Movie notes

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Contents:

1   Overview
2   Secret World of Arietty
3   61*
4   Sneakers
5   Young Einstein
6   Wings of Desire
7   Ladyhawke
8   The Future is Wild
9   Dark City



1. Overview.

These are comments for friends related to movies and TV shows that may be worth seeing. Most are lesser-known titles that are available on DVD; the first movie is an exception (it's not on DVD yet).




2. Secret World of Arietty.

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I haven't seen Secret World of Arietty, but I'm familiar with the animator (Hayao Miyazaki) and the book that the movie is based on (The Borrowers by Mary Norton).

Miyazaki has produced a number of good films and this one looks promising. Based on his track record, I'd recommend it for both adults and children.

IMDB rates the original Japanese version of the film 7.7 out of 10. For the IMDB page, click here.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a trailer for the movie here:





3. 61*.

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61* is Billy Crystal's baseball movie from 2001. It's the story of the 1961 “race” between baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to break a record set by Babe Ruth.

Sports writers favored Mantle over Maris and portrayed Maris as a bitter rival and a “surly” player, but the two teammates were actually friends. Maris was a hero, in a sense, and most people seem to agree that this film does the man and the game justice.

61* is a TV movie, but this isn't obvious. This film is better than some higher-budget major motion pictures from the same decade. It won an Emmy for Outstanding Casting in 2001. IMDB rates it 8 out of 10.

Advisory: The film includes adult language, particularly from Mantle, who wasn't exactly a Sunday School student in real life.

Amazon has the DVD. You can order either new or used copies at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a trailer for the movie here:





4. Sneakers.

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Sneakers is an amusing “caper” movie from 1992. There's no high drama; it's just a lightweight story about intrigue in Silicon Valley. But the cast list is a clue that this film is worth a look. The players include Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Timothy Busfield, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell.

IMDB rates the film 7 out of 10.

You can order either new or used DVDs from Amazon at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a trailer for the movie here:





5. Young Einstein.

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Young Einstein is a 1988 Australian comedy. It's not considered to be best of breed; IMDB rates the film as a loser, less than 5 out of 10. It does slightly better with Maltin, who gives it 2.5 stars. I think it's funny in a few places. Fast-forward through the slow parts and you might get a laugh or two out of it.

There's something to be said, I think, for a biography of Albert Einstein that delves into his romance with Marie Curie and his invention of rock'n'roll. My favorite part is early on, when Albert splits the beer atom.

Amazon has both used and new copies at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a clip from the movie here:





6. Wings of Desire.

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Wings of Desire is a 1987 German existentialist film about angels that features Peter Falk as Inspector Columbo. Who can resist a combination like that? Note: The original German title of the film is Der Himmel uber Berlin.

Falk actually appears as an American actor who plays a Columbo-like detective. The actor has a connection to the real stars of the film, a group of German angels who have fallen into despair over the fact that they can see what happens on Earth but not affect it.

The film is great if you're in the mood for something slow moving and philosophical. If you're more into the Die Hard or Lethal Weapon series, be prepared for a change of pace.

The film won for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987. IMDB rates it 8 out of 10. Leonard Maltin gave the movie 3.5 stars and refers to it a “must see”. It was remade as a Nicholas Cage vehicle named City of Angels. I haven't seen the remake, but remakes generally don't measure up to originals.

Wings of Desire was directed by Wim Wenders, who also did Paris, Texas.

Trivia: One of the angels is named Cassiel. He shares the name with the rogue angel in the TV series Supernatural.

I recommend the Criterion DVD for this film. You can order either new or used copies at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a clip from the movie here:





7. Ladyhawke.

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Ladyhawke is a 1985 adventure comedy about a Knight, a Lady, and Woody Allen. Actually, Matthew Broderick playing a character who's a bit like a young Woody Allen.

Rutger Hauer is the Knight and Michelle Pfeiffer is the Lady. Naturally, they're lovers who are under a curse. The film was directed by Richard Donner, who also did The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Superman, and the original Omen.

Maybe it's just me, but I think this film is downright likable. IMDB rates it about 7 out of 10. Leonard Maltin gave it 3 stars. It received 2 Oscar nominations, a Hugo nomination, and a Golden Reel award.

Amazon has the DVD. You can order either new or used copies at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a music video based on the movie here:





8. The Future is Wild.

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The Future is Wild is a fun science special from TV that talks about the types of animals which might inhabit the Earth in the future. There's at least two versions, a long one and a short one. I've linked to the long version below.

There's silver spiders that farm mice, land-dwelling descendants of squids that replace both elephants and monkeys, killer “sharkopaths” that hunt in packs, and fish that replace birds. To use a word that's probably outdated these days, cool.

Amazon has both the long and the short versions on DVD. You can order new or used copies of the long version at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a trailer for the series here:





9. Dark City.

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Dark City isn't as well known as the Matrix series, but it's arguably the best science fiction film of the 1990s. Certainly it's the best science fiction film noir production of the past couple of decades.

The leads include Rufus Sewell as a suspected serial killer, William Hurt as the 1940s-style detective who's hunting him, Kiefer Sutherland as a mad scientist, and Jennifer Connelly as the killer's wife. Or have they ever met?

The film starts out as the confused hero (Sewell as John Murdoch) tries to figure out who he is, where he is, and where he came from. We know that he was raised in a small town named Shell Beach. But where is Shell Beach?

Many fun moments. Personal favorites include a flashback where the mad scientist is forced to destroy his own memories, the incident where John finds his childhood scrapbook, and of course, the finale where John and Detective Bumstead (William Hurt) learn what Shell Beach is.

IMDB rates the film about 8 out of 10. Maltin gives it 3 stars. Dark City won 6 awards of various types. For a related article named Real Men Love Dark City, click here.

Amazon has both new and used copies on DVD. You can order them at this link.

If you have Flash and a fast Internet connection, you can watch a trailer for the movie here:





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