Posts Tagged ‘Harvey Keitel’

That’s the Way of the World”  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1975 movie “That’s the Way of the World” starring Harvey Keitel as record producer Coleman Buckmaster (the man with “the Golden Ear”) and featuring “the Group” aka R&B / soul group Earth, Wind & Fire.  The movie also has some “F” list actors: Cynthia Bostick (the “sexy” female role), Jimmy Boyd (the drug addict “brother” role), Bert Parks (the pervert “father” role) — the three are a “family” singing group calling themselves “The Pages”, and, Ed Nelson (as a mob-influenced record label executive).
I don’t think the movie was intended to be what it turned into:  a vehicle for introducing the music of EW&F to a broader audience.  In real life, the band saw an early cut of the movie and felt it would be a box-office bomb and so rushed to get the soundtrack out before the movie hit the theaters.  They did get the album out early and it did become a much bigger success than the movie.  Basically, the movie is about a good band (with talent) struggling while a bad group (with little talent) gets a push from the mob and the heroic producer has to save the day.
I saw this movie on its original release back in ’75 while I was in the military and I enjoyed both Keitel’s portrayal and the (spoiler alert) twist at the end of the movie.  The movie is very symptomatic of the mid-1970’s with references to drugs and sex with a fair amount (a full scene) of discussion about the latter (child molestation / abuse) and some pretty open use of the former (booze, weed, cocaine and heroin).  I guess as a reflection of my naivety, I have no recollection of any of this and the topics surprised me in this viewing.  My only recollections were EW&F, the acting of Keitel and the twist ending (which I only vaguely remembered).
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is about 100 minutes, so it’s not like you’re giving up a tremendous amount of time to see a snap-shot of the 1970’s with all of the stereotypical tropes / clichés from that era:  roller-rinks, cars (a Pinto sighting), billboards, bell-bottom pants and “Super-fly” shirt collars.  I stumbled upon the movie on Tuby TV as a “free” movie with limited commercial interruptions.  I don’t know if any sex scene was deleted from the movie, but the actors mouth swear words which are simply deleted with noticeable silences.  It has a “PG” rating.
Just a few more comments:
1) Harvey Keitel – this movie marked Keitel for me as a star to look out for before I really started looking out for stars.  I don’t know if this role was Keitel’s first big movie lead, but it’s the first I remember.  (The only other actor I’ve had the same reaction to was Robert Duvall a few years later in “The Great Santini“.)  I haven’t seen very many of Keitel’s roles, but, with one notable exception, his appearance in a movie meant it was going to be worth the price of admittance.  The exception was the DVD / movie “Star Knight” which I picked up on the strength of Keitel’s name on the cover of the DVD.  It is the ONLY movie I have ever thrown away immediately after viewing so I would never again be tempted to waste time re-watching it.  (Full disclosure: I pulled it out of my waste bin and put it on the very back of my film shelf and have never re-watched it.  I did this to serve as a reminder that even good / great actors can take bad parts in bad – really bad – movies.)  And,
2) Watching the movie today, I was reminded that seeing a live act is (normally) nowhere near as good as hearing a great album.  I used to go to concerts periodically when I was younger, but it wasn’t until fairly recently (the last 15 years or so) that I realized the concert was the experience you enjoyed or you didn’t.  It wasn’t the music.  Even when a concert has great music, it is almost never as good as the music on an album.  As a cost-benefit analyst type, I’d much rather spend $15 on an album or CD to listen to it 100 times than $50 on a concert for the one time memory.  But that’s just me…
On This Day In:
2019 Carrying Humanity
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1

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First off, Happy Easter to all.  Christ is risen!!
I’ve been off work a few days this week with a viral infection in my throat which has made it very difficult to swallow (and sometimes breathe).  The result is that I’ve had some time (between sleeping) to watch a few movies.  Normally when I’m off work, I like to read, but I’ve found when I’m ill I can’t really concentrate enough to make reading enjoyable.  Anyway, the three movies I’ve watched are: “2012” (a disaster epic from 2010), “The Departed” (an undercover cop movie from 2006), and “Star Knight” (a science fiction / history – “They’ve visited us” – movie from 1985).
The first movie, “2012” was a very enjoyable disaster epic with fairly spectacular special effects (and some banal ones as well).  The acting is so-so, but the effects make the movie.  The best acting in the movie is done by Woody Harrelson – who I normally don’t care for mainly for his choice of roles.  In this movie, he is the predictor of the disaster, comes across as believably paranoid / crazy and is genuinely great in the role.  I guess I like him as crazy but not dark.  This was the third time I’ve seen this movie.  The first was at the theater, where the big screen made the SFX look fantastic (particularly Los Angeles sliding into the Pacific and the destruction of Yellowstone).  The second time I watched it was after the DVD came out and I watched it on my TV at home.  To be honest, the movie did not carry over well from the big screen to the home viewing.  I have a 48 inch hi-def screen, but a lot of the smaller SFX details did not come across when viewed from 8 to 10 feet away.  In contrast, this third viewing was on my 32 inch flat-panel connected to my PC and viewed from about 2 to 3 feet away, and it was terrific.  It didn’t make the movie better, but it made the viewing better.  I’ve noticed a similar viewing effect when I’ve watched some other films – most notably, “Avatar“.  So my recommendation is this is a very entertaining SFX disaster movie, but see it on as big a screen as you can and sit as close as you can.  Recommended.
The second movie, “The Departed” is a police / mob undercover movie with a number of major young(-ish) movie stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg and some oldie but goodies Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.  The movie is set in Boston and the main conflict is between good mole (DiCaprio) in the mob and bad mole (Damon) in the police.  The movie is very well done as characters, plot and pace go.  I had some minor problems with the poor use of technology, but all in all it was a terrific movie.  I can’t honestly say it’s appropriate for everyone to view as there is a considerable amount of foul language, so there are age and sensitivity issues for the viewing audience.  Other than that, highly recommended!  Oh, and a shout out to my daughter Rebecca for recommending this to me.
The third movie, “Star Knight” is an alien visits earth in the middle-ages movie.  It was done in the mid 1980’s so there has to be some allowance for the SFX – which for that period are actually pretty good.  The movie, however is terrible!!  The best thing about this movie is it is only 91 minutes long, so you’re not wasting 92 minutes of your life.  There are a few movies I will see just because the actors in the films are known quantities and are predictors of quality.  The movie they are in may not be great, but almost without exception, their role is outstanding.  Among these are actors like: Bogie, Hepburn, Tracy (from the oldies) and Nicholson, Streep and (my personal favorite) Duvall.  There are some younger actors emerging though who I think will one day be in a similar category.  I like Damon, Wahlberg and DiCaprio.  Of these three, I must admit, Wahlberg seems to have the most limited range of characters.  DiCaprio is the most recent addition to my list.  I have seen very little of his work and did not enjoy him or the movies I saw him in early: “Titanic” and “The Quick and the Dead“.  Anyway, last year I thoroughly enjoyed him in “Inception” and I think he was also exceptional in the movie just above (“The Departed“).  Well, (that’s a long way to get to here), one of my other all-time favorite actors has been Harvey Keitel.  Again, I have not always liked the movies he was in, but I always liked him.  This movie is definitely the exception.  He is bad and the movie is terrible.  In fairness to Harvey, the movie, a Spanish film originally called: “El caballero del dragon (The Knight of the Dragon)“, was on sale for $4 and it had a pretty good DVD jacket and blurb on the back, but I bought it on the strength of his name.  As stated previously, this was both a waste of time and money.  I am hoping Keitel did this as bad camp, because it is almost – but not quite – so bad it is funny.  There is a vague nod to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (I hope that is what it is) in one scene, but even as camp, the movie fails.  I guess even the best actors will take any role just to stay active.  Sorry Harvey…  This is among the worst movies I have EVER seen.  Frankly, I don’t even have another movie to compare it to because I’ve blotted them out of my memory, too.

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