Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Movie Review: The Lighthouse

Michael's Movie Grade: A+

A brilliant work of cinematic art.

This film is not your average horror film abandoning cohesive story telling for the logic of a nightmare. Like a nightmare not everything may make logical sense but emotionally and atmospherically everything ties together perfectly. This is a movie that asks you to surrender yourself completely to its odd nonsensical world or else its power will be lost on you. If you surrender yourself though you'll find yourself in for a cinematic treat of the highest order. Much of this is due to Robert Egger's incredible direction and Jarin Blaschke's masterful use of black and white cinematography. The use of black and white in this movie never comes off as a gimmick. Instead being in black and white is a necessity for this movie to work as well as it does. This device gives it a more unreal and more dreamlike quality, that perfectly fits into the movie's illogic. Nothing in this movie is quite real, so the film looking real could hurt the illusion. This is also the fact that many of the film's shots are gorgeous and simply wouldn't be as visually memorable in color.

This film revolves around two men alone on an island. Because of this the film has to be held by two actors. In fact instead of an actress (Valeriia Karaman (this appears to be her only screen credit)) who receives very little screen time and no lines, these two actors are the only ones on screen for the whole movie. With this in mind, these actors need to turn in fantastic performances or the whole film would suffer greatly. Luckily William Defoe and Robert Pattison turn in incredible performances that bring out the deep humanity in these abstract characters. They pull us ever further into the incredible madness that is this film.

I don't want to give much more away as this is a film you have to experience for yourself and what happens in the movie cannot be effective in writing. Just know that this is a fantastic experience that is unlike any other film out there and is one of the best movies of this year.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Silent Films on TCM this November

Hello again my friends. As again I know that many of you like me are fans of both silent films and TCM. So for those like us here is a list of all the silent films playing on TCM this November.

Sunday, November 3rd

Master of the House
(1925) Director: Carl Theodore Dryer. Starring Johannes Mayer and Astrid Holm. 9:30pm Pacific. 12:30am Eastern.

 Wednesday, November 6

(1927) Director: FW Murnau. Starring George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor. 10:45pm Pacific. 1:45am Eastern.

Thursday, November 7th

(1926) Director: Fritz Lang. Starring Bridgette Helm and Alfred Abel. 12:30am Pacific. 3
3:30am Eastern.

Sunday, November 10th

The Pagan
(1929) Director: W. S. Van Dyke. Starring Roman Novarro, Renee Adoree. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Monday, November 11th

The Big Parade
(1925) Director: King Vidor. Starring John Gilbert and Renee Adoree. 3am Pacific. 6am Eastern.

Sunday, November 17th

Tokyo Chorus
(1931) Director: Yoshiro Ozu. Starring Tokihiko Okada and Emiko Yagumo. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Sunday, November 24th

The Passion of Joan of Arc
(1927) Director: Carl Theodore Dryer. Starring Maria Falconetti and Eugene Silvan. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Monday, November 25th

Sherlock Jr.
(1924) Directed by Buster Keaton. Starring Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire.

  -Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Cowboy Church #33

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church.

We begin our music selection with The Monroe Brothers' 1936 recording of What Would You Give in Exchange For Your Soul? This gospel tune was one of the Monroe Brothers' biggest money makers and it is easy to see why. Next comes Gillian Welch and David Rawlings with the southern gospel classic, I'll Fly Away. Gillian's voice is at its most beautiful and David Rawlings' guitar playing is as incredible as ever. Plus the two are obviously having a great time performing this song, so we should have a great time listening. Next comes Pasty Cline with her 1958 recording of Dear God. Playing steel guitar on this song was the one and only Don Helms, who had been part of Hank Williams' backing band, the drifting cowboys. His haunting steel guitar really helps make this recording. We continue with their 1934 recording of Open Up Them Pearly Gates. Like many of the early Sons of the Pioneers gospel songs, this tune combines the gospel message with a good sense of humor. This period of the Sons of the Pioneers includes my favorite line up for the group, Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Roy Rogers (at that time Leonard Slye) and Hugh Farr. Next comes the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet (Buck Owens, Grandpa Jones, Roy Clark, Kenny Price) with Camping in Canaan's Land on a 1983 episode of Hee Haw. Following is The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings) with Kris' own Why Me Lord. We end with a very personal song from The Queen of the West, Dale Evans. This song was written by Dale herself for a daughter her and her husband Roy Rogers had with downs syndrome and various physical problems. Young Robin died before reaching her second birthday. This song is called Angel Unaware and Dale also wrote a book dedicated to Robin with the same name. Dale and Roy were strong Christians and their faith was a great comfort to them after Robin's death. Still they believed that Robin was a blessing from God that they were blessed to have even for a short time.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 Now therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. John 4:9-12

Thaks for joining me for this week's Cowboy Church. Come back next week for another service. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Movie Review: Parasite (Gisaengchung)

Michael's Movie Grade: A+

This Korean film is not only the best movie of the year, but one of the best of recent years.

This is a movie that is not afraid to change tones as it goes along. It can go from a silly comedy to social satire to a very dark and disturbing suspense film in a heartbeat. How incredibly well this movie does this is perfect. The social commentary on the often complicated relationship between rich and poor is a lot of what holds this together. This movie never stops to preach to us, as would be done by lesser filmmakers, nor does it simplify the complexities of its subject. Despite this the movie's lighter and dark moments fit together because they are both connected to this similar theme. The mixture of lighter and darker moments is also part of what keeps this movie so suspenseful. You never know if what is coming up not will be funny or disturbing. There were times when I felt I knew where this movie was going and was shocked to see it go in another direction, but each time what it did was better than what I saw coming. Adding to this is that the characters were all completely untrustworthy. There is no one who has a true moral compass and everyone is capable of great darkness. This movie could have so easily done what so many movies about the rich and poor do, making one side good and one side evil. However this is too simplistic and too cliché of an approach for this film. Life is not defined by simple terms like good and evil and neither is the world of this film. Between all the black and whites are many grays. This is all perfectly crafted in a way only a master filmmaker Bong Joon Ho can do. It is no exaggeration to call him one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation.

It may seem with some of what happens that one might want to call a comparison to another brilliant Korean film, The Housemaid (1960). However the two movies are extremely different and this movie never borrows from that earlier classic. Instead this is a one of a kind work of art that is a true rarity in any time period. If you are a movie lover, you have no reason not to see this movie. I don't care if you don't like to read subtitles you still need to see it. There is nothing else quite like this and I am sure it will go down in film history as one of the best movies of our generation.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #42 - Spooky Edition

Hello again my friends and happy Saturday morning. With Halloween just around the corner, today's Saturday morning cartoons post is dedicated to some downright spooky cartoons. 

We start with the coolest cat to ever grace the silver screen, The Pink Panther in a spooky treat, Pink Panic (1967). This a delightful and very creative cartoons. It may not be one of the funniest Pink Panthers, but it has its own atmospheric charm.


Next we'll rejoin our good friend Scrappy in a delightfully spooky Columbia short, Scrappy' s Ghost Story (1935). I really love the little song in this cartoon, and much of the dancing animation is very enjoyable. Like many Scrappy cartoons, what makes this film so delightful is the sheer amount of imagination and creativity. A review in The Film Daily stated "A good number of laughs evolve from this fast moving cartoon."

Next comes another Columbia Halloween treat from the 1930's. This cartoon, Skeleton Frolic (1937) was directed by the one and only Ub Iwerks. Many of you are probably aware that Ub Iwerks was the main animator of the classic Disney cartoon, The Skeleton Dance (1929). This film is in many ways an unofficial remake of the earlier cartoon. While it may not be the masterpiece that The Skeleton Dance was this is a delightful film in its own right. One exhibitors review from the Motion Picture Herald stated "Amusing antics. This sort of thing doesn't seem to bother our young folks any." A review in The Film Daily stated, "Rather a gruesome subject in a way but done with great technical cleverness and filled with a grim sense of humor." This cartoon would be reissued to theaters in 1953-1954 and 1961.

Of course you can't have Halloween cartoon watching without the next Disney classic. This is one of Jack Hannah's finest Donald Duck cartoons, Trick or Treat (1952). If you are interested in the history of this cartoon you can't do better than a great article Disney Historian Jim Fanning wrote for the D23 website. To see that click here.

Happy Halloween and come back next week for more cartoon fun.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, October 25, 2019

Movie Review: The Current War - Director's Cut

Michael's Movie Grade: B-

Great acting, good dialogue and a fascinating story, help this movie rise above its major faults.

This movie tells the story of a fascinating time in our history. While this movie can often play more as a history lesson than many would want it to, it is a very interesting and enjoyable history lesson. None of this movie's faults can overcome the fact that the story it tells is so compelling. For a movie about real life people who have become larger than life figures, it is important to have great actors portraying them. This movie's all star cast does a fantastic job becoming these historical figures. Despite these actors being so familiar to movie goers, while watching the film, one forgets they are watching actors and not the real people. This is heightened by the fact they are often given great dialogue. It would be so easy for the dialogue to have been too on the nose and forced. This never happens and the words seem to come directly from the characters. Some of the dialogue is also very funny, given some great levity to what could have been an overly serious film. /

The fact that the true story is so fascinating is both the greatest strength and fault of this movie. There is often too much going on for this movie's running time. Because of this the film is constantly moving from one interesting story to the next with little time to breath or slow down and get to know the characters. The film often seems to rush over certain events to make room for others and even those aren't given the time they full deserve. This film should have either been a longer movie or a TV series to tell all that should have been told. Another major fault of this movie is that the camera simply seems restless and unable to stand still for more than a few seconds. This may sound like a small complaint but it was often overly distracting and rather annoying. To be honest I found it less annoying towards the end of the movie when I finally got somewhat used to it, but that doesn't make up for how much in distracted me for the rest of this movie. For such a dialogue heavy film with little action this feels like an odd choice that has the affect of alienating the audience.

Still even with these major faults, I found the good certainly outweighed the bad and I had a good time.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Eve Arden's Barn

Whether on the big screen or small screen, Eve Arden was always a delight. While she is no longer a household name, she had a very successful career in both movies and TV shows. She was even the star of two popular sitcoms, Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956) and The Eve Arden Show (1957-1958). Our Miss Brooks even received a theatrically released feature film in 1956. She also appeared in such big name movies as Cover Girl (1944), Mildred Pierce (1945), Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Grease (1978). As someone whose obsession with movies hugely began from old comedy teams, I first became familiar with her with her memorable role in At The Circus (1939) with the Marx Brothers.

The following is a 1955 article from Radio TV Mirror talking about who this actress was off screen. If you have trouble reading any of the pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Movie Review: Zombieland: Double Tap

Michael's Movie Grade: B+

Hilarious sequel that had me laughing throughout the majority of the film.

Despite being a horror-comedy that has a lot of gory zombie killing, the majority of humor in this film is character based. This works especially well with all the interplay between Columbus and Tallahassee. These are characters that you wouldn't except to work together but they do perfectly. The chemistry between Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg is perfect and it appears that the two are simply having a blast working together. Every time these two shared the screen the movie shined comedically. There was also a great amount of heart in the two's scenes together, that brought a surprisingly warm sweetness to this zombie comedy (don't worry there is still plenty of crude jokes and gore). Who was also surprisingly hilarious in this movie is the stereotypically dumb blonde Madison. It would be easy to think that with how often this type of character has been used, there would nothing funny left to do with one. This movie proves that wrong as somehow she completely steals every scene she is in, causing some of the movie's biggest laughs. As a huge Elvis fan, all the scenes referencing the king especially stood out to me as very funny as well. As much as this is a comedy, it is also a zombie movie, and it works very well as this too. I story is quite good, and there is plenty of very fun action scenes here as well. As well as the characters being funny, I really cared about them as people. This helped tie the comedy, the horror and the drama together perfectly.

The only thing that really fell flat for me in this movie was what they did with Columbus and Wichita's relationship. This not only felt cliché but very forced and rather uninteresting. It did lead to the new character, Madison, so I guess we can still thank this misused plot device for that. That still doesn't make it work at all though.

This is excellent horror comedy and just a delight to watch.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Teacher's Pet (2004)

If Teacher’s Pet doesn’t feel like any other Disney animated feature there is a good reason for that. Instead of being made by the main Disney animation studio that makes all the big budget animated features, this film was done by Disney Television Animation. The reason for this is really simple it was based off a TV show that the studio had made also called Teacher’s Pet. This film is a rarity in the popular trend of turning a TV show into a feature film, because this movie is actually even better than the series.

Spot is Leonard’s dog, who is constantly dreaming of being a real live boy. On the other hand Leonard wants him to be just his dog. Spot dresses up as Scott, a human boy and attends school in the same class as Leonard. Leonard’s mom is the teacher (hence the film’s title), but naturally can’t tell that one of her students is her own dog. Leonard’s mom is given a trip to Florida for a teacher award. However she is not allowed to bring along any dogs. Spot sees a Dr. Ivan Krank on TV, where Krank says he can turn animals into human beings. Krank is in Florida. So dressed as Scott, Spot hitches a ride to Florida, but when he meets Dr. Krank, he discovers he is in for much more trouble than he bargained for.   

This film is the wildest and craziest Disney animated feature since The Three Caballeros made 59 years earlier. The art style (created by artist Gary Baseman) is appropriately wacky and strange. This is an animated movie that is not ashamed to be a cartoon. The jokes come fast and furious, impossible gags happen regularly and characters constantly talk to the audience. While the film does have a basic story, that story is used as a simple basis to see how many gags the filmmakers can get out of it. The film parodies everything, even Disney itself. These parodies however are extremely elaborate and show great respect for what they are kidding. For instance in the opening scene that parodies Disney’s own landmark movie Pinocchio, the attention to all the details of that earlier feature is very clear and there is no doubt that the filmmakers have seen that classic animated movie many times and have a fondness for it themselves. One of the best Disney in-jokes involves Spot (or Scott) telling Leonard they need to use “the twilight bark” to solve a problem. When Leonard says that he doesn’t know what this is Spot (or Scott) tells him they need to start renting him more classic animated movies. Also adding to the fun of this film is a fantastic voice cast, who all give phenomenal and extremely energetic performances here. While Nathan Lane also voiced Timon in another more popular Disney movie (The Lion King), you completely forget about that watching this movie and only see the character on screen. There is just so much to recommend about this film. It is fast paced, funny, smart, wacky, unique and just all around fun.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Michael's Movie Grade: C+

Well below a Disney classic, but a fun movie nonetheless.

What makes this movie work is that it has a great sense of atmosphere. This is a fantastic fantasy land, that feels very real. This movie does what fantasy movies are supposed to do, make you feel like you were transported somewhere else. The amount of imagination and work that went into this world is very impressive and effective. This kind of fantasy is especially highlighted in a creative and very well done action packed climax. Not only does this climax feature lots of great action, but it is perfectly blended into this fantasy world, making it much more effective. Not hurting at all is that Maleficent and Aroura are likable characters. There is little depth or complexity to them, but they are likable enough for us to enjoy watching them and care about their safety.

The plot of this movie isn't really a bad one, but it is one we have seen a million times before. It is hard for any seasoned movie goer not to know what is going to happen next at each moment. While most of the time this works reasonably well, there are times when it feels to be going through the motions and only doing what we except it to do. The villain is rather bland and cliché. However I will say I like that the movie doesn't try to make it a secret she is the villain. She is too obviously the villain for that to have worked. Since trying to keep the villain a surprise seems to be popular at Disney these days I was glad they overlooked that cliché. While the CGI is mostly quite good, the designs of the fairies is really ugly and unpleasant to look at.

While this is far from top notch Disney, it is still an enjoyable film and sometimes that is enough.

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Cowboy Church #32

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

We start off our musical selection with The Maddox Brothers and Rose's 1947 recording of Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet. Though the group would later record this song again in 1951, this version remains my favorite. Rose's voice sounds as beautiful as ever and her brother Don's fiddle playing here are especially fantastic. This is followed by the Monroe Brothers with their 1937 recording of On That Old Gospel Ship. This is pure early bluegrass at its best. I dare anyone to try not to tap their foot to this. Next comes the Possum, George Jones, himself with the old hymn The Lily of the Valley. This version comes from George's 1966 album, Old Brush Arbors. This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1948 recording of Read the Bible Every Day. This song is written by one of the group's founding members, Ted Spencer. Next is the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet (Buck Owens, Grandpa Jones, Kenny Price, Roy Clark) with Blessed Jesus Take My Hand. Coming up next is Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with The Lord is Counting on You from one of the duo's little golden records for children. This was released as the B side of a 1954 record with Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In on the A side. Both of those songs were Christian songs written for younger believers by Stuart Hamblen. This was appropriate as Stuart Hamblen had been a singing cowboy on radio since back in 1926. Probably his most famous compositions were It is No Secrect (What God Can Do) and This Old House. The Lord is Counting on You reminds kids of the importance of Sunday School. We close with Johnny Cash singing How Great Thou Art on the 12th episode of his weekly TV show.


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. James 2:8
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8:2

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another visit to Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #41 - Pre-Code Edition

Happy Saturday morning my friends. Once again it is time for more classic cartoons. This week centers completely around cartoons from the pre-code era.

We start with a cartoon from Columbia starring our buddy, Scrappy. This cartoon is called The Wolf At the Door (1932), and stars Scrappy and Oppy as Mounties trying to help a door goat who has a wolf at his door. A surpising large portion of this film involves Oppy trying to get out the door. These scenes feel like they could have been inspired by Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925). Strictly pre-code gags involve where Scrappy puts hot water for Oppy and a gesture the house makes at the end of the film. An exhibitors review in The Motion Picture Herald stated, "A very satisfactory comic. Patrons enjoyed this very much."


Next comes possibly the best of Columbia's Krazy Kat cartoons, The Minstrel Show (1932). This is a fast paced cartoon with great music and very imaginative (and often quite funny gags). This is just pure 1930's cartoon fun at its best. An exhibitors review in The Motion Pictured Herald stated, "An extra good cartoon. Several of the grownups stayed to see this one twice."

The next cartoon is probably the most pre-code of the films included here. Honestly even those who are very familiar with pre-code Hollywood might be shocked by just how much this film gets away with. Raunchy gags seems to follow raunchy gag here, as a pretty secretary is the butt of many dirty jokes. As well as these raunchy gags around the secretary there is also the shocking site of a toilet, 28 years before Psycho (1960). This is one of the fastest paced and most enjoyable Flip the Frog films. So enjoy, Office Boy (1932).

Betty Boop is certainly the queen of early 1930's cartoons. Watching her films this becomes no surprise. These films are full of the pure unbridled creativity that marks the best cartoons of this era. A perfect example of this is Betty Boop For President (1932). This is an extremely fun cartoon and the political satire is still just as true today as it was back then. The ending image is a reference to prohibition by the way. An exhibitors review in The Motion Picture Herald stated "Boop is giving Mickey Mouse a close race. Everyone enjoyed this short reel." Another stated, "This is the best cartoon we have run in a long time. Betty stands Number 1 with our patrons above all others. Paramount has the shorts."

This post ends with the pre-code cartoon character who is the most well remembered and popular today, Mickey Mouse. Here is one of his very early films, Wild Waves (1929).

-Michael J. Ruhland

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Burks on "The Wrong Man"

Like any film buff, I love Alfred Hitchcock movies and am a fan of Robert Burks' cinematography for Hitch's films. Because of this I found this following 1957 article from American Cinematographer, where both Hitch and Burks talk about their work on the movie, The Wrong Man (1956), extremely interesting.

If you have any trouble reading these pages, you can always click on the pictures and use your touch screen to zoom in.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Movie Review: The Sky is Pink

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

I think that Hollywood filmmakers need to this movie from India to understand how to make a movie about a teenage girl who has a rare disease so they can make great movies like this instead of films like Five Feet Apart or Midnight Sun.

I have to be honest, after seeing movies like the two I mentioned in the opening sentence, I felt like I could never like a movie with this type of subject again. This movie more than proved me wrong, this is a fantastic film that is extremely moving without a bit of the forced melodrama of those previous films.

The term tearjerker is too simple to describe a movie like this. When I think of a tearjerker, what comes to my mind is a movie that is mostly about making the audience cry over how sad it is. This movie may make you cry (everybody seeing this with me was in tears at one scene). However just as much as a sad movie this is also a celebration of life. Knowing how easily she could die at any time is in many ways harder on our protagonist's parents than her. Though it does get to her at times like it could to anybody, she knows not to let this keep her from enjoying her own life. By the age of 18 she has truly lived life and done things we wish we could have done. Because of this, though we wish she could not have had this disease, she is never a subject of pity and is never defined by her tragedy, Because of this we feel complete pride and love for her. She is a truly incredible person. The fact that this movie is more than a simple tragedy is also defined by the use of narration, from our dead protagonist. She looks back at her time on Earth with great fondness and seems to enjoy telling us the story of her life. She also jokes around a lot, and keeps a good sense of humor about all that happens. This could have come off as forced and at odds with the sadder scenes in this movie. However it doesn't. This is because life is neither completely sad or completely happy. In our own lives our toughest moments are interspersed with moments of happiness and humor. This film captures this feeling perfectly. Because this is a film about life, and therefore can't be defined by one emotion. All of this is enhanced by incredible performances from the whole cast, but especially Zaira Wasim and Priyanka Chopra, as well as great direction by Shonali Bose.

This is a don't miss movie, full of real and powerful emotions both happy and sad.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988)

The Bugs Bunny/ Roadrunner Movie (1979) started a series of Looney Tunes feature films. These films are often today called the compilation films. The reason for this is very simply. They use new footage to tie together old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon, creating a new feature length narrative. None of these films do this better than Daffy Duck’s Quack Busters. As a huge Looney Tunes fan, of course I love watching the classic short films used here. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies will always remain some of the greatest cartoons ever made, and they are such a joy to watch in this movie. However while not as brilliant as the short cartoons, the new footage here is quite good. I found myself laughing a few times at this story, and not just light chuckles either. The story here also brilliantly ties the cartoons into this story. The cartoons fit perfectly into the story and none of them feel like they are just there to fit another great cartoon in.

One of the things I love about this movie is that the shorts are not your typical best of Looney Tunes shorts. These is no Duck Amuck or What’s Opera Doc here. However this shorts are still complete classic shorts that hold up extremely well. The shorts include Daffy Dilly (1948), The Prize Pest (1951), Water Water Everyhare (1952), Punch Trunk (1953), Claws for Alarm (1954), Jumpin’ Jupiter (1955), Hyde and Go Tweet (1960), The Abominable Snow Rabbit (1961) and Transylvania 6-5000 (1963). A delightful line up if I do say so myself.

This film was the first of these compilation features to have the new footage not directed by one of the directors from the golden age of Looney Tunes. The directors were animation historian Greg Ford and cartoon director Terry Lennnon. These two had previously made a very funny theatrical Daffy Duck short called The Duxorcist (1987) (which was also used in this feature). While exploring the Warner Brothers vaults, Ford found several recordings Carl Stalling and Milt Franklin made for 1950’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. These scores where used as backing music for the new scenes making them feel more like the classic cartoons. These recordings were later used for the CD set, The Carl Stalling project. The animators of the new scenes for this movie where some of the best of the then current generation. These include Mark Kausler (Heavy Traffic (1973), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Looney Tunes Back in Action (2003)) Brenda Banks (Lord of the Rings (1978), American Pop (1981), The Smurfs (1981-1990)) Daniel Haskett (The Brave Little Toaster (1987), The Little Mermaid (1989), Toy Story (1995) and Darryl Van Citters (The Fox and the Hound (1981), Box Office Bunny (1990), The Tom and Jerry Show (2014-2019). Also animating on the new scenes was an old veteran Norm McCabe who was an animator and director during the golden age of Looney Tunes.

The only complaint I have about this film is that Mel Blanc’s voice has obviously aged (This and Who Framed Rodger Rabbit (1989) marked his last times voicing the Looney Tunes characters). With this it is all too easy to tell what new footage is and what is old due to the sound of his voice alone. Still the rest of the film is more than entertaining enough to make up for that.   

-Michael J. Ruhland

Resourses UsedThe Animated Movie Guide Edited by Jerry Beck

Monday, October 14, 2019

Movie Review: Addams Family

Michael's Movie Grade: B

This charming little movie successeds heavily due to the likability of the Addamses, and some surprisingly quite funny humor.

What has kept the Addams Family good through all their incarnations is that there is a charm to these characters. They are kooky and spooky, but they still function as a truly loving family in their own way. The fact that they are so strange but also so much like us has endeared them to many people. This movie, I am sure will continue that tradition. While this film may have a cliché storyline and message (though even that is still not without its charms), they take a backseat to what we really care about here which the family dynamic. Honestly it is a joy to watch these characters simply interact with each other. They play off each other perfectly in the comedy scenes, and you can tell how much the love each other in the dramatic scenes. Speaking of the funny scenes in this movie they are actually quite funny. I excepted just light chuckles from this movie but I actually found myself laughing quite a bit, even the silliest of puns were quite funny. There is also some great slapstick here that is executed fantastically. The funniest parts of the movie were given to Lurch and It at the organ and piano. These scenes were fantastic, showing that pantomime humor is just as fun today as it ever was. Similarly everything with the spirit of the house certainly made me laugh.

The design work of this film, honestly has me split. I love the designs of the Addams Family and their house. All this is perfectly atmospheric and pulled me right into the movie. The house itself showed such great attention to detail with little things that didn't need to be there, but added a lot to the look of the film. What is so odd is that this design work is fantastic, yet the designs of the townspeople is actually quite bad. The worst is a friend that Wednesday makes that honestly is just very unappealing to look at. These characters often times look like they were created towards the beginning of computer animated movies instead of in 2019.

This film also unfortunately has a very weak villain that is too much like too many other animated movie villains as of late.

Still the good in my opinion very much outweighed the bad and I love the sing and snap along at the end.

-Michael J. Ruhland      

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Film Daily Goes All Out For Harry Langdon in "Tramp Tramp Tramp"

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I adore Harry Langdon. He is one of my favorite screen comedians as his films never fail to make me laugh. That is why I always love to look around old movie magazines to see how much I can find on Harry. Today I have found that The Film Daily didn't just have a brief advertisement for this film but went all out to promote it in a 1926 issue. These following pages are from that issue. If you have trouble reading any of these pages click on them and zoom in with your touch screen.

If you would like to watch the movie it is on YouTube.

-Michael J. Ruhland