This is the central gathering spot for all things Larry Ratliff and Movie Memories. The latest blog could be about your favorite celebrity, something funny or important on Larry’s mind or all of the above.
I got my love for the movies from my Mom and my fascination at gazing at the moon from my Dad.
Here's hoping those two wondrous worlds don't collide, literally, when the biggest, brightest supermoon since 1948 passes closer to Earth than it has in 69 years tonight (Monday, Nov. 14).
I was a toddler in my Mom's arms, no doubt, when the last supermoon this exciting came calling. I will be 87 if I'm around (and still pounding this computer keyboard) when it happens again on Nov. 25, 2034.
Will we even have computers then? Will Mother Earth still be inhabitable then? Will we all have our student loans paid off by then? Who knows?
The ones that moved you so much that you didn't just suggest to friends and family that they go see them, but the ones so good you actually gathered up a carload and took them to the movie house yourself just to see the look on their faces when something that can only be described as magical unfolded on screen.
Andy Griffith as "Lonesome" Rhodes in "A Face in the Crowd." (Courtesy: www.washtimes.com)
So what does a film critic, humorist, public speaker and author who likes to kid around a bit know about presidential politics?
Not much, really, and what I do know I prefer to keep to myself. It's not that I'm that private. I'm also not the dumbest dangling chad in the pile of discarded ballots. I'm in business here and just don't choose to alienate half of my potential speaking audience by hopping up on a personal political soapbox.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman bunker down in "10 Cloverfield Lane." (https://media3.popstar-assets.com)
I've always admired the work of excellent character actor and sometimes leading man John Goodman.
Although I've gone out of my way for about 35 years to never act like a movie fan boy, especially while in the presence of film stars I was interviewing, I've always felt a fondness for Goodman, and the reason goes back decades.
Sometimes, and quite frequently this presidential election cycle, I wish politics we see in the movies were real and real-life politics were fictional.
Or more fictional.
No, make that less fictional, but still something to view simply as entertainment. There I go again, writing myself into a corner I can't write out of. But I think you know what I mean. Not something entertaining, yet serious and, for lack of a better phrase, something we can just get up and walk away from.
Like the incredibly entertaining movie Dave of 1993, for instance. Kevin Kline, a gifted and all-too-often underrated actor, plays Dave Kovic, a fun-loving temp agency owner who just happens to bear a striking resemblance to U.S. President Bill Mitchell (also portrayed by Kline).
The temperature was pushing triple digits as I drove across town around noon, weaving in and out of traffic, heading for the local movie art house.
It was hot enough to fry an egg on a shrinking block of melting ice, but I didn't care. I had one thing on my mind:
We go back a long way, those unfortunately colored morsels of caramel covered in light-brown chocolate. I grabbed a box of Duds on my way into the darkened abyss of a Harlingen, Texas movie theater to review my first film as a professional critic in 1980.
The Casa Blanca, opening today (June 9), is the latest sparkling jewel in the impressive San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment group.
On those days or evenings when you just can't decide if you want to catch a movie on a state-of-the-art laser projected digital screen or go bowling, now you can do both. Or either, or both and have dinner at the Café, or have dinner while enjoying a movie in one of four Bistro theaters, or ... well, you get the idea.
Nancy Reagan, who passed away Sunday (March 6), met her beloved Ronald Reagan in 1949.
The Reagans pose for a publicity still for "Hellcats of the Navy." (Courtesy: Columbia Pictures)
The future 40th president of the United States was serving in another office in the late '40s. Reagan, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, agreed to have dinner with actress Nancy Davis. Davis noticed that her name, which, according to reports turned out to be another Nancy Davis, had popped up in the infamous Communist witch hunt.
Attention all website owners and bloggers: When your spouse tells you it's way past time to change the post on your website, it's way past time to change the post on your website.
Suellen is right, but I do have an excuse. Does that help? OK, didn't think so.
The fact is that LarryRatliff.com, home of everything Movie Memories, is undergoing a major overhaul, and we've been planning and building something we think is eye-popping special.
It's a little premature to give too much away, so let's just say that very soon you will be looking at a state-of-the-art Movie Memories and Larry Ratliff website home that, hopefully, will take your breath away (But only temporarily, we hope; safety first).
But wait, there's more!
We are also excited about being very close to announcing that Larry will be digging out his old TV makeup kit for a new movie critic position on a nationally syndicated television show.
As they say on TV, stay tuned.
And as they also say, we'll be right back: Bigger and better than ever.
I'm Larry Ratliff, and I approved this message (right after I wrote it).
Jennifer Lawrence takes aim at becoming a successful entrepreneur in "Joy." (Google.com)
A quick note about joy, that inner-tingling feeling of delight, and Joy, the award-winning movie.
It is my pleasure to inform anyone who doesn't already know that The Senior Voice is now a dual North Texas publication serving both Dallas and Fort Worth with separate issues.
That makes the circulation of Carol Butler's soon-to-be-monthly brainchild to bring news, features and other articles of interest to seniors and those who deal with that special section of the population to a whopping 100,000.
It's an exciting new year for Carol and the staff, which includes this semi-humble scribe as the film columnist/critic.
The (soon-to-be) monthly format will allow more access to timely movie releases. We'll start the film review party with Joy, which earned Jennifer Lawrence, its star, a Golden Globe award as best performance by an actress in a motion picture - comedy or musical Sunday night in Los Angeles.
My review begins thusly:
Watching Joy, the mesmerizing dysfunctional family drama-with-comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, this thought kept running through my mind:
“Is there anything Jennifer Lawrence can’t do?”
Click here to read my full Joy review. And, while you're on the Senior Voice website, take a little time to look around at a new major player in North Texas media.
There's really just one reason I'll bother to watch theGolden Globes Sunday night:
It's a free snack zone. That's why. Why else would humans anywhere near being in their right minds plop down in front of a TV to vegetate, wasting three or four hours of valuable time watching filthy rich celebrities pat each other and, more disgustingly, themselves on the back?
I mean, who knows how much time we have left with looming disasters like terrorism, the possible crash of the stock market and American Idol back on TV?
So, I'm doing it for the snacks. Fritos and Ranch dip to begin, perhaps a little chardonnay once the Globes begin to drag and, of course, a mini-mountain of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla nectar of the gods as the evening wears on and on and on.
Oh, there is one more reason I'll be watching. Ricky Gervaiswillreturn as host of the Golden Globes this year (Sunday night at 7 Central on NBC) for the fourth time after a three-year hiatus. Gervais vowed never to return after hosting in 2012. In fact, the fearless comedian has been quoted comparing hosting chores of the movie and TV love-fest to a parachute jump.
"You can only really enjoy it in retrospect when you realize you didn’t die and it was quite an amazing thing to do,” he said.
Look for Gervais to have his fangs and one-liners sharpened and ready to pounce. He packs the caustic, comic kill-shot punch of Don Rickles. The witty Brit, who co-created the mockumentary TV series The Office across the Atlantic pond, then stares down the audience with the impeccable silence that Jack Benny mastered a generation (or two? I lose count) before him, almost daring audience members not to laugh at him, which in reality, means laughing at themselves.
So that's what I'll be doing Sunday night. Please don't call between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight (allowing for the pre-Gervais monologue tailgate party and headache and unsettled stomach of the odd combination of snacks and the aftermath of the drudgery sure to follow).
There is one exception. Go ahead and ring us up if you're a Powerball official saying there was a mistake in Saturday's announced winning numbers and you have $700 million and change waiting for us.
If that's the case, we'll host the Golden Globes next year at our house, which will be known by then as the former Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
The first time a cinematographer truly rocked my cinematic soul was November 1977.
Steven Spielberg's wonder-filled sci-fi adventure Close Encounters of the Third Kind transfixed many of us to the screen with possibilities that we are not alone in the vastness of space. John Williams' five-tone symphonic magnificence brought much to the party, of course, as did director Spielberg.
It wasn't until that afternoon at the movies in 1977, however, that I fully appreciated the contribution a gifted cinematographer adds to the movie magic. I can still remember my insides rattling with the ferocity of those vibrating mailboxes that Richard Dreyfuss, portraying a soon-to-be-befuddled lineman for the county, was experiencing with a mixture of wide-eyed fear and curiosity.
Those unforgettable images in Close Encounters came from the creativity of master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who died January 1 at 85, according to published reports.
The Hungary native hop-scotched in and around San Antonio to shoot Spielberg's breakout film, The Sugarland Express, in 1974. My Zsigmond favorites, in addition to Close Encounters, include The Deer Hunter (1978), Deliverance (1972) and, especially, The Rose, showcasing Bette Midler channeling Janis Joplin in 1979.
According to Zsigmond's obit posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, the master behind the camera, who took home home his only Academy Award for Close Encounters "was taught in the European style of cinematography with particular appreciation for light gradations and color tone.
"Zsigmond’s work was noted for its use of natural light and often subdued palette, as visible in such films as McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971). To attain this look, he utilized a photographic technique known as 'flashing,' exposing the negative to a small amount of light before lensing. The procedure would ultimately mute the colors," the Hollywood Reporter post stated.
Let me just add this. Vilos Zsigmond shot film, baby, when shooting film -- celluloid, not that digital stuff we see today -- was not only cool, but truly magical.
Rest in peace, Vilmos, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of movie fans around the world will not soon forget your spellbinding contributions to our movie memories.