Video Roundup – July 2012

Garry Marshall noted that on his birthday, he was serenaded by Julie Andrews and Whitney Houston.

First off, a preview:
Here is a link to the trailer for “5 Hour Friends”, a new movie with Tom Sizemore, Musetta Vander, and Kimberlin Brown. “A lifelong womanizer gets a taste of his own medicine.” My niece Rebecca Jade writes: “This is the film I’m in, playing a singer [typecasting!], keep an eye out for it… Final edits should be done in late August and then working to get major distribution and inclusion at Sundance.”

Here are some movies I’ve seen on video recently.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this picture. It told a credible re-imagining of his origin as a scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Pine) who wants to serve his country, even if it means being a guinea pig for a machine that, theoretically, at least, would make him stronger. Those critics who did not find this exciting enough confuse me. It had the pacing not out of place with the dramas I’d seen from the 1940s. When Cap became nothing more than a costume, I found that particularly compelling.

All of this said, there was one glaring thing that I found less than believable. One was selecting a particular baseball game; one would have thought that mistake would not be made by…whomever.

And can someone please explain the Marvel Movie Universe to me? Presumably, the Fantastic Four, featuring the same Chris Pine, is NOT in the universe, and neither are the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films? But what of the new Spidey flick? I suppose I could look it up, but I expect a comic geek out there can explain it to me better.

Sidebar: Thom Wade on Understanding the Value of Power?
Thor (2011)

I found this a bit confusing and muddled. I listened to director Kenneth Branaugh’s discussion of the deleted scenes, and I’ve become convinced that the insertion of one or two, including one featuring the Warrior Three and Sif, would have clarified things somewhat for me, though it might have been at the expense of the pacing.

Still, I found I liked the film more as it went on. Chris Hemsworth was a quite decent Thor, though I think Tom Hiddleston as Loki and even Idris Elba in the relatively small role of Heimdall stole the show. Natalie Portman was fine as Jane Foster, though I kept thinking that the role didn’t need someone of her acting pedigree.
The Princess Diaries (2001)

I saw this originally in the theater and liked it well enough. Anne Hathaway, in her first starring role, was credible as the nerd who would be royalty, and Julie Andrews was perfect as her grandmother, and, not incidentally, the queen of an obscure land. Watching it again with an eight-year-old who believes she’s practically a royal herself – she IS distantly related to the late Princess Diana – I realized what FUN it must be for the target audience.

I spent most of my time watching the extras, which included director Garry Marshall’s recollections of the film, trying to create a fun movie set, celebrating birthdays. He noted that on his birthday, he was serenaded by Julie Andrews and one of the producers, Whitney Houston. Houston and one of her colleagues practically gushed at snagging Andrews for her role. Seeing a happy and confident Whitney was actually a bit sad, given what happened subsequently.
On HBO, watching in a hotel room:

The Big Year (2011)

As the intro says: The characters played by “Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads — one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis…. three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams.” And the “cross-country journey of wild and life-changing adventures” is…birding.

This is a pleasant enough diversion. Not a lot of big yuks, even though it was billed as a comedy. It isn’t great cinema, but, having dealt with comic book obsessives, I found the players totally in keeping with behavior I’ve seen.
Harrison Ford turned 70 on July 13, and I realize I’ve only seen him in American Graffiti (1973), The Conversation (1974) – fairly recently, Witness (1985) – probably my favorite of his roles, Working Girl (1988), Presumed Innocent (1990), Regarding Henry (1991) – my least favorite, The Fugitive (1993), Sabrina (1995), and Six Days Seven Nights (1998). Nothing since, though he’ll be playing Branch Rickey in 42, a story about Jackie Robinson, so I may watch that. I’ve seen no Jack Ryan roles or Air Force One. I did probably see him in various TV shows early in his career.

OK, I did see him in three Star Wars and two Indiana Jones (1, 3) movies, but that’s pretty much a given.

Ernest Borgnine died on July 8. I’m not sure I really enjoyed watching the early 1960s TV show McHale’s Navy. But there was a character played by Joe Flynn named Captain Binghamton, and since I was FROM Binghamton, NY, I was compelled to watch. I saw him as a guest in LOTS of TV series. The first movie I saw him in was The Dirty Dozen (1967), which I viewed at a drive-in theater (remember those?) The only other theatrical movie of his I saw was The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Need to see Marty and From Here To Eternity, at the bare minimum.

Celeste Holm died on July 15. I know her better for TV shows (Archie Bunker’s Place, especially) than her movies. For instance, she played two different characters on the program Medical Center, a show I watched regularly, which starred Chad Everett, who died on July 17.

Steve Bissette reviews the apparently terrible, new Oliver Stone movie SAVAGES, so I know I don’t have to go. (Language NSFW.)


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