Gideon58's Reviews

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Saw this just recently myself and have to agree with all the above points. An excellent film with Joan Crawford at the top of her game.



Free Guy
Video game junkies seem to be the intended demographic with 2021's Free Guy, a big budget sci-fi action comedy that provides solid entertainment value as long as you don't think about it too much.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller whose mundane existence, with which he has been totally content, is not what he thought. Guy learns that he is a background character in a video game whose destiny is altered when he meets a primary character in the game, who is really the video avatar of one of the game's creators.

The screenplay by Matt Leiberman and Zak Penn owes its influence to a lot of films like Inception, The Truman Show, Back to the Future, Star Wars, and Dead pool to name a few, but plot elements from these films have been juggled to give the appearance of originality. The dialogue is intelligent and funny, but the story moves at such a lightning pace, the viewer must just strap in and move with the story.

And when the viewer moves with the story, we are deluged with enough technical splendor to make us forget the little plot points that we thought we wanted explained. Director Shawn Levy employs endless imagination in the mounting of this story, that is unapologetic for its lack of realism and impressive attention to continuity, which becomes key here.

Levy's production values are spectacular with special nods to cinematography, art direction, film editing, and sound. Reynolds brings the same charm and wit he did to Deadpool and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) continues to prove her versatility as an actress. Also LOVED Taika Waititi, who won an Oscar writing JoJo Rabbit, in a fun and flashy performance as the villain, the nasty owner of the company that created the video game. There are also cameos from the late Alex Trebek, Channing Tatum, Chris Evans, and Reynolds' wife Blake Lively. Don't try to figure it out, just strap in and enjoy.



The Incident (1967)
A few years before the similarly-themed The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, came a claustrophobic and unbearably intense drama called The Incident, which works due to meticulous and atmospheric direction and a superb ensemble cast of once and future stars serving this squirm-worthy story.

It's around 2:00 AM in Manhattan when we see a group of people board the same car of a subway train and find themselves in danger when a pair of drunken thugs board the train, refuse to let the passengers get off the train and begin methodically terrorizing them.

To be fair, the only real similarity between this film and Pelham is that they both take place on a subway train. The set-up of the film is actually a lot like The Poseidon Adventure where we get a peek into the lives of the passengers before they actually board the train and it's no coincidence that none of these people are happy before they board the train, but as the story progresses, we can see the troubles and tensions that they were feeling before the train just evaporate. But unlike Pelham, these guys are unarmed and weren't demanding a ransom...these were just two drunken guys out for kicks, making what they do all the more repellant.

There are minor plot contrivances that initially bothered me but let go in favor of the big picture. Subway trains were much smaller in 1967 than they are today, but I was still surprised that all of the passengers actually crowded into the same car. Of course, they had to be in the same car for the story to work, but it just seemed a little convenient. It was also troubling that during the opening shots of these thugs on their way to the train, there was nary a soul on the streets. It was very effective in setting the mood for the piece, but for Manhattan, at 2:00 AM, even in 1967, a little unrealistic. The thugs bring bigotry and homophobia to this subway car and there is a final cinematic kick in the teeth when the police finally arrive that made my blood boil.

Larry Peerce, who also directed Goodbye Columbus, definitely created the masterpiece of his somewhat limited career. Little details like the emasculated husband being nagged by his wife while all you see is her legs pacing on the platform, or the black wife communicating to her husband about the danger of his actually being amused by what these guys are doing. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen are gloriously over the top as our criminals and there is standout work from Ed McMahon, who apparently was quite the actor before becoming Johnny Carson's sidekick, Thelma Ritter, Jack Gilford, Brock Peters, Ruby Dee, and especially a very young Beau Bridges as a soldier on leave. An ugly drama that drew me in slowly until being completely riveted by what was going on. They don't make 'em like this anymore.



Career
Despite direction leaning toward the melodramatic, 1959's Career is a gritty and surprisingly realistic look at the business of show business that gets a big shot in the arm from some sizzling performances.

This movie is an adult look at the ambition that drives people to reach the top in this very freaky and unpredictable business. The story begins in Manhattan and basically revolves around three characters: Sam Lawson (Anthony Franciosa) is a talented but unknown actor fresh off the bus from Lansing, who is willing to give up everything (including his wife) to become a star; Maury Novak (Dean Martin) is a slick and opportunistic producer of a failing off-Broadway theater company who has no qualms about taking shortcuts to fame and fortune; Sharon Kensington (Shirley MacLaine) is the boozy and slightly trampy daughter of an important Broadway producer who is willing to use her father or anything else to get what she wants...Maury in particular.

I've complained in several reviews of other films on this subject, musicals in particular, that the portrayal of becoming a star is usually very unrealistic, simplistic, and happens way too quickly, butt no such nonsense here. This story very realistically points out that very few people become stars overnight, that neither looks nor talent are a guarantee to success, and most importantly, that sometimes people sacrifice ethics and principles to get what they want.

Loved the fact that Sam and Maury are both struggling at the beginning of the film, but after a flashforward, Sam is still struggling but Maury is one of the busiest directors in Hollywood. There's another secondary story where a character named Eric Peters can't get a job in New York because, despite his looks, can't get a job because he can't act. At the end of the second act, Eric is the highest paid actor in Hollywood and Sam is begging for a part in his latest movie. If the story makes one misstep, the film opens showing Sam waiting on tables than flashes back and tells his story. This was a common storytelling technique for moviemakers in the 1950's but it really took away some of the story's power. It would have been much more effective to show Sam's struggle that led him to waiting tables instead of telling us at the beginning that he's a waiter.

Though he receives top billing, Dean Martin's role is really a supporting one, but he makes the most of it. Tony Franciosa offers a charismatic turn as the story's true lead that confirms the mystery as to why this guy never became a real movie star but found stardom on television eventually. Fresh off her Oscar-nominated performance in Some Came Running, MacLaine steals every scene she's in, as do Carolyn Jones as a lonely theatrical agent and Robert Middleton as MacLaine's father. For once, a movie about show business that really tries to tell it like it is.



Thank you, thank you, thank you! for recommending this film to me, it sounds just like my kind of film I just seen a clip of it and seen Donna Douglas from the Beverly Hillbillies, that alone makes me want to watch it. Of course I'm a big fan of early Shirley McClaine movies and Dean Martin as long as Jerry Lewis isn't in tow I plan on watching this one real soon!



I forgot to mention in my review that Donna Douglas was in the movie. She's a brunette though and her husband is played by Jerry Paris from The Dick Van Dyke Show.



Songbird
In a world that has been crippled by the Covid-19 Pandemic, I can't imagine the diseased mind that would think the 2020 apocalyptic thriller Songbird would be considered viable entertainment. In a world already terrorized by this deadly virus, the only purpose this reviewer can see for this film is to instill further fear and panic in moviegoers.

The film is set in 2024 and the world has now been attacked by Covid-23 so clearly the effects of this pandemic and defense against it has reached far beyond masks and social distancing. Think back to when the world first went on lockdown and the streets were deserted. This is where we are as this film opens, only it's much worse. Masks and distancing aren't allowed because no one is allowed to leave their homes with the exception of law enforcement and something referred to as "couriers." This film looks at this much more dangerous pandemic through the eyes of one of these couriers who is trying to save his save his healthy girlfriend and her infected grandmother.

This reviewer can't imagine what director and co-screenwriter Adam Mason was thinking as he crafted this depressing and convoluted drama that seems to have no other purpose than instilling fear about the virus, but the story offers myriad unanswered questions that immediately frustrate the viewer and eventually weigh the film down. This courier works for some kind of corporation called Lester's Gets and it's never explained exactly what Lester's Gets is and what this courier, Nico, does. The virus is now diagnosed with a smartphone-like device in a ,matter of seconds and if one tests positive, a message appears on the device that soldiers are on their way to the infected person's home. Some people are deemed "Immune" and are given passes that cost upward of $15,000.

The devastating state of affair is fronted by a rather trite star-crossed romance between the courier and the girl, who initially we're told have known each other forever and then we're told they've never actually met. We also meet a sexual deviant who is selling fake passes and endangering his wife and daughter, which just didn't make sense amidst all the danger. Time would have been better spent with a wheelchair-bound veteran, played by Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) who has felt on lockdown long before Covid-23.

The entertainment value here was a mystery to this reviewer. KJ Apa, who plays Archie Andrews on the CW series Riverdale, shows some leading man potential, it's a shame the material isn't worthy of him. Bradley Whitford and Peter Stomare make the most of the roles, but this movie was just a bummer from start to finish. And a gold star to anyone can explain the title.



Sounder (1972)
A 1972 Best Picture nominee, Sounder is a warm and emotionally charged coming of age story that takes the viewer through a myriad of emotions and will definitely have one fighting tears at some point.

Set in the deep south during the Depression, this the story of the Morgans, a dirt-poor family of black sharecroppers, working themselves to the bone and still going to bed hungry most of the time. The eldest son, David Lee, is forced to step up as the man of the family when his father, Nathan Lee, is arrested for stealing food for his family and sent to a prison work camp.

This extraordinary piece of family entertainment is based on a novel by William H. Armstrong, adapted into an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Lonnie Elder III that paints a troubling and conflicted time in the deep south where blacks were free on paper. but, for the most part, were still living like slaves. We're shocked when Nathan Lee's wife, Rebecca tries to visit him the day after he's arrested and learns that women are forbidden to visit prisoners completely.

This is where we see Rebecca step up the same way David Lee is forced to. Rebecca is a strong and proud black woman who has accepted her station in life, even if she knows it's not right, but also knows that fighting it is futile. Her heartbreak about her family's life is an undercurrent in every move she makes, but her intelligence is apparent as she is the only character in this movie who never makes a wrong move. Elder's screenplay also reminds us how important God and education is to most of these people. David Lee's desire to learn is beautifully showcased, even though his parents always refer to school as "that school".

Director Martin Ritt employs extraordinary detail in presenting important moments in the journey of the Morgan family, often without dialogue. The moment where Nathan Lee returns home from prison and Rebecca makes that long run to greet him moves me to tears every time I watch this movie. This movie is still the powerful experience it was when I was 12 years old, the first time I saw it...the only time my entire family saw a movie together. Cicely Tyson's tower of strength Rebecca earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and Winfield's Nathan Lee earned him a Best Actor nomination as well. Kevin Hooks was robbed of a supporting actor nomination for his star-making turn as David Lee, that is the heart of this film. Hooks would eventually find his niche in the business as a director. That's Hooks' real life younger brother, Eric, playing his younger brother. Simply, an extraordinary motion picture experience, deeply moving and forgettable.



The Strawberry Blonde
Warner Brothers knocked it out of the park with The Strawberry Blonde, a lavishly produced period comedy from 1941 that enchants the viewer thanks to polished direction and a cast of professionals working at the top of their game.

Set in the Gay 90's, Biff Grimes (James Cagney) is a scrappy but likable young man studying to be a dentist who thinks he's in love with Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth), the town tramp who strolls by the barbershop every Sunday so that all the men can whistle at her. Virginia has also caught the eye of a wealthy contractor named Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson), who has a love-hate relationship with Biff and talks him into going on a double with Virginia and her girlfriend. Amy (Olivia de Havilland) who initially repels Biff with her "modern thinking", but gives her a chance when Virginia breaks a date with Biff so that she can marry Horace.

The Epstein Brothers adapted the screenplay from a play that bombed on Broadway in 1927 and have brought us a delicious turn of the century battle of the sexes that has a contemporary flavor that gives the film appeal today. The characters are richly drawn from what initially appear to be cliches, but are all given layers we don't see coming. Biff is initially drawn as a tough guy, but turns out to have a great deal of sensitivity where the fairer sex is concerned. Amy seems to be sort of prude, who actually doesn't like to play games with men, using her position as the smartest character in the movie without rubbing it in anyone's face.

The film actually opens in flashback with Biff and Amy already married, which I didn't understand in the beginning, but by the time we reached the finale, it became clear. The spirit of the gay 90's and the way man and women treated each other back then is a lovely canvas for the story, showing us a lot of things we don't see anymore. Love when Biff and Virginia are in the park and before Virginia sits on a bench, Biff dusts off the bench and places the cloth on the bench for her sit on. Also loved the scene where the quartet have dinner together and are struggling with how to consume the latest gourmet sensation from Europe...spaghetti and meatballs.

Director Raoul Walsh puts a lot of detail into the mounting of this lovely story, especially in establishing the period and the superb performances he gets from the cast. Cagney's Biff Grimes is tough and goofy, but always remains totally likable throughout the story and establishes a nice rapport with de Havilland, whose quiet intelligence in her role is easy to overlook. Jack Carson is his usually blustery smart-ass, but the real surprise here is Rita Hayworth as Virginia. Hayworth's reputation as one of cinema's great sex goddesses is well-known, but in this film she actually displays genuine acting talent, bringing us a crisp and ultimately seductive villainess, who actually has a brain that she knows when to use and when to shelve. Can't help but think Walsh had a lot to do with this performance but it works. The film features elaborate settings and costumes that demanded technicolor, but the film was a joy from beginning to end.



The Lighthouse
It's a deeply disturbing film with zero re-watch appeal, but 2019's The Lighthouse, a chilling look at the effect of isolation on sanity had this reviewer simultaneously riveted, repulsed, confused, frightened, but never bored.

The setting is New England in the 1890's where we watch Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), a veteran lighthouse keeper, return to the lighthouse he worked at before with a new co-worker named Thomas Howard (Robert Pattinson). As we watch Wake and Howard settle into their new assignment, it becomes apparent that Wake is in charge (or at least he thinks so), treating Howard like a slave and warning him of the dangers of the assignment, putting special emphasis on the fact that Howard is never to enter the part of the lighthouse where the light is located. It's not long before the isolation of this assignment has the viewer questioning the sanity of these two people or whether or not the entire thing is a living nightmare.

Director and co-screenwriter Robert Eggars has crafted a creepy story of two people trying to cling to their sanity, without ever providing the viewer with definitive proof as to whether or not what we're seeing is just a hellacious nightmare. We're not surprised when it's just a matter of Wake working Howard to the bone or even when he has to force him to drink. We don't even question the fact that Wake only treats Howard like a human being when they're sharing a meal. but when these men start pumping each other about there respective pasts, we begin to wonder if anything we're witnessing is actually happening. I love the way Eggars establishes the isolation of the story with that long shot of ship that dropped the men sailing away from the island

The screenplay by Eggars and his brother Max is rich with with a lot of Irish slang that lends an air of mystery to what the characters are talking about, but not so much that our interest wanes. The Eggars have crafted a two-character story that features brief appearances by other characters that are never legitimized to the point that we're not sure if they are just hallucinations of the two central characters. Wake's warning to Howard of the bad luck associated with harming a sea gull, comes frighteningly to life, a little reminiscent of Melanie Daniels in The Birds.

Films like The Shining and Cast Away come to mind as this frightening look at the effect of isolation never commits to any kind reality, despite some ugly and frightening imagery that often turns the stomach and keeps the viewer wondering throughout whether or not we're seeing is really happening. This reviewer was equally fascinated and repulsed by this film and as much I appreciated the craftsmanship, there's no way I could sit through this film again. The movie is beautifully photographed in black and white, its cinematography earning the film its only Oscar nomination. Four-time Oscar nominee Dafoe offers another Oscar-worthy turn in a role he truly loses himself in, as he did playing Van Gogh in At Eternity's Gate and Pattinson brings the same intensity to this role as he did to his role in Good Time. This an ugly and haunting story but worth the watch...once.



Snoopy Come Home
1972's Snoopy Come Home is the second feature length film based on Charles M Schultz characters putting its primary scene-stealer center stage in a sweet and sad story that entertained me today as much as it did 40 years ago.

As the film opens, we find Snoopy feeling taken for granted by owner Charlie Brown, his friends, and ostracized by society in general when he starts seeing "No Dogs Allowed" sings everywhere he goes. Snoopy is thrown for a loop when he receives a letter from his former owner, a little girl named Lila, who is sick in the hospital and wants Snoopy to visit her. Snoopy quickly hops off the top of his doghouse, throws his supper dish on his head, gives his "worldly possessions" away, and summons his aeronautically-challenged bird BFF, Woodstock to take the long journey with him to visit Lila.

Once again, as with A Boy Named Charlie Brown, these timeless characters brought me right back to my childhood, complete enraptured by a rather mundane story on the surface made wonderfully entertaining by a hysterically funny central character, with an equally funny sidekick, neither of whom speak a word by the way, and still command the screen.

With a tiny addition to Snoopy's backstory, Schultz has given us a story that actually provides some surprises along the way. The funniest of which is when Snoopy and Woodstock are kidnapped by a crazy little girl named Clara who renames Snoopy Rex and decides to keep him as her new pet. This was a perfect interruption to Snoopy's journey that not only had me rolling on the floor with laughter, but featured the best song in the movie "Fundamental Friendship Dependability."

Other highlights from the score by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (Mary Poppins) include "At the Beach", "No Dogs Allowed", "Do You Remember Me?", the strangely dark "It Changes" and, of course, the title tune.

It's also fun watching the kids missing Snoopy in their own ego-centric manner, each thinking they are personally responsible for Snoopy leaving, especially the perpetually self-absorbed Peppermint Patty. Also loved the soap opera style twist when Snoopy and Lila finally do reunite, and Lila tries to manipulate Snoopy into staying with her. Can't believe this movie was just as entertaining today as it was when I saw it during its original theatrical release when I was 12 years old.



The Starling
A 2021 Netflix production, The Starling is an emotionally manipulative look at familiar cinematic territory that does make some unusual moves we don't see coming and does wrap things up a little too conveniently, but is still worth a look thanks to some superb performances.

Lilly and Jack Maynard lost their baby daughter, Kate, a year ago. Kate's death motivated Jack to attempt suicide and end up institutionalized. On the surface, it appears that Lilly has just buried all of her feelings about what happened and is just trying to help Jack by coming to family night at the hospital every Tuesday. In an attempt to move on, Kate's attempt to re-start her garden find her in an actual battle with a starling, who keeps attacking Lilly in order to protect her babies, but these attacks, along with her opening up to a psychiatrist turned vet named Larry Fine, begin an actual healing process for Lilly.

The screenplay for this somewhat original take on the grieving process is by Matt Harris, whose primary experience in filmmaking is in the documentary genre, but he shows promise here with a story that challenges the viewer at every turn as we are forced to accept an actually relationship develop between a human being and a bird and how it might be a good thing for both of them.

We aren't provided details about what happened to Kate, but it becomes irrelevant as we see that Jack is wracked with guilt over what happened. It was interesting that all we learned was that Jack overslept. It's a little confusing when it's revealed that Jack is afraid to leave the hospital, but is fighting the treatment he is getting there. We're almost ready to give up when Jack doesn't want to see Lilly anymore. On the other hand, we're fascinated as Lilly actually starts opening up to Dr. Fine. Didn't understand the lunacy of him being a former shrink turned vet, but it brought a nice bit of lunacy to the proceedings that kept the story from being such a downer. As much as we want to see Lilly and Jack work things out, most of the actually work is skipped over, leading to a rushed conclusion that is a little pat and convenient.

The direction by Theodore Melfi, who directed 2016 Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures, is a little overheated, especially in those opening shots of the starlings swooping in on people, almost giving the story the feel of a horror film, but his work on those scenes of Lilly dealing with the house and the garden possesses style and sensitivity.

Melissa McCarthy, who was directed by Melfi in St. Vincent delivers a lovely and often moving performance as Lily, but it's Chris O'Dowd, who does the powerhouse work that keeps this movie on sizzle as the deeply tortured Jack. I haven't seen a lot of O'Dowd's work, but this was a mesmerizing performance worthy of an Oscar nomination . Oscar winner Kevin Kline keeps it light and airy as Dr. Fine, allowing McCarthy's character to move their scenes together. Timothy Olyphant, Loretta Devine, and Daveed Diggs make the most of thankless roles, but it's the work of McCarthy and O'Dowd that kept me invested here.



Fantasia (1940)
For its technical mastery alone, the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia is an uncanny blending of animation and music unlike anything seen up to that point and since. This is a piece of cinema that demands to be experienced and applauded for a singular contribution to the history of cinema.

This film offers six animated interpretations of great classical music in completely distinct forms for each piece of music. The animation styles deal from abstract shapes and colors to actual story set to music. The music is performed by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski and a brief introduction to each piece is provided by a music critic and composer named Deems Taylor.

Disney must be applauded for the bold choice of only his third feature length animated film as something so out of the box. This seemed like something that the filmmaker would do after earning the reputation to bring a passion project to the screen. Watching this, I had to wonder who the intended demographic for this was, because, despite the animation, a lot of this material was not for children, especially the first couple of pieces which were steeped in the abstract. Taylor's introductions to the films were a little more detailed than necessary, making the film a lot longer than it needed to be.

I did like the fact that Disney had the wisdom to choose a lot of music that even the most general music lover is familiar with, like the music from The Nutcracker and give the music completely different animated concepts from we expected. I liked that sometimes the animation interpreted the music note by note and other times it just interpreted the mood of what was going on.

The imagery ranges from frightening to humorous to erotic (the images of those female centaurs were surprisingly adult for a 1940 Disney film). Needless to say, production values were first rate, especially sound and sound editing. Appointment viewing for lovers of music and animation. Remade in 1985 and 2000.



The Anniversary
A deliciously over-the-top performance from Bette Davis absolutely makes a campy black comedy from 1968 called The Anniversary worth a look.

Davis plays Mrs. Taggart, the manipulative widow and mother of three sons who now run the construction company that their father owned. Eldest son Henry has a proclivity for stealing and wearing women's lingerie; middle son Terry is being paid by his mother every time he gets his wife, Karen pregnant, and youngest son Tom is about introduce his pregnant fiancee, Shirley, to his mother at the annual anniversary celebration that she holds annual, despite the fact that her husband has been dead for years.

This bizarre and unapologetic story features a screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, who wrote the screenplay for Davis' previous film The Nanny. It's stage origins are apparent immediately as the action only occasionally leaves Mrs. Taggart's elaborate and gothic living room. Before we get there, the story cleverly sets up the events that are about to unfold before us by introducing us to the three sons and their clear dread and disgust about having to attend this annual freak show.

The story wasn't quite what I expected, which was the guests at a dinner table where a place was set for the dead father, though there are moments in the story where Mrs. Taggart does address her husband's portrait. What we do have is a woman who completely runs her sons' lives and react to it individually: Henry tries to stay out of his mother's way, Terry bows to Mrs. Taggart's every whim like a ten year old, and Tom seems to be the family rebel, but even he turns out to be controlled by his mother, though he doesn't always realize it.

Mrs. Taggart is the show here...love when she asks Shirley to sit somewhere else because she detests body odor or insists that her guest offer some kind of performance for her anniversary celebration, which turns out to be not so much about her marriage but how she completely controls the lives of her three sons.

Davis hadn't chewed scenery like this since Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Even with one eye covered with an eye patch, those "Bette Davis eyes" have rarely been so mesmerizing, in a performance that mesmerizes the viewer to a completely reprehensible character who doesn't make a single likable move during the story, but Davis' walk of the fine line between evil and insane makes this film worth sitting through all by itself.



The Anniversary
A deliciously over-the-top performance from Bette Davis absolutely makes a campy black comedy from 1968 called The Anniversary worth a look.

Davis hadn't chewed scenery like this since Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Even with one eye covered with an eye patch, those "Bette Davis eyes" have rarely been so mesmerizing, in a performance that mesmerizes the viewer to a completely reprehensible character who doesn't make a single likable move during the story, but Davis' walk of the fine line between evil and insane makes this film worth sitting through all by itself.
So true! I loved this movie and it's quite unique, once seen it's hard to forget.



Served: Harvey Weinstein
Anyone who might have doubts as to whether or not Harvey Weinstein got what was coming to him needs to check out a 2020 documentary called Served: Harvey Weinstein, which is not only an up close and personal look at the rise and fall of the disgraced movie mogul, but an insightful look into this toxic disease that's poisoning this country known as sexual harassment.

The film begins with a brief overview of Weinstein's meteoric rise to the Hollywood stratosphere as the force behind Miramax, along with his brother, Bob. It was interesting learning about the kind of power Weinstein wielded over Hollywood, even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Apparently, Weinstein had the power to buy Oscars, the most glaring example being Shakespeare in Love winning Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan. Details as to exactly how this power worked weren't offered.

Loved the use of the adjective "bully" when talking about Weinstein. He was a sexual bully who reinforced the old hat concept of the "casting couch", while completely denying he did anything wrong. He claims his innocence to this day and in the only real statement he made about the charges which sent him to jail for 23 years, he referred to what he did as "possibly bad behavior, was sorry, and would try to do better." It's mind blowing that over 100 women came forward with stories about the man but they were only able to bring charges regarding two of them. The most disgusting fact I learned here is that settling a sexual harassment lawsuit is now considered a legal tax deduction. Let's hear it for the justice system

As the documentary moves briefly away from Weinstein and into general discussion of sexual harassment, it's revealed that the primary reason for this behavior is the lack of females in real power roles in Hollywood. This is understandable, the the flip side, which isn't really discussed here, did all of these women really not know what they were getting into when they arrived for "meetings" at Harvey's hotel suite. The man ran a major studio, he didn't have an office? And did you know that the only reason Joan Collins didn't get the title role in the 1963 epic Cleopatra was because she refused to sleep with the director.

The film seems a little one-sided, but as it progressed, I realized there really was only one side. Commentary is provided by Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Gloria Allred, Matt Damon, Rosanna Arquette, and George Clooney among others. It's a "no frills" documentary that does offer new and relevant information on a disturbing subject.



Joe Somebody
The star and director of The Santa Clause reunited for 2001's Joe Somebody, a testosterone-charged but predictable comedy that remains watchable thanks to some terrific performances.

Tim Allen plays Joe Scheffer, the unassuming "Video Communications Director" at a large pharmaceutical company for ten years who , in the presence of his daughter (Hayden Pannetiere) and dozens of fellow employees, gets beat up in the parking lot by the office bully (Patrick Warburton). He decides the only way to get his dignity back is by challenging said bully to a rematch.

After Joe makes his challenge, he suddenly becomes the most popular guy in the office because everyone apparently hates this guy. He also attracts the attention of a pretty co-worker (Julie Bowen) trying to talk him out of the rematch because the HR manager (Greg Germann) is afraid Joe might sue the company.

Director Joe Pasquin's resume consists mostly of television and it becomes apparent as the film progresses. Love the way it starts off with Joe going into a deep depression, not even taking off the blood-stained shirt he was wearing in the parking lot. Unfortunately, the story gets a little scattered with too much screentime spent on a squash game and his ex-wife and the office tramp suddenly wanting him. It's every man's dream but it doesn't exactly smack of realism. We know where this story is going and though the ending is more than satisfactory, it takes way too long to get there.

Tim Allen gives one of his most endearing performances in the title role and is well-matched with Bowen. Hayden Pannetiere lights up the screen as Joe's daughter as does Jim Belushi as the actor turned martial arts teacher who trains Joe. Germann does another of his patented slimy turns and Warburton does bring a little substance to the bully, but the screenplay tries to cover a little too much territory.



Otherhood
Despite a lot of talent on both sides of the camera, the 2019 comedy Otherhood is a formulaic comedy that has an overly complex screenplay filled with everything but originality and comes off as a long episode of a television sitcom.

Helen (Felicity Huffman), Carol (Angela Bassett), and Gillian (Patricia Arquette) are lifelong BFF's who have gone through everything together, including the raising of their three grown sons, who all reside in Manhattan. The ladies get together one Mother's Day when none of them have heard from their sons and, deciding not to take the snub lying down, drive to Manhattan and invade their sons' lives, demanding to move in for awhile and find out exactly what is going on with their boys.

Director and co-screenwriter Cindy Chupack has extensive experience in television as an executive producer of shows like Modern Family and Sex and the City and co-screenwriter Mark Andrus received an Oscar nomination for co-writing As Good as it Gets with James L Brooks, but the story they comes up with here is very busy and seems to want our sympathies to be with these three moms but it just didn't work for me.

There's no way to really justify these three women invading their sons' lives which made it hard to feel sympathy when their sons didn't put their lives on hold when their mothers showed up at their doorsteps uninvited and pushed their way in. Helen's story was the most interesting...she has never forgiven her gay son for never officially coming out to her but refuses to accept it when she learns why (among other secrets).

Chupack mounts the film as three different stories and, as a result, an hour and 40 minute movie seems three hours long. Her lack of movie experience really shows here and this never quite gels as a movie. Huffman and Oscar winner Arquette are terrific, as is Jake Hoffman as Arquette's son, but this one doesn't quite work thanks to a sitcom-styled script that brought nothing nee to the cinematic table.



Skirts Ahoy
From the folks at MGM who brought us Two Girls and a Sailor comes Skirts Ahoy, glossy musical comedy from the Joe Pasternak unit of the studio that is sort of a gender-switch version of musicals like Anchors Aweigh and On the Town that don't measure up those classics due to some questionable casting, unnecessary characters, and musical interludes that go on too long.

Whitney (Esther Williams), Yancy (Vivian Blaine), and Mary Kate (Joan Evans) are three gals who decided to escape romantic pasts by joining the Navy, but find romance even more complicated after becoming waves, especially Whitney's pursuit of a handsome navy doctor (Barry Sullivan).

There's a lot of talent in front of behind the camera in this 1952 musical, including a cute screenplay from Isobel Lennart, who, a couple of years later, would earn the first of two Oscar nominations for the screenplay to Love Me Or Leave Me. The story has a surprisingly feminist leaning for a 50's MGM musical with a dominating theme that women don't really need men, not to mention that Williams' character is chasing Sullivan's character.

Loved the opening of the film where we see Mary Kate left at the altar, Whitney leaving her groom at the altar, and Yancy selling wedding gowns and losing track of boyfriend Archie. After the girls join the Navy, the story gets spread a little thin with a lot of uninteresting supporting characters and unknown specialty acts, like singing quintuplets called The DeMarco Sisters and a little old man janitor crushing on Whitney who slow things down. There is a terrific specialty number featuring Bobby Van and Debbie Reynolds that livens things up.

Director Sidney Lanfield does manage to get Esther in the water three times, though the first time with a pair of kids seems to come out of nowhere. Also loved a trio the leads did called "What Good is a Gal". Williams offers one of her more charming turns but Sullivan and Evns are a little too straight-faced in their roles. It's actually Vivian Blaine, fresh off her Broadway triumph as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, whose vivacious scene-stealing performance begs for much more screentime than she's given. It's better than Two Girls and a Sailor, but it's no On the Town.