April 2017 In Review
When the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin here in Canada and you’ve grown up playing the game, it’s sure hard to watch as many movies as I usually do in the course of thirty days let me tell you. For half the month I’m practically glued to the TV on a nightly basis for the exciting first round when 16 teams face off against each other but I persevered and still tried my best to keep things moving here at Mike’s Take so here’s a recap of old and new titles I managed to squeeze in between the opening round of hockey games. Hate to admit it but my team is out. Yours?
The Police Connection – Gritty fun with Chuck Connors and Neville Brand.
A five pack of Rutger Hauer Heroics. Check’em out.
Last Embrace – Roy Scheider meets Jonathan Demme
It’s not like this was my first time viewing and the truth is I love this film. Still, I hadn’t seen it as of late so when Number 1 son Ethan decided to put it on and share it with his special lady, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner and had plenty to do. I couldn’t help myself and watched up until Ray Liotta delivered the pistol whipping to end all such scenes of guns colliding with cheek bones. Enough! I had to get some work done but within 24 hours I put my copy back in the blu ray player and picked it up from that pistol scene onward. A real classic of the gangster genre and I’m pretty much assuming most readers here have seen it but if you haven’t, I don’t know what your waiting for. DeNiro, Liotta, Pesci, Sorvino and a host of other faces bring this Scorsese classic to life. “Do I amuse you?”
Murph the Surf – Robert Conrad fans anyone?
Desire – When Dietrich meets Cooper, you know you’re watching the golden age of movies
A five pack of forgotten Action Titles – Seen any of them?
Empire State (2013)
Crazy but true story of some not so smart gangsters in Buffalo who pull off a major theft of cash which leads to Dwayne Johnson’s cop putting the pieces together which all lead to Liam Hemsworth pulling an inside job. Watchable flick and not the all out action flick one might assume due to the casting of Johnson. It’s got something going for it in the gangster category but it’s bent towards comical scenes left me wishing it had a Scorsese hand guiding it. Best performance in the film easily goes to Paul Ben-Victor as Hemsworth’s Dad trying to keep his son on the straight and narrow.
Johnny Guitar – Joan Crawford rides the range in cult fashion
The Purple Plain – Gregory Peck plays the hero once again.
Modern Times (1937)
It’s not everyday one gets to see a classic film on the big screen let alone with a full orchestra complimenting it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and turned it into a night for the whole family. Charlie Chaplin delivers the goods and had the audience in stitches. It’s amazing that there’s a full orchestra beneath the screen but you get so caught up in the film, you almost forget they’re there. That’s not a knock against them but a compliment to their work. I would encourage one and all to experience something similar if given the chance to see any silent film on screen accompanied by live musicians. Send yourself back in time for a night out at the movies.
Canadian Bacon – It’s the Maple Leaf conquering the good ole U.S. of A. in comedic fashion
Nightwatch – New to me thriller that I quite enjoyed with a cast to match.
Going In Style (2017)
Are remakes sacrilege? In some cases I suppose so but in the case of remaking a rather forgettable 1979 flick with George Burns, I see no harm in it because in the big picture, this is going to be a rather forgettable picture in the careers of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable and while the theater was by no means full, it was nice to see a movie playing the theater that had nothing to do with super heroes and outrageous CGI effects. The story is built around the Caine character who decides to enlist his pals Freeman and Arkin in the art of robbing banks. Now if they can just keep Matt Dillon off their case as the police detective trying to recover the stolen money. Ann-Margret still looks great and Alan Arkin never had such a beautiful leading lady. Worth a look when it turns up on Netflix.
Impasse – Burt Reynolds minus the mustache circa 1969
A Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis (2011)
I grew up as a child of Sunday afternoon Jerry Lewis comedies on TV and no matter what the critics might have to say, I’m a fan even though I know many of his later efforts are not exactly memorable. As I got older and would see him interviewed and read newspaper articles on him, I’m not even sure I like him. But that shouldn’t interfere with the enjoyment he brought to my early years and it doesn’t. Lewis participated in this feature length doc and there are plenty of on screen interviews with those he influenced paying tribute to the man who once ruled the world with Dean Martin. Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Woody Harrelson and more speak their piece as Lewis is featured in interviews, live performances on stage and plenty of nostalgic footage. When highlights of his films are strung together, you realize just how many wonderful skits and comedic scenes he gifted us with. The only thing missing here are any comments about the holy grail of Lewis films, The Day The Clown Cried.
A trio of Franchot Tone TV appearances
Dogs – David McCallum faces off against our furry friends
The Nevadan – Randolph Scott hits the trail for some western fun
Engrossing tale of the pathologist who pieced together just how much damage the sport of football can do to the human brain. Will Smith delivers the goods as the man who makes the discovery and is immediately public enemy number one to the NFL. A nice cast compliments Will including Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the woman who stands with him and Albert Brooks along with Alec Baldwin as his supporters. David Morse delivers a short but gripping performance as a victim to the game and it’s repercussions. Not really being much of a football fan, I had no axe to grind concerning a man attempting to expose the dangers involved in the continuous head trauma that most every player will experience. It’s an eye opening story that might make any parent think twice about putting their child into most any contact sport.
In closing I did finish off the eight episode series Feud which tells the story of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Wonderfully acted by all with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon leading the way. Give it a go and learn a little about the early years on into the sixties of Hollywood and the people that populated it.