Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Marvelous MARVELETTES



Below are video clips featuring one of Motown's most famous girl groups, The Marvelettes:



"The Marvelous MARVELETTES"

Motown Revue 1963 Medley





"Don't Mess With Bill"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Trouble With (5.24) "RELATIVITY"




THE TROUBLE WITH (5.24) "RELATIVITY”

I am sure that many of you remember the late Season 5 episode - (5.24) "Relativity". In it, Seven-of-Nine was "recruited" by 29th century Federation time cops to prevent the destruction of Voyager by an illegal time traveler.

In this episode, Seven is recruited by Captain Braxton and Lieutenant Ducane of the 29th century timeship, Relativity, to stop a time traveling sabateur from placing a temporal weapon on Voyager to destroy it. Seven eventually discovers that a future Braxton is the sabateur. Suffering from temporal psychosis, the older Braxton wants to destroy Voyager in order to prevent Janeway and her crew from committing three temporal inversions that he had to fix . . . events that led to his illness.

As much as I found this episode mildly entertaining, there are two about "Relativity" that I found questionable. The first thing I found questionable had to do with Braxton’s memories. He should not have had memories of Voyager's trip to late 20th century Earth in "Future's End". By stopping Henry Starling (guest star Ed Begley Jr.) from accidentally destroying Earth, Janeway and Voyager’s crew managed to change the timeline. When Braxton appeared to take them back to the 24th century Delta Quadrant, he had NO memories of his 29 years on Earth. And the Braxton of ”Relativity” should NOT have had those memories. And yet, he mentioned his time on Earth in this episode.

What really irritated me about this episode was the fate of the Captain Braxton who commanded the ship. To understand what I am talking about, read the following scenes:

BRAXTON [OC]: Seven of Nine, report.
SEVEN: I have located the saboteur.
BRAXTON [OC]: Who is it?
SEVEN: It's you,
[Relativity]
SEVEN [OC]: Captain Braxton.
BRAXTON: Me?
[2372 Jefferies tube]
BRAXTON: More accurately, a future you.


Once everyone realized that a future Braxton was responsible for trying to sabotage Voyager, the following occurred:

[Relativity]
BRAXTON: Can you get a lock on him?
DUCANE: Negative. He's activated a dispersal node. I should say, you've activated a dispersal node.
BRAXTON: Don't be absurd. I have no wish to sabotage Voyager.
DUCANE: Not yet.
BRAXTON: Remodulate the transporters. Find a way to cut through the interference. I gave you an order, Lieutenant.
DUCANE: I'm sorry, sir. I'm taking command of this vessel, and I'm relieving you of duty for crimes you're going to commit.
BRAXTON: I haven't done anything.


For some reason, Captain Braxton’s first officer, Lieutenant Ducane (Jay Karnes) thought it was necessary to arrest him and assume command of the timeship. Why? What was his purpose? Braxton was right. He had done nothing wrong. Ducane should have been more concerned with the future Braxton, not the younger one. The first officer had no excuse to arrest someone who had done nothing wrong. What on earth were screenwriters Bryan Fuller, Nick Sagan and Michael Taylor thinking? As much as I liked this episode, this is sloppy writing of the first kind.

”Relativity” started out well. But once the older Braxton was revealed to be the saboteur attempting to destroy Voyager, the story went downhill. As I had pointed out earlier, Braxton should have never had memories of his 29 years on Earth. Even worse, the first officer of the timeship Relativity really had no excuse to arrest the younger Captain Braxton, who was not guilty of anything. What a waste of a potentially good story.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"HOW THE WEST WAS WON" (1962) Photo Gallery



Below is a gallery of photos from the 1962 epic Western that won three (3) Academy Awards, "HOW THE WEST WAS WON":


"HOW THE WEST WAS WON" (1962) Photo Gallery








































































































  








Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"TWILIGHT" (2008) Review





"TWILIGHT" (2008) Review

When I first saw the previews for this adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel about teenage love and vampires, I had no idea that I had a glimpse of an adolescent literary phenomenon. About a week before the movie’s U.S. release, I finally realized what ”TWILIGHT” was all about when I read about the book series in several articles on the Internet.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, ”TWILIGHT” is about seventeen-year-old Isabella "Bella" Swan, who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington in order to live with her divorced father, Charlie. There, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious classmate, Edward Cullen, who is revealed to be a 108-year-old vampire, but is physically seventeen. Although Edward discourages the romance at first, they eventually fall deeply in love. The arrival of three nomadic vampires, James, Laurent, and Victoria, puts Bella's life in danger. Edward and his family - Alice, Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie - put their lives at stake to save her.

I am trying to fight off the inevitable – namely give my opinion of the movie – but I might as well get it over with. I wish I could say that I loved ”TWILIGHT”. After all, the premise reminded me of the first three seasons of a favorite television series of mine, ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” (1997-2003). But I barely liked ”TWILIGHT”. The movie not only moved at a ridiculously low pace, but I barely found it original. Who am I kidding? Aside from the portrayal of vampires as one-dimensionally good guys whose skin glistens in the sunlight, the story lacked any semblance of originality.

I found myself watching scenes that strongly resembled certain episodes from ”BUFFY”, including one that featured Edward feeding from Bella’s blood. Not only do Edward and Bella reminded me of Buffy and Angel, with less bite or complexity, but they also reminded me of the two leads from ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” (1987-1990) - Catherine and Vincent. By the way, I was never a fan of the Buffy and Angel relationship. I found it barely tolerable, which is why I preferred Buffy’s more complex and messier relationship with Spike, the series’ other vampire. As for ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”, I never became a fan. I found it a big yawn fest. But I was willing to give ”TWILIGHT” a chance. Unfortunately, Melissa Rosenberg’s script barely kept me awake. The dark and wet Pacific Northwest setting did not help.

The cast for ”TWILIGHT” seemed solid. Somewhat. Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, managed to generate chemistry. Somewhat. Mind you, I found nothing electrifying about their screen chemistry or performances. Granted, I feel that Pattinson managed to create a more memorable performance than the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, there were moments when he seemed in danger of overdoing it with the Byronic hero persona. Poor Stewart seemed to be stuck with a role that bordered on being dangerously passive for a female lead. As for the rest of the cast, I found nothing memorable about them – including Billy Burke, who portrayed Bella’s father or Cam Gigande (James), who came off as an early Spike wannabe. However, I must admit that I found Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black - friend of Bella - rather witty and entertaining. The teen roles in this movie annoyed me to no end. I realize that many years have passed since I was in high school, but I could have sworn that my fellow schoolmates had sounded more intelligent . . . and interesting than Bella and her school friends.

I wish I could say more about ”TWILIGHT”, but I cannot. I simply was not that impressed with the film. It was not a bad film. It had some good moments, which included a showdown between Edward and James at Bella’s old dance school in Phoenix. Between Hardwicke’s lethargic direction, Rosenberg’s script and the mildly interesting performances by the cast, I cannot see myself becoming a major fan of this movie. Perhaps I will learn to appreciate it more after watching it several times on DVD. Who knows?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ten Favorite POLITICAL THRILLERS



Below is a list of my ten favorite political thrillers from the past 70 years. By the way, there are no James Bond, Derek Flint, Jason Bourne or Tom Clancy films on this list:


Ten Favorite POLITICAL THRILLERS



"Foreign Correspondent" (1940) - This superb Alfred Hitchcock told the story of an American reporter (Joel McCrea) who tries to expose enemy spies in England during a series of events involving a continent-wide conspiracy that eventually leads to the events of a fictionalized Second World War. It starred McCrea and featured Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Bassermann and Robert Benchley, along with Edmund Gwenn.





"Notorious" (1946) - This Alfred Hitchcock movie, which is a personal favorite of mine, is about two people - an American intelligence agent and the daughter of a convicted Nazi spy - whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation in South America to infiltrate a group of Germans who have relocated to Brazil after World War II. The movie starred Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains.





"The Tall Target" (1951) - A discredited New York City detective tries, in the face of disbelievers, to foil a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln as he travels on the Ohio & Baltimore Railway to his inauguration in 1861. The movie starred Dick Powell, Paula Raymond, Adolphe Menjou, Marshall Thompson and future Oscar nominee, Ruby Dee.





"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) - The original, and in my opinion, the best version of Richard Condon's 1959 novel about the son of a prominent, right-wing political family that has been brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. Starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, James Gregory and a superb Angela Landsbury, who was nominated for her performance as Harvey's manipulative mother.





"The Day of the Jackal" (1973) - Edward Fox starred in this excellent thriller based upon Fredrick Forsyth's 1971 novel about an assassin known only as "the Jackal", who is hired by French right-wingers to assassinate Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Michael Lonsdale co-starred as the French Police Commissioner assigned to stop him.





"The Peacemaker" (1997) - George Clooney and Nicole Kidman portray a U.S. Army intelligence colonel and his civilian supervisor who track down stolen Russian nuclear weapons before they are used by terrorists. This stylish film was directed by Mimi Leder.





"Ronin" (1998) - Directed by John Frankenheimer, this exciting and first-rate thriller starred Robert De Niro and Jean Reno as two of several former special forces and intelligence agents who team up to steal a mysterious, heavily guarded suitcase while navigating a maze of shifting loyalties and alliances.





"Thirteen Days" (2000) - Roger Donaldson directed this historical thriller about the Cuban Missle Crisis through the eyes of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Kenneth O'Donnell and other members of the Kennedy Administration. An excellent historical piece that starred Kevin Costner as O'Donnell, Bruce Greenwood as JFK and Steven Culp as Bobby Kennedy.





"Munich" (2005) - Steven Spielberg directed this superb, yet controversial Oscar nominated film about a semi-fictionalized account of the Israeli government's secret retaliation against the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes by Black September gunmen. The film starred Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Geoffrey Rush, Ayelet Zurer, Mathieu Amalric and Michael Lonsdale.





"Vantage Point" (2008) - Despite its mixed reception by critics, I truly enjoyed this unique movie about an assassination attempt on a U.S. president in Salmanca, Spain; during a 23-minute period. Told in a time loop from the perspective of different characters, this movie starred Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forrest Whittaker, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver.