Friday, February 29, 2008

Romancing The Stone Film Review

Romancing the Stone is an American 1984 action-adventure film. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. This film was one of the best adventure/humor movies of the eighties. Not only did it boost the star rating of Michael Douglas, it helped launch Kathleen Turner into stardom. It also was Robert Zemeckis's first box office hit as a director.

The plot of the movie revolves around romance writer Joan Wilder, played by KathleenTurner, who travels to Colombia to find her kidnapped sister. In time she falls in love with a soldier of fortune [Michael Douglas] and the two become romanticallyinvolved as they search for a precious stone which the kidnappers want.

The beginning of the film shows Joan receiving a package from her dead brother- in-law. Soon after the package arrives she gets a frantic call from her sisterElaine[Mary Ann Trainor] informing her that she has been kidnapped and needs the map from the package as ransom. Joan flies down to Columbia but she gets lost on the way to her destination. But eventually she runs into Jack T. Colton[Douglas] and offers him some money if he would help her find her way to Cartagena. He helps her to elude a few unsavory characters who seem to be following her. Oneof these villains just happens to be the leader of the secret police who is responsiblefor her brother-in-laws death. The other two zany characters are Ralph [Danny DeVito]and Ira [Zack Norman].

Jack uncovers the map that Joan is carrying and after some convincing she agrees to go after the treasure. They agree that after finding the treasure they can then give the worthless map to the kidnappers. After some unbelievable escapes, they eventually find the treasure which turns out to be an enormous emerald called the malevolent. Zolo and Ralph steal it from them but then the Colombian police show up. After getting the stone back from Ralph, Joan and Jack get separated but agree to meet at Joan's hotel in Cartagena, but when Jack doesn't show up, Joan starts to get worried.

She then meets her sister's captors[Ralph and Ira] and turns over the map. They are interrupted by Zolo who knows that the map is worthless. Zolo's men are holding Jack who refuses to disclose the location of the emerald. Zolo uses Joan as bait and tells Jack that if he refuses to disclose the emeralds location he will be forced to feed Joan to the crocodiles. Jack relents and gives up the gem and tosses it towards the crocodiles. Zolo catches the stone but his hand, along with the gem, ends up in one of the crocodiles stomach. A gunfight ensues between Zolo's men and Ira's men. This allows Joan, Elaine and Jack to escape. After a prolonged fight with Zolo's men, Ira and his men escape, but Ralph is left behind.

Zolo catches Joan and Elaine. Joan tries to kill Zolo with his own switchblade, but Zolo blocks the thrown knife with a piece of wood. After Elaine faints from the sight, Joan pleads for Jack's help. He must decide whether to save her or hold onto the croc which has ingested El Corazon. He decides to try to save Joan by scaling a rock wall to reach her. However, he arrives moments after Zolo falls into a pit full of crocodiles. Seeing that the women are safe, Jack leaves to pursue El Corazon once more.

Joan then returners home to New York where she is confronted with lonely feelingtowards Jack. She writes a hit novel based on her recent adventures. But one day,as she is returning home she is confronted by Jack,who is wearing crocodile skinboots, waiting for her in a sailboat that is parked on the main street in front of her apartment. It seems that Jack managed to catch the croc who had swallowed the gem. The croc had suffered a fatal case of indigestion from swallowing the gem. The ending is a not so typical love story showing Joan and Jack kissing on the deck of the Angelina, which was named for Joan's fictional heroine, as the trailer that the boat rests on drives off into the streets of N.Y. City.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Finest Work

Vertigo is another one of Alfred Hitchcock's best produced movies that was released in July1958. It's a Hitchcock thriller that you have to see from the very beginning. The film features James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes and tells the story of a retired policeman who falls in love with a mysterious woman he has been hired to follow.Although it had mixed reviews on its first release, it has since gained in esteem and is frequently listed among the greatest films ever made.

San Francisco detective John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart) develops acrophobia after a fellow police officer (Fred Graham) falls to his death while trying to save him during a rooftop chase. His acrophobia causes vertigo. He is forced to retire from policework, and is unable even to stand on a step-stool in the apartment of his friend MarjorieWood (Barbara Bel Geddes) without being paralyzed by fear and dizziness.

He is eventually hired as a private detective by one of his old friends who wantshis own wife Madeleine,who is played by Kim Novak, followed. He informs Scottie that he thinks that his wife is suffering from some sort of mental illness or demonic possession. Scottie follows Madeleine to a cemetery where she is seen visiting the grave of a woman named Carlotta Valdes who had killed herself one hundred years earlier.Madeleine wanders around as if she is in some sort of a trance.

Scottie is strongly attracted to Madeleine. He follows her to Fort Point at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge where he observes her jumping into the San FranciscoBay in what appears to be a suicide attempt. She is saved by Scottie and returns with him to his apartment. They end up taking a trip to see the coastal redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. She confines in Scottie that she has dreamed of Mission San Juan Bautista and he takes her there in an effort to conquer her dreams, but she suddenly runs into the bell tower, climbs the stairs, and appears to commit suicide by jumping off the tower to her death.

Scottie suffers a nervous breakdown and runs away. At the inquest that was looking into Madeleine's death, Scottie is accused of negligence but is cleared of prosecution. Elsteris is seen reassuring him when he tells Scottie "we both know who really killed Madeleine,"referring to the fact that she was possessed by Carlotta's spirit. Scottie eventually ends up in a mental hospital where he sufferers from terrifying nightmares. His friend Midge tries her best to comfort him but soon realizes that he is still in love with Madeleine.After leaving the hospital Scottie continues to visit the places where he and Madeleine used to visit together. Then one day he notices a women [Judy Barton] who has an uncanny resemblance to Madeleine. However she is quite different in her mannerisms than Madeleine.
Scottie follows her to her hotel room where he finds out that she is a single working women who is from a little town in Kansas. She tells Scottie that she moved to San Franciscoto start a new life after a series of failed relationships. But after Scottie leaves she writes a letter confessing that she was in fact Madeleine. Elster had hired her to act as a mentally unstable false Madeleine. The women who fell from the tower was in fact Elster's real wife who was actually dead before her husband had thrown her form the tower. Elster had hired Scottie knowing full well about his Vertigo. He knew that Scottie would never be able to climb the stares of the tower. He used him to corroborate his claims of his wife's suicidal tendencies. But Judy then tears up the letter almost as soon as she had written it. She has come to the realization that she has fallen in love with Scottie.

Scottie becomes obsessed with Judy and insists that Judy even dress like Madeleine. At first she protests, but eventually gives in to the man she loves. Scotties eventuallybecomes suspicious of Judy when he notices a red jeweled pendant that he remembers thatMadeleine used to wear. Judy insists that she had inherited it. He then forces her to go the Mission Juan Bautista and forces her to climb the stairs up to the tower again.He wants her to re-enact the scene in which he failed to save Madeleine. He demands that she tell him the truth and Scottie discovers that the emotional experience has conquered his acrophobia, as he has now climbed to the top of the tower. Judy pleads with him and tells him that she is in love with him. Then suddenly a shadowy figure appears at the top of the stairs. Judy backs away from the shadow and steps off of the tower edge and plunges to her death. The shadow turns out to be a nun. Scottie who is still in shock, stares down at Judy and realizes that the emotional shock has cured him of his vertigo ,but was the cost worth it.

This is one of the few films that I had watched more than once, It may have been the combination of the plot, along with the superb acting abilities of the stares, but Iwould rate this as the best Alfred Hitchcock film that I had ever watched. It's a film that holds you in suspense from the beginning to the end.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Best Gentlemen Actor That I Have Ever Known

Jimmy Stewart may have passed away more than a decade ago but in my mind he will always be one of my favorite actors, always fresh in
my thoughts. His demeanor as one of the good guys is forever embellished in my mind.He was the best gentlemen actor that Ihave ever known

Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Oscars, winning one in competition and one life achievement. He also had a remarkable military career, rising to the rank of Brigadier General in theUnited States Air Force.

He was born in Indiana Pa. on May 20th 1908.He was first attracted to Architecture but was eventually drawn into the theater at Princeton University. He made his way into Hollywood in 1935 where he would team up Director Frank Capra where he would be nominated for an Academy Award in one of his great classic films "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington". Stewart also starred opposite Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in George Cukor's classic The Philadelphia Story (1940). His performance as an intrusive, fast-talking reporter earned him his only Academy Award in a competitive category (Best Actor, 1941), and he beat out his good friend Henry Fonda.

Before entering military service Stewart went on to appear in a series of screwball comedies with varying levels of success. He followed the mediocre No Time for Comedy (1940) andCome Live with Me (1941) with the Judy Garland musical Ziegfeld Girl and the GeorgeMarshall romantic comedy Pot o' Gold. Stewart was drafted in late 1940. Stewart chose to become a military flyer. He became the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II. Stewart was initially held back from combat duty. Although he enlisted as a private, he earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant and completed pilot training. He was subsequently stationed in Albuquerque, NM, becoming an instructor pilot for the B-17 Flying Fortress. In August 1943 he was finally assigned to the 445th BombardmentGroup in Sioux City, Iowa, first as Operations Officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadronand then its commander. In December, the 445th Bombardment Group flew its B-24 Liberator bombers to RAF Tibenham, England and immediately began combat operations. While flying missions over Germany, Stewart was promoted to Major. In March 1944, he was transferred as group operations officer to the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit that had been experiencing difficulties. As a means to inspire his new group, Stewart flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on numerous missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1944, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and was awarded theCroix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. In July1944, after flying 20 combat missions, Stewart was made chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force. Before the war ended, he was promoted to colonel, one of only a few Americans to rise from private to colonel in four years. Stewart continued to play an active role in the United States Air Force Reserve after the war, achieving the rank of Brigadier General on 23 July 1959. A little know fact was that in 1966,Brigadier General James Stewart flew as a non duty observer in a B-52 on a bombing mission during the Vietnam conflict. Stewart retired from the Air Force on 31 May 1968.

Upon Stewart's return to Hollywood in fall 1945, he decided not to renew his MGM contract.He signed with an MCA talent agency. For the remainder of his career, Stewart was able to work without limits to director and studio availability. During the 1950s, he took on more challenging roles and expanded into the western and suspense genres, thanks largely to collaborations with directors Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock. James Stewart's collaborations with director Anthony Mann expanded Stewart's popularity and expanded his career into the realm of the western. Stewart's first appearance in a film directed by Mann came with the 1950 western classic, Winchester '73. The film set the pattern for their future collaborations.

In 1960, James Stewart was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for BestActor and received his fifth and final Academy Award for Best Actor nomination, for his role in the 1959 Otto Preminger film Anatomy of a Murder. He also took the leading roles in three of John Ford films.As an aviator, Stewart was particularly interested in aviation films and had pushed to appear in several in the 1950s. He continued in this vein in the 1960s, most notably in a role as a hard-bitten pilot in Flight of the Phoenix (1965). He would later transfer his talents from movies to television and would appear periodically on the Johnny Carson late night show where he would share his poems that he had written throughout his life. They would later be complied into a collection titled Jimmy Stewart and His Poems. I will always remember the poem that he had dedicated to his dog called "Beau" that brought tears to many peoples eyes. He would later return to films with a major role in the Shootist, John Wayne's final film.

Stewart was offered the role of the father in On Golden Pond which went instead to Henry Fonda and earning Stewart’s friend his first Best Actor Oscar, just before his death. Long-time friend Grace Kelly, his favorite female co-star, died shortly afterwords. A few months later, Stewart starred with Bette Davis in Right of Way, which had the distinction of being the first made-for-cable movie. After filming several television movies in the 1980s, including Mr. Krueger's Christmas. James Stewart retired from acting to spend time with his family.Stewart died at the age of 89 on 2 July 1997, at his home in Beverly Hills, of cardiac arrest and a pulmonary embolism following a long illness from respiratory problems. His death came just one day after fellow screen legend and The Big Sleep co-star Robert Mitchum had died of lung cancer and emphysema. Stewart is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
There are many names that could describe Jimmy Stewart,but I think that the one word that pops into my head the most is Gentleman. I have written countless articles about"Jimmy" because I feel he, above everyone else, deserves them. For he was truly the best Gentleman Actor that I had ever known.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Jimmy Stewart's First Great Movie

Mr. Smith goes to Washington is another one of Jimmy Stewart's great films. The theme of this movie tells us about a naive man who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Even with the best of intentions his plans quickly collide with political corruption but he stands his ground. The release date of this classic movie was 19 Oct. 1939.It was directed by the famous Frank Capra with the help of writers Lewis R. Foster andSidney Buchman. This is the film the made Jimmy Stewart a major movie star. It was written by Lewis R. Foster and Sidney Buchman, based on Foster's novel, The Gentleman from Montana.

Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is appointed from an unnamed state after one of its Senators dies. He is appointed because the political fat cats need someone who will not seem like a crony, but who will not stand in the way of a graft scheme for a pork barrel dam that will make big wig Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) millions. When the wide eyed Smith gets to Washington, he discovers the corrupt bill because the dam will stand in the way of his own proposed bill for a children's camp. When he tries to stop the project, Taylor's political machine frames him to make it seem like he is the one taking graft. This leads to the dramatic confrontation in the Senate, where Smith filibusters in an attempt to getthe truth out.

Smith is taken under the wing of the publicly esteemed, but secretly crooked, Senator JosephPaine (Claude Rains), whom he admires because he was his late father's oldest and best friend. He develops an immediate attraction to the Senator's daughter Susan Paine (Astrid Allwyn) The press in Washington quickly labels Smith as being a bumpkin, having no business inWashington. Paine, to keep Smith busy, suggests he propose a bill. Smith proposes a bill that would authorize the government to loan money to buy some land for a national boy'scamp. But the piece of land that Smith wants is part of a grand scheme by Taylor and supported by Senator Paine to build the Willet Creek Dam.

Smith is accused of trying to profit from his bill, but when Smith tries to defend himself he is betrayed by Paine and runs away. But by then his secretary Clarissa Saundrers[JeanArthur] talks him into launching a filibuster on the Senate floor before the vote to expel him could take place. But he soon finds out that the opposition is too strong. Then the Senators begin to pay attention. Paine tries to introduce letters from people in Smiths own state calling for his expulsion, but Smith is befriended by the President of the Senate [Harry Carey]. He vows to press on, but he faints and collapses. SenatorPaine leaves and overcome by guilt, tries to kill himself. He goes back to the Senate chamber and confesses to the whole scheme and proclaims Smith's innocence.

Taking into consideration the year that this film is made there is no major profanity that one would expect in such a situation. This is definitely an example of what a difference one's individual actions can make. Whenever you combine Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart in any film you can expect nothing less than a classic movie in the making. At the ripe old age of 31 Jimmy Stewart had already become a major star with the release of this movie.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Shining--Understanding Jack Nicholson

One of the best horror films ever made was released on may 23rd 1980Directed by Stanly Kubrick, "The Shining" is a film about a family that heads to an isolated hotel for the winter. Once there the father is overcome by some sort of evil presence which turns him into an evil violent psychopath. It is a spell binding movie with a lot of graphic scenes of blood letting. A masterpiece of modern horror! This movie will keep you glued to your seats. I would not recommend it for children unless you plan on staying up all night with them.

The lead actor, Jack Nicholson, plays such a convincing role that at times it seems he is not acting--a true sign of a great performance. His wife,played by Shelly Duvall, and his son,played by Danny Lloyd also gave really believable performances. To understand the attraction of this movie, I believe that you have to know some history about the leading character. John Joseph Nicholson was born April 22, 1937 is a three time Academy Award-winning American actor internationally renowned for his often dark-themed portrayals of neurotic characters.

Jack Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award 12 times and has won three times (twice for Best Actor and once as Best Supporting Actor). He is tied with Walter Brennan for most acting wins by a male actor and second to Katharine Hepburn for most acting wins overall He is also one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade since the 1960. He has won seven Golden Globe Awards, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2001. In 1994, he became one of the youngest actors to be awarded the American Film Institutes Life Achievement Award. He is best known for his films Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, As Good as It Gets, Tim Burton's Batman, and Martin Scorsese's "The Departed".

To understand Nicholson one must first examine his early childhood.Nicholson was brought up believing his grandparents, John J. Nicholson and Ethel May Rhoads were his parents. Nicholson only discovered that his parents were actually his grandparents,and his sister was in fact his mother in 1974 Nicholson started his career as an actor, writer, and producer, working for and with Roger Corman, among others. His first real taste of writing success was the LSD-fueled screenplay for 1967's The Trip, which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. However, after a spot opened up in Fonda and Hopper's Easy Rider, it led to his first big acting break.

A Best Actor nomination came the following year for his role in Five Easy Pieces. He also appeared in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever". Nicholson earned his first Best Actor Oscar for portraying Randle P. McMurphy in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. His first movie as a director was a 1971 movie called "Drive, He Said" It was in 1980 that he made "The Shining" Although he did not receive any Oscar nominations in this movie, it was one of his best performances.

During the eighties he stared in many more roles and it was the blockbuster movie "BATMAN" that earned him as estimated $60 million. In the 1992 movie 'A Few Good men" he played a marine Colonel. He was nominated for another Razzie Awards.One of his best roles came in 1996 in which he played a Boston Irish mob boss in "The Departed"

But through out all the years,"The Shining" still remains one of the best performances by Nicholson. A really true masterpiece of modern horror! And understanding Jack Nicholson is the key to his great acting abilities.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Best Way To Learn How To Play An Acoustic Guitar

This article explains a few things about Guitars, and if you're interested, then this is worth reading, because you can never tell what you don't know. Is everything making sense so far? If not, I'm sure that with just a little more reading, all the facts will fall into place.

Why do YOU want to learn how to play acoustic guitar? Do you want to play for personal pleasure? Would you like to be sexier? Play in a Club? Perhaps you want to become a great artist! How about a free 6 part Acoustic Guitar e-course to start you on your way? No matter what your reasons are, if you want to learn how to play the acoustic guitar why not learn from the best!

Ben Edwards is the former lead guitarist for the popular down-under band "DegreesK" He is also a highly respected guitar teacher. Before joining the band Ben received a Bachelor of Education. His passion for teaching others, especially guitar, sparked him to develop Jamorama The Ultimate Guitar Learning Kit and now the Jamorama Acoustic Guitar Learning Kit.Ben Edwardshas put together an incredible learning kit that can get you results really fast. It includes 153 powerful video lesions, 26 Acoustic Jam tracks and 1,000's of lines of tabulature. Ben has also recorded 26 Acoustic Jam tracks for you to play along with.

After reviewing countless of websites to be included in his system,this is the BEST site that he could find. You will even learn how to read music, how to recognize chord shapes and how to transcribe songs from the radio and CD's. And remember,there are countless numbers of useless e-books on the Internet telling you how easy it is to learn to play musical instruments. I often think that learning to play an instrument is like learning a foreign language. The more you listen and practice,the better you'll get. But you have to make sure that the person that you are learning from is a professional instead of just someone throwing together a bunch of useless material, renaming it and trying to sell it.

Learning from Ben Edwards is not only going to save you money and time, you will avoid all the aggravation you have been experiencing by making the same mistakes over and over again. Just for starters, there are 10 ways of fast-tracking your way to becoming a fantastic guitarist.

And as you probably already know learning to play the acoustic guitar is not as easy as you thought it might be. And if you keep on trying to learn to play using the same old time wasting strategies,drills and same old boring exercises, you might end up being worse off. It's like a bad habit--and you know how hard they are to break!

You can't predict when knowing something extra about Guitars will come in handy. If you learned anything new about guitars in this article, you should file the article where you can find