A Movie for Our Times

That Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith). He’s a charmer in “A Face in the Crowd” (1957).. He’s got just about the whole darn country eating out of his hands. Even that Patricia Neal, and she don’t charm so easy.  He turns that smile at you, you’re a goner. He’s so good he can aw-shucks the pants off anybody.

Patricia Neal don’t know where he’s from or who he is.  All she knows is she found him in jail when she’s auditioning folks for her radio show, “Face in the Crowd”. He’s not just another run-of-the-mill hobo. Soon’s she puts him on the show, she knows there ain’t nothing run-of-the-mill about him. He’s got something. That something that just may take him far. It’s a something that’s larger than life.

‘Fore you know it he’s going national. No local radio show is big enough for him. And he does it all. Sings them songs of his, tells stories and lays out wisdom like he’s the Good Lord His own self. Ol’ Lonesome, he’s got folks eating out of the palm of his hand.

For Lonesome, enough ain’t enough. He’s got to have more and more and more. More money. More women. More power. More more. I swear that man is greedy. Greedier than Old Midas ever was.

Seems Patricia Neal has fallen in love with him. She’s blinded by all that charm of his. But there’s that day his charm wears off her but good. She sees him for what he really is, and she doesn’t like it. Seems there ain’t much she can do. Or is there?

Attention Please! Movie Review! Movie Review

Looking for a movie to watch while staying at home. Here’s a gem of a film. It’s the absolutely brilliant The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘Course you can guess what Uncle Bardie will have to say about it. You know he’s about to give an A+. five-star, thumbs-up to the 2005 film, based on the equally brilliant book of the same name.

There’s few films that should be seen over and over again. Not many but a few. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the leader of that pack. It’s Doctor Who with a good budget, only better. Actually it is three movies in one. First you see it forward. Then you see it backward on a backward movie-playing machine. You can purchase the special player to play it backwards from a little old lady on Fifty-fourth Street. She gets them wholesale from a warehouse in the two-hundred-and-third dimension. Finally you play it sideways. But that’s a whole different fish of another sea.

Speaking of fish, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins with dolphins singing their farewell to the planet, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Then there’s a man waking up and yawning. Can’t you feel the excitement building up? Before you know it, he’s brushing his teeth. His name is Arthur Dent.

Outside some guys are about to break Arthur’s house. They’re tearing it down to make room for a new highway. They have bulldozers to do the job too. Unfortunately that isn’t the bad news. The bad news, the Vogons are coming. What’s the big deal about that? you ask.

That is where Ford Prefect, Arthur’s friend, comes in. He knows things because he’s from somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. This is a really good part of the movie where the two have a drink in the local pub and the drinking is done to the sound of Perry Como singing “Magic Moments” in the background.

Any movie that can get Perry Como singing in it is bound to get at least one star just for the effort. Ford tells Arthur that the earth is going to be destroyed in about twelve minutes, just enough time for Arthur and Ford to consume three beers. What’s an end of the world without a beer or two?

The Vogons are going to blow up earth to make room for a new thoroughfare through this corner of space. Just as Arthur and Ford are finishing up their last beer, a spaceship arrives and its driven by those Vogons. A very ugly race indeed. So ugly they put the ug in ugly.

Before they can make the earth go kablooey, Ford throws out his towel and grabs Arthur and they are transported inside the Vogon vessel. Arthur has done his first bit of hitchhiking, thanks to Ford’s towel. And don’t panic. The dolphins got the heck off the third-planet-from-the-sun safely.

To understand the outer space creatures, Arthur needs to stick a fish in his ear. The fish do the translating from Vogon to Arthur Dent-ish. Arthur and Ford are escorted to an arena where the Vogons are reciting poetry. The Vogons are possibly, no make that definitely, the worst reciters of poetry in the galaxy, and possibly in the universe. Oh, you think not. I’m here to tell you men have gone insane listening to Vogon poetry. Somehow, and that is a big somehow, Arthur manages a smile and says some nice things about the poem recited.

Suddenly he and Ford are dropped back into space. (And they didn’t even receive an invitation from Space either.) They manage to hold their breaths for thirty seconds before they fall into another spaceship. They find themselves turned into sofas and in a white room. (I mean, if you’re going to land in an alien spacecraft, what better disguise  than a sofa. I’ve had dreams of being a sofa, but all I do in those dreams is sit there and wait for something to happen.)

They shake off their sofa disguises and the door opens. In comes a very depressed robot named Marvin, voiced by Alan Rickman. He was built with GPP. That stands for Genuine People Personality. Marvin, not Alan Rickman.

How do we know that Marvin is depressed? He talks. If Alan Rickman was a depressed robot, this is the depressed robot he’d be. Some of the things Marvin says: “I’d make a suggestion but you wouldn’t listen. No one ever does.” “I’ve been talking to the ship’s computer. It hates me.” And “I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.”

On the spaceship, Arthur and Ford meet the heroine, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It takes a lot of courage to be on the same ship with the worst dressed sentient being in the universe. But Trillian is up to the job.

Zaphod Beeblebrox, better known as a narcissistic moron, has two heads, one inside the other. He’s the president of the galaxy. And he is a narcissistic moron. But you can take some comfort in the fact that he does smarten up when he puts on the Thinking Cap. He is in search of the ultimate question. He already has the ultimate answer. That answer is 42.

In pursuit of this ultimate question, Arthur, Ford, Zooey, Marvin and Zaphod go to the legendary planet Margrathea. Unfortunately, when they arrive, not one but two, yes two, nuclear missiles are fired at them. What happens next? You will have to see the movie to find out. Let’s just say it has to do with a whale. Marvin sums the experience up in his own inimitable way with: “I told you this would all end in tears.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the few movies that can out-Fifth Element The Fifth Element. If any studio is thinking of remaking this movie, don’t. This is a movie that should only be remade once every two hundred years. Go ahead and do 27.5 remakes of Batman Begins. I really don’t care. Just leave Hitchhiker’s Guide alone. If you do make the attempt, don’t be surprised if a Vogon shows up at your door with that darn nasty attitude of theirs.

Oh, one final thing. Make sure you’ve got your towel when you see this one. You might need it. And Marvin will appreciate it.

Mr. Big and the Writer

The big Hollywood producer looks up from the papers on his desk and recognizes the writer across from him. From behind the producer’s desk, a large painting of Mr. Big smiles down on the two of them. Being new to the Hollywood scene, this is the writer’s first meeting with a Mr. Big. He sits stiff in the chair and hopes this will be his big break.

“Sam?” Mr. Big says. “I can call you Sam?” Without waiting for a response, the producer continues. “Just bought a Broadway hit. Think you can handle the adapt?”

Sam starts to say yes. Before he can, Mr. Big goes on, “A fellow named Shakespeare wrote it. Ever hear of him? Me neither. Well, we paid big bucks for the play. It’s called Macbeth and it’s got everything. We think it can be one of our blockbusters next summer.”

“No problem,” Sam says. “I can handle it.” He takes out his small notebook to take down his orders.

“Of course you can. That Pulitzer you won last year says it all. Anyway, Sammy Baby, we need some changes.”

“Changes?”

“The play starts off with three witches. Well, witches aren’t in this year. Wizards are. So three wizards it is.”

The writer writes down “three wizards” in his notebook.

“Macbeth, or Mac as he will be named in the movie,” Mr. Big’s voice rises as he becomes excited about the production. “He will be a second string quarterback. Played by Johnny Up-and-coming.”

A question appears on Sam’s face.

“You know the guy who was in that movie about tin cans.”

“Tin cans?”

“Yeah. The cans turn into big ass trucks. He’ll be perfect. And what’s more. We can get him for a song. Anyway he’s a second string quarterback.”

“So he kills the first string quarterback?”

“No, no, no.” Mr. Big shakes his head and frowns that the writer doesn’t get the direction he’s going. “Can’t have Pretty Boy killing nobody. He’s our hero.”

There’s confusion on the writer’s face.

“It’s his cheerleader girlfriend who does the murder. Mac would never do that. First String is his best friend. And, oh yeah,” Mr. Big’s voice goes into flight with excitement, “I forgot to tell you the really good part.”

Writer can’t believe his ears. All he can say, “The good part?”

“She’s a vampire. Call her Selene after the vamp in Underworld.”

“Vampire?” Sam asks, totally confused by now.

“Yeah, vampires are big these days. So she’s got to be a vampire. And remember those wizards. They’re zombies. Got to be zombies.”

“Zombies?”

“Yeah, Sammy Baby, add zombies and we have an extra hundred mil in profits. Zombies are really in, you know.”

Before the producer can continue, the writer stands up.

“I don’t think I am your man to do this project.”

“What?” Mr. Big rises out of his chair. “Listen, you don’t take this, you’ll not work in this town.”

“If this is Hollywood, I don’t think I want to work in this town. I’m goin back to Omaha.”

Shaking his head, Writer turns and walks out of the office. With his dignity.

It’s Oscar Night

Tonight Hollywood will walk down the Red Carpet and let us ooo-and-awe at the egos going past the cameras. Those egos will be following a tradition that goes back to the Way Back When. They’ll be walking in the footsteps of Bogie and Marilyn and Dietrich as they make their way to the seats reserved just for them. We’ll see women in dresses with most of the parts missing. And so stiff the women can hardly sit down in them.

We’ll see a lot of speeches which will go on way too long and say absolutely nothing. But maybe will get some speeches we really want to hear. And in case you’re wondering, here is a preview of some of the speeches we may hear.

Best Picture Producer: Thank God. Now I can make my money back. I will never hire that director again. Everything he touches turns into manure.

Best Director: How would you like to be stuck on an island for two months with the cast and crew I had to work with?

Best Actress: I knew I was mahvelous in this film. (Notice. They never call it a movie.) Of course, I am always mahvelous. Especially when I look mahvelous. Aand I did look mahvelous in this film..

Best Actor: Just a second. (He takes out a mirror and checks himself out. He spends a full minute admiring himself. Then he sighs.) I have to admit I am one handsome guy. No wonder I have so many female fans. If I wasn’t me, I would be after me.

Best Supporting Actress: How come I never get nominated for Best Actress? I do all the work. She gets all the credit. The Bitch.

Best Supporting Actor: Finally.

Best Screenplay: (Shaking his fist at a director.): I’m going to kill that s. o. b. of a director for taking my awesome screenplay and dragging it through the dirt.

Best Makeup: Do you know how hard it was to take the ugliest cast ever and make them even uglier?

Best Costume: Can you believe some of the dresses worn tonight? And they are all my creations.

Best Song:This makes up for not winning the Grammy.

Best Editing: Has anybody seen the missing eighteen minutes?

Best Documentary: Smile. You’re on Candid Camera.

Best Foreign Film: How do you say “You like me” in Japanese?

Best Special Effects: Isn’t it amazing that I could make that hamburger look like a real hamburger?

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Sam Mendes’ War Movie

Whether 1917 is a great film will take some time to determine. I can only say that director Sam Mendes has made a very good war film. And I would caution my readers that this is a war film, not an action film. If you go to see it and expect bang-bang-shoot-’em-up or a superhero movie, this one is not for you.

If you are looking for a good film about the realities of war, 1917 does that, and does it with six stars. If ever there was a war that was hell, it was World War I. The war has been going on for almost three years, and 1917 is not all quiet on the western front. At least, not in the trenches where men fight with the rats over food.

A battalion of 1600 British troops men are planning on pursuing the Germans the next morning as they retreat. But headquarters behind the lines have intelligence that it’s a trap. Unfortunately there is radio silence and the British cannot inform the advance company.

The British general sends two corporals, Schofield and Blake, on a mission to hand-deliver a message, warning the Dev Regiment of the trap. They have to cross the no-man’s land between the British and the German trenches, then make their way through the abandoned German trenches and through a town before the reach their comrades. They have less than twenty-four hours. And to emphasize the urgency, Blake’s brother is an officer with the Regiment.

In what could have been a boring slog of a journey, Mendes direction, Roger Deakens’ cinematography, the script by Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Sam Mendes, and Thomas Newman score heighten the tension again and again and make this film well-worth the two hours of viewing. There may be Germans ready to take the two down. As they make their way through a landscape strewn with the ravages of war, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen.

It has been said that combat brings out the best, and the worst, in men and women. And 1917 shows how true that can be. Schofield and Blake are two ordinary guys who swallow hard and face the unknown with courage. At the end of the movie, I was reminded of the Scripture that says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Schofield and Blake have shown that kind of love.

If there is a better film this year, I’m not sure what it would be. As for me, I give 1917 a big thumbs up and six out of five stars.