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Thursday, July 19, 2007

GREENLIGHT #156: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (with "Goldfinger" and "Dead Poets Society")

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Ann and Les were amused by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) but Ann more than Les. Ann thinks this is what movies are all about - magic. Les thinks Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , and Rupert Grint have all gotten just a bit too old to be believable. They were good, mind you. Just a little bit past the “magic-hour.” But, however, really enjoyed the stingy awful performance of Imelda Staunton who played the new Hogwart Headmaster like Nurse Ratchett reincarnated. And based on this film, both Ann and Les would be willing to see more from director David Yates. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a much more grown-up but still magical film called Goldfinger (1964.) Listen for the story about his 4-year old daughter. It may be why he’s particularly fond of this Bond film but he does think that Sean Connery was and still is the best. And he enjoyed watching Honor Blackmun, Gert Frobe , and Harold Sakata too. Ann stayed with the school-boys in revolt theme and came up with a Robin Williams’ charmer. This was back when Mr. Williams was making films worth watching. Both Ann and Les wish that he would sit down with this director, Peter Weir, for a few pointers on why he was so good and therefore successful in Dead Poets Society (1989.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:57

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GREENLIGHT #155: Transformers (with "Duel" and "Mad Max")

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Ann and Les were surprisingly entertained by Transformers (2007.) They didn’t imagine they’d like a film about inanimate objects coming to life but the story of the lead boy, played by Shia LeBeouf who is desperately infatuated with the lead girl, played by Megan Fox, is so charming that somehow and human that somehow they didn’t mind when all the cars starting to come to life to help in his plight. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another movie about lifelike automobiles called Duel (1952.) This was a made-for-TV movie and was the “big-break” for director Steven Spielberg and Les thinks this movie should rank up there with Mr. Spielberg’s best. And, frankly, he thinks it’s just good suspenseful fun watching Dennis Weaver being chased by a great big menacing truck. Ann, too, recommends another film involving big trucks on big chases but this time, we know who the good guys and the bad guys are. In this movie, Mel Gibson takes on what’s left of the world after a nuclear detenation, and that consists of him and a bunch of mean motorcycle gangsters. is really plays a young woman who is destroying herself and her swinging partner played by George Miller in risqué and risky activities until she is miraculously cleansed and joins a cult. It’s a restrained and respectful look at this kind of conversion in Mad Max (1979.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:55

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GREENLIGHT #154: La Vie En Rose (with "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle")

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Ann and Les enjoyed the performances in La Vie En Rose (2007) equally but not the movie. It’s the tale of the marvelous French singer Edith Piaf who had a terrible life – from beginning to end. Ann thought her life worth exploring and the drama real. Les thought the story was just too depressing even if real. However, both loved the music and the incredible performance of Marion Cotillard as the lead character. And they both liked the work of her tragic lover played by Jean-Pierre Martins. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another film with great music about an incredible singer with a hard-knock life called Lady Sings the Blues (1972.) It’s the story of Billy Holiday – who also had a pretty miserable life – but it didn’t dwell on it as much as the songs. Diana Ross was the lead character and Billy Dee Williams played one of her husbands. Watch for the strong performance of Richard Pryor as the Piano Man too. Ann recommends a movie about a tough woman writer with a tough life. This delightfully sarcastic film features Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, and Matthew Broderick, among many others, who all play writers from The New Yorker who gathered regularly at The Algonquin Hotel in New York. Life there was as rarified as it was rough. These people knew how to dig knives in each others’ backs and not leave visible scars. Director Alan Rudolph adeptly tells the story of Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:55

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

GREENLIGHT #153: Live Free or Die Hard (with "The Last Boy Scout" and "Billy Bathgate")

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Ann and Les just had a ball watching Live Free or Die Hard (2007.) If you’re looking for an action-packed thriller with a little boomer humor to boot this is the movie for you. Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, the NYPD detective with a mind and body, apparently, made of steel. No matter what is thrown at him or what he has to jump out of, he manages to survive with that charming smirk on his face. Justin Long is the unwitting victim in this one and he plays the young foil role with much enthusiasm. You just don’t know whether to give him a kick in the pants or a hug –and that’s just the way it should be. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends his favorite but lesser-know Bruce Willis film called The Last Boy Scout (1991.) It’s a Tony Scott film that pairs Mr. Willis with Damon Wayans for lots of fun, adventure and mayhem and one of the first roles for Halle Berry. Ann recommends another small film with Bruce Willis in it. Only, this time, he’s not the lead but a supporting player. Willis plays a mobster on-the-rise in the world of Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant Dutch Schulz and his flighty gunmoll girlfriend played by Nicole Kidman. Director Robert Benton did a great job bringing to the screen E.L. Doctorow’s book called Billy Bathgate (1991.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:54

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Monday, July 09, 2007

GREENLIGHT #152: Evening (with "Romeo + Juliet" and "The Women")

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Ann and Les were sorely disappointed by this Evening (2007.) They couldn’t imagine how a film loaded with such talent could be so dull but it was. No one was able to liven up this story of a dying old woman, played by Vanessa Redgrave , telling her daughters, played by , Toni Collete and Natasha Richardson (who is her real life daughter too – should have been more interesting) of her life secrets which we see in flashback with the old woman now young and played by Claire Danes . And the two major stars touted quite heavily, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close were barely in the film and despite their good efforts, could do nothing to help it. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a film in which he first saw and loved Ms. Danes called Romeo + Juliet (1996.) It’s a pretty well known story but it had a fresh turn in the modern day suburb of Verona with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Romeo to Ms. Dane’s Juliet. John Leguizamo also turns in a wonderful performance as Mercutio. Ann picked a movie that was everything “Evening” wasn’t. Her movie starred Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell as three high-society New York women backbiting and clawing their way through their days with much spunk. The famed women’s director George Cukor really proves his reputation here when he filmed Clare Booth’s venom-filled screenplay called The Women (1939.)
RUNNING TIME: 15:00

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

GREENLIGHT #151: Evan Almighty (with "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Rapture")

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Ann and Les offer a prayer that they will never have to see another movie like Evan Almighty (2007.) While both are big fans of Steve Carell even he, they say, can’t save the lame story here. And why Morgan Freeman would agree to do such a film, even if he did get to play God, is truly a mystery. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends The Shawshank Redemption (1952.) This is one of his favorite movies of all time and it happens to star Mr. Freeman as an almost God-like character who shows Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, around the prison after he is convicted for murdering his wife which he did not do. Watch for the amazing though thankless performance of the warden played by Bob Gunton. He’s chillingly good as a heartless man. This is not a horror film but it does grab you by the throat many times so it’s not surprising that it’s based on a short story by Stephen King . Ann sticks with the spiritual awakening theme supposedly addressed in “Evan Almighty” but she goes the serious route. In her film, Mimi Rogers plays a young woman who is destroying herself and her swinging partner played by David Duchovny in risqué and risky activities until she is miraculously cleansed and joins a cult. It’s a restrained and respectful look at this kind of conversion in The Rapture (1991.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:55

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