49 posts categorized "Television"

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" »

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!" »

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" »

22 December 2016

Still missing Dave

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Lady Gaga and Bill Murray with Dave on April 2, 2014. (Courtesy: CBS.com)

I can't help it, I still miss David Letterman.

Don't get me wrong.  If the Forever King of Late-night TV, in my not-so-humble opinion, wants to keep it semi-private and spend his days growing and explaining why he's grown that weird beard, I'm happy for him.

I just still miss the late-night guy, the clean-shaven one who, first on NBC, then on CBS, was a long-distance friend and as much a part of our evening routine as brushing my teeth.  Actually, full disclosure, I probably missed brushing my teeth more than we skipped "Letterman," as we called his shows.

Continue reading "Still missing Dave" »

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" »

01 July 2016

Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers

Yankee330rI make no apologies for star-spangled banter when it comes to Independence Day.

So, proudly fly the U.S. flag, thump an ice-cold watermelon, crank some homemade ice cream and get the family together, it's the Fourth of July weekend, time to celebrate this great country of ours.

Continue reading "Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers" »

26 May 2016

That old doppelgänger of mine

BBpic350rYou would agree, I suppose, that when alternate universes collide, it should be duly noted.

The incident I'm entering into the public record occurred May 20, 2016 from about 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Continue reading "That old doppelgänger of mine" »

11 March 2016

Pee-wee Herman's rolling in to SXSW

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Has it really been 31 years? (Courtesy: Netflix)

Rejoice, Pee-wee Herman fans, the effervescent adult pixie in a gray suit and red bow tie is back and Austin's South-by-Southwest joyous collision of film, music, tech and congealed frenzied humanity better known as SXSW has him.

SXSW kicks off today (March 11) and runs through March 20.  Paul Reubens, aka Pee-wee, debuts Pee-wee's Big Holiday, his big-screen comeback as his signature giggly character on March 17.

Continue reading "Pee-wee Herman's rolling in to SXSW" »

18 February 2016

Under construction: Wait 'til you see the new us

New improved350lAttention 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).

 

08 January 2016

Somebody slipped the Golden Globes another Ricky

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Ricky Gervais (Courtesy: theguardian.com)

There's really just one reason I'll bother to watch the Golden 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 Gervais will return 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.

10 December 2015

Globes trotting: Ready for Ricky?

Ricky320 Don't get me wrong.  I love Amy Poehler.  Ditto for Tina Fey.

And when they're together, as they are in the new movie comedy "Sisters" and for the past few years cutting up as co-hosts of the Golden Globes telecasts, well, it's special.

For my money, though, the perfect Golden Globes host is acerbic playful rascal Ricky Gervais.  As the promo photo boasts, "Hold on to your globes," Ricky's back as host of the 2016 Golden Globes, which will air on NBC Jan. 10.

According to a post on the people.com website, Mr. Gervais is not about to tap the brakes on his brilliant (There, I said it) brand of caustic comedy.

"'I think if you make it fun for yourself, I think that filters through without being ridiculously self-indulgent,' says Gervais, who previously hosted the film and television awards show from 2010 through 2012. 'I think if you do things that excite you – that you think is original ... Sometimes when I write a joke I get an adrenaline rush. I'm excited about how good I think it is. But it's that unknown. It could go the wrong way,'" Gervais told People.

By the way, the Golden Globes were announced in Hollywood this morning before the sun came up.  Click here for a complete list of nominees.

Congrats to all the nominees.  I'll be tuning in mostly to see Gervais wield his hilarious verbal scalpel.

24 November 2015

'Lost (in Space)' and found

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Courtesy: CBS

From the Hey, We Haven't Brought This One Back And Called It Good Looking Yet Department:

It looks like your favorite video streaming service, Netflix, is about to roll the dice on a Lost In Space reboot.

According to stories posted on the Entertainment Weekly website (and other sources), Netflix is remaking the cult 1960s series that was set in "futuristic" 1997.

Call it Back to the Past Future or Wow, How High Can Gasoline Prices Go?

"Executive producer Kevin Burns confirmed to EW.  (The) legendary TV’s remake, which has yet to garner a straight-to-series order, is being written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold) and produced by Game of Thrones vet Neil Marshall, who’s in line to direct," the EW article states.

Burns, who has another project to dive into, is thrilled, of course.

“'We’ve obviously been developing Lost in Space for a long time, and we’ve had a couple of false starts. Just speaking for myself, we really felt that we had learned a lot from not only what we did, but what other people did and did wrong.

"'The original series, which lasted three seasons and 83 episodes, is set in a futuristic 1997 and follows the Robinson family’s space exploration. After the villainous Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) sabotages the navigation system, they become helpless and, yes, lost,'" Burns told Entertainment Weekly.

Danger, Will Robinson.  I don't see a Star Wars like frenzy building for this Lost cause, which got a ho-hum big-screen do-over in 1998.

 

03 November 2015

Keep (Jane) Austen weird?

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(Courtesy: www.stylenoir.com)

Is there a movement afoot to, ahem, keep Jane Austen weird?

There must be because come February, the undead will meet the coyishly cool in late 18th century England in what promises to be a grisly little action-horror-romance ditty titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I suppose it was bound to come (way, way) down to this in a time and marketplace where no entertainment icon, cinematic or literary, is sacred anymore.

I mean, come on.  We've already witnessed the out-of-sync wackiness of Harrison Ford and Daniel "Beg-Me-To-Stay-On-As-James Bond" Craig lassoing space aliens in Cowboys & Aliens in 2011, Sherlock Holmes sniffing out leads in modern-day New York City on TV in Elementary and the Republican debates.

So maybe we shouldn't be surprised when Jane Austen-ish ladies go for the jugular with bared fangs and not just verbal jabs.  

I suppose if they still sip their afternoon tea with pinkies properly extended, we shouldn't raise too much of a fuss when they go all zombie and start ripping each other to shreds.

Although I guess we won't hear much dialogue about saving face.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is scheduled to open (or slither out from under the door) Feb. 5 at one of the fine cinematic emporiums near you.

Consider this a jot-it-down-moment or a warning, depending on where you stand on the issue of co-mingling the prim and proper work of one of the most esteemed authors of the late 18th and early 19th century with bloodthirsty zombies with what I'm guessing will be deplorable table manners.

"Mary, mind your manners!  I told you to keep your elbows off the dining table.  And that goes for the elbows on those arms you're gnawing on as well.  And must you moan so?"


22 October 2015

The Oscars: Caught between Rock and a hard place, once again

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Chris Rock hosting the 77th Oscars in 2005. (Courtesy: flavorwire.com)

Nothing against Chris Rock, he's about as sharp and quick as any comedian working today.

But the announcement yesterday that Rock will host the 88th Academy Awards broadcast on ABC Feb. 28 comes as a ho-hum, no big whoop.

Why?  Because it's the 88th year they've been doing this, that's why.  Quick, what's the last thing that inspired goosebumps or made you go "Wheeeeeeee!" the 88th time you did it?

Well, there's that.  But huge bowls of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream don't count.

The Oscars, despite recent attempts to appeal to a younger audience like the 2011 debacle hosted feebly by Anne Hathaway and an extremely detached James Franco, have aged like a stoic, grumpy old grandpa.

And there's this:  The Academy Awards make the huge mistake of being last.  And I don't mean second or third.  I mean the final weak blip on an awards season that begins about six months earlier and drags on and on. 

Need proof?  Well, before the golden statuettes are passed out in late February, the movie industry and keen industry scribes and watchers have already endured the Golden Globe Awards, the Critics' Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Directors Guild of America Awards, the Golden Bear Awards (Berlin), the British Academy Film Awards and the Cesar Awards (France).

Let's not forget to mention kudos from local film critics groups from every semi-major city in this fine country of ours and a couple of neighborhood associations thrown in for good measure.

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That's me, right, at the Academy Awards sometime in the past century.

So by the time the Oscars open with a tired fanfare, the winners' speeches are too-well rehearsed, the bloom is off the red carpet arrivals and, let's just go ahead and say it, the tux tails are dragging.

I have much respect for Rock's ability to seize what little energy is likely to still be in the room by the time late February gets here.  He was sharp and way too fast for the dozing audience when the hosted for the first time in 2005.

Maybe, however, it's time to bring in a fresh face, an outside insider, if you will.

Someone like, well, me. 

I can take a selfie with the best of them.

19 October 2015

You want the 'Truth'?

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Robert Redford as Dan Rather in "Truth" (Sony Pictures Classics)

CBS can't handle the "Truth."

In what might very well be a case of reverse benefits, CBS has refused to air commercials for Truth, the dramatic-biography that focuses on Dan Rather's 60 Minutes report on the television network in 2004 that questioned then-President George W. Bush's military service.

The firestorm eventually cost Rather, once a CBS darling, and Mary Mapes, his producer, their careers.

According to a post on the Variety.com website, "The head of the firm handling media buying for the Sony Pictures Classics-distributed movie told the Associated Press that an effort to buy spots in 60 Minutes, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and other programs was turned down by CBS."

Veteran actor Robert Redford, a best director Oscar winner for Ordinary People in 1980, takes on the role of Rather in Truth, while Mapes is portrayed by Cate Blanchett, who took home a best actress Academy Award in 2014 for her fine work in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.

Despite the fact that CBS is quite possibly giving Truth inflated free publicity by refusing to run the movie ads (which would have generated solid income), I suppose the execs in the carpeted offices thought the situation over and decided when it came to Truth, they'd rather (or Rather) not.

 

07 October 2015

Dueling 'Tonight' show hosts? Hmmm

Jeno250r
(Courtesy: NBC)

It'll never happen, right?

Well, it did last night.  New Age Tonight show host Jimmy Fallon pretended to pull a hammy during the opening monologue, and dethroned (for no good reason, in my semi-humble opinion) host Jay Leno "tagged in" to continue his own "hammy" monologue as only Leno can do it.

How was it?  Leno was on fire.  Let's just say I haven't heard welcomed rapid-fire comic patter like this since Rodney Dangerfield died.

On politics: "If Democrat Bernie Sanders wins, he'll be the first socialist elected president since 2008."

On the economy:  "The economy is so bad that parents in Beverly Hills are being forced to raise their own children."

Aw Jay, I missed you, man.  Now if Stephen Colbert could just fake, I don't know, a self-induced coma or something, maybe we could get David Letterman back for a couple of weeks.

   

07 September 2015

Jungle fever heats up TV screens

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(Courtesy: MGM)

Look out for an outbreak of jungle fever.  It'll be spreading fast Sunday afternoon at 1 over on TCM when Clark Gable tangles romantically with Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in John Ford's adventurous romantic-drama Mogambo (1953).  Please note that all times listed are Central Daylight Time.  (Check your local listings for times in your area.)

If Gable's great white hunter character and performance look a little familiar, that's Mogambo is a loose remake of Red Dust, a 1932 romantic-drama set on a rubber plantation.  That one also starred Gable, along with Jean Harlow.

Rumor has it, if you're into such things, that the romantic heat between Gable and Grace Kelly was real and erupted into an off-screen affair, even though Gable was in his early 50s and Kelly was in her mid-20s.

 

History buffs might not want to miss Windtalkers at 4 p.m. Saturday on MGM HD.  Based on the real-life experiences of Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, Windtalkers stars Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach in an action war drama about Marines assigned to protect the Native Americans using their language as an unbreakable radio code.

I like good Westerns, and I bet many of you do too.  There's a good one on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on TCM.  That's when Glenn Ford, Van Heflin and Felicia Farr share the screen in 3:10 to Yuma, an exciting drama about a broke rancher (Heflin) who takes the tough assignment to put a notorious outlaw (Ford) on the train to justice.

As you can imagine, the bad guy's gang has other ideas.  Note:  This film was remade, and remade very well, in 2007 with Russell Crowe in the role of the bad hombre and Christian Bale as the timid rancher.

How about a big ol' singing and dancing Hollywood musical this week?  We could do a lot worse than Shall We Dance, which brings up the curtain at 1:30 p.m. Friday on TCM.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers put on their dancing and romancing shoes for this one. 

The movie's tagline sums it up nicely:  "Foot-free Fred and joyous Ginger ... in their gayest, gladdest show!"

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(Courtesy: Columbia Pictures)

And, if I may toss in a personal favorite:  My Mom and I loved to share movies.  When I was about 12 (in 1959), she was having a difficult day and suggested that we get out of the house for a while.

Mom took me to see the goofy comedy The Mouse That Roared starring Peter Sellers, Peter Sellers and Peter Sellers (in three roles) and co-starring Jean Seberg.  I'll never forget that special afternoon at the movies.  If you're curious about the movie, it will light up your TV screen at 11 a.m. Saturday on TCM.

And speaking of Sellers, if I had to choose just one classic movie to watch this week, it would be the delightfully offbeat, dark comic-drama Being There.  Sellers is magnificent as a simple gardener who, through no fault of his own, gets swept up into Washington politics and, ahem, much more.

 

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