Top 100 Novel Review: Falconer by John Cheever (1977)

The Point Eludes Me.

Too many competing thoughts drown out the powerful writing of John Cheever. 

md17771473.jpg
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m glad I read this book, though. Using his short-story prowess, Cheever puts lots of vignettes in this novella via the individual characters and there are a few powerful ones to be found here. They just don’t coalesce into a solid message or theme, and with many of the outcomes seemingly contradictory, I’m left not knowing what to feel about this novel.

Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: Falconer by John Cheever (1977)”

Top 100 Movie Review: #10 – Singing in the Rain (1952)

A Musical with a Story.

Some of the numbers are a bit lame, but the story, acting and sets are intriguing enough to make up for the boring parts.

1_IgmXRhmXrdHTRDKwSnASQg.jpeg
Gene Kelly in the famous “Singing in the Rain” scene.

American Film Institute Ranking: #10/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for two – Supporting Actress & Original Music Score
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The story’s iconic scene with Gene Kelly has been burned into the collective consciousness of Americana, but what about the rest of the movie?

Singing in the Rain pairs an interesting story with some solid musical numbers to be a pretty good film. While some of the lulls can be quite treacherous to get through, there is usually enough interesting things on screen, whether talent, clothing, set, or cinematography to make it bearable.

Continue reading “Top 100 Movie Review: #10 – Singing in the Rain (1952)”

Top 100 Novel Review: Red Harvest, Danshiell Hammet (1929)

Hardboiled Pulp.

Popularizer of the genre, Hammett’s detective story is a  solid mystery with plenty of quick wit.

Hammett-Red-Harvest
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff.

I love mysteries, and even more, I love detective mysteries that are set pre-1960s. I grew up on Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, another pulp fiction mystery series. Where Red Harvest is different is there is more grit to it — everything is or will be corrupted in this book, even the main character.

Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: Red Harvest, Danshiell Hammet (1929)”

Top 100 Movie Review: #93 – The Apartment (1960)

More Drama Than Comedy

While The Apartment gets pegged as a comedy, its premise is too dated to get the same laughs today but thankfully holds its own with sentimental moments. 

the_apartment_-_h_-_1960.jpg
Jack Lemon and Shirley McClain.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #93
Academy Awards: Nominated for 10 winning five, including Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Sick and stuck visiting family, I went to the on demand section of their cable provider looking for something to watch. Not wanting to get sucked into the four hour “Gone with the Wind (though I succumbed to that on day three of the flu), I decided on “The Apartment”; heralded as a classic comedy, it would fit nicely with my febril mood.

I ended up not finishing it. Too sick to continue and too confused by the lack of laughs, I took NyQuil and went for a deep sleep. Unfortunately when I came to, the on demand selections had reset. I didn’t finish watching until many weeks later, renting the DVD from the library.

I wanted to get it over with so I could write my review and move on, but something happened — I really enjoyed the last half of the film. All the problems that I was going to use to bury this film evaporated into thin air as the movie continued.

Continue reading “Top 100 Movie Review: #93 – The Apartment (1960)”

Top 100 Movie Review: #8 – On the Waterfront (1954)

A Supremely Good Character Study

This movie has it all: interesting story, good setting, great acting, amazing musical score, but the character of Terry Malloy is in another stratosphere. 

on-the-waterfront
A young Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #8/100
Awards: Nominated for twelve winning eight, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actress.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

At its heart, this is a classic good vs. evil. Where it gets complicated is every character has a lean they are facing, and we wait to see how they are going to act under pressure. The character that has the most pressure is Terry Malloy; he a complicated and fascinating lead and is the reason this movie is worthy of such high praise.

Continue reading “Top 100 Movie Review: #8 – On the Waterfront (1954)”

Top 100 Movie Review: #70 – The French Connection (1971)

Bad Cop with a Good Focus

Popeye Doyle is unethical and unscrupulous, but at least his fixation is in the right place.

720f35b8-7b03-11e8-8ce4-b59b2fedb43f_1280x720_202258
Popeye Doyle played by Gene Hackman.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #70/100
Awards: Nominated for eight, winning Best Picture, Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay.
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The movie is a sprint interspersed with a few jogs to slightly catch our breath.

This rapid pace doesn’t allow us to get to know anyone or anything — the driving force behind all the characters is a complete enigma to us. This had the potential to detract more from the movie than it did if it weren’t so gripping due to acting and action.

Continue reading “Top 100 Movie Review: #70 – The French Connection (1971)”