Music Video of the Day: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber (2011, dir by Sanaa Hamri)


He’ll always be Justice Beaver to me.

People tend to forget that there was a time when you couldn’t go on twitter without immediately getting assaulted by a thousand Bieber stans.  Belieber was once a widely used and widely feared term.  Thankfully, things have calmed down a bit on that front.  The important thing is that it’s the holidays.

Enjoy!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Season 2 comes to an end with …. The Best Game of the Season!

Episode 2.13 “The Best Game of the Season”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 30th, 1996)

The final episode of season 2 begins with Mary Beth screaming, “9-11!  Girl in trouble!”

It turns out that Mary Beth was trying to clean the backboard in the gym when the ladder fell over.  Now, she’s caught in the net!  The team runs into the gym.  They’re impressed by Mary Beth’s dedication but then they remember that she just wants to get a car that she’ll apparently receive if the team makes the playoffs.  “I thought she had Tornado Fever!” Josh says and the entire team laughs about how the whole school has Tornado Fever.  Julie agrees that there is no way that the Tornadoes aren’t going to make it to the playoffs.  Fuller yells at everyone for getting cocky and forgetting that they still have to win one more game.  Uh, guys …. SOMEONE RESCUE MARY BETH!  Eventually, Vince sets up the ladder and climbs up to the backboard to save Mary Beth.  But then ladder falls over again and …. ha! …. Vince is trapped as well.

Fuller tells Julie to come talk to him in the locker room after practice.  It turns out that there’s a man with a fake Italian accent waiting for the two of them.  Coach Fuller explains that the man coaches “the Women’s International Basketball Team in Milan.”

“Really!?” Julie exclaims, “Milan, Italy!?”

No, Julie!  MILAN, INDIANA!  OF COURSE, IT’S ITALY!

Anyway, Coach Mario wants Julie to come play for him in Europe.  Fuller thinks that Julie needs to focus on high school and college before going pro.  Fuller explains that graduating from high school and college will make Julie a more mature and better player.  Somewhere, LeBron James is laughing.  (And that, quite frankly, is the extent of my LeBron James knowledge.)  In a rather creepy moment, Mario says that he knows all about Julie, including that Chris cheated on her before going to college.  WHAT!?  Julie finds nothing strange about this.

“I-a know it-a is-a big decision,” the actor playing Mario says.

Later, in the school hallway, Josh tells Julie that she should take the opportunity but that he would really miss her if she goes.  Julie kisses him.  “Wooooooo!’ the audience says.  Amy suggests that Julie should just go to the tryouts and see what it’s like before making a final decision.  Julie says that’s not a bad idea.  Danny says, “Plus, you probably won’t make the team anyways.”  Julie glares at him but Danny’s only saying what we’re all thinking.

At the mall, everyone listens as Mary Beth and Vince debate whether or not it’s better to get a BMW or an old mustang convertible.  But then Julie shows up and tells everyone that she went to the try-outs and she played the best ball of her life.  Then Fuller shows up and tells Julie that she made it.  Everyone gets excited.

“I made it!” Julie says.

“There’s something else you have to make,” Fuller says, somberly.  “A decision …. by this Monday.”

But what about the car!?

The next day, Fuller is frustrated because the team is more interested in talking about Julie’s decision about going to Italy than practicing.  Julie announces that she’s going to Italy.  The team freaks out.  Fortunately, Mary Beth ends the fight by announcing that she washed the scoreboard with soapy water.  Sparks fly across the gym.  Everyone’s upset about the scoreboard but I’m just happy that Mary Beth didn’t get electrocuted.

At the mall, everyone gathers at The Stadium (I just remembered that’s the name of the crappy restaurant where they all hang out) to say goodbye to Julie.  Everyone except for Mary Beth and Vince!  Those two try to run a buffer over the gym floor but they accidentally grab a sander instead.  The gym floor is destroyed.  “Oops!” Vince says.

The next morning, Josh approaches Julie in school and gives her two tickets to a lecture from someone who I assume is a basketball player.  I assume this not because I recognized the name but because every guest star on Hang Time was a basketball player.  Unfortunately, Julie has just learned that she had to leave for training camp right away.  No lecture.  No going away party.  And no playing in the final game.  The Tornadoes are doomed!

Coach Fuller steps into the gym and freaks out when he discover Vince and Mary Beth repairing the floor.  Accompanying Fuller is an 10-foot tall woman who I assume is a basketball player.  While Fuller yells at Vince and Mary Beth in his office, Julie steps in to the gym and talks to the basketball player.  The player and Julie dribble the ball around and Julie is so thoroughly humiliated that she realizes that she’s been way too cocky about going to Italy.  The player orders Julie to stay in school and go to college.

At the big game, Julie shows up and announces that she’s not going to Italy and she’s ready to lead the team to the playoffs!  Except …. The Tornadoes lose by one point!  YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO ITALY, JULIE!  Julie assures everyone that they just played “the best game of the season.”  No, you lost, Julie!  Maybe if you had gone to practice instead of spending your time packing for Italy, the team would have gone to the championship!  Still, no one is upset at Julie because no one on this show is ever allowed to call out Julie being more than a bit self-absorbed.

And so season 2 ends.  Next week, season 3 begins!  Will Julie and Josh be able to lead the Tornadoes to another championship?  Julie might but Josh won’t because his character didn’t return for season 3.  Who will replace him?  Tune in next week to find out!

Scenes I Love: The Cross-Examination From Anatomy of a Murder


Since today is Otto Preminger’s birthday, I figured that this would be a good time to share a scene that I love from one of my favorite movies, Preminger’s 1959 film, Anatomy of a Murder.

In this scene, prosecutor Claude Dancer (played, in one of his first screen roles, by George C. Scott) cross-examined Laura Manion (Lee Remick), the wife of a man who has been accused of murder.  Playing the role of the defense attorney is James Stewart.  This scene is a master-class in great acting.  Preminger could be a bit of an inconsistent director but his willingness to take on controversial subjects set him apart from many of his contemporaries.  When he had the right material, as he did here, he could create the perfect mix of melodrama and art.  Preminger’s best films, like Anatomy of a Murder, stand the test of time.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Fritz Lang Edition


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we celebrate the birth and the legacy of the great Austrian director Fritz Lang.  Starting his career during the silent era in Germany, Lang was both a proponent of expressionism and an early critic of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.  Despite this and the fact that Lang’s mother was Jewish, Josef Goebbels attempted to recruit Lang to run Germany’s largest film studio, UFA.  Lang responded to Goebbels offer by moving to Paris and divorcing his wife, who was an ardent Nazi.  Lang eventually found his way to Hollywood, where he worked for the next twenty years.  With films like Metropolis, M, Fury, Hangmen Also Die, Scarlet Street, and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Lang proved himself to be a master of every genre and his influence is still felt to this day.

In honor of the man and his legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Fritz Lang Films

Metropolis (1927, dir by Fritz Lang, DP: Karl Freund and Gunther Rittau)

M (1931, dir by Fritz Lang, DP: Fritz Arno Wagner)

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933, dir by Fritz Lang, DP: Karl Vash and Fritz Arno Wagner)

Man Hunt (1941, dir by Fritz Lang, DP: Arthur C. Miller)

 

 

Everything Everywhere All At Once Wins in Atlanta


The Atlanta Film Critics Circle have announced their picks for best of 2022!

Top 10 Films
1. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
2. THE FABELMANS
3. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
4. TÁR
5. RRR
6. TOP GUN: MAVERICK
7. DECISION TO LEAVE
8. WOMEN TALKING
9. GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
10. NOPE

Best Director
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Schneiert – EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

Best Lead Actor
Colin Farrell – THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

Best Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett – TÁR

Best Supporting Actor
Ke Huy Quan – EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

Best Supporting Actress
Janelle Monáe – GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY

Best Ensemble Cast
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY

Best Screenplay
Martin McDonagh – THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

Best Documentary
FIRE OF LOVE

Best Foreign Language Film
RRR

Best Animated Film
GUILLERMO’ DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO

Best Cinematography
Claudio Miranda – TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Best Original Score
Michael Giacchino – THE BATMAN

Best Stunt Work
TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Best Breakthrough Performer
Austin Butler – ELVIS

Best First Feature Film
Charlotte Wells – AFTERSUN

Monday Live Tweet Alert: Join Us For In Hot Pursuit and Rush Hour 2!


As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in hosting a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #MondayActionMovie, the film will be 1977’s In Hot Pursuit!  Selected and hosted by me, this Southern drive-in epic features drug smugglers, an airplane, a helicopter, and an RV!  It also features a cast made up of a combination of real-life cops and hippied!  The movie starts at 8 pm et!  Here’s the playlist!

 

Following #MondayActionMovie, Brad and Sierra will be hosting the #MondayMuggers live tweet.  We will be watching Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in 2001’s Rush Hour 2!  This film is available on Netflix and HBOMax!

 

It should make for a night of fun viewing and I invite all of you to join in.  If you want to join the live tweets, just hop onto twitter, start the In Hot Pursuit playlist  at 8 pm et, and use the #MondayActionMovie hashtag!  Then, at 10 pm et, start Rush Hour 2, and use the #MondayMuggers hashtag!  The live tweet community is a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.    

Hope to see you there!

Holiday Spirit: The Greatest Store In The World (dir by Jane Prowse)


Here to help you get in the holiday spirit, we’ve got a British film from 1999!

The Greatest Store In The World tells the story of a single mother and her two daughters.  When the film begins, they’re living in a van but, after the van catches on fire, they upgrade things by moving into a luxurious London department store.  Along with coming together as a family and celebrating the holidays, they also thwart an attempt to rob the store.  It’s a good-natured little movie, one that reminds the viewer of how fun the world could be before the rise of COVID-fueled authoritarianism.  It was filmed in Harrods, though the name itself is not actually uttered in the film.  Fans of Doctor Who will want to keep an eye out for Peter Capaldi while fans of larger-than-life actors will be happy to see the great Brian Blessed.

(I should admit that, when I was little and my family was constantly moving from one state to another and I was always having to say goodbye to whatever new friends I had made, I used to fantasize about living in a big mall.  Perhaps that’s one reason why this sweet-natured film brought a tear to my mismatched eyes.)

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Last Christmas by Backstreet Boys (2022, dir by Bill Fishman)


Every year, in December, I am stunned to be reminded that Taylor Swift was not the first to sing this song.  Instead, Last Christmas started as a Wham song and apparently, every group has to cover it in December.  This year, the Backstreet Boys took a swing at it.  So, let’s get in the holiday spirit, shall we?

Enjoy!