Scenes I Love: The Phantom of the Opera (Part 3)


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It’s time to finish off my triptych of Scenes I Love from 2004’s film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. The first two parts were my favorite solo and chorus scenes from film and now we finish it off with what has to be the top scene (IMO) from the film.

The characters of The Phantom and Christine have always been the focal point of the film. Even with the arrival of the wholesome and (as Lisa Marie would call him) vanilla Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, the film continues to truly sizzle when it’s all about The Phantom and Christine moving their relationship from ingenue and mentor to unrequited lovers.

It’s the latter which this scene looks to portray through a duet written by The Phantom himself and where he swaps himself into the role of Don Juan. This duet has always been a fan favorite for those who love the musical and many different versions of it have played throughout the years. Yet, they all have one thing in common and that is the heated chemistry between the two characters once the duet begins.

The scene itself begins and comes off pretty much like foreplay between the two characters without having literal sex on the stage. The whole scene is so sexually charged that even those watching the duet who set the trap looked so transfixed that they fail to act. Even Raoul, Christine’s own fiance, finishes the scene with such a look of cuckold expression once he realizes that he could never have such a deep and personal connection that Christine has with The Phantom.

For me, this duet pretty much sums up what the whole is all about.

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Hallmark Review: The Wish List (2010, dir. Kevin Connor)


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Yes, the title of this post should strike fear into the hearts of Hallmark movie watchers. But I can make it worse. Not only was this made by the director of Strawberry Summer, but it was written by the same guy, Gary Goldstein. And you can tell because this movie also has some characters sing When The Saints Go Marching In. On the other hand, he also wrote My Boyfriends’ Dogs, and that wasn’t bad. And you can tell that too because this movie features a scene where the boyfriend dumps his dog on the female lead. Take that scene, repeat it across multiple boyfriends, and make the right guy work at the pet store. That’s My Boyfriends’ Dogs. I’ve seen too many Hallmark movies.

The Wish List opens with a little girl in her room talking about prince charming and drawing in a coloring book that has a prince and princess. Then we see a todo list on a blackboard. Can you smell a movie about a woman who makes a list of qualities that a man must meet for him to be marriage material? No? Good, that means you’re not as jaded as I am. Sadly, that is exactly what the movie is about.

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Fortunately for us. This guy is the very first one we meet and he is exactly what she is looking for so the movie ends right there. This truly is the shortest Hallmark movie I know about.

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Actually, it turns out he was hiding a lot of qualities that she can’t stand such as smoking and being a kleptomaniac. That is her Americana Xpress card that fell into her soup after he pulled it out to pay for the meal. Of course, Major League (1989) came to mind.

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Portrait Of Love had Corbin Bernsen in it as well, which was produced by Larry Levinson and Randy Pope who also produced this movie. Just a coincidence, but a humorous one.

Of course we now get a little montage of obviously wrong guys for her. The guy with piercings and the guy with dreadlocks. This means it’s time for Sarah Fischer (Jennifer Esposito) to break out the whiteboard and write down exactly what she demands in the man she’ll marry: NO exceptions!

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My favorite is nice feet, but the best part is something that isn’t on the board. They later show a histogram showing what the probability is that she will eat a whole tub of ice cream.

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Ah, I love when I can watch something where I can easily take screenshots.

With her firmly set on a path to meeting the wrong guy, she runs into the right guy named Fred Jones (David Sutcliffe) at a coffee shop.

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He is the local lovable Barista prick. Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to describe him. While Esposito plays our protagonist in this and is humorous in how she keeps coming back to the coffee shop he works at even though he grates on her nerves. If you are going to watch this movie, then you’re doing so in order to see David Sutcliffe and the wrong guy Dr. Erik Cavallieri played by Mark Deklin.

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They are the reason to see this movie. Come to think of it, one of this movie’s problems is that we actually like the two of them so much, we wish she could marry both of them. This is no more evident then when they all go to a night club and it goes all Saturday Night Fever (1977) with the two of them dancing.

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They actually have to reach a bit near the end to try and make us really favor the one over the other. And the rest as they say, is Hallmark.

There’s only two more things I want to mention. First, this movie is split screen happy. I blame Pillow Talk (1959) for this stuff. While it works well with the dancing scene, the phone calls and the Barista contest at the end are a bit much. There’s a scene where they are talking on the phone and the center dividing bar shifts at least three times just a little to the left, then back right, then left again. Also, there are times when you’d think it’s just leaving black space on the side because it was 2010 so it was composed for a smaller screen. But then you get a shot like this.

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Just know that they go a little overboard with this whole split screen thing.

The other thing is a computer screen goof to look for. It first shows a properly done screen, cuts to one that is a mess, then back to a proper one. Here’s the good one.

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And here’s what it cuts to.

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Not even remotely close to the awful ones from Strawberry Summer, but I would like to know who this rrowen@mac.com is. It’s a shame that they went through the trouble of reskining Google to this JetSearch.com, but they didn’t change the URL in this shot or the title on the browser tab. One final thing, it’s a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure one of those bookmarks is to Hallmark’s website.

As long as you know it’s one of those The Rules type movies and that you are watching it for David Sutcliffe and Mark Deklin, then this one is fine.

Film Review: Big Bad Mama (1974, directed by Steve Carver)


Big_bad_mama_movie_posterToday is Angie Dickinson’s 84th birthday.  One of Angie’s best remembered films is Big Bad Mama, an entertaining and fast-paced gangster film that was produced by Roger Corman.

The year is 1932 and the setting is Texas.  Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) is a poor single mother with two teenage daughters (Susan Sennett and Robbie Lee) to support.  When Wilma’s bootlegger lover, Barney (Noble Willingham), is killed by the FBI, Wilma takes over his route.  Wilma wants her daughters to be rich like “Rockefeller and Capone” and soon, they graduate from bootlegging to bank robbery.  During one robbery, they meet and team up with Fred (Tom Skerritt).  Wilma and Fred are lovers until Wilma meets alcoholic con man, Baxter (William Shatner).  With Fred and Baxter competing for her affections and her youngest daughter pregnant, Wilma plans one final job, the kidnapping of a spoiled heiress (Joan Prather).

Big Bad Mama is one of the many Bonnie and Clyde rip-offs that Roger Corman produced in the 70s.  (Corman also gave us Bloody Mama and Crazy Mama.)  Big Bad Mama is a typical Corman gangster film, with fast cars, blazing tommy guns, Dick Miller, and plenty of nudity.  Angie was in her 40s at the time and, justifiably proud of her body, her full frontal nude scenes created a lot of publicity for the film.  William Shatner also strips down for the film and his sex scene with Angie is just as weird to watch as you would expect it to be.

The whole film changes as soon as William Shatner makes his first appearance.  He may be speaking with a Southern accent and he may be playing a sniveling coward but he is still William Shatner, with all that implies.  Watching Shatner, it is hard not to imagine that Big Bad Mama is actually a lost Star Trek episode where Kirk goes back in the past and meets special guest star Angie Dickinson.  Far more effective is Tom Skerritt, who is thoroughly believable as a Dillinger-style bank robber.

In the style of Bonnie and Clyde, Big Bad Mama presents its outlaws as being counter-culture rebels.  Every authority figure that Wilma meets — from a preacher played by Royal Dano to a corrupt sheriff to Dick Miller’s incompetent FBI agent — is presented as being hypocritical and arrogant.  Angie plays Wilma as a strong-willed and sexually liberated woman who refuses to allow anyone to tell her how to live her life or raise her daughters.  In the gang, both Fred and Baxter are subservient to her.  Big Bad Mama’s tag line was “Hot lead!  Hot legs!  Hot damn!” and that is a perfect description of Angie Dickinson’s performance.

Happy birthday, Angie Dickinson!

Angie and Shatner

Latest Trailer for The Revenant Comes Alive


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We finally have the first official trailer for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s follow-up to Birdman which won him a Best Oscar for Director in the 2015 Academy Awards.

He once again teams up with frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki and has attracted the acting talents of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson. A film adaptation of the Michael Punke novel The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge which itself was based on and inspired by the incredible life of Wyoming frontiersman Hugh Glass (to be played by DiCaprio).

The film has been gaining some major buzz since even before the first teaser came out a couple months ago. Tom Hardy had to drop out of a major role in DC’s Suicide Squad when filming ran behind schedule on The Revenant. The film was also confirmed to be shot using only natural lighting which looks quite evident and beautiful just based on the scenes shown in the trailer.

Will The Revenant make it two in a row for Iñárritu? Or will another prestige films such as The Hateful Eight, also a western thriller set for December 25, 2015 release date as The Revenant steal it’s thunder?

We will just have to find out on Christmas Day (I know I’ll be watching one, the other or both that same day).

Hallmark Review: Hello, It’s Me (2015, dir. Mark Jean)


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Well, it’s been 100 Hallmark reviews. This being 101. I think from now on I’m going to review each of them separately. It’s easier for me. It will make it easier for people to find a specific movie I’ve reviewed. Plus, it’s more fair to the movies themselves because I will be able to come off of viewing one and immediately write a full review.

So, what do we have here? The title does remind me of the Verizon guy and I think it’s supposed to. The movie opens with Kellie Martin on the beach with her husband and two kids. A boy and a girl. She shoots a short video of them all together. Then Martin and the kids go home while the husband goes off in his boat. He doesn’t make it back alive.

Cut to two years later and you can tell none of them have moved on because they still visit the same beach and watch the video together.

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Martin is a baker in this movie and while on her way to deliver some pastries, Kavan Smith backs his car up and nearly kills her. That’s how they initially meet. Then they part ways. Of course by part ways, I mean they go to the same party for different reasons. For her, it’s a delivery. For him, it’s his family having the party. Running into each other again kicks off their relationship.

Now this is where it kind of becomes a Movie A, Movie B type thing. Movie A is Kellie Martin and Kavan Smith just doing their thing much to my delight. They’re good actors. They fall in love while the two of them work to open up a bakery for Martin. This part worked very well for me. The problem is Movie B interjects itself from time to time and then a bunch near the end.

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During their time together, Martin is getting messages from beyond from her dead husband through her cellphone. Well, sort of. It basically amounts to a couple of words that summed up mean: move on with your life already. I’m sure this worked better in the book this is based on because there was time to flesh that out and have the relationship part too. But here, when it happens, you just want it to stop so you can see more of this.

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And this.

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I even like the kids and kids don’t always fare that well in Hallmark movies. I feel for Julie Sherman Wolfe who wrote the screenplay for this movie. She even tweeted me because of a response I had to some of her dialogue. This.

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I feel for her because adapting a book into a Hallmark TV Movie must be the equivalent of what Tod Frye faced trying to port Pac-Man to the Atari 2600. Or any arcade port back then. You are taking something from a more powerful medium and have to try and squish it into a much more constrained one.

Oh, Kellie Martin does look a little goofy back there doesn’t she. Well…

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there! Now they’re even.

The only real resistance these two meet in the movie comes from Martin’s daughter and Smith’s mom. Smith’s mom tries to set him up with someone of their class, but that doesn’t work. He has his heart set on Martin. Martin’s daughter is worried that he is going to leave if he is allowed to get too close. Both of those things are just minor friction and never really threaten to derail them coming together.

It was a little disappointing for me because I do like these two actors on their own and together, but that dead husband kept poking into my fun. There are also a couple things that seemed to reference a scene that I sure didn’t remember seeing. But I’m fallible. If you don’t let those parts bother you, then this is worth seeing. Definitely better than the usual middle of the road formulaic Hallmark romance.

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Now we just need a sequel where Alison Sweeney plays an evil baker with Smith and Martin trying to catch her. This time the husband tries to give them clues from beyond. Make it happen!

Film Review: Leonard Part 6 (1987, dir. Paul Weiland)


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Well, it was going to expire from the XFINITY app in a couple of days. Also, I have seen Howard The Duck (1986) and Mac And Me (1988). Those two and this, were the three films I remember from childhood as having a reputation for being some of the worst movies ever made. At least from the 1980s. Mac And Me is bad. Howard The Duck gets a bit of a bad rep. Leonard Part 6 deserves it’s reputation.

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While I’m here, I love that this particular part of the opening credits looks like it could have been made in the NES game Color A Dinosaur.

I’m going to summarize this nonsense and then just show you some highlights. Seriously, this movie only really exists for the morbid fascination of how awful it is. Before I do that, I have to say that while I expect garbage from Bill Cosby outside of The Cosby Show, having seen Ghost Dad (1990) as a kid. Why the hell was Tom Courtenay in this? Seriously, he was in The Dresser (1983) just 4 years prior and was nominated for an Academy Award! I’ve seen it. He was good in it. In this, Tom Courtenay is Cosby’s butler a la Batman.

Let’s get this summary over with so we can point and laugh. The movie is about Leonard who is a retired CIA agent. He retired after his wife left him. It had something to do with a 19 year old, but honestly, I’m not sure if that was referring to a human being or an animal. There’s a mad vegetarian woman who uses a special sphere and chemical to convince animals to turn on humans en masse. In other words, this movie is a giant parody of animal monster movies like Night Of The Lepus (1972) while also making fun of James Bond. That, and product placement. Michael Bay’s The Island (2005) was bad about product placement, but dear lord what happened here?

That’s it! He comes out of retirement in the hopes of getting his wife back and tries to take down the evil vegetarians. I can’t possibly show you every ridiculous thing, but here we go.

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Yeah! One of the opening shots of this movie is Bill Cosby jumping off a building riding an ostrich. Also, he does a little ballet dancing too. I’ll skip over the barking fish that eats humans, but first stops to look at a Playboy magazine.

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By the way, this review is sponsored by Coca-Cola. Official beverage of the Leonard Part 6 review. This is one of several times that Coke is prominently featured. All the product placement is prominently featured and usually doesn’t make any sense. Why would there be a giant fridge full of Coke in a restaurant kitchen? Then again, this whole kitchen scene has bullets flying everywhere, but the cooks just go about their business. I mean even when it’s machine gun fire.

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But at least those bullets hit olive oil into pans just when it’s needed for the cooking. Oh, and Star Brand olive oil. Official olive oil of the Leonard Part 6 review.

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Beware the cats! And the squirrels. And the rabbits. If you live in Sacramento, then watch out for the “caterpillars on the march”. Folks in Piedmont, you need to watch out for the possums. They are “awaiting orders”. Oh, and remember, according to Leonard Part 6, if Oregon falls, then that means all hope is lost.

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Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Those are frogs lifting a car to toss it in some water. I guess that’s why Ray Milland didn’t leave in Frogs (1972). He knew they would stop him. Sadly, that’s really the only shot where you see the frogs. The subsequent shots don’t have the frogs, but the car is still lifted and tossed in the water anyways.

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Jane Fonda workout videos. Official workout videos of the Leonard Part 6 review. Fonda speaks to him personally through the TV as he works out.

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I’m really glad they never explained what this anteater was trained to do. It’s bad enough I’m aware of E.T. and Sasquatch porn.

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Johnson’s Baby Powder. Official baby powder of the Leonard Part 6 review. Also, massive amounts of alcohol work for watching Leonard Part 6 just as well as they did for this bullet removal scene.

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I can handle this movie making fun of movies like Night Of The Lepus and Frogs, but if I want bee fighting it better be William Smith from Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973)! Accept no substitute!

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Lava soap. Official soap of the Leonard Part 6 review. This is probably the weirdest piece of product placement in the movie. There’s just this huge mound of Lava soap backstage at this theater. They show it several times, and not once does Vincent Vega show up to wash his hands.

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A bunny to the throat! Monty Python did it better.

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Safeway. Official grocery store of the Leonard Part 6 review. This is where Tom Courtenay buys some dishwashing soap to help take down the bad guys.

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And of course he buys Palmolive! Official dishwashing soap of the Leonard Part 6 review. It later turns out that dishwashing soap does nothing. It’s just there so you see it’s Palmolive.

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As someone with one testicle, this disturbs me. Also, this shot follows shortly after he is holding a hot dog wiener.

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Action Max. The official video game console of the Leonard Part 6 review. I love that a couple of kids are just playing this in the back of a van as it does the requisite flying over the top of San Francisco streets shots.

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You see this is the brilliance of Leonard Part 6 here. Only here will you see the Goldfinger (1964) laser to the crotch scene if it were done by angry lobsters who just watched Annie Hall (1977).

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This is probably something I’m going to have to vote on during the next election. Seriously, living in California, I’ve had to vote on propositions to split it up like this.

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Ah, we now know what really happened to that guy in Scanners (1981). He was a vegetarian who ate some meat. Seriously, Cosby threatens this guy with a sausage, the guy takes a bite, and his head explodes. Also, he throws beef at the attacking vegetarians and it burns them.

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Alka-Seltzer. Official antacid of the Leonard Part 6 review. Leonard uses it to toss in some vats that then destroy the evil vegetarian’s lair.

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Swap out Cosby for the audience, the food for feces, and you probably have the experience of seeing Leonard Part 6 when it came out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are a lot of turkeys where I live and they are obviously going to try and kill me in my sleep. I need to get them first.