Gideon58's Reviews

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I Can Get it For You Wholesale
An effervescent performance by Susan Hayward in the starring role makes a slightly predictable, but still compelling little melodrama called I Can Get it For You Wholesale worth a look.

The 1951 film features Hayward as Harriet Boyd, a model at a large Manhattan fashion house, though her real passion is to be a fashion designer. She has even submitted her designs as the work of a male designer to get them seen. The opportunity to start her business with her own designs credited to her comes up when a salesman (Dan Dailey) and a dressmaker (Sam Jaffe) agree to go into business together. Things begin to go off the rails when a wealthy department store owner (George Sanders) is entranced by Harriet and agrees to sponsor her fashion empire, but has no interest in her partners.

Based on a novel by Jerome Weidman, this is the story of a woman trying to compete in man's world, not an uncommon thing in the 1950's, even though the setting is the world of women's fashion. Even more important, this film is focused around a working woman, something you didn't see too much of during the 1950's. This was also a woman who had no problem with stepping over a few people to get what she wanted and then is observed selling herself to get what she wanted, though she doesn't see it. Nor does she seem to see that she is in love with her salesman/partner.

Director Michael Gordon (Pillow Talk)) keeps things moving at a nice pace and had a strong cast to work with, Having already earned two Best Actress nominations, Hayward commands the screen here in a tailor-made role for the bold screen presence she has always been. Love the scene near the beginning of the film where she is trying to get money out of her sister and fakes a phone call pretending that the funding for her project has fallen through. She also manages to create chemistry with both Dailey and Sanders.

I've always felt Dailey was one of the most underrated actors from the era and proves that he can command the screen without his tap shoes. Sanders, fresh off his Oscar win for All About Eve is effective in a similar role, though this guy isn't quite as manipulative as Addison DeWitt. Jaffe, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Asphalt Jungle, but lost the award to Sanders, is lovely as the dressmaker. A Hollywood veteran that I've seen on television for years named Marvin Kaplan has a major role here and eternal classic movie grumpy old man Charles Lane can be glimpsed here as well. The movie was actually turned into a Broadway musical in 1962 that was the Broadway debut of a young singer named Barbra Streisand playing a secretary named Miss Marmelstein.

Dying of the Light
Another deliciously unhinged performance from Nicolas Cage makes a 2014 action thriller called Dying of the Light worth a look.

Paul Schrader, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Taxi Driver wrote and directed this intense if improbable drama which features Cage playing Evan Lake, a semi-retired CIA agent who has contracted a specialized strain of Alzheimers that doesn't deter him when he receives intel regarding the location of a terrorist who tortured him 22 years ago. And because he is dying too, the CIA won't assist Lake in tracking the man down, but a disgraced junior agent, played by the late Anton Yelchin, does offer assistance and they are both off to Bucharest to find the guy.

Schrader surprises with a story that springs from a much larger canvas than we are expected from him. Schrader usually concentrates on more intimate yet equally intense character studies like Travis Bickle or Nick Nolte's tortured protagonist in Affliction but the straight 007 route is something new for Schrader, not to mention there are logistical and timeline inconsistencies here that make this whole thing a little hard to. As the film opens, we see Cage being tortured with no attempt to make him look younger, but we're supposed to believe that 22 years pass as he is now observed struggling with Alzheimers and lecturing future agents about how America is so screwed up since 9/11, not to mention that his superiors are trying to force him to retire. So we're supposed to accept Nicolas playing a character who has to be in his late 60's . at the least, flying to another country with little back up and no plan to get even with a terrorist.

It was also hard to believe that, even if they didn't want Lake to do this, once they learned what he was planning, that they would have offered some sort of assistance, but once Lake is off to Bucharest, the CIA is not heard from for the rest of the film. They weren't even concerned about the younger agent who agreed to help Lake. It was very troubling that the CIA showed no concern for what these guys were doing, even though we hear Lake being told early on in the film that "We take care of our down".

Schrader was provided a big budget for this and he utilizes it effectively, but the absurdities of the story just made it all kind of difficult to invest in. Cage does offer a bombastic performance in the starring role that demands attention (though , if the truth be told, even back in 2014, Cage was getting a little long in the tooth for action heroes like this one) and he gets surprisingly solid support from Yelchin, who again reminds us of what a loss to the industry his death was.

Monkey Man
Dev Patel, star of 2008 Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire and Best Supporting Actor nominee for 2016's Lion goes over the top as the star, director, and co-screenwriter of 2024's Monkey Man, a long and rambling vigilante actioner that suffers from an overstuffed screenplay, ruining all of it's good intentions. It should be mentioned that this review is coming from someone who watched 30 minutes of Slumdog Millionaire and turned it off.

Patel plays Kid, a lonely and angry young Indian male living a life of anonymity working in an underground fight club wearing a monkey's mask who finds a trail to revenge on the man who murdered his mother, as well as other poor and defenseless, unable to exact their own revenge.

The screenplay starts off logically enough introducing us to Kid and his mother and their very special relationship, right after watching him get his ass kicked in the ring. But once he is given a shove in the right direction regarding his mother's killers, through an elaborate nightclub of drugs and prostitution, the movie gets more and more confusing as he has to murder his way through hundreds of people trying to stop him and a couple of people claiming help, but offering him a lot of useless guidance through Kung Fu type advice that finds Kid back in the ring. And the fact that the story is told of out of sequence doesn't help either.

This is Patel's third project as star, writer, and director and though I haven't seen the other two films he wrote and directed, it's obvious that the guy still needs a little seasoning as in what seems to be his journey to become the new Clint Eastwood. He definitely knows what an action film looks like, employing first rate camera work that often found this reviewer dizzy and some absolutely stomach churning violence, but he almost lost me with the pretentious and underwritten story that found this reviewer stifling yawns.

Patel made the most of his $10,000,000 budget, but it's pretty well utilized and will probably make back its budget. Patel's work and passion for the project are evident in every frame, but it didn't do much for me. I did watch the whole thing though, something I never did with Slumdog Millionaire so I guess that means something.

Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway
1985 was a banner year for EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg. She not only made her film debut in The Color Purple, that earned her an Oscar nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, but she also won a Tony Award for Whoopi Goldberg: Direct for Broadway, a one woman show which displays the true genius of Whoopi as she plays four very different characters.

This is an HBO recording of the Broadway show that Goldberg opened at the Lyceum Theater on October 10, 1984 and did 156 performances, closing in March of 1985. This film version shows Whoopi arriving at the theater and then going backstage to a CGI dressing room where she greets the four characters she is about to perform, asking if they are ready for the show.

As the show opens, we are introduced to a drug addict who ends up on a plane that takes him to Anne Frank's house; a 13 year beach bunny who discovers she's pregnant; a Jamaican nursing home aid, and a 7 year old black girl who wears a shirt on her head because she wants blonde hair,

Goldberg displays such artistry here because as characters that she created, she has complete control over the evening, something I don't think Goldberg ever had for the rest of her career. Loved when the drug addict came onstage and didn't like the greeting he got from the audience, Whoopi just walks offstage and starts the show over again. The little girl with the shirt on her hair is the only character who actually interacts with audience members. Adult language is very controlled but adult subject matter is not. Goldberg offers no kind of introductions to the characters, as one character leaves the stage, the stage goes back and comes back seconds later and a new character is onstage with absolutely no warning.

This is a brilliant and challenging evening of comedy that mesmerizes from curtain to curtain and one of my great regrets in life is that I didn't get to see it in person. Whoopi is a revelation here and, though it's an often abused phrase, she has, literally, never been better. She has never been better because Whoopi had complete artistic control over what she was doing here. Thomas Schlamme is billed as director, but basically he just points the camera where Whoopi tells him to. Think about everything you've seen Whoopi do over the years, and I am including Ghost, Sister Act, Soapdish or any other vehicle where Whoopi made you laugh, those laughs pale next to the ones provided here, because these laughs come from Whoopi's very singular, very unique voice, that was silenced forever when this show closed on Broadway.

Dream Scenario
An Oscar-worthy performance by Nicolas Cage is at the center of a bizarre little 2023 film called Dream Scenario that rivets the viewer to the screen without providing a shred of logic or reality to what we're watching.

Cage plays Paul Matthews, a slightly nerdy, tenured college professor who is thinking about writing a book and is more than content with the state of anonymity that is his life. Starting with his elder daughter and then expanding all over the small town where he lives, people he knows and perfect strangers start having dreams that Paul appears in for no reason, which finds Paul becoming a media sensation, but then the dreams change drastically and people are now terrified of him and just want him to vanish.

Director and screenwriter Kristoffer Borgli has constructed a tale that, on the surface, comes off as an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, but has so many moving parts for which the viewer is provided no explanation. When people initially start having dreams, Paul is observed just walking through bizarre situations but not becoming involved in the dream at all, then one woman has a sexual dream about him and another has a dream where he's strangling her? The change of the way Paul appeared in the dreams made no sense at all.

Borgli's direction trumps his screenplay, providing startling visualization of these dreams and no two dreams are exactly alike. His daughter is observed floating in the air while Paul watches her float away, while in another dream, the campus is going up in flames and Paul just walks through like nothing's happening and the way he rises to fame and falls just as quickly reminded me of recent cancelled celebrities like Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey or even more simply, the story of Jesus and how his adoring worshippers eventually morphed into a mob that wanted him crucified. What was more aggravating though was Cosby, Spacey, and Jesus' disciples had control over what happened to them, but Paul Matthews is crucified for something he had no control over and we are never offered explanations as to why. Though we do see people find a way to market what was happening to Paul. Some work and some don't and the ending implies the whole movie is a "And then I woke up" thing but never commits to it.

Cage generated a bit of Oscar buzz for this performance and it is totally warranted. His performance does make us care about poor tortured Paul. Solid support is also provided by Julianne Nicholson as Paul's wife, Michael Cera as an advertising executive, Tim Meadows as the college dean, and Dylan Baker, in his accustomed slimy turn as a friend of Paul's. It's a curious piece of filmmaking that cage does make worth checking out.

When My Baby Smiles at Me
As the 20th Century Fox version of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Dan Dailey and Betty Grable made five musicals together and one of their stronger efforts was 1948 gem called When My Baby Smiles at Me, which features a terrific score of tin pan alley classics and an exceptional performance from the leading man.

Bonny Kane and Skid Johnson are vaudeville performers who are touring the country and dong pretty well, despite Skid's battle with the bottle. Skid gets an offer from producer Sam Harris to do a Broadway show, leaving Bonny in the mid west but happy for Skid's success. As soon as she can, Bonny arrives in New York and is distressed to learn that Skid is still drinking and when she sees a picture of him in the paper with his pretty co-star, she promptly files for divorce.

Can't believe it took three writers to come up with this paper thin screenplay that is pretty hard to distinguish from the other four films that Dailey and Grable did together. There chemistry is solid as usual, but this story does attempt to make Skid Johnson more flawed than the usual 1940's musical comedy leading man and Dailey is up to the task, but it doesn't change the fact that just like an Astaire and Rogers picture, we're just happy unless Daily and Grable are together again.

The film is jam packed with classic songs like "Bye Bye Blackbird", "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Ain't We Got Fun", and "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady". Can't deny being a little disturbed by the "Birth of the Blues" which featured Dailey backed u by four chorus girls in blackface. Grable is also given a solo on a huge set called "What Did I Do" which had Grable dancing on a huge stage all by herself but most of it was shot from the waist up so we're unable to see her footwork or those famous million dollar legs.

There's no denying that Dailey lights up the screen in one of his most interesting characters, who doesn't always behave like a good song and dance man. Dailey was so good here the performance earned him his only Oscar nomination for Best Actor, which he lost to Laurence Olivier for Hamlet.. Jack Oakie and June Havoc provide the same comic support they did to Alice Faye in Hello Frisco Hello and as he always did, James Gleason steals every scene's in. But if you're like me and think Dan Dailey was always underrated as a song and dance man, this one's for you.

Louis CK: Back to the Garden
Louis CK finally made his way back to the mike last year in a 2023 concert called Louis CK: Back to the Garden that provides the laughs we're accustomed from the comic but, God, does he make us wait for them.

Louis, like a lot of other live entertainers, has acts opening for them, but Louis has now decided to include his opening acts on his videos. We first have to endure some jazz musician I have never heard of named Ravi Coltrane, whose music recalled the jazz odyssey scene in This is Spinal Tap. When that ends, we are then treated to ten-minute comic routines from not one, but two different aspiring standups, one male and one female, who were so unmemorable I can't even remember their names. The running time on the tape is 1 hour and 58 minutes and Louis doesn't hit the stage until fifty-one minutes into the video. Ironically, the concert's IMDB page lists only the amount of time Louis is onscreen, so be forewarned if you just want to watch Louis, you need to FF through the first fifty-one minutes of the tape.

When Louis does finally hit the stage at Madison Square Garden, we are further aggravated that he doesn't seem to be any hurry to get started. When he finally gets started, he immediately and very cleverly addresses the legal issues that have kept him away from the mike for awhile. The way he directly addresses the issue, without getting into any specifics was nothing short of brilliant. A lot of his material is darker than usual and I have to say a lot of material was stuff that I have thought about a lot but have never actually said out loud. While speaking on the subject of self-confidence, he states true male self-confidence is a guy who has the courage to wear white pants. I was also on the floor when he was talking about when one of your parents die, but it's not the bad parent. His bit about farting on a plane as well as his interpretation of certain Bible passages walked a real tightrope too. He also does some stuff about the homeless that borders on offensive.

There were a couple of weird camera things going on here. There was one point where the camera went to a few audience members for reaction and it was weird because I realized that I had never seen audience reactions in a Louis concert before. There was also this very odd moment where Louis delivered a punchline and the camera went to the back of his shoes. Not sure what that was about. As long as you remember to FF through the first fity-one minutes, Louis deiivers the goods as usual.

Despite an undisciplined screenplay. I can't remember the last time a movie made me laugh out loud so hard as 2024's Unfrosted, a satirical look at the invention of pop tarts, that with the proper marketing, could become this year's Barbie.

Jerry Seinfeld is the star, co-screenwriter and makes his directorial debut here playing Bob Cabana, an executive at Kellogg's Cereal company in the 60's who, as the film opens, is observed watching a young runaway enter the diner and order pop tarts for breakfast, at which point Bob tells the kid about his key role in the creation of the breakfast snack, in elaborate flashback.

Fans of Seinfeld's iconic NBC sitcom will definitely be ahead of the game as Seinfeld fans are well aware of Jerry's obsession with cereal so it should come as no surprise that Jerry, with the aid of Seinfeld writers Spike Feresten and Andy Robin have collaborated on this elaborate screenplay that not only provides an amusing look at the Battle Creek Michigan battle for cereal supremacy between Kelloggs and Post, but a broad look at 1960's consumerism in general. This story elicits the same kind of childhood recollections that Barbie did, but instead of connecting them to the present, keeps them rooted in the 1960's and what 1960's consumers were buying and makes fun of them in typically unapologetic Seinfeld fashion.

The battle between Kellogg's and Post is very cleverly set up with an awards ceremony that finds Kelloggs winning all the awards and Post trying to figure a way to dig themselves out of their #2 spot. The reveal of where the idea of the pop tart actually came from is a little tasteless, but it becomes irrelevant as the battle for a new breakfast concoction has the two companies looking for help from NASA, Chef Boy R Dee, Jack LaLanne, and Nikita Kruschev.

As he did with his sitcom, Seinfeld plays straight man to the amazing ensemble cast he has pulled together to make this comic roast a reality. I especially loved Hugh Grant as the method actor playing Tony the Tiger, Jim Gaffigan as the head of Kellogg's, Amy Schumer as the owner of Post, Max Greenfield as Marjorie's flying monkey, Melissa McCarthy as the NASA scientist drafted by Kellogg, Kyle Mooney, Mikey Day, and Drew Tarver as Snap, Crackle, and Pop, Kyle Dunnigan as Walter Cronkite, Bill Burr as JFK, Bobby Moynihan as Chef Boy R Dee, Peter Dinklage as the CEO of the world's milk supply, and Jon Hamm and John Slattery are even allowed to reprise their Mad Men roles. The screenplay goes off on the occasional unnecessary tangent, but it's been a long time since a movie made me laugh out loud this hard.

The screenplay is a little on the syrupy side, but the 2003 fact-based melodrama Radio is so well-acted you almost don't notice.

James "Radio" Kennedy is a mentally challenged black man who walks around the small town where he reside pushing a shopping cart full of possessions until he meets Coach Jones, the head coach of the local high school football team. who after recusing Radio from a cruel prank played on him by the team, decides to make him part of the team as an assistant, which the kids initially resist, but they learn to tolerate him until some over the top behavior by Radio causes the team to start losing games, and Coach Jones begins losing respect from the school and the town, but Coach Jones refuses to give up on Radio.

Mike Rich and Gary Smith's screenplay places the viewer's sympathies on Radio from jump and makes it a little hard to see why Coach Jones is getting so much flack for trying to help Radio. The small town where this film takes place is one of those towns, like the Tom Cruise movie All the Right Moves where the whole town is completely involved with the high school football team, primarily because they have nothing better. Unlike the Cruise film, this is a true story as we learn as the credits roll, but the story is predictable and offers no surprises, including the subplot involving the Coach seeming to care more about the football team than he does for his wife and daughter.

Cannot deny that the scene where Coach finds Radio tied up in the equipment shed a heartbreaker, but the scenes where Radio gets more and more integrated into the team were kind of silly and I also found the team's immediate acceptance of Radio in their orbit a little swallow, though we do learn later on that a couple of team members aren't as accepting as we were led to believe, but by this time in the film, we know that no matter what trouble Radio gets in, Coach is going to get him out of it.

Eight years after winning the Best Supporting Oscar for Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr puts a lot of work and detail into the title character, which he literally disappears in , leaving all images of Rod Tidwell behind him. Three time Oscar nominee Ed Harris is beautifully understated as Coach Jones. Also enjoyed Debra Winger as Coach's wife, Alfre Woodard as the principa, and S Epatha Merkeson as Radio's mom. The film really manipulates viewer emotion, but the manipulation works.

A Serious Man
A friend of mine was asking my how many of the Cohen Brothers films I had seen and as he rattled off the list for me, I realized the only one I hadn't seen was 2009's A Serious Man. bizarre black comedy that is definitely the kind thing you would expect from the Cohens, but it also reminded me of some of Woody Allen's loopier work.

The film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik, a Jewish physics professor who seems to be content in the rut that his life has become until his life begins falling apart personally and professionally, and begins questioning why his life is tumbling and believes he can find some answers in his life as a Jew as to why his wife is leaving him and then the guy she leaves him for dies and Larry has to pay for the funeral, why one of his students has offered him a bribe to give him a higher grade on a final exam, why he has to support his loser brother who is drowning in gambling debt, and anxiety over his son's upcoming bar mitzva.

The Cohens' screenplay seems to be aimed at a very specific demographic. The film actually opens with a scene set during Fiddler on the Roof Russia where a woman is reunited with a relative she thought died three years ago. The scene is performed in Yiddish with subtitles and I'm not exactly sure what it had to do with the rest of the film, unless it was just a demonstration of the strength of faith in the Jewish community, but if the truth be told, it tempted me to turn the film off.

What was interesting was the fact that Larry thought he could find easy answers to his problems discussing them with a Rabbi, but the Rabbi he wants to talk to keeps making himself unavailable. The second Rabbi actually tells Larry bizarre story about a dentist who found carvings in the back of a patient's teeth and I was cracking up waiting to find out what this story had to do with Larry's problems and, imagine my surprise to learn that it had absolutely nothing to do with Larry. I also fell on the floor when Larry learned via telephone that his son had gotten him into some serious debt with the Columbia Record club.

The Coens put a great deal of detail into the look of the 1960's, the period in which the film took place. Stuhlbarg, who you might remember as Samuel Rothstein on Boardwalk Empire is effectively channeling Woody Allen in the starring role and there are also standout performances by Richard Kind as his loser brother and George Wyner as the second Rabbi, Once you get past that pointless opening fantasy scene, this one delivers the nervous laughter intended.

Snack Shack
Cinematographer turned director and screenwriter named Adam Rehmeier attempts to revive the spirt of the 80's teen comedies with 2024's Snack Shack that does provide some giggles but suffers from an unfocused screenplay and a really unlikable leading lady.

The setting is 1991 Nebraska where we meet BFFs AJ and Moose, who are all about get rich quick schemes, including a plan to sell their own homemade beer. When that plan goes nowhere, they decide to raise enough money to re-open the snack bar at the city pool, with the aid of their lifeguard buddy.

Reheimer does do an excellent job of resurrecting the spirit of the 80's teen comedy. As a matter of fact, as I watched, I kept picturing the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman playing these roles. AJ and Moose are efficiently established as BFFs who know each other better than anyone and would walk through fire for each other and the classic nerd bullying they receive throughout is familiar and we're actually surprised when the snack shack doesn't turn out to be a front to sell their beer. Unfortunately, as in a lot of films like this, the film's appeal begins to nosedive when a girl starts to come between our heroes.

And it's not just that the girl pretends to have feelings for both boys, but she just isn't that likable. She's arrogant and self-absorbed and she never refers to AJ by his actual name until her final scene in the film. She speaks in her own secret language and pretends to be offended when everyone doesn't get it, and shows little to no remorse about destroying the relationship between AJ and Moose. Most of the scenes here go on a lot longer than they need to and we also get an 11:00 plot twist that was unnecessary and a total downer.

Conor Sherry and Gabrielle LaBelle, who impressed as young Steve Spielberg in The Fabelmans light up the screen as AJ and Moose and a shout out to Gillian Vigman and David Constabile as AJ's parents as well. Rehmeier is not the first cinematographer to go into directing and screenwriting, but he does display some promise.

Despite the presence of Michael Caine and Natalie Wood in the leading roles, 1975's Peeper, a send up of 1940's film noir, turned out to be one hour and twenty seven minutes of my life I'll never get back.

The setting is 1947 LA where we meet a British private investigator ( or “peeper" as their known across the pond) named Leslie Tucker who has been hired by a mysterious strange to finds his long lost daughter, an investigation that leads Tucker to an eccentric Beverly Hills family that includes sisters, one of which is suspected to be the girl Tucker is looking for.

The film gets off to a terrific start with the opening credits. We are treated to trench-coated figure emerging from the shadows, who lights a cigarette, and then the figure, doing an uncanny Humphrey Bogart voice, speaks the opening credits, just like the closing credits of The Magnificent Ambersons. My dreams quickly turned to dross as the opening credits turned out to be the best thing in the movie.

There were issues, with this central character, Leslie Tucker. Screenwriter WD Richter, working from a novel by Keith Waumer, seems to want to give this character a fish out of water quality that had a lot to do with the character being British, which didn't really seem important to the character or the story, or was this done because Michael Caine was playing the role. It was made worse by giving Caine one of those classic film noir narrations to guide us through the movie that Caine either didn't understand or was just uncomfortable with. Honestly, his entire performance was one-note and he just seemed embarrassed to be involved in this debacle.

Natalie Wood doesn't fare much better, looking equally embarrassed to be involved. Sadly, Wood did a lot of films of this quality as her career began to wind down, reminding us of how Hollywood spit out this lovely actress near the end, who made her film debut a few weeks before her 5th birthday. It goes without saying that Wood did look breathtaking, which should be of no surprise. Six years after the release of this film, Wood suffered her mysterious, watery death in Catalina.

Some interesting actors do pop here though, like the amazing Thayer David, Timothy Carey, Michael Constantine, Robert Ito, Margo Winkler. The intentions here were on the money, but frankly I found myself fighting turning this one off before it was over.

Poltergeist (2015)
Cannot believe that this was done back in 2015 without my knowledge or consent, Steven Spielberg actually participated in a remake of the 1982 classic Poltergeist, which is an overblown, over the top, in your face re-imagining of the perfect original, that is presented as if the viewer is five years old.

The Frelengs from 1982 become the Bowens in this version: Eric Bowen (Oscar winner Sam Rockwell), his wife, Amy (Rosemarie Dewitt) and their three kids move into a house that seems to be inhabited by evil forces that want them out and waste no time in making their intentions known.

Let me start by saying that I think the 1982 film is perfect. I would rate it
, so I cannot deny that I went into this expecting to hate it and the film did not disappoint. Spielberg, Michael Grais (who wrote the original) and David Lindsay collaborated on this screenplay, that like a lot of horror remakes, plays all of its cards too quickly and spells out absolutely everything for the viewer, relieving us the use of our imagination. This story also loses all of the lovely tongue in cheek humor that the first film provided. Remember the dueling remote controls? The funeral for tweety? The eldest daughter flipping off the construction worker,? Diane's joy at watching Carol Ann slide across the kitchen tiles? All the humor from the '82 film is gone. The leisurely pacing of the '82 film is gone. The Bowen son has his first encounter about 10 minutes into the film.

There's a lot of rearranging of characters and their personal orbits that I really didn't understand. In the original film, Steven Freleng works for the company that built the house but in this film, Eric is unemployed...why would an unemployed father of three be moving into a brand new house? They have also switched the gender of the character played by Zelda Rubinstein in the original and given him a romantic past with the character played by Beatrice Straight in the first film. The evil is swift and powerful here in the form of some thundering special effects that overpower the little humanity on display here. On the positive side, I did like that that the eldest daughter didn't bail on her family the way she did in the original. I also liked the fact that Eric actually feels guilt about what happened to his daughter, something I never felt in the original.

The explosive direction by Gil Kernan, who directed the last two Ghostbuster films, is impressive, considering the pressure that must have been on him, with Spielberg probably on the set most of the time, which I imagine he was during the original. Needless to say, Sam Rockwell is terrific and there are fun supporting performances from Jared Harris and Nicholas Braun (Succession), but this is essentially a case of "If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It."

The Pink Panther (2006)
It required major cajones of Steve Martin to attempt to step into the late Peter Sellers' shoes, but his 2006 remake of The Pink Panther is not the worst remake ever, providing some giggles, though it's definitely a case of parts being better than the whole. It definitely captures the spirit of the original franchise, but no matter how you want to place the blame somewhere else, Steve Martin is not Peter Sellers.

Martin is also one third of the screenwriting team credited with this story, which is not a scene for scene remake of the 1964 Blake Edwards classic (though Edwards does receive onscreen credit). In this film, Martin's Clouseau is assigned by Dreyfuss (Oscar winner Kevin Kline) to learn who murdered a world champion soccer player and stole the infamous Pink Panther diamond. Dreyfuss wants to send Clouseau in for him to do the work so that he can swoop in and take credit once the footwork is done. He sends a fellow officer (Jean Reno) to act as a double agent, aiding Clouseau in his work while reporting everything he does to Dreyfuss, There's also a beautiful nightclub singer (Beyonce Knowles) who was involved with the soccer player at the time of his murder.

Martin is to be applauded for the respect and research that went into his attempt to revive this franchise and it's hard to put a precise finger on what went wrong here, other than the fact that Steve Martin is not Peter Sellers. Apparently, Clouseau is one of those movie characters , like The King in The King & I, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, where the actor who originated the role is the gold standard for the role and anyone attempting the role will draw immediate comparison and never live up to the task. Kline was an acceptab;e substitute for Herbert Lom though.

Martin's got a strong cast behind him though and despite the presence of Knowles and Emily Mortimer as a bespectacled secretary, the best relationship Martin's Clouseau has in the film is with Jean Reno's character. The evolution of Reno's character as he is originally sent on assignment to discredit Clouseau, but eventually learns to respect the man, is a joy to watch and almost makes everything else that's wrong with the movie not so bad. Reno delivers one of the funniest tour-de-force performances II have ever scene with very limited dialogue, this is a comedy performance to be studied.

Beyonce's third feature film appearance, once again proves that there are few women out there who look more breathtaking stretched across a 40 foot screen, but the woman can't act. I don't place all the blame on her though...the character seems to have been shoe-horned into the story because she was the hottest musician on the planet and they wanted her in the movie. She had no chemistry with Martin or anyone else in the movie and her character seems to have wondered in from another movie. Director Shawn Levy does show skill with physical comedy, though he would fare a little better with Date Night. It's better than a hot poker in the eye, but not much. Martin actually made a sequel, though I can't imagine what he was thinking.

Late Night with the Devil (2023)
A pair of novice filmmakers named Cameron and Colin Cairnes take a serious shot at becoming the next Joel and Ethan Cohen with a bizarre, repugnant, and, at times, brilliant blend of horror and black comedy called Late Night with the Devil, a low budget indie that is unapologetic in its mystery and does falter a bit at the finishing line, but for most of the running time is bloody and enigmatic entertainment.

It's 1977 where we meet a second rate talk show host named Jack Delroy, who has recently returned to his show after a self-imposed hiatus because of the death of his wife. Jack has big plans for his special show for Halloween where his guests include a psychic named Christou, a cynical magician named Carmichael Haig, and a young teenage girl named Lilly who we are told is possessed by the devil. Haig is prepared to offer Christou or Lilly a half million dollars if they can prove they are the genuine article, beginning the unleashing of an unspeakable and unexplainable evil over the proceedings in front of a live television audience.
The Cairnes brothers co-directed and co-wrote this cinematic nightmare that does borrow from films like The Exorcist, Carrie, and Network, but still craft a compelling often frightening story that offers mind-boggling events that cannot be explained away, despite the presence of the Haig character, who does arouse viewer anger as he refuses to accept anything offered here as genuine psychic phenomena. Was especially impressed with the time the Cairnes took to set up the story with exposition and backstory of the Jack Delroy character, which provides understanding as to why this show is so important to Jack. Said backstory initially seems to go on too long, but as the film progresses, we realize how essential it is.

Some of the events that occur on this fateful Halloween night appear to be generic product of a lot of horror movies, but what I loved about this story is that the Cairnes brothers never forget that the events of this film are occurring on live television. We see Jack questioning the audience about whether they see what he sees, we see Gus, Jack's Ed McMahon, beg him halfway through the show to stop, we learn at about the two thirds mark that three crew members have walked off the set and that they have received a call from the FCC. We also see that no matter how bizarre the events presented here get, all Jack sees is a Neilsen rating bonanza. The climax of the film implies a "and then I woke up" scenario but doesn't completely commit to it.

The budget is clearly limited, but as is often the case with films like this, the no frills look often amps the appeal and gives more focus to the story. No stars also indicated a limited budget but David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy, Fayssal Bazzi as Christou, and
Ian Bliss as Carmichael offer mad charisma in their roles. The ending is a bit of letdown, but horror/sci-fi fans will find solid entertainment here. The Cairnes Brothers are filmmakers to watch.

Sleuth (1972)
The thunderous performances by Oscar winners Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine anchor a slightly talky but sparkling comic mystery from 1972 called Sleuth which I will, to the best of my ability, attempt to review without spoilers.

Based on a play by Anthony Shaffer (Frenzy), this is the story of an eccentric writer named Andrew Wyke (Olivier), a man who enjoys theater, games, jokes, and gadgets, has arranged a meeting with Milo Tindle (Caine), a hairdresser who is having an affair with Wyke's wife, initiating a battle of wits between the two men that goes in several unexpected directions.

Shaffer's play first opened at the Music Box Theater in November of 1970 and ran for almost three years, and something tells me this piece was a lot more interesting on the stage because the single setting and the fact that there are only two characters in the story were probably a lot less distracting than they are on the screen. A single setting and only two actors onscreen set up a claustrophobic film experience that either traps the viewer or bores them to death. These traps can be dodged with the right story and the right actors in the roles.

Olivier and Caine take over the roles originated on Broadway by Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter, not only because they are movie stars, adding to the box office appeal of the piece, though with a piece like this, I'm not convinced that making money was a priority here. Someone thought that this was such important piece of theater that the movie was released while the play was still running on Broadway.

Every time the viewer is convinced where the story is going, it moves quickly in another direction. Not only does the story move in unexpected directions, but viewer allegiance with the two characters changes from one act to the next. We know we're in for something different when Milo arrives at Wyke's estate and has to navigate a giant maze resembling the one in The Shining, to get to his host, who initially speaks to the guy through a bush before letting him in.

This film was the final directorial directorial assignment for Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who won four Oscars for writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives and 1950's Best Picture All About Eve, providing the aforementioned claustrophobic atmosphere through his supervision of superb production design, art direction, and set direction that is unparalleled, not to mention the one man acting class from Olivier that sparkles enough to keep us distracted from the fact that the film is a little longer than it needs to be. Don't sleep on Caine though, who provides constant surprises in a performance that completely disarms the viewer. Caine, Olivier, and Mankiewicz were all nominated for Oscars (Caine and Olivier lost to Marlon Brando and Mankiewicz lost to Bob Fosse), as was John Addison's superb music. If you are a fan of the 1982 Sidney Lumet film Deathtrap, you will defiitely have a head start here. The film was remade in 2007 with Caine in Olivier's role and Jude Law in Caine's.

That's a very good film. I suspect a rewatch would bring about diminishing returns, but I had a blast with it with my one viewing.