Last night, I was flipping around the cable dial while on the computer. With the remote at the back of the room, and the cable box next to me, I just wanted to find something to watch without going through all 400 channels. So, I stopped on Peter Jackson's KING KONG.
I liked the film somewhat in theatres, but haven't thought of it much since then.
It was the scene where Kong is first brought to New York, his escape, and the Empire State Building.
Watching that 45 minutes, I really enjoyed it. I even stopped writing on the computer and watched the film. I began to wonder, why didn't I like this more when I saw it in theatres?
Then I checked the onscreen display. The film had started 2 hours and 15 minutes before I tuned in.
I barely remember anything from that first 2 hours and 15 minutes. When I thought back on the film before rewatching, all I thought of were the moments in that final section.
The original KING KONG ran only 103 minutes. There really was no reason for this to run 3 hours.
As a 45 minute film, Jackson made a great film. As a 3 hour film, it is forgettable.
Less is definitely more.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 10:58 AM
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Christmas specials are supposed to be a way for the family to gather around the TV, to watch a nice, heartwarming story. Aren't they?
Or are the specials meant to insult the audience's intelligence, while the producers try to skip town after cashing the TV station's check?
I just watched a Holiday special, on my local TV station, called SANTA CLAUS' FAVORITE HOME VIDEOS AND PRANKS. Apparently it goes by several different names. It is available on DVD under yet another name. They must have to change it every Christmas when the repackage it.
The special was supposed to be a sort of Christmas related America's Funniest Home Videos meets Candid Camera. All sorts of actual home video bloopers and hidden camera gags.
I like those shows, at times. So, with nothing else on, my Christmas shopping done, I tuned in.
It was quite possibly the worst hour of television I have seen in my life. And yes, I have seen the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. It makes that look like RUDOLPH or THE CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.
The entire thing, the bloopers, the pranks, they were all completely scripted and staged. And there is nothing worse than a staged reality show. Oh look! The Christas tree is falling! HA HA HA HA HA!! Oh look, a kid is impolite to Santa, while reading scripted lines. HA HA HA HA HA!!!
And to make things even worse, all the gags were shot in the same room!! Did they think the audience wouldn't notice? The same venetian blinds with stockings hanging from them. Probably shot in the summer, with the blinds closed so that we couldn't tell.
In one of the Candid Camera gags, a guy goes to the "gift wrap" section of his mall. The joke is, he is bringing a raw chicken to be wrapped. HA HA HA HA!! I don't know what was worse about this, the fact that the people doing the wrapping couldn't even act well enough to make it a joke, or the fact that this mall wrapping station was just the reception desk in an office! You could see the computer next to the wrapper, and the cubicles in the background! They didn't even attempt to do a real gag. The budget of the entire special couldn't have been $100.
All set to the loudest laugh track you are likely to hear. Along with some annoying voice overs of the clips, that make you appreciate the comic brilliance of Tom Bergeron and Bob Saget. (Actually, that isn't fair. Did everyone know that the writers of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE work on AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS? Trace Beaulieu (Crow T. Robot) is one of the head writers).
The show was hosted by Kirk Cameron. I couldn't tell the year of the show, if it was made before or after his becoming a born again Christian. For making such a mockery of the Christmas season, I think he needs to spend A LOT more time in church. He really should do some penance for being a part of this show.
Just about the most painful show you are likely to see. And for Christmas!!!
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 1:09 PM
Saturday, December 23, 2006
When I first heard about a new Rocky movie, like everyone else, I thought it was a bad idea. Make that a terrible idea. Forget his age, didn’t anyone remember ROCKY V? It wasn’t popular. The ROCKY franchise was dead after that film. Even though it wasn’t an awful film, it wasn’t good either.
I've liked the series over the years. I actually saw the films out of order. While I believe I saw ROCKY on TV, in the pre-cable days, it was ROCKY III that I really loved, fighting Clubber Lange (Mr. T). I saw that one just about every time it was on cable the summer it premiered. Had to have seen it 20 or more times. I then saw II, and IV. Liked them all. But, didn’t see V until last year, when I got around to finally renting it.
So, when Stallone made his big announcement of the new one, I greeted it with the same enthusiasm as any Stallone film. I just wasn’t interested.
After a lot of positive reviews for the new one, ROCKY BALBOA, I decided to go see it.
This time, Rocky is still living in Philadelphia. He runs a restaurant, Adrian’s, named for his now deceased wife. He still hangs with Paulie (Burt Young) and has issues with his son (Milo Ventimiglia) who doesn’t want to live in his shadow.
Meanwhile, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), is being criticized, even attacked by fans, for fighting unworthy challengers. When ESPN runs a simulation that matched up Rocky at his prime vs. Dixon, and word gets out that Rocky may be interested in fighting again, the challenge goes out. Will they fight? What will happen?
C’mon, it’s a ROCKY movie. You know.
Still, have you ever had an experience, when watching a movie, that the whole thing just feels right? You are with the characters. Every moment seems to work. You are so caught up in the film, that you don’t even care about worrying about things like performances, or dialogue, or how realistic it is. The film just works.
ROCKY BALBOA works. This is a terrific audience film.
Stallone wrote and directed it, and he does a great job. And not just with the fighting scenes. Believe it or not, the whole training and boxing scenes take up a small part of the film. The whole first half is just Rocky being Rocky. He visits Adrian’s grave and the places where they used to spend time together.
We see Rocky walking the streets, with all the people yelling “Yo, Rock”, being treated like the champ that he was. Then, in the restaurant, he spends his nights, walking among the customers, telling the stories about his fights, that you know he probably has to tell every night, and never tires of it. All of this felt right.
The film makes excellent use of the Philadelphia locations. From the little run down corner bars, the burned out houses, the city is as much a character in the film as Rocky is. There is a scene where Rocky stands on a street corner talking to someone, and the way he uses the locations is just perfect.
I was kind of worried about Milo playing his son. Since he played Jess on THE GILMORE GIRLS, I was worried he would be very Jess like, whining, and all surly and angry. And while his character starts out that way, he grows quite a bit. The relationship between he and his father is handled extremely well.
And I especially liked the other relationship between Rocky and little Marie (Geraldine Hughes), a bartender he meets who he had met years before when she was a kid. While not a romance from the start, since he still is not over Adrian, this is one of the strongest parts of the film. Rocky befriends her and her son. Hughes gave a really nice performance in the film. In looking over her filmography, it looks like this is the first major role she has had.
But, then there is Stallone. His last few movies have gone direct to video. I hope this changes that. I never expected to think he had this film in him.
At 105 minutes, this is one of the shortest films this year. Yet, for the first time all year, I wish it was half an hour longer! I never checked my watch once in watching the film. I would have liked to have seen even more training. Also a lot of the final fight is told in montage form. I could have taken it as a straight match. I think that is one of the strengths of Stallone as a filmmaker. He leaves you wanting more, rather than wearing out his welcome.
If you have any desire to see a ROCKY movie, this truly is a must see. I’m actually surprised I liked it as much as I did. It is one of the better films of this year.
4 ½ stars out of 5
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 2:30 PM
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Pretty much nothing going on today in the world of entertainment, so I might as well write about people celebrating birthdays.
Turning 37 today is the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Kristy Swanson.
I'm sorry, but I always liked the movie. May not have been as good as the TV show, but I saw it theatrically, and thought it was highly underrated.
Beginning as an extra in John Hughes films, and on TV shows (she gave cocaine to Mike on a memorable GROWING PAINS episode), her first big role was as the zombie, who decapitates mama from THROW MAMA FROM A TRAIN with a basketball, in Wes Craven's DEADLY FRIEND. Then came the camp classic FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, DREAM TRAP, MANNEQUIN 2, and finally BUFFY.
Her career should have gotten a boost by that, but it didn't. She did play the lead in HIGHER LEARNING (with some memorable scenes with Jennifer Connelly) before descending into a lot of direct to video films. At one point in the mid 90's I had seen all of her films. But, even I stopped watching. I think around the time of 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG.
In the past few years, she had a very good but little seen summer TV show called GRAPEVINE. But, it was cancelled. Lately, she has gone the reality TV route, starring on SKATING WITH CELEBRITIES. I think she won as well, and is now pregnant with her skating partner's child.
Also celebrating a birthday, Amy Locane turns 35.
Yet another actress who should have had a much bigger career.
I first saw her as the girlfriend in Hugh Hudson's LOST ANGELS. Then, she was the female lead in John Waters CRY BABY. The direct to video NO SECRETS was a very good film, and also features another MIA actress (Traci Lind). Next came more girlfriend roles in SCHOOL TIES and AIRHEADS, as well as a stint on MELROSE PLACE.
She was excellent in BLUE SKY as Jessica Lange's daughter. And also as Dennis Hopper's object of obsession in CARRIED AWAY.
But once again, as her career should have been on the upswing, instead, she made several direct to video films of varying quality. Only SECRETARY, in which I don't even remember who she played, had a major theatrical release.
It now appears she is teaching acting in New Jersey.
So happy birthday to both.
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 1:18 PM