10 movies that have influenced me

beingthereThere’s some online game in which you name ten films that heavily influenced your way of thinking, or world view, or whatever. They need not be GOOD films or your FAVORITE films. If I picked Annie Hall, which may be my favorite, it would be selected, as I noted before, because of my hatred of going into a movie after it starts, just like Alvy Singer (Woody Allen). But let me look elsewhere.

Being There (1979) – Can a guy uttering stuff he’s heard on TV be embraced as a wise and profound leader? Seemed ridiculous at the time, save for televangelists, but now reality-show “celebrities” often drive the national dialogue (see: Jersey Shore, Duck Dynasty, The Real Housewives of Topeka, et al.)
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M is for Michael Douglas is 70 (tomorrow)

Michael_DouglasIn the 1960s and 1970s, I used to watch The Fugitive and Cannon and Barnaby Jones, virtually all the Quinn Martin productions, including the cop show The Streets of San Francisco. It starred Karl Malden as the wise senior partner, and Michael Douglas as the impetuous junior partner.

I didn’t really know who Michael Douglas was, except that he was the son of Kirk Douglas, the guy whose jaw was so square that the mimics on the Ed Sullivan Show, just had to grit their teeth to “do” him. Continue reading

Movie Review: Boyhood

boyhood.ellarmasterSteven Rea, the Philadelphia Inquirer film critic wrote of the film Boyhood, “Is it dumb to say, ‘Wow?'” I don’t care. Wow.” I’ll buy that.

From IMDB: “Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha…” This project was somehow completed, more or less, secretly.

So it is a visionary CONCEPT of a movie, a brilliant stunt, filming a few days every year for a dozen years, in the life of a boy and his family. So many things could have gone wrong. Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: Magic in the Moonlight

magic+in+the+moonlight+posterWednesday night at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, the Wife and I went to see Magic in the Moonlight. There are still several films we want to see, but at 97 minutes, this was the shortest; when you hire a child watcher, time is definitely money.

I am a huge Woody Allen fan. Afterwards, I thought it was a better than OK movie, though my wife thought it lagged in the first half. Maybe it was that we’d see too much in the preview?
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MOVIE REVIEW: Begin Again

Begin-Again-2I had heard that Begin Again was an Americanized version of the movie Once, which was not a particularly inviting prospect. I mean, I liked the 2006 movie about an Irish busker quite a bit, but didn’t need to see a variation. But Begin Again is largely a different thing, though it does share the fact that music is being performed outdoors, and has the same writer/director, John Carney.

Dan, a music-business executive (Mark Ruffalo) who drinks too much, sees the performance of Gretta, a shy young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) and visualizes what her music could sound like in the right hands. Unfortunately Continue reading

Circular question answering New York Erratic

happinessrunsAnd in an act that defies logic, I am now answering questions that New York Erratic answered for me, even though I gave them to her, based on questions Lisa posted, and which Dustbury also answered… Oh never mind.

1. What is your dream vacation spot and why?

It would be a place by water, preferably running water, like a river or a waterfalls, because I love water; maybe it’s the Pisces in me. It would be neither too hot or too cold. Maybe Continue reading

Movie reviews: Chef; and The Hundred-Foot Journey

chef-uoWARNING: do NOT got to the movie Chef if you’re hungry. The Wife and I saw this film Sunday at The Spectrum Theatre in Albany, and we were practically salivating by the end. We’ve seen a lot of foodie movies, notably the classic Big Night, and this was among the best. I mean, a grilled cheese sandwich looked “to die for.”

Moreover, the music was great. The Wife is chair dancing, in the theater, and she is not traditionally a chair dancer. (I am in my office, but I was too.)

Chef Carl Casper (the movie’s writer/director/co-producer Jon Favreau) is a high-powered chef at a chic Los Angeles restaurant, has a good crew (John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale), and an ambiguous thing with Molly (Scarlett Johansson), who runs the front. If he could only ignore the controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), life would be great.

OK, not so great. Continue reading

Robin Williams has died. SHAZBOT!

public domain

public domain

I had heard that Robin Williams had passed away while I was hanging out with some Times Union bloggers Monday night, Chuck Miller and Don Rittner and David Kalish. My first thought that maybe it was a hoax, which says a lot about the news these days. But it wasn’t until I got home that I discovered that he had apparently committed suicide.

The FIRST person I thought of Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: Words and Pictures

wordsandpicturesAt some point in July, the Wife and I saw Words and Pictures at the Spectrum 8 Theatre. I forgot to write a review straight on, partly because I was busy, but also because I don’t particularly enjoy scribing negative reviews. ESPECIALLY when I REALLY wanted to like the film.

The premise is that prep school English teacher Jack Marcus (Clive Owen), once an acclaimed writer himself, is a burned out, functional alcoholic. He tries to motivate his students to value the the written word.
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MOVIE REVIEW: The Grand Seduction

grand-seductionThe Wife and I went to the Spectrum Theatre on a recent Saturday night. I knew little about any of the movies, so we opted for the film down from four showings per day to two, The Grand Seduction.

From the IMDB description:
“The small harbor of Tickle Cove [probably Newfoundland, Canada] is in dire need of a doctor so that the town can land a contract to secure a factory which will save the town from financial ruin. Village resident Murray French (Brandon Gleeson) leads the search, and when he finds Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch) he employs – along with the whole town – tactics to seduce the doctor to stay permanently.”

This film is an English language remake Continue reading