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Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Was that THEY John Carpenter that made that? I have got to see that one.
Yep, looks like it was directed by THE John Carpenter (known as a master of "horror"!)
Shelley Winters plays Elvis's mom, btw.

On Amadeus - it goes so beyond the typical music biopic that I never even considered it in the same category (although it is). IMO, it's just a masterpiece of film!

Ha! he does, that's why Jack Black is so cool
Glad you dig the Jack Black!

High Fidelity, Tenacious D Pick of Destiny, School of Rock, all classics! I remember hearing Tenacious D cd when it first came out at the turn of the century. F her Gently was very unexpected!

...Hey Citizen...I like the way you make the review film title a color that compliments the intro image. Nice eye!
Thanks Joel, your the only person to have ever commented on that, cool! I use a color chooser add on, and I sample a color out of the lead photo and then change the font to that color. Why do I do that? I don't know! I just like the detail I guess

Thanks Joel, your the only person to have ever commented on that, cool! I use a color chooser add on, and I sample a color out of the lead photo and then change the font to that color. Why do I do that? I don't know! I just like the detail I guess
We both know that it's all about the details!

Coal Miner's Daughter

: Michael Apted
Writers: Thomas Rickman (screenplay), Loretta Lynn (autobiography)
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

I liked this and I really thought Sissy Spacek was special in it. She made her character come alive and that's so important in a bio pic. A lot of bio pics fail to make the historical character seem real to the audience, Sissy was very real in this. So I'm not surprised to learn that she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Coal Miner's Daughter. Sissy makes the movie!

However I did not care for Tommy Lee Jones in this and I don't mean because his character 'Doo' was an ass, which he was. The actor himself is too much of a caricature and the bad hair dye job, didn't help either. Tommy Lee Jones 'tears up the scenery' he's just too much in the film and overshadows the more finely honed performance of Sissy Spacek. I wish they would have cast someone else. A young at the time, Peter Fonda would have made a much better choice.

This was filmed on location in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and so looked great, especially the first part of the film in the hills of Kentucky. I thought it strange however, that when 'Doo' goes off to Washington to work as a logger...but there's no big trees in D.C....then in the bar scene where Loretta first sings, I noticed they were drinking Olympia beer, which was a local beer here in my home state, then I realized they were in Washington state! Very cool, I didn't know Loretta Lynn got her start here.

Twice I noticed the director showed old vintage cars and off to the side of the shot you can clearly see 1970s cars. That was big mistake on the directors part. And I think the film slowed down after she starting touring. I liked the first part of the film much better.

Like I said, I enjoyed this for the story of Loretta Lynn...I had never heard any of her songs until I seen this movie. Good movie.

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The Jazz Singer (1980)

Director: Richard Fleischer
Writers: Samson Raphaelson (play), Herbert Baker (screenplay)
Cast: Neil Diamond, Lucie Arnaz, Laurence Olivier
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

"The son of a Jewish Cantor must defy the traditions of his religious father in order to pursue his dream of being a popular singer."

I know some say Neil Diamond wasn't the greatest actor in this movie. But I liked him. He had this honest quality about him and I believed he was his character, and that's all important.

The Jazz Singer, is a story that gives us a lot of insight into Orthodox Judaism. It's not a splashy movie, it seems more sincere than showy. The best part was Neil Diamond's music and he has a lot of great songs featured in the movie.

I didn't know Laurence Olivier was in this until I seen his name in the opening credits. But...I didn't see him in the movie! Until I realized he was playing the old Jewish-Polish immigrant who was a Cantor. Wow! what a performance. I would have never guessed that was Olivier if I hadn't seen his name first.

As much as I liked Neil Diamond in this, I couldn't stand his love interest, Lucie Arnaz. Even when I was a teen I couldn't stand her. She grates on my nerves, which didn't help the love scenes any! No!....Neil don't do it! don't kiss her, yuck!

Luckily Lucie is a small part of the movie. I did enjoy the story, except the part where Neil breaks up with his wife and starts a new romance. It was all so sudden...They needed to show him grieving about the break up some. As the way it was shown, he breaks up and then immediately hops into the arms of Lucie, ugh. His wife instead should have been a childhood sweetheart that he was engaged to, but clearly incompatible with. It just seemed so cold heartened the way the wife ends up.

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Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

: Michael Apted
Writers: Thomas Rickman (screenplay), Loretta Lynn (autobiography)
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

I loved this movie when it came out, and I've enjoyed it several times since. IMO it's one of the best music celebrity biographies made. It's tricky to come up with a screenplay that hangs right. So often they're either corny or pretentious.

Coal Miner's Daughter
was helped immeasurably by the astonishing performance of Sissy Spacek. She so inhabited the role that it seemed to take her years to shake it. But what a performance.

I liked Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Doolittle "Doo" Lynn, Loretta's husband, and I thought he was convincing. The problem is that Jones is very charismatic, probably much more so than the real life Doo. So I can see where you'd feel that he tended to overshadow Spacek's performance. OTOH reportedly he was a huge influence in Loretta's life, so who knows? And too, if they'd made Doo's character weaker, especially by way of a lesser actor, it might have reduced some of the interesting interplay between the couple.

I also enjoyed the brief role by Beverly D'Angelo as Patsy Cline. And the scenes with the real life Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Minnie Pearl, along with the location shooting, really made the film seem authentic.


Ray (2004)

Director: Taylor Hackford
Writers: James L. White (screenplay)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music

"The life and career of legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s & 1960s."

I believed Jamie Foxx was Ray Charles. If the actor in a bio-pic can make me believe I'm seeing the actually life of a famous person, and not watching an actor...then the movie works for me. Ray works for me.

Jamie Foxx captured the mannerisms and vocal inflections of Ray Charles to a tee. Foxx sounded a lot like Ray too, both in speaking and on the songs that Foxx actually sang.

What I liked best about this movie was it completely captured the feeling of the time era that was being depicted. It immersed itself in the past. I especially liked the archival film footage. So many 'period piece' films only go so far in recreating the sights & sounds of the era being presented. The inclusion of archival color film stock from the 50s of New York and Seattle was very neat to see. I freeze framed the actual scene of Seattle in the 1950s and studied the buildings and signs.

In period piece movies, I listen to the dialogue that the scriptwriter wrote for the actors...I can tell a good scriptwriter has an ear for the lingo of the past, and will not use modern day phrases. This movie captured the way people talked in the 50's beautiful and I felt like I had a time machine back to the early days of Ray Charles' life. That's high praise, because so many other film makers don't pay attention to the small details.

BTW, very cool, that both Ray Charles and Loretta Lynn got their start in my state of Washington! That's because we're super hip out here

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Pink Floyd - The Wall (1982)

: Alan Parker
Writers: Roger Waters (album "The Wall"), Roger Waters (screenplay)
Cast: Bob Geldof, Christine Hargreaves, James Laurenson
Genre: Animation, Drama, Musical

"A confined but troubled rock star descends into madness in the midst of his physical and social isolation from everyone."

This took me back...straight back to the early 1980s and the album release of Pink Floyd's opus, The Wall. It was odd how the movie immobilized me, I scarcely moved a muscle for the duration...But why? Was it the movie? Was it the images? was the music. It was the songs that I've heard a hundred times before that made me remember what was...and what isn't, anymore.

The Wall, I know what this story is about, it's about all the hurt we feel from the day we first enter into this world, and it's about the injustices we suffer. Each one of those painful instances is a brick that we must carry. And when we have a cart load of bricks, we build a wall to layer ourselves away.

Most of us have our own personal walls, and I can see them too. I can see them in averted glances. I can see them in the defensiveness and deflections that people put up. I can even see walls through the blocks of text that appear on discussion boards where a pseudo world of connection without any real connection exist. We all have our walls.

Maybe that's why Pink Floyd's album The Wall has remained my favorite work of music. Hell it's not rock music, it's rock opera in the vein of Wanger the German composer...It's theatrical.

I remember the first time I heard the The Wall. I was in high school and I had a car, a cool one too, I had drove over to my friends house to pick him up for school. Just as we were about to leave, a neighborhood kid came over, who for all the world looked like a young Pete Townsend from The Who...He was like this rocker kid who was really into music. He pulls this cassette out of his pocket like it was a switch blade and says, 'man, you guys got to check this out.' ...We had like 20 minutes to get to school but the house was empty as the parents were gone. So we kicked back and said screw school and listened to The Wall twice through on the big stereo with the volume cranked on high. I don't know why but I can remember that morning like it was yesterday and yet it was decades ago.

So flash back to now, and I watched The Wall for the first time in like 35 years. I had went to the theater when the movie first came out and had seen it a couple more times in my youth during the 1980s. I always thought it was special.

So I watched it again after all these years. The music still resonated with me and I did enjoy watching it, but my youthful viewpoint had changed about the film. I set and watched all the credits role by on the screen at the end of the film, and I never usually do was like years slipping through my hands.

Either you love Pink Floyd's music or you don't. And if you don't, don't bother with the movie.

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Barbary Coast (1935)

Directors: Howard Hawks, William Wyler (uncredited)
Writers: Ben Hecht (screen play), Charles MacArthur (screen play)
Cast: Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson, Joel McCrea, Walter Brennan
Genre: Adventure, Drama

"Mary Rutledge arrives from the east, finds her fiance dead, and goes to work at the roulette wheel of Louis Charnalis' Bella Donna, a rowdy gambling house in San Francisco in the 1850s. "

Miriam Hopkins is such a complex character with her conflicted emotions, which are hung on the backdrop of what was literally a different world at the time, San Francisco.

In 1850 San Francisco might as well been on the moon as reaching it from civilization from the east coast, was a long and dangerous trek.

I loved the way the film starts off with Miriam Hopkins speaking metaphorical about the fog and how it hides the truth...and in that fog a person might be another person, apart from their own true self.

I thought it was equally poignant when the newspaper man who's arrived on the boat with Miriam, tells her that men come to the Barbary Coast not for the lust of gold but for the dream to re-invite's their second chance at life.

Both the fallen newspaper man and the fallen woman need to redeem themselves.

For me it's not the story of a gambling house, or gold or corruption that makes the movie special...for me it's the human emotion of regret. Regret for those things we should have done but didn't. Regret for doing wrong when we knew we were being compliance. And the need for redemption.

Miriam Hopkins is so powerful in this film with the complex emotions that she portrays, and there's something about doomed love that holds me spellbound...I don't know if anyone else will connect to Barbary Coast in the way I did, but I sure connected to it.

To Have And Have Not (1944)

Director: Howard Hawks
Writers: Ernest Hemingway (novel), Jules Furthman (screen play)
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance

"During World War II, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sensuous lounge singer."

Bogie and Bacall were magic on the was Eddie (Walter Brennan), I really like him in general and here he had a lot of heart...and that was important as it made me care about his character. I loved the dialogue in this movie, it's so rich. We really spend a lot of time hanging out with Harry, Slim and Eddie and not a lot of movies dedicate so much time to casual conversation. It's like the characters are our personal friends and we're along for the ride.

There's not much tension, it's a cake walk for Bogie and I think that's because the writers William Faulkner-the great American novelist and Jules Furthman, put their focus on developing Bogie, Bacall and Brennan's characters, and not on scene development or plot tension. The story itself isn't that exciting but for me that's OK, as I like movies that are low key and light on tension. I was happy to hang out in this 'other world' of Martinique.

Once again Howard Hawks makes great looking sets! I loved the boat at the dock and the city. That looked so real to me, I don't know if it was but it sure looked good.

My favorite scene was after the French wife faints during the bullet removal and Bogie picks her up in his arms and carries her out of the room. When he's out of sight of the others, he pauses and looks at her in his arms, and you know what he's thinking.....Then, in comes Bacall and says in her insulate tone,
"What are you trying to do, guess her weight?"

Ha, I love that, it was so human of her to say that. And that's why the interaction between Bogie and Bacall works so well here.

Scarface (1932)

Directors: Howard Hawks
Writers: Armitage Trail (novel), Ben Hecht (screenplay)
Cast: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley, George Raft
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

"An ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall."

I liked it...I wasn't blown away by it, but I did appreciate it, especially for it's place in film history. I try to judge films by the standards of the day, and I can image that the audiences in 1932 were blown away when they first seen Scarface.

The realistic violence in the film is like nothing I've seen in 1930s movies. After the Hays Office enforced the Production Codes, such violent scenes would be parred down....I mean there's bodies flying right and left! They really go at it!

The death scene of Scarface's secretary Angelo (
Vince Barnett), was especially brutal for the day and well done too! Old movies don't usually show someone suffering from a gun shot wound, not at least for extended amount of time. Angelo's scene was touching in how he kept trying to do his duty by locking the front door and attempting to answer the phone as he was dying. I thought that was pretty great scene.

I know the acting seems to be caricaturization instead of more natural acting, but this is a film from the early days of sound. It was released in early 1932, and, it was held for a year after production was wrapped to try and pass the New York censors. As Mark pointed out in his post, they went back and shot an alternative ending and added in the disclaimer about gangs and governments in the title credits. So...for a film made in 1931 it's understandable that the actors would perform a broader style as if they were still on the stage, as sound films were still new. And the actors were more use to stage work.

I know that Paul Muni is an accomplished actor and was nominated six times for Best Actor and won once. But he was a bit plodding in his role here and I had a hard time understanding his words. Still I like him.

I think Ann Dvorak was my favorite, I've liked her in other 30s films. I'm not familiar with the actress who played Poppy (Karen Morley) she was pretty enough and had a hard edge to her that was believable for a gun moll.

It's impressive that so many different set ups (shooting locations) were used. It made the film feel big, and lots of early 30s films hunker down in just a few spots and don't do world building.

The Jazz Singer (1980)

Director: Richard Fleischer
Writers: Samson Raphaelson (play), Herbert Baker (screenplay)
Cast: Neil Diamond, Lucie Arnaz, Laurence Olivier
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

You liked this movie a LOT more than I did. The only thing in this movie that works for me is Diamond's music. The songs in this movie are awesome, especially "Love on the Rocks."

Exactly. I had the same feeling after watching this movie.
I've seen Ray twice now, it's a good movie and Ray Charles got his start in my home state

You liked this movie a LOT more than I did. The only thing in this movie that works for me is Diamond's music. The songs in this movie are awesome, especially "Love on the Rocks."
Neil Diamond's music is awesome. I liked the movie alot, just not Lucie Arnaz

I liked The Jazz Singer well enough and I don't normally care too much for musicals.