Thursday, April 30, 2020

His Girl Friday

The film His Girl Friday has been on my must-see list for a while. After seeing Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame, I moved this one to the top of my queue. What a film! The rapid-fire dialogue keeps up through the whole story. The scenes with telephone dialogue are especially impressive. It stars out as a bit of a love story and turns into a crime thriller. The pace of this film is quick, but not so much that you get lost. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

I have been listening to a podcast where 2 people who have never seen the Star Wars movies watch them in chronological order and discus each one with a guest who is a fan. I saw all of these films in the theater and have had a 43 year relationship with these movies, so listening to people who have not lived with these stories forever was highly entertaining. They actually became quite knowledgeable very quickly. This inspired me to really think about what movie in the saga was my favorite. I had recently watched A New Hope and being the first I saw will probably have a special place in my heart. But listening to them talk about Return of the Jedi, I was reminded of how entertaining it was, so I gave it a re-watch. It did not disappoint. There is nostalgia, action, battles and heart. Those crazy ewoks get me every time. This movie is worth watching just for the chase scenes. Great rental.

A Star Is Born (1954)

The movie A Star Is Born was remade 4 times to date. In the second version, the actress' success puts her husband in the shadows. He does not deal with it well. The musical numbers are show-stopping as Judy Garland just shines. A classic worth seeing.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Prizzi's Honor

When two assassins fall in love the work gets tricky. In Prizzi's Honor it is all about the money, the mob, the job and love. Unconventional turns are many and near the end you realize that not all things are as they seem. John Huston shoots a heck of a film, This one's a classic.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


The story of a spoiled rich man is entertaining and heartwarming. Arthur shines a light on the absurd excess of wealth, yet ultimately finds his heart. He does frivolous things with money, but very thoughtful things with his actions. It is lovely to watch a young Liza Minelli and Dudley Moore, they have great chemistry. The dialogue John Gielgud delivers is delicious. It is also fun to watch these characters figuring things out on the streets of NYC. This is a movie that really holds up.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Crip Camp

The history of activism for the handicapped has a long history. In the documentary Crip Camp a wealth of archival film takes us through that history and the connection to Camp Jened, a camp for handicapped teens. The emotional aspects of the campers' disabilities, combined with their age is addressed respectfully and honestly with love and humor. We then watch these teens grow into adults who take their rights and advocacy to a very impressive place. This is an excellent film about an important topic.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Devil Wears Prada

I met Meryl Streep in the summer of 2000. It had been a while since I had seen her in anything in the theater and, until she introduced herself I was not 100% sure it was her. I always say it was her pre-Devil Wears Prada years. After Adaptation and The Hours, this film seemed to propel her into the pop-culture lexicon. Playing the head of a fashion magazine in New York City, her interpretation of Miranda Priestly is brutal, yet ultimately vulnerable. Her relationships with her staff, her competitors and herself are complicated. As her assistant, I especially liked Stanley Tucci's character describing himself as, "a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers." As a Rhode Islander myself, I got it. I was happy to revisit this movie and yes, I cried in the same place I did when I first saw it. Good rental.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

The music in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice was on constant play on the radio and on my stereo in my high school and college years. Going behind the scenes in this documentary with archival footage and interviews gives wonderful insight to her art and career. What a voice. What a heart. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Horse Girl

In Horse Girl a young woman with mental challenges struggles with reality. In a nuanced performance, Alison Bree takes us in and out of her world. This is a quiet psychological drama with a sad undertone. A decent rental.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Heaven Can Wait

A young quarterback for the LA Rams is working hard to stay fit and be the best professional athlete he can be. In Heaven Can Wait, things do not go quite as he planned. An unfortunate accident starts a string of events that take us to the afterlife...sort of. There are rules that must be followed, and negotiations take place. The bridge between earth and heaven can be a tricky one. The plot is very clever and leans heavily on the themes of loyalty and fairness. A tenor sax even has a key role. I originally saw this film over 40 years ago and it still holds up. Excellent rental.

Desperately Seeking Susan

In Desperately Seeking Susan we meet a married woman who reads the personals in the newspaper like you would follow a soap opera. This was the original social media, and she wonders about the people looking for love, or just a specific Susan. When she actually inserts herself into one of the stories things go off the rails. The movie turns into a crime mystery - buddy story. There is stolen property, there is mistaken identity, there is love. There are a lot of pop-culture references. Cheez Doodles, Wonder Woman, a specific jacket, vanity plates and a cameo of a famous set of triplets set the time firmly in the 80s. This is a fun film that was much more than I expected. Well done.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Sweet Smell of Success

The power of the press is a weapon in the film Sweet Smell of Success. The gossip papers could make or break a career and the power of the PR machine is used like a choke-hold. The dialog is very sassy and brash. A wife calls her husband Hitler when he tries to tell her what to do. In another scene a man tells his female assistant to "start thinking with your head instead of your hips." Yikes. As the story progresses and pot-shots are taken the most striking line is, "You have the scruples of a guinea pig and the morals of a gangster." What?!? This is a film about control and getting ahead. Writing and performances are top notch. Great rental.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Wings (1927)

The film Wings from 1927 has the distinction of being the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.The story of WWI fighter pilots as heroes and humans is so well done. Stunning camerawork and a gorgeous soundtrack support the drama well. I realized that silent films do a great job of conveying the story with the performances. There are not a lot of dialogue cards in this film. The technical achievements are impressive. The human stories are also well told and quite sweet. The Shooting Star becomes Grandeur in the it should. I really liked this film.

Friday, April 03, 2020


I saw the film Thief in the theater when it came out and was reminded of how good it was in an interview with James Caan. On a re-watch I was treated to a gangster story that was dark, gritty and dramatic. Caan's character is a safe-cracker trying to quit the game and the Mafia is not going to make it easy for him. There's a line where a guy calls Caan's character sonny, which struck me funny because that was the name of his character in The Godfather films. I wondered if it was intentional or just a turn of phrase. I liked the way this film was shot. This is a good rental.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Auntie Mame

There is a joy in a film like Auntie Mame that exudes from the actor. I had the feeling that everyone in this cast was happy to be on that set and was having a great time. A young man goes to live with his flamboyant Auntie Mame and we go for the ride of his life. We understand her on their first meeting when she says, "Let's sit down for one minute and really get to know each other." She wears beautiful clothes and always a lovely bracelet. At the end of each scene there is an interesting thing they do with the lighting on Mame before the camera cuts. It gives her a very dramatic air. The dialogue is clever and words like twaddle and nincompoopery find their way into the conversations to great effect. The sets really work as well. The furniture in the NYC apartment portray the style of the time perfectly. Mame has a real zest for life, in her words, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." This film is a delight.