Lolita ~ 1962

lolita-title-sequence   I had heard a lot about this film, but had never seen it until an airing on TCM.  I am a huge fan of Shelly Winters and was actually quite disappointed in her role in this film. I felt it was contrived and had very little substance. You almost began to dislike Mrs. Haze and I felt myself “rooting” for Professor Humbert and his goal to win over Lolita. James Mason was great in this film and showed emotion throughout, both that of desire, and of anguish.  When Lolita disappears, the scene in the hospital was one of the best.

Sue Lyon was very good in this film. She had the ability to come across as the young teenager, with all the mixed emotions that go with that, as well as her confusion as to her feelings and desire for her mother’s husband. As a vixen you got the feeling that she knew exactly what she was doing and was going to get exactly what she wanted. Her performance later in the film, as the older married Lolita, was not as compelling or believable, but overall I think she gave the best performance in the film.Lolita-Still-BW-01

As far as the role of Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty, he have the incomparable performance that only Peter Sellers could. However, I felt his character in the film was unnecessary, and think the film would have been better if his character was more like in the book, behind the scenes, and more of a mystery. This role gave the film a comedic feel that took away from the films story and would have been better left on the cutting floor.  No disrespect for Sellers as he was amazing, I just think Kubrick should have had this character less in the forefront of the story and more on the sidelines as in the book.

Due to the censorship in Hollywood in 1962 this film fell flat for me, as it never really was able to portray the relationship between Humbert and Lolita and walked around the actually storyline.  Even Kubrick himself said if he would have known the role the censors would play in this film he never would have made it. The film was enjoyable, and I am gald I finally got to take a look at this classic. Now to try and find a copy of the 1997 remake.

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in 1962, 60's, Classic, Reviews


Returning to the Yellow Brick Road

Oz-the-Great-and-Powerful-to-be-released-in-March-2013           The Wizard of Oz is by far one of the most enduring and best-loved films in cinematic history. Seen by generations of children, it continues to delight and entertain even 75 years later. My own five year old grand-daughter has recently become a fan of Dorothy Gale and her band of travelers off to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.
Needless to say when I heard that Disney was releasing a prequel to the greatest fantasy film and story of all time, I was eager to see it and find out all I could. I was there on its opening day, March 8th and sat in the theater with both young and old and revisited the yellow brick road.oz-great-powerful09

After watching the film I sat in the theater as everyone left and studied their responses and actions. When the film ended, the theater goers began to applaud, and rightfully so. And as they departed I heard words like, “awesome movie”; “So visual”; “perfect prequel”; and from one young movie goer, of about 7 or 8…”Mommy I want this movie!”

What I saw and felt was a little mixed. Awesome movie? Not what I would say awesome, but I would say it was very good. The story was true to the 1939 classic, in that it didn’t over tell the story or use difficult characterizations to tell its story…or did it? It moved quickly and didn’t have a slow pace, but a continual flow to the film and action, as well as the story.  A young Oscar Diggs, a small time traveling magician, played by James Franco, wants to be more than just a man, his dream is to be a great man, however his ways of getting there are lacking to say the least. When he is swept away in a hot air balloon by a swirling tornado he lands in the land of Oz and his life is changed forever. Sound familiar? Using the technique reminiscent of the 1939 classic, the films starts in black and white and once in Oz, the world takes on Technicolor.  Once he lands, he is met by the young and beautiful witch, Theodora, played very convincingly by Mila Kunis. She explains to him that he is the prophesied Great Wizard that is to take back the throne of Oz and save it’s people. He on the other hand looks at her as another one of his beautiful trophies and steals her heart. Literally. As the film develops, you begin to feel for young Theodora and when you meet her sister Elvanora, played, again expertly by Rachel Weisz you realize very quickly that she is the evil one…or is she? Michelle Williams, as Glinda the Good also shines in this role and can see through Oscar but believes he can still save Oz and it’s people, but she has to convince him.

hr_Oz_The_Great_and_Powerful_211    One of the best parts of the film for me was when Theodora begins to realize she was duped by this “Wizard” and her sister takes this opportunity to capitalize on her misery and brings about her sisters transformation to evil. I felt a little of Margaret Hamilton in her performance as she became the Wicked Witch of the West.

The film was very well made and I see it being nominated for special effects, cinematography, costumes and make up. The computer engineered graphics are at it’s best, but then this is Disney, so it should be. The world of Oz is faintly reminiscent of the Oz that I remember as a child. Even the little jokes regarding how the Munchkins,love to sing was enjoyable. Unfortunately, due to Warner Bros. owning the rights to the Wizard of Oz, some things were not used or replaced, such as the ruby slippers were reverted back to their orignal color from the books of Frank Baum, to silver. Other things we carefully placed such as Oscar’s troupe being Baum Brothers Circus, the horses of a different color in the fields. the poisoned poppy fields and even the Wizards Throne Room. There was even a lion…

Overall I really enjoyed the movie, from beginning to end.  Does it match up to the classic? No, not in the sense of what the Wizard of Oz has come to be cherished as, but it is a good match for its prequel. Sam Raimi did an excellent job of directing, and the characterizations were well done, my favorite being Mila Kunis.  I really enjoyed returning to the yellow brick road.   I plan on seeing it again this weekend in 3D, which I am sure will even be more visually stimulating. Like the young movie goer, who told his mother he wanted this movie, I too want this movie for my library.

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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in 2013, Current Movie News, Fantasy, Reviews


Fav Actors of 1993

1993 was a great year for movies, and men in the movies. When you look at 1993 and the awards shows that year, not many of the actresses really stand out, but the men really shine. Some of the best actors that have ever graced the screen were in great films in 1993. Some are here, and some did not make my list, but these are the performances that I remember.

Actors 19931. Tom Hanks- Philadelphia: His role as the attorney fighting AIDS and his employer, the largest law firm in Philadelphia is by far the best performance in 1993, that is why he won the best actor Oscar.

2. Johnny Depp – Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?: No one can play those eccentric characters the way Johnny can, and he continues to this day.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio-What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: Amazing star even when he first started making films, this performance was one of his best.

4. Daniel Day-Lewis- In the Name of the Father; There is a reason why he has become the greatest actor of our generation and maybe of all time, and this film is one of those reasons.

5. Pete Postlewaite- In the Name of the Father: His role as Daniel Day-Lewis father is short of amazing.

6. Tommy Lee Jones- The Fugitive; Tommy Lee finally received his just rewards in 1993 when he walked away with an Oscar for Supporting Actor with his portrayal of the man who was called upon to catch Harrison Ford’s fugitive.

7. Robert DeNiro- This Boys Life- Opposite Leonardo in this film, Robert as always never disappoints.

8. Harrison Ford- The Fugitive; Stellar performance that even David Janseen would be proud of.

9. Denzel Washington-Philadelphia: As Tom Hanks leery attorney, Denzel showed Hollywood his versatility and his abilities.

10. Ralph Fiennes- Schindler’s List; yes, Liam Nisson was the hero of this film as Schindler, but ralph was his antagonist, and was superb.

Maybe you agreed with these choices, maybe not, but those are my favorite actors and favorite roles in 1993.  What were yours?

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in 1993, 90's, Actors, Fav Actors 1993


#1 ~ Favorite Films 1993

#1 ~ Philadelphia


When I first saw this film, I was so moved that I watched it again the next day and it soon became one of my favorite films of all time. Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett a senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia, Antonio Bandaras plays his partner Miguel Alvarez. Beckett takes on the firm when he is wrongfully fired, the company says for misplacing a complaint, but it is obvious he was let go due to his condition, as he is suffering from AIDS.

Tom Hanks is brilliant, as is Denzel Washington who portrays his attorney. This was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia and it brings it out in full force.  However some parts of the film were edited, including a scene were Hanks and Bandaras were in bed together, but was later added in the DVD release. Other amazing actors portrayed unforgettable characters in this film, such as Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward and Mary Steenburgen.

Few films have affected me the way Philadelphia did. A powerful film, a must see!

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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in 1993, Fantasy, Fav Films of 1993


No. 2 ~ Favorite Films of 1993

#2 ~ Schindler’s List


In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Schindler’s List 8th on its list of the 100 best American films. Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Schutzstaffel (SS)-officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. John Williams composed the score.

Not only is this film  good, it is one of the greats, the story is good the acting is amazing, but the cineamatography, sets, costumes and the directing is par excellence. As one critic states, Ultimately, the film is memorable as much for simple testimony as for the cinematic art it displays.

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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in 1993, 90's, Drama, Fav Films of 1993


No. 3 ~ Favorite Films of 1993

#3 ~ Jurrasic Park


I know, the plot is predictable, the acting, for the exception of Sam Neil, was not the best, but the cinematography and special effects were the best that film had ever seen to that point. The first scene where they are in the open field and all of a sudden you see these huge dinosaurs, it actually was awesome, especially in the theater.  Based on Michael Creighton’s book of the same name, this sci-fi adventure had it all. Drama, a little bit of romance, warm-hearted story, of course adventure and above all, yes I will say it again, special effects!  A lot of them. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it won three Oscars, of course for special effects, sound editing and sound mixing. But for 1993, this was the film to beat in the box office, and for years to come.  Plus a huge dinosaur chasing Jeff Goldblum was worth going to see!

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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in 1993, 90's, Action, Adventure, Fav Films of 1993, Sci-Fi


No. 4 ~ Favorite Films of 1993

#4 ~ What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?


This film was my first introduction to Leonardo DiCaprio, and I became an instant fan.  His portrayal of Arnie Grape, a mentally challenged boy being raised by his obese and severely depressed mother was remarkable. Johnny Depp, who is also fantastic in his role, plays Gilbert Grape, Dicaprio’s older brother, who has taken over and a caretaker for his brother. The film focuses on Gilbert’s frustration with his life and his circumstances, and feels trapped as he knows he has to take care of his brother or he will be put in a home, as his mother certainly can not care for him.  The relationship between the two brothers is what makes the film, as you can feel the enduring love Gilbert has for his brother, yet wants so badly to do something with his life. Arnie, on the other hand loves his brother, but has no concept of what his brother is sacrificing.

Juliette Lewis also stars in this film as a tourist that gets stranded in town with her grandmother when their travel trailer breaks down, and she becomes involved with Gilbert, and he begins to fall in love. I think this is one of her best performances.  I love this film and all it’s quirkiness, and its realism. Definitely one of my favorites.

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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in 1993, 90's, Drama, Fav Films of 1993