Once Upon A Time In America

Once Upon a Time in America

Everyone’s first thoughts seem to be to compare this film with the Godfather. Everyone knows Godfather I and II as great masterpieces in film history and as well they should be. But don’t cheat yourself out of seeing this film, because you would be doing just that, only cheating yourself.

Believe it or not, I have never seen the American cut of this film, which I understand was hacked and put into chronological order. I guess American studios don’t have that much faith in American movie fans to follow anything a bit different or actually thinking for themselves. Directed by Sergio Leone who was known best for the spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), directs this film. When taking in a film by Leone, just be ready for a drawn out, mood setting scenes which are very well crafted. Being drawn out isn’t a bad thing, just as the water pump knocks back and forth endlessly at the beginning of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a telephone rings for what seems 5 minutes, setting the mood, increasing tension and peaking curiosity.

Of course accompanying Leone is Ennio Morricone. (who also scored the famous and highly recognizable The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly score….you know you’re singing it in your head right now!) Morricone does the usual masterful almost haunting score for which he won a Golden Globe for. Leone and Morricone are a wonderful team and seems to be meant for each other.

This film stars Robert DeNiro (Best Actor Raging Bull) plays Noodles. The film follows his character and Noodles only knows one thing, never sell out your friends. James Woods plays his friend Max. Woods is wonderful as the flying by the seat of his pants, high strung friend. Joe Pesci (Goodfellas) and Burt Young (Pauly in Rocky) give good performances as well. And if you think you kind of recognize the little girl dancing in the beginning, you probably do know her. This is Jennifer Connelly’s (Blood Diamond, A Beautiful Mind) very first feature film.

This is a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it. I didn’t want to give too much away in this review, for those that want to see it. Remember Sergio Leone is a wonderful storyteller, but tells it his way at his pace, which just adds color and drama to his films. Settle in with a bucket of popcorn or some good red wine…this is good movie making!

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Superman The Movie

Superman - The MovieGrowing up on this movie, it is refreshing to see this one on bluray. It was almost like seeing it for the first time again. The one sad thing about the disc is that it only contains the director’s cut. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two, but I still prefer the original cut of the movie.

To me, this is the best Superman movie out there and holds true to a lot of the original ideas in the comic stories. Richard Donnor (Lethal Weapon) does a great job directing this ground breaking film. This is the film that first made you say “Wow, a man can fly.” Also, my hats off to the director for actually setting up the story and history of Superman. Many would want to jump right into the action. The history is what made Superman what he is and having that understanding makes this movie.

As far as acting, to me Christopher Reeve is, and will always be Superman. He does a good job as Superman, and an even better job playing the bumbling reporter Clark Kent. He also carries a bit of truthful humor to both roles, especially the interview scene with Lois Lane.

The other actors, well this film is full of Hollywood greats and legends. Marlon Brando (Best Actor for The Godfather), who received an astronomical amount for his 10 minutes of work. Gene Hackman (Best Actor for The French Connection) makes the perfect Lex Luthor with his sidekick Ned Beatty (Network). Other great include Glenn Ford (Midway) as Jonathan Kent, Jackie Cooper (The Little Rascals) as Perry White,  Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder and Terence Stamp. A wonderful cast that has great performances overall!

Other than Star Wars, this is the movie I remember most fondly as a kid. It is one of my favorites, and will always have a special place on my movie list. Anyone who hasn’t seen this film should do so. It is Hollywood film making and storytelling at it’s best.

The Verdict

The Verdict

If you enjoy Paul Newman (and who doesn’t enjoy Paul Newman) you need to see this movie. He probably could have won Best Actor but lost out to Ben Kingsly for Gandhi. Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer who drums up his business by going to funeral homes and passing out business cards, claiming to know the deceased. That is until he is handed a sure thing, a case that is supposed to settle out of court with a nice payday. Having a growing conscious after seeing the victim, he views the money as nothing more than being bought off and decides to fight the case.

As always, not to give too much away, this isn’t the absolute best courtroom drama I have ever seen, but Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) does get great performances from Mr. Newman, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool). There are no huge plot twists or legal loopholes that act as a payoff here, just tracking down missing witnesses and courtroom testimony. Still, this is a film worth seeing, being Nominated for 5 total Oscars including Best Actor and Best Picture.

City of Angels

City of Angels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After watching City of Angels again, the first thing that I noticed is that this movie sure could use a bluray transfer. Overall color would improve a lot, not to mention having great blacks and good contrast since one of the neat things in this film is that the angels wear black.

That said, I still enjoy this movie. Nicolas Cage (National Treasure and Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas) plays Seth in what I would consider a stereotypical way for him, but that works just fine for this film. It even adds to the film in a thought provoking way  a she wonders “I want to know what a pear tastes like to you.” Meg Ryan (When Harry met Sally) kind of falls into her stereotypical role as well, playing similar characters in You’ve Got Mail and Kate & Leopold.

Director Brad Siberling (Land of the Lost) gives us a fresh look at angels. As mentioned dressing them in all black, and seeing them interact with humans for comfort and support. There are also a lot of nice touches of being able to hear a sunset, and hear people’s thoughts, and then trading off lack of touch and being able to feel. A special  note for an outstanding soundtrack with the likes of Alanis Moriseette, Paula Cole, Sarah McLaughlan and many others.

In all, yes, this film is what some label as a chick flick, but still a lot of interesting and intriguing concepts throughout the movie to keep anyone interested. Of course best viewed with a bottle of Semillion and Irish whisky white cheddar! Very good movie to take in and even talk about afterwards. If you haven’t seen it, do so.

Network

Network

Network. I am trying to think of a better over all acted movie, and it is
really hard to do. Every performance in this film is really outstanding.
Both William Holden (Best Actor for Stalag 17) and Peter Finch were both
nominated for Best Actor, of course Peter Finch taking the statue. Both were
just enthralling to watch. Faye Dunaway, won Best Actress for her role. She
is amazing and holds her own against the Hollywood heavyweights Holden and
Duvall. Which brings me to Robert Duvall, who probably should have got a
nomination for supporting actor. Even the small role of Ned Beatty earned
himself a nomination in that category. In fact my favorite line of the movie
isn’t the famous “I’m as mad as hell..” but the Beatty line ” The world is a
business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.”
 Wow, enough about performances. With all the other awards this movie won,
kind of a shame it didn’t go on to win Bets Picture, but lost to Rocky. This
film is a great look at what TV stations will do for ratings. The
exploitation of a screaming madman sends rating through the roof. And comes
full circle as the TV network atcs out what a newsman was originally fired
for to begin with.
 Sydney Lumet is just masterful at pulling performances out of people. He
has been doing great movies for years, from 12 Angry Men in 1957 to Before
the Devil Knows Your Dead
in 2007, and plenty of greatness in between. Even
if you think you may not like this film, everyone should see it once and try
to understand it as it is one of the great movies of all time.