Category Archives: Movie Review

“I’m the pah-ty poop-uh”

A special day.

Today is the day for celebrating my birth! Yay! As part of my celebration, I am re-watching a childhood favorite and 80s classic, Kindergarten Cop!

Kindergarten Cop is wonderful, not only for the warm fuzzy memories of watching it with my brother and sister, but also for the hilarious punch lines it offered into adulthood.

Additionally, it has some strong female characters. Though they are given short shrift here and there, Crisp’s mother, Schwarzenegger’s cop side kick, and Dominick’s mother are all interesting and layered characters. They are actual people, as opposed to many of the lame female characters peppered into junk movies these days (see: Iron Man series). Ah, yes, the sturdy principle, though she is grounded in the “love for children” role that is a limited role for women. Granted, as my descriptions show, they are all dependent on the male character grounding them to the movie’s plot, yet at least they have some depth.

Kindergarten Cop would probably fail the Bechdel Test:

As far as enjoying the ironies of Kindergarten Cop, I have to tell you that I am not alone. There is a famous (infamous?) series of prank calls using lines from the movie. I thought this was from the Jerky Boys, that infamous group of prank callers, but I couldn’t find it by searching that way. Instead, here is a call reminiscent of those I remember giggling at sometime in the 90s. I hope you enjoy it!

More recently, the Criterion Collection made a Kindergarten Cop joke, too. And another playful Criterion Collection bit based on Kindergarten Cop is here.

Here is another fun newer rip on the Kindergarten Cop lines.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I have distinct reservations about promoting work of somebody I fear is a philandering idiot; however, we all have our shiny baubles and our huge embarrassing failures. I’m focusing on shiny baubles today, and that allows full unadulterated enjoyment of this silly movie. Hope you have some shiny baubles in your day, too!

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Movie Review: “Gates of Heaven” Errol Morris 1978

Documentary

Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this book”):

Errol Morris made a huge impression on me when I watched “Fog of War” in the former theater at Midvale (Mall?) in Madison Wisconsin. The theater has since been torn down, but the memory lives on.

I have always been sensitive to animals. My mom grew up on a farm, so she was very sensible about animals, though perhaps more matter-of-fact that appealed to me. Though my allergies limited my pet access as I muddled through undergrad, traveled and domineered law school, I shortly thereafter indulged in pet ownership and have never looked back. Maki and Panther are a part of the family, and though I prefer cremation or another natural form of decomposition (as opposed to internment), they will be honored in death as they have been in life. I am grateful that I live in a time and society afforded such luxury.

When I met my husband, Dave, he loved Errol Morris and has been introducing me to his other work over time. The subject matter, a pet cemetery, intrigued me – more or less because I love my pets and because of my 80s fascination with Pet Semetary (remember the little boy, Gage?).  This movie is amazingly brilliant, with a simple and direct display of human understanding, emotion and complexity…ah, but now I’m slipping into review-mode. On we go!

Summary:

*This is a pretty long review for the relative amount of content in the documentary. However, the bits I’ve included are just a small part of what makes this documentary amazing. For the best results, just rent it /buy it and watch it for yourself. If you still need further persuading, re what I’ve said below.

Errol Morris portrays opposing sides, a rendering company against a simple farmer animal-loving sensitive soul, Floyd “Mac” McClure.

But don’t be mistaken that Floyd is so animal friendly as to be vegetarian, or vegan. In one scene he bitterly describes how the fumes from the rendering company interfered in his dinner;

Then, we slowly watch the plans for McClure’s ideal pet cemetery disintegrate as the financial interests conflict with the sentimental ones. We also see the tensions arising between pet-owners in the community over the status of their pet graves.

One of the most interesting parts of watching this documentary is the way the characters bare their souls, largely without agenda. It is easy to see that even the businessmen are operating without an agenda, especially when the manager of the rendering plant admits they lie about rendering zoo animals. In this day and age of reality TV, it is refreshing to watch these characters. Don’t worry, there are still the eye-roll-inducing characters – like the sons of the California pet cemetery owners. Maybe it was less pathetic back then? Or maybe just less awareness of the way entitled children sound so pathetic? (btw, I actually adore the younger son, he is so earnest.)

Best Lines & Watch for’s:

Floyd “Mac” McClure:  North Dakota guy (with suspenders and red pen in his lapel, scales of justice visible behind him on his right side and the bronzed shoes behind him on the other side) “[That]…was the most beautiful piece of land, as far as I was concerned, in the whole valley. And boy, I knew what to do with it. Make it into a pet cemetary.”

Watch for: Guy with the Coors can and ashtray in front of him every time he’s featured in the documentary.

Rendering Industry Man: “Rendering is one of the oldest industries. It dates back to the time of the Egyptians.  They can trace it back this far. Rendering. In the bible, ya know, way back in the old testament, the guy cut off the sheep skin, right? And put it over’im. Put the lamb fat on’im ta keep ‘im warm. It could be the oldest industry in the world. It could be. It’s possible.” [Jill says: keep an ear out for this guy, all of his words are gems. Probably because of his sunglasses on his desk, his matter-of-fact demeanor, and the amused look on his face. Genius play, Mr. Morris.]

“I want my mama!” (Woman holding dog on lap, singing to prompt dog’s response).

“And the next day you go out, take flowers,  maybe meditate a little bit, think of how often, maybe, you cried into her fur. ” (Woman in green and white, with poodle portrait displayed behind her).

Watch for: Artistic depiction of putting one’s heart over the dollars in a project.

Floyd: “I was not only broke, but broken-hearted.”

Woman in pink apron over blue/brown print housedress: “But you know he (her son) should help me more, he’s all I got. He’s the one who brought me up here. And then put me here by myself among strangers. It’s terrible when you stop ‘n think about it.” [Watch this entire segment! Amazing.]

Successful pet cemetery owner, (Bubbling Well Church of Universal Love, Inc. 1977), in straw hat and blue button-up shirt: ” “I would say that the pill is largely more responsible for the pet explosion than any other factor…It’s very simple…today the husband and wife both work…when the young mother comes home, she has to have something to fondle, something to mother, something to love.”

Watch for: The “R2A2” formula and it’s red-phone poolside inventor.

There are so many other rich characters and moments that I have to pause now and recommend that, if you are hooked by now, you should just go ahead and rent the movie.

Wait! The Eagle trophy guy just said “People never really get negative and they never really get positive.” GEMS, people! I tell you, gems.

Watch for: Prickly pear cacti behind the yellow-shirted and orange-tank topped couple – just like in Sicily!

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077598/

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Movie Review: “The Open Road” Michael Meredith 2009

Jeff Bridges, Mary Steenburgen, Justin TimberlakeKate Mara

Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this dvd”):

Let’s just say the selection in Sigonella, while robust and diverse, is still a small selection. I was shocked to see this cover, with such big names on it, and realized that I had never even heard of this movie. I was intrigued.

I also want to say upfront that the Cinquecento Project was started from a desire to embrace the positive in life and enjoy the ride (pun definitely intended). It is my intention to keep that perspective with this comical movie review. Did I think this movie sucked? Yes. Does it have any redeeming qualities? Very few. Yet, I know that the people involved took this project seriously and did their best to try and make it work. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, and this is one of them. In times like these, it is time to make movie-lemonade, maybe with a splash of vodka. Enjoy!

Summary:

This is a movie for drinking with friends. Come up with a drinking game (or push-ups, or whatever would be fun for you) revolving around cameos (Ted Danson, Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton), lame lines (the list will be provided below), and silly plot developments (sort of the wild-card category). Some of the time you will blame the dialog, other times the direction, and more often than you think you’ll be groaning at the combination of the two.

What makes this movie ridiculous:

(1) A grown woman refuses some mysterious surgery and the family wants a court order to get her under the knife. Yet this oh-so-important part of the movie, you-know, the part that puts the whole “road trip” in motion is NEVER explained. Some random heart problem is the extent of the explanation. On top of that, there are no details about the initial relationship or subsequent break-up between Jeff Bridges and Mary Steenburgen. So, right away, we really have very little reason to understand or care whether she gets the surgery or whether Jeff Bridges goes anywhere.

(2) Complete lack of chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Kate Mara.There is no dialog to create a chemistry, so I can’t really blame the actors. They flirted their damnedest on screen, but there really wasn’t anything to work with. This relationship is further *Super-weird* when Mara’s absent fiancee is mentioned.

(3) Timberlake’s complete insecurity about EVERYTHING. I think this insecurity is supposed to support the idea that he is too insecure to believe in his hidden writing abilities (ahem, is this the screenwriter projecting?), and thus the insecurity is manifesting itself in bringing down his ball game. Yet, in the first half of the movie, he is so insecure that it is unbelievable he ever brushed his own teeth or tied his own shoelaces.

(4) Geography and Mara’s phantom teaching job. Geography problem – traveling from major city (Columbus, Ohio) to major city (Houston, Texas), but the car is always on 2-lane country roads. Mara teaching job problem – they “sorta” want her back by Wednesday, which, once mentioned, is never addressed again, ad the movie seems to span from Monday-Friday.

(5) Trying to be clever by making fun of the H3 Hummer? By calling it small? And making a lame “hummer” joke? Puh-lease.

(6) Theme attempt of father-son discord means Timberlake and Bridges “never talk” but then Bridges magically knows what is best for Timberlake and is insightful and recalls conversations to support his insights. Uh…I thought you guys never talk…where did these conversations come from?

(7) CREEPY ALERT: The scene in the hotel room when Mara is sleeping and Timberlake comes and lays down on her bed with her. Mara’s hand reaches 1/2 inch toward Timberlake and he takes her hand and grins. It doesn’t go further than this, but it has a very creepy feeling.

(8) Timberlake’s outrage at the one-hour mark. All of a sudden he’s so worried about his mom that he yells at Mara for not caring about getting back (who missed a week of work and left her supposed fiancee). Dumb.

Best Lines (mostly comical) & Saving Graces:

Coach (Ted Danson): “And, baseball players don’t say things like “eluding.” So pull it outta your ass and play some ball for me, will you please!”

Kyle Garrett (Jeff Bridges): “You’re prettier than a spotted heifer in a pansy patch.”

Timberlake:  “You’re the one who blushed when he called you a heifer.” <Pause> “A cow.”   Mara: “I know what a heifer is.”

Mara: “<Sigh> Huh. Sorry, was that me.” Timberlake: “Yea, what were you gonna say?” Mara: “Oh nothing. I was just tryin’ ta internally ponder something, but, the internal thing didn’t really work out.”

Bridges: “Well. I think I’m gonna go on in there and get some booze, get drunk. Do ya want anything?”

[Jill W: Dear reader, I recommend you do the same NOW]

Timberlake: “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe any of this shit. Reeves is gonna take me out of the lineup if I don’t play well on Saturday. My mom is in a hospital bed convinced she’s about to die. And, and, this guy is just out with a barfly. Huh…I mean who does that? How could anybody do that?”

Steenburgen: “You mustn’t ever ignore the ride, honey.”

Mara (whose name in the movie is LUCY): “Okay. First of all, stop calling me Lucy. My whole life it’s been ‘honey’ or ‘baby’ or whatever and now all of a sudden it’s Lucy!!?”

Gas station attendant: “That gonna be it?” Timberlake: “Maybe just some cyanide.”

Bridges: “I’d kill a man to be 25 again.” Timberlake: “Huh, you would.”

Timberlake: “What are you drinking?” Bridges: “Tasty beverage.”

THE ENTIRE BAR SCENE WITH LYLE LOVETT. Terrible, terrible dialog.

Gas Station Attendant: “I’d rather watch the grass grow.”

Timberlake: (reaches across table to take Mara’s hand) “Look. I know that I’m gonna screw things up every now and then. And, I know, that things won’t be perfect. But give me one chance, I swear to God I’ll never hurt you again.”  [JW says: Hello! One chance? One? What is this “again” business if you’re asking for “one chance”? You already had it. That is just a semantics problem though, I think everyone deserves another chance in life. But the WORST part is that this is apparently all it takes for Mara to just fall over and come back to Timberlake. BARF!]

Saving Grace #1: Jeff Bridges! He is so golden that I actually watched the whole movie.

Saving Grace #2: Timberlake trying to pull the front bumper off of the H3 Hummer.

Saving Grace #3: Wrastling fight between Bridges and Timberlake. Great scene, actually. Both guys get into the fight just the right amount, well, Timberlake could’ve maybe been slightly more puffy, since he’s the younger one, but overall the scene really conveyed each man’s deep desire for connection with the other guy. We all just wanna be loved, of course, and here’s a scene that depicts the way that desire is manifested between father and son more often than mani-pedi dates. (I’m not knocking the mani-pedi, Dave and I enjoyed a duo mani-pedi date when he returned from Afghanistan and it was great!).

Themes:

Who cares!?! And how did this movie get made??? Seriously, what kind of pull does Michael Meredith have, where did he get it, and how can I tap into that kind of persuasive power to try out my mediocre ideas?

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1007018/

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Movie Review: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Richard Brooks 1958

Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives

Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this dvd”):

It’s a classic. My Uncle Michael recommended this movie to me. I am recommending it to you. “Recommend” is an understatement in both instances; it is a must-see!

Summary:

Based on the award winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, all you need to know about this movie is that the carefully crafted dialog is matched only by the fiery intensity brought to the screen by the stars. Elizabeth Taylor is stunning and effective in her role of “Maggie the Cat.” Paul Newman’s eyes have thirty different shades of blue as his character “Brick” thrashes around inside his youthful physique, daring time to move on to a world he no longer recognizes. Burl Ives commands your attention, if not your oddly placed affection, as “Big Daddy.” The supporting performances are dynamic as well. Judith Anderson holds the family together as “Big Momma,” and is the perfect complement to the tyrannical Big Daddy. Jack Carson and Madeleine Sherwood add color and tension as Brick’s brother “Gooper” and sister-in-law “Mae” or “Sister woman,” respectively.

As I watch this movie, I am mesmerized by Burl Ives. He is so lithe and transformative; at times he melts into the background, acting as the inner voice we wish would guide us more directly. At other times he is commanding and coarse, saying truths cruelly to his most beloved family members. His face displays such open vulnerability, but only in glimpses – the moment of his birthday cake delivery and when he reminisces about his father; yet he has drastically different reactions that follow each moment. Which Big Daddy is the truth? Can we be so multi-faceted and still live with integrity?

Lastly, I really enjoy Elizabeth Taylor and the role she carries. Maggie is a strong, determined woman who acts on what she believes she wants from life; love, a financially secure home, and family. She has a comically contradictory relationship with Gooper and Mae’s antagonizing children – watch for the scene where Maggie smears ice cream into a little girl’s face! Yet, Maggie does want children. For me this is significant because I am a woman who grew up during the third-wave-feminism backlash, and living in the current climate where all women are expected to love all children, it is refreshing to see a portrayal of a woman who wants her own children but doesn’t need to concede defeat to becoming a mother like the orderly, over-bearing mother Mae.

Best Lines:

Maggie: “I’m not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that’s all.”

Dr. Baugh, played by Larry Gates: “Sometimes I wish I had a pill to make people disappear.”

Big Daddy: “I wanna think clear. I wanna see everything and I wanna feel everything. Then I won’t mind goin’. I’ve got the guts to die, what I wanna know is if you’ve got the guts to live!”

Big Daddy (to Brick): “I’ll outlive you. I’ll bury you. I’ll buy your coffin!”

Maggie: “Oh I’m more determined than you think. I’ll win all right.” Brick: “Win what? What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?” Maggie: “Just stayin’ on it, I guess. Long as she can.”

Big Daddy: “But it’s always there in the morning, isn’t it? The Truth! And it’s here now.”

Maggie: “Not looking at a fire doesn’t put it out.”

Big Daddy: “Truth is Pain, and Sweat, and Paying bills, and Making love to a woman you don’t love anymore. The Truth is Dreams that don’t come true and nobody prints your name in the paper until you die.”

Big Daddy: “What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity?”

Big Daddy: “I hate sneakin’ and spyin’. It makes me PUKE!”

Themes:

Personal Responsibility.

Legacy.

What is love – actions, intentions, feelings?

Truth v. Mendacity: who has control of the truth, how is the idea of truth manipulated. Pretenses and hypocrisy = staying with the same woman and going to church.

Grown-ups v. children.

Shame.

Fashion of Elizabeth Taylor! No, seriously, she is gorgeous. Women and their figures are actually a theme, though. Also, the role of women in the family, to endure the cruelties of their husbands and all the while holding onto some sense of love. Big Daddy, Gooper and Brick each have at least once scene of significantly cruel dialog to his spouse, and the spouses each show her hurt, but each keeps fighting for her man, too. Pay attention to the scenes where the husband and wife have their backs to one another.

Use of Sound: Music, Children, Radio, Thunder.

Power and Locked Doors.

IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051459/

See also:  http://www.filmsite.org/cato.html

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