185 posts categorized "Film"

18 September 2017

Destiny's child -- The other one

I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. -- Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)

Baby300Looking for treasures?  You might try the garage.

You know, lurking in those musty boxes weakened by time and multiple relocations over two or three decades

Digging through way too many of those boxes to admit we even had over the weekend in preparation for an upcoming garage sale, we came across my birth announcement from way back in 19-something or other.

Continue reading "Destiny's child -- The other one" »

05 September 2017

Who's your 'Mother!'

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Jennifer Lawrence as the title character in "Mother!" (Courtesy: geektyrant.com)

Generally speaking, horror-thrillers come and go these days without much interest from this aisle seat.

Until now.

Mother!, written and directed by Oscar-nominated Darren Aronofsky, is the exception.  Simply put, Aronofsky, whose Academy Award nomination came for calling the shots and putting Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis on their toes as driven ballet dancers in  Black Swan (2010), knows how to creep us out.

Continue reading "Who's your 'Mother!'" »

21 August 2017

R.I.P. -- Bob Polunsky

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Bob Polunsky (Courtesy: www.pinterest.com)

As far as I know, longtime San Antonio film critic Bob Polunsky was never a "Robert."

Bob, who died at 85 this week in San Antonio, Texas, was just Bob, a kindred spirit in the love and appreciation of any film really worth watching.  He was also never shy about condemning a flawed movie for its shortcomings in a Bob Polunsky style dubbed "Flicker Footnotes."  Bob's reviews were direct and sometimes ruthless but always honest.

Bob was well established as The Guy when it came to film criticism in San Antonio when I arrived in 1983.  Bob wrote for the Express-News daily newspaper.  After a year of general entertainment reporting at the other daily newspaper in town, the now-dark San Antonio Light, I became "that other film critic in town."

Continue reading "R.I.P. -- Bob Polunsky" »

08 August 2017

Post-'Graduate' Hoffman is how old?

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Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman and friend. (Courtesy: jewishcurrents.org)

Dustin Hoffman, one of my favorite actors and, I might add, interview subjects, turns 80 today.

'Scuse me, Mr. Father Time, but how can that be?

There's no denying it, though.  There it is in black-and-white (not to mention blue for linked words):  Dustin Lee Hoffman, born in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 1937.

Continue reading "Post-'Graduate' Hoffman is how old?" »

07 June 2017

What ice cream addiction? Or 'Hey buddy, can you spare a spoon?'

True confession time:

BBLarry300When it comes to entertainment, the only thing I love more than movies in general are movies that make me laugh.  Really laugh!  Films like the Mel Brooks' masterpiece monster mash comedy Young Frankenstein (1974), Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and the first Toy Story (1995).  Movies like that.

The only thing I love more than movies that make me laugh is making people laugh through my stand-up comedy routine We Might As Well Laugh.

Continue reading "What ice cream addiction? Or 'Hey buddy, can you spare a spoon?'" »

16 May 2017

You must, you will remember this

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Bottled-up sorrow: Rick (Humphrey Bogart) drowning in despair. (Courtesy: www.google.com)

I don't remember the first time I saw Casablanca, the mesmerizing romantic World War II drama classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, but I remember the best.

It was in the mid-1970s.  If you wanted to see a movie back then you pretty much had to go to a movie house.  There was no Internet.  No cellphones.  No movies on demand on your Wi-Fi-connected TV.  Social media in a time that now seems locked in a galaxy far, far away meant chatting about a movie on the way home.

Continue reading "You must, you will remember this" »

12 April 2017

Cinematic genealogy: Popcorn in the family tree

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Courtesy: google.com

I have very little interest in scampering out and back on every branch of the family tree to discover if I might be a direct descendant of royalty, a great writer from centuries past or, gasp!, rodents (the name Ratliff, you see).  I'm much more interested in getting to the root of my love and appreciation for movies.

It's deep-seated, but where did it come from?

I only have to look back one generation to find out all I need to know.  My mom and dad both loved movies.  I can remember my dad telling the story (over and over, actually) about falling asleep in the Hico (Texas) Theater and waking up in the dark to two startling discoveries:  The movie had ended some time ago and everyone was long gone and that he was locked in.

Continue reading "Cinematic genealogy: Popcorn in the family tree" »

30 March 2017

'Tomb' raiding, off-the-cuff fisticuffs & dishing Hollywood dirt

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Angelina Jolie doing some tomb raiding as Lara Croft. (Courtesy: imdb.com)

It was early June, 2001, a full three months before terrorists attacked the U.S. and put a somber face on this country and much of the free world that has yet to relax even a little.

It was a happier time, a time when a film critic could say silly things about silly movies and even to its star.  No harm would be done and everyone could have a laugh or two.

Such was the case when Angelina Jolie took on the title role as muscle flexing, tough-as-nails video game sensation Lara Croft in the feature film version of Lara Croft:  Tomb Raider.

Continue reading "'Tomb' raiding, off-the-cuff fisticuffs & dishing Hollywood dirt" »

19 March 2017

'Beauty' and the bean counters

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Belle (Emma Watson) and the Beast (Dan Stevens) trip the candlelight fantastic. (Courtesy: www.digitalspy.com)

We probably shouldn't scold the Disney Studio or its bean counters too severely for rolling out a live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, the Mouse House's animated golden oldie that swept up a boffo $425 million worldwide in 1991.

Disney has been raiding its own vault of animated treasures for years; Alice in Wonderland (2010), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016) with Dumbo and Mulan on the way next year.  That, folks, is why they call it show business with the emphasis clearly on the second word.

Continue reading "'Beauty' and the bean counters" »

27 February 2017

And the Oscar goes to ... chaos!

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Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty fumble through the not-so-grand Oscar finale. (Courtesy: www.google.com)

See, this is what happens when you trust Bonnie and Clyde to hand out the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.

The only thing I can think of that would have been more bizarre would be if Warren Beatty, looking totally confused and lost (for good reason, it turns out) had said, "We're Bonnie and Clyde.  We rob ballots!"

In case you missed it, the 89th Academy Awards telecast was putt-putting along fairly smoothly Sunday night until, of all things, the all-important finale.

Continue reading "And the Oscar goes to ... chaos!" »

14 February 2017

Lights, camera, be funny NOW!

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Robert De Niro as "The Comedian" (Courtesy: imdb.com)

Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman or Julie Kavner haven't called lately.

But if they did, or do (Come on, what would it hurt?), I would ask them all the same question:  "What the heck were you thinking when you signed on the dotted line to play a stand-up comedian in a movie?

Why couldn't they pull it off?

Here's the short answer:

They aren't comedians.  They're actors.

Shall I expand a little?

Continue reading "Lights, camera, be funny NOW!" »

01 February 2017

Founders keepers? Not so fast McDonald's

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Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in "The Founder" (Courtesy: IMDB.com)

Do you want lies with that?

You'll get plenty -- supersized, in fact -- in the compelling Ray Kroc biopic The Founder.

Michael Keaton shines as brightly as McDonald's iconic golden arches in this blistering tale of deceit, egomania and franchised burgers.

Let's put it this way.  When it comes to how McDonald's erupted into a worldwide empire from humble beginnings in California, the secrets weren't just in the sauce.

Continue reading "Founders keepers? Not so fast McDonald's" »

11 January 2017

Blah Blah Land

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Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe Awards (Courtesy: businessinsider.com)

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

I had a wild dream last night; one of those where you wake up fretting and sweating a little and the tangled covers serve as evidence of much tossing and turning.

The late iconic film critic Roger Ebert was standing at the podium at some grand hall.  Roger was introducing me as recipient of the Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award for my long list of film criticism awards and accomplishments.

OK, let's take a break.  Rule No. 1:  Please remember, this was a dream.  No. 2:  No giggling.

Continue reading "Blah Blah Land" »

01 December 2016

That's all write, Mama

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(Courtesy: www.etsy.com)

Bonnie Ratliff, my mother, was quiet and reserved unless wronged or riled.  She was also an excellent, creative cook who could sling a mean hash and make a plain cake so special I can still taste it quite a few  years after we lost her.

We never called her Mom, and I'm not sure why.  That being said, Mother made too many sacrifices for me to count as my older brother and I spent our formative years in the noisy, engine-revving, windows rattling shadows of an aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Three major things Mother did for me, though, changed my life and greatly influenced who I am, what I am today.  No, make that four.  There's the whole birth thing, you know.

Continue reading "That's all write, Mama" »

14 November 2016

Supermoon 'Melancholia'

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Courtesy: ChicagoTribune.com


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?

Continue reading "Supermoon 'Melancholia'" »

28 October 2016

Coming attraction: The Movie Memories Film Fest

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"Young @ Heart" (Courtesy: imdb.com)

Remember movies?

You know, the good ones.

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.

Continue reading "Coming attraction: The Movie Memories Film Fest" »

27 September 2016

The presidential debate: About 'Face'

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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.

So why am I even writing this?

Continue reading "The presidential debate: About 'Face'" »

16 September 2016

Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?

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Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in "Bonnie and Clyde." (Courtesy: google.com)

I was honored to speak to a group in Dallas last week about movies shot in and around Dallas.

I always come away from The Movie Memories presentation "Lights, Camera, Dallas!" with the music from Bonnie and Clyde bouncing around in my head.  Arthur Penn's 1967 action-crime thriller showcased Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the notorious outlaw duo that terrorized North Texas and surrounding states in the early 1930s.

Continue reading "Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?" »

07 September 2016

Really scary scare movies are scarce

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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.

Continue reading "Really scary scare movies are scarce" »

01 September 2016

Missing me some truly funny guys

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Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein." (Courtesy: www4.pictures.zimbio.com)

Think about it for a second.

Someone points a finger at you and requests/hopes/demands that you be funny right now.

Not just a little funny, but world-class funny.

Gene Wilder, who we lost in the past few days, and Peter Boyle, gone 10 years in December, were two of the funniest humans of their generation.  If you think that's easy, try it.

Continue reading "Missing me some truly funny guys" »

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