BEIRUT (2018) – Complex Thriller Driven by Strong Performances

0

BEIRUT_poster

BEIRUT (2018) is a complex thriller about a hostage negotiation in 1982 Beirut. Driven by strong performances by Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike, the film does a lot of things well and more than makes up for its lack of supporting character development and peripheral plot.

The movie opens in 1972 Beirut with American diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) hosting a dinner party with his wife for a group of dignitaries, including a United States Congressman, where Mason explains the current intricate political situation inside Lebanon. When Mason’s best friend Cal (Mark Pellegrino) arrives with the shocking news that the thirteen year-old boy Mason and his wife have taken into their home and consider a part of their family is the younger brother of the world’s most wanted terrorist, and the U.S. authorities want to extract the boy that very night. Mason refuses, and in the middle of his argument with Cal, gunmen open fire on the party and whisk the boy away before the U.S. agents can take him.  In the process, Mason’s wife is shot and killed.

The story picks up ten years later and finds Mason back in the U.S. working as a mediator and negotiator for local labor disputes. He has left his former life behind him, having walked away from both Beirut and his friend Cal immediately after the shooting, and he hasn’t spoken to his former friend since he left.

But all that changes when he is approached by a group of federal agents who want his help.  It seems that an American was taken hostage in Beirut, and the kidnappers demanded that Mason handle the negotiation.  Mason balks at the idea and says that the kidnappers simply pulled his name out of a hat. The agents then inform Mason that the hostage is his friend Cal.

Against his better judgement but not wanting to abandon Cal a second time, Mason returns to Beirut to negotiate the release of his best friend.

BEIRUT tells a compelling enough story and for the most part keeps its intricate tale from becoming too confusing. It’s a decent screenplay by Tony Gilroy, as one would expect as Gilroy also penned screenplays for the BOURNE movies and more recently he was one of the writers involved with ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016).

BEIRUT reminded me a little bit of ARGO (2012), the Ben Affleck movie which won Best Picture in 2012. Both films share suspenseful hostage stories and international intrigue, although ARGO told the better story by far.

The story BEIRUT tells is not as memorable, nor is it as riveting since one of the weaknesses of the screenplay is the supporting characters aren’t really developed. In ARGO, the audience gets to know the hostages. In BEIRUT, very little is known about hostage Cal, and so even though the proceedings are very interesting, they don’t always resonate as well as they should on an emotional level.

The best part of BEIRUT are the performances by the two leads, Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike. Hamm is terrific as Mason Skiles, although this smooth talking alcoholic character is clearly reminiscent of Don Draper, the character Hamm played so well on the TV series MAD MEN (2007-2015). Fans of the show might have fun imagining that this is what happened next to Mr. Draper. And while Hamm isn’t exactly out of his comfort zone here, he still delivers an enjoyable performance.

Rosamund Pike is also excellent as Sandy Crowder, one of the government operatives who helps Mason when he’s on the ground in Beirut. It’s a solid understated performance by Pike, whose character has her own reasons for wanting to extract Cal. The other dynamic I enjoyed between Mason and Sandy is that unlike most movies where the male and female leads are involved romantically, this time they are not, which I found refreshing.

I like Pike a lot and have enjoyed her recent roles in such films as HOSTILES (2017), GONE GIRL (2014), and JACK REACHER (2012) to name a few.

BEIRUT also has a strong supporting cast.  Mark Pellegrino is very good as Cal, Mason’s shadowy friend, even if the character isn’t developed all that well. For most of the film we don’t really know if Cal is a good guy or not, which hurts the story somewhat.

Dean Norris, Hank on TV’s BREAKING BAD (20080-2013) is nearly unrecognizable with a full head of hair and glasses as Donald Gaines, one of the government agents who recruits Mason. And Shea Whigham is memorable as another of these agents, Gary Ruzak.

BEIRUT was directed by Brad Anderson, who’s directed a lot of movies and TV shows, including the horror movie SESSION 9 (2001).  Anderson certainly does a good job of capturing war-ravaged Lebanon circa 1982, and the film’s location alone is enough to make this one a nail biter.

The story is certainly engrossing as we follow Mason’s efforts to find his friend Cal and navigate the negotiations needed to release him. There are some decent scenes, like when Mason first meets the group claiming to have Cal, as there is a rather unexpected execution right in the middle of it.  And the film heats up every time Mason slips away from his handlers, driving them crazy while he’s off the grid.

That being said, there really isn’t any centerpiece scene in this movie, either in artistic design or in its plot, no part of the film where it kicks into high gear and really becomes something special.

And I would imagine this one is not making a whole lot of money. I saw it with a very small audience. There were fewer than ten people in the theater.

Nonetheless, it’s a solid movie driven by two potent performances by Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike, and it’s certainly worth a trip to the theater.

BEIRUT is also a nice reminder of the value of diplomacy and negotiation over violence, even though when all is said and done, there is certainly lots of bloodshed, which is what you would expect in 1982 Beirut.

—END—

 

Advertisements

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: JAWS 2 (1978)

1

jaws-2-movie-posterIN THE SPOOKLIGHT
BY
MICHAEL ARRUDA

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water—.”
As movie taglines go, this one from JAWS 2 (1978) is one of the best. It also just might be the most memorable part of the entire movie.
To be fair, no sequel was ever going to match Steven Spielberg’s original JAWS (1975).
That being said, I happen to like JAWS 2, although not as much as I did when I first saw it at the movies in 1978 when I was 14 years-old. Back then, I quickly declared it the best movie of the summer, and I liked it almost as much as the original. What can I say? I was young. I was also influenced by a sold-out crowd that was brimming with energy and enthusiasm. The audience cheered during the opening credits when Roy Scheider’s name appeared on screen, just as they had done when Scheider had destroyed the shark at the end of JAWS, and there were plenty of screams and shouts as the movie went on.
Of course, the reality is JAWS 2 is merely an adequate movie, paling in comparison to the original JAWS, and suffering from the repetitiveness from which so many movie sequels suffer. Still, JAWS 2 is far and away the best of the JAWS sequels, which isn’t saying much, since JAWS 3 (1983) and JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) are both pretty awful.
JAWS 2 opens with a pair of divers discovering the sunken wreckage of the Orca, Quint’s boat from the first movie. Within minutes, the divers are attacked and killed by a shark in a surprisingly tame scene that is vastly inferior to the opening scene in JAWS, the vicious attack on young Chrissy.
JAWS 2 once again takes place on Amity Island, which now looks much bigger, since this sequel was filmed in Florida rather than on tiny Martha’s Vineyard. Four years have passed since the events of JAWS, and Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is still police chief on the island.
When Brody learns of a possible shark attack, he tries to take action but his efforts are thwarted by Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo), whose priorities are keeping the tourist season open and making money. Things get so bad this time around that Brody is actually fired from his position as police chief.
But the shark problem is real, and this time the shark sets its teeth—er, sights— on a group of teenagers— including Brody’s two sons— out sailing. Once more, it’s up to Chief Brody to save the day, as he sets off alone in a boat to take on the shark and rescue the teens, which on its own is no easy task, but it’s even more daunting in this case because Brody lives in deathly fear of water.

JAWS 2 definitely suffers from “been there, done that.” You would think that Mayor Vaughn would have learned his lesson after the first movie, but no, he’s still not listening to Brody. He is slightly more sympathetic this time around, as businessman Len Peterson takes over the pain-in-the-ass heavy role. Peterson gets most of the aggravating lines, and Joseph Mascolo does a nice job making you hate the guy.
But the biggest problem with JAWS 2 is that the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The movie asks us to believe that a second great white shark returns to the same island where another shark had wreaked havoc just a few years earlier. What are the odds? To make matters worse, the film tries to imply that this shark has arrived to seek vengeance for the death of the first shark. Really? This is a theme which permeates the series, as subsequent sequels deal with sharks targeting Brody’s wife and adult sons.
If you’re going to throw something that outlandish into the story, you’d better back it up with some facts or some embellishments to get the audience to buy into it, but JAWS 2 doesn’t do this. It’s almost as the film couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to go all in with its revenge plot. It’s mentioned, and then it’s forgotten.
The best part of JAWS 2 is the return of Roy Scheider as Martin Brody. He’s excellent once again, and he’s largely responsible for making this the best of the sequels, since he doesn’t appear in the next two movies. The film tries to shake things up by giving more screen time to Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) and Martin’s deputy from the first film, Jeff Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer), and while Gary and Kramer are both very good in these roles, they’re not Richard Dreyfuss or Robert Shaw, who are both greatly missed in this sequel.
While director Jeannot Szwarc does an adequate job at the helm, he’s no Steven Spielberg. The camera just never gets in close enough to really get under your skin. In JAWS, Spielberg’s camera always seemed to be hovering around water level, and with the shark lurking, the effect made you always want to turn away.
Szwarc also decides to show the shark much more than Spielberg did, and while the shark actually looks pretty good, it doesn’t always translate into scary scenes.
That being said, there are some very good scenes in JAWS 2. The attack on one of the teens, Eddie, is as intense as anything seen in the original, and the sequence with the water skier is exciting and suspenseful. Unfortunately, there’s also some not-so-good scenes, like the over-the-top sequence where the shark actually attacks a helicopter. But for the most part, the shark scenes in JAWS 2 are a lot of fun to watch.
The second half of JAWS 2 focuses on the teenagers in their sailboats fighting off the shark, and so the film almost follows the teen slasher formula, which got a boost the same year with the release of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978).
John Williams returns as the film’s music composer, and while it would be ludicrous to say this score is better than his original JAWS score, it is an excellent score. His JAWS theme is back, of course, and he also introduces other themes that were not present in the first movie.
The screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler succeeds in telling an exciting story, even if its premise of a shark that attacks an island perhaps out of revenge doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It also doesn’t feature anywhere near the slate of memorable lines that came out of the first JAWS— that screenplay was co-written by Gottlieb and JAWS author Peter Benchley.
JAWS 2 is not a cinematic classic like its predecessor, but it is a heck of a lot of fun and makes for perfect summer time horror viewing. Just slap on some sun tan lotion, flip on the shades, and settle back in your beach chair, and as you listen to the sounds of happy beach goers and crashing ocean waves, just wait, because soon you’ll hear the ominous notes of John Williams’ music score and then—.
Is that a shark fin I see?
—END—

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: JAWS 2 (1978)

0
Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?--- in JAWS 2 (1978).  Other than Scheider, there's not much that's memorable about this JAWS sequel.

Roy Scheider looks to the ocean and wonders, can it be happening to me again?— in JAWS 2 (1978). Other than Scheider, there’s not much that’s memorable about this JAWS sequel.

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  JAWS 2 (1978)

by

Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at memorable quotes from some pretty neat movies.

Up today, since we’re winding down summer and I’m not in a hurry to see it end, we look at quotes from JAWS 2 (1978).

I still remember seeing JAWS 2 at the movies on its opening night back in the summer of 1978.  I was fourteen, and I was incredibly excited to see this sequel, since I had seen JAWS at the movies on its first run in 1975, when I was just eleven, and it scared the stuffing out of me, and then some!  I wasn’t the only one who was excited to see JAWS 2.  The theater was packed and the audience was buzzing with energy, and I still remember when Roy Scheider’s name appeared in the opening credits, the audience cheered, just like they had done when he had finally destroyed the shark in the original JAWS.  The movie had been that intense.

I loved JAWS 2 when I first saw it on that opening night way back in 1978.  Of course, I was just fourteen years old.  Nowadays, I realize it pales in comparison to the first JAWS, but it remains the best of the three JAWS sequels, largely because Roy Scheider returned as Sheriff Martin Brody.

So, as you would imagine, most of the best lines in JAWS 2 belong to Scheider’s Brody.  Let’s take a look at some of these lines of dialogue from JAWS 2, screenplay by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler, based on characters created by Peter Benchley.

Actually, my favorite quote from JAWS 2 isn’t a quote at all, but the tagline from the movie:

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—

 This line proved so popular it actually became somewhat of a catchphrase for the movie.  This line might be the most memorable part of the entire movie, which really isn’t all that good.  But Roy Scheider is good, and he makes the most of his scenes in his reprisal of the role of Chief Martin Brody, the sheriff of Amity Island, once again faced with the prospect of a hungry great white shark on the prowl at his beaches.  This doesn’t really make much sense, which is the biggest problem JAWS 2 has, that its plot isn’t all that credible.  To make matters worse, there are hints in this film that perhaps the second shark has arrived at the island to seek revenge for the death of the first shark.  This might have been more interesting had this idea been better developed, but it’s not.  It’s hinted at here and there, but nothing really comes of it.

Anyway, Scheider’s Brody does get the best lines in the movie, like this one when he’s trying to once again convince the mayor and the town council to close the beaches, in a speech that was featured heavily in the film’s original trailers:

BRODY:  But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table that that’s a shark!  And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close.  And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!

 

Even though Murray Hamilton reprises his role as Mayor Vaughn in JAWS 2, he’s not the main thorn in Brody’s side, as he was in the first film. He seems to have learned his lesson and is much more sympathetic and understanding towards Brody this time around.  The pain in this movie is local businessman Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo) who wants no part of closing the beaches and refuses to listen to Brody.

Brody tries in vain to convince Peterson that the picture he is looking at shows a shark in their waters.

PETERSON:  Brody, this is nothing!  Seaweed, mud, something on the lens—.

BRODY:  Lens my ass!

PETERSON:  You’re damn right it’s your ass!

 

Also returning from the original JAWS is Jeffrey Kramer as Deputy Hendricks, Brody’s deputy, and once again he’s involved in some of the movie’s more comical scenes, such as in this scene where Brody wants to get out of an annoying conversation with one of the islanders:

BRODY:  Oh, Hendricks, good!  Right this way.  Excuse us, please.  I want you to come in here and er, check out this 908.

HENDRICKS:  What the hell’s a 908?  I’ve never heard of a 908!

BRODY:  908 means get me outta there!

 

In this scene, Hendricks is in the police launch with crusty fisherman Red as they drag the ocean looking for evidence.

RED:  We’ve been over this a dozen times.

HENDRICKS:  I know, I know!

RED:  How much longer?

HENDRICKS:  Until we find something!

RED:  But I’m cold, bored.

HENDRICKS:  You’re bored?

 

Later, when Brody and Hendricks are both on the water in search of the group of teens who had gone sailing and are now missing, Brody asks his deputy for directions.

BRODY:  Where the hell are they?

HENDRICKS:  About ten degrees off your starboard bow.  You take—.

BRODY:  Don’t give me that shit.  Point!

 

At one point, a dead killer whale washes up on the beach, with massive bite wounds prominently exposed all over its body.  Brody examines the dead whale with scientist Dr. Elkins.

BRODY:  Better check the bite radius.

ELKINS: The what?

BRODY:   The shape of the mouth.

ELKINS: The whale’s mouth?

BRODY:  Shark’s mouth.

ELKINS: What shark?

BRODY:  The shark that did this.

 

And moments later:

 

BRODY:  It’s obvious that a big fish took a bite out of— this big fish.

ELKINS: This is a mammal. Not a fish.

BRODY:  Don’t quibble with me!  Is it a shark bite or isn’t it?

ELKINS: Possibly. Again, this is a killer whale.  It would have to be a shark of considerable size.

 

And when Brody tries to insinuate that perhaps this shark might be there because another shark was killed in the local waters, Dr. Elkins replies:

ELKINS: Sharks don’t take things personally, Mr. Brody.

 

And we finish with Brody’s line to the Helicopter pilot, as Brody is in a boat all by himself searching for the missing teens, and of course this is an issue for Brody because not only is he fearful of the shark, but he’s afraid of water in general.  He’s speaking on the radio with the helicopter pilot, hoping that the pilot will find the teens before he does.

HELICOPTER PILOT:  That you, Brody?

BRODY:  Listen, did you have a fix on those kids yet?

HELICOPTER PILOT:  Negative.  I’m still down.

BRODY:  Well, you’d better get the hell up because I’m out here all alone!

 

JAWS 2 is an okay sequel, nowhere near as good as the original, yet it remains mildly entertaining in spite of its silly premise, mostly because of Roy Scheider’s performance as Sheriff Brody.  I still enjoy watching Scheider time and time again.

Well, that’s it for now.  Hope you enjoyed today’s column, and I’ll see you next time when we look at memorable quotes from another fun movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

THE HORROR JAR: JAWS movies

0
Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) fights off the shark in JAWS (1975).

“No, I will not be your dinner!”—  Brody (Roy Scheider) fends off the shark in JAWS (1975).

THE HORROR JAR:  JAWS movies

By Michael Arruda

 

Welcome to another edition of THE HORROR JAR, that column where we feature lists of odds and ends about horror movies.  Today, since we’re smack dab in the middle of summer, we look at the JAWS series.

Now, I love JAWS just as much as the next guy.  In fact, JAWS (1975) is one of my all-time favorite movies.  But I think it’s sufficient to say that in spite of the film’s success, it’s a film that should have been a stand-alone movie.  All of its sequels are unnecessary.

Seriously, if you really wanted to continue the story of JAWS, you would have followed the surviving characters from the first movie, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and any believable story worth its salt wouldn’t have featured a giant shark since what are the odds of that ever happening again?  And I don’t think people would have paid money to see Brody take on another island issue, or Hooper battling a giant eel for example.  JAWS was about a killer shark, and unless Brody and Hooper were going into business as “Shark-Busters” writers would be hard pressed to write a believable second story about these two tangling with a monster shark.

Now, I actually like JAWS 2 (1978) because it does feature Roy Scheider again as Chief Brody who does cross paths again with a monster shark, and JAWS 2 is a fun movie, but it’s certainly not very believable.  A second killer shark returns to the same beach a few years later?  And if you read between the lines it’s come back because it’s seeking vengeance for the first shark’s death?  Seriously?

The next two films in the series JAWS 3 (1983) and JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) are flat out awful, and the idea that sharks have it in for the Brody family just never really works.

So, here they are, the JAWS movies:

 

JAWS (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gotlieb, based on Benchley’s novel, Jaws.

Music by John Williams

Brody:  Roy Scheider

Quint:  Robert Shaw

Hooper:  Richard Dreyfuss

Ellen Brody:  Lorraine Gary

Mayor Vaughn:  Murray Hamilton

Running Time:  124 minutes

 

The perfect summer horror movie, JAWS has become one of the most iconic movies ever made, chock full of memorable characters and memorable lines.  You’re going to need a bigger boat.  It also has one very hungry shark.  Directed by a 25 year-old Steven Spielberg, this intense frightening film is that rare example of a movie being better than the book on which it is based.  I saw this at the movies when I was just 11 years old and it scared the stuffing out of me!  Excellent movie, one of the best sea adventure/horror movies ever made, and it remains just as powerful today as it first did in 1975.  Iconic music score by John Williams, probably his best ever.

 

 

JAWS 2 (1978)

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Screenplay by Carl Gotlieb and Howard Sackler

Music by John Williams

Brody:  Roy Scheider

Ellen Brody:  Lorraine Gary

Mayor Vaughn:  Murray Hamilton

Running Time:  116 minutes

 

Sequel has Chief Brody once again tangling with a killer shark on Amity Island, this time without help from Richard Dreyfuss’ Hooper and Robert Shaw’s Quint, and so this one is about  one third of the fun.  Shark scenes are still rather effective, but gone is Spielberg’s “less is more” style from the first movie.  We see an awful lot of the shark in this one, and that’s not always a good thing.  And the story about a monster shark returning to Amity a few years after the events of the first film, and to have the mayor still argue to keep the beaches open, is simply not very believable.

 

 

JAWS 3-D (1983)

Directed by Joe Alves

Screenplay by Richard Matheson and Carl Gotlieb

Music by Alan Parker

Mike Brody:  Dennis Quaid

Kay Morgan:  Bess Armstrong

Calvin Bouchard:  Louis Gossett, Jr.

Running Time: 99 minutes

 

The grown-up sons of Chief Brody take on a killer shark at a Sea World type theme park in Florida.  Skip this nonsense and watch REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955) instead.  The Creature film did a much better job with a similar plot.  This one features a ridiculous story— I still can’t believe that Richard Matheson co-wrote this!— awful characters, and some of the worst 3D effects ever seen in a movie.

 

 

JAWS:  THE REVENGE (1987)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Screenplay by Michael De Guzman

Music by Michael Small

Ellen Brody:  Lorraine Gary

Hoagie:  Michael Caine

Michael Brody:  Lance Guest

Jake:  Mario Van Peebles

Running Time:  89 minutes

 

The worst of the series.  It’s hard to believe there could be a movie worse than JAWS 3-D, but this film is proof that there is.  Lorraine Gary returns as Ellen Brody and teams with Michael Caine playing a man named Hoagie— is he to become a shark sandwich?— as they try to save her sons from a— you guessed it, a monster shark— who has it in for the Brody family.  The sharks have taken note, I guess, that Chief Brody killed two of their own.  This one features the absolute worst ending of the series, one of the most abrupt and silly endings of any horror movie period.  The most memorable part of JAWS:  THE REVENGE is the true story that Michael Caine skipped the Oscars on the night he won Best Supporting Actor for Woody Allen’s HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) because he was filming JAWS:  THE REVENGE.  Life is cruel.

 

JAWS is one of the best movies ever made, so good you can watch it year after year and it still holds up.  It’s a four star movie.

But its sequels are not.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

LIVE! FROM THE OSCARS!

0

ellen-degeneres-to-hos-86th-annual-academy-awardsLive!  From the Oscars!

 

By

Michael Arruda

No, I’m not live at the Oscars, but I am writing this while I sit at home and watch the Oscars on TV, so it’s the next best thing!

Okay, here we go.  Here’s my coverage of the 86th Academy Awards hosted by Ellen DeGeneres on March 2, 2014.  So, if you missed it and would like to know how it all went down, or if you watched it and perhaps missed something, well, read on!

Let’s get started.

Okay, Ellen’s opening monologue, not bad.  She was entertaining and funny, as always.   However, as opening monologues go, it was low key and wasn’t anything memorable.

She did inform us that the theme of tonight’s Awards ceremony is heroes.  Hmm.  I wonder if Marvel’s The Avengers will show up?

Let’s get right to the Awards.  Anne Hathaway presents the Nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and the winner is:  Jared Leto, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.  Leto just gave a terrific speech, one of the best Oscar speeches I’ve ever heard.  Seriously!  Very impressed.

Next up, Jim Carrey calls out Bruce Dern in the audience, since Dern’s up for an Oscar, and Carrey does a nice Bruce Dern impersonation, sufficiently intense and scary, bringing back memories of Dern’s early years.  Carrey next introduces a montage on animated movies showcasing animated heroes.  Nothing amazing.  Most of the film clips are from recent animated films.

The song “Happy” from DESPICABLE ME 2 is performed.

Catherine Martin wins for Best Costume Design for THE GREAT GATSBY.  This comes as no surprise, as GATSBY showcased some great costumes.  Martin is the wife of director Baz Luhrmann.  Who knew?

Make-up & Hair Styling- DALLAS BUYERS CLUB wins for Best Make-up & Hair Styling.

I hear Indiana Jones music.  Hey, look!  Here comes Harrison Ford.  Ford is on stage to introduce the first three nominees for Best Picture:  AMERICAN HUSTLE, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.

Wow, Ford looks exhausted.  He can barely read the cue cards.  It looks like he started partying early.

Channing Tatum introduces Awards that were awarded earlier.

Next up, it’s Matthew McConaughey and— Kim Novak?  Wow.  I haven’t seen Novak in a while.  Not since VERTIGO (1958).  Just kidding, of course, but really, it’s been a while.  McConaughey and Novak are presenting the Animation Awards.  Hate to say it, but Novak looks like she was animated in a Pixar movie.  Way too much plastic surgery. Very sad.  That’s how it looks, anyway.

Best Animated Short Film goes to MR. HUBLOT, and Best Animated Feature Film goes to Disney’s FROZEN, no doubt sending children who are still awake into an enthusiastic frenzy.  From what I hear, the kiddos are nuts about this movie.

Hey look!  There’s Bill Murray in the audience.  Good to see him.

Sally Field’s on stage paying tribute to everyday heroes.  Here comes a film montage.  Seriously, it’s a nice montage, featuring a lot of good movies, including 42 and THE UNTOUCHABLES.

Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are on stage to present the Award for Best Visual Effects, and the Winner is: GRAVITY.  I definitely agree with this choice.  GRAVITY had phenomenal special effects.  It looked like it was shot on location- in space.

Time for a performance of “The Moon Song” from HER, one of the nominees for Best Original Song.

Okay, it’s 9:30.  We’re 60 minutes into the program, and so far, it’s been a rather plain uneventful show.

Kate Hudson and Jason Sudekis present the nominees for Best Live Action Short Film, and the winner is:  HELIUM.

THE LADY IN NUMBER 6: MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE wins Best Documentary Short.

Bradley Cooper presents the nominees for BEST DOCUMENTARY.  The winner is 20 FEET FROM STARDOM.

 

I’m yawning at this point and regretting my choice not to watch THE WALKING DEAD tonight.

Speaking of amazing TV shows, Kevin Spacey is in character as he makes some references to his Netflix TV show HOUSE OF CARDS before he presents the Governor’s Awards, which were already presented earlier.  Angela Lansbury, at 88 years old and returning to London Stage won one of the awards, Steve Martin won another, and Piero Tosi won for his costume designs.  The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to Angelina Jolie.

Best Foreign Language Film goes to Italy’s THE GREAT BEAUTY.

Tyler Perry introduces the next three Best Picture nominees, NEBRASKA, HER, and GRAVITY.

Brad Pitt introduces U2, as they’re on stage to perform “Ordinary Love” from MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM.  Wow.  A really riveting performance.  They got the crowd up on their feet and received a nice standing ovation.

Ellen – oh yeah!  I almost forgot she was hosting this thing— goofs around and takes a star-studded group photo for Twitter.  She wants to record the highest viewed tweet ever.  A pretty funny and playful bit.

Next up, it’s the Scientific and Technical awards.  Quick!  Time for a bathroom break!

Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, looking absolutely gorgeous in an amazing dress, present the nominees for Best Sound Mixing, and the winner is:  GRAVITY.  Another well-deserved win for GRAVITY.  The film had crisp sharp sound, and it also boasted an effective lack of sound, as it truly captured the silence in space.

Best Sound Editing goes to:  GRAVITY.  Hmm.  GRAVITY is starting to accumulate the awards.

Christoph Waltz presents the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and the winner is:  Lupita Nyong’o for 12 YEARS A SLAVE.  Nice win for Nyong’o, and a nice speech as well.

Ellen’s goofing around again, as she asks her audience if they’re hungry, and when they say yes, she says she’s going to order pizza.  She then adds that “I don’t have any money.”   A funny gag.

Time to return to seriousness, as Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, steps onto the stage for a serious speech about seriousness.  Seriously, the obligatory speech by the Academy president is no laughing matter.

Back to the awards.  GRAVITY wins Best Cinematography.  GRAVITY wins Best Film Editing.  GRAVITY continues to win big tonight.

Whoopi Goldberg takes the stage, and she’s there to honor THE WIZARD OF OZ, as back in 1939 Judy Garland won an Honorary Juvenile Oscar, and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the award, we get to see a nice montage honoring THE WIZARD OF OZ as well as recognizing her three children, who are in the audience, including Liza Minelli.

Time for a commercial break.  Hey, there’s a really cool Godzilla – Snickers commercial.  It’s actually quite humorous, and even better, it includes quick plug for new GODZILLA movie coming out in May.

We return to the Awards to find Ellen DeGeneres dressed as Glenda the Good Witch from THE WIZARD OF OZ, which gets a good laugh from the audience.

Jennifer Gardner and Benedict Cumberbatch present the award for Best Production Design, and the winner is:  THE GREAT GATSBY.  Wow, GRAVITY didn’t win an award.  Glad GATSBY won, as it’s an incredibly visual movie.

Chris Evans – Captain America himself – introduces a montage of movie heroes.  A fun montage, full of popular movie heroes, including John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator (remember when he was a villain?), Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, to name a few, and plenty of superheroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers, and Superman from MAN OF STEEL, although I was disappointed that there were no clips of Christopher Reeve as Superman.

James Bond made it in twice, with the famous “I expect you to die!” scene from GOLDFINGER, featuring Sean Connery as Bond, and also a clip of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig.

A couple of horror movie heroes made it into the sequence, Roy Scheider from JAWS and Sigourney Weaver from ALIEN.

Glenn Close introduces the famous “In memoriam” montage, where the Academy remembers the artists who passed away in 2014.  Here is a partial list:  Karen Black, James Gandolfini, Paul Walker, Annette Funicello, Peter O’Toole, Ray Harryhausen—very glad Harryhausen was included here-, Sid Caesar, Roger Ebert, Shirley Temple, Joan Fontaine, Harold Ramis, Richard Matheson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The montage concludes with Bette Midler coming on stage and singing “Wind Beneath my Wings.” As you would expect, Midler received a standing ovation.

It’s now 11:00, which means the show has reached the 2 ½ hour mark, and so far there have been only a few major awards given out.  Let’s get this show moving already!

Ellen announces “We just crashed Twitter with our group photo!”  She’s overjoyed.

Goldie Hawn introduces the final three Best Picture nominees:  PHILOMENA, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, and 12 YEARS A SLAVE.  Hawn looks almost as bad as Kim Novak, and by bad, I mean that she’s obviously had too much work done on her face.  I wish these actresses would just allow themselves to age naturally.  They would look so much better.  She looks like a victim in a mad scientist movie.  Very sad.

John Travolta – who’s actually looking pretty good here – introduces the song “Let it Go” from FROZEN.

Jamie Fox and Jessica Biel present the award for Best Original Score, and the winner is: — what a surprise!GRAVITY, music composed by Steven Price.

For Best Original Song, the winner is “Let it Go” from FROZEN.

Now it’s time for the homestretch, as it’s just the major awards left, which is good, because it’s 11:20 and I’m getting sleepy, and I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow for work.

Ellen is now running through the audience to collect money for the pizza, which she has already handed out, and so we’ve seen celebrities like Harrison Ford eating take-out pizza at the Oscars.  Ellen gets money from Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt, who she hits up for extra since he’s there for more than one movie.

Robert De Niro and Penelope Cruz present the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the winner is:  12 YEARS A SLAVE.  Could this be the beginning of Big Awards Sweep for 12 YEARS?

And for Best Original Screenplay, the winner is:  HER, screenplay by Spike Jonze.

It has not been a good night for AMERICAN HUSTLE.  Just sayin.

Angelina Jolie & Sidney Poitier come out to announce the award for Best Director.  Jolie thanks Poitier for his groundbreaking work over the years, and says to him:  “We’re in your debt.”  And Poitier tells the audience, “Please keep up the wonderful work.”  Poitier looks old and frail, but at least he looks old and natural.

The winner for Best Director goes to Alfonso Cuaron for GRAVITY.   Wow.  This one surprised me.  I thought Steve McQueen would win for 12 YEARS A SLAVE.  This has turned out to be a really big night for GRAVITY.

Daniel Day Lewis presents the Best Actress Award, and the winner is:  Cate Blanchett for BLUE JASMINE – I didn’t see BLUE JASMINE, but I like Blanchett a lot, so I’m glad she won.  And even though both Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams were very good in their roles, I’ve seen them better in other movies.

Blanchett gives an energetic speech, making a nice plug for movies with women in the lead roles, and for movies about women, saying they are not just niches, that audiences really want to see these kinds of movies and more importantly that they make money.

Jennifer Lawrence, looking great tonight, presents the Best Actor award, and the winner is:  Matthew McConaughey for the DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.  This comes as no surprise.  Glad he won.

Will Smith presents the Award for Best Picture.  Nothing against Smith, but he’s the best you can get to present Best Picture?  How about Steven Spielberg?  Clint Eastwood?   Morgan Freeman?  Some other elder statesman or giant of the genre?  Anyway, the winner is:  12 YEARS A SLAVE.  Nice choice.

Well, as the show ends, it’s midnight- and with that, I can now go to bed.  A big night for GRAVITY as it wins 7 Awards, and AMERICAN HUSTLE ends up getting shut out.

Well, that’s all she wrote.  Good night everybody!

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Movie Meals to Cure the Thanksgiving Blues

0

"Maybe I should just serve myself?"  ---the Monster (Peter Boyle) tries unsuccessfully to have some soup served to him by the Blind Hermit (Gene Hackman) in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).

“Maybe I should just serve myself?” —the Monster (Peter Boyle) tries unsuccessfully to have some soup served to him by the Blind Hermit (Gene Hackman) in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).

THANKSGIVING – Movie Meals for the Birds

By

Michael Arruda

 

 

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States, that holiday where we get together with our families and pause to reflect on what we’re thankful for this year, remembering as we do so the Pilgrims from 1620 who began the tradition so many centuries ago.  Okay, most of us don’t remember that far back, but that’s the idea. 

 

What this really means for most of us today is a day off, a day to spend with family, eat lots of food, especially the traditional roast turkey, and watch NFL football games.  Not a bad day all around.

 

Of course, if you’re like me, no matter how happy the holidays are supposed to be, for some reason or other, melancholy seeps in.  It could be something specific and immediate, like an argument with a family member, or it could be something more long term, like mourning the loss of a loved one, or looking back at a year— or years— that really have been a struggle.

 

Believe me, I’ve been there, and sometimes it’s difficult to shake off that feeling of melancholy, even when surrounded by family. 

 

So, with that in mind, on this Thanksgiving week, if you find yourself down and out for whatever reason, remember, when these things happen, you’re not alone.  No one is immune from the blues.  In fact, some folks have it a lot worse, especially if they’re in a horror movie.

 

Here are some folks whose meals didn’t turn out so well, guaranteed to make you thankful that you’re not sitting in the room with them.

 

Take a look:

 

DR JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (1941) – Dr. Jekyll (Spencer Tracy) tries to explain his theory of good and evil to his dinner companions but ends up getting chastised and laughed at, not to mention it happens in front of his fiancé.  Pass the humble pie!  No thanks, I’ll just drink my Mr. Hyde potion for a nightcap, thank you very much!

 

DRACULA (1931) – Dracula (Bela Lugosi) prepares dinner for his guest Renfield (Dwight Frye) and offers him some very old wine.  Dude, Renfield, ask for the check and run.

 

KING KONG (1933) – Kong munches on some natives as he rampages through the village searching for his dinner date, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray).  Yummy!

 

JAWS (1975) – Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets drunk, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) asks to eat a plate of leftovers, and Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) embarrasses herself by saying to Hooper, “Martin tells me you’re into sharks.”

 

PSYCHO (1960) – Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) invites Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) to a small dinner in his back room and discusses his mother and his taxidermy hobby.  All in all, it’s a pretty successful dinner, so much so that Marion feels pretty good about herself, so good in fact that she returns to her room to relax and take a shower—-.

 

DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) – Dracula (Christopher Lee) has been dead for ten years, but his servant has kept his castle open for guests— gee, what a nice guy!  When four guests do arrive, they are impressed by the dead Count’s hospitality, and they offer him a toast over dinner.  Before the night is over, one said guest will have his throat slit, and his blood will be used to resurrect the Count.  No one ever said a Hammer Film was subtle. 

 

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – The Frankenstein monster (Boris Karloff) is served bread and wine by his new friend, the kind blind man, but the moment is short-lived when two hunters happen upon them and spoil the party.  For my money, this is still one of the saddest moments in horror cinema history.  Leave the friggin monster alone, already!

 

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) – In Mel Brook’s hilarious parody of the Universal Frankenstein series, the Frankenstein Monster (Peter Boyle) attempts to enjoy dinner, but his blind man friend (Gene Hackman) pours the soup onto his lap, breaks his mug of wine, and lights his thumb on fire instead of his cigar.  With friends like this—.

 

ALIEN  (1979) – The crew of the Nostromo is having a dandy old time over dinner, that is, until a baby alien decides to burst from Kane’s (John Hurt) chest.  Rolaid, anyone?

 

Have a monstrously fun Thanksgiving!

 

—Michael

 

 

 

 

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: JAWS (1975)

0
Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss in need of a bigger boat in JAWS (1975)

Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss in need of a bigger boat in JAWS (1975)

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  JAWS (1975)

By

Michael Arruda

 

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer, the perfect time to check out some memorable lines from the ultimate summer movie, JAWS (1975).

There are an incredible amount of memorable lines in JAWS, some now regarded as the most famous in film history.

The biggie, the most famous, occurs when Brody (Roy Scheider) sees the shark up close while on the Orca, and he tells Quint (Robert Shaw), “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

That line, improvised by Scheider, has become one of the most recognizable lines in film history.

But Roy Scheider also has plenty of other notable lines in the film, as do fellow actors Robert Shaw as Quint and Richard Dreyfuss as  Hooper.  Here are just a few of them, from JAWS, screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, based on Benchley’s novel.

Moments before Brody utters his celebrated line about the bigger boat, he’s ordered by Quint to toss fish guts into the water in order to attract the shark, a job he’s none too happy about, especially since Hooper has been given what in Brody’s eyes is the easier task, driving the boat.

Quint tells Hooper to take the boat slow ahead, to which Brody comments:

BRODY:  Slow ahead.  I can go slow ahead.  Why don’t you come down here and chum some of this shit.”

At which point the shark erupts from the water, giving Brody an up front and personal view, causing him to back up and utter his now famous line to Quint about needing a bigger boat.

Brody also has the now classic line at the end, as he’s firing his rifle at the shark.

BRODY:  Smile, you son of a bitch!

Quint (Robert Shaw) gets some of the best lines in the movie.  Who can forget these classics:

QUINT:  Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

And then there are these ditties:

QUINT:  Here’s to swimmin’ with bowlegged women!

and

QUINT:  Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three.  For fifteen years she kept her virginity.  Not a bad record for this vicinity.

But his most memorable lines come from his best scene when he recounts to Brody and Hooper the story of his experience on the U.S.S Indianapolis during World War II.  It’s one of the highlights of the movie, and is one of Shaw’s best moments on film, period!  It’s an amazing soliloquy.  Here it is:

QUINT:  Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte… just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail fin. What we didn’t know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named “The Battle of Waterloo” and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark will go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us… he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper also has his share of classic lines in this one, like when he’s examining the dead remains of the first shark attack victim, young Chrissie, who shouldn’t have gone for that moonlight swim:

HOOPER: The height and weight of the victim can only be estimated from the partial remains. The torso has been severed in mid-thorax; there are no major organs remaining.  The right arm has been severed above the elbow with massive tissue loss in the upper musculature… partially denuded bone remaining…this was no boat accident.  Did you notify the Coast Guard about this?

BRODY: No. It was only local jurisdiction.

HOOPER: The left arm, head, shoulders, sternum and portions of the rib cage are intact—do not smoke in here, thank you very much.  (Lifts up the severed arm) This is what happens. It indicates the non-frenzied feeding of a large squalus – possibly Longimanus or Isurus glauca. Now… the enormous amount of tissue loss prevents any detailed analysis; however the attacking squalus must be considerably larger than any normal squalus found in these waters. Didn’t you get on a boat and check out these waters?

BRODY: No.

HOOPER: Well, this was not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller; and it wasn’t any coral reef; and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.

Or this exchange with Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton):

MAYOR VAUGHN: I don’t think either of one you are familiar with our problems.

HOOPER: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!

And who can forget the moment when he spots the shark swimming towards their boat, and he has to interrupt the argument between Brody and Quint:

HOOPER:  Boys, oh boys… I think he’s come back for his noon feeding.

There are so many more unforgettable lines from JAWS, enough to fill several more columns.

My personal favorite is one brief two word utterance by Brody, and this goes back to the first time I saw JAWS, at the movies, when I was just 11 years old.  Yikes!

I remember sitting there in the theater, nodding my head, agreeing with Brody, thinking, “Yes, thank you!  Thank you!  Go back to the land.  Get me out of this misery!”  You see, it’s the point in the film where after essentially getting their butts kicked by the shark, Quint tells Brody and Hooper that he’s taking the boat, the Orca, back in to shore.  Brody reacts with this emotional two word exclamation that gave me so much relief at the time.  The line?

BRODY:  Thank, Christ!

 

But of course the shark had something to say about this, and the Orca never did make it back to shore.

Well, that’s it for now.  Thanks for joining me today on MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES.  I’ll be back again next time with notable lines from another great movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For The Love Of Horror cover

Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.