Contributing Editor, Ron Carmean, is a movie maven. This means he has lots of time on his hands and, therefore, watches a lot of movies that maybe you and I can’t seem to get around to. Lucky us, Ron has narrowed down the list as to which movies he thinks you and I should watch. So grab some popcorn and your date’s hand and let’s catch a RonFlick!
Titanic…Avatar…Silence of the Lambs. These were 4-star films. They earned a ton of money and/or a lot of Oscars. Everyone has seen or, at least, heard of them. So, what is a 3-star film? It’s one that failed to win (many) awards or set box office records, but is still well worth your time watching and will bring much enjoyment. Of course, it’s possible some may rub you the wrong way–you don’t like the topic, you’re not crazy about the actor, or there’s too much nudity or violence, whatever—but, on the whole, you’ll enjoy most of the ones on my list. Ah, the list! It consists of brief summaries of a bunch of 3-star films that I recommend you make an effort to watch…or watch again! Many are available on TV or Netflix or wherever you may poke around with your mouse. Now, remember to turn your cell phones off and stop all that jabberin’.
The Accidental Tourist = A lonely writer of travel guides (William Hurt) tries to get on with life after the death of his son and divorce. Aided by a free-spirited woman ( Oscar winner Geena Davis), his journey is difficult and challenging. But will it be possible? A finely tuned, well-written drama of what’s necessary for a person to change his life.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory = A child wins a contest to tour a world famous chocolate factory. What happens there changes his and the factory owner’s lives forever. The best of many films by Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Wonderful story, great visual entertainment. Enjoyable for children and adults alike.
Contact = Jodie Foster’s film answers the question: Are we alone in the cosmos? No. Communicating with us through SETI, a meeting with our far distant neighbors is arranged. Upon seeing them, they look …familiar. No monsters, no interstellar conflict. A thinking person’s sci fi flick: raises questions, answers some. A quality film for any age audience.
Dave = A look-alike man (Kevin Kline) replaces the President in an emergency. The country runs better. The first Lady (Sigourney Weaver) falls for him. All ends well. A wonderful romantic comedy (won Oscar for writing). And don’t we wish our government could be run like this? (Watch how the “President” revamps the budget.)
Defending Your life = Movie ad: “The first true story of what happens after you die.” Hilarious! Albert Brooks’ best film. After his sudden death, Brooks finds out he should have lived life differently –and it’s not the first time. He invested money in diseased cattle, instead of Casio watches. His wife helps him prepare to ask for a raise, but he caves under pressure. Meryl Streep, who has also died, has been perfect in her life. The two meet and fall in love. Questions arise. Is there another chance in another lifetime for Brooks? Will love found in the afterlife move on to the next life for them both? Take a guess. Or watch the film –it’s funnier than real life.
Frankenweenie = Sparky, beloved dog of young Victor Frankenstein, dies in an accident. Victor uses a school science project to bring him back to life. Problems arise when other students’ want similar work done. The results frighten many people. What will happen next? Beautiful story in black and white, with stop action characters. Suitable for any age. (Hint: Sparky lives.)
The Freshman = Entering college in NYC to study film making, a young man has a fortuitous meeting with a crime boss who bears a striking resemblance to The Godfather. An unlikely friendship grows and a brilliant and comedic caper film ensues. Marlon Brando, near the end of his career, plays off his Godfather image by giving a touching and humorous portrayal of a powerful Italian crime lord. Matthew Broderick, post-Ferris Bueller and pre-Broadway, portrays Clark Kellogg, an innocent in over his head at school and in new relationships in the big city. A Komodo Dragon delivery leads to a confrontation between good and evil and (almost) certain death. Maximilian Schell steals his few scenes with his portrayal of a Nazi Chef hosting a Dinner Club featuring endangered species. Violence is almost non-existent; humor is subtle, but constant. Very, very funny film.
Gorky Park = A triple murder takes place in Moscow. A police investigator (William Hurt) is assigned to the case which no one in the government wants solved. Great plot, superb cast, minimum of violence (considering the theme is murder). Look for Lee Marvin as a frightening American Businessman, against whom a case cannot seem to be proved.
High Anxiety = A Mel Brook’s film and tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. The film’s location: The Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous. People are dying there and the Institute’s new Director must find the murderer(s). Brooks is joined by Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, et al. Almost as funny as Blazing Saddles. (Look for the Shower scene.)
The Hunt for Red October = Red October is a Russian nuclear submarine armed with atomic missiles. It runs silently. On its first voyage, it’s heading for the U.S. to attack –or defect. The question for CIA analyst Alec Baldwin is: how to find it and determine its purpose when no one can hear it. A Tom Clancy novel turned into an excellent movie thriller. Red October’s Captain: Sean Connery (apparently a Russian with a Scottish accent; no one cares).
The Last Waltz = Martin Scorcese’s documentary about The Band’s final concert. Often considered the finest concert film ever. Musical guests include: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, etc. I love The Band’s drummer, Levon Helm. Listen to his songs, then Google him. You’re in for a treat.
The Limey = Terence Stamp portrays an ex-con Englishman who comes to L. A. to find the murderer of his daughter. Excellent plot and a fine cast whose faces you’ll recognize, if not their names. The film’s centerpiece is Stamp, whose cool, soft-spoken demeanor masks a truly dangerous man. Perhaps his role of a lifetime.
Okay, that should hold you for awhile. There are plenty more on the list. Look for them in another blog coming to this theater reel soon!