The cop/courtroom drama has been around since the beginning of television. The question is, will the television program be the same dry procedural show that audiences have become so used to, or will there be a twist that keeps the audience engaged until the credits roll?
Law And Order was on the air for twenty years, between 1990 and 2010. Covering a multitude of crimes in New York City, the focus of the show was split evenly between the police who are investigating the crime and the prosecutors whose job it is to argue that the accused should be found guilty. Over the show’s 20 year history, the roster of actors who played the detectives and the prosecutors included the late Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston, Jesse L. Martin and Elizabeth Rohm.
Law and Order is one of those television shows that everyone has watched at least once. It has multiple spin offs, an impressive list of guest stars and always leaves the audience to answer an ambitious, grey zone question that makes us think.
I recommend it.
Many of us have imaginary friends during our childhoods. As we grow older, the imaginary friends are replaced by real friends. But what would happen if the imaginary friend from our childhood came back to us during adulthood?
In the 1991 movie, Drop Dead Fred, Lizzie Cronin (Phoebe Cates) is dealing with the very adult situation of a less than faithful husband and a helicopter parent of a mother. Just when the chaos seems to be at its peak, her childhood imaginary best friend, Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall) comes back into her life and creates more chaos.
This movie is an interesting one for me. There are comedic elements that appeal to the young ones in the audience, but there is also a message about being an adult and finding your way as an adult when everything seems murky and unclear. If there is one thing that I take away from this movie is that is it possible to traverse the uncertain mountain that is adulthood and still come out reasonably sane.
I recommend it.
There are romantic comedies and then there are romantic comedies. Some are so horribly predictable and forgettable that it makes bad, predictable action films look good. Then there are the classics, that after generations, still make audiences laugh and are still as highly regarded as they were when they first hit theaters.
One of these classics is Bringing Up Baby (1938).
Good natured Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is a paleontologist and a professor who has spent the last four years putting together a Brontosaurus skeleton. With the skeleton completed, he needs only the intercostal clavicle bone and one million dollars to complete the project. Wealthy and widowed Mrs. Random (May Robson) can provide the money, but first David has to go through Mrs. Robson’s lawyer, Alexander Peabody (George Irving). In addition to getting past Mr. Peabody, David also has to deal with Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn), Mrs. Random’s ditzy niece who always seems to make trouble for David and make him look bad. Susan has recently adopted a leopard, named Baby, who seems to get David in as much hot water as his human mother.
Can David finish the project or will Susan (and his slowly to burn affection for her) for her stop him from seeing the skeleton in its complete form?
This movie is one of the essential romantic comedies. It is funny, it is charming and it has two of the best actors of the era playing the leading characters. Cary Grant was one of those actors whose good looks belied a comedic sense that is often repeated today, but never duplicated. Katherine Hepburn was not just a smart and independent woman off camera, but on camera as well. There are very few performers, especially female performers, who have the ability to smartly play down their intelligence to play up the comedy. Katherine Hepburn was one of those performers.
I absolutely recommend it.
Studio 54 is one of the most notorious and infamous nightclubs in New York City’s history.
In 1998, the movie 54, told the story of Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a young man who was employed at the nightclub during’s its heyday in the late 1970’s. Parallel to Shane’s downward spiral is the club’s downward spiral.
This movie is interesting. It is interesting because from outside of the velvet rope, Studio 54 was the hottest nightclub in town that most people could only dream of seeing with their own eyes. Inside, it is another story, especially from the point of view of a young man who is still growing into himself and unaware of the temptation that exists once he walked in the door.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Our strongest sense is sometimes not our sense of smell or taste, but our gut. When we have nothing else to guide us, our gut will.
In the 2000 television movie, The Courage To Love, Henriette Delille (Vanessa Williams) is a biracial woman living in 19th century New Orleans. While her parents are in love, they cannot marry due to the fact that her father is white and her mother is black. Dr. Gerard Gaultier (Gil Bellows), a Caucasian doctor from France proposes to Henriette and take her back to France, where there would be no opposition to their marriage. But Henriette is devoted to the Church and must choose between saying I do and joining the Church.
As interesting as this television movie is, it is a little heavy-handed. It comes out more preachy than entertaining while teaching.
Do I recommend it? I have to lean toward no.
There is something wonderful and satisfying about a love story done right. The anticipation, the wonder and finally, the happy ending. Even those of us who are skeptical about love can’t help but shed a tear and smile.
The film Love Affair (1994), is not the first time this familiar narrative has been seen on the big screen. Audiences were first introduced to the story in 1939’s Love Affair, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and then in 1957’s An Affair To Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
In 1994, the narrative was revived a third time with IRL couple Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. Simply by pure luck, Mike Gambril (Beatty) and Terry McKay (Bening) purchased a plane ticket for the same flight. When the plane is forced to land midway through the flight, the passengers are ferried back to safety on a ship. Despite the fact that both Mike and Terry have significant others waiting for them, there is an obvious spark between them. To test if the attraction is real (and potentially long term) or a momentary twist of fate, they agree to meet up in New York City three months later. When one of them does not show up for their previously agreed upon appointment, doubts begin to form. Are Mike and Terry meant to be or just two ships in the night, just passing by each other?
What I appreciate about this movie is that despite the fact that it has two predecessors, it stands on its own two feet. It’s the kind of love story that I can appreciate. It has all of the highs and lows of the genre, without being too over the top or mushy.
I recommend it.
Sometimes, in the heat of the war, the one thing that keeps us alive is music.
Władysław Szpilman was one of the most respected pianists in Europe in the years leading up to World War II. He was also Jewish.
His story of survival in the face overwhelming atrocities is explored in the 2002 award-winning film, The Pianist. Adrien Brody plays the title character. The movie starts with Władysław Szpilman forced into The Warsaw Ghetto with his family and thousands of other Jews. As the noose begins to tighten around the residents of the ghetto, he knows that his music maybe the only thing keeping him alive.
The Pianist stands out as a Holocaust film because of the music. The music reminds both the main character and the audience that even in the face of unmistakable evil and tragedy, if we can find one thing to remind us of our humanity, then there is hope. The music is the sliver of hope and light in the face of the darkness that is World War II and The Holocaust.
I absolutely recommend it.
For every 10 or 20 stories there are about men who overcome what seems to be insurmountable obstacle, there are only a handful of stories of women who do the same.
The 2006 movie, One Night With The King, is based on the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Hadassah (Tiffany DuPont) is a orphaned young woman living one of her cousins, Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies). King Xerxes (Luke Goss) has just banished his Queen, Vashti (Jyoti Dogra) and is seeking a new wife. Rounded up with other young woman, Hadassah is taken to the King’s palace as potential bride. But there is a catch. Within the palace, Hadassah has taken on a new identity, Esther. No one knows that she is a Jew.
King Xerxes takes a fancy to Esther/Hadassah and marries her. Soon it becomes clear that Hadassah’s life and the life of every Jew is in danger as Haman (James Callis), one of the King’s minister’s has deadly plans in store for Shushan’s Jewish community. Knowing that her life and the lives of her people are in danger, Hadssah/Esther must take a risk and reveal her true identity. She could live or she could die, but she must do something.
What makes this movie stand out is that not only is the Purim story fleshed out with historical accuracy, but it is a compelling tale of courage with a female lead character who stands up for who she is and what she believes in, even at the potential cost of her own life.
I recommend it.
For many of us growing up, one of the rites of passage was the boy band of the moment. In the late’s 60’s, the boy band of the moment that the then teenagers were going crazy for were The Monkees. Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones were the original made for television boy band.
In 2000, a biopic of their time in the spotlight aired. Daydream Believers:The Monkees’ Story, Jeff Geddis (Mike Nesmith), Aaron Lohr (Mikey Dolenz), L.B. Fisher (Peter Tork) and George Stanchev (Davy Jones) played the young men who were originally hired to play characters on a scripted television series, but then fought for the artistic control and respect that they craved.
For a TV movie, it’s not bad. The way I see it, is that it’s like in The Wizard Of Oz, when the curtain is pulled back and the wizard is revealed to be an ordinary man. This movie pulls back the curtain to reveal both the upsides of performing and the struggle of being artist when the business aspect of show business takes over.
I recommend it.
The crime drama genre has had a pull on audiences for many generations. The cat and mouse game between the criminals and the police makes for a riveting narrative, if done properly.
In 1993, Harrison Ford starred in The Fugitive, a reboot of the 1963 television series of the same name. Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimble, a man accused of murdering his wife. While he hunts down the real killer, Dr. Kimble is also running from Deputy U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). Deputy Gerard does not believe that Dr. Kimble is innocent and is determined to see him locked up.
Before we go any farther, I must warn that I have never seen the television series, this review is strictly based on the movie. What I like about this movie is that the action works well with the narrative. While some other films in this genre never quite have the right mix of action and narrative, the film finds the perfect balance between the two. I also thoroughly enjoy the game of one-upmanship that Dr. Kimble and Deputy Gerard play, trying to prove that the other is wrong and he is right.
I recommend it.