Saturday, February 13, 2016


Year 8, Day 44 - 2/13/16 - Movie #2,245

BEFORE: I have to rely on indirect linking again today - Elizabeth McGovern links back through "She's Having a Baby" to Matthew Broderick, who has a cameo in tonight's film, also.  Just one more indirect link this month, the rest of my February connections are solid, though.  

The Valentine's Day action really gets going tomorrow on TCM's "31 Days of Oscar":

Leslie Caron carries over from "The Story of Three Loves" to:
"Fanny" with Charles Boyer carrying over to:
"Love Affair" with Irene Dunne carrying over to:
"The Awful Truth" with Cary Grant carrying over to:
"The Philadelphia Story" with Katharine Hepburn carrying over to:
"Adam's Rib" with Judy Holliday carrying over to:
"Born Yesterday" with William Holden carrying over to:
"Sabrina" (1954) with Humphrey Bogart carrying over to:
"Casablanca" with Paul Henreid carrying over to:
"Now, Voyager" with Bette Davis carrying over to:
"Jezebel" with Donald Crisp carrying over to: 
"Wuthering Heights" with Merle Oberon carrying over to:

Classics all, I'm sure, but I'm only going 5 for 12 here - I saw "The Awful Truth" last year as part of my Cary Grant chain, and I'd tackled "The Philadelphia Story", "Adam's Rib", "Casablanca" and "Now, Voyager" previously.  I watched the remake of "Sabrina" last year, so I'm less inclined to record the original, and "Wuthering Heights" is another one of those classics I feel I should watch at some point, but my schedule's already packed with Jane Austen, so I'm not going to tackle any Bronte sisters' works right now.  This brings my totals up to 50 films seen, 107 unseen, with 4 added to the list.

THE PLOT:  Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.

AFTER: This whole week's really been about the struggles of maintaining monogamy - going back to "St. Elmo's Fire", at least, where Judd Nelson's character lives with a woman but sleeps around, then in "About Last Night" and "He Said, She Said" couples tried to make a go of it, but there was always a boss or an ex-girlfriend hanging around, making things difficult.  In "Twice Upon a Yesterday", both lead characters had affairs, just in different timelines, and even in "She's Having a Baby", both sides of the married couple faced temptations.  I get it, Hollywood, you think that one-on-one relationships are too simple, too boring - there's not enough conflict for a movie.  

That trend continues here, as Amy's character (also called Amy) starts the film with a steady boyfriend who assumes they're both being monogamous, only to find out he's only half right.  Turns out women can play the field, too, which I suppose constitutes progress of a sort - but is that really what the fight for equal rights was all about?   (Geez, you go and give women the right to vote, and they just keep wanting more...)  

But the trend of showing women engaging in "Bad Behavior" really kicked off with "Bridesmaids", as women eventually have to learn, as men once did, to put aside their roaming around in order to try and have a real, adult relationship.  That's the implication here, as men seem more capable of monogamy than women - so they've flipped the script.  And it's OK now for women to be seen drinking heavily and doing drugs, so again - progress?

So it's not your typical romantic comedy, and it has the added benefit of reminding you how awkward and humiliating the dating scene is, which you'll commiserate with if you're part of it, but if you're in a long-term relationship, it will make you glad that you're not putting yourself out there.  Since my wife and I are about to celebrate our 20th Valentine's Day together (wait, that can't be right - no, the math checks out) I'm firmly in the second camp.  

I get that people may say, "Oh, this has an unlikeable lead character" because she drinks, curses, has a lot of sex and has a tendency to sabotage her relationships.  The way I see it, the character is like these stray cats in my backyard - there are four of them and I feed them once a day, on the weekends I'll let them come inside and eat from bowls on the kitchen floor, but even though it's freezing cold outside, as soon as they're done eating, they run back outside.  I'd love to adopt one or more of them, but they just don't trust me enough, they'd rather return to the backyard, because that's the environment that they know.  In the same way, Amy has a long history of one-night stands, and they're awkward and uncomfortable but they give her what she needs, and that's the environment she knows.  When she's got the opportunity to have a long-term, stable adult relationship, the sabotage comes because in some ways, she wants to return to the known and doesn't yet trust the unknown.

I think the depiction of magazine writing is probably way off-base in several ways, like I think there's probably a rule against sleeping with the person you're writing a magazine article about, and I would imagine that if one magazine paid you to write an article and then didn't run it, you most likely could not submit that article to a different magazine's editor.  But at least when she leaves the employ of the horrible click-bait men's magazine, it's a step in the right direction, like personal growth from making a choice to stop doing destructive things and start doing things right, and the job change therefore mirrors the change in her attitude toward relationships. 

There are a ton of cameos here, mostly from the world of SNL/stand-up comedy but also from the sports world, and unlike "She's Having a Baby", they gave most of those people something to do.  Of course, I'm much more in touch with the comedy world than the sports, I really couldn't pick Tony Romo or Amar'e Stoudemire out of a line-up.  I'm being told that some of these are football players and some play basketball, it turns out we've got an NBA team here in town, the Canucks or something, who knew?  Though I'm not sure why the team name is a nickname for Canadians - the team must have moved here from Toronto or something.  

Also starring Amy Schumer (last seen in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"), Bill Hader (last heard in "Turbo"), Brie Larson (last seen in "21 Jump Street"), Tilda Swinton (last seen in "Moonrise Kingdom"), Colin Quinn (last seen in "Grown Ups 2"), Jon Cena (last seen in "Ready to Rumble"), LeBron James, Vanessa Bayer (last heard in "Despicable Me 2"), Randall Park (last seen in "Neighbors"), Jon Glaser, Mike Birbiglia (last seen in "Cedar Rapids"), Ezra Miller (last seen in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"), Norman Lloyd, with cameos from Dave Attell, Daniel Radcliffe (last seen in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"), Marisa Tomei (last seen in "Four Rooms"), Pete Davidson, Tim Meadows (also last seen in "Grown Ups 2"), Method Man, Tony Romo, Amar'e Stoudemire, Marv Albert, Chris Evert, Leslie Jones. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 snowglobes

Friday, February 12, 2016

Twice Upon a Yesterday

Year 8, Day 43 - 2/12/16 - Movie #2,244

BEFORE: I'm not able to recognize every holiday here at the Movie Year, and February is more packed with holidays than you think.  By choosing to focus on Valentine's Day, I usually miss President's Day, Black History Month, Groundhog Day, and Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday.  OK, I could make the case that by showcasing films with relationship "sins" like affairs, that's a bit of a nod to the penance associated with Ash Wednesday, but that seems like a bit of a stretch.  But here's a film that features the Carnivale-like nature of Mardi Gras, along with the time-loop nature of the film "Groundhog Day", so I feel like I'm covering a few bases here.

I vowed last year to get to the 6 films about time-travel that are on my list, but between Halloween and Christmas-themed programming, I just ran out of slots.  So, as a sign of good faith that I intend to get to them in 2016, I'm working two of them in to the romance chain.  The fact that Elizabeth McGovern carries over from "She's Having a Baby" just shows me that I'm on the right track in doing this.

Getting really close to Valentine's Day now - here's the TCM Oscar-themed line-up for Feb. 13:

Richard Gere carries over from "Bloodbrothers" to:
"Days of Heaven" with Robert Wilke carrying over to:
"The Magnificent Seven" with James Coburn carrying over to:
"The Americanization of Emily" with Keenan Wynn carrying over to:
"Best Friends" with Burt Reynolds carrying over to:
"Hooper" with Sally Field carrying over to:
"Steel Magnolias" with Shirley MacLaine carrying over to:
"Being There" with Peter Sellers carrying over to:
"Lolita" with James Mason carrying over to:
"The Story of Three Loves"

I've seen three of these, "The Magnificent Seven", "Being There" and "Lolita", and I'm going to record two more - "Best Friends" and Hooper".   This might be a little surprising, considering I've passed on classic films with great reputations, like "Madame Bovary" and "The Life of Emile Zola", but I've got a Burt Reynolds marathon coming up later this year, and this will help extend that to be at least 11 films long.  (Happy 80th birthday, Burt - I may be a day late, but it looks like TCM will miss it by 2 days!)   

Now I'm at 45 seen, 100 unseen, with 4 added to the list.

THE PLOT:  An out-of-work actor, desperate to win back the affections of his ex-girlfriend, unexpectedly stumbles upon a way to turn back the clock.

AFTER: Apparently this film was first released as "The Man With Rain in His Shoes", which is a terrible title.  In some countries it was titled "If Only..." which I suppose is slightly better.

As for tie-ins, there is a depiction of the Carnivale celebration in the Notting Hill section of London, but apparently there they celebrate it in August, and not February.  Go figure.  But hey, the recent news from the world of science tells us that gravitational waves do exist, and if they're strong enough, they're able to distort space-time.  So apparently "Interstellar" got something right, and with enough gravity, even time is not a constant.  Umm, I think.  My brain goes a little fuzzy trying to understand the space-time continuum.

But fuzzy time is what's at play here in "Twice Upon a Yesterday".  A British man, depressed and drunk after breaking up with his girlfriend, accidentally gets a chance to travel back in time a few months (?) and do things differently.  This time, instead of admitting that he cheated on her, he breaks up with the other girlfriend first so that he can answer the question honestly, and say "I'm not seeing anyone else right now."  Which is technically a true statement, however it's phrased very carefully to cover a lie of omission.

Look, I understand that many people would love to have a chance to go back in time.  And based on what I saw in the film "Lost Christmas" last December, it seems like the London area provides the perfect setting for this sort of magical time-travel, with the help of bartenders, a few trash collectors and possibly an orange umbrella (the film is a little light on the mechanism of the time-travel...)  After all, London's this odd mix of the modern and the Victorian, so it just comes off as a place that exists outside of time.

But what's the message here?  That a man caught cheating is better off lying about it than telling the truth?  Well, OK that seems a little obvious, but here it's quite literal - when he admits to the affair, his girlfriend dumps him and marries another man.  But given the chance to go back and do things differently, maintaining the lie seems to be the recommended course of action, and our hero's life is made better for it, at least in the short term.

Of course, given the chance for a re-do, the average person would be able to avoid the mistakes he made the first time, and instead be granted the chance to make all new mistakes.  Because that's what happens, we're only human, and anyway, he only gets to fix ONE mistake.  Fixing that turns out to have other implications, perhaps the relationship was just never meant to be, perhaps it had just run its course and was scheduled to end in a different way.

Or, there's the possibility that both characters needed to go through different things, and both needed to be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn.  However, even if I concede on this point, it still seems like people are being rewarded for doing things wrong.  Wouldn't it make more sense to just do things correctly the first time, to be conscious that their actions have repercussions, and that in order for someone to be happy over here, chances are that's going to make someone else happy over there?

And even though this film doesn't depict the traditional sci-fi form of time travel, like with a big machine with flashing lights and spinning wheels, it does raise questions about tampering with the timeline.  How do you know that fixing one thing isn't going to make things much worse in the long run, which is a variation on the "Butterfly Effect"?   And once you start messing with the timeline, how do you know when to stop?  How satisfied do you need to be with the changes, or does it just lead you down an endless pathway of continual attempts at self-improvement?

Also starring Douglas Henshall (last seen in "The Eagle"), Lena Headey (last seen in "300: Rise of an Empire"), Mark Strong (last seen in "The Imitation Game"), Penelope Cruz (last seen in "Bandidas"), Charlotte Coleman, Gustavo Salmeron, Antonio Gil (last seen in "The Merchant of Venice"), Inday Ba, Paul Popplewell, with a cameo from Caprice Bourret.

RATING: 5 out of 10 spilled drinks

Thursday, February 11, 2016

She's Having a Baby

Year 8, Day 42 - 2/11/16 - Movie #2,243

BEFORE: Kevin Bacon carries over from "He Said, She Said", and I'm wrapping up the John Hughes-related "Brat Pack" romantic films of the 80's.  To celebrate, I had dinner last night at Barcade, surrounded by many of the console video-games of that period.  A couple of beers, a pork belly meatloaf sandwich, and a few games of Q-Bert and that really cool Star Wars Trilogy game that I could never quite get the hang of.  

Here's the TCM line-up for tomorrow, February 12: 

Joseph Schildkraut carries over from "The Man in the Iron Mask" to:
"Viva, Villa!" with Fay Wray carrying over to:
"The Richest Girl in the World" with Miriam Hopkins carrying over to:
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1932) with Halliwell Hobbes carrying over to:
"That Forsyte Woman" with Errol Flynn carrying over to:
"The Adventures of Don Juan" with Helen Westcott carrying over to:
"The Gunfighter" with Gregory Peck carrying over to:
"Marooned" with George Gaynes carrying over to:
"Tootsie" with Dustin Hoffman carrying over to:
"Kramer vs. Kramer" with Meryl Streep carrying over to:
"The Deer Hunter" with Robert De Niro carrying over to:
"Goodfellas" with Paul Sorvino carrying over to:

Another four that I've already seen, namely "Tootsie" and the three after it.  It looks like they've started a bit of Valentine's Day programming, too (TCM just keeps copying ideas from me...) with "Tootsie" and the relationship-based "Kramer vs. Kramer".  Now I'm at 42 seen, 96 unseen, with 2 added to the list.

They've got more romances coming up this weekend, so it's especially impressive that their schedule can: 1) maintain a linked chain for the whole month 2) use a different actor as a link each time - no repeats! and 3) pay respect to Valentine's Day.  I gotta give it up for whoever's planning their films.  (Geez, how many times have I repeated myself, and used Kevin Bacon as a link?  I'm such an amateur.)

THE PLOT:  A look at the lives of Jake and Kristy Briggs, from their wedding day until the birth of their first child.

AFTER: When you get right down to it, John Hughes didn't direct that many films, just eight (and that includes "Uncle Buck" and "Curly Sue").  But he wrote a lot more, like "Home Alone" and "Pretty in Pink" and "National Lampoon's Vacation".  And in the later years, he wrote several films under the name Edmond Dantes, in a nod to "The Count of Monte Cristo" - one of those is coming up later this month.  But nobody captured the spirit of the 1980's better, or became more synonymous with this type of popular, inoffensive "coming of age" film.  

I've spotted a weird trend of people having sleep problems - "Betsy's Wedding" opened with Alan Alda having a nightmare about a tiger (they never did explain that one...) and both characters in "He Said, She Said" had trouble sleeping, sleepwalking and even wanting cheesecake.  Tonight Kevin Bacon's character has dreams where he's seduced by his fantasy girl.  But, do we ever really think he's going to cheat on Kristy?  Do we really think Kristy's going to sleep with Jake's best friend?  Nah...

The problem here, and it's probably all too easy a trap for a screenwriter to fall into, is that I didn't pick up on any reason why Jake and Kristy were in love in the first place, it's just sort of a given.  What brought them together, other than listening to Boston's "More Than a Feeling"?  You can't base a relationship on that.  OK, so the film is really about a couple becoming adults, getting jobs, buying a house and then trying to please their parents, but couldn't they have worked in a little something about what it means for two people to care about each other?  Besides just not sleeping with other people, that is. 

Instead all we get are montages of them painting various rooms in the house, trying to decide where the furniture should go, opening baby shower gifts, etc.  Then later there's the montage of getting dressed while pregnant, watching her belly grow, but this is all just surface-level stuff.  What's going on in their heads, besides fantasies?

As a result, this is mostly generic material for a film - even the title, which is just so basic.  Thank god that SHE'S having a baby, because if HE were having a baby, that would lead to all kinds of problems. 

I will say that even though Jake became a writer, and even though he wrote a manuscript with the same title as the film (ugh...) at least I wasn't tortured by long scenes of him typing, or worse, sitting in front of a typewriter, staring at a blank page.   

And what we can conclude from this film, especially from the end credits where some notable actors appear as their characters from other John Hughes films, is that all of his films are clearly set in the same universe, like Kevin Smith's films are.  The Hugh-niverse, if you will.  If you remember that Kevin Bacon had a cameo in the film "Planes, Trains & Automobiles", where he fights over a taxi with Steve Martin's character.  Later in that film, you can hear Bacon's character fighting with his wife, which is the same fight shown in this film, so it's all connected, man...

Also starring Elizabeth McGovern (last seen in "Kick-Ass"), Alec Baldwin (last seen in "Notting Hill"), Holland Taylor (last seen in "The Wedding Date"), William Windom (last seen in "True Crime"), Cathryn Damon, Paul Gleason (last seen in "Miami Blues"), Dennis Dugan (last seen in "Big Daddy"), Bill Erwin (last seen in "Under the Yum Yum Tree"), John Ashton, Larry Hankin, with cameos from Edie McClurg (last heard in "The Little Mermaid"), Lili Taylor (last seen in "Four Rooms"), Gail O'Grady, Kirstie Alley, Harry Anderson (last seen in "It"), Dan Aykroyd (last seen in "Get On Up"), Matthew Broderick (last seen in "New Year's Eve"), John Candy (last seen in "Volunteers"), Dyan Cannon (last seen in "Deathtrap"), Belinda Carlisle, Stewart Copeland, Ted Danson (last seen in "Ted"), Woody Harrelson (last seen in "Zombieland"), Robert Hays (last seen in "Cat's Eye"), Amy Irving (last seen in "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"), Magic Johnson, Michael Keaton (last seen in "White Noise"), Joanna Kerns, Elias Koteas (last seen in "Novocaine"), Penny Marshall (last seen in "The Hard Way"), Bill Murray (also last seen in "Zombieland"), Olivia Newton-John, Roy Orbison, Cindy Pickett, Bronson Pinchot, Annie Potts (last seen in "Pretty in Pink"), John Ratzenberger (last seen in "A Bridge Too Far"), Ally Sheedy (last seen in "St. Elmo's Fire"), Wil Wheaton and Warren Zevon.

RATING: 4 out of 10 baby name suggestions

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

He Said, She Said

Year 8, Day 41 - 2/10/16 - Movie #2,242

BEFORE: Now I'm really getting into the basics of this whole "Battle of the Sexes" thing, as tonight it appears to be quite literal.  Elizabeth Perkins carries over from "About Last Night..." and I bet you can probably guess who'll be carrying over to tomorrow's film.

Now here's the TCM line-up for tomorrow, February 11.  Seems like a bit of an "off day":

Adolphe Menjou carries over from "Step Lively" to:
"A Farewell to Arms" (1932) with Gilbert Emery carrying over to:
"The Life of Emile Zola" with Gale Sondergaard carrying over to:
"The Letter" (1940) with Herbert Marshall carrying over to:
"The Letter" (1929) with Reginald Owen carrying over to:
"The Great Ziegfeld" with Herman Bing carrying over to:
"Maytime" with Rafela Ottiano carrying over to:
"She Done Him Wrong" with Louise Beavers carrying over to:
"Imitation of Life" with Warren William carrying over to:
"The Gold Diggers of 1933" with Ginger Rogers carrying over to:
"Top Hat" with Eric Blore carrying over to:
"The Moon and Sixpence" with George Sanders carrying over to:

"The Son of Monte Cristo" with Joan Bennett carrying over to:
"The Man in the Iron Mask" (1939)

Damn, and I was doing so well up until this point, staying just under the 50% mark, when you compare what I've seen to what I haven't.  Though I guess I was fooling myself with the numbers - just because the number of seen films was half the number of the unseen ilms, that doesn't mean I've seen half of all the films being shown - in fact it means I've only seen about a third.  Out of today's 13 films, I've only seen one, "She Done Him Wrong".  So my stats are going to plummet now, down to 38 seen, 88 unseen, with 2 added to the list.  

I probably should record "Top Hat", I've been remiss in watching the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - but maybe I should wait for TCM to run a bunch of them in a row, and you know they will.  Recording one film by itself, even if it's one of their best, doesn't do me much good in the long run.  Now, speaking of couples dancing around each other...      

THE PLOT: A television producer gives two journalists working in the same office their own program where they can give their opposing views on various issues.

AFTER: It was brought to my attention yesterday that sometimes married people, especially people who have been married for a while, tend to be a little judgmental when it comes to giving out advice to single people.  Some of them act like they've got it all figured out, when in fact nobody does.  I try not to be that type of person, but I was reminded of this fact from an anecdote told about someone else, who was married for a long time, but then got divorced.  I've been through that myself, it can be a humbling experience, and that's why I don't claim to have all the answers, and why I try not to advise people directly on relationship matters.  

For fictional couples, however, all bets are off.  I can easily pull out a NITPICK POINT if I see someone in a movie acting in a way that they shouldn't, pulling one of those relationship "no-nos" like having sex on the first date or moving in together before working out some of their major issues. 

But I don't see relationships as a "battle" between men and women thinking differently, I think it's always about two people who think differently, because any two people could think differently.  Because if you're always going to divide it along gender lines, then logically you could conclude that gay couples never fight or disagree, and I don't believe that's a correct assumption.  But for people who date a lot of people, or who practice "serial monogamy" with several people over time, I think there's always going to be a relationship based on reactions, naturally each partner's going to be different in some ways from the last one.  People in long-term relationships do have things a little easier, I believe, only because once they get on the same page with someone, things based on little differences do sort of smooth themselves out, provided both partners are willing. 

What makes it quite difficult to analyze the relationship in this film, however, is the fact that we're shown many of the significant events twice, once from Dan's perspective and then again from Lorie's.  And there are differences - I don't watch that cable show "The Affair", but I read about it using a similar contrivance.  Unfortunately, by the end I didn't really know which portrayal was more accurate, so I'm left not really knowing how to feel about things, or whose fault any relationship missteps might be.  

Also confusing things was the fact that the narrative jumps around in time quite liberally, even her flashback scenes, which are supposed to clarify his earlier flashback scenes, jump around between the period where the two people were single newspaper columnists, the time-frame after they moved in together and appeared on TV, and the time-frame after they broke up due to various differences and mis-communications.  (Umm, I think.)  Apparently I was supposed to pay attention to the bandage on Kevin Bacon's head - any scene with the bandage was happening in the "present" while any scene without it was set in the "past".  Yeah, that helps only to a point, everything still has to be assembled in order inside an audience members mind - it's a DIY timeline.

I'll admit that I didn't help matters by falling asleep at the mid-point of the film, for about two hours.  The rules of the project state that if this happens, when I wake up I make one last attempt at finishing the film, but if I fall asleep again I have to either finish the film after work or take a mulligan for the day.  So this one might be my fault, when I watched the second half of the film, her remembered version of events, it was difficult for me to remember his spin on things, because I had a two-hour nap in-between. 

NITPICK POINT: Late in the film, it's stated that our young lovers can no longer stand to be in the same studio, so their opinion segments are taped separately.  So he records first, but then when she gives her opinion, we see a number of people out in the world watching it in real time, as if it's being broadcast live.  So, were the segments taped, or not?  Why would they tape one half of the show and then do the other half live, which would only allow for unforeseen results?  If the two segments are going to be edited together to create the illusion that the two people are sitting next to each other, it makes much more sense to tape both of them and then at least there's a safety net of the controlled edit.

Also starring Kevin Bacon (last seen in "Flatliners"), Nathan Lane (last seen in "Nicholas Nickelby"), Sharon Stone (last seen in "Stardust Memories"), Anthony LaPaglia (last seen in "Betsy's Wedding"), Stanley Anderson, Steven Gilborn, Charlayne Woodard, Rita Karin, with cameos from Erika Alexander, Phil Leeds, John Tesh and Leeza Gibbons.

RATING: 4 out of 10 Caesar salads

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

About Last Night...

Year 8, Day 40 - 2/9/16 - Movie #2,241

BEFORE: Two actors carry over from "St. Elmo's Fire" - Rob Lowe and Demi Moore.  So even though I don't have a copy of this one handy, I'm going to watch it today on Amazon on Demand, because it will also provide me with a direct link to tomorrow's film.  I'm trying to avoid streaming too many films, because that usually means I'm watching a film that wasn't on the watchlist (that list represents what I already have, right now, in the collection that hasn't been viewed) so it means another day with no progress made in reducing the size of the list.  Another day where I can't add a new film, because I didn't remove one. 

I'm almost 1/3 of the way into February, and I'm just now getting into the sort of "Battle of the Sexes" material that may start to yield some universal insight.  I guess I started the month with some rather lightweight fare, and I've eased myself into it.  But more weighty subject matter is definitely on the way.

Here's the TCM line-up for tomorrow, February 10, day 10 of "31 Days of Oscar":

Vivien Leigh carries over from "That Hamilton Woman" to:
"The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone", with Bessie Love carrying over to:
"The Broadway Melody" with Anita Page carrying over to:
"Our Dancing Daughters" with Joan Crawford carrying over to:
"Mannequin" (1938) with Ralph Morgan carrying over to: 
"General Spanky" with Robert Middlemass carrying over to:
"Cain and Mabel" with Sammy White carrying over to:
"Pat and Mike" with Charles Bronson carrying over to:
"The Great Escape" with Steve McQueen carrying over to:
"Bullitt" with Vic Tayback carrying over to:
"Papillon" with George Coulouris carrying over to:
"This Land Is Mine" with Walter Slezak carrying over to:
"Step Lively".

There's another nice chain of four films in there that I've seen - "Pat and Mike", "The Great Escape", "Bullitt" and "Papillon".  "The Great Escape" is one of my all-time faves, if I see that it's running, I almost have to watch it, and then the next three hours are bound to be rather unproductive.  It's got one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, not just Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson but also James Garner, Richard Attenborough, David McCallum, James Coburn, and Donald Pleasance, and every character is important in their own way.  So try and catch that one tomorrow, especially if you've never seen it before. 

My cumulative score for "31 Days of Oscar" so far is: 37 seen, 76 unseen, plus 2 added to the list.

THE PLOT:  A man and woman meet and try to have a romantic affair, despite their personal problems and the interference of their disapproving friends.

AFTER:  Well, we had the "St. Elmo's Bar" last night, and tonight everyone drinks in a Chicago bar named "Mother Malone's" or simply "Mother's", which just proves that screenwriters should not be in the hospitality business.  Those are terrible names for bars - plus one character here dreams of opening his own restaurant, and calling it "City Diner".  What a boring, nondescript name, plus you can't really call a diner that, because as soon as one person gets bad service or a dirty fork they're going to nickname the place "Shitty Diner", and you just know that name's going to stick.  

I spend a fair amount of time thinking up clever restaurant names, and I've got much better possibilities (all are for sale to screenwriters, if the price is right).  I'd love to open up a sandwich shop based on comic-book characters, naturally called "Super Heroes".  Or I'd love to have a place where all of the sandwich names are based on wordplay, called "Pun-era Bread" or perhaps "Au Bon Pun".  How about a soul-food eatery named "Earth, Wind and Fryer"?  Or maybe I'd open up a combination barbecue and pool hall, called "BB-Cue" (or a BBQ joint off the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, called "BBQ-E").  Oh, and I'd love to run a Star Wars-themed restaurant, either called the Mos Eisley Cantina or Dex's Diner (as seen in "Episode II") - I've already got tons of autographed photos of Star Wars actors that could line the walls.  In that case, the restaurant name wouldn't be pun-based, but all of the food items would be - everything from Han-burgers with Darth Tater tots, to R2-choke Dip and Boba Fett-ucini.  Maybe even some Pad-Thai Amidala with a side of Obi-Wan-tons - and for dessert, Wookiee Cookies, Qui Gon Jinn-ger snaps and Chocolate Leia cake.  

But enough about my pipe dreams, let's get to the film.  Some people might be shocked to find out that this is based on a David Mamet play - since it's essentially masquerading as a romantic comedy.  Perhaps it's not as blatantly in his style, such as other films like "Glengarry Glen Ross", "House of Games" or "Wag the Dog".  For one thing, there's a little less cursing, and there also seems to be a somewhat honest attempt to explore the differences between men and women, and not in a misogynistic way.  Well, mostly, anyway.  It's based on the play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago", and it turned out that name didn't play well with newspapers and TV stations in the uptight Midwest.

Like "St. Elmo's Fire", this is another film about white people with white people's problems, but at least it was remade last year with an all-black cast.  So that's something that proves that stories are generally universal.  For the most part, you should be able to change a character's race and retain the essence of the story - so why isn't that done more often? 

I can't really say that I understand the "singles scene" of the 1980's.  I didn't start dating until 1989, not successfully anyway, but I was never really part of the depicted culture of one-night stands and bar hook-ups.  It doesn't seem to be an environment that's conducive to the formation of long-term relationships, so why do these characters seem so surprised and disappointed when their relationships don't last?  Maybe because they were never designed to, when you consider the way that they started.  

Still, the main characters, Danny and Debbie, have a relationship based on great sex, so at least that seems like a good start.  But why is it so wrong for these people to tell each other "I love you"?  Everyone in the film seems to regard this as bad luck or something.  I just don't see how two people get to the stage where they move in together without crossing this emotional threshold first.  Love shouldn't be regarded as a prison sentence, this attitude that as soon as you put yourself out there with the "L" word, you've cut off all of your options, and suddenly you're tied down.  It seems like they want all of the benefits of a loving relationship and they think they can avoid all of the potential negatives by just never defining what they have as "love".  

My rating tonight is not going to be based on the conversations in the film, which honestly are quite unrealistic - I just don't feel that real people talk this way - but rather on the situations, many of which do feel realistic.  I flashed back to the times in my life when I have invited women to live with me (all two of them) and there was sort of an innocent arrogance, a belief that once we made that move, that everything would be OK.  And at least the first time around, there were problems, some similar to those seen in this film, naturally caused by two people trying to share space, work out some kind of schedule for cooking, division of labor, and maintain individual friendships with others.  Then there's always the friction caused by someone staying out too late or the occasional pregnancy scare.   BTDT.  

But we do learn who the REAL winner is in the "Battle of the Sexes".  That's right, it's moving companies.  Think about it - who benefits when couples get together AND when they break up?  

NITPICK POINT: A kindergarten teacher reading a book about the Christian nativity story to her students?  This would never be tolerated if parents found out about it.  Of course, it leads to her comically having to explain to the kids what a "virgin" is - but didn't she realize this was going to come up in the story?  Don't we have a separation of church and state in this country?  Wouldn't there probably be at least one or two Jewish kids in that class, forcing her to re-think her choice of books?  Maybe things are just different in the Midwest, but I figure the Chicago school system would have been more liberal and PC, even in 1986, and likely to err on the side of caution.

Also starring Jim Belushi (last seen in "Return to Me"), Elizabeth Perkins (last seen in "Must Love Dogs"), Megan Mullally (last seen in "Anywhere But Here"), George DiCenzo (last seen in "The Frisco Kid"), Robin Thomas (last seen in "Pacific Rim"), with cameos from Tim Kazurinsky, Catherine Keener (last seen in "The Interpreter").

RATING: 6 out of 10 softball games