Category Archives: Spanky and John Go to the Movies

Laura-“A Film Classic”


Laura, with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price. Directed by Sandra Lindo and Otto Preminger

JOHN: I saw this movie first when I was a kid and still remember parts of it.

SPANKY: It is haunting, especially when the police detective falls asleep in Laura’s apartment (she has supposedly been murdered) and wakes up to her alive, standing in front of him.

JOHN: The plot is twisted but makes sense. And the black and white, at least in the Netflix revival, gives the whole thing dream-like mystery and old-fashioned movie glamour. We just don’t experience these anymore.

SPANKY: Vincent price is effective and somewhat subdued and the rest of the cast is just right for the story.

JOHN: The ending also leaves you thinking. The murder of the actual girl is done out of love for Laura. And we, the audience, and the smitten detective, have that same protective feeling, don’t we?

SPANKY: Makes you think about it…for sixty years.

SPANKY: 4 Barks out of 4    JOHN:  4 GOs out of 4



Boyhood – “Grow Up”

BoyhoodSPANKY: I have never seen a more realistic movie, and I don’t mean it was just the actors growing over 12 years of filming.

JOHN: Perhaps, but I thought it felt a little too much like real life, I mean not going anwhere.

SPANKY: But it was interesting to watch people growing older. They repeated mistakes (marriages) they (and we) had already gone through. Continue reading




(director: Bille August; screenwriters: Ann Biderman /from the novel by Peter Hoeg; cinematographer: Jorgen Persson; editor: Janius Billeskov; cast: Julia Ormond (Smilla Jaspersen), Gabriel Byrne (the Mechanic), Richard Harris (Tork), Robert Loggia (Moritz Johnson), Vanessa Redgrave (Elsa Lubing), Jim Broadbent (Lagermann), Tom Wilkinson (Professor Loyen), Clipper Miano (Isaiah), Emma Croft (Benja), Bob Peck (Ravn)

JOHN: What sticks with you, long after the movies is over, is the face of Julia Ormond. Both haunting and torn, for a brief moment at the end of the film it transfigures into the young boy, her friend in the Denmark apartment, who jumped from the roof.

SPANKY: The plot of the movie is bad SF but it is moments such as these that explore real mystery. The context—unexplained death, a friend who might not be a friend, the wonder of Greenland, past and present—set the stage. But the real movie is her face.

JOHN: How many films, good films are self contained? How few stay with you as you drive home, or weeks later?

SPANKY: John and I believe the audience is an underappreciated partner in a story. Producers, studios, directors who have put millions into a movie don’t want to take a chance. Occasionally, for whatever reason, a novel or a movie does.

JOHN: Like footprints in the snow. It jumps off the roof. The face we see at the end is our own.

4 Barks out of 4, 4 GOs out of 4

Enough Said – “A Real Movie About Real Situations”

Enough Said

Enough Said

JOHN: I was going to review another movie, a French mystery, that was good but confusing. Then I watched this film.

 SPANKY: In English, right?

JOHN: Yes, but it was so down to earth, so adult in theme (about second marriage, about children leaving home, adult friendship, about an attractive woman and a not so attractive man she is dating).

SPANKY: And these things are related?

JOHN: As they are in real life, not in any Hollywood kind of way, but as we experience them and then lose ourselves in romantic fantasies.

SPANKY: So, why not just experience it? Why go to a movie about it? Continue reading

Lost in Translation – “Found”


Lost in Translation  

SPANKY: You watched this because, of…

JOHN: Scarlett Johansson, yes, not Bill Murray—even though he is from my hometown of Chicago. And I have been to Tokyo and Kyoto, equally lost as the two of them.

SPANKY: So, Sofia Coppola could have just shot a movie of you and saved herself a lot of money?

JOHN: If acting didn’t matter, Continue reading

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

The Man Who Smiled – “Book Vs. TV Program”

The Man Who Smiled

Altered Man in Tall Hat

Episode 5, Wallander and the book, The Man Who Smiled  by Henning Mankell 

JOHN: I’ve read this book and seen the Wallander episode based on it two times.

SPANKY: Time to get a life.

JOHN: The reason I did this was, the first time I read the book, I thought it was better than the TV show for an unexpected reason. It allowed me to daydream and, like the characters, every once in awhile they meet and someone says, where are we on this. It was just what I, the reader, was feeling when I refocused on the plot. Where are we?

SPANKY: So what you liked was it let you think about your own story?

JOHN: To participate. The TV show is much tighter. It doesn’t allow that kind of personal projection. But, Continue reading