Monday, March 31, 2014


Classic '90s family comedy that is a little bit cookie-cutter, but too charming to pry too much. The Newtons, an upper-middle class Californian family, take in a stray St. Bernard puppy that escaped kidnapping for cruel experimentation. Conflict involves the gentle-giant dog winning the heart of the family's strict and materialistic father (played terrifically by Grodin), topped with staying a step ahead of the evil vet (played by a clean-cut Dean Jones) who is trying to track down his escaped canine. Platt and Tucci are funny as Jones' henchmen, but their effeminacy doesn't seem fitting—would have worked better if maybe they paid a little more homage to Jasper and Horace Badun from ONE HUNRED AND ONE DALMATIONS. Bonnie Hunt couples great with Grodin, but is perhaps slightly underused. All three children are intolerable. Still enjoyable despite its flaws; its replay value can be attributed to Grodin and Dean's performances, plus the story's pet-is-a-member-of-the-family philosophy.


Pretentious bank heist "epic" about a team of detectives led by over-the-top loud-mouthed Pacino on the trail of a tight-knit group of robbers led by a-little-too-reserved De Niro. The film dates poorly; specifically, with Pacino screaming out supposedly clever lines that were probably witty for 1995, but nowadays is just seen as a cheap cry for attention. But even for 1995 standards, the film is incredibly overrated, what with your typical over-sappy and unnecessary Michael Mann unsexy love scene, or the ridiculous time spent (or wasted) developing overly-complex characters only to give them a rushed send-off. The tech aspect and the amazing band heist sequence (one of cinema's best) are both worth a look, but other than that, you're wasting your time.


Classic romantic comedy about 37-year-old widow (played terrifically by Cher) getting engaged to mismatched Aiello, only to begin falling for his younger brother, a bitter and heartbroken one-handed baker (played by Nicolas Cage in one of his better performances). Really captures the complexity of love by incorporating Gardenia and Dukakis' sub-plot(s), who play Loretta's (Cher) parents. Well-loved for a reason; but fans overlook the all-too-familiar movie flaw of having deep characters and a complex plot wrapped up nicely with a simple solution. The mood alone captures a wonderful cinema-style that was lost once the 1980s were over. For better or for worse, there will probably never be anything else quite like it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Live-action/cartoon combo classic, based on Wolf's 1981 novel WHO CENSORED ROGER RABBIT?, in which private inspector Hoskins investigates a murder where the prime suspect is the title character. Lots of great performances and countless fun cameos that include Disney and Warner characters sharing the screen together for the first time ever. A favorite for many; the film's greatest quality is its timelessness. However, Leonard Maltin summed up the film's fatal flaw terrifically in his capsule, pointing out that it is terribly difficult for even the most open-minded viewer to acclimate to a world where humans and cartoons live together. The MPAA would never rate it PG today.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The NeverEnding Story

1984 fantasy classic about lit-buff boy Oliver who obtains an "unsafe" book that ends up being the ultimate escape tool for dealing with his mother's death and the bullies at school... or perhaps, the adventures taking place in Fantasia are really a reflection of his own life and conflicts? A fun flick to ponder, but it would perhaps be clearer and hold up better if it didn't end at the halfway point of the Ende book in which it is adapted from. Epic for its time, but dates rather poorly compared to something like Ridley Scott's LEGEND made only a year later. Most expensive film made outside of USA or USSR at the time of its release. The soundtrack is marvelous.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Behind the Candelabra (TV)

Drama about the secret affair Liberace (played terrifically by Douglas despite being a little too old and thin) had with a Scott Thorson (played by Damon, who is terrific as well, but is also too old for the role), a man nearly 40-years his junior. Based on Thorson's memoir of the same name (but subtitled "My Life with Liberace"), lending itself to be a story inevitably driven more by perspective than fact. Screened theatrically overseas, but Hollywood dubbed it "too gay" for its native USA so HBO aired it instead. Outside of the serious scenes, the film is an otherwise lighthearted portrayal of the lavish life Liberace pursued with a companion that he was forced to pretend was his adopted son instead of his partner or husband. Really good film for the masses; but at the end of the day, it's still another gay-movie made by straight people—it didn't work when white people were writing sitcoms about black families, why do straight people think they can properly execute a meaningful story about gay people? Let the many talented gay people in the business take a shot at making a film about their culture and history that will appeal to people of all sexual preferences. Perhaps we're not ready for it yet... it's obvious Hollywood isn't.