Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Some News

I was invited just today to join Movie Bloggers. Actually it was from another blogsite of mine: http://rogeruroundly.blogspot.com/ but this is my site devoted to the movies. Below is a link to Movie Bloggers.

This site was just about to fall into complete dormancy, even though I still enjoy movies no less than when I started it. So this little invitation was a nice wake-up call. I've had many more movies to write about in here, and now I feel much more inspired to get off my butt and write them.

Well actually I'd still be sitting on my butt, but we're talking figuratively here, so..

More reviews to come. Hope you enjoy the ones already up.

Movie Bloggers

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The 300 Spartans

I've been rediscovering this fine old film of late. It was one my Dad took me to see as a boy of 7 or so, having been released in 1961. At that age, in Sparta, I'd have been eligible to start military service. They drafted 'em mighty young back then.

So anyway, The 300 Spartans is about the Battle of Thermopylae, between the Greeks(Spartans, Thespians, Thebians et al)and Persians back in 480 B.C. Thermopylae was a narrow area, the only known area through which to pass into Greece.

Ordinarily the 1200-or-so total Greek soldiers would be no match for Persia's 20,000+ troops on an open field, but given the fact that they were fighting in such a small area, the Spartans had great advantage. Being much more ferocious in battle, they could demolish the Persian forces at in-fighting.

As a kid we had one pet, a beat-up old tomcat, who utilized this principle in his battles with a possum. He'd get the possum(who was twice his size)underneath the car where it couldn't move and then just wail its ass--all toenails n' fur..So every day with the possum was his Thermopylae.

Pretty simple, really. If you're a little guy fighting a big guy, you want to be in real close to where the big guy can't move. There's your chance to wail him. If he gets more room, and is able to get a clean shot in on you it may well be yo' ass..

Anyway. A great story. The Persians won the battle, but the Greeks won the war. Much like our present-day despots, they had their characters as well. One story I read was of the Persians' attempts to build a bridge to Thermopylae, and upon failing, Xerxes ordering the engineers who designed it executed and then for his troops to "lash and curse the waters"...

So I would recommend this as DVD viewing. The dialogue, something I missed as a 7-year-old, is believable as is the costuming and such(no flat-top haircuts!). And the fight scenes are still "cool". Hail, 300 Spartans.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector

Just finished watching "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector". He's sort of a cross between Ernest P Worrell and Andrew Dice Clay as far as his screen persona. And it's like the two basic influences are both on the same plate, spilling over from time to time from one to the other as the terrain gets rockier.

I must say, I like what I think is the basic character, the one(as long as we're talking about personality factions here)who just may be a cousin someplace of Ernest P Worrell. The big good-natured lummox with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of backwoods wisdom, all delivered in a heavy Cracker accent. If there was ever Berlitz for rednecks, they'd definitely want to enlist none other than Larry the Cable Guy: language consultant.

So the basics are all there: appearance, delivery- but then the terrain shifts, the plate tilts, and the Diceman starts to spill over into the mix. Actually Dice was more directly contentious- Larry has a different approach, wherein he'll "attack" and then fall into so-called contrition(Lord forgive me for that one..),then repeat the pattern, sidling up in an approach-and-retreat sort of sidestep.

What I'm referring to, in Larry's case, is the stuff about wheelchair-bound folks and folks with significantly-below-average intelligence. As far as the political correctness thing going on here, let me just say that I could give a rat's "turd-cutter"(thanks for that one, Lar': one of the lines in the movie)about political correctness. It's just so much punctilious horseshit as far as what we're supposed to call somebody, and how we're supposed to feel or behave.

The issue is more that you just don't pick on folks who can't fight back. If done in real life, it prompts others to whomp your stoopid ass en masse. If done in your act as a comic, it can seriously impair your effectiveness, maybe even give you a nice long vacation.. Don Rickles was perhaps the founding father of the kind of contentious, in-your-face approach to comedy as practiced by Larry the Cable Guy and the early Diceman. But he always picked on the big guys, never the little guy. Which is why he's lasted all these years..

So, please, Lar'. Leave the wheelchair and "retard" stuff out and you'll be fine. Besides, on the road to smarts, you ain't all that far ahead of 'em yourself there, whistledick...

Okay, aside from those parts of the movie, it was very funny. He has this little gal(Iris Bahr is the actress's name)as his sidekick/partner, who's very perky in a way reminiscent of Zelda Gilroy from the old Dobie Gillis show, an intense little firecracker of a brunette. She's the uptight/anal-retentive foil to Larry's relaxed good-ol'-boy, always with her clipboard and pen and crisp efficiency- while Larry applies his particular brand of 'country wisdom' to each sitch-e- a-shun..

Larry's boss is the guy who played Biff in the Back to the Future trilogy(Thomas F Wilson), and is a more congenial sort in this show, though he does get miffed(and in a Bifflike way)at Larry from time to time. Well, who wouldn't?

And Larry has a love-interest in this one. Nice cute, fairly voluptuous gal he meets out at the Mall. On their first "date", he gets indigestion which brings out some pretty raunchy farts, then an emergency trip to her bathroom to take a monster dump, and then--oh, sorry, I'm giving away some of the plot here...

So, except for the 'funny retard' and the 'funny guy in the wheelchair', a pretty funny movie in itself. Maybe in "Health Inspector 2", he'll be married to his love interest from this movie, and you'll see dried tobacco spit running down both sides of the Larrymobile.

Hopefully he'll bring back Iris Bahr as his sidekick. She has a nice comedic style and is also, in the considered opinion of one Smithton Wahling-Rumply, cute as hell.

I was getting a little crush on her watching this movie. Hmm, Iris Wahling-Rumply-Bahr. Might work..

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ole for The Matador

There seems to be an emerging genre in filmdom these days, somewhat akin to the Wiseguy category, as witnessed in "Collateral"(w/ Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx), The Man(w/Samuel Jackson and Eugene Levy), and now The Matador- co-starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear: the hitman buddy flick.

You know, where a hired killer and an ordinary joe find themselves thrown together for whatever doggone reason(besides just Kooky Karma), and of course learn a great deal about themselves and each other in the process. I think they call that the 'Arc' of the film--or at least of the development of the characters in the film.

Damn, I almost forgot one. Buddy Buddy, with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The original hitman buddy flick. The one that, however unwittingly, started it all..

So anyway. The Matador, regardless of genre phylum, is not a bad flick. Quentin Tarantino's predilection for "cheezy" 60's and 70's soundtracks is in excellent form here. Makes me wanna go out and Play Guitar With The Ventures. Or some damn fool thing...

The main characters, played by Pierce Brosnan(hitman), Greg Kinnear(innocent bystander)and Hope Davis(Mrs innocent bystander)are believable and well executed by the actors. Hope Davis seems to play a lot of wives, particularly outraged ones(The Weather Man, The Daytrippers). She has some nice onscreen qualities, as well as a pleasing sort of 'hippy-chick' ambience to her. A certain long-haired soulfulness I like.

My favorite scene(without spoiling the movie): where Mr and Mrs innocent bystander are humping on top of their Washing Machine. Mr innocent bystander still has his glasses on, which are completely fogged. Trust me. It's very funny.

So. The Matador. Not a 5-star movie, but definitely got a few Ole's from me while watching.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Not sure what I think of it as a movie, but I do think that Philip Seymour Hoffman did an amazing job in his portrayal of Truman Capote. He had the physical mannerisms down to a T, as well as the trademark "Casper Milquetoast" voice, and even threw in this little quiver while being frisked to go into the Prison--this little paroxysm o' pleasure..A subtle touch but a good one, considering the character he was playing.

As far as the physical adaptation, it seemed to work. Usually, Hollywood has to take a little guy and make him bigger.Well, then again, with Jennifer Love Hewitt playing Audrey Hepburn, they had to conceal her considerable kazooms, so...

Anyway, on the strength of the acting, I'd give it a couple stars.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Brokedown Booty Palace

One film I like to go back and watch now and again is "Brokedown Palace", which is about 2 girls who go to Thailand and get mixed up with a shady character who plants heroin on them and then has them arrested. The scene in the Airport where they get busted is pretty dramatic: just as they're getting ready to board the plane, the Thai militia shows up and goes right to them, ready to shoot to kill.

The film stars Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale as the 2 girls, and Bill Pullman as the lawyer("Yankee Hank")who tries to get them out. It was actually filmed in Manila, not Bangkok, but what the hell do us Americans know? One far-East setting is just like another.

A fairly entertaining movie. You get into the story, as the different layers unfold, and the exotic setting. But one other thing kept with me while watching the film, and observing Danes and Beckinsale.

Who has the better can?

You could definitely argue toward Danes, who makes up for what she may lack in kazooms with nice hips and a solid, substantial backside(which, by the way, you get a good look at in the movie "Shopgirl"). Good legs too. Definitely more of a 'lower-body' chick. Beckinsale is a bit taller and willowier, but her butt has surprising cleft and swell to it, which may equal or exceed Danes'.

Well, all told, an entertaining movie. An interesting story(and, yes, based on true events--that shit really happens over there!), in an 'exotic' setting. And portrayed by 2 young actresses you enjoy seeing turn around.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Shining

Just recently I ordered what I thought was going to be the old 1977 release of The Shining, book by Stephen King, directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson/Shelley DuVall, yadda yadda.. Upon opening the package, my glee sank, my spirit falling to the floor, splattering like a lumberingly lugubrious horseturd of disappointment, in seeing that it was an entirely different edition: different EVERYTHING.

It was a feeling quite similar to getting my McDonald's bag-o-burgers-n-fries home to find out they added all that McJunk on the burgers when I'd asked for them plain. I mean, you can scrape the stuff off, but it's not what you ordered. Plus, it still has the McJunk aftertaste even after you get it removed from your food. Sorry, but I'm NOT "lovin' it"....
Unfortunately with a DVD, there's nothing you can scrape off except the plastic covering, so I decided to sit and watch it, even though it's not what I ordered. I suppose the equivalent here of scraping off excess/unwanted stuff is the fast-forward function, but I never ended up using it.Well, this newer version does have much more resemblance to the book: first, Rebecca DeMornay(who is much more "packed" than I remember her, for whatever that's worth)is much more like the Wendy in the book than was Shelley DuVall, both physically-blonde and all-and emotionally. And the story itself pretty much follows the book, right down to the ending- or at least the demise of the Overlook.
Well, I should say apparent demise here, but maybe I've said too much already. I'll leave the ending a surprise just in case you haven't seen it.
Being executive producer and all in this '90's version, I think this was how Stephen King probably would've wanted to shoot The Shining back in 1977 if he'd had carte blanche. I haven't read any press on it but I'll bet it would confirm what I'm saying here. Personally though, I don't think this newer one is as good, regardless of its fidelity to the book. I don't like the way it's cut, and from the relatively glossy quality, it was recorded on tape rather than film-which loses something, at least for Smithton Wahling-Rumply..
What I favored about the '77 version was, besides amazing performances by both Nicholson and DuVall(no one plays fright like Shelley DuVall, particularly in the near-final scene where Nicholson breaks down the door with an axe, etc..), are the various Kubrick touches.
Stanley Kubrick is a very tactile, visceral director. He makes you feel the area you're looking at as if you were touching it. Not only the physical surface(as in those scenes with Danny on his scooter heading down the various surfaces: carpeted, hardwood--and the scenes in 2001 aboard the ship, when they're jogging and you go upside down due to the lack of gravity)but the physical dimensions of the room. There's a certain harmony to every room he creates as to the various elements within that room, everything blends. It invites you in. Very true of The Shining, and evident in all other films, notably Eyes Wide Shut.
The director of this newer version does not have Kubrick's sense of feng shui- well, actually few do. So you're not necessarily drawn into the scene, though he is not without his surprises. Still, I'll take the original Shining, even though it wasn't exactly in line with the writer's original vision.

Deconstructing Woody Allen

Personally I still like Woody Allen's movies. I did think "Deconstructing Harry" had a casualness to it in places that bothered me, a drop-the-ball feeling as to the dialogue(the 'f word' for one thing, something never used before, and feels strangely inappropriate). And though I did like the movie ultimately--the point about Harry being dysfunctional in life but his art being his redeeming functionality--I didn't get into the jagged cutting of the film.

It did give a certain edge to the film though. He did that same thing in "Stardust Memories", the scenes with - oh shit whatshername, the thin, neurotic British actress-when she's in the nuthouse.

I don't understand why he's so hated by the general public for taking up with his girlfriend's adopted daughter. Personally I don't consider that a complely reprehensible act, as she was of consenting age and there were no legal barriers. Irresponsible maybe, but then what does that have to do with me? Who am I to pass judgment here? As an entertainer, does he owe me a certain code of conduct for me to view his films?

Woody Allen's only responsibility to me, Smithton Wahling-Rumply, is to make entertaining films--and even then, only if I've paid to see it.

I must admit, though, I'm not as avid a fan as I once was. But I still do enjoy the occasional Woody Allen flick. And he did make some good ones. Particularly the earlier, funnier ones.

Just kidding.