Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dear Jodie - Calvary

A priest standing by the shore, a wave crashing behind him.Dear Jodie,

I'm so glad to be back in the saddle as we say in Texas, and what a saddle!

It would be so easy to make a movie about a pedophile priest. Wouldn't take anything at all. As an old Catholic myself a priest once told me in confession that I was going to hell for masturbating while he, it was later discovered, provided private lessons to the alter boys on the ways of the sexual world. I had trouble reconciling that.

Still do.

Then again, a friend of mine told me of her very first confession, oh-so-worried how she was going to confess her biggest, most baddest, most horribleist transgression. She decided to go for it.

"Bless me father for I have sinned, I hit Sister Gabriel in the butt with spitwad."

She smiled telling me of the near uncontrollable laughter behind the screen, letting her know for good and all that priests were human beings too.

She still attends mass with her family with a healthy attitude toward priests and nuns.

Ah, all of this as preface to my impressions of "Calvary," a movie, not about a sexual predator, but a good, decent priest who endures the confession of a man threatening to kill him because he is good, and because the priests who abused him in his youth are either dead already or long gone. Vengance on the innocent. What a splash that would make with the Church! We walk the road of Calvary with Father James through his daily, mostly unsuccessful, rounds with this threat hovering over him like storm clouds.

Writer and director John Michael McDonagh put the movie in the hands of the actors, and they came through brilliantly. Brendon Gleeson shined bright as Father James with Chris O'Dowd as the perfect foil. I also enjoyed Kelly Reilly's performance as Father James's adult daughter, a living symbol of the good Father's troubled past.

Their conversation on forgiveness stays with me even as I drink my morning tea.

That the end is determined because Father James is honest regarding his personal feeling for a personal tragedy versus his detachment regarding the huge wrongs of the Church just tears at me ... and makes me think.

The final scene is perfect. Can we can tell a little about ourselves by what we think is said behind the silence?


Hard to watch, but a haunting, amazing movie nevertheless.

10 out of 10

I can't wait to read your view, Jodie!  Read Jodie's review HERE.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dear Jodie - The Lion King

Dear Jodie,

I wanted to LOVE The Lion King, both when I saw it in 1994 and again just a few days ago.  I wanted to LOVE it, but only REALLY LIKED IT.

There was nothing wrong with The Lion King.  The animation was amazing, the story was classic (Hamlet-esque), the actors were . . .

Ah, therein lies the rub.  You said it wonderfully in your review, Jodie.  James Earl . . . Mufasa.  I'll extend that to Jeremy (Klaus Van Bulow) . . . Scar.  I had real trouble getting past that beautiful bass voice of James Earl Jones being that of James Earl Jones, and the reprise of Jeremy Irons' most famous line of his Oscar winning performance in Reversal of Fortune "You have no idea."  Add Ferris Bueller --- Simba -- and it pulled me completely out of the movie (both in 1994 and 2004), except for those amazing scenes you mentioned.

Back in the Golden Age of Disney, the producers rarely used name actors in the roles, much less stars.  They used solid actors whose names wouldn't take away from the characters.  A more modern example is Frozen.  The only actor who I was familiar with was Kristen Bell, and her only vaguely.

As a result, I stayed with the story.

But that's by the way.

I know that I'm being unfair here, but a movie about the circle of life invites comparison with other movies with the same theme.  The movie I'm thinking of (also Disney) is Bambi, a movie I grew up with, a movie that saved the life of a couple of deer the times my father took me deer hunting, a movie that would be on my top 10 movies of all time.

I will say that the opening was brilliant, far and away the best musical number in the movie.

All of this aside, it is not fair that I do not have the same emotional history with The Lion King that I do with Bambi, but that's the way it is.

I have no doubt that I will watch The Lion King again, Jodie.  I have friends with kids who LOVE it.  Hell, I have friends who LOVE it.  I have no doubt I will really like it.

Since my view of the movie has less to do with the movie itself than my own whims and caprices, I'm giving it a solid 8 out of 10.

It really is an excellent movie!  Wonderful opening!  I really liked it!

What did you give it, Jodie?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Jodie - Schindler's List

Father Francis Gabryl
Dear Jodie,

Schindler's List was a difficult movie for me to watch which is why last night was the first time I'd seen it in twenty-one years.  As bad as things looked on film, they were logarithmically worse in real life.

I obviously don't know that first hand, but . . . well, let's say that I began my education on the Holocaust with a substitute teacher in Junior High School back in 1970.  She had escaped from Auschwitz as a young girl along with her brother and told us of her escape. She even showed us the tattoo on her left forearm.

About the atrocities inside the camp, she remained silent, but told us of how she and her brother took refuge in a convent until the nuns could arrange for transportation out of the country and eventually to the U. S. where an aunt and uncle took them in.

An older priest retired from Poland to our parish in 1970. Fr. Francis J. Gabryl (pictured above) had survived both the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps.  He became a leader in the Dallas Polish-American community until he returned to Poland in 1985.  And, was acquainted with a younger Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla who later became the first Polish Pope, more recently known as Saint John Paul II.

I'll tell you an amusing story about when I went to confession to him one of these days.

I digress!

If someone had told me that the man who directed the Indiana Jones Movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and ET would direct a movie like this, I would not have believed it.

But Steven Spielberg showed great depth, and a more-than-amazing ability to get out of the way of the story he wanted to tell, and THAT is the brilliance of his directing in this film.  Never once does he comment on the horrors of the Holocaust.  He shows them and allows them to speak for themselves.

I love (and hate) this story of how profiteer Oskar Schindler (beautifully portrayed by Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi Party, slowly changes into a man who spends the entire fortune he made to save nearly 1,100 Jews . . .  known after WWII as Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews).  I love that it happened, but hate that it needed to happen.

To his credit, Spielberg doesn't try to answer the question of the change.  He shows that the change happened, but not the why.  Though the movies shows the line Schindler had to cross in the form of the little girl in the red jacket . . . a red jacket in a black and white movie. You can better answer the why, Jodie, but I see Oskar Schindler as a complex man who, himself, cannot see the change.

In terms of acting I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful performance of Ralph Fiennes as the despicable Commandant Amon Goeth. He played it straight without unnecessary histrionics. He let the actions of the character define the character.  Here, too, Spielberg demonstrates that he profoundly understands the difference between cartoon evil (Raiders of the Lost Ark) and true evil.

I shed tears a number of times during this movie, had to turn my head at others because the many shootings looked all-too-real, and literally spent the last bit of the film weeping.  When Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley in a GREAT performance) presents Schindler with a the letter proclaiming his deeds in saving the lives of so many, and with the gold ring engraved with the Talmudic quotation, "Whoever saves one life save the world entire" I wept!

I also wept at the end as the actors playing the roles of the survivors walk with their real-life counterparts to place stones on the grave of Oskar Schinder, culminating with Liam Neeson placing two roses on the grave.

Oh, Jodie, this movie is a solid 9 out of 10, and one I can't imagine watching again.  Of course, I won't have to.  I'll never forget it!

What did you think?  Please tell me this was not an easy movie to watch!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Jodie - As Good As It Gets

Dear Jodie:

Like you I just saw As Good As It Gets once in 1997 and not again until the other night.

Like you there were things I did not get the first time that tolled loudly the second time.

Unlike you, I was 40 when I saw it the first time.

In 1997 the performances, particularly Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear, rang loud and strong. I was not surprised in the least that Jack and Helen won Oscars for their wonderful portrayals, and wondered why Greg Kinnear didn't win anything.

I was surprised that it won Best Picture because the movie, at the time, didn't work for me as a whole. As a Romantic Comedy it didn't completely work for me because I didn't get the Happily-Ever-After feel at the end of the movie. Though Melvin is greatly improved, even, as you mentioned, forgetting to lock the door 5 times, and even deliberately stepping on the crack, I didn't see him "cured."  Even though Carol is more accepting of his fewer and fewer misanthropic slip-ups, I didn't get the feeling that she would be completely accepting of him as an obsessive-compulsive misanthrope.

I didn't get the happy ending in 1997, and that disappointed me.

That was the point I didn't catch until the other night. It wasn't a happy ending.  It was a happy beginning.

The movie, then, is not a Romantic Comedy. It's a movie of the redemption of four people:  Melvin, Carol, Simon, and ... yes, Spencer too.

All four get another chance thanks to . . . Verdell?  Yes, Verdell is the catalyst of the story.

This movie has as much in common with A Christmas Carol as with any Romantic Comedy you can mention.  That was what I missed in 1997.

That is where I caught it just the other night, and was delighted that I did.

If I had any criticism, I would love to have had just one thing (other than the hitting the hands when he missed the notes playing piano) of what made Melvin a misanthrope who wrote 62 romance novels?

I get that it happens.  In the history of music, Johannes Brahms was known in his own time as a "grouch," yet he wrote amazingly romantic music.  Stravinski described Sergei Rachmaninoff as "a six and a half foot scowl," yet Rachmaninoff's music is heartbreakingly romantic.

It's the why I wanted.

I won't ding it much for that, though.

My favorite line of all of the great lines was in the psychiatrist's office. "How can you diagnose someone as having obsessive-compulsive disorder and yet criticize him for not making an appointment?"

Like you, I give it a 9 out of 10.

Thanks, Graham!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dear Jodie - E. T.

Dear Jodie,

When you gave me the first choice of Graham's top 10 (11 . . . E.T. was an add-on . . LOL) to review, I immediately gravitated toward E. T.  To be honest, it took some courage to make that choice.

As I mentioned to you, I saw E. T. once back in 1982, and not again until . . . now.  It just ended five minutes ago as I write this.
And here I am wondering why in hell did it take me 32 years to watch it again?  Let's see if I can figure out why, because I will proclaim, with tears rolling down my face, that E. T. (technically titled E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial but does anyone really care anymore?) is one of the best movies ever made!
In 1982, I already had my Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and was working on my Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre (yes, with an "re" rather than the usual American "er") at the age of 24.  There is no room for sentiment when you are pursuing a degree in "THEATRE."  Or when you're 24 struggling to fit in . . . somewhere.
We studied Ibsen and Chekhov and O'Neil and went DEEP into human depravity and tragedy and failure and lust and gluttony and all of the seven deadly sins.
One day, my mother asked me to accompany her, my brother, sister, and . . . OH NO! my grandmother . . . to see E. T.  NOOOO!  I can't like this movie!  I just can't!  It's not Ibsen!  It's not Chekhov!  It's not that brilliant American playwright Eugene O'Neil who brilliantly managed to write a brilliant four-hour play (A Long Day's Journey Into Night) without one speck of humor, not one smile's worth!
I liked E. T. in spite of myself, and had the audacity to mention it to a couple of theatre buddies.
They indulgently shook their heads with a smirk, "There are no real actors in this movie!  There's no Olivier!  There's no Gielgud!  There's no Guinness!"
I reached out so hard, "There's a Barrymore!"
That went over like a fart in Church.
Later, my jaw dropped when my grandmother wanted a video copy as soon as my brother could make one for her.  I loved her dearly, but my maternal grandmother was one of the hardest human beings I've ever known.
Really!  E. T.?  You want E. T, Mama Drue?  You, who had never liked a movie that didn't have Roy Rogers or Gene Autry in it?
The decades slipped by Jodie, and I never watched it again, despite the fact that it's a movie right up my alley . . . as you know from reading my reviews.
I'm watching it again this afternoon (to make up for lost time), and I will laugh just as loud and ridiculously, I will cry just as hard, and fist-pump just as enthusiastically.
I started writing this review an hour and a half ago, and have since found an interesting perspective on E. T. (keeping in mind that I have not yet read your take, Jodie).  Apparently, in 1997 my favorite critic Roger Ebert sat down with his grandkids to watch it.
Oh!  What is my take on the acting?  Simple.  It was what it needed to be . . . and that, by definition, is perfect!  :-)  Especially E. T.!!!  And Henry Thomas as Elliott!!!  And Drew Barrymore as Gertie!!!
And, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the amazing movie is from the imagination of Steven Spielberg.
I will not presume to offer a rating since this is one of the best ever made!

Please link to Jodie's review here, and I can't wait to read it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dear Jodie - Here's to the late Shirley Temple

Dear Jodie,

On February 10 of this year, Hollywood lost a legend, Shirley Temple. I'm sorry I didn't see this until a week ago.  I am saddened, not just because Hollywood lost its darling of the 1930's, but because the US lost one of its great citizens.

We all know "On the Good Ship Lollipop," but how many knew that she was the US Ambassador to countries such as Ghana and Czechoslovakia working closely with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

All under her name "Shirley Temple Black."

How many remember that Shirley Temple was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972, and that after her modified radical mastectomy announced it to the world.  The magazine McCall's interviewed her in February 1973 making her one of the first prominent women to openly speak about breast cancer.

When my sister was born, my father longed for her to be "the next Shirley Temple."

A number of times, my father would wake me early on a Saturday morning to catch a Shirley Temple movie on the late show.  Though I longed for the sleep I'm glad to say that was one thing I could share with my father.

You can find the CNN tribute here.

RIP Shirley Temple Black. You will be missed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dear Jodie - Z is for Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Dear Jodie,

There was a baseball umpire named Dutch Rudder . . . uhhh . . . that would be Dutch Rennert.

Never mind.

If Zack and Miri Make a Porno was LESS raunchy, disgusting, and perverse it would have been offensive.

Writer/director Kevin Smith evidently believes in the old adage, "If you're going to fall off the ladder, it might as well be the top rung."

He's on the top rung, Jodie, but he doesn't fall.  Take those three adjectives, raunchy, disgusting, and perverse and add charming, sweet, and sentimental to them and you have Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

I've never been a big Seth Rogan fan, but he knocks this one out of the park. (Does that work for cricket as well as baseball?) And I just love Elizabeth Banks in this one, too!  Both go for it with gusto and make it work.

I can't quote any real dialogue or it would look like this...

"I'm going to (blank) my (blank) in your (blank) and (blank) your (blanking) (blank) off."

I suppose I could say that Seth Rogan's (Zack) comment "Oh, I use Ex-Lax" was a helluva setup line for . . . ugh!  Followed just a bit later by Deacon's line, "I'll tell you what just happened in there!  That chick frosted me like I was a (bleeping) cake" is about as close as I can . . . come (sp?).

I laughed so hard at times I didn't know whether I could catch my breath. And I rooted for Zack and Miri to get beyond the porno until tears rolled down my face.

What I loved about Seth Rogan in this movie is that he is the average Joe who gets the beautiful girl, and the beautiful girl doesn't see him as the average Joe.  Being an average Joe myself (or a little below average), I like that.  I can certainly dream, even at my age.

Ultimately this movie is about two best friends taking it to the level they were meant to.

Kevin Smith goes for it in his movies.  Love him or hate him, he holds nothing back.  I mean here is a writer/director who cast Alanis Morissette as God (Dogma).

I loved this one.  I shouldn't have but I did.

I'll definitely watch this one again!

And I would be remiss if I didn't post the link to my favorite song in the whole movie, the one that really punctuated Zack and Miri risking it all.

You can find it here.  From this page, you will be able to link to a version with some highlights from the movie.  I just can't post it here.  :-)

8 out of 10.

What did you think, Jodie?  I'm really curious, because this is one you put on the list!  :-)

And let me publicly thank you for reviewing these movies with me this month.  I've had a great time! Back to our regular review routine in May!

Please check out and "Like" our Facebook page Dear Rocky DearJodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear Jodie - Y is for You're the One

Dear Jodie,
You’re the One was the first movie selected while compiling our list for the A-Z challenge. For that reason, it is the one I’ve looked forward to seeing the most.
You chose it.
What about this movie compelled you to suggest this one immediately, before any other suggestions?
I have seen it now . . . several parts twice . . . and I don’t know if we saw the same things, but if I had to choose a single word to describe it, the word would be haunting.
From the opening shot of the car driving through the rain on a deserted back road, windshield wipers clack-clacking away, to the final kite-flying scene with Orfeo and Juanito, and the scene with the tears running down Julia’s cheek as she drives home, less depressed, ready to start writing again, the movie just pulled me in and held me.
I love that the director José Luis Garci shot this movie in black and white.  It contributed so much to the mood, and set the film firmly in the late 1940’s.
I want to mention two scenes that particularly drew me in. The first had no dialogue at all during the first part. Juanito watches as Julia gazes out the window listening to opera. The back and forth of the camera showed the fascination the boy had for Julia, a boy who has an affinity for the arts juxtaposed to Julia's reacting to her own feelings through the music.
The attraction is strong.
The second comes late in the movie and is a two-shot of Orfeo and Julia talking at the table, while Orfeo tries to summon the courage to speak more deeply to Julia about his feelings for her and how Julia finds the courage to let him down in such a gentle way.
Most of this scene takes place in a single take giving each of the actors a chance to react to and play off each other.  It also plays in profile respecting the privacy of the characters and creating an added level of intimacy.
Garci knew what he was doing both with the script and the shots. Rare is the director who can make good use of black and white anymore. He did so beautifully.

That I watched it in its native Spanish with English subtitles only enhanced the experience for me.

Thank you for suggesting this one.  Its take on loneliness and loss and love will haunt me for a while.

9 out of 10

Tell me Jodie, why about this movie moved you so much.

Please check out and "Like" our Facebook page DearRocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.

File:You are the one - una historia de entonces.JPG

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dear Jodie - X is for Xanadu

Dear Jodie,

I once read a review of Xanadu where the critic apologized for liking it because so many of his colleagues didn't.

I don't get it.  It's like apologizing for liking fruitcake.

Okay, I'm not the biggest fan of fruitcake.

But I did like Xanadu.

I understand why critics panned it.  Michael Beck isn't the best of actors, but it's only about him to the extent that his Sonny Malone is the love interest for Kira (Olivia Newton-John) and the business partner of Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly).

Okay, fine.  It's not Citizen Kane.

Critics who go into this movie expecting anything more than entertainment will walk out and pan it.

Xanadu is entertainment.  Period. 

It is fun. 

Citizen Kane it is not, but I didn't like Citizen Kane.  Do people really get jazzed about some dude trying to figure out why his boss's last word was "Rosebud?"

Xanadu had Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John and that was more than enough for me. What a great dance number the two of them had together.  I had to rewind a couple of times for this one!  And Gene Kelly was 68, and still hoofing it so elegantly!

And, I was one of the few dudes who could admit that he had a crush on Olivia Newton-John . . . gotta LOVE the accent!

Not a bad way to spend an evening, huh?

My sister spend about $50 on the video tape copy of this movie in the early 80's, and asked me to watch it with her.

I had a good time watching it way back in the day.

Unlike my sister, I would not include this on my top 10 movies, but that's fine.

When you suggested this one, Jodie, and after my experience with Notting Hill, I wondered what would I think after all this time.

Well, I watched it again, and I'm not going to apologize for liking it.

As a reviewer I would give it 5 out of 10.

Add two because of Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John.  We're at 7 out of 10.

Add another point because of my sister's genuine love for the movie and we're at . . .

8 out of 10.

OH!  I forgot to mention the music of Jeff Lynne and ELO.  Fabulous!

What did you think, Jodie?

Please check out and "Like" our Facebook page DearRocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dear Jodie - W is for Whale Rider

Dear Jodie,

One of the most tender, heartbreaking scenes I've ever watched in any movie in any year at any time came in Whale Rider.

I cannot sit through this scene without weeping.  Fortunately, I've never watched it with anyone, and at least five times alone.

I'm just going to state up front that this movie is a 10 out of 10.  It would easily make my top 20 list.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me explain why a middle-aged American male can so deeply love the story of a twelve-year old Maori girl, Paikea Apirana (Pai), on the far side of the world in New Zealand who strives to be Chief.

Because for me the movie is about desperately clinging to tradition, rejecting and coming to terms with progress, and the human condition both the good and the not-so-good.  I get all three of those.  The cultural details I can learn or get from context . . . and do.

Pai's boy-twin died at birth along with her mother.

I see a grandfather, a Chief, who rejects his own granddaughter at birth, relents on a human level over time, but still blames her for the problems in the tribe, resents that she . . . being a girl . . . wants to learn the ancient ways. He ignores that his granddaughter has all of the qualities he wants and needs in the future Chief . . . except a penis.

Damn was I rooting for Pai, yes, a 12 year-old Maori girl from the far side of the world.

I rooted so hard for her beloved grandfather's eyes to open, to finally see what he was not raised to see.

Pai has a surprise for her grandfather at a concert featuring Maori chants.  She wanted to honor him, and presents a speech for which she won a regional contest, unbeknownst to any in her family.  She wanted to let her grandfather know then how special he was to her and to present the chant of a Chief and express her desire to be that leader.

Watching Pai, beautifully portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes (who deservedly was nominated for an Oscar), fight to maintain control as she delivers the speech, alternately winning and loosing the battle, while she stares at the empty seat that was for him just stole my heart.

Had this been a lesser movie, we would have seen the grandfather, Koro, depressed and unforgiving refusing to go . . . or dressing up to the nines and showing up at the last second.

This is NOT a lesser movie. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the ending!

Perfect!  And believable! And magical!

In my soul I think that every young girl and, maybe especially, every young boy should watch this movie!

Scratch that.  EVERYONE should watch this movie.

Certainly Koro understood in the end that his twelve year-old granddaughter Pai had surpassed him as a Chief and earned the family name of Paikea.  A young girl brought the whole family line back together by . . .

Yes, riding the whale as her ancestor had done.

What do you think, Jodie?

Please check out and "Like" our Facebook page DearRocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dear Jodie - V is for Viva Las Vegas

Dear Jodie,

I've mentioned it to you once or a thousand times that Elvis Presley once held me in his arms.

When I was a baby, of course.

So, I have to love Elvis's music and movies, right?

YES! And not only because of that  Elvis was the only exception to my father's belief that Rock and Roll was the music of the devil, and a complete breakdown of the moral integrity of America.

So there!

My father often said that Elvis was one of the most polite men he had ever met.

Firm handshake.  "Son, he was a 'yes, sir, yes, ma'am' kind of young man."

My mother called him "bashful."

Others have more transcendent thoughts of The King.  How about Martin Sheen ...

Elvis Presley almost single-handedly changed the musical landscape of the world.

Elvis movies usually teamed him with a female lead and surrounded them with a hint of a plot on their way to lifetime bliss.

Essentially they are Elvis concerts with a lovely guest star.  These movies, I think, are the genesis of the music video!


Viva Las Vegas is no exception.

What makes this one special is Ann-Margret.

Whoa!  What a pairing!  So good, and so believable. 

She and Elvis were an item for more than a year.

And in Viva Las Vegas, she more than held her own with The King.

Elvis plays a race car driver trying to buy an engine to race.

In one of the most outlandish meet cutes in the history of film, Rusty (Ann-Margret) has a whistle in her engine and instead of the neighborhood mechanic, heads into the garages of the first annual Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Ah, but here come the songs!

A song near and dear to the hearts of Texans, "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

The cute duet with Elvis and Ann-Margret, "The Lady Loves Me."

Rusty's ginormous, dance number.

"C'mon Everybody," which is my favorite in the movie.  Well, that and "What'd I Say."

Anyway, once the songs are over we have a plot to finish, so Elvis gets the engine, gets Ann-Margret (on and off screen) and there it is.

And the times I didn't have my eyes on Elvis was when Ann-Margret lit up the screen.  Like here in "C'mon Everybody."

Damn, there is a second there when Ann-Margret struts up to the stage, flips her hair back, shakes and, oh-my-God, glances at Elvis with these "I'm gonna F**k you to within an inch of your live tonight" eyes and smile . . . THAT was so doggone erotic!  Ann-Margret was erotic in this movie!

Even as I'm posting this, I've watched this number five (maybe ten) times on YouTube. DAMN!!

Most of my life, I've heard moanings that men age gracefully and women don't.  Here is a picture of Ann-Margret on her 72nd birthday, and, if she wasn't happily married, I would totally ask this woman out!

Guys . . .  wouldn't you?

Oh, by the way, Elvis (Lucky Jackson) won the race.

Hey, it's Elvis!

8 out of 10.

What did you think, Jodie?

And also, check out Ann-Margret's interview thirty years later in 1994about Elvis, here!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Jodie - U is for Up

Dear Jodie,

Up really got to me.

It hooked me in the silence, as we followed Carl and Ellie's journey through life. The director Pete Docter understood the old saying, "A picture is work a thousand words."  We don't need more than a few minutes of pictures to understand that Carl and Ellie had a beautiful marriage of ups and downs, the biggest down being their inability to have children.  Yet, even that didn't matter because they had each other.

Our plot begins after Ellie dies.

Somehow, if the movie started with a curmudgeonly old man mad at everyone and everything, I wouldn't care.  There would be no movie.

But we know Carl (wonderfully voiced by Ed Asner) to be a loving man who lost half of himself and didn't know what to do with the other half . . . until!

"Cross your heart!"

He is sentenced to a "retirement home" which in my childhood people called an "old folk's home."  It's the same thing, really . . . a place for the elderly to die. And that was the meaning here.

"Cross your heart!"

But Carl had made Ellie a promise, to follow the journeys of their childhood hero the explorer Charles F. Muntz (voiced by the amazing Christopher Plummer) to Paradise Falls in South America.

So by attaching umteen thousand helium balloons to his house in danger of being absorbed into the commercial property, he begins the journey in a house hot-air balloon.

So cool!

Just as the events of life kept Carl and Ellie from getting to Paradise Falls, so too, does an accidental stowaway. A Boy Scout named Russell.

I like Russell.  He's chubby.  He's eager to please.  He's chubby.  He's eager to learn.  He's chubby.  He's eager for adventure.

Did I mention that he's chubby and eager? And thank heavens he is not smarter than the adults in the movie . . . but will be in his adult years.

I loved how Carl slowly rediscovers life and humanity and love through not only Russell, but a colorful giant of a bird named Kevin, and an eager dog Dug, able to speak thanks to a special collar.

I love how Russell receives his final merit badge for "helping the elderly," to become a senior scout and OH, how he helped the elderly.

Up for me is a story of redemption.  For Carl.  For Russell.  For the beauty of dreams and to never give up on them

I love how Carl kept his promise to his beloved Ellie, and became a father figure to Russell, whose own father had not been so great.

Oh, Jodie.  I love this movie.

Cross my heart!

8 out of 10.

What did you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dear Jodie - T is for Twilight

Dear Jodie,

Why would a middle-aged man enjoy a movie about which my favorite critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Twilight' will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers?"

Why, indeed?

Because from the time I was wee lad in grade school, I thought vampires were neat (cool). A wretched, wonderful gothic soap opera introduced a vampire into the mix in about 1967 named Barnabas Collins. The show?

Dark Shadows!

Barnabas Collins carried such a tragic demeanor about him.  He could only feed from the blood of humans, sometimes killing them, sometimes make more vampires.

Fascinating!  So much so that when my little brother (a HUGE Barnabas Collins fan) was five years old, he asked Santa Claus for a coffin for Christmas.

You should have seen the look on that poor man's face!

So why then do I get into this movie?

It reminded me of my childhood summers, mostly spent alone with little but my imagination to play with. As a vampire, I had power in my own mind.  I could bite the bully who beat me to a pulp in front of the girl I had a crush on.

I even went so far as to bite my glass of cherry Hi-C fruit juice drink pretending it was the blood of my victim!


Except for her compulsion for Edward (my preference would be Alice), I completely relate to Bella Swan.

I was a misfit in school, as many were, and desperately searched for a world into which I belonged naturally and completely.

I never penetrated any world closer than the fringe, except the one I've created for myself.

I know that Kristen Stewart isn't the best actor on the planet, nor is Robert Pattinson, though he does have a darker brooding quality like Heathcliff on the Moors in Wuthering Heights.

That still begs the question ...

Why do I like this movie?

Because a misfit finds her world and risks it all . . .  ALL . . . to become part of it. That radiates with me.

So, I ask myself, why do you love all five of the Twilight movies.

Because I love them.  I love the story they tell.

And I'm mystically drawn to vampire stories.

As a reviewer, I would give the first Twilight 5 out of 10.

Throw in two and a half more points for the personal factor.

7 1/2 out of 10.

Oops, give it another half point because Alice can bite me any time she wants!

8 out of 10.

I do like the Harry Potter books and movies far more, but if a friend came over in the morning, and said "Let's make this a Twilight festival day" I'd be all over that like flies on a hot cow patty.

I should say that my late aunt LOVED the Twilight movies she saw . . . the first three.  I'm sorry she didn't live long enough to see them all.  We had such fun talking about them!

File:Twilight (2008 film) poster.jpg

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear Jodie - S is for The Shawshank Redemption

Dear Jodie,

When you get a chance, check the Internet Movie Database. The number one movie of all time is The Shawshank Redemption.

With reason.

The story is compelling.  Here is a stoic soul wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and is sentenced to prison for a long, long time. 

It's a story of the bonding of two men, Andy and Red played respectively by Tim Robbins and the amazing Morgan Freeman, one of my all-time favorite actors.

It's a story of life in prison, and how prison can affect the soul.

I want to focus on a supporting character, though.

The character of Brooks Hatlen, the elderly prison librarian, brilliantly portrayed by the wonderful character actor James Whitmore, taught me so much. When the system released Brooks they, without question, believed it to be kind and forgiving and merciful. But they cruelly tossed an old man, who had been imprisoned for fifty years, into a world he had never seen, or known, or could possibly adapt to without help . . . that no one was willing to provide.

Before I saw this movie my old religion indoctrinated me to believe suicide to be wrong. A priest I saw once stated categorically that suicide was a coward's way out of life's difficulties and a one-way ticket to hell.

Damn, was I misguided!  Damn, was I wrong!  Damn, was I a fool to believe any of that!  That priest had never walked in the shoes of those with no hope.

Watching The Shawshank Redemption for the third time, as Brooks mounted the table, ready to kick it out from under him, rope around his neck, I reached down to a place I had never been and asked, "What would you have done different?"

When the answer dawned on me, "Nothing," . . . well, I think I have been a kinder person, a more understanding person since.  I hope I have been anyway.

And now I believe that the good lord my mother taught me to say my prayers to would understand Brooks and those real life souls like him . . . those with no hope.

I know that the movie is about the bonding of Andy and Red, and I love that relationship so much and how it develops through to its beautiful conclusion on the Baja beach. I love how Andy's ingenuity defeats an inherently cruel system.  I cried along with Red sitting in the field with the box Andy left for him suggesting that he find that beach.

Red knew that Andy offered him the means he needed to survive, so he would not wind up like Brooks.  Red's tears were for the new chance that he had, thanks to Andy.

My tears were for the same thing.

Brooks, though, is my first thought when I reflect on The Shawshank Redemption.

One of the ancillary joys I get from this movie comes when I hear people moan that Stephen King can't tell a real story.  All the man has to offer is monsters, they say. When I hear that I ask, "Have you seen The Shawshank Redemption?"

"AHHHH!!!  YES!!! I LOVE that movie."

"Stephen King wrote the story, and created those amazing characters."

"No way!"


This is another 10 out of 10 for me, Jodie!  I understand why it is the number one movie of all time according to the Internet Movie Database.

I guess my take on the movies relates to the personal experience movies give us.

Oh!  Click here to see my only entry in the Internet Movie Database . . . with one exception.  Another time for that exception.

What do you think about The Shawshank Redemption, Jodie?

Check out and "Like" our Facebook page Dear Rocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and The Psychologist At The Movies.