Category Archives: dogs

The Usual Suspects – “The Devil Disappears”

Usual SuspectsThe Usual Suspects  

SPANKY: Something about the lanky Spacey holds our attention.

JOHN: Yes, but some movies are only meant to be seen once. I think this is one of them.

SPANKY: What do you mean?

JOHN: This movies is so full of surprises I just had to watch it again, but…

SPANKY: Wouldn’t that give you an actor’s or director’s perspective?

JOHN: Exactly, but you know what is going to happen. So Continue reading


Dean Spanley – “After After-Life”

Peter O'TollDean Spanley 

Directed By: Toa Fraser, 2009

JOHN: This movie started out slow, incredibly slow, and then went places no one would expect to a Bravo climax. It is the kind of movie experience I haven’t had in years. And until it happened, I didn’t realize what I had been missing. Continue reading

The Spanish Prisoner – “Excuse Me!”

The Spanish Prisoner 

David Mamet, director/writer, 1997


John:  This is the second or third time I’ve seen this movie. About three-quarters of the way through it, I think this is one that will out-Hitchcock Hitchcock. Then it goes wrong and I remember why I was disappointed before. Mamet is a great writer and the cast is good, but…

Spanky: I know what you mean, and I think the problem has to do with our expectations which extend beyond the movie.  Steve Marin plays it straight, and we expect him to betray us (hasn’t he already done that “playing it straight.”) But its Mamet’s wife, Rebecca Pidgeon―cast as a naïve, but trusting female confident―who we can’t accept as evil.

John: All of a sudden this is another twist and turn in a movie of twists and turns, but this is one too many. She has been the central character’s, and our, one fixed point in an ever-changing perspective.

Spanky: Part of the problem is I’m sure Mamet didn’t want Pidgeon to be the heroine and Martin and Ben Gazzara, the losers. And he knew he could write clever dialogue to cover the sleight of hand. He does. But emotionally, cleverness is not enough.

John: I love the way he plays off of Chinese tourist stereotypes, but you’re right. The Campbell Scott character (he is the son of George C. Scott, by the way) is our stand-in, not knowing what to believe or who to trust, but Pedgeon seems all that is right in a confusing, greedy world. To throw her out, with the bath, is to throw the movie away too.

GO (1 GO out of 4)

Spanky: If wishing could make something better, I would have been satisfied. John you may not be Mamet, and are certainly not Steve Martin, but for once I agree.

BARK (1 BARK out of 4)

Columbus Circle – “Round and round.”

Columbus Circle, Director:  George Gallo, 2012

Columbus CircleJohn: Maybe I’ve been watching too much TV and my standards have gone to hell, but I found this (particularly the second half gripping and surprising. I’ll admit the ending seems a bit farfetched, but it is perfect.

The story begins with the murder of an old lady, but focuses on her acrophobic neighbor across the hall. The dynamics are between her and a new couple who move into the dead woman’s apartment. The plot presents different stereotypes and then shows things are not what they seem. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think Hitchcock would be proud of this one.

GO, GO, GO, (3 GOs out of 4)

Spanky: You’ve got to be kidding. You can spot what is going to happen miles away. I did like the ending line, and it was good they could find a role for Beau Bridges. He makes us want to trust him and appearances. Big mistake.

John: But that’s a foreshadowing of the other character reversals. This is a poker game in which the director is playing, not the cards, but the audience.

Spanky: John, I’ve got a great Brooklyn Bridge to sell you. Or maybe a NY condo, cheap.

BARK (1 BARK out of 4)


MANHATTAN – “Rhapsody in Black & White”

Manhattan, Woody Allen, 1979

SPANKY: You probably remember the stark panarama shots of the New York skyline against a lush George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”  But wait. Looking at this movie with John all these years later, things aren’t quite what is remembered. The movie voice-over is of the central character writing a novel and several times reworking the first chapter–each version expressing a different emotion.

When the movie first came out Continue reading

Exit Through The Gift Shop—“Punked”

Exit Through The Gift Shop,  Bansky, director, 2010 

JOHN: This is one of those maybe, maybe not film experiences. We are assaulted by street art (graffiti), then sold on a story of a guy documenting it on film who later becomes a graffiti maker himself ending up with a big show in Los Angeles, except… This legitimizing of his art is all a fake. The gallery is a fake, the movie is a fake. Anyone who thought they knew what was going on in the film, is a fake. This is certainly a film to argue about on the way home, even if you are driving by yourself. I can’t think of anything remotely like this, maybe The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. 

 GO, GO, GO, GO (4 GOs out of four)  Continue reading

INCEPTION—“What Went Wrong?”

Is this the way to "Inside John Malkovich"?


Inception, Christopher Nolan, director, 2010

The GOOD: Movies are shared dreams so why wouldn’t a film about them be interesting? 

The BAD:  Unless, of course, DiCaprio had to continually explain what was going on to (audience stand-in) Juno.

The BUGGY: What’s with the ski troupers firing automatic weapons? Are they looking for a James Bond movie to be in instead?  Continue reading