Classic of the Week: What’s Up Doc? (1972)

What’s Up Doc? is a 1972 American romantic screwball comedy film directed by Petrer Bogdanovich and starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. It was intended to pay homage to the comedy films of the 30s and 40s, particularly Bringing Up Baby and Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons. The film was loosely based on A Glimpse of Tiger by Herman Raucher.

Dr. Howard Bannister, a musicologist from the Iowa Conservatory of Music, has made a trip to San Fransisco to compete for a research grant offered by Frederick Larrabee. Howard is accompanied by his oppressive fiancee Eunice Burns. As the two check into the Hotel Bristol, Howard runs into the charming troublemaker Judy Maxwell in the hotel’s drugstore. She never finished college, but has collected a considerable amount of knowledge from all the academic institutions from which she has been expelled. She begins to pursue Howard and checks into a room in the hotel without paying.

Coincidentally, four parties are staying on the same floor of the hotel, all carrying identical plaid overnight bags. Howard’s bag has igneous “tambula” rocks have certain musical properties. The mysterious “Mr. Smith” has a bag containing top-secret government papers, which he has gotten illegally. Wealthy socialite Mrs. Van Hoskinshas a bag containing her sizable collection of valuable jewels. Judy’s bag is filled with her clothing and a large dictionary.

Over the course of the evening, the bags are switched randomly from room to room as the four parties unwittingly take one other’s bags. Howard ends up withe jewels, judy with the documents, Mr. Smith with Judy’s clothes, and thieves with the rocks.

Judy pretending to be Eunice at the musicologists’ banquet, uses her humor and academic knowledge to charm everyone except Howard’s competitor Hugh Simon. Unable to get over Judy’s masquerade – realizing Larrabee’s infatuation with her might win him the grant – Howard denies knowing the real Eunice when she hysterically tries to enter the banquet. Judy later sneaks into Howard’s hotel room. His attemps to try and hide Judy from Eunice lead to a fire and the destroying of the room.

The next day, everyone makes their way to a reception in the Larrabee’s fancy Victoriian house, where a fight breaks out, involving guns, furniture, and pies. Howard and Judy take all four bags and escape the fight, first on a delivery bike, and a Volkswagen Beetle, stolen from a wedding, chased by Mr, Smith and Mr. Jones, the jewel thieves.

Everyone ends up in court, where Judge Maxwell, already close to a nervous breakdown, tires to clear up the matter, but only advances in finding his daughter Judy the cause of all the trouble.

This film is a lot like classic screwball comedies. It is both hilarious and romantic, but also nothing but one shenanigan after another. There is no drama and Streisand’s character Judy is very annoying for a vast majority of the film. She won’t leave Howard alone to save her life, and yes, O’Neal’s Howard was a handsome fella, but he was not interested in her (at first) and was very annoyed by her. Although Howard is engaged to Madeline Kahn’s Eunice, he doesn’t seem to love her much as he treats her at times, like an annoyance and often ignores her and doesn’t seem like he really wants to marry her . Eunice’s wig is a redhead, flipped out bob with bangs and you can tell it’s a wig. Eunice is a worrywart and wants to control Howard. Howard and Eunice do not go together, but that is probably the point.

Kenneth Mars’s Hugh Simon, Howard’s rival, is super competitive, self-centered, and pretentious. Austin Pendelton’s Frederick Larrabee is extremely nerdy and wealthy, but weak as far as defending himself or others go.

This is a very silly movie, with no seriousness at all. There is some romance, but it is briefly shown. The main characters spend almost the entire runtime getting in trouble, which is entertaining, but it cuts the storyline short. Had there been less action and more dramedy type scenes, the story would have been better and the film would have been more enjoyable. The film jumps right into the screwball comedy too fast and you really don’t learn much about the characters. The acting is great from the majority of the cast, but that still doesn’t make this a great movie. Yes, it is funny, and fairly romantic, but that is all.

The characters disaters are funny, but that is all this story is, nothing more. There is no real depth, not much heart is more like Chaplin or Keaton film mixed with the Three Stooges, mixed with a rom-com, which doesn’t make for a great movie, although it is quite entertaining, it lacks a lot in the plot. There is very little you get to know about the characters, making them all rather dull and not interesting at all, even stylish Judy. This is a very one dimensional film with far too much humor and very little heart. 10+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)

The Man With the Golden Arm is a 1955 American drama and film noir film directed by Otto Preminger, based on the novel of the same name by Nelson Algren. Starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang and Darren McGavin, it tells the story of a drug addict who gets clean while in prison, but struggles to to stay clean outside of jail. Although the drug is never mentioned in the film, according to the American Film Institute “most contemporary and modern sources assume that it is heroin,” although in Algren’s book it is morphine. The film’s initial release was controversial for its treatment of the then taboo themes of drug addiction and infidelity

Frankie Machine is released from the Federal Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, with a set of drums and a new outlook on life, and returns to his decrepit neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. A drug addict, Frankie becomes clean in prison. On the outside, he greets friends and acquaintances. Sparrow, who runs a sting selling homeless dogs, clings to him like a younger brother, but Schwiefka, whom Frankie used to deal for in his illegal card games, has more menacing reasons for welcoming him back, as does Louie, Machine’s former drug dealer. 

Frankie returns home to his wife Zosh, who supposedly needs to use a wheelchair after a car accident some years before that was caused by Frankie driving drunk. Zosh secretly recovered, but pretends to be unable to walk to keep making Frankie feel guilty so he will stay with her. Frankie comments on the whistle she wears around her neck, a tool she used when Frankie was gone to call for a neighbor, Vi, when needed. With Frankie home, Zosh traps him in their small apartment and blocks his attempt to make something of himself. He thinks he has what it takes to play drums for a big band. While calling to make appointment, he bumps into an old flame, Molly, who works in a local strip joint as a hostess and lives in the apartment below Frankie’s. Unlike Zosh, Molly encourages him to follow his dream of being a drummer. 

Frankie soon gets himself an audition and asks Sparrow to get him a new suit, but the suit is a stolen one and he ends up back in jail. Schwiefka offers to pay the bail. Frankie refuses, but soon changes his mind when his sees a drug addict on the edge becomes too much for him.  Now, to repay the debt, he must deal cards for Schwiefka again. Louie is trying to hook him on drugs again, and with no job and Zosch to please, pressure is building from all directions.

Soon Frankie gives in and is back on drugs and dealing all-night card games for Schwiefka. Molly sees he is using drugs again and runs away from him. He gets an audition as a drummer but spends 24 hours straight dealing a poker game, during which he is found cheating and beaten up. Desperately needing a fix, Frankie follows Louie home, attacks him, and destroys his house, but cannot  find his drug stash. At the audition, with withdrawal coming on, Frankie can’t keep the beat and ruins his chance of getting the drummer job. When Louie goes to see to find Frankie, Louie finds out that Zosch has been faking her paralysis and can walk. Zosh, scared of being found out, pushes Louie over the railing of the stairs to his death, but things rebound when Frankie is pursued for Louie’s murder. 

Frank Sinatra is mostly known for his music, but people either don’t know or forget that his was also an equally talented actor. Though this film is from is the 50’s, it is just as relevent today as it was then. It shows the way drug additction can completely destroy a person and their relationships. In the film, Frankie Machine’s life is totally destroyed by his addiction, to what is most likely heroin or morphine. He is also addicted to gambling. He wants to be a drummer, but ruins every tryout. He also frequently leaves his wife Zosch alone in their tiny apartment, stays out all night drugging, drinking, or gambling, sometimes all three and he cheats on his wife with night club employee, Molly. 

Frankie eventually quits drugs and drinking cold turkey, after Molly convinces him if he wants to stand a chance with the police. Throughout the movie, you see him doped up and drunk, and in a few scenes you see him go through withdrawal from not having the substances his body is craving. Frank Sinatra is fantastic as Frankie Machine, making the character seem so so real, you forget that he isn’t. You really believe that Frank is wasting his life away on drugs, booze, gambling, and an affair. You forget this is the man that was also a popular crooner of songs such as “Come Fly With Me” and “Strangers in the Night,” that is how talented Frank was, or I should say he was multi-talented. Sinatra spent time in drug rehabilitation clinics observing addicts going cold turkey to prepare for his role. He also learned to play drums from drummer Shelley Manne. 

Eleanor Parker does a great job as Sophia “Zosch” Machine, Frankie’s wife. Kim Novack is also great as Molly Novotny the nightclub worker. Arnold Stang is does a fine job as Sparrow, Frankie’s friend  who sells strays dogs illegally. Darren McGavin does a good job as “Nitty Louie,” and Robert Strauss is equally good as Zero Schwiefka. 

Otto Preminger had a hard time getting a Code seal of approval, because of the films content dealing with drug usage, gambling, heavy drinking, and scenes dealing with an affair. Many theaters banned the film, but many still showed it, despite the lack of Code. The movie did receive the Production Code in 1961. Despite the all the controversy, even from the Catholic Church and other conservative religious groups, the film was a critical success. 

This film is very slow for the majority of its two hour runtime, but the stellar acting is what makes this film one of the greatest on the subject of addiction. This film could have had more action, to make it more exciting, for those that don’t like super slow and dramatic movies, and yes, I agree to a point, but I also think Sinatra’s acting skills in this picture, make up for that for the most part. Had the lead role gone to Marlon Brando as originally intended, it likely would have had more action, and he would’ve done a really good job, but I don’t think he could have gotten the musician part down. The role was made for Sinatra, though the author wanted Brando and they weren’t satisfied with the end production because of this. Like how Truman Capote who wrote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” wanted Marilyn Monroe for the lead character in the film version and not Audrey Hepburn. 

This movie proved that some singers can do more than just sing. Sinatra proved he could be more than a Rat Pack member, he could sing, dance, and act. He could be romantic, funny, and dramatic. He could do serious and not so serious roles. There is not one happy moment in this entire film, it is depressing and deep, but in ways that make it terrific. You see addiction through the eyes and mind of the addicted, you can almost feel their pain, their sadness, their anger, all their emotions, as well as their highs and lows, great filmmaking does this. It took a really brave and first class director to produce such a film for the time period and he did it with such expertise, on such powerful and controversial subject matters. Not many other films today that deal with the same topic(s), conquer it quite as ingeniously as this one, as they usually go straight to the subject matter and there’s not much else to the plot. 

The Man With the Golden Arm goes deep, really deep, then climbs its way out, then digs, and climbs out again, taking you on a two hour ride through the mind and heart of a junkie and gambler. A truly superb and gripping motion picture. 18+ 4.5/5 

The Greatest Movies, Docuseries, and TV Shows About Cults

  1. Faults – 2014
  2. The Endless – 2017
  3. The Master 2012
  4. The House of the Devil – 2009
  5. The Wicker Man – 1973
  6. The Seventh Victim – 1943
  7. The Empty Man – 2020
  8. Rosemary’s Baby 1968
  9. Split Image – 1982
  10. The Invitation – 2022
  11. Apostle – 2018
  12. Martha Marcy May Marlene – 2011
  13. Sound of My Voice – 2011
  14. Son – 2021
  15. The Black Cat – 1934
  16. The Devil Rides Out – 1968
  17. Susperia – 1977
  18. Eyes Wide Shut – 1999
  19. The City of the Dead – 1960
  20. The Devils – 1971
  21. The Cabin in the Woods – 2011
  22. Kill List – 2011
  23. Starry Eyes – 2014
  24. Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple – 2006
  25. Mandy – 2018
  26. Fresh – 2022
  27. The Perfection – 2018
  28. Jonestown: Paradise Lost – 2007
  29. V/H/S/2 – 2013
  30. V/H/S/94 – 2021
  31. Jesus Camp – 2006
  32. Waco: The Rules of Engagement 1997
  33. The Source Family – 2012
  34. The Other Lamb – 2019
  35. Wild Wild Country – 2018
  36. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – 2015
  37. Children of God: Lost and Found – 2007
  38. Manson – 1973
  39. El Topo – 1970
  40. Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults – 2020
  41. The Lodge – 2019
  42. Prophet’s prey – 2015
  43. God Told Me To – 1976
  44. The Deep End – 2018
  45. The End of the World Cult – 2007
  46. Waco – 2018
  47. My Scientology Movie – 2015
  48. Sons of Perdition – 2010
  49. Seduced: Indside the NXIVM Cult – 2020
  50. The Cult of the Family – 2019
  51. Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst – 2004
  52. Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath – 2016-2019
  53. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey – 2022
  54. Orgasm Inc.: The SStory of OneTaste – 2022
  55. The Way Down – 2021
  56. The Secrets of Hillsong – 2023
  57. Devil in Ohio – 2022
  58. Murder Among the Mormons – 2021
  59. Under the Banner of Heaven – 2022
  60. The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter – 2008
  61. Unorthodox – 2020
  62. Big Love 2006-2011
  63. Cults and Extreme Beliefs – 2018
  64. Lyle – 2014
  65. Waiting for John – 2015
  66. Yellowjackets – 2021-
  67. Help! – 1965
  68. Julieta – 2016
  69. The Siege at Ruby Ridge – 1996
  70. Welcome to Leith – 2015
  71. The Keepers – 2017
  72. Kumare – 2011
  73. A – 1998
  74. One of Us – 2017
  75. The Lost Key – 2014
  76. Elmer Gantry – 1960
  77. God Loves Uganda – 2013
  78. Gonzalez: Falsos Profetas – 2014
  79. Higher Ground – 2011
  80. Marjoe – 1972
  81. The Magdalene Sisters – 2002
  82. Boy Erased – 2018
  83. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – 2018
  84. Cross of Fire – 1989
  85. The Prophet Mimi – 1973
  86. The Wave – 2008
  87. Frailty – 2001
  88. The Unknown Saint – 2019
  89. Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator – 2019
  90. Women Talking – 2022
  91. Deprogrammed – 2015
  92. Waco: The American Apocalypse – 2023
  93. Orphan Black -2013-2017
  94. John of God: The Crimes of Spiritual Healer – 2021
  95. Unveiled: Surviving La Luz del Mundo – 2022
  96. Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence – 2023
  97. Sins Among the Amish – 2022
  98. In the Name of the Father – 2023
  99. Cult Killer: The Story of Rick Rodriguez – 2006
  100. Archive 81 – 29022

Oppenheimer (2023)

Oppenheimer is a 2023 epic American biographical thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Based on 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the film follows the career of American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The story predominantly focuses on Oppenheimer’s early studies, his involvement in the Manhattan Project during World War II, and his fall from grace due to his 1954 security hearing. Cillian Murphy stars as the title character, Emily Blunt as his wife Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, a senior member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The cast also includes Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh.

In 1926, the 22-year-ols doctoral student J. Robert Oppenheimer suffers from homesickness and anxiety while studying under experimental physicist Patrick Blackett at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Upset with Blackett, Oppenheimer fights back by leaving him a poisoned apple, then barely stops visiting scientistNiels Bohr from eating it. Oppenheimer completes his physics PHD in Germany, and later meets theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg at a conference in Switzerland. He returns to the United States, hoping to expand quantum physics research there, and starts teaching at the University of California, Berkeley and California Institute of technology; not long after, World War II breaks out in Europe. He meets his future wife, Katherine Puening, a biologist and ex-communist, and also has an intermittent affair with Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party USA, until her suicide a few years later.

In 1942, U.S. Army General Leslie Groves recruits Oppenheimer to lead the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb after Oppenheimer gives promise that he has communist ties or sympathies. Oppenheimer, who is Jewish, is particulary driven by the Nazis’ potentially completing their nuclear weapons program that Heisenberg heads. Oppenheimer assembles a scientific team including Edward Teller and Isidor Isaac Rabi in Los Alamos, New Mexico to secretly create the bomb. Oppenheimer works with scientists to Enrico Fermi and David L. Hill, and he and Albert Einstein discuss how an atomic bomb risks triggering an unstoppable chain reaction that could destroy the world.

After Germany surrenders, several project scientists question the bomb’s continued importance, but Oppenheimer emphasizes it will end the war in the Pacific. The Trenity test is successfully conducted just before the Postdam Conference. President Harry S. Truman orders Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be bombed, forcing Japan’s surrender. Oppenheimer is thrown into the public eye as the “father of the atomic bomb” but the immense destruction and massive fatalities haunts him. He urges Truman to restrict further nuclear weapon developmen, but he president rejects Oppenheimer’s advice, calling it weak.

At a hearing intended to eliminate his political influence, Oppenheimer is betrayed by Teller and other colleagues. Strauss exploits Oppenheimer’s associations with Communists such as Tatlock and Oppenheimer brother, Frank. Despite Rabi and several other allies testifying in Oppenheimer’s defense, his security clearance is prematurely revoked, damaging his public image and neutralizing his policy influence.

As an advisor to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Oppenheimer advocates against further nuclear research, especially the hydrogen bomb, started by Teller. His stance becomes a point of dispute amid the intense Cold War with the Soviet Union. AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss resents Oppenheimer for publicly dismissing his worries about the export of radiosotopes and recommending arms talks with the Soviet Union.

At a hearing intended to stop political influence, Oppenheinmer is betrayed by Teller and others. Strauss exploits Oppenheimer’s associations with communists such as Tatlock and Oppenheimer’s brother, Frank. Despite Rabi and several other partners testifying in Oppenheimer’s defense, his security clearance is revoked, ruining his public image and annulling his policy influence. At Strauss’s later Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce, Hill testifies about Strauss’s personal motives in engineering Oppenheimer’s deposition. The senate votes against Strauss’s nomination.

In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson presents Oppenheimer with the Enrico Fermi Award as an act of political recovery.

This a really long film at over three hours in runtime. Towards the end, it does drag on, making you wonder if it will ever end, but the amazing story and outstanding acting and cinematography make up for that. There is a lot of talking, almost too much, but there is a lot action and drama as well, that make the movie entertaining. Nolan goes long and deep in the making of the bomb, an astonishing and horrifying process. He doesn’t restage the attacks though; there are no documentary shots of deaths or scenes of cities in ruin, choices that show his ethicality in directing. The horros of the bombings and the aftermath and the magnitude of the suffering they caused, permeate the film. Oppenheimer is a magnificent achievement in the art of filmmaking, absorbing the history of the story beautifully.

The story chronicles Oppenheimer, played with extreme intensity by Cillian Murphy, covering decades, starting in the 1920s with him as a young adult and it continues until his hair grays. The film involves the professional and personal achievements, including his work on the bomb, the controversies surrounding him, the anti-Communism and the attacks that almost destroyed him, as well as his romances and friendships that helped him grow, but also disturbed him.

This is a very deep story that is filled with event after event that Nolan tells with pure genius that not many other filmmakers today can do. He goes from color to black and white, zooms in and zooms out, uses intense sound effects and no sound at all, as well as intense effects to caputre the life of one of the most important, yet complicated men American history, a man who never won the Nobel Prize like he should have (yet 31 one other scientists on the Manhattan project did) for such an achievement.

Although the film doesn’t tell of his upbringing as a child, it does tell of his love for science at a very early age and how he got interested and started in quantum physics. Yes, it would have been very interesting to learn about Oppenheimer’s childhood, but it would have made the film probably close to five hours or more. There are books and documentaries that talk about his life as a child for those wanting to learn about it.

Yes, this is a really long movie. It does spend a lot of time on the hearings, but it also spends a lot of time as well on the concieving of the idea and the building of the bomb as well. Had the ending been shorter, you wouldn’t have learned much about Oppenheimer’s relationship with Albert Einstein, or how the hearings went down and their results.

Cillian Murphy is amazing as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a role only he could play. Emily Blunt is great as “Kitty” Oppenheimer. Matt Damon is excellent as General Leslie Groves. Robert Downey Jr. is outstanding as Lewis Strauss. Florence Pugh is really good in her role as Jean Tatlock, the psychiatrist and Communist Party USA member, whom J. Robert had a relationship and eventual affair with. Joshn Hartnett in his best role to date, is great in the role as nuclear phsicist and Nobel Prize winner Ernest Lawrence. Casey Affleck is really good as U.S. Army military intelligence officer Boris Pash. Rami Malek is good, not great as nuclear physicist David L. Hill. Kenneth Branagh does a fine job as Danish physicist Neils Bohr.

This film, though long and dragged out, still has Oscars written all over it. This is one of the greatest biopics of all time alongside others like Capote, 12 Years a Slave, and Schindler’s List. The way Christopher Nolan uses color, as well as black and white, and goes from past to present, to time periods in between, is pure genius. This movie, shot on Imax 70mm film, makes it as breathtaking as it is shocking, along with the fantanstic acting, costuming, effects, cinematography, and soundtrack. Nolan captures Oppenheimer and The Manhattan Project so spectacuraly, it sucks you in and takes you on a ride of romance, war, science, bombs, and legal trails. The director also uses no CGI to capture the effects, which very few directors today do, which make the film even more captivating and can lead it to more award nominations, and possible wins.

Overall, this is an extraordinary film, a must-see. If you only go to see one movie this year, make it this one. Sure, Barbie is cute and fun, but you’ll likely forget about it in a couple years or so. Oppenheimer you’ll probably never forget whether you’ve seen it once or over one-hundred times. Stunning, stunning, stunning, a masterpiece of cinematic art. 18+ 4.5/5

Barbie (2023)

Barbie is a 2023 American fantasy comedy film directed by Greta Gerwig and written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Based on the Barbie fashion dolls by Mattel, it is the first live-action Barbie film after many computer-animated direct-tovideo and streaming television films. The film stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, who go on an adventure of self-discovery following an existential crisis, with an ensamble cast that includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Ariana Greenblatt, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Helen Mirren, and Will Ferrell.

Stereotypical Barbie (“Barbie”) and a wide range of other Barbies all live in Barbieland, a matriachal society where all women are self-confident, self-sufficient, and successful. While their Ken counterparts spend their days enjoying recreational activities at the beach, the Barbies hold all important job positions such as doctors, lawyers, and politicians. Stereotypical Ken (“Ken”), Barbies boyfriend, is only happy when with Barbie and wants a closer relationship, but Barbie turns him down for a life of independence and female friendships.

During a dance party, Barbie suddenly starts to worry about death. The next day, she finds she can no longer complete her usual routine and discovers blemishes on her skin and imperfections in her hair. Weird Barbie, a smart, but disfigured outcast, tells her that to cure her problems, she must travel into the real world and find the child playing with her. On her way to the real world, Barbie finds Ken in the backseat of her car, and hesitantly allows him to go with her.

Arriving at Venice Beach, the two cause chaos and are arrested, alarming the Mattel, CEO, who demands they be caught right right away. Barbie tracks down her owner, a tween named Sasha, who criticizes her for glamourising unrealistic beauty standards. Upset, Barbie discovers that Gloria, a Mattel employee and Sasha’s mother is the reason for her existential crisis, transferring her concerns to Barbie. Gloria and Sasha rescue Barbie for the Mattel CEO and the three go to Barbieland together.

Meanwhile, Ken learns about the American patriachal system, and feels important and accepted for the first time. Returning to Barbieland, Ken convinces the Kens to into taking over and the Barbies are forced into submissive roles such as maids, housewives and girlfriends. Barbie arrives and tries to convince Ken and the Barbies to return to the way things were, only to turned down. She gets upset, but Gloria inspires her with a speech about the problems of being a woman. With the encouragement of Sasha, Gloria, Weird Barbie, Allan, and other discontinued Barbies, they free themselves from the Kens. They minipulate the Kens to fight amound themselves, allowing the Barbies to regain their systemic power, and preventing the Kens from altering Barbieland for male superiority.

This isn’t your typical Barbie film, not just because it’s not animated, but because it is aimed at older audiences. There is lots of sexual innuendos and mild inappropriate language, except for the “f-word” being bleeped. There is also violence, but it is mild and played for comedy. Other than these things, there is no other adult content like drugs, drinking, or smoking.

This is a fun, and funny film for the most part, but at times, it is overly cute and cheesy, almost to the point of being unenjoyable. There are quite a few really fun moments, like the dancing scenes and the scene where Barbie, Gloria, and Sasha are being chased by the Mattel CEO and his upper level employees. Margot Robbie was an excellent choice to play Barbie, although she’s not quite as thin as a typical Barbie. Ryan Gosling did a really job, but he was miscast as Ken, as Ken is supposed to be perfect in every way, and Gosling has a lazy eye, that at times in the movie, you can’t unsee. Nothing against lazy eyes (I have one myself), it’s just not the “Ken” look and this could have been fixed for the film.

Margot Robbie does an outstanding job. Rhea Perlman is great as Ruth Handler, the inventor of Barbie. America Ferrera is fantastic as Gloria. Ariana Greenblatt does a fine job as Sahsa. Issa Ray is good, not great. Kate McKinnon is excellent as Weird Barbie. Micahel Cera does fine as Allan. Helen Mirren is the perfect narrator for the movie. As far as Will Ferrell in this feature, this is another typical WF role for him, although he is funny in a few scenes, his character is also very annoying, and the film could’ve done without him.

Despite the cheesiness of this movie, it is still very entertaining for the most part. The costumes, makeup, and hairstyling is fantastic. The soundtrack is perfect, except when The Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine” is played, it doesn’t fit, but I think that’s the point. The sets are amazing too. Some of the Barbie and Ken characters (not the main two) are miscast, as they don’t fit the look of any of the dolls.

There are a few scens that will make you cry, some that will make you laugh out loud, and some that make you want to get up and dance. This film may or may not have you wanting to go down the Barbie aisle, digging through boxes to find your old Barbies, or buying a collectable on eBay, but it will have you entertained for a little less than two hours.

Overall, this movie is a bit too silly, at moments a bit too cutesy, but a pretty enjoyable film. Would I go see it again? No. If the plotline had been different and many other things like Gosling as Ken and the over-the-top silliness had changed as well, I would’ve enjoyed it more. In a way, it almost seems offensive to make children’s toys into foul-mouthed adults, but at the same time, if you look past that, it almost works. 13+ 3.5/5

Romantic Movies Give Us Unrealistic Expectations of Love

Romantic movies give us unrealistic expectations of love. How the couple meets, at first they hate each other, but in so many, they also fall in love so fast. They barely (or even not at all) know each other, and somehow fall head over heels for each other. So much of the time, the two don’t even seem to take the time to get to know each other before they seem to fall deeply and madly in love.

It doesn’t matter if the movie is animated or not, if it’s romantic, it’s bound to be unrealistic. In the 1950 Disney animated classic Cinderella, fantasy stuff aside, the prince falls in love with Cinderella after just seeing and dancing with her at the ball. He knows nothing about her except how she looks and the sound of her voice. This gives children the idea that as long as you fancy up and just show up, you’re gonna find true love. Then you get hit with reality and realize that that is not how love goes, it’s a long process.

In John Lennon’s song “Mind Games” he says, “Love is the flower you have to let grow,” and that is so true. In romantic films, the love seems to blossom almost right away, unless it is based on a true story. They show how love can happen in the blink of an eye, which isn’t true. Hopeless romantics will many times buy into fictional film versions of falling in love, then realize that’s not how it really is.

Love is not formed at first sight, it needs time to grow, you need to get to know the person first. Movies come out every year with plotlines filled with silly love stories that could never happen in real life. Why do directors do this? Because who wants to see a film where the couple’s love forms slowly like in real life. Who wants to set and watch a couple talk and casually date for weeks or more? Not many. Audiences want to get straight to the meat of the tale, straight to lovey dovey, mushy gushy stuff. They don’t care that much about how the couple fell in love, they just want them to fall in love.

No great, lasting relationship of any kind happens right away, but movie directors seem to always erase that fact. We are lead into fantasy worlds where couples who weren’t fond of each other, end up living happily ever after. The nerd or geek when the heart of the hot jock, the pauper wins the heart of a rich character, the couple that hated each other at first, end up head over heels, yes these scenarios can happen, but there is a low chance. Not many people end up living that happy for life lifestyle, and just because the lovers ride off in a carriage or on a horse or whatever in the end of the story, that’s it, toll credits. You don’t know what happens afterward (unless there is a sequel). The couple could up seperating, divorcing, etc. That is not what Disney and other production companies want people to know.

Children need to learn the real ways of relationships, the smooth and the rocky, and that not all couples are happy and that many aren’t meant to be together. I’m not saying children to see abusive marriages and stuff like that, but just not the sugarcoated stories that are marketed to them. They need to learn that no relationship is perfect like those on screen. Love takes time and it’s time that films start showing more of that.

Love is not perfect, so come on directors, show a real kind of relationship.

Elemental (2023)

Elemental is a 2023 American computer animated romantic comedy drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Peter Sohn. The film features the voices of Leah Lewis, Mamamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Catherine O’Hara. Set in a world occupied by anthromorphic elements of nature, the story follows the element of fire, Ember Lumen (Lewis) and water element Wade Ripple (Athie), who meet and fall in love after Wade is summoned to by a plumbing accident at a convenience store owned by Ember’s father Bernie (Del Carmen).

Fire elements Bernie and Cinder Lumen relocate to Element City, where they face xenophobia from other elements and struggle to find a home. They have a daughter, Ember, and eventually set up a convenience store called The Fireplace, setting up a Blue Flame that represents their heritage and traditions and attracting many fire element customers over time. Bernie intends for the store to give the store to Ember to run the shop on her own, she becomes overwhelmed by the customers and runs to the basment. Her firey outburst breaks a water pipe, flooding the basement and ordering Wade Ripple, a water element and city inspector. Wade talks about the faulty pipe and unwillingly leaves for City Hall to send the violation report to his air element employer, Gale Cumulus, who will have The Fireplace shut down. Ember persues Wade but it’s too late.

Taking pity on Ember he takes her to Cyclone Stadium to convince Gale to be more forgiving and reconsider shutting down her father’s store. When Wade mentions he was investigating recocurring floods before ending up at The Fireplace, Gales gives the two of them a tight deadline to find the cause. If they are able to seal the leak, then the violations will be forgiven. While searching the canals for the cause of the leak, Wade remembers that Ember’s temper comes from her trying to tell herself something that she is not ready to accept, but Ember denies this. They then find a hole in a dam that allows wave runoff from ships to flood the city’s plumbling, so they close the hole with sandbags. Meanwhile, Bernie deals with water leaks all over The Fireplace.

Wade and Ember spend time together in the city and learn more about each other. Later, Wade tells Ember that the sandbags did not hold, so Ember uses her glassmaking ability to create a sturdier seal for the hole in the dam. Meanwhile, Cinder suspects Ember is seeing someone and follows her. Ember visits Wade’s family at a luxury apartment, where she uses her fire to fix a broken glass pitcher, impressing Brook, Wade’s mother, who recommends her for a glassmaking internship. Gale then calls Wade and give her approval of Ember’s glass seal, thus saving The Fireplace from closing down. Ember then realizes that she does not want to take over the store.

Bernies announces his plan to to retire and give The Fireplace to Ember. Wade takes Ember to Garden Central Station to see Vivisteria flowers, which she was denied seeing as a child. Gale gives her an air bubble for safety while Wade pushes her underwater through the station. Afterward, Wade and Ember discover they are able to touch without hurting each other and share a romantic dance, but Ember reminds herself of her duty to The Fireplace and her family’s prejudice against water elements and leaves, upsetting Wade.

As Ember is about to take over The Fireplace, Wade shows up and confesses his love for her, while spilling that she caused the broken pipes. Ember rejects Wade, but Cinder senses genuine affection. Disappointed, Bernie decides not to retire and denies Ember the store. When the new seal on the dam breaks, the fire district floods. After saving The Blue Flame, Ember and Wade become trapped in a room in The Fireplace, causing Wade to evaporate from the enclosed heat. When the flood subsides, grief-stricken Ember tells Bernie she does not want to run the store and expresses her love for Wade.

Pixar has had mostly great movies, but this one is only good, not great. It has a creative plot and relatable characters. It teaches about family, disasters, acceptance, and love, as well as following your heart. Conservatives may compare the fire and water elements being romantically involved to an interracial relationship and maybe that’s what Disney and Pixar were going for. Also, some may not like the rebellious nature of Ember and how she sneaks around to see Wade.

This is a film with such heart and emotion. It is a truly great story for the most part, but it does focus a bit too much on Bernie’s store and Wade and Ember’s relationship, than much of anything else. At times it does feel much like an animated teen rom-com with a bit of drama, so it’s definitely not Pixar’s best film, but no their worst either. It is a very sweet movie that tugs at the heartstrings and reminds you of the power of family, true love, and following your heart.

This is an entertaining film for most part, but older children will enjoy it more than younger ones. The plot is a pretty predictable, so not Pixar’s or the screenwriter’s or director’s best work. This movie comes off largely as overly sweet, which almost makes you miss the metaphor of racial acceptance within it’s storyline. Despite great messages within this film, it does not have the wow factor of other Pixar films. Some viewers will likely get bored, others may genuinely enjoy it and bawl their eyes out, children will likely get bored with it fast, as it is not as action packed as most animated films these days.

Overall, this film is filled with emotion, mostly romantically and family-wise. The metaphor of the elements of nature characters representing different races is is a smart idea, but that is about the only smart idea of the plot. Maybe the studio’s running out of ideas, who knows? Let’s hope not. This is a charming movie, but it it falls flat in entertainment factor, especially when up against others like the Toy Story films and Up. This one is not a complete win with the studios, but not a complete failure either. 3.5/5 8+

Top 75 Greatest Films Summer of All Time

  1. Thelma & Louise – 1991
  2. Jaws – 1975
  3. Caddyshack – 1980
  4. Do the Right Thing – 1989
  5. Summertime – 1955
  6. Before Sunrise – 1995
  7. Moonrise Kingdom – 2012
  8. The Parent Trap -1961
  9. The Parent Trap – 1998
  10. Fire Island – 2022
  11. Dazed and Confused – 1993
  12. The Endless Summer – 1966
  13. Little Miss Sunshine – 2006
  14. American Graffiti – 1973
  15. Point Break – 1991
  16. Clueless – 1995
  17. Grease – 1978
  18. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial – 1982
  19. Stand By Me – 1986
  20. In the Heights – 2021
  21. The Sandlot – 1993
  22. A League of Their Own – 1992
  23. Vicky Christina Barcelona – 2008
  24. Roman Holiday – 1953
  25. King Richard – 2021
  26. What About Bob? – 1991
  27. Dr. No – 1962
  28. Dope – 2015
  29. Palm Springs – 2020
  30. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – 2008
  31. Crazy Rich Asians – 2018
  32. Crooklyn – 1994
  33. Something’s Gotta Give – 2003
  34. National Lampoon’s Vacation – 1983
  35. The Goonies – 1985
  36. The Graduate – 1967
  37. Dirty Dancing – 1987
  38. Bull Durham – 1988
  39. Risky Business – 1983
  40. The Flamingo Kid – 1984
  41. Breaking Away – 1979
  42. The Way Way Back – 2013
  43. Sylvie’s Love – 2020
  44. Bend It Like Beckham – 2002
  45. Real Women Have Curves – 2002
  46. Say Anything – 1989
  47. Move Over Darling – 1963
  48. Summer of Soul (… Or When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) – 2021
  49. The Talanted Mr. Ripley – 1955
  50. The Florida Project – 2017
  51. A Summer Place – 1959
  52. The Long Hot Summer – 1958
  53. Summer of ’42 – 1971
  54. Summer with Monika – 1953
  55. Smiles of a Summer Night – 1955
  56. Summer Stock – 1950
  57. Summer Interlude – 1951
  58. Summer Pasture – 2010
  59. Y Tu Mama Tambien – 2001
  60. Stranger by the Lake – 2013
  61. Swimming Pool – 2003
  62. Swimming Pool – 1969
  63. Beach Rats – 2017
  64. The Man in the Moon – 1991
  65. In July – 2000
  66. Splash – 1984
  67. White Men Can’t Jump – 1992
  68. Luca – 2021
  69. Cha Cha Real Smooth – 2022
  70. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday – 1953
  71. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – 2005
  72. South Pacific – 1958
  73. Pierrot le Fou – 1965
  74. August: Osage County – 2013
  75. Oslo, August 31st – 2011

Classic of the Week: Psycho (1960)

Psycho is a 1960 American thrilleer film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam. The story centers on an encounter between embezzler Marion Crane (Leigh) and shy motel worker Norman Bates (Perkins) and its aftereffects, in which a private investigator (Balsam), Marions lover Sam Loomis (Gavin), and her sister Lila (Miles) investigate her disappearance. 

During a Friday afternoon engagement in a Phoenix hotel, real estate secretary Marion Crine and her boyfriend Sam Loomis discuss their inability to get married because of Sam’s debs. Marion returns to work, steals a cash payment of $40,000 entrusted to her for deposit, and drives to Sam’s house in Fairvale, California. She pulls over and falls asleep and is woken up by a police officer the next morning. Her anxious behavior makes him question her reasons and asks to see her license but lets her go. Marion quickly trades her car with Arizona plates for a car with California plates. 

Marion stops for a night at the Bates Motel, located off the main highway, and hides the stolen money inside a newspaper. Owner Norman Bates walks out of a large house ovetrlooking the motel, registars Marion under an alias, and invites her to dinner. After Norman returns to his house, Marion overhears he and his mother arguing over Marion being there. Norman returns with the meal and apologizes for his mother’s anger. He tells her about his hobby as taxidermist, and his mother’s “illness.” Marion decides to drive back to Phoenix in the morning to return the stolen money. As Marion showers, a shadowy figure appears and stabs her. 

This film has its thrills, but at times comes off as a low-budget exploitation film. Many times throughout the film, there is no dialogue, just music, adding to the eerieness and intensity, which isn’t a bad thing, as we can still what’s going on. It is more disturbing than scary. At the time of its release, this movie was considered super scary, but it is very tame by today’s standards. 

Bates is very dark and very slow for its nearly two hour runtime. It has the thrill factor, the intensity, and the fine acting from all of its lead cast, but at times it comes off as cheaply made. It is only slightly entertaining, even though there have several remakes of the film and a TV series version.

This is definitely one of Hitchcock’s more gruesome films even though the gore is pretty mild, and even after learning that the blood in the shower scene was actually chocolate syrup, the scene is still disturbing enough and well done that it could still keep one up at night. Most of the movie takes place at the motel, so not much change of scenery, which may bore some viewers. Though this may not be Hitchcock’s best film in my opinion, it’s not his worst either. The plot may be simple, but the movie is well directed, well acted, and the effects are good too. 

Only Hitchcock could’ve taken such a basic storyline and turned it into what many consider a masterpiece. He knew how to shock and amaze then and his films still do to this day. 18+ 3.5/5