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Monday, December 18, 2006

The better to see you with, my dear 12/18

So, with Sundays devoted to music recommendations, I thought I'd make Mondays about movies.
Here are the last three movies I watched:

Tiptoes (2003)

The plot: There is something that Steven (Matthew McConaughey) isn't telling his girlfriend, Carol. (Kate Beckinsale). He's a dwarf, genetically-speaking, anyway. Both of his parents, his brother Rolfe, and most (or all) of his extended family have dwarfism. When Carol finds out that she's pregnant, she is abruptly introduced to Steven's family, and the world of little people.

When I first heard about this movie, the fact that Gary Oldman was playing a dwarf (or little person, feel free to correct me), bugged me. Couldn't they find an actual dwarf to play the role? Well, it sounds like this was really kind of Oldman's project, and that's the role he wanted to play. And he's good. (Of course he is, he's Gary Oldman!) The camera work, etc. that turns 5'11" Oldman into a roughly 4-foot tall person is also very good. And, the fact that he's taking the role from an actual dwarf actor, is somewhat forgivable, because the remainder of the supporting cast, save for Patricia Arquette and David Alan Grier are little people.
Here's the problem: this movie is lousy. The acting is good, but the script is a mess, the story is all over the place, the editing is strange, and the overall experience is highly unsatisfying. It's a shame. This movie had a lot of potential. It still kind of works as a "slice of life" in the world of little people, but there's a reality show on TLC called "Little People, Big World" that does that a whole lot better.

The Silencers (1966)

Plot: Doesn't really matter. Dean Martin as semi-retired super spy/photographer Matt Helm.

This is the first of four "Matt Helm" movies that Dino made in the 60's, and is expectedly and intentionally silly. In the same vein as the James Coburn, "Flint" movies, there are lots of gadgets, explosions, and beautiful women. It's very silly and fun, but not nearly as funny as the Austin Powers films that it inspired. But, if you like Dino, you've gotta see it.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Plot: In this adaptation of Harper Lee's beloved (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) novel, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck)defends a black man wrongly accused of rape in the Depression-era South, while raising his two children.

I'm not sure how many times I've seen this movie. (Fewer times than The Great Escape, but more often than Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.) It's a classic. And, for me personally, Gregory Peck's performance is moving and powerful. You see, growing up, I didn't have any grandparents, so I have always imagined classic movie actors as being what my grandfathers must have been like: Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath, Fred MacMurray in Follow Me, Boys!, and, Gregory Peck as the stalwart Atticus Finch.
If you haven't seen this movie, see it. Rent it on DVD (Widescreen, you heathen), turn off the cellphone, dim the lights, and watch this movie. It might not change your life, but, then again, it might.

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