Archive for the ‘5 ‘Staches’ Category

Review by Matthew Schuchman- Five out of Five ‘Staches.

Even if you have never actually seen the movie, “Network”, you probably know the most famous quote from it; “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

The now infamous line uttered by Peter Finch, in a performance that won him the Academy Award for best actor (Note that is was the first and only Academy Award to be given out posthumously till Heath Ledger won for playing the Joker in, “The Dark Knight”) will go down in history as one of the most famous movie quotes of all time.  However, the speeches Finch delivers later in the movie are ten times more poignant and much more powerful and meaningful and should be heard and seen by all movie lovers.  The film also contains an amazing little speech delivered by a well warranted over-acting, Ned Beatty (see the picture above) in one of the greatest film cameos of all time.

The film follows the dealings of butting heads at UBS, and no not the bank, but the lowest rated television station, at the beginning of the movie.  Opening up as two marvels of the news world, anchor Howard Beale (Finch) and producer, Max Schumacher (William Holden) are in middle of a drunken binge; as Howard was earlier that day, informed he was being let go.  Days before his last broadcast, Howard announces, live on the evening news, that on the following Thursday’s show, he was going to kill himself on air and it should get a hell of a rating.

These events start to unfold what is by far, one of the greatest films ever made, turning the steady news man, Howard Beale into, “The mad prophet of the airwaves”.  A stellar cast of, William Holden, Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight (who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Network”, for a role that had a total screen time of 5 minutes and 40 seconds) are brought together by the underrated genius of Sidney Lumet and the incomparable writing of Paddy Chayefky.

“Network” was a film ahead of its time.  Chayefsky wrote about the news becoming part of a corporation and more of an entertainment show than informative, way before it became a reality.  “Network” was a vision of fear, of what American’s may become, and basically have.  It picked up on the fact that anything that was going to be associated with “the tube” was going to change us.  In one of the best rants delivered by Finch  in the film, he goes to explain to the live audience and the millions of people watching him on T.V. to stop listening to him and what he and the rest of the personalities on T.V. tell them to do; “But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he’s going to win. We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in *illusions*, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds… We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name, you people are the real thing! *WE* are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF…” When I see the youth of today and how so many young people try to live the lives they see shows like”The Real World” or “Sex and the City” I can’t help but think of this speech; I mean “The Real World”?

Do yourself a favor and see “Network” if you haven’t.  It is poignant, funny, endearing, and thought provoking.  It also contains some of the best writing ever put to film and the greatest opening and closing line of any movie I have ever seen.  You will not be sorry.  You can of course rent the film on Netflix or purchase it from Amazon. Do enjoy.


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Review by Matthew Schuchman- Five out of Five ‘Staches.

Some people think that a made for T.V. movie should not count when thinking about the greatest movies of all time.  Of course, it is rare that a made for T.V. movie might be worth mentioning in that category.  Not only does this 1986 BBC mini-series deserve to be noticed as one of the best movies ever, it is without a doubt, my favorite movie of all time.

Trying to put “The Singing Detective” into a nutshell, is pretty much impossible.  The story revolves around fictional novelist, Philip Marlow (Notice the drop of the E off the name), played by the great  Michael Gambon  in  his first real starring/lead role.  Marlow is bedridden in a hospital in the then present, 1980(s).  He suffers from a severe skin disease in which the skin over his entire body is dried up and flaking away.  Red from irritation, it leaves him unable to  move any part of his body on his own and without pain; it is psoriasis, at its most heightened stage.  Dennis Potter, who wrote the movie, which started as a radio program, suffered from this disease and was writing from personal experience.  He believed that this disease that tore away at this skin, was a physical representation of the horrible or immoral thoughts he possessed at times, as does the character of Philip Marlow, he is a prisoner in his own skin.

Unable to do anything else while he is bedridden, Marlow begins to “re-write” his most famous novel, “The Singing Detective” in his head.  But due to the restraints of not having much else to do, high fevers that cause delusion, unfavorable dealings with other hospital patients and staff and the sudden appearance of his estranged wife, Marlow also begins to think about his past/childhood.  Soon, the memories of his childhood begin infiltrating the story of, “The Singing Detective” as well as his experiences in the present.  Nurses and doctors break out into lip synching dance numbers and the visions of dead bed mates seem to stream through everywhere.  Ultimately, all of these worlds seem to collide as the finale of the movie draws near.

Part drama, part mystery, part musical, part thriller and all powerhouse film making bring this movie of searching, paranoia, and self discovery,  into a world of its own.  To be frank, most people will not understand the first 3 hours of this 6 hour mini-series as nothing really starts to come together until then.  The series is broken up however into 6, one hour-long episodes that can make for an easy viewing.  It is a movie that demands your attention and you must watch and listen closely as you may get lost even if you miss the smallest item.

Besides being my number one favorite movie of all time, it is prudent to bring this film review to you now as it shares a very similar theme with movies like, “12 Monkeys” and the current blockbuster, “Inception”.  Now, it may share a message closer to, “12 Monkeys” but all three films ride a similar line or thematic tales.  For “The Singing Detective”, it can be put simple as this; No matter what you think you remember from your past or not, there is one single moment that changed the person you were and helped form the person you have become.

If you are interested in seeing, “The Singing Detective”, it is available to rent from Netflix.  Just remember it is a three disc set with the entire movie split across the first two discs.  You can also  buy it here, from Amazon. Watch out, there was an independent remake made in 2003 starring, Robert Downey Jr.  DO NOT rent or buy this version.  They chopped the story to about two hours and destroyed the 1986 classic.  The remake gets One ‘Stache out of Five. There was a lot of great talent associated with the remake, but it missed the mark, big time.  Feel free to see it after the original and you will see what I mean.

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