Archive for 1989

Do The Right Thing

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on May 8, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Spike Lee.
Screenplay: Spike Lee.
Starring: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Giancarlo Esposito, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez, Richard Edson, Bill Nunn, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Benjamin, Frankie Faison, Robin Harris, John Savage, Joie Lee, Miguel Sandoval, Rick Aiello, Roger Guenveur Smith, Frank Vincent, Martin Lawrence.

Today’s temperature’s gonna rise up over 100 degrees, so there’s a Jheri curl alert! That’s right, Jheri curl alert. If you have a Jheri curl, stay in the house or you’ll end up with a permanent black helmet on your head fuh-eva

Remember the days when Spike Lee’s “joints” has a real edge and potency to them? Nowadays, he’s rolling out more generic, Hollywood tripe like “Oldboy” but there was a time when he was a highly original and passionately political filmmaker as he regularly touched upon important social issues and conflicts. However, few of his joints have been as packed or as provocative as “Do The Right Thing“.

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Dead Poets Society * * * *

Posted in Drama with tags on June 12, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Peter Weir.
Screenplay: Tom Schulman.
Starring: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Dylan Kussman, Allelon Ruggiero, James Waterston, Norman Lloyd, Kurtwood Smith, Melora Walters, Lara Flynn Boyle.

Robin Williams was predominantly known for his hilarity and exuberant sense of fun before he finally started to show that he had acting chops. In 1987, he received an Oscar nomination for “Good Morning Vietnam” and then, two years later, followed that up with another Best Actor nomination for “Dead Poets Society“. To this day, this still stands as one of his most appealing characters and performances.

Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) is sent to a school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. It’s here that he meets room-mate, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) and many other bright young men, who have lots of potential but lack any real direction. That is, until they meet their new English teacher Professor John Keating (Robin Williams). He’s one of the few who sees the potential in them and encourages them to embrace life.

Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.” These are the words that encapsulate this inspirational story about having a passion for – and “sucking the marrow out of…” – life. Professor Keating teaches in a very different and personal manner, quoting from such poets as Walt Whitman, Byron, Henry Thoreau and Robert Frost. He has a passion for what he teaches and shows a determination to instil that in his pupils. This passion also exudes onto the audience as we too, explore and enjoy the great writer’s and poet’s of our past and how rich and effective their words can be.
Director Peter Weir draws on his own experiences of a boarding school education and Tom Schulman’s script (partly based on his experiences at an all-boys preparatory school he attended and his professor there, Samuel F. Pickering Jr.) exposes the rigidity within the walls of such an environment. It’s to their credit, though, that they manage to bring a sense of hope to education and the joy and expression that lies therein. Filled with many visual and verbal poetic moments, Weir’s film is at times both haunting and beautiful with gorgeous cinematography by John Seale and an effective music score by Maurice Jarre.
There are also a whole host of very impressive performances from it’s young cast – an excruciatingly shy Ethan Hawke, being a particular standout. However, it all rests on the shoulders of Williams; he’s brilliant, with a very charismatic and heartfelt performance. He taps into his comic abilities, never over doing it and when he needs to deliver the dramatic weight, he does so with aplomb. You’re able to warm to him and be completely swept up in his infectious enthusiasm, in turn, allowing you to fully identify with his impressionable students.
At times the film can be emotionally manipulative and doesn’t always work but, for the most part, it’s very memorable and delivers one of the most uplifting movie endings I can remember.

What more can you ask from a film that’s able to instil thought, raise a smile and even shed a tear? Weir, Williams and co. manage all of these things and for that reason, I too, would gladly stand on my desk with an agreeing nod of respect – “Oh, Captain, my Captain!”

Mark Walker

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Lonesome Dove * * * * *

Posted in Drama, Western with tags on January 17, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Simon Wincer.
Screenplay: Larry McMurtry.
Starring: Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Frederic Forrest, Robert Urich, Rick Schroder, Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston, D.B. Sweeney, Chris Cooper, Glenne Headly, Barry Corbin, William Sanderson, Timothy Scott, Nina Siemaszko, Steve Buscemi.

Based on the pulitzer-prize winning novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry this four part T.V. mini series (amounting to approx 6 hours running time) is one of the best westerns ever made.

Two retired and aging Texas Rangers, Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones) & Augustus “Gus” McCrae (Robert Duvall) have settled down in life in the mundane and unremarkable town of Lonesome Dove, Texas. After an unexpected visit and some fruitful information from their old colleague Jake Spoon (Robert Urich) they decide to take one last kick of their spurs and go on an arduous 3000 mile cattle drive across the plains to Montana, where they face new and old adversities.

An absolutely epic western in every sense of the word and done in the grandest of scales. Director Simon Wincer had a pretty poor career before and after this but will always be remembered for assembling this cast of exceptional actors playing prodigious well written characters. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones are perfect in their roles with fine support all around. Frederic Forest is a particular standout as the native and very dangerous “Blue Duck”, who has some old scores to settle with the former lawmen. The man behind it all though is writer Larry McMurtry. His books are the perfect material to adapt and if you like this then it’s worth checking his earlier novels with Gus and Woodrow in “Dead Man’s Walk” and “Commanche Moon”.

Vast, masterful and quite possibly the consummate western.

Mark Walker

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