Rebecca Redshaw's "SOFA CINEMA: An Easy Guide to DVDs Volume 1" will be published this fall. Read all her DVD reviews compiled in one book.
The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"Les Paul: Chasing Sound"
Rockumentary? If this word isn't in the dictionary, it soon will be thanks to the excellent film, "Les Paul: Chasing Sound."
If you're over 60, you probably remember some of the great hits he played with his vocalist wife, Mary Ford: "Tennessee Waltz," "Mockin' Bird Hill," "Bye Bye Blues," "Vaya con Dios," "I'm Sitting on Top of the World," "In the Good Old Summertime" and "How High the Moon." If you're under 60 and consider yourself a product of the rock 'n' roll era, there's probably not a record you've heard that hasn't been influenced by the technical innovations of Paul, most famously the art of overdubbing.
All that "stuff" aside, "Les Paul: Chasing Sound" is wonderful to see and hear because Paul is totally involved in the film. Still going strong in his 90s (the rockumentary was originally aired on PBS "American Masters" series in 2007), the effervescent guitarist jams with musicians half his age. Guitar greats Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt are just a few talents who pay tribute to this true living legend.
Thanks to recording innovations in the electronic era, we can enjoy listening to Les Paul chasing sound for years to come.
"Memories of Me"
Abe (Alan King) describes his career as an extra in the movies to his son Abby (Billy Crystal) by saying, "There's an art to being incidental." This one quote defines the conflicted father and son relationship in "Memories of Me."
Abby is a successful heart surgeon in New York City. His memories of childhood are filled with embarrassing moments usually instigated by Abe, his distant father. Living in Los Angeles, the separation is in miles as well as personas, but encouraged by his colleague/girlfriend (JoBeth Williams), Abby heads to the coast for a reunion with his father.
"Memories of Me" was the first feature directed by Henry Winkler and it's a shame more people didn't see it when first released in 1988. However, see it now. The Abe/Abby father/son encounters are tender as well as funny and more than
30 years later still reveal truths about this familial challenge. The movie also gives an inside glimpse into those thousands of unfamiliar faces that are an anonymous part of the movie business - extras.
Co-scripted by Crystal and Eric Roth, "Memories of Me" benefits greatly by the late Alan King's comic bravado. Fame, not beauty, may be in the eye of the beholder. Abe's request for an epitaph is understood by extras in the movies everywhere. "When I die, I want my epitaph to read 'Here lies Abe Polin, King of the Extras. 19th man to yell, "I'm Spartacus."'"
"The Bucket List," rated PG-13
When Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star in a film, expectations run high. When Rob Reiner directs these two highly respected actors, the level of expectation inches up even higher. That's why "The Bucket List" is such a disappointment.
One of the film's "trivia" items is that Justin Zackman finished the script in two weeks. Oh, if he had only taken a little while longer. At best "The Bucket List" reminds viewers that time is limited and maybe we should be thinking about the things we dreamed of doing in our youth. At worst, "The Bucket List" is a waste of not only talent but a good idea.
Carter (Freeman) and Edward (Nicholson) find themselves paired as roommates in a hospital owned by the latter. "Two patients in every room" is the rule, even for the extremely wealthy Edward. Carter is a very bright working man who, like Edward, is given limited time on this earth.
Together they strike an unlikely bond and pursue their "list," all made possible by Edward's convenient wealth. Not so convenient (or believable) is Carter leaving a devoted wife and family in his last days, but what the heck? It's a movie, right? Make believe? That would be fine if the dialogue were well written or the situations interesting, but they're not.
If the "The Bucket List" has a purpose, it may be to remind us that two hours of a life wasted on a movie is two hours you'll never get back.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at
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