Taking stock in movie suggestions

With the stock market in the tank, with gasoline prices rising into the stratosphere or at least the upper troposphere, and with inflation robbing me of a diet based on red meat and forcing me on to one based on 20% lean hamburger I have decided to write on a subject I enjoy; the movies.

I have been a fan of movies beginning when I was a kid spending Saturday afternoon at matinees watching cowboy movies from the 1930s and ’40’=s interspersed with Popeye cartoons, that I didn’t care for, Disney cartoons I tolerated or Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons featuring the likes of Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd that remain my favorites to this day.

Movies have even had an impact on my interests and hobbies. Back in 1955 I went to see the “Glenn Miller Story” with my parents. It stars Jimmy Stewart and June Allison. While It’s not a particularly accurate portrayal of Miller’s career and Stewart’s portrayal of Miller is more Stewart than Miller the music grabbed me and to this day I am a fan and collector of big band recordings and books on the subject.

I also think that afternoons spent watching war movies like Director John Ford’s “They Were Expendable” the story of PT boats in the Philippines early in World War II or “Run Silent Run Deep” starring Clark Gable as an over the hill sub captain, and Burt Lancaster as his slightly mutinous executive officer all peaked my interest in naval history, particularly our naval war with Japan during World War II.

While I still watch movies, I seldom go to a movie theater but view them by streaming on line or watching Turner Classic Movies. My favorite TCM show is Noir Alley hosted by Eddie Muller the author of books on the movies particularly film noir and is often referred to as the “Czar of Noir.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term the films of this genre are often characterized by menace, pessimism, with the use of shadows and stark lighting effects. Examples of film noir are the classic “Double Indemnity” starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurry or “Out of the Past” an RKO gem starring Robert Mitchem, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas in his first movie. By the way Noir Alley is on Sunday morning at midnight and repeated at 10 a.m. on TCM.

Recently I ‘ve been watching a lot of movies on Netflix where what I look for in a movie is one that tells a good tight “small” story about people and situations I can relate to or at least understand. A lot of the movies on Netflix are very good, some are OK, and some are unwatchable, at least for me.

Among my favorites are “The Dig” the story of a British widow who just before World War II hires a self-taught archeologist to investigate a mound on her property resulting in the discovery of a wealth of ancient artifacts from prehistoric Britain. Starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes it is a great story well-acted and worth watching. Equally worth watching is “The Road to Perdition” starring Paul Newman as a crime boss and Tom Hanks, playing against type, as his enforcer. After carrying out a hit Tom’s son is found hiding in the trunk of his car which marks both for execution. They go on the lam pursued by a killer hired by Newman. If you haven’t seen this one its worth watching and if you have, like me, it’s worth watching again.

“The Highway Men” is a story about two former Texas Rangers who are sent forth by the state of Texas to join the pursuit for a gang of Bank Robbers that turn out to be Bonnie and Clyde. It stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as the rangers, two actors who have never been among my favorites but in this movie, they hit the mark as two has-beens making the FBI and other agencies look stupid.

Other movies on Netflix worth watching are “The Polka King” a true story about a Polish immigrant with a polka band who ends up doing a Bernie Madoff, “Disappearance at Clifton Hill,” that I recommend not only because it take place on “that” Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls. Ont., but because it’s a good little movie and finally ‘Under the Eiffel Tower’ a good story that has a surprise for fans of NCIS when Gary Cole who plays special agent Alden Park appears as part owner of a vineyard who confined to a wheelchair.

Netflix movies I would advise avoiding include the ‘Land of Steady Habits” about a man whose wife wants a divorce. Living his own, he receives dating advice from a younger man who at the end of the movie we find out, in a twist that nearly broke my arm is going to marry his daughter who we were never told was his daughter. In the end our hero gets back with his wife but at that point I really didn’t care.

I would recommend avoiding “The Hateful Eight” because I found that an hour into the picture the eight were not hateful but just plain boring. Avoid at all costs “Rumor Has It” starring Jennifer Aniston who believes her grandmother played by Shirley MacLaine is the model for Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” because all the mugging in the world won’t save this flick.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com


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