Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Review

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Review

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a 1987 comedy film directed by John Hughes and starring Steve Martin and John Candy. It is one of the decade’s finest comedies.

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You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better.

I’m an easy target. Yeah, you’re right, I talk too much. I also listen too much.

I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you… but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings.

Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing.

I like… I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me.

‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Review

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Two guys sharing time together during their prolonged trip home where they have problems with each mode of transportation is a very simple, yet ingenious idea for a movie executed superbly here. This is basically a toad trip film, but much deeper than most of the similar flicks.

John Hughes surely is one of my favorite directors, but I was pleasantly surprised to witness that he was as great at an adult comedy as much as he was great at teen movies. It’s a shame that he didn’t do more of such movies, but at least what we got here is a classic for the ages.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a funny movie, at times even hilarious. Its humor is subtle and great and the kind of humor which relies on situations and facial expressions and I love that. The actors did most of the heavy lifting here, but the humor is also great thanks to such a smart script and truly terrific dialogue, courtesy of Hughes of course.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Review

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Steve Martin is phenomenal here and this is probably his best role ever. I am usually not a fan of him, but here he was so relatable and even funny and a great dramatic counteract to Candy who is also excellent here and better than usual. The film made me love these two actors whom I usually did not like and that is a testament of how great it truly is. Their dynamic is gold and their chemistry is absolutely terrific. This is a great example of how comedic performances can be just as strong and should be just as treasured as the dramatic ones.

But the movie is great because it also has a lot of heart at its core. The ending is lovely, but most of the scenes between the two really were terrific and some were heartfelt such as Candy’s honest speech about his personality. The two counteract each other so well as they are so different, but I still could see how they would become friends so I bought that plot progression even though it was typical. The film counteracts the comedic scenes with some great dramatic stuff so well and that is why it is such a classic.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Review

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Now the movie is not without its flaws. Some of the scenes in the second half, mostly in the car, and that extended action scene were not as interesting as the rest of the film and the ending is naturally too emotional. Sweet, but emotional. And of course the realization that Del doesn’t have a family or a house came as no shock to me as it was quite obvious. But the movie is so well paced, directed and really well scored that it ultimately rendered those minor flaws unimportant.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a rare 80’s comedy that really works and that truly is a classic for the ages. John Hughes gave us a different movie than usual for him here and thus proved his greatness, but Martin and Candy’s performances are also top-notch as is the excellent dialogue and script which balances the humor with a lot of drama and heart. Nifty and thoroughly pleasing, touching and funny, this film certainly is a genre gem.

My Rating – 4.5

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Porky’s Poultry Plant (1936)

Porky's Poultry Plant ReviewPorky’s Poultry Plant Review

Porky’s Poultry Plant is a 1936 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a solid entry.

Now the premise here is actually great and very interesting for a cartoon, but I have to say that the execution of that premise wasn’t all that great and was frankly disappointing as there should have been a lot more done with it. It is still a solid, enjoyable film, but far from great and lacking in humor.

Porky is excellent as the hero and I really loved some of the scenes here such as the heartbreaking poster scene and the ending. But I wasn’t a fan of the football addition at all. Frank Tashlin’s direction is so good and he is the one responsible for the movie’s interesting look. A really stellar debut. The animation is excellent and some of the camera angles were quite innovative.

Porky’s Poultry Plant could have been better, but it still succeeds owing to Porky, great premise and superb animation.

My Rating – 3.7

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The Goodbye Girl (1977)

The Goodbye Girl  Movie Review

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The Goodbye Girl Movie Review

The Goodbye Girl is a 1977 romantic comedy film directed by Herbert Ross and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason and Quinn Cummings. It is a solid, charming flick.

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If you were a Broadway musical,

people would be humming your face

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The Goodbye Girl Movie Review

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As is almost always the case with most romantic comedies, this one is also extremely cliched and predictable in its storyline and from beginning to end. There is nothing original or interesting that happens here in terms of the plot points and that was certainly a problem the movie never overcame.

But still it is an enjoyable film because it does the first part of its genre name right – it gives us romance. The comedy is lacking and despite a couple of amusing moments, the film is rarely really funny and never hilarious. It is more dramatic than comedic, especially in the first half.

But the romance worked for me. I did not think that these characters were all that great, but the interactions between them were interesting and playful and I loved the romantic parts of the film. The ending is too cliched, but sweet, the dinner is lovely and the entire falling in love part is so well done and actually highly effervescent.

Richard Dreyfuss plays an especially likable, charming man and I really liked most of his actions and sentences. He really sold this movie. The character is great, but the actor did a great job himself and honestly his Oscar win is not all that surprising when you think about it. He is the sole reason to see this film.

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The Goodbye Girl Movie Review

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Especially because Marsha Mason isn’t all that great in her role which is definitely too unlikable for way too much of its running time. That is also what Ebert said and this is probably the first time that I entirely agree with his review. However, Quinn Cummings is much better and she deserved her Oscar nomination as she portrayed this memorable girl so well.

The Goodbye Girl is weakly made, very weakly. The direction is so mediocre as is the cinematography and the film looked too stagy. The editing is also weak and I have to say that the first act is very unappealing, not at all engaging and frankly even a bit annoying as the characters are frustrating and unlikable at first. Later the movie improved quite a bit, but eventually it settled into being just a solid rom com and nothing more than that. Its Best Picture nomination was thoroughly undeserved.

The technical aspects are nothing to write home about, the story is of course cliched and predictable and Marsha Mason is unlikable in The Goodbye Girl, but Richard Dreyfuss is great and very likable in such a charming role. And the movie itself is often very pleasant and sweetly romantic leading to a solid and better than average romantic comedy.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Opry House (1929)

The Opry House ReviewThe Opry House Review

The Opry House is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a disappointing one.

Here Mickey basically performs in a theater from dancing to playing on a piano. It was a typical thing to do during this time – take a vaudeville, theatre play and make a short out of it where the character performs a few parts. I honestly never really liked that approach and here the execution isn’t too good to convince me that it was worth it.

The animation is actually very good and polished. Mickey got his gloves here for the first time which is worth a note. He is likable, but not particularly funny. The entire cartoon sounds and looks good and is overall harmless, but there is nothing in it that is memorable or particularly fun or funny and it needed more characters besides Mickey for sure.

The Opry House is well scored and animated, but lacking in terms of plot and characters.

My Rating – 3.3

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Ranking the Space Odyssey Series

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Ranking the Space Odyssey Series

The Space Odyssey series is probably the finest ever science fiction novel series of all time. Arthur Clarke is a fantastic writer and he made a series that is both fascinating and intellectually superlative. I love all of the books in the quadrilogy, but some are better than others and here I am going to rank all four of them along with the two movies.

 

 

6. 2010 (Film)

Although it landed on the last place, I still really liked the movie adaptation of the second book. Sure, the epilogue and the Chinese scientists are unfortunately absent here, but the film is otherwise pretty faithful, some scenes are so great and memorable and the characters are actually better than their book counterparts leading to a pretty satisfactory adaptation.

2010 Movie Review

 

5. 3001: The Final Odyssey

I wanted a better and more memorable ending and the monolith’s purpose here is changed for the worse, but this is still a terrific final installment to this great quadrilogy with a memorable protagonist in Frank Poole, a couple of superb observations from Clarke about religion and politics and a superbly established, intriguing future world.

3001: The Final Odyssey Review

 

4. 2061: Odyssey Three

The characters are sorely lacking in 2061, but its adventurous plot more than makes up for it. The film is such a great exploration of convergent evolution and extraterrestrial animals and this high adventure on Europa was so entertaining and unforgettable. It surely is the most fun and adventurous of the books.

2061: Odyssey Three Review

 

3. 2010: Odyssey Two

2010 is more straightforward than its predecessor, but it honestly worked for me and it did that in spades as it gave me the answers to most of the questions I’ve had about this world before and the answers were satisfactory and fascinating. The book also features a great team of astronauts which consists of Russians and Americans working together and that was admirable.

2010: Odyssey Two Review

 

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Book)

The choice for the first and second place was extremely difficult for me as I love the book and the film version of this story pretty much the same and both are amazing, but the book isn’t as ambiguous and as artistic which is why it eventually takes the second spot. But still, it is superbly written by Clarke and this was his idea after all and he proved what a great mind he had here. The story is simply unforgettable and classic and the book is filled with many great themes such as evolution, robots and space travel leading to the quintessential science fiction work.

2001: A Space Odyssey Review

 

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Film)

But the film is just a thing of marvel, a beauty to behold on a whole new level and so it tops my list because of its artistry. The classical score is amazing, the effects are the best ever in movie history and the movie is still smart and thematically rich while also being atmospheric and actually very mysterious and ambiguous in quality as you need to see it more than once to fully comprehend its storyline. It is the best science fiction film ever made, one of the finest films of all time and it is the textbook example of how to properly adapt a book into a film. It retains all of the novel’s qualities while adding a touch of artistry and ambiguity to create an original work that stands on its own.

2001: A Space Odyssey Movie Review

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3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)

3001: The Final Odyssey Review

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3001: The Final Odyssey Review

3001: The Final Odyssey is a 1997 science fiction novel by Arthur Clarke. It is the final installment in this series and it closed it really well.

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My field of interest is the psychopathology known as Religion.

Psycopathology? That’s a harsh judgement.

Amply justified by history. Imagine that you’re an intelligent extraterrestrial,

concerned only with verifiable truths. You discover a species which has divided itself

into thousands – no by now millions – of tribal groups holding an incredible variety of beliefs

about the origin of the universe and the way to behave in it.

Although many of them have ideas in common, even when there’s a ninety-nine percent overlap,

the remaining one per cent is enough to set them killing and torturing each other,

over trivial points of doctrine, utterly meaningless to outsiders

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3001: The Final Odyssey Review

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Now it is the weakest entry in my opinion, but not by much as ‘2061’ is only slightly better. I will later talk about the problems of it, but let’s first complement on its plot. Some may dislike its more straightforward approach compared to ‘2001’, but I honestly really liked it and in terms of the story alone, it is possibly even better than the previous two entries.

That is because I really enjoyed this jump in time. How Poole survived for a thousand years in space was ridiculous to me, but it did provide a good premise where he suddenly is in 3001 and has to adapt to the new millennium as everything changed so drastically. As stories about future go, this is a surprisingly well crafted and even restrained take on it.

I really loved this world. The four world towers were so well conceived and very intriguing, that provided some beautiful imagery in my head. The braincap is an interesting idea and overall what they accomplished in terms of space travel was not as far-fetched and that I admired. But they beat out all major illnesses and that I also bought as it made perfect sense.

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3001: The Final Odyssey Review

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The characterization in 3001 is actually better than usual for the series, though still far from great. That’s because the story needed better developed characters and surely enough Frank Poole is a very relatable, likable protagonist and I liked him quite a bit. I also really liked Indra and the relationship between the two was quite well developed, but all of the other scientists were frankly too forgettable. HAL and Dave Bowman merged into one entity called Halman which was also interesting to witness.

So what are the problems of 3001. Well, the pacing is sometimes off and I honestly thought that the Europs tease was, well, too much of a tease and I am sad that he never really went anywhere with their story. It is only hinted that they will progress as a society and nothing more than that. And the final third with the monoliths suddenly posing threat was overly climactic and action oriented and I do dislike how he changed the concept of the monolith for the sake of this particular book. Really was not a fan of that aspect.

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3001: The Final Odyssey Review

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But the imagery is so good and the first half is particularly great and I also liked the part on Europa, no matter how little of a closure to it we received. But the book is so well written and ultimately serves as a satisfying conclusion to this great qaudrilogy. I liked his descriptions and dialogue in particular and I have to say that sometimes he really surprised me with his political insight and honesty. The passage where he tells us how hypocritical and ultimately awful the USA really is was a revelation to me as I am always happy to see that some people are honest enough to state that fact. The overall political as well as scientific climate in this future is so well established owing to some great writing on the behalf of this very clever man.

3001 has its problems in the final chapters, but I honestly really liked this final entry in the Space Odyssey quadrilogy as it has a very entertaining story with a surprisingly well established future world, better than usual characterization and it overall provides us with good answers to some of the questions established earlier.

My Rating – 4.3

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The Dirty Dozen (1967)

The Dirty Dozen Movie Review

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The Dirty Dozen Movie Review

The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 war film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. It is a mediocre, annoying film.

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You’ve seen a general inspecting troops before haven’t you?

Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!

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The Dirty Dozen Movie Review

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When it comes to war movies, I am always in the camp of drama and not action. This is a war action flick and thus I am not a fan of it. Everything here is style over substance, action spectacle over story and it just bored me.

It also bored me with its running time which is two and half hours. Of course it did not need that at all and thus it felt overly prolonged and it quickly bored me into submission. The story is nowhere in sight ant this is just such a basic premise that serves to give more and more action and nothing more than that.
The Dirty Dozen has, well, a dozen characters and they are all so underdeveloped and ultimately forgettable. But even worse, most of them are annoying, thoroughly unlikable and just plain bad people whom you cannot root for at all.

This movie is overly macho and only stereotypical straight men can really enjoy this in my opinion and nobody else. It has that masculine quality to it that is very off-putting and there is not a woman in sight here.

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The Dirty Dozen Movie Review

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Ernest Borgnine is annoying, Charles Bronson is okay but not a remarkable character and Lee Marvin is the best of the bunch, but he plays a regular character for him and he doesn’t stretch his acting muscles at all here.

The direction from Robert Aldrich is weak and mediocre, the film is too long and weakly paced and only the cinematography is solid, and the acting as well. The film looks and also sounds good thanks to a pretty solid score, but everything else is uninspired and dull.

The Dirty Dozen looks and sounds good, but the characters are either annoying or plain unlikable, the film favors style over substance with not enough drama and story and way too much action. It is overlong and tedious.

My Rating – 2.5

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Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936)

Sunday Go to Meetin' Time EssaySunday Go to Meetin’ Time Review

Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time a 1936 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a pretty offensive flick.

This is of course part of the Censored Eleven which are the cartoons from Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies which feature black stereotypes and this one has that in abundance. Now it is actually a pretty solid story with a good message about the importance of going to church on Sunday. It would have been pretty good had it been done with a white cast.

But this way, it is the worst entry in quite a while. The characters here are just coons and even blackface personalities which do not resemble real black people at all and are just exaggerated versions of them. Everything here seemed hateful and wrong, even for its time which is why I couldn’t forgive them for it.

Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time is the worst Merry Melody in quite a while with overly racist, wrong portrayals of black people.

My Rating – 3.1

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Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

Jailhouse Rock is a 1957 musical film starring Elvis Presley. It is a memorable, but deeply flawed and typical film.

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How dare you think such cheap tactics would work with me!

That ain’t tactics, honey. It’s just the beast in me

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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The problem with Jailhouse Rock is mostly the plot which is so boring, typical and endlessly cliched that I really did not care for it. Everything presented here was been there, done that and not even the music could save that. Most of the scenes such as the ending and the relationship at the center of it felt obvious.

The characters are not great either. The protagonist is your typical 50s angsty guy and the girlfriend is quite bland. I liked his cellmate but he was underutilized and all of the others were quite forgettable. The characterization should have been better as only the protagonist is well developed, but typical in conception.

The acting, on the other hand, is pretty good even if the cast is not an A-list one. Mickey Shaughnessy is pretty solid and likable in his role and Judy Tyler is quite good for an unknown actress and it is such a shame that she got to go at such a young age. The tragedy behind this movie is truly horrible.

As for Elvis himself, he is solid. He is pretty good for a musician and he sold his role for the most part, but it is mostly an easy role that required not a lot of nuance in his performance. He is definitely not great as actors go, but for a singer, he is pretty solid.

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the soundtrack which is the saving grace of Jailhouse Rock. One More Day is sweet and memorable, Young and Beautiful is quite solid and Don’t Leave Me Now is the best of these three. Others are forgettable. Of course the titular song is the greatest and it is the scene that transcended the movie itself. It is unforgettable in its imagery, it works great as a precursor to modern music videos, Elvis killed it with his dance movies here and the song itself is a classic – catchy and a lot of fun.

It is a shame then that the movie never caught up with that song as the rest aren’t all that memorable or well filmed and executed. The pacing is solid here, but the movie is still frankly boring and the direction is lackluster.

Jailhouse Rock is memorable for its titular song which is a classic and that entire scene is so great that it is worth a watch, but the movie is otherwise mostly boring and slight with solid acting, but bland characters and a story that is so cliched and obvious in its every plot point.

My Rating – 4

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Porky the Rain-Maker (1936)

Porky the Rain-Maker ReviewPorky the Rain-Maker Review

Porky the Rain-Maker is a 1936 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is an original flick.

Porky has problems with the farm, but once he gets the pills that make rain, everything turns out great. This is a very unique idea for an animated short and it meant that the animation and especially some of the gags were very inventive. I liked those chicken and goose gags as they portrayed so well how hungry they always are and the way they were punished was quite amusing.

The problem here is that I do not know what is the point of having some of the pills here such as for thunder or earthquake. That seems odd to me. The rain is the only logical one and even the way that pill was eventually used was too convenient and not the best way to get there. The film definitely has its problems but the originality is undisputed.

Porky the Rain-Maker is very uneven in execution, but the idea behind it is so authentic that it ultimately works.

My Rating – 4.2

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