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These are not the best films I have but the ones I am most likely to watch now and in the coming years, the movies that never seem to cease being very entertaining in one form or the other. I am fortunate to own many movies so it�s not easy paring down to this short list, which will change regularly depending on what films lose favor, what new gems I discover and what new Blu-Ray transfers come out, perhaps elevating my rating of the film. (BD = Blu-Ray)
American Gangster BD
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford BD
An American Werewolf In London BD
Apocalypse Now Redux BD
The Asphalt Jungle
Big Trouble In Little China BD
Black Hawk DownBD
Blue Velvet BD
The Boston Strangler
The Bourne Supremacy BD
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
The Cat In The Hat BD
The Conversation BD
The Dark Knight BD
Days Of Heaven
Devil In A Blue Dress
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels BD
Experiment In Terror
Field Of Dreams
For A Few Dollars More BD
The Fugitive BD
Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai
The Grey Fox
The Grifters BD
Henry, Portrait Of A Serial Killer BD
I Remember Mama
Kill Bill - Vol. 2BD
The King Of Comedy
The Lady From Shanghai BD
La Femme NikitaBD
Last Of The Mohicans
La Vie En Rose
The Legend Of 1900
The Little Shop Of Horrors ('60) BD
Marathon Man BD
Man On Fire (BD)
The Man Without A Past
Map Of The Human Heart
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World BD
The Mission BD
Narrow Margin (1990)
Night And The City (1950)
No Country For Old MenBD
One Hour Photo BD
Panic In The Streets
The Polar ExpressBD
Portrait Of Jennie
The Quiet American
Raiders Of The Lost Ark BD
The Remains Of The Day BD
Road To PerditionBD
Romeo Is Bleeding
Run Lola RunBD
Taxi Driver BD
To Have And Have Not
Toy Story 2BD
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
The Triplets Of Belleville
True Grit (2010) BD
2001: A Space Odyssey BD
Visions Of Light: The Art Of Cinematography
The War (Ken Burns WWII series)
War Horse BD
Some Favorite Characters
Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in The Natural
The Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight
Mona Demarkoff (Lena Olin) in Romeo Is Bleeding
Bill The Butcher Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in Gangs Of New York
Jennie Appleton(Jennifer Jones) in Portrait Of Jennie
Major Charles Rane(William Devane) In Rolling Thunder
Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommon) in The 'burbs
Anton Chigurh (Javier Bordem) in No Country For Old Men
Inspector Sidney Wang(Peter Sellers) in Murder By Death
Jerry Lundegaard(William H. Macy) in Fargo
Frank Booth(Dennis Hopper) in Blue Velvet
Igor (Marty Feldman) in Young Frankenstein
Jack Grimaldi (Gary Oldman) in Romeo Is Bleeding
Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) in Heat
Comparing '59 With '16
This review is primarily for the people who have watched the famous 1959 version of Ben-Hur. and are wondering if it is worth viewing the 2016 remake. How did it compare to the 1959 film? I would say the '59 film is better because it draws out the story more and so it flows nicely. It makes Judah Ben-Hur's history more easily understood, from his relationship to childhood friend and adult villain "Messala, " to his being sent to the galleys and how he finally escapes from there, to how he became friends with a man who had four magnificent white horses and how Ben-Hur taught them how to work together, to the famous chariot race in Rome, and then witnessing Christ carrying his cross and being crucified and his mother and sister are healed from leprosy.
In the new two-hour movie, things move faster because it is almost an hour-and-a-half shorter than the William Wyler-directed '59 film. There is less time to tell the story. Also there are changes in the new modern version and some might be a little confusing if you didn't know the story. I didn't mind most of the changes but I just thought the '59 film told the story better. Also. Charleton Heston was better as the lead character, slightly more convincing because he looked bigger and stronger and more able to endure five long years rowing in the bottom of a battleship. I also feel the famous chariot race was actually better in the old film and the leprosy angle involving Hur's family was much more dramatic in the '59 movie.
Having said all that, this 2016 movie was still very good. I enjoyed the updated camera-work on the sea battle and on the chariot race, the two dramatic action scenes in the film. I really appreciated Jesus being shown more often with the final scene of him on the cross done better than the earlier film. It was well done and true to the biblical account of Jesus last words on the cross.
Morgan Freeman is the only actor I was familiar with here and he plays his normal likable character role. The women in Judah's family, his mother and sisters, were more beautiful than the actresses in the prior movie but not more memorable. Haya Harareet, Martha Scott and Cathy O'Donnell all came across as more vulnerable and more believable as "Esther, "Miriam" and Tirzah," respectively. Finally, Jesus message of forgiveness is brought out more here in this movie and he is shown more often than in the previous movie. He should be, as the title of Lew Wallace's book these films came from is "Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ."
In summary, I'd say both movies are "keepers" but I give the advantage to Wyler's movie (which also had a far superior musical score; one of the best ever). I could go on and on but I think I've said enough. If you are a big fan of the Heston flick, check this one out, too. It's interesting to compare the differences.
One Of The More Entertaining Bonds
Wow, what a pleasant surprise.
I think this is one of the best James Bond films ever made. I wasn't a fan of Daniel Craig's "Bond" before this.....but I am now. He was outstanding, as was the whole cast. So was the photography (Roger Deakins - one of the best cinematographers in the business) and the action scenes were extremely entertaining. Sure, some - like the opening - were over-the-top but that's what we've all come to expect and enjoy with the Bond movies. This opening scene ranks among the most astounding.
Javier Bardem ("No Country For Old Men") makes a fascinating villain, even though he doesn't appear for the first hour of the film.
I've watched the movie three times in just over a year - which is unusual for me - and enjoyed it each time.
The Far Country (1954)
This Offers A Lot To Fans Of Westerns & James Stewart
James Stewart, Walter Brennan, John McIntire, Ruth Roman, Jay C. Flippen, Corinne Calvet, Steve Brodie, Harry Morgan, Robert Wilke, Jack Elam, Kathleen Freeman - lots of familiar names and faces in this western.
It was my first look at THE FAR COUNTRY (1954) and I was very impressed. The story was terrific, acting solid and the scenery excellent (on location in Alberta, Canada). It was great story-telling. with the twist or two to surprise you. The ending featured a couple of more surprises. It didn't hurt that Anthony Mann was directing, too. He and Stewart worked a number of movies together.
Here's an interesting tidbit: the horse in this movie was the same one that Stewart used in 16 other movies!!!!! He and this horse were great pals and the horse was an excellent actor. Really.....that's what I read, and I thought that was kinda cool. In fact, there is an example of it in the final dramatic scene in this film.
The Age of Adaline (2015)
Makes You Wonder What You Would Do
To me, this movie had an involving story that was tough to put down, and I don't have many love stories in my big DVD collection....but this kept my attention.
The two leads - "Adaline," played by Blake Lively and "Ellis," played by Michiel Huisman - were fine. I thought Lively was a very, very pretty woman and I enjoyed looking at her throughout the movie. Her boyfriend, played by Huisman, was a little too bold at first but likable from that point.....a genuinely nice guy.
The movie was beautifully directed and filmed, filled good shots and very pretty photography. I watched it on Blu-Ray) on a 50-inch set and it looked magnificent. They definitely were careful to show each generation accurately (clothing, hair, cars, etc.).
A couple of random thoughts: If this was a real story, it would be interesting (and totally freaky) to look as good as "Adaline" and see your daughter now as an old woman (Ellen Burstyn, who is 82 years old as I type this). That would be too weird to even think about. One part of the movie that hit me was thinking how I'd react being in Harrison Ford's shoes, to see the woman he was going to marry but left him holding the ring, suddenly appear 40-50 years later and still look the same! Wow, that would be shock, to say the least!!
Anyway, the movie really got me thinking and daydreaming about life and how fast times goes. Movies like this can do that, leaving you to ask yourself, "Could I have gone that long and not told anyone this huge secret?" My answer is, "No, I couldn't." Two movies reminiscent of this come to mind: TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946) with Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert, where Welles has a big dilemma, and SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, in which Reeves travels back in time. Both are heart-rendering love stories that can be frustrating at times, with people who hold secrets - as this "Adaline" story is.
Lastly: I wonder why they spelled "Adeline" with an "a." Never seen that before and I'm more- than-familiar with the name. It was my mother's.
A Lot Of Good, Bad And In Between
I was hoping this was a "so-bad-it's-good" cheesy sci-fi flick, and in some cases it definitely was, but there were just a tad too many boring/inane scenes that were a little tough to sit through. The best part might be reading the funny remarks made by some people here on IMDb. There are some great reviews here.
What was good was the reptile-monster and the green slime that emitted from his mouth. The latter scenes rank up there with the worst special-effects I've ever seen but the sounds the creature made were genuinely scary and I thought he looked cool.
The story is all about him, when his tail is discovered deep beneath the surface at a drilling site in Denmark. (This is a Danish film, dubbed in English). The tail is brought to a lab and frozen but when one of the scientists accidentally leaves the door ajar, it thaws and begins to regenerate. Before you know it, it's a full-fledged monster who escapes and causes havoc in the countryside and in Copenhagen. The military guys can't hurt it no matter how much artillery they use, so they have to figure something else out, which happens in the last 10 minutes of the film.
There is plenty of action in here. Some of it was so bad, I laughed out loud (like some idiot opening a bridge and cyclists plunging into the water, or the kid suddenly eaten by the monster (the cheesiest two-second scene in the history of the movies!). The parts of the film that don't involve the creature, however, are very boring and useless. They are just filler to give the audience a break here or there. The stereotyped "Gen. Mark Grayson," is annoying and the victim of some of the worst acting (Carl Ottosen) you'll ever see. There was probably more humor than meets the eye, because I understand Danish humor is a little different and that was lost in the translation (dubbing).
Whatever, if you enjoy these old Godzilla-type films, you should be entertained by this turkey.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)
Actually, for a "B" sci-fi flick from the early '60s, on a $62,000 budget, it wasn't that bad.
There was something about the goofiness of it that kept my attention for most of the 80 minutes. I was hoping it would be one of those so-bad-it's-good movies, but it really wasn't. Oh, if you try to explain the story it sounds like one of those ludicrous stories - and maybe it is - but it's a fairly straight combination of a Dr. Frankenstein-wannabe and the Steve Martin vehicle, The Man With Two Brains.
A pretty woman's head sitting on baking pan on a table while her doctor-boyfriend goes looking for a good body to go with it. She lost it while the two were driving up to his cabin/lab. They had a car accident and he plucked her head out of the car fire.....really! She will stay alive for about two days in his newly-discovered solution so he goes to strip clubs to find a body for her. Meanwhile, she is not happy. She knows there is some hideous creature locked away in a closet nearby and uses some new-found psychic power to communicate and rule over him. Her plan is to get revenge on the deranged doctor. I won't say what happens in case someone reading this wants to see the film.
Yes, it's very stupid but there is something likable and entertaining about this cheapie film. I saw it as part of a "Four More MGM Sci-Fi Classics" DVD which is inexpensive.
Forensic Files (1996)
Four Reasons Why This Show Is A Winner
Episode after episode, year after year, this program has been entertaining. It almost never fails. There is a reason it has been on the air for 15 years.
After watching a few episodes, I became hooked....and, yes, this is an addicting show. I found myself watching over a hundred shows (my DVR had a workout) in two months. I'm sure many others have found themselves doing the same.
Why is this show good? First, it is true crime, not some fictional story; second, it runs only a half hour. Crime shows that are an hour long often repeat stuff over and over. A half hour is perfect. Third, the cases are always interesting. They leave you shaking your head in disbelief that people actually do some of these things reported in here. Fourth, Peter Thomas is excellent as the narrator. His is a voice which never offends, or gets old.
Currently, it can be seen regularly on the HNN cable network.
Duck Dynasty (2012)
Give It A Chance Without Bias
Some of the show's popularity can be traced to the family-values theme of the program (even though they argue a lot), which usually ends with the clan all together for a quick prayer of thanks at dinner time. People like and appreciate that, because they don't see this on any other TV show. Those who don't will bash and hate the program. Too bad people can't set their political/religious agendas aside and watch the program for its unique humor, and then decide if they like it or not.
For those who still haven't checked out this show - and there are more out there than you think - you have to give this about three episodes before you judge it. At first, it will appear stupid, on second look it's okay-but-nothing-great and by the third, you're hooked. At least that's how I and a number of friends found it to be.
Having watched four full seasons, all on DVD (the best way to watch TV shows), I would suggest starting right from the first season, which is the best one anyway. I think the shows slowly went downhill, and by the end of the fourth season it looked like the writers were running out of ideas.
Nonetheless, it is generally a fun show to watch and I can see why it has been so popular. It's different, a reality/comedy show uniquely filmed about a bunch of scraggly-looking rednecks from Monroe, Louisiana, who own and operate a duck calling business. They are the Robertsons. The film is narrated by the oldest brother, Willie, who is CEO, and is constantly aggravated by his lazy crew. The most popular person on the show seems to be "Uncle Si." I agree; he's easily the funniest guy on the program. Whatever, all the people on the show,including the wives and parents, contribute in one way or another.
Counting Cars (2012)
Gruff and Tuff, But With Big Hearts
Rick Harrison, of the ultra-successful Pawn Stars TV show, would send some work to "Counts Kustoms" across town in Las Vegas. In time, Danny "The Count" Koker, the owner of the place, got his own show. The same thing happened to Rick Dale, who stars in American Restoration. Knowing the Pawn Star guys has its benefits!
In this show, you have a bunch of tough-looking, gruff-sounding bike guys who underneath are pussycats.....at least in Koker's character. Danny and his crew of Kevin, Scott, Roli, Horny Mike, Shannon and others fix up just about any kind of car you give them and transform them into an amazing-looking vehicle, whether it's a muscle car, classic car from the early years, bike or a coffin-on-wheels! You see a lot of variation of restoration projects and that keeps it interesting, along with the crew, who are fun to watch.
What's different is that these nasty-looking dudes, led by their boss, have a special heart for people who have served their country, or have been disabled, or want something as a tribute to a fallen family member. Yeah, it's very sentimental and even sappy at times...but it works. I admit there are times I have a tear in my eye at the end of these shows. I like the feel-good endings. You don't see much of that anymore on TV.
Chasing Classic Cars (2008)
Pleasant Show, Fun To Watch
If you like classic cars and you enjoy seeing some of the best displayed in the best venues in the United States (Amelia Island, Pebble Beach, etc.) you should enjoy this half-hour television show.
Host Wayne Carini, based out of Portland, Connecticut, restores and collects classic cars and motorbikes. The show usually consists of him going around the country looking at a few cars and perhaps purchasing them. He then restores them, if he needs to, and then attempts to sell them at high-price auctions. Sometimes he does this for friends and sometimes he just goes to a show to see if his car(s) can win a prize. He has a nice collection of his own.
Carini keeps things varied on the show which is probably one reason the show is successful and has been on the air for 7-8 years and has aired about 120 shows. You see literally all kinds of vehicles, from the early 1900s and on. Carini also has a low-key, pleasing personality. I like the fact that the show is the same: fairly quiet and classy. No screaming and yelling.
Chasing Classic Cars is aired on the Velocity Channel.