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Eagerly anticipating this week (21-18)

Eagerly anticipating this week (21-18)
Gustav Möller's The Guilty/Den Skyldige (2018)

5/24/2018

Frasier - season 3 (1995) - A comedy triumph

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Frasier and Co. return in high spirits on this poster for the third season of David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee's Frasier

In the third season of creators David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee's (Encore! Encore! (1998-99), all) brilliant sitcom Frasier, the dialog bubbles with delightful wit and originality, while we as viewers feel that something often is actually at stake for the series' beloved characters.

In the first episode (She's the Boss), Mercedes Ruhl (Doubt (2013, TV movie)) is introduced as Kate Costas, the refreshing new chief of title lead radio therapist Frasier's (Kelsey Grammer (Boss (2011-12))) workplace, radio station KACL. Following a hot affair with her difficult therapist radio personality employee Frasier, Costas flies away from the station's location in Seattle ten episodes later. 
Maris (still unseen) decides to leave Frasier's beloved psychiatrist brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce (Isn't She Great (2000))), who breaks Ming vases in a rage, stating, hilariously; "I never cared for that dynasty!" (in episode 8: The Last Time I Saw Marris.)
Niles' hibernating fling with his and Frasier's retired cop father Martin's (John Mahoney (The Human Factor (1992), TV-series)) British live-in physical therapist Daphne (Jane Leeves (Room for Romance (1990), TV-series)) moves forward a tiny bit, as they go together to a ball (episode 13: Moon Dance). We meet the woman, Diane, who left Frasier standing by the alter (episode 14: The Show Where Diane Comes Back), and we seem to return to square one when Niles and Maris get back together, (episode 16: Look Before You Leap). 
In the season's last episode (episode 24: You Can Go Home Again), Frasier's radio talkshow celebrates its 3 year anniversary, and the fine subtext of the episode is that family means everything, and (therefore) it can seem awfully depressing.

The major part of the episodes of season 3 ends in utter humiliation for Frasier, whose colossal ego dictates this somehow infinitely satisfying formula.
Besides the magnificent central cast, the season has funny side characters such as Niles' housekeeper Marta (Irene Olga Lopez (The L Word (2006), TV-series)) and KACL's awkward character Noel Shempsky (Patrick Kerr (Domino (2005))), and season 3 features guest calls in Frasier's show from distinguished names such as Matthew Broderick, Carrie Fisher, Ed Harris, Billy Crystal, Ray Liotta, Jodie Foster, David Duchovny and Tony Shalhoub.
Frasier season 3 is a comedy triumph!

Best episodes:

Episode 3: Martin Does It His Way - Written by David Lloyd (Brothers (1984-89)); directed by Philip Charles MacKenzie (My Wife and Kids (2001), TV-series)
Martin writes a song to Frank Sinatra.

Episode 9: Frasier Grinch - Written by Lloyd; directed by MacKenzie
We get to meet Frasier's cute son Frederick for the first time. 

Episode 18: Chess Pains - Written by Rob Greenberg (Bad Haircut (2001), TV movie); directed by Gordon Hunt (Mad about You (1995-99))
A very funny episode in which Martin and Frasier duel in the game of chess, while Niles buys a skinny dog. 

Related post:

David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators): Frasier - season 2 (1994) - Seattle's sitcom power team return, resulting in many more laughs and good times

Frasier - season 1 (1993) - The perfect sitcom arrived




Watch the fabulous dance scene and its complicated aftermath from episode 13: Moon Dance here

Cost: Unknown
Box office: None - TV series
= Uncertain - but certainly a TV hit
[Frasier season 3 was first shown from 19 September 1995 - 21 May 1996 on NBC, and it spans 24 episodes of an average 22 minutes, totaling approximately 528 minutes. Shooting took place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, with establishing shots from Seattle, Washington. The series' cost grew during its run, and the cost per episode at its closure after 11 seasons was reportedly 5.2 mil. $ (124.8 mil. $ for the 24 episodes), of which 60 % went to its regular stars, of which Grammer commanded an impressive 1.6 mil. $ (amounting to 38.4 mil. $ for the season). Still, with syndication, foreign sales, home video etc., the series was likely a great asset for NBC. The season's rating's lowest (episode 23: The Focus Group) was 24.3 mil. US viewers and its highest (episode 16: Look Before You Leap) was 34.8 mil.. The season climbed its Nielsen ratings ranking from season 2's #15 ranking to #11, closer to the first season's sensational #7 ranking. The season won 2/7 Emmys, 1/3 Golden Globes and many other honors. The fourth season started showing in September 1996. Grammer at the time also starred in comedy Down Periscope (1996) and in TV movie London Suite (1996). 62,485 IMDb users have given Frasier an 8.0/10 average rating.]


What do you think of Frasier's second season?

5/22/2018

Family (2001, documentary) - An intimate personal search for roots powerfully captured

♥♥♥♥♥

A DVD cover for Phie Ambo and Sami Saif's Family shows a man raising from the sea in a cry

Filmed by his girlfriend, this is the story of Sami Saif's search for his roots; first and foremost his father, who left his family in Denmark, when Sami was 8 years old, after which his mother fell waste to alcoholism and his brother committed suicide.

Family portrays an exciting journey and is made by Phie Ambo (Free the Mind (2012), documentary) and her partner Sami Saif (Paradis (2009), documentary). It is rife with emotions, and it becomes especially meaningful, when Saif meets his big brother in Yemen. But as Saif and at least I as a Danish viewer realized; he is a Dane, mostly, although the physical similarities with his Arabian family are striking.
Family is a liberating and extremely fine documentary of personal, highly intimate exploration.





In lieu of anything related to this documentary, which is not immediately to be found at Youtube, here is a trailer for a later documentary by Ambo called Free the Mind

Cost: Unknown
Box office: Unknown
= Unknown (but appears to have been a theatrical flop)
[Family premiered 9 November (Denmark) and runs 90 minutes. The film sold 2,346 tickets in its production country Denmark. It was shown at a handful of European and North-American film festivals and also had a general release in the Netherlands. There is nothing to indicate that it could possibly be anything but a theatrical flop of some sort. It won an AFI Fest award, a Bodil award nomination and a Robert award (Denmark's Oscar) for Best Documentary. Ambo returned with documentary short Growing Up in a Day (2002) and theatrically with Nicolas Winding Refn bio-documentary Gambler (2006). Saif returned with documentary Dogville Confessions (2003). 166 IMDb users have given Family a 7.6/10 average rating.]

What do you think of Family?

5/19/2018

Fitzcarraldo (1982) - Herzog's mad Amazonian opera monument

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A colorful, chaotic poster for Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, which captures the heightened fever dream sensation that the film portrays

Don Fitzcarraldo is an Irishman in Peru early in the 20th century, a man with a plan: The jungle around the continent's Amazon river need an opera! Here his great hero, Enrico Caruso is meant to give a concert.

Fitzcarraldo is the 9th feature from great German writer-director Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn (2006)), based on real-life Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald.
Klaus Kinski (Heroes in Hell/Eroi all'Inferno (1974)) shines with madness in the title role and stands out as a prototype of the crazy but visionary, morally unscrupulous imperialist. As fascinating, intriguing and charismatic as Fitzarraldo is, as deeply repelling and obviously amoral (rainforest was chopped down and indigenous peoples exploited for his megalomanic project) is he at the same time.
Claudia Cardinale (La Révolution Française (1989)) is surprisingly good as Fitzcarraldo's German brothel owner lover and madwoman. - Kinski's Fitzcarraldo also seems very German, but his announced Irish heritage really doesn't seem too important at all. The last half hour of the film drags in my opinion, which is my only real complaint against it.
Spite and the baffling extremes of human endeavor radiate from the fantastic images (cinematography by Thomas Mauch (Die Hitlerkantate (2005))) down the mighty river and up the jungle mountain, where Fitzcarraldo orders his colossal steamship to be pulled with robes. Just about everyone in this deeply perplexing film seem mad.
Fitzcarraldo stands as a cinematic monument over the destruction that lies behind the development of Western civilisation.

Related posts:

Werner HerzogJack Reacher (2012) - Highly entertaining, dark hero-vehicle for Tom Cruise (supporting actor) 

2010 in films and TV-series - according to Film Excess [UPDATED I] 
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010) - Herzog and Vasyukov invite us to meet a remote, tough Siberian people 
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans/Bad Lieutenant (2009) or, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant

Cobra Verde/Slave Coast (1987) - Herzog and Kinski's final work delves into the madness of slavery   

Even Dwarfs Started Small/Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen (1970) - Herzog teases us to react with uniquely odd experimental drama







Watch a trailer for the film here



Cost: 14 mil. DM
Box office: Unknown
= Unknown
[Fitzcarraldo was released 4 March (West Germany) and runs 157 minutes. The production of the film has become cinema folklore; it is chronicled a bit in Herzog's autobiographical Portrait Werner Herzog (1986), in his Klaus Kinski documentary My Best Fiend (1999) and in most depth in Les Blank's terrific behind-the-scenes documentary Burden of Dreams (1982). Jack Nicholson was thrilled with the script but wanted too much money to play the lead. Herzog then shot roughly 40 % of the film with Jason Robards in the title role and Mick Jagger as a later deleted character. Robards contracted dysentery and was told by his doctor to not return to film in the Amazon. Herzog also inspired anger from the many jungle Indians hired to the production, who burnt down the set in December 1979. Recasting the lead with Kinski, whom Herzog feared would go bananas in the jungle, the film was reshot from scratch. Shooting took place from January - November 1981 in Brazil and Peru. A Catholic priest urged Herzog to hire prostitutes for the men to keep them calm during the production, which was done. Herzog insisted that the 320 ton steamship be pulled over the mountain manually and named himself the 'Conquistador of the Useless'. Cinematographer Mauch's hand was split open during filming of this, and he suffered through a 2½ hour operation without anesthetics. During a scavenger attack on the film camp by the tribespeople, a woman was shot in her abdomen with an arrow. Herzog assisted in the 8-hour emergency surgery and subsequently decided against a revenge attack. Filming of the ship's going through the river rapids was also dangerous, and 6 besides Herzog volunteered for the shoot, of which three were harmed in the mission. The film mixes footage from this endeavor with a miniature ship model shot in a studio. Kinski threw tantrums regularly on the set, screamed and even attacked people, it is said. One famous anecdote is that Herzog was offered by one of the Indians that they would kill Kinski for him, as they hated the actor vehemently. - Herzog declined the offer, as he needed his film in the can. Roger Ebert gave the film a 4/4 star review, equal to a notch better than this review. The film was West Germany's Oscar entry but was not nominated. It was nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and won Herzog the Best Director prize in Cannes as well as 1/2 German Film Award nominations. Herzog was also accused of exploiting the indigenous tribespeople for his film; upwards of 1,000 of them worked on the film for about 2 $ a day under poor conditions, (which Herzog claimed were worse for them, when they were not working on his film.) Herzog returned with Where the Green Ants Dream/Wo die Grünen Ameisen Träumen (1984). Kinski returned in The Soldier (1982); Cardinale in Bankers Also Have Souls/Le Cadeau (1982). Fitzcarraldo is fresh at 77 % with a 7.4 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Fitzcarraldo?

5/18/2018

Frasier - season 2 (1994) - Seattle's sitcom power team return, resulting in many more laughs and good times

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Your favorite TV family, the Cranes, return under a black umbrella on this poster for David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee's Frasier season 2

Frasier season 2 follows the masterpiece first season of David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (Wings (1990-97), all).
The second season paddles around in the same waters that were stirred up during the first 24 episodes. Some new corners of the lake are explored here and there, but nothing really changes for our leads, despite psychiatrist Niles Crane's (David Hyde Pierce (Wet Hot American Summer (2001))) verbalized wish for an affair with his father Martin's (John Mahoney's (Tracey Walks On... (1997), TV-series)) live-in physical therapist Daphne (Jane Leeves (Phineas and Ferb (2009-13))), which doesn't go anywhere, even as Niles' wife Maris (who, amusingly, remains unseen) has an affair with her fencing instructor (in episode 21, An Affair to Forget.) I find it a little sluggish - for a considerable 24-episode season - and I find that as viewers of this terrific sitcom, we'd like to see a bit of development. Also, some of Niles' Daphne-jokes get to be a little wearying. 
The series' protagonist, Seattle's top radio therapist Frasier's (Kelsey Grammer (Modern Family (2017), TV-series)) son Frederick could have been a welcome break, if he was introduced, but - perhaps symptomatic for the yuppie shrink, - the son is wholly absent.
The season nevertheless still has so many bright moments and great episodes (see the long list of them below here) that the series continues as an absolute hit in its second run, wherein Frasier again and again makes a fool of himself on and off the air.
Episode 12 (Roz in the Doghouse) has a radical style shift with a montage of awful producers that Frasier goes through, as he is attempting to replace his producing partner Roz (Peri Gilpin (Stars in Shorts: No Ordinary Love (2016))).
Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber (2015-16)) turns up in one episode (episode 16: The Show Where Sam Shows Up) as Sam from Cheers (1982-93), the sitcom that Frasier is a spin-of from. Unfortunately the season's last episode is a mediocre round of arguments following Martin's birthday in a Seattle that suffers a power outage.
Guest stars and callers in the second season include James Spader, Lili Tomlin, Sydney Pollack, Art Garfunkel, Kevin Bacon, Macaulay Culkin, Nathan Lane, Tea Leoni, Gary Sinise, John Lithgow, Shelley Duvall and Harriet Sansom Harris (Robot and the Monster (2012), TV-series) as Frasier's agent Bebe, who proves that Frase does have a sex life by getting him into bed.


Best episodes:

Episode 1: Slow Tango in South Seattle - Written by Martin Weiss (8 Simple Rules (2002-04)); directed by James Burrows (Romantically Challenged (2010-11))
The first episode is about the time when  lost his virginity to his piano teacher

Episode 2: The Unkindest Cut of All - Written by Dave Hackel (Wings (1990-93)); directed by Rick Beren (House Rules (1998), TV-series)
Martin's dog Eddie gets neutered, and Niles later gets lost in a Seattle park.

Episode 3: The Matchmaker - Written by Joe Keenan (Out of Practice (2005-06)); directed by Lee
A farcical mix-up episode in which Frasier by a accident dates his new station manager boss Tom!

Episode 5: Duke's, We Hardly Knew Ye - Written by Linda Morris, Vic Rauseo (Roomies (1987), TV-series, both); directed by Burrows
Martin's regular hangout Duke's bar is closing to be torn down, and Daphne hooks up in a park.

Episode 6: The Botched Language of Cranes - Written by Keenan; directed by Lee
Frasier ends up in a storm because of his on-air rant about Seattle's less-than-stellar weather, and columnist Derek Mann is again the nemesis.

Episode 8 and Episode 9: Adventures in Paradise: Part 1 and Part 2 - Written by Ken Levine, David Isaacs (Becker (1999-03), both); directed by Burrows
A two-parter in which Frase's love vacation to Bora Bora is spoiled by the second coming of his icy, bitchy ex-wife Lilith.

Episode 15: You Scratch My Book... - Written by Keenan; directed by Andy Ackerman (Superstore (2016), TV-series)
Frasier falls for a trite psychologist writer and is again forced to choose between his personal and professional integrity - and his animal instincts.

Episode 17: Daphne's Room - Written by Morris, Rauseo; directed by Lee
Daphne is close to leaving the Crane family, because they constantly and unintentionally barge into her room.

Episode 20: Breaking the Ice - Written by Steven Levitan (Stacked (2005-05)); directed by Philip Charles MacKenzie (Normal, Ohio (2000), TV-series)
The Cranes go ice fishing, and Martin, who can be a bit paradoxical with his almost schizophrenic sentimentality, finally says that he loves his sons.

Episode 23: The Innkeepers - Written by David Lloyd (Cheers 1982-93)); directed by Burrows
Frase and Niles open a restaurant called The Happy Brothers (in French, of course), and EVERYTHING goes wrong.

Related post:

David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (creators): Frasier - season 1 (1993) - The perfect sitcom arrived




 Watch a delightful 5 minute clip from episode 23: The Innkeepers here
 
 
Cost: Unknown
Box office: None - TV series
= Uncertain - but certainly a TV hit
[Frasier season 2 was first shown from 20 September 1994 - 23 May 1995 on NBC, and it spans 24 episodes of an average 22 minutes, totaling approximately 528 minutes.
Shooting took place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, with establishing shots from Seattle, Washington. The series' cost grew during its run, and the cost per episode at its closure after 11 seasons was reportedly 5.2 mil. $ (124.8 mil. $ for the 24 episodes), of which 60 % went to its regular stars, of which Grammer commanded an impressive 1.6 mil. $ (amounting to 38.4 mil. $ for the season). Still, with syndication, foreign sales, home video etc., the series was likely a great asset for NBC. The season's rating's lowest were 21.3 mil. US viewers and its highest were 36.4 mil., which was on the show with Danson. The season fell in the Nielsen ratings ranking from the first season's #7 to #15. The season won 5/9 Emmy nominations, was nominated for 4 Golden Globes and many other honors. The third season started showing in September 1995. Grammer at the time also acted in an episode of the TV-series documentary Biography (1995) as George Washington, and voiced a character in the animated short Runaway Brain (1995). 62,444 IMDb users have given the show an 8.0/10 average rating.]


What do you think of Frasier's second season?

5/17/2018

The Fury (1978) - De Palma's telekinetic powers run amuck!

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A mysterious, stressful poster for Brian De Palma's The Fury, which hints at the telepathic powers involved in the plot

Kirk Douglas (A Lovely Way to Die (1968)) plays a father, whose son is kidnapped by a secret governmental department inside the CIA, who want him for his telepathic abilities. With the help of a young woman with a similar talent, Douglas searches for his son.

The Fury is written by John Farris (Dear Dead Delilah (1972)), based on his own same-titled 1976 novel, and directed by great New Jerseyite filmmaker Brian De Palma (Hi, Mom! (1970)), whose 11th feature it is. It is an odd b-film, reminiscent of the better films Carrie (1976), - also by De Palma, - and David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981).
The story wallows in pseudo-science and is weak. John Cassavetes (Machine Gun McCain (1969)) plays a part in The Fury, SPOILER and when he explodes in the ending, the film attains its tentative third ♥ in my assessment. This is no-one's finest hour.

Related posts:

Brian De Palma: Carlito's Way (1993) - De Palma's best gangster movie
Carrie (1976) or, Don't Bully the Strange Girl! 









Watch a short TV teaser for the film here

Cost: 5.5 -7.5 mil. $ (different reports)
Box office: Reportedly 24 mil. $
= Box office success - maybe even a big hit (cost returned 4.3 - 3.2 times)
[The Fury was released 10 March (USA) and runs 118 minutes. De Palma cast Douglas, a major star, because he had felt that his previous telekinesis movie Carrie had suffered at the box office for missing a major star. Shooting took place in Israel and in Los Angeles, California and in Illinois, including Chicago, from July - August 1977. The hotel scene was shot in Chicago's Plymouth Hotel, which would also be used in John Landis' masterpiece The Blues Brothers (1980). Later stars Dennis Franz and Daryl Hannah make their movie debuts in The Fury, and Jim Belushi is an extra. SPOILER The first take of Cassavetes' body exploding wasn't successful, and it took nearly a week to prepare a second take. Roger Ebert gave the film a 3/4 star review, translating to a notch better than this one. De Palma returned with Home Movies (1979), again with Douglas, who returned first in The Villain (1979). Cassavetes returned in Brass Target (1978). The Fury is fresh at 80 % with a 7/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of The Fury?

5/16/2018

Faust/Faust – Eine Deutsche Volkssage (1926) - Murnau's grand, religious, Germanic folktale adaptation

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An original, Gothic-styled, chilling poster for F.W. Murnau's Faust

Faust, an old alchemist, who is attempting to make gold, becomes the object for a bet between God and Satan: Can the devil corrupt Faust, he is entitled to everything!

Faust is written by Gerhart Hauptmann (Der Biberpelz (1971), TV movie) and Hans Kyser (Arabella/Arabella. Der Roman eines Pferdes (1924)), based on the legendary Faust tale and on Johann Wofgang von Goethe's (The Sorcerer's Apprentice/Der Zauberlehrling (1797), poem) same-titled two-part play (1808; 1832), and directed by German master filmmaker F.W. Murnau (Tartuffe/Herr Tartüff (1925)).
As the plague sweeps across his town, Faust welcomes the devil's messenger, Mephisto, - in the grotesquely overacting, menacing figure of Emil Jannings (Husbands or Lovers/Nju - Eine Unverstandene Frau (1924)), - and later he fully enters a pact to reclaim his youth. SPOILER Contrary to the original ending of the myth, God is in the end proved right, because the devil doesn't know of ... Liebe! [love] This provides a fine and moving ending that has a grandeur that matches the rest of the film's.
Faust is impressive because of its striking images, compositions and lighting, (cinematography by Carl Hoffmann (The Girl from Fano/Das Mädchen von Fanö (1941))); its sets, costumes and effects, (among them are Faust and Mephisto's flying on the latter's cape to Italy!), and its iconography, as is also apparent in the photos from the film below.













Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: 2 mil. marks, different sources determine this to have been approximately 0.47 - 0.9 mil. $ at the time
Box office: Unknown
= Uncertain - but reportedly the film recouped only half of its costs in admissions, which would decidedly suggest that it was a huge flop
[Faust was first released 20 September (in Denmark!) and runs 106 minutes, - though running times may vary from version to version, as at least 5 versions of the film have been located. Murnau was not initially meant to direct the film, but after he - with Janning's backup - sought the job, he got it. And due to his success with The Last Laugh/Der Letzte Mann (1924), he was given a reportedly unlimited budget. Kyser's first script was reportedly so disliked by the studio that they hired Hauptmann, whose script was even less liked, and Kyser's was reportedly the one finally used. Filming lasted 6 months in UFA's Berlin studio, where Murnau challenged convention with two cameras filming simultaneously and innovative detail and effects orientation. The details surrounding the film's theatrical performance are not known. Murnau was relocated to Hollywood, when the film came out in Germany, where he was already busy making his first film there, Sunrise/Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927). Jannings returned in The Way of All Flesh (1927), also in Hollywood, now a lost film. Roger Ebert has given Faust a 4/4 review, translating to two notches better than this one. A version of the film has entered the public domain and can be seen and downloaded free and legally here. Faust is fresh at 94 % with an 8.4/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Faust?

5/15/2018

Frasier - season 1 (1993) - The perfect sitcom arrived

♥♥♥♥

The Seattle skyline and the five leads - and dog Eddie - make up this poster for the first season of Davig Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee's Frasier

Frasier was created for NBC by David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee (Wings (1990-97), all). It might be the most perfect first season of a sit-com ever made.
It is solid right off the bat; the first episode presents the central characters with the series' signature title cards presenting them, ('the son', 'the father' etc.)

Successful psychiatrist Frasier (Kelsey Grammer (Partners (2014), TV-series))) has moved from Boston to Seattle after a divorce, which removes him from his son Fredrick. He is setting himself up as the city's top radio therapist and rekindles his friendly but also deeply competitive relationship with his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce (The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1999))), also a psychiatrist with a successful private practice. But as the two Crane brothers' father, widower Martin's (John Mahoney (The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000))) health is declining, Frasier allows his old man, - naturally his complete counterpart in terms of lifestyle and preferences, - to move into his swanky new penthouse apartment.
From here on their father-son relationship is put to the test: Martin's Easy-chair and smart dog Eddie are a great nuisance to perfectionist Frasier, whereas Martin's residential, British physical therapist Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves (Garfield 2 (2006))) is mostly a joy to have around, - although mostly to frequent visitor Niles, who quickly falls for her completely and courts her more and more openly, who never realizes this, (despite her claims to have psychic abilities.)
Niles, who is married to upper class mansion-owner Maris, (whom we never see, which is a funny ploy, and whom Frasier at one point describes as "like the sun, but without the warmth"), admits late in the season that he isn't happy, and that he longs for an affair with Daphne.
At work Frasier is partnered with his radio show producer Roz Doyle (played with feisty likability by Peri Gilpin (Occupy, Texas (2016)), and we are introduced to other radio station characters such as Bulldog Briscoe (Dan Butler (Hey Arnold! (1997-04)) is supremely energetic), Gil Chesterton and Chopper Dave; and each episode has celebrities making the listener calls to Frasier. - First season includes calls from names such as Jeff Daniels, Jay Leno, Mel Brooks, Ben Stiller, Piper Laurie, Henry Mancini, Elijah Woods, Malcolm McDowell, Reba McEntire, Mary Tyler Moore and Tommy Hilfiger. These radio 'sessions' of Frasier's are almost always failed attempts at telephonic therapy - and usually hilarious. Roz is a notorious man-eater, while Frasier is lonely and mostly alone: He has a relapse with his ex-wife Lilith, but otherwise little action romance-wise in season 1.
When Martin strikes up a short-lived relationship to a woman, Frase unintentionally ruins their growing fling by discussing their sex life on his show! He attempts to make it up again, and such is the basic structure of many episodes: Expectations, analyzing, mistakes being made, arguments, conflicts - and reunification.

It is always the snappy, intelligent and deeply humorous dialog served up by a terrific team of writers, which amazes and entertains in warmest fashion from episode to episode. - An example of it could be Frasier's reply, when Niles in one episode suddenly boasts to Daphne about his having started pumping iron: "Niles, you don't even pump your own gas!"
The cast is also brilliant, especially Grammer, who creates a grand comical figure in Frasier Crane, and the series is in his debt. The season is so lovely that at its conclusion, you will be ready to join in Frasier's late admittance of happiness.






Best episodes:

Episode 1: The Good Son - written by Angell, Casey, Lee; directed by James Burrows (Man with a Plan (2016-17))
The characters are introduced, and Frasier accepts his father into his home.

Episode 12: Miracle on Third or Fourth Street - written by Christopher Lloyd (Modern Family (2009-19)); directed by Burrows
A delightfully unpretentious anti-Christmas Christmas episode in which Frasier is mistaken for being a homeless man.

Episode 17: A Mid-Winter Night's Dream - written by Chuck Ranberg (House Blend (2002), TV movie), Anne Flett-Giordano (Mom (2015-18)); directed by Lee
Niles and Daphne are caught in Niles' mansion, and the Maris jokes are many and uproariously funny.

Episode 21: Travels with Martin - written by Linda Morris, Vic Rauseo (Roomies (1987), TV-series, both); directed by Burrows
The family of four go camping to Canada, where Daphne isn't supposed to be!

Episode 24: My Coffee with Niles - written by Angell, Casey; directed by Burrows
The sublime episode takes place exclusively in Frasier and Niles' regular hangout, the ironically named Cafe Nervosa, where the two carry out an intense conversation on the topic of happiness, disturbed by the series' regulars. SPOILER Frasier answers Niles' question, finally, to the waitress; yes, he is mostly fairly happy.



Watch a clip of the very beginning of the first episode of the show here

Cost: Unknown
Box office: None - TV series
= Uncertain - but certainly a TV hit
[Frasier season 1 was first shown from 16 September 1993 - 19 May 1994 on NBC, and it spans 24 episodes of an average 22 minutes, totaling approximately 528 minutes. The series is a spin-off of Cheers (1982-93), wherein Frasier (Grammer) was a regular in Sam's (Ted Danson) bar in Boston. Shooting took place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, with establishing shots from Seattle, Washington. The series' cost grew during its run, and the cost per episode at its closure after 11 seasons was reportedly 5.2 mil. $ (124.8 mil. $ for the 24 episodes), of which 60 % went to its regular stars, of which Grammer commanded an impressive 1.6 mil. $ (amounting to 38.4 mil. $ for the season). Still, with syndication, foreign sales, home video etc., the series was likely a great asset for NBC. The season's ratings lowest were 25.5 mil. US viewers and its highest was 33.1 mil, - impressive numbers, - ranking it #7 on the Nielsen rank, which the series only bested in its seasons 6 and 7. The season won 4/6 Emmy nominations, was nominated for 3 Golden Globes and other honors. The second season started showing in September 1994. Grammer at the time also starred in TV movies Beyond Suspicion (1993) and The Innocent (1994). 62,422 IMDb users have given the show an 8.0/10 average rating.]

What do you think of Frasier's first season?

5/14/2018

Tully (2018) - Theron's maternal despair is palpable in Reitman/Cody's poignant dramedy

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Charlize Theron as the protagonist who's swamped by motherhood has it virtually plastering her face on this lovely poster for Jason Reitman's Tully

Marlo is already the mother of two, of which son Jonah is especially challenging, and is now about to give birth to her and her husband's third, an unplanned child. Somewhere along the way, Marlo has lost connection with herself, as a sprightly night-nanny comes to help her out.

Tully is written by Diablo Cody (Young Adult (2011)) and directed as the 7th feature by great Quebecker filmmaker Jason Reitman (Labor Day (2013)). Tully is the name of the somewhat mysterious, whimsical free-spirit night-nanny, who comes to the rescue for Marlo.
Charlize Theron (Prometheus (2012)) gives a simultaneously courageous, moving and frightening powerhouse performance as Marlo, one that makes it feel like she really must know about the plights of motherhood personally, (she undoubtedly does, though not the biological aspect, as her two children are adopted.) The degree to which Marlo has gotten out of whack mentally and personally is deeper than we may think initially, and Theron's wild performance hints at this several times, where red lamps ought to be blinking for the discerning viewer. - Although we constantly also want to give her the benefit of the doubt, as seems to be the sin of her nice but too passive husband, (well-played by Ron Livingston (The End of the Tour (2015)).) Theron touched on the same miserable state in The Burning Plain (2008), but in this case there is more depth and connection to her desperation. SPOILER Tully takes a surprising turn in its third act, which highlights the maternal depression as a phenomenon that needs to be taken really serious, and it makes Marlo's inner pain pungent and moving; becoming a parent isn't only a blessing, it can also be a process in which you lose portions of what you thought you were, and Tully resides in this perplexing area with weight and integrity.
Mackenzie Davis (Plato's Reality Machine (2013)) is delightful as the ever-changing, pro-active, insightful Tully, and Asher Miles Fallica (Ozark (2017), TV-series) and Lia Frankland (Betting on the Bride (2017), TV movie) are both natural and lovely as the siblings.
Tully also has several funny moments: Best I thought was a running scene, in which Theron, - who reportedly gained an impressive 50 pounds for the role, - overtakes a younger woman, only to collapse before the girl, who seems genuinely disturbed at the sight. Reitman is also a terrific, smart montage filmmaker, and Tully has a great montage of the doldrums of motherhood, and a later car sequence to several Cyndi Lauper tracks. - What a sweet delight that was, and what a great, debate-inspiring film Tully is. Thank you, Reitman and Co.!






Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: Unknown (but Reitman, Diablo and Theron's latest, and similarly scoped collaboration, Young Adult (2011), had a 12 mil. cost, so we can assume Tully's cost to be in that neighborhood)
Box office: 5.5 mil. $ and counting
= Too early to say - but has a long way to go to become profitable theatrically
[Tully premiered 23 January (Sundance Film Festival) and runs 96 minutes. Cody has stated that she wrote the script as a form of therapy after her third birth, unable to write the Barbie film she was supposed to be working on, and that Tully saved her life. Shooting took place in New York and Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada from September 2016 - ?. Theron has stated that it took her 1½ years to get rid of the 50 pounds again, during which she also experienced her first depression. The film opened #6 to a small 3.2 mil. $ first weekend in North America, where it is playing right now. It will soon open in Sweden (18 May), Indonesia (23 May), Brazil and Thailand (24 May), Germany and Greece (31 May), Norway (1 June), Portugal (7 June), Finland (11 June), France (27 June), Italy (28 June), Belgium (11 July) and Russia (12 July). With a Fall release, Tully might have been an Oscar contender with a stronger domestic gross, but Reitman is scheduled to return later this year with The Front Runner (2018), which may be his bid; it is a political biopic led by Hugh Jackman. Theron returned in Gringo (2018). Tully is certified fresh at 87 % with a 7.7 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Tully?

Eagerly anticipating this week ... (20-18)

Eagerly anticipating this week ... (20-18)
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