Archive for the 'april' Category


The Best of Hest: 10 Iconic Charlton Heston Films

As some may know, actor Charlton Heston passed away on April 5, 2008 at the age of 84. With regards to his craft, I have sifted through his 126 films and now present to you the Top 10 Charlton Heston films in order of appearance.



The Ten Commandments (1956)


Straight out of the Old Testament, Heston portrays the life of Moses. His nemesis: Ramses, played by Yul Brynner who inhibits the classic cinematic antagonist. Throw in Edward G. Robinson as Dathan and Vincent Price for good measure. Biblical filmmaking has never gotten better than this.




Touch of Evil (1958)


If you’re a film noir person like me, this is on your must-see list (right after “The Maltese Falcon” and “Sunset Boulevard”). Heston plays Ramon Miguel ‘Mike’ Vargas (yes, a Mexican) who is recently married to Janet Leigh and is investigating murder in a Mexican border town. His nemesis: Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), the epitome of police corruption. I can’t recommend this film enough.










 Ben Hur (1959)


Taking a few cues from the Ten Commandments, this time Charlton is Judah Ben Hur, a rich Jewish prince put into slavery by his Roman friend, Messala (Stephen Boyd). What follows are the trials and tribulations of regaining freedom and vengeance. Oh yeah, and some impressive chariot racing.








El Cid (1961)


Heston is the titular character El Cid /Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the Spanish hero who drove the Moors from Spain. Also stars Sophia Loren. How can you go wrong?













Major Dundee (1965)


Cinema has had its fair share of megalomaniacs, from Charles Foster Kane to Daniel Plainview. One of the most overlooked of them is Major Amos Charles Dundee (Heston). It’s the post-Civil War years and a band of Apaches raid Army bases in Texas. Dundee decides to go after them, inducting a group of Confederates (headed by Richard Harris) and ignoring protocol by going into Mexico. Heston is great in a role that’s equivocal to Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick. Other reasons to watch the film include the supporting cast of Richard Harris, James Coburn, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Brock Peters, and Slim Pickens. Of note, this was the first major film from director Sam Peckinpah.





Planet of the Apes (1968)


The Hest is George Taylor, one of three astronauts that crash-land on a planet where simians rule and humans are the hunted. If you’ve never watched the original, make yourself do so. While current pop culture has given away the ending and every line has become part of American vernacular, there is something about sitting alone and watching this on your own. While Heston came back for a few minutes for the sequel, he did that for the paycheck. This is THE version of the film, unless someone makes a version closer to the book (where the apes had technology, like helicopters).





The Omega Man (1971)


In the second incarnation of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” story, Heston takes the role Vincent Price played previous, except this time he’s up against the mutations caused by biological warfare whom have came together and called themselves the ‘Family,’ headed-up by Paul Koslo. Most notable about this movie (aside from the amount of times it’s been referenced on the ‘Simpsons’ or what the new ‘I Am Legend’ ripped from it) is the scene where Heston is driving down the streets of abandoned L.A. He stops, grabs his machine gun, and starts firing at a mutant. Classic.





 Soylent Green (1973)


The year is 2022 and the Earth is overcrowded, which doesn’t bode well for the already overcrowded New York City and Detective Robert Thorn. When a murder is linked to the obsessive food Soylent Green, Thorn investigates and finds out the deadly secret behind the new food. Also stars Brock Peters and Edward G. Robinson. Go ahead. Tell them, tell them all.





 Airport 1975 (1974)


I’m guessing they were going for a later date of release… Besides that Heston is Alan Murdock, a man who takes control of a 747 after a small plane collides with it, rendering the flight without a pilot. Somehow, they must land that plane! Also stars Gloria Swanson, Karen Black, Linda Blair, and Dana Andrews (no relation to me).





Earthquake (1974)


It’s still 1974 and Heston takes a shot at another disaster film: “Earthquake.” In it he plays construction engineer Stuart Graff, estranged from his wife Remy (Ava Gardner) and is having an affair with the widow of a co-worker (Genevieve Bujold). One of the eponymous disaster flicks of the Seventies, it also stars Richard Roundtree, Victoria Principal, and Walter Matthau.













Honorable mentions:


While Heston’s ‘leading man’ status waned around the late Seventies/ early Eighties, he became a supporting actor in the Nineties. His bit parts included:


Almost an Angel (1990)


He played God to Paul Hogan, but went uncredited.



Wayne’s World 2 (1993)


When Wayne (Mike Myers) is doing his homage to ‘The Graduate,’ he replaces Al Hansen (‘Bad Actor’) for Charlton Heston (‘Good Actor’).



True Lies (1994)


Heston is Spence Trilby, who overlooks the organization Ah-nuld works for. Oh yeah, and he wears an eye patch.



In the Mouth of Madness (1995)


I put this one in here not so much because Heston was in it, but it’s a fave movie of mine. Heston is the boss of a publishing company who’s looking for their star author, Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow). If you a fan of horror/ H.P. Lovecraft, check into it.


Thanks for reading, and enjoy your own Hest-Fest.


Movie Review: Leatherheads

Leatherheads poster


Now with 100% pigskin footballs!


Starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, and Stephen Root. Directed by George Clooney


It was the kind of movie I needed a girlfriend for.


George Clooney is “Dodge” Connelly, an aging football player for the Duluth Bulldogs who has been playing “pro” football for the last 20 years. The year is 1925, and football is relegated more to the being a kids/high school sport than something grown men would partake in. When a game against Milwaukee gets cancelled and their own sponsorship gets pulled, the team goes back to their regular jobs (or trying to find one). Clooney then has an insight: try to sign Carter Rutherford (Krasinski).


Carter Rutherford is a former high school athlete and a war hero – he got a group of German soldiers to surrender without firing a shot (which is true, and a funny scene). This sounds too bogus for the Chicago Tribune, who send reporter Lexi Littleton to cozy up to Carter and find the real truth of what happened over there (“over there, over there…”) What follows is Carter’s celebrity taking over the Duluth Bulldogs, the love triangle between Lexi, Carter, and Connelly, and the eventual civilization of football.


What I enjoyed about this movie is the nostalgia/homage factor. Yeah, the movie felt like it leaned a bit on “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” but it never stopped believing it was what it was, a throwback to the comedies of the 20’s-40’s. I best describe it as a football comedy meets “His Girl Friday.” Some of the best scenes involve Zellweger and Clooney exchanging rapid-fire dialog with wit.


As for historical accuracy… I’m not quite sure how accurate it is. It does show pro-football changing from playing in dirt fields to becoming a legitimate game, complete with “new rules” (the scene were the referees have to check against the new rulebook is classic). And I think it shows how something that was considered fun became something more serious and in doing so, became boring (any football fans out there still with me?)


So, why should you check this one out? It’s probably the easiest “date movie” there is on the block. Also, it’s not a “cynical” movie; everyone is in on what’s going on, and they’re doing what they’re doing for fun. The cast looks like it really had fun making the movie.


You also may wanna see it because it’s that different from the usual “blow-em-up”/ murder mystery/ special effects laden movie that you popped into your DVD player this past weekend. And with the minute bit of language it has, it’s pretty safe to take your parents/grandparents to as well.


My grade: A (because it was different and made well)


April 2008 Movie Releases

Movie poster

“Leatherheads” – George Clooney directs and stars in a film about the olden days of football. Hopefully, no “Super Bowl Shuffle.” Also stars Renee Zellweger. Opens April 4, 2008

“My Blueberry Nights” – Norah Jones goes cross-country to find herself. Along the way she deals with David Strathairn, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Tim Roth, Ed Harris, and Natalie Portman. Directed by Wong Kar Wai. Opens April 4, 2008

“Nim’s Island” – Abigail Breslin is Nim, a girl living on a secret island with her father. When he father disappears, she reaches out to best-selling adventure writer Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) to help save her. Trouble is, Rover has never left her house in years and confides to her imaginary hero (played by Gerard Butler). Opens April 4, 2008

“Sex and Death 101” – An executive receives an e-mail that has a list of every woman he’s ever had sex with –and all those he will. Stars Simon Baker and Winona Ryder. Opens April 4, 2008

“Shine A Light” – Marty Scorsese takes on the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band,” the Rolling Stones. The trailer looks fun and the movie should be great, especially for those people like me who can only afford to part with the left toe for a concert ticket in the nosebleed section. Opens April 4, 2008

“Wild Child” – Bratty princess (Emma Roberts) is shipped from her cushy L.A. life to a boarding school in England. I wonder if someone’s trying to say something… Opens April 4, 2008

“Young@Heart” – A documentary on the Young@Heart chorus, a group of Senior Citizens that travel the country singing. Hey, sing some Skynyrd! Opens April 9, 2008

“Dark Matter” – Meryl Streep is a teacher who discovers a Chinese student who has incredible potential in science. Trouble is, he’s up against Aidan Quinn and U.S. politics. Isn’t that how it always happens? Opens April 11, 2008

“Prom Night” – A remake of the 1980 Prom Night. Opens April 11, 2008

“The Ruins” – College kids + ancient Mexican ruins + something evil lurking that will kill them = horror movie I’ll pass up, thanks. Opens April 11, 2008

“Smart People” – Indie comedy about intellectuals who have problems dealing with… common sense problems. Sounds like they made my movie. Stars Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Thomas Hayden Church. Opens April 11, 2008

“Street Kings” – A story of cops dealing out their own brand of justice on the street of L.A. Next! Stars Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, and The Game. Opens April 11, 2008

“88 Minutes” – Al Pacino is a forensics expert that receives a phone call saying he’s got only 88 minutes to live. There are worse things… Opens April 18, 2008

“Baby Mama” – Tina Fey is a successful businesswoman who wants a kid but is infertile. Her next best option: surrogate mother Amy Poehler. Doesn’t this sound like an SNL skit? Opens April 18, 2008

“Forbidden Kingdom” – Michael Angarano is a kid who, obsessed with martial arts movies, gets sucked into his favorite one. Y’know, the one with Jackie Chan and Jet Li together? Opens April 18, 2008

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – Guy breaks up with his TV-star girlfriend and goes to Hawaii to forget about it. He ends up in a room next to his ex-girlfriend, and she has a new boyfriend. Opens April 18, 2008

“The Life Before Her Eyes” – Uma Thurma is married to a professor and on the upcoming 15th anniversary of a tragic high school shooting, begins questioning what lead up to it as well as what’s going on currently in her life. Shouldn’t this be on Lifetime? Opens April 18, 2008

“Pathology” – A group of med students create the perfect crime. Hey, wasn’t that similar to the plot of “Mindhunters?” Stars Alyssa Milano. Opening April 18, 2008

“Where In the World is Osama Bin Laden?” – Morgan Spurlock, the guy who ate McDonald’s for 30 days breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is back in the documentary game again. This time, he’s on the search for Public Enemy 1: Osama Bin Laden. Opens April 18, 2008

“Big Stan” – Rob Schneider is a geeky con-man who gets sent to prison. Before he leaves, he’s trained in the art of fighting by David Carradine. If only Pai Mei had taught him… By the way, the film has been on the shelf for the last 2 years. Seriously. Opens April 25, 2008

“Deal” – Brett Harrison is hot at cards, and Burt Reynolds is a retired gambler who takes him under his wing. Oh yeah, and Harrison gets to make out with Shannon Elizabeth. Opening April 25, 2008

“Deception” – Formerly “The Tourist,” (what’s up with these name changes?) this movie follows young exec Ewan McGregor as he joins a sex club called The List. When a woman disappears and a $20 million theft occurs, things get complicated. Also stars Hugh Jackman. Opening April 25, 2008

“Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” – The pot-smoking duo are back. While on a flight to Amsterdam they’re mistaken for “terrorists,” and sent to Gitmo. They’re only hope of escape: Neil Patrick Harris. Opens April 25, 2008

“Then She Found Me” – Helen Hunt’s directorial debut about a woman abandoned by her husband (Matthew Broderick) and entering a midlife crisis. When her long-lost birth mother (Bette Midler) reappears trying to reconcile… you get the drift. Opening April 25, 2008