Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)

A bit long in the tooth. I did like the first 1/3rd of the film where we meet a young Freddie Mercury and learn of family origins and of his chance encounter that brought him from airport luggage handler to lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. But I couldn't help but think that Rami Malek would have made a great Mick Jagger. In fact I kept seeing Mick in the early part of the film and not Freddie. But once the film progressed to where Mercury gets his trademark short hair and mustache look, he seemed more like the real deal.

IMO they overdid the prosthetic choppers. Yeah I know Freddie Mercury had an overbite but the prosthetic teeth looked fake to me and distracted me quite a bit. Even worse I started noticing that the actor had problems wearing them as in some scenes he would roll his upper lip down as if the fake teeth where bugging him. That didn't appear to be part of the acting either, but a naturalistic response by the actor to those huge choppers.

I have to say that I got bored in the middle of the film when it relied more on montage stage performances, than character/story building scenes. That felt like lazy film making. Though the Live Aid scenes that came at the end, did make up for some of the lackluster script...I got to believe the real Freddie Mercury had a BIG story to tell, sadly we only got a glimpse of that story here in what might be described as movie-making-by-the-numbers.

I never thought of it until you mentioned it here, but Rami Malek would make a terrific Mick Jagger.

Trouble with a capital "T"

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Director: Richard Brooks
Writers: Richard Brooks (screenplay), Sinclair Lewis (from the novel by)
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy
Genre: Drama

"A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause."

Luckily, there's no catchy tunes sung by Mr Teeth, Burt Lancaster. But does that guy have a mouth full of teeth or what? Seems to me there was an actress who really had lots of teeth too, but I can't remember her name right now. Oh well, I know it wasn't Shirley Jones who not only played a doe eyed song bird once, but also plays a hell bent for revenge prostitute with gusto! I thought I'd find a pic of Lulu, because a little beauty in my review never hurts! But as soon as I seen that pic of Lancaster it just screamed, 'this is what the movie is all about!'

Lancaster is an uber mega personality, larger than life and LOUD, with a laugh that draws them into those canvas tents and makes them drop to their knees in redemption....'On your knees sinner!'

This film does so much, so great, that I'd have to write on and on, and well I don't even know if you guys read what I write, or do you just rep and say, damn Citizen wrote a lot this time... a nut shell I love how the film never says that Elmer Gantry is just preaching the word to get a shot at bedding Sister Sharon behind the podium. I think Elmer really believed what he preached, but mostly he believed in the power of the spoken word, and that my friends is a good place to end this on.

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Trouble with a capital "T"

The Music Man (1962)

Director: Morton DaCosta
Writers: Meredith Willson, Franklin Lacey
Actors: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett
Genre: Musical

Surprisingly I don't have a lot to say here. Yeah, I know I'm usually long winded but The Music Man isn't the kind of movie that needs deep in-depth maybe, just maybe, I'll keep this short

The one thing that really stands out in The Music Man are the songs and there are a lot of them! By my count there's 24 songs in the movie and that's a lot, even for a musical. Usually a movie that was made from a musical stage production had a large number of the songs cut, so that the story line and dialogue could be expanded for a movie audience. And that's what makes The Music Man unique, it's literally done just as the stage production was. That's due to director/producer Morton DaCosta who also had been the director of the stage version. He made sure the film was true to the stage show. And that then makes The Music Man both special...and harder for movie audiences to get into. With 21 songs there's not much time for character development.

Luckily there's some great tunes here, my favorites were: Rock Island sung by the traveling salesmen on the train, Ya Got Trouble I've been singing this to my wife, substituting our cat's names for 'pool' and that rhymes with trouble!...Piano Lesson, Goodnight, My Someone, Being in Love all sung by the talented Shirley Jones, wow can she sing or what!

My favorite production numbers/songs would be: Marian The Librarian, done in the library, Pick a Little, Talk a Little sung by the townswomen and the local chickens! And of course I love the number where the town's youth parade down the street in full band costumes.

Gosh Shirley Jones is so perfect for this role as a sweet but stubborn librarian and oddly enough she's really good as a vengeful prostitute in Elmer Gantry. There's a couple other of her films that I really like too.

Robert Preston is the man! What else can I say...he's the Music Man who in pulling a con job on the small Iowa town's folks, ends up giving them more than they even hoped for.

I did have a lot to say after all, I'm guess I'm full of it just call me The Movie Man and that spells trouble!

Trouble with a capital "T"

Blood Simple (1984)

: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

"A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple."

The Coen Brother's rock! They employ such unique artistry in their scene compositions and such lush lighting with their subdued shadows, that just watching Blood Simple is like a wonderful day spent at an art museum. I just sat back and soaked up their visionary film making whilst enjoying their equally inspired soundtrack. Blood Simple is one of those prime examples where the soundtrack is genius in and of itself.

I'd never seen Frances McDormand look so young. Frances is good in this too, so is M. Emmett Walsh who's always a blast...and the guy who played the stiff, Dan Hedaya was really suited to his role. But mostly I was impressed with how the film was made. At first there was so many closeup shots that I thought that I had my DVD setting on zoom, but no, the film was meant to impart an up-close and personal view of the story. It's almost claustrophobic...which is perfect for the subject matter of a mystery thriller where everyone suspects someone else.

I loved how the Coens would show us little nuances that really made this film stand out. A good example is when the stiff-to-be is laying in the road and Ray (John Getz) is dragging the tip of the shovel on the pavement! Oh so effective and the entire film is shot like that. And how about the ending where one of the suspects shoots through the door and thinks they are shooting someone else, sublime.

Trouble with a capital "T"

Phantom Thread (2017)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Genre: Drama

''Set in 1950s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover."

A couple of years ago I watched Phantom Thread, my reaction was one of ambivalence. I suppose that's because like many people who don't warm to a movie my expectations weren't met. That's the problem with expectations they're often quite different than what one encounters. Thus disappointment is the result. Movies don't necessarily follow a specific formula, but the movie watcher has been dialed into the conventional story telling concept that's used in most movies.

Phantom Thread utilizes a much more subtle approach with sustained moments of low key tension as a means of achieving it's story. One then might decide that there wasn't much going on in the film, and that's what I thought on my first watch.

This time around a rewatch made me appreciate the moments the film exist in. It suggest underpinnings that aren't always forefront, nor do they need to be. The impression is more important than the whole...

Daniel Day Lewis was superbly cast here as was Vicky Krieps as his strong willed muse and Lesley Manville as his stalwart sister. I loved how the film took it's time and meandered in it's world of 1950s haute couture.

Trouble with a capital "T"

Blood Diamond (2006)

Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Charles Leavitt (screenplay), Charles Leavitt (story)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller

"A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond."

Loved the actual scenes of Africa...the crowded streets, the small villages, the lush countryside and even the trash and urban decay. It all looked so real that I felt like I was watching a docu-drama. I'd give all those parts, the overall story and the performances by DiCaprio & Djimon Hounsou a 5/5. And yes it was graphic but that was grounded in truth so belonged in the story.

Blood Diamond did many things right but then came the overbearing music score that made me very aware that I was watching a movie and that the director wanted me to feel the drama of it all. That then broke the spell of being immersed in the story. Luckily the score was mainly during the fight sequences and not the entire movie.

Some of the action scenes went from brutal (which was good as it gave one the feeling of hopelessness and cruelty that existed), to...too many firebombs, making the film feel like a blockbuster action flick at times, which took away from the realistic feel.

The other thing that took away from the movie was Jennifer Connelly. She existed as the over used love interest trope. Even worse she looked just like a beautiful leading actress, instead of a realistic fictional character. And for that I blame the director. Like his film Glory, he overdoes the close up shots of Connelly and whenever she was in the film it felt like another run of a mill movie, when the rest of film was pretty special.

Trouble with a capital "T"

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Writers: Donn Pearce & Frank Pierson (screenplay)
Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Genre: Drama

Cool Hand Luke was my #6 choice for the 1960s Countdown.

After I rewatched this I realized I didn't really remember it at all and it didn't really work for me this time around. I have to say I was bored in the first half and there were only a few scenes that had any emotional impact on me. The most potent was the forced punishment of digging and then refilling a ditch by a very weary Luke. In that moment the film was great, especially after he returns to the bunkhouse a beaten man, crawling on the floor and the other prisoners are in utter disbelief.

The opening scene too was powerful, with the cigar chomping boss man telling the new prisoners the rules...and every broken infraction resulted in a 'night in the box'. The way the men had to address the guards as 'boss' and ask permission for the simplest things was also powerful.

But what didn't work for me was the very jovial nature of the first hour with the men in their bunk house having way too good of a time for what the film had set up as one helluva tough prison. Especially the egg eating contest was a bit hard to swallow Those light scenes that the director focused on in the first hour caused me to lose my suspension of disbelief, which then took me out of the moment and made me acutely aware I was watching a movie. Actually I kept thinking of TV's Hogan Heroes during that first hour.

The story line is good, but the director IMO made poor choices by focusing a lot of the film on light, nearly comical elements. While we got only a few brief moments of what it was like to be put into the box. The film needed more time in that box! The last 40 minutes or so were by far the best, but if 30 minutes were cut from the first half then this would have been to my liking.

Cool Hand Luke reminded me of Jack Nicholson's Five Easy Pieces, as both films are about baby boomers who are rebelling against the system. It doesn't help that I don't find that particular theme appealing, as I kept thinking Luke wasn't cool, but a big dumb ass...who seemed to have a death wish.

Trouble with a capital "T"

Ghostbusters (1984)

Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy

Ha! I love that scene, especially how the library cards go shooting out of the drawers...thank goodness for practical effects! The quality of film making here is real high.

You know there's no way this movie could be made today...Yeah, I know they did remake it, but not to this standard. There's just no way NYC would allow a film maker nowadays to block off a huge section of street to film a movie. Back in the day however, a director could do that..but today it's just too much of a hassle for a big city to shut down a city block for movie making.

It's real easy to watch this film and have a blast, I sure did! But think about being in the directors chair and then you'll be even more impressed with what was accomplished here. Oh, did I mention the street scene where the street cracks open swallowing the Ghostbusters? What a great set that was and way cool practical effects. Though my favorite effect was the eggs popping out of the tray and cooking themselves on Sigourney Weaver's kitchen counter. I'm so glad we have films like the original Ghostbusters, as today a remake would reek of CG.

I read that almost every scene had improvised dialogue. Usually that spells trouble as actors tend to be hams and don't know when to rein in the improv. But hot damn! Bill Murray and Rick Moranis had impeccable timing and delivery of their on-the-fly dialogue and that's why I prefer the first half of the film as their is more character and story development there.

I had a lot of fun revisiting this film!

Trouble with a capital "T"

Monsters, Inc (2001)

Directors: Pete Docter & David Silverman
Writers: Pete Docter & Jill Culton
Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

"In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think."

After watching Monsters, Inc, I pondered just what type of review I would write? How do I review a film and rate it when I'm not really into it's genre? Usually I try to review a movie from a personal basis. Truth be told even though there's been plenty of movies I hated, there really hasn't been many that I would say were just plain bad movie making. So this made me think just how should I judge a movie? By what criteria?

Depending on how you read this, you might think I disliked Monsters, Inc. and I'm looking for a nice way to say so, that would be a wrong conclusion. I liked Monsters, Inc. I thought it was well done, well animated, with some real talent doing the voices. I was really into the first couple scenes, but then when the film switched to a fight against good and bad and became an action-adventure chase, it lost me. And yet people love chase scenes in all types of movies, but not me. Thus Monsters Inc. isn't really a film I enjoyed and yet I could see how people could love it.

If I had my druthers, when the human child first entered the world of the monsters, the child would have been lost there and the friendly monsters Sully and his sidekick would have had to search high and low through monster-world for the wayward kid. That would have gave us a bird's eye view of how the monsters live and what their world looks like. That would've been the tops for me, but this was made more simply with kids in mind and that's OK because for the target audience I suppose it worked.


Trouble with a capital "T"

The Squid and The Whale (2005)

Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney
Genre: Comedy, Drama

"Follows two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s."

Somebody tell me what makes this movie special? Because I'm at a loss to see anything remarkable about it. To me it seems like a rather pedestrian film that focuses on adding in some cleverness and some tacked on provocative scenes in order to cover up the fact that the movie has really nothing to say.

At least I liked the way it was filmed. The scene length and the personal feeling one gets when a steady cam is used in close quarters, suited the film well. I liked the editing too, it was linear, thank goodness! The editing never became self aware or distracting to the film which is a good thing with this story. I even liked the actors. I thought they were cast well for the personality types they were playing.

But was this comedy-drama funny....nope. I laughed once at something flippantly said by Jesse Eisenberg. And I liked his character the best, especially when he was dating and then told the girl he wished she didn't have so many freckles...An OMG moment for sure and one that showed a spark of creativity by the writers.

But I think what bugged me the most was all the lost chances that the script writers squandered. I mean the basic premise has tons of potential and it seemed during the freckle scene that we'd ultimately learn that even though his mom had ended the marriage with her affairs...the divorcee was really caused by his dad being so intellectually high tone and lacking in human understanding and empathy. The writers could have explored that dynamic in the marriage via Eisenberg's character who seemed to be just as unemphatic as his dad. Well I guess they explored it a little but I felt unsatisfied with it as it could've been so much more.

The movie is set back in 1986 to give it some 'coolness'. Only nothing about the events were endemic to the mid 80s, nor did the film even attempt at having an 1980s vibe and look to it. Other than an old push button phone and some 80s cars the film didn't even look like it was from the 80s. Which to me feels like a cheap ploy to dress up a dull film. Same goes for the little kid who's always swearing, drinking and going topless for some reason, not to mention his 'self exploration'...OK but what does this say about him? I kept thinking he would blow a fuse and end up dead or something. But nothing was derived from his colorful character other than just some quirkiness...then at the end credits I seen this name, Wes Anderson.

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
This is one of two Baumbach movies I've seen, the other being While We're Young. I don't remember much about the film but I do remember liking it.

The one thing I took away from it though was how did nobody know he was performing a Pink Floyd song?
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Re: Monsters Inc

I really like the ending to this film, probably in my top 3 Pixar endings and I found the climax with the doors to be imaginative and thrilling. I love the concept and hated the fact they made a prequel, I think they should have explored the city more tell us more stories within that world.

I dig it, but Pixar has much better films so Monsters Inc falls down to the middle of the pack at best for me.

Re: Ghostbusters

My son wants to constantly watch this and he was singing Ghostbusters last night!!! It's a classic New York 80's film and easily re-watchable for me.

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds

Murder by Death (Robert Moore, 1976)

With a star studded cast, a script by Neil Simon and a creepy old mansion filled with spoofs of literary's greatest detectives, 1976's Murder by Death should have scored a knock out comic punch.

Instead the jokes are as stiff as a dead butler, the premise as thin as the hair on James Coco's head, and the sets are spartan. But what really killed the film for me were the low hanging fruit jokes. Those broad comedy, one liners, were delivered by actors who seemed to be sleep walking their lines. As a result, comic timing and delivery nuance, which is everything, was missing. Very few of the jokes were funny to me and some of the ethnic slander jokes were hard for me to watch.

The plot is paper thin, the detectives arrive at the mansion and are seated at the dining room table...then one of them will leave the room and later return to find that it's mysteriously empty. Then in the next scene all guest are back in the dining room. And that's, the big mystery of the movie.

We later learn that the house has a 'sliding dining room' that can be electronically moved around the house. In other words there wasn't enough money to build additional rooms for extra scenes. The simple plot reminded me of Scooby Doo. I half expected Truman Capote to say at the end, "I would've gotten away with my plan too if it hadn't been for you meddling kids, err...I mean detectives."

Yes, it was nice to see so many stars, though most were mediocre in their roles which surprised me. Elsa Lanchester is usually the highlight of any movie, but here she was wasted. David Niven and Maggie Smith's characters were the only ones I really liked. Peter Falk's take on Sam Spade was downright creepy.

I'm really surprised to learn that this wasn't a made for TV movie. One good thing about watching this, I now have a desire to rewatch William Castle's House on Haunted Hill.

Maybe I have a soft spot for Murder Mysteries...especially ones that poke fun at the genre and have fun with itself, but I enjoyed this one. It was recommended to me by @Holden Pike when I was inquiring about Murder Mysteries to write my own script; Murder A La Mode.

Trouble with a capital "T"
Maybe I have a soft spot for Murder Mysteries...especially ones that poke fun at the genre at have fun, but I enjoyed this one. It was recommended to me by @Holden Pike when I was inquiring about Murder Mysteries to write my own script; Murder A La Mode.
I like murder mysteries...I loved Clue (1985) & House on Haunted Hill (1959) and probably a ton more that I can't think of right now.

I, too, love Murder by Death and don't understand your disdain for the film, Citizen...different strokes I guess.
I hated the refrigerator. Then again I can't stand Airplane! I just don't like overly silly comedies.

Trouble with a capital "T"
This is one of two Baumbach movies I've seen, the other being While We're Young. I don't remember much about the film but I do remember liking it.

The one thing I took away from it though was how did nobody know he was performing a Pink Floyd song?
Yeah I was thinking that too, but then my wife didn't know that Pink Floyd song.

Re: Monsters Inc

I really like the ending to this film, probably in my top 3 Pixar endings and I found the climax with the doors to be imaginative and thrilling. I love the concept and hated the fact they made a prequel, I think they should have explored the city more tell us more stories within that world.

I dig it, but Pixar has much better films so Monsters Inc falls down to the middle of the pack at best for me.....
I'm not big on animation but have been impressed with the Pixars I've seen. Now that you mention it the door scene at the end was done very well, with a whole lot of depth perception.

I like murder mysteries...I loved Clue (1985) & House on Haunted Hill (1959) and probably a ton more that I can't think of right now.

I hated the refrigerator. Then again I can't stand Airplane! I just don't like overly silly comedies.
Hi Rules! You'll have to refresh my memory... what was "the refrigerator"?