REVIEW: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE 60’S SERIES

CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Legends of The Super Heroes)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Yvonne Craig (Olivia)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jill St. John (Diamonds Are Forever)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
David Lewis (The Apartment0
Leslie Parrish (Sex and The Single Girl)
Cesar Romero (The Thin Man)
Nancy Kovack (Marooned)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Anne Baxter (I Confess)
Susan Silo (James Bond JR)
David Wayne (The Andromeda Strain)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Myma Fahey (House of Usher)
Julie Newmar (Mckenna’s Gold)
Ziva Rodann (Forty Guns)
Victor Buono (Beneath The Planet of The Apes)
Olan Soule (The Toweing Inferno)
Francine York (The Family Man)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Sherry Jackson (Brenda Starr, Reporter)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Barbara Nichols (Where the Boys Are)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Van Johnson (The Caine Mutiny)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)
Michael Pataki (Rocky 4)
Bruce Lee (Enter The Dragon)
Van Williams (Surfside 6)
Shelley Winters (Alfie)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Liberace (Another World)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Otto Preminger (Anatomy of Murder)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man)
Ted Cassidy (Genesis II)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
James Brolin (Hotel)
Lesley Gore (The Pied Piper of Astroworld)
Bob Hastings (batman: TAS)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Milton Berle (Hey, Abbott!)
Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins)
Rudy Vallee (Sunburst)
Eartha Kitt (Holes)
Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide)
Dina Merrill (Caddyshack II)
Linda Harrison (Planet of The Apes)
Ida Lupino (High Sierra)
Howard Duff (Kramer vs Kramer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Jack of Diamonds)

This is the show that set the tone for the Batman franchise for decades, good and bad, as its indelible mark is hard to erase. The power of the show is in how iconic it was, with every element so vibrant that it’s impossible to forget. Yes, it had the advantage of being the first modern-era mass-media representation of the character, and it also basically had the stage to itself forever, but there was so many memorable ingredients that made it the definitive Batman for generations. First among those were the performances of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Playing it completely straight–West with thoughtful gravitas, Ward with youthful enthusiasm–these actors kept the show from descending into parody. The world may be crazy, but our heroes remain vigilant defenders and detectives. The contrast makes their square-jawed heroics comedic, and the effect is enhanced when things get unusual like seeing Batman dance or surf, or when the Dynamic Duo are chilling out in the Batmobile eating burgers.
The structure of the series, which leans heavily on the style of the old serials and a well-defined formula, was also a big reason for the show’s success and long-lasting legacy. During the first two seasons, stories were split over two half-hour episodes, shown twice a week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin on the edge of destruction in some sort of insane death-dealing set-up, with the now classic refrain “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” reminding viewers to come back to see the story’s weekly conclusion. These cliffhangers, along with the emphatic narration, the atmospheric music, the wonderfully detailed sets and costumes and the choreographed fight scenes, which feature the show’s famous “Pow!” and “Bam” visual sound effects, all serve to create a larger-than-life adventure series that’s great fun to watch.
Though West doesn’t appreciate the show being described as campy, it’s hard to think of a word that fits the series better. The thing is, you have to separate the ideas of bad and camp. Camp doesn’t have to be bad. It just has to be absurdly silly. So much of the show is obviously aiming for comedy, be it the way Batman solves impossible clues impossibly quick, the goofy names of the bad guys’ labeled henchmen, the villains’ strange obsession with personal branding, the overly literal signs seen all over the place, or the strangely specific gadgets Batman always has at the ready. I mean, really…an empty alphabet soup bat-container? Then there are the overtly humorous parts, like the cameos when Batman and Robin climb up the sides of buildings, which feature celebrity cameos from Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ho, Santa Claus and Lurch from The Addams Family. Elements like this earn plenty of chuckles throughout the series, but they don’t take away from the fun of the action or the crime-fighting plots. They also serve to make for what might be the most accessible Batman ever; enjoyable for young and old alike.
The show burned brightly, but only for three seasons, crashing hard considering the show’s immense popularity. Perhaps it was overexposure due to the twice-a-week schedule, with 58 episodes in season two, but the show was definitely showing signs of slowing down in the final season before cancellation, including mostly eliminating the cliffhanger, instead linking episodes via a coda at the end. Whether it was an artistic choice or otherwise, the weird way the show started to use “suggested sets,” in which parts of a set were placed in an otherwise black room to create the idea of the setting, made it seem like something had changed for the worse. Another major change in the third season also stood out somewhat negatively, as Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (the crime-fighting alter-ego of police commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) was added to the show as a regular. She didn’t bring a great deal to the party though, outside of a great costume design, as she often needed saving as much as she helped the team.
The other issue with Batgirl was she was further evidence of the show being a product of its time, as, in addition to the clothes, sets and language all being heavily dated to the ‘60s (especially in the third run), sexism is rampant throughout the series, whether display via the eye-candy molls of the villains or the drooling narration for the new distaff member of the Bat-team. The portrayal of women is pretty much entirely negative in the show, with flippant remarks about the vanity of women or their value, while one villain, Nora Clavicle, is actually a women’s rights activist, who replaces the police force with women, who are only interested in coupons and recipes. The rampant misogyny is odd considering the show was progressive enough to have an interracial flirtation between West’s Batman and Kitt’s Catwoman.
Though the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder are obviously the stars of the show, the villains are what defines the series, as has always been the case with Batman. In addition to his traditional rogues gallery, including Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, this series introduced a number of freshly-minted felons, some of which eventually were incorporated into the comic books, like Victor Buono’s over-acted King Tut. The oft-ridiculous nature of these baddies, which were often created to give big celebrities of the day a chance to play, like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Minerva, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac or Liberace’s Fingers, was a big part of why the show was viewed as campy.
As goofy as the new creation were, the originals were wonderfully evil, especially Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman (though that shouldn’t take anything away from Eartha Kitt’s purr-fect turn in the cat suit in the show’s third season.) These three each brought something special to the show, be it Romero’s manic glee, Gorshin’s dark intensity or Newmar’s unrestrained sensuality. The problem with having the villains be such a focal point of the show is it makes the series uneven, as a weak villain, like Van Johnson’s Minstrel or Maurice Evans’ Puzzler, usually makes for a weak episode. The exception to that rule would have to the two-part “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction”, which had a terrible nemesis in the stamp-forging Colonel Gumm, but which is great fun because of a crossover with The Green Hornet, which meant Van Williams and Bruce Lee were on hand for twice the crime-fighting action. Just seeing Lee on Batman was great, but having two masked heroes and their rich alter-egos interacting without each other knowing made for a fun twist on the heroes.

Looking at the set as a whole, it’s easy to wonder why the first 12 discs are extras-free. There’s not a commentary to be found. Considering how long the wait has been, and how influential and popular the show is, you’d think there would be plenty of people that would want to sit down and talk about this show. It’s bad enough that the lengthy delays have resulted in many of the cast and creators passing before its release, but to not have any contemporary perspectives is just doubling down on this problem.
There’s also the fact that two separate releases of bonus content that have been released in the past, “Holy Batmania!,” which offered four documentaries on the series, and “Adam West Naked,” a collection of recollections produced by West himself. Some of this contest should have been included on the third disc of season three, which has just two 30 minute episodes. What’s worse is Warner Brothers is offering “Adam West Naked” as part of an odd package online that includes the first 64 episodes, the Batman ‘60s movie and some ephemera.
Thankfully the 13th disc fills in a lot of the gaps holding all of the set’s bonus content, most of which is courtesy of master extra maker Alexander Gray, who has produced and directed this kind of material for loads of DC-related DVDs. It all starts with “Hanging with Batman” (29:56), which focuses on West, looking at his life, from his childhood to his acting career, with plenty of time on his experiences as Batman and the legacy of that performance. The piece, which is loaded with archival photos and video, isn’t fluffy in any way, touching on some of the darker moments of West’s life, including controversy that surrounded him at his peak as a star and his personal and professional struggles in the wake of the show’s cancellation and the character’s rebirth with the Tim Burton movies. An excellent profile of a charismatic man with an interesting life.
“Holy Memorabilia, Batman!” (29:59) looks at the fans, a few in particular, and the collecting that sprung up around the show, including the key pieces and the process of acquiring them. With Toy Hunter’s Jordan Hembrough providing expert (and some personal) perspective, the featurette checks out the collections of actor Ralph Garman (Family Guy, the Hollywood Babble-On podcast) and Guinness record-holder Kevin Silva, as well as the work of Mark Racop, who builds replica Batmobiles. The Garman segments also feature a visit by West to check out (and even try on) the goods, and the result is an excellent look at a side product of the series.
An odd inclusion is “Na Na Na Batman” (12:15) which features a huge roster of producers and directors from Warner Brothers-produced series talking about the Batman series, including their memories of watching the show (if they are old enough) along with the costumes and villains. The connection to the show for most of these participants, which include Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, is beyond tangential, which coats the whole piece with a sheen of promotion, but if you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural, Arrow, The Following and The Mentalist, perhaps you’ll enjoy these worlds crashing together. Wedged in here with all these people is West and Burt Ward, bringing things back to center a bit.
The point of “Batmania Born!” (29:41) isn’t entirely clear, as it can get a bit scattered in terms of the subject matter, but it seems to mainly talk about the look of the series, and mainly features the voices of people from the world of comic books and related TV series, though some production design and costuming people sneak in as well to discuss the visuals of Batman, including the influences of the comic books, the animated opening, the tights and, most interestingly, the negative effect the show had on comic books in the larger world of entertainment. Among those sitting down to chat are Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Julie Newmar, long with archival clips of Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin, making this catnip for comics fans.
Lee and Garman return in “Bats of the Round Table” (45:08), joining Batman superfan Kevin Smith and actor Phil Morris (Smallville), as they sit down for a meal with West. Unsurprisingly, the chat is dominated by Smith–a natural conversationalist–but they all chime in at some point, peppering West with questions and actually getting some interesting answers, including talk about dealing with a difficult Otto Preminger, who West’s favorite guest star and favorite Catwoman was, life on the set and a fun story about Ward and Bruce Lee. One wonders how the mostly unconnected Morris got in on this group (though he does have a Batman story of his own to share), but they all interact well in a smooth-flowing get-together. The ending may be slightly cheesy, but it’s a satisfying featurette.
Though there are no commentaries in this set, there are two pseudo-commentaries, in the form of the two-part “Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West.” These pieces, which run a total of 59:08, feature West, in occasional picture-in-picture appearances, reading excerpts from his shooting scripts for “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck in the Middle” while the episodes play. There’s a tremendous amount of dead air (probably more than half the episodes are just the original audio), which may explain the lack of commentaries, but it’s great when West shares the notes he made on the script during the production process and his thought process for the character.
The bonuses wrap up with a quartet of rarities, which are mostly great to check out. First up is the 7:54 pilot for Batgirl. This never-aired “episode” was intended to show the character could work, in advance of her introduction in Batman’s third season. This compact adventure, which features Batgirl fighting Killer Moth and his gang alongside the Dynamic Duo in a library, feels just like the Batman series, complete with the “Pow!”s, but with a lot more sexism, courtesy of the narrator and Batman himself. Today, it’s really kind of creepy.
Also included are a pair of screen tests for the show, which are truly fascinating. First up is West and Ward (6:16), in a proto-Wayne Manor and the Batcave, doing a pair of scenes, following by a brief tumbling and karate demonstration by Ward and some silent footage of the pair in the ‘Cave. The performances were so fully formed right off the bat (no pun intended) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. That’s solidified when you see Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell try out for the parts (4:23), doing the same roles on the same sets, with the same sketchy costumes. Robin is more childish in Deyell’s performance, while Waggoner doesn’t bring the same measured intensity as West. Watching it though, allows you to picture an entirely different history for Batman.
The final entry is a James Blakely Tribute (2:24). The title is a bit misleading, as it’s just a clip of Blakely, post-production supervisor on the show, discussing the story of the series’ development and the idea of editing in the show’s iconic sound-effects graphics. It’s not really a tribute in the traditional manner.
 It’s only natural that waiting so long for these episodes to arrive on home video has made expectations unmeetable, but between the wonderfully silly show, the quality of the presentation and the excellent extras that actually have been included, this set is one all Batman fans will want to own.
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REVIEW: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

CAST

Margot Kidder (Superman)
James Brolin (Catch Me If You Can)
Rod Steiger (End of Days)
Don Stroud (Return To Frogtown)
Murray Hamilton (Jaws)
John Larch (Hail, Hero!)
Natasha Ryan (The Entity)
K.C. Martel (The Power Within)
Helen Shaver (The Craft)
James Tolkan (Masters of The Universe)

In the early morning hours of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murders his entire family with a shotgun at their home in Amityville, New York.One year later, George and Kathy Lutz, a young married couple, move into the property. George appears not to be strong of faith, but Kathy is a Catholic in name at least. She has three children from her prior marriage: Greg, Matt, and Amy. The couple turn to Father Delaney to bless the home, but Delaney encounters troubles in trying to bless the home, including a room full of flies, out of season; violent stomach sickness; and later, blisters on his palm when trying to make a phone call to Kathy at their home. As he continues to help the Lutz Family, Delaney experiences more strange events (his car brakes and steering malfunction) and frustrations (lack of support by his superiors in the diocese). He ultimately appears to lose faith, becoming blind and having a breakdown.Kathy’s aunt, a nun, comes by the house one afternoon, but becomes violently ill. George begins to be more sullen and angry over perceived cold in the house, and obsesses with splitting logs and keeping the fireplace stoked. Before Kathy’s brother’s engagement party one night, $1,500 to be used for the caterer inexplicably goes missing in the house. Meanwhile, the babysitter watching Amy for the evening is locked inside a bedroom closet by an unseen force. Further unexplained incidents occur in succession: One of the two boys suffers a crushed hand when a sash window falls on it, and Amy has an imaginary friend, Jody, who seems to be of a malevolent nature. Kathy catches a glimpse of two red, swine-like eyes outside the daughter’s second-story bedroom window. Even the family dog obsesses over a secret room in the basement.George’s land surveying business begins to suffer with his lack of attendance, and his partner grows concerned. His business partner’s wife, very sensitive to the paranormal, is both repulsed and intrigued by the things she feels when at the house. Throughout the strange incidents, Kathy observes George’s persistent waking up at 3:15 a.m., feeling he must go check on the boathouse. She also has nightmares in which she is given details about the killings of the home’s prior family. Research at the library and county records office suggest that the house is built atop a Shinnecock burial ground and that a known Satanic worshipper named John Ketchum had once lived on the land. She also discovers the news clippings about the DeFeo murders, and notices Ronald DeFeo’s striking resemblance to George.Finally, the paranormal events culminate one stormy night and drive the family to flee, abandoning their home and belongings. The final titles reads: “George and Kathleen Lutz and their family never reclaimed their house or their personal belongings. Today they live in another state.”While there are a few logic gaps and a couple of inconsistencies in the film, and the languid almost surrealist pacing of the film might put off modern audiences who want their horror films to come at them fast and furiously, The Amityville Horror remains a pretty solid entry in the supernatural horror that Hollywood became so obsessed with for a while in the later half of the seventies. But did we really need Brolin to run around in his underwear? Let’s just assume that the devil made him do it.

 

REVIEW: THE 33

 

CAST

Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Juliette Binoche (The English Patient)
James Brolin (the Amityville Horror)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Mario Casas (SMS)
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil TV)
Adriana Barraza (Cake)
Kate del Castillo (No Good Deed)
Juan Pablo Raba (Agents of SHIELD)
Naomi Scott (Power Rangers)

Dozens of people from Copiapó, Chile, work in the San José mine. The owner ignores the warnings of the failing stability of the mine, which collapses a short time later. The only path inside the mine is completely blocked, and the thirty-three miners manage to get to the rescue chamber. They discover that the radio is useless, the medical kit is empty, the ventilation shafts lack the required ladders, and there is very little stored food. Mario Sepúlveda becomes the leader of the miners, dividing the foods rations and stopping the outbursts of violence and despair. The mine company does not attempt any rescue, and the relatives of the miners gather around the gates.The government of Chile decides on active intervention, and orders the use of drills to reach the chamber. The first exploratory boreholes move off-target, but a later one reaches the required destination. The miners attach a note to the drill bit to announce their survival. They receive new food and clothing, and television communication with the surface. A second, bigger, drill system is prepared to retrieve the miners one by one.The 33 is exceptional. Based on the book “Deep Down Dark” by Héctor Tobar, the film version takes few liberties with the facts and fashions a very compelling narrative. The screenplay succinctly, but effectively sets the stage and develops its characters – both above and below ground. We feel the desperation of both the miners and their families. As the miners’ story unfolds, concurrently with that of their families and those attempting to rescue them, Patricia Riggens directs with great pacing (which is helped by nearly perfect editing). She also gets great performances from her cast and blends the talents and experience of well-known and little-known actors wonderfully. Although the movie did drag a little as it neared its dramatic conclusion, this is a film which tells its story with drama, sensitivity and even some humor.

 

REVIEW: LAST CHANCE HARVEY

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie)
Emma Thompson (Love Actually)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
James Brolin (Catch Me If You Can)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Michael Landes (Final Destination 2)
Angela Griffin (Waterloo Road)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)

Divorced American Harvey Shine writes jingles for television commercials, a job not in keeping with his dream of being a jazz pianist and composer. His position at work is tenuous as he departs for London to attend his daughter Susan’s wedding. Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, he encounters Kate Walker, a single Londoner who works collecting statistics from passengers as they pass through the terminals. Tired and anxious to get to his hotel, Harvey brusquely dismisses her when she approaches him with the survey.

Arriving at his hotel Harvey discovers that he is the only wedding guest booked in there. He is hurt to discover that has his ex-wife Jean has rented a house to accommodate everyone who is attending from the States, except him. At the dinner on the night preceding the wedding, it becomes increasingly clear Harvey is now an outsider to his daughter’s life and is being excluded from the clan around his ex-wife’s new husband Brian. Their politeness towards him is insincere and makes him feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Susan tells Harvey that as her step-father Brian has been more of a father to her in the last few years than he has, she is going to ask him to give her way at her wedding. Clearly upset, but accepting of her decision Harvey lies and tells Susan that he will be attending the ceremony but not the reception because he has to urgently return to the States.

Meanwhile, Kate is on a blind date that is not going well. After taking a phone call from her neurotic mother Maggie, she returns to the table to discover that her date has bumped into friends at the bar and invited them to join them. Feeling socially awkward and excluded from the group she eventually goes home.

The following morning Harvey attends the wedding and then leaves immediately for the airport, having been excluded again and seated at the back of the church instead of the front in his true place next to his daughter. Owing to the heavy London traffic he is delayed and misses his flight back to the States. When he calls his boss to advise him he will be returning later than planned he is fired. Needing to drown his sorrows, Harvey goes to an airport bar and sees Kate who is there having a solitary lunch. Recognizing her from the day before, he apologizes for his rude behavior. She initially resists the attention he is paying her but soon they’re both glad to finally have an honest, genuine conversation with someone.

Harvey, feeling lonely and not wanting to stay in an hotel by the airport, follows Kate and joins her on the train to Paddington station. He asks if he can walk her to her writing class on the South Bank. She accepts his offer and is pleased when he offers to wait for her and meet her afterwards. As they stroll along the South Bank River Thames, Harvey mentions he is missing Susan’s wedding reception, and Kate urges him to go. He finally relents, but only if she will accompany him. Kate insists that she is not properly dressed for such an occasion, so Harvey buys her a dress and the two head to the Grosvenor House Hotel, where they are welcomed by Susan and squeezed in at two places on the children’s table. When ‘the-father-of-the-bride’ is called upon to make a toast, Brian rises and begins to speak but Harvey interrupts claiming his right as her biological father. He then delivers a touching, eloquent speech that redeems him with his daughter and endears him to Kate.

Following the bride and groom’s first wedding dance, the groom calls Harvey up to dance with his daughter. He happily does so, and then all the guests join them on the dance floor. Harvey is enjoying himself on the dance floor and Kate is left at the children’s table, finding herself again in the same position as on the blind date. She starts to feel socially awkward and out of place, alone in the room full of strangers. Harvey is dancing and appears to have forgotten Kate. She bears her feelings as long as she can and eventually quietly leaves. Soon after Harvey returns to the table to find her gone.Harvey, now looking for Kate, goes into the corridor and seeing her waiting for the elevator, he disappears into a side room where there is a piano and begins to softly play one of his own jazz compositions. She hears the music and follows it, finding Harvey smiling and waiting for her. He asks her to stay and return to the reception so he can dance her socks off. She agrees and they have a great time together.

Following the reception, Harvey and Kate walk and talk through London until dawn. Upon parting they exchange a single, gentle kiss and agree to meet at noon later that day. Back at his hotel, Harvey experiences serious heart palpitations having had to use the stairs as both lifts are out of order. He is taken to hospital. Forced to stay over night for treatment he misses the appointment with Kate, who turned up as agreed and waited for him. Upon being discharged the next day Harvey receives a call from his boss who has discovered that he needs Harvey to continue handling the account at work. He urges Harvey to return to as soon as possible. Harvey quits his job, deciding he prefers to remain in London and explore the possibility of a relationship with Kate. He tracks down Kate’s work number and calls her to explain but she refuses to take the call. He goes looking for her at the airport and eventually tracks her down at her writing class. He explains why he missed their rendezvous and tells her that he wants to stay in London and begin a relationship with her. Overcautious about romance because of so much past emotional pain, Kate resists, but finally agrees to give things a chance to his suggestion that they see what the future might bring.

As they slowly stroll away along the South Bank, Harvey invites Kate to ask him the questions she would have asked him at the airport terminal, and this time, he happily answers, telling her his place of residence “…is in transition.”

The direction provided by Joel Hopkins is impressive as he extracts excellent performances from the lead actors. The background music score, which is provided by Dickon Hinchliffe is also worth an applause as it is soothing and perfectly compliments the story. The movie would have turned out to be an average fare if it was not for Hoffman and Thompson.
‘Last Chance Harvey’ is a delightful and competent movie, which deserves a watch.

REVIEW: A GUY THING

CAST

Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Julia Stiles (The Omen)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
James Brolin (Traffic)
Shawn Hatosy (The Faculty)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
David Koecher (Anchorman)
Julie Hagerty (Just Friends)
Thomas lennon (17 Again)
Jackie Burroughs (Hemoglobin)
Jay Breazeau (Bates Motel)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Noel Fisher (teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate About You)

Karen (Blair) and Paul (Lee) are about to get married. During his bachelor party, Paul has a chat with one of the dancers at the party, Becky (Stiles) and they find that they have an affinity for each other. Paul wakes up the next morning and is terrified to see Becky in the bed next to him. Assuming they slept together, Paul rushes Becky out of his apartment and hopes never to see her again. He tries to cover up the connection for the few days before the wedding.Unfortunately, Becky unexpectedly shows up around town and turns out to be Karen’s cousin. Even worse, Becky’s ex-boyfriend cop Ray had Becky followed and photographed. Becky and Paul meet again to steal those pictures from Ray’s apartment. Further problems arise with family and friends consistently showing up at the wrong times. Crabs, dirty underwear in the toilet tank, a horny best friend, and a best man/brother who is in love with the bride all provide for a week of wedding preparation hijinks.Through the snowballing of all his implausible lies and half truths, he receives corroboration and support from an unexpected corner: what seems to be a coordinated network of other men, including friends, complete strangers and to Paul’s astonishment, Karen’s own father; all who give the same explanation: “It’s a guy thing”.The movie contains the right mix of comedy and romance. Definitely worth a watch.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

 

CAST
Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Tom Hanks (The Bonfire of The Vanities)
Christopher Walken (The prophecy)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Nathalie Baye (Tell No One)
Amy Adams (Batman v Superman)
James Brolin (The Amityville Horror)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Sarah Lancaster (Chuck)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Jessica Collins (Tru Calling)
In 1963, teen-aged Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in New Rochelle, New York with his father Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Christopher Walken), and French mother Paula (Nathalie Baye). When Frank Sr. is denied a business loan at Chase Manhattan Bank due to unknown difficulties with the IRS, the family is forced to move from their large home to a small apartment. Paula carries on an affair with Jack (James Brolin), a friend of her husband. Meanwhile, Frank poses as a substitute teacher in his French class. Frank’s parents file for divorce, and Frank runs away. When he runs out of money, he begins relying on confidence scams to get by. Soon, Frank’s cons increase and he even impersonates an airline pilot. He forges Pan Am payroll checks and succeeds in stealing over $2.8 million.
Meanwhile, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI bank fraud agent, begins tracking Frank. Carl and Frank meet at a hotel, where Frank convinces Carl his name is Barry Allen of the Secret Service, and that he was also after the fraud. Frank leaves, Carl angrily realizing a minute too late that he has been fooled. Later, at Christmas, Carl is still at work when Frank calls him, attempting to apologize for duping Carl. Carl rejects his apology and tells him he will soon be caught, but laughs when he realizes Frank actually called him because he has no one else to talk to. Frank hangs up, and Carl continues to investigate, suddenly realizing (thanks to a waiter) that the name “Barry Allen” is from the Flash comic books and that Frank is actually a teenager.
Frank, meanwhile, has expanded his con to include the identities of a doctor and lawyer. While playing Dr. Frank Conners, he falls in love with Brenda (Amy Adams). While asking her father’s permission to marry her, he admits the truth about himself and asks for help with the Louisiana State Bar exam. Carl tracks him to his engagement party and Frank is able to sneak out a bedroom window minutes before Carl bursts in. Before leaving, Frank makes Brenda promise to meet him in Miami two days later so they can elope. Frank sees her waiting for him two days later, but also notices plainclothes agents waiting to arrest him, realizing he has been set up and escapes on a flight to Europe.
Seven months later, Carl shows his boss that Frank has been forging checks all over western Europe and asks permission to go to Europe to look for him. When his boss refuses, Carl brings Frank’s checks to printing professionals who claim that the checks were printed in France. From an interview with Frank’s mother, Carl remembers that she was actually born in Montrichard, France. He goes there and locates Frank, and tells him that the French police will kill him if he does not go with Carl quietly. Frank assumes he is lying at first, but Carl promises Frank he would never lie to him, and Carl takes him outside, where the French police escort him to prison.
The scene then flashes forward to a plane returning Frank home from prison, where Carl informs him that his father has died. Grief-stricken, Frank escapes from the plane and goes back to his old house, where he finds his mother with the man she left his father for, as well as a girl who Frank realizes is his half-sister. Frank gives himself up and is sentenced to 12 years in prison, getting visits from time to time from Carl. When Frank points out how one of the checks Carl is carrying as evidence is fake, Carl convinces the FBI to offer Frank a deal by which he can live out the remainder of his sentence working for the bank fraud department of the FBI, which Frank accepts. While working at the FBI, Frank misses the thrill of the chase and even attempts to fly as an airline pilot again. He is cornered by Carl, who insists that Frank will return to the FBI job since no one is chasing him. On the following Monday, Carl is nervous that Frank has not yet arrived at work. However, Frank eventually arrives and they discuss their next case. The ending credits reveal that Frank has been happily married for 26 years, has three sons, lives in the Midwest, is still good friends with Carl, has caught some of the world’s most elusive money forgers, and earns millions of dollars each year because of his work creating unforgeable checks.
Stephen Spielberg does an outstanding job of orchestrating this wildly unpredictable film.  He’s able to expose the heart of the story with ease in this film, not cheating us out of anything at any point during the entire movie.This is a very well-made movie with top notch performances that definitely deserve recognition.