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!

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dear Jodie - R is for Rocky

Dear Jodie,

A month ago if someone had asked me who directed The Karate Kid, I would have said John G. Avildsen without blinking.

If that same someone has asked me to name the director of Rocky I would have said John G. Avildsen without blinking, and tossed in, like the thirteenth of a baker's dozen, that he won the Oscar for it.

Only then would I have seen the connection.  John G. Avildsen and the underdog movie.  To be honest, I only saw the connection in this challenge.

Rocky was released in December of the U. S. bicentennial (1976), and is about as predictable a movie as you can get, and I don't care.

I love it, despite the fact that I cannot stand boxing. My father boxed in the Golden Gloves and wanted so badly for his son named Rocky to box. Alas, the closest I ever came to winning a fight was when I got my blood all over a dude's fist and he puked.

Oh, well.

Performance wise, I want to mention Burgess Meredith as the elderly trainer Mickey. He saw Rocky as his last chance to be close to greatness in a not-so-glamorous profession, and the sadness in his eyes when Rocky initially rejected him went straight to my heart.  What an amazing character actor.  Hell, he played The Penguin in the U. S. TV series of Batman.

Talia Shire as Adrian did a nice job balancing the extreme shyness with the temper and passion.

All of this highlighted the true underdog story of Sylvester Stallone himself. He had a script that the studio producers liked, but they wanted a box office star like Redford, or Burt Reynolds in the lead.

Really?  Robert Redford is amazing, but as The Italian Stallion?  Oh, well.  John Wayne did play Genghis Khan, and fell flat on his ass.

Fortunately, Stallone held firm.

He wanted to play Rocky Balboa himself.  He got it, but the consequence was that the movie only had a budget of a million dollars. Even in 1975 and 1976, that was a pittance.  They shot it in 28 days, not much time at all to shoot a movie.

Globally it made $225 million dollars. A real life underdog story in the American bicentennial.  How cool!

It didn't matter that Rocky Balboa lost a split decision in a fight he never could have imagined himself in, except in a pipe dream.

He showed tremendous heart, made a great fight, and won the heart of Adrian!

9 out of 10.  Had he won the fight against Apollo Creed ... 7 out of 10.

Hmmm.  Rematch anyone?  Stallone knew what he was doing.

Burgess Meredith actually signed the photo to me and not Rocky Balboa.  :-)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dear Jodie - Q is for The Queen

Dear Jodie -

This is a long one.  I'm sorry.

For me, The Queen is about finding the heart in two divergent and important people during a worldwide tragedy, and one that hit me oh-so-hard.

The reason is that . . . let me start at the beginning.  Please indulge me for a few words; I will get to the review.

I was to go to England in 1981 to attend a conference on Romantic poets in Grasmere. The man who suggested that I attend was Richard Wordsworth, the great-great grandson of the English poet William Wordsworth.  Richard was an accomplished Shakespearian actor, having worked with Olivier, Gielgud, Guinness, Vivien Leigh and so many others. 

He cast me in the very first play I ever appeared in, The Merchant of Venice.  He played Shylock. My only scene in the show was as Tubal with him.  Veteran though he was, he went up on his lines one night, and I bailed him out.  He later bought me a drink and told me I would be a wonderful actor!

Richard suggested I come to England early because a worldwide event was to occur.  I was twenty-three and cynical, as most Romantics will be from time to time.  I didn't want to come over for anything but the conference.  Yet I got a much better fare by coming early, and a weekly rate at the hotel would save me money on a damn expensive trip.

Jet lag and midnight fireworks caused me to wake at 12:00 a. m.  July 29, 1981 at the Grosvenor Victoria Hotel in London, just a short walk from Buckingham Palace.

I walked there to gawk at and take pictures of the fools camped out there to witness this "worldwide" event.

So I thought.

Jodie, I became one of the fools, and many of us got to know each other.  They found it fascinating that I was a "yank" among them at such a young age.  I loved their devotion to England and their traditions going back more than a millennium! We talked poetry and politics and plays and I had such a wonderful time with amazing people . . . "the fools."

What a cynical young man/boy scoffed at became one of the best times of his life.

The "event" was the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Facing the palace, I was to the back/left of the Victoria monument, five or six rows back from the road.  In the movie The Queen there is a brief aerial shot of us. Pause the frame, and I can show you where I stood after all these years.

I saw the procession to St. Paul's, and the procession back.

I saw their first public kiss on the balcony with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother (the Queen Mum) standing there as well.

Then came the death of Princess Diana.

I'm crying as I write this.

Oh gracious.  I need to get to the movie.

Helen Mirren beautifully portrayed Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen was amazing as the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Each had opposing views on the tragic death of Princess Diana.  Neither view was wrong, and THAT is important.  THAT, is what makes this a brilliant, compelling story.

Neither side was wrong!

So, to me, it comes down to finding heart!

We first find the heart of the Queen while she is alone with a broken down Range Rover in the middle of a stream.

She sees a beautiful old stag, and loosens up as a human being to another creature.  When someone later kills the stag, she shows compassion for the fallen animal that protocol would not allow her to openly show for the loss of her former daughter-in-law and the mother of her grandsons.

We see it again later in a different way when the little girl presents her with flowers.  As The Queen, she asks the girl if she can place the flowers for her.

The girl says, "No."

The hurt is subtle, but genuine.

Then the girl says, "They're for you."

The change is amazing, small, and brilliant!  The human being then says "For me?  Thank you."

I felt for Queen Elizabeth.

So, in the end, did Tony Blair, though he was elected as a modernist opposed to many of the views of The Queen.

I felt for him, too!

He began as an advocate for the government, but found himself opening to a someone who had no career choice in her life who could not even vote in her own country and was doing the best she could, honorably.

For me, The Queen is about two important and, in the normal course of events, opposite dignitaries finding the humanity in each other.

If all politics the world over could function in this way!  Truly, I wish that each side of an issue could view the heart and soul of the other.

This, to me, is what The Queen is about, and I love it!

Another 10 out of 10. Solid!  Helen Mirren deserved the Oscar!  I'm going to give this one a bonus point, because I was outside of Buckingham Palace for the 1981 Royal Wedding!  Below is a picture I took.  It's horrible, but it's brilliant!

11 out of 10.  :-)

Movies, in the end, are personal.  Aren't they?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dear Jodie - P is for Pulp Fiction

Dear Jodie,

Quentin Tarantino, without question, was the very first rock star movie director.  He straddles the line between genius and insanity and spends time on either side of that line.

I laughed in spite of myself at his brilliant Pulp Fiction! In any other movie on the planet, two hit men on their way to blow some people out of the water would be discussing strategy. Their looks would be stern and fixed, their eyes blazing with the anticipation of killing.

Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) are driving to the hit, and what are they discussing?  What the French call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese!

People are blowing people away, sodomizing folks, overdosing to the brink of death, and here I am laughing my ass off!

Let me repeat that!  Laughing my ass off!


That's the genius/insanity of Quentin Tarantino both as screenwriter and director.

Who would create a character, Butch, whose most prized possession was a watch that had been stashed for years at the time up the keister of two different men, and play it to the hilt?

Butch risks his life and kills a man to get that watch!  Who would think of that?

Quentin Tarantino!

Who would create a scene where a man accidentally blows the head off a young man and I'm laughing so hard I can't catch my breath?

Quentin Tarantino!

Who would dare take vignettes and tell them completely out of chronological order and have it all make complete sense?

Quentin Tarantino!

He is the rock star of directors!  And Pulp Fiction ROCKS!  I just watched it again, and it holds up brilliantly after 20 years.

10 out of 10!!!

Just as an oh-by-the-way, Quentin Tarantino publicly named his favorite actor growing up, Adam Roarke, he of the 60's biker flicks.

Adam Roarke was my acting coach and friend.  I'm so sorry that he died before Quentin Tarantino could use him in a movie!  I would love to have seen that collaboration!

If I remember correctly, Jodie, you are a Quentin Tarantino fan, aren't you?  :-)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Jodie - O is for On Golden Pond

Dear Jodie,

Jane Fonda wanted her father to win an Oscar. She had won two, and Henry Fonda, as great as he was, had not won a single one. She bought the rights to the Ernest Thompson play On Golden Pond for her father to portray the crusty, curmudgeonly Norman Thayer Jr. She secured the brilliant Katharine Kepburn to play Ethyl.  She, herself, would play their daughter Chelsea.

I love this movie, in particular the developing friendship between the old man Norman and the boy Billy played by Doug McKeon.  So well done.  Dabney Coleman rounds out the small cast. Which brings me to that wonderful scene he had with Norman about sleeping with Chelsea in the same room.

This whole movie is about relationships, isn't it, Jodie? Norman's and Ethyl's, solid and eternal.  Norman's and Chelsea's, fragile and wounded.   Chelsea's and Ethyl's, strong yet the occasional victim of divided loyalties.  Norman's and Billy's, a dual-sided mirror to Norman's past and Billy's future.

The most important relationship story in this movie was the one between Jane Fonda and Henry Fonda.  They had never had the best of personal relationships, but they managed to work through a lot of it with the wisdom of Katharine Hepburn.

Sounds like the movie, doesn't it?

Watch this three minute interview of Jane Fonda.

Hepburn, in fact, helped Jane Fonda with her performance. Watch!

What do you think, Jodie?

Read Jodie's review here!

On golden pond.jpg

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Jodie - N is for Notting Hill

For those here for the first time Jodie and I are doing tandem movie reviews, as we do for our Facebook page Dear Rocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and the Psychologist At the Movies.  We hope you enjoy them, find them provocative.  Whether you agree with us, or disagree please comment!  We welcome all comments.  As always, thank you, Arlee Bird and everyone who does such a magnificent job with this challenge!!!

Dear Jodie,

How's this for a line . . .

"And don't forget . . . I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her."

When I put Notting Hill on our suggestion list for the A-Z challenge, it was with the hope that you would suggest something else, like you did with a few of the others.

I couldn't think of another N movie without cheating, you see.  Coming up with something deranged like "N The Line of Fire," or "N-dianna Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" or "N-trapment" just wasn't going to work. 

Then you selected it, and I thought damn, I'm really going to pan a movie here.

Oh well, I thought, you can't like them all, and I didn't like this one when I first saw it.  Not in the least.

Then it became WTF if I'm going to pan something, I need to watch it one more time more recently than 1999 to get the specifics on why I hated this movie so badly back then.

So, there I sat, arms folded, the scowl of Somerset Maugham tattoo'd across my face, my heart frozen.

Two minutes in I laughed, and the laugh thawed my heart and loosened my face.

The fact is I watched Notting Hill with a different set of eyes than I had fifteen years ago.

The reasons why are unimportant.

I love this movie.  It's a romantic comedy with real humor and wit and charm, but it also with depth.  I've met a few movie stars.  Anna's line "One day my looks will go, and I'll be a sad middle-aged woman who looks like someone who was famous for a while," resonates with truth, but still points out a real fear among us, a fear of getting old.

Hugh Grant just shines as Will Thacker, and who better to play a hard-edged movie star, vulnerable to the core than Julia Roberts.  When she delivered the line "... I'm just a girl..." I believed every word of it and my heart went out to the woman who made $15,000,000 for her last picture, because she would have burned it all for a simple "yes."

And thank you, thank you, thank you, Rhys Ifans for your brilliant portrayal of Spike.

What would have been, without this recent viewing, a 3 out of 10 becomes 9 out of 10.

What did you think, Jodie!  I am truly curious!

Read Jodie's review here!

A poster with a large picture of a woman shaded blue on it is stuck to a wall. A man walks in front of it.