American Gods (2017) – reviewed by George

This show has received the most gushing hype of any TV show that I can remember. Stuff like “Your new obsession” and something about “Someone will lose their throne”, a clear indication that that person likes this show better than “Game of Thrones”. So you read that, and then you see the show… and hype turns into advertising.
Okay, the acting is phenomenal, with solid performances from Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle as Mr. Wednesday and his driver Shadow Moon. But the real stand-out performers so far (I’ve only seen  the first two episodes) are Cloris Leachman (a real American treasure), Peter Stormare, and Gillian Anderson, almost unrecognizable as Lucille Ball! And yet – the pace is snail-like. Episode 2 features the longest checkers game ever on film. And Shadow gets released from prison three days early because his wife was killed that morning in a car accident. His trip home for the funeral, although not fully detailed, still felt to me as though I had traveled every mile with him. And the accident – a head-on collision with another car – is not original with Neil Gaiman, author of the book the series is based on, but is like folklore over many areas of the country (if not all of it)
So I’m faced with a choice. If I manage to see episodes 3 and 4 (already recorded) before the Episode 5 premiere tomorrow night, I may continue, somewhat against my will, and basically to see Gillian Anderson essay other famous female media stars. On the other hand I’m still doing post-surgery exercises three times a day, and while the stretching and flexing ones only take about 7-10 minutes, the first thing each time is elevating my feet for thirty minutes, during which I always fall asleep.
So, will I see 3 and 4 in a timely manner? Do I actually care enough about this fantasy to devote time to it? Well, the answer to that one is probably not. But stick around and keep reading. I promise to return to this debate-with-self soon.

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Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1954-1955) – Episodes 11-15 – reviewed by George

11. The Red Headed League
A shop-owner is granted membership in the Red Headed League because of his rich, dark red hair, and learns that he has been hired at a fantastic salary to hand-copy the Encyclopedia Britannica in the League’s office. One assumes he also has to answer the phone. When he finally smells a rat and goes to Holmes, Holmes smells a bank robbery. Eugene Deckers is back as Gustav, but for some reason he is billed as Sacha Pitoeff. Directed by Steve Previn from an Original Screenplay by Roger E. Garris.

12. The Case of the Shoeless Engineer
Guest Stars June Elliott and David Oxley play a mute girl and the engineer with one shoe who fall in love as the action progresses. Could be called A Day in the Country as the struggling young engineer gets a chance at a big payoff for a seemingly simple job at a countrified location. If not needing money so badly he might have thought twice, but then he meets the girl and is almost crushed in machinery, so naturally at that point he saves the girl and goes to Holmes. Ingenious, but even a little engineering is above my pay grade.
Directed by Steve Previn from an Original Story by Harold Jack Bloom.

13. The Case of the Split Ticket
An Irish episode dealing with Brian O’Casey (Harris Towb) from County Killarney and a ticket for the Irish Sweepstakes which he shares with two others by tearing the ticket into thirds. His two “partners” are Belle Rogers (Margaret Russell) and Albert Snow (Colin Drake). Holmes, who is also practicing pickpocketing techniques, manages to use a little film-flam to save the day. This lighthearted episode in one of my favorites so far.
Directed by Steve Previn from an Original Screenplay by Lou Morheim.

14. The Case of the French Interpreter
A French Interpreter in London, Monsieur Dubec (Lou Van Burg) is hired to complete a deal between a man who speaks only French and a man who speaks only English. When he arrives at a country house, having seen nothing along the way since the shades in the carriage were drawn at all times, he discovers that the Frenchman has been tortured and is still denied food. He protests and his life is threatened. After an unsuccessful night of verbal threats and pistol-waving, the interpreter is sent home with the understanding that they will start again soon – “Stay ready!” However, our justice-loving French friend leaves his flat almost immediately (he is followed) and goes to Holmes. He tells everything he saw – not much, so Holmes suggests telling everything he heard. This clever idea results in an exciting chase to save the tortured man’s life, and the two last lines, spoken by the bad guy and Lestrade are great – simple, but great.

15. The Case of the Singing Violin
A young woman, Betty Dunham (Delphine Seyrig), awakens in bed to a tune being played by a man with a violin, but the man is somewhat transparent and the music sounds more like a theremin. She looks sort of happy to me, but suddenly starts screaming. Two men rush in, and the younger tries to help, but is rebuffed by the elder, who turns over care to a servant. In the hallway the older man, Betty’s stepfather Guy Dunham (Arnold Bell), explains that the young man (unbilled, even on imdb.com) can never marry Betty, as she is losing her mind – and the invitation to spend the night was prompted only by a desire to show the young man the girl’s madness – to kill all hope.
The young man, who looks remarkably like H. Marion Crawford, enough to be his younger brother, sets out to see Holmes and is murdered on the way. Holmes figures out how the “singing” effect was produced, and that the stepfather wants the girl’s inheritance for himself.
Justice prevails, but Betty’s suitor is dead, so not exactly a happy ending.

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Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes” (1954-1955) – Episodes 6-10 – reviewed by George

6. “The Case of the Shy Ballerina”
A man who wanted to write music for the ballet is found dead in a park, and his wife Mrs. Shelton, (Nathalie Schafer from “Gilligan’s Island”) tells Holmes that their recent trip to Russia was specifically made to attempt to have Serge Smernoff  (Eugene Deckers), a director of ballet, purchase “The Spider Web Ballet”, for his prima ballerina Olga Yaclanoff (Martine Alexis). Despite the temperaments involved Holmes solves the case.
Written by Sheldon Reynolds, Original Screenplay by Charles Early.

7. “The Case of the Winthrop Legend”
The legend says the heir will die with a gold doubloon in his pocket, and it seems to have come true. The older and younger Winthrop brothers are played by Peter Copley and Ivan Desny, with Meg LeMonnier as the younger brother’s wife. Holmes prevails despite the distractions.
Original Story by Harold Jack Bloom, Adapted by Sheldon Reynolds, and Directed by Jack Gage.

8. “The Case of the Blind Man’s Bluff”
Eugene Deckers also appears in this episodes and in fact will show up again in # 9. Here he gets top guest billing as Vickers in a tale of a ship’s crew being murdered one by one (on land). Involved are Jocko Faraday (Gregoire Aslan), Dr, Jonas (Colin Drake), Pitt (Yves Brainville), and the welcome return of Sgt.Wilkins (Richard K. Larke).
Original Story by Sheldon Reynolds, Screenplay by Lou Morheim, Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

9. “The Case of Harry Crocker”
This is the perfect episode to demonstrate fully the light-hearted approach that Sheldon Reynolds imparts to the series. Guest Star Eugene Deckers plays Harry Crocker, an escape artist a la Houdini. Deckers exhibits incredible energy as he keeps disappearing and giving  Lestrade (Archie Duncan) apoplexy. But if he didn’t kill the chorus girl, as he claims, who did?
Original Screenplay by Harold Jack Bloom, Directed by Sheldon Reynolds.

10. “The Mother Hubbard Case”
Truly sinister and much less amusing because of it, this case involves the disappearance of men from normal days, simply walking from one place to another, and then never seen again – until Holmes finds the body of one in the fireplace of an abandoned home. However, we know that a little girl is central to the murders because the episode begins with the child claiming to be lost and enlisting the help of a prosperous-looking young man to find her way home. No jokes at all, but the best of these five.
Screenplay by Lou Morheim, Directed by Jack Gage.
Also features Sgt. Wilkins (Richard K. Larke), and it should be noted that at this point Archie Duncan is receiving billing at the beginning of each episode after Howard and H. Marion Crawford, who plays Watson so wonderfully.

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Thanks so much, Anita!

It’s great to feel missed, but it’s super to have your best friend express that in writing! Thanks again for the warm welcome back!

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Welcome Back George!

Welcome Back!  It is great to have you posting again.  We have missed your witty styles and personal takes on film, play and actors.  I have missed ya tons!

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The Love Witch (2016) Reviewed by Anita ***.5

A visual style straight out of the 60’s, The Love Witch is a very entertaining comedy/horror.  The story is about a modern-day witch who uses magic to get love.  She is very narcissistic, just what a young, hungry witch would be.  Director Anna Biller creates the ultimate fantasy though the beautiful and bewitching Elaine (Samantha Robinson). In her gothic Victorian apartment the crafty Elaine creates spells and potions to bring her dream man into her life. The beautiful witch’s spells work all too well leaving a string of love-lorn victims  behind her on going hunt for the perfect match.  When she meets the man of her dreams all comes to a screaming halt as the enchanting Elaine goes mad and flies into a murdering rage.  It is really cool.

The film is almost an homage to a bygone era of film making.  For example the opening scene a 1960’s red Mustang convertible toddling along the California coast line.  We meet the ever enterprising Elaine as she ponders a thoughtful monologue.  The shot is framed in a cheesy rear projection, with the stilled voice over makes for a great organic feeling to the over all story visually.  I love a low-budget film with that 60’s, 70’s style about it.  Fun!

Themes such as magic, religion, social acceptance, and the age-old  battle of the sexes are all here.  Biller does an excellent job connecting characters and action by the use of colors (red for blood and love).  Ultimately Biller has made the color red as much of a character in the story telling as she has made the actors.  It is a great method of story telling.

In the mood for an off beat movie give this one a try.  It’s a trip.  Trust me, a real trip Man…

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I’m back! After a month of surgery and kidney failure, I’m back, not with a review but with THE BEST COMMERCIAL IN YEARS!

Attractive Woman in mink with packed suitcases (Arielle Vandenberg): “I’m leaving you, Wesley.”
Wesley, an Attractive Man, leaping out of a chair: “But why?”
Attractive Woman: “You haven’t noticed me in two years.”
Wesley: “I was in a coma!”
Attractive Woman: “Well, I still deserve appreciation.”
Wesley: “Who was there for you when you had amnesia?”
Attractive Woman: “You know I can’t remember that!”
The Maid, played by our old friend Flo (Stehanie Courtney): “Stop this madness. If it’s appreciation you want, you should both get Snapshot from Progressive. It rewards good drivers with big discounts on car insurance.”
Susan Lucci appears on the staircase, dressed beautifully with lots of jewels and looking really glamorous: “I have also awoken from my coma.”
Wesley: “It’s called a nap, Susan Lucci.”

There are actually four versions of this ad under the umbrella title “The Turns We Take”, only differing in Lucci’s costume and line, and Wesley’s reply. I was really lucky to see this one first, because it is definitely the best and the funniest of the four.
If anyone knows who plays Wesley, please leave a comment. I would really like to give him credit. Also the director and writer(s), though it’s possible Progressive’s in-house ad division acts as the company’s own agency, making behind-camera credits hard to find.

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What are you watching this Mother’s Day? comment by Anita 2017

Happy Mother’s Day weekend fans and followers.

I don’t know about your mom but mine is a movie buff from way back.  Our teething ring was Godzilla and our teen training was Meet Me in St. Louis.  By the way my sisters and I know every song by heart.  We have danced  with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and gained personal power watching the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  My mom and I saw the lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds in concert and it was fabulous.   We have even learned how to be grateful only have to share a room with two rather than a dozen, as in Cheaper by the Dozen.  She taught us to stay organic with Logan’s Run and made sure when knew how to cook thanks to Solent Green.  We learned animals are very smart thanks to Planet of the Apes and let me tell you we have a healthy dose of religion thank you Exorcism.  A real healthy dose.  And we will always appreciate the paranormal, odd and possibilities thank you Twilight Zone.

I guess what I’m sharing is I’m very grateful to my mom for putting me on the path of film and art.  I’m looking forward to a pj day and pop corn in front of our 55″ TV with her.  We will watch some good old movies like when were kids.  Hope you have a wonderful day with your mom.   And , Hey!  let us know what you watched.  You know I will.

 

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My take on live action Beauty and the Beast-Reviewed by Anita ***

Well I have to agree with our guest reviewer.  I liked the film but I was not wowed by it.  One of the points Miss Vi brought up was it being just the same.  As I was watching it I began to reflect on the recent Cinderella (2015) live action.  The story (yes) is the same but the telling is an interpretation.  All the key players are in place.  The theme is still very clear,  but different takes on each character (in my opinion) gave this film its own story as well as staying within the Disney theme.  For example we all know the step-sisters are rotten but in the live action version they are funny, and you plainly see they are just as much of a victim of their mother as poor Cinderella.

However let all agree we have been changing up and changing out characters of fairy tales since Brother’s Grimm wrote them down.   This is still a great movie.  Well acted, loved the soundtrack and the characters are over the top as they should be.  Do see it.  Take the whole family!  Just in mind if you have the animated version you are not missing anything aside of cartoon characters.

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Guest Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017) Reviewed by Violet ***.5

Hello movie fans.  Today we have real treat.  My friend and a fellow movie go-er Violet has offered to share her take on the latest live action Disney production Beauty and the Beast.   Violet has just recently turned 9 years old, and is in the third grade.  Looking forward to fourth grade.  Movies are one of her hobbies and she knows a lot about the Disney Princess’.  The following review in her words:

As a fan of Walt Disney films the newest Beauty and the Beast  is one of  the best.   Belle (Emma Watson) makes the movie amazing.  She is just right for the role.   The Beast (Dan Stevens) was a very good Beast. Maybe a little more expressions on the Beast face would have been nice.   All I saw for most of the movie was him frowning.  I know he is sad but come on… maybe a little bit of a different expression sometimes would have made it better.   Anyway as I said,  the Beast was very good Beast  besides the expression problem on his face.  In the movie Gaston (Luke Evans) wants Belle to marry him just like in the original story. Luke did an excellent job being jerk; Gaston is supposed to be a jerk and as I said Luke did a very good job.

When Belle was in the Beast’s castle Chip (Nathan Mack) was the funny, curious character he was ment to be.  Mrs. Potts, played by Emma Thompson is Chip’s mom and she is very loving and caring.  The way Mrs. Pott’s words are said is amazing.  I like the way she pronounced them, and I like the way she sounds.

Now I have to tell you some things I did not like about the movie.  I didn’t like how the movie was pretty much word for word of the original.  I would like to have seen a new way of how the characters talked to each other.  A little bit of different wording would have been nice.  Not every actor or actress was perfect for the part.   For example I didn’t like the actor who was Mrs. Potts’ husband (Gerard Horan).  One other example is I didn’t like character of the wardrobe.

In my opinion you should go see this version of Beauty and the Beast.  You will really like the music, I did.  And tell us on Bickering Critics what you think of the movie.

Thank you Violet for your very informative take on this great story.  We are looking forward to hearing more from you over the summer.  Keep going to the movies!

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