• Gran Torino

    Gran Torino

    ★★★½

    Walt Kowalski is a very unpleasant man. Very. Unpleasant to his family, unpleasant to his priest, and certainly unpleasant to the Hmong family that moves in next door. Somehow though, he is able to find redemption through becoming friends with the Hmong family. I did think it odd that he took Thao to the barber shop to "talk like a man" but that isn't how anyone I know talks. I live in blue-collar and farming country, and I know a lot of very tough men, hands like saddle leather, but no one uses ethnic slurs like that. Maybe Kansas is more enlightened than I thought.

  • Seven Days in May

    Seven Days in May

    ★★★★

    John Frankenheimer loves his paranoid political thrillers. This film is rather dense as it starts out, meaning a lot happens and you better pay attention until the ball really gets rolling. Some amazing acting on display here, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Fredric March, Edmond O'Brien, Martin Balsam, all completely become their characters.

    Around 1970 (filmed in 1963) a nuclear disarmament treaty has been signed, but the military thinks that the Soviet Union will not uphold their end. Therefore, a few…

  • Festival

    Festival

    ★★★½

    An interesting documentary covering The Newport Folk Festival from 1963-1966. Lots of Joan Baez, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Bob Dylan. I'd like to have seen more of the Georgia Freedom Singers, The Staple Singers, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Son House, Fred McDowell, and Mississippi John Hurt. Even with several African-American performers, and the rest being fully committed to the Civil Rights movement, the audience was overwhelmingly white. The filmmakers even mention that in the extras.

    It is a bit…

  • Cotton Comes to Harlem

    Cotton Comes to Harlem

    ★★★½

    I've read a few of the Chester Himes novels featuring Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones. The movie starts out with some of Himes' macabre humor, but that is quickly dropped for a straight ahead police procedural. For those who don't know, Coffin Ed and Gravedigger are tough Black cops in Harlem who everyone knows and fears, but there is a level of trust. They do what they say will do. Not that that makes them popular, after all, they work…

  • A Well Spent Life

    A Well Spent Life

    ★★★★

    Mance Lipscomb seems like a much nicer guy and mentally healthier than Lightnin' Hopkins. Lightnin's music is more original however. But Mance can sure play that guitar. He was married to the same woman for over 50 years, even though they had an unusual eating arrangment. He ate at the table and she sat on the sofa. Real life can be interesting.

  • The Tall Target

    The Tall Target

    ★★★½

    The Baltimore Plot was a suspected plot to kill Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Dick Powell means to stop this plot in this fictionalized account. Powell is a New York policeman who has discovered the conspiracy. He gets on the train from New York to Baltimore after turning in his badge. He runs into troubles, though, and barely saves the day. A really well made film with a lot of tension, even though we know Lincoln made it through Baltimore…

  • Cloak and Dagger

    Cloak and Dagger

    ★★★½

    Second movie in a week that has a scene at "Midwestern University"! In 5 Against the House it was a bunch of students in the 1950s, and here, it's a science professor played by Gary Cooper during World War II. Coop is an atomic scientist who is recruited to go to Switzerland and make contact with a female scientist who has escaped Germany and find out where the Germans are in developing an atomic bomb. I like how Cooper gets…

  • The Rusty Knife

    The Rusty Knife

    ★★★½

    A good Japanese yakuza noir. It's too complicated for me to describe the plot, but not too complicated to follow. Basically, I'm feeling lazy today. Jô Shishido, pre-implants, makes a quick appearance. Rusty Knife, or sometimes The Rusty Knife has probably the best death-by-poison scene in the history of cinema. There is some nice camera work here and the final shot really is perfect. Overall, it was a good watch, but not as great as A Colt is My Passport,…

  • 5 Against the House

    5 Against the House

    ★★★½

    Brian Keith plays a guy named Brick who is Korean War vet with PTSD. He's one brick shy of a load. :-P Some guys at "Midwestern University" visit Reno and decide to try and knock off a casino just to see if they can do it. Then return the money. But, Brick decides to cross them up and keep the money. Lots of wisecracks in the beginning, especially from Alvy Moore. I found them amusing. I did not find the hazing amusing. Phil Karlson generally does good B-movies and this is no exception. A fun watch.

  • It Happened One Night

    It Happened One Night

    ★★★★½

    Many years ago (like, 1991), I started dating this hottie, and I told her I was a big fan of old movies, and she told me one of her favorites was It Happened One Night. If she didn't like old movies, I wasn't sure we'd keep dating. Now we are closing in on 28 years being happily married. She doesn't love old movies as much as I do, but she does like many of them. We haven't watched this in many years however, and I'm happy to report it is still a joy. So is she.

  • Magnolia

    Magnolia

    ★½

    This stupid movie is 3hours and 8 minutes long. There is no plot. At one point I thought they must be bringing these stories together cause this movie has been going on a long time, and I look at the time and it's only an hour and five minutes into it! Over two hours to go! That is a bad sign. The acting is good. It was well shot. What the freak was up with the raining frogs? I fast-forwarded…

  • Jimi Could Have Fallen from the Sky

    Jimi Could Have Fallen from the Sky

    ★★

    I've got a strong suspicion that drugs were used in the making of this. I guess not surprising considering. It's 7 minutes long with some guy talking about Jimi Hendrix's life with "actors" doing stuff.