Tag Archives: Drama

DVD REVIEW: M Squad – The Complete Series: Hard Boiled Cop Drama on Chicago’s Mean Streets!

What Dragnet was to Los Angeles, and Naked City was to New York, that’s what M Squad was to Chicago. The hard-boiled cop show starred Lee Marvin, in his first major leading role, as Lt. Frank Ballinger of the so-called M Squad. In Ballinger’s words, M Squad “is a special detail of the Chicago Police; we work on cases when requested by other departments, and when there are special circumstances.” Most of the show’s one hundred and seventeen episodes dealt with homicides. The Timeless Media Group collection of the complete series marks the first time the series has been released on any form of home video.

MSquad_Box Art

Although Lt. Ballinger had occasional support from various fellow detectives, the only other series regular was his immediate superior, Captain Grey [Paul Newlan] – as hands-on a boss as any cop could hope for. Ballinger’s cases ranged from deaths caused during escape from a robbery [caused by a cleverly disguised sailor hoping to get away when his ship sailed], to the case of a married businessman killed in an apparent robbery after breaking up with his mistress [the dead man’s wife was a friend of Captain Grey’s wife].

The series ran for four seasons and, beginning with the second, featured a theme composed by Count Basie. For all four seasons, the episodes’ scores were composed by jazz greats like Benny Carter and John Williams [who went on to score Star Wars]. Coupled with the stark black & white, noir-ish cinematography, M Squad was an effective combination of sizzle and substance.

Marvin’s Ballinger could be as brusque as Jack Webb’s Joe Friday, but was a bit on the empathetic side when dealing the victims of the crimes he investigated. He could be fooled by a pretty face, but not for long – and he had a very Sam Spade-like attitude to female criminals. He was smart and intuitive, and as perfectly capable of taking down bad guys with his fists as with a gun.

I could bore you with a list of guest stars who went on to bigger – if not necessarily better – things [among the ones listed on the box are two future Star Trek stars, a vigilante and a policewoman-to-be] but I’ll leave the fun of spotting them to you.

As for the quality of the set, it varies. Originally, Timeless planned a best-of set because they didn’t have access to all one hundred and seventeen episodes. The missing episodes were supplied by fans, making this a unique achievement. The result is something rare – a complete set of episodes from a groundbreaking, fifty-year old series that led the way in writing, direction, performance, production values and scoring.

There are no features included with the set – other than the liner notes that are duplicated on the back on of the slipcase and the interior foldout box, and a CD of Count Basie’s theme and jazz selections from the show’s score.

The variable quality of the episodes keeps the set from getting an A+ for content, but, as all episodes are definitely watchable, it doesn’t lose much.

cheap critical essay writer for hire online https://journeysmobilevet.com/edimprove/viagra-med-sprit/26/ https://pinnacle.berea.edu/where/costco-viagra-prices/50/ see https://cpchawaii.edu/lptf/papers.php?rewriter=amvets-essay-contest-2013 https://drtracygapin.com/erections/neurontin-and-laxative-reaction/25/ critical essay on the hunger games https://samponline.org/blacklives/ethyl-vinyl-ketone-essay/27/ http://hyperbaricnurses.org/6139-viagra-on-line-sales/ follow click here go can indomethacin 50 mg get you high ap biology essay 1991 honda essay emerson self reliance go to site https://shepherdstown.info/conclusion/nc-blueberry-festival-association-essay-scholarship/17/ contoh essay muet significance of two bathtubs in cialis commercials https://www.nationalautismcenter.org/letter/persuasive-writing-essay-examples/26/ cialis la pildora del fin de semana https://www.accap.org/storage/buy-cialis-narod-ru-domain/28/ https://hobcawbarony.org/coursework/best-persuasive-essay-editor-service-usa/27/ propecia contraindications balala hakkulu essay writer tratamento da hipertenso pulmonar com sildenafil follow site can i buy cialis in bangkok go sildenafil 20 mg bioequivalence https://themilitaryguide.org/14days/buy-an-already-written-essay/55/ expository essay writing for middle school Final Grade: A

TELEVISION: My Own Worst Enemy – Jekyll & Hyde & The Spying Game!

Call it a hunch, but I suspect that NBC’s My Own Worst Enemy [Mondays, 10/9C] will be greeted by a lot of critics with cries of “It’s silly,” and “What the heck was that?” – which is kind of a shame. The series, which stars Christian Slater as super-spy/sociopath Edward Albright and nice guy husband/father/efficiency expert, Henry Spivey, is a hybrid of the Bourne movies and the latest British mini-series take on Jekyll & Hyde, Jekyll.

Henry-Edward

When Spivey begins to remember being in places like Paris – where’s he’s never been, it leads to a bleeding of two distinct identities into each other. He soon learns that other employees of his consultants firm also have two identities and that he has been manufactured to give espionage superstar Edward Albright a completely effective cover for his downtime between assignments.

This causes problems for both personalities – Spivey suddenly awakens during one of Albright’s assignments and Albright wakes up in Spivey’s life. The results cause havoc for their boss/handler, Mavis Heller [Alfre Woodard], who might have to erase Spivey – but the two personalities figure out how to communicate with each other [in the same way that Tom Jackman and Hyde communicated in the Jekyll mini-series] and things begin to take even stranger turns.

I’m not saying that My Own Worst Enemy isn’t far-fetched. I’m not even saying that it doesn’t get silly in spots. What I am saying is that, like the BBC with Jekyll, NBC is taking a risk with a series that tries to do something fresh and different. I’m saying that My Own Worst Enemy is an entertaining hour of dark and light; a series that combines family drama and spy show with some genuine imagination. It blends Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Ludlum in a way that shoots for the fence – and might just pull it off, in time.

Slater does some decent work with both characters – and their lives. Besides Woodard, the excellent cast includes Madchen Amick [Mrs. Angelica Spivey], Saffron Burrows [Dr. Norah Skinner, the psychiatrist who monitors Spivey for problems associated with Edward], Mike O’Malley [Henry’s best friend, Tom/Edward’s fellow spy, Raymond], and Bella Thorne and Taylor Lautner [Henry’s children, Ruth and Jack].

The series creator, Jason Smilovic [Karen Sisco, Lucky Number Slevin, Kidnapped, Bionic Woman], may be onto something here. His pilot script, Breakdown, may be more than a little overstuffed, but director David Semel keeps it moving and hits some prime beats from the get-go. Simply put, there’s more here to like than not.

Final Grade: B-

DVD REVIEW: Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: 50 the Anniversary Platinum Edition – The Pinnacle of Disney’s Hand Animated Achievement!

Although the Sleeping Beauty fairytale has been around for much longer, Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was inspired by the Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky ballet – some of Tchaikovsky’s music is even quoted in the score.

Sleeping Beauty 50th

Sleeping Beauty is remarkable for a number of reasons: it was the first Disney film to be done in an angular, more medieval style in which every aspect of every scene was detailed and in focus; it was the first Disney film which Disney didn’t work on from beginning to end; it was the last Disney animation to use hand-inked final art. From the opening sequences, the film is more vibrant, more alive than any previous Disney animation – and it remains almost impossibly lovely to look at today.

As with previous Disney animations, the voice casting is superb: Mary Costa did both speaking and singing for Princess Aurora; Eleanor Audley’s Maleficent is pretty much the standard for evil females in animation, even now; and the Three Good Fairies – Flora [Verna Felton], Fauna [Barbara Jo Allen] and Merryweather [Barbara Luddy] – are quite possibly6 the best example of characters who not only provide comic relief, but are actually integral to the story.

The new restoration of Sleeping Beauty marks the first time since its original theatrical run that we can see the film in its original widescreen aspect ratio, with the additional edges of the film adding even more richness to the experience.

This 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition of the Disney classic also comes with enough Bonus Features to please the most discerning film buff: disc One: Audio Commentary by PIXAR CEO John Lasseter, Film Critic/Historian Leonard Maltin and current Disney Animator Andreas Deja; Once Upon a Dream Music Video by Emily Osment [Hannah Montana]; Disney Song Selection [plays just the actual song sequences from the film]; Princess Fun Facts – Pop-Up Video-style track that provides some historical background both for the film and princesses in general; Grand Canyon – a beautiful half-hour film that explores the Grand Canyon, set to the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe; The Peter Tchaikovsky Story – an episode of the Wonderful World of Disney that featured a biographical film of Tchaikovsky’s life, plus sneak peeks at Sleeping Beauty. Disc Two: Briar Rose’s Enchanted Dance Game; Sleeping Beauty Fun With Language Game; Picture Perfect – The Making of Sleeping Beauty; Eyvind Earle – The Man and His Art; Alternate Opening; Sequence 8 [Forest Scene; Deleted songs; It Happens I Have a Penny [Version 1]; It Happens I Have a Penny [Version 2]; Art Galleries; Original Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough Attraction; Publicity; Four Artists Paint One Tree; Storyboard Sequences.

Grade: Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition – A+

Grade: Features – A+

Final Grade: A+

TELEVISION: Ghost Whisperer: Departures and Arrivals!

In the season premiere for Ghost Whisperer [CBS, Fridays, 9/8C], Firestarter, Melinda [Jennifer Love Hewitt] has to say farewell to a friend, while helping a sceptical psychologist learn to deal with being able to hear ghosts. It’s an entertaining episode of a series that never quite achieves greatness, but is always entertaining.

ghostwhisperer_1

When Jim [David Gordon] is called to a fire at the university, Melinda tags along fearing that her colleague, Rick Payne [Jay Mohr] might be a victim. Rick, it turns out, is fine – but Melinda sees a mysterious black woman who disappears, and the spirit of a victim leave his body while Jim works on him – and then return after being hit with the defibrillator.

The man is Dr. Eli James [Jamie Kennedy] and when Melinda sees him and a ghost chatting in his hospital room later, she decides to help him with his new “gift.” Unlike her, though, he can only hear ghosts – not see them. And he seems to prefer thinking that he’s gone crazy over being able to talk with ghosts – especially this ghost, Fiona [Alona Tal], who was his patient.

Like the best eps of the series, Firestarter is more than adequately written; directed with a deft touch and features the best performance that Jamie Kennedy has ever given. There are scenes that are simultaneously comic and dramatic – as when Eli is surrounded by a half-dozen ghosts, all imploring him to help them, in a bar that’s otherwise empty but for the bartender and a guy playing pool – and there are scenes that are heartbreaking – as when we learn why Fiona’s ghost hasn’t crossed over. I’ll let you discover who’s leaving…

Fans of the series will love this ep, while those who haven’t tried it before will find it to be a solid hour’s entertainment. No more, no less.

Final Grade: B-

TELEVISION: Heroes Returns With a Bang!

Tim Kring and his creative team on Heroes [Mondays, 8/7C] have heard their show’s fans. Heroes returns with one helluva bang, giving us the answer to last season’s cliffhanger – who shot Nathan Petrelli [Adrian Pasdar] – inside of the first ninety seconds of the season three premiere. The premiere, The Second Coming/The Butterfly Effect, promises to be one of the more electrifying two hours of the new season [only the first hour was sent out for review].

S3 - Claire & Peter

One thing that remains constant is the show’s multiple character arcs that intersect in odd and unexpected ways. Thus, we find Matt Parkman [Greg Grunberg] in a desert; skip to a future confrontation from a very dark [brunette, actually] Claire and Peter, and meet a character named Tracey Strauss [Ali Larter] who looks exactly like Niki Sanders whom we were pretty sure had died in that exploding building in last season’s finale. Then there’s the character who returns from the grave; an encounter between the present-day Claire [Hayden Panettiere] and Sylar [Zachary Quinto] that doesn’t go the way anyone [except Tim Kring, who wrote the script] could have imagined. To cap it all off, there are the prisoners of Level 5 – and Noah Bennett [Jack Coleman] still channelling Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

One of the things that Heroes does best – when it’s on form, and it’s on form here – is juggle multiple plot and character arcs. Volume Three: Villains looks to be the most complex volume in the series, thus far, and yet none of the characters seems to be short changed. Even odd pairings, like Suresh [Sendhil Ramamurthy] and Maya [Dania Ramirez] work – and it’s the first time since her introduction that Maya doesn’t drain the life out of her scenes. The show’s FX are in good form, too. Hiro’s [Masi Oka] arch-enemy. A young speedster named Daphne [Brea Grant] is handled extremely well by the FX team, and Grant brings an impish sense of fun to the character.

If you lost interest in Heroes last season, or stuck with it but thought it opened too slowly, you’ll find season three a real rush [and not just in the sense of Daphne’s superspeed]. If you need to brush up on what’s happened, so far, there is a special one-hour summary episode that immediately precedes the third season premiere.

Final Grade: B+

TELEVISION: A&E’s The Cleaner Plumbs The Dark Side To Good Effect

A&E’s The Cleaner [Tuesdays, 10/9C] minisite describes this new series as being inspired by the true story of a real-life “extreme interventionist,” stars Benjamin Bratt as William “The Cleaner” Banks, who, after hitting rock-bottom from his own addictions after the birth of his daughter, strikes a tentative deal with God. Now along with his unconventional team, he helps people get away from their addictions by any means necessary.

William’s dedication to his task causes problems at home as his children, Ben [Brett Delbuono] and Lula [Liliana Mumy] try to get him to okay their withdrawal from extracurricular activities so they can spend more time with him – and his wife, Melissa [Amy Price-Francis] is growing frustrated with his having less and less time for their family.

The Cleaner - Pilot Episode - Gil Bellows as Mickey Efros, Benjamin Bratt stars as William Banks - Danny Feld/A&E

On the other hand, William and his team are always ready to help others to get clean. In the pilot’s opening moments, the ep cuts between William coaching his son’s football team and his team members – Akani Cuesta [Grace Park], Arnie Swenton [Esteban Powell] and Mickey Efros [Gil Bellows] – nab a gambling addict whose husband has hired them. Later, a teenaged boy asks their help with his brother – an all-conference guard and solid student who has turned to drugs after watching his father die.

Although I’ve never been particularly impressed with Benjamin Bratt, he turns in a driven performance as William, the recovering addict whose deal with God has resulting in his talking with God like he talks with everyone – though God’s answers aren’t what you’d call vocal. Park’s Akani is smart and sexy, with a weakness for William besides her own addiction. Powell’s Arnie is a bit of a chaos disturber – he needs the job, but isn’t sure why, and he has serious boundary issues.

The pilot is pretty gritty, featuring one death by overdose, one near miss, and some strongly intense scenes among the living and somewhat less wounded. The language is considerably more intense than A&E’s last good original series [Nero Wolfe], but it feels appropriate and adds verisimilitude to the proceedings. The pilot is beautifully shot – some cool split screen work adds unexpected depth, and the more straightforward scenes and action sequences are equally effective.

Final Grade: B+

Redbelt: David Mamet’s Martial Arts Film Stings Like a Butterfly, Floats Like a Bee!

redbelt3

David Mamet has studied Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for several years and, with Redbelt, he brings this side of his life to silver screen in a story that features his usual briskly vulgar language and crosses, double-crosses and scams – only in the staging of a martial arts movie.

The protagonist, Mike Terry [Chiwetal Ejiofor], is an instructor/studio owner whose business is suffering and really only survives because of the income provided by his wife, Sondra’s [Alice Braga] boutique garment business. When he comes to the aid of a movie star, Chet Frank [Tim Allen], in a bar fight, he winds up getting sucked into a series of cons that result in his finally having to enter a mixed martial arts tournament to save his studio and his wife’s business – and that doesn’t even take into account the messed up lady lawyer and an unfortunate accident…

With Redbelt, Mamet does a better job as director than as writer. Sure, we’ve got the typical Mamet wheels-within-wheels series of scams/cons and double-crosses – and the film plays to the idea of purity of mind in martial arts versus the crass commercialism of professional mixed martial arts. Unfortunately, after giving us some extremely good set-up, Mamet allows the film to fall onto a kind of clichéd physical battle between Terry and the man behind the tournament – with the master of his art in attendance, no less. The film could easily have ended before the final scene, though. That was a bit too much.

Overall, though, Redbelt is better-than-average Mamet [which is better than most writer/directors best]. He gets fine performances from his cast [many of whom, like Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon and David Paymer] are part of his repertory company. He balances the dialogue and action masterfully, and has a knack for making the most of his small budget. Some mixed martial arts fans in the row behind me said “Awesome!” more than once during the movie, so I guess the fight sequences were as good as they seemed. Redbelt is one of Mamet’s lesser works, but it’s certainly worth checking out – even for those who don’t really care about martial arts.

Final Grade: B-

Battlestar Galactica: The Ties That Bind – The Next Day

callie

Civil unrest; civil war; a potential for mutiny and character death – this week’s Battlestar Galactica episode, The Ties That Bind, is picking up the pace. Outside of Cavil’s response to last week’s little fracas with the Centurions, did anyone see any of this happening? Spoilers follow.

Continue reading Battlestar Galactica: The Ties That Bind – The Next Day

Stop-Loss: Character Drama Makes Point About Military Legal Loophole!

Stop-Loss Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

It’s been awhile since Kimberly Peirce directed a feature film [that would be her first, 1999’s Boys don’t Cry], but she’s back with another character driven drama that is important for more than just its characters – Stop-Loss.

Continue reading Stop-Loss: Character Drama Makes Point About Military Legal Loophole!