The photo that opens this little spiel is of the Warner Bros. Theater in West Chester, Pennsylvania, as it looked in 1948. I would have been seven that year and the Warner was one of three movie houses I frequented during my boyhood years. The other two were the Auditorium in Coatesville, and most of all, the Roosevelt in Downingtown. After all, for most of that time I lived in Downingtown. The Auditorium and Warner were First Run houses and your big A Movies played there. The Roosevelt featured second runs and B Pictures. I saw most of the old Universal Monsters at the Roosevelt along with a lot of old-time Oat Operas
That is the interior of the Roosevelt on the right. Sadly, although the buildings still exist, the Roosevelt and Warner are no longer showing films. The Warner is a hotel and last I saw it the Roosevelt was vacant and for sale.
But I really didn't intend for this to be a nostalgia piece, only a kind of review of some films I saw over the years that I liked. I also don't intend this to be considered a critique, even though in a galaxy far, far away I once was a critic, both of movies, live theater and books. I did movie and theater pieces for "Philadelphia After Dark" and book reviews for "Media & Methods" as well as some other places. I'm not a big fan of critics, however. I think people should make up their own mind about such things. Like what you like and dislike what you will, although I would suggest you also think about the films you view and consider why you like or dislike them. I don't mind reviews that give me a clue to what I may see in a film, but I am careful about the judgments of their worth and meaning as given by the critic. So All I want to do is mention some films I enjoyed a great deal and tell you what they were about without any spoilers, and let you decided if you care for them upon seeing.
I must warn I have some odd tastes in films. For example, let me explain some movies I saw in the past that I particularly like, but other people may find a little ...uh...bizarre.
How can I explain it? The main character, played by Judd Nelson, is a garbage man and would-be stand up comic, except his act is really garbage itself and he is going nowhere until one morning he wakes up and discovers he is growing a third arm. This new appendage is square in the center of his back. (Of course this can be handy for when he gets an itch between the shoulder blades.) His sudden acquisition does land him in a club where he becomes a featured act accompanied by his best friend, Gus (another trash man), who plays an accordion he is never without. From this point the story begins to be a bit strange. Don't dismiss this as a bunch of amateur nobodies. Besides Nelson the movie stars Bill Paxton, Wayne Newton, Lara Flynn Boyle and James Caan.
Another film I saw several years ago that I liked a lot is "The Legend of 1900", a picture
I find the movie psychologically brilliant. I also find it profoundly sad.
Lancaster plays fit and tanned Ned Merrill. In the beginning he appear at an affluent Connecticut couple's swim party and while sipping his cocktail he observes how the swimming pools of these well-to-do homes spread across the valley like "a river" to his own distant house. He decides to swim home and dives into the pool, emerges from the other side and begins his odyssey across the valley and through his mind and time. What seems fairly straight forward at first, a middle-aged man proving he still has some youth by this marathon swim soon turns into something much deeper. One hint that something more than just a day in his life is occurring is close observation will let you see how part way along the summer day has actually become one of autumn. You really can't get this film on one viewing. neither it's meaning or out of your head.
One last film I'd like to mention here that I like a lot is "The Village". This is a 2004 film by M. Night Shyamalan. It was not well received by the critics, dismissed by them as another twist ending gimmick by the director. Worse, the critics felt the twist was revealed too early and thus destroyed the effect.
Personally I disagree. I feel these critics missed the point. I don't consider the twist as the central part of the plot at all. I say the point being made is that we cannot escape evil in this world, that it will always find us out and we need to learn to face it, not hide away and try through fairytale to protect out children from it. The Village Elders don't see this anymore than the critics did, but the blind girl Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the one who can face and see reality.
I find it a beautiful movie to watch.
I also say the production company marketed the picture wrong. The ads and trailers presented it as a horror film, a monster flick. The emphasis on the "Monster" really led to false expectations on the part of the audience and as a result it proved a let down and anti-climatical. If it had been marketed differently the reception would have been much greater in my option.
When I do Movies (Part 2), I will be talking about films I saw for the first time in 2015 and I will point out one of these that was grossly mis-marketed as well.