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Kotch (1971)
7/10
Kotch quick review includes Deborah Winters interview selection
8 February 2020
The mostly unknown KOTCH is one of those pretty-good time fillers, but what it's known for is the different kind of collaboration between multi-screen-buds Jack Lemmon and title star Walter Matthau, who shares nice chemistry with Deborah Winters, an intense and lovely young blond-haired actress who makes a cozy odd couple, and here's what's on her mind about the production:

DEBORAH WINTERS: I went in and read for Jack Lemmon: this is the only picture that Jack directed. You know, actors don't usually end up liking to direct and the reason is it's extremely difficult to direct a picture. It's very, very hard work and the work begins before you're filming, and then of course during filming, and it's long after filming: doing all the editing and post-production...

It's too much work. They like to go in and memorize some dialog for the day's shoot... The make-up man and the hairdresser makes them up and makes them look good, and then they shoot for one day and they go home, and when the picture's over they relax.

It took Jack six years to get this film finally made... And I came in, of course, more on the tail end of it. Nobody would give him the money and he really loved the story and thought it should be made. So he kept working on it and working on it...

And it was something where I went in to audition and Jack felt I really understood "Erica Herzenstiel," and I was the one he wanted from the very beginning... It was a great compliment and I loved working with both of them. They were fantastic men, and characters, and very funny together.
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In Harm's Way (1965)
7/10
Preminger directs Wayne and Douglas (and Andrews) Artistically
6 February 2020
In 1965, the same year stylistic and artistic director Otto Preminger would provide a stylistically artistic comeback with the B&W mystery BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, he directed an anti-war film starring John Wayne and the recently-departed Kirk Douglas, which is one of the few movies not a John Wayne or Kirk Douglas Picture but a Preminger Film they happened to star in...

Very different for Wayne in that, set in Pearl Harbor, beginning with the last jazz-soaked night of oblivious peace, it's not gung-ho or overly patriotic but more cerebral and cautious in tone, which fits Douglas's forte after PATHS OF GLORY late in the previous decade...

The camera glides wonderfully around a slew of characters in various scenes where eventually Wayne, who was blamed for being ill-prepared during the infamous Japanese sneak attack, later has a chance for a comeback despite the fact he did nothing wrong in the first place.

Preminger's former leading man from the Film Noir classics LAURA, FALLEN ANGEL, DAISY KENYON and WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, Dana Andrews, plays the token idiotic Admiral, and he's mentioned more than actually seen, a contrary persona to Wayne's diamond in the rough...

What Andrews's Broderick fails at, Wayne makes right... with the sporadic help of his flawed and cocky sidekick, Douglas, seeming a tad more free-spirited 1960's than 1940's (and resembling his LUST FOR LIFE Vincent Van Gogh at one point): He winds up raping a grownup but still young, flirtatious Jill Haworth, who Preminger directed in the horrible EXODUS...

Providing Douglas the kind of flawed character he preferred to play (like in his personal favorite role, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE), while Wayne showcases a thoughtful, slowburn style, painfully dealing with the fact his bitter and one-dimensional, long-lost son is in cahoots with Andrews and hypocritical patsy Patrick O'Neal...

Everyone other than the leads, also including Burgess Meredith, are basically buffoons, making it too easy for the good guys to be good without proving it through action or dialogue: basically, they are who they are because they aren't who they aren't.

What works in IN HARM'S WAY is almost everything except the war/battle scenes, thrown together via archive footage, not visually gelling with the otherwise beautiful B&W cinematography that Preminger revels in. And, as is his style, during each moment of every conversation, the camera moves like a slow dance amongst the characters...

Making this Preminger's last decent picture. In the horrific counter-culture psychedelic comedy SKIDOO, footage of IN HARM'S WAY are used in a kind of satirical, sarcastic, those-days-are-behind-us fashion, proving he was done being taken seriously since the emerging baby boomers had no time for the prior generation's severely intense outlook on both life, and art.
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Captain Ron (1992)
6/10
Flake Plissken, Two Great Bikini Bods and Martin Short
29 January 2020
Martin Short's greatest role was in THREE AMIGOS. He played a man who looked like a boy who acted like a teenager. Very fitting. But when he plays a husband/father, i.e. a typical guy in the VACATION style comedy CAPTAIN RON, it just doesn't wash...

This is one of many movies where a successful, hard-working but uptight businessman (Short) learns how to become a flake in order to be liked by his family. Which happens all the time... in fiction.

With the reluctant, almost accidental "help" of Kurt Russell, resembling ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK Snake Plissken's goofy identical brother had he had one, he's the title character who passive-aggressively pilots a dilapidated boat Short was left by his dead uncle...

Short and his family have to sail from the Caribbean to Florida in order to sell the boat for a lot of money because it once belonged to Clark Gable, or something... And the scraggly, hopeless Ron is their only hope as he basically tags along on a busman's holiday...

And during this uneven, adventure/comedy journey our heroes encounter smugglers, bad weather, and a bevy of semi-chuckle situations that keep this boat floating, but only in shallow waters...

What helps is both Mary Kay Place, as the wife/mom, and Meadow Sisto, as the daughter/sister, both wearing skimpy summer clothes and looking quite lovely.

Chartered by the 1980's zombie-yarn NIGHT OF THE COMET director Thom Ebersol, the rhythm and timing is just a tad off, which doesn't matter when it comes to a badly-timed yet semi-enjoyable, semi-comfortable, glossy-colored 1990's time-filler...

Yet the cast seems in on the joke... if this came out six years earlier, it'd make much more sense. And is Russell parodying himself, the genre, or the decade in which he finally grew up after all those years at Disney?
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2/10
Rebellion Against Nothing
25 January 2020
Oh those stupid hippies and their culture, already dead as this movie's ugly anti-hero Anthony Newley is against a politician for what exactly? We know nothing about what makes his target bad or whatever else? Meanwhile, Newley walks around with almost no clothes on while the gorgeous Stefanie Powers is covered up. The fact she's in love with this troll is proof that at one time, the uglier the British leading man, the more girls liked him for less reason that the politician here is a villain. Horrible, horrible. And John Candy is hardly in this.
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8/10
Better than Becket; tigher, more to the point...
21 January 2020
Orson Welles, years after CITIZEN KANE, said the hardest role to play was probably that of Joseph Cotten's Jeb, a man so determined, honest, and stubborn, he doesn't have many rooting for him, but instead, the praise goes to the flawed leading man...

Orson Welles makes an appearance in the Oscar Winning A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, kickstarting an accusation that would lead to the death of a priest who would not bend for anyone, not even the King of England, who, played by Robert Shaw, has a voracious laugh as rich as fool's gold. Here we see the connection of Paul Scofield's Thomas More...

Without going into details, he was one of the most important priests in the Church of England, and to quickly summarize the plot-line: More was the sole person against the King divorcing his wife and marrying his dead brother's sister. Ironic that, though the King is mentioned throughout, he only (really) turns up in that one jovial scene, trying to change More's heart by simply being his friend. That's a lot what Charles Foster Kane did with Jo Cotten's Jedediah Leland...

But SEASONS is, despite an aura of Catholic propaganda, like CHARIOTS OF FIRE could be misjudged for catering to Christians (despite the main character being Jewish) - especially to those who shy away from religious-friendly cinema - more or less a poetic, and extremely ancient-set mobster film in its backstabbing and backroom dealings; a Gothic Film Noir with eerie statues and shadowy boats stealthily skimming through night lakes to darkened castle locations; or perhaps a modernized Shakespeare, but with words that are much easier to follow, and yet still delivered by British actors who seem born to speak them.

Especially Scofield, whose faithfulness to God is the reason; yet for the sake of the story, and the audience, the mellow cadence he carries throughout, with only a few words raised, is what makes his performance true and natural and not what could have been a pontificating sermon, constantly reminding everyone that The King is not above God.

There are flaws that can be blamed on the time it was made, the mid-sixties... From the decade's beginning up until around 1967, when the Renaissance Era began and would continue throughout the 70's, the FADE OUT button was overused by editors, ultimately deleting the overall importance and intensity of certain scenes... almost like they never existed... and you're never quite sure how much time before the new scene began: could be a minute or a year, making the actors have to start all over again.

And while John Hurt's terrific role as a young, selfish Richard Rich, falling in step with Leo McKern's shifty middleman instigator, begins to get edgy and intriguing, the film quickly turns from a sort of Roman Catholic espionage into a downer where... well... our MAN is imprisoned for a very long time, viewed through montage, and then executed. Not only a sad thing within the story, but way too much time's spent on the decline right when things were moving...

Words are spoken, and must be paid attention to, making this a movie to experience more than once to fully grasp the entirety. And while the superb acting exceeds the direction, which is also good, along with the fade-outs, SEASONS can be encumbered with deliberate angles striving to equal the greatness of the man it represents, or the celebrated stage play in which it's based. But overall, everything does connect. And Scofield is a MAN who, truthfully, is hard to root for completely...

Like Welles had stated, anyone playing a character so "right" isn't quite relatable to we common folk with a penchant for anti-heroes, and along with his suffering family, including a gorgeous Susannah York, who understand putting God above the King but not above his life, while basically shoving his family aside.

But that gives more power to Scolfield's performance. He's completely on his own. His face rarely changes. And yet, not only by words, he speaks volumes. For such a saint, he wields an often devilish expression. Making this one of those roles no one else could have played. And in the old days, the Oscars were magnetized in that direction.
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1/10
All Message, No Movie
21 January 2020
Following the opening credits, after Henry Fonda's Tom Joad hitches a ride with a reluctant, narrow-minded truck driver, the vehicle heads off, with gears sounding like a faintly muted air raid siren...

And for Tom, back in his hometown Oklahoma after a seven-year prison sentence, this could have been the first sign of an extremely hard road ahead, where almost no one will be on his (or his family's) side...

And so, upon trudging the rudimentary path, our rigid hero quickly stumbles upon one of the more colorful characters, a fallen yet thoroughly enlightened preacher named Casy, played by John Carradine, who offers Tom, nearly a decade shy of local knowledge, sporadic words of wisdom...

But the really important lowdown occurs when a paranoid, rambling hermit... holed up in the Joad's abandoned shanty... tells (through flashbacks) how big business has driven the workers off their land: and we soon learn the only beacon light resides in California.

Visually, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, based on one of John Steinbeck's most famous novels, is a cinematic masterpiece with beautiful sets, in-house skylines and handsome B&W Gregg Toland cinematography, complimenting John Ford's scant direction...

But the pivotal road trip, as the entire Joad family clings to the dilapidated truck like loose pins on a grungy cushion, is such a perpetual downer you'll be searching for a silver lining, or even one that's dark gray.

The most potentially intriguing scenes occur when, in a California work camp run like a prison, Tom's curiosity is peaked and, after venturing off, he learns about a small band of strikers, has a violent run-in with the authorities, and is forced to hide out. Eventually, Tom and his family must escape... which is as suspenseful as things get... And soon enough the Joads find utopia!

Once the "Okie" clan acquires solace in a village run by the Department of Agriculture (i.e. The Government), where each member pulls his own weight (although there's not much work to be done other than chores within the camp), the political agenda is blatantly unveiled, only this movie, made in 1940, was one of the first of its kind and credit must be given for that alone...

But alas, with Henry Fonda's stark realism and Carradine's offbeat charm aside, the performances seem right out of a stage play (especially the overrated Oscar winning role) while the unceasing, melodramatic tragedy is so deliberately overboard, it's difficult to find any real story there at all.
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Konga (1961)
7/10
It Actually Works For The Most Part
18 January 2020
A movie that finally proves dumb things can sound smart when spoken in an English accent as Michael Gough explains his growth serum, starting out on neat looking Venus Flytraps and then pet chimp KONGA, who eventually grows to the size of KING KONG. By that point, when the superimposed giant ape reaches half as tall as the Big Ben Clock Tower, no one's speaking in any accent so everything falls apart slowly, and stupidly...

But most of the film has a tall man in a tall gorilla suit, taking out particular strategic enemies of Gough's mad scientist/professor named Dr. Charles Decker in a body count fashion both intriguing and fun...

From the snippy dean of the college he works for, after having returned from Africa with a wealth of expository knowledge taking up the first five minutes via media interview, to a young man rightfully smitten with young voluptuous Claire Gordon, this movie's bombshell blonde Fay Wray (still not as cute as the second cutest girl in class, Kim Tracy), bitterly jealous of the time and attention teacher spends on his teacher's pet, especially on an outdoor field trip...

As an audience member you'll root for each and every murder, before, during and after they occur, since each victim threatens to end our mad doctor's climb... that almost reaches somewhere...

It's a shame they had to inevitably shadow KING KONG at all. As the human-sized ape, KONGA made a perfect killer backed by a menacing yet polite, sophisticated doctor, who, along with his clingy, intellectual female assistant (Margo Johns), blackmailing him into a future engagement, seem part of a semi-decent Hammer Film, which is Gough's usual forte and why he's absolutely perfect in an infamously bad movie that's shockingly worthwhile... for a while, anyway.
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9/10
Ray Liotta Quite Literally Steals This Picture
13 January 2020
Director Jonathan Demme's sexy road-flick SOMETHING WILD plays around with its title threefold, beginning with stiff-suited yuppie Jeff Daniels skipping out on a humble New York cafe's lunch check...

And after being spotted and then picked-up by an extremely loose and experienced Melanie Griffith, taken down the departing highway to a rural motel for some ultra-R-rated sex, the audience (and Daniels) only think they know who's truly WILD here...

Until the 45-minute "Kong-mark" when, after the romance hits a peak at Griffith's ten-year high school reunion, purposefully bordering on endearing small town cinema saccharine, Ray Liotta as Ray... Griffith's freshly sprung ex-con/ex-husband... shows up, and the breezy vehicle veers from fun-wild to wildly-dangerous: A quirky romantic comedy now sharing a Neo Noir/thriller template...

During the best scene in another, more dark and shabby motel, Daniels is stuck between Liotta and Griffith in what's been natural to them all along... having nothing to do with sex, only facts...

Daniels's initially polite cat-and-mouse wordplay with Liotta makes one forget his prior risque physicality and odd couple banter with Griffith the film once seemed entirely built around: the boys wield the truly daring anti-chemistry, and at this point even she knows it.

Then act three, while lacking the free-form edge of director Jonathan Demme's anything-goes journey so far, has Daniels intrepidly backtracking to retrieve the girl who's always been far beyond him, and who, plot-wise, has taken a passive, captured backseat... At this point, for either man, she's what's to win or lose.

During the entirety, people and locations along the way, from hitchhikers to churches to restaurants to liquor store owners to used car dealers, are pure Americana, affable and grungy alike and, as the road winds down, Liotta morphs from the 1950's style chain-smoking hoodlum (at one point romancing super-cute blonde Kristin Olsen for strategic reasons) into a formidable horror genre presence...

With menacing eyes and an offbeat charm, SOMETHING WILD is the place for GOODFELLAS fans to see Liotta not only desperate, unbridled and uncaged, but basically foreshadowing Joe Pesci's talky sociopath; that is, no one would call Ray's Ray a clown, either...

But Daniels comes pretty damn close. Risking his neck and eventually standing firm, he's the only character with a genuine arc. Perhaps the movie's title belonged to him all along in both action and reaction.
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Cheers: Cliff's Rocky Moment (1984)
Season 2, Episode 16
9/10
Why Didn't Sam Stick Up for Cliff?
9 January 2020
Great episode, and a little bit sad, as Cliff can be portrayed. The know-it-all who gets his own private hater, a big Italian tough guy that for some reason, Sam doesn't throw him out, which he should have. But this was the first true Cliff episode, and is a good one.
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Cheers: Manager Coach (1983)
Season 2, Episode 8
10/10
"Go home and tell your mother you're a flop!"
8 January 2020
Great episode where Coach shows his true colors. The difference between Coach and Woody later on is that Woody was pure sweet and simple but Coach was brain damaged from having been a tough coach, and seeing him switch back and forth is great. Coach in a way is insane more than just slow and old, which makes him awesome. And he had two good seasons and this was his peak. The third season, alas, he was dying. This is Coach's peak.
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Cheers: No Contest (1983)
Season 1, Episode 18
7/10
Good, beyond the Liberal Product Placement
7 January 2020
Of Senate fatso Tip O'Neill who the bar lusts after. Years later, John "Flipflop" Kerry would walk inside the bar where everybody knows their name, and half the country can't stand it. Otherwise a decent episode with suspense, like anything concerning a contest, in this case, best waitress, and written by Rhea Perlman's sister. Fitting since it deals with a waitress... but it's Diane here. Proving she's a good, unbias writer for the show.
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Wholly Moses! (1980)
7/10
More Witty Adventure than Hilarious Spoof
26 December 2019
Similar to the following years' Mel Brooks Old Testament spoof, HISTORY OF THE WORLD, Gary Weis's underrated WHOLLY MOSES! has more likable, involving characters led by Dudley Moore as a regular guy on a modern day Israeli tour bus that breaks down long enough for the alternative Biblical backstory to be revealed...

He and Laraine Newman (the director's fellow SNL alum) discover a desert cave with a lost, unknown scroll, and Moore reads about an orphan who, floating downstream, is pushed aside by the legendary basket-floating infant, much like Graham Chapman's title character in this film's muse, LIFE OF BRIAN, born in the manger next-door to Christ...

This craftier, more resilient child reaches his destiny first, and it's Moses... while the other is raised by a poor family further downstream, and, as an adult, Moore's Herschel chisels pagan idols with his adoptive father, played by the always-energetic James Coco, posing as his son's personal slave.

As the story continues, Herschel's anti-Moses (trying to free his people while being constantly last-minute thwarted by the genuine article, and never receiving credit) is thrust into various Biblical situations...

These include Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot's doomed salty wife, David and Goliath, and, as Newman's sheep-herding husband trying his best to work along a mountainous region, the Burning Bush.

Meanwhile, special guests include Richard Pryor as a funky Pharaoh, Paul Sand as a boozing Avenging Angel, and affable man-child actor John Ritter cast-against-type as Satan himself. all making for a watchable, time-passing satire/parody that's a better semi-humorous road movie/adventure than an outright joke-a-minute comedy.
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The L Word: Litmus Test (2009)
Season 6, Episode 5
5/10
Alexandra Hedison (Dylan) is bland and boring
24 December 2019
I realize she is a lesbian icon being she was with Ellen and now married to Jodie Foster, but the fact her character Dylan, a fledgling documentary filmmaker, was supposedly straight before screwing Helena over is plain silly There's no way she was ever straight, and it was not believable and her return was unwarranted and boring. The whole test they play on her with Nikki is also dull and this is yet another lackluster final season episode after the previous one. Helena is so gorgeous she needs someone better looking and a better actress. Hedison is just dull as can be. Nice seeing Nikki back though. She's cute and funny.
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The L Word: Leaving Los Angeles (2009)
Season 6, Episode 4
4/10
A Weird One
24 December 2019
This episode should be considered Science-Fiction. One girl and one guy having a baby and the girl is a boy. Tina and Bette adopting another baby even though they barely got together after Bette proved she's a serial cheater. The plus side is a gorgeous new girl who both Alice and Tasha both want. The rest is just weird.
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7/10
Pulp Science-Fiction
20 December 2019
There's a popular term in internet circles for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, calling it "fan service" i.e. providing fans what they'd want or expect from a STAR WARS movie. Imagine if The World Series was lambasted for the players using wooden bats to hit a white ball around a grassy field...

So compared to Rian Johnson's understandably maligned THE LAST JEDI, director J.J. Abrams hits it out of his own safe ballpark in a hybrid/rehash of RETURN OF THE JEDI with similarities to another Lucasfilm classic, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK...

In particular, a Staff of Ra type device that, maneuvered strategically against an adjoined-perspective-backdrop, can pinpoint another, more important device (i.e. McGuffin) that will locate a lost Sith planet, where a resurrected Emperor Palpatine has poised more Star Destroyers than we've seen in all three trilogies combined (hardly a spoiler since it happens within the first minute)...

Surprisingly, with loads of gun fights, lightsaber duels and race-against-time corners to get out of, there's not very much tension or suspense in SKYWALKER, more about the fully-collected ragtag group planet-hopping in a basic, frolicking fashion like ROGUE ONE (that borrowed from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) instead of the awkward and disjointed LAST JEDI... which isn't entirely neglected...

A mentally-linked Rey and Kylo again keep winding up together despite being in different places, where the most important action/fight sequences occur. It's creative enough but can get confusing, turning an otherwise breezy and pulpy adventure into that Rian Johnson mindtrip kinda thing that simply doesn't flow very well...

Meanwhile, the cocky Poe Dameron, while no longer under the henpecking thumb of Laura Dern's interstellar Hillary Clinton, seems almost equally burdened, somehow. In fact, throughout the entire "new trilogy" he never really cuts loose like he seems created to do (intentionally mirroring the original endearing rascal, Han Solo, who makes a brief memory-cameo; Carrie Fisher is neatly patchworked through archive footage; and Luke's the inevitable advice-giving Force Ghost)...

The faithful Finn is more of a tagalong with Chewbacca, the sidekick of a tagalong, plus a returning (finally accessible) C3PO and an underused Lando Calrissian, who could have easily been another newly-introduced good guy helping our heroes plunge from Point A to Point B...

Or rather, D to E or wherever they wind up in this scavenger hunt maze that, during a non-draggy two-and-a-half hours, doesn't provide very much depth for the audience. But perhaps that's the point: Like Abram's THE FORCE AWAKENS, now confirmed as the best of Disney's STAR WARS Trilogy, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is old school energetic escapism, and really doesn't try to be anything else...

As for being the end of the Skywalker saga: it actually seems more like the beginning of The Adventures of Rey since the original heroes weren't used all that much, and were basically her own personal catapults throughout.
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7/10
Well It iS An Ivan Reitman Production
16 December 2019
One of those cult films without much of a following, shot in 3D in the early 1980's and now, after having been formatted to 2D, things zoom at the screen for what seems like no reason, which... like JAWS 3D and FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D and some other gems from this era... is half the campy fun...

The sets, meanwhile, resemble a MAD MAX future combined with executive producer Ivan Reitman's nostalgically stylistic, homage-driven 1950's sci-fi b-flick (with a Harold Ramis intercom voice-cameo)...

Then again, since Reitman's not exactly broke, there are gorgeous STAR WARS style matte paintings and theatrical STAR TREK inspired ships, but it's not just the aesthetic that's old school and pulpy: the plot centers on a rogue bounty hunter, Peter Strauss as Wolff, sent to this not-so-desolate planet where three vixens have been kidnapped...

He's aided by local brat Molly Ringwald and Ernie Hudson: basically Lando to Strauss's Han Solo while Ringwald's both a reluctant sidekick and chagrined urchin. What's most fun is the searching around the canyon-ridged desert land, not sure of what's coming next...

It's that kind of "wandering around" movie... until we go underground where Michael Ironside, as a gigantic robot-altered mutant, hosts a do-or-die match where Strauss must save the girl...

But what should really draw in rabid exploitation fans is Andrea Marcovicci (who appeared with Ringwald in the TV-movie PACKIN' IT IN) as Chalmers, our hero's faithful, sexy fembot; and then there's young Molly that the now-grownup male audience can feel the pleasurable guilt while her skimpy clothes get even skimpier. Hell, if she was ready enough for Raul Julia...
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Chato's Land (1972)
5/10
Mugging the Bronson
14 December 2019
The first act of CHATO'S LAND should have an alternative title, since we don't experience his land, along with his wrath, till much, much later on...

Perhaps THE MOSSY POSSE would have fit being that Jack Palance, as brooding ex-Confederate Capt. Quincey Whitmore, progressively gathers up a gang to head after Charles Bronson as Pardon Chato, who, in the film's gun-blasting prelude, kills a white man and is "gonna hang for it!" But that's only after he gets caught... or when he gets caught or more like, IF he's caught at all. Which isn't likely, not just judging by his prowess, but their obvious incompetence...

Chato knows his land and, like John J. Rambo a decade later, or even MR. MAJESTYK in two years, is playing cat/mouse with the inferior antagonists, but it's really like two separate movies in one...

The angry white man posse talks about Chato and how terrible Indians are in general, and we get to know some of the fellas better than others, especially Richard Jordan as a feisty, troubled , sexed-up white trash kid and Simon Oakland as the polar opposite... and yet he and several others hate Indians more than the mellow Palance, never losing his cool and playing a philosophical waiting game... And he waits, and waits...

Problem is, so do we... Way too long while never quite "walking a mile in the moccasins" of our title hero... Other than a few sneaky tricks, like splitting water bottles and stealing horses, the posse take up more screen time than Bronson, who, knocked by politically-correct types for a white man playing a minority ala Charlie Chan, actually does look part Mexican or Eskimo to begin with...

So it's not a stretch he's supposedly half Apache and, looks aside his performance is cool, smooth and subtle while that same year's THE MECHANIC director Michael Winner, who'd follow up with Charles in STONE KILLER and the Bronson/Winner game-changing champion, DEATH WISH, wields his camera in an always flowing fashion without distracting the story, making every particular motion more creative than a widescreen/landscape John Ford type. But there's not too many shots of Bronson other than a scanned view from a hilltop where his future doomed herd are gathered below...

And those are the guys that matter, only there's a point when this Anti-Western Action flick could have actually used some Action and a little Body Count along the way, earlier on, to see more what Chato's made of other than being Charles Bronson. Despite a few good scenes toward the end, the hunted and the hunter, and then the hunter doing the hunting, are too separate from each other to matter... or seem connected... as a whole.
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9/10
"No marigolds in the promised land; there's a hole in the ground where they used to grow"
13 December 2019
"There's no need to hide... Taking things the easy way... If I stay inside... I might live til Saturday" are lyrics from King of the World by Steely Dan, a band with a handful of great musicians and only two songwriters, the latter reportedly influenced by a particular b-movie for their song about, basically, the end of the road and how to rule there...

A mid-sixties' B&W super low budget thriller with a consistently jazzy soundtrack befitting Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's own musical tastes. And anyone knows, bad movies can be the greatest time-filler, except when they are, surprisingly, quite good, solid and entertaining despite having been made for what feels like a straight-to-drive-in crowd: who usually watches everything but the movie itself... Enter PANIC IN YEAR ZERO starring a great actor who could pull off bad movies with ease, Ray Milland...

His turn as the stuffy patriarch in FROGS during the 1970's, and especially as one half of a two-headed black and white monster (shared with Rosie Greer) in THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, would make him a cult movie fixture right along with his dramatically legit youthful days in classic features like DIAL M FOR MURDER going all the way back to a James Cagney foil in the 1930's BLONDE TROUBLE....

Here, during the early 60's, Milland directs PANIC, and the very low budget makes it a more eerie and realistic journey about a Nuclear Family (pun intended) on a trip to the mountains above Los Angeles when the bombs hit L.A., only we... and they... can only see an effect of light-flashes followed by, a few minutes later, a distant yet ominously large mushroom cloud over the doomed city. (Despite being noticeably contrived and tacked into the background, the pulsating lights make it look pretty cool, and sinister.)

This is a completely different kind of post-apocalyptic thriller, especially since it occurs minutes before and seconds after, and not within the zombie-filled "months later" aftermath.

In the leading, alpha male husband/father role, Milland remains the kind of tough father that would take his family roughing it in the first place, and as the story progresses, punching-out a gas station attendants and holding up a store owner seems second-nature, adding to the overall suspense that also includes three young thugs (beatnik boys gone bad, featuring future Disney thug Dick Bakalyan and weasel-like Rex Holman, in which the bongo-jazz theme befits more than our heroes) and an element of formidable peril:

All this, though, has the backbone of a simply told survival tale that, once settling in, could have nothing to do with the nuclear war. If this were made only ten or twenty years later, the theme, politicized to the hilt, would override everything and everyone else... Thankfully, Milland knew to put the characters also including nervy wife Jean Hagan and a surprisingly subdued yet still armed and fully loaded performance by Frankie Avalon... first and foremost!
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Taxi: Nardo Loses Her Marbles (1979)
Season 2, Episode 4
6/10
Why Do They Throw Gorgeous Elaine and Pelican Beak Together?
12 December 2019
Love Judd Hirsch as Alex. He is a great actor; a great character. But sometimes the Taxi writers mistake him for Tom Selleck... Using him as the epitome of a handsome man, but actually, Selleck who almost hooks up with the gorgeous Marilu Henner on an episode of Taxi, and on two episodes there's a romantic fling with Alex (the other when they both go to Vienna together), which makes zero sense. It's better that they're friends. I can see her wanting Bobby, or Tony, but Alex? He looks like he'd play checkers with her father.
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The L Word: Long Time Coming (2007)
Season 4, Episode 12
7/10
Why do Reviews have Spoiler Warnings, and Not The "Storyline" Section?
11 December 2019
The Storyline section of this episode gives EVERYTHING away. And yet, IMDb makes sure you warn for spoilers on a review... and reviews aren't right in your face like the Storyline. It's amazing what they let pass on this show. Anyhow not a bad episode. Has some action of the heist nature. Alice alas is stuck with more Left Wing political rantings and her relationship with Sasha is merely an excuse for the writers to complain about Iraq.
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The L Word: Lacy Lilting Lyrics (2007)
Season 4, Episode 9
5/10
Lesbians of a Lesser Character
9 December 2019
Marlee Matlin's sculpture-making lesbian is the worst character ever on the series. Even more annoying is her translator who acts like a drama queen when he translates his drama queen to Belle, whose entire storyline is boring with Jodi. She's political and boring, and pointless. Meanwhile, Bruce Davison gets to sit Breakfast Club style and ask lesbians about how they're so much better than men. Boring.
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The L Word: Lesson Number One (2007)
Season 4, Episode 7
5/10
Lesbian Show and Tell
9 December 2019
Many scenes to FF in this one. All the ones with the horrible, horrible character played by real life deaf actress and her super creepy translator. Also, a really forced, contrived and preachy scene where a classroom of children ask Shane questions about her sexuality. This show needs to keep having fun and stop the preaching. This isn't one of the better seasons, although Helena's story about gambling is a plus, and so far the best thing going... meanwhile, Lez Girls is shaping into a movie, which for fans became the end of the show.
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The L Word: Lez Girls (2007)
Season 4, Episode 5
7/10
Sasha = The Iraq War Discussion Board
9 December 2019
Sadly with the introduction of Sasha, who is a pretty good character and a good actress, we get more Left Wing agenda forced onto the show, more than what Bette sporadically brings in because Sasha was part of the Iraq War (which Donald Trump was AGAINST and Hillary Clinton was initially signed onto) and so, what we have here is more reasons for a show that has shockingly little amounts of political preaching to shove more in. Other than that, an okay episode, more of a bridge to better ones.
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The L Word: Lez Girls (2007)
Season 4, Episode 5
7/10
In Defense of Jenny, Kinda
9 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
A lot of the hate towards Jenny's character stems from her "killing a dog" which doesn't happen. She adopted a dog that had literally a week to live and had it put down... for selfish reasons, to seduce the vet, which is a great storyline for her, much better than what she'd been doing for two seasons. Also, Angus's affair with the hot model-looking babysitter is awesome.
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The L Word: Layup (2007)
Season 4, Episode 4
6/10
More hilarious Bush bashing
9 December 2019
It's weird seeing the Bush hating decade in this new decade where the entertainment industry hates Trump, as if they never hated anyone as much... but they did. In fact, every time a democrat isn't in the White House, Hollywood cries and cries their heads off. And here, the most annoying character, the deaf artist, pushes an anti-Bush work in the face of a rich donor, who is not a liberal. The funny irony here is, anything against, say Bill Clinton, or later, Obama, wouldn't be allowed, at all. Otherwise a good episode. And where Jenny got most of her hate in "killing the dog" when really she just had a dying dog put to sleep. But Jessica Capshaw as Bette's assistant lover is very nice. She is hot.
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