Movies, books, music and TV

Category: General Page 1 of 276

Wastrels In The Western: “Dirty Little Billy”

The 1972 film Dirty Little Billy tries to be honest about the Old West and about life.  Here, Billy the Kid (Michael J. Pollard) is mistreated by certain people, such as his tyrannical stepfather, before he ever becomes a violent ne’er-do-well.  Several wastrels, primarily a prostitute (Lee Purcell) and her beau (Richard Evans), accept him, however, and force him to engage in gunfire against scurvy adversaries.  No small amount of loss and debacle breaks out for the drifting boy.

The movie was made by two ad men, Stan Dragoti (who directed) and Charles Moss, and although it is plainly a fledgling’s achievement, it can be gripping and even fascinating.  The writing is sometimes a letdown, but very little of  the drama is predictable: the violent reactions, for example.  And there is a nice touch whereby an American flag waving over Billy and the dingy new town he walks through bespeaks something about the country’s future: that many ignorant young ne’er-do-wells will be a fixture in the U.S. population.

(Available on YouTube)

Dirty Little Billy

Dirty Little Billy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Trashiness of “M*A*S*H” the Movie

A 1970 Robert Altman film, M*A*S*H is a war comedy too desultory and frivolous, not to mention unrevealing about character.  We learn very little, really, about Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and nothing about Trapper John (Elliott Gould).  It has some of the most casually presented material I’ve seen in a movie.

Further, the film is mockingly sacrilegious and—any feminists who dislike it are right to do so—flatly degrading of women.  Sally Kellerman’s Hot Lips doesn’t stand a chance.

As far as I’m concerned, no one should give this movie a chance.

Cover of "M*A*S*H (Widescreen Edition)"

Cover of M*A*S*H (Widescreen Edition)

Another One From Christian Author Sandra Byrd: “Flirting With Disaster”

Flirting with Disaster (2010) is a likable Christian novel for young people written by Sandra Byrd, the author of The Secret Keeper, which I reviewed on this site.  Keeper is mainly for adults, Disaster can be enjoyed by adults as it chronicles the actions of Savvy Smith, an American girl in London who is 15 years old and fits right in among her English peers.

Ordinary in many ways, Savvy is also devoted to Christ, facing the challenge of paying no mind to what others believe about luck and horoscopes, even when something good happens after a chain-text message is passed on.  Sending such a message is “flirting with disaster”—a hackneyed title for this book—since God is forever sovereign over “fortune.”  Savvy need not believe in an impersonal force like fortune when she is always surrounded by personal ones, of whom God, the object of her faith, is the most prominent.

Hackneyed title or not, Byrd’s novel is clever and genial.  It belongs to a series called London Confidential and, although I likely will not read the other three books in the series, that in no way means the reader of this review should not.

English: mobile phone text message

English: mobile phone text message (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One Of The Few Good Movies From The ’80s: “Say Anything”

Cover of "Say Anything"

Cover of Say Anything

A love story, Say Anything (1989) has the distinction of focusing on a teenaged boyfriend (John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler) who is a Great Guy, however unambitious.  The main proof that he’s a Great Guy is his romantic—or chivalrous—prowess—not aimed at just anyone but at the very pretty class valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye).  “I’m good at it,” Lloyd says of his companionship with Diane, but the girl’s father (John Mahoney) deems Lloyd a nice mediocrity and dislikes the relationship.  Ironically, this is despite the detractor’s being in prison for accruing ill-gotten gain off a nursing home.  (How naughty some of these middle-agers are!)

The girls in the film are close to being paragons of virtue, but . . . there’s also Lloyd.  Over and above, SA is a good-hearted picture with inventive story elements and a fun, discerning cast.  A middlebrow worthy.

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

Visiting “The Apartment” (The 1960 Wilder Film)

Kudos to Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond for an engaging if imperfect screenplay for The Apartment (1960), which was also, by Wilder, exquisitely directed.  Consider that nothing is under- or overemphasized. . . The film shows us a tug-of-war between the overturning of traditional values such as marriage and respect for women, and the attempt to be decent.  (This while the traditional institution of big business keeps humming along.)

Sure, I don’t like the sentimental romanticism in The Apartment but, all things considered, it’s a worthy film.


Cover of "The Apartment (Collector's Edit...

Cover of The Apartment (Collector’s Edition)

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