Young Guns II (1990)

This is the fourth film that had made the header for the DailyView and the final one that I had to absolutely make sure I saw. I have not yet seen the original movie of this series (whether it becomes part of the DailyView is uncertain), but I have heard that the second one was the better film.

I love the Blaze of Glory song by Bon Jovi over the credits.

Other than that…. well, this was okay, at best.

William H. Bonney (Emilio Estevez), aka Billy the Kid, came out of the West when his former gang members “Doc” Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) were captured and being prepared to be hanged. Billy staged a rescue operation, reuniting the gang from the first film.

However, not everything went as planned. After the rescue, Billy wanted the group to follow a trail to old Mexico as a way out. Pat Garrett (William Petersen) decided he was out. He wanted to start up his own eatery and so the gang left without him.

Billy went to see John S. Chisum (James Coburn) and claimed Chisum owed him $500. When Chisum refused, Billy and the crew killed two of Chisum’s men. This caused Chisum to hire Garrett as a sheriff and to give him $1000 to kill Billy the Kid.

That’s the basic plot.

Billy’s group went somewhere. Garrett would find them and they would shoot at each other. Some people would die.

Some of the crew were really characters that were pretty unimportant. They had Arkansas Dave (Christian Slater) who seemed to want to be the crazy one. Henry French (Alan Ruck) who wanted a nickname. You have the typical young teen who looked up to the outlaw with Tom (Balthazar Getty). None of these characters meant anything to me, which made them disposable.

Oh, and Viggo Mortensen is here too. He is completely underused as Pat Garrett’s side man.

Some of the gunfights are fun, but these characters seem to be superheroes. They are injured several times and never quite get hurt. Some of them took bullets and apparently kept on going.

Of course, the crazy killer Bill the Kid is the main protagonist. He’s the hero of the film, and they go out of the way to try and give him some positive traits. They also make Garrett the antagonist. Neither feel proper.

There are many better Westerns, including better Westerns featuring some of these very own characters. Young Guns II is as disposable as some of the characters and is most remembered for a great theme song.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)

I picked a movie from the HBO Max lineup today for the DailyView that is leaving the streaming platform this month. It was not on my original list, but I had considered this movie several times last year. It was around on Vudu and other on demand services, but I did not get around to seeing it. This now becomes the next DailyView film, Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

Produced by Barry Jenkins and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always tells a powerful story of a teenage girl Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) who found out that she was unexpectedly pregnant. She and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) went to New York in search of an abortion and, along the way, dealt with the harshness of life and the challenges faced by young people in the world.

Autumn had to go to New York for the procedure because there were troubles at the local clinic. The person at the clinic was specifically trying to influence her into keeping the baby, going as far as lying about how far along Autumn was in her pregnancy (To be fair, they never specifically say this, but it is implied heavily). An unusual home life prevented her in confiding with her parents.

So Autumn and Skylar got some bus tickets and went to NYC.

The two girls were really lucky that anything worse did not happen to them. They had limited money so they were struggling to find places to stay, especially when they had to be sent to a different clinic because she was 18 weeks pregnant instead of 10 weeks as her hometown doctor told her.

Plus, the procedure was going to take two days, so they had to account for a couple of days in New York with few options available.

The powerful performances from both Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder propelled this movie forward. The relationship between these two girls are the center of the film while the honesty of the situation brings the tension and a distinct feeling of uncomfortableness. This was a tough movie to watch because of that level of uncomfortableness, but these two young actresses are stars in the making.

Easily the best scene occurs in the New York clinic where a counselor questions Autumn about the situation using questions that are to be answered “never, rarely, sometimes or always. ” There was so much revealed in that scene without having things laid out in front of the audience.

The movie is slowly paced, but it worked very well with what story they were telling. The realism of the story brought a level of honesty that some audiences may not be ready to handle. Of course, the topic of the film has been desperately controversial since the beginning.

A tough watch. Very powerful.

The Sound of Music (1965)

Here is a perfect example of a film for the DailyView. The Sound of Music is a film that has been considered a classic for decades and is played all the time on television, and yet, despite knowing plenty about it, it is a film that I had never seen. I never believed The Sound of Music would be a movie that appealed to me. I have heard most of the songs, and I liked them to an extent.

I was surprised how charming I found the film.

Failing in her attempt to become a nun, Maria (Julie Andrews) is sent to become a governess for a wealthy family led by the widowed Captain Georg Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Captain Von Trapp had seven rambunctious children who were driving governesses away. Maria arrived and immediately saw the overly disciplined children and brought music back into their lives.

Captain Von Trapp, who was with the Baroness (Eleanor Parker), began to be enthralled with the energy and enthusiasm of Maria, started to fall for the governess.

The film is set opposite the Nazi arrival in Austria and the end of the movie brought this story to the forefront. Some of the confrontation with the Nazis was very tense and worrisome. It did make the film feel like two distinct separate movies.

The music is, of course, one of the key parts of this musical. I knew most of the songs and I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer were great here and they had a lot of chemistry. The dance they performed earlier in the movie was beautiful and truly stunning. I knew that Plummer was in this movie, but I had not completely placed it because his name shocked me when I saw it.

1978’s Peter Parker from TV, Nicholas Hammond, was also here as one of the Von Trapp children, which was another cool bit of trivia that I did not know .

The film was long and started to feel a bit near the end, and I can see people’s complaints about how it is too cheesy, sweet or sentimental. None of that bothered me as I must have been in the right mood for sentimentality this morning. It is a classic for a reason and I am pleased that I finally took the time to watch it.

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

This story has been told multiple times in movies and on the stage, some better than others. This version from 1943 includes the amazing Claude Rains as the titular Phantom. Rains, who was also known as the Invisible Man for the Universal Monsters, had big shoes to fill as well. The previous version of this film had featured the iconic portrayal by Lon Chaney. All of this makes for a solid film to continue the DailyView with this Friday night, beginning week number three.

In some of the other versions of this movie, the Phantom has been sympathetic. However, here, in my humble opinion, Erique Claudin, the pit violinist and wannabe composer who becomes the Phantom after being scarred with acid in his face, has little relatability. When he believed that his concerto was going to be stolen by a sneaky publisher, he flipped out and murdered him. As a response, the publisher’s secretary threw acid in Claudin’s face, scarring him terribly.

The murderous rage was there prior to the acid. He was just a killer. He retreated to the Paris Opera House and began hiding in the catacombs beneath it. He continued his obsession about beautiful opera singer Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster), attempting to get her to sing in the main show. He went about this by murdering people.

I will say that I enjoyed the main parts of this story, but, not being a fan of opera, the music that is throughout the film is too much more me. They certainly use a lot of operatic music in the film.

However, the parts around the opera were really good and filled with tension and anxiety. Claude Rains was excellent during the entire film. Nelson Eddy and Edgar Barrier were good too as Christine’s two suitors. They were both trying to set traps to capture the Phantom.

Rains played the Phantom as a murderous psychotic. The whole chandelier scene was just horrendous when you think what would have happened. He did not think twice about murdering women or anyone that got in the way of his ultimate goal.

This was a decent film, but too much opera for my taste.

Highlander (1986)

There can be only one.

One movie that I watched tonight for the first time, a film that is a member of the EYG Hall of Fame. A film that has become the next film in the DailyView. It is Highlander.

I definitely had an idea in my head what this movie was going to be like and I had some general concepts of what Highlander was. However, I never would have believed that one of the first scenes of the movie would feature Michael “P.S.” Hayes and the Fabulous Freebirds (Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy & Buddy Roberts) moving through a crowd of people to a wrestling ring (to take on Jim Brunzell, Greg Gagne and the Tonga Kid, by the way). Heck, they were even announced as being from Badstreet, USA. It was a total mind blow.

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) is the man known as the Highlander. There could be only one. Connor has lived for centuries because he could not die. He was pursued by a crazed barbarian named Kurgan (Clancy Brown) who was an immortal who wanted the power of the Highlander.

The story is told over different points of the centuries of Connor’s life. We see Connor approached by another immortal named Ramirez (Sean Connery) who helped to train Connor. Ramirez also recommended that Connor leave his wife Heather (Beatie Edney) because of the pain that he would feel seeing her age and die before his eyes.

Another point of the story is the present day tale where Connor had taken the identity of Russell Nash and Kurgan has arrived to due battle with him again. Police forensics agent Brenda J. Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) gets involved in the case because there is a killer chopping off heads.

I will say that most of the film was really good and I enjoyed it. Christopher Lambert was great in all of the different eras where we saw Connor MacLeod. The relationship between Lambert and Sean Connery was the best of the film, despite the little screen time given to it.

I love Clancy Brown, but Kurgan was one of the parts of this that felt too cheesy and over-the-top. He got to a point where he seemed to be channeling the Joker. It did not feel like the correct tone for the film, and it did derail part of Highlander for me. The car chase scene was, in particular, my least favorite part.

However, I think the good parts outweighed the weaker parts and I can understand why this has become a cult classic among the movie community.

The Immigrant (1917)

This may be cheating.

When I decided to start the DailyView before school let out for the summer, I knew there would be a bit of a challenge. In particular, Wednesday nights would be difficult. Wednesdays are new comic book days at the comic book shop that I visit and I like to go there immediately after getting out of school. Then, after that, many nights, I go to play cards with some of my teacher friends. This leaves a scant amount of time to watch a movie and do the write up for EYG.

While going through HBO Max, I discovered the list of Charlie Chaplin movies that were available and how they were all pretty short. This would be the answer to the problem. However, after selecting The Immigrant as this Wednesday’s movie, I realized that the film was only 33 minutes long, being considered a short film.

I wondered if this would invalidate the movie-a-day concept of the DailyView. I went back and looked at what I had written when I posted the details about the DailyView and there was nothing that specified about movie length. The qualifications I placed on myself were:

  • The movie is one that I have not seen all the way through before. I may have seen scenes or parts of the movie, but I have not seen it from beginning to end.
  • It is a movie that has been released prior to 2021

The Immigrant definitely fits each of those qualifications and so I proceeded to watch the silent film featuring the Tramp character that made Chaplin so famous and successful. It also allowed me to add a new decade to the DailyView, with the teens being represented. All of the remaining decades from 1917 to 2019 have been represented. 2020 will join eventually.

This film was written and directed by Charli Chaplin and he puts his skillful display of slapstick and visual humor on display once again. There are some wonderfully choreographed bits as the Tramp is coming to America on a steamship. He gets accused of being a thief along the way and ends up penniless.

He does meet another immigrant (Edna Purviance) who had lost her money. The Tramp snuck her his poker winnings, but gets accused of being a pickpocket. She clears his name with the people on the boat.

She returns in an extended scene in a restaurant where the Tramp, who found some money on the ground and had pocketed it only to have it fall out through a hole in his pocket, eats dinner with her and worries about how to pay the bill. This was only compounded when another customer was assaulted by the staff when he was short on the bill.

Chaplin is a master at this and he can milk humor out of many situations. It is impressive how funny he is without the use of words, using non-verbal clues and facial expressions. The few words on screen help deal with the story, but the Tramp is a fully fleshed out character with such little tools. Chaplin is a ton of fun.

Only two more Wednesdays to go before school is out….

Holes (2003)

This whole DailyView thing has really paid some dividends. The fact is that I would never have watched the movie Holes without this binge, and I absolutely LOVED this film.

Stanley Yelnats (Shia LeBeouf) is the youngest member of a family that has been cursed for years since their distant great grandfather ran afoul with a woman named Madame Zeroni (Eartha Kitt). Bad luck followed them since. It certainly looked as if Stanley was caught in the bad luck as he was falsely arrested for stealing shoes of a major league baseball player that had been donated to a homeless shelter.

Found guilty, Stanley was sent to a camp for wayward boys called Camp Green Lake run by a warden (Sigourney Weaver) who was using the boys to dig holes in the dried up Green Lake. Building character is what they were told, but the camp staff, Mister Sir (Jon Voight) and Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson), are mean-spirited and treat the boys poorly.

The boys form groups with a hierarchy within the camp, with the boys taking nicknames instead of using their birth names. Stanley eventually connected with Zero (Khleo Thomas), a young boy who rarely spoke and was considered dumb by everyone.

However, Zero was recognized as the best hole digger in the camp, and it did not take long for Stanley to realize that they were looking for something. When he offered to help Stanley dig his hole if he would help teach him to read, Stanley agreed. This was not popular among the other campers, who caused trouble for them. This led to Zero running off across the hot, dry ex-lake.

As this story was being told, there was another tale being told from the past. We saw the origin of the infamous outlaw “Kissin’ Kate” Barlow (Patricia Arquette), who spent years stealing treasures and giving a kiss to anyone she killed,

Part of the reason this was such a great movie was seeing how these flashbacks were intertwined with the present day story so seamlessly. The writing was crisp and clever and was brilliantly planned out. This was an adaptation of the novel Holes by Louis Sachar, who also wrote the screenplay. From the outside, Holes looks like the typical Disney family fare, but this is considerably deeper than that, with an exceptional plot and characters that were more than they looked.

It was also a much darker film at times than I expected. In particular, the flashbacks to see Patricia Arquette as a teacher who fell for African-American onion seller Sam (Dulé Hill). Their kiss led to a violent response from the people of the town, including the wealthy Charles “Trout” Walker (Scott Plank), who murdered Sam.

The whole storyline of Sam and Katharine was unexpected to see in a Disney movie. It was a huge surprise.

The boys in the camp were fantastic as well, including the debuting Shia LaBeouf. The relationships between the characters were true and they avoided falling into simple stereotypes.

Holes was a mystery story that was told over generations. It was shocking and surprisingly emotional. There were some wonderfully beautiful shots from director Andrew Davis. I am so glad that I finally watched Holes. It was exceptional.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

I love Alfred Hitchcock and his oeuvre of films. Everything from The Birds to Psycho to Rebecca and North by Northwest. I am still building my knowledge of Hitchcock films and so adding the 1938 film, The Lady Vanishes, to the list is a benefit of the DailyView.

Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) was heading on a train to meet her fiancé when she got bopped on the head trying to return glasses to a middle aged English governess named Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty). Miss Froy helped Iris on the train and aided her as best she could.

However, Miss Froy disappeared and, to Iris’s chagrin, no one on the train can remember ever seeing her. In fact, everyone on the train outright denied that Iris had even talked to the woman or that she even existed.

Iris teamed up with an Englishman named Gilbert (Sir Michael Redgrave), whom she had met the night before and had a negative encounter with. They tried to discover what exactly was going on with the mysterious woman and the train.

This was a fun watch and I enjoyed the unfurling of the mystery. I will admit that the ending felt a little convoluted than I expected it to be, and the first 15-20 minutes was a tad slow. However, once the characters get on the train, then everything picks up.

There was a lot of good humor here too as several of the side characters on the train were silly and ridiculous. The humor helped to ease the tension of the mystery and kept the film progressing well.

While I may not place this movie in the upper echelon of Hitchcock films, The Lady Vanishes provided a great example of the strengths of Alfred Hitchcock as a storyteller and blends the thriller and comedy together expertly.

First Blood (1982)

Sylvester Stallone has two big time iconic roles. One is Rocky Balboa from the Rocky franchise and the other is the original Starhawk from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2….

What? Starhawk is not iconic?

Fine, fine, I was joking. I know the other role is John Rambo. However, I have actually not seen any film in the Rambo series so Starhawk is much more iconic to me.

Now, though, I guess I have to readjust my thought process since I watched First Blood today as part of the DailyView here at EYG, and this movie was so much better than I thought it was.

Vietnam vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) was wandering around the pacific northwest town of Hope, Washington. At first, he was coming to see his friend and fellow unit member who lived in the area only to discover that he had died from cancer a year ago. Rambo was walking into town, hoping to find some food, when the town’s cruel sheriff William Teasel (Brian Dennehy) started harassing him.

Sheriff Teasel tried to escort Rambo out of town, but his insult and disrespect angered Rambo. He turned back toward town which led to him being arrested for vagrancy. When he was taken to the police station, the other officers both verbally and physically abused John, causing him to flashback to his days of torture in ‘Nam.

Rambo used his skills as a former Green Beret to escape the police station and he wound up hiding in the mountains, a location that gave him a distinct tactical advantage.

As events continued to escalate, Rambo’s former commanding officer, Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) came to the town with the hope of deescalating the situation before more people got killed. Trautman warned Teasel to back off because John Rambo was a killing machine and would kill everyone to escape.

There was much more depth to this movie than I expected there to be. I had heard talk that the First Blood movie was more than the later Rambo movies, which just became shoot-’em-up flicks with a near superhuman Rambo. That was not what I saw here. Rambo was a complex character with deep seeded issues stemming from his days in Vietnam and from the response to his return from the war by the people he was fighting for.

Watching Rambo think his way through his problems with the police was fascinating and not what I thought the character would be like. Stallone does a tremendous job of showing John Rambo as a creature of instinct at times, moving and reacting as a trained killer, while also being a man deeply troubled by his past.

I was not sure why Brian Dennehy was such a jerk and I would have liked to see some more of the other police officers pushing back against the abuse of Rambo. There was a little bit of that in the film, but I just found the cops to be terrible people. I would have liked some kind of a back story on why Dennehy reacted to Rambo as he did immediately.

Stallone’s monologue in the third act was quite powerful and, again, was not what I expected. It was a nice surprise.

First Blood was a great movie that grabbed my attention and kept me glued to the screen the entire time. It was not over long and it was easy to root for Rambo despite the fact that he was a multiple killer.

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

About a year ago, I decided that my knowledge of the Western genre was poor and I was interested in increasing the classic Westerns that I had seen. That led me to watch films such as the “Dollars” trilogy, The Searchers, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. That still left a ton of iconic movies on the list to see. Picking the first Western during the DailyView was easy. I saw the remake, but I had never seen the original, The Magnificent Seven from 1960.

The Magnificent Seven is a remake of sorts of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. A small village of farmers go out looking for help against a group of marauding thieves, led by Calvera (Eli Wallach) who demand the villagers hand over their food and goods every season. The villagers find gun-for-hire Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), who wrangles up a crew of six other gunfighters to help defend the village.

Along with Brynner, the Magnificent Seven consisted of Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn and Brad Dexter.

The cast was one of the best ever assembled for a Western and is the strength of the movie. Each character is allowed some time for development, but with as large of a regular cast as this had, screen time was going to always be limited. We got especially strong work from Brynner, McQueen and Bronson.

As with most Westerns, the setting is vitally important and director John Sturges does a wonderful job with the shots of the land. The action sequences are good too, keeping the violence to the appropriate moments and making it impactful when it arrived.

Elmer Bernstein’s music was one of the standout parts of the film. He received an Oscar nomination for the score, losing eventually to Ernest Gold’s Exodus.

The Magnificent Seven is one of the great Westerns of all time and this was a lot of fun to watch. The cast was fantastic and the action was full of Western goodness.

Enchanted (2007)

Wrapping up this Saturday of the DailyView binge, I watched Enchanted, a film that takes the fairy tale world and brings it into the present day. This is a concept that we have seen a lot recently, but this is one that helped to popularize the idea.

Giselle (Amy Adams) is your typical (animated) princess, waiting for the arrival of her one true love and singing her heart out. The song attracts Prince Edward (James Marsden) who saves Giselle from a fall. They immediately decide to be married the next day.

Unfortunately, Edwards’ step-mother and the current queen, Narissa (Susan Sarandon) is not anxious to allow Edwards’ bride to take her place on the throne so she conspires with her henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to send her to a different world.. the real world.

When Giselle arrived in New York City, she was confused by the weird differences around her, but she met Robert (Patrick Dempsey) who gives her a place to stay. Meanwhile, Edward has come to the real world from the animated land of Andalasia in search of his true love.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie. It does a great job of taking the fairy tale tropes and tweaking them slightly so that they fit into the modern world and keeps you on your toes. Giselle is an amalgam of several princesses that we know (Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella) and Amy Adams is excellent at playing off the magical land that she thinks she is now in. Amy Adams is charming and completely engaging here. She has some powerful chemistry with Robert and their differences wind up pulling the pair together all the more.

There are some musical moments in Enchanted too and they are fairly entertaining. I do like how the crowds of NYC seem to just be able to join in with Giselle during the musical interludes. It plays as if there is just something magical about Giselle that makes you want to sing.

While the third act is a bit predictable, I do like the role reversal that happens there.

James Marsden does a very good job as Prince Edward, the goofy, always smiling heroic prince that is ready to sing at any moment. Marsden fully engages in the role and you can tell how much fun he is having being so cheesy.

Enchanted is a wonderful family film that has all of the best parts of the fairy tale genre and a star making performance for Amy Adams.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

One of the first movies that made my list when I decided to do the DailyView this summer was Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. I have never been much of a fan of war movies so this one was a movie that I never found too appealing. Of course, I knew that it was basically loved by most and that it was a iconic hit and that it was a hole in my movie viewing. I closed that hole today.

Saving Private Ryan is an incredible film, with perhaps some of the most realistic war imagery that you could possibly imagine, tense anxiety with every scenes (even the quiet ones) and powerful performances from an ensemble cast filled with amazing actors.

And yet, this is a movie that I will, most likely, never watch again.

After the death of three brothers, the army assigned Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) to assemble a group to go through the battlefields of Europe in order to retrieve Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) so he could be returned to his grieving mother.

The first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan is one of the most disturbing and unsettling war scenes I have ever seen. I remember the shock I felt during Hacksaw Ridge, but this blew it away. The realism was drastic and the blood, guts and carnage shook me desperately. This was painful for me to watch despite the fact that I have absolutely no basis for connection. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for real combat veterans watching this scene.

There are some great performances in this movie. Tom Hanks is always amazing, and he does not let us down here. Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore and Adam Goldberg were each on their game. I did not expect to see LOST’s Faraday, Jeremy Davies, be in the movie in such a significant role, but he was excellent here. Of course, every time I saw him, I thought about Faraday, but that is my own fault.

There were also a bunch of surprising cameos throughout the movie. Vin Diesel, Nathan Fillion, Paul Giamatti, Leland Orser, Bryan Cranston, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, and Max Martini all made appearances in Saving Private Ryan, some more significant than others. I have heard people say that this was Vin Diesel’s best performance ever despite it being only a few scenes.

The film is both beautifully and tragically shot. The CGI/special effects were astounding and brutal, painting the picture of hopelessness amidst the mission of mercy thrust upon Captain Miller and his team. The way the men responded made perfect sense as the mission itself felt very un-Army like.

There have been many movies over the years that I thought were great, but that I never want to watch again: Schindler’s List, 12 Years a Slave, Room, the aforementioned Hacksaw Ridge to name a few. Saving Private Ryan will now go on that list too.

American Splendor (2003)

On this week’s Top 10 Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost, they did a top ten list of Paul Giamatti movies and American Splendor was near the top of both of their lists. I had never heard of it before, but it was telling the story of a part time underground comic book writer named Harvey Pekar. Sounding like a film that interested me, I added it to the list for the DailyView: EYG 2021 Spring/Summer Unseen Classics Binge.

The film was unlike anything I had seen before. It combined both Paul Giamatti and other actors in the cast with the real life people they were portraying. The real Harvey Pekar was doing narration/voice over for the film and it was being told using graphics and style from comic books. Everything really blended together well to advance the narrative of Pekar’s colorful and unconventional life.

Pekar was a medical file clerk at a VA hospital. He was certainly an oddball character. When he met comic icon R. Crumb (James Urbaniak), Pekar decided that his own life could be an underground comic. He showed some of his story ideas to Crumb who wanted to illustrate them. The comic American Splendor was born. It told the story of Pekar’s life without the rosy colored glasses. It was a true look at the unsympathetic nature of life.

The film also illustrated the condensed courtship of Pekar’s soon to be wife Joyce (Hope Davis). Joyce and Harvey were married within a week of their first date and they really seemed to be each other’s soulmate, but not in the sloppy sentimental manner as many films show. Their relationship is one of the strongest aspects of the second half of the movie.

Paul Giamatti brought the perfect amount of remorse and melancholy to the role, which could not have been easy with the real Harvey Pekar right there the whole time. Giamatti gave one of his best performances here, layering the negativity with real moments, albeit fleeting, of joy. There is a realness to American Splendor that plays opposite the fantastical aspects of the comic book style.

The scenes of Pekar appearing on the David Letterman show were quite funny and revealed even more about Pekar and his desire not to be taken advantage of. Real footage from Pekar on the Letterman show was used and mixed brilliantly with the story they were telling.

American Splendor was a fantastically creative and clever biopic that was fully engaging and entertaining to watch.

Juno (2007)

The DailyView continued today as I watched the coming of age comedy Juno, directed by Jason Reitman. This was another film that had some positive word of mouth from everywhere that I had heard, but it just did not feel like it was my kind of movie. So I avoided watching it until today.

Boy, this was my kind of movie.

Sixteen year old Juno (Elliot Page) found herself with an unwanted pregnancy after having sex with her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Choosing not to abort the baby, but realizing that she was too young to be a mother, Juno looked for a happy couple hoping to adopt. Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) seemed to fit the bill. Juno agreed to give Mark and Vanessa the baby after the baby was born.

When we first meet Mark and Vanessa, there is a vibe going on about Vanessa that makes you think that she was controlling and had some personal issues. Juno, however, was connecting to Mark.

I loved this movie. What I loved most about this is how intelligent and witty these characters were. I found them all so well written with the dialogue sparkling and sharp. The character of Juno was one of the most original character I have seen in a long time. She approached life in such a wonderfully humorous manner.

I was also impressed with how effectively the film avoided the clichés found in this type of movie. Every time I thought that some cliched was about to happen, it took a different turn into a path I was not expecting.

J.K. Simmons was outstanding as Juno’s father Mac. The lines of dialogue were gold delivered by Simmons. He had a great chemistry with Page and I loved their father-daughter relationship. Juno’s step mother Bren (Allison Janney) was another awesome character.

Elliot “Ellen” Page was the heart of this movie. She delivered every moment she had a chance and was simply wonderful. She worked with every character in the movie and that is one of the big reasons this film is as quirky and funny as it is.

Smart, funny, a fantastic script, great performances and plot points that you do not expect make Juno a fabulous movie.

Bowfinger (1999)

I have discovered in the infancy of the DailyView that I am not anxious to watch movies over 2 hours on nights after working at school all day. That meant that I went searching for a shorter film this Thursday night. I found it on HBO Max, It was a classic from the 1990s starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, Bowfinger.

I had not seen this before despite always liking Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy and hearing positive comments about it.

Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is a producer for his own film company that has yet to produce a movie of any kind. In desperation, Bowfinger tries to con his way into funding his new script. Bowfinger approaches the huge movie star Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) to star in the flick. When he gets shot down, he decides to push on with the film, filming Kit in public without telling him he was in the film.

It was a really clever script with a ton of humor. It was really funny. The film goes on a wild, over-the-top plot that works so well. You ignore the bizarre nature that the film runs on and just enjoy the spectacle that is going on. Bowfinger is not a good person, but his dedication and perseverance are admirable.

There is a great cast here beside Martin and Murphy. Murphy does one of his double duty performances playing Kit’s brother Jiff. There is Christine Baranski is a washed up actress named Carol. Heather Graham is Daisy, the young actress just off the bus from Ohio. Jamie Kennedy is Dave, Bowfinger’s assistant. Robert Downey Jr. had a cameo role here too.

Eddie Murphy was just hilarious as the paranoid Kit Ramsey. Watching him slipping into panic every time that the film crew approached him because he believed that there were really aliens coming for him was utterly fantastic. When he accepts the character name of Keith, I nearly busted a gut.

The film clearly is a satire on Hollywood and the way films are made. The superficial nature, the selfishness, the behind the scenes drama. So even though it feels preposterous, it also feels accurate.

Bowfinger was a lot of fun and I laughed throughout. Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy were amazing here and carried much of the film.