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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
Operation Petticoat, one of post-war America's more popular war flicks, is an example of the era's basically conservative teases.

Ten years after the end of World War II, the subject of the war became safe for comedy, at least in America. From Broadway and TV and Hollywood came such projects as Mister Roberts, Operation Madball and No Time for Sergeants. One of the biggest hits of 1959, and a breakthrough for director Blake Edwards, Operation Petticoat joined the march of military hijinks and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Operation Petticoat opens in 1959, as a submarine called the USS Sea Tiger is about to be junked. Admiral Sherman (Cary Grant), the original captain, reviews his logbook, leading to the rest of film’s flashback of how the submarine was salvaged after nearly being scuttled by Japanese bombs in December 1941. Key to the restoration process was the larcenous, unscrupulous shenanigans of his new supply officer, Lt. Holden (Tony Curtis). The final humiliation is that the submarine is painted pink, presumably an emasculating color (and a dangerously conspicuous one), and this leads to a final round of tension with America’s own navy. This could be seen as a gentle though none-too-subtle satire on the masculine ego of warfare.

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Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014
Excellence is where you find it, not where it's forced into some Hollywood genre pigeonhole.

The first six months of 2014 have already passed (time flies when you’re having… to sit through dozens of movies each week???) and there are already pundits pronouncing this the worst year ever, film wise. They point to the lackluster box office, the continuing success of bloated Summer tentpoles, and the inability for those seeking sanctuary from such spectacle to find realistic alternative outlets.

On the other hand, there have been a bevy of interesting efforts released this year that have either flown under the radar or received their standard Cineplex due, confirming that excellence is where you find it, not where it’s forced into some genre pigeonhole that Hollywood has micromanaged to influence international receipts. Indeed, the foreign film market is becoming so important, and profitable, for the Tinseltown suits that they frequently forget that US audiences count, too.

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Monday, Jul 7, 2014
With his picture postcard imagery and similarly shorthanded scripting, Michael Bay's movies may be nothing more than a colorful crib mobile.
Above: Promo still for one of Michael Bay’s Transformer’s films.

I have to admit - I have never been the biggest fan of Michael Bay. I don’t like theBad Boys films. I can watch both The Rock and Armageddon without retching, usually, while both Pearl Harbor and The Island suffer from some of the most egregious cinematic stumbles made by any supposed filmmaker.

I even hoped that Pain & Gain would jettison some of the King of Excesses more manic proclivities and actual be a “human” comedy. Instead, it suffered from the same problems that plague almost all Bay’s efforts, issues best exemplified by his tedious, tired Transformers tentpoles.

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Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014
Like being locked in a narrative limbo with no realistic relief in sight, Tammy tries to get away with being bold and brazen

It would be easy to call Tammy a work of subversive genius. It would be rational to try and explain away its lack of laughs and overall condescending contempt for women of all makes and models as part of some screwball cinematic experiment gone wholly if horribly awry. Certainly Melissa McCarthy (our star and co-writer) and her hubby Ben Falcone (co-writer and director) didn’t mean to make a movie so clueless and incompetent that the rising star would suddenly see her considerable commercial cache come crashing back down to Earth?

Or did they? Perhaps this is all part of the plan: take a tired idea (the road movie), jazz it up with some Oscar level acting (Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates) and then bungle both the approach and the delivery. The result is a ridiculous excuse for entertainment that’s neither funny nor fun. But it sure is seditious, huh?

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Friday, Jun 27, 2014
This is what happens when the idea for a film must pitch itself to its audience over and over again until the audience is convinced.

Michael Bay doesn’t make movies. If there was a Department of Propaganda in the US, he’d be the nation’s number one visual jingoist. His imagery is all sun-dappled backdrops, waving fields of grain, and stark red, white, and blues against unholy inhuman mayhem.

His heroes are goofy and wholesome, his villains similarly styled but teeming with untold evil. He paints his single digit IQ plotlines in strokes so broad that newborn babies seem to understand them while simultaneously pushing his F/X wizards to the brink of individual madness with his desire for a photorealistic apocalypse.

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