is somewhat of an event.
." Clearly this release is piggybacking on the successful 2011 film -- and the two films seem, at least to me, inextricably linked by their setting and their director.
blasted the box office? The most obvious reason is that the Marvel character has had more mainstream visibility, though the '60s cartoon and '70s live-action series incarnations of
were not exactly stellar. It's also a tricky matter to set a film in WWII, or during the '40s and make it resound with younger audiences.
wasn't a smash, it isn't fair to dismiss it as some did back in the '90s. Actually, it's quite a fine film, with a likable cast led by
-- clearly having a grand old time playing a thorough rotter.
has very good effects for its time, superb art direction and photography, and one of the best background scores of the last several decades. I highly recommend the
sweeping score. You can also hear this music as the
fountains dance regularly, as well as in countless movie trailers for other releases.
. Disney was looking for a huge franchise, so a well-done, nicely received film wouldn't cut it. Even though Johnston only mentions
Blu-ray -- there are no extras to speak of), clearly the director learned and developed over the years.
Perhaps the main issue between the two films is tone.
is highly stylized and inconsistently campy with a hero who's a little too cocky for his own good, while
is a hybrid between retro, comic book and contemporary action movie style, with a much more sympathetic hero.
in Blu-ray, prepare for a treat. The spot-on animated sequence, the lavish nightclub scene, and even the sarcophagus-like dwelling of the villain are as vivid as can be. You just have to approach
THEY GET BY WITH "THE HELP" OF THEIR FRIENDS
Posted on Dec 16 2011 by Greg
I'm sure I cannot add more to what has already been said in praise of the book and the movie versions of Kathryn Stockett's The Help
, except perhaps to note that once I met a group of people in a restaurant and the film came up. They brought up Minnie's "terrible awful" incident and I asked, "Haven't you wished that just once you could do that to someone, sometime?" The reaction was unanimous amid riotous laughter.The Help
takes place in 1963 -- the same as season two of Mad Men -- but this is set in the deep south, as the civil rights movement was gaining national notice, violence was on the rise> And while some thought the injustices would never end, others were either unaware of them or looked the other way. Emma Stone
, as Skeeter, discovers far more than she really thought about. It simply wasn't discussed. When she embarks what seems to be a simple story idea, it grows to a living, breathing work that attacks the social and political abyss to a more personal, more identifiable level. Not only are the two ladies who are her narrativer touchstones (played to Oscar perfection by Octavia Spencer
and Viola Davis
) real "iron chefs" in courage, endurance and moral integrity, they're people with faults, wounds and talent. And a sense of humor -- perhaps the best survival tool of all.
While the institutionalization of bigotry depicted in The Help
is a experience too heinous to be understood fully except by those who suffered through it, most of us at some time has been wronged by a boss, a co-worker, teacher, parent or any person who held sway over our fate (or made us feel that they held sway). You can't help root for Abileen and Minnie, as well as cheer when the most loathsome character (played to the glorious hilt by Bryce Dallas Howard
) is taken down more than a few notches.
To me, The Help
is also a story about the power of the written word. Yes, it's a movie, and the visuals are superb, but Skeeter's book is the catalyst that finally sets so much in motion. While we now live in an age of high tech and endless visuals, words can still change history, especially when those words bring issues to the personal attention of those who might be otherwise unaware of them.
There is no audio commentary on the discs, which is unfortunate, but the behind the scenes featurette is among the best of its kind. The Help
is the work of mutual friends who somehow were allowed to create this great work together despite the obstacles of the publishing and film businesses. I have never heard of a similar story quite like it.The Help
-- and the story behind The Help
-- are never to be forgotten.
ONE OF TV'S FIRST ORIGINAL MUSICALS - FINALLY ON DVD!
Blog, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Dec 14 2011 by Greg
I have to admit to being more than a little misty-eyed after finally getting a chance to watch the original, live 1956 musical, The Stingiest Man in Town
, now on DVD. I had first seen the Rankin/Bass animated remake in 1978, then found the 1956 Columbia cast album and listened to it for 30 years, never expecting to actually see the live show itself -- unless maybe I got to visit the Paley Center
and they had it in their library.
To my delighted amazement, Video Artists International
located an astonishingly nice-looking kinescope with excellent sound -- and that sound is largely due to a certified Disney Legend: Tutti Camarata
Tutti was the conductor of this special 90-minute live presentation on The Alcoa Hour
. His ear for acoustics surely influenced how distinct the instrumentation come across, even in this vintage kinescope. In 1956, Disneyland Records had just begun, with Tutti as artists and repertoire director. You can hear his style in The Stingiest Man in Town
, as well as what was likely some arrangements by Maury Laws
, whom Tutti told me could have likely done some chart work for the special (the soaring violins in "An Old Fashioned Christmas" are just like the ones Laws created for such Rankin/Bass specials as Rudolph
You have to get a feel for the temporal context to fully appreciate how ambitious this live show truly was for its period. This was the day of Milton Berle
, Jackie Gleason
and other vaudeville-type live variety shows, as well as legendary live dramas on Playhouse 90
and Studio One
. Walt Disney's filmed series was less then two years on the air, Mickey Mouse Club
was in its second season and Howdy Doody
was still an NBC staple.Mary Martin's
TV tradition of Peter Pan
had begun a year earlier (as live shows until it was taped in 1960) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
would premiere a year later (live with Julie Andrews
, then taped in 1965 with Lesley Ann Warren
). I can't confirm this for sure, but that makes The Stingiest Man in Town
very likely the first -- or at least one
of the first -- original musicals created especially for television.
Director Dan Petrie
(A Raisin in the Sun
, Eleanor and Franklin
) worked with in what appears to be a very limited space, with tight, elemental, movable sets. (Notice the clever transitions, such as Basil Rathbone
sinking off camera in the graveyard while a "stand-in" hand grasps the tombstone, enabling Rathbone to race back to the bedroom set for his next scene.)
The cast, crew and orchestra clearly had a short rehearsal time to perform a show of this scope -- and that's what makes live TV so amazing. The cast, orchestra and chorus are right there, and if the singer misses a cue or changes tempo, the accompaniment has to keep up. Keeping all of this in mind, what unfolds is a remarkable achievement that was largely forgotten for decades, unless you happened to have the cast LP -- or this superb CD reissue
Young audiences may not sit still, at first, for the black-and-white, low-def, leisurely paced kinescope experience of the original Stingiest Man
-- more akin to a filmed stage show than a modern recorded and edited production. But if you can impress upon them the importance of these programs, how they paved the way for what we take for granted today (especially technical advances) and just enjoy the pure talent involved, they may find themselves beguiled.
These are some of the greatest Broadway talents of their day, top popular singers and of course, the great Rathbone, with a truly memorable musical score conducted by one of the most respected names in the music industry.
It might be fun if you watch this along with the Rankin/Bass animated remake (available in the above 2008 DVD set
) and listen to the cast album. In an ocean of Dickens Christmas Carol
adaptations, this particular version is one of the all-time finest.
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