Harvey Korman, 1927-2008

Growing up, I watched a lot of TV.  I had a steady diet of The Flintstones and The Carol Burnett Show, thanks to TBS.  This is how I was introduced to the comedic genius of Harvey Korman.  As The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones, I simply knew him as a little green alien that had a wonderful way of calling Fred “Dum-Dum.”  The droll way he let it roll off the tongue was masterful.  Then I saw him on the Carol Burnett Show.  It was there that he formed a real-life Mutt & Jeff team with Tim Conway.  Much like Hardy and Abbott, Korman was the straight man to Conway’s Laurel and Costello.

As I got older, I saw Korman in Blazing Saddles and it was as if I was watching The Great Gazoo onscreen, with a little more villainy thrown in; I also enjoyed him in Radioland Murders.  Sadly, there were not many on-screen performances from him over the past 20-25 years.

Hopefully he is on a cloud somewhere, hovering above the voice of Fred Flintstone, still calling him “Dum-Dum” while waiting for his buddy, Tim…

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

In movies, there is always an actor or director that we have a love/hate relationship with.  You know the type: they make a movie you love, then they take a subject you love and destroy it in the movie.

Such has been my experience with Sydney Pollack.

My first memory of seeing one of his movies was Absence of Malice (Paul Newman, Sally Field) during Christmas of 1981.  I was 11 and bored with the movie — the adults were so-so about it.  The following year gave us Tootsie, which was very enjoyable.  It was the first time that I noticed a director in front of the camera, something he would do off and on in movies.

For someone reviewing movies, it is sad to say that I have not seen the following films:

  • Out of Africa
  • The Electric Horseman
  • Three Days of the Condor
  • The Way We Were

One movie I wish I could add to that list, but instead use it to symbolize why I disliked Pollack as a director and producer is The Firm.  I had read the book and looked forward to the movie for 6 months.  Due to location issues, Pollack rewrote the second half of the book, creating a story I never knew.  It ruined my birthday movie that year, and I was gunshy about his movies after that.

Thankfully the last movie I saw that he directed was Sabrina in 1995.  A light movie remake featuring Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear, it restored my enjoyment of his movies.

Interestingly enough, the last two things I saw involving Sydney Pollack were onscreen: an ATT ad asking us to silence our phones and a rich father on Made of Honor.

Love him or hate him, we will all miss his work in film, on and off the screen…

Iron Man

My fascination with superhero movies is well-documented, so are any of you surprised that I am reviewing Iron Man?

I thought not…

So what does one do when one finds themselves a part of a massive layoff?  If that person is me, then they go to the movies.  So I hit the 1:30 showing over at Regal Waterford Lakes after lunch with Rich.  Although I would have preferred AMC for this movie, Regal was right there without a big line.

As the movie started, I did have a nagging worry — had I hyped this movie up in my head too much?

No — I had not hyped it enough.

As disappointed as I was in the movies May 2007 delivered, Iron Man made up for that disappointment.  Robert Downey, Jr., was a perfect choice for Tony Stark.  Just as many can not imagine anyone other than Christopher Reeve as Superman or Patrick Stewart as Professor X, I can not imagine anyone else being Tony Stark.  Gwyneth Paltrow was also a good choice for Pepper Pots.

The story was a strong origin story, updated for today’s climate.  What I liked is something that other reviewers have pointed out:  The terrorists were a band of mercenaries from different countries, with no stated ties to any real groups.  That kept the plot from turning into Rocky IV.

Jon Favreau did a superb job in making the effects not look CGI.  In an interview with Ain’t It Cool News, he mentioned how he worked hard to make the CGI disappear.  For the dogfight, he sent planes up with cameras mounted so that the sun glares on the lenses would show.  The suit was real in many of the shots, with CGI in obvious sequences.

My advice: Solid story, solid casting, solid action — good for even those that do not like superhero movies — See it on the big-screen; I have 3 times and STAY PAST THE CREDITS!!!!