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Monday, March 26, 2007

GREENLIGHT #123: I Think I Love My Wife (with "10" and "The Seven Year Itch")

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Ann and Les think that I Think I Love My Wife (2007) could have been a much better movie than it was. While both admire the talent of Chris Rock, who wrote, directed, and produced this movie, they don't think he put it to the best use in this film. Ann thinks it all would have been alright if he had toned down the language. Les agreed that the language was over-the-top but he doesn't think just taking out certain words would have fixed the tacky nature of the whole film. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another film about a man who wants to have an affair and, along the way, changed the way men talk about women. It's called simply 10 (1979.) In this comedy, Dudley Moore plays a man who becomes obsessed with the newly married daughter of his dentist and follows her on her honeymoon. The unsuspecting woman's role offered the world our introduction to Bo Derek. Moore's wife was played by the sensible Julie Andrews who, at the time, was married to director Blake Edwards. Though most people remember this film for things other than the humor, it was a funny movie. Ann also recommends a film about a married man, played by Tom Ewell, who fantasizes about an affair with his upstairs neighbor, played by Marilyn Monroe. This film by director Billy Wilder is best known for the poster that has Monroe in a billowing white dress standing over a NY subway grate as she advertises her film The Seven Year Itch (1955.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:59

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

GREENLIGHT #122: Premonition (with "Gaslight" and "Double Jeopardy")

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Ann and Les had a feeling they knew how'd they feel about Premonition (2007.) Yet another movie with featuring Sandra Bullock in a confused state-of-mind. Her husband, played by Julian McMahon, is killed in a car crash and then shows up again the next day. It's supposed to be eerie and suspenseful but Ann and Les just think it's confusing and boring. The film is directed by unknown director Mennan Yappo and they think he'll stay that way. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a film about a woman confused about, or is it by, her husband's actions called Gaslight (1944.) It's Ingrid Bergman starring at her most dramatic and vulnerable best. Her suspicious husband is played wonderfully smarmily by Charles Boyer who is in cahoots with the maid played by a very young though seemingly much older Angela Landsbury. To round out the cast, Joseph Cotten gets to play the knight-in-detective's-armour for Ms. Bergman's character. The film is a George Cukor masterpiece. Ann recommends a film that gives the downtrodden wife, played convincingly by Ashley Judd, a real chance at revenge against her slimy husband, played by Bruce Greenwood, though to do so she must evade the wily parole officer, played by the ever-wiley Tommy Lee Jones, since she just got out of prison for supposedly already murdering that sneaky husband of hers. It’s a thriller that director Bruce Beresford hopes you'll enjoy more than once and it's called Double Jeopardy (1999.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:52

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

GREENLIGHT #121: 300 (with "The Alamo" and "Gladiator")

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Ann and Les think there are, at least, three-hundred reasons not to see 300 (2007.) This movie is an adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel about 300 Greek Spartans holding off, for a while anyhow, the invading Persian army but it turned out to be just a graphic movie. Lots of blood and guts and not very believable. Gerard Butler plays the King and screams his way through the movie. The Queen is played valiantly but ultimately pointlessly by Lena Headey though she is the recipient of the best line of the movie delivered by the film’s villain Dominic West. Ann and Les think this could be considered a work of genius if you think of it as camp but there are no signs director Zack Snyder had that in mind unless you count the costumes as evidence. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends an American film about a small bunch of guys who hold off the invading Mexican army in Texas and it's called The Alamo (1960.) This is a John Wayne starring and directed film and it is stirring. Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, and the stereotypical western actor Frankie Avalon round out this fine cast. Ann recommends a film that almost made sandals and swords cool. Russell Crowe plays a noble warrior who is loved by the King, played gloriously though briefly by Richard Harris but therefore is not so loved by the King’s son, Commodus, played Joaquin Phoenix. So, when the King dies early, Commodus enslaves Maximus which then gives him a chance to become a gladiator who wins the hearts of the people and the King’s daughter played to perfection by Connie Nielsen . It’s the Ridley Scott masterpiece called Gladiator (2000.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:59

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

GREENLIGHT #120: Copying Beethoven (with "Pollock" and "The Right Stuff")

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Ann and Les have no need to repeat their viewing of Copying Beethoven (2007.) In fact, they weren't thrilled to see it in the first place. This movie says it tells the tale of the last months of Beethoven's life but it changes a few things along the way. Like, for instance, in their version Beethoven, played thoroughly unconvincingly by Ed Harris, the character of Beethoven's "copyist" is not the male Carl Holtz but a pretty female Anna Holtz, played by Diane Krueger, and then they introduce a semi-love story. To add to the insult, Ms. Krueger didn't seem to understand that this was a period piece as she continued to speak with a modern day accent. The writers, Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, didn't seem to understand about the period piece either as their jokes, such as they were, were modern day crude. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a film he loved that was directed by and starred the usually fascinating Mr. Harris and it's called Pollock (2000.) In this film, Harris plays the talented but troubled artist Jackson Pollock who is steadfastly supported by his wife Lee, played by Marcia Gay Harden. However, her help doesn't save him from the cruelties of the artistic world. The movie also includes a lovely performance by Bud Cort. Ann recommends a film in which she thought Mr. Ed Harris made his mark as he played the fabulously upright character of John Glenn who was among the amazing group of men who were the United States' first astronauts. Everyone from Sam Shepard to Scott Glenn to Dennis Quaid to Fred Ward to Barbara Hershey to Kim Delaney were perfect for the film version of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff (1983.)
RUNNING TIME: 15:01

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

GREENLIGHT #119: Wild Hogs (with "The Wild One" and "City Slickers")

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Ann and Les were certainly wild about Wild Hogs (2007) but not in a way that the producers might like. Well, to be fair, Les found this story of four middle-aged suburban men, played by William H. Macy, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and John Travolta, who go on a cross country motorcycle tour as a way to combat their mid-life crises, funny enough in spots. But Ann, while acknowledging the tiniest bit of humor, was revolted by the sohpmoric writing and imbecilic stereotypes this movie perpetuates. She hated this film and is downright saddened that talented actors, particularly Macy and Travolta, would agree to participate in such trash. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends the film that made everyone want to do tough-guy motorcycle movies The Wild One (1953.) In this film Marlon Brando dons black leather from head-to-toe, rebels against "whatever you got," and makes it cool. He and his gang run roughshod over a small town and after getting stuck there by an injury and finding love in the wrong place (as far as the sheriff is concerned) they end-up doing battle with another formidable gang led by another tough-guy Lee Marvin. Ann recommends a film about middle-aged men facing mid-life crises who go on an adventure together that delights rather than insults. It's produced by and features a comically pitch-perfect performance by Billy Crystal along with Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby and it's called City Slickers (1991.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:57

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Monday, March 12, 2007

GREENLIGHT #118: Zodiac (with "Now Way to Treat a Lady" and "Boston Strangler")

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Ann and Les don't think there is much mysterious about why Zodiac (2007) isn't as good as it could be. It's too long. For almost three hours Jake Gyllenhall plays Robert Graysmith, the real-life San Fransisco reporter whose obsession in life was catching the Zodiac serial murderer of the 1960's and 70's - though he never does. The two cops who try to help him are played by Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards who do a very thorough job of following-up on leads year-after-year. And that's the problem - it's written and performed well but it just goes on and on. However, Ann thought Robert Downey Jr. was such a delight to watch as the star reporter with the ignored drug problem (funny that RDJr. took on this role) that she forgave the usually tight director David Fincher his verbosity. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a fabulous and funny movie about a serial killer called No Way to Treat a Lady (1957.) In it Rod Steiger plays a killer who is the master of disguise and each character is astonishing. So much so that one guy, played by Michael Dunn, tries to confess to the crimes just for the publicity. You'll hear why that's so funny. Ann also recommends a film about a serial killer but not because the movie is so great (and it's certainy not funny) but because it features such a surprisingly good dramatic performance by Tony Curtis. The story about how he won the part is worth the listen alone. And you'll also enjoy the work of Henry Fonda in Boston Strangler (1968.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:59

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

GREENLIGHT #117: Amazing Grace (with "Witness for the Prosecution" and "Coal Miner's Daughter")

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Ann and Les were awed by Amazing Grace (2007.) It tells the story of William Wilberforce, played by Ioan Grufford, who with a little help from his friend and Prime Minister William Pitt, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, abolished the slave trade in Britain. And it also tells the story of the song "Amazing Grace." It had every bit the impact on Ann and Les director Michael Apted and producer Patricia Heaton and her husband must have wanted. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another British movie where lots of actors where the barrister's wig called Witness for the Prosecution (1957.) In this movie, Charles Laughton plays a tired old English lawyer who takes on one last case and is masterful. Watch for the fireworks in the courtroom with Marlene Dietrich. Ann recommends another film by Mr. Apsted which, while still a biography, is worlds apart from 18th century England. For this movie, Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for portraying the first-lady-of country Loretta Lynn, from her marriage at 13 to Doo, played at-once endearingly and maddeningly by a masterful Tommy Lee Jones, to her phenomenal success complete with all its pitfalls. The film is the beautiful Coal Miner's Daughter (1980.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:52

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

GREENLIGHT #116: The Number 23 (with "Sideways" and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas")

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Ann and Les can count the ways they didn't enjoy the movie The Number 23 (2007.) It's supposedly a clever film about a man, played by Jim Carrey, who "finds himself" the main character in a murder mystery novel he's reading which revolves around the amazing coincidences related to the number twenty-three. Virginia Madsen plays his long-suffering wife and though she does well enough Ann thinks she couldn't do anything to help this disaster of a movie. Les thought she did. Billy Ray For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends Ms. Madsen in a more recent and charming film called Sideways (2004.) She plays a woman who befriends two men in wine country who are out to carouse even though one is getting married in a week. Ann recommends a rental in which she actually liked Mr. Carrey as he plays the title character in director Ron Howard's version of the Christmas classic called How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (2000.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:40

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