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All reviews - Movies (106) - TV Shows (4) - Music (13)

Dog Day Afternoon

Posted : 5 years, 3 months ago on 9 March 2012 10:44 (A review of Lady and the Tramp)

I only had the pleasure of watching many of the famous Disney classics for the first time last December and while I enjoyed almost all of them, Lady and the Tramp was one I absolutely fell in love with. One of the aspects which makes Lady and the Tramp great is its ability to pull off a love story not only free of cliches but also manages to feel fresh. Going into this movie I was concerned that it would the typical high class girl falls in love with low class guy (well dogs in this case) but I was very pleasantly surprised. Both Lady and Tramp are believable characters but display subtle dog traits which I didn't even notice the first time I watched the film. Perhaps the most humorous of these would be the fact the dogs in the film refer to Lady's owners and "Jim Dear" and "Darling" as this is what the two call each other throughout the film. The little details like this warrant Lady and the Tramp as a film worthy of multiple viewings.


Lady and the Tramp was the first animated produced in CinemaScope and they sure took advantage of the new format. The whole movie is one big ignition of the senses; could a movie be more relaxing to watch than this? Just like Lady I don’t want this seemingly perfect world of early 1900’s Americana to be altered in any way; notice throughout the entire the film everyday is filled bright sunshine and it only starts to rain when things hit their worst. The date sequence also surprised me greatly; having seen it parodied to death my entire life I didn’t think it would have anything to offer me; yet their entire date had me awe and left my breathless. The soundtrack also offers some of the most memorable compositions and songs in Disney history, perfectly capturing the essence of falling in love. Lady And The Tramp is an absolute heart melting charmer If I ever saw one and my personal favourite animated Disney film from Walt's era.



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Fred Astaire 1953!

Posted : 5 years, 4 months ago on 11 February 2012 01:34 (A review of The Band Wagon)

The Band Wagon is the film Fred Astaire’s career was culminating to: his best film in my view. Like Ninotchka with Greta Garbo or A Star Is Born with Judy Garland, this was the role he was born to play; one catered to his on screen persona. Fred Astaire is Tony Hunter! An ageing hoofer who no longer is the star he once was. The Band Wagon contains little references to Astaire’s past: from Bill Bojangles Robinson to the opening credits feature an image of a top hat and cane, to the mentioning of a fictional movie “Swinging Down to Panama” perhaps a reference to Swing Time and Flying Down to Rio (although I do wish there could have been a little reference to Ginger Rogers herself in there).

The Band Wagon provides Astaire with some of the best musical numbers of his career. However the film also allows him to showcase other avenues of his talent, such as his outburst scene over his dissatisfaction over rehearsals - a fine example of the acting prowess he possessed. While Ginger Rogers is obviously Astaire’s greatest partner Cyd Charisse is his most accomplished; could there be a more graceful figure? 

Was I gullible that when I first watched The Band Wagon that the movie manipulated me into thinking the pretentious and egotistical stage director Jeffrey Cordova’s (Jack Buchanan) idea of a musical inspired by the Faust legend was a good idea? This isn’t the same old backstage musical plot; The Band Wagon is a thinking person’s musical. Likewise Charisse’s Gabrielle Gerard has a mature sub plot of her own involving her trying to deal with her dominating boyfriend and her feeling towards Tony; giving the film that extra mature edge.

Not only is there a great story, there is also great comedy with a cast gels so well together. Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray as a bickering couple and their hysterical fanboy reactions to meting Tony Hunter, to Jack Bunchanan’s over the top histrionics and his terrible ideas for a stage musical. My favourite moment in comedy in The Bandwagon is the scene in which Jeffrey Cordova manipulates Gabrielle’s boyfriend from being dead set against allowing her to being cast in his stage production to then begging him to allow her to be in the show. It’s like a Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam type moment but on a much more subtle level and made even more impressive by occurring in an uncut shot. Likewise the sets in The Band Wagon have an astounding level of detail that scenes near the beginning of the film taking place on the street had me wondering where they sets or real world locations.

Up until The Band Wagon it was uncommon for a film musical to have a soundtrack entirely composed for it rather than having songs and compositions taken from other sources; which makes it all the more impressive that the entire soundtrack to The Bandwagon is superb. If I was to choose my three favourite musical numbers of all time, in terms of epic scope they would be The Broadway Melody Ballet from Singin’ In the Rain, The Lullaby of Broadway from Gold Diggers of 1935 and The Girl Hunt Ballet from The Band Wagon in all its 13 minute glory. Here noir meets musical, with Astaire at his most badass. His line delivery could be in an actual crime film itself, plus it inspired the music video for Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. There’s also the Shine on Your Shoes number, one which I could watch again and again just to look at all those gizmos in the background and the genuine reactions on people’s faces at seeing Fred Astaire dance; while That’s Entertainment has become a semi-official anthem for Hollywood. Oh and there’s the Triplets number; one of the weirdest musical numbers ever filmed and they’re actually dancing on their knees! 

The early to mid-1950’s where a phenomenal period for the musical genre. Hollywood produced some of its finest musicals in these years before television brought this era of film musicals to an end. Films like The Band Wagon elevated the genre to new heights. A Fred Astaire musical which has everything and more!


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These Little Town Blues…

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 11 January 2012 01:28 (A review of Mouse in Manhattan)

Tom & Jerry where a defining part of my childhood. I could spend hours watching T&J shorts on Cartoon Network when I was younger, and to be honest, this is my favourite, was then and still is now. As a kid I would always get excited when this short came on TV.


Mouse in Manhattan is not a traditional Tom & Jerry short at all; there are no chases or the carnage you would usually associate with Tom & Jerry. It begins with Jerry leaving his life in the country in favor of the bright lights and Broadway of New York City. Tom only appears briefly at the beginning and at the end, but Jerry leaves him a note showing that the two could be friends from time to time. The rest of the cartoon involves Jerry's escapades in the Big Apple, and plays out like a silent film, with Jerry succumbing to the odd pratfall in the vein of Keaton or Chaplin; it’s all such fun to watch. Take the moment when Jerry is dancing and ice skating with the dolls on the table; could a piece of animation be more beautiful? During the short things go from really romantic to really dark quick, but it all ends well. They still throw a black face joke in there with Jerry’s head being put into a container of shoe polish. I can tell you right not that these moments where left intact when showing these cartoons on the UK Cartoon Network and Boomerang when I was child.


The locations Jerry visits in New York such as Grand Central Station appear very empty, but who cares, just look at the beauty of it! Those painted backdrops have such scope to them. What really makes Mouse in Manhattan perfection however is the music. You might recognize it from the opening credits of My Man Godfrey, but this rendition of" Manhattan Serenade" I feel is superior and I doubt could ever be topped. Tom and Jerry shorts always evoke nostalgia in me, but Mouse in Manhattan just evokes that feeling to a far greater degree.



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Review Brilliance

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 25 September 2011 11:13 (A review of Todd's Pop Song Reviews)

Of the internet reviewers spawned from the satirical reviewing site That Guy With The Glasses, I consider Todd In The Shadows to be one of the very greatest productions the site offers. While other reviewers on TGWTG mostly focused on movies, video games and anime etc, Todd brought the much needed sector of reviewing popular music to the site.

Todd Nathanson began producing videos on YouTube and eventually was accepted onto TGWTG.com, and found new spread popularity on the site, and I don't think this could have happened at a better time, due to this being the period when the likes of Lady Gaga, Kehsa and The Black Eyed Peas where beginning or already had been dominating the top 40 pop charts. Pop music needed criticism and analyses more than ever, and that's where Todd comes in. 

A standard episode of Todd's Pop Song Reviews involves an analyses of a recent U.S Billboard Top 40 pop song, a bad one of course. Each episode begins with piano cover of the song which about to be reviewed, followed by an introduction to the song and the artist behind it. The songs themselves are pulled part, with deep analyses of the lyrics (often pointing out how they don't make sense) and often comments on the music video itself, followed by a final conclusion of the song. Each episode is filled with jokes, gags and one liners mixed in with the review itself, but is all perfected flawlessly making Todd's Pop Song Reviews both an hilarious and insightful look into the world of pop music. The guy is one hell of a comedy machine, and you can get quite the music education from his show.

However I still have yet to mention possibly the most important aspect of the series. Like many other internet reviewers, Todd has gimmick. The simple genius that we don't know that he looks like due to wearing a hoodie and being unlit within the shadows he inhabits. I love the mystery of not knowing what his physical appearance is, and it’s also quite a romantic idea in itself. Todd has to communicate primarily through his voice, and he certainly has a voice which does just that; clear and audible, pleasant to listen too, and strong enough to get his points across. Todd's Pop Song Reviews is one the finest review shows the internet has to offer. Todd Nathanson isn’t a household name, but I can call the guy one of my heroes. 



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Misunderstood

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 9 September 2011 02:36 (A review of Glen or Glenda)

I might sound insane, but I'm giving an Ed Wood movie a positive score from an artistic point of view. Glen or Glenda marked Wood's first film, which he not only written and directed, but also starred in. The film was originally slated to be an biopic on Christine Jorgensen, the propriety of the first publicly known sex change operation (in this case from male to female) Wood however took over production and instead turned it into a film about his own transvestism.

Weather you're conservative or liberal on issue of cross-dressing and trans-sexuality, Glen Or Glenda manages to do something which I've seen many sacred cows fail to do, create emotional interest in its main characters, and succeeds to raise question on what it means to be normal, with an issue which is just as relevant today as it was in 1953.

The movie's production values are surprisingly good for a film of this caliber. The surreal dream like sequence in the 2nd half of the movie features some impressive film making techniques and manages to engage you in the character's descent into insanity. Even the film's acting is decent, certainly better than in the likes of Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Lugosi's character is widely regarded to be a scientist representing God. At first I didn't understand the character's role in the movie (plus the use of stock of footage is completely random). However I was impressed with how his catch phrase which he utters throughout the course of the movie actually finds its way to having relevance with the plot.

I'm not the type of person who over analyzes movies looking for their deeper meaning, but in Glen or Glenda it really came through quite obviously, and did leave an impression on me, as well as changing my opinions on Wood as a director. I can defiantly sense Ed Wood put a lot legitimate feeling into this movie, and certainly comes through in the finished product.


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