Monday, July 28, 2014


MASH probably meant a lot more to people in 1970 when the Vietnam War was going in full swing and people were coming back in body bags.  The purpose of the movie seems to treat to any kind of military decorum with utter contempt and Bugs Bunny style screwball comedy.  Bugs Bunny is incredibly cruel to Elmer Fudd, but that is because Elmer Fudd wants to hurt Bugs Bunny.  In the same way, Hawkeye Pierce, played by Donald Sutherland, and Trapper John McIntire, played by Elliot Gould, in the face of the horrors of war and their forced enlistment, have turned into little psychopaths devoid of compassion and only interested in their own amusement.  This only becomes funny when contrasted with the utter griminess of their camp and the utter grimness of the surgical operating room in time of warfare.  These men face horrors every day so they lash out in funny ways, but have become otherwise emotionally detached from everything else. 

Roger Ebert gave the movie 4 stars and it has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The contrast of humor with wartime horror makes the film unique and pretty amazing that they could pull this off.   Donald Sutherland adds a lot to the movie because he portrays Hawkeye Pierce as completely indifferent and a little sadistic, but still likable as the anti-hero.  

The difference between MASH the movie and M*A*S*H the TV show is that the TV characters have a heart.  There is no way the movie version of these characters would have passed muster on television.  It is the television show that feels more dramatic.

The movie left me with the impression that it is the Easy Rider of war movies.  In either film the characters have no regard for the rules, whether those rules be of society or the military.  In both cases the characters yearn to be free but the situation they are in prevents that.

Despite the uniqueness of this movie, it only comes off as passable entertainment.  The movie is more interested in chaos than it is in plot.  The last 20 minutes involves a football game that seems out of place, but this does add to the screwball factor.  It feels like they couldn't figure out how to end the movie.  

Rating:  * * *

Donald Sutherland movie "Eye of the Needle"

I remember thinking that this was pretty interesting.  It is a little dated now maybe.  Siskel and Ebert liked it.

Eye of the Needle

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fwd: Highest paid actors

'For the second year in a row, "Iron Man" Robert Downey Jr. tops the
Forbes annual list of highest earning actors with an estimated $75
million since June 2013, the same amount that Forbes estimated the
year before.

Both Downey Jr.'s "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" crossed the billion
dollar threshold.

Child Stars Who Turned Out HOT! | PressRoomVIP

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I am kind of impressed by this. Disney has the resources to translate their movie into 25 languages.

"The World's End" vs "This is the End"

Reduced to their basic elements, these two comedies are very similar.  Both involve a bunch of friends getting together for a very wild night, but in both cases something very peculiar and unexpected happens part way through.  One film has an invasion by aliens from outer space, and the other has the Apocalypse, complete with rapture, fire, brimstone and demons running amok.  The comedy of both films comes from how the characters react to the situation that they are in, which is one of great danger and earth shattering consequences.

This Is The End spends a lot of time on trivial details, self reflection, arguments and crude humor.  It is a somewhat entertaining movie but what I like better about The World's End is that it has much more plot.  Both movies are smartly written, but I think The World's End does more with its story.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Riddick * * * 1/2

Riddick is a dangerous escaped convict left for dead on a very hostile planet.  His only hope of rescue is to get bounty hunters to land on the planet and chase him.  Riddick is a very resilient character who finds clever ways to survive, but he also does things that seem physically impossible.

Riddick is the third movie in the Pitch Black/Riddick series, and as such it combines the best elements of the first two films.  The story might seem slightly familiar to anyone who has seen the first movie, Pitch Black, but the movie is a very interesting survival film that likes to triple down on danger.  After Riddick's situation seems almost hopeless, the writers seem to ask themselves how can they make his chances of survival even worse, and then they devise ways for him to get out of it.

The movie stands on its own pretty well.  You would not have to have seen the first two films to watch this one.

The Iron Lady * * .5

So splendid is Meryl Streep's Oscar winning performance as Margaret Thatcher that you just want to love this movie, or more specifically Meryl Streep, but the movie fails you because it has nothing good to say about Margaret Thatcher.  Imagine, if you will a movie about Ronald Reagan that spent two thirds of its time on his Alzheimer's disease and the remaining time on the least popular aspects of his presidency.  You wouldn't get a complete picture of the former president and you wouldn't get a film that acknowledged any of his accomplishments.  I kept waiting for this film to have something uplifting to say about Margaret Thatcher, and it just doesn't.  This is a pretty well made movie that has no sympathy for its main character.  It plays more like a Greek tragedy about a fallen hero who was flawed to begin with.

Margaret Thatcher's free market policies were so divisive in Great Britain that immediately after she died there was an organized campaign to make Ding Dong The Witch is Dead the number one song downloaded on iTunes.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Returned (A.K.A. "They Came Back") * * *

The Returned is the 2003 French movie that inspired the much better 2012 French TV series by the same name. (Not to be confused with the somewhat interesting 2013 American zombie movie also called "The Returned.") The point of both shows is that society must cope with a large number of dead people coming back to life. The movie version is slower and the ending lacks any clear resolution, but I still found it entertaining. The ending is way too understated but it also sort of makes sense.

Depending upon which country you live in, this movie might also be called "They Came Back."

The Returned might try the patience of some who would prefer a more exciting movie.

The movie is less about the resurrected dead than it is about how the living react to their presence. If there is any point to the film at all, and it is not clear that the movie has a point, it is about how society integrates a large number of immigrants or refugees who are dramatically different than the rest of the population. (This has been a problem for Europe in general.) In this movie the dead seem like mere echoes of their former selves who are less capable of original thought. For this reason they are difficult to integrate into society and can only work menial jobs.

But the dead in this movie have their own agenda. They aren't very interested in the living. They secretly collude among themselves and make plans. This leads to violent conflict between the living and the dead.

In a couple of scenes we see reflections of female beauty in a mirror and in a window. In the first scene the reflection is covered by fog and in the second scene we briefly see reflections of breasts. This seems like some sort of symbolism because the dead are like poor reflections of their former selves.

Sometimes I ask myself why do we need yet another zombie movie, but this is not your traditional zombie film. It is more about mass resurrection and what would happen to society if this were to happen.