiles behind prison bars. all this knowingly and effectively carried out by cinema master Lang.
few films today dare to even deal with this touchy social issue or explore it with the same intelligent, social conscience. this is pure genius.
footnote; i must also point out that Criterion distributors have done it again by putting out a beautifully restored print with a wonderful, clear remastered audio track. bravo to Criterion for giving us a superior viewing of yet another cinema masterpiece.
Creeper Tale Of Desecration. Truly Obscene And Profane
not all horror movies have to have a large scale budget and slick polish to be scary. not everything can be 'The Omen' or 'The Exorcist'. personally i think cheapie creepers like this one can be the scariest.
this movie was a prelude to much of the horror genre. this pre-dated direct to home video videotaped horror, it features a book of the dead bound in human flesh, and it was well before zombie flicks were filmed in color. it also had a ending similar to Cronenberg's 'It Came From Within' which was a few years later. this film really was one of the first of it's kind.
pretty much dime store production values to begin with, it still seems cheaply made but effective. it really is the ideas here that work the best. desecration of the dead, satanic verses, necromancy and necrophilia, all really obscene and profane subject matter. i've always felt it was the subject matter not the budget that make the film. and the subject matter here is very creepy.
so much has been overplayed since this time that it's probably difficult for younger audiences to appreciate how effective this film once was and still is in my opinion.
this truly is a evil and despicable little film, and it embodies the spirit of what horror movies are all about. they don't make 'em like this anymore which is probably a good thing because we'd all be scared to pieces. try watching this one alone in the dark.
Innocuous ,But Good, Clean, Wholesome Kiddie Fare
i was surprised at how negatively received this movie was by 'Thunderbirds R Go' fanz. i mean it really wasn't all that bad. and i happen to be a babyboomer who was brought up watching the old retro TV show on Saturday mornings back in the sixties.
the real debate here is probably not how faithfully this embodies the spirit of the old kidvid series, but whether are not the marionette freak show really justified a remake or a live action interpretation at all. like most retro junk entertainment the original show was what it was. it was hardly Tolstoy or high art in the first place. but babyboomers seemed to expect something better from this. only the good Lord knows why. i don't think much more could have been made out of this except to revive the Super Marionation technique and i don't see any point to that since that was what it was and couldn't be done any better than the original.
the film itself is a innocent enough diversion, and in a time when children's entertainment becomes increasingly more crass and violent, it seems refreshingly wholesome and good spirited enough to be acceptable for young kids. i suppose older audiences will most likely perceive early on that no one is going to die, not even the villains and that a upbeat happy ending looms ahead. cynical, older kids will probably get impatient.
for me the biggest plus here was the characterizations of Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker. they were faithful to the original and even included Lady P's marvelous big, pink, six wheeler, flying automobile. the actor who played Parker looked uncannily like his marionette counterpart.
this film also had some very good, big budget CGI FX which utilized it's large 50 million dollar budget (eegads the movie only grossed 6 million?!oooooh. ouch.).
i've always wondered how actors feel playing cartoon characters. i wondered here how Bill Paxton felt taking that a step further playing a character that was originally a puppet. personally i thought the puppet did his role better.
i don't know what went wrong here with audiences and why on earth they expected more from this. i suppose more should have been done to appeal to a older babyboomer audience and not make this so much for the 'Spykids' age group.
personally i don't think the film did all that bad. i think the problem was with the audience. it seems a good lot of babyboomers have been brainwashed into glorifying their entertainment drivel. if babyboomers want a more, sophisticated marionette movie, maybe they should be satisfied with 'Team America; World Police'.
Had To Give It A Nine Simply For It's Being So Funny (and a little creepy)
i gave this one of my highest ratings simply because this was so funny. i've given really bad movies like Ed Wood or Arch Hall Jr. flicks a ten rating because they were so damn unintentionally funny. i thought a lot of the humour here to be intentional and thought out so it deserves a certain equality with those films just for that.
not that the horror here wasn't a little creepy too. as a matter of fact i thought the whole thing was kind of scary even though a lot of it was played as comedy. it was also pretty surreal. the Japanese can be pretty funny.
a lot of people might mistake this film for being bad. on the contrary. i thought it made significant advancements in cinema style as a art form. i wished more films had such a accomplished style of surrealism and fantasy. this was all pretty bizarre but it seemed somehow cohesive and made sense in it's own weird logic.
this is cinema not attempting to imitate reality, but good honest surrealism in the fact that it created it's own reality. the reality was the reality of watching the film it's self. the only reality was in it's relationship with the viewer. what was reality was you watching the movie and no attempt to create a believable duplication of the real world or real life. rarely is that understood, attempted or accomplished. and hardly ever with this much conscious style and so perfectly.
part horror, part whimsical fantasy and part comedy, perfectly blended into one ingeniously delightful concoction. Japanese filmmaking is so often ahead of the curve.
whether you like this film or not, you're probably going to find it to be pretty bizarre and quite a experience. a brilliant study in the art of filmmaking.
This Is Pure Disney, Though Ironically Walt Didn't Like Unions
as a long time Disney fan since early childhood in the sixties, i pride myself on instinctively being able to identify anything that seems pure Disney. in the 1990's in particular, there was a fair amount of material that was not suited to the Disney product. usually it was adaptations of Disney studio's animation rivals like UPA or Jay Ward that didn't seem perfectly suited. especially UPA animation adaptations since UPA pretty much hated Disney and was comprised of mostly animators who went on strike against Disney in the early days.
strikes. that brings us to the subject of labor unions. Walt Disney hated them. he pretty much associated labor unions with anti American communism. he did everything to resist and oppose them. even though the subject matter of a Disney film about labor unions seems unlikely for a Disney product, 'Newsies' pretty much seems tailor made to the Disney look and philosophy. it's about triumph in the face of adversity, it strongly supports family values as well as being about youth and childhood. it also presents impeccable historic period recreation and even features use of classic matte photography that looks like the work of Disney "in house" artist Peter Ellenshaw. except for the labor union rally cry, everything about this film seems so Disneyfied. oh and yeah, music plays a prominent role in this. also very Disney.
besides it's physical attributes, 'Newsies' plays as classic Disney because of it's spirit of humanitarianism. you can't really support a philosophy of family and goodwill without supporting humanitarian beliefs. even though labor unions in this country are intensely flawed, they are still the only base for worker rights. the only other alternative is to let employers do whatever they feel like with their employees, and history has shown us that that doesn't always work. i mean at one time young children were employed by factory workers in this country for heaven's sake. you can't really promote humanitarianism and condone a situation like that. if it wasn't for labor unions, factory and coal mine workers would have no one to look out for their self interest. looking out for the self interest of the working class alone justifies their existence. you can't have children working in factories.
i'm surprised that good ol' Walt didn't make that connection. at least someone in the Disney organization had the brains to do it for him. you can't be about humanitarianism and not stand up for people's rights. which is really all 'Newsies' is really about, the right to humane treatment.
an interesting footnote to this film is that when Siskel and Ebert used to review together they fought over this film. unsurprisingly Ebert trashed the film for what he perceived as a slap in the face to Joseph Pulitzer. pretty dumbed down bias because Ebert himself won a Pulitzer prize for journalism. obviously Ebert doesn't always detach himself from personal motive.
'Newsies' is a great film musical, one of the very best really, and oddly, despite it's subject matter, makes for good Disney. it also helps Disney complete it's assertion of goodwill and social responsibility.
look if you really know who Walt Disney was, his right wing political views are no mystery. like a true American, Disney was at least honest about his views right or wrong. i guess that's why Disney rabidly helped send communist to the electric chair and had them blacklisted. you might never reconcile Disney's right wing agenda with a more humanitarian philosophy, but considering Disney's "Small World" view of good will, it's at least worth one good try and this fine family film is the best you'll get toward it.
Yo Gabba Gabba
before all the kiddie vid weirdness of 'Yo Gabba Gabba' there was 'PufnStuf'. when i watch the 'PufnStuf' show now i'm really surprised at the similarities and how well the old show and movie keep up with recent kiddie TV trends.
obviously 'PufnStuf' was ahead of it's time. it's claims are dubious but legit. i also think 'PufnStuf' is less irritating and obnoxious than 'Yo Gabba Gabba'. it's also more spectacular and has better sets.
i still think this show is a little peculiar and a curiosity. i also think Jack Wild is still a little too much as is Puff's Jim Neighbors impersonated voice over. the problem with the 'PufnStuf' show is that it's too weird. it always has been. even watching it as a kid i thought it kind of strange. the result is because it's not the same well planned or thought out kiddie entertainment that Disney was.
i don't know what to say about this movie. it's mostly of interest because of Mama Cass playing a witch and for retro nostalgia. you probably have to be stoned and zonked to fully partake or appreciate, otherwise you have to be four years old, in that case, it's competently filmed and produced kiddie fare and competes well with anything offered on the kiddie networks. it's every bit as good or better than 'Yo Gabba Gabba'.
i enjoyed watching this again. but i think that says something about me more than the film. i know a lot of adults that couldn't sit through this or 'Yo Gabba Gabba'. i happen to watch both. i think i'm hopelessly zonked (or something else). i think the quality of things like this will remain forever notorious in the annals of what's what.
Voyage of the Unicorn (2001)
Wow. Hard To "Credendo Vides", That This Was Prior To The 'Narnia' Films By Disney
not only was this imaginative television movie ahead of Disney's 'Narnia' films by a few years, it's also a lot about how a low budget encourages creativity and can lead to inspired visual solutions. so much of the interesting, 'OZ'/Sid & Marty Kroft retro look was due to obvious budget limitations. good. i thought the visuals were lots of fun. i get a little tired of all the CGI realism in the Disney 'Narnia' films.
this also seemed to have a good underlying, Christian message for Christians, much like the C.S. Lewis stories. especially evident in the quote and musical theme, "Faith Proceeds the Miracle".
this was a good wholesome action fantasy for families. it features some charming and quaint visual effects that should also amuse most cinema fans.
i would also highly recommend this film to Christian audiences because of it's wholesome content and overtly Christian metaphors.
The Artist (2011)
Original, Clever And Heart Warming. What "Best Picture" Awards Are All About
usually i think the films that are awarded "best picture" are often overrated. sometimes they can feel too smart even, or they play too much to audience's popular taste. 'The Artist' hits a nice and satisfying medium between the two. it's intelligent and artsy but also fulfilling on a emotional level and it's humorous and entertaining enough to play broadly.
there have been recent movies made in B&W, notably most by Woody Allen, but not really this year and probably not as effectively suited to the subject matter like this. i also can't really think of too many full length, contemporary silents except for maybe Mel Brooks in 'Silent Movie'. like the use of B&W, the silent film is used effectively and appropriately.
i find so few films these days with their large budgets and CGI effects to be all that interesting or exciting as cinema. this film was emotionally satisfying as well as exciting and original as a work of cinema. it was so different from everything else offered this year. it also gave considerable substance to it's gimmick.
this really was a metaphor for what films in general are all about. to cite a famous cinema quote, "that's entertainment".
The Bellboy (1960)
Excellent Comedy, Even Better Cinema
what always impresses me about 'The Bellboy' even more than it's considerable sense of humour, is what a outstanding work of cinema it is. personally i think jerry Lewis is actually a better filmmaker than he even is a comedian. and he's very funny.
there is so much about Lewis that was ahead of his time. not only did he pre-date comics like Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, and Rowan Atkinson, his view of comedy as a cinematic art form is timelessly contemporary. at the time he made 'The Bellboy', really only the french thought of comedy in truly cinematic terms like with art-house films like 'Mr. Hulot's Holiday'. there is a lot in 'Bellboy' that is inspired by the french comedy and does it better and is better entertainment.
Lewis's 'The Bellboy' really isn't all that commercial. it's actually very experimental and even consciously artsy in conception. it's low budget decision to film in in B&W only gives it the feeling of serious filmmaking.
not only does Lewis toy and experiment with physical humour much the way Chaplin did, he also takes his photography very seriously and manages to elevate the film to a level of technical sophistication with numerous long and overhead shots.
everything about 'The Bellboy' is taken to a higher level of sophistication and subtlety that goes far beyond it's appearance of silly goofiness. it's only seems dumb on the surface, what you really have is a film of great cleverness and intelligence. only you don't really have to think about it if you don't want to, which is part of the genius of it.
comedy is rarely better than this. art-house cinema is rarely better than this. all brilliantly conceived under the guise of a "knuckle head" comedy. pure genius in action.
Bugsy Malone (1976)
Smart, Original And Clever. Cobines The Brilliance Of Paul Williams And Alan Parker
movies are seldom more clever and original than 'Bugsy Malone'. sure it's been done before but there wasn't anything like it except the 'Our Gang' comedies with the Little Rascals. not only does 'Bugsy Malone' achieve a high level of originality, it also features a winning score by pop icon Paul Williams and is excellently conceived by top notch director Alan Parker of the original 'Fame' movie.
there's also nothing about 'Bugsy Malone' that is too saccharine. it's sweet but it's not too sweet and it features some very mature performances from it's all child cast. especially Jodie foster and Scott Baio who seem years beyond their age which is part of the fun.
this movie also seems years ahead in terms of the "gangster" genre and it's satirizing of it. there are scenes that seem eerily right out of 'Miller's Crossing' and that movie hadn't even been made yet.
most of all 'Bugsy Malone' showcases a excellent pop score by Paul Williams that manages to be good contemporary pop as well as evocative of the 1930's time period.
there are few films even to this day that are quite like 'Bugsy Malone', and that's good. it keeps it's spirit of originality fresh. originality is what sets this fine family film apart from other films, especially in a industry full of imitators and sequels and remakes. but most of all, it's a hilarious family film and lots of good clean fun.
More Great Entertainment From Shirley Temple's 'Storybook Theater'.
i love everything Shirley Temple's television theater accomplished. even though there are certain episodes like 'OZ' or 'Toyland' that i like best, i'd give each episode a enthusiastic 10 stars because of what a impressive achievement the show was overall.
this was one of the very first teleplay theaters to be filmed in full color, and the color is still glorious ans spectacular some fifty years later even though the shows were all made on video tape. the productions are often more elaborate and technically accomplished than even famous children's television theater of the past like Mary Martin's 'Peter Pan'.
i really enjoy Shirley Temple as a producer and as a actress and this show does well to showcase both. her acting here is some of the most challenging of her career, and as a producer she was savvy and intelligent and well ahead of Shelley Duvall's famed 'Faerie Tale Theater'.
her adaptation of George MacDonald's famous children's story 'Princess and the Goblins' is no exception of her accomplishments. done with the usual good taste, imagination and literary finesse she gives all her television productions. it's also great to see the ever likable Mary Wickes here as well.
always charming, always a treasure and always good television. Shirley Temple's television plays will remain wonderful retro entertainment despite changing technology, preference and times.
The Princess and the Goblin (1991)
Good Example Of The Effectiveness Of Modest, Low Budget Animation
animation doesn't always have to be done on the level of Disney or Spielberg to be good. ever since UPA Animation Studios made the scene back in the 50's with Gerald McBoing Boing and Mr.Magoo, they rivaled Disney and full animation in terms of success, artistic vision and effectiveness. UPA proved that animation could be limited and low budget and still compete successfully. they changed the look and face of animation ever since.
except for a few films like 'Yellow Submarine', 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' and the amazing works of Miyazaki, feature length animation isn't always as effective or as watchable for the same length as Disney accomplishes with their 90 minute animated features. critics once said when Disney's 'Snow White' was being made that "nobody will want to sit through a feature length animated cartoon". it's always been believed that that claim was debunked by Disney's success. i'm not so sure that was totally debunked. i love feature length animation but sometimes i find it difficult to get involved with animation that is much longer than 70 minutes. though Disney is the most successful, even Disney animated features like 'Tarzan' and 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' can seem a bit too long.
Hemdale did a great job with 'Princess and the Goblins'. it is a very modest feature, sometimes a bit underwhelming, but it is amusing and sustains it's length of 80 minutes well. it is also a good enough adaptation of MacDonald's children's classic.
there are times, like in the animation of the flooding water, where the animation reveals it's limitations. however the film often makes up for it's short comings with good graphics in it's backgrounds.
it also manages to be a good, wholesome film for little children. the dedication at the end of the film, "to babies everywhere", is appropriate and sincere. it's a film to be treasured for the very young.
Micmacs à tire-larigot (2009)
A Screwball Comedy With A Serious Message
people's lives get ruined by war and the means by which war is fought. you'd have to be pretty deeply into warmongering to disagree with this films message. i can be somewhat ambiguous about war, especially when people start making claims about the "good war" or "necessary conflict". but i thought the statement here was realistic and straight forward. even people who believe in a military can't say war doesn't ruin lives.
even though that is a timely comment and one of serious conviction, this film also proves it's ripe for farce and social satire. this film is ingeniously funny and also charming and not just simply a heavy handed thought provoking experience.
as a matter of fact the intended result seems to be more about fantasy and whimsy rather than burdening or depressing the viewer. it's almost impossible to keep a straight face or take anything too seriously here. too cute and there is a lot of simple innocence.
outstanding contemporary cinema. but i wouldn't expect any less from the filmmaker who brought us the masterpiece 'City of the Lost Children'. maybe not on a par with that great film, but a delightful and fun fantasy/comedy and some of the best cinema around today.
One Of The Best Sci-Fi Shows Produced For Television. Too Bad It Wasn't Picked Up As A Series
this was such a intriguing television show it's too bad somebody didn't make it into a series. there are only four episodes here and i could have watched at least thirty more.
that always happens to some of the best and most intriguing series potentials. ABC network canceled one of it's most promising new series 'Pan Am' because of lack of audience and critical interest. as far as watching a show about advertising ('Mad Men') Vs. a show about the old transatlantic Boeing airplanes, i'd rather watch the airplanes. funny though H.G. Wells himself was critical of areoplanes.
this doesn't always happen with television. back in the 1980's, the movie 'Buckaroo Banzai' should have been made into a series of movies sequels and had great potential for it. i hate when this happens and more mediocre entertainment spawns one franchise after another.
of all the authors i've read i've read H.G. Wells the most. my father loved H.G. Wells and had a collection of his stories which i've kept and picked up from time to time. i've always wondered why someone didn't make more out of Well's short stories. then i discovered this mini series and was impressed with what they made of them.
i'm sure having Nick Willing involved with this project helped. Nick Willing is among the very best producers of made for television ventures. he's always original in his vision and has a way of making classic authors and stories feel fresh and vibrant.
this story was great sci-fi with a turn of the century look and feel of the author's time period. it was also very whimsical and funny as in the episodes about the fat man who becomes weightless and the truth serum segment where the stuffy college Dean professes his amorous affections for a young professor by saying "is it possible for one man to feel this way about another?". hilarious as all hell.
great show and great job from expert Nick Willing. it's says a lot when your main complaint is that there isn't more of it.