Friday, March 27, 2009

Nights in Rodanthe


I am a rare kind of guy, I actually like most “chick flicks” and upon receiving Nights in Rodanthe starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Scott Glenn for review, not only I, was excited. My wife and I had seen previews of the story based in the Outer Banks of North Carolina when the movie was in theaters. The packaging of the DVD did little damage to our excitement. The movie in both wide screen or full screen formats allowed us to check out both forms before deciding on what format to watch.

Both Gere and Lane have on screen magic, this is the third movie together and sure enough, the two on screen is a fun to see. In Nights of Rodanthe, both Gere and Lane play characters that have had difficulty in former relationships. Gere, playing the part of Paul, is a surgeon who is so caught up in his job that he forgets about the people around him. Lane, playing the part of Adrienne is a devoted mother who has gone through a 7 month separation and divorce from her husband. One weekend while working at the bed and breakfast for her friend Adrienne meets Paul as he is a guest. Bad weather sets in, a hurricane pursues, and the two develop a relationship that goes beyond a guest host relationship, they actually get to know each other and develop a loving relationship between each other.

Technically, there is little if anything to complain about regarding this movie. Gere and Lane are as good as ever. There is a tremendous chemistry between the two actors and they are fun to watch together. The cinematography, sound, editing and everything else is wonderful. The two aspects that were incredibly pleasing was the supporting role played by Scott Glenn and the music. Glenn is a local resident who has good reason to be upset with the doctor. It has to do with the loss of his wife, and the doctor not really taking the time to get to know his patients or their families. Glen has resentment due to this and he plays the part to perfection. I would have liked to have seen more development in his role but he does a suburb job with the part.

Another aspect of the movie I greatly enjoyed was the music. Mixing in Cajun with a Blues mix there is not a bad song in the entire movie. The movie highlighted almost everything wonderful about the Outer Banks, from her people, to the music, and from the scenery to the history.

There is a part of Nights in Rodanthe that I had trouble with, it is unfortunately one of the most important parts of any movie, the story. While the story flows quite nicely, it is even fun to watch and follow, it ends horribly. I have to say, I don’t like spoiler reviews, but I disliked the ending of this movie so much that I almost posted the ending to prevent people from seeing it. One can have a great story, but how it finishes has a tremendous effect on the story as a whole.

There are lessons in the movie we can all learn from regarding parenting, marriage, family and love. In Nights in Rodanthe we see two different types of parents, a father who neglected relationship with his son, and a mother who had a bad experience with her former husband. Despite this she still tries to be the best, most loving mother she can be. She has an understanding of relationship and has learned from her experiences while Paul is still in the process of learning. As the two come together Adrienne has a lot to give, and Paul has a lot to learn. We see these two teaching each other. The willingness of a couple working together, to share in life is experienced in a short time but the movie is realistic in its portrayal. There are lessons on communication we can learn, and caring for someone is more than just a casual comment, it is listening, hearing, and reacting out to ones joys, hurts, pains and experiences. The component of relationship is presented in a positive way here. The importance of each of us being real in our relationships is also something we can all learn from, whether via love or friendship.

At this point in the movie, things were great, it is here however that we see the two separate. Paul with the blessing of Adrienne decides to go to Peru to spend time with his son who is working as a missionary doctor. He knows of the need to heal his relationship with his son, and it is a journey he must take. Over the last bit of the film we see the two continue to keep in touch via telephone calls and largely by writing letters to each other. The two grow more in love and we see another example of the potential to love. It is obvious these two have a love that goes beyond the physical or sexual desires often related to love.

It is here that I could tell how the movie goes and how its ending for me, and my wife ruined the movie, but I won’t be so cruel.

Nights in Rodanthe is a strange kind of movie, it had so much potential yet ended so miserably. Maybe it was just me so it is the one reason that will keep me from totally blasting it, I suppose there are those that will like the movie, and will like the ending. I liked the movie okay; I would have liked it more if I had turned it off about 15 minutes earlier. I could recommend giving it a shot via rental, but I would be cautious of purchasing the movie unless it has gone to the discount racks. I don’t think one would be too disappointed with a rental though so check it out if you are a fan of any of the positive things mentioned.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the three movies Lane and Gere have done together, plus the wonderful addition of Glenn, I will take those 4 off of perfection and give Nights in Rodanthe a somewhat disappointing 6.

The following is the trailer for the movie. Just double click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wABFdUIIxlw


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three, William Wellman

TCM Archives
Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three
Six Classic provocative films directed by master filmmaker William Wellman
Other Men’s Women
The Purchase Price
Frisco Jenny
Midnight Mary
Heroes for Sale
Wild Boys of The Road

Reviewer, critic, which am I? I have often thought about this and this is what I know, I don’t especially think much of critics. I am just a regular guy who tries to give a regular take on movies, heck I don’t even know if I am a reviewer, just someone who loves talking about movies. There are benefits of that, I can find a small gem and really have a sense of excitement. When I find a large jewel it is more than excitement, it can be life changing. I have to admit, like most regular folk, I had never really heard of “Wild Bill” William Wellman. Getting the honor and privilege of reviewing Forbidden Hollywood Collection Three, I have discovered a wonderful gem that will likely change my life. While all who enjoy film, including the novice is likely familiar with his movies, William Wellman was a man that is unfortunately not known by many, and one could easily say most, of today’s movie goers are not familiar with William Wellman. That is a shame as Bill Wellman was truly one of the great film makers of all time.

The Forbidden Hollywood Collection is a series of film that was made prior to the MPAA ratings codes. When looking at the films included in Collection Three, I found myself thinking of the criticism many place on film today, the thought where individuals refer to the wholesomeness of “The Good Old Days.” Often people refer to how everything was always pro family, never had adult implications. A look of film in the early days of film can easily change that position. Filmmakers like Bill Wellman was making real life film, facing real life issues since the early days of the movies. From early on in the silent films such as Wings which won the first ever Oscar for Best Picture, to the late 1950’s, Wellman had a lasting impact on movies that will endure forever.

Born in 1896, on Leap Year Day, February 29, this film maker came onto the movie scene directly off of the battle fields of World War One where he was a decorated war pilot. He was a rare breed that believed in the war cause so much that he joined the fight early as an American by fighting for the French, and from there, would take the free spirit, fighting attitude of real life into the legendary films he would direct over the next decades, over 75 films at that.

The Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three, (FHCVT) is a collection of some of the lesser known films by Wellman. Their impact and riveting drama however are not lost in the production. We see some of the imagery that Wellman is noted for, from using driving rain to emphasize part of the struggle and drama, to real life scenarios between characters that could have come directly out of today’s storylines. While these films are not included in the set, some of the impact films that Wellman wrote and directed such as the tragedy of movies like A Star is Born, or the horror of war as illustrated in such films as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe . We see those story lines and styles included in FHCVT. We also see the early development of actors like Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, James Cagney. Wellman while using Cagney in some of these films was later credited with the tough guy development of Cagney in his role in Public Enemy, but there were other contemporaries like Clint Eastwood that was highly motivated and molded by Wellman. I have to give it up for Warner Brothers and TCM as well, they have done a wonderful job at restoring the prints and we have a visually beautiful copy of films to watch, especially when considering the age of these movies.

Wellman was a true maverick, true to his values, and strongly molded from his early days as an airman. The lessons of the impact of youth are not lost in these movies. We see real life struggles yet we see that happy endings are not always to be expected. As with real life, there is often tragedy involved as a consequence of poor life decisions. While there may be an attitude of repentance, or one may seek forgiveness, there is still a price to pay for the actions of ones past. We can’t blame anyone else, and certainly not God, we only have to look in the mirror to see who the one to blame for past actions. All one can hope for is to do what they can with the remainder of their life to correct those things, knowing that there are some things that can never be corrected. William Wellman understood this, it is why his career lasted as long as it did, and why it had the impact it did.

Each of the six films in this collection is old, yet has the unique and wonderful attribute of being relevant. That isn’t all though; there is a special disk with this collection that has two features I must comment on.

Wild Bill Hollywood Maverick is a documentary that spans the career of “Wild Bill” William Wellman. Featuring numerous greats telling the story of Bill Wellman it is one of the best documentaries I have seen all year. In fact, with the exception of the second documentary on this film, The Men Who Made The Movies: William Wellman, it was the best documentary I have seen.

The Men Who Made The Movies: William Wellman, is mostly an interview with Wellman with history and film footage weaved into the interview. This is not only the best documentary I have seen this year; it is the best interview I have ever seen put on film. Wellman’s fire, spit, and directness comes across the screen right into your face. This one interview alone is well worth the total purchase price of this entire 6 DVD Collection. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the DVD’s are exceptional, especially the special bonus features on each DVD, but this interview is exceptional.

I could go on and on, but rather than having to write more about it, I think I am going to sit down and watch some of these features again, and again, and again. It is a collection you will be glad you got if you bother to purchase it. It is indeed that rare gem, that can change a life if you will but let it.

I don’t normally do a score for the DVD reviews unless I really didn’t like the DVD or I really do like it. I would consider this collection a must have for any fan of the movies. For this wonderful collection, on a scale of 1 – 10 I give a very well deserving 10.

Wellman addressed many social issues of the day, many of those issues are still applicable today. The following is a clip from the movie, Wild Boys of the Road. It is included on the wonderful DVD Set, Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume Three,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3NiKMhpk2Y


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Johnny Quest The Real Adventures DVD Season 1

I’ve got to tell you as a kid, I had all kinds of problems but I had an escape, one that was vitally important to me, especially as a young child. It was an escape that gave me hope and dreams, and it came in the form of a television show, a cartoon. It was a show that left a lasting impression, and provided a positive contribution to my life. The program was Johnny Quest. As an adult, now approaching 50 those memories and love of Johnny Quest was rekindled with the release of the Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection DVD of “Johnny Quest, The Real Adventures.” This 13 episode DVD set includes all of the programs from Season One, Volume One of that show. I am sure Warner Brothers knows of the impact the original Johnny Quest had on millions of youngsters like myself which is one of the reasons for the updated versions of the series. The exploits of Johnny, his dad Dr. Benton, special agent “Race” Bannon, his adopted brother Hadji, and their faithful dog Bandit is all there. There is also a new addition to the crew, we have in the new series a sister named Jessie.

In the new updated version of Johnny Quest while the colors in the animated prints are better than I remember in the old story, there is obviously a lot of computer concepts used in the animation. It is obvious there is an attempt to update the stories for a more contemporary audience as would be expected. The series uses stories in narrative form. It is one of the attributes as a youngster that I appreciated with the original series. We don’t have short two or three minute animation stories, we have upwards of a full 30-minute story more adult oriented than for small children. Comedy, while used at times, is not the premise of the stories. Instead, there is adventure, mayhem and more. It is a concept that would translate well into live action but to my knowledge has never been done. There is talk of making a life action film but as of this writing no additional information could be found. It is a shame if this doesn’t take place as Johnny Quest may be among the most adaptable animated series of all time to live action.

This DVD set includes 2 DVD’s with a total of 13 episodes. There is a special feature with the DVD set titled “Johnny Quest Returns, Modernizing a Classic for a New Generation of Fans” that is well worth watching. The packaging is colorful and gives hope to the story lines contained in the DVD set. We see stories making an attempt to reach out to a new generation. Those story lines take us from jungle explorations, to the edges of space. In many ways, it takes the same route as many of the older Johnny Quest stories. Unfortunately, the story lines are not nearly as developed on a consistent basis as the old television show from the 1960’s. One of the things the new series does that seems to get lost is its attempt to address current world issues, whether, global warming, or the destruction of the seas. Unfortunately, the attempt at making this series more “educational” causes some of the great components of the old television series to get lost. For fans of Johnny Quest, it wasn’t so much about making political statements or educating us as it was about helping us grow up and crossing over into adulthood.

One of the attributes of older Johnny Quest I liked is it didn’t pretend that younger kids couldn’t understand the concept of death, of tragedy, or difficulty. As a pastor I have had recent discussions with a few folks about the concept of growing in faith. The reality is Johnny Quest was a perfect illustration of a child’s need to grow into maturity. While various cartoons dealt with fun, Johnny Quest helped transition one from childhood to young adulthood. Johnny Quest used animation like this to help bridge and build gaps. While the new adventures fall short in my opinion, it is still a process that if parents or adults sit with their children can be used to help point out some of the needs a child needs to transition.

While I am a huge Johnny Quest fan, I like the older versions far more than the newer ones. Maybe it is just a nostalgia thing but I don’t think so. I was looking forward to this DVD set. I had high hopes and unfortunately, it just didn’t deliver. The stories seemed rushed, the character development was poor, and while the line between reality and animation was as close as ever, the first season just don’t succeed in delivering the things fans of Johnny Quest are accustomed to. It seems as if there is so much of an emphasis on drawing a new generation of Johnny Quest fans, that they have forgotten the old fans like me. It is clear production problems had an impact here as later episodes moved more away from the “futuristic” Johnny and more back in line with the “traditional” Johnny. That doesn’t save this first boxed set though, in fact, I don’t think much could save the first season. It is sad, because of the poor quality of story and adaptation; it is likely few new followers stuck around. For those of us remembering the old Johnny Quest, that is a shame. That Johnny had a lot to offer.

On a scale of 1 – 10, When you take the 5 old characters, add in a new sister, and take that away from ten, you have a rather disappointing 4

Here is a clip from the new series on DVD. Just double click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLSE9Fm-wz8





Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

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Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

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Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Click to visit Mary Jane Furches' new MySpace Page

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word.Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

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Mike Furches MySpace Blog

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