Wrapping up Lit Flicks with The Hustler

For my final book/movie combo to complete the Lit Flicks Challenge, I decided to do a double revisit of The Hustler.

The story revolves around Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who travels to Chicago to challenge the great Minnesota Fats. He loses spectacularly, picks up a girl, gains character, and comes back for a rematch.

Many things in the movie (characters, plot, dialogue, themes) are lifted straight from the book. One major difference is a much darker finish for one of the characters in the movie. While this doesn't change much about how things end up, it does change the way the characters get there.

This is a case where seeing the movie for the first time made me check out the book to try and get a better handle on the story. This time around I re-read the book first and then re-watched the movie. What I found is that the film and novel have become intertwined for me. I can't read the book without picturing the actors as the characters, and I can't watch the movie without phrases from the book coming to mind.

Some things I like better about the book: the attention given to the themes. For example, the idea of hustling happening in many areas of life is shown in more detail. Also explored a bit more in depth are ideas about winning and losing, not just in pool, but in life. Are some people just born losers? How far can talent take you? Can a loser turn into a winner by silencing his excuses for losing? While these are still major themes in the movie, I like the way they are examined (and concluded) in the book a bit better.

Some things I like better about the movie: watching the performances by four amazing actors. Paul Newman and George C. Scott are both so strong, I can't decide who to watch in their scenes together. Piper Laurie plays her part heartbreakingly well. And Jackie Gleason perfectly embodies Minnesota Fats. (I understand in real life he shot a pretty good game of pool, himself.)

Both book and movie are a bit gritty, although the language is coarser in the book. They both also portray pool in an almost reverential light, at least from the players' perspectives. While you might imagine it would be easier to follow the game on screen seeing it for yourself, the descriptions in the book make things clear and keep it interesting.

I'm back and forth on picking which version I like better, so I guess I'd have to say both are good, although the movie is more of a must-see classic than the book is a must-read classic. So I'd say try the movie first, and if you want more, check out the book.

Final thoughts on Lit Flicks:

In addition to The Hustler, for this challenge I read and watched The Grapes of Wrath, Jane Eyre, The Secret Garden & The Black Stallion. Only in one case did I have a real preference for the book. For the most part I enjoyed both incarnations of the story (with an occasional edge given to the movie). This happens to fit my original idea that books and movies don't have to be at odds. Let's enjoy both for the unique strengths they offer in storytelling.

While this challenge is over, I'm sure I will continue to check out movie adaptations of the books I enjoy, and I'm sure that movie credits telling me a great film was based on a book will send me looking for it. Book vs. Movie? No! Book AND movie for me!

If you are interested in more book-to-movie reviews, check out the Bookworms Carnival on literature and film.


The Oscars: Did you watch?

I know, I know, I recently did a post questioning the value of awards. But I must admit to being sucked in anyway. And so yes, I did watch (most) of the 81st Annual Academy Awards last night. Here's a few scattered thoughts about the show.

Since I didn't see all (or many, actually) of the nominated films, I'm not in a real position to debate about the rightness of who won or lost. I did feel a little sad that WALL-E didn't do better (and didn't Will Smith sound funny saying the title? He has kids, didn't he see the movie?) but overall I didn't care much about the outcomes one way or another outside of how it would leave me in the LAMB Oscar pool. (One year I won a contest run through the local newspaper for Oscar picks. Well, I tied for first. But because I had a relative working at the paper, they gave the big prize to the other guy. I got a hat.)

As far as the entertainment value of the show itself, I thought it didn't seem to drag quite so much as past years. (Although I've long been in the habit of doing other things with the show on in the background, which definitely helps.)

I thought Hugh Jackman was not a bad host, although we didn't see much of him outside of his song and dance numbers. I liked him admitting (pretending?) he hadn't seen The Reader. I didn't especially like the bit with him and Anne Hathaway, but then, I find her strangely irritating most of the time. And while I agree with the sentiment of being happy to see more new musicals out, it was during that number that I decided I don't really like Hugh's singing style.

Some random cattiness: I thought I was in favor of Kate Winslet winning, but I liked her less during her incoherent speech than in any movie I've ever seen her in (although I did like her looking for her dad). Didn't Reese Witherspoon seem strangely asymmetrical? And sorry again, Anne Hathaway, but your thank you speech from your seat professing your love for Shirley MacLaine was rather embarrassing to watch. As was an outclassed Jennifer Aniston presenting on a night with Brad and Angelina both up for awards.

What I did like: Having past winners coming out to talk about the current nominees was a cool idea, and it was interesting to see who got paired up. I also liked the montages of movie genres (like Romance in 2008). Tina Fey and Steve Martin were great. Philippe Petit doing a magic trick and balancing the Oscar on his chin was rather amusing, and made me wish I had liked his movie more. There were other little moments of enjoyment (funny bits, real emotion from folks, etc.) but not much seemed really, really memorable. Maybe because there weren't a lot of surprises?

When Slumdog won and the whole entourage of people started filling the stage, I found myself thinking it would be a great chance for some random person to jump up there just for kicks. Who would notice? I also wanted to see them all break into a choreographed dance number to the film's Oscar-winning song. That would have been a great way to end the night.

That's all I've got. Did you watch? What did you think?


Books vs. Movies: The Secret Garden & The Black Stallion

Here's a little something you might not know about me: when in doubt about what to read, I turn to children's books. Even if I've never read them before, I find them somehow comforting, a return to a simpler time, a safe haven from novels determined to be shocking.

So when I was recently having trouble with the books on my original Lit Flicks list (due to fading interest and/or the failure of my usually good inter-library loan system) I turned to children's classics instead. Here are my thoughts on two books I read as well as their movie adaptations.

The Secret Garden

I think I read this when I was younger as it was all vaguely familiar... little Mary Lennox is orphaned, goes to live with her uncle, discovers a mystery in the house and the power of a secret garden.

For the most part I found the story delightful. It was great to see the change in Mary. Positive, unselfish thinking is good, being out amidst natural beauty is good. The only thing I didn't like was the mumbo-jumbo at the end about "Magic" to explain things. (Also, i
s it just me or do the three kids in the book seem to be a love-triangle in the making?) (Yes, I know one is Mary's cousin.)

The first adaptation I tried to watch was the 1993 movie, thinking that the subject would have to be better in an updated version instead of an older, black and white version. But I really (and perhaps slightly irrationally) didn't like it. I didn't like right away that they changed how Mary was orphaned. The whole movie seemed rather dark for such a sweet story. Yes, I know that the book deals with some heavy subjects, but it didn't feel weighed down like the movie did. I watched it half-heartedly and distractedly and got even more mad at it at the end when they took the magic bit I didn't like in the book and made a bigger deal about it with a chanting scene. Blech.

It almost made me not give The Secret Garden from 1949 a try, but I'm so happy I did! While this version also takes a few liberties, (like the robin becoming a raven) overall I was so much happier with it. Margaret O'Brien stars as Mary. Although I thought her a bit too old (and too pretty) for the role, she played it with her usual intensity and charm and won me over. Little Dean Stockwell is also in this version, and man, what a cute kid he was. (At one point he talks about how he will live forever, and I couldn't help but think, of course you will, you Cylon, you!)

What I think the 1949 version really gets right is the tone of the story. For example, Mary is still contrary, but somehow her seriousness is shown as being rather ridiculous, making her more endearing. The touches of humor in the story really work against the heavier themes, and that bit of light and dark feels very true to the book. And, appropriately enough in a story called The Secret Garden, there are a few secrets to the movie that had me ready to cheer! (I don't want to reveal anything here because I'd like everyone to have the same joyful surprise that I had.)

So, book or movie? Both, as long as you watch the 1949 version. (It doesn't seem to be available on DVD yet, but you may be able to find the video or catch it on TCM.)

The Black Stallion

Here's a case where I had seen the movie before reading the book. While the basic story is the same (boy and horse get shipwrecked, become friends on an island, get rescued and enter a major race) I was surprised by how many things were changed for the movie. (What! There was never a mini horse statue? Or talk about the horse with fire in his eyes and smoke coming out of his nose?)

Some bigger changes: in the book, Alec is alone on the ship as opposed to traveling with his father as in the movie. This makes for some more emotional moments in the film. Also, Alec is significantly older in the book. While I think a younger Alec works better for his helplessness in the island scenes, I did like an older Alec for being more in control over what to do about racing his horse when he got back home.

While the book is fine as a classic children's adventure novel, The Black Stallion is a great example of a story that translates really well into a movie. Seeing as opposed to imagining is much more powerful when it comes to the frightening scenes of the ship sinking, or the beautiful moments between the boy and his horse on the island, or the exciting moments of the race at the end. Re-watching the story after reading the book, I loved even more the visuals of the horse, particularly during the dialogue-free scenes on the island. The little exotic musical cues as reminders of the horse's origin were neat, and the main actors (Kelly Reno, Teri Garr, and Mickey Rooney) were all great, too.

If you only get into one version of this story, make it the movie.

Now, I have one more book and movie adaptation to go before the end of the month to complete the Lit Flicks challenge. Can I do it? I'm sure gonna try!


Cross-examining Classic Courtroom Dramas

Search for "classic courtroom dramas" and the movie topping most lists would probably be To Kill a Mockingbird. And rightly so, for that film may well be the quintessential example of the genre, with its dramatic courthouse scenes, quest for justice, great acting, and a surprise twist or two.

Also high on the list in this category is 12 Angry Men. Even though the drama takes place in the jury room instead of the courtroom, it's still drama in a judicial setting with an unfolding case, interesting evidence, and a thought-provoking look at the prejudices brought into a supposedly impartial system.

Whether it's our inherent longing to see justice done or the curiosity that keeps us hooked as the mysteries of a case are revealed, the interest in courtroom dramas continues today. (Just look at the long-standing success of the Law & Order franchise.) There have been several good movies in the genre done in more recent years, but I'd like to take a moment to make a case (sorry, I couldn't help myself) for revisiting classic movies in this category.

So, like Rod Serling standing in front of your jury box, I present for your consideration exhibits A, B, and C: three movies worthy of a look for lovers of courtroom drama everywhere.

Boomerang! (Ah, my old friend exclamation point in title appears again!)

When a beloved priest is killed in a small town, the growing public outrage and political concerns put a lot of pressure on the authorities to make an arrest. This leads to the police throwing the idea of motive out the window and instead chasing down every man wearing a dark coat and light hat (the hazy description of the murderer). Will circumstantial evidence and a forced confession be the downfall of an innocent man?

Based on a true story, this Elia Kazan movie is very interested in authenticity. We are told at the beginning that all the interior and exterior scenes were filmed in the original locales, and as many actual characters as possible were used. As I watched some of the townspeople act, I was ready to believe that they were the authentic originals, too. Which is not to say that all the acting in the movie is bad; on the contrary, the movie includes some great actors: Lee J. Cobb, a young Karl Malden, and the always lovable Dana Andrews, who is especially sweet and believable in the scenes with his onscreen wife.

There's another great bit with Dana, who plays the state's attorney. In the middle of a conversation with the frustrated chief of police, he picks up a little puzzle from the chief's desk, calmly solving it in seconds. It's only a brief moment, but it's reminiscent of Dana's character in Laura playing with a similar small puzzle. The message conveyed is much the same; here's a man patient and intelligent enough to untangle the mess and solve the case.

The movie's authenticity breaks down a bit in the courtroom scenes (I can't see a case progressing in court the way this one did) but any shortcuts taken are forgivable in view of the high drama created, particularly in one tense scene involving a loaded gun.

The Verdict: This movie is best for all those idealists who care about seeing justice done. And Dana Andrews fans.

Witness for the Prosecution

Charles Laughton plays a barrister whose ill health won't prevent him from taking on a case (or smoking, or drinking). His client, played by Tyrone Power, is a man accused of murder. Although his wife (Marlene Dietrich) gives him an alibi, in one of many twists in the film, she ends up testifying as the titular witness for the prosecution.

Laughton is great, sparring with his nurse and using his monocle as an interrogation tool. Dietrich is pretty intense, which is especially interesting in the flashback scene of how she met her husband while singing in a club in Germany. Somehow she manages to make the lyric "I may never go home anymore" sound like more of a threat than a come on, even if she is promising kisses and kisses galore.

With Billy Wilder directing these stars and Agatha Christie writing the play the movie was based on, it seems impossible to go wrong with this one. Although I've always preferred Ellery Queen to Agatha Christie, (I like having all the information and trying to guess the ending for myself instead of being surprised by shocking revelations and unforeseen events) the twists here really make the movie. I can't say much more about it without giving anything away, and the movie itself has asked me not to divulge the secret of the ending for the greater entertainment of my friends. I leave it to you to see for yourself.

The Verdict: Great for those who enjoy a liberal helping of mystery in their courtroom dramas, with nice bits of light comedy and twists a-plenty to spice things up.

Anatomy of a Murder

In this movie, there is no question of whether the accused is innocent or guilty. We know from the start that Lt. Manion killed the man he accuses of raping his wife. The questions at hand are if he was justified in his actions, and if he will go free or be convicted of his crime.

Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as always, although he's playing a slightly different role here as a lawyer with some questionable ethics. The beautiful Lee Remick is completely believable as the alluring wife of the lieutenant. George C. Scott enters late in the game and steals the limelight as one slick prosecutor. Eve Arden also has a small part as a secretary whose wit is similar to her well-known radio character, Miss Brooks.

Another nice touch in the movie is the jazzy score by Duke Ellington throughout. (One of my pet peeves is otherwise excellent movies with terrible music, like the ones that force the title into a theme song to open things. Can you imagine a song called "Anatomy of a Murder"? Yikes.)

There's also an interesting bit with some discussion over what to call a woman's undergarment. While probably shocking at the time, this whole case would now be pretty tame by Law & Order standards.

The Verdict: This fascinating look at the limits and loopholes of the justice system (with wonderful acting and music) is a real winner.

Addendum: I'm a little late in posting this as Boomerang! was just shown on TCM this morning. When I started writing this post, the movie was available on Hulu, but it seems to have been removed since. (It is available at Classicflix.)

Anatomy of a Murder and Witness for the Prosecution will both be showing on TCM this Wednesday, February 18th. Watch them back to back and examine the evidence for yourself before passing judgment on these classic courtroom dramas.


All I need to know about LOVE

...I learned from the movies.


There is only ONE person out there for you. This person is your soulmate. You will feel empty and unsatisfied with your life until you find this person. Once you find them you will be complete.

The only time you get a chance for a second soulmate is if you are parted from the first one tragically, like through death. If your soulmate happens to donate their heart to someone, look for this person, as that heart will keep beating for you alone in the body of your new soulmate.


Sometimes you may think you have found your soulmate, only to realize that you were wrong. Don't despair. Your chances for finding the one increase dramatically when you are with someone who is not the one. Your odds of meeting your soulmate are even greater if you are engaged to the wrong person. So don't hesitate to move things along with someone who is wrong for you. They don't have to be a bad person, by the way, just someone who is not your match.

Look for someone who is kind but boring; a person like this won't even mind when they find out they are not your soulmate. Probably they will have suspected this deep inside all along, anyway. Don't feel too bad for them -- they are bound to find their one after you throw them over.

So go ahead and date that wrong person. Plan a wedding, even show up for the ceremony. The later it takes for your soulmate to show up, the more dramatic your coming together will be. And drama, as we all know, is what love is all about. Who wants a life of calm contentment and security?


There's probably something you're afraid to reveal to your soulmate because you're worried they will reject you. Lying is the way to go here. Be it your background, finances, family, children, whatever, go ahead and hide the facts from your soulmate. Wait until they are so in love with you that they won't be able to leave no matter what they learn about you.

Of course, don't be surprised if your soulmate has a secret as well. You'll find out once you are hooked. But by then it won't matter. How wise you both are!


Following all the above steps should get you to happily ever after status. Unless, of course, you are destined to have one of those tragic endings that are so moving. In that case, remember that it's better to have loved and lost... and eventually you might just find your replacement love. (Hint: make sure to find out if your soulmate has checked that organ donor box on their driver's license.)

What have you learned about love from the movies?


Variations on a Frank Capra theme

I recently re-watched Frank Capra's You Can't Take it With You and was struck by the many similarities to another Capra film you might have heard of: It's a Wonderful Life. (How this never occurred to me before, I don't know.)

One fairly superficial connection between the two movies is the list of actors appearing in both films. Of course both star Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore, but other actors with smaller parts in both movies include Ward Bond (Officer Bert/Detective Mike), H.B. Warner (Mr. Gower/Ramsey), Samuel S. Hinds (the dads, Peter Bailey/Paul Sycamore), Charles Lane (rent collector/IRS agent), Edward Keane (loan customer/board member), and Stanley Andrews (Mr. Welch/attorney). Also in both movies: Jimmy the Raven.

The plots of the films, however, are very different. It's a Wonderful Life (as you probably know, given the years of repeated showings around Christmas-time) focuses on George Bailey, a man who, in a time of despair, wishes he had never been born. Thanks to the appearance of his guardian angel, George gets the chance to see what the world would have been like without him, and ends up coming to the conclusion expressed in the movie's title.

In You Can't Take it With You, the main character is Grandpa Vanderhof, patriarch of an eccentric household of free spirits. His refusal to sell his house is keeping wealthy Mr. Kirby from achieving a monopoly. Complicating matters is the fact that Mr. Kirby's son Tony has fallen in love with his secretary, Alice, who just happens to be the granddaughter of Mr. Vanderhof. (It's funny to see how these two actually fit into each other's families better than their own: Alice is much more serious while Tony has little interest in business and would prefer the freedom the Vanderhof clan enjoys.) When the two families get together the clash of lifestyles and philosophies is extreme (and rather amusing).

While these two stories seem to have little in common, they do serve to illustrate some deeper underlying themes. One is the idea of money not buying happiness. The two richest characters in the movies are Mr. Potter and Mr. Kirby. One is described as a warped, frustrated old man, the other is called miserable and a failure. The value of friendships over money is highlighted with the ideas that no man is a failure who has friends/the only thing you can take with you is the love of your friends. Both movies have scenes where friends come to the rescue of the main character by collecting money when they learn of a need.

One big difference in the two movies is the way personal freedom vs. responsibility is shown. While George Baily has to give up on his dreams for the good of his family and community, the Vanderhof household is full of people doing only what they please. Fulfillment in one movie comes from self-sacrifice, in the other, self-indulgence.

While It's a Wonderful Life probably presents the truer, more realistic outlook on life, like Jimmy Stewart's character in You Can't Take it With You, I am fascinated watching the loonies in Grandpa's house puttering away at their various pet projects: music, writing, dancing, fireworks, candy-making (having fun regardless of their actual skill at these pursuits).

I understand why It's a Wonderful Life has gotten more popular that You Can't Take it With You, but I'd definitely recommend the latter, even if only to show Lionel Barrymore's range at playing total opposites in characters: the hated Mr. Potter and the very lovable Grandpa.

If it were up to me, these two movies would be packaged and sold together as a pair of bookends sandwiching a similar theme: Enjoy and appreciate life!


Do awards matter?

It's not a new question, but I think it's still relevant now, with the Golden Globes just behind us and the Oscars fast approaching. Also, on a smaller scale, various awards are being passed around in the blogging world (blogosphere if you must, although I don't like the sound of it). Caitlin over at Fire and Music was even kind enough to send a Superior Scribbler award along my way. So, do all these awards really matter?

Raquelle at Out of the Past made some very interesting points in a post about why she would not be passing along the awards. Mostly it boils down to her not wanting to exclude anyone by her choices. Some of these things do begin to feel more like a popularity contest than a gauge of real merit. If picked, you are in with the cool kids, if not, you are left thinking nobody wants you on their team.

I have to wonder how much even bigger awards, like the Oscars, involve favoritism and factors outside of merit alone. When Julie Andrews won for best actress in Mary Poppins, didn't it have something to do with her being shut out of the film version of My Fair Lady? When Paul Newman finally won for The Color of Money, wasn't it (at least in part) compensation for him never winning in the earlier years of his career? What about this year, will the controversy over Slumdog Millionaire hurt its chances at the Oscars? I don't know, but it does seem impossible to bestow honors completely impartially.

It also seems inevitable that someone will be missed. Even though Citizen Kane is now almost universally regarded as the best movie ever, it lost out on the Academy Award for best picture. So will some great blog get skipped over in the blog appreciation awards? Very possibly.

Don't start that get-off-the-stage music yet, I'm not finished!

These blog awards can also start to feel like chain letters, although fortunately there is no crazy threat (like your blog exploding) if you fail to pass on to the required number of people. As the list of recipients grows, however, doesn't the value of the award begin to fade? It makes me think of The Incredibles, and its point about how saying everyone is special is the same as saying no one is.

I'm also reminded of With Honors, where Brendan Fraser's character is trying so hard to graduate summa cum laude. At the graduation ceremony, his name is called and followed only by silence, but by then the importance of that brief moment has been put in perspective. He has been told he will graduate life with honor and without regret, and that is what really matters. Sure, an award is nice, but it's only a blip in a life. It's not (or anyway I don't think it should be) the end-all be-all of who we are and what we do.

On the other hand, winning an award feels great! The attention and recognition provides a nice feeling of validation. Perhaps because we are social creatures, and being lauded in your community gives one a nice boost.

So while the argument can be made that awards don't matter (that bigger awards are little more than an excuse to get dressed up and party, or worse still a big money-making scheme to draw in viewers to award shows and the system they hype, while smaller awards are given too indiscriminately and without clear enough standards) I think awards do matter. At least, winning this award matters to me. I am flattered.

And so I will accept and display the award bestowed upon me, with thanks to Princess Fire and Music. I will also follow along with its rules:

1. Name five other Superior Scribblers to receive this award.
2. Link to the author and name of the blog that gave you the award.
3. Display the award on your blog with this LINK which explains the award.
4. Click on the award at the bottom of the link and add your name to the bottom of the list.
5. Post the rules.

While there are many blogs I read and enjoy, I'm choosing to pass along this award to the following: The Flick Chick, The Film Doctor, David, Cesia, and The Movie Ness. I hope they will receive it in the spirit I send it, which is to say that I like you(r blog), and I hope you keep writing.

They can choose to play by the rules in accepting and passing it on, call in a guest blogger dressed in Native American gear to refuse, or do anything in between. I imagine it will all depend on whether or not they think awards matter.


Review: Man on Wire

Philippe Petit is the kind of guy who'd be great to invite to your dinner party. Once, anyway. For he's got quite an entertaining story to tell about the time he managed to sneak to the top of the Twin Towers, rig a wire between the two buildings, and walk across. It's a feat no one else has done or will ever be able to do again. How do you beat that in polite dinner conversation? You don't, unless perhaps you can say, "I walked on the moon."

Man on Wire is a documentary film about how Philippe pulled off this amazing feat. It uses interviews of the people involved interspersed with skillfully blended archival footage and reenactments.

Perhaps it was just a matter of my expectations being set too high going in (since the film has already won several awards and is nominated for an Academy Award) but I found myself a bit disappointed by this movie. (I also have a problem with contrarily wanting to go against the majority sometimes, and so the Rotten Tomatoes 100% fresh rating for this film makes me a little cranky.)

The movie sets itself up as a heist film: we have the forming of an outrageous plan, a diverse gang coming together, the gathering of information, the wacky caper. So where does it fall short?

First, there is a lack of suspense. We know Philippe will do his walk, because we've already seen pictures of him on the wire. The moments of worry about getting caught seemed drawn out and exaggerated for effect. The dizzying heights were genuinely frightening, but again, Philippe is being interviewed, so we know he made it safely back down. Sure, you can probably assume in any heist film that the caper will occur, but the best of the genre usually have some great plot twists, and those were sadly lacking here.

There were some fun moments in the planning that were very Catch Me If You Can, like watching Philippe and his friends pose as journalists trying to get an architectural story while really gathering data on how to make the walk happen. The general trusting nature of people and lack of a tendency to question the reality presented helped Phillipe and his crew get their information and get into the buildings undetected. (That was actually a little unsettling to watch in view of the security concerns involved with the World Trade Center.)

One technical aspect of the stunt (which I had seen alluded to as being so incredible that no one wanted to spoil it) didn't really seem that earth-shatteringly brilliant, and didn't seem like that big a secret, anyway, since early talk in the film about the team's equipment (and even the trailer on the film's website) gives it away. But I will let you reach your own conclusions on this and not reveal the details here.

You might wonder, how did Philippe's obsession get started, what drives him? He explains that he always loved to climb, but he doesn't like trying to answer why. It seems that there is a rebellious streak in this dreamer, that he takes a romantic view of committing an artful crime. What he does is against the law, he knows he will get caught, but that's all part of the thrill. Philippe's passion (obsession) is something to see.

Also interesting is what is left out of the movie. No mention is made of 9/11, which is probably a smart choice, as well as a refreshing one. A man walking on a wire between the two buildings is a much better mental picture to carry around than the terrible images of the WTC attack. And I think that's part of why the movie has been so well received, that it focuses only on this beautiful moment involving the Twin Towers. But this deliberate choice of tone also means that some other negative things are only hinted at, like the impact this event and its aftermath had on some of Philippe's closest relationships. I would like to have seen that explored more.

I don't think Man on Wire is a bad movie, but I also don't think it's as great as most everyone else seems to feel it is. I think it's a slightly forced, selective look at a story meant to play on people's emotions about the Twin Towers. There's not quite enough here to make a great heist film, just like Philippe's illegal acts don't really make him a dangerous criminal. The scenes of wire-walking were breathtakingly awesome. But when they were done, I couldn't help but feel a little bit cheated. Maybe that's inevitable; from the unbeatable heights of that moment, where can you go but down?

3/5 wings


Ring out the old blog, ring in the new, ring-a-ding ding

Moviewings just came through the door in a brand-new outfit! Many thanks to Cece for the awesome blog design.

Just so we never completely forget the old look, here's a screenshot from an earlier version:

I'll miss you, teal and orange.

One other big change is in the works... as I review movies now, I will also be including my ratings. They will look like this:

(My range goes from zero to five wings, but I'm hoping never to have to use the zero.)

The wrapper may look different but the content will be more of the same, all things movie-related, with an emphasis on the classics.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting; knowing I'm not just talking to myself here is helping to keep me going. Let me know what you think of the new look!
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