Archive for the 'tv' Category



25
May
09

Movie News and Views May 25, 2009 Poster Edition

DIST9_TSR_1SHT_3

 

– Hollywood isn’t done proving that they’ve ran out of ideas. “Bazooka” Joe,” the cartoon kid with an eyepatch will be coming to a movie theatre near you.

– Michael Moore’s new movie about the evil of wealthy people is slated for release on Oct. 2, 2009.

– ABC has put the re-imagining of “V” in their Fall 2009/2010 lineup.

– Wayne Allwine, voice of Mickey Mouse, passed away. He was 62.

– Dan Akyroyd is talking “Ghostbusters 3” and rumor has it that Alyssa Milano and Elisha Dushku will be in it.

– Chace Crawford is now in the “Footloose” remake.

– The Blue Man Group will be releasing a 3-D IMAX movie.

– J.J. Abrams and company hid an R2-D2 in the new “Star Trek” movie. If you can find it e-mail Paramount and you’ll be entered into a prize contest.

– Mickey Rourke has signed for a remake of the Eighties movie, “Mona Lisa.” Also starring is Eva Green.

– Terry Gilliam is resurrecting his “Don Quixote” movie.

– Dreamworks is set to remake “Fright Night.”

– “American Gladiators” will get a movie.

– The last “Wizard of Oz” munchkin, Mickey Carroll, passed away. He was 89.

– Kevin Smith is working on a movie based on the Warren Zevon song, “Hit Somebody (Hockey Song)” and believes it will be an Academy Award contender. Uh…… ok.

– Vinnie Jones and Gerard Butler are among the most current actors facing jail time.

– “Cliffhanger” is slated to be remade.

– Robert Rodriguez’s “Barbarella” is officially off.

– Disney is removing Special Features from rental DVDs.

– “Little Fockers” is now casting.

– “Drop Dead Fred” is looking to be remade.

 

That’s it for now!

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12
May
09

Movie Review: Star Trek

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Rebooting… the Final Frontier

Stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg. Directed by J.J. Abrams

This ain’t your daddy’s “Star Trek.”

“Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams was given a somewhat unenviable task: resurrect “Star Trek” for the “next generation” of moviegoers. And he did just that. Straddling a line between “trekkies” and casual scifi film enthusiasts, “Star Trek” has gone hyper-frenetic and action-packed. It is as much “Star Trek” as it is a Hollywood blockbuster and for this franchise, that’s a good thing.

“Star Trek” has its followers rooted in a world set forth by ten movies, six TV series, books, etc. Those who know “Trek” KNOW “Trek.” And there’s the social messages: pay attention to the environment (“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”), watch for political conspiracies (“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”), technology becomes God (“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), keep your enemies closer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and Shatner can’t direct (“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”) The “Next Generation” cast did what they could (four movies) but didn’t have the same gravitas as the original series. With Picard and Co. bowing out after “Nemesis,” the big question was: what happens now?

The story rests on a premise that could itself be a fan fiction novel: what if a Romulan named Nero (played by Eric Bana) watched the planet Romulus become a black hole and upon revenging said event travels back in time 129 years? And in doing so George Kirk, father of future captain James T. Kirk, gives his life so his son has a future and thus creates an alternate reality? That’s the premise going on.

And that’s how Abrams plays it safe; instead of altering the actual past of characters beloved by many, you subvert them by changing/tweaking their pasts for your own purposes and through a big “what if” and go from there. Abrams boldly went there and it pays off, but not without a whiff of being “highly illogical.”

I’m going to interject for a moment: I usually hate it when “Star Trek” decides to lean on time travel to get its story across. Yes, I enjoyed “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And I know everyone loved Kirk and the Gang going back in time to save the whales in “Star Trek IV,” but the entire franchise has done time travel to death. Sometimes I wonder if there just aren’t enough alien races for the Federation to start shit with.

Back to the story. Kirk grows up to be rebellious as shown in the scene where he drives his step-dad’s Corvette off a cliff. Years later he gets in a bar fight with some Starfleet Cadets and is saved by Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood). Pike recognizes Kirk’s potential and challenges him to join Starfleet Academy which he accepts. On the shuttle trip he meets Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), a man joining Starfleet only because his wife took everything he owned except his “bones.”

Meanwhile on the planet Vulcan there’s a different rebel with cause: Spock (Quinto). Born to a Vulcan father and human mother, Spock is considered a liability due to his half-breed nature. Upon acceptance into the Vulcan Academy he instead chooses Starfleet and upsets the council elders. While at Starfleet he becomes a mentor to Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and develops an attachment to her.

When Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru simulation and fails the second time, he reprograms it and wins. This causes friction between him and its programmer Commander Spock and he quickly finds himself restricted from duty. McCoy, taking some pity, stows Kirk away on the Enterprise as its maiden voyage  is to answer a distress call (the objective of EVERY “Star Trek” movie) from the planet Vulcan. Once there the seven other starships arrived before them are being systematically destroyed by Nero who is planning on creating a black hole using Vulcan. Nero takes Pike hostage and the Enterprise’s attempt to save Vulcan has its complications, leaving Spock and Kirk to fight over command and what should be done to save Earth and the rest of the Federation.

I may have already told you too much.

That’s the crux of this movie. Sure, Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock (again, the time traveling stuff) and we get to see how Scotty got recruited by the Enterprise. This movie is as much about it’s “what if” premise as it is an “origins” movie, and that’s not entirely bad. Karl Urban is great as McCoy, Pegg offers an interesting Scotty, Saldana is a hotter Uhura, Quinto is a formidable Spock, Cho gives Sulu more than sitting at the helm and Pine is the best Kirk we got. As far as how close to Chris Pine plays Shatner’s “Captain Kirk,” I think he gives him a degree of 21st century impulsiveness mixed with action and thought. He doesn’t have Shatner’s stilted dialog however he does pick up its cadence on occasion.

The main objective Abrams seems to display with “Star Trek” is for it not to be exclusive to its environment or fanbase. This movie is more “mainstream” than the other “Treks” and as I’ve said before that’s not a bad thing. And yes being a product from the guy who created “Lost” means that for the most part you gotta let this puppy play out; don’t try understanding it from fear that it will all unravel and you’ll walk out of the theatre with a massive headache.

Why should you watch it? First, to cure your curiosity. If that doesn’t suit you reason #2: the special effects. This is stuff-blowin’-up, fist-punching, breathtaking action-adventure at its best. Even if you hate the storyline it’s worth the effects alone. Lastly, it’s one of the best blockbusters in a while. 2008’s “Iron Man” was the popcorn blockbuster everyone was waiting for and this year that crown goes to “Star Trek.”

Let me also give credit to the music. Michael Giacchino, who also did the music for “Alias” and “Lost,” does a great job of mixing cinematic orchestration with music that sounds like it came straight from the 60’s series. I was really impressed with that.

Great effects, action sequences, and overall fun. It may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it’s the greatest “Star Trek” movie ever made.

My grade: B+

 

The Trailer:

And for some fun, check out this piece from The Onion:

07
May
09

Movies on DVD: Appaloosa

appaloosa

Not the Western I was hoping for.

 

Stars Ed Harris, Viggo Mortenson, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, and Lance Henriksen. Directed by Ed Harris

 

When Marshall Jack Bell (Robert Jauregui) is killed by outlaw Randall Bragg (Irons), the three people who run the town of Appaloosa call in gun-for-hire Virgil Cole (Harris) and his hetero-lifemate Everett Hitch (Mortenson) to stop the outlaw from destroying it. Virgil and Everett are immediately deputized and go to work. Allison French, a new woman in town, complicates matters by falling for any guy within three feet of her, especially Virgil. Virgil makes it his mission to put Bragg away or see him hanging, while Everett tries to help Virgil keep his cool as well as watching out for him in regards to new love Allison.

 

I haven’t watched a Western this boring since “Open Range.” At least it had a shootout.

 

That’s not to say that the movie is bad; it’s just that it’s far from great and damn close to being forgotten. I’ll give Ed Harris his ability to act and pairing with Mortenson works well. The real problem here is the story (which Harris co-wrote) and direction (as noted above, he directed it too). Maybe Harris was aiming for some lamentation of the West as he would imagine it. The problem as much as he would like to be he’s not Clint Eastwood.

 

In all honesty it’s not easy to go from acting to directing. Several have tried with mixed results. Robert DeNiro did “The Good Shepherd,” which could have been better. Kevin Costner did “Dances With Wolves,” which was good but was followed with “Waterworld,” “The Postman,” and “Open Range,” which are mediocre at best. Kevin Spacey directed “Beyond the Sea” which I enjoyed. Anthony Hopkins did “Slipstream” which I haven’t seen nor heard anyone talk about.

 

And therein lies the question: who is the movie being made for? In this case I believe that Harris wanted to make a Western (as so many actors do) and got the funding and found that other actors (Mortenson, Zellweger, Irons) wanted to do one as well. While it may sound fun as a pet project and may have looked good on paper, the final product was less than desired. The sets looked okay and there were some story elements there but the rest seemed stale. I was literally waiting for the ghost of John Wayne to appear onscreen at any moment and start slapping the shit out of everyone.

 

Long, tedious, stale, and boring,

 

My grade: C

27
Apr
09

In Passing… Bea Arthur (1922-2009)

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Actress and comedienne Bea Arthur passed away from cancer on April 25th. Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City. She began on the stage until she was in Sid Caesar’s “Caesar Hour” in the fifties. From there she split time between stage and TV, notably playing Yente the Matchmaker in the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Her TV breakthrough came in 1971 when she starred as Maude Findlay, Edith Bunker’s cousin, in “All in the Family.” Viewers were so crazy about her character that in 1972 “Maude” had her own series. In 1985 Arthur, along with Estelle Getty, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan, was part of the hit NBC series, “The Golden Girls,” which ran for seven seasons. Afterwards Arthur retired to her California ranch occasionally appearing on TV or film over the next 17 years. Bea Arthur was 86 years of age.

 

Thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends

 

 

For more information, check out her IMDB page at:

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0037735/

16
Mar
09

In Passing… Ron Silver (1946-2009)

ron-silver

 

Film and television actor Ron Silver passed away on Sunday in New York City. Silver began acting in theatre in 1971. His first role was appearing on the “Mac Davis Show.” From there his TV career would include “Rhoda,” “The Rockford Files,” “Dear Detective,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Chicago Hope,” “Veronica’s Closet,” and “The West Wing.” His film appearances include “Timecop,” “The Arrival,” and “Ali. He died from esophageal cancer. He was 62.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

 

For more information check out his IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0798779/

 

23
Feb
09

A Superhero, a Gay Activist, and a “Slumdog”: Recapping the 2009 Oscars

oscar1For those who didn’t watch yes, “Slumdog” majorly won the Academy Awards.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look back at what just happened, shall we?

For the first time in “I don’t know how many” years, a foreign actor hosted the Oscars. Hugh Jackman, the Australian actor known mainly for playing “Wolverine” in the “X-Men” franchise hosted for the first time. Maybe he was selected because he was listed as a “Sexiest Man of the Year.” Maybe it’s because people love “Wolverine.” Either way he did okay, as in “passable.” Instead of inserting himself into the ceremony or making quips, as so many others have done in the past, he got that business out of the way in the opening segment. His joke about “Kate Winslet, a British actress playing a German, Robert Downey, Jr, an American actor playing an Australian actor playing an African-American, and me, an Australian actor playing in Australian in a movie called, ‘Australia’” was inciteful, but that was about it. Jackman ducked-out to let the other presenters hold the stage more than he, and maybe that was the safest route to go. I’m not quite sure that he’ll be asked back or if he would even come back if asked.

There were several themes to this year’s Oscars. The first was to give the audience at home a “stripped down” feeling as to how movies are made. This worked somewhat in the beginning when Jackman was doing a musical number that critiqued the Academy on how they made their decisions while he danced around cardboard set pieces. As the show went on this theme was reiterated but given up by the last hour.

Another theme: the Academy doesn’t like action or superhero films. Nothing is more blatant than when a $1 billion money-making movie’s nominations are centered around film editing, visual effects, and sound. If that wasn’t enough action star Will Smith hosted a segment around this fact even stating that while action movies don’t get the Academy’s attention, they do get the fans.

What’s the deal with musicals? I’ve never been a big fan of them, but apparently Hugh Jackman is. Not only did he do an opening musical number (as mentioned above) but he did another that montaged so many previous movie musicals together. Helping in the song and dance were Vanessa Hudgens, Beyonce Knowles, and members of “High School Musical 3.” After everything was said and done Hugh Jackman thanked everyone on stage. The camera quickly cut to Penelope Cruz who didn’t appear amused one bit. It then cut back to Jackman who proudly proclaimed, “This was created by Baz Luhrmann.” The camera quickly cuts to Baz who’s sitting in his chair with a look on his face that said, “Now I know what it’s like to sell my soul for a paycheck.”

One of the cool things the awards ceremony did was to present the awards for Best and Supporting Actors and Actresses by having five former Best Supporting Actors and Actresses walk onto the stage, each actor or actress lauding a specified nominee. Good job.

I was conflicted on some of the montage segments, especially with the camera zooming in on one moment, then zooming out as if we were watching a TV screen, then finding another screen and zooming in on that scene, then zooming out… etc. It worked for the animation segment, and kudos to Pixar for allowing characters from other animation studios to share space with “Wall*E.” That was cool. However the Judd Apatow Comedy montage segment was not save for Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski joining in with James Franco and Seth Rogen (“Sorry, Mr. Spielberg, business is slow.”)

One other positive note: Steve Martin and Tina Fey announcing the awards for Screenwriting. They were a great duo and one of the better pairs for the awards show.

As for the winners, losers, and upsets, let’s get this out of the way: almost everyone knew “Slumdog Millionaire” would take Best Picture (and then some) and that Heath Ledger would have a posthumous Oscar for “The Dark Knight.” Aside from that, most of the other categories people felt ambivalent about. Kate Winslet won for “The Reader,” which most critics claimed wasn’t as good as her work in “Revolutionary Road.” Whether there was any additional sympathy for “The Dark Knight” is questionable, but Batman did take home Best Sound Editing among its nominations but was upset by “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which took home Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects. “Milk” won Best Original Screenplay and caused an upset for Mickey Rourke and “The Wrestler,” when Sean Penn took Best Actor instead.

And now, the winners:

Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn, “Milk”

Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Directing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Foreign Language Film: “Departures”

Music (Song): “Jai Ho,” “Slumdog Millionaire”

Music (Score): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight”

Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki”

Documentary Feature: “Man on a Wire”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Costume Design: “The Duchess”

Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Short Film (Live Action): Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Short Film (Animated): “La Maison En Petites Cubes”

Animated Feature Film: “Wall*E”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Writing (Original Screenplay): “Milk”

Source: www.oscars.com

12
Feb
09

A Salute to Anthology TV of the Eighties

Being a kid in the Eighties my TV watching consisted of Transformers, He-Man, and G.I, Joe in the afternoon, Knight Rider and maybe Alf in the evening, and then there were the scary shows, the ones I had to sneak away and watch, telling myself that my parents didn’t know I was watching them (when they probably did). Since my childhood was skewed toward sci-fi/ horror genre, so is the following:

 

“Hammer House of Horror” – Running for only one season (13 episodes) in 1980, the British Horror production company Hammer Film Productions released this foray into ghosts, demons, and the supernatural.

 

“Tales From the Darkside” – Produced by George Romero (with Stephen King writing at least 2 episodes), “Darkside” ran from 1984-1990. Each episode was 30 minutes in length and began with a normal situation that would get crazy quickly and end with a twist. Then again, there were a lot of series like this. What set “Darkside” apart from the rest was its dark sense of humor. This show has recently been released on DVD and I’m having a blast watching it. My favorite so far is the one which starred the guy from the Dunkin’ Donuts commercials from the Eighties. He has back problems and goes to see a doctor, who tells him that in order to get rid of the back pains he has to get rid of the stress in his life, which means that his wife has to be killed. After his will is killed in a car “accident” he’s summoned to the doctor to find he now has to kill someone to “pay” for his back pain “cure.”

 

“Amazing Stories” – Steven Spielberg decided to take his childhood watching of “The Twilight Zone” and reading “Amazing Stories” and helped create this series. While “middle of the road” to critics, it wasn’t bad for what it was: a family version of “The Twilight Zone,” so to speak. I remember watching the very first episode, “Ghost Train,” about an old man who, as a kid, placed a penny on a railroad track, derailing the train. The train returns to claim him as he nears death. Also, there was the episode about the cartoonist trapped in a gun turret of a Word War II Bomber, Santa being jailed, and a kid who becomes magnetic after a piece of meteorite falls in his back yard. It ran for two seasons: 1985-1987.

 

“The New Twilight Zone” – This ran on CBS from 1985-1989. CBS had what they thought was a good idea: resurrect “The Twilight Zone.” Problem was that this retreading tanked and was cancelled after two seasons. Unfortunately they had pre-sold the series into syndication and had to continue making episodes to honor the contract. Hindsight is 20/20… Trivia note: J Michael Straczynski, creator of “Babylon 5,” wrote 12 episodes for the series. I remember watching the episode where two children were taken to an amusement park and led to a tunnel with rooms, and each room had a different set of parents interested in adopting the kids. Also, the episode where the couple was caught “in between” time and blue men ran about town changing everything for the next upcoming minute.

 

 

“Freddy’s Nightmares” – Based on the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, this one had Freddy himself, Robert Englund, hosting tales of evil and death occurring on Elm Street. Remind me not to live there… The series 1988-1990.

 

 

“Monsters” – As “Tales from the Darkside” was neared its end, several of the directors and writers worked on “Monsters.” “Monsters” was similar to “Darkside,” but the main difference was that each episode of the series literally dealt with a different monster. It ran from 1988-1991.

 

 

“Friday the 13th” – Unlike “The New Twilight Zone,” this show shares little with the actual movie franchise except the title. The show was about two cousins, Ryan Dallion and Micki Foster, who inherit their uncle’s antique shop. Unbeknownst to them the relics are cursed and they must retrieve them from the buyers before too much damage and harm is caused. The series ran from 1987-1990.

 

 

“Tales from the Crypt” – Finishing out the Eighties was another personal favorite, “Tales from the Crypt.” Each episode began with The Cryptkeeper, a skeleton narrator who provided kitsch humor to the episode about to be unfolded. It had great theme music and was fun to watch. The episode I remember was when the old millionaire man had a young wife. Finding a younger bodybuilder, he pays to exchange body parts piece-by-piece. At the end he has the body of the bodybuilder, but no money. Meanwhile, the bodybuilder now has the money, and the wife, of the former millionaire. The Cryptkeeper dominated HBO and syndication from 1989 until 1996.

 

“The Ray Bradbury Theater” – Hosted by scifi author and based on several of his short stories, this series ran from 1985-1986 and 1988-1992. The subjects ran from science to supernatural, from childhood memories and fears to being grown up. One of my favorite episodes was called “The Town Where No One Got Off.” In it a writer (Jeff Goldblum) exits the train at a town where the train only stops to drop off supplies. He’s followed around by a retired sheriff (Ed McNamara) who traps and confronts him about what he’s doing there. Trivia note: Larry Wilcox (Officer Jon Baker on “CHiPs”) was an executive producer on the series.

 

Some of these are available on DVD, and some are still on video.

 

Don’t stay up too late…

 

 

09
Feb
09

In Passing… James Whitmore (1921-2009)

j_whitmoreTelevision and film actor James Whitmore passed away on February 6 from lung cancer. Whitmore began his career on Broadway and earned many accolades before going Hollywood. In the movies his first role was that of George Pappas in “The Undercover Man” (1948). He continued on with such films as “The Next Voice You Hear…” “The Asphalt Jungle,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Them!” the movie about giant radioactive ants. Switching over to television he had roles on “Studio One” and several other “theatre” shows before starring as Abraham Lincoln Jones in “The Law and Mr. Jones,” which lasted for two seasons. He would continue alternating between the two, showing up in such TV shows as “The Twilight Zone,” “The Virginian,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Ray Bradbury Theater,” and “CSI.” His other movies include “Planet of the Apes,” “Madigan,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” And, he was a longtime spokesperson for Miracle-Gro fertilizer. Whitemore was 87 years of age.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends

For more information, check out his IMDB page at:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0926235/

26
Jan
09

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon

10290A_UNI_FNX_DOM1sh_Spread_R4The movie based on the Broadway play based on the TV interviews.

 

Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, and Oliver Platt. Directed by Ron Howard. Screenplay and play by Peter Morgan.

 

Nota bene: this review is based on the movie. I have not seen the original Broadway play, nor was I alive when this occurred on television.

 

With all that said, I enjoyed this movie.

 

The film takes place in two time periods: the days surrounding the Frost interviews of Nixon and some point in the “future” (sometime in the Eighties). The very beginning shows clips of footage from original news reports of when Nixon resigned from the Oval Office, as well as showing Gerald Ford pardoning Nixon for any transgressions. The American public was outraged and wanted a conviction; wanted Nixon to ‘fess up to allegations of wrongdoing.

 

Fast forward into the future of those involved with the interviews that took place. The characters reflect back upon what happened, how almost impossible it was, etc. But what did happen?

 

Flash back to the Seventies and as I said before, President Richard Nixon (Langella) resigns from office before he could be brought up by a Congressional committee to find out the truth behind Watergate. He has a stroke and lays in a hospital bed while Ford pardons him, which then puts him out of reach from any lawmaker or investigator.

 

Cut to Australia where British-born talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) has an idea: get an interview with ex-President Nixon. Frost is the definition of the “Swingin’ Sixties”: women, parties, celebrities, and personal jet planes. He had a show in the U.S. but it was canceled. Moving on to Britain he finally settled in Australia. When he proposes the idea to his producer, the producer has the kind of reaction we would have if in the same situation: why would an entertainment interviewer/performer want to interview Richard Nixon? What would he have to gain? How much would he have to lose?

 

Enter Swifty Lazar (Jones), media rep for Nixon. Swifty has already made book deals and a ’60 Minutes’ interview with Mike Wallace for Nixon. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Swifty is out for the money and coerces Nixon into accepting the interview and extorts $600k out of Frost for it. A meeting is setup with Frost, his producer, and female companion Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall). Everything goes well and the TV show is off and running.

 

Unfortunately he hits roadblocks. No American network wants to show an interview with the ex-Prez and a British talk show host and not have any control over it. He cuts deal after deal before finally getting one in which he pays everything up front. This puts him in debt with his friends.

 

To make matters worse people think that Frost is a “puff-piece” pushover. To solve this Frost hires Bob Zelnick (Platt) and author James Reston, Jr. (Rockwell). Reston pushes for Frost to take Nixon to the mat, pleading for him to give Nixon “the trial he never had.”

 

What follows is one of the best “chessmatch” films. Like Frederic March and Burt Lancaster in “Seven Days in May,” or Deniro and Pacino in “Heat,” we are given a bonafide “David v. Goliath” fight. Nixon is calm, cool, and collected, knowing Frost’s background and having a personal spin team and military officer Jack Brennan. He has nothing to prove but why he did what he did and doesn’t have to answer to anyone, much less an “easy going” journalist who is paying for the interview. Frost has everything to prove, not the least of which is the fact that he has to come up with actual hard-hitting questions if he wants to be taken seriously.

 

And therein lies the core of the movie: two guys sitting across from each other in a rented house verbally sparring until there can be only one victor. There are minor victories and setbacks and times when either could win. And in the end one walks away victorious while the other slumps into disgrace.

 

Ron Howard did an excellent job adapting from the original Broadway play, but he also hired the original actors from the Broadway play as well as the playwright. And all involved do a great job. The person to surprise me most was Sam Rockwell, who fit his character better than any other I’ve seen him play. From this movie alone he may get more offers.

 

The overall feeling from this film is light-hearted, somewhat like of “Charlie Wilson’s War.” There are a few somber moments, a good bit of humor, and the editing keeps it interesting. And I swear that for 5 minutes Langella WAS Nixon, if not channeling him from beyond.

 

My grade: A

15
Jan
09

In Passing… Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

ricardo_montalbanActor Ricardo Montalban passed away from on January 14th. Born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban y Merino in Mexico, Montalban arrived in Hollywood in the 40’s and played in many Westerns, usually as an “Indian” or “Latin lover.” The Studios suggested that he change his name to Ricky Martin, but he refused. He went on to play Japanese characters in film and TV, most notably the role of Nakamura in “Sayonara.” He’s more fondly remembered as Mr. Roarke in the TV series, “Fantasy Island” (1978-1984), the owner of a mysterious island where people can come and live out their fantasies for a price. In 1982 he reprised his role from the original “Star Trek” series in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” as the titular villain left by Capt. James T. Kirk on a planet. He was also known for being the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba, praising its “soft, Corinthian leather.” Montalban was 88 at the time of death.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

For more information check out his IMDB page at:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001544/

“Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan”

Chrysler Cordoba

“Fantasy Island” opening