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Monday, May 21, 2007

GREENLIGHT #139: 28 Weeks Later (with "The Full Monty" and "The China Syndrome")

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Ann and Les enjoyed their time with 28 Weeks Later (2007) but not equally. Ann thought this film about a husband and father, played by Robert Carlyle who goes from wimp to zombie and back-again, sort of, was done really well. Les agrees but would be happy to never see another zombie movie again. However, they were both particularly impressed with the pathos that Catherine McCormack brought to her role as the wife and mother of two charmers played by kids with even more charming names: Imogene Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton. Both hope director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo uses his obvious talents on a more character-laden film soon. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends Mr. Carlyle in a much more revealing character based film called The Full Monty (1997.) It also marked the film debut of Tom Wilkinson that was quite memorable. (Doesn’t it seem that he’s been around a whole lot longer though?) Ann recommends a more serious but no less enteraining film about a town in upheaval. Jane Fonda plays a reporter who with her cameraman, played by Michael Douglas, stumbles across the story of a lifetime at a local atomic power plant. When her editor refuses to run with the story, she bravely forges ahead to find a plant employee who will tell her all. Jack Lemmon plays the fulcrum character here in this sci-fi political thriller by James Bridges called The China Syndrome (1979.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:59

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

GREENLIGHT #138: Georgia Rule (with "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Klute")

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Ann and Les can't imagine what possesed anyone involved to make Georgia Rule (2007.) As Les says, "this is a disgusting film." Sadly Jane Fonda plays a grandmother who agrees to take in her teenage granddaughter, played by Lindsay Lohan, because she's too unruly for her alcoholic mother, played by Felicity Huffman, to handle. This grandmother is not of the gentle variety. Be prepared, she likes to swear. You should also be forewarned that the teenage girl does things with a boy that simply isn't proper - to say the least. Most shocking of all, and perhaps most sad of all, is that this movie is directed by the king of charming sitcoms Gary Marshall. It's not a movie of which he should be proud. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another depressing but worthwhile film featuring Ms. Fonda called They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969.) In this film, Ms. Fonda plays a 1930's tramp who, along with a whole bunch of other people, try to make some money by participating in a dance-marathon from hell. The promoter of the contest is portrayed masterfully slimy by Gig Young who won an Oscar for this role. Look, too, for the young couple trying desperately to get a break played by a young Bonnie Bedelia and Bruce Dern. It's yet another provocative film by Sydney Pollack. Ann also recommends a film featuring Ms. Fonda. She plays "Bree", a "lady of the night," who is caught up in a homicide investigation when one of her "clients" disappears. This movie also features Donald Sutherland's break-out role as he plays the detective, Klute, who first has to break Fonda's character to get on with his investigation. The film should have been called "Bree' since it's really all about that character but it's called Klute (1973.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:59

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Monday, May 14, 2007

GREENLIGHT #137: After the Wedding (with "The Philadelphia Story" and "Scenes from a Marriage")

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Ann and Les feel like they can live happily ever after now that they've seen After the Wedding (2006.) This Danish film is a beauty. It stars Mads Mikkelsen who until now was best known as the latest James Bond foe. He plays the head of an Indian orhpanage who returns to his native Denmark in search of financial support from the character played by Rolf Lassgard but instead gets invited to his daughter's wedding and finds out a whole lot about himself. The mother-of-the-bride turns out to be a former girlfriend played "luminously" (Ann says) by Sidse Babett Knudsen. It sounds a bit soap opera-ish but rest assured director Susanne Bier handles it with utmost maturity. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another lovely film about a wedding that opens the eyes of many involved called The Philadelphia Story (1940.) This masterpiece of charmingly sophisticated wit has Cary Grant playing C.K. Dexter Haven the ex-husband of the extremely patrician Tracey Lord played by Katherine Hepburn. Haven appears the day before Lord is to marry an extremely sensible man which, Haven thinks, doesn't make sense. Then arrives a newspaper man played by Jimmy Stewart who was all ready to write about the snobbish excesses of the wedding but falls for the bride instead - or at least he thinks he does - requiring much patience from his longtime partner played by Ruth Hussey. Every scene in this movie is divine but pay special attention to the ones with Hepburn and Hussey. Women at their best. Les is sure director George Cukor remembers this one fondly. Ann recommends a film about what really happens after a wedding. Ingmar Bergman created a 36-hour Swedish television series about the life of a married couple played thoroughly convincingly by Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson. Fortunately for American audiences, he edited it all down to an exquisite two-hour film called Scenes from a Marriage (1973.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:57

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

GREENLIGHT #136: Lucky You (with "The Hustler" and "The Cincinnati Kid")

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Ann and Les think the title of this movie, Lucky You (2007) refers to anyone who hasn't seen it. They can't imagine what attracted any actor to this boring story about a guy trying to win the World Series of Poker. Eric Bana plays the lead role. He's got the boring part down. Drew Barrymore plays the love interest and they think she's the perfect match for him. Ann and Les wonder why the talented director Curtis Hanson would waste his considerable talents and those of Robert Downey Jr.,Debra Messing, Robert Duvall and Jean Smart on this film. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a great film about a pool-shark called The Hustler (1961.) In this film, Paul Newman shines as a two-bit pool player who has dreams of the big time and finally gets his chance to play Minnesota Fats, (played magnifcently by Jackie Gleason,) with the help of a slimy manager played by George C. Scott. Ann recommends a film in which Steve McQueen showed us just how cool he really is. He played an up-and-coming poker-player getting his chance to play a long-time master played by Edward G. Robinson though he has to deal with some unwanted help from a dealer played by Karl Malden. The film is Norman Jewison's The Cincinnati Kid (1965.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:56

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Friday, May 04, 2007

GREENLIGHT #135: Spider-Man 3 (with "Seabiscuit" and "Pleasantville")

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Ann and Les are not caught up in the web of Spider-Man 3 (2007.) This third and horrendously expensive installment of this comic book story seems convoluted, loud, and action-packed just because it can. A big problem they have with the film is with the returning lead Tobey Maguire. He has to show us that Spider-Man has a darker side. but Maguire is just not talented enough to play cute and nerdy one minute and cool and calculating the next. To a lesser extent, they have the same problem with Kirsten Dunst. James Franco, on the other hand, manages to play a villain with enough pizazz to keep the film from a complete collapse. They hope director Sam Raimi finds another story to work on for awhile. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a film in which he did enjoy the talents of Mr. Maguire called Seabiscuit (2003.) It's a truly moving story about a horse that lifted the spirits of America in the 1930s. Jeff Bridges gives an amazing performance in which he makes the rich cocky guy seem endearing. Chris Cooper really makes you believe his character, the trainer, has lived his life to take care of this horse. The film's added punch comes from the neat trick of using the best-selling historical author David McCullough as its narrator. Ann also recommends a film featuring Mr. Maguire as he played the brother of Reese Witherspoon while they both get launched from their life in the 1990s back into the black-and-white world of a 1950s sitcom by their friendly television repair man played by Don Knotts. Director Gary Ross makes some beautiful pictures as he allows the kids to bring real color to their new world- here and there - in his charming film Pleasantville (1998.)
RUNNING TIME: 15:01

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

GREENLIGHT #134: Next (with "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Peggy Sue Got Married")

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Ann and Les only wished that yelling Next (2007) was the point of this film. It wasn't. Instead it was a convoluted story about a sorry magician with one mysterious trick, played by Nicolas Cage, who finds himself recruited by an FBI agent, played increduously by Julianne Moore, to help save Los Angeles from a nuclear bomb. Somehow Jessica Biel has a role in all this too and she was the highlight, such as it is, of this film. Neither Ann or Les had much good to say about this film by Lee Tamahori. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a Nic Cage film that he thought was masterful called Leaving Las Vegas (1995.) It's not a very uplifting tale, (Cage's character desides to drink himself to death,) but it's intriguing nonetheless. Elisabeth Shue plays an equally depressing but interesting character. Les believes much credit for this film goes to director Mike Figgis. Ann reminisces longingly for Cage's better pictures. She especially enjoyed his turn as Kathleen Turner's husband and boyfriend - in that order. This is a great story told by a master storyteller (and Cage's uncle) Francis Ford Coppola called Peggy Sue Got Married (1986.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:54

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