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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Bacon’

Today’s review is for a DVD I picked up for old time’s sake.  The movie is titled: “Diner” from 1982 and was directed by Barry Levinson.  This was his directorial debut and was one of four movies he made about life in his hometown: Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s is supposed to be a “comedy / drama”, but I didn’t find much to laugh about in the movie, so I guess it’s supposed to be a “black comedy”, which, in turn, means it’s “disturbing” and not funny.  Levinson is supposed to be a big deal producer / director, but I don’t follow that stuff (directors) much, so I’m not really bothered about it.  With the exception of Hitchcock and Spielberg, I don’t really “go” to a movie “because” of its director.  I guess I’m unusual that way, as it seems to matter to people I know (friends and family) a lot more than it’s ever mattered to me.  And, although I did see this movie during its original release, I have no recollection of the other three movies in the “Baltimore series”.
Anyway, this movie is kind of an adult / older version of a coming of age story.  I usually think of “coming of age” stories as teen-to-adult, not “Oh, shit!  I’m an adult.  Now what do I do with the rest of my life.”  Well, this is the latter.  It’s the story of six male friends (and the wife of one of the friends) who come together for the wedding of one of the other five (the friend played by Guttenberg).  The movie was a launching pad for some folks who later went on to have pretty well known careers for the rest of the ’80’s, including: Steve Guttenberg (the guy getting married), Daniel Stern (the guy already married), Ellen Barkin (his wife), Mickey Rourke (playing a macho hairdresser, unlike Warren Beatty in “Shampoo“), Kevin Bacon (as a young alcoholic – with surprising intelligence – jerk), Tim Daly (as the handsome guy in the group), Paul Reiser (as the “I have no idea why this guy is in this group of friends or this movie” character).
Now, you may be asking, why did this movie make Kevin’s list “for old time’s sake”?  Well, growing up, I used to follow the American football team based in Baltimore – the Colts – because I really liked their quarterback (Johnny Unitas) and one of their wide receivers (Raymond Berry).  The hooks (for me) in this movie are: before the Guttenberg character will marry his fiancé, she has to pass a test of knowledge about the history of the Colts and the NFL; the music played during the bride’s procession to the altar is the Colt’s theme / fight song; and, the wedding colors are Colt’s Blue and White.  The best line in the movie is when a female / spouse complains to one of the wedding guest characters about the wedding colors and he responds: “Hey, she should be grateful he doesn’t support the Steelers.”  For those of you who know little to nothing about American Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers colors are black and gold.  The “gold” has always looked more “yellow” to my eye, but it is supposed to be gold.  The fiancé narrowly fails the test, but he marries her anyway.  In my head, I can see a Steeler fan telling his fiancé their wedding colors will be Black and Gold…  Heck, I can see that now, let alone back in 1959!!
I don’t know if Americans “come of age” while sitting in diners anymore.  Perhaps they – diners – (like my own youth) are a thing of the past in these days of malls and franchise restaurants, but if you want to see a little slice of “Americana” as it was in earlier days (at least it is similar to how I remember late nights and early morning hours from my late teens and early twenties), then this is a pretty accurate snapshot and you should check out this movie.
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  A darker and more East Coast version of “American Graffiti“, without the cars / crusin’.  Good music, good writing and good character actors.
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On This Day In:
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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There is something about a web site which claims as its purpose:  “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”  To find out more and to stretch your mind, visit www.edge.org.  You’ll be glad you did…  This site may not have the breadth or humor of www.ted.com, but it will definitely make you think.
Today’s movie reviews include a repeat (“X-men: First Class“), a new viewing (“Clash Of The Titans“) and a first viewing of a remake (“The Flight Of The Phoenix“).
What is left to be re-said about this reboot of the X-men franchise.  This is probably the third time I’ve watched it and it is the best of the bunch (the X-men franchise).  I even give it an edge over “Wolverine: Origins” which was my previous favorite.  If they can keep up the story quality (and acting), this franchise can easily go another 10 years.  The evolution of Magneto into an enemy of humanity (as opposed to simply an evil person) is quite deep (and fascinating).  The performances by Michael Fassbender (as Magneto) and Kevin Bacon (as Sebastian Shaw) easily dominate the movie.  The interesting twist (level of depth) is that Magneto grows up to hate humans because he believes Shaw is evil and a human, when in fact, Shaw is a mutant who has complete disregard for humans because he is a mutant and believes himself to be superior (even to other mutants).
This is a movie I can watch over and over again and I highly recommend it.
I was sure I first saw “Clash Of The Titans” when I was a child, but I honestly didn’t remember it.  This is, quite frankly, an incredibly bad movie.  The casting is bad and the acting is worse.  The movie has two redeeming features: it does follow the Greek myths (on which it is based) more closely than the average Hollywood movie, and for its day, the stop-action special effects (by Ray Harryhausen) are quite good.  I would still rate the stop-action from “Jason And The Argonauts” better though.  Almost all of the other special effects are as bad as the acting.  I was shocked to find out the movie was released in 1981!!  Considering “Jason” was made in 1963, one would have assumed there was greater improvements in the technology in almost 20 years.  I can only attribute the poor effects to the producers having spent too much money on the big names in the cast.  Money, I add, which was wasted as I struggle to find a single decent performance (and this from a cast including Laurence Olivier).
Interestingly, even the title is incorrect.  This is not a “clash of titans” as the movie implies.  To begin with the “Kracken” is a Norse myth, not Greek, and Medusa was a human, turned into an evil creature by a jealous goddess.  Neither were Titans from Greek mythology.  And finally, the “clash” is about 10 seconds, at the end of a two hour movie.  Anyway, like I said this movie is only “based” on Greek myth – the adventures of Perseus.
The reason I bought the DVD was because there was a re-make done recently and its sequel is due out soon.  I was intending to pick up the re-make prior to going to see the sequel.  I will probably still do that, but I certainly have much lower expectations now.  Unless you are really a stop-action special effects fan, this movie is a complete waste of time.
The third movie I’m reviewing is “Flight Of The Phoenix“.  This is a 2004 remake of the 1965 movie by the same name (well, actually “The Flight Of The Phoenix“).   I now own both versions, although I haven’t watched the original in some time.  What starts out as a typical disaster movie turns out to be a better than average study in human dynamics when faced with extreme stress (yeah, I know, that’s what all “disaster movies” are supposed to be about).  This version has the addition of a female in the cast – I’m not sure why as there is no particular advantage or plot twist involving her.  This movie also does the politically correct thing of adding minorities in many of the roles.  In the original, the cast is multi-national as opposed to multi-racial.  The slight twist is the addition of “class” difference where Hugh Laurie plays a “valuable” management type as opposed to the average worker.  It’s interesting that this plays a more significant role in the movie than does the multi-gender or multi-racial aspects.
As if surviving in the desert isn’t bad enough, this re-make version adds in a final sequence attack by roaming bandits.  Setting aside the unlikeliness of bandits wandering around in the middle of the desert, the odds of them stumbling on the crashed crew is so improbable as to boggle all credulity.  But, what the heck, in a disaster/survival movie – in for a penny (desert, storms, crashes), in for a pound (roving bandits with motor cycles).  To be honest, I kept waiting for someone to say, “Oh, heck!  A brother never survives this shit in the movies…”
The ending in the original is MUCH better than in the re-make which is entirely Hollywood “happily ever after”.  Anyway, I am a Dennis Quaid fan and I liked this version – so – recommended!!  Now I’ve got to go watch the original with Jimmy Stewart!!
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