The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot

This weekend was the 25th anniversary release of The Sandlot, one of the great baseball films made during the 1990s.  Much like Stand By Me, the Sandlot has a group of young boys whose bond s strengthened by a common mission.  In the Sandlot, that mission is baseball.

The coming of age story can be over-the-top and fantastical at times, but the heart is clearly there and the feelings of nostalgia is obvious.

Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) moves into a new neighborhood which is tough as the young boy does not make friends easily.  He spends most of his time inside playing with his constructor kit.  His mom (Karen Allen) tries to get him to go outside and meet friends.  He wants to join a group of boys who play baseball, but there is a problem.  Smalls has no idea how to play.

With the help of the best player among the kids, Benny (Mike Vitar), the others eventually accept Smalls and he blends in with the group.  But when a baseball is hit from the sandlot, over the fence into the next door junkyard, the legend of The Beast is revealed.

The Sandlot is a lot of fun.  The kids do a great job with what they have to do.  Admittedly, there is not any real heavy lifting to do acting wise with the exception of Tom Guiry and Mike Vitar, but the other boys are engaging and funny.

There are some good laughs in the movie too.  The scene at the pool in particular with Wendy Peffercorn (Marley Shelton) as the object of Squints’ (Chauncey Leopardi) affection is wonderful.  As are the myriad of attempts to retrieve the Babe Ruth baseball from the clutches of The Beast.

It may not be the most perfect film ever made, but there is no denying that there is a lot of fun to be had while watching this movie.

“You’re killing me, Smalls!”

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The Sandlot

The Stranger (1946)

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Orson Welles directed this film coming on the heels of the end of World War II that deals with the escape and pursuit of Nazi war criminals.

This film noir style movie is taut and exciting and full of strong work from Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young and Welles.

Robinson played Mr. Wilson, an investigator from the United Nations War Crimes Commission who was in search of Nazi war criminal, Franz Kindler (Orson Welles).  Kindler had escaped and had established a new identity for himself in the United States.

The only hope Wilson had was to release Kindler’s associate Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) in the hopes that he might lead the way to Kindler.  Meinike does, but Wilson loses him.

Kindler’s new identity is that of Charles Rankin, a prep school teacher who has an obsession with maintaining and repairing clocks.  Rankin was preparing to marry Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young).  Meinike stopped by their home prior to the wedding.

Meinike wanted Rankin to confess and turn himself in, but instead, Rankin strangled him and buried the body.

Things began to unravel for Rankin and he started plotting to murder Mary.

The conclusion to the film was exciting and well done as the final confrontation involved the bell tower that Rankin had been helping restore.

The film contains the first documentary footage of the Holocaust.

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Big (1988)

The first Academy Award nominated performance of Tom Hanks was in Penny Marshall’s Big.  Big was also the first ever movie with a female director to gross a domestic total of over a $100 million domestic at the box office.

This is the 30th anniversary of the release of Big and Fathom Events was celebrating today with a special presentation of Big.

Tom Hanks does a fantastic job of playing the innocence and the wide-eyed wonder of a thirteen year old boy in the body of a thirty year old man.  You completely believe that Hanks is this young boy and not just an actor pretending.

Of course, the most charming scene in the film is also the most iconic scene as Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia perform a duet on a 16 foot walk on piano of both Chopsticks and Heart & Soul.  It is such a great moment.

However, poor Elizabeth Perkins whose character basically has to fall in love with and sleep with the man-sized 13-year old kid.  You cannot deny the fact that it is a little creepy these days.  Yes she did not know about the magic of Zoltar, but it still had the perception to me not of a sweet love story, but one that may be questionable.

The film is great mainly because of Tom Hanks’ performance.  The weird relationship, the connection to the best friend, the success at work all works because of Hanks.  Big is a wonderfully fun movie that you just accept.

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West Side Story (1961)

I like musicals.  I did not know much about West Side Story outside of the typical.  Street gangs singing and fighting with each other.

So when Fathom Events showed West Side Story, the winner of 10 Academy Awards that year, I wanted to see it.

I have to say… I was disappointed.

First, the pre-show told me that Tony was played by the same guy who played Ben Horne and Russ Tamblyn, who was Riff, played Dr. Jacoby, both in Twin Peaks.  I spent much of the movie trying to see Jacoby and Ben in the face and movements of Tony and Riff.  It was a bit of a distraction.

Secondly, I kept waiting for songs that I recognized and I was surprised that I did not know very many.

While I thought the acting was wonderful and the dancing was amazing, I had some definite problems with the movie.

I did not buy the relationship between Tony and Maria (Natalie Wood).  They met one day at a dance and then were in complete love five minutes later.  Then, Tony kills her brother in the rumble after telling her that he was going to stop it from happening.  He came back to her after, she called him a murderer, and then they had sex.  What?  She was ready to kill herself at the end of the movie over his death when she met him one day before.  Since I had trouble buying their relationship, that makes everything else in the film not work.

Rita Moreno was tremendous, but I was unbelievably uncomfortable with the dance scene that was heading towards the Jets preparing to rape her in Doc’s shop.  In today’s world with the issues of immigration, the way they spoke to her during this scene made me hate these characters.

Some of the dance/music felt like the wrong tone for what was happening on the screen.

I was really bored in the first half of the film.  I will say that, after the intermission, I enjoyed the second half better.  The rumble scene was very solid.

The music and choreography was great but I keep going back to my problem with Tony and Maria and I just could not get past it.  After one day I just can’t believe that they would be that much in love to survive Tony killing her brother.

I am glad I saw it, but, for me, West Side Story is…

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Arachnophobia (1990)

Recently, there has been news of a potential remake of the 1990’s film directed by Frank Marshall and produced by Steven Spielberg called Arachnophobia.  The rumors have James Wan connected to the possible remake.  It had been literally years since I saw Arachnophobia and with it being in the news, I figured today was as good of a time as any to revisit the movie.

I have never been a huge fan of spiders, but I would not say that I am afraid of them.  I can remember a time when I turned on the faucet at the sink and a couple of harmless but ugly spiders came leaping from the drain.  I was fairly frightened by that.

Arachnophobia has different tones that it goes back and forth with throughout the run time.  It is a horror/comedy.  There are definitely frightening moments of suspense as you see the killer spiders crawling around or jumping out at people.  It is balanced with the comedy that includes the over-the-top John Goodman as exterminator Delbert McClintock.

I remembered almost nothing about this movie so watching it today was almost like watching it for the first time.  I would have watched this sometime after it came out on a VHS tape, and I am sure I only ever saw it once.  I found the movie very tense and exciting, finding ways to scare me from those creepy spiders that seemingly can be everywhere at any time.

Jeff Daniels stars as a former big city doctor who is taking over a small country doctor’s practice when people begin dropping dead.  He discovered that the deaths have one thing in common:  spider bites.

However, the chance of one spider bite being toxic enough to kill these humans was not something you would expect from a spider from California.  Little did he know that an expedition brought an unexpected guest back from the jungles of Venezuela: a formerly unknown species of deadly venomous spiders.  The arachnid hitchhiker mated with a local spider, creating a deadly version that had set off across the town to kill anyone they come in contact with.

The cast is great.  John Goodman steals the show as his offbeat exterminator.  Jeff Daniels is believable as the doctor who struggles with his own arachnophobia.  Julian Sands is the snotty professor who lead the expedition to find these creatures.  Most of the small town population were well cast, if not that important.

Arachnophobia was a good time that definitely has a lot of tension and freak out moments.  This version of the film holds up very well, but it is interesting to think about what James Wan (The Conjuring, Aquaman) might do with the premise.

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The Incredibles (2004)

With Father’s Day this weekend and the release of the long awaited sequel Incredibles 2, I thought this was the perfect chance to revisit the first Incredibles, one of Pixar’s finest animated movies.

Why Father’s Day?  Well, the Incredibles, above all else, is a story about family.  The story focuses on Mr. Incredible and his difficulties on putting his past life as a super hero behind him and how those issues put his family at risk.

Of course, Mr. Incredible is married to Elastigirl and they have three children.  Dash and Violet have both developed their super powers at this point, Dash with super speed and Violet with force fields.  The baby, Jack-Jack, is the only non-super in their family.

The story of the Incredibles is near perfection.  It is one of the best super hero stories ever told on the big screen.  Everything works so well together.  The animation, for its time, was wonderful.  The voice cast featuring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson was top notch.

The Incredibles had a definite feel of not only a super hero adventure, but a spy thriller.  Brad Bird directed this film and wound up getting Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol afterwards and he knocked it out of the park.  Much of the experience he received on The Incredibles helped him with the Tom Cruise vehicle.

The Incredibles have one of the best villains in any super hero movie.  Syndrome has a personal tie to the heroes, and you can understand his motives.  Honestly, Syndrome is like the current Pop/Geek Culture where fandom decided that their favorite thing is not as they want it so they will turn on it and try to destroy it. Star Wars is going through these issues right now after Solo and The Last Jedi.  Toxic Fandom is perfectly shown in Syndrome and it shows how far ahead of the time Brad Bird and the Incredibles actually were.

There is fantastic action.  Amazing characters with awesome characterization.  14 years before a sequel was made is a crime.  This is one of Pixar’s best films and as entertaining as you are going to find.

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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

In 2017, FX had a television series from the mind of Ryan Murphy called Feud:  Bette and Joan.  It starred Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and the irreplaceable Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford.  It was an amazing series that focused on the real-life hatred between the two classic Hollywood divas, each struggling to stay relevant as they grew older.

The beginning of the television show highlighted the time the two actresses spent on the production of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, and it showed how that movie and its eventual raging success made it even worse between Crawford and Davis.

These two virtuoso performances made me interested in the movie that the series spotlighted, but I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it since.  However, this morning, I found it on YouTube and sat down to see if the film was worthy of everything that had been said of it.

Short answer:  Yes, it is.

I loved What Ever Happened to Baby Jane.  There was so much tension and nervousness about what had happened as you see Jane Hudson continuing to slip further into her own madness and you cringe with each horrible thing that she does to her crippled sister Blanche.

Jane was a child star, favored by her father, and Jane showed a seriously bratty side, demanding and misbehaving.  However, the years were not kind to Jane as her lack of real talent came through while Blanche became a sought after Hollywood star.  Jane became jealous of her sister’s success and longed for the days of Baby Jane and her, now deceased, father’s love and attention.

An unfortunate automobile accident led to Blanche being permanently crippled and being left to be taken care of by Jane.  Jane tormented her sister as she slipped into a delusional state.

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were astounding here.  Crawford creates such empathy for Blanche with her desperate hope that her sister had not gone completely off the rails.  You can see the guilt of the situation eating away at Blanche as she tries without success to find someone to help her.

Davis is a marvel as the crazed child star.  Her appearance showed the commitment that Davis gave to the role, with white cake makeup altering her movie star image.

The film is a dark comedic/horror film and the tone fits it perfectly.  The beautiful black and white adds to the mood created by the amazing performances.  Plus, there is the creepy “Baby Jane Dolls” which may be one of the first instances of dolls being involved in a horror film.

I was really engaged in the movie, leaning ahead in my seat and imploring Blanche to yell for help to the neighbor (the wondrous Anna Lee, who spent years on General Hospital as Lila Quartermaine) or to chastise maid Elvira (Maidie Norman) to not put down that hammer as she was attempting to save Blanche.  I had connected to Blanche and I wanted her to escape from the clutches of her evil sister.

Then the ending threw everything into a jumble as there was a twist that I had not expected, which made you reconsider everything that you had seen up until that point.  It was truly well done.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is truly a wonderful movie with great performances across the board.  I did not even mention Academy Award nominated Victor Buono (later to be King Tut on the Batman TV series) as Edwin Flagg, a piano player that Jane hoped would help her make it back to show biz.

This is an amazing movie and I enjoyed every minute.

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Bull Durham (1988)

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There have been some great movies about baseball, and Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, is one of them.

Kevin Costner is “Crash” Davis, a long time minor league catcher brought into the Durham Bulls to mentor a young pitching prospect, Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins).  Susan Sarandon plays Annie Savoy, a metaphysical baseball fan who picks out one player each season to have an affair with so she could pass along her odd theories on the game such as breathing through the eyes.

Annie chooses Nuke to be her lover, but she realizes that she is actually attracted to Crash.

Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon have chemistry off the charts and their dialogue is some of the best written in any sports movie.  Sarandon and Robbins actually met during the filming of this movie and they wound up getting married.

Baseball is a character in this movie as well as there are some great scenes involving the sport and how the players should play the game properly.  Annie makes a connection between baseball and sex and the film seems to embrace that idea.

There is a real love of the game in Bull Durham and writer/director Ron Shelton had had a career in minor league baseball at one point.  There was so much humor and reverence about the game, it was clear that baseball was an important part of his life.

Bull Durham is a great film featuring three wonderful performances from the three lead actors.  It has held up over the years and should be priority viewing for any player who loves the game of baseball.

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Rope (1948)

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I have made it a mission to see more Hitchcock films than I have before.  I started recently with Lifeboat, and today I watched a 1948 film called Rope, starring James Stewart.  According to EYG Hall of Famer Roger Ebert’s review, Hitchcock called Rope “an experiment that didn’t work,” but I would have to disagree with the master.  I found Rope thrilling and completely engaging.

Based on a play inspired by the Leopold-Loeb murder case, Rope began with the strangulation murder of a college student David (Dick Hogan) by two of his classmates, Phillip (Farley Granger) and Brandon (John Dall), who considered themselves “superior” to most people, giving them a right to commit murder.

After the crime is committed, Brandon and Phillip hid the body inside a wooden box in their apartment and prepare for a party they were having, a party with guests including David’s father (Cedric Hardwicke), his girlfriend (Joan Chandler) and their college professor Rupert Cadell (James Stewart).

Brandon and Phillip take different paths.  Brandon becoming cocky and confident and Phillip slowly unwinding because of the combination of guilt and alcohol.  All the while, Rupert was beginning to suspect.

I loved this film.  It was short, but concise and filled with tension.   The fact that the body was right there in the room as the conversations were going on continued to hype the tension of each scene, especially as Phillip continually slipped downhill.

The film depended on the dialogue very much and it was tremendously written.  The dialogue truly informed on the characters as we saw Brandon becoming more brazen and Rupert becoming more curious.  Brandon even laid out his motive during a dinner discussion about how the superior people can do what they want to the intellectually inferior people, an idea they mistakenly picked up from Rupert.

This also felt very much like a staged theater play, and the few cuts that were used by Hitchcock truly increased that feel.  Hitchcock would film continuously until the reel (which would be about 10 minutes) ran out.  He would then use a camera trick to make it seem as if they were filming with one continuous take.  The filming technique was very effective and creates a tone of the production much like that of a stage play.

Hitchcock may not have been a fan of this film, but I certainly enjoyed it.  This was again mentioned by John Rocha, this time on a Collider Mailbag show.  Rocha was also the reason why I tried out Lifeboat when he mentioned it on the Top 10 Show.

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The Producers (1968)

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Just returned from a screening by Fathom Events of Mel Brooks’ classic comedy The Producers.  The Producers was a film I had never seen before despite the fact that I love Gene Wilder, one of the stars of the film.

Of course, The Producers had become a huge hit on Broadway a few years ago with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane assuming the roles made famous by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

Zero Mostel played theatrical producer Max Bialystock who was struggling to find the success that he once had.  He had succumb to romancing older women in hopes of finding “financing” for his plays.  When Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) came to look at his books, an inadvertent comment from the accountant gave Max an idea.  Find the worst play ever, find huge backing from his cadre of older women, have the play fail and close on opening night and collect the remainder of the money for himself.  After some doing, Max convinced Leo to join him in his fraudulent activity.

And they found the perfect play, something no one could possible enjoy… “Springtime for Hitler” written by a former Nazi soldier (Kenneth Mars) as a love letter to Hitler.  There was no way their plot could fail.

But strange things happen on Broadway.

The film is hilarious.  Everything in the play within a play of Springtime for Hitler is laugh out loud funny.  I loved the song “Springtime for Hitler” which I had known as a child from hearing it on the EYG Hall of Famer Dr. Demento show.  The tune can’t help but get into your head and the lyrics are downright funny.

The first film directed by Mel Brooks, The Producers led the way to a series of remarkably funny satires and parodies from Brooks.

I could also see how controversial this could have been when released in 1968.  Stories go that it took an intervention from Peter Sellers to get the studio to agree to release the film.  It is also said that Brooks received many letters from Rabbis complaining about the use of the Nazi symbolism in The Producers.  Brooks said that he responded to each letter he received.

The film does get a little too frantic at times, but the satire shone through everything else.  Gene Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his role, though he did not win.  The film did receive an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The Producers is a lot of fun and extremely witty and funny.  Filled with biting satire, Mel Brooks was able to go after Hitler with humor and got people laughing at him.

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Back to the Future (1985)

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The tenth and final movie among the Memorial Day Movie Binge Watch Weekend is one of the great films of the 1980s, and a member of the EYG Hall of Fame.  It is the Robert Zemeckis classic Back to the Future.

“Roads?  Where we’re going we don’t need…roads.”

Back to the Future is a near perfect film that is full of fun, adventure and comedy.  The cast is wonderful, including Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as the EYG Hall of Fame character Doc Brown.

Doc Brown creates a time machine out of a DeLorean and, through a series of events involving Libyan terrorists, Marty ends up in 1955, thirty years ago.  He immediately interacts with his mother and accidentally prevents his mother and father from getting together.

Going for help from the younger Doc Brown, Marty has to set things right by getting his parents back together while Doc has to go about solving the problem of getting Marty back to the future.

There is so much right with this movie that it is a wealth of positives.  The cast is great, including Lea Thompson as Marty’s mother Lorraine, Crispin Glover as Marty’s father George, and the key villain Biff Tannen, played by Thomas F. Wilson.

The story is clever and funny, complete with surprises and unexpected twists.  There is emotional beats with Doc and Marty as well as a suspenseful conclusion that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Who knew that Chuck Berry has Marty McFly to thank for his own Hall of Fame career?

SPOILERS (for a 33 year old movie)

There is only one plot point left dangling that I have always wondered about.  When Marty gets back to the future, he returned ten minutes earlier to prevent Doc from being shot by the Libyans.  Arriving too late, he witnesses Doc being shot and himself, the Marty of this time, jump in the DeLorean and go back in time.  However, we know that this time line is not the same as the one that Marty had left from initially.  His father was successful, Biff was not his father’s supervisor, his mother was thin, his siblings were successful.  The Marty that went back in time here was the Marty who grew up in this environment.  So what happened to that Marty?  That is the one thing that Back to the Future has never sufficiently explained.

Besides that dangling plot thread, Back to the Future is a fabulous film that spawned two above average sequels, though neither reached the level of brilliance of the first one.  Michael J. Fox, who was not the first actor cast for the role (Eric Stoltz was cast, but Fox became available and was the director’s first choice so they replaced him), became iconic as the time traveling teen.

Funny, exciting, dramatic, suspenseful, well-written, Back to the Future has it all.

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This is Spinal Tap (1984)

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The next film on the Memorial Day Movie Binge Watch Weekend is one of the greatest films of all time and certainly the greatest mockumentary ever produced.  It is a movie about a fictional band that turned out to release a couple of actual albums: director Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap.

I first saw this film my freshmen year at the University of Iowa at a showing at the Iowa Memorial Union.  My roommate took me to the showing and we absolutely loved it.  I did not know until later that this film had been out for three years already and the showing at the Union was a re-showing.  I became obsessed with Spinal Tap, purchasing the soundtrack and playing it consistently.

Spinal Tap, made up of David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), is shown by documentarian Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) as they return for an American tour trying to support a new album despite a declining fan base.

Like most of Christopher Guest’s movies, this is mostly improvisation showing how amazing these performers are.  The film is remarkably funny and the banter and dialogue of the band is a huge part of that.  It is clear that these men have worked together for years

There are many situations portrayed in This is Spinal Tap that may seem ridiculous, but have really happened to other rock stars.  There have been many rock stars who say the scene where Spinal Tap gets lost backstage has happened to them as well.

The whole arrival of Jeannie (June Chadwick) is meant as a parody of Yoko Ono and her affect on the Beatles.  The album cover controversy which many heavy metal bands faced.

This is Spinal Tap is one of the most quotable films of all time.  Lines such as “This one goes to 11,” or “You know, several, you know, dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It’s just not really widely reported,” or “You can’t really dust for vomit.”

It is one of the greats and I loved getting a chance to watch it, sing along with it, and laugh at the absurdity once again.  It is a satire done with love.

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Insomnia (2002)

Happy Memorial Day everyone.  The Memorial Day Movie Binge Watch Weekend continued this morning with a film starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams called Insomnia.

Alaska can be problematic.  Days of light without a sign of darkness can really mess with your psyche.  There is a scene here where Pacino’s character wants to go to the school and interview a suspect, but the other local police officers told him that it was 10 PM despite the bright sunshine outside.

However, there was not only the endless days that wound up messing with Will Dormer (Al Pacino).  His recent actions had caused him to suffer through a bout of insomnia.

Dormer had come to Alaska to aid in an investigation of a murdered teenage girl, beaten to death.  He bought his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) with him, a partner who was preparing to give information about Dormer to Internal Services.

During the investigation in pursuit of a suspect, accidentally shoots and kills Hap.  Dormer decides to keep the truth of the shooting to himself.

Robin Williams plays the killer.  This was one of the early examples of Williams going for different type of characters that he was not normally recognized for.  This came out about the same time as One Hour Photo, and Williams was amazing at how warped he could be.  You never once wonder why he is playing these parts.  He fits perfectly.

Al Pacino is great here too as he plays a detective struggling with his conscience over his deeds and a man whose mental capacities are being affected from a lack of sleep.  There are also strong performances from Hillary Swank as an Alaskan detective who is a fan of Dormer and Maura Tierney as the owner of the hotel Dormer is staying at.

Then, former General Hospital star Jonathan Jackson was here as the creepy boyfriend of the murdered girl.  Jackson does his normal great job.

This psychological thriller dives into the mental problems of guilt and the physical stress of sleep deprivation.  Great performances from Pacino and Williams really carry the film and you are never sure exactly what they may do.

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Dogma (1999)

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The final film for today in the Memorial Day Movie Binge Watch is my favorite of director Kevin Smith’s filmography, Dogma.

There was a lot of protesting against this film because of its special take on religion, but I think that is just silly.  There is nothing here that should cause anyone to question their faith or that could be considered blasphemous.  In fact, the film is steeped in religion and religious lore that should be appreciated for what it is.

Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) are angels that have been permanently banned from Heaven. However, a church in New Jersey has started a “rebranding” of sorts and they have offered the chance for any sinner to pass through the archways of their church and be forgiven… to have a clean slate.  This would allow Bartleby and Loki the chance to re-enter Heaven and prove God wrong and thus undo all of existence.

Kevin Smith grew up Catholic so he was able to weave plenty of Catholic dogma into the film that included some things that perhaps few people have heard of.  For example, Metatron (Alan Rickman) as the Voice of God, an archangel that is really a thing.

There is way more depth than some of Smith’s work and, although there is still the foul mouthed Jay and the super quiet Silent Bob, most of these characters are understandable and still relatable.  Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) has a remarkable arc for her character, going from an abortion clinic worker to someone recruited by God to save the day.

In fact, one of my favorite scenes was on the train when Bethany and Bartleby were drinking together and sharing experiences about how they lost faith in God.  It was such a real conversation that you forget that one of them is an angel and the other one is meant to kill the angel.  Both Fiorentino and Affleck do some of their best work in this scene.

It is amazing to see Alan Rickman again.  He is truly missed.  Every scene that he is in is raised to a new level.  You can see the others in the scene working on raising their game as well.  It is just something that an actor of Rickman’s quality does.

The story is wonderfully laid out as the characters work their way to this church in New Jersey.  We meet other religious figures such as The Muse Serendipity (Selma Hayek), the 13th Apostle Rufus (Chris Rock), and the demon Azrael (Jason Lee).  George Carlin has a small, but pivotal role of Cardinal Glick who introduces the world to the Buddy Christ, one of the best jokes in the whole film.

Those of you who object to this film on religious reasons should listen to the quote from Alan Rickman about God, “I told you she was funny.”  There is no way that God is not laughing at all of this.

There are great relationships throughout, including Bethany and Rufus, Bethany and Metatron, Loki and Bartleby, Rufus and Serendipity, Jay and Silent Bob and each one brings something special to the film.

There is so much greatness in Dogma. Dogma is filled with pop culture references that really entertain.   It is a fantastic ride from start to finish, without any letdown at all.

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Taxi Driver (1976)

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One of the benefits of having these Memorial Day Movie Binge Watch Weekends is that it gives me a chance to fill those holes that might exist within my movie viewing.  One of those holes for me is the Martin Scorsese’s classic, Taxi Driver.

I had never seem Taxi Driver, but, of course, I am familiar with the iconic moments (“You lookin’ at me?”).  However, I was unaware of exactly what the story would be or even the general style and tone of the film.

Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) is a former Marine suffering from insomnia gets a job as a New York taxi driver where he realizes how much the scum and lowlifes have corrupted the city and, with his mental imbalance, starts plotting on ways to get involved.

Robert DeNiro is brilliant as the mentally unstable vet who seems to have a streak of decency inside him.  I was surprised that Cybill Shepherd was in the film as a beautiful blonde who works for a presidential candidate.  She was one of my favorites from Moonlighting, a TV show from the 1980s.

Taxi Driver explores what causes someone to snap.  Bickle was clearly already not right, but the weight of the world around him slowly sent him to the side of violence despite wanting to be good.

A great movie with a terrific performance.  I am glad I finally got the opportunity to see it.

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